Saturday, February 27, 2016

Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop


Erma Bombeck is a personal hero of mine. Smart, talented, hilarious and ever mercifully candid about just how ridiculous motherhood can sometimes feel. I am super excited to share this piece with the folks over at the Erma Bombeck Writing Workshop, the site dedicated to honoring and promoting her legacy of humor and human interest writing. I hope you will join me over there to find out just how glamorous it is to fly alone with your children (spoiler alert – don’t feed them!)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Spare Clothes


There are at least two if not many more universal truths known to all mothers. The first, is that while no child can hear the words “please go get dressed” even when shouted directly into their eardrum they can always hear any mother unwrap any item of food at any decibel and from any distance.

The second and equally important truth is that whoever you don’t pack the spare clothes for is going to need them.

Any guesses as to who didn’t pack herself a spare shirt?

As we set out on the rental car bus yesterday to begin our journey home from vacation, I turned to my husband who would not be making the trip back with me and my three kids and said something like, “It’s no problem.”

“Really. I’ve got this.”

At which point God, overhearing this exchange, literally laughed out loud, put on his favorite footy pajamas, poured himself a drink, and I imagine said something like, “Well, this ought to be a good show.”

Was it the two hour delay that turned into a four hour delay or the turbulence or the toddler vomiting banana crepe all over me or the gate that wouldn’t go up in the parking lot to get us to the car that wouldn’t start because the battery was dead? I mean honestly, I’m not sure. Truthfully, none of that matters now. What I really need to tell you is this:

Never ever feed your children banana crepes ever and most certainly not when you are travelling

Other mothers are amazing. Should you find yourself alone in an airport with three children whilst covered in vomit, mothers will spring into action from all directions. I honestly did not know any of them or where they came from, hoisting upon me plastic bags and wipes a plenty. I know on the Internet and even in real life we can be all judgy and side eye but when it counts, we are there for each other. We know full well that we are in this together.

Your kids are capable of more than you think. When asked, when required, they step up. Most of the time we’re all, “Pick up your plate and shut off your video games!” and I wonder if they just start to believe they really aren’t capable of much more than that, until one day you are yelling, “hose the baby off with your water bottle!” and “grab those suitcases!” Seriously, sometimes I wonder if we’re just overthinking this whole enterprise. Maybe the best and most we can ever do at any one time is just believe in them.

Lastly, pack yourself some spare clothes. Literally and figuratively. Throw in an extra shirt for yourself on that carry on. Maybe it will just be a drop of soy sauce. Maybe it will be baby puke. Who knows? It can’t hurt. But more than that, think about what you will need. I haven’t written in a long time because I have been trapped under lots of puke, and someone else’s expectations of who I’m supposed to be. But it’s useful to remind yourself regularly to think about and prioritize your own needs.

So I’ve got my cup of coffee and I’m writing to you. I might’ve forgotten some spare clothes yesterday but I did remember a book which I read during a brief moment of bliss affectionately known as video game/nap time. It occurred B.B.C (before banana crepe) and as I sat there, flipping through the pages of an old Erma Bombeck book I literally laughed out loud, chuckling at Erma’s quips. I pictured my mother, buried deep within the pages of Erma’s columns and books on our vacations so long ago. I know now that she knew all too well that if you give a child in a pool a mother, someone will suddenly need to pee or puke or eat, and that the mere sight of you will illicit the desire for someone to express their needs.

She wasn’t reading. She was hiding. God that woman was smart.

I loved this line from yesterday’s pages in particular: “I don’t think women outlive men. It only seems longer.”

Indeed.

And if it’s going to feel longer, remember what I told you. Pack yourself some spare clothes, a candy bar that has had the wrapper previously removed, and a good book. At the very least, God shouldn’t be the only one to enjoy this show.