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Dear Darling, I Need a Big Favor

Dear Dar­ling,

You are my only girl and it is my respon­si­bil­i­ty as your moth­er to talk to you about impor­tant things. From the time I was a lit­tle girl, I’ve dreamed of being a mom and hav­ing the­se con­ver­sa­tions. One day we’ll pine over Pin­ter­est Boards as we plan your dream wed­ding. I look for­ward to see­ing your face when you find the per­fect prom dress. I’m even train­ing myself to be pre­pared when you have your first peri­od, but let’s not get ahead of our­selves, here. I have big dreams for you, my beau­ti­ful girl. I want you to be strong and smart and hap­py. I want you to fight for what you believe in and nev­er let any­one tell you that you can’t do some­thing. I want you to wear the bright­est red lip­stick you can find and blow kiss­es at the haters. But right now more than any­thing, my dar­ling, I need you to fall in love with a boy band. And I need you to do it quick­ly so that I can start stash­ing away mem­o­ra­bil­ia for your midlife cri­sis.

If you’re any­thing like me, you’re going to have all kinds of cocka­mamie ideas through­out your ado­les­cence. You’ll have an inven­tion idea that you’ll want to send to Shark Tank. You’ll prob­a­bly have a self-image cri­sis and decide to have a throw back fash­ion iden­ti­ty and will hope I saved some­thing from the 90s. You are going to think that I am crazy and embar­rass­ing and the most uncool mom in the world. The­se things, I will prob­a­bly not love, but boy band obses­sion, this is one phase that I will get behind. You see, my dear, it is inevitable that you will fall down this par­tic­u­lar rab­bit hole. You come from a long lin­eage of wom­en who have fal­l­en in love with a musi­cian. I had my boy band, your grand­moth­er had The Beat­les and your great grand­moth­er had her ever­last­ing love, Lib­er­ace. Per­haps that last pick was a bit mis­guid­ed, but I digress. I promise, to give you my whole heart, and bank account, when you decide on the one that will be yours forever.

I solemn­ly swear to emo­tion­al­ly and finan­cial­ly sup­port this habit. I will donate my 401k for shirts, pins, but­tons and a Fat Head for your wall. I will buy all of the iTunes gift cards so that you can pre-order albums and instant­ly down­load sin­gles. I will even sub­scribe to the YouTube chan­nel so that you can watch the same videos over and over and over again. I com­mit to buy­ing mag­a­zi­nes, I’m not sure if they still make mag­a­zi­nes, but if they do, they’re yours. As time goes on you will begin plan­ning your wed­ding, com­ing up with baby names and decide whose fam­i­ly to spend Christ­mas with. The dev­as­ta­tion that will come when you see him on TMZ with his new gal pal will be pal­pa­ble. That day, we will cry togeth­er and eat crap­py food and talk about how much bet­ter you would be for him. Once our sob ses­sion is over, I will help you to erad­i­cate any mem­o­ry of that low life from your mind. Togeth­er we will pack up your col­lec­tion and ready it for trash day. But here’s where I am going to go rogue. I’m not real­ly going to throw away any­thing. Nope, I’m going to pack it in a box in the base­ment and hide it among Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions and baby clothes that no else even know exist. Trust me, one day when you are yearn­ing for your youth and an escape from the pres­sures of adult­hood, you are going to want the­se things.

You see, my own life has recent­ly come full cir­cle and I’ve real­ized how impor­tant my mother’s sup­port of my fan girl dreams was. In 1989 I fell in love with five boys from Boston. It was more than just a crush, it was an obses­sion. The New Kids on the Block posters cov­ered my walls. My boom box con­stant­ly played their tapes-I’ll take you to the Smith­so­ni­an some­day and you’ll see what I’m talk­ing about. I wore t-shirts and giant but­tons and I was sure that one day I would mar­ry Don­nie Wahlberg and live hap­pi­ly ever after. Well, your father’s name isn’t Don­nie, your uncle isn’t Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch are nowhere to be found. I am not; how­ev­er, dis­ap­point­ed. The fact that I nev­er mar­ried a boy ban­der means that I can still hang on to a bit of my child­hood fan­ta­sy.

This past sum­mer, I pulled out my Hang­in’ Tough t-shirt, it still fits which says a whole lot about how we were wear­ing our clothes in the 80’s, and head­ed out to see NKOTB, their more mature moniker, in con­cert. I walked into a venue that seats 20,000 and saw that many wom­en who are exact­ly like me. The­se wom­an are the ones who are sud­den­ly find­ing chin hairs that pop up two inch­es long overnight. The­se same wom­en have given birth to babies and are won­der­ing how did we all get here and why is time mov­ing so fast? Long ago the­se wom­en had crimped hair and frost­ed eye shad­ow and sobbed uncon­trol­lably when five boys hit the stage. The­se wom­en are my peo­ple. We are all the same. We’ve hid­den our sev­en­th-grade year­book in hopes that our hus­bands will nev­er dis­cov­er the old us. We have worn breast pads that slipped and sprung a leak in the mid­dle of the gro­cery store. We have had bad job inter­views and ter­ri­ble rela­tion­ships. We have lived par­al­lel lives and grown up togeth­er, although most of us have nev­er met.

We gath­ered togeth­er, almost 30 years lat­er, and soaked up every min­ute. We didn’t want to hear new songs. We didn’t want to see new dances. We want­ed Step by Step with all five steps, all five boys and seam­less chore­og­ra­phy accom­pa­nied by pyrotech­nic mag­ic. And that’s just what we received. The­se guys know exact­ly what they are doing. Being able to watch 40-some­thing men sing the same songs and per­form the same moves three decades lat­er is noth­ing short of mag­ic. They came back just as their fans are com­ing of age. We are get­ting mar­ried and hav­ing kids and start­ing to feel old. We are dis­con­nect­ed from our youth and this has brought us back. If only for one night, we were those same cry­ing girls with black hats and over­alls that could take on the world.

