It's only appropriate to begin with a few small doses of reality...
Reality Check #1: I consistently set off the smoke detectors in my house when I cook. I tell myself it’s because of where they are located relative to the kitchen, but let’s be real… that’s not normal. My cooking sucks.
Reality Check #2: As I picked up my four-year-old from her Dad’s house a few weeks ago, she grabbed the screen door and said, “Come on and open up, ya asshole door!” I unsuccessfully bit my lip and tried to find a stern face, but still laughed a good three minutes.
Reality Check #3: The same 4-year-old got so mad at her BFF at their first sleepover together that she refused to look at her or speak to her… for at least half an hour. The other mom texted me at 9pm, asking how she should handle the drama.
Reality Check #4: I was on the phone with the guy I’m dating just a few weeks after we’d met when my six-year-old suddenly ran up to the phone and screamed, “Our Mom is a trainwreck!” That was cool.
Reality Check #5: I thought I was killing it as I bootlegged leftover Halloween candy and six water bottles in my purse through the doors of Frozen 2 with four children in tow. Joke was on my stingy ass when I somehow lost my wallet in the theater. Thank goodness for honest people though – I got it back the next day.
Reality Check #6: I recently transported eight cases of wine from point A to point B for work. But when I opened the back hatch of my SUV, an entire case came crashing out. I cussed as wine seeped out of the broken bottles, through the cardboard and onto the sidewalk in the rain. Then a colleague drove by and whipped out his phone to take a picture and I laughed… because that’s funny!
So before you confuse me with someone who actually has all her shit together, please read all of that again. I'm not writing this from my ivory tower or my soap box or my golden throne.
There was a time not so long ago when those same incidents would have sent me into a spiral. I would have found someone to blame. I would have been mad, negative, even hateful toward some of the people closest to me because something didn’t go my way. I would have let some silly, inconsequential thing ruin my day or week because that’s just how I used to live. But the truth is, I was hurting. I didn’t like who I was, and I was incredibly ashamed by some of the choices I’d made.
There’s that saying, “Hurt people hurt other people.” And it’s so freaking true.
Holidays were the worst. I took out anger and anxiety on people I loved. I took what should have been beautiful days filled with family and memories and I ruined them. Every. Single. Time.
After a while though, I realized that messed up person was neither who I truly am nor who I wanted to be. So I faced that unhappy person head-on. I went to therapy. I put in the work and dealt with the mess that came as side-effects of working through my shit. I sat with the pain and the guilt and the past that once bogged down that miserable girl and simultaneously made her want to take others down with her.
There were also some pretty important steps that I now realize helped me heal, which included holding myself accountable. And even though I didn't have some grand plan or end game in mind, sharing the how is important... because I now realize none of it happened by accident.
I set and accomplished a huge goal.
It’s funny how opportunity often appears at our lowest point. I was a complete mess on my living room couch the night my friend Cindy sent me the text, asking if I would complete a Half Ironman with her. Come to think of it, my emotional state was probably why I said yes without thinking it through. But crossing that finish line nine months later is one of the most prideful moments I’ve had in a very long time.
I looked inward.
My company recently incorporated employee engagement surveys at our corporate office. Some of the feedback suggested I needed to improve my management and leadership skills. Big time. First I cried. Then I got mad. Then I was defensive. But after self-reflection and coaching from people I trust and respect, I owned all of it. I realized much of the feedback was true, and some was simply perception that needed to be addressed. Either way, I had a lot of work to do… on me.
I walked away from a toxic relationship.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in other people that we can’t see how much they’re damaging our soul. But somewhere in the middle of therapy and hundreds of hours of triathlon training and self-reflection, I realized I deserve better. So I blocked someone in my phone. I unfriended and unfollowed them on social media. I stopped talking about them. I took away their power over me and gained so much self-respect.
I focused on my kids.
Last April, I took my kids on a spring break beach vacation. Just the four of us. I booked it, planned it and paid for it myself. I thought we were heading to a tropical location with 80-degree temperatures and sunshine for days. But high temperatures that week were mostly in the 40s and low 50s with lots of rain. I knew the kids would reflect my energy. So I made new plans and changed my expectations. And you know what? My littles had no idea our vacation was supposed to be anything different than what it was. We had the BEST time. That trip became a huge turning point for me when it came to learning how to connect with my kids emotionally.
