#JugglingCircusMom: My Awkward Moment at Target

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Like Murphy’s Law, my reign as #ninjamommy has come to a very abrupt end. While I do feel like I have been a #zombiemommy at times. I also would like to introduce you to #jugglingcircusmommy. She probably needs very little introduction. Juggling Circus Mommy mysteriously keeps all balls in the air. She seems like an optical illusion. She is amazing. She is strong. She is ever-so-efficient. But, unfortunately, jugglingcircusmommy has no idea whether she is coming or going. She is a little confused, frazzled and quite obviously overwhelmed. She takes on more things to juggle with aplomb but often seems like she it teetering, just on the edge, of losing all of it. She’s a circus act. In every sense of the expression.

And with that allusion, I bring you my story that will be called going forward: My Awkward Moment at Target.

I wasn’t even wearing red. I was wearing pink. I was feeling blissful and rebellious. I had fulfilled all my lunch and dinner making responsibilities for the day– even got in a workout– and was delighting in the wonder of a trip to Target alone. Meaning by myself. Meaning my kids were at home. Oh they weren’t alone, my husband was there. But I was alone. Did I mention I didn’t have my kids with me?

And like all funny and terrible stories start– that’s when a lady I can only refer to as Blind- like really blind-lady, “where are the sweatshirts?”

I blinked at her and paused ever so slightly. She could not be implying that me, standing there looking at workout pants– me, who just juggled myself through a horrendous day—me, who was wearing PINK could possibly look like a Target Team member.

She COULD NOT be implying that the woman who had wiped butts, made lunches, tutored kids, graded papers, led discussions, sent professional and eloquently worded emails, shuffled children and attempted to potty train a two year old all-in-one-day could possibly look like she had a second job in retail?

Really, lady? Really?

I saw the look in her eyes. You obviously have a sloppy cart and an almost red shirt and an all business look about you— so you must work at Target. She followed up with the classic, “Wait you don’t work here?” The sting of imminent tears tugged gently, followed by the instinctual desire to make a joke of what just happened. But I was not ready to laugh about it. Not at all. It took the whole rest of the shopping trip and my ride home to assuage my complete (and—I realize— irrational) anger. Knowing I shouldn’t marinade in these feelings, I texted a friend. While I know she had a good laugh, she also was able to agree with me in thinking that this woman must have been completely crazy and possibly a little bit color blind. Because, well, that’s what good friends do.

Please don’t misunderstand. Being mistaken as a Target salesperson is not the ultimate insult. I have worked my fair share of retail (Welcome to the Gap!) and food service (“Iced grande non-fat caramel macchiato for BILL!”) jobs. But, on this particular day, at this particular time, I just wanted to be a Working Mom by herself at Target.

There’s a backstory here. As there always is. Minutes before my unfortunate Target encounter, I had confided in another Mommy friend through text how conflicted I was feeling about my return to working out. I have relished in my time at the gym or a spin class after work while I knew my kids were playing hard on the playground. Taking the extra time for myself is both unnatural and at the same time glorious. Wouldn’t a good Mom rush to get her kids? (Answer: Never ask any question where you are trying to categorize what a good Mom and a bad Mom do) Have I undone all the quality time spent this summer by just a few weeks at work? (Another ridiculous question, shut up) Are people in my spin class wondering where my kids are while I just exercise as if I am a single woman with no obligations? (Now this is just pathetically vain– because how would they even know you have kids?)

Guilt as a Mom is at the same time the most frequent feeling and the most useless. But peel back the pluck of any poised and put together Mom and you see it. Big. Fat. Guilt. Glaring at you, with yogurt around its mouth, and unfolded laundry strewn about its feet. Big, looming Grade A, top of the line–guilt. The kind only a jugglingcircusmom can understand.

I dedicate this blog post to all of you who juggle. To the stay/work at home Moms, the working Moms, the stepmoms, the foster moms, the like a moms and the in place of Moms, I salute you. May you never have a woman at Target who makes you unintentionally feel crappy. May you be able to juggle without dropping a ball, and if you do drop a ball, I hope you have a slew of friends on speed-text to cheer you up. And when you get sick of the juggling, sick of the tug of war between laughing and crying, I hope you remind yourself that if you weren’t worried about being a good Mom, you wouldn’t be there here juggling to begin with.

Juggle on, Circus Mom. I see you. You’re awesome at juggling, awesome at multitasking, awesome at laughing at yourself and more than awesome at being a Mom. So don’t let anyone (even a lady at Target) tell you different.