And guess what? We did take on the world. We are moms and daugh­ters and friends and doc­tors and lawyers and CEOs and teach­ers and wait­ress­es and mechan­ics and what­ev­er else we ever want­ed to be. We all start­ed as young girls and have grown into wom­en stitched togeth­er by a com­mon thread. And I wouldn’t change one bit of that. I want that same kind of hap­pi­ness for you, my sweet girl. In 30 years, you will be liv­ing a grown up life filled with pres­sure and chal­lenge and frus­tra­tion and you will need an escape from real­i­ty, too. When the time comes, you will open the box that I have saved for all of those years and the mem­o­ries will flood back. You will feel a pit in your stom­ach for what was, but flut­ters in your heart in antic­i­pa­tion of the reunion tour. You will belt out your favorite tunes, dance the famil­iar moves and swoon at their old­er, yet, sex­ier bod­ies. It will be worth every one of the hun­dreds of dol­lars you paid for the tick­et. Trust me, if you allow your­self to get away from dia­pers and dead­li­nes and sleep depri­va­tion and you self­ish­ly indul­ge in one night with 20,000 wom­an in your tribe, you’ve got the right stuff!

Love,

Mom

Mama Said There’d be Days Like This

Today was pic­ture day. Now before you get all con­cerned that my kids showed up at school in white polos already stained with choco­late milk and week-old bed­head, rest assured, I remem­bered. As a mat­ter of fact, every­one was up at 6am, in the show­er, had a deli­cious break­fast poured right out of the card­board box with love and in the car with time to spare. I gave my final farewells and watched my hand­some boys frol­ic into school not a care in the world. I also saw sev­er­al of their class­mates head­ed into the build­ing hold­ing pic­ture order forms. The same order forms that were sit­ting in the bas­ket of papers that I had no inten­tion of look­ing at for at least six months. $h!+!!!

Liv­ing in a Jack But­ler world of North to pick up and South to drop off, there was no turn­ing around, so I had to head down the street and make a U-Turn. Upon my return, the park­ing lot was full and there was no way for me to sneak in and out with­out any­one notic­ing. Instead, I got to take Hand­some #3 and Dar­ling, still in her paja­mas, through the obsta­cle course of senior cit­i­zens sure not to miss the ear­ly bird park­ing for 8:15 mass and the throngs of par­ents who couldn’t wait for their argu­ing chil­dren to final­ly get out of the damn car! We made it through to the school office where I grabbed the envelopes ready to place my order when I saw that they only take checks. Since I had just forged my husband’s sig­na­ture on the last check from the book at soc­cer uni­form pick up, that wasn’t an option. Instead, I had to take the walk of shame, envelope in hand, with my disheveled chil­dren and order my prints online. Thank­ful­ly, that part went off with­out a hitch.

Hand­some #3’s school day starts 45 min­utes after his old­er broth­ers’. We have a dai­ly rit­u­al that includes him refus­ing to eat the break­fast that I have just pre­pared, cry­ing that he hates school and an absolute refusal to let me help with any shoes or but­tons. We live less than five min­utes from preschool and we are late every.single.day. Once we get there it’s all smiles and high fives and how are you friends? His per­for­mance at home and the entire way there should gar­ner him a day­time Emmy.

We walked Hand­some #3 to class, but there was no time to dawdle. Dar­ling and I were in a hur­ry this morn­ing. As I men­tioned, it was pic­ture day and Hand­some #2 real­ly want­ed to wear his favorite black glass­es. One slight prob­lem, they were bro­ken. I promised him that I would go to Lens Crafters first thing and get those qual­i­ty craft­ed specs back to school in an hour, before he saw the pho­tog­ra­pher. Dar­ling was strapped in, my cof­fee was still hot and we were right on time to be wait­ing at the door when the store opened. I put the key in the igni­tion a lit­tle sput­ter­ing, a few lights flick­er­ing on the dash, but the engine would not turn. Per­fect. I called AAA and they said it would be 30–45 min­utes before the tech­ni­cian would arrive. Even more per­fect.

Dar­ling was done being strapped into her carseat about 45 sec­onds into our strand­ed state, so out she went ready to explore the front seat. She did a dandy job push­ing every but­ton, pulling every knob, find­ing my secret stash of tam­pons, gum and expired insur­ance cards. By the time she was fin­ished it looked like a tor­nado had ripped through the front seat. The AAA man final­ly showed up, replaced the bat­tery and $129 lat­er, we were on our way.

Due to our lit­tle bump in the road, there was no way I was get­ting to school on time, but I fig­ured I’d get the glass­es tak­en care of as long as I was out. Hand­some #2 loved those glass­es. They were his first pair and he was super excit­ed to get them back. Well he would have been excit­ed, except that they’re dis­con­tin­ued and unavail­able in the state of Mis­souri. Excel­lent! Mr. Extreme­ly patient Lens Crafters Man, who want­ed to kick me through the win­dow after 30 min­utes of total inde­ci­sion about new frames, and I picked out a per­fect new pair. They whipped those pup­pies up in no time and we were on our way.

I had just a few min­utes before pick­ing up Hand­some #3, so I decid­ed to run into Aldi to grab a few essen­tials. One thing on my list that I have be mean­ing to get the last 10 trips is that $.39 con­tain­er of salt. Remem­ber that, it’ll come back to haunt me in the lat­er rounds. There was a child los­ing its ever lov­ing mind some­where in the store, I nev­er saw it, but the whole city could hear it. Thank­ful it wasn’t mine, I said a quick Hail Mary for the poor moth­er and head­ed out. Once again, we were back on track ready to get Hand­some #3 from school.

Hand­some #3 was beam­ing at dis­missal, hap­py to see his sis­ter and me. “He had a great day, ” called his teacher. Of course he did, he only puts on the spit­ting pea soup show for me. We got home, had lunch, watched a lit­tle Elmo and were all just ready to relax for a min­ute. It was peace­ful and hap­py and serene. Like the per­fect lit­tle fam­i­ly in an anti­de­pres­sants ad.

Since the morn­ing was such a train wreck, I fig­ured it could only go up, so I got cre­ative. Some­times I like to think that I’m June cleaver in a mod­est polka dot dress with a half apron and plas­tic-cov­ered fur­ni­ture. Today was one of those days and I decid­ed to take my stay-at-home mom game to the next lev­el. Oh the boys would just love a pump­kin bundt cake as an after school sur­prise, wouldn’t they? Of course they would, I’ll just whip one right up!

I got out my pan, I pre­heat­ed my oven, pulled out the 800-lb-Kitchenaid and gath­ered my ingre­di­ents. I opened the cab­i­net to grab my sug­ar and flour can­is­ters when that $.39 salt appeared, clear­ly unhap­py with its new accom­mo­da­tions. In what can only be described as a sui­cide attempt, the salt took a free fall direct­ly into my face. Caught com­plete­ly off guard by the incred­i­ble pain throb­bing in my nose, I dropped the fresh­ly-filled with 5 pounds of sug­ar con­tain­er that sub­se­quent­ly broke into 6,000 pieces the sec­ond it hit the gran­ite. I would have tak­en a pic­ture, but I didn’t want to hurt the feel­ings of any of the 4,656,000 sug­ar gran­ules that dis­persed them­selves through­out my entire kitchen if they didn’t make the shot.

