Written by ALison Parker STOLEN by Suzy Jeffords

I have a really cute friend Alison that I envy a lot and try to emulate more than not. I wanted to write something kind of like this but didn't have the time or the energy. SO instead I copied and pasted it so I would have it forever in one of my blog books!!! (I literally stole it off her blog!) I know as mom's we have ALL been here! Read her words of wisdom and laugh and cry like I did. Then enjoy your summer! Thank you Al! I love you more than my luggage! Muah! If you hate that I stole this just give me a call or even better blog about it and I will steal that one too!!! :) (you could also follow/stalk her blog for more amazing stories and gorgeous pictures she takes.... 140 fingersandtoes...... links on my blog!)

"Ship Shape" by: Alison Parker

There are two stories I want to tell.

First, and I imagine almost all of you have seen this one before, has happened on more than one occasion in my least favorite of all stores on Earth.


It's 10:30 at night, I've finally gotten all the kids down, I'm exhausted, but I drag my body out to run errands that would be exponentially worse with "help". I'm in line at Wal-Mart with whatever it was that cannot possibly be found anywhere else or costs 10 times more at a decent place. Anyway, I'm in line, I'm fighting to stay on my feet, I'm not the most patient person at this point, and I notice the cart in front of me has kids in it.


Dirty, sad, whining kids.

At 10:30 at night.

"What kind of mother brings her children to Wal-Mart this late? Those kids should be home in bed! They probably had McDonald's for dinner. I'm a way better mother since my kids are all tucked in, teeth brushed, with bellies full of vegetables, and clean jammies on. Those kids are going to grow up to be horrible people."

I don't say this out loud, but it runs through my brain all through the rest of my shopping trip. I have horribly uncharitable thoughts about these people and decide I'm better than they are.

Story number two:

We have very recently moved to Texas, where we know not a soul. I'm 8 and a half months pregnant in the middle of July. I have a very fast running, sneaky 2 year old, and it's Friday night. Jake has been gone long hours all week, and I'm running on fumes. Honestly, I'm having difficulty moving my arms and legs. Our house is trashed.


I have taken Tate swimming at our apartment complex pool for the 3rd time that day in an effort to burn off some of his energy while allowing myself to cool off and float like a giant tomato (red maternity suit.)

After Jake arrives home, he meets us at the pool, jumps in, does a few laps with Tate, and we walk back to the apartment. I proceed to flomp (you heard me. It's the action of a walrus landing on the beach) down on the couch. Tate picks up a piece of his discarded dinner from a paper plate on the floor, and starts to gnaw on it.

The door bell rings.

"Who in the heckola could that be? We don't know anyone!"

Home Teachers.

Well, for those of you who don't speak LDS, in the church, each family has a set of Home Teachers. Two priesthood holding men, assigned to watch over your family. They come once a month, teach, work, give priesthood blessings when needed, just generally be there to help.

Well, we had a new one.

A member of our Bishopric, Ted Lewis, was at the door with our brand new Home Teacher, Chip Cannon, and I'm wallowing in my own personal pit of despair. I can't even hide because they can see me through the window.

This is one of the most humbling positions I've ever found myself in. EVER.

I waddle to the door, wishing I could just move out of state, and open it to two very surprised men who tried not to gasp at the sight of the biggest pregnant lady they've ever seen,in a massive soggy red tent, smelling of sunblock and grilled cheese, sunburned, sporting "swimming hairdo", and surrounded by Oscar the Grouch's house.

I let them in, cleared off two spots on the couch, and went to find Jake.

Two minutes later, Jake comes in, all fresh and clean and sparkly to sit beside Jaba the Hut for a nice little chat.

Now, I have to say, these men are two of the kindest people I've ever had the privilege to know, however, at this point they're strangers. I would have gladly killed them both and hidden the bodies, just so word of our sad state wouldn't spread.

At some point in the conversation, Chip starts to tell us about his wife, Cynthia.

"Cyn is a great cook."

I glance at the cold grilled cheese in Tate's hand and my head drops.

"She is always so put together. Really she's a trophy wife if ever I've seen one."

Really? I sink into my chair as far as I can.

"You know, our house is always immaculate. She runs a very tight ship."

At this point, I'm just trying not to cry. I'm remembering the Me from California, who mopped every day, who's house always smelled like lemons and fresh cut flowers. I'm remembering the Me who never left her house with a dirty baby or her hair not done, who read 10-20 books to her child every day and cooked wonderful meals with only the freshest ingredients.

That Alison is dead.

And if Chip keeps going, I'm going to add this Cynthia person to my hit list.

I don't remember what I said, I only remember offering some excuse to leave the room, fleeing to my bedroom and crying for an hour.

Fast forward 8 years almost exactly.

I have 4 more kids, I live in a different state, and I've since become very good friends with Cynthia. She has often mopped my floor, folded my laundry, or wiped down my counters.

Why have I shared these two stories?

Well, at certain points in my life, I have been both of these women. I have, over the years, gone back and forth between Troll Alison and Martha Alison.

It always depends on what else is going on in my life.

And on occasion, I have taken a child for a midnight run to Wal-Mart. It's always the kid who has been asleep for 5 hours and won't likely go to bed on their own until Midnight, or the kid who needs an hour of Mom, all to themselves. But nobody around me knows that.

So, when I see these other mothers, who aren't doing what I think they should, I try to remember my first meeting with Chip. I don't know if their dog just died, if their husband just left, if they just lost their job, if their son fell asleep for a 5pm nap and slept for an hour before anyone noticed, or if their child is part vampire and just doesn't sleep. I'm trying to judge a lot less and instead, offer to sweep a floor or change a baby.

This Summer, I'm not Runs-A-Tight-Ship Alison. I'm desperately trying to get it all done, and I'm failing in many areas. My floor is sticky. Nobody's doing their summer reading. One kid lost his toothbrush several (okay, maybe 7) days ago. I made hotdogs more than any other food last week.

I know this will change when school starts. I will only have two kids at home all day, the muddy Summer clothes will go away, popsicles will be a distant memory, and Ship Shape Alison will be back. For now, though, I'd rather spend two more months playing with Miles before he goes off to kindergarten to learn potty humor and finds a friend he likes more than me.

So, you're welcome to stop by this Summer, but be prepared. Don't expect Runs-A-Tight-Ship Alison, because you'll be sorely disappointed to find Hanging Onto a Life Raft by Her Fingernails Alison.

But come in, have a popsicle, just watch out for that sticky spot on the floor.


cheri said...

She should write a book!!Made me feel lots better since I'm usually the "Hanging on by her fingernails" Cheri!

Mandie said...

Laughed and cried all at the same time! Loved it...copying it!! Please tell her thanks for sharing, and thanks for re-sharing! =)