Parenting is Pitchy

A tried-and-true fan of American Idol, I've been a devoted viewer since its debut in 2002.  I could sing you any Kelly Clarkson or Carrie Underwood song (just not in their range).  And when many spectators abandoned ship when things got more than a little jankity, I remained an unwavering fan, even all throughout the 3-ring circus that is the judges table.  

And while I certainly haven't been on board with all the hoopla that the producers subject us to (I'm speaking to you, Jimmy Iovine, cause like, why are you here again???), I still watch it every single week.  Because everyone (or at least lots and lots of us) loves a good musical performance.  And this little singing show has already made history.  
Believe it or not, it's also given me a wider perspective on my life and approach to parenting.

Things I've Learned About Parenting
By Watching American Idol
  • People come from all walks of life.  So do parents.  Some are born naturals.  Others have to work at it, seasoning their talents with extra spoonfuls of hard work, several mistakes, and handful after handful of life experiences.  It's okay, kids are resilient.

  • Some sounds are musical velvet for the ears.  Other times, you have to endure the sounds that are more like screechy scratchy nails on a chalkboard.  And the chalkboard is holding a microphone.  And wearing sparkly hosiery. 

  • Hollywood and fame pale in comparison to the glamour, pizzazz, and fab-a-rrific lifestyle that is being a mommy.

  • Your "Bottom 3" will vary, depending on the ages and habits of your children.  If they're still in diapers, it will have a lot to do with what they ate for dinner.

  • Sometimes you gotta temporarily lower your standards and just try to enjoy yourself in the moment.  And most likely, a commercial break is on its way any second, and you can fetch yourself a glass of liquid patience.
  • Men, in fitted t-shirts with British accents and great hair, who know a lot about what songs belong in cruise ship repertoire, will always make even the worst of situations a little bit better.

  • Persistence is key to getting the outcome you desire.  Except if it requires dialing a 1-866 number a bajillion times.  Because we really don't have that much time on our hands.

  • Ryan Seacrest can really be a tool.  He'll prepare you for your child's worst tantrum.

  • You don't have to get the most votes (or even win) to be completely awesome.  There is no First Place.  Except when you can't find your phone or money.  Because then, first place is your kid's pocket.
  • In life, people will judge you.  Maybe even criticize you.  But don't worry.  You may benefit from some really great advice or a new idea that will save you some of the only remaining brain cells you have at the end of the day. 

When you're a parent, there will be days when you feel like an absolute fool.  Maybe even receive boos and hisses.  Sometimes your children will cause this.  Other times, they have nothing to do with it and the crazy is all you.  But you can always blame them.      

Some days, you may feel that you're not doing it right.

Other days you'll just wanna laugh and dance.  Go on and prance, strut, and shake it down.

Just don't get sooooooo crazy that you make others question your sense and sensibility.

When you're feeling unstoppable, dial up your inner diva and give yourself a "Hell Yeah!"
 Or when you just need that opportunity to reinvent yourself, you can do that too. 

But before you just put it all out there for the world to see, do a quick once-over and make sure you've practiced your routine.
And just when you think you can't possibly endure more, sure enough, 8-9 months later, another one comes along.  SEASON, that is.  Ha, I got you there!  ......... No, I am NOT pregnant.

Seriously, no.

This was originally published on Must Love Leftovers.

Karen is just a wife, a mom, a laundress, an (undiscovered) karaoke junkie, a frequent loser at fantasy sports, a cereal pourer, a storyteller, a finger puppet model, a really good (magna doodle) artist, a contributor to the 401K funds of Starbucks employees, a willing participant in any kind of taste test involving someone else’s cooking, a non-listener of knock-knock jokes, and a writer who may or may not make a valid point.