I was on the verge of tears when Hand­some #3 ever so kind­ly dis­tract­ed me.

Mom! Dar­ling pooped and she stinks so, so bad!”

I changed the dia­per, put her down for a nap and came down to sur­vey the dam­age. It was bad. I was defeat­ed. Hand­some #3 went to watch a show, Dar­ling was sleep­ing and I need­ed my favorite rap playlist and a Diet Coke. I took a deep breath and tried to put things into per­spec­tive. I am thank­ful for my four beau­ti­ful chil­dren and a lov­ing hus­band, who works his butt off, so that I can have the­se $h!++y days at home with our kids. I rolled my sleeves up, turned the speak­ers on high and got to work. “Hot n Her­re” on my lips, I scrubbed the cab­i­nets, the floors and the coun­ters, and sud­den­ly caught my reflec­tion in the mir­ror and thought, Damn! I think my butt get­tin’ big.….…

Got Milk?

Look, Colleen, here’s the deal. When you’re a kid, your moth­er is an idiot. And then she becomes OK for a while. And then, well, she just falls again. You are just back to the time in your life when your moth­er is an idiot.”

This pro­found, and most­ly true, quote didn’t come up in con­ver­sa­tion at after school pick­up. I didn’t receive a text from my bestie explain­ing my life. Nope, wasn’t a meme on my Face­book feed either. The­se words were astute­ly spo­ken by my own moth­er as we rem­i­nisced over cof­fee about an inci­dent ear­lier in the week.

Typ­i­cal day for Mau­r­mi and me. We were head­ed on an adven­ture with Hand­some #3 and Dar­ling while the oth­er Hand­somes were in school. It was a beau­ti­ful day in the neigh­bor­hood and we promised Hand­some #3 the finest cuisine at McDonald’s and some time on the swings at the park. He bar­relled through his nuggets and fries, but had no inter­est in his choco­late milk. As we gath­ered our things, I noticed his bot­tle left on the win­dow sill. I head­ed to the car with Dar­ling and called out to Mau­r­mi, “Grab that milk and toss it.” She heard, “Grab that milk.” This is where the trou­ble began.

There are two rules in my home that are infal­li­ble. A boy may nev­er show up at my table with his armpits exposed. We do not do break­fast shirt­less, there are no tank tops allowed, peri­od. We keep the offen­sive body part, that will one day be cov­ered in hair and hang­ing balls of deodor­ant –yep, I just threw up too-cov­ered at all times. The oth­er rule that we do not break? Under no cir­cum­stances is milk ever allowed in the car. One sip­py cup that dripped on the floor mat of my lux­u­ry sedan and caused the car to smell like the foulest of bod­i­ly func­tions for the remain­der of my own­er­ship was the end of to-go dairy prod­ucts.

I fin­ished load­ing Dar­ling and Hand­some #3 in the car and went to buck­le myself in when I saw it. A half full bot­tle of death with no lid star­ing me in the face as it made its descent into the cup hold­er. Then in slow motion I screamed and grabbed for the bot­tle, “Nooooooooo!”

Just as my arm reached down, so did Maurmi’s. I unin­ten­tion­al­ly hit her in the head, knock­ing her sun­glass­es off of her face and turn­ing her hair into a bird’s nest. As our arms col­lid­ed, the bot­tle went fly­ing and milk spilled right in between the seat and the arm rest. You know where I mean, right? The most dif­fi­cult place to reach in the entire car. The place that col­lects pen­nies, french fries, dust and when you were in high school the tell tale ash­es that you could nev­er quite vac­u­um up and sub­se­quent­ly blew your Marl­boro lov­in’ cov­er when your dad got in. Yeah, that’s the place.

OMG. OMG. OMG. Milk! Seri­ous­ly, milk? Holy $h!+, mom! You know that is a rule! That is the num­ber one rule,” I screamed.

You told me to grab the milk,” She yelled.

No I said grab the milk and toss it.”

You said grab the milk!! Holy Jesus, Colleen. What in the hell are you talk­ing about? My head real­ly hurts. OMG! Am I bleed­ing? I am seri­ous, you could have given me a con­cus­sion. Damn it, Colleen. It is extreme­ly painful,” she said.

I am sor­ry. I nev­er meant to hurt you. Real­ly, I am sor­ry. I would nev­er hurt you!”

That’s when I start­ed to cry. I was cry­ing part­ly because I hurt my moth­er and part­ly because my car was drown­ing in choco­late milk. The two of us grabbed wet wipes and every fast food nap­kin that she has hoard­ed in my glove box for the last three years and start­ed the mas­sive cleanup.

I’ve got it, Colleen, just get out of the way,” she demand­ed.

No, you don’t know where it is. I’ll get it. OMG, milk. I can’t believe this milk,” I moaned.

Colleen, I swear to Christ if you don’t calm down I am going to call your father to come and pick me up. Get your­self togeth­er!”

We bick­ered back and forth for what seemed like an hour as we detailed the ole Odyssey. Since it was peak lunchtime hours, the dri­ve thru was packed. We walked back and forth through the cars dump­ing sop­ping wet brown nap­kins in the trash. Driver’s gagged as they attempt­ed to order lunch and looked at what appeared to be vom­it trail­ing from my car to the trash can over and over again.

We cleaned it up as best we could and I start­ed the Hail Mary hop­ing for divine inter­ces­sion from the Blessed Moth­er that I would not be knocked out by the smell of spoiled milk when the temps hit 90! We got back in the car, me sob­bing and her rub­bing the top of her head and check­ing her fin­ger­tips for blood.

Hand­some #3 was hell bent on going to the park and despite the fact that she nev­er want­ed to speak to me again, she would nev­er dis­ap­point him so we con­tin­ued on in silence. We got to the park load­ed Dar­ling in the stroller, got Hand­some #3 out of the car and head­ed to see the ani­mals. Once again, not a word was spo­ken. Mau­r­mi broke her silence momen­tar­i­ly to tell me that she need­ed to go to the bath­room. I acknowl­edged her request and fol­lowed behind with my kids in tow.

