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Pomp in uncertain circumstances

Dan Zevin(Reposted by permission of author Dan Zevin. This piece appeared in The Huffington Post on May 22, 2014, and on Cognoscenti on May 21, 2014.)

Salutations and good tidings to the class of 2014. Today is a day to be met with youthful enthusiasm, steadfast commitment and powerful anti-anxiety medication. For today you stand poised on the precipice of Mount Tomorrow, searching for pomp in uncertain circumstances.

My friends, I feel your pain.

Long ago, I was much like you: a nervous young graduate forced to appear in public wearing a humiliating cap-and-gown ensemble. What the real world had in store for me, I did not know.

And yet, I persevered, learning the hard way the skills one needs to succeed. And now, as you approach the Starting Gate of Possibility, it is my honor to pass you the torch. Let the other commencement addressers puff you up with their pie-in-the-sky platitudes. I am here to dispense inspiration you will find far more useful.

As you set forth to negotiate the serpentine twists of your career path, you may occasionally find yourselves lost, confused, searching for a way to convince potential employers that your past jobs were vastly more professional than they actually were. It is at these junctures that I urge you to remember the impressive SAT words you memorized to get into college, and to apply them to your résumé.

Allow me to provide an uplifting yet fictionalized personal anecdote, a technique I have borrowed from my commencement-addressing colleagues. Many years ago, I spent an afternoon filing invoices at my father’s office. Here is how that career appears on my résumé: principal alphabetizing-systems-implementation liaison.

Another question you are asking yourselves as you come to the Crossroads of Potential is, “Where will I be after college?” To you I say this: you will be in an apartment with more roommates than rooms. But as you take that titan step from dorm to dump, do not settle for the first dump you see. Look at many dumps, and in time, you will find that special dump that suits your needs. This is because the more you look, the fewer needs you’ll realize you have. For here at the Tollbooth on Independence Turnpike, you do not need a microwave oven or a flat screen, internet-ready, high-definition television. You simply need a roommate who already owns these things.

Perhaps there is another question you are asking yourselves as you dive into the deep end of your destiny: “How will I adjust to life after college?” I will tell you how: by having a drink. Graduates, you heard that correctly. I said “a” drink. Singular. One. Of the myriad challenges that await you beyond these hallowed halls, the toughest of all will be that traumatic transition from keg to cocktail. I will not kid you by pretending it will be easy, for change never is. But I will assure you of this: in the years that lie ahead, the idea of drinking warm beer foam out a rubber hose connected to a garbage can will lose a certain amount of allure. And when it does, I am confident that you will rise to the occasion. For you are a generation of achievers.  Soon you’ll be achieving with one stiff cocktail what used to take half a keg to achieve.

In conclusion, I would not be doing my job as a commencement speaker if I did not leave you with some useful pearls of wisdom about the World That Is Your Oyster.

1.    When in doubt, choose a career the same way you chose your college major: according to which ones start latest in the afternoon.

2.    When reading classified apartment ads on Craigslist, remember that “fireplace” usually means “a place that was (or is) on fire.”

3.    Moving back into your parents’ house is an excellent idea as long as you move your parents out first.

4.    Treat your search for a perfect mate the same way you treat your search for a perfect job: lower your standards.

5.    Above all else, keep two very important words in mind as you leave the Sheltered Shores of Scholarship to enter this strange new world — a world where the calendar no longer revolves in cycles beginning in September and ending in May; a world where you are expected to wake up each day before the sun sets; a world where job attendance is mandatory. Those two words, my young friends, are these: graduate school.

— Dan Zevin

Dan Zevin, the 2013 winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, served on the faculty at the 2014 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. His latest book, Dan Gets a Minivan: Life at the Intersection of Dude and Dad, along with his previous one, The Day I Turned Uncool, have been optioned by Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions. He has followed his readers through each phase of life, from post-college coping (Entry-Level Life) to tying the knot (The Nearly-wed Handbook) to developing a disturbing new interest in lawn care and wine tastings (Uncool). And that was all before he had kids.

