How To Enjoy a Beach Day With Kids In 39 Easy Steps

What summer vacation isn’t complete without a trip to the beach? If you’re fortunate enough to live close to the ocean, you can enjoy a beach day with the kids using these 39 easy steps.

#1. Pick a day where it’s not raining, there’s no chance of thunderstorms, the UV index is below 6, and the wind isn’t blowing fifty miles and hour.

#2. Throw your kids and their bathing suits in the car (don’t forget towels, a blanket, beach umbrella, baby powder to get the sand off of feet, chairs, sand toys, pop up tent for your kid that burns like a lobster, hair brush, hair ties, ear plugs for your kid that gets swimmer’s ear, boogie boards, sunblock, lunch, drinks, enough snacks to feed everyone in ten mile radius on the beach because one of your children will undoubtedly friend a family with eight kids and invite them to your blanket for snack time, and a book or magazine for yourself that you’re not going to be relaxing to read in a million years).

#3. Drive to beach.

#4. Unload all aforementioned items into your sand cart and beg your kids to carry the rest as you drag the cooler, push the cart, and try to walk with a wailing child who just got sand in their eye attached to your leg.

#5. Reach the beach after stopping ten times to adjust your load and once to remove splinters from the foot of the child who insisted that she didn’t need to wear her flip flops on the board walk.

#6. Dump items on the sand and pause to catch your breath and wipe the sweat that is dripping off your body.

#7. Try to set everything up while your kids ask you no less than 187 times if they can go in the water yet. Rescue beach umbrella as it blows down the beach.

#8. Tell your kids (nicely) to stop screaming and no they cannot go in the water until they get sunblock on. Fend off dirty looks from the annoyed twenty-somethings in thong bikinis that are sunbathing on a blanket nearby. Grab nearest child and begin rubbing sunblock into his or her skin. Don’t forget the tops of his or her feet, the ears, and every other place you would never imagine you could possibly get sunburn unless it’s happened to you and you’ve laid writhing in agony all night.

#9. Drop sunblock on the sand to run to the water’s edge to drag back the child who has ran down to water while you are trying to sunblock the first. Try to sunblock that now wet child. Listen to child scream about sand in the sunblock scraping up his or her skin. Resort to using the spray sunblock. Child runs off before you can rub in spray sunblock.

#10. Start to sunblock yourself.

#11. First child comes running back to you to announce that she has to go potty. Discretely tell child that she can pee in the ocean. Shush child as she yells “Pee in the ocean? Mommy that’s gross!” Ignore looks from twenty-somethings who have now removed their bikini tops and are face down on their blanket.

#12. Pull second child out of ocean to go back up to the bathroom to bring first child who is now wailing about having to go potty. Drag both kids to bathroom. Take child to stall and try to remove her now wet bathing suit from her bottom. Ignore her screams that are akin to you lighting her toenails on fire. Figure you might as well pee while you’re here. Pull down your own bathing suit and shush your child as she loudly asks why you have fur on your hooha.

#13. Return to beach with both kids.

#14. Sit on beach blanket or beach chair for 3.6 seconds before leaping to your feet because your youngest child is already in over her head.

#15. Save child. Shoot evil eyes at lifeguard who didn’t even move while you saved child.

#16. Drag waterlogged, sobbing child back to blanket. Yell at other child to stay close to shore. Get dirty look from both other child and sunbathing topless girls next to you.

#17. Calm sobbing child and try to get her to put her feet in the water while she clings to you like a window stick-um.

#18. Encourage older child to stay close to you and try to teach him how to use the boogie board without letting go of younger, stick-on child. Yell at him several times for going out too far. Have several heart attacks when wave knocks child over and you can’t see him for a few seconds. Sigh with relief when he announces “that was cool!” Try to enjoy the water.

#19. Give up when younger child repeatedly asks if it is time to eat. Wave in a reluctant older child to trudge back to blanket and check phone to discover it is 10:32 and you’ve only been at the beach for an hour.

#20. Let kids eat their sandwiches anyway. Try to pick the sand out of the sandwiches when the kids complain about it. Give up and tell them to just drink more water.