Fine Call Me a Mommy Blogger: I'm Proud to be a Woman Writing Online

In late April, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece called “The Mommy Business Trip: Conferences Appeal to Women With a Guilt-Free, Child-Free Reason to Leave Home,” in which the reporter mocked with undisguised glee the idea that grown-up ladies with children occasionally go on business trips to industry conferences and stay in hotels and everything. Run fer yer lives! Womenfolk are travelin’ by their lonesome with no male chaperone! They’re drinkin’ cocktails ‘n’ gettin’ all dolled up fer nighttime festivities!
But mostly, the article mocked so-called mommy bloggers because, I guess, we have children. And sometimes we go to blogging conferences. HAHAHAHAHAHA. Ha. My laugh-o-meter is off the charts.
There are so many choice offensive comments in the article but I think they are all summed up best by the accompanying  infographic:
Source: WSJ
Man, I want to go to a blogging conference like that one – blowing my IRA on $7 Snickers and Cokes in my western-style shirt, sleepin’ in until almost nine fucking o’clock in the morning in my turquoise and red ribbed tank top, raisin’ the roof like it’s 1989, and laughing my fucking ass off at re-runs of “Friends” in my super-comfy, super-stylish jean leggings.
Fuck you, Wall Street Journal.
Call me a mommy blogger, a parenting blogger, a humor writer, or just a blogger – I don’t fucking care. I’m proud to be in the company of the many amazing women living their lives out loud and online, changing the world one post at a time.
These women inspire me every day with their stories and, without blogging conferences, I would never have met them and learned from them how to hone my writing, marketing, web development, and social media skills. I’m honored to be their friend and colleague.
Women like Greta Funk of G-Funkified, a young widow, now remarried, and raising her four children on the prairies of Kansas. If you want to read a post that will punch you in the gut, read “Shedding the Weight” about the death of her first husband.  Greta supports women who blog with her series “Great Expectations”, which features stories about transitional moments in the writers’ lives. In her spare time? Greta started walking, then running, and is on her way to 500 miles this year.
Greta introduced me to women like Erica Mullenix, a marketing professional and kickass writer who is the managing editor of the yeah write weekly blogging challenge, which showcases bloggers who dedicate themselves to perfecting the craft of writing. I’m honored to be a Contributing Editor for yeah write and I bow down at Erica’s feet, especially after reading posts from her like this one on her personal blog free fringes, about her daughter: “acceptance gone wrong: retardation and its profound loneliness and isolation.”
Yeah Write has introduced me not only to some of the best friends I’ve made in blogging, but also to some of the best writers. Women like Michelle Longo at The Journey, whose post “Happy Drunk,” about her alcoholic father, is one of the best I’ve read in a year of blogging challenges. Women like Christie O. Tate of Outlaw Mama, who blows me away with near-daily posts of a sustained quality she manages by sheer talent and dedication, all while raising two kids and working part-time as an attorney. Christie can write serious shitor humor with equal skill.
I can’t remember how I “met” women like Erin Margolin at The Road to my Writer Roots. I know I wanted to introduce myself to her at the Blissdom blogging conference, but I was insecure because she was a “big blogger.” I may have tweeted that at her and we became friends. Erin not only writes fiction and posts on her personal blog; she co-foundedThe Gay Dad Project to support kids whose parents come out, inspired by her own story of her dad coming out when she was in her teens.
I’ve been fortunate to have the support of so-called “Big Bloggers,” who have been so generous to me, someone who blogs at the molecular level. See, I’ve got a whopping 133 followers here at The Reedster Speaks. Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess? She gets millions of page views each month. She’s a bestselling author of the funniest book I read last year, and she’s been open about her struggles with mental illness, starting The Traveling Red Dress project to celebrate women who need to take a moment to wear a beautiful garment and shine their light back on themselves for once. I dedicated my post about being bipolar on Twitter “To Jenny, who gave me the courage to blog about being bipolar with humor” and she stopped by my blog, read, and commented. That’s class.
Liz Gumbinner, whose blog Mom 101 was chosen “Best All-Around Mom Blog” by Parents Magazine in 2011, was the keynote speaker at the Type-A Parent Conference in 2010, my first blogging conference. Liz is a big reason why I decided to toss my thoughts out onto the internet. She’s a straight-talking New Yorker who is unafraid of the words “liberal” and “feminist,” as well as a prominent advertising and marketing professional and mother of two girls. Sometimes she shares my posts and I squee. I adore her.
Katherine Stone had the misfortune to be featured in the Wall Street Journal hit piece, which made it look like she goes to blogging conferences so she can leave behind a world of reading US magazine and watching Kardashian marathons between drop-off and pick-up. In reality, via her nationally renowned blog Postpartum Progress, Katherine works tirelessly to support women with postpartum depression and has appeared numerous times on national television to speak on the topic. I count myself lucky to have attended a small session on blogging for causes that she led at the Type A Parent Conference.
I’ve been blown away by women like the late Susan Niebur of Toddler Planet, a mommy who also happened to be an astrophysicist and philanthropist and whose work to support women with metastatic breast cancer earned her the 2011 Bloganthropy Award – awarded at, you guessed it, a frivolous mommy business trip known as the Type A Parent Conference. Read her final post here, written as hospice arrived for palliative care, “How did we get here?
So go ahead. Mock us. Make fun of our conferences. Call us mommy bloggers if you think that demeans our power. Whatever. I don’t fucking care.
We are women writing online.
We are the keepers of the stories of our time.
We are the voices of our families.
We are the voices of our communities.
We are – post by post – changing the world by the power of our words.
This was originally published on The Reedster Speaks.
The Reedster is Cindy Reed, a mom, educator, part-time grown-up, amateur rapper, and writer who lives in Asheville, North Carolina. She does not like to wear actual pants. She blogs at The Reedster Speaks and tweets as @Reedster2