I put myself first.
I knew if I stood a chance of crossing that Half Ironman finish line, I had to take better care of me. I focused on self-care – including eating better and sleeping more. I also built (or, in some cases rebuilt) positive relationships. I stopped settling and decided to spend my time doing what makes me happy. If a situation doesn’t have a feasible positive end-result or if my gut feels weird, I walk away. I’ve never felt more free
It’s worth noting none of this has been a straight line. It was messy and jagged with high points and super low ones. It also took time – more than 18 months – and a lot of really hard (and heart) work on my end. For real.
At one low point in the past year, I wanted to quit my job.
At another, I cried myself to sleep several nights in a row.
At yet another, I screamed at my mom and accused her of not being there when I needed her most.
And at another, I had a hard conversation with someone I'd hurt. Even though it brought that person intense pain, I was finally able to forgive myself and let go of massive guilt I’d held on to for years. I allowed myself move forward.
Therapy helped me work through all of those "things" from my past. It taught me how to sit with the hard stuff and how to do the heart work - to heal my heart from issues I'd avoided and not dealt with previously.
The heart work included lots of solo time. Instead of going out on empty dates or giving my energy to superficial relationships on weekends I didn't have my kids, I chose to stay home. It wasn't fun, but was what I needed at the time.
I write all of this because I know someone out there needs to read it. If someone you love is going through a hard time, please love them harder. They need you (even if they say they don't).
If you’re at the bottom and you feel alone, sad, scared or just plain pissed off, I get it. Those feelings seem to suck a lot more this time of year, but I promise it gets better. You will feel better and do better and be better and love better. It is possible to become a better version of yourself.
But you have to keep moving forward. You have to be willing to put in the heart work. And you have to know you're worth it.
WANTED: Full-time Kindergarten Parent Specialist. Must have experience dealing with massive amounts of administrative work on top of a full-time career + parenting schedule.
Responsibilities include: packing daily snacks (fruits and veggies only… school won’t allow anything else due to allergies), signing the damn planner every night, recording the number of minutes I read to my kid each day, checking for teacher emails, keeping tabs on the school Facebook page and dodging the sweet PTO moms. Must keep your cool at all times. Must not let anyone see you lose your shit. Serious inquiries only.
May the odds be ever in your favor.
It really felt like Kindergarten bliss. Kissing that big kid goodbye and watching him climb up those giant school bus steps last fall. I blinked back a couple tears that first day but was otherwise emotionally OK with the transition. Aside from a few six-year-old boy issues – you know, following directions and keeping his hands to himself – he was (and still is) so happy. He LOVES school.
But me? I am so damn overwhelmed!
I should have taken my first clue last fall when the PTO started sending emails and Facebook pleas for treats for teachers during parent-teacher conference week.
Ummmmm excusemewhat? Isn’t that why we do teacher Christmas presents and gifts at the end of the school year?
If I know I’m going to have a long, hard day at work, I pack my lunch. And snacks. Nobody bakes shit and rewards or thanks me for doing the damn thing and being (mostly) nice to people. It’s my job… and I get a paycheck every two weeks to prove it.
Do you know what I get after a long, hard day at work? Three kids. Who are hangry, tired and need my full attention. While I run around to get them all dinner (just getting everyone to agree on the same thing every night is agony), I might get to hover over the sink for a second to shove in a few bites of whatever I managed to whip up for their dinner. Who doesn’t love freezer burnt corn dogs and fresh apple slices?
Real talk: I sincerely believe our educators and PTO have the very best intentions. But I struggle with the fact that being a kinder mom is literally a second job after I work all day, do dinner, baths, lay out tomorrow’s clothes, brush teeth, read books and give 5,000 goodnight hugs and kisses. I cringe each night as I open my boy’s backpack to new paperwork, a new form to fill out, an invitation to the weekly tea party with the PTO (shoot me now), a reminder about a pajama or spirit day (don’t forget to bring $1 for charity!) or a plea to help in the lunchroom. I also know from conversations with other working (and stay-at-home) moms with kids of all ages, I’m not the only one feeling certifiably insane because of it all.