#21. Take youngest child to bathroom again after she drinks all that water.

#22. Tell older child he needs to wait a half hour before going back in the water for some reason that you’ll never understand.

#23. Try to engage kids in building a sandcastle. End up building sandcastle yourself. Yell at kids for flinging sand at each other. Apologize to twenty-somethings who have tied their tops back on and are now moving because they got sand in their eyes from your kids.

#24. Coax younger child back in water while older child dashes far ahead of you despite yelling at him to stay where you can reach him.

#25. Drag both kids out of the water again when younger child poops in bathing suit.

#26. Discover older child has eaten all the snacks while you were in the bathroom.

#27. Calm younger child while she screams about sand in her heinie. Try to empty sand out of child’s bathing suit discretely.

#28. Let older child go back in the water with explicit instructions not to go farther in than knee deep. Panic when older child goes in waist deep.

#29. Reapply sunblock to younger child despite protests of pain. Make her sit underneath umbrella. Call older child in from the water when you see the tops of his shoulders getting red.

#30. Offer child a shriveled up nectarine when she tells you that’s she’s hungry because her sibling ate all the good snacks.

#31. Decide to pack it in when child gets sand in her eyes and won’t stop screaming.

#32. Carry all items back to the car in no less than four trips while holding the hand of a screaming child and a whiny protesting child.

#33. Shake baby powder on children’s feet to prevent sand from getting in your vehicle.

#34. Cringe when both children empty the sand out of their bathing suit bottoms onto the back seat.

#35. Get in hot car and immediately discover that you have sunburn on the entire lower half of your body because you never finished step #10—applying sunblock to yourself.

#36. Drive home. Stop several times because child has to pee.

#37. Dump all sandy items on your front lawn and vow to deal with them tomorrow.

#38. Open bottle of wine and drink.

#39. Decide to skip steps #1-37 next time.

Mother's Day

What Mom Wants for Mother’s Day

Wondering what to get your mother for the big holiday coming up this Sunday? I’ve decided to put my dislike for this day aside (see Mother’s Day Misery) and help you all out in your gift giving enthusiasm. Here are a few simple rules to follow in order to make this Mother’s Day the best for your mom.

The Rules:

#1. Don’t cook your mother a meal…unless you plan on cleaning up the ENTIRE meal.  This means scrubbing the waffle iron clean and running the dishwasher. This includes the knives you use and the mugs she drinks out of. It also mean you need to clean up the milk you spill on the floor and the flour that ends up on the ceiling fan. Not willing to do that? Then no breakfast in bed and no elaborate French dinners. Mom does NOT want to clean up your mess. She also does NOT want to go out to eat with a million other moms. So what to eat? Order take out or make burgers on the grill (and don’t forget—it’s YOUR job to clean it up). Some moms are partial to Sangria, chips and guacamole for lunch on Mother’s Day…hint, hint, mi familia. 

#2. Don’t spend a lot of money on a gift. I’m not kidding. Mom doesn’t want an expensive gift. Spending money doesn’t show you care. What means more than an expensive gift? Get her something she’s mentioned over the last few months—tickets for a movie she wants to see, a book she wants to read, gardening tools for her garden, a gift card to get a pedicure…Prove to her that what she says really DOESN’T go in one ear and out the other.

#3. DON’T get her something that “typical” moms like, if you know it’s not her thing. Some moms really don’t like flowers, chocolate, or jewelry—don’t get those things for your mother if you’ve never seen her wear a piece of jewelry, she’s on a diet, and flowers make her break out into hives. Also, don’t get her a gift that YOU want for yourself. No mom wants to hear, “Oh you don’t like video games? I guess I’ll have it then.” (She probably WOULD like a bottle of wine though…I mean, only if it’s her thing. 😉)

#4. She does not want to chauffeur you around on Mother’s Day. Don’t make plans if you don’t drive. (She also doesn’t want to entertain your friends on Mother’s Day, either. Don’t ask if they can come over.)

#5. She does not want to be the ones to make plans for Mother’s Day. Do not wake up on Sunday and ask her “what are we doing today?”. DEFINITELY do not ask her “What’s for dinner?”.

