Verboseness=Verbosomeness. Honesty: The Ultimate Critic
Ya, so most of my life I have been told to “wrap it up.” I can remember being about six the first time I distinctly remember my family told me to hurry along my probably very important story about my six-year-old day. I just had sooooo much to say! It wasn’t until later in school, I must have been about nine or ten, because I recall it was in Mrs. Cyr’s fifth grade class, when I found that my love of storytelling translated quite well over to writing. I could “tell” as many stories as my little heart desired and nobody could tell me to hurry it along, get to the point, or the ultimate dream crusher, Are you almost done? Its hard to have a lot of words in your heart. So many sentences just bursting to come out. It was hard then, its even harder today.
As someone who is by nature, a story teller, I find something strange has happened to the art of words and to telling a story, or relaying almost any bit of information. What once was a slow dance, has now become a fast-paced mamba. Lots of staccato steps all hurried and brief to get to the point. in. as. few. words. as. possible. Shoot, through the advances of all things social media, words are even shortened now to squeeze them into a self-imposed tiny character-counted box.
As more and more information is thrown at us regularly (really just stories), we have taught ourselves to skim through, skim over, and skim the skim, to get to the meat; quickly. I love that I am verbose. I love that my husband teases me for the use of the word verbose when describing myself. I can’t help it, I just love words. All kinds of words. The way they look, the way they sound. The way the jump out of a story or from a page as you listen or read, enriching the purpose behind their information, and creating the imagery in our mind’s eye. I have always carried an insecurity over being “too wordy.” It started at six, and continued all the way through college. Every teacher I ever had- “Nice ideas/content, complicated syntax. Structure confusing as written, wordy. Too many run-on sentences.” Yes, the run-on sentence…. the story of my life.
In fact, I think the run-on sentence may just be the anthem for my life, not just the story. I have so many thoughts and ideas, its hard to cram them all into one phrasing, one sentence, one space in my life. I would guess this is why I was so efficient for so long at the ever popular term with moms across the globe: multi-tasking. I could dazzle you with the amount of things I could be doing at once, once upon a time. Yep, that was me; multi-tasking bedazzler extraordinaire. I could juggle my kids, make a meal, have a phone conversation with my business partner, drive through the drop off line, and help a client make one of the largest financial decisions of their lives, all while carrying on the most hilarious text convo with my husband or friend about some anecdotal moment with one of my many comedic props. (Take your pic from my motley crew circus of four young children, one husband, three animals, a pension for Will Ferrell movies, and living with adult ADD.)
But one day I had a little run-in with the police, and it made me re-evaluate things. The story goes a little something like this…
It was a pretty typical day for me, one of the littles was sick, perfect excuse for me not to get our of my jammies. Particularly busy day of phone calls for work, and the usual daily fodder for comedy ensued. Baby peed on the floor, again. I was running around trying not to be late to pick up the three schoolers at their two separate schools, while making sure to remember things like a bra and shoes before I hurriedly left the house (shoes I had handled. Baby? check… I was just going to be in the car anyway, so who cares, right?)
Well, as I rounded a corner I should have technically stopped at before rounding, with cell phone on speaker in my lap, where it almost always was while driving, so I could finish a work call, pretending to be in some plush banker’s office by emulating my best “business professional” voice, praying that baby in the back seat wouldn’t start fussing, because as I mentioned, she didn’t feel well, and she’s a baby, and all of my babies have impeccable timing for fussing while I am on a business call; both of us still in our jammies, neither of us wearing bras- out of nowhere a cop on a motorcycle showed up right behind me, berries and cherries lit up, right as I was approaching my son’s school.
Instantly mortified by my attire at 3pm in the afternoon, annoyed by my stupidity, and absolutely petrified of getting a ticket for any number of violations: phone call, not stopping at a signal, speeding because as usual, I was trying to beat the clock. Can you get a ticket for not wearing a bra I thought? Probably, my luck. The police officer approached the window and as I rolled it down, it dawned on me, had I even brushed my teeth that morning? Well, at least I had coffee breath, I’m pretty sure I was taking a sip from my travel mug while blowing through the stop, while talking on the phone.