I love not camping

Abby-Heugel-228x300Spring has sprung, which means many people will be packing up to go camping in the coming weeks. I will not be one of them, as I do not camp.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the outdoors and worship the sun and nature. And while I’m not high-maintenance, I don’t find appeal in sleeping on the ground in a tent pretending I’m homeless.

But despite the tent aversion, I do have a bit of camping experience.

When I was younger, we had a trailer up north that we spent a good deal of time at in the summer. It was a decent-sized rig with a shower, small kitchen, deck, etc., but it was still a trailer.

I fished, shot my bow and arrow (not at anything living, at least not on purpose), tore around on the 4-wheeler and hit the lake with the inflatable alligator before coming back to nighttime campfires, Cribbage games and attempts to attract bats by throwing random crap up in the air by the park lights.

I was young, and other than the fact that I rolled out of the top bunk of triple bunk beds — a bed rail was quickly installed — I had no real complaints. Now that I’m older and (questionably) wiser, I would have many complaints, which is why I don’t even attempt to pretend to want to camp.

Why someone would want to leave indoor plumbing and decent food and increase the likelihood of contracting mosquito malaria, dirt-covered food and being attacked by a baby deer in the woods is beyond me?*

*Of course, to each their own (disclaimer so campers don’t get pissed, although if they’re camping, they shouldn’t have access to Wi-Fi.)

But for those who enjoy camping and would like to recreate this experience at home, I have a few suggestions:

• Hang your clothes over a wood fire to get that signature smell, the one that will hopefully cover up the other signature smell of musty dampness.

• While you’re over the fire, singe your eyelashes and grab a hot poker to recreate the experience of starting the fire and attempting to roast anything with a metal stick.

• Scald the skin on the roof of your mouth in an attempt to eat whatever it is you were trying to roast that didn’t fall into the flame.

• Hover — a lot — and get used to swatting bugs with one hand while wiping with the other. This takes skill, which is why you will most likely find yourself pissing on your own leg (hey, you wanted to go camping.)

• Pour sand directly into the bottom of your bathing suit and any exposed crack or opening in your body. If a lake is nearby, also include seaweed.

• If you feel like getting fancy, spray yourself with a water bottle to recreate the (lack of) water pressure trailer showers provide. Forget about washing your hair (this is actually a positive in my book).

• Plant families of the loudest bugs on the planet in your backyard directly next to your window. If available, add in the mating calls of mystery creatures you’re sure are rabid and hunting you down.

• Roll your meals in damp dirt.

• Roll your clothes in damp dirt.

• Roll yourself in damp dirt.

So for those of you starting your camping season soon, may the force be with you. I plan on working in the yard a bit, reading and enjoying the luxury of warm showers, good food I didn’t have to catch and a few good baseball games.

I love not camping.

— Abby Heugel

Abby Heugel is a professional writer and editor of trade publications for employment, but a neurotic humor writer the rest of the time for enjoyment. She runs mental marathons in yoga pants and blogs her brilliant insights. She makes you feel normal. She’s the author of Abby Has Issues and Abby Still Has Issues.

The importance of eyebrows

janie3-214x300So, the other day, I looked down and wondered whose hands were those attached to my wrists. They looked too dry and wrinkly to be mine. They reminded me of my grandmother. Well, she was a hard-working woman. Having her hands might not be such a bad thing.

Then I looked at myself in the mirror. And I realized that my teeth weren’t exactly in the same place as they were yesterday. But my smile is still a good one.

And my ears. Well, let’s just say, I knew from family photos, that this particular part of my body would someday get larger.

In fact, it seems that the entire landscape of my face is experiencing a shift in its foundation. From a geological point of view, I’m having eruptions (old age spots) floods (eye leakage) and quakes resulting in new fault lines everyday.

Most of these changes I expected and can deal with.

But the other day, I discovered something quite unexpected.

I took off my glasses. Something was missing. I leaned closer to the mirror. And closer still. Until my nose pressed against the cool surface. Yes, this particular part of my anatomy had vanished.