#6. She doesn’t want to do any of her “normal” chores on Mother’s Day—so the best present you could give her actually doesn’t cost a cent. Vacuum, clean the bathrooms, do the laundry, dust, iron, wash the windows, weed the garden, wash the dishes, and go to the grocery store. Sounds like a lot? Yeah, moms do a lot every day.

#7. She really doesn’t want anything homemade—if you’re over the age of 10. Put the crayon down.

#8. She want you to get along with your siblings…for just one damn day. It’s really NOT that hard…just don’t touch them. Or look at them. Or breathe on them. Or be in the same room as them.

#9. Give her a hug and kiss. I bet she wouldn’t mind hearing that she is loved and appreciated. (Don’t kick your brother while he is giving your mother a hug, either.)

#10. You know what mom wants the MOST? Let her sit and relax. Bring her a drink. Don’t annoy her or pepper her with demands. She gave up her body for you for 9 months and pushed your big head out. GIVE HER SOME PEACE AND QUIET. She deserves it.

What I Learned From No Alcohol March

So March is (almost) over. Thank God. I survived Alcohol Free March!

I love to challenge myself and my family. I’m a tad bit competitive, so I was slightly disappointed when hubby refused to participate in this with me (and I didn’t want the kids to participate since they would beat me—they’ve gone YEARS without a cocktail). Still, this was something I wanted to try to do and by announcing it to my Facebook followers and anyone else who would listen, I set myself up to being accountable not only to myself, but to hundreds of other people as well.

Why did I want to torture myself during one of the longest months of the year (and the month with the biggest drinking holiday to boot)??? Well, if I’m going to be really honest, it was because I don’t fit in my jeans and I wanted to lose 10 pounds. Without changing my eating habits or going to the gym more, of course. This seemed like the easiest way to shed some weight before bikini season (not that I wear a bikini). Especially since I noticed I was having a cocktail or two on almost a daily basis. Oh, the empty calories! While I didn’t think it was a “problem”, I knew it was becoming a bad habit, and it wouldn’t hurt to give up it for a month.

Surprisingly, it was a heck of a lot easier than I thought it would be to not drink, believe it or not (most of the time). I’m sad to report that I did not lose 10 pounds, but in the process, I learned a thing or two, which I didn’t expect.

