Someone Ate My Kid’s Waffle

Parents know all too well that the world is full of threats and dangers to our most precious little gifts. Dingos, wells, white vans with no windows… all dangerous. We know this. But sometimes… usually just when you think you’re getting the hang of this parenting thing, you find yourself in a situation that you realize, after it’s too late, that you aren’t prepared for. Panic sets in. You’ve found a new danger zone.

That’s what happened when someone took a bite of my son’s waffle at a restaurant. Nope, you didn’t read that wrong. Someone (I like to think it was a ghost because I don’t think ghosts have spit or diseases) put their mouth on food that wasn’t even on their table.

Before that moment, my greatest fear while dining out alone with my potty-trained kids was that one of them would have to “go potty”, the server would think we left, and throw our food away before we had a chance to eat it. But I now know that’s not the worst thing that can happen.

I was so proud to get my kids potty trained. It’s a milestone lauded by smart people who write books and stuff as evidence of a child’s advancement toward becoming a successful member of society and I taught my kids how to do that. I think the logic is infant, potty-trained child, Harvard attendant, cardio thoracic surgeon, successful at life. However, no one talks about the cons.

For example: once my kids are officially potty training, it’s super inconvenient for me. There’s no safety net. If they have an “accident”, that means dirty poop pants. That means that I get to put clean clothes on them and wash the dirty pee or poop clothes. Sometimes this could happen more than 4 times a day. It’s expensive and time consuming. And frustrating.

Also, my kids learned that if they said the magic words, “I need to go potty”, I would drop EVERYTHING and take them to the nearest restroom. They were in complete control. The moment we walked into a store or restaurant, guess what they said… I once asked my daughter, “do you really need to go potty or do you just want to check out the restroom?” She replied, “I just want to check out the restroom.” At least she was honest.

Then, this one day… it was a Saturday. My hubs was on call so he was spending his morning at the hospital. I decided to take the kiddos to get breakfast at a fancy sit-down restaurant. We ordered. Kids were coloring. The world was at peace. Then it happened. “Mommy, I gotta go potty.” Ok. I got this. I found our server and told him that we were going to the restroom. We’re safe.

After what felt like 5 years, my son did his bid-naz and we made our way back to our table where our food was already waiting. We sat down and my son said, “Mommy, who bit my waffle?” Um… what? I looked over. There it was. As clear as day. A bite mark. I surveyed the room. What fuq’n weirdo took a bite of my son’s waffle? Everyone’s a suspect. What do I do? Call the FBI? No. I’m too conflict adverse.

I packed up my children, declared I would NOT pay for that waffle, and we left. Because WHAT THA FUQ.

So, to all my friends out there about to be parents for the first time or about to embark on potty training for the first time, beware of venturing out to restaurants without backup. Not saying don’t do it. Just saying keep your guard up. And maybe ask the server to keep your food safe in the kitchen until you return?

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How to Cleanse Like a Pro

My panic face. Keep this in mind. You’ll need it for the visual.

It’s Just a Cleanse

Y’all, I just tried my first cleanse. Being a middle-aged woman (O.M.G. I can’t believe I just put that out into the universe… I feel sick… sick from old age & honesty), I can no longer simultaneously eat like a sumo wrestler AND have the waist of a Kardashian. As a matter of fact, it’s doubtful that I could eat like a breatharian and have the waist of a Kardashian. But, that’s ok. Looking like a ghetto barbie who won the lottery isn’t my thing. I do, however, want to be healthy.

When I’m not taking care of myself, my whole being feels “off”. I’ve been in peak physical shape before. Like, waaaay before. So, when I’ve had one too many cheat days my body yells at me like a drunk momma in Walmart. After listening to the yelling for a while, I finally decided that my body needed a reset.

I heard a lot about detoxes and cleanses and from what I could tell with the extensive googling I did, there didn’t seem to be much difference between the two. You just drink the drinks or swallow the pills and your body expels the bad like that kid in my high school that stabbed the principal with a fork. I couldn’t find much explanation on HOW the bad stuff gets eliminated but I figured I’d prolly have to pee a lot. It couldn’t be too bad… seems pretty popular. Popular things are never bad.

As luck would have it, my medically knowledgeable hubs heard me talk about my desire to clean out my body so he bought us both a 14-day supply of cleanse tablets, the men’s version for himself, the women’s version for me. I started right away. On a Sunday evening. AKA, the night before my daughter’s first overnight field trip. It was a big night for both of us. She was experiencing a rite of passage. And so was I.

What Had Happened Was…

I made sure to take the gender appropriate tablets cuz I really don’t wanna grow a penis at this age. Full disclosure, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t immediately have to pee. But I reminded myself to be patient… Rome wasn’t built in a day or whatever. So I got ready for bed, set my alarm for 5:30 am, and drifted off to sleep eager to wake up ten pounds lighter, svelt, and flat bellied. Bella had to be at school with all of her stuff by 7:40 am the next morning so I wanted to make sure I was giving myself time to drive the kids to school and help her carry her stuff in. Little did I know, I would not need the aforementioned alarm. (foreshadowing!!!)