And before you think I’m trying to crucify or attack his teacher, principal or the school he attends, please understand I am not. I know their job is tough. I wouldn’t survive 10 minutes in a classroom of emotional, jacked up 5 and 6-year-olds. You’d find me curled up in a ball in the corner. Sobbing. Ugly crying. Begging for a barre class, a Starbucks latte and my mommy. Seriously.
Back to the PTO for a second. Three things:
And to give you a little idea of why the parent element of kindergarten is so exhausting, let’s take a look at this week as an example.
SUNDAY: Email from the PTO about ANOTHER frigging fundraiser (this time at Skyzone. Later this week..), a plea for help in classrooms (here’s looking at you, stay at home moms), an ask for parents to help with the school yearbook, a solicitation for box tops to raise money for the school, an invitation to next month’s adults only fundraiser auction and a request for auction donation items. Can I also mention the email I just got from my kid’s teacher less than a week ago, asking all parents to send in something for the classroom’s gift basket being auctioned off at the same fundraiser?
MONDAY: Email from teacher letting us know we need to send in 20 valentines next week. No Candy or Sweet Treats allowed! Ok, it’s Valentine’s Day. I get it. And I’m on it… kind of.
TUESDAY: Email from teacher about a biography due later this month. We need to work with our kindergartener to learn about an important African American either in the library or on the computer at home. He needs to draw a picture of that person and write a biography. So does his teacher realize I also have a 2 and 4-year-old? And it’s pretty much impossible to be on a computer with a bossy toddler in my face at all times? Just thought I’d throw that out there.
TUESDAY: Second email from teacher about supporting a fellow teacher (who I happen to know and adore) in her “Dancing with the Stars” fundraising mission for the local homeless shelter. All students are invited to “dress up like a star” TOMORROW. Freaking tomorrow. As in, this email jumped into my inbox at 4:12 in the frigging afternoon and I’m supposed to figure something out by 7 tomorrow morning. Oh yeah, and he needs to bring a dollar if he wants to participate. And... the class that raises the most money gets a special surprise. You’re killing me, smalls!!!!!
WEDNESDAY: Snow Day! Except… while my kid chills at daycare all day, I’m at work. Getting emails from his teacher about the eLearning assignments he has to do. Yes. Online homework during snow days. In Kindergarten. (I’m also fielding similar emails for my preschooler, for what it’s worth.) One line in the kinder email encourages parents to “get in some extra snuggle time” on the snow day. That part may have sent me into a brief rage while I was, you know, WORKING!!!! And I cried a little because I felt guilty for not being home snuggling my babies. But seriously. What in the actual?
WEDNESDAY: Facebook post saying today’s Dress Like a Star day is now moved to tomorrow. Cool. Except I’m drowning in eLearning and #momlife, so my kid is going to school in whatever mismatched sweatpants and ratty t-shirt he picks out for himself. “Don’t worry honey, you’re a star every day!” I told him as I ushered him onto the school bus Thursday morning. Thank God he’s six and still buys it when I say shit like that…
THURSDAY: No emails from teacher. Something must be wrong. What’s happening? But before you go getting all judgy-mcjudgerson on me, I’m not a total bitch. I did put together a gift basket from my work for the school auction today for my PTO mom friend to pick up.
THURSDAY: Wait for it… 9:57pm. A phone call, text and email from the school corporation (yes, I'm signed up for all 3). Apparently a snowpocalypse is imminent and tomorrow is another snow day. Yippee. And another eLearning assignment we get to do this weekend. Awesome.
FRIDAY: Today I expect an eLearning email from his teacher with instructions for the weekend. And then probably the weekly newsletter she sends most Fridays.
That’s no less than SEVEN emails in a week. On top of the school Facebook page and any other correspondence that comes home in his folder or planner.
I think someone omitted the kindergarten mom chapter from What to Expect When You’re Expecting. For real!
No one is holding a gun to my head, demanding I get involved. No one is making me feel guilty about the fact that I do nothing extra to help. While I sometimes feel bad that I can’t do more or help more, I seriously can’t. And last time I checked, I pay taxes to support the public schools my kids attend. So why are you asking me to collect box tops and come to the auction?
Look, my close friends already know I’m an absolute train wreck who puts up a good front. A guy friend recently told me, ‘You’re not a complete wreck… you just kind of careen real far to one side when the track takes a sharp curve and then you have to lean back really far to right yourself again.’
