Home Alone (Um, You…Not Your Kids)

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One of the things that jumped that up and slapped me in the face when I became a parent was the fact that I was no longer ever in my house alone. For someone who is a self-proclaimed introvert and finds renewal in solitude (or at least in the freedom to come and go without a spreadsheet of arrangements and instructions) this felt overwhelming. Every time we’d get a sitter it was so that we could go out. Even on the rare occasion that we had childcare secured overnight it was for a trip. And I’d return from that wedding or conference more depleted than before I left.

The same principle applies to work, too. Do you remember the pre-kid days when you could work until eight without calling a soul then zip off to buy new mascara before heading home? Or wake up at 5am and decide to go on into the office because something brilliant was on your brain? It sounds so simple and yet is so un-freaking-believeably hard to do when you have a family.

Let’s face it. All moms are working moms. Whether you are working in the home, out of the home, from the moon or from the kitchen table you probably crave a bit of head space to catch up, square up and reconnect to, well… you.

That day will come when your parents, in-laws, sister or best friend will invite your kids to stay at their house for a few days. Or maybe they are old enough for sleep-away camp. And no matter how much you love your kids and how much anxiety it may produce to send them out of the nest for a few days, you need this.

If given this rare opportunity, don’t waste time. Start here:

  1. Get Your Eyebrows Waxed: Oh.Em.Ghee. Those things look like Himalayan caterpillars growing out of your face. You have rescheduled that appointment exactly five times and have resisted plucking because you are absolutely, positively sure that one day the Eyebrow Fairy is going to come in the middle of the night and craft and sculpt your arches to Charlize Theron perfection. This is not going to happen. Book (and keep) that appointment. Gracious, you’re gorgeous. This is like a $24 face lift.
  2. De-Funkdify Your Kid’s Room: Someone once told me that cleaning your house with children in it was like brushing your teeth while eating a package of Oreos. #Truth. Bring the trash bags (three standard kitchen size is requisite per year of negligence) and get busy. There is no telling what you will find. And the absolute beauty in this is they will not miss one thing. They will get home and dump that wicker basket of Legos with the Fixer Upper-esque chalk marker label on the floor and start creating your mess for next year.
  3. Exercise With Your Spouse: I do not care if you do not do this on a regular basis. Dig out those tenne-pumps, grab your honey and circle that block like you just met. Your neighbors might give you some Southern side-eye because they think you are leaving your precious angels home unsupervised, but persevere. You will not let anyone guilt you into sabatoging your time.
  4. Go to a Non-Kid-Friendly Restaurant at 10 p.m.: Order anything but chicken fingers. Steak and a martini? Cool. Salad with goat cheese and the Brussels sprouts appetizer? Yep. No one is there to tell you it stinks like socks. And the only person you have to take to the bathroom is you, so you might just finish the entire meal without having to get up from the table.
  5. Watch Your Husband Play Nine Holes at Dusk: Grab a pair of giant sunglasses, a Styrofoam cup, a bottle of good wine and pretend you are with him on Tour. Think about taking up golf in retirement. Or just enjoy riding around in the cart and listening to the sound of nothing. Is this what nothing sounds like??? No wonder he’s out here all the time…
  6. Work until 8 p.m. then go to Target: You don’t have to arrange this. I repeat. You do not have to arrange this. You can hammer away at that grant you’ve be been writing without worrying whether you or your husband will make it home before the sitter has to go to class. Then, you can zip over to your favorite superstore and look at the Faux-Lulemmon as long as as you wish and no one can tell you they are bored, tired or require more juice. Bonus points for buying something for yourself that is not on the cleaning product aisle.
  7. Join Your Work Colleagues for a Cocktail: You have not been on a work happy hour since exactly nine months before your last maternity leave. That was seven years ago. Just go. Invite yourself if you have to. Just make sure the Uber app is is still on your phone. Team building counts as work, right?
  8. Just Be: Sit in total silence. On your couch, your porch, in the bathroom with no one beating down the door- whatever. Enjoy not hearing the theme song from”Jessie” or “Bunked”. And after doing all of the things above and about ten minutes of sitting, you will realize your heart feels empty and you are even a little bored from the temporary relief of incessant snack preparation.

