A Dress I Have No Business Wearing

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This is me in a dress I have no business wearing. It’s not the first time I’ve worn it and it won’t be the last time. I know it’s not flattering but I don’t want you to say, “OMG, YOU LOOK GREAT!” I don’t want you to say, “GOOD FOR YOU!” I want you to know why I’m wearing a dress I have no business wearing.

I took this picture two days ago. I was one and a half proseccos deep during a girl’s weekend with my best friend and we were on our way to a nice dinner. Someone could say that I look a little pregnant in it, because of, you know, that part sticking out in the front. I do look a little pregnant. That’s fine. Once upon a time I grew two babies in that part sticking out in the front, but I assure you, now it’s just where I keep my cheeseburgers and sauvignon blanc.

I bought this dress for a trip my husband and I took in July. When I tried it on I knew the dress wasn’t made for my 5’2″ body, 160 lb. body, but I felt great in it. I don’t know why. I just did. I’m not known to wear form-fitting clothes. At all. But I wanted it, so I bought it. And I was proud of myself for it.

The truth is, I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been, other than when I was pregnant. Another truth is that I’ve always struggled with my weight and if you’ve ever struggled with your weight, you know it’s not a physical struggle. It’s about how you see yourself and how you speak to yourself in your mind. After 40 years of telling myself I have no business wearing things I want to wear, I’ve decided to change the subject. I’ve decided to start being kind to myself.

I’m a work from home mom. I make my own schedule. I could spend 2 hours a day at the gym if I wanted to. I could run from here to Manhattan and back if I set my mind to it. The thing is, my mind is elsewhere. Right now I’m in the business of keeping my shit together. I’m in the business of raising loving children. I’m in the business of maintaining healthy friendships. I’m in the business of having a happy marriage.

For 40 years I’ve stood in the mirror and compared how I look to how I THINK I should look. And it’s exhausting. Now, in an ugly world where I have so many other, more important things to worry about, I’m hitting that red decline button when the self-doubt calls start pouring it. I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to be in the business of loving myself. It’s as simple as that.

I’m not saying I’m giving up. I’ll still try to get healthy, here and there. I’m just taking a break from beating myself up. I’m muting the negative things I say to myself, because as it turns out, I care way more about my own comments than anyone else’s.

So here’s the thing. If I can put on a dress I have no business wearing to go out with my husband or to go to a fancy dinner at a nice restaurant with my best friend because it makes me feel good, you can too. And if I’m putting this picture on my Facebook page for 15,000 people to see, well then you can certainly wear a dress you have no business wearing to a BBQ this weekend. If the hard part is talking yourself into it, tell yourself life’s too short to worry about things you have no business wearing.

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Are You Stay At Home Mom Material?

When I was laid off from my publishing job in Manhattan in 2010, I was ready for a change. The soul-crushing daily 3 hour round trip commute from Long Island to the city, usually with a passed out fat guy’s elbow jammed into my boob, took up too much time away from my family. I was prepared to find a job closer to home but as the gods would have it, I didn’t go back to work outside of my house. Now, 6 and a half years later, I realize I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I started my career in magazine publishing before I finished college. I’d had a 6-credit internship at UsWeekly to close out my writing degree and 3 weeks into it, they hired me. I worked for Wenner Media, who also publishes Rolling Stone and Men’s Journal, for the better part of the next 11 years. I loved my job, but that commute was a killer, to say the least. The day I was laid off, I was shocked and elated.

About a year before my layoff, I’d started making custom photo mats for friends as wedding and baby shower gifts. Nine days after I was laid off I opened my Etsy shop, KJ Frames, and I’ve been home, alone, making frames in my basement office, ever since.

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To be fair, she’s hilarious.

Before we get too far, I need to clarify that I AM NOT COMPLAINING. I’M EXPLAINING. This is MY experience. I’m not saying everyone’s experience is the same. In fact, well-adjusted individuals might find their experience to be the exact opposite of mine. I know many of you would switch places with me in a heartbeat and, while I have my struggles, I know how lucky I am.

