Sunday, July 27, 2014

Out Being Awkward

We're out being awkward right now;
Having adventures and collecting material for our next tale.
Please feel free to check out some of our past sagas,
while you await our return. 
They're like summer reruns! 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. The Mommy Wars (battle 2)

Let's be real; this is probably battle 2,000,000,000. 

Dear Other Mom-

Look, I know that this is confusing. We are colleagues in a world that prefers competitors. Peers, with nothing in common but our parenthood, and the paths there have been as unique as we are. We are all making this up as we go along, but we are terrified that anyone actually find that out. So, we do what we have been taught to do by years of school and work; we fake it until we make it. That's fine. That's not the problem. The problem is that the same rules don't apply here. Maybe you don't know you are doing this. Maybe gunning for the best in the room is what you have always done, and it has served you well. You were/are top of your class and were/are CEO at your work. That is truly wonderful, but, again, those rules don't apply here. There is no prize for coming in first at moming. No A+ report cards, no endless raises, no golden watches, no huge bonuses. Well, there are bonuses, but nothing you can put in your 401K. Now, I can't stop you from trying to win the mom game, I am just trying to alert you to the fact that you can't. You will exhaust yourself, and for what? Maybe your child will be president. Maybe he'll be a famous actor. Maybe she'll be president of the World Bank. That's nice and all, but those will be their accomplishments. You will have helped, but in the end, those achievements aren't yours and they aren't necessarily going to win you medals anyway. Do your thing, but please don't aim for treasures that aren't there and maybe are made of gilt anyway.

Furthermore, while some of us throw ourselves into long distance marathons that can't be won, some of us chose to pull that nasty trick of tripping the other runners; taking the focus off our own uncertainty and self-doubt by throwing the focus on someone else's all-to-obvious struggle and worry. Stop doing that. It's rude. Again, maybe this is how you survived school and work, but there is nothing to survive here. We are all in this together. Laughing at the new mom at the park and shaking your head in disbelief because she "hasn't heard of sleep training" will gain you nothing. Sure, the mob mentality may take over and you'll get some laughs, but don't be fooled. Those moms are going to play their cards close next time you are around. No one likes a bully, even if we are scared of them. And friends are what you need the most right now.

Mom bullys can be subtle or outrageous. Be neither. Don't brag about your child's 99% for height. Don't compare milestones. Don't openly gape when someone decides to bottle feed or breast feed. Sleep train or cosleep. Allow dressup at the park or sanitize the sand toys. We all have our roads to walk and you don't know the rocks and ruts that mom has to deal with. You could ask her though. Odds are good that not many people truly ask her how her day is going and stay to hear the answer.

Ask a mom her child's name, not the age. Ask if she has read anything good lately or if she likes Game of Thrones. Maybe she is more a Dowtown Abby fan. That's cool; variety is the spice of life. And make no assumptions about how that other mom decides to feed or clothe or discipline her children; it won't be the same as you, that is one assumption that you can safely make. Realize that she has other interests besides her role as a mother, and if she, or you, do not, that is something you might want to get on. I don't care if she wants to talk endlessly about potty training, try to get her on something else; it will benefit you both to come up for a little air. And the air is fine; you now have about 2 billion coworkers and potential friends. 2 billion women in the world who are doing what you are doing; trying to get these children to adulthood with as little damage as possible. You know what would help with that? Some friends.

Let's be friends. Let's talk about books and hobbies and being a woman and mother in 2014. Let's support each other and the unique ways that we decide to do this whole parenting thing. And please, please, please, tell me a joke. I want to laugh. I want to have fun. I want to embrace this wild, slightly crazy, very busy part of my life, and having friends around me would really help. I don't know what I am doing. I am full-on faking it, and I know you are too. It's okay because, get this; our bosses don't care that we are faking it! All they want is some kisses and an underdog push on the swing. Wanna do that together? We can talk about Guardians of the Galaxy or the Fault in our Stars; I'm flexible.

I oughta be flexible; I'm a mom.

