Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How Kate Met Lydia - Part 3

Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Lydia had always been the person you heard about long before you met her. In glowing terms. To the point of being sort of the Cult of Lydia. Other moms would say, “Oh, Lydia Coupon is in charge of that. Call her. She’s fabulous.” Or her name would be on all the fun kid events at school or at church, and they’d all go off so perfectly and people would rave, “Lydia just does such amazing work doesn’t she?” and by then she was Too Perfect Mommy. Add in the two adorable and well-behaved kids, then the first-rumor-then-confirmed-fact that she carried a third with a broken ankle and no drugs and still did it all, and c’mon -- who could like her after that if you didn’t already know her? It was simple movie physics here. Clearly, she was Glinda the Good Witch of the North, all sparkle-y and wish-grant-y and with the adoration of all those tiny people. Which made me…the smooshed one under the house with the coveted shoes. 
It makes me sad to admit it now, because now I’ll always wonder how much time Lydia and I spent being non-friends because we had the wrong ideas about each other. At the time, she just wasn’t “my kind” of person. Primarily because I’m kind of a bitch all the time and I think, “better to just be a bitch and let them be right about me, than to open up and have them not like me anyway.” Turns out, I just needed someone to tell me to go Suck It. And call me Fancy. And then tell me her life is just as much of a disaster as mine.

There was a moment of silence in our conversation in the parking lot.

“So how are your big kids doing?” asked Lydia, “McGee and Lefty?”

“They’re fine…” I answered, wondering if I would do it again and start spewing secrets I really needed to keep to myself. 

“Except that McGee is ten and she already hates me.  How can someone who’s that young say things that are so pointed and hurtful?  It’s like she knows.  What can I say to my mom to make her want to put her head in a noose?  Like I haven’t had moments where I thought about running away from them?  I mean come on – I’m divorced.  I share custody.  It wouldn’t be that hard and then I would be free from this bullshit.  But I don’t even care.  I. Don’t. Even. Care. Anymore.”

Long silent pause.  Crap.  I should have kept my mouth shut.

“Lydia, you need to understand that I don’t do this.  I don’t cry.  I don’t freak out.  I don’t open up about my real life to strangers or even to my friends.  I am a person who does not do this.  I keep up my front and I am fine. I should go…”

“Oh I know that about you already.  Anyone who meets you for five seconds can tell you’re a composed sort of person.  But it’s also sort of funny that Miss-Cement-Panties-I-Don’t-Even-Care is all crying and falling apart because your tweenage daughter hurt your feelings.  You obviously care.  How is that bad?  I know your older kids and they’re awesome.  Sorry Fancy, you’re a good mom.  Suck on that awhile.”

I may have been snuffling and unable to answer.

Lydia continued.  “You know, it’s not just you.  None of us had the slightest idea what we were getting into.  Anyone who says they haven’t had a moment like we’re having right now is just trying to make you feel bad.”

I had to be sure I understood her.  “So you’re saying you think these thoughts too?  The bad ones?”

“Oh hell yes.  But I’m even worse than you because now I’m wrecking my sister in addition to my own kids.  So I am a waaayyy bigger piece of crap.  They’d be better off with anyone else.”  She sort of choke-cried the last sentence.

“Are you kidding me?  You’re Volunteers-A-Lot-Mommy.  Your daughter is blonde perfection.  Are you telling me that’s all bullshit?”

She was still crying as she said: “Yes.  I just wish someone had told me what this was going to be like.  I can’t handle it.”

I smiled and said: “You should have read ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting To Suck Balls at Parenting’.”

She smiled back.  “I know!  A real book to prepare people for parenting real children wouldn’t even have chapters.  It would have rants.  And they would be called things like: ‘I Don’t Fucking Care Anymore I Just Want to Get Some Sleep’ or ‘You’re Ten.  So Stop Talking About How Cruel The World Is And How I’m A Bitch, You Don’t Know Shit.’ 

I laughed in spite of myself and suggested: “I Don’t Want to Smell or Touch or Wipe Anyone Else’s Ass Ever Again.”

And we started laughing and until we realized we’d been there for a ridiculously long time.  We parted with a small degree of awkwardness.  Should we hug? [Editor's Note: No. -Kate] What’s the right protocol for walking through a nervous breakdown with a stranger?  We just waved and drove off in different directions.

Part 4 concludes the story tomorrow...

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011


  1. Thank you, thank you, Thank you! I wish we could all run smack into some crazy lady in the preschool parking lot and find our best friend...I had to stalk our new neighborhood for the other random lady I had heard about who had the twins and an older kid...and who was also crazy. But thank God I found her!! We are soul mates, the Katie and Sara to your Kate and Lydia. (I am fancy. And proud of it.). ;)

  2. It's really not fair of you guys to post this while I'm going through a worst-Mommy-ever-and-we're-broke breakdown and we're out of cookies and my best friend is comatose on jet lag and I've given up facebook for Lent. I'm going to go upstairs and stealth-ugly-cry now.

    Also, I love you both.