NO ONE CARES HOW I LOOK

Yea, this is amazing. I don’t have to jump out of bed and into the shower. I don’t really have to look presentable at all. The moms at the bus stop don’t care how I look and I can tell you from experience that the employees at Michael’s, Staples and Stop & Shop sure as shit don’t GAF. I’m living la vida leggings. The problem here is that if you start to go too long without caring about your personal appearance, you basically revert back to being a college student in a dorm again. If I want to go to Taco Bell in my pajamas at 3 pm for a Meximelt, I’mma go. And is that really how adults behave? Is it, you guys?

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Me in 6 more months.

THE REFRIGERATOR

I love her. We vibe. She’s always there for me. All day, everyday. Keeping my food cold and delicious, just as she promised when we brought her home from P.C. Richard. We spend A LOT of time together each day. This is great for someone who has healthy eating habits, but that’s not me. NOT. ME. All of my dirty little food secrets are safe with her. This means that in the past 6 years, because I can’t control myself, I’ve gained around 20 lbs. Could I do something about this? SURE. Do I want to? NOT LOOKING THAT WAY.

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“GIVE ME THE GOD DAMN CINNAMON BUNS, BRENDA!”

THE DRINK

That’s right. Another vice. Lock me up. I like to imbibe. This was no problem when I was a respectable member of society, but now my life as a shut-in allows me to have a higher frequency of nights in with the ladies. Being my own boss means I make my own work schedule and since my only other real responsibilities involve getting my kids out the door in the morning, there will be wine. Oh yes. There will be wine. Add that to my eating issues, tack on about 10 more lbs. and order those leggings in the next size up.

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“Yea, no. I’m good.”

I’M THE BOSS

Sure, I own my own business. It allows maximum flexibility and supplemental income, both of which are AMAZING. The problem is that I’m my own IT person, printer repairman and accountant now. I’m unqualified in all of these areas of expertise, which makes my job more interesting. Add to this the fact that I used to work in a bustling office with rock stars and celebrities waltzing through all the time while I got to enjoy being part of a team and my own personal success. Now I work alone in a tiny basement office wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask, dodging spiders and talking to myself. BIG DIFFERENCE.

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CAN YOU HEAR THE LAMBS CRYING, YOU GUYS???

FROM RICHES TO RAGS

I went from being the breadwinner to feeling like a financial drain on our family. Yes my business brings in extra income, but I’m no Joy Mangano. There are no Miracle Mop patents being applied for here. Obviously, what’s my husband’s is OURS but it weighs on me that I’m not contributing like I used to. Not that we were ever rolling in it, but the occasional lunch time visit to Anthropologie for a bag or a sweater has been replaced by scouring the clearance rack at T.J. Maxx. (No offense T.J. Maxx. I love you super hard.)

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Come back to me.

TIME IS ON MY SIDE

The number one thing I’ve gained, and really all that matters, is time. Time with my kids. Time with my husband. Time to create and decide what my next career will be. Time to be braless and eat peanut butter from the jar with Hershey’s syrup. Being able to make my kids their lunches and having time to get them on the bus every day. Being able to spend time in their classrooms. Having time to make dinner and shuttle kids to piano and soccer and lacrosse without roping other families in or having to pay a sitter to help. Knowing that time like this is not afforded to everyone, I do know its value even though I look like Zach Galifinakis waking up in the first Hangover movie each day.

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Now that I’ve lived on both sides of the working mom/stay at home mom fence, I’ve learned that there’s a trade off either way. Your ability to be a good mom isn’t determined by your decision to work or your decision to stay home. The only thing that really matters is that your kids are safe and loved and your wine refrigerator is stocked.

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If I Could Save Time in a B Cup

My freshman year in college, I wrote an essay about boobs for an English class. My mom’s boobs and my best friend’s boobs actually, because they were at opposite ends of the boob spectrum. Twenty two years later, I’m starting to really put the ma’am in mammaries and I find myself wistfully reflecting on that paper and the boobs I had when I wrote it.

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BOOBIES COME BACK!