It's Not You, It's Me

Hey girl. We need to talk. 

I'm just not sure I how I feel about this whole play-date thing. I mean, I like you, sure, and hey, that kid of yours? Pretty cool, am I right?! I mean, Phaedra talks about her all the time at home, and has been bugging me for weeks to invite her over to play. And you! You're so great! In fact, I'm pretty confident you wouldn't even steal anything from my house if you came over. Also, that time you pretended not to notice how jacked-up I looked when I dropped Phaedra off at school wearing my pajamas and gold-sequined Uggs? Pretty solid of you. 

Let's not and say we did

What I'm trying to say is… it's not you, it's me. I want to get out there and start play-dating, but I just get all squirrelly and weird at the thought. For me, play dates are essentially a milder, less legally-binding version of a visit from Child Protective Services. I’m forced to clean up the house and try to semi-disguise all the, uh, quirky things we now accept as normal: the dried cereal cemented around the base of the entertainment center; the curtain with the big burn hole in it from the summer Rob decided to start killing flies using a lighter and an aerosol spray; the R-rated TV shows mixed in with the G-rated movies next to Phaedra's bedroom TV.

Plus, to be completely frank: I'm just not in the mood. All week long, I'm away at work, or busy dropping off kids or picking them up. When I am at home, I spend most of my time at home either preparing kids for bed or keeping kids in bed. When the weekend comes, all I want to do is spend one day at home in my pajamast doing housework that I didn't do all week long. If I lose that one day, the odds are very good that my kids will end up wearing Halloween costumes to school and eating off of Frisbees during the next week.

Also, I don't quite understand how the mechanics of this relationship is supposed to work. Are you supposed to stay at my house the entire time? So basically I have to hang out with you for, hour? Two hours? What if you turn out to be a turd? You're already in my house, and the kids are already playing, so I'm supposed to sit here and pretend to enjoy having a conversation with you about why we painted the living room orange, and be uncomfortably noncommittal when you start into politics or social policy or something we inevitably disagree about when I could be watching Judge Judy and folding clothes while Surrey takes a nap? On the other hand, what if you leave? I'm just supposed to babysit your kid until you decide to show up again? And what if your kid sucks and I end up having to entertain some kid that no one else in the house wants to play with because she's a total asshole?