She said hel­lo to a man pass­ing by and head­ed in the door. Imme­di­ate­ly I yelled, “Mom! Mom!” Silence and then I hear her dis­tant call, “Oh! Oh! OMG! Colleen!”

She came out of the door and we both col­lapsed in laugh­ter. I could not breathe I was laugh­ing so hard and tears rolled down her cheeks. We had to take turns run­ning to the bath­room as we both wet our pants stand­ing there.

Every­thing was fine. It was all fine. And then I saw the uri­nal. Then I real­ized I was some­where  I shouldn’t be. I think I have a con­cus­sion from when you hit me in the head. I was very con­fused in there.” She said through the tears.

Just as it always does, our day end­ed with laugh­ter. My moth­er is my very best friend and she brings out the best and the worst of me. But even when she is more angry at me than she has ever been in her life, she will let it all go for a laugh. And despite what she believes I think of her, the only idiot that day was me. Life is too short to get worked up over spilled milk. Even if it is in your car and will make it smell like a land­fill in just a few weeks. That’s what Febreeze and Yan­kee Can­dle car fresh­en­ers are for, right?

We head­ed to pick up the old­er Hand­somes from school. We asked how their days went and they asked about ours. Mau­r­mi said, “Lis­ten to what your moth­er did to me today?” They always love to hear her sto­ries and imme­di­ate­ly had their lis­ten­ing ears on. I quick­ly inter­rupt­ed and asked, “What is the num­ber one rule in my car?”

Hand­some #1-“That’s easy, no milk in the car.”

Hand­some #3-“No milk in the car.”

Hand­some #2-“Um, no guns in the car. Well, at least that’s the rule for me, right?”

Just like Meat­loaf said, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

 

 

 

My Barbies Taught Me How to be a Good Mom


When I was a kid I played with my Bar­bie dolls every day. I had Bar­bie and the Rock­ers, Cal­i­for­nia Dream Bar­bie, I even had those knock­off Max­ie Dolls. I was a Bar­bie Girl liv­ing in a Bar­bie world long before Aqua came around. My Bar­bi­es all lived in the Dream House and dat­ed the New Kids on the Block and Michael Jack­son, who were way cool­er than Ken. I spent so much time with my Bar­bi­es that by the time I had chil­dren, I con­sid­ered myself pre­pared for all kinds of things. As a mat­ter of fact, Bar­bi­es taught me so many lessons I nev­er even cracked a sin­gle What to Expect about any­thing book.

First and fore­most I think we can all agree that you should not cut your children’s hair, right? This one is a given. We all took our Fiskars to that beloved blonde hair and thought for sure that she would end up with a chic bob after­ward. Instead, Bar­bie was forever tak­ing the walk of shame with a lop-sid­ed reverse mul­let. The same lesson applies to kids. Unless you have a license with your pic­ture on it, your sweet lit­tle child does not deserve the psy­cho­log­i­cal tor­ture that comes from tak­ing a whack at her bangs with safe­ty scis­sors. We all remem­ber that girl in the year book with the hat on because her moth­er was sure she could save $8, God bless her.

Let’s move on to num­ber two, don’t leave your chil­dren unat­tend­ed on the floor. Your moth­er always told you not to leave your dolls lay­ing out when you left the room or the dog would eat them. No, I don’t think the dog will eat the baby, but the baby sure as hell will eat any­thing off of the floor if you’re not look­ing. I have screamed in slow motion watch­ing my daugh­ter eat the most minus­cule speck of left­over wood chip that remained on the hearth from the win­ter gone by. I turned my back for one sec­ond and she was eat­ing the most organ­ic meal ever pre­pared in our house. Just like my moth­er said, we should always pack up our things, dolls and babies, and take them where they are out of harm’s way.

Next, we need to be super care­ful when we are dress­ing our chil­dren. Bar­bi­es came in two vari­eties, the ones with the smooth legs who could wear any­thing and the kind with the rub­ber legs that took forever to dress. So much time was spent pulling and stretch­ing that half of my Bar­bi­es’ wardrobes went from high 80s fash­ion to trashy street wear in a sin­gle, way too hard tug. This is the same with a tod­dler who is lanky and one with a lit­tle more fluff. Don’t both­er try­ing to stuff a 25lb one-year-old into some skin­ny jeans. Give that lit­tle girl some stretchy leg­gings and let her breathe! If you insist of hav­ing a mini fash­ion­ista on your hands, you’ll just end up pulling too hard, stuff will get ripped, and there will be lots of tears.

Let’s move on to the shoes, shall we? Bar­bie was load­ed with heels, boots, and occa­sion­al­ly a pair of sneak­ers. Some­times those shoes just didn’t fit right, caus­ing you to jam them on leav­ing her feet to stick out kind of fun­ny. A lot of times it was sim­pler just to throw them on the wrong foot. Have you ever fought with a three-year-old over just about any­thing when you are 20 min­utes late? There is noth­ing bet­ter than talk­ing to a child with his shirt on back­wards, his pants inside out and his shoes on the wrong feet when you are head­ed to mass where you will cer­tain­ly be judged by every old bit­ty in the church. No mat­ter how pre­pared you may be to talk him out of his ques­tion­able attire with reverse psy­chol­o­gy and bribery, it is a bat­tle of will and more often than not, you are going to lose. Do your­self a favor and throw those Crocs on the wrong feet and the whole fam­i­ly is hap­py.

Remem­ber when your Barbie’s head popped off and you total­ly freaked out for a mil­lisec­ond but then remem­bered you could just put it back on? Apply that same log­ic with your kids. If their head pops off, just stick it back on. You know when I say head, I total­ly mean hat, right? If your kid’s hat falls off, just put the darn thing back on and keep mov­ing. There is absolute­ly no need to have a com­plete and total men­tal break­down about some­thing that is fix­able. We all spend too much time focus­ing on per­fec­tion for our­selves and our kids that we lose sight of the big pic­ture. It will real­ly all be OK even if your fam­i­ly isn’t a Nor­man Rock­well paint­ing.

Some­times the best lis­ten­ers are those who remain silent. I encour­age you to keep talk­ing to your chil­dren even if they don’t talk back. I had more con­ver­sa­tions about impor­tant things with my dolls than I have ever had with my hus­band. Grant­ed he rarely lis­tens to what I say any­way, but I don’t want to take a chance and let any­thing impor­tant slip. That’s why I tell my baby about my new shoes or the dress that I hid in the clos­et when my hus­band wasn’t look­ing. My son was 14 months old and the first one who knew I was preg­nant with his broth­er. It is nice to share the most sala­cious secrets with your best friend who will nev­er tell a soul.