It was fall, 1996. I was a B cup and considered myself #BLESSED to be on the B team because my mother had been riding the bench on the A team her whole life. She’d shamelessly asked Santa for boobs for Christmas each year for as long as I can remember. Mama wanted big ones. BAD. Then, there was my best friend who’d had a breast reduction about 6 months before I wrote the essay. She was comin’ in hot with DDs prior to her surgery at age 17 and she HATED them. When we’d get ready to go out in high school, she’d look in the mirror and ask, “Am I going to offend anyone if I wear this shirt?” I never knew what she meant by that but my mother’s head would pop out of whatever room she was in and yell, “Any time you’re ready to get rid of them, you know where to find me!”

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“Boobs? I’ll take two right here.” – My mom.

At the time I didn’t fully grasp their misery. I loved them both and couldn’t understand how they could be so unhappy with their bodies, however, their spots in the breast brigade made me appreciate that I was somewhere in between. My Bs got the job done and I wasn’t in a place of longing on either side. But now, less than 3 months away from turning 40, I’ve gained a husband, 2 kids and about 40 lbs since I wrote that essay. My lovable little Bs are a thing of the past and I’ve got 2 big, breast friends in unexpectedly low places. Thanks to Father Time, attempts at breastfeeding, running, weight gain & loss and working from home (which lends itself beautifully to NOT wearing a bra), these days I look like a four-armed octopus when I unleash the beasts.

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Me in 6 months.

Now that there’s more of me to love, I’m constantly in awe of what gravity can do to your body. I mean, you know you’ve entered a new era of self discovery you walk up the stairs and your boobs bounce off your knees. My ladies are so droopy now, if my nipples were hands, I could tie my own shoes with them. God, think of how much more I’d get done each day. I could scramble eggs and butter the toast at the same time. I’d be able to shave a ton of time off making the kid’s sandwiches each morning and showering and folding laundry would be a snap. Maybe hands for nipples is the way to go!

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Luckily, I’m married to a guy who’s still going through puberty and is just happy to see some boobs when he can, regardless of wear and tear. He tells me he accepts my aging shapes, even if he’s just being polite. Talking to my friends, I know their husbands are on “TEAM HEY, A BOOB’S A BOOB” too and that gives me hope for their half of humanity. I mean, if the tables were turned, consider what could happen to them. Imagine if their ding dongs changed course around age 40 and started pointing north at all times? Wait. Actually, now that I think about it…

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Aye aye, Captain…

I’m trying to go easy on myself but we’re quick forget that our bodies are machines built for function. They’re designed to take infinitely tiny sperm molecules and churn them into a little something known as HUMAN LIFE. I think that commands a certain level of respect whether or not the machine needs a new set of headlights. I’ve read so many great posts about how women need to love the battle scars that living leaves behind. They say we should wear our stretch marks and our bumpy parts as badges of honor that celebrate our stories. We shouldn’t let a reflection in a mirror or in our minds take away from that.

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When I get down on myself and want to go back to my old body, a change of perspective is in order. I’ll try to remember that those B cups were attached to a girl who’d never felt a labor pain or had her newborn baby, 10 seconds old, placed on her stomach. When I was cellulite free, I didn’t have an awesome man who wanted to binge on indian food and Netflix with me on Friday nights. When my thighs didn’t touch, I had time to go to the gym because my kids weren’t home waiting for me. When my belly was flat, I hadn’t seen my parents sing to and rock their grandkids to sleep.

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…who happens to love cheese. Like…A LOT.

I’m like everyone. I want to look and feel good about myself when I pass a mirror. I’m just saying it’s ok to allow ourselves a kinder inner monologue instead of wishing we could turn back time. Try to remember that you’re so much more than the sum of your body parts. Instead of seeing saggy boobs and saddle bags, try to see a body stretched by love and experience and make room in your mind and in your bra for the marks that time leaves behind.

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THE ONLY SUPERBOWL RECIPE YOU NEED

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I’m mildly domesticated. Don’t panic – I SAID MILDLY. I consider myself to be mostly like Cher from Mermaids because I’m best at making appetizers and my stomach’s happiest when my three best friends Wine, Cheese and Crackers swing by for a get together. So with Superbowl weekend upon us, I have to share what is TRULY THE BEST THING EVER to bring to your Superbowl party this year. JRECK SUB DIP. Trust me, just make it. Everyone’s going to basically go nuts.

