image courtesy of Pexels
Olympians. Amazing creatures, amiright? Notice how I didn’t call them humans, because that would be doing them a disservice. I mean, what else on this planet has the strength, speed, agility, and sheer lunacy to accomplish such feats as spinning inches from the icy ground with their jugulars mere millimeters from their partners’ razor sharp skate blades?
Yes, every one of those athletes deserves to be right where they are today. I whole-heartedly applaud them from the couch in between bites of popcorn, which is right where I deserve to be with my lack of strength, speed, and agility. Jury’s out on the status of my sheer lunacy.
However, I do think we parents should give ourselves more credit than we do. I mean, sure we (at least most of us) can’t do the splits while leaping a mile off the ground in order to somehow gracefully fly down a mountain, and live to tell the tale. BUT, we do have a lot of the qualities it takes to be an Olympian.
As parents, we each wear about a thousand different hats. From cooks to nurses to jungle gyms to napkins… let’s just say we put Goorin to shame. Quite possibly the biggest hat we wear is that of SHERPA. Take, for example, the sheer amount of stuff that gets hauled into my car every morning when I drive the kids to school.
If you need a frame of reference for size, just realize that I'm actually sitting in the driver's seat on the other side... okay, fine, I'm not. But I may as well be. I can hardly see out the passenger side window when I drive. Which is really a bummer because I love catching people in the act of singing in the car. I digress...
That pile is nothing compared to the amount of stuff that comes home after school. The snack wrappers, the memos, the artwork. Oh, heaven help us all with the school artwork.
“But, don’t you have kids with arms who are quite capable of helping you out?” You ask. Why yes, yes I do. And, don't get me wrong - my kids do more than their fair share of carrying stuff. Of course, that doesn't stop them from giving me these looks every time I ask them to bring in so much as a granola bar.
And yet, I still end up carrying fourteen armloads of who knows what.
And that’s only the stuff. Let’s not forget about the actual children that, for reasons still unbeknownst to me, don’t come out of the womb walking on their own. No matter how many videos I showed them of baby giraffes wobbling around on their stick legs right after birth, my newborns just never figured it out.
But, let’s be honest, there’s nothing better than carrying our babies around. The squishy, warm blob snuggles can’t be beat. The trial comes when you try to pick up those blasted carseats.
Image courtesy of our awesome Uncle Pat
Come on, Olympic trainers. Just try to give me a forearm exercise that can compete with that.
It’s 7:47am on a Monday morning. Two of your kids are playing on the floor in their pajamas. The third is still asleep. They have to leave for school in t-minus 13 minutes. Your options are:
1. curl up in the corner with a cup of coffee and pretend none of it exists
I think it’s safe to say this is what every parent wants to do at 7:47am on a Monday morning, but we’re stronger than that, dang it! (see notes above if you’re not convinced)
2. shrug it off and let it play out in its own good time. Kumbaya and all that jazz.
Also an appealing option. Sounds very relaxing and leisurely, which are both lovely adjectives. But, this option also means that nobody will catch their ride to school. Aka, nobody leaves the house, and perpetual chaos ensues. Which is no bueno. And so, you…
3. get your butt in gear and light the fire under every one else. You don’t need 13 minutes. It only takes you 8 minutes to wake kids up, dress them, brush hair, feed them, and why not give them a bath while you’re at it just for kicks and giggles.
The same goes for bedtime. 7:30pm rolls around, and I’m like a sergeant marching them up to their rooms. GO, GO, GO! This is not a drill! Lights out in 5 minutes! I repeat, this is not a drill. Speed, my friends. Parenting is all about speed.
If someone created an Olympic sport wherein an athlete must place those little plastic snack baggies on each of an octopus's 8 arms, any parent who's ever tried to dress a mobile toddler would crush it. Agility with a capital-freaking-A. ‘Nuff said.
So, see? Maybe everyday parents aren’t so different from world-class Olympians after all.* We actually do have insane amounts of strength, speed, and agility thanks to the random conditioning exercises only children can provide. And, of course, we proved our sheer lunacy the second we decided we wanted to have kids in the first place, so there’s that.
Now, if you’d like to bring me my medal, you can find me eating popcorn on my couch.
*Of course I’m only kidding. World-class Olympians are waaaaaay cooler than me. This disclaimer will hopefully save me from getting beat up by an Olympian, which actually sounds more dangerous than being attacked by a herd of lions**
**Of course I’m only kidding. A herd of lions is waaaaaay scary. This disclaimer will hopefully save me from getting attacked by one
“Hey, Laura!” I wrote in my email. “Long time no see. Can I take you out for a coffee date soon to catch up?”