Love ya,

Awkward Mom

Did I mention that I have some cake? 
Come on over!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. VBS training

So, my experience with Vacation Bible School is not very extensive. In fact, last year was my very first year volunteering for this mainstay of Christian summers. You can read about how I awkwarded it up over here. Now, this year was going to be different; I was convinced! For starters, I wouldn't be pregnant with Super Fetus this time; throwing up in the girls bathroom constantly and trying to convince the teenage volunteers that I wasn't hungover. And for enders, surely the VBS coordinators have learned from experience and not put me in charge of the nursery again.

I am gleeful as I locate my volunteer card; Erin, Monday-Friday, Nursery. And no fat folder full of in-chargey things like attendance sheets and allergy notes attached to it. I'm free! I'm free! I just get to hang out with babies and toddlers all day, building lego towers and changing a few diapers, while some other woman runs things and handles the herculean task of dealing with 12 teenage girls who squeal for no reason, gossip non-stop about people you don't know, and look at you pityingly if you don't know who Iggy Azalea is. (I don't want them to look pityingly at you, Readers. Take the link. Memorize it. You'll look all hip and now.) Don't get me wrong, these girls are wonderful volunteers who know their way around some toddlers and make working in the nursery a full-on breeze compared to actually teaching 3rd graders about Moses. I love them, I just don't want to be in charge of them for a week.

And I'm not! I giggle to myself as the meeting starts. I merrily take the Moses quiz and get 8 out of 10 correct. (Who knows which tribe Moses was from? I'm not a theology scholar, people.) I can name all 10 plagues though, so those 12 years of Catholic school weren't a total waste, although I am pretty sure I learned all I know about Moses from the 10 Commandments every Easter. I listen to the rules about peanuts and where to find the first aid kit. I barely doddle during the tips of how to engage with children. I chat with the ladies at my table. I even stand up when "veterans of previous VBSs" are asked to. All is good. Until....

(There is always an until in my world.....)

Until the VBS coordinator says "Would all the nursery volunteers come up here afterward, please?" Hmmm...that's odd. I was hoping to dash out early and hit the library before going home to the bedtime/zoo hour. Well, I am sure it is nothing. I bid farewell to my table-mates and head on up to the front. All 12 teenage volunteers are huddled near the front. Oh, looks like we have 1 boy this year; neat. It will be nice to have someone my height around. I stand next to him and the two of us stare into the middle backs of the Amazons that ring the VBS coordinator. I can sort see her; she comes into focus between shoulder blades as the girls giggle and lean into whispers. The coordinator's face shifts from delighted to confused to slightly panicked over the coarse of a few seconds, until she finally says, "Aren't any of you adults?"

Oh crap.

I pause maybe 2 seconds before raising my hand. (It's a long two seconds and I contemplate running out the door for most of it.) She doesn't see me, so I have to wave my hand around and announce "I'm an adult!" like I am trying to get picked on the Price is Right. The teenagers part as momentously as the Red Sea and I am face to face with our VBS coordinator and my fate.

"Oh, Erin! Didn't see you back there. Well, I am glad you are here. The other adult volunteers didn't seem to show up. I don't suppose you would mind running the nursery again."

"Oh no, not at all. I wouldn't mind at all. Delighted to do it."

"Great! Here's the folder! See you on Monday!"

The teenagers close in with questions about confirmation hours, how many babies there will be this year, what's the dress-code, are phones allowed. I let the noise rush over my head, and, for a moment, I feel just as desperate as Pharaoh's drowning army. Until.....

Until I remind myself that I tangle with Perfect Mom daily. I don't seem to need sleep anymore. I have birthed four children. I don't have radioactive blood; I can change a diaper while the child is still buckled in her carseat and my husband is driving 70 down the highway. What's radioactive blood when you can do that? I am amazing. I am strong. I am flexible. I am Awkward Mom and I am a gosh-darn superhero.