Mommy Monday: The Un-shortcut- Celia’s Baptism Luau

Celia was baptized on Sunday. We were happy to celebrate such an occasion on a festive holiday weekend. But, I’ll be the first to admit: This party was anything but a shortcut. We transported a full Baptism celebration for 30-40 people to the state park near our house where we rented a pavilion and spent the beautiful day outside. I was reminded continually as we prepared for the bash that I have entered into a mixed marriage. Myself, a crafty shortcutter, has married a non-shortcutter. Michael is a great cook and goes to great lengths to make sure each dish is cooked just right and tastes divine. He made both homemade guacamole and two kinds of homemade salsa. His ability to layer flavor and bring ingenuity and originailty (I learned these terms for critiquing food on Top Chef) to each thing you taste.

So, Saturday, I reminded myself the following things about my husband over and over again:

a. He hates shortcuts.

and

b. Don’t criticize the lengths he goes to because surely you will be sorry. His “extras” always end up people’s favorites.

We have a small home so having parties is always interesting. We have hosted many different parties over our eight years together and each one seemed to impress upon me one thing: When Michael does a party, he does it big. Where I would like to pull snacks our of the fridge and open a couple bags of chips, he wants to have a made to order meal ready to go. When it comes to parties and that party frame of mind, we could not be more different.

We knew we wanted to have a big family gathering for Celia’s Baptism. We planned it for the Spring even though she is 9 months old in order to have the best weather and be able to have the party outside. We were lucky to have a wonderful day of sunshine and a cool breeze. Kids ran around playing lacrosse and other games they invented and we all got to eat, eat, eat.

Here’s the menu:

What I Made:

Fruit skewers- pineapple, grapes, strawberries and blueberries

Hawaiian baked beans

Hawaiian sweet potatoes

What Michael Made:

Homemade salsa

Homemade Guacamole

Steak and Shrimp Fajitas (with special rubs and marinades for each!)

What my Mom Made:

Mexican pinwheels

Jambalya

It was an epic feast. When Mike is the meal planner, we never have to worry about having good food to eat. Mike spent a good part of the day on Saturday slicing, dicing, marinading and trimming meat. It smelled awesome and was well worth it! The food was great!

We admit that the party had a little bit of an identity crisis (Luau decorations, Mexican entrees and Jambalya?) but no one seemed to notice.

Here are the (few) shortcuts we made:

  • We found ALL the decor at our local dollar store or at the dollar section of Target- everything was great, cheap and will double as awesome summer get together decor in the coming months. We decorated the tables with leis and Luau lawn ornaments.
  • We purchased a good amount of our paper products, drinks, meat and produce at our local Wholesale club. It’s really the only way to get the quantity you need for a big party.
  • Years ago, we invested in chafing pan holders for our engagement party and again used them for this event. This helps keep food hot for the entire party as people come and go. All you need is to buy some sternos to do this.
  • We transported drinks in big iced down tubs. This makes them easy to haul here and there and also makes it so you don’t have to flip open cooler after cooler in order to find just the right drink at the party:)
  • We rented a pavilion which makes the whole cleaning the house x2 thing a non-issue. There were bathrooms right on the premises and plenty of room for all the kids to play and have room to run. With kids ranging from 8 months to 11 years of age, there were a lot of little people to entertain.
  • As a keepsake of the day, I bought a nice frame at Target and had everyone at the party sign it. I plan to put Celia’s Baptism picture in there and hang it in her bedroom. This was a nice way to record all the people that were there for her that day.
  • (Shameful Shortcut): I messed up the cake royally and had to purchase a cake the day of. I found our local supermarket had great “gourmet cake” options. This was not the most thrifty choice, but it turned out to be a great choice for the taste! Everyone loved the cake.

Upon reflection on this mixed marriage, I have noted this: When we have a party, celebration, special occasion, milestone, accomplishment, etc, some of us can do them with a cheese, crackers and a liter of diet coke. Some people want something more extravagant, gallant, elaborate, beautiful. Where I have the “let’s keep it simple” approach, Michael has the “let’s show ’em what we got” approach. And, in saying that, I have decided that nothing makes me happier in life than being married to Michael— his non-shortcutterness and all.

Celia still showing her post Baptism glow.

My little man had an awesome time with all of his cousins!
The bar!
Steaks hot on the grill!
My big cheat— the cake!
My sweet potatoes, with coasters I found at Target that I used as menu descriptors.
The steak and the shrimp!
The peppers, Hawaiian baked beans and refried beans– we had it all!
Michael’s amazing guacamole