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YYYAAASSSSSSS! JRECK DIP!!!
I may live on Long Island now (yes, the home of the 6 foot hero), but no overgrown downstate sub will EVER compare to the Jreck Subs I grew up eating in northern NY. Not gonna happen. When I stumbled upon and made Mary Alice’s Hoagie Dip from Food Network a few years ago, I realized that I could make it to taste exactly like the beloved subs of my youth. All of you northern and central NYers reading this, I MEAN EXACTLY LIKE JRECK’S. So many of us have moved away from home but we still pine for those subs we grew up on and this is the way to have them whenever you want. I promise, you will NOT be disappointed!

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Mary Alice’s Hoagie Dip from The Food Network ALMOST gets it into the end zone, but my dressing totally scores the touchdown! (photo cred: FoodNetwork.com)
I play around with the combo of meats and cheese I use. Feel free to use whatever you like on your subs, BUT DOCTORING UP THE DRESSING is how I really make it taste like home. Adding red wine vinegar and spicy red pepper relish takes this app to another level. I use pre-packaged deli meats to keep the cost down because, let’s be honest, cold cuts are expensive AF. Food Network shows their dip in a bread bowl but ain’t nobody got time for bread bowls when there’s Jreck Dip to be eaten! Also, this dip tastes better the next day so feel free to make it ahead. Don’t worry if the veggies wilt a little, it really boosts the flavor. True story – we always eat the leftovers for breakfast the next day because no one can wait for lunch to dig in!

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Screw eggs. Jreck’s Dip – it’s what’s for breakfast. (This is an actual breakfast shot.)

JRECK SUB DIP  

(combine all ingredients)

1 medium sweet onion – diced
3/4 head chopped/shredded iceberg lettuce
1 large tomato – seeded and diced
5-6 pepperoncinis – chopped
4-5 oz. deli sliced black forest ham
4-5 oz. deli sliced roast turkey
4-5 oz. deli sliced roast beef
4-5 oz. deli sliced salami
8 oz  sliced provolone – diced
2 loaves of italian bread or hoagie rolls, sliced a little larger than crostini size

 

DRESSING

(mix separately, then add to veggies & meat)

1 1/2 cup mayo
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp Wickles Spicy Sandwich Spread (or any spicy red pepper relish)
2 tbsp dried oregano (you heard me)
salt & pepper to taste

 

All that’s left to do now is strap on your stretchy pants and get ready for your friends to hoist you onto their shoulders and carry you off the field like Rudy Ruettiger because you’re about to win at Superbowl appetizers.

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Be mentally prepared to see everybody’s O face.
If you’re reading this and you love someone who loves Jreck subs and doesn’t get to northern or central NY enough to enjoy them, please share this with them! You’ll score major points.

I’d love to see pics of your own Jreck Dip so feel free to tag me or hit me up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Happy apping everyone!

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CODE BROWN: The Jelly Bean Incident

Long before our girl Oprah was doing yoga in a black spandex onesie on her lawn, I was on Weight Watchers. I loved it because I was on a diet but I could still have junk food. I was like a CIA operative when it came to finding sweet, guilt-free treats that I could fit into my daily points. Until one day when my skills backfired. Literally. Like, fire came out of my backside.

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Settle down, O. We got it.

It was a gorgeous, sunny, summer Friday and I was scheduled to head home from my publishing job in Manhattan at 1:00. I’d been good on my diet all week so I decided to hit up Duane Reade on the way to work to do some WW friendly intel in the candy aisle. I spotted a small bag of Jelly Belly Sugar-Free SOURS and flipped over the bag to check out the calories. It was 200 calories for the bag, which came to 3 or 4 points at the time. “Sweet!” I thought, “and sour.” CHA-CHING.

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I got to the office, settled in and immediately inhaled my bag of jelly beans. (Yes, at 9:30 am. Take your judgement elsewhere.) They were awesome. I felt like I really had my you-know-what together. A little while later, I grabbed the empty bag to take a closer look at the nutrition info so I could enter it into my WW account. That’s when I noticed it. This very small (IMO) red box on the back of the bag.

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“WARNING: CONSUMPTION MAY CAUSE STOMACH DISCOMFORT AND/OR LAXATIVE EFFECT. INDIVIDUAL TOLERANCE WILL VARY; WE SUGGEST STARTING WITH 8 BEANS OR LESS.”