Hello Officer! In my best cutesie, trying to be adorable voice. Did it work? Not so much. Not only did he not find me adorably charming, I think he may have found me alarming. There I was braless, in a tank top (oh, did I forget to mention that little tid bit?) jammie pants, slippers, hair still in the messy bun I slept with the night before, baby in the back sporting feetie jammies as the temperature on the dash read 79 degrees outside (she had a mild fever, and I didn’t want to chill her for the drive. Shuush.)
Anyway, his concern seemed to mount as he asked how old she was, and in a panic I couldn’t remember, was she 8 months? or 9? No, she turned 10 months last week. Get a hold of yourself woman! I thought. You see, I am a loud and proud goody-two-shoes (or in this case, two-slippers.) I have never been in trouble with the law, and so I am one of those scardy cat types, who when I get pulled over, get really nervous. I am instantly certain we are both going to uncover my secret spy life right there on the side of the road, and that will be it. The FBI will out of nowhere fly in overhead, and by helicopter swoop down from a rope ladder, and as if out of a movie, haul me away. Basically, my fears are just a teeny bit irrational when it comes to police. Plus, usually, I can flash a smile and say something charming, and that’s that. Off I go. Not that I get pulled over much, I’m just giving a back story here. So, after this police officer realized I was just a disheveled and frazzled mother, not a foreign jammie-wearing, braless spy, he let me go with a just a warning. Ma’am. Don’t speed in a neighborhood. Brush your hair and your teeth before noon. Get your child’s age right when law enforcement asks. Don’t blow through stop signs, and for the love of God; if you insist on jammies and tank tops at 3pm, put on a bra, this is a school zone.
Something about the shame and humiliation of that day really got to me. Oh, did I mention I had instinctively hung up on the phone call I was in the middle of as I was being pulled over? Professional sounding Julie, Yes, sir that is what I’m… Oh damn! click. fail. So, there I sat for a few seconds. A little stunned, a little shaky, a wee bit of an adrenaline and coffee buzz, and a strong desire to go put on a parka. My son soon after, came walking down the sidewalk from his school just a block up since I had never actually made it to car line. As he walked towards me, noticing I’m just sitting there parked on the side of the road hap hazardly, he instinctively assumed that meant I was on a business call that could not be interrupted. And so, as was very usual in our family, he waited on me. It took me several seconds, and finally his soft little tapping on the passenger window before I noticed he was staring into the car wondering why his tank top wearing, braless mother was staring blankly at the wheel, no phone in sight, holding my driver’s license. What had my life become? I can’t do it all, I can’t even do half of it all, I can’t even do the under garment half, half the time, I thought.
I am not a really good multi-tasker, I realized in that moment. I am just a really good faker. A pretty good story-teller. I’d been telling myself the same story for years. I am awesome at this multi-doing all at once, bring it, mommy life. I’d been failing all along. Through first birthdays, scrolling through my work emails in dark movie theaters at premiers of soon-to-be Disney classics, (yes, I have been heckled for that one more than once) missed school events, burnt dinners, forgotten dinners, tons of close calls while driving and talking and texting and speeding to get somewhere, not stopping, not slowing, more jammie days than I care to remember, and lots and lots of lonely bras.
I had been telling the world that I could do it all, and then I basked in the glow of the compliments about my successful career and always well-put together children, who with great consideration from me, always emerged from the house polished and primed for public viewing. (Except on that rare car-ride only jammie day.) I got so good at telling this story to the world, that I had really grown to believe it myself. But that day last Fall, after my way too close encounter with a traffic ticket, that could have blown my cover as a foreign spy, it hit me. I was lying to myself. If I was honest, I would admit that I was actually a pretty crummy multi-tasker. I would admit that I hated the stress the job I did from home brought into my family, and that I had probably one of the poorest memories ever (ok, that part I’ve always admitted openly) and that having a poor memory by nature, and then adding a thousand more things to remember day to day, did not a multi-tasker make. In fact, my bad memory often caused me to go blank on remembering some of the smallest; and sadly the largest, details that come with juggling way too many things at once, and convincing yourself you are any good at juggling.