Let me stop right there. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m quite possibly the worst ever when it comes to keeping in touch with people. Just ask any of my high school or college friends. What friends, you ask? My point exactly.
What I’m saying is, this email was a big deal. I hadn’t seen Laura in well over a year, and I was trying to turn over a new leaf by reaching out to her.
A respectable 24 hours later, she responded: “Are you sure you’re emailing the right person?”
Ouch. I mean, yeah, I’m a putz at keeping up my relationships, but there’s no need to be snarky about it. Still, Laura was known to be a bit sarcastic, so…
“Yes of course I meant you!” I responded milliseconds later because I never did figure out dating etiquette. I offered up a time and place to meet, and she accepted. Whew. That wasn’t so hard.
The day of our scheduled date, Laura sent me an email. “I’ll be sitting by the front window, wearing a green vest.”
Seriously? It’s not like we haven’t seen each other in a decade or something, I still remember what you look like. Geez, Laura. Your sarcasm is getting a bit out of hand. Will you be holding a red rose, too?
I showed up to the coffee shop and looked to the table by the front window. Sure enough, a woman wearing a green vest (no rose) was sitting there. But, it most certainly was not Laura. Turns out, I’d been emailing back and forth with a COMPLETE STRANGER…
I stared in disbelief at her until she looked up and smiled. I’d been noticed. At that point, I had two viable options:
1. Run like hell out of that place and never look back
2. Fake my way through a friendly conversation as though I had indeed emailed the right person
But wait, you ask. Isn't there another option? Couldn't you just admit you'd made a mistake?
To which I say, are you crazy?! She'd already given me a chance to realize my wrong-doing. No way was I owning up to this.
“Chelsea?” She asked, extending her hand to shake mine. “I’m Laurie.”
YOU GUYS!!! The woman I’d sent multiple emails to didn’t even have the same first name as my actual friend!
“I know that!” I lied, bypassing the handshake and going straight in for a hug. “It’s so great to see you, Laurie!”
Option #2 was now in full play.
Ms. Green-vest already had a drink, so I excused myself to order some tea. Luckily, there was a short line at the register, which meant I had approximately forty-nine seconds to do some serious detective work.
I searched Laurie’s name in my emails and learned that while we'd never actually exchanged personal messages (other than to set up our little date), we were on the same email promo list for a yoga organization I’d done some work with. That’s as far as I got before it was my turn at the counter. Not wanting to be that guy, I begrudgingly put my phone away, sending up a silent prayer that my tiny sliver of discovered information could get me through the next hour of my life.
I made my way back to the table, repeating the name of the organization over and over again in my head as I walked.
“So,” I started right in the second I sat down. There was no way I was going to give this conversation a chance to get awkward. “How’s the yoga world treating you?”
“Oh, I left that job last year…” chirp, chirp. So much for not letting things get awkward.
But, I didn’t give in. Nope, not even a little bit. I rolled with the punches and asked her what she was up to now. She told me, but don’t ask me to repeat it because I wasn’t listening to a word. I was far too busy making sure I was nodding at the right times and laughing when it seemed appropriate. I even managed to touch Laurie’s arm a couple of times, just to really assure her that we knew each other. In other words, I was crushing it.
Finally, after 45 non-awkward minutes (I know, right??), I finally drummed up the nerve and said, “You’re probably wondering why I asked you out to coffee since we don’t know each other too well…” (err....at all...)
Her face relaxed, like she'd been holding in that exact question the entire time.
“It’s just…” I came up with the fib one precious word at a time. “I…Ever since…we were involved in that organization together…I’ve always looked up to you as…as a strong woman in the area…”
That probably would’ve been sufficient enough. But, no, I had to keep going.
“and I’ve…made a list of all the strong business women I know…and am asking them out to coffee…one by one…to get inspiration for my own life…”
She was flattered. And rightfully so. My delivery was so realistic, I almost believed my own lie to be true. She asked me if I could please send her that list of strong women. Of course I could, because that's what friends (err...people pretending to be friends...) do.
We said our goodbyes, and she hugged me like she meant it. Like she finally believed we truly knew each other. It was beautiful.
Then I got the hell out of that place and never looked back. Boy, did I learn my lesson. Sorry to all my old acquaintances, but I’m never emailing you again. It’s just too risky to try to catch up with you.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to make up a list of influential business women so I can email it to my new BFF Laurie...
