I Am Not Worthy

bandaid_handsI want to thank my dear friend Kanye West for filling in for me last Friday.  I hope you found his parenting advice helpful. I must apologize for being a bit of a slacker this week. I’ve been (gasp!) working. Yes, I’m engaged in some seasonal labor. No, I’m not the mall Santa’s new grumpy middle-aged elf. I can barely manage my own children let alone hundreds of kids who are up past their naptime, wearing their itchiest Sunday best, and wired from a steady diet of candy canes and goldfish crackers.

Actually, my friends K and G own an amazing gourmet sweet bread company and cafe here in Atlanta called Breadwinner. I can’t help but boast…their bread was named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things in 2011. And you know Oprah is the world’s foremost expert on Things. Anyway, they do a ton of business at the holidays, shipping thousands of breads across the country. So, I’ve been doing some pretty serious packaging and shipping these days. As I sit here, I have a heating pad on my neck and shoulders and band-aids on the bloody stumps that used to be my fingers.

This little trial run as a working mother has been eye-opening. Thus far, I’ve worked a total of three, five-hour days. I’m still getting home in time to meet Biggie and Smalls when they get off the bus, but I am completely exhausted! Granted, as I mentioned, it is fairly physical work (I mean, those bows don’t just tie themselves!), but you’d think I could handle a few measly five-hour days. Instead, until now, I have not managed to write one word for this blog, do a moment of exercise or wash one piece of laundry. The house is in shambles and our dinners this week have been, shall we say, uninspired. As far as experiments go, I wouldn’t exactly call this one a rousing success.

I bow down to working mothers everywhere. I am clearly not worthy to stand in their shoes. When I was first out of law school and working as an associate at a law firm, there were weeks on end when I didn’t get a day off. I always worked at least one day each weekend and rarely left the office before 7 pm. Twelve-hour days were typical. I’m not saying it was fun, but I managed to keep up that pace for a few years without falling apart physically or losing my mind, which I’d say is a win. So I have to question whether I am a weenie now because I’m old or just because I’m out of practice.

Don’t get me wrong, there have also been some very positive aspects to working outside the little fiefdom of my house. I don’t fall into the Today Show/Facebook black hole in the morning while drinking my tea, failing to emerge for hours. I actually get up and shower every day. I’m eating an actual lunch instead of scarfing an energy bar and a handful of nuts between errands. I’m having contact with human beings other than the person working the Starbucks drive-thru. I take pride in my work. My ribbons are tied and trimmed beautifully, my breads are carefully packaged and I only occasionally find a crucial enclosure card left on the table and have to unpack 50 boxes to figure out which one is missing a card.

Most importantly, I get a real sense of accomplishment from the work. You can’t wrap and pack 300 loaves of bread for a corporate order without feeling a certain satisfaction. That is one thing I’ve sorely missed from my days of working full-time. Being a stay-at-home parent is a marathon rather than a sprint, and you rarely even see the finish line on the horizon, let alone cross it. Most of the things you do accomplish in a day…cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking, helping the kids with homework…just need to be done again tomorrow. I really miss the finish line.

Luckily, in the next few weeks I have, among other things, a birthday slumber party to throw for Biggie, Christmas presents to buy, wrap and either ship out or hide, stockings to stuff, cookies to bake, a holiday party to throw for Ad Man’s employees and a blog to write. Maybe it would help me to visualize all those tasks lined up before a finish line beyond which lies copious amounts of wine, a pint of ice cream and a nice, warm bed. If not, I’ll just take the wine and a few Xanax-laced Christmas cookies, thankyouverymuch!

Advice to My Teenage Self

1987I recently read an article, “What I’d Tell My Teenage Self” comprised of career and life advice from staff members of the TED blog to (of course) their teenage selves. I began thinking about what advice the adult me would give to the teenage me if given the opportunity. As you’ll see below, I have plenty of wisdom I’d like to share with my teenage self. Chances are good though, that me as a teen would take one look at me as a 40-something year-old and ignore every word that came out of my mouth just as I did to all other adults in my life at the time.