So bring it on, VBS. I can handle your gossip teenagers and stranger-danger toddlers. Your really ugly yellow shirt. Making small talk at the picnic. Your weird summer school smells and subsisting on graham crackers and juice boxes all week. Your Christian rock music CD on a loop. Trying not to laugh at the 15-year-old with the Santa beard pretending to be Moses. The crafts. The holy coloring books. The hundreds of children. Trying not to look bored when my fellow volunteers want to talk about bible verses. I have got this. I've got this. I have so totally got this.

She totally does not have this, Readers. Pray for her. Pray super hard. 

Levi, Mom.
Moses was from the tribe of Levi.
How do you not know that?!?!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Dresses

So, I am huffing and puffing and yanking that Spanx on. OK, it was a Spanx knock-off. OK, it might have been a straight-up girdle. Point is, that is the exact moment that Super Kindergartener decides to walk into my room. I know we have had a talk about knocking, but spilled milk at this point. He looks at me. I expect horrified, but it is really more of a curious, yet disappointed look. Then, this happens:

Super Kindergartener: You don't need that, Mom.

Me: (Fighting tears) You mean because I am beautiful anyway.

Super K.: No. Because shorts under a dress is a terrible look. It looks bunchy and messes up the way the dress looks.

Me: (Deciding not to explore that the shorts are not really shorts, because how much does a 6-year-old need to know about shape-wear? None, that's how much.) Are you telling me that I am messing up the line of the dress?

Super K.: Is that how the dress looks on your body?

Me: Yeah, pretty much.

Super K.: Then, yes. Don't mess with the line of the dress. Hey, that rhymes! Super P., come here and hear my cool rhyme!


I have a BFA in costume design. I have not used this degree in about 15 years. OK, that isn't quite true. I use it once a year, when I watch the Oscars with my mother. And then this happens:

Me: Well, I guess peplums are in this year.

Awkward Grandma: Oh, is that what that is. Did I tell you how great Captain Philips was?

Me: Why do they insist on tulle? Year after year....

Awkward Grandma: I really hope Captain Philips wins, it was my favorite.

Me: That's a bold choice. Tangerine is a hard color to pull off with a deep tan.

Awkward Grandma: You know who was bold? The actors in Captain Philips.

We may have slightly different interests come Oscar time.......


I do not use my design skills. My life changed. My interests shifted. I started having babies. I got busy. So, I just assumed that part of my life was over. Or a weird dream. But then comes Super K. and now I know exactly where all those design skills went. They somehow crossed the uterine wall and landed right in that little whirling brain who has designed all the looks in this post.


The reason I was wearing the sorta-Spanx was because we were celebrating Super Baby's baptism this past Sunday and I didn't seem to think that the generous cut of the skirt, the box-pleats, or the fact that I was holding a baby in front of me for most of it was enough to hide the evidence of 4 pregnancies. Anywho, Super K. was an angel, but church can be long for even angels. (I am sure there is something about that in the Bible. Or maybe that was on Supernatural.....) He's getting bored toward the end, so he starts studying the box-pleats on my dress. I can see his gears turning down there, as he gently strokes the side of the skirt, looking for the origin of this shift in fabric and pondering how he can recreate it on his favorite princess dress.


I certainly enjoyed pretend play and dress-up as a child, but I didn't have anywhere near the skills he has. Those that I do have came later. He seems to have been born with his.


He'll make something out of nothing. Or rather, mom's nightgown and a fierce pose. His ideas appear to be endless and only limited by what's around. And his looks can shift from simple:


to complex:


to avant-garde:


To mainstream:


But what he prefers above all else is when someone will dress up with him. Luckily, he has siblings quite happy to model his inventive looks:





Super K. is generous with his design ideas and he is lavish in his praise. He is pretty much the best person in the world to show your new outfit because he will find something nice to say and he will also be pretty blunt if it doesn't fit. But mostly he is kind and just wants folks to wear sparkly things that make them happy. And isn't that really what the world needs anyway. Yes, it is. 

So, every once in awhile, I make Super K. really really happy and I play dress-up with him:

He's cool with it as long as I don't mess up the line of the dress....