Around 5 am I woke up with a mean case of the bubble guts. In my semi-lucid state, I figured the best course of action would be to ignore it and try to go back to sleep. I’m a southern woman- it’s what we do. If we wake up to a problem, we go back to sleep until it goes away. Just kidding… or am I? Anyway, I hate mornings. I mean I HAAAAAAYYYYYTE them. If I were to rank them among the things I hate the most it would go Hitler, my 4th grade teacher, mornings. So if I can get 15 more minutes of sleep, this classy lady is gonna power through the bubble guts.

I fell asleep for a minute and then abruptly woke up to sharp abdominal pains. Like the kind you get after eating questionable meat nachos at a gas station. I was afraid to move. What was the cause of this pain? Was my bladder THAT full? Once the pain subsided enough I shuffled to the bathroom. I mean, I did need to pee so that must be it. And pee I did. But not out of THAT hole. What was happening??? After what felt like 5 years I composed myself enough to get dressed and get the kids up. I was, at this point, about 10 minutes off schedule. No problem. I could make that time up with a little dry shampoo for myself and motivation for the kids. Like a drill sergeant I was shouting motivational phrases at my darling children like, “HURRY! You don’t need matching socks! Just grab 2 from the top of your hamper!” And it worked! At 6:50 am we were all downstairs with the kids eating a delicious homemade breakfast of frozen waffles.

Down But Not Out

And then… proving lightening sometimes DOES strike twice… it hit me again. There was nothing I could do except sit on the porcelain throne of horror and pee what should have been solid out of the other hole… again. You know when your kid brings you their toothpaste tube saying there’s no more but you know the trick of rolling the tube to get the last out and it just keeps coming out and then you can’t get it to stop? Yep. At 7:02 I started to panic. My baby girl was going to miss the field trip she’d looked forward to for 3 months because I couldn’t stop shatting. How do I sign my kids into the school office? In the “reason” block do I put “cleanse gone wrong”? How do I tell Bella that she got left behind because I couldn’t stop the toxins from flowing out of my body like liquid hot magma? I could’t let that happen.

I dug deep, y’all. I couldn’t let shat defeat me or disappoint my baby girl. I started channeling my drill sergeant again. From behind the bathroom door I yelled, “Bella! Roman! Get your stuff together! Put your shoes on! Do you have your snacks? Get in the car! I’ll be right there!” I said a prayer, made a few promises to Jesus that I fully expect to keep, and took care of business in every way. Somehow I managed to get my kids to school in time. Bella had 10 minutes to spare. And I worked from home that day because I couldn’t risk being the girl who lost bowel control at the office.

Moral of the Story:

A cleanse means that you will poo until your innards liquify and fall out of your body. Also, I’m still a contender for Mom of the Year and have a great story for the awards video montage, although it’s kinda gross. So, I guess you could say my chances are pretty good. I’m excited about it.

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Take A Step

Surprise!

When I became a mom I was surprised by quite a few things. For instance, I was surprised that I could still function enough to walk down the aisles of Target on just 30 minutes of sleep. Of course, I didn’t remember why I was there or how I got there, but I was there, nonetheless. Another surprise: how much poop could come out of a tiny, adorable baby body. You know the chocolate fountain at Golden Corral? Yeah… it’s like that. But with poo. Exploding poo. However, nothing surprised me as much as waking up from a years’ long parenting-induced fog, realizing that my whole identity had to be rediscovered and redefined.

My Name Is…

I didn’t lose myself over night. Like the proverbial frog in hot water, my sense of identity died a slow, sneaky death. I used to know exactly who I was and what I wanted out of life. I mean… I was ERICA! Short in stature, tall in sarcasm, with the misplaced attack instincts of a chihuahua. I was the same Erica who did exactly what was expected of me until my first abnormally large tramp stamp tattoo at the age of 21. The same Erica who moved to Italy by myself for the summer after I graduated from college because the idea of going back to my hometown made me feel like I was suffocating. The same Erica wanted nothing more out of life than to make everyone laugh.

Who Am I?

Yet, there I was, holding my new baby boy, my three-year-old little girlie by my side, a supportive husband, and I had no idea who I was anymore. My confidence was gone. I felt like an empty shell. Nothing that I used to enjoy made me happy anymore. One day I stopped singing in the car at the top of my lungs. One day I stopped watching Napoleon Dynamite on loop. Don’t get me wrong: I adored being a mom and still do. But in my mind, I was not good enough at it. Good moms spend every waking moment with their babies. I had to leave my babies every day. I had to pay my bills. I had obligations. I had to go to work. The career I used to be so proud of now made me cringe like the creepy guy in high school who followed me around trying to smell my hair. The career I worked so hard to build was now making me deeply and painfully resentful and I didn’t know how to fix it.

