Friday, October 4, 2013

Theory 20: Never call a woman fat, lazy, or selfish. Them’s fightin’ words.


Here’s my beef. I get hungry. I want to enjoy life. I am the head cook in my galley, which means I plan, buy, load, unload, cook, and clean up anything to do with food for my family. I’m southern, which means I like my plate piled up with rich, fried, flavorful, food. So, I’m surrounded by color and taste and texture, but I need to gnaw on rice cakes and tofu? Forget it. A few weeks ago, I watched Eat, Pray, Love. Julia Robert’s character says to her friend, about enjoying a pizza in Naples,
            “I am so tired of saying no. I’m tired of waking up in the morning and recalling every single thing I ate the day before, counting every calorie I consumed so I know just how much self loathing to take into the shower. I’m going for it. I have no interest in being obese, I’m just through with the guilt. So this is what I’m going to do: I’m going to finish this pizza, and then we are going to go watch the soccer game, and tomorrow we are going to go on a little date and buy ourselves some bigger jeans.”

Good stuff, but the director missed the mark. He had size 4 actresses struggle and squeeze into size 6 jeans. NOT realistic. I was so disappointed. I wanted to see the actual label “Size 12, Average.” I wanted to see renowned actresses slide comfortably into some Size 12 britches, dang it, and go get some gelato!

I can honestly say that I don’t care when Tall Child is in one of his chunky spells. I want him to be healthy, but I certainly don’t compare him to Robert Redford. That would be ridiculous. Plus, when he’s heavier he’s slower so I can catch him faster. And, it makes me think he’s content, like when skinny people start dating, fall for each other, and chunk up because they are going on dates to restaurants and having fun together.

Men, it is so cruel to compare women to other women. Can you imagine what that’s like? I have certain natural attributes, but, when they are natural, they typically come with extra curves. My bra is so tight to keep Atlantic and Pacific upright that it squeezes little puffs of fat up and out right at my armpits. Hey, sometimes, in a hurricane, the levies break. My friend S.A.S.S. (Sexy Artist Seamstress S—), worked and worked and worked on constructing, I mean, creating a dress for me for a fancy party. Those little fat babies just kept pooching out from my wire and nylon levies. Frustrated, S.A.S.S. asked, “Girl, what am I going to do about those?” I said, “Maybe I can duct tape them somehow, or we could just embrace them. You could sign them! Write ‘S.A.S.S. was here. And over here, too!’”

So I leave for the beach soon. My goal was to drop 7 lbs. — not so I’d look good in my skirted swimsuit. No. I’ve thrown in that beach towel. I wanted to lose 7 lbs. so I could gain them back, one pound per day. When I’m on vacation, all bets are off. I indulge in sleep, poor housekeeping, limited hair care, money-wasting, and my favorite beach pairings: Bloody Mary’s and sausage biscuits, Cape Cods and Doritos, and adult grape juice with fried seafood. Er’ day, ya’ll. Er’ day. Well, I choked. Job stress, writing deadlines, plumbing issues, and Sharky’s fifth grade assignments got the best of me. I didn’t lose the 7 lbs., which means that when I return to school from fall break, students will either think they have a sub or I’m addicted to prednisone. I will look like an albino pickle. Swollen and softened by a week in salt water. By week’s end, I’ll probably have swollen right out of my pajamas, which are Tall Child’s size 38 boxer shorts. Is this why women Facebook and Instagram beach pictures of just their pedicured toes?

Delicious once said, “I look better ‘nekkid’ than I do in a bathing suit.”

My brilliant beautiful cousin Bags once told me, “I have finally figured out the perfect career for myself! I am going to be a professional ‘before’ model!”

Speaking of naked and modeling, I’m pretty sure I have the perfect body for a toga. If you’d like to know what I look like naked, go to The Bistro at the Bijou on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. Over the bar hangs a painting of half-toga-clad middle aged woman. Add a little more up top and she could double (double, get it?) for me. Instead of nude beaches, there should be toga beaches. You could hog out and take a nap in the same outfit. Just bring a koozie and a pillow. Well, my vacation motto is “When in Hilton Head, act like the Romans.”


I don’t know a lazy woman. It is impossible to be female and lazy. Delicious claims to be physically lazy, but I think that just applies to housework. She writes letters, as in old-timey correspondence, every day of her life. And, she can whip up an original, colorful Christmas wreath in five minutes flat. Delicious and I and most women in our family are teachers. Did you know that teachers, on average, make over 3,000 verbal and non-verbal responses each day? That is why all our eye makeup is underneath our eyes by 3:00 pm. It’s also why we drag satchels and don’t notice anyone honking at us on the road.

Delicious retired a few years ago. But last fall, she came out of retirement, Michael Jordan style, to teach freshman English for one semester. Just after she agreed to do it, I asked her, “Mama, aren’t you tired? Why did you sign up for this?”

She answered, “I was old. I needed the money.”