Regardless, here are 18 pieces of advice I’d give to my teenage self:

1.  No one cares if you have a zit or a cold sore or if your hair is less than perfect. They’re all too freaked out about their own zits to even see yours.

2.  Nothing is as bad as it seems at 2 am. Take a melatonin and get some sleep.

3.  Spend less time with your boyfriend and more time with your girlfriends. In fact, try not having a boyfriend for a while.

4.  Take Shop class instead of Home Ec. You’re going to have your whole life to cook and clean. How often will you get to play with power tools?

5.  Spend less money on clothes and more on concert tickets.

6.  You’re smarter than you think. Demand more from your teachers, your school and your guidance counselors.

7.  Take a test prep course for the SAT and go to the best college you possibly can. Work your ass off to pay for it. Do not settle.

8.  You might want to consider antidepressants. That heavy, dark cloud that follows you everywhere is not normal teenage angst.

9.  I know this is cliche but, please, please, please wear sunscreen at all times.

10.  Your friends are going to leave you at The Cure concert so they can go party with the band. You have the car and a curfew so that’s OK. Grown-ass men who want to hang out with teenagers are creepy.

11.  Your body is young, strong and beautiful. Do not spend another moment wishing it were different.

12.  You are not awkward and uncoordinated despite how the grade school gym teacher made you feel. You can be athletic. Find a sport or physical activity you enjoy and stick with it.

13.  Call your parents when you’re going to be late. They’re worried sick about you.

14.  Do things you think you can’t do. Learn a language. Play an instrument. Surprise yourself.

15.  I know you love Esprit clothes, but they’re essentially grown-up Garanimals. Remember, a true fashionista doesn’t dress in one designer from head to toe.

16.  A light hand with eyeliner is always best and that asymmetrical bob is not your friend.

17.  Your mom isn’t going to be around as long as you think. Spend more time with her. Judge her less. Ask for her advice.

18.   Aquanet will deplete the ozone layer. Put down the hairspray. Bigger is not always better.

How about you, readers? What advice would you give your teenage self if you could?

Your Mama Don’t Dance and Your Daddy Don’t Rock ‘n Roll

little_green_cars_c:uI went to see an amazing band called Little Green Cars play the other night at a small venue in Atlanta.  My friend E turned me on to them and I’ve been listening to their CD (I had to stop myself from typing ‘album’)* for the last few months so I was super psyched to see them live.  As Ad Man is out of town, I had to get a babysitter so I could join E and his wife M for the show.  The three of us are very compatible and often have lovely dates together.  You’d think we all met on eHarmony.

Let me explain first that M is not known for her punctuality.  On top of this, I was coming from one side of town, E was coming from work and M was coming from the other side of town.  So, we decided to meet at the show, M taking Marta, Atlanta’s train line, and E picking her up at the station on his way.  As is common with such fail-safe plans, wires got crossed and it turned out that I arrived at the venue long before my friends did.

I waited outside for a while, trying to look engrossed in my cell phone while sizing up the crowd milling about before a different show next door.  I generally feel like I can hang with the hipsters despite my advanced age.  I have the requisite thick-rimmed glasses, skinny jeans and visible tattoos.  In this instance though, I had far too few tattoos and my clothes were too recently washed so I felt conspicuous and decided to go inside to grab a beer and wait for my friends.

I should point out that this act alone required great courage on my part as I tend to have a smidge of social anxiety disorder.  (My official diagnosis is a smidge of social anxiety, a sprinkling of OCD and a large dollop of depression.)  While, I have mastered my fears of eating at a restaurant alone and going to a movie alone, sitting at a bar alone still makes my palms sweat a bit so I generally avoid it at all costs.  Luckily, though the space was small, there were a few tables.  So I bought myself a Guinness (Little Green Cars are Irish, so it seemed only fitting) and sat down at one.  From there, I could hunker down, get engrossed in the many entertaining tidbits on my phone and check out the crowd.