Uhhhhhhhhh, I’m sorry. What was that? Was that 8 beans or less? I ask you, have you ever eaten 8 jelly beans? OR LESS? In fact, turn to the person next to you and ask them the same. If you’re on a train or a public bus or an airplane reading this, stand up and ask everyone around you. Has anyone in the history of humankind EVER eaten 8 jelly beans as a single serving? Because I ate 70 jelly beans. Yes, that’s right. 70. Roughly ten times their suggested serving.

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Yea, lady in the yellow shirt, you have no idea.

I should’ve read the package more thoroughly, but a WARNING on the back of a bag of candy was not something I thought to look for. And quite frankly, if they’re being honest, they should call the candy ASS BULLETS and the disclaimer should read “PACK A BAG FOR YOUR INTENSTINES BECAUSE THEY’LL BE LEAVING YOU SHORTLY”. And laxative effect?? I googled the jelly beans and read, to my horror, account after account of people who, like me, had mistakenly eaten the whole bag. The sugar alcohol they use in place of real sugar is no bueno on the old insides. I looked at the empty bag. OMG. WHAT HAD I DONE?

giphyI looked at the clock. 11:00 am. I was taking a 1:30 train home and would be safely at home by 3:00 p.m. I hated going #2 at work. The thought of taking a smash (<- my husband’s term) next to a co-worker and then pulling up a chair next to them at a meeting was too much for me. I briefly considered trying to throw up the jelly beans to save myself a nail biter situation, but that’s not my style. I love food too much to part with it in that manner. And my husband and I eat Taco Bell regularly, so I figured if my insides could handle their refried beans, some sugar-free jelly frijoles wouldn’t be too much of an issue. Right?

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He’s right. I was.

One o’clock rolled around and there’d been no action. I finished at the office and peaced out, optimistic that I was going to survive this shitstorm. I hopped on the Long Island Railroad and texted my husband (teacher, off for the summer) to pick me up about 10 minutes from our house. As the train pulled out of Penn Station, I felt my first gurgle. My plan was to take deep breaths, focus on the music in my headphones and not dwell on the fact that Rosemary’s Baby was brewing inside me. This worked for the first 30 minutes and then, about halfway home my stomach started cramping and making pop & whoosh sounds. With 40 minutes to go, I sat very still and accepted the fact that it had begun. I had to elevate my poop status to the emergency level – CODE BROWN.

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I tried to remain calm but as the minutes passed it began to sound like an airplane toilet was flushing in my stomach. And then it happened. I downloaded, if you will. The brown hellhound had climbed the steps and was at my back door. I WAS TOUCHING CLOTH. This is when the feverish, desperate, soul-igniting, buttcheek clenching began. I clamped those babies shut so tight, the jaws of life couldn’t have pried them open. It was my only hope. All I could think was, “I’M GOING TO EXPLODE POOP THE TRAIN.” The LIRR bathrooms are no place for an episode like this. NO PLACE. I would need to be able to sit and grip and touch and maybe sob as the demon exited my body, so I wiggled and shifted in my seat with each new snap & swirl I felt. I was sweating jelly bullets.

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I made ALL THE PROMISES to Jesus.

I don’t remember the last 15 minutes of that train ride. I think I left my body. My husband was getting the play by play via text so he was prepped. All I remember after I hit the danger zone was pulling into the station and very gingerly doing a waddle down the stairs where I saw him revving the engine of our Jeep like we’d just robbed a diarrhea bank and he was waiting for me to make our getaway. He knew what was at stake here and basically pulled away as I opened the car door and fell in. I was at CODE BROWN DEF CON. There was no time for safety. There was only speed. We were like Shitsky & Hutch.

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Please don’t crap bomb my car, babe!

We got home, I ran inside and, you guys…I made it. I made it in time. I will spare you the particulars but you should know that I expelled things from my body that day that had probably been there since junior high, maybe even elementary school. I was sweaty and light-headed and I felt like I would pass out, but I didn’t. I made it. I believe that’s the closest I’ve ever been to meeting God. I leaned against the cold bathroom wall and I talked to Him. “OMG THANK YOU GOD. THANK YOU GOD IF YOU’RE REAL. THANK YOU FOR NOT LETTING ME BLOW OUT MY JEANS ON THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD. THANK YOU FOR NOT LETTING ME DIARRHEA GREG’S JEEP. THANK YOU FOR THE EXQUISITE SPHINCTER AND BUTTCHEEK STRENGTH WHICH I PROBABLY GET FROM MY DAD’S SIDE. AMEN.”