  1. It is much easier to say no to a drink to begin with than it is to have a delicious bottle of wine sitting in front of me and only have one glass. Why is this? Probably the same concept of “you can’t eat just one potato chip” (which I actually can because I don’t like potato chips which is totally weird because I’ll take the potato in any other form…but I digress). I’m also convinced that once you have that first glass of wine, your inhibitions go down and you have “just one more” because the wine worked and you’re relaxed and don’t give a #$&*.
  2. I don’t need to drink when I’m stressed. It’s strange though since we all walk around and say, “Oh God, I have so much stress today, I need a drink.” We really don’t need it do we? We just think we need it. When I said I could make it through March without alcohol, the Universe said hold my beer. March threw a lot of crap at me—I almost thought I was being punked by the Universe. I knew a glass of wine would relax me, but I held strong and went to the gym instead. The endorphins made me feel a lot better than the wine would have. And it made me rethink the whole “I need a drink” talk. It makes us sound like raging alcoholics even when we’re not at all. I like wine, but I never need wine. I have coping mechanisms. You do too.
  3. Having alcohol in the house doesn’t make me want to drink it. (Having a half drunk bottle of wine does, though, which is why I finished the open bottle on February 28. It’s like I’m worried it’ll go bad or something.)
  4. Peer pressure doesn’t bother me…okay, maybe it bothers me, but I can say no to peer pressure. People sitting around drinking while I’m not doesn’t bother me either. Hubby actually asked if it would be okay if he had some Scotch. Um, Scotch? Gross. I did however lean in for a deep sniff the day he uncorked a bottle of my favorite wine.
  5. I’m not sure whether it’s because I thought that without drinking I had more calories to play with, or I have some sort of oral fixation, but I found myself eating  dessert almost nightly. A few times I hear myself actually say “I should have to ice cream tonight since I can’t have wine”. Up until about three quarters of the way through the month when I got on the scale and said, WTF???? After that, I started eating healthier. Or at least trying to. This is probably why I lost ZERO pounds. Which was kind of weird for me because I thought it would be the opposite…I incorrectly assured that I would have more willpower over food without alcohol. After all, how many times have you been out having a few drinks and all of a sudden loaded nachos are screaming your name at 1 am???
  6. The difficult part was dining out without alcohol. Having a drink when dining out has become a habit more than anything else. Once upon a time, we could rarely afford to dine out. And when we did, we certainly couldn’t order expensive drinks. The only drinking we did back then was at weddings and when we bought bottles of two buck Chuck. Fast forward many years later and we can afford a cocktail or two with our dinner out, and it’s become a need to order it because I can. Most of the time I only order a drink because we’re out…and I like the sangria at this place or the Moscow mule at another place, and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to have them even if I don’t actually want it. It’s like I have started to associate certain restaurants with certain drinks and I don’t think the place would be the same without them. You say Jose Tejas and I literally think Margarita and I must order it because how can I go there and not get their margaritas??? Hubby calls this “running up the bill”. You know how I broke that habit this month? Eating a lot of fast food. They don’t serve alcohol at fast food joints. Seriously though, eating at home was much easier. I don’t associate any foods at home with alcohol (maybe pizza and wine, but I could eat pizza out of a box while sitting on the sidewalk so that didn’t deter me from eating pizza).
  7. I didn’t save any money because I’ve bought at least 6 bottles of wine in the last month.
  8. Oddly, I did not sleep better, which was one of the “side effects” I was looking forward to. I had to take Z-quil quite a few times. This may have more to do with the dog waking me up in the night rather than the lack of alcohol.
  9. The headache I wake up with almost daily has nothing to do with red wine and everything to do with aforementioned dog. Or maybe it’s my sinuses. Either way, I can’t blame it on the alcohol.
  10. It takes 21 days to break a habit.

Sunday is April 1st. It seems anti-climatic actually. I thought I ‘d be dragging myself across the finish line with a bottle of wine and corkscrew in my hand, waiting till the clock struck midnight on the 31st, but I don’t think so. In fact, I think I’ll probably head up to bed around 9 with my friend Mr. Z-quil. Have I mentioned that stuff is the $hit? And good news, it’s non-habit forming, too.

Photo Credit

It Doesn’t Get Easier

The other day we had a snow day and before it actually started snowing, we all went out to breakfast at local diner. As we were sitting there waiting for our food, a couple with two little boys came in and were seated next to us. The little kids did what all little kids do when out to eat with their overtired and underappreciated parents—they climbed on them and begged for their phones and complained they were hungry and tired. The parents looked absolutely beat.

When we got up to leave the father of the two young boys asked me, “Does it get easier?” I looked him right in the eye and lied to him. “Oh, yeah, it gets easier,” I told him. I wanted the poor guy to have hope. After all, it’s the only thing that kept me going when my kids were younger…the idea that someday this parenting thing would get easier.

Because the truth is, it doesn’t get easier at all, does it? In fact, in some ways, it’s actually harder. You would think that when your kids are teenagers (and adults) you’re going to somehow get a break. And of course, you do. But for every break you get, you get a new problem.

Then: You don’t get any sleep because your kids are up at dawn.

Now: You don’t get any sleep because you’re up till after midnight waiting for them to come home.

Then: They fling themselves on the ground in the toy store if you don’t buy them the toy that they have to have.

Now: They throw a fit in the phone store when you tell them you’re not buying them the latest phone that they have to have.

Then: You fight with them about eating their breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Now: They eat more than a small country at every meal.

Then: You have to arrange playdates for them with moms you already know.

Now: You can’t really trust their friends and you don’t know their families.

Then: You have to drive them to practice, friends’ houses, the mall.

Now: They’re the ones driving.

Then: You have to buy diapers.

Now: You have to buy pads and tampons and explain how to use them.

Then: You have to beg them to shower.

Now: You have to beg them to get out of the shower.

Then: They cover their arms because they colored on themselves with magic marker.

Now: They cover their arms cuz they gave themselves hickeys.