Being home alone is nice every once in a while, but the best part about all of this is that you will miss your kids like crazy and have the fullest heart when they get back. You might even be able to enjoy them even more with that clean house, tedious grant writing project off your plate and some seriously gorgeous eyebrows.

Kelly Barbrey loves her children more than life itself, but is grateful for GrammyCamp and CampGigi each year.  🙌

Pick Your Battles, Save Your Sanity

IMG_2779As parents we have numerous opportunities every day to shape the lives of our children and the people we would like for them to become. That’s what it’s all about, anyway, right? Growing your children into responsible adults who are able to contribute in a positive way to our society?

My husband always says, “We are not making friends here,” when referring to getting our kids to tow the line. But while raising kids is hard, it can be even more challenging when your parenting style and that of your spouse are completely different.

You see, while my husband is kind of like Captain Von Trappe (please do not give this man a whistle), I am much more like Frauline Maria. (Bored? Let’s cut up old clothing from the pile of stuff you outgrew and make crop tops and Michael Jackson gloves!)

There are times when we have to dig deep to get on the same parenting page, but there are a few items that we wholeheartedly (and oddly) agree on. Here is our list of the top three parenting  battles where we have waved the proverbial white flag – at least for now.

1. What They Wear (Don’t Care): Let me first say this this one applies to kids age 12 and under. After that, I hear ya on putting the smack down. Our daughters are nine and six, and their closets might look like a Lilly Pulitzer and Crewcuts outlet mashup,  but you would Not Know It it because of what they choose to put on in the mornings (see above photo).  You can be pretty certain the ensemble will include a free t-shirt from a charity walk that has remnant stain of Smoothie King Carribean Way slashed across the front and a pair of fraying running shorts from Target.

And the hair. In my opinion, it always looks way overdue for a trim and may not be as freshly combed as I’d prefer, and as much as I want to chase them around with a Wet Brush, I have found that it is just too exhausting for all parties most of the time. Additionally, in a moment of weakness many years ago I somehow purchased a giant poofy pink flower headband from Gymboree, which was intended to be worn with a coordinated dress with matching rosettes. Somehow this headband manages to appear at such inopportune times like Easter, the annual Christmas Card photo and any event that has to do with seeing either my or my husband’s boss. And you know what? We let it ride. At least that hair is Out of Her Eyes today! 😱

One day we will look back and laugh about the fact that one daughter wore leopard print for five consecutive school picture days or was the rumpliest child bounding gleefully down the isle for Children’s Church with a giant flower headband, leopard print dress, tangly ends,  and an armload of tacticle bracelets.

2. Winner Winner Chicken (Finger) Dinner:  Our kids eat lots of chicken fingers when we go out- which is a good bit these busy days. Our kids also rate chicken fingers. They rate the breading, they rate the serving temperature and the viscosity of the honey mustard. They rate the thickness and juiciness of the meat inside the golden delicious coating. They are true chicken finger connoisseurs and their tastes are discerning in this particular area. I am quite certain that if it were not for chicken fingers (and strawberries) our youngest child would blow away. They order them at drive-throughs, white-tablecloth restaurants, and sports bars (“You have a baby…in a bar…”). But you know what? It’s protein. There will be a time and place for branching out and developing a sophisticated palate. This is  just not our year – or our decade.

3. Summer Bedtime (Wait, what? They have that?) We are pretty good about getting the kids to bed at a reasonable (and consistent) hour during the school year. And after all, bedtime during the school year benefits everyone – including the parents. But in the summer, it’s pretty much impossible to keep this schedule. Selfishly, it is kind of nice that they are getting to the age that they will sleep in after a bit of a later night, and sometimes we are just having too much fun to worry about going to bed on time. Whether it’s grabbing a 9pm dinner (yes, chicken fingers) after a Junior Golf match or letting them indulge in a little too much American Ninja Warrior while we sip wine on the porch, we have somehow managed to escape any semblance of a nightly routine this summer. That said, there have been a few nights when bedtime was ordered in broad daylight due to the nails-on-a-chalkboard agonizing sound of escalated sisterly squabbles and the draining effect of too much sun, too many sports and frankly, too much togetherness.