I still love me some sweets, but since that day, I keep my eye out for warning labels. I tell any of my friends who are getting colonoscopies that they should eat these jelly beans instead of drinking that awful stuff the doctors make you drink to cleanse your colon. These taste a lot better and I can guarantee they’ll leave your colon sparkling clean.

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Why I Can Never Show My Face at the Gym Pool Again.

I’m warning you. It’s a true story and it’s pretty gross.

I’d pretty much blocked out this entire incident until a friend asked for some info about my gym, including a question about the pool. And then I remembered. That pool. That goddamn pool.

It brought me right back to Spring 2010. My son was about 5 weeks old and I joined the local Gold’s Gym to train for a half marathon I’d signed up for that fall. I figured it’d be a great way to burn off the 40 lbs I put on while pregnant. It was a new gym, close to home, with daycare. Sign me up.

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Oh yay. I love exercise.

Not an avid swimmer, I had no real intention of ever using that goddamn pool. I could swim as a means to NOT DROWN but there was no actual technique or grace involved. Regardless, a couple of weeks into my membership and still on maternity leave from my publishing job in Manhattan, I decided to ditch the treadmill and shake up my routine by hitting the pool.

IMPORTANT TO KNOW:

FIRST. Still being a young, hip, previously slender 32-year-old mom, I only had bikinis. There were no one-piece racerback style Speedos in the swimwear drawer of my dresser.

SECOND. I’d just had a baby. My body was snowsuit ready, not swimsuit ready. 

THIRD. I’m Sicilian. And not the tall, thin gorgeous type of Italians and Sicilians you see in the Lavazza commercials. I’m 5’2″ with hair in unfortunate places. Usually a die-hard fan of the brazilian wax, the 3rd degree episiotomy to my you-know-what had prevented me from rushing right back to my waxer. That being said, my BIKINI AREA could’ve survived a northern New York winter WITHOUT a snowsuit. Ya got me, ladies? 

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There, there. I still love you.

On the day of The Incident I grabbed a few-sizes-too-small black bikini from my drawer and headed for the gym. After a little cardio, I hit the locker room to get changed. I felt pretty ridiculous smooshed into my two-piece. I looked like a tightly trussed turkey on Thanksgiving morning. But I thought, “I’ve got to start somewhere, it’s 11 am on a Tuesday and who the hell’s going to see me anyway?” I looked in the mirror, sucked it up and sucked it in. I had the eye of the tiger.

I walked into the pool area and signed in. There were two young girls working as lifeguards that morning. I looked at them in their tiny black and gold swimsuits with their tight butts and perky boobs, and thought, “Awesome. I’m going to look just like that after I do about 25,000 laps in this pool. So let’s get to it.” I took off my towel, tried to nonchalantly cover my furry bits and scampered into the pool.

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Nothing to see here.

The few people who were swimming had on swimsuits, swim caps and goggles that actual swimmers would wear to a lap pool. Not intimidated, I began my weird doggy paddle-whatever stroke. It was fine. My muscles were burning. I was breathing heavy. I was moving from one end of the pool to the other. And the lifeguards hadn’t jumped in to save me, so I figured it was going well. To help pass the time, I envisioned myself in appropriate swimwear, really getting into it. Maybe I’d do this every day and get ripped. Maybe I had real swimming chops, and I’d become some mom swimmer phenom and make it to the Olympics. Why not? People go under the knife for surgery and wake up with British accents. I could give birth and become a competitive swimming sensation. Crazier shit has happened.

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If you can dream it, you can do it, you guys.