I would laugh off the fact that I missed important events, or forgot to send something back with my child to school so he could go on a field trip. I couldn’t tell you the last time I volunteered for a field trip by the way, or in the classroom, not because I don’t want to, more because I plum forget.) Living this lie of thinking I was this way awesome multi-tasking superhero made other things in my life a mess too. Maybe I made a homemade dinner for my family one or two times a month. Really. The other times, my husband, who works full time outside the home, would come home and do it. I always felt a pang of guilt there, but just a pang. It was quickly replaced with an email I had to remember to quickly shoot off. We ate out a lot. Especially if I had forgotten or not juggled grocery-getting into my crammed week. We went on trips to magical places and my face was buried in a list of to-do’s back home, while my family was enjoying the magic. And as the years rolled on, my story grew longer and longer. I had fabricated a life I thought was totally normal, although I wondered how other people did it, since they didn’t seem as, I don’t know, to be missing so many of their family’s milestones and their own underclothes all the time.
The problem is, I think other people maybe are as frenzied, burnt out, and possibly poorly clothed in the middle of the day as I. We just don’t talk about it with each other much. Or if we do we sugarcoat the truth, which is just a fancy phrase for lying, right? Why? Because honesty is our biggest critic.
If we all walked around completely honest with each other, that would mean we’d have to be honest with ourselves first. Where would all the competitive spirit go, of outdoing each other in the lies we’ve built to show the world we’ve got it all together? How would we all be able to privately snicker when we see our friend’s vacation photos with perfectly clean and matching children? Sure, my kids could be clean and dressed too, if I weren’t so busy. Obviously, she has too much time on her hands. So multi-tasking extraordinaire? Ya, I think not. No need to include me on the list of, “How the hell does she do it all?” Truth is, I barely did any of it.
I forget everything, like everything. That includes my loved ones’ birthdays and other special moments that may have already happened while I was only half-heartedly “there.” Just ask them, its pathetic. I was not a successful work from home mother for the years and years I did it. I fooled you and me both. The reason being, I was just not a successful mother, while working from home. The work part, ok I kicked butt at. Ask my husband how many times he sat patiently in the car with the kids fighting over who gets to sit where, while trying to get out the door to something we were pressed for time to get to. Seriously, the man has the patience of a Saint. While I would promise him from inside the house, “Just one more thing, babe! I have to get this email off right now with these numbers, its IMPORTANT!” I was hardly a good listener in those days. I mean I kinda was, but guaranteed that while he was telling me about his work day, or the kids about who said what to them about who on the playground and how their report went, I was also having a running dialogue in my head about who I needed to call back, email, work on. I was thinking about the load of laundry in the wash that had been re-washed 3 days in a row because I just couldn’t seem to remember it was sitting in there, wet and waiting, while I would dump a new batch of dirty stuff right on top of it. Shoot! (Get more laundry soap, add that to the list.)
So much blundering my way through my own life, my own story as you can see. I wish I would have been honest with myself a long time ago. If I had been, then perhaps I could have been honest with others too. I would have told my husband, my friends and my family sooner, and in stark honesty, that many days I am a braless lunatic, who doesn’t juggle well at all. Honesty is the critic of our lives. It forces us to evaluate the truth about ourselves. But its also the cure. Let’s just be honest. Jammies are really, really comfortable, but bras are necessary. I think I will go put one on right this very minute.
Thanks for reading. My inner six year old is beaming inside that you got all the way to the end and didn’t tell me to hurry up once.
I’d love to hear some honesty from you about yourselves. Tell me what you got! As you can see, no judgment here.
*Updated January 20, to add*
This morning I awoke and as I was venturing over to my blog to hear the feedback from this post, I found this post, beautifully written today by Rachel over at Hands Free Mama. I just can’t believe how similar her sentiments are to what I was expressing here. Seems we both have honesty, truth and being real, on our hearts lately. I know she and I can’t be the only two.. Now’s your chance to say, “me too.”