  3. This is SO a book. A good one.
    Those editors do not know what they were turning down.

  4. Thank you for this story! I have been waking up and running to my laptop the past few mornings to read this! It so nice to know out there are other Mommies having a rough time...I have a 2, 3, and 5 year old and it has been a LONG LONG winter!

  5. Okay y'all, you're killing me doling this out like some Mommy Soap-opera! Leaving us hanging at all the good parts. Thanks for sharing and reminding us always that we are all normal. I was always told that if you think someone is perfect, you don't really know that person. Always good to remember.

  6. "Which made me…the smooshed one under the house with the coveted shoes." This would be my role.

    I'm starting to accept that maybe I'm not a piece of crap mom for not wanting to volunteer for every stinking school activity.

    Thanks for sharing with us. And this would totally make a GREAT BOOK.

    Sharron from Flo-ri-da

  7. I remember watching one of my "so put together and knows where it all is and perfect kids and PTA president TWICE and kids in all sorts of activities and she loves to have movie night a long cuddles with her children" mommy friends admit that she felt like crap and furking hated it sometimes and I realized that nobody knows what is really going on in someone else's home. And I know I should admit it to some of my friends that I totally suck as a parent and I live for 9:00 when they are all in bed and my house is a wreck and I suck at it all, but I don't. (Actually, I tell them but all jokey and they think I am kidding. But I am not.) I keep up the front. Why? Stupid pride that leaves me in the depths of unhappiness and my children missing out and me missing out on them. I still swear Lydia is me in a parallel universe. Keep up with the honesty, ladies. I need to turn off the computer and go play "Chutes and Ladders" with my kids and call a friend and ugly cry.

  8. Alright, so. I want this book. I don't care if the publishers told you to suck an egg, I WANT IT. I have a place for it on my bookshelf between "The Idiot's Guide to Dietary Restrictions" and "Stop! Alcohol is Not The Answer."

    Please make this happen. Or I will resort to printing every last one of your blog posts and sticking them in a three-ring binder.

  9. <3 I have to agree with Michelle here, I may have to break out the 3 ring binder, print up some pages and make a cute cover.... and share this with everyone I can think of!!! Please feel free to print the whole book here,,, I'll even accept soap opera format!!!! <3

  10. I need my mommy friend! I'm a WAHM with a single two year old and barely making it daily. I can't even make obligatory family phone calls anymore. Sigh, no more time for self-pity though. God I feel pathetic. Your blog is really the only thing keeping my head above water right now. Thanks!

  11. You two really remind me that the relationships between women are the most important on earth. Without us there is no use for Kleenex. Without us there are no Hallmark moments. Without us, there are no names for nicknames so accurate they defy imagination. And without us, there would be no use for parking lots, mini vans and heels ... half the world would go out of business!Thanks for the great story. I, for one, am super glad you two finally took the plunge!

  12. Brand new to your blog.... and I think I 'm going to like it here. I'm a single mother of 3 kids who simultaneously are the lights of my life as well as the bane of my existance.

    I appreciate this space where you are sharing outloud your true feelings and your thoughts. In my opinion, it's a lot healthier than pretending everything is roses.


  13. I am new to your blog, but just wanted to say that I LOVE IT!! Keep up the good work ladies! :)

  14. OMG, I am dying. "A real book to prepare people for parenting real children wouldn’t even have chapters. It would have rants. And they would be called things like: ‘I Don’t Fucking Care Anymore I Just Want to Get Some Sleep’" Someone definitely needs to write this book. Like, yesterday (or 22 months ago, to be exact).

  15. I feel so terribly unprepared and inadequate in every area of my life right now. I work full time and feel like I suck at everything I'm doing from child rearing to my job. All this struggle, and I'm barely keeping my head above water. Sigh.... Knowing that others are struggling helps.

  16. Nothing quite like the two of you! Y'all always brighten the dysfunctional relationship I tend to have with the present moment.

  17. The way that you two were talking...I only have one friend that I can commiserate with. Neither of us know what the hell we are doing with our two year olds. It's nice to have someone to rant with--to keep us sane. We each only have one child. We're both over 40, and our common refrain is: WHAT WERE WE THINKING?

    I wanted four--I must be brain-damaged, and she was finished with one before she was even six months pregnant. We thought it would be hard--but never this hard! It's nice to finally see honest ladies that we can relate to. A lot of my other mommy friends talk about how happy they are, how wonderful each day is with [insert baby name here] and how perfect their lives are with baby. WHUCK?

    My house is a mess, I've been so horrible to my husband, and many days I want to trade my son in for a goldfish. It's got to get better, right? But my husband is still crazy about me (WHY??) although I'm clearly unbalanced! And my son has the brightest smile and cutest giggle, and only mommy can make it better when he is hurt.

    And I have a great mommy friend who never judges me. Somehow she always makes me feel like a superhero! We both do the best that we can, one rant at a time!!

    Thank you for laying it ALL out there for the rest of us. Your craziness keeps us sane and gives us some great giggles in the process!




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