After a half hour, I decided to call it a day and got out of the pool. I felt great. As I dried off, I felt comfortable enough to begin chatting with the two young lifeguards at the table whose bodies hadn’t yet been ravaged by childbirth. I was friendly and witty, making jokes. HARDY HAR HAR. I wasn’t sweating over any body shame because I knew that soon I’d be on the cover of Sports Illustrated accepting a gold medal for the 200 mm Butterfly in Seychelles or wherever, and I’d probably be the wallpaper on these girls’ iPhones. It was all good. I told the girls I’d see them the next day, grabbed my stuff and headed back to the locker room…where I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

Forget about my unorthodox swimming technique. Forget about my tightly trussed midsection. Forget about my bikini area that looked like Bradley Cooper in American Hustle. Forget about all of those things.

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Exact likeness. Even the glasses.

Let’s talk about boogers. There are basically three types. The small, crusty boogers that your friends might refer to as a “cliffhanger” or “a bat in your cave” if you’re my friend Suelyn who grew up in Pennsylvania. Those could get blown out of your nose without you ever even knowing they were there. Then, you have your more garden variety boogers that require a tissue. You should probably leave the room to take care of them. You know, get in there a little. THEN, there are boogers that co-starred with J. Lo and Ice Cube in the movie ANACONDA. The kind that look like they made a 12-day pilgrimage from behind the temporal lobe of your brain, through your sinus cavity, and finally made their way out into the light of day with a stick and bindle and a ratty side dog named Bobo.

That’s the kind of booger that was strung across my face. The last kind. It was clinging from my right nostril almost to my right ear, hanging there like a nightmarish Happy Birthday banner. I FROZE, remembering all the HARDY HARS and YUKKITY YUKS from 60 seconds ago, when I thought I was charming the Under Armour shorts off those girls. WITH A SNOT SLUG ON MY FACE. I quickly gathered myself, grabbed 32 rolls of paper towel and got to work slaying the beast.

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TAKE THAT, booger.

At first, I was mortified. Obviously. Then, I felt bad that those poor girls had to witness my nasal exorcism. They probably marched right into their boss’s office and quit their jobs, demanding workers’ comp for PTSD. But then, my humiliation turned to rage that they didn’t give me a heads up. I know I looked like Slimer took a flyby ectoplasmic crap on my face, but come on people! If you see something, ya gotta say something! Help a girl out! At that moment I vowed I would never let any booger on the face of a friend, foe or stranger go unmentioned.

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“Oops, you’ve got a little something…”                                         *points to nose

I still go to the same Gold’s Gym, but to this day, I haven’t been back in that pool. I’ve stepped up my swimwear game and I see my waxer on the reg, and though I’m sure those girls are long gone by now — I’ll never go in there again. That pool haunts me like a watery poltergeist. A special place in Hell for people who let you walk away from a conversation with a gummy worm hanging off your face.

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Say My Name ONE…MORE…TIME.

Remember when your mother used to say “OH MY GOD! If you say MOM again, I’m changing my name!” Well, now you know why and you feel awful about it too, don’t you? That whole, One Day I Hope You Have A Kid Who Acts Like You curse must be the real deal because the barrage of “MOMs” I get hit with each morning before 9:20 a.m. is enough to put any sane person into a mental institution.

My husband leaves for work around 6:40 each morning. He comes over to give me a kiss or pat me on the butt before he takes off. Sometimes we have this conversation:

Him: “Bye, babe”

Me: “NO. Where are you going?!”

Him: “Work.”

Me: “DON’T LEAVE ME HERE ALONE WITH THEM!”

My 9 year old daughter (sometimes known as The Girl One) is an early riser. She’s always up before my husband leaves. ALWAYS. My son (The Boy One) would sleep in a little if she’d let him but she likes everyone to partake in the splendour that is morn. When I hear their dad close the front door, it’s GAME ON.

The Girl One calls up from downstairs: “Mom. Mom. MOM! Mom come cook breakfast!” She can reach the bananas and I’ve seen her pour cereal and milk into a bowl before. She’s even used the toaster. Swear to God. But still, she wants MOM to do it. Fine.

Me: “BLERGGG. I’m coming!”

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Mom. At your service.

I head downstairs and into the fray. The breakfast bustle gets underway and I begin the morning countdown to bus time like Ted Allen on an episode of CHOPPED. “27 minutes left on the clock, guys! Don’t forget to pack your backpack! Homework, lunch, flute, permission slip! Let’s do this, people!”

