Monday, January 5, 2015

First world failures, the 80/20 rule, and bag ladies.

"Bag lady, you gon' hurt your back. Dragging all them bags like that.
I guess nobody ever told you, all you must hold onto. . .

. . .is you, is you, is you."

~ Erykah Badu

Monday night ramble

I was talking on the phone to my mom this morning while driving to work. Asking her--no begging her--to tell me that I am really a good mom and that my kids will turn out just fine. I wanted her to tell me that she effed some things up sometimes or couldn't find something important or forgot a date at some point. And no, not like a birthday or that kind of date, but like a dental appointment or that every kid in the class was supposed to wear a red shirt to the field trip and you sent yours in a green ninja one. Because, NO, you didn't forget--shit, you'd have to KNOW to forget. But you were so busy doing this, that, and also the other that you didn't even get the memo that the red shirt--specifically the red CLASS shirt--was the one that was supposed to be worn. AND okay, that the REAL truth is that you were sort of secretly glad that you DIDN'T know until you saw a snapshot from the class parent of your boy standing out like a sore thumb in a green ninja shirt since, quite frankly, you weren't exactly sure where the hell that red CLASS shirt even was.


So yeah. I had a series of things like that and then I read this thing in a magazine that had my head all jacked up when combined with my epic, albeit first world, fails. Here's what it said:

"How you do anything is how you do everything."

Ugh. It was like, Dr. Phil or somebody like that who usually annoys me. But for whatever reason, that grabbed me by the "goosel-pipe" (as my daddy says) and cut off my air. It made me examine myself for a bit and ask myself:

"How do I do things?"

See? Now you can see why this absolutely effed me up when I read it. It made me think, yes. But mostly, it effed me up. And I know that my mom is cringing-cringing-cringing at me saying "effed" up over and over again like this but, really, it's all just to keep her from cringing from the full on F-bombage that is really dancing on the tip of my tongue or rather my fingertips as I type this.

And so. I called my mom and somewhere in talking through that question and what it all meant when coupled with my recent series of Lucille Ball foul ups, bleeps, and blunders, I started crying. Wondering whether I was getting it right and if all of this was symptomatic of something greater.

Now. I freaking LOVE my mom because she doesn't poo-poo me, like, ever nor does she just say some reflexive thing just to make you feel better. But, somehow, she always makes me feel better.

"Maybe," she said.

Like, maybe, it is a symptom of more. Maybe. But then she just sort of listened to me and asked me questions and told me about how she felt when she was at this stage. She made some good suggestions to help me get my bearings. And I was grateful, man. I was. And she didn't rush me. Like, she didn't slather all these cliche things on me to hurry this whole thing along. My mother put her girlfriend hat on while wearing her mom hat at the same time. And do you know that that is? I'll tell you. It's effing awesome, that's what it is.

As I unpacked, I realized that feeling so valued by my mother is one of the things that helps me put my mouthpiece back in when it falls out. Like, I see me like she sees me and that reminds me that I'm enough.

So,  as we talked about me doing things last minute and crazed and like a whirling dervish, we also discussed that I'm creative and forward thinking. And while it's not so great to do things under the gun--and by things, I mean anything and everything--it IS pretty cool to do them through innovative thinking. And to be okay with working at improving some things so that you don't drop balls while holding on to the parts that work.


You know what else? My kid gave not even 2% of a damn that he was in that green ninja shirt. He was cool as the other side of the pillow with a big smile on his face and both of his hands holding up PEACE signs. I shit you not. Which, to me, means that somewhere in there I've done maybe something halfway okay.

Sorry for the bad words, mom. But this is a ramble post.

"80/20, baby."

That's what the BHE said in response to all of this as I lamented to him on the same topic. Less deep than mom for sure but equally as comforting.

"Look, man. Life is 80/20 if you're lucky. 80% of the time you knock it out of the park. 20% of the time? Not so much. But knocking it out of the park 8 times out of 10? Man, that's good shit. That's some really good shit, babe."

"80/20, huh?"

"Yep. And actually, to me, you do better than 80%. At least at the shit that really and truly matters."

And this? This is why I am married to this man. He manages to say things like this even when 80% of all of the laundry in our entire home is on the couch and dining room table. Yes, indeed.

Oh--and, sorry, Mom, you know how your son-in-law talks when making such points which I cannot and shall not censor even for literary purposes.  (Okay, maybe I might do it 20% of the time depending on the situation.)

Yeah, man.

So back to that question. How do I do anything? Well. Mostly?  I think how I do anything is with zeal, man. And love. That's for damn sure. And, I swear to you, I try hard to make sure that's how I do just about everything. With love. Real, true, genuine, love. (Unless you count my weekday cooking which that same wonderful man once accused of having not even 20% love in it. But I digress.)

Yes, he said that. See? He's 80/20, too, y'all.


Good LORD, I'm rambling. But what can I say? I just need to, man. I just do. So eff it. 