Then: You need to find a babysitter if you want to go out without them.

Now: You don’t want to leave them home alone because they may drink your beer.

Then: They want to be a puppy.

Now: They have NO IDEA what they want to be.

Then: You have to lock up medication and chemicals so they don’t accidentally ingest them.

Now: You have to lock up medication and chemicals so they don’t purposely ingest them.

Then: They want to wear a princess costume to school.

Now: They want to wear a belly shirt and shorts that are wedged up their butt crack to school.

Then: You have to remind them four hundred times to do their homework.

Now: You have to remind them four hundred times to sign up for the SATs.

Then: You realize you can’t help them with third grade math.

Now: You realize you can’t help them with eleventh grade Advanced Chem.

Then: You dread going in their room because you never know what you’re going to find.

Now: You dread going into their room because you never know what you’re going to find.

Then: They don’t want to leave you alone.

Now: They don’t want to be seen with you.

Then: You cringe over the prices of preschools.

Now: You have a heart attack when you see the prices of college.

Then: School calls because they bit someone.

Now: School calls because they were vaping in the bathroom.

Then: They don’t ever stop talking.

Now: You have to play twenty questions to get them to say two words to you.

Then: You have to wait till they go to bed to watch anything good on TV.

Now: What they’re watching shocks you.

Then: They get in a fight with their best friend over a sticker.

Now: They get in a fight with their best friend over a boy.

Then: They splash water all over the bathroom floor and leave the cap off the toothpaste.

Now: They spray body spray all over the bathroom and leave the cap off the toothpaste.

Then: You have to have that uncomfortable “where babies come from talk”.

Now: You have to have that uncomfortable “please use birth control I’m too young to be a grandparent talk”.

Then: You find the remnants of their allowance in the washing machine.

Now: You find the remnants of their paycheck in the washing machine.

Then: It breaks your heart to see them hurt or sad.

Now: It breaks your heart to see them hurt or sad.

Then: They make you proud every day in some small way.

Now: They make you proud every day in some small way.


Why Having a Dog is Like Having a Perpetual 2 Year Old

My kids are 12 and 16. Old enough to sleep through the night on their own, too young to be out driving around all night. They don’t wet the bed and they rarely have nightmares. On the weekends, I’m the one waking them up, not the other way around. Still, I only get about 5 or 6 hours of sleep every night and that’s not even in a row. I’ve got that dull headache in the back of my brain most days—I’m walking around in a new mommy stupor half the time and I’m not even a new mommy.

Why in heaven’s name am I not getting at least 8 hours of pure and blissful sleep, you wonder? It’s because I have a 2 year old…well, sort of.

The problem has four legs and barks. And barks. And barks. Right in my damn face. Every. Single. Night. It’s like having a two year old. And I can’t even close the door and pray he stays in his crib like I would if he was an actual two year old. Nope. He’ll just bark. And amazingly, no one else will ever hear him. 

He wakes me up with such thought and consideration for everyone else in the house—it’s as if he doesn’t want to bother them. In fact, he doesn’t want to bother them EVEN IF THEY’RE STILL AWAKE! He will actually trot past my husband to come wake me up out of a sound sleep. He creeps to my bedside, puts his cold snout next to my ear and lets out the most muffled little woof you could ever imagine. It’d actually be kind of cute if I didn’t want to duct tape his jaw shut or if he was barking to wake up someone else. He knows mommy is the sucker who’s gonna always get up for him. I mean, the kids have been known to actually ignore the poor guy in the middle of the day when he’s standing by the door barking. I guess I would go for the sure thing, too.

He also has an incredible knack of waking me up at the absolute worst moment, too. Like a half an hour before my alarm goes off, so that even when I get back to bed, I can’t really get any more sleep, can I? Why can’t he wait a half hour to smell where the cat next door peed on the bushes? I’m always hissing at him to hurry up and come back inside, but His Highness cannot be rushed. Yelling at him just makes him prance around more. He knows I’m not coming outside in my pajamas and slippers. And what if he gets skunked in the night? Ugh! I’ll never get back to sleep then—bring on the tomato juice and nose plugs.