My eyebrows!

Where there should have been a nicely shaped arch covering the length of my eye and beyond, there was this little apostrophe. Just hanging there. Like it actually belonged on my face.

When did this happen? I have a ton of hair. On my head. Under my arms. Sneaking out from my bathing suit bottoms. Even some very unwanted hairs above my upper lip.

So why had my eyebrows gone missing?

I thought about all those wonderful adjectives associated with one’s brows, words used  to describe feelings and  emotions.

Sadness:  Her eyebrows dipped inward.

Confusion:  His bushy eyebrows crinkled.

Determination:  Her eyebrows, straight as a ruler, told me she played by the book.

Flirty:  He lifted one eyebrow and winked at me.

Eyebrows scrunch, gather, stray, lift, sag. They are an important part of our face.

I couldn’t help but stare at myself.

I was totally shocked.

But, of course, you couldn’t tell by looking at me. Because I no longer have eyebrows to raise in surprise.

— Janie Emaus

Janie Emaus believes that when the world is falling apart, we’re just one laugh away from putting it together again. She is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After, and the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love. She has an essay in the best-selling humor anthology, You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth and is proud have been named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year. To read more of Janie’s humor, you can find her every week In The Powder Room. To learn more about her crazy life, visit her website www.JanieEmaus.com.

Color me amused

Rosie SorensonJust when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes the New-New trend: Gray hair on 20-somethings. Put there not by Mother Nature but by hairdressers at the request of their young female clients. On purpose!

According to hairstylist, Amber Jahn, interviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle, “A gray streak is Cred — it’s exhilarating; it’s something new.” As my Midwestern grandmother would say, “Well, if that don’t beat all.”

This new fad sounds a tad ridiculous to us Boomers who have been forever coloring away the gray that kids now think is hot. I’ve had blonde highlights for many years and can tell you unequivocally, that even though there’s some gray in there, I’m not feeling the Cred.

Crud, perhaps, but definitely not Cred.

What’s next for these young people with too much money and too much free time?  Professionally applied, artificial wrinkles? Silicone turkey waddles? Spider vein tattoos? Have at it, kids.

And as long as you’re searching for Cred, how about tossing in a few faux night sweats, a bit of insomnia and some lovely bloating? Those would give you enough Cred to last a lifetime, or at least until you pass through menopause, at which time you can rail against your own daughter for wanting to be so different. So unique. So not.

And, as if that’s not ridiculous enough —

Researchers at Brigham Young University discovered that when shopping in high heels, women were less likely to overspend. The higher the heel, the more cautious the spender. The researchers reasoned that having to concentrate on one’s balance might trick the brain into making more “balanced” decisions. Indeed, participants who were asked to stand on one foot were more likely to buy a mid-priced TV.

I’m sure this has not been lost on the good folks at Best Buy. Soon, they will ban from their stores all women wearing high heels. Signs will be posted: “Sneakers Only! Violators Will Be Prosecuted.” Lawsuits claiming discrimination will follow. This must be covered somewhere in the Constitution. Surely our forefathers thought ahead to the time when our land would be dotted with women shod in Jimmy Choos.

But, the upside could be huge. Picture, if you will, all members of Congress wearing custom-fitted stilettos. Don’t you think John Boehner would look especially dapper in pink Kate Spades, standing on one foot on the floor of the House crying, “No, No! We can no longer afford those tax breaks for Exxon and the top 1% — we must be balanced!”?

Ah, research — it’s not just for scientists any more.

— Rosie Sorenson

Rosie Sorenson is the award-winning author of They Had Me at Meow: Tails of Love from the Homeless Cats of Buster Hollow. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles TimesChicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and others. In 2007, she won an honorable mention in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition.

One size fits none

Marcia Kester DoyleI hate clothes shopping, which explains why I’ve never been accused of being a fashionista. It also explains why my daughters always call first to ask what I’m wearing before they bring their friends over to the house.

Shopping is a miserable way for me to spend a day, but when my underwear drawer looks like it’s been attacked by hungry moths, I know it’s time to hit the mall.