How happy that someone finally created a girls bathroom where not even walls exist to stifle any gossip between friends. But, how sad when two girlfriends skip in to pee together and one can’t sit because there’s masking tape on the seat... Plus, she has no toilet paper
"Alexa! Can you add A-batteries to my shopping list?" The hubs asks innocently. He doesn't notice the two sets of wide, little eyes that belong to his two smart, little daughters logging away his every word.
And that's how, days later, we ended up with this on our front porch:
(Okay fine, it was only half that size...)
(photo credit: Alabama News Center)
"What'd you order from Amazon?" The hubs asks.
"Nothing," I say. "What'd you order from Amazon?" Because it takes two to tango and all that jazz...err...tango music...
We open it up, and those same two sets of eyes that were watching their dad days earlier grow huge in excitement. Because, THIS is what was in that box:
"You ordered a dozen bags of marshmallows?" Hubs asks.
Pssh. Of course not! I mean, if we're being honest, I wasn't entirely positive it wasn't me. I have been known to accidentally order some pretty strange things in the past.
We notice our 4- and 6- year old daughters torn between full-on diving into the pile of white sugar-puffed bags, and hiding behind whatever shadow they can find on the floor.
"Did you guys order marshmallows??" I ask. They nod, equal parts sheepish and ridiculously proud. And rightly so. But how??
They point to our Alexa speaker. Hubs pulls up our Amazon account and, sure enough, one of the things in our order history from Alexa is indeed, a dozen bags of marshmallows. Luckily, that's the only thing they ordered that actually made it to our house... here's what the rest of our wish-list looked like, thanks to their little shopping spree with Alexa:
Baby ocelot?!? I mean, not to be picky, but I sort-of wish that was the item that had somehow made it to our house instead of a mountain of 'mallows.
"Alright," I say, trying to be the responsible parent instead of resisting the urge alongside my kids to jump into the bags. "Keep them in the box, I'll ship them back in the morning."
To my surprise, the girls don't complain. They don't even make a single peep (pun fully intended). It's the hubs who speaks up.
"No," he says. "Don't send them back. The girls ordered them, so now they need to figure out what to do with them. They can start by paying us back for their purchase."
I shoot the hubs a I-can't-believe-you look, but was secretly proud of his awesome dad-ness. Still no complaining from the girls, because it was dad who made the rule, not mom. Together, they calculate how much each kid owes us. Then, the girls shuffle to their tiny piggy banks and shake out the right amount of change.
It was a few days before Thanksgiving, and I hadn't done my grocery shopping yet. I did need some 'mallows for my sweet potatoes.
"Hey guys," I offer up. "Can I buy one of your bag from you?" They (with the help of their business-savvy daddy) ask me how much I'd pay for a sack at the store. Then, they UPCHARGE me, saying it's worth the price to save me a trip. Feeling slightly ripped off, but also terribly proud of my children, I can't refuse. They easily sell their first bag.
Their little sister starts freaking out, because there's a hill of marshmallows and no one's given her a single one. So, the girls (who are now on a role), figure out how many marshmallows are in each bag, divide that number from the amount they charged me for a whole bag, and demand 10 cents for each individual marshmallow.
Their baby sister (you guys, she was only two at the time) toddles off to her piggy bank and comes back with twin dimes. Cha-ching! In return, she receives two pillows of sugar.
(seriously, how could you charge that sweet face a single penny for a treat??)
And that's how my daughters turned a profit on their accidental (?) Alexa purchase. Quite possibly one of the hub's most brilliant and lasting lessons to date. Let it be a lesson to you, too: Business school's for suckers - get an Alexa unit instead ;)
In other news, I'm still waiting for that baby ocelot...
I've been trying really hard not to add to all the noise surrounding the political events of the last week, but I can't take it anymore! It's all weighing too heavy on my heart not to write about it.
Yes, his #MuslimBan is awful. It goes against everything this country is built on. Yes, his disregard of what's going on with nature and the environment is so sad. The proof is in the pudding that global warming IS a real thing and that we NEED our National Parks. Yes, his disrespect and demoralizing of women is horrific. With three young girls of my own, I couldn't be more on the #girlpower band wagon right now.
I'll be the first to admit, I'm terrified of what lays ahead of us as a country—and, more importantly, as a world. I've been stockpiling my food storage and emergency kits like a fool. I'm a ridiculously optimistic person, but this time, it's hard to see what good could come of all of this.