A switch flipped. The demands of my new family construct AND trying to excel in my career were suddenly overwhelming. I was no longer the person who I used to know so assuredly that I was. I couldn’t manage the simplest tasks without crushing exhaustion. I just wanted to close myself in a room with my babies and lock out the world.

Who was I? A mom? A wife? I was a person without a first name. I was no longer Erica. I was Roman’s mom. I was Bella’s mom. I was Rick’s wife. Erica was invisible. If I happened to have five minutes to myself, what would I do? Scrap book? NO! Cry in my closet. That’s what. I had no hobbies. Outside of my daily routine I was lost. How long had I been like this? I felt like I’d been in a time-warping fog and now the fog was lifting and I had to reorient myself to my surroundings like an alien abductee dropped in a crop circle naked and afraid.

Now What?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was at a crossroads. I could have stayed in my fog, accepted it as my new life, and moved on without my sparkle. I could have wanted to change but done nothing about it and become bitter and mad. Or I could have done what I DID. I took a step. Then another. Over the next seven years I just took steps. From the outside looking in I’m sure I looked like I was grasping at straws. I wasn’t. I was on a quest.

I opened an Etsy shop making jewelry. Had I ever had any jewelry training? NO! Was I terrible at it? YES! But it taught me elementary business ownership skills. It taught me how to market online. It taught me social media networking. It occupied my curiosity for a year or two until I decided one day on a whim to start my first blog.

I knew nothing about blogging. But I knew I had a message and I knew I wanted to give other women a quick escape of funny and happiness. I wanted to give other parents a place to mentally go to for 10 minutes while they’re hiding in the bathroom and laugh and relate and not feel so alone. And I started to learn to write. And writing led to my passion.

After two years of writing and posting and joining groups of other writers I discovered what I should have been doing all along. Comedy. One day I realized that nothing was standing between the dream I’d always had in the back of my mind and my reality. I always idolized comedians. But people didn’t do that in real life! People graduate from high school then go to college then become accountants or engineers or whatever pays the bills. Not COMEDY. But… if my idols could do it, maybe I can, too.

Erica. Erica Benefield.

So, at the age of 36 I started a new career. Me. Erica. Wife, mom, comedian. It’s not easy. I work my day job, take my kids to practice, have dinner with my family, put my kids to bed, kiss my husband and go to my shows. There are a lot of nights when my anxiety sets in and I try to talk myself out of performing because the safe thing to do would be to stay at home with my family and be normal. But when I get out on the stage, I remember why I do it. When I hear my kids tell their friends that their mom is a comedian, I tear up. My kids have no idea what I do for my day job but they know what comedy is! I get to help other grown ups forget the demands of their life for a few minutes a night and it’s the best job in the world.

If you’re still reading this painfully long, rambling post, here’s what I want you to take away: Life has a way of throwing off your plans. It’s ok. It doesn’t mean you’re failing. It could be your greatest success. You don’t have to give up your dreams because you’re a parent. Being a mom or a dad doesn’t mean YOUR life is over. If you feel stuck, do SOMETHING, anything to get “unstuck”. Take a different path home. Go to a new restaurant. Make a bucket list of things you’ve always wanted to explore and cross each one off the list. Kids need to see their parents happy and healthy with their own joys. Just take a step. It’ll lead to another step. And don’t use your family as an excuse. Take them on the journey with you. It’ll make the ride so much more fun.

What’s your step gonna be?

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Why We Wine

Adults Know All

When I was a kid dreaming of becoming the famous person that I am, all the grown ups around me seemed to have life figured out. They had it together. Bills paid, scheduled car maintenance, starched clothes that looked professional and well-planned, mortgages, taxes, family organizational skills… all the adults were killin it as far as I could tell. All of them. {Except the guy that owned the store that we all knew was a cover for his weed business. But that guy served a different purpose.} I always assumed that there was some magical age where I would start wearing matching socks and get regular oil changes. I’ve since learned that there is no magical age. Turns out, grown ups in the ‘90’s were just really good at faking it (wink, wink).

Reality Bites

Based on my juvenile observations, adulthood wasn’t supposed to be chaotic and overwhelming. Finding love was never supposed to lead to heartache. Parenthood isn’t supposed to feel impossible. BUT IT IS, IT DID, AND IT DOES! Let me tell you a little secret if you haven’t discovered it for yourself already: the grown up world is rotten with the stench of reality. A reality that would be much more palatable if it weren’t falsely presented as perfection to us as kids through TV and movies, leaving songs such as “Purple Rain”, “You Outta Know”, and “Here I Go Again” my only hint as to the truth of reality. [And, I don’t know about you, but I thought “Secret Agent Man” by Johnny Rivers was really a song about a secret Asian man, and that’s just ONE example, so you can understand the messages of song were lost on me.]