And final­ly, love them more than any­thing. My Bar­bie dolls were my favorite toy grow­ing up. I nev­er want­ed to let them go. But, I got old­er and it was time to put them away. No mat­ter how old I get, they will always be a spe­cial part of me and hold some of my most pre­cious mem­o­ries.  I know that as my kids get old­er they will begin to out­grow me, too. Even if they don’t want me to, I will always clothe them, pro­tect them, talk to them, and cher­ish them just as I did my dolls. But I promise I will nev­er do to them what I did to poor Swedish Barbie’s flow­ing locks.….ever.….

My Mom’s Original Gangster Parenting Hacks Would Never Fly Today

My kids are cod­dled like every oth­er child on the plan­et. They get par­tic­i­pa­tion tro­phies. They have gigan­tic water bot­tles so that they won’t ever dehy­drate. They get stick­ers at Tar­get for being in the cart, even though their behav­ior is so deplorable I often threat­en to leave a few behind. That is the way of our world. We as par­ents have become soft. The sec­ond you attempt to assert tough love you are labeled an a-hole par­ent by the rest of the pearl-clutch­ing moth­ers at pick up.

We thir­ty-some­thing moms were raised by a dif­fer­ent pack of wolves. If we didn’t fol­low the rules, it wasn’t about a gen­tle con­se­quence like los­ing a mar­ble from the good girl jar. Our par­ents pulled out the big guns. Today’s sweet and lov­ing Grannies and Grand­pas, whose grand babies can do no wrong, were not kid­ding around thir­ty years ago. They taught us lessons that we will nev­er for­get.

I am a moth­er of three boys and one girl, a mir­ror image of the fam­i­ly that I grew up in. Hav­ing four kids is often chaotic, but I guess because I am from a large fam­i­ly it isn’t the ginor­mous chal­lenge that the world assumes it is. Hav­ing said that, I cer­tain­ly have my fair share of, “What in the world have I got­ten myself into?” days. But when I am at my worst, it is com­fort­ing to know that my mom was in the exact same place and some­how she made it through. I will often reflect on my own child­hood expe­ri­ences and think how lucky I was to have been raised in a lov­ing fam­i­ly in the 1980s because if I pulled any of my par­ents’ OG child-rear­ing hacks today, I’d be in jail. Or at the very least, the con­fes­sion­al.….

Clean up, or else

Today’s child has a chore chart on the wall out­lin­ing their dai­ly respon­si­bil­i­ties with a cor­re­spond­ing mag­net that they can move from one side to the oth­er so as to earn their dai­ly stick­er and, ulti­mate­ly, a prize at the end of the week. In the 1980s you had the, “I swear to God if you don’t clean up this room, I am throw­ing all of your crap out the win­dow,” method. Par­ents didn’t just threat­en, they fol­lowed through. The entire con­tents of my broth­ers’ bed­room went fly­ing from a sec­ond sto­ry win­dow and when my mom said she wouldn’t pick one thing up, she meant it. No,the family’s dirty lit­tle secret was nev­er shared with any­one; but the lesson was learned and noth­ing took flight again. Today, the neigh­bors would whip out their iPhones to cap­ture video, post it on Face­book and my mom would end up on Dr. Phil defend­ing her boot camp-style par­ent­ing.

If you want to leave, go

If a child today threat­ened to run away, par­ents would have a men­tal break­down. Why are you unhap­py? What can I do bet­ter? Is there some­thing that we can do to improve your liv­ing con­di­tions? When I was a kid if you want­ed to move out, your moth­er would help you pack. As a mat­ter of fact, if you were lucky, she’d grab the gigan­tic Sam­sonite from the base­ment. There were no wheels of course, but it was nice and hard and made a great seat when you need­ed a rest. She’d pack up all of your clothes, some­thing fan­cy for church on Sun­day, per­haps a swim­ming suit in the sum­mer, and you’d be on your way. It’s unlike­ly that you’d make it too far past the front stoop car­ry­ing all of your world­ly pos­ses­sions. How­ev­er, you’d have plen­ty of time to think the plan through, just as your moth­er had intend­ed.

You will eat this or starve

If you were a kid in the 1980s you prob­a­bly had the plea­sure of culi­nary delights like Chick­en Tonight, Man­wich or if it was a spe­cial occa­sion Bagel Bites and Totino’s Piz­za Rolls. No mat­ter what was placed on the table, that was the only option. No one was con­cerned that you didn’t like the way it looked, smelled or how it felt in your mouth. Din­ner was served. And if you were hun­gry, you would eat it. If you refused, you would be forced to sit with your cold chick­en and dumplings, under dimmed light­ing, while the rest of the fam­i­ly went to watch ALF with­out you. If you didn’t eat said dumplings, there would be no oth­er food offered until break­fast. You would legit go to bed hun­gry and live to tell the tale the next day

Do as I say, not as I do

Going out to din­ner was a lux­u­ry when I was a kid. Sure there were plen­ty of fast food joints with out­door play places that caused per­ma­nent scar­ring from their met­al joy rides, but a sit-down meal was a treat. When din­ing out, par­ty man­ners were expect­ed, and so help me God; you had bet­ter nev­er let any­one know how old you were. Even if it meant keep­ing your coat on for the entire meal to hide your blos­som­ing chest or duck­ing down real­ly low in your seat, under no cir­cum­stances should the estab­lish­ment ever ques­tion whether or not you were 10 and under. There was no kids eat free with an eli­gi­ble adult in the good old days. Every­one had to pay their own way, but fathers in the know had a plan. Chil­dren were prepped in the car. You are nev­er old­er than the age lim­it for a kid’s meal. Is that clear? You will gra­cious­ly accept a kid’s menu. Do you under­stand? Only water and soda have free refills. Don’t even think about order­ing choco­late milk. Got it? Once you were clear­ly too old, your father became “Mr. I look so young for my old age” and would start order­ing off the senior citizen’s menu to bal­ance things out.

Don’t make me turn this car around

Vaca­tion was a time for the whole fam­i­ly to pack into the sta­tion wag­on and hit the open road while your mom yelled direc­tions from that, “damn Rand McNal­ly,” she could nev­er fold, while your dad took long angry drags from his Salems. There were no five point har­ness per­son­al utopia’s con­tain­ing tablets pre­load­ed with edu­ca­tion­al videos and apps. You played the license plate game and beat the hell out of one anoth­er for a win­dow seat. You’d hope for a quick nap in the car before you checked in to the hotel and spent the next six nights shar­ing a dou­ble bed with all five of your sib­lings. Vaca­tion came with no itin­er­ary, no day trips or jaunts. Your trip con­sist­ed of the hotel pool, third-degree sun­burns, bee stings and you cried when you left because you couldn’t wait for next sum­mer.