So while we do have our non-negotiables, such as trying our best to make it to church (bonus points for on time) when we are in town and making sure our kids are generally not mean people, even The Captain has given up on some things that are energy sucking and exhausting. I am certain we will look back and wish we had done more of this or less of that, but right now letting a few things fall by the wayside (and not beating ourselves up about it) feels pretty good.

If you happen to witness or hear of aforementioned meanness coming from Kelly Barbrey and The Captain’s children, they would like to know about it, as all above bets will be Off. It may result in the disappearance of a certain flower headband and permanent 6pm bedtime for the duration of the summer. 

 

 

Life Lessons From My Dad

IMG_2483My dad is probably the most difficult person to purchase a Father’s Day gift for. When you ask him what he would like for any special occasion , he will always answer the same way: “I don’t need a thing.” And he does not say it in the way most people do when they really do want something and just don’t want to sound greedy. My dad really doesn’t want anything.

Every year for his birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day I run down the short list of things he might find somewhat useful, but I think the best reaction I have gotten from giving him anything over the years has been from some pretty hilarious cards that highlight the kind of advice you can rely on from a dad.  But they never really landed on the money- at least not for my dad. So, Dad, this one is for you. The best life lessons you ever taught me – 95 percent practical with a sprinkling of that dry wit that I’m pretty sure I got from you…

1. You Can’t Always Get What You Want: He would explain this to my sister and me by singing that old Rolling Stones tune. We would roll our eyes but at the same time know that while we were sometimes pretty rotten, we were not spoiled. My dad has always been a hard worker and engrained in us at an early age the value of working for the things you have. You don’t expect someone to provide something for you – you work for it. And when you say you are going to do something, you do it. Period. And just when you least expect it, after you pay your major dues, then BAM – you get what you need. Every freaking time.

2. Live Within Your Means and Save for a Rainy Day: My dad instilled in us that credit cards were for emergencies only and that if you could not afford it outright you did not need it. This category also included suggesting that we set up 401-K accounts and pump as much as They Will Allow into them. He also suggested investing in appreciating assets (like a house) and not in depreciating assets (like a car). If you read my last blog post you will know what I am talking about on the car thing. Speaking of cars…

3. Check Your Oil and Car Gauges Regularly: I can remember being home from college for Christmas break or a random long weekend. I would be packing up my things ready to hit the dusty trail and when I would arrive at my car with keys and bag in hand, my dad would be washing it. Or changing the oil. Or wielding a tire gauge. I would roll my eyes and huff over my Unexpected Delay in getting to whatever band party was waiting for me on the other end of 316. (Told you- rotten!) My car had been sitting there for four days. Why now? Well, doing this was my dad’s love language. He might not have wanted to take me shopping for Coach purses but this he could do. I may not have said it much back then, but thank you, Dad. You prevented me from stalling out or spinning out more times that I already had.

4. Be Grateful for What You Have and Don’t Complain: My dad is a big believer of living in the moment and enjoying life’s simple joys.  He does not dwell on the past, nor does he fret (or get too terribly excited about 🙄) the future. Even- keeled and steady,  he does not pine for the finer things in life to make him happy. He has somehow always just known that they are smoke and mirrors, anyway.  Never has this been more evident than after he suffered a stroke in December of 2006. The recovery process was (and still is) a long one, and one that most people would pitch a major hissy over. But in his typical Dad way, he has taken this all in (re-learned) stride. Ask him about it and he will just talk gratitude- over getting to spend time with grandkids and no longer having to get up so early. Never once have I heard him complain.

5. The Eraser is the Dumb End of a Pencil: Growing up as a writer in a Rambling Wreck-sized family of generations of engineers was tough. Especially when it came to math homework. Oh, how I would cry and want to dig that eraser into the paper until my mistakes were nothing but a pulverized pile of rubber and pulp. My dad would try to get me to crack a smile by telling me to use the “smart end” of the pencil (the point) and analyze my work and what might be salvageable  before throwing in the towel. He probably doesn’t know it, but I’ve fixed a dishwasher, balanced many a budget at home and at work and put together numerous Christmas Eve toys using this philosophy. When my husband looks at me in disbelief each time I just smile and say, “daughter of Doug.”