For example: Walt Disney is a lying arsehole. I’ve never met a guy who would attempt to slay a dragon for my honor. I HAVE, however, met a few guys who would named their man hose “Dragon”. If Sleeping Beauty (AKA, the princess I most identify with) met a guy that her family warned her against, who lied and manipulated his way into her heart, knocked her up, then left her for someone younger and more ethnically diverse, I’d say he was describing my first marriage. It would be a warning to all little girls to look out for liars. And it would be useful. But that’s not what he did. So I thought all guys were protective and chivalrous… turns out, some of them are… noooooot.

Also, whoever wrote the Brady Bunch is a lying arsehole. Families don’t resolve their differences in 30 minutes or less. I didn’t know that and didn’t understand why my sister and I were still arguing after 31 minutes. I have one family member who has been holding a grudge against me for YEARS. But, then again, we don’t have Alice with her quick quips to help us see the light of reason.

Additionally, the guy who started Pinterest: AN ABSOLUTE ARSEHOLE. Pinterest is the sole reason women everywhere feel inadequate upon seeing our results after trying to bake from scratch the impossible candy-filled unicorn mirror glazed cake. And don’t get me started on the homemade charcoal mask that takes the top 6 layers of your face off. Could we get a social media platform that bakes the cake for us? Cuz that would be great. Oh, wait. Hey, Uber Eats! How you doin’?

The last example provided in this super-impactful, news-worthy, and vividly-made point: the male creator of Wonder Woman is a lying arsehole. When I run around in the same outfit as Wonder Woman, no cool music plays, I don’t gain any super human fighting skills, and people threaten to call the police. Also, I’m still waiting on my magic lasso, which, by the way, has yet to even SHIP! I bet it doesn’t even work.

All these realizations have culminated into a big let down. You know how you felt when you learned that Santa, the Easter Bunny, AND the Tooth Fairy were all made up? Yeah, like that. I feel like that every. single. day.

It’s Fine

Because reality has been a bit different than I imagined, I’ve found ways to cope with the misalignment of expectations. For example: “It’s fine.” I say that a lot. It’s such a versatile phrase! Shat goes south but I’m trying to convince myself that it’s survivable- “it’s fine”. My husband picks a restaurant I don’t really want to go to because he’s super healthy and I just want fried chicken bathed in honey mustard and chocolate lava cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert but I don’t want to disagree because I’m a hopeless co-dependent AND I want to pretend like PMS isn’t ruling my life right now- “it’s fine”. My son strings gum out of his mouth and then wraps it around his neck before I can stop him- “it’s fine”. My daughter makes muffins and dumps half of the batter on the floor and now the dogs are “cleaning up the chocolate chips”- “it’s fine”. My dog gets scared by a passing dump truck and poo’s on the floor minutes before our house warming party… you guessed it! But sometimes “it’s fine” doesn’t work.

Now What?

We don’t have to go very far to hear what we’re doing wrong. We don’t exercise enough. We exercise too much. We shouldn’t dress like a school marm. We should really dress more conservatively. Have a career. Don’t work so much. Let your kids sleep in your bed. Don’t. You’ll kill them with your fat rolls. Don’t hug your kids too much… they’ll spoil. Discipline your kids, but not THAT way. Count calories, count fat grams, count carbs, eat carbs, don’t eat carbs, kale is all you should eat, and cauliflower is pizza now. Take meds to manage the stress, don’t take meds to manage the stress. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ANYMORE! Who does? Who can tell me what to do cuz I have no fuq’n clue.

We are doing our best some days just to keep everything going. Relationships, careers, parenthood, expectations pile up like the unfolded laundry mountain and it’s easy to find yourself crying in a closet firmly grasping a bottle of champagne (hey, at least I keep it classy). But what if we were all more honest and forgiving with each other? What if we stopped hiding behind the fake perfection of staged social media pictures and smiles and showed what it’s REALLY like to be a grownup so that maybe it’ll be a little easier for those who will go through this stage of life after us? What if by sharing the hardships we all learn how normal it is to cry in the closet, go on mini-vacations to Target, or hide from our kids in the bathroom for just one moment of peace so that the next new mommy who comes along doesn’t think she’s doing EVERYTHING wrong?

You’re Enough

What’s rare to hear is what we’re doing RIGHT. Have you ever received a genuine and sincere compliment that has stuck with you all day, maybe for years? How great is that feeling?! What if we did more of that instead of breaking each other down so that we could feel superior for one second? We are more prepared for any journey when someone who’s already traveled that path tells us what to look out for. What if we did that for each other more often?

Yes, life is hard. Some good, some bad, some stupid… But there’s so much humor and beauty and good in the imperfect. If you ask me, that’s where the stories are. So, grab a glass of wine and accept the chaos. And maybe snap of picture of it. #whywomenwine We’ll swap war stories.