After birthing four babies by C-section and sweating my way through menopausal hell, having a root canal is preferable to me than clothes shopping. I might enjoy it more if I was 25 pounds lighter, but shopping isn’t fun when I’m forced to skip the petite section in favor of the Orca department where everything comes in black, white or shower curtain pattern.

My husband often accompanies me during my clothes hunting expeditions because he is: (A) Bored with all 500 cable channels (B) Needs to replenish his tube sock collection or (C) Wants to make sure I don’t spend all my cash on animal print house dresses and takeout from the Burger Barn. Normally he’s pretty helpful while I scan the aisles for something I can squeeze into. It’s always a challenge to find an outfit that doesn’t leave me looking like the exploding dough from a Pillsbury Crescent Roll tube.

While I’m on the other side of the store pondering zippers v.s. elastic waistbands, my husband feels no shame in shouting across the room for everyone to hear:

“Honey, can you still fit in an XL?”

“Hey Babe, you want those jeans with a control top panel, right?”

I try to be frugal while I shop, but by the time I hit the clearance section, there are only two clothing sizes left on the racks — hummingbird or mastodon.

Once I’m able to find a dress that doesn’t resemble a large paint tarp, I head for the dreaded dressing room. It’s always at this moment that I wish I lived in the 1500s where everyone bought one-size-fit-all clothing from Dirty-Smocks-R-Us and dressed by dim candlelight to mask the effects of a meat and potato diet.

Another reason I dread entering the dressing rooms is because there are some shoppers who use these cubicles for more than just trying on clothes. How do I know this? Several of my children worked in major department stores during their high school years and shared a few nightmare tales that have scarred me for life. These popular stores should consider posting signs so that paranoid people like me don’t have to worry about stepping into DNA samples left by the previous occupants. Simple signs that would be helpful, such as: “FECAL FREE ZONE” or “MOTEL 6 IS DOWN THE STREET …..THEY’LL LEAVE A LIGHT ON FOR YOU!”

It never fails that by the time I get to the checkout counter, the angry woman in front of me with three returns and a missing receipt was once the president of her high school debate team. My eye starts to twitch the moment she engages in refund warfare with the young girl behind the cash register. Obviously neither one of these women knows I’m two hours late getting home to walk a dog known for bouts of IBS. That’s one “WELCOME HOME” surprise I can do without.

Along with the shopping spree comes the daunting task of cleaning out the old clothes to make room for the new. I’m a firm believer in recycling and have found some creative ways to repurpose my granny panties with a needle and thread. By sewing them together, I can make an outdoor patio umbrella, a tent for camping trips or an heirloom quilt for the grandkids. Pinterest has nothing on me.

The reality is that when I try on the new clothes at home, they don’t look as good on me as they did in the dressing room. I’m convinced that department stores use trick mirrors so that every woman appears as shapely as an hour glass. When I get home and look in my own mirror, all I see is a pear dressed up in a shower curtain.

Chances are I’ll be returning my one-size-fits-none clothing to the mall — but only after a quick stop at the Burger Barn.

— Marcia Kester Doyle

Marcia Kester Doyle is the author of the humorous blog “Menopausal Mother,” where she muses on the good, the bad and the ugly side of menopausal mayhem. She is a staff writer for In The Powder Room and HumorOutcasts.com and a contributing writer for What the Flicka. Her work recently captured first place in VoiceBoks Top Hilarious Parent Bloggers 2014, and her first book will be released in the spring through Blue Lobster Publishing. Marcia’s work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Mamapedia, Bloggy Moms, Messy Mom’s Radio, The Woven Press, the Life Well Blogged series and was voted Top 25 in the Circle Of Mom’s Contest 2013. In 2014, she was named a Blogher Voice Of The Year.

Back in the saddle

Barbara ScharfenbergEvery family really should take a nice, long road trip.

We decided to drive from our home state of Minnesota to Yellowstone National Park. This trip posed fear factors for each of us. First, there was no television or Internet, and our twin sons were certain they would perish from lack of electronics. Just the fact that we were all in a van together was enough to send our teenage daughter right over the edge.