6. Do Not Tell a Lie: This advice goes without saying but I learned this lesson at a very young age. I was not happy with my dad about something and decided to fill his L.L. Bean boot-style bedroom slippers with lotion. I recruited my barely two-year-old sister to pump the lotion so that I could stand watch. “Keep pumping,” I’d hiss as I listened at the door. When the bottle was empty and the slippers were full we disposed of the evidence and went on our way. Later that night I received the George Washington Cherry Tree spiel in its entirety after I blamed the entire episode on my sister. Rotten, rotten, rotten.

7. Attend Your Kids’ Stuff: He was there for my breakout role as Frauline Rottenmier in the seventh- grade musical production of Heidi even though I couldn’t sing a note. When I warmed the bench in JV basketball? There. And every time I set up my pompoms and megaphone on the Adams Stadium sidelines? He was there for that, too. And he could always be depended upon to treat us to Burger King afterwards, which had a convenient overlook of the pet shop flea dip station. Not Paris, y’all, but memorable just the same. Which brings me to my final lesson from my dad…

8. It’s the Small Things You Will Remember. Like practicing for the softball throw for field day in the front yard. Sit-up contests, and having him co-coach my fourth grade basketball team with Captain Bob.  And then there was the time at age seven or eight when I insisted on wearing flats to hike to the John Oliver Cabin and I stepped in a giant pile of poop. He put me on his shoulders and carried me the rest of the way. He also picked me up from every slumber party I was scared to stay at and some other parties later on (that I was also scared to stay at 😬).

You know, the biggest thing about all of this is that my dad did not (and does not) harp on any of his advice. He just continues to live life in his own quiet way, ready to lend an ear, or a joke, or a tire gauge. And if you are lucky enough to know him, you know he may not say much, but when he does it will be either something really smart, something really funny, or both. Thanks for being you, Dad.

The photo above is of Kelly Barbrey, her sister and her dad, circa 1980-something.  It looks like he is opening a box of delicious chocolates that he did not ask for and is reading a hilarious card. Kelly is wearing multiple slips from the dress up box. She is also wearing heels as her hiking flats were a bit dirty. 👔

 

 

 

 

You See Me Rollin’: A Girl and Her Cars (Not a Love Story)

IMG_1325I have never really considered myself a Car Person. It has never mattered that much to me what kind of wheels were getting me from Point A to Point B. If someone were to, say, hand over a sizeable amount of money to me, upgrading my vehicle would not come before upgrading my entire footwear collection or shiplapping the heck out of my laundry room. I kind of do with cars what people used to do with jobs: find one that delivers and keep it as long as it will have you. Some of my cars have inevitably petered out before I was done with them. My current car is starting to show its age. At 11 years old and counting I get the feeling that it may only make it a couple more years – if even. That just got me thinking about all my cars over the years. So, for your entertainment, here is how I have answered the question “What You Rollin’ In?” since, well, I started rollin’…

I’m Rollin’ In… A 1984 Ford LTD: Oh, yes I did. For months I dreamed of a Jeep Wrangler, and what I got was this major upcycling project. It started with the name. This car had more nicknames than the pledge class of Animal House. The Fantastic Slide. The Silver Ace. The list goes on and on. This car was my first – the definition of a “Beaute” and a true character building experience. And riding in it was truly a Fantastic Voyage.

The second step to upcycling this car was to add a plethora of surf shop stickers on the bumper. I mean, what land-locked Atlanta girl does not put Ron Jon stickers on the bumper of her car? This car ran into things a lot, and was present on the scene (and possibly involved) when I learned that it was not smart to drive in soccer cleats. There was also the time that it got stuck in reverse and would only go backwards. Ironically, this happened when I went to deliver the check to reimburse my soccer teammate for the damage incurred to her car (from someone backing into it while wearing soccer cleats). And since a car that can only go backwards can only take you so far, I had to move on.