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The Stress of Summer Break

My kids are officially out for summer but I refuse to call it a “break”.  My husband and I both work so any time school is out we are scrambling to find reliable, safe, fun child care for our 2 kids.

The childcare options that working parents have are limited and expensive.  Remember that time Twinkies were discontinued and everyone was going crazy trying to stock up?  Yeah, it’s like that.  And trying to navigate all of the options to find the one that’s right for your family is no less stressful than trying to find a life partner.  All you need is one bad date to realize that you didn’t REALLY mean you were “up for anything”.

You can choose from day camps, overnight camps, baby sitters.  Do you need full day coverage?  Good luck!  My favorites are the “full day” camps that start at 9 am and end at 4 pm.  It’s cool… my boss likes paying me for an 8-hour workday when I can only really work for 6. (Please read that with the level of sarcasm with a tinge of anger that would make George Carlin proud).

It was easy when they just went to daycare.  No decisions to make, no change in routine.  But then it happened.  My daughter said the magic words, “I’m too old for this”.  We knew we needed to find an option that she would be excited about.  All kids deserve to have the type of summer they look forward to!  So we saved up, talked to friends who had gone through the same thing, and planned ahead (something I never do).

Last year we were so excited.  We got ourselves a NANNY (ok, really a babysitter but I feel fancier when I say NANNY!)!  Finally, our rising first grader and rising fourth grader could stay up late, sleep in, go swimming whenever they wanted, have play dates with friends, HAVE A REAL SUMMER BREAK!

But our hopes for the type of summer that my husband and I grew up experiencing were crushed in the most wretched way when I discovered just a few weeks into summer that the babysitter physically assaulted my son!  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!  We VETTED HER!  She seemed nice, had references, was just graduating from high school and going to college.  She was supposed to be FUN!  Not SATAN!

Ugh… there goes us EVER trusting a nanny/babysitter.  Back to square one.  The promise of a fun summer was replaced with waking the kids up before Jesus wakes up (you know, the “unGodly hour”), to get them dressed and ready so my hubs and I could take turns dropping them off at the local YMCA.  It was the only place that checked all of the boxes: close by, fun activities, won’t beat my kids, extended hours (that’s what “they” call “true” full day camps).

It turned out ok.  A few lice outbreaks but nothing that couldn’t be remedied.  We decided to stick with what works so that’s where we went back to this year.  And to my surprise, the kids were actually EXCITED!  They had friends that they already knew, they had fun, they were exhausted… #yay!

All of this to say, if you see a working parent out and about and it’s summer, buy them a coffee and give them a hug.  They’re prolly a little defeated.  And broke.

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I Didn’t Clean the House Today… but I’m still tired.

Today I woke up 30 minutes later than I should have. I woke my kids up 15 minutes later than I should have. I sat in traffic for an hour and a half in just one leg of my commute. I sat in meetings for most of my day listening to mind-numbing discussions about “innovative” wellness programs for employees. Then I drove home. I worked a little longer. I didn’t even cook dinner. My family had left overs. I drove my daughter to ballet. Sat around waiting on her. We got home, I got the kids to bed, I got myself clean and went to bed myself.

My home is not clean. I’m pretty sure Bella didn’t bathe before bed. Roman’s sheets don’t match. I didn’t wash dishes. My trash cans are full. The only reason there’s no dog hair downstairs is thanks to my husband. I didn’t touch laundry. The only clean pair of socks Roman has are on his feet.

Guess what?! I’m ok with all of this. The sun still rises, my kids still love me, I’m pretty sure my husband still loves me wink, my doggies definitely adore me. It’s all gonna be ok.

My only question: WHY AM I STILL SO TIRED???

Oh well. At least I’m pretty.

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What it’s Like to Work from Home… with Kids

When you have kids, it can be tough to juggle life. Especially when both you and your spouse work outside the home and daycare (aka school) is closed. Today was one of those days. One of those long, long days.

I just started a new job. I’m on week 4. So I’m still trying to gain trust and establish myself. It used to be so easy. I was focused. I was ambitious. I wanted to learn and do my best and shine like a star powered by the strong glow of fluorescent office lighting. Climb that corporate ladder like the yodeler character in that Price is Right game.

That all changed when I had my son. Now a mom of 2, all corporate ambition vanished. I realized that with 2 kids, “Outstanding” performance reviews are a thing of the past. Work no longer came first. Or even second. It couldn’t.  For some reason, I was able to manage the juggle better with one kid. Probably because I’m not one of those Super Woman Moms. I’m a real person. Some might say it’s more specifically because I’m not “organized” and I don’t “plan ahead”. But at least I’m pretty, right? That’s a positive that can get me ahead in the “juggling work and family and friends and dreams and working out and meal prep and not forgetting my prepped meals and selecting the correct number of tax deductions on my pre-employment forms” game for sure. Did I just let $200 worth of veggies go bad? Yes. But my smokey eye is on point today so that totally makes up for it.