Ok, back to work now (aka prepping for my weekend of eLearning fun).
If you need me, I’ll be in deep hiding from all the ticked off teachers and PTO moms who read my blog. Come at me, bro!
I may also be writing. I just might go for that Kindergarten Mom How-To book. I swear that shit could be a best seller…
I sit down to write and the words won’t form. That’s foreign to me. I can always write. About my life. About someone else’s. About work. My kids. Anything. It’s my escape and coping mechanism. But for the past few months, I get a few sentences or paragraphs in and I go blank. I can’t finish what I so desperately need to get out.
It’s been a similar situation at work. I stare at my to-do list and find I’m unable to do anything for longer than a few minutes or, if I’m lucky, a whole hour before I crack. Before I close my office door and cry. Because facing anyone or trying to explain the situation isn’t worth their awkward reaction. It’s not worth making them feel bad because they don’t know what to say. And, quite frankly, it’s none of their business.
So then I try to run it out. As if I could outrun the reality that’s chased and haunted me for the past year and a half of my life. The night I broke the news to my parents, my Dad said, ‘You know, all this time I kind of wondered what or who you were running away from.’
Wait, what? You mean it’s not normal to suddenly take up running and – in the span of 18 months – complete four half marathons, four 10K races and three 5Ks, all while logging dozens of miles in training runs each month? But even that caught up with me. Call it burnout. Lack of energy. Emotional and physical drain. Whatever it is, I reached a point where I barely have the motivation to run at all these days. So I lace up my shoes, put in my headphones and then halfway through what should be six or eight miles, I stop. I give up. Because all I have the energy to do right now is walk. And I’m strangely OK with that.
I don’t return texts or phone calls or Facebook messages from friends in a timely fashion. If at all.
I don’t have the brain power to read through all the paperwork my 5-year-old brings home from school.
I do the basics and hope my kids won’t ever realize or remember how much of a mess I am right now.
Numb from pain and exhaustion. Paralyzed by emotions I finally forced myself to face. Scared by the silence of my new reality.
33 years old.
3 perfect, beautiful kids.
Chew on that for a second.
Divorce. I could stare at that word for hours and still not grasp what it’s done to my soul or how it turned my world into a tornado of feelings I struggle to comprehend.
When they find out, so many of our friends and family members want to know why. What happened? Who did what? Who’s to blame? Do I think I gave it all I had? The answers to all those questions are deeply personal and, for the most part, off limits. At least for me.
The man who was my husband for 8 years, 1 month and 5 days will tell you I’m “a tough case to crack,” because I don’t easily open up about what’s deep inside my heart. Sure, I’ll talk. I’ll give the surface rundown and keep repeating the same superficial, couched response that gets the point across.
It’s a long story, I’ll tell you when you’re older.
No, we don’t hate each other.
Yes, we’re on decent terms.
The kids are actually doing well. That’s what’s most important.
The most common reaction from people when they find out? “I’m sorry.”
And that one kills me. I’ve already heard it so many times. I know they don’t know what to say and sorry is the natural, awkward response. But I just want to look at them and ask, “Could you not be?”
Toward the beginning of the process, a close friend told me this would show who my real friends are. At first, I didn’t know what that meant. But now? If that ain’t the damn truth, I’m not sure what is.
I knew certain people had heard about what’s going on, and when they didn’t come to me – even with a Facebook message or an invitation to meet for coffee – it stung.
I guess I never really knew how much of an impact a simple text, email or phone call could have on someone going through this situation. I do now, though.
I know the value in having a friend ask, ‘Can I take your kids for a couple hours today? I know you need a little space to think and get things done.’
Or, ‘Can I bring you guys dinner tomorrow?’
Or, ‘I’m here. Whatever. Whenever. Wherever.’
Or, ‘Look, you don’t even need to respond, but I heard this was going on, I don’t know what to say other than you’re incredibly strong and loved more than you even know.’
We had a few (I can count them on one hand) neighbors and friends who did that. I’ll never be able to articulate a proper thank you to those people who just seemed to know what I needed on a particular day or time. Even if I never responded to their outreach.
As I sit in the quiet of the beginning of my new life – in transition between where I’ve been and where I’m going – I noticed the other night that I’m finally able to exhale. It sounds strange but for me, that’s progress.