There was the strong scent of sulfur in the air at Old Faithful, no fast food and when it got dark at night, you had to go to bed. Even if it was only 9 p.m. My husband, Steve, was so encouraging of this trip. “It will be so much fun,” he said. “An adventure we’ll always remember,” he said.

Steve wanted to go horseback riding while we were there. He had researched the corral and made all the arrangements. Our three children were over the moon. I was glad to be horseback riding. I hadn’t been for many years but was willing to get back in the saddle again. Steve was pretty happy to see us so excited. The trail boss explained where we would be riding, that the horses knew the trail and to just relax and enjoy the ride. And, oh…we would be gone for about 90 minutes. We were each paired with beautiful, laid-back horses. Steve, however, was given a Clydesdale named Mandan. Mind you, Steve has a 30″ inseam. He cannot flex at the hip and his legs do not bend. Sometimes when he sits down, his legs go out in a “V” like an old Barbie doll. He hasn’t tied his own shoes or put on socks in over 8 years. Now he was basically straddling an animal with a girth of a covered wagon.

He was at the end of the line on this gigantic workhorse. He was no longer smiling. Mandan didn’t understand English. Mandan liked to back up instead of go forward. Mandan didn’t want to stay on the trail and he didn’t care if his rider was horrified. Mandan was a very naughty horse.

As we all proceeded on our trail ride, it was just the sound of the breeze and the rustle of the grasses. It was beautiful. The kids loved the natural setting and being in one of the most wonderful places on the planet. Quite a way behind me all I heard was Steve yelling, “MANDAN!” I was certain he was struggling. We were only 30 minutes into the ride.

At one point I looked back at Steve. His lips were white. He was sweating. His face was twisted in a comical grimace. “Oh, my gosh are you alright? Steve, are you having a heart attack?” I asked. “My. Legs. So much pain,” was all he managed to squeak. I asked in jest if he was still having fun. All I got was attitude. Steve eventually was helped off the workhorse. He limped the rest of the trail, chewed a handful of Advil in the parking lot and had two stiff gin and tonics at the hotel. It was a great day.

Our next day adventure was a raft ride. My fear of water was about to surface. I told Steve I would be ok because “it’s not like we’re going down the Snake River, right?”

“Well, actually it IS the Snake River,” Steve said with a grin. “It will be so much fun” he said. “An adventure we’ll always remember” he said.  And that it was.

— Barbara Scharfenberg

Barbara Scharfenberg is a professional stay-at-home mother. She remembers fondly how her own mom howled at the stories of Erma Bombeck and tries to evoke the same reaction with her writing. She resides in a small town west of Minneapolis, Minn. Her college-age daughter, twin teenage sons, husband and beloved Schnauzer provide her with great fodder. Her daily quips and snippets about real-life events can be read on her Facebook page www.facebook.com/BarbisBarb.

A writer’s guide on how not to write —
You’re welcome.

Olga MeckingI am not an accomplished writer. Far from it. In fact, I always wish I could have written this or that piece better; or that I could have found better words to describe what I feel, my joy, my rage, my delight, my anxiety; or that my words would obey me instead of me having to bow to them.

I am, however, working hard and learning to write better, to be more creative with my words. I still don’t know how I want to write, or how I can write.

Therefore, I wouldn’t give advice on that because I am just not there yet. But I think I am learning something and that is how not to write.

I have made mistakes and my writing has suffered greatly. I compiled this little list of all the things you shouldn’t do if you want to be a better writer, and all the things that you can do to ensure your writing sucks ALL THE TIME.

1) By all means, over-schedule yourself. Write several articles all at once, mostly under tight — but self-imposed deadlines. In addition, try to take care of children and a household and go to work — preferably full time. Multi-task. Your writing will suffer and so will you. Of course some busyness is good, but go above and beyond busyness into exhaustion and resentment. You will never write again. Or your writing will become so bad that you will just stand and stare, and consider awarding yourself a medal for the world’s worst article.