Anyway, today was not a productive work day. Today was a day that consisted of just trying to keep up with emails and not much else. My daughter is great at letting me do my thing. If she has a tv, she’s good to go. Unless she sees me on my personal computer.  Then she wants to use said computer to “check her status”, which means she wants to take the quiz to see if she’s still in House of Slitherin.  #Priorities.  My son, on the other hand, would totally crawl back into my uterus and live happily ever after if it were at all possible. He wants me with him AT ALL TIMES. If he can’t see me, he finds me. If he can’t find me, he yells for me. That’s very problematic when I need to get things done for work.

For example, today he decided to be a member of the band Ratt. Remember them? He just met their music thanks to Sirius XM’s hairband station. And he loves them. So he wanted me to find their music videos on YouTube. That way, he could sing and play guitar with them. While dressed in his Brock Lesnar costume. Meanwhile, my daughter watched 4 episodes of Scooby Doo and 9 episodes of Monk. So when the doctor asks how much screen time she gets at her next appointment, please know I will lie. I will straight up lie. She gets 30 minutes of screen time and that’s all the doc needs to know. And all the moms who actually REMEMBER to cook the asparagus BEFORE it liquifies in the fridge can judge all they want. I welcome it. Cuz I judge them while peering from the top of my wine glass at the next PTA meeting.

At some point today the kids asked if they could go to Toys R Us and spend the $30 my grandmother gave them for Christmas. Seemed like a great way to get them out of the house for a bit. The visit was a success. Both walked out with goodies and stayed within budget so #blessed.

The trip to the grocery store, however, not so great. I only needed items for dinner (b.t.dubs, I made an AMAZING steak salad tonight. It was so good). Anyway, the kids were going crazy. Running all over the place. Bella putting Roman up to shenanigans. Shenanigans all over Fresh Market. And, yes, I yelled. And threatened to leave them. A few times. All the while, I was not getting any work done. I left with flank steak, avocados, tomatoes, cilantro-lime dressing, and the 2 kids I walked in with so… yay!

When I got home I did some work. And then it was time to cook dinner.

Ever feel like life is flying by and you’re holding on, white-knuckled, barely buckled in, and you know that if it would just slow down a little bit you could see what’s passing you. And maybe not fall off the roller coaster? Ugh.

Also, since we’re on a slight tangent, at what age do you start to gain weight by NOT eating? When did this start? I used to be able to skip a meal and lose 5 pounds! Now I skip a meal and gain 15. Son of a bitch. And don’t tell me it happens to everyone. If it did, I wouldn’t have skinny friends. Beautiful, skinny friends who “bounced back” 3 weeks after baby #4.  At least I’m pretty.  Starving, with 10 pounds to lose, but pretty.

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How Homework Made Me Stupid

Homework. That eight-letter compound word has become synonymous with Hell for me. Growing up I always thought that once I was out of school I’d be done with it. Homework was but a temporary evil to get through so that I could get my degree and move on with my life. Oh how wrong was I.

When I was in school, I don’t remember having homework until maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. Maybe I did, I don’t know. But kindergarten for me was half-days. Your parents could sign you up for morning or afternoon. Sprinkled into the strenuous 4 hour day was also naptime and recess. {And we wondered why Japanese students were so much smarter.}

So, you could imagine my confusion when we registered Bella for kindergarten and she was EVALUATED for sight words, math skills, and reading… uh… isn’t this where she learns her alphabet? Cuz that’s what we’ve killed. Test her on that.

Then the HOMEWORK. WHAT??? I naïvely assumed that the homework was something she should be able to complete on her own. I would be there to make sure she was focused (by the way, not my strong point either) but the work was something she could work through. I was wrong. That’s when I came to the realization that homework isn’t for the kids. It’s for the parents. Like some covert CIA program to ensure parents don’t get stupid.

Bella: “Mommy, I don’t know how to do this problem. It’s for math.”

Me: “Oh, heck yes. Math I can do! ‘Deconstruct the number 10’. Deconstruct? What’s that mean, Bella? Did your teacher show you how to do this?

Bella: “Yes, but I don’t really understand. You can help me, right, Mommy?”

Me: “Uh, sure! Yes! I can help you, baby girl. Let me just find my computer.” (As I quickly pull up Google and define ‘deconstruction’ as it relates to math.)

Obviously, homework is created to provide validation to my children that, no, Mommy DOESN’T know everything and should, as a result, be constantly questioned anytime she states anything as fact.

Bella (or Roman at this point): “Can I have a root beer?”

Me: “No, you’ve already had one. You’ve also had a cupcake, rice krispy treat, and 5 Girl Scout cookies. You don’t need that much sugar. It’s bad for you.”