All hail Super K.; the modern day Edith Head. 
Long may he reign. 

And long may we avoid the fabric store........

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. 50 (battle 2)

Well, well, it seems that there is room for more awkward in the world! Thank you so much for pushing Awkward Mom's Facebook page to 102 likes! We totally would have settled for 100, but thank you all for being massive overachievers! So, without further ado, 50 More Awkward Things!

1. Perpetual Pinterest Fails.
2. Always going to the zoo when the animals are at their randiest; causing you to start incoherent explanations of "special zebra hugs" that some smart-aleck kid, probably your own, will correct with, "She means sex."
3. Accidentally doing the snorty laugh when meeting new colleagues of your spouse.
4. Bra shopping with 2-year-olds.
5. Most culinary adventures looking like this:


6. Fanny-packs. (not the ultra-ironic hipster ones)
7. Practicing the pronunciation of quinoa over and over in your head before that playdate at Crunchy Mom's house.
8. That Legos sometimes fall out of the folds of your clothes.
9. Creating Christmas Cards.


10. And that those Christmas cards will finally be mailed out sometime in January.
11. Constantly getting locked out of your own house and having to slip into whatever pretend play is going on just to get the children to pay attention to your plight; "No, I will not go to Watto's shop to buy parts for your ship! Open the door!!" being rather memorable.
12. Getting caught eating a quick car-donut before the Mommy and Me class.
13. Having Perfect Mom point out that sprinkles, from your car-donut, are on your cheek. She'll do this at the beginning of Circle Time from across the rug, just so everyone is paying attention.
14. When Perfect Mom refers to your parenting approach as "free range." Crunchy Mom might mean that as a compliment, but I don't think that is what is going on here.
15. When Perfect Mom calls your outfit "brave."
16. Pretty much all interactions with Perfect Mom.
17. Getting yelled at by the garbage man for putting the cans the wrong way.
18. Getting yelled at again by the garbage man when you are fixing the cans and your son tries to climb into the garbage truck.
19. That one time you called it "Downtown Abbey."
20. Trying to tell a queen that she should behave like a princess. (This is not only awkward, it doesn't work. Ever.)

21. Explaining to the new ballet teacher that yes, you know the class is called Ballerinas to Be and yes, your sons are in the right place. 
22. Trying to explain T-ball age limits to the next Randy Johnson. 


23. Being the reason the teacher has to send out a class-wide memo.
24. Not knowing what to say to teenagers who refer to your look as "retro."
25. Causing Mr. Mom-level disruptions at school pick-up because you just can't figure out the drawing they gave you at orientation. 
26. Going for the handshake when your new friend goes for the hug, so you end up poking her in the belly. 
27. When trying on clothes, dancing around a little, just to make sure this option can handle all that you have going on. Bonus points if you get so into it that your hip thrusts pop the door open right into an unsuspecting fellow shopper. 
28. Totally pretending to know about some new parenting thing Perfect Mom is going on and on about, while making a mental note to look it up on Baby Center when you get home. 
29. Teaching your toddler how to work the Netflix remote so you can make dinner in peace and then acting like she just figured that out herself when your spouse asks you about it. 
30. Floor naps. 


31. When you are raving and raving about how wonderful your electric baby swing is to a huge baby-wearer and she starts making disapproving faces but you can't seem to stop talking even though you know you are making it worse. 
32. Taking healthy snack options to the park, but promising the children ice cream on the way home if they behave and don't go in the sand. 
33. Trying to explain to your fashion-loving 6-year-old that clear 4-inch platform stripper shoes are not Cinderella's.
34. When you forget the sunscreen so you try to create a shadow on your child, and they are sure to stay in your shadow because no child ever moves, right?  
35. Comparing growth percentiles with other moms. There can be only one 99% for height, ladies, and it's probably Perfect Toddler. 
36. Potty training anywhere but your house. 
37. Let's be honest, potty training in your house as well. Pee and poo are gross and totally awkward. 
38. Looking in the rear-view mirror and seeing this: 


