September 14, 2014

Last year I was honored to be one of fourteen women to speak at St. Louis’ inaugural Listen To Your Mother show.  I was nervous because, like most people who choose to become a writer vs. a runway model, I’m more comfortable revealing my soul without people focusing on the fact that I carry 90% of my body weight under my chin.

My friend Carrie came over to do my hair and make-up; you all helped me pick my outfit.

The day the videos were published on YouTube I settled onto the couch, opened a fresh can of Diet Pepsi and hit play.  Though it was painful to watch myself on camera, I was relieved that everything on my body appeared to be in its intended place and I didn’t have any visible boogers.

But then I started talking.  It looked like I was missing my bottom tooth.

“WTF?”  I thought, my hand flying to my mouth to see if I had somehow missed my bottom incisor removing itself from my gum.  Nope, still there.  Was it just camera shy?  I ran to the mirror and noticed that it was there, but evidently over the past twenty years had shifted back into its preferred position – horizontal.  Sort of like my sisters.  Opah!

I’ve been slightly preoccupied the past several years, and keeping three little kids alive has sort of trumped not walking around looking like a hillbilly on my important list.  Now that my kids are all in school three mornings a week I’ve been playing catch up on a lot of body-related things that have gone south over the past few years.  Now, me looking like I was missing a tooth was just one of many areas that was going to need attention *applies chainsaw to foot callouses*

I had a decision to make.  Suck it up and endure the raw hell that is braces again, or go through life looking like Granny Clampett.  I figured why not go ahead and take the plunge, what with my twenty year high school reunion coming up and all.  I mean, I wouldn’t want anyone to have a heart attack thinking I made one bit of forward progress with my social awkwardness or anything.

Plus, one of the technological advances of the past two decades has been Invisalign, which is about as discreet as wearing a squirrel on your head.

“Good morning!”  Chirped my dentist.  “Are you excited?”

“About as excited as I would be if you were about to hit me across the face with a big bag of dicks.  Oh, and happy birthday yesterday*”

*My dentist is my Sister-In-Law.

Sitting in the chair I had flashbacks to twenty two years prior, the day I got my braces off.  It was, hands down, one of the best days of my life.  I was so excited to be free.  Free to eat without having half of my meal waving at everyone at the table after I was finished.  Free from the pain.  My teeth were beautiful and I never had to go back.

Or so I thought.

“Do you have any questions?”  she asked when we were finished.

“Juchst one – can I drink with theshe thingsh in?  Like, water… or… tequila?”

“Yes, but…” She started.

“Schee you later!”  I covered my ears and ran out.

“So what did you do today?”  Nick asked that night as he hung up his briefcase and coat.

“Well, I got my brasheshes!”  I answered, curling back my lips to reveal my teeth, which glistened from the plastic like morning dew on bone.

What I hoped was that he would reassure me that they were hardly noticeable; their effervescent glossiness was hypnotizingly sexy.

What he did was look at me like I had revealed a mouthful of crickets.

“Hey!”  I whined, turning away, a bit of my spittle hitting him in the cheek.

“Sorry.  I just suddenly had a bunch of what appeared to be lacquered teeth shoved in my face when I walked in the door and I didn’t immediately know what to do with that information.  They look fine!  I can hardly notice them when you’re far away or your mouth is closed!”

He is sweet, but a liar.  I begin conversations with people and I can see their faces straining to maintain eye contact, resisting the delicious urge to take a good hard look down to my mouth and examine the details of my plastic dental silkiness.

My kids aren’t that polite.

“Mom!  What’s in your mouth?!”  They’ll ask as one of them tilts my head back and the other pries open my jaw, sticking their entire head in like a circus lion tamer.

I feel like it’s all anyone thinks about as I’m speaking; my teeth have become the “something’s slightly off with that woman” when I talk.


However, people’s reactions to my lustrous ivories are the least of my worries.

My brain had somehow blocked out the pain of braces.  Which is interesting because they hurt like a motherfucker.  Luckily I remembered a few of my teenage pain control tricks, like letting my cereal soak in milk overnight before eating it for breakfast so I can gum it at the table like a 200-year-old man.

Saturday morning I awoke with what I first thought was a wicked hangover, but upon further review it was actually a direct result of the plastic devil’s tool.  Moving bones is not exactly what you would call the most soothing thing I’ve ever done.  It was a pain that started in the lower half of my head, shooting up to my temples and then resting behind my eyeballs at 180 beats per minute.  Apparently it will go away “in four days.”

As of today, I am almost halfway through my first tray, the first of fifteen.

And really, it’s not so bad.  Once I can stifle the primal human instinct to rip anything off my body that is causing me pain or discomfort, it’s not so bad.