My kid: “Well… you couldn’t even help me deconstruct the number 10 last night so… maybe we should ask Google about the sugar thing, just to be sure.”

Fuq you, homework. Fuq you.

Another thing I want to point out is the strain that homework puts on my marriage. I would love to know how many divorces are attributed to disputes that began related to homework.

Nothing will start a marital spat in my home quicker than either my husband or me incorrectly instructing one of the kids in an effort to help and the other spouse catching the mistake.

“No, that’s not the correct conjugation of the verb.”

“Um, YOU asked me to help.”

And so it begins. Next thing you know it’s World War III in our kitchen. Fuq you, homework. Fuq you. I didn’t know I was supposed to add, “through incorrect homework instruction and correct” to my wedding vows.

By now, Bella’s got the homework thing down for the most part. The biggest issue we have with her is getting her to turn it in. Roman, however, is just getting in the swing. Most days look like this:

 

Hopefully these are growing pains that will get better. All I know is that I didn’t sign up for this shat. I’m frustrated. But at least I’m pretty.

Anyone have any tricks to make homework easier?

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How to Survive Your First Parental Experience with Stitches

The Incident

I hit the parent jackpot. One beautiful, dainty little girl and one headstrong, full-throttle little boy. Perfect. From the outside it seems like it should be all rainbows and unicorns (with some fart jokes sprinkled in) where everyone is always 100% healthy and happy. But that façade collapsed last week with one phone call.

It was inevitable, the call I received. It was one of the ladies from the after-school program, “Mrs. Benefield, Roman has fallen and hit his head. I wanted to let you know. It’s pretty bad.”

Me, not fully grasping what I’m being told, stupidly ask, “I need to come get him?”

To which she patiently explains, “yes, he has a gash on his head.”

She let me speak to him. He sounded ok. I told him he was my brave little man and I’d be on my way to get him not really knowing what I would see.

Now, let me defend my stupid question by explaining that sometimes we get panicked phone calls that aren’t really emergencies. The ladies that run the after-school program double as the cafeteria workers. They’re super sweet grandmother-types who err on the side of caution. Like if caution were to look at someone and say, “whoa, they’re cautious” it would be describing these women. We’ve had some false alarms. But we’ve also had some situations with Roman that have caused him to have permanent bumps and scars on his forehead. Nothing that has required medical attention aside from my husband (who is a medical professional) putting his skin back together with glue, but still there have been “situations” to give the sweet lunch ladies some credit.

Once I arrived at the school, I walked in to pick him up and saw him sitting on the table with an audience of kids and lunch ladies surrounding him. He had a rag with ice in it against his forehead. He pulled the rag away and immediately my eyes go to the culprit of the drama. The little boy I sent to school perfectly intact now had about a half-inch gash on his forehead above his eye. But, surprisingly, it didn’t seem as bad as the last incident at school that involved the metal part of the door lock going into his head. It wasn’t even bleeding anymore.

Next, I took a picture and sent it to my husband and much to my surprise he told me to take him to urgent care. Like now. He knew it needed stitches. What? I mean, ok. Maybe overreacting a little but he’s the one with a medical degree so…

Roman needs stitches… apparently
The Fix

We pulled into the children’s urgent care and I got him checked in. He and my daughter were running around playing and laughing and- STOP!!!!! His head started to bleed. I grabbed a tissue to wipe away the blood and a clear liquid flowed out of the wound. Ok, stitches, I get it. I totally get it. I will never secretly question my husband’s medical direction ever again. Ever. But for that moment I was just trying not to puke or pass out or provide any indication to my sweet, brave little man that his head was kinda gnarly and he’d need to get stitched up like a teddy bear that fell victim to the family dog.

For Bella’s part, she was the perfect big sister. She was patient and loving and said anything she could think of to help ease his anxiety when he thought he might get a shot or the other dreaded “s” word… STITCHES. Some of her words may have done more damage than help but she was trying so hard to put him at ease.

As a side note, let me just say that taking him to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s urgent care center was the BEST decision. They knew immediately he needed stitches. But instead of saying the “s” word, (which would have flipped him the fuq out) everyone referred to them as “magic thread” that would make his head go back together. I think Bella was intrigued by the possibility of seeing magic thread at work as well. She’d been watching a Netflix show about this very subject of magic with a fairy princess and her pet unicorn sprinkled in so she was pretty sure it was a real thing and played right along, helping to seal the validity in Roman’s mind of the claims of magic being made by these nurses.

The nurse numbed his head with numbing cream and after about 30 minutes we were called back to get the “magic threads”.

A doctor, a nurse, and a medical assistant walk into a bar… just kidding. They all worked on my Roman to sew him back together. The result was beautiful. Five stitches in all. Afterward I asked Roman if he realized he just got stitches. He started to tear up and say that he was scared to get stitches. However, once he understood that it was over and he ALREADY had them, he was proud. The highlight of the situation was this little dialogue:

ME: Roman! You just got stitches, man! Chicks dig men with scars, just sayin’.