During one of THREE mandatory parenting classes we attended during the divorce process, the instructor told us all to go home and find a box. She told us to fill that box with our anger, resentment, bad memories and any other negative thoughts or feelings about the person we were divorcing.
“Now I want you to find the most beautiful ribbon you’ve ever seen and tie up that box into the most gorgeous bow you’ve ever tied,” she continued, her voice growing soft. “And then, I want you to give that box back to the person you were married to. Give them back everything you’ve been holding onto for so long. Because you don’t need it. And if you’re ever going to move forward, you have to let all of that go.”
I felt my face grow hot as tears filled my eyes and ultimately spilled down my cheeks. That was the moment I realized I needed one Big. Ass. Box. And here’s the thing – filling it up is still a work in progress. Some days I throw in a bunch of shit just to drag it all out again. I never imagined how difficult it would be to truly let go of the negativity.
But I know l’ll get there. I’ll make peace with the past and be open to a future of happiness for my kids, myself and yes – the father of my children. They deserve it. I deserve it. And we’re all going to be OK.
It was a gorgeous March Saturday in Chicago, celebrating my BFF’s birthday. We ran a 5K, brunched with bloody marys, took in some March Madness (at a bar, of course) and wound up at a different bar for some karaoke. All by 3 p.m.
Kidless and carefree, we were lots of drinks in and having a great time. My guy even switched to double Jack & Cokes at some point because he felt badly that the server was making so many trips to our table for refills.
But around 6 p.m. when I made eye contact with my husband, I noticed he looked a little dazed. And pale.
“You O.K.?” I shouted over someone’s blaring rendition of Hit Me Baby, One More Time.
“I don’t know,” he responded. Then he ordered “a round of waters.”
It was time. I got our friend’s house key and alarm code, then stumbled to the corner and into a cab.
We slid into the back seat (it couldn’t have been graceful) – him on the passenger side and me behind the driver. What’s better than being well over your alcohol limit and watching THE FOOD NETWORK on the back of a seat, in a moving cab on the busy streets of the Windy City? I watched my date take a deep breath and swallow hard.
Wellll shit, I thought.
A minute or two later, he grabbed my thigh. When I looked over, his cheeks were puffed out and his eyes huge.
“You need to pull over!” I told the driver urgently. “He’s going to get sick!”
It all happened quite flawlessly. I was drunk and laughing my ass off. But don’t worry… I snapped a quick pic.
“Damn. I feel so much better!” my husband giggled.
“You’re a train wreck,” I replied, laughing through my words.
A few blocks after that, I got him up four flights of stairs and onto our friend’s couch.
Trash can? CHECK.
Pizza in the oven? CHECK.
Being the thoughtful human being he is, my husband apologized profusely for “ruining the day” and “spoiling” my friend’s birthday.
2010 Kelli would have been TICKED. And she wouldn’t have hid it well.
But 2017 Kelli with 3 toddlers, an insane schedule and a little more perspective on life simply said, “Babe. Really. It’s 6 p.m. On a Saturday night. We drank all day. And now we’re watching TV on a couch with no kids up our ass. I swear to you. I am so good right now.”
I also assured him that if he hadn’t tossed his cookies, I probably would have been the sick one a couple hours later. He did me a favor.
We eventually went to bed and both woke up the next morning feeling fabulous. That, my friends, is a success. It’s also why I prefer to day drink.
Why start at 8, 9 or even 10 p.m., when you can be home and in bed by then? Seriously. We are old. And bar music gets so loud at night. Damn, I am OLD. And tired.
My dad has always said, “Nothing good happens after midnight,” and you know what? He is so right. Hangovers happen after midnight, people. HANGOVERS!
Have you ever tried making your kids breakfast while simultaneously puking into the sink? It ain’t fun, folks. Also, day drinking makes the 6:30 a.m. ‘I want you to play with me, Mommy,’ so much more bearable. These are tried and true #momlife scenarios.
Then there’s the day drink, nap and rally scenario. I’ve done this a time or two and it can also be a success.
Last summer, hubs and I visited friends in Minnesota. We spent a lovely Saturday afternoon out on the town – drinking on a ferris wheel at some hipster/old-fashioned restaurant in Minneapolis, then met up with college friends of mine (she was pregnant and clearly expected nothing less than for me to be inebriated at 2:30 in the afternoon).