It was a sim­pler time with few­er dis­trac­tions. Fam­i­lies were big and weird and so many of them were unbe­liev­ably hap­py. And aside from that one sum­mer when my broth­er fell from the brand new swing set and prob­a­bly broke his foot, but we’ll nev­er know because it was the 4th of July and no one was going to the ER because, “it would be load­ed with idiots who’d burned them­selves with fire­crack­ers!” I think that my par­ents and the rest of the neigh­bor­hood moms and dads were real­ly on to some­thing.……

Because You Loved Me.….

I went back to work last week. I wasn’t kick­ing or scream­ing. I wasn’t even real­ly cry­ing, but I had a lump in my throat as I kissed my four babies good­bye. I know deep down that in order to keep up with the lifestyle that we have become accus­tomed to, I have to work. Our life isn’t extrav­a­gant or fan­cy, despite the fact that I am mar­ried to a celebri­ty, but it makes the six of us hap­py. And know­ing that I con­tribute to that hap­pi­ness makes me feel val­i­dat­ed. And the icing on the cake is that I actu­al­ly love my job.

My first day was long, because I was fix­at­ed on what was hap­pen­ing at home. I had spent the last 12 weeks with my chil­dren every sin­gle min­ute and all of a sud­den, I felt lone­ly. I missed their hugs and kiss­es. I missed their scream­ing and yelling. I missed their tat­tles and their sto­ries. I missed my best friends and I missed my mom. She had been with me from the min­ute I gave birth to my baby girl and stayed with me my entire mater­ni­ty leave.

As I walked in the door after the first day, I was greet­ed by four smil­ing faces and eight arms embrac­ing me. I looked up at Mau­r­mi and smiled, so thank­ful that she had been there with them that first day. They adore her as much as I do and I knew that I prob­a­bly wasn’t missed too ter­ri­bly much. I looked around and noticed that the house was spot­less.

Mom, you didn’t have to clean my house,” I said, feel­ing utter­ly guilty and so incred­i­bly grate­ful. Mau­r­mi knows that I hate to have things a mess, but that I am not a Martha Stew­art-type house­keep­er either.

I just didn’t want you to come home and have to do work any­more. You are my baby girl and it is my job to take care of you,” She said with tears in her eyes.

She has always told me that par­ent­ing nev­er ends. No mat­ter if your child is six or six­ty, you will always have an over­whelm­ing urge to take care of them. I want to think that I can do it all. I want to believe that I am some kind of super mom who can work full time, keep my house under con­trol, feed my chil­dren noth­ing but nutri­ent-rich foods and always have a full face of make­up. It just isn’t real life. At all…Ever.…I can’t do it all all of the time. Well except for the make­up because, let’s be hon­est, Car­ly Simon prob­a­bly could’ve writ­ten that song about me!

I am hon­est about the fact that I make mis­takes all the time. I try to find laugh­ter every day because many days if I didn’t, I would cry. I don’t have it all togeth­er, and I don’t think that any­one else does either, no mat­ter what their Insta­gram feed says. No one’s kids look at the cam­era 100 per­cent of the time. I know just as well as you do that the per­fect pic you just post­ed was shot num­ber 44 after you screamed a few times, per­haps curs­ing, to get them all to look. I also know that you are crop­ping the hell out of your fam­i­ly room because you don’t want any­one to see your kids’, or may­be your husband’s, socks and under­wear ran­dom­ly on the floor. And date night is not always that much fun! You have got­ten in a huge fight on the way to the restau­rant and spent the night tex­ting your mom all about how much of a jerk your hus­band act­ed like in the car but you are stay­ing out because, hel­lo, you have a sit­ter!

The voyeuris­tic world that we live in today isn’t real. Rush­ing home when you are 37 because you just want a hug from your mom is real. Putting on your night­gown, smelling the deter­gent and cry­ing, because the fresh laun­dry that your mom does always smells bet­ter, is real. Hav­ing your kids acci­den­tal­ly call their grand­moth­er mom, not because they love them more but because they love you both so much, is real. Being a career wom­an, a wife and a mom is all hard. Hav­ing a mom who has done it all, who knows how you feel and who is well beyond hav­ing to par­ent but wants to par­ent you, makes it all so much eas­ier.

I hope that when my chil­dren have chil­dren that they will allow me to con­tin­ue to help clean up their mess­es, to hold their babies, to make them din­ner and to wrap my arms around them so that they can feel my love. Right now, even when I am the most tired that I have ever been, there is noth­ing in the world bet­ter than tiny hands on my cheek and lit­tle lips whis­per­ing, “Mom­my, I love you.” As those hands grow big­ger I hope that they will still love me as much as I love them and know that no mat­ter how tough life my seem, that I am always in their cor­ner, just like Mau­r­mi.……

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Put Me in Coach.…

I am not par­tic­u­lar­ly ath­let­ic, unless you include Sweat­in’ to the Oldies, but as a moth­er of a lot of boys, sports, cur­rent­ly base­ball, have infil­trat­ed every part of our lives. I love to watch lit­tle kids get a hit, or make a catch and to see the pride beam­ing from their faces. There is noth­ing like watch­ing your child smil­ing from ear to ear after mak­ing a great play and know­ing that not one bit of that ath­let­ic abil­i­ty came from you, and your pret­ty sure not your hus­band either, but hop­ing that it might last a few more years.

Recent­ly, Hand­somes #1 and #2 had week­night games, at dif­fer­ent loca­tions, that over­lapped; there­fore, The Grillin’ Fool and I had to divide and con­quer. It’s bare­ly mid June and already 1000 degrees in St. Louis, so a full day at the pool fol­lowed by an ear­ly evening game, that I kind of for­got about until about an hour before hand, is about as much fun as I could pos­si­bly han­dle dur­ing the last week of my mater­ni­ty leave.

In typ­i­cal fash­ion, we couldn’t find hats, socks or cleats, despite the fact that every sin­gle per­son in the house swears that they put them away in their prop­er places just like I asked. Hand­some #2 and I were head­ed out for the ear­ly shift. He was clad in head to toe black and grey poly­ester, bright blue and yel­low soc­cer socks and ten­nis shoes due to the fact that we couldn’t devote any more time to the scav­enger hunt for prop­er equip­ment. All the damns that I gave had melt­ed in the heat.