Bella: Yeah, Roman! Girls love boys with injuries!

Ever the little momma to her little brother… and he was so brave and proud of his braveness.

Here’s the final result!

All stitched up! Thank God for Dad and his guidance!
So, in conclusion, that was my first (and hopefully last) experience with stitches. Anyone else have a similar experience?

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How to Workout with Kids

For those of you who have kids and want to start a fitness journey, or for those of you who just wonder how moms juggle family, work, obligations, AND stay in shape, me too. I’m curious, too. Since I became a mom almost 9 years ago, I think I’ve tried to get back in shape more times than my 5 year old has asked me for gum this afternoon (that’s, like, a LOT of times). You wanna know how many times I’ve been successful? Um… once. But it didn’t last long.

Over Christmas this year I decided I was going to do it again. But for real this time. Each year my office closes between Christmas and New Year so it was the perfect time. I’d be home. I’d cleanse my diet. I’d restart my body. Trick it to think it doesn’t want that massive piece of chocolate cake from the grocery store, like I trick my kids to think that Chick-Fil-A doesn’t sell ice cream on the week days. It’d be so super easy. I even have everything I need at home in the form of workout DVDs. Bam.

Day one was AWE-SUM. It was great. My kids are obviously now old enough for me to reason with.

“Kids, I’m going to be in the basement for 20 minutes to workout. Everyone has snacks and drinks, everyone is good, right?”
“Yes, Mommy! We’re good!”
“OK! I’m going to close the door so that the dogs don’t come down but if you need me, you can come get me, OK?”
“OH KAAAAY!”
“But if you come downstairs, please don’t let the dogs down.”

Y’all, hand to Heaven I got 20 minutes with my Piyo DVD. It was so refreshing and I felt so alive. I was all,

“I got this. This time tomorrow I’ll be down to my fighting weight. Just to make sure I’ll have a smoothie for my after-snack snack.”

The next day was fairly similar.   Got ma fit-nass on (please read that as “own” for dramatic effect). BAM! But… It didn’t last long. Pretty soon, I was getting maaaybe 10 minutes in before Pandora opened her shatty box of cray-zee, Roman opened the basement door to demand I help him put on my gold pants (because he thinks they make him look like Slash), and our 50-lb lab, Georgia, came FLYYYYYYY-ing down the stairs and tackled me while I was attempting to perfect my push-ups which meant I was at the perfect height on the floor for my Chihuahua, Lola, to lick me up the nose. Yes, UP the nose. Her tongue is so long and slender that it actually fits UP MY NOSE.

Then Roman wanted to play the drums for me while I worked out. But I couldn’t hear the lovely Chalene Johnson! I asked him to play quietly but then he started crying because Guns n Roses doesn’t play the drums quietly! So that finished that day. Subsequent attempts were even worse… so I finally gave up. And by “finally” I mean by the third day.

“Oh, I know!” I naively thought to myself, “I’ll sign up for the special I saw on Facebook for the Krav Maga combat fitness classes! Three classes for $20. Done. I’m so gonna rock this. If I pay for it I’ll totally do it cuz I don’t wanna waste money!”

I took the first class on the last Wednesday before going back to work. Class started at 6. I had to wait for my hubs to get home from work to relieve me from my parenting duties so I was runnin’ a little late! Sue me! Weeeell, they very well may. Someone from the studio called me to make sure I was coming. I got there at 6:05. Intense. “Something tells me we’re not in LA Fitness anymore.”

I was the only person in the class who had never done it before. Everyone in the class… EVERYONE had on shirts and pants with the studio logo on it. I busted up in there in a hot pink sports bra, yoga shirt, and bright running tights. Like, have you ever gone to a costume party only to realize you need to stop at the store on the way so you’re walking through Target dressed like a giant poo emoji? Yeah. That was me.

And I was totally lost. Like a female pro bowler trying to be a Lakers Cheerleader. Lost like that. I loved it but felt totally lost. It was a great workout. But I knew that once work started back I wouldn’t be able to make those classes without, at best, being 10 minutes late. The schedule just didn’t match mine.

I realized something over the break. I’ve been going about this “all-or-nothing” for so long… it’s not fair. Not fair to me. So I’m going to do my best. Some days my best might mean I eat 1300 healthy calories and a refuse that break-room cupcake. Some days I may kill those 1300 calories by breakfast. Oops. But it’s about being more aware of my choices and creating realistic expectations for myself.

Do I want my abs to come back to me? Yes. Do I want to take care of myself? Yes. But I also know that with the kids’ schedules, my schedule, and my husband’s schedule, sometimes it’s all I can do to get them in bed before I fall asleep in the hallway on the way back to my room. Step by step, choice by choice, I’ll get where I need to be.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

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