I’m Rollin In…A 1986 Ford Tempo Sport: Sport. Yep. I think that the red racing stripe down the side was the reason that this little darlin’ was a dubbed a Sport (as opposed to Regular?) Ford Tempo. It was how I learned to drive a stick shift. I would break out into a cold sweat if somebody got too close behind me on the big hill on the way to lifeguard at the Pangborn pool. Fortunately, people were intimated by said racing stripe, and would stay far enough back for me not to roll into them. Unfortunately, our relationship was short-lived. If the Ole Sport had not stalled at the intersection on the way to Freshens at rush hour, I might still be driving it today.

I’m Rollin In…A 1996 Mitsubishi Eclipse: Talk about trading up. This car was new. And it was red. And I was a senior in high school. And I thought I was Hot Stuff. Not only did it go forward (in addition to backwards), the windows rolled up and down and it had a CD player, which meant I could blast “When Daddy Let Me Drive” by Alan Jackson as loud as I wanted and drive with my shoes off and the windows down. And when I got into The University of Georgia, that red and black G sticker looked really good on the back windshield (sorry Ron Jon).

The maximum capacity (“four”) of that vehicle was clearly stated incorrectly in the instruction manual. I can distinctly remember several times when the Eclipse sat eight quite comfortably. (Nothing prepares you for motherhood like driving around seven intoxicated people. Some are crying, some are fighting over chicken fingers…) If those seats could talk. But those seats are not saying anything right now because the Eclipse stalled on Highway 316 and I had to ride in the passenger seat of a tow truck to get both myself and that little Red Hot back to my parents’ house. But it got me through college and a few years beyond.

I’m Rollin In…A 2001 Isuzu Rodeo. The person who decided to make a four cylinder SUV was probably just as practical as the person who decided it would be a good idea to purchase one. I wanted an SUV and this was the only one that my budget as a newly employed individual could sustain. You could floor it and not much would happen. Except that one time when I had just started my new job and it had snowed the night before. In Columbia South Carolina, no less. I could not see out of the windshield, but decided that it would be fiiine to try and make it through the apartment complex gate so that I would not be late for my second day of work. Well I made it through. Aaalll the way through. If you lived in Hampton Greene Apartments in 2004 (…and even into 2005) and did not have a gate in your gated community, that was me. I am sorry.

I’m Rollin in… A 2006 Toyota Sequoia. This car may not have as many nickanmes as my first, but it is big and green and kind of reminds me of Oscar the Grouch’s Rolling Trashcan. I have always wanted to be one of those moms who does not let her kids eat in her car (my husband would like this very much, too) but seeing as my kids are Always Eating and somehow we are Always Driving Around, I see no alternative solution. You could probably compile an entire bowlful of extra crunchy (and a little furry) snack mix from the plethora of Cheez Its, Cherrios, and French Fries that lie petrified underneath the seats. In the market? Shall we talk resale price?

I’m not really sure what l’ll be rollin’ in next, but it will probably be something big and safe and won’t be that Jeep Wrangler that I dreamed about as a teenager. I mean, it doesn’t have enough seats for carpool, and people would just say I’ve lost my fool mind. In some ways, my unrealized dream of the Jeep Wrangler is probably the reason why I have never been much of a car person, anyway. But if you see a giant green Sequoia lumbering down the road full of kids, snacks, shoes and shiplap, just smile, wave and know that the hour is nigh…

Regardless of the type of vehicle she is in, Kelly Barbrey still prefers driving in bare feet with the windows down on an open road with some Luke Bryan playing. This is Mortifying to her children. Just wait till they ask for a Jeep Wrangler and get a Silver Ace...🚗 🤦🏼‍♀️

Three Magic Summers of Youth to Relive Today

I remember listening to the Jimmy Buffet song “A Pirate Looks at Forty” when I was in high school. I pictured that pirate looking kind of like the Gorton’s Fisherman – weathered, ruddy and waaaay old. I mean, back then thirty was pretty much the end of the line and forty was beyond my un-furrowed brow’s comprehension entirely.

Summer holds a totally different meaning when you’re pushing forty, too.
Whether you’re sweating over bathing suit shopping or are too busy working on your spreadsheet of summer camps to even think about creating the Least Offensive Option with the J. Crew Swimfinder, I am here to transport you to three summers from your youth that were pure magic.