Except, there really wasn’t a crowd yet.  In fact, in hindsight, I’m pretty sure I walked in the door with a few members of the opening band.  In my youth, heading out at midnight to go to a bar or a party was not unheard of.  These days, if I have a babysitter, I am out of the door the moment she arrives so I don’t have to deal with the dinner/bath/bedtime drama.  I mean, that’s what I’m paying for, right?  If I’d known I was going to be early and so very alone, I would have stopped to browse at the closest book store or something.

But, alas, I had lots of time for reflection which, in my case, is never a good thing.  I started looking around and determined that I was likely the oldest one there.  (It’s kind of hard to tell how old the guys are these days since they’re all sporting long, burly beards…which I find adorable, but still a bit confusing.)  I did conclude without a doubt though, that I was the only one there carrying a big-ass mom purse.

For a moment I wished I’d stuffed my More magazine in there instead of leaving it in the car.  The thought of being spotted by some young hipster reading “Dress 10 Pounds Thinner: We Target Your Wiggly Bits” was simply too much to bear, however.  At the moment, my particular wiggly bits were being corralled by the spandex in my skinny jeans and I didn’t want to out myself.

The room began to fill up and I gleefully spotted another woman, who appeared about my age, carrying a voluminous Louis Vuitton bag which I imagined was as stuffed with Lego figures, band-aids and other kid detritus as mine.  My comfort was quickly shattered, however, when her teenaged daughter yelled, “MOM!” from across the room.  I should mention that this was an all-ages show, so there were (literal) children in attendance who were years younger than my own babysitter.  I even had to wear a wristband (for which I was carded) to indicate that I was of legal drinking age.  Seriously?!  Granted the lighting was low, but there is an obvious canyon bisecting the forehead space above my finely-lined eyes. It’s hard to miss.

LV woman and her daughter were shortly joined by her son and very gray-haired husband and and I thought, “Oh how nice.  They’re a family that enjoys going out to watch indie rock bands together.  You just don’t see that enough these days.”

I was considering how lame I would look doing a crossword puzzle on my phone when E and M arrived and I quickly forgot that they’d abandoned me to the harsh judgment of a room full of 20-somethings.  Anyway, soon the opening band started playing and it quickly became clear that LV woman and her family were only there to support her son who was now up on stage playing a guitar.  Ah, yes…I should have known.  Generally, the “elderly” people in the audience at rock shows are only there to cheer on their children.  Ugh.  The daughter proceeded to text nonstop through the entire performance.

After the underwhelming opening band (bless their hearts) finished their set, Little Green Cars took the stage and my mind was completely blown!  They were even better live than on their CD*.  In fact, they were one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.  It didn’t even bother me that, as the entire band is made up of 20 year-olds, I could easily have given birth to any one of them, no scandalous teenage pregnancy necessary.  I probably shouldn’t point out that M and I both found the male lead singer quite attractive despite the fact that he’s not even old enough to legally drink in the US, but really, when have I shown any shame before?

The evening turned out to be wildly fun and I was happy that I’d dragged myself out on a Tuesday instead of succumbing to the siren song of my pajamas and the couch at 8 pm as usual.  It wasn’t until the next day that it dawned on me that all my anxiety was for naught.  The young hipsters probably didn’t even register that I was there.  Doesn’t the act of turning 40 render one invisible to under-30-year-old eyeballs?  My experience thus far points to yes.  I’ve found the transition from “hey, check out the hottie” to “wow, she’s a cool mom” to be the most awkward and uncomfortable change I’ve weathered since puberty.  But in the light of day, I also realized the only one judging me for my age (at least overtly) is me and I’d better get the fuck over it or I’m going to miss a lot of great bands over the next 40 years.

* While proofreading this post for me, my friend A said it was cute that I stopped myself from typing “album” when “CD” is now a pretty archaic term as well.  So I stabbed her and buried her body somewhere in the space between our two backyards.

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