You know what? I don't think this is going to work out. Let's just break this off right now and maybe we can get together in the future when we're both in a difference place in our lives. But we can still be friends, right?

No? Oh. Well, thanks anyways for the birthday cake. I’ll just see myself out.

This was originally published on 649.133: Girls, the Care and Maintenance Of.

More About Janel: Janel Mills is a librarian raising three beautiful girls with her beardedly gifted husband. She writes about raising a princess, a spirited child, and the happiest baby on Earth using as many curse words as possible on her blog, Girls, the Care and Raising Of (

A Little Horror Story

Once upon a time in a house in the town that Spring forgot, there lived a woman who liked to brush her teeth. In that same house lived a little girl who liked to explore the contents of the bathroom where the woman liked to brush her teeth.

One late night the exhausted woman went to brush her teeth. About half way through the process (or a good minute or so of vigorous brushing,) she realized that the toothbrush head just didn't feel right. It was sort of soft...and mushy. She pulled it out of her mouth and realized with much distaste, that this was not, in fact, her toothbrush head. It had a pink ring rather then the blue ringed head she had just replaced her old head with.

"Hmmm...", thought the exhausted woman, "that little stinker daughter of mine brushed her teeth up here and left her brush-head on my toothbrush. Grrr...gross!!" She irritably replaced the pink head she'd been using with the correct head, and resolved to lecture her daughter about not touching anything of mommy's in the bathroom anymore, and definitely not to use her toothbrush if she could not remember to put the right head back on.

(You may or may not know, that the woman is particularly skittish over the issue of toothbrush hygiene).

Then, like all good mothers do, she forgot about it.

A few days later, the woman noticed that the pink toothbrush head had not moved from the basket on the counter where she had left it. "Oh my word!", thought the horrified woman, either my dear, yet apparently disgusting daughter has not brushed her teeth at all for several days, or she has been using someone else's toothbrush to do so. Either way, grrrr..yuck! "And the disgruntled woman made a mental note to lecture her delightful daughter about using her own toothbrush and/ or brushing her teeth with it on a regular basis.

Later that day, the woman brought up the issue with her daughter, "why were you using my toothbrush base and what have you been using to brush your teeth since then- with your pink toothbrush head still in my bathroom?" she demanded indignantly.

"Oh no mommy", said her wide eyed, golden haired child, smiling proudly, "that wasn't mytoothbrush, I found that pink head and put it on your toothbrush for you, because I know that pink is the colour you use".

With a burgeoning fear gathering in her heart, and a sinking feeling churning in her stomach, the woman weakly asked,

"where did you find that pink head?"

"Under the sink!" said the sweet daughter, in a spritely manner, "Mommy?Mommy?...what's the matter?"

The woman stared unseeingly into the distance, a scene was playing out in her head. A scene that involved her thinking, "Oh look! Instead of tossing it, I will recycle this old toothbrush head and use it to get into all the nasty little crevices on the toilet seat! I will give all those crevices a good scrubbing! Maybe the base of the toilet too! Yes! This toothbrush will be just the thing for that." The scene ended with the woman industriously carrying out her plan, and then rinsing the toothbrush head, (but not bleaching it..because it was only going back into the toilet again).. and storing it neatly......

under the sink.

The woman in the town which Spring forgot has been involuntarily gagging ever since. No plague has developed as yet. Her husband continues to kiss her. Because he is a good man. A very good man.

And what of the daughter? I don't think she will be helping out in this way again any time soon. At least this is my fervent hope. Children in my bathroom inevitably mean pain and despair for me. Remember "Making Magic" in my contact lens case? Ahhhh....the misty eyed memories...

This was originally published on Momedy SketchKirsty Sayer is a South African mom of five. One toddler, one teen and three in between. She lives in Ohio now, reluctantly. Between observing the growth of her laundry pile and being a personal trainer, she blogs about being a mom at She believes in laughing a lot. Because when you are a mom, if you don't laugh, you'll cry. And nobody likes a crybaby.