The Summer of Ten: The AC is off and the windows are open. Sounds of Skip Carey announcing that Dale Murphy is up to bat are faint in the background as you sprawl on the floor to devour the latest Baby-Sitters Club Super Special. Your eyes sting from the copious amounts of chlorine and your determination not to let the boys get the better of you at Sharks and Minnows. Your bathing suit choice is not a deliberate one, but the swim team-issued variety with a racer back and you put it on in the morning and it is worn all day. When it is time to go play Putt Putt after dinner you put on jams, a puff paint t-shirt and a banana clip and practically swoon from the back seat when Kokomo comes on the radio.

Family vacation means camping and days spent playing monopoly in the screen house and going on hikes, which are probably less than a mile but at the time feel like full-on safaris learning the difference between Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel, Swallowtails and Luna Moths. The day is not complete without a walk to the camping store at dusk for a popsicle, a can of Dr. Pepper or a moon pie.
The Summer of Fifteen: You can taste freedom as you walk to the pool with your friends. You line up your chairs and lie face down so your ragged copy of YM can be read while strategically positioned on the ground between stripy shadows created by slats of the lounge chair. Your hair is brassy and a little crunchy from the Sun-In but your best friend says it looks good and you are sure that is why the cute lifeguard is looking your way. Your Walkman is blasting Shine by Collective Soul and the days stretch before you with endless possibilities.

You say you are dreading that family vacation at the lake house but you actually can’t wait to hit the swimming hole where the water is cold and a tiny boat affectionately called Ole Leaky waits upside down tied to a tree outside ready to take you there.

The Summer of Twenty One: The benefit to working at that Mexican restaurant is the free vat of cheese dip and grocery-sized bag of chips you get to take home to your roommates at the end of the night. Well, that, and the fact that job affords you the opportunity to stay in your college apartment for the summer. The friends of Twenty One are pretty much family. They will not only convince you that going to step class after three beers would be fun but you will laugh about it with you for a solid week (okay, you are still laughing about it). The apartment complex pool is kind of like eternal spring break and you have pretty much memorized your part to The Boy Is Mine (were you Brandy or Monica?).  True awakening was reading Faulkner and Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof last semester, so you find the contemporary equivalent of Southernness in Conroy and Ann Rivers Siddons and lose yourself in Prince of Tides and Outer Banks. You have absolutely no idea what the real world holds but somehow can taste the realization that something precious and intangible about youth is slipping through your fingers and you can’t decide whether to open your hands and let it pass through quickly or hold tight to it, resisting, resisting…

None of these seemingly insignificant occurrences holds true magic on its own, I suppose, but I can’t help but think that summer’s ability to transform everyday moments into magic is still hanging somewhere in the warm air. Sitting at the pool the other day I could not help but smile in noticing that the Summer of Ten and the Summer of Fifteen are still alive and well, that Sharks and Minnows is still a thing (drain is base!) and that maybe, just maybe this will be a magic summer for someone else.
Do not worry about Kelly Barbrey this summer. She will be just fine sipping a glass of Kim Crawford on the front steps and listening to the whiz clink sound of her kids on their razor scooters in the driveway at dusk. And she looks nothing like the Gorton’s Fisherman…at least not yet. Pass the sunscreen. 🐟

The Sick Day: Your Prescription For Relinquishing Control

This week the unthinkable happened, y’all. Wait for it… I got sick. Yep, I know it is just not supposed to happen to someone who has been rather braggy about only using her sick days for the better part of the last decade to take care of other people, but my number was up and I came crashing down. At first I did just what any self-respecting mom person would do: Everything Already Scheduled On The Calendar, of course. I schleped to meetings in the rain, read bedtime stories in a raspy voice  and drove people hither and yon. I was determined not to let any chills, fever, aches, sore throat or cough prevent me from my to-to list. But by day four, I was pretty sure I could not take another step and I waved the white flag. If only I had done this on Day One, I would probably be better already. So here is your official set of instructions for Dealing With An Unexpected Short-Term Illness:

