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.