Anyhoo, even when he’s not waking me up to go potty in the middle of the night, he’s like a toddler (he’s 7 by the way). He plays with his food for hours before he eats it. He has no concept of personal space or boundaries—he’ll crawl into my lap when I’m trying to read (he’s 100 pounds) and forget it if you happen to have a skirt on (I hope you like a wet nose on your underwear).  Clean laundry doesn’t stay that way for long—he just scatters that around the house. Safety shmafety. He has no concept of danger—if we’re going in the car, he gets so excited that he nearly breaks a hip flying down the staircase. And never mind putting a leash on him—I have nightmarish flashbacks of trying to shove my son in his car seat while he kicked me in the boobs. We still have to barricade rooms in the house because the dog will wander in there and pee if he’s mad at us. I have to leave Paw Patrol on for him to watch when he’s alone. Anything that falls on the floor, he thinks is food (even dish detergent pods for the dishwasher). I can’t leave gum in our jackets or my purse because he will chew a hole in the pocket to get to the gum. We have child proof locks on the garbage and the cabinets…for the dog. If he could take his clothes off and run around naked like most two year olds I know, he’d probably do that too.

And these clowns I live with keep pressuring me to get a puppy. A puppy! Asif. I haven’t lost my mind yet! Of course they want a puppy. They’re not the ones who have to clean up the entire roll of paper towels that he’s shredded or pick up all the coffee grounds he dumped out of the garbage. They’re not the ones getting up in the middle of the night to let him out or the ones who have to buy new bookbags after the dog chews a hole in theirs (trying to get any food they my have in it).  They’re not the ones cleaning up the puddles he’s created from splashing in his water bowl. They’re not the ones chasing him around the table, trying to get my shoe out of his mouth. A puppy! What comedians! At this point in time they’re better off asking me for a new baby. At least they grow out of the terrible twos.

Snow Day From Hell

Before any of you complain about your snow day, I’d like to share MY snow day with you. Today my husband had to work, but he asked me to go online and order him tickets for a concert he wants to go to in the summer. This proved to be a comedy of errors that I can only laugh about now. There were quite a lot of tears shed and serious threats to “No Alcohol” March. I got NOTHING done at all today and I don’t just mean I lounged around and was lazy. I mean, I was so distracted by acquiring these concert tickets that I couldn’t function.

How is that possible, you ask? You just click and order, really not that hard, right? Let’s look at this in real time, shall we?

10:27 am: I realize I forgot about the concert tickets hubby wanted me to order him. I text him for the link.

10:32 am: Hubby sends link and “fan club” info (what a dork).

10:35 am: For some reason, my computer is having trouble loading, so I try the Chromebook. I am able to pull up several tickets, but they only give me 1 minute and 15 seconds to claim them. By the time I am able to contact hubby via text to check if the tickets were what he wanted, the tickets are gone. I try again and different tickets pop up, but they’re not too far from the original ones. I click “place order”. After putting info in, the Chromebook starts giving me error messages and I can not complete the purchase.

10:51 am: I pull out my phone and while squinting at the tiny screen (and trembling because a countdown clock has that effect on me) I am able to get tickets and click fast enough, but then it only gives me a few minutes to fill in my account info. Now I have an account but apparently the password I THOUGHT it was…was not. (This is also a SUPER annoying drawback of technology—a bazillion account numbers that all have to have different requirements…who can remember them all????) At this point, I know if I request to reset the password, I will lose the tickets AGAIN and have to start all over. So I decided to create a new account with my secondary email. I quickly change the email information and voila! I have a new account. I am able to order the tickets literally five seconds before time runs out.

Go me. I got hubby the tickets he had wanted and a VIP package to boot. Happy birthday, Happy Anniversary, and Happy Father’s Day!

11:00 am: I am so pleased with myself until I read over the receipt. I nearly drop my tiny phone in the toilet. In the process of changing the email address, I only changed the first part, not the part after the @. Which wouldn’t be a problem except one email address is and the other is Now my etickets are floating in cyberspace, quite possibly landing in the inbox of a person with a similar email address.