1. Let people help you. I know, your husband does not pack lunches exactly the way you do, but just admit that your desire to supervise this process is more about control than nutrition and let the man do the lunches in peace. They are (probably) not going to end up with a handful of loose Crunch Berries and a warm can of Code Red Mountain Dew. But if they do it will be okay. Let the sitter stay late. Let your co-worker handle those meetings. Enlist the help of a neighbor or a friend. You can DO it. And you know you’d do the same for them.
2. Stop coming out of your room to Check on Everybody. You might see something you don’t want to see. Like an entire package of opened markers (no paper) spread out on your new Farmhouse table or the entire family watching Naked and Afraid. You have been kind of yatchy lately, so they probably don’t want to see you anyway…
3. Call your doctor. For the love. There comes a point when even you know that you are beyond Zicam and Airborne. Don’t be stubborn. Get a prescription. It does not make you weak.
4. Relax and sleep. Put your phone on silent or take it into another room entirely. It may return to you with a camera roll full of sassy selfies and perhaps even a few trampolines in your Amazon Prime cart but you are going to be tempted to check your email it if it is right beside your bed. Get that thing outta here.
5. You probably won’t want it anyway, but please do not attempt to eat salad. There is a time and place for salad and today is not the day. Now is the time for regular Coke and Cheeze Balls out of the can – or whatever will make you feel better. And while you are at it tell that Kayla Itsinis to take her inspirational abs and get off your newsfeed for at least three days. That incessant coughing is an ab workout in itself.
With a little rest and relaxation you will be back on your A-game in no time. I can also guarantee you your crew will be glad to see you emerge from the Black Hole. You are one-of-a-kind and no one can take your place, but even a control freak deserves to let herself heal. The table may even be scrubbed clean of all traces of marker (but do save the picture on your phone that shows the masterpiece that it once was). And rest up for having the whole neighborhood at your house when all those trampolines arrive.
Kelly Barbrey must admit that her husband did an amazing job packing lunches, going to the grocery store and doing laundry this past week. And if you know him, you know that there were absolutely no permanent markers open on the kitchen table under his supervision. 🎨

 

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You Can’t Do It All: Ten Clone Personas Every Woman Needs

My mom once told me that she wasn’t sure what I looked liked standing still or without multiple bags hanging off me. That was over 17 years ago, when I’d first graduated college and was living at home to save money from my first job as an editorial assistant at a small lifestyle magazine in Atlanta. Today I’m still running, most days in heels and still with the multiple bags (though thankfully one is my beloved Neverfull). Sometimes the sight includes two smallish people in tow, and they learned at an early age that two to three little shuffles can match one loping, weary mama-stride.

I really do love my life. I love my husband, my kids, my work , my church, my friends and my community. But sometimes I don’t love the fact that I feel it all hurling towards me, blasting me with demands – one on top of the next until I feel depleted and bitter. I mean, given ONE of the job descriptions we as women are expected to fill, I could  totally rock it. Give me two, and I am still surviving. Three or more and it’s a total free-for-all of missed deadlines, apologies and a feeling that I am always forgetting something. That got me thinking. If only I could clone myself! It’s way easier than delegating (no training or explanations needed), and you get to take the time to do it all and do it all right! So, here is a proposal for my Clone-Me App , and the top ten clones I am convinced every woman needs.

1. The SuperMom: Let’s get this big dog out of the way first. Call on this clone when you have a major presentation on the same day your kindergartner is debuting as a hermit crab in the school play. She will show up on time, take pictures, and even make sure the microwave box costume shell is painted a pearlescent pink and not covered with the Kenmore logo. She will not forget to apply sunscreen before Field Day and you will never again recieve the “look” when you wheel in late for pick up. Also enlist her to navigate friend drama and explain to your  nine year old for the fourteenth time that she cannot download Music-ly because you are pretty sure it connects somehow to some creepy app called Stalker-ly. Note- you will need one SuperMom Clone per kid. If you have no children, you may select two from the below personas.

2. The Altruist: This Clone is available to handle Sunday School duty and will round up all the supplies for the Empty Tomb craft. She will attend and participate in your nonprofit boards and chairty committments so you will not have to leave work early and slink home late after a three hour brainstorming session on whether the gala should be black tie or snappy casual. She is more than capable of chairing a mean silent auction and keeps track of who not to overtap for contributions. She will drop off the snacks for Vacation Bible School on the way to grab that casserole for Mrs. Dubney on your street who just broke her leg. Done and done.