39. Seeing #38 and realizing that you don't have any wipes. 
40. Routinely attending non-parenting events wearing Disney Princess dress-up jewelry. 
41. Not having any idea when stuff is supposed to happen because you let your children color all over the milestone hand-outs the doctor gives you. 
42. Apologizing before every single hair appointment; "I meant to come sooner, but....."
43. Shirts that seemed much less translucent before you got to church. 
44. When your snotty reply of "oh, I thought I lost something" to Helicopter Mom's "Missing Child! Missing Child!" is met with her blank, humorless stare, so you just back away and trip over your newly returned child. 
45. When you lose the banning-toy-guns battle, so you settle for "don't shoot each other in the face." 
46. When explaining #45 to a visiting child and his mother, your son paraphrases it to "Mom says body shots are nicer."
47. Because you just had to wear a skirt to the park on a windy day.
48. All home cake attempts. 


49. That before each and every school picture day someone will walk into a wall, get punched in the eye by a sibling, or decide she needs bangs. Most likely all three. 
50. And just everything going on here: 

So much awkward.....

I'll tell you this much though; if there is a lot of awkward in your life, then there isn't a lot of boring. And you help keep our lives unboring, Readers. Keep it up!

Yes, she totally just called you awkward.......pretty sure it's not passive aggressive or mean. She isn't Perfect Mom. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. 50 awkward things (battle 1)

Awkward Mom's Facebook page is sitting at 98 likes. In an effort to get it up to 100, she is presenting you with 50 awkward things! If she gets 100 likes, she'll post another 50!

(I told her that you would prefer chocolate, but that one never listens.)

1. Ill-fitting jorts.
2. The decision to create jorts for the children out of old jeans because it seems easier than doing laundry.
3. Conversations about the infant trifecta at baby showers. Come on, let the woman go through labor first.
4. Any birth and labor stories outside of a baby shower.
5. When you are sitting in your car at the school pickup and you think that mom is coming over to talk to you so you roll down the window, but she keeps walking to talk to the mom in the car behind you.
6. Lace beach-coverups.
7. Vacuuming playdough off the dining room table when the FedEx man shows up at the screen door.
8. Forgetting the no-peanut rule with your Halloween candy contribution.
9. Not having any cash when your neighbor sets up a lemonade stand.
10. Trying to tie a jaunty scarf for a fall trip to the park and choking oneself.
11. Matching your baby to the couch.


12. When the baby learns to roll and gets tangled in the vacuum cord that you forgot to wind up.
13. 4-year-olds who tell the visiting nurse how to play Plants vs. Zombies.
14. Anyone who wears leggings like they are actual pants.
15. That moment when you know the park helicopter mom is looking all over the park for you and hovering near your child, who is scaling the slide, and you step behind a tree.
16. Any first meeting with a new playgroup.
17. Playgroups that require nametags.
18. Accidentally running into that one playgroup (the one you joined out of peer pressure, secretly hate, and haven't been to in months) at the park and them thinking you have returned.
19. Most playgroups in general.
20. Not having any idea what to say to moms who wipe down your toys with sanitizing wipes before giving them to their children.
21. Melted freezie-pops that somehow made it under the couch.
22. Getting Jesus and St. Francis confused while monitoring the church nursery.
23.  Sears photo shoots


24. Mother's Day cards that indicate your child thinks you are 1000 years old.
25. That third day in a row of Mac and Cheese.
26. Being asked to bring the jello to a party. (and no, I don't mean shots.)
27. Leaving that diaper so long that your oldest takes it into his head to spray the baby with Fabreze.
28. Deciding to host a party in July and then remembering that you don't have central air.
29. Wearing the holey socks to open gym.
30. Answering rude park moms requests of "how old?" with your own age.
31. Doing #30 in months.
32. Letting your children hold a revival, or maybe an informercial, on your bed.