The game start­ed at 6pm and was locat­ed at least 15 min­utes from home. We left at 5:51pm. I bare­ly made it out of the sub­di­vi­sion when I noticed this in the rear view mir­ror.

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He hadn’t just nod­ded off, this child was snoring.…loudly. Rather than poke the bear, I fig­ured I would let him rest until we got to the field. We rolled in at 6:03pm and I noticed that every play­er on the field was female. Per­fect. I had dri­ven to the wrong place, miles past where we were sup­posed to be. Sud­den­ly, Chief Mete­o­rol­o­gist Mau­r­mi comes in with this warn­ing.

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I check my cal­en­dar, find the right loca­tion and get to the field at 6:17pm just in time for Hand­some #2 to wake up with a seat belt crease across his face that could eas­i­ly be mis­tak­en as a failed attempt to gauge his eye out.

Are we here? Oh good, my team is up to bat!”

He runs to the dugout and after miss­ing the top of the inning some­how finds him­self on deck. Seems fair that all of the oth­er soon-to-be first graders who have bat­tled the sev­en­th cir­cle of hell in the field should move aside for some­one who just fin­ished his beau­ty sleep, right?!?!?! He gets a hit, the kids fin­ish out the inning and head back out to the field.

Hand­some #2 didn’t seem par­tic­u­lar­ly thrilled to be out in the heat and each time the thun­der would clap, he’d look up as if God was talk­ing direct­ly to him. The oth­er team got a few hits, scored a few runs and it was time for our boys to bat. Once again, there he stood with a hel­met on, seem­ing­ly unde­served­ly high up in the bat­ting order, when the coach­es spot light­en­ing and the game is called.…at 6:31pm. In just 40 min­utes, Hand­some #2 had tak­en a nap, vis­it­ed two Catholic Church fields, bat­ted and got­ten a hit, and played an inning in the field. This kid has done more with his ath­let­ic career in less than an hour than I have my entire life!

We head­ed for the car and he looked up at me and said,

I need a nap, that was exhaust­ing!”

 

 

 

 

Hangin’ Tough

Not a sin­gle soul had spo­ken to me for the last two hours. I announced to every per­son in the house that I was going upstairs and would be back in 20 min­utes. Clear­ly, this was a rook­ie mis­take. Nev­er make your pres­ence known lest you want the preda­tor to devour you. I had bare­ly turned the water on when the door opened the first time.

Hand­some #2- Mom! Can you make me some­thing to eat?

Me- Can you please give me a few min­utes?

Hand­some #2- Yes, but hur­ry!

I sham­pooed and almost con­di­tioned before the next inter­rup­tion. A naked from the waist down light saber-wield­ing child appeared and opened the show­er door. 

Me- Hon­ey, I am in the show­er. What do you need?

Hand­some #3- Um, noth­ing. I don’t need noth­ing.

Me- Where are your pants?!?!?!

Hand­some #3- I lost them. But, I could find them. Mom! Can you wipe me, please?

Suc­cess­ful­ly wip­ing a child with one hand while putting the rest of the con­di­tion­er on your head with the oth­er should at the very least come with a cash prize.

Once he was gone, I thought I’d try shav­ing my legs. Then I heard the scream­ing from the oth­er side of the door, the only one of my chil­dren to give me any pri­va­cy.

Hand­some #1- Mom! The baby is cry­ing!

Me- Put the binkie in her mouth, I’ll be there in five min­utes.

I want­ed a few min­utes of unin­ter­rupt­ed time, but instead I got to speak to all three of The Hand­somes and got a sta­tus update on the baby. As I stepped out and caught a glimpse of my face in the fog­gy mir­ror, I cried. I cried big ugly tears because all too soon, it will be over. I will miss the scream­ing and yelling and con­stant emer­gen­cies. I will miss the hugs and the kiss­es and a chub­by sweaty hand grab­bing mine. I will miss my lit­tle loves need­ing me as they become more inde­pen­dent and self-suf­fi­cient.

As much as I want­ed to wal­low in my sor­row, I decid­ed that my hus­band find­ing me in a heap on the bath­room floor wouldn’t be the best way to kick off his week­end. My moth­er always says that a lit­tle bit of fra­grance and a fresh coat of lip­stick can alter your mood instant­ly, so I fig­ured I would give it a shot. Despite the fact that I am now a moth­er of four, near­ing forty with a road map of stretch­marks and oth­er badges of life’s expe­ri­ences, The Grillin’ Fool still likes me and he deserves me at my best.

And today, the very best I could do was my sig­na­ture red lips and a New Kids on the Block T-shirt that could like­ly find a home in the Smith­so­ni­an. I snapped a self­ie, because no one would real­ly believe that I not only still own this shirt but wear it often. And just like that, as if on cue, from the first floor I heard, “MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!”

 

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Vacation, all I ever wanted.….

Last sum­mer, super new­ly preg­nant, we trav­eled with my par­ents, broth­er and sis­ter-in-law, also preg­nant, and our nephew to Hol­i­day World in San­ta Claus, IN. If you haven’t been, you need to go. It’s fam­i­ly friend­ly, clean, afford­able and there is a ton to do with lit­tle kids. My boys love it and talk all the time about when we can go back.

Recent­ly, Hand­some #2 was given an assign­ment in his kinder­garten class to bring in a pic­ture and a brief write up about a recent trip. The­se pic­tures would be shared with the class in a show and tell for­mat. Obvi­ous­ly, he was super excit­ed about this par­tic­u­lar home­work and couldn’t wait to recount his adven­ture with the class. 

We talked about the rides, the food, the water park and even the car ride there. He was proud as a pea­cock to tell his friends all about it. He wrote three sen­tences on the paper and I found a pic­ture on my phone and sent it to Wal­greens. Done and done. Weeks have passed and the assign­ment was all but for­got­ten. 

Today after school the boys burst through the door soak­ing wet from the tor­ren­tial down­pour that hit this after­noon. I ran upstairs to get clean clothes for each of them retun­ing with a Hol­i­day World t-shirt. This opened Pandora’s Box.

Hand­some #2- Mom! I am not wear­ing that. I’m not even going back there.

Me- Why not? You love Hol­i­day World.

Hand­some #2- Nope. Not any­more I sure don’t. Do you want to know why?

Me- Please, tell me.