11:02 am: Panicked, I pull up the account (with the wrong email) and I am able to see the tickets. Relieved, I print them out, but then I realize that the etickets were still getting emailed to the wrong address. Now, I doubt HIGHLY that the person with that wrong email address would also print out the tickets and try to use them, resulting in chaos on the day of the concert, but having insane anxiety and OCD like I do, I know I will not rest until I am sure the situation is completely resolved.

11:09 am: I call the 800 number at the bottom of the concert website and am put on hold for over ten minutes. A perky girl on the other end of the line answers and sympathizes with my plight, but explains that she can’t do anything about my problem and I will have to call Ticketmaster directly. She gives me the number and bids me good day.

11:21 am: I try the number about seventy-six times and get a busy signal (more dumb-asses that undoubtedly put the wrong email address in). On the seventy-seventh try, the phone rings. The automated voice on the other end assures me that chances are, my problem can be solved by checking out (they can not be). The annoying voice further assures me that if I say my order number, I will be transferred to an agent who can assist me. As I speak the number, my stupid call waiting beeps and the number is cut off (it was a telemarketer nonetheless). This causes the automated voice to have spasms and put me on hold until the next available representative can help me. It explains there is a high volume of callers and the wait time may be more than ten minutes.

11:56 am: TWENTY-SIX minutes later (I feel like Phoebe Buffay waiting on the phone in “The One With the Screamer”) another perky voice answers my call (what do they put in these peoples’ coffee???). She says her name is “Kelly” and asks how can she help me. I explain the whole situation, trying not to cry—I am nearly hysterical at this point in time, imagining that my credit card info is being sent to this random email address and someone is stealing my identity as the moments tick away.

11:59 am: “Kelly” puts me on hold AGAIN, but then quickly comes back on to assure me that the problem is resolved. She says the order is cancelled and the old tickets will be null and void and new tickets and a new order number will be sent in the next 10-15 minutes to the CORRECT email address. She assures me that no credit card info has been sent in any email. She asks if there is anything else she can do for me today. I say no, I thank her profusely, and hang up the phone.

It’d be great if my saga ended there. But it doesn’t.

12:15 pm: I still haven’t received the email. I make a sandwich to distract myself.

12:30 pm: I still haven’t received the email. I take a shower to distract myself.

12:52 pm: Still haven’t received the email. I watch a show and put my phone in the other room so I don’t obsessively check it.

1:07 pm: I log onto the site with the “wrong email” account and see that the tickets are still on there. Fuming, I click the CHAT button in the lower right hand corner. I am number 33 in the queue.

1:19 pm: A chat bubble pops up—“Martin” would like to help me. I explain the situation. “Martin” then tells me that he cannot help me and that I need to call the 800 number I called before. He asks if there is anything else he can do to assist me today. I angrily close the dialogue box.

1:24 pm: I call the 800 number AGAIN. I am assured that my call is important, but there is a high volume of callers. I am not shocked. I twiddle my fingers.

1:49 pm: My call is answered by “Andy” whose native language is clearly not English. His heavy accent on my hard-of-hearing, nearly-nervous breakdown ears makes me want to cry. I explain the situation and give him my order number. He then tells me that my order number does not exist. I think I am hearing things. I explain the situation again, realizing that “Kelly” had deleted the order and created a new one. “Andy” tells the tearful me that he can’t help me and I have to call another 800 number. He asks if there is anything else he can do for me today. I hang up on him.

2:00 pm: After a brief session of kicking the ever loving crap out of my punching bag, I dial the other 800 number. I am put on hold due to…you guessed it…the high volume of callers.

2:20 pm: I switch ears since the left one has gone numb.

2:22 pm: I switch back to the left ear because the right ear feels too weird.

2:31 pm: Someone named “Andrew” picks up. For a second I think it’s “Andy” screwing with me, but then I realize his English is perfect. I explain the situation. He chuckles and says “Wow, that’s quite a pickle”. I resist the urge to snap at him. It’s not his fault…yet. He checks the order number and assures me that the order IS still there (WTF “Andy”???) and the ticket order was never deleted. He says that the account was changed from the incorrect email to the correct email (password and everything changed…how weird is that?) and that the tickets are in there. He says the original tickets are still valid and the order was never voided and whoever I talked to did it completely wrong. (WTF “Kelly”???).