When I was a banker for First American which merged with AmSouth, which is now Regions Bank, a top female executive told me, “The more successful a man is, the more likely he is to have a wife and children. The more successful a woman is, the less likely she is to have a husband and children.”

I recall a particularly stressful morning when Sharky was about 18 months old and I was a branch manager for AmSouth Bank. I woke him up to get him dressed for daycare. His eyes were puffy and I immediately knew: conjunctivitis. I had a sales meeting at 9:00 a.m. and sales calls scheduled throughout the day. I took Sharky to daycare, drove downtown where my parking spot was two blocks from my office. I parked and pounded pavement all the way to my branch. I called the pediatrician, who called in a prescription in to Walgreens. I waited for Walgreens to notify me that the medicine was ready. I left my office, hoofed it to the garage, drove to Walgreens, drove to the daycare, put the eye drops in Sharky’s pitiful little blue eyes, drove back to the garage, walked back to my office, and plopped into my chair, exhausted but on time to lead my 9:00 a.m. sales meeting. I couldn’t take the day off and Tall Child was out of town on business. Ya’ll, I did it Ginger Rogers style: in heels (and pantyhose and a skirt). Booyah. Working mothers live this way all the time, which is why I wrote last week’s theory: All mothers need sister wives.

A couple of nights ago, I watched an interview with the USA Ambassador to the United Nations. HER name is Samantha Power. She is 43 and has two children, ages 1 and 3. She lives in the ambassador’s residence at the Waldorf and works fourteen hour days. When the reporter asked her how she balanced being a working mother, Powers said something like, “Everyone doesn’t get 100% of me at the same time.” Some of you are thinking, “She is a neglectful mother.” Some of you are thinking, “Wow! What a career.” I am thinking, “Of course she had her children later. She had to build her career then start a family.” But, you know she has a housekeeper, a cook, and a driver. If you take my teaching job and add all those duties, I work a fourteen hour day, too. So, more power to Mrs. Power! I think I’ll start calling Tall Child a “working father.”

My working mother view - great school, great students!


So, Tall Child had to hog-tie the Gnome yesterday morning to get him ready for school. Gnome, at 38 inches and 31 pounds, can put up a surprisingly strong fight. He yelled at his daddy, “Put me back in my bed!” The ever-indulgent and super-sensitive Tall Child yelled to me, “Can you help me out a little?” I played possum. I’m on fall break from school and faked like I was still asleep. I sympathize with Tall Child. No one wants to sweat through a physical power struggle before 7:00 am, but Gnome can’t reason yet. Man-handling is required, but all due to parental mistakes. Gnome is a night owl who likes to roam and prowl. He is grouchy in the mornings, especially after we let him stay up too late to watch The Voice. I can’t help but spoil him a little. It took me six years of fertility failure then two years of the domestic adoption process to bring him home. I savor every kiss and every moment with him, sometimes a little too late at night. Plus, during commercial breaks, you should hear him belt out a Hollywood inspired Twinkle Twinkle!

So, once Tall Child safely deposited Sharky and Gnome to their respective schools, he called me and said, “You know, you could let Gnome sleep in late tomorrow or just stay home with you.” Friends, sister-wives, mothers, WORKING mothers, let me ask you this:

How often do you have a day off, at home, by yourself?

Let me assure you this:

You are not selfish if you enjoy a day off, at home, by yourself.

Bags and I had this very conversation a few years ago. I accused Tall Child of leaving three times each morning. “I forgot my check card.” “I left my phone.” “Have you seen my ...?” I told her that my coast wasn’t clear until he passed the stop sign at the bottom of the neighborhood. We discussed the rare luxury of being home alone. I asked, “Am I selfish?” She said, “Are you kidding? No! When “Guitar Hero” leaves for work, I do snow angels in the bed!”

There are magic buttons in my house. One is in my favorite spot on the sofa. The MOMENT my rear end meets cushion, an alarm goes off. The other button is at the bottom step in our basement laundry room. The alarm varies between the following sounds,
            “Hey, Bug, can you help me…”
            “I’m hungry.”
            “Look what Gnome did!”
            “Bug, where are you?”
            “Bug, are you busy?” The answer is YES!

And, aside from the nickname Bug, I am also referred to as “Wherestha” – as in “Where’s tha hammer, tha screwdriver, tha light bill, tha check book….”

So Tall Child laid down the mama guilt gauntlet and I caved. As I type this, Gnome is staring me down from across the room. In a minute, he’ll bring me a wiffle ball to pitch to him. Did you know that working mother writers can type with one hand and pitch with another? I’d better see results in tee-ball.

Sneaky Gnome swings out of his homemade (baby powder) sand trap.

If you had told me thirteen years ago that I’d be writing and pitching (at the same time) to this beautiful child whom I’d adopt, with Tall Child and Sharky, I would have been shocked. Marriage and life are not what I predicted in my early twenties, which reminds me of Theory 21: In wedding ceremonies, vows need to be translated.

See you next post! Until then, think outside the barn.

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Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...