2) Undersell yourself, and do so strongly and convincingly. Write for anyone who wants you, and also if they don’t want you. Write for pages that are not worthy of you. Obviously, write for free, or the promise of “exposure.” Believe in the simple fact that you’re worth less than you are really worth and make this clear when talking to possible sponsors, advertisers, or anyone who could influence your writing career in any way.

3) Stay warm and cosy right there in your comfort zone. Stick to what you know. If you have a formula for writing, follow it. For example, my writings are usually very correct and show all perspectives and points of view on an issue. It is fine with me; after all I do not want to enrage my readers. Correct is warm and nice and safe, but it is also boring sometimes. And I find that when I stick to being correct, my articles lose that sparkle that keeps readers interested and engaged. So please, by all means, take my example and write dull, boring, utterly forgettable blog posts. And remember: just don’t work too hard!

4) Show no interest in what others have to say. Don’t read blogs or articles, and especially don’t read books! Ignore anyone who doesn’t worship you. I mean, that could lead to bad things: your belief in something will be corrected and sometimes you will find out something new. Yet worst of all, some learning could happen and you don’t want that. Just smile, and ignore. Or sit in the corner, cover your ears and sing: “lalala” so you wouldn’t hear any useful advice. If you have an editor, don’t listen to her either. Especially, don’t listen to her.

5) Write when you’re exhausted. I don’t know how many hours I spend late at night, sitting in front of my computer thinking that I need to write something, right now. This usually has two possible endings: one where I give up after a few minutes and go to bed and another one where I torture myself until I write something. The first option is usually the better one. If I choose the second option, I often need to rewrite the whole piece anyway.

6) Pretend to be someone you’re not.  This is actually quite simple. You just need to persuade yourself that you need to fit in with your audience! Instead of creating good writing, write with advertisers and sponsors in mind! And always ask yourself this one, very important question: “Will my readers like this?” Sit back and watch your creativity die a long, painful death.

7) Stop thinking. Of course, there is a lot to say about writing spontaneously, but I find that when I write my ideas down like that, the article lacks any depth and is extremely one-dimensional. My choice of words is poor and the whole thing requires heavy editing work. However, when I wait till the whole thing is fully formed in my head, it is almost good to go after it is done, and it takes less time. So — you have an idea for a topic — write it down, and make sure you don’t edit anything. And please, please, please, just don’t think. At all. The added benefit of not thinking is that your writing will be stupid. So that’s a win-win situation!

8) Spend all your time in front of the computer. Forget about having a life, a family or friends. Forget about food. Forget about the whole world outside of your window and write, write, write. Soon, one of two things will happen. Either, you will run out of ideas for articles, or you will starve to death, get buried under a pile of laundry and dirty dishes, and your husband and children will forget that you exist. I am not sure which one is worse.

9) Compare yourself to others. I tend to do this a lot. There are several writers who I admire and I find myself thinking: they are more successful than me. They are better than I am. They can write about things that are off-limits to me. They have more followers. This list could go on forever. Not only does it make me miserable, but my writing suffers as a result, because it takes my mind off what truly matters. It is just amazing how sometimes one simple thought can pretty much ruin your writing.

Follow these simple steps and I am sure they won’t only turn you into a horrible writer, but make a miserable, sad little person out of you. Hurray, it’s all you’ve always wanted!

If you liked this post, you can tell me. However, if you don’t like it, I will just say that I like to lead by example.

— Olga Mecking

Olga Mecking is the author of the award-winning expat blog The European Mama.  A Polish mom, she is raising her three trilingual children in the Netherlands along with her German husband. She is a regular contributor to BLUNTmoms and World Moms Blog.

Things I never thought would happen…
before I was a mom

Janene DuttLast week my son’s sixth grade science class was scheduled to dissect a sheep’s eye. Though he loves science, Jack was not looking forward to the dissection, as he tends to get easily grossed out by things of that sort (as does his mother).  Driving home from school that day I asked him about how the dissection went.