After that, we hit a convenience store for some munchies (I obnoxiously referred to our friend John as ‘Dad’ as we drunkenly wandered the aisles, giggling and grabbing samples from the sweet sample ladies). But back at our friend’s house a little bit later, I became so relaxed that I took a little 7 p.m. snooze in the hot tub and woke up at 7:45 feeling like a new damn woman. I was ready to drink some more and go somewhere. Ready to be the life of the party! But instead, I just went to bed. I didn’t get sick though! Isn’t that what old people do?
There’s also the drinking at work scene. I work in marketing in the restaurant industry. My job sometimes requires sampling alcohol. So there I was, with our liquor rep and our corporate chef on a Friday afternoon, taking two, three, yeah, I need just one more to be sure… swigs of new cocktail recipes. I didn’t intend to get a little buzz. It just kinda happened. And no one even knew. I also stopped drinking as soon as I realized it was all going to my head. But 3 p.m. = day drinking = more control over one’s actions. Completely acceptable in my world.
Lots of my mom friends “unwind” at night with a glass (or three) of their favorite wine. I hear all kinds of buzz words about how it’s so relaxing, and helps them sleep better, or relieves stress.
I’d rather eat my feeli.... er, uh, I mean, calories than drink them. I have a workout or work waiting for me shortly after my alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. How am I supposed to function and actually be nice to people after drinking wine the night before?
If you are a night drinker, that’s totally fine. You do you. I’ll do me.
Rosé all day, baby.
Ok, that’s a lie. I typically drink flavored vodka and water (just not at night).
In All Seriousness... I am, by choice, a social drinker. I maybe consume alcohol once or twice each month, if that. If you are concerned about a loved one's alcohol consumption or your own, there are resources available.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Al-Anon Family Groups
1–888–425–2666 for meetings
Adult Children of Alcoholics
There we were. A grocery cart half-full of items for the clean eating program my husband and I planned to begin the next day: sprouted bread, nitrate free turkey breast, sugar free almond milk and all the other healthy crap on our list. My head was already spinning from tracking down all the stuff we needed. The baby, buckled snugly in the cart seat, was crying.
“All done!” she screamed in a tone that reminded me of the Exorcist. “Allll donnneeee!!!”
I grabbed a bag of chocolate covered pretzels off the shelf and ripped it open, letting my 20-month-old have at it. Hey, whatever it takes to make it through the grocery store, right?
“VVRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOM!” I heard little voice scream.
“Ready? Set, GOOOOO!” returned another.
Before I could even turn all the way around, I saw two little boys in puffy winter coats barreling their pint-sized shopping carts between the cucumbers and onions. Drag racing.
Then everything went into slow motion. One cart careened on two wheels, tipping onto its side. A head of lettuce shot halfway across the store. A pile of pickles, juice and broken glass oozed onto the tile floor. Other produce casualties lay smashed and bruised beneath the toppled cart.
“You know,” a middle aged male employee hissed at me. “When they didn’t listen the first three times, I probably would have taken the carts away.”
I ignored him and tried desperately to play the part of the caring but firm mother while helping my husband clean up the mess our 3 and 5-year-olds just made.
OK, let’s be real. We were dying… like, biting our tongues and cheeks, eyes watering, not making eye contact with each other, shoulders shaking as we desperately tried not to burst out laughing. We didn't want to blatantly show how much we really didn't care at all about what had just happened.
The kids were bat shit. It was January 3. Cold as hell outside. We had just returned home from a week in Disney. They needed to run a little.
We took away the tiny carts for five minutes and then gave them back to the boys. Somehow, between the eye rolls from employees and sympathetic nods of been-there-done-that moms, we eventually made it out of our first adventure into Fresh Thyme without getting kicked out. It was a close call though.
You know what that shopping trip made me realize? I. Have. Arrived. Somewhere between not giving a damn what anyone else thinks about my parenting style and just plain needing to get shit done, I have become that mother I swore I would never be.
You know who I’m talking about… the mom who lets her children run rampant through the store instead of keeping them restrained within the confines of a grocery cart. The mom who opens large bags of whatever sugar-coated somethings I can find to entertain my kids while I pick out new running pants or try on shoes at Target. Hell, I even let my boys play alone in the toy aisle while I shopped for new pillows for my bedroom… 8 aisles away.