There is a silver lining, though. And that silver lining is the chance we have to become a collective whole and put our feet down together. Can we please stop pointing fingers and dwelling on who voted for who? Can we stop saying hateful things to each other? Because, it's not about politics anymore. That's in the past. It's not about segregating ourselves or blaming our neighbors. It's about humanity. We're all in this together, whether we like it or not, and the only way we'll make a difference is if we stand together, hand in hand. In the words of Bill & Ted, "Be Excellent to Each Other."
This isn't going to end soon, I fear. So, we're going to need each other's support to not only get through it, but to change it. We can't be divided. We need to stand in solidarity with each other, as Americans.
* The fall weather is inspiring me to write about pumpkin patches... but also inspiring me not to write at all, so as a compromise, here is an excerpt from my book I'd Rather Wear Pajamas
Pregnancy is fun. Being pregnant with your sister and best friend? Fun times two. I’m very good at math.
Of all the hilarious experiences I’ve had with Meghan, and there were many, I think this one takes the cake.
One perfectly crisp autumn morning, we dragged our husbands to a fall festival. As a word of caution, if you choose to visit a pumpkin patch while hugely pregnant, you will get interrogated by at least 50% of the people there who think they’re being funny by asking if you’re smuggling out a pumpkin. I think this year, I actually will smuggle out a pumpkin in my shirt and people will just assume I’m pregnant. Joke’s on all of you, plus hey, free pumpkin.
Baby or pumpkin? You'll never know. mwah hah hah
This festival was so complex, it even had one of those tin trains for kids to ride in. You know what I’m talking about—the fantastically old metal ones with cars that look like giant empty soup cans turned on their sides.
Now imagine two full-grown (and fully-pregnant) women squeezing themselves into those little soup-can cars. It was not our wisest decision, but the train was practically empty, so Meghan and I asked if we could ride. The guy driving the rig replied that if we could get into the car, he’d take us around. So, we rode.
Hey, where’d my legs go??
It was sheer bliss, feeling the wind in our faces and the sun on our backs. Like heaven really. But, then it stopped and we had to get out. Only, we couldn’t.
Here are three things to keep in mind if you're ever considering going for this type of a train ride:
1. Soup-can cars are intended for children.
2. Soup-can cars are made of metal and aren’t at all flexible, so if you get stuck, you’re really stuck.
3. If you decide to ride in one despite my other points, at least remember not to wear slippery maternity jeans.
It took me a good several minutes to contort my way out of that thing. Thank goodness for prenatal yoga. In my own agony, I completely failed to remember how Meghan’s legs are significantly longer than mine and how her belly was a couple of months ahead of mine. Upon my escape, I found Meghan completely wedged into her soup can, not able to move an inch one way or the other.
To add to the scene, we emoted so much joy during our ride that several children ran up to wait for the next ride. So, the entire train quickly filled with eager children—except for one poor little kid who couldn't find an open seat because Meghan was stuck on the train.
Before long, an entire crowd had gathered around to see this fully pregnant woman jammed into the car. She should have gotten paid because clearly she had become the festival's main attraction. The more she tried to free herself, the more stuck she became. Our husbands got on either side of her and tried hoisting her up by her arms. Still no movement.
Like a true soldier, she hollered bravely to the driver, "Just start driving these poor kids around. I'll figure something out!" But, the mom of the boy without a seat would have none of that. Her son needed that soup can car emptied for him ASAP.
I was a terrible sister. I stood right next to her car and laughed my head off. I couldn't help it.
I laughed when the guy standing behind us said, "Welp, looks like you bought yourselves a new train!" I laughed when the moms of all the kids waiting for the ride to start crossed their arms impatiently and sighed louder than needed. I laughed when I pictured Meghan getting pulled out of that thing with the Jaws of Life. I laughed when the driver did absolutely nothing, because he knew it was a lost cause, and plus it was giving a bit of entertainment to his otherwise boring work day. Shoot, I'm even laughing out loud right now as I'm writing this.
After a solid twenty minutes, and by some autumn miracle, Meghan finally freed herself from the terrible grasp of the soup can car. In the process, her stretchy maternity pants slipped down to a level that would embarrass even a high schooler used to wearing his jeans hanging off his butt. Her supportive husband's only comment was, "Don't worry, sweetie. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one you mooned." It was fantastic.
Her only battle wounds (other than a battered ego) were some fantastic bruises on her knees. At her next OB appointment, her doctors saw the bruises and immediately sounded the alarms to check Meghan’s iron levels. Meghan just nodded and looked at the floor. She didn't have the guts to tell them that even the most iron-rich person in the world couldn't get out of that predicament without purpling up a little bit.
Like what you see? Check out my quirky memoir about finding your path in life.
I'D RATHER WEAR PAJAMAS