3. The Wife of the Year: I know, I know. You love your person more than anything in the world but lets face it – you are *tired*.  Well, this Clone is for you.  Her expertise shines weeknights after 10pm and during those times when your hubs is just a wee bit intoxicated. She is also fab at making sure his Yeti cup is clean and filled with coffee in the morning and can be relied upon to plan his surprise birthday weekend golf trip for him and three of his buddies at that hard-to-get-on course three states away. She interfaces well with our next clone, The Workout Wonder.

4. The Workout Wonder: You may struggle to make your 5am workout class because a small person was vomiting all night. But since SuperMom Clone was doing all that sheet washing and forehead dabbing, Workout Wonder is well rested and ready for leg day. And since that is All She Has To Do, she will squeeze in a six mile cardio sesh then linger over a kale smoothie with your gym bestie. You reap the benefits.

5. The Presenter: This clone is always prepared for a sound bite, board meeting, presentation,  close up, or interview. Think about it – she has all of your knowledge on the topic at hand but is also not looking at her Apple Watch worrying about missing missing pickup or cursing herself for not dropping off that casserole. She also has a closet full of perfectly- tailored pencil skirts in the season’s most covetable colors and they fit awesome because of that amazing six mile run you didn’t have to do…

6. The Maid to Order: Keeping a floor crumb free and enough clean underwear available for your people for the week should not be as hard as it is. And bonus if said clean underwear is folded in a drawer instead of at the bottom of three baskets of laundry at the foot of your bed. 💯 This is why you will be so happy to incorporate the Maid to Order Clone. She  will not only install that lightbulb that has been burned out in your kitchen for six weeks but she will also go and Purchase It For You. And she does toilets. She’s a keeper.

7. The Bossistant: Think of this clone as your personal assistsnt but she does it like a boss. Like YOU would. Your Venmo payments are scheduled and correct for teacher appreciation and your co -worker’s baby shower. And she didn’t mix up the  babysitter’s graduation gift with your mom’s Mother’s Day necklace. She plays the Tetris that is your iCalendar with gusto.

8. The Online Ingenue: If only you could sit at your desk all day and answer all the emails. It’s like the freaking holy grail. Her emails are not only eloquent, but witty, timely and nice! And since she is sitting in your office all day she will take those walk ins and be nice to them, too! No more huffy breaths when the receptionist tells you your appointment has arrived just a wee bit early but you have not yet finished the proposal you are writing. (The Presenter has the proposal done and has already submitted it, so yes, please send them on back!) And she will keep your social  media reciprocity etiquitte in check, liking the appropriate posts, sharing the amazing ones and scrolling though your phone for Insta-wothy photos so it will look  like you post more than once a month. How ’bout that cute one of the Hermit crab costume thanks to SuperMom Clone?? Yaaas.

9. The SocialHeavy: Let’s face it, SocialLite will no longer do it. Everybody knows if you turn down three invites in a row you are blacklisted, so she will be there for margaritas with the girls after work and head straight to mom’s night out afterwards. She will spend her days at local boutiques searching  for the perfect outfits for the above occurrances and also that gala (The  Altruist convinced them to go black tie).

10. The Gourmet: All of these things make a girl hungry and who better to enlist than the Gourmet. She will shop for and prep your meals, cut up tiny pieces of fruit for snack day (not that there is anything wrooong with the Lays multi pack) and will make sure you have Some Kind of Salad with Avocado delivered to your desk at 11:45 so you don’t wait too long and order the large cheeseburger from Five Guys at 2:45 when you’re Dyyyyying from working through. She will also introduce your children to the Vege-ta-ble.

Yeah, yeah. The Clone-Me App is a pipe dream, and would probably have so many bugs that you’d delete it from your phone after giving it a one star rating (“great concept, terrible execution…”). But the bottom line is none of us can do it all, so just laugh it off and keep on asking that seemingly disheveled, distracted and elusive girl to join you for mom’s night out and for those margaritas after work. I promise one day she’ll come.

Kelly Barbrey has long traded in magazine journalism for destination marketing  for Experience Columbia SC (google it), but rest assured it is just as much fun and also requires running in heels while carrying multiple bags.

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