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Who will it be this morning?

So now, because I’ve prompted her (anywhere from 5-25 times), The Girl One is headed to the shower. This is only after she begs me to come into the bathroom to stay with her for the duration of her cleanse. I guess she becomes hysterically blind after she eats her waffle and can’t see me cleaning up breakfast, making lunches, packing up homework, feeding the cat and letting the dog in & out the back door every 48 seconds. I say I’ll be in when I’m finished doing X, Y and Z but as soon as the water turns on…

The Girl One: “Mom, come on. Mom. Mom come on. Mom, are you coming? Are you done yet? I can hear you outside the door. Mom. Mom?”

I KNOW YOU’RE ANNOYED JUST READING THIS AND SHE’S NOT EVEN YOUR KID.

I’m like the Muhammad Ali of moms when it comes to shower time. Somehow, I bob and weave my way out of this hornet’s nest each morning and I make my way to the basement to begin “selecting the children’s outfits”.

Let’s all stop for a moment and have a hearty chuckle at the concept of “selecting the children’s outfits”. It sounds so civilized when in fact, picking out clothes in my house each morning is like trying to disarm an explosive with the clock ticking down from 60 seconds. The pants that make too much noise? ARE YOU INSANE? The socks that feel weird? WHY TEMPT FATE? The shirt with the owl on it? HAVE WE FORGOTTEN LAST THURSDAY? One wrong move and your morning detonates. SHRAPNEL EVERYWHERE. No survivors.

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Choose wisely, Mother. Choose wisely.

While I’m in The Laundry Room Hurt Locker, The Boy One starts calling down from the living room. He hasn’t looked away from the TV in 30 minutes so he has no idea where I am and no intention of trying to find me. Why do that when he can just scream his goddamn head off for 10 minutes?

The Boy One: “Mom!”

Me: “Yo!”

The Boy One: “Maaaahhhh-aaaahhhmmmm!”

Me: “YEA! I’m downst-”

The Boy One: “MMMOOMMMM!”

Me: “OMG WHAT!?!?!?! I’M IN THE FREAKING BASEMENT!!!!!”

This is when I snap. The rapid-fire-without-a-chance-to-answer-“MOM” makes me levitate, and not in a cute Mary Poppins type way. I’m like Mary Poppins’ bitchy cousin who dropped out of high school to follow her boyfriend’s band across the country and then he slept with her best friend and now she has to work at the home for wayward children instead of working for a nice family and singing songs about sugar and crap.

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“And we’re not having hot mush today…”

We do this pretty much every day. By the time I get both of those animals to the bus I feel like a bull rider who couldn’t hold on for 8 seconds. But the crazy part is that even when I feel like a wild-eyed Mommy Dearest on the inside, I kiss those kids on their faces and look them in their beautiful eyes and tell them I love them. And I mean it. The morning’s transgressions already forgiven and forgotten. My kids must’ve pumped unconditional love to me through the umbilical cord because they’re the only ones who love me even remotely the same way. I don’t think I had that ability before they were born. It allows me to block out whatever ridiculous things they do so the love can bubble up and I can do the only job I really have to do, which is to love them.

After last week’s post, I received this text from a friend:

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Flattered, but trust me, I have no idea what I’m doing.

Apart from making me a little emotional, it reminded me of a conversation my sister-in-law and mother-in-law had once. My SIL was saying that her kids just make her nuts all the time and she was always feeling wound up and that she never remembered my MIL being like that when she was young. My MIL laughed and assured us that there were MANY times like that, but MY SIL didn’t remember them because overall, she had a happy childhood.

The loving, the laughing, the yelling, the kisses, the fighting, the worry, the hugs, the chaos, the parenting wins and losses. Those are the ingredients that make a family and every family has its’ own recipe. There are no hard and fast rules. A cake batter may have a few lumps in it, but even with a few lumps, a well-made cake is still pretty delicious. My kids may yell my name 74 times a morning but I just have to remember, that’s the exact number of “MOMs” it takes to make a morning in our house. Some mornings I may not handle it like Princess Diana, but if I end each morning and each night with a hug, a kiss and an “I Love You”, we might just get this cake baked after all.

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