I’m the mom who repeatedly tells my toddlers to leave the freaking freezer doors CLOSED at Aldi (we’re recent Aldi converts, and the newness of it still hasn’t worn off with the kids) while I try to pry the germ infested cart key out of my baby’s mouth.
Then there’s my current obsession with Home Goods. And the struggle to decorate our (almost) finished basement. I’m at that store like three times a week – either returning something that just didn’t work out or checking out the newest merchandise that came in on this week’s delivery truck.
Last Sunday I ran in to get this gorgeous plush blanket I’ve been eyeing for our master bedroom. At only $16.99 (a steal!), it was the perfect shade of grey. I needed it.
My husband was on shift, so I had all 3 kiddos by myself. Piece of cake. I do this all the time.
Boys – go to the toy section and immediately jump on plastic motorcycles I had no intention of buying.
Girl – strapped into the cart, with me.
“I neeeed! I neeeeeed! BAAAAAAYYYYBEEEEEEE!" my daughter screamed at the first fuzzy, stuffed dog toy she saw.
OH. EM. GEE.
Then, of course, I ran into our adorable realtor and showed her pictures on my phone of everything we’ve done to our home in the past five years. She oooed and ahhhhed over my husband’s handiwork…
“Mommy, I have to go potty!” interruped my 3-year-old.
“Can you wait three minutes?” I asked, as he nodded his head up and down then grabbed himself, you know, down there. Disclaimer: He’d just gone before we left home 20 minutes earlier. I knew he’d be fine.
“Do you know where the restroom is?” shouted a store clerk from 4 aisles away.
“Yes, thank you,” I replied with a smile, returning to my conversation with our realtor and her daughter, assuring them my husband could probably make the cute little table they’d seen on Etsy.
“Mooommmmyyyy!” whined my toddler.
Ok, ok. We said our goodbyes and I headed to the bathroom with my gaggle. Of course, we couldn’t leave without my son squatting down and peeking into the next stall over, where he watched a stranger doing her business.
“Mommy, I think she has a vagina like you,” he noted, with every ounce of seriousness in his voice and on his face.
“Oh my God Sawyer, wash your hands and let’s go,” I said, half laughing, half embarrassed as hell. “We don’t ever watch strangers while they go potty. Do you understand?”
That’s what I get for teaching our kids proper anatomy.
Roughly 35 minutes after walking in, we are on our way to the car with my new blanket. I could almost smell the freedom that comes with naptime (OK, not really, since I had a terrible head cold and everything the kids say was amplified by like a million decibels). As I told my boys to climb in and buckle up, I realized I couldn't find my car keys. Damn it.
I know I had them.
I sat my bag on the cold asphalt and tried to shift through my purse one more time. Am I going to have to call my husband at work? What about my in-laws? Oh man, we’re like 30 minutes from nap time. This could get ugly.
I then put the baby down so I could search my coat pockets. She immediately attempted to chase a piece of paper fluttering across the parking lot. I lunged out and grabbed her. A quick check of the boys showed them playing balance beam on some nearby parking blocks.
“Am I on a reality show right now?” I asked out loud. “Alright everyone, back inside the store!”
Luckily, some nice, caring soul had found my keys and turned them in at the register. I turned my shit show around and headed back toward the car, relieved the search ended rather quickly.
I could share dozens of similar stories… the time one of our boys intentionally ripped a page out of hardback book being used as a coffee table prop at a furniture store, or when the other boy's arm got sucked into a sliding glass door at the greenhouse, or the time both of them poked holes in every single package of pork at the grocery store, or the time I just gave up and let them play in the Christmas decorations at the grocery store deli.
I used to tell people we take our kids to the grocery store so they can learn how to behave in public. That's working out well, huh? At this point, I feel like my kids pretty much wreak havoc and draw attention everywhere we go and I’m not sure if it’s a parenting problem, a kid behavioral problem or a little bit of both.
I also don’t spend too much time worrying about it… Or that 20-something staring at me with wide eyes, appalled by the wild beasts who call me ‘mommy’ while vowing to herself that her unborn children will never behave that way in public or otherwise.
Don’t worry, sweetheart.
I was once in your shoes.
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, tiny humans, I'm addicted to running + barre, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...