2:34 pm: I don’t trust him. I log into the account and see he’s not messing with me. I tell him that I still want the original tickets voided and new tickets sent. I will not feel comfortable until I get new tickets in a confirmation email. “Andrew” says he understands and puts me on hold again.

2:45 pm: “Andrew” says he has sent the new tickets via the correct email address. I make him stay on the line while I check. “Andrew” starts drinking something through a straw. The email is not in my inbox. It is not in my junk mail. I want to cry. I am ashamed to say that I tell “Andrew” this.

2:47 pm: “Andrew” send emails again. I can hear him chewing a sandwich. He tells me there is a “Queue” for the emails to go out and I have to be patient. (I have to be patient???? Is he kidding me???? I think I’ve been MORE than patient!)

2:51 pm: I receive email confirmation AND tickets. I cheer. “Andrew” swallows whatever he’s eating and asks if he can help me with anything else today. I thank him profusely and ask him if he can open up a bottle of wine for me. “Andrew” clears his throat and disconnects the call on his own.

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Failing Parenthood

I’ve failed at many things in my life, some major, some very minor and negligible. Even when I’ve failed at something that really doesn’t matter in the long run (burning dinner, for example), I feel a profound sense of inadequacy. Then I try to take a positive spin on it—determined to learn something from it or make the failure meaningful in some way (Like writing a blog about my cooking misadventures).

But every once in awhile, I feel so inadequate about my failures that there doesn’t seem to be any way to spin it. Like right now. I’m listening to my preteen sob her heart out and there’s nothing I can do or say to make it better. I’ve failed as a parent and there’s no worse feeling than that.

My preteen is crying because she’s disappointed and crushed and fearful all at once. She suffered from severe anxiety (still does) last year and had a difficult time in school. A difficult time getting work done, despite the fact that she is a creative and intelligent child. She had a hard time getting up in the morning, getting and staying motivated. She would run away from her problems instead of facing them, making them worse in the long run. She had difficulty coping with stress, dealing with organization, and making friends. She lacked confidence and a drive to succeed. We tried to help as much as we could, but it was frustrating and emotional for us—our oldest child never went through anything like that and we felt powerless to help her. We listened, we yelled, we sent her to therapy, we put her on medication, we hugged her, we cried with her. We did what we could, but maybe it wasn’t enough.

But despite all that, despite the obstacles that she had to overcome, she started off this school year as a new person. Her true friends rallied around her and helped her pull it together. She was confident and she smiled again. She sang in the shower and danced in her room. She was involved in school clubs and getting her work done. We cheered to ourselves, so proud of her and the mature girl she had become. We were stupid enough to think that the anxiety was just a phase, that the hard part of parenting her was in the past.

And then, just like that, she fell apart this week. All of her past fears came together this week in a perfect cocktail that sent her over the edge—a missing assignment, a bad grade, a falling out with a friend, bullies. She refused to go to school. She wouldn’t face her fears—instead, her defense mechanism was to bury her head in the sand until it went away.  And regardless of the fact that we tried to help again…tried to listen, tried to boost her spirits and make her feel better, we couldn’t do it. We failed…I failed.

I’m her mother. I was a 12 year old girl once, too, with all the feelings and insecurities she is going through now. I didn’t feel smart enough or pretty enough or skinny enough or enough of anything at her age. I felt stressed and overwhelmed. I dealt with bullies and isolation. I thought my life was the worst ever and I fell apart too. But I didn’t run from my problems. I pushed through as best as I could. And I survived.

I should be able to help her pick up the pieces. I should be able to make it better, simply because I was her thirty years ago and I made it through middle school—a little scarred, but in one piece.

And yet, I still can’t. I can’t make it better and take away the hurt as much as I want to. She has to discover her self worth and her strengths herself. No matter what I do, no matter what I say, it’s not going to change that. I can’t shield her from the misery of middle school, the pain of becoming a teen. And that is my biggest failure as a mother, one that I can’t change or put a positive spin on no matter what.