Hand­some #2- Remem­ber my vaca­tion home­work?

Me- Yes.

Hand­some #2- Well, that’s why! 

Me- I don’t under­stand.

Hand­some #2- That pic­ture you got of the trip, well guess what? You can’t even see me. Hand­some #1 is hold­ing up the park map right in front of my face! 

We took approx­i­mate­ly 5,000 pic­tures on that trip.….naturally, I chose this.…..

If only I had Listened to My Mother.….….

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I love to write. Love it. Love it. Love it. I tru­ly believe in the fact that God gives each of us very speci­fic gifts and tal­ents that He wants us to use. He hap­pened to make me a pret­ty good sto­ry­teller, a tal­ent that I cer­tain­ly inherit­ed from my moth­er, and I chron­i­cle those sto­ries on Face­book and here on my blog. I have often been told to write a book by friends and fol­low­ers and near­ly dai­ly by my moth­er. They tell me how much they love my sto­ries and would absolute­ly buy my book and share it with their own friends and fam­i­ly. This is where my crip­pling fear takes over. This is when my com­plete and total lack of self con­fi­dence comes in to play and I imme­di­ate­ly sec­ond guess myself and want to run and hide. Sur­prised? Don’t be. That’s the real me.

I know that I make you laugh. I know that I have made you cry. I know that I have made many of you feel bet­ter about your­selves by liv­ing vic­ar­i­ous­ly through my mis­ad­ven­tures. Through­out my jour­ney on this site, social media and shar­ing my life with you, it has always been easy for me to hit post and then hide. While I know many of you per­son­al­ly, I don’t inter­act with you face to face very often. I love to read your com­ments and reac­tions, but if you see me in per­son, you will often find that I become very embar­rassed by the atten­tion. I have a total and com­plete lack of self con­fi­dence that has plagued me my entire life. This may come as a sur­prise because I put on quite a show, but the fact of the mat­ter is, I always feel like I am just shy of being good enough.

Recent­ly, I took a plunge, a leap of faith. And I did it in com­plete and total secre­cy. I had read about the Lis­ten to Your Moth­er Show on Face­book the last cou­ple of years and thought that it was an amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty. I envied the sto­ry­tellers with their con­fi­dence and mox­ie. I just didn’t have it. I stalked the web­site and knew exact­ly what it entailed, but I nev­er could pull the trig­ger. The pro­ce­dure was sim­ple enough. All I had to do was sub­mit a sto­ry about moth­er­hood, that I had writ­ten, to a pan­el to be reviewed. If they liked it, I would be called to read my sto­ry at a live audi­tion. Cer­tain­ly I would nev­er real­ly be called upon to audi­tion, so what is the harm in send­ing an email?

For those of you think­ing, wait a min­ute, aren’t you the same per­son who was in like 100 plays in your life­time, often play­ing pret­ty big roles? Yep. Why in the world would this be a prob­lem for you? True, I have had a life-long love affair with the stage. I have nev­er had a prob­lem speak­ing in front of a crowd. I haven’t got­ten par­tic­u­lar­ly ner­vous, it has always come nat­u­ral­ly. But nev­er in my life have I actu­al­ly pre­sent­ed my own work. Some­thing that came from inside of me. Some­thing that I was allow­ing total strangers to read and then decide whether or not they thought it was good enough. The thought was tru­ly ter­ri­fy­ing.

I didn’t dare run it by Mau­r­mi or The Grillin’ Fool because I knew that they would instant­ly encour­age me, which would make me even more uncom­fort­able and resis­tant. Instead, I penned a tale about a tru­ly stand out mem­o­ry from my own child­hood that depicts exact­ly the kind of moth­er I want to be and I hit send. Not expect­ing to hear a thing. A few weeks went by and then this.….……

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! We are thrilled to inform you that YOU have been select­ed to AUDITION your writ­ten sub­mis­sion piece for Lis­ten To Your Moth­er, St. Louis!”

Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph! They want­ed me to read. They want­ed me to tell my sto­ry in per­son. They want­ed me to audition.…at 37 weeks pregnant.….this would be no problem.….no prob­lem at all?!?!?!?! I could no longer keep it to myself, so I shared my excite­ment with my moth­er, who sad­ly was attend­ing the funer­al of Jus­tice Anton­in Scalia, in her kitchen, at the time and may have been caught a bit off guard.

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Once it hit her, she was thrilled and encour­ag­ing and insis­tent that I fol­low through. I sched­uled my audi­tion and promised that she could come along if she swore on her life that she wouldn’t say a word. I didn’t want her telling any­one because I was cer­tain that it would be a bust and I didn’t want to not be cho­sen and have to explain it to any­one. Plus, since the sto­ry was about her and what may or may not have been, prob­a­bly was, a total ner­vous break­down dur­ing her mid thir­ties, I thought it only fair that she hear it first hand.

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We arrived at the audi­to­ri­um, I signed in and was imme­di­ate­ly tak­en in to read. I hadn’t been to an audi­tion since col­lege, but it just felt right. Despite the fact that I was read­ing my own words, I felt com­fort­able. I felt hap­py. I was at home.The pro­duc­ers laughed and they cried and they clapped. For the first time in a very long time, I felt real­ly, real­ly good about what I had done.

I walked out with my head held high tru­ly believ­ing that no mat­ter what hap­pened, I had accom­plished some­thing big that day. I had a fingernail’s worth of self con­fi­dence and it felt great. But I can’t lie, I want­ed it. I want­ed it bad­ly. I want­ed to be a part of the cast to prove to myself that every­thing that I had been hear­ing was true. That I am good enough. For the next 10 days I ago­nized over the silence. I checked my email over, and over, and over again. Noth­ing.….…

I had decid­ed that it was a lost cause that it was time to give up and then the email arrived.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! We loved your sto­ry on “AIRING THE DIRTY LAUNDRY”, and you have been cho­sen for the cast of the 4th annu­al Lis­ten to Your Moth­er St. Louis. Whoo Hoo! We applaud you for hav­ing the courage to share your sto­ry with us, and you are one of 13 peo­ple in the cast this year. We promise, it’s going to be an expe­ri­ence you will nev­er for­get!”

I cried. I cried big ugly tears. This is real­ly hap­pen­ing. This is huge. I feel so hon­ored. This has ignit­ed a fire inside of me and I can­not wait to write more sto­ries and to share them with the world. This is all hap­pen­ing because I lis­tened to my moth­er. I just wish that I would have done it soon­er.

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