So the deal is this. I'm a work in progress. Emphasis on WORK. And hopefully, at some point, an even BIGGER emphasis on PROGRESS. The last few days have NOT felt so 80/20 but the truth is that, in the grand scheme of things, they probably are. In fact, they're probably even better than 80% like Harry said.

Yeah. So I guess I'm just digging through my feelings and my head right now. Thinking of ways to be a better version of me. And to forgive myself for the 20% that sends my kid to school in the green ninja shirt on the red class shirt day. Because really, that's a first world failure.

At least, I hope so.


Happy Monday. And praise God for my friends who usually text me to remind me to launder the class shirt but don't judge me when I screw it up anyway.

Now playing on my mental iPod--Erykah Badu singing "Bag Lady" in this beautiful, vibrant video. This is the song Deanna used to always sing to me when I got like this. She'd just keep singing the hook on it over and over again until I'd fold into a ball of laughs. She'd say, "Let it go, let it go, let it go, . . .betcha love can make it better." The message is so true.  I love that Deanna, my mom and my husband won't let me be a "bag lady." 


  1. I was just having this same pity party with myself. Like, what if I really am messing my kids up and then they'll grow up and become lazy, shiftless people waiting for someone else to clean up their mess and fix everything. Thank God for my BHE who reminded me of all that I get right and that I can't expect my kids to be these perfect little robots who do everything right. Once I sent my son to school in the wrong shirt too. I apologized later and he said "that's ok mom, I love to be the one who stands out."

    1. It feels so good to know that I'm not alone. And I love your son's response. Perfect.

  2. You are an awesome mom. I promise. You're just keeping a lot of balls in the air and honey, knowing which ones to let fall (laundry, *cough*) is an art. And you have great backup. You're a great mom raised by a great mom married to a Foine man bringing up some awesome kids. So do you, dear Kimberly. Even if that means pausing sometimes in your whirling dervish dance to take stock. (And miss your sister). Love you.

  3. Long comment alert! This post made me smile and remember those times, when my kids were little and I was juggling everything badly and a perimenopausal hormonal mess and I just felt so defeated, like I did everything wrong. I wasn't measuring up to my ideal of my perfect mom self, but the thing you need to believe is they won't remember those little mistakes like the red shirt incident, if they do, it will be with a laugh, and they will remember the love. You are getting that part right. Way right.

    I became a stay at home mom when the second one turned one, she's 17 now, and I feel like I eff things up all the time still, but hopefully not the important things. It's ironic that I thought if I quit juggling work and parenting, I'd be the most awesome mom ever. I think stay at home mom is harder in so many ways. But on my good days, I know I did ok. Am doing ok. We talk, we hug, we are honest and real and supportive of each other, all of us in my little family, so I guess we got that part right. You are so getting it right too.

    I still have days where I crumple and cry and feel, when the little things pile up, or judge myself harshly. On those days, my daughter will tell me I need a hug, or I will go get a hug from whoever is nearby. I blame my hormones and crazy modern life and get back to living and trying to laughing about it.

    And for the record, fasten your seatbelt for the neverending series of annoying details and deadlines and crises for school, there was always something we were missing or late turning in, and I really tried to stay organized. Like you said, the key is knowing about the red shirt, haha! And your perspective is correct, these are first world problems. Grains of sand in the bucket.

    Also, what 37paddington said. :)

  4. Just wanted to let you know you are an inspiration as a mom. Years ago, my boys incorporated the phrase, "I am the head and not the tail, I am a leader and not a follower," into their nightly prayers based off of a similar statement you taught to your boys and I learned about on this very blog. My best friend loves my boys' nightly prayer, and now has her 2 year old son reciting and learning it. I wanted to share that with you because sometimes we have an impact as mothers that we can't even see and don't yet know about. And that's pretty awesome!

    1. That's super sweet, Stacey. And HEY, by the way! Good to hear from you. I actually said that to Z this morning before he got on the bus.

  5. I'm thinking that the teacher probably told her class to remember to wear their red class shirts tomorrow before she let them leave out the door. One of the reasons I really dislike the bubble wrapped kid society that we have become is we place too much blame and criticism on mothers and not enough self responsibility on children.

    1. Yeah, I guess. I sort of grew up with a healthy blend of both. I think my kids are, too. ☺️

  6. As the mother of three kids who are quite a bit older than your little guys, I'd say that you have many years ahead of you when you're going to feel like this -- meaning, it's always temporary. Just when you think you're the Mother Superior, something happens that makes you think about how it'll be visiting your son in jail. Honestly, Dr. Manning -- parenting is grueling and gets ever more so as they grow older. Other than that, though, -- my god, it's a blast!

    1. Seeing as you're one of my "mom idols" that means a lot. I'm realizing that through the blogosphere I've developed a collection of my own "American Idols" in life. You're one of them. I'm in awe of you.

      By the way, just started reading my boys a book called "Out of my Mind." We're really enjoying it so far. Makes me think so much of Sophie. Have you read it?


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

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