33. Going to the pool in the rain; what they heck, we're wet anyway.
34. Making X-men references to moms at the park who have no idea what you are talking about.
35. Not making #34 any better by saying "Oh, well, it's kinda like in Star Trek....."
36. Any decision that results in a trip to an arcade.


37. The realization that you aren't even breaking a sweat yet. Your entire life could be on this list.
38. Having Perfect Mom point out the spit-up on your shirt that, judging from the dried consistency, has been there all day.
39. Having to go in the ball pit because every threat you have tried isn't working.
40. Having to explain the nerd reference on your baby's onesie. At church.
41. Setting your party's beer cooler up in the Radio Flyer.
42. Getting ready to leave and forgetting something. Every. Single. Time.


43. Children that drink the holy water in front of the priest.
44. Getting out of a weird discussion with a mega crunchy mom in the produce section of Whole Foods about nanoparticles by asking her if those are anything like midichlorians.
45. Slamming every fun summer thing into that last week of August in a total panic.
46. Wearing a skirt only to have your son announce that "it's weird to actually see your legs."
47. Walking into glass doors.
48. Thinking that a cough was really a sneeze and blessing the cougher.
49. Getting caught eating candy on the sly in the pantry.
50. That pretty much all photos of your family look like this:


Check out Awkward Mom's Facebook page, Readers! Maybe even give it a like. Only 2 more to go and then she'll gift you with 50 more awkward things. (I told her that might be more of a deterrent, but, seriously, that one never listens.)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Child superhero teams

So, you want to be a sidekick (i.e. parental figure), do you? Wonderful! Just a quick word on child superhero teams.....

Child superhero teams come in all shapes and sizes.You can have your lone wolf only children, your wonder-twins, your triptychs, the fantastic fours, and anything over 5 is pretty much some variation of the X-men. All have their challenges and charms.

Ones are so important and weighty; special, unique, the only one of their kind. The planet Earth, President of the United States, that birthday when your age and the date match up. Ones can be set in their ways and often lonely. But ones are also very aware of what they need, so they often have a variety of side projects and love to make guest appearances on other teams. Ones tend to be an interesting mix of flexibility and strength, and they enrich anything they are a part of.  

Two is sweet in its perfect duality; socks and eyes and pairs aplenty. The balance of a two team rivals tightrope walkers the world over. Twos can be twins or just act like them, with a shorthand all their own. There may be more infighting with no one else to buffer, but only they can fight with each other. Fight with one of a pair at your own risk; they'll defend each other with their last breath. And then use that last breath to argue with each other over exactly which of their perfectly unified methods to use to completely crush you. The choreography of a pair is as beautiful as it is deadly.  

Three is the number of things that set the world on fire: the Trinity, trimesters, dimensions, Bee Gees. Threes are unbalanced and unpredictable; they are often whirling in a disorganized mess and shouting at each other until right when the villain shows up. But that pressure seems to be all that is needed to form perfect diamond precision. The beauty of triangles is hard to describe; all hard angles and sharp edges, but within that unyielding harshness is a fierce bond. Triples are almost too much, but when they pull it off, it is a sight to behold. 

What comes in fours but items that bring balance to the force and beyond; seasons, mutant turtles, winds, wheels, A-teams, elements, states of matter, and, most importantly, Beatles. Fours can pair off, work together, or retreat to corners; much can happen within a square and much does happen. Fours are loud or deathly quiet; there is rarely subtlety here. Fours are pretty much a town in and of themselves and their self-rule is often quite effective. Fours are busy and impossible to take in all at once, but when threatened, they are a wall of power. Basically, fours are all in and they are in it to win it.

And five plus? Well, five and more is a zombie apocalypse fighting team. And there is no beating those. Duh. 


Oh, and did I mention that the team you start with isn't always the team you end up with? Yeah, enjoy those shakeups:





 No, that wasn't sarcastic. Seriously enjoy them. They are a ton of fun! 

So, Readers, who are you sidekicking for? Remember that aunting and uncleing count and teams made up completely of Kryptos are some of the strongest teams around. Merry Sidekicking!