“It was actually really, really cool,” he replied. “It was so cool that I asked my teacher if I could keep a piece of the sheep’s eye and he let me.”

“What do you mean KEEP a piece of the eye? Like to take home?”

“Yup.”

“So you have it right now?  Where is it?”

“In my lunchbox.”

“In your LUNCHBOX?!”

“Yeah, why?”

“How could you put a sheep’s eye in your lunchbox? That’s disgusting. Is it in a bag? Is it wrapped up?”

“No. And it’s not the whole eye, it’s just the lens.”

“So there is the lens of a sheep’s eye just rolling around your lunchbox where your food goes?”

Yes, there was. My son did not see anything wrong with this scenario. And he also could not locate the piece of the eye when I asked him to get it out so I could sterilize his lunchbox. So now here I was, frantically looking through his lunchbox and backpack for THE LENS OF A SHEEP’S EYE. And I thought to myself, “this is one of those moments of motherhood where you realize what a crazy a** job this is.”  I mean, I could not even think of another job in life where I would ever even come across the eye of a sheep.

Here are a few other things I never thought would happen…before I was a mom:

1. I never thought I would walk around in public for an entire day with postage stamps stuck on my back because my 2-year-old used me as a sticker book while I was distractedly working on the computer.  I did not think my husband would be the only person to tell me this when he got home from work, after he stopped laughing, of course.  Did people think I was making some sort of statement walking around like that? Or that I was planning to mail myself somewhere?

2. I never thought I would be lying constantly. “The tooth fairy didn’t come last night? Oh, right…that’s because it was the third Tuesday of the month and that’s her only night off so everybody knows that if you lose a tooth on the third Tuesday of the month, then she comes on Wednesday and leaves you twice as much money! So you’re actually super lucky. Sorry, I forgot to mention that yesterday.” Or, “I wish we could go to Disneyland right now, too, but they actually had to close the park today because it was too crowded so nobody else can go in.”  Or, “I don’t know why all the Kit Kats and Snickers bars are missing from your Halloween candy…that’s really weird.”

3. I never thought that I would be asked such a wide range of constant questions by my children, at least half of which I had no acceptable answer for.  Questions such as, “Can I see heaven, but not die first?” (Jack, age 4) to “Mom, what’s the population of Greenland?” (Jack, last night)

4. I never thought I’d consider waking up at 8:30 a.m. on the weekends to be “sleeping in.”

5. I never thought I would let my child nap in a dog bed.

6. I never thought to not allow my 2-year-old to play with expensive luggage in a luggage store. Luggage is fun, right? They can roll it, they can ride on it. They can also stick their head through the rectangular pull-up handle of the suitcase and not be able to get it out. And once they realize their head is stuck, they can scream and cry so hard in the nice luggage store that they proceed to vomit all over the expensive luggage while their head is still stuck through the handle of the lovely suitcase. No, I never thought THAT would happen.

7.  I never thought I’d be so calm and collected when my son ran into a parked car while playing tag on our street and cut his eyebrow badly, blood gushing everywhere. Yes, I was proud of how calm I remained as I cleaned the wound, stuck a Band-Aid on it, and sent him back outside to play.  Not so proud later on that night when it turned out that the kid actually needed 12 stitches, not a Spiderman Band-Aid. Oops.

8. I never thought I would feel so comfortable peeing in front of other people. I never thought my greatest goal in life would be to someday pee alone in my bathroom.

9. I never thought that watching my daughter go on an extreme roller coaster ride would be more terrifying than going on it myself.

10. And I never thought the old parenting adage would hold so true, “The days are long, but the years are short…and I never thought I’d have a job I loved so much.

— Janene Dutt

Janene Dutt is brand-new blogger who has no legitimate writing experience to speak of and was, therefore, panicked when asked to write this bio. She recently relocated from Southern California to a small island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three children. Her mother said her blog was funny so she now has grandiose and delusional dreams of becoming the next Erma Bombeck. You can read about her experiences at www.imightbefunny.com.

Reflections of Erma