To Lillian On Her Fourth Birthday


Dear Lila, A few weeks ago we were eating breakfast at a restaurant when a middle aged woman timidly approached our table. “You have beautiful girls,” She said. “Thank you!”  I postured, anticipating the motherly compliments that usually come with taking you and your sisters out in public. “I have two sisters,”  She continued.  “And that one…” she paused, pointing at you. “THAT one was born with a gift.” “Go on…”  I said, stuffing a sausage link in my mouth. “She’s your middle girl.  That’s special.  She’s going to grow up instinctively knowing how to be a leader and a follower.  How to protect and how to be vulnerable, asking for help when she needs it.  How to admire and appreciate someone who can do what she can’t, and how to teach someone how to do what she can.  She’s really lucky.  Not everyone gets that gift.” And just like that, she totally shattered the stigma I had always associated with being the middle child.  The guilt I carry around that it’s you who gets overlooked, lost in the shuffle, doesn’t know what role she’s supposed to play. But you’ve always known, even if I haven’t.  Your role is to make us all laugh.  To hop around instead of walk while you squeeze my hand and give random strangers high fives as you prance by […]

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Vacation… Showtunes, Head Lice and Food Guilt


Sometimes I wonder if I ever truly appreciated vacation before I had children. Sure, I enjoyed the fact that I was laying on a beach chair or skiing down a mountain somewhere and not sweating bullets in a conference room full of assholes, but I also went to happy hour six days a week and was able to finish a meal any time I wanted. I’m not saying that people without kids don’t need a vacation – I’m saying that this morning I was awakened at 3am by someone fish hooking my nostrils with their little fingers. You know what I’m talking about. Last weekend we spent four days at the lake with six other couples which, let’s call it what it really is – group therapy. You wait all year to have an itty bitty little break from your kids, and within the first hour you’ve talked about nothing but ear infections and head lice and sports practices and the best foods to make kids poop. And for the first time in a long time you feel okay about yourself. Not totally sane, necessarily, but like you aren’t the only parent who spends their mornings counting how many more baths you’re going to have to give your kids before they can do it themselves. “Wait… you punish your kids by forcing them to develop, […]

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Honey, You’ve Got A Little Something On Your Chin


I first met my friend Rita in the Navy.  We were the original all-female team assigned to the F-18 Super Hornet, operating under code name Blisters.  It was sort of like a real-life Top Gun and, just like Maverick and Goose, we pulled some real shenanigans.  It was late one night in the mess hall, and over a bowl of stale gruel we realized that we shared the same childhood dream of one day becoming mommy bloggers.  Right then and there we made a promise to each other that if we ever made it out of that god forsaken war alive we would guest post for one another regularly.  Or at least once.  I started my blog here, she started a slightly funnier blog called Fighting Off Frumpy.  So without further adieu… here’s Rita, the war hero.     My name is Rita. I have four kids, two dogs, a cat, a mortgage, and one hell of a sweet tooth. Oh yeah, and a beard. Look, I didn’t ask for facial hair. And I didn’t always have it. (And I don’t have a mustache, thank goodness, though I keep my upper lip waxed just in case it decides to turn manly on me like my chin did.) I just have a beard. It’s not Duck Dynasty or ZZ Top-caliber, but it’s there – and since […]

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Raising Girls: A Beginner’s Guide


Contrary to popular belief, I was ecstatic when my doctor announced in the delivery room that a third little girl would be joining our family.  I grew up with two sisters, and couldn’t wait for my three daughters to experience the same excitement and volatility of being trapped in an emotionally unstable, explosively melodramatic, all-female shitshow. Plus we already had all of the girl stuff, which made things easier because I place an inordinate amount of importance on logistical household efficiencies.  Our boy name was Jessica, and Jessica was going to look just precious coming home from the hospital in his little pink gingham Lilly Pulitzer classic shift dress. But I’m tired of talking about our fake son Jessica.  Let me tell you what I know about raising little girls. 1.  Be warned – girls can be every bit as gross as boys.  Except it is freaking disturbing.  When hanging out with my nephews, I am surrounded by a cornucopia of bodily excretions.  Farts.  Burps.  Dropping trou and peeing in the front yard.  Poop talk.  Boogers flying to and fro.  Unidentified matter wiped on my pants.  It all seems very organic, normal and expected.  Because they are boys.  And boys are disgusting. But there is just something straight up haunting when a little girl with ribbons tied around her pig tails lifts her leg at […]

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A Little Diddy, ‘Bout Jared and Subma-ann


For reasons known only to God and the Long Island medium, from as far back as I can remember my lifelong dream has been to be a mascot.  I don’t have a particular obsession with a professional sports team; a random tiger, ground squirrel or Chuck-E-Cheese would have suited me just fine.  I think ultimately the appeal was the ability to act wild and crazy in front of thousands of spectators with zero potential for public humiliation.  There is safety behind the costume; total anonymity. Also you have complete license to randomly grab and eat people’s stadium food, and we all know how I feel about nacho cheese.  The only thing more delicious than nacho cheese is free nacho cheese. Fifteen years ago when I interviewed for a new job as a brand manager at an ad agency, I told my prospective boss that I would take the job, but if the Cardinals called I was giving notice.  He laughed.  I wasn’t joking. Fast forward seven years, and aside from a lousy commercial where I got to dress up as a grizzly bear with zero public fanfare (though I did take it home overnight and walk around the block a time or two), my mascot dreams went unfulfilled.  I was beginning to think it was never going to happen. That is, until one fateful Wednesday […]

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Weight Watchers – yeah it works but boy howdy does it ever suck


The day I hit my Weight Watchers goal I was handed a key chain. What they said:  “Congratulations Hannah!  You look amazing!  Let this key chain serve as a reminder of all of the hard work and dedication it took to reach your goal!  Now we get to focus on the next part of your weight loss journey – maintenance.  And don’t be fooled – this part is a lot harder than it sounds.  See you next week!” What I heard:  “Congratulations Hannah!  This is a magical key chain that allows you to eat as much of whatever you want and never ever have to worry about gaining a single pound again!  You’ve worked so hard that you deserve to go hog-ass wild for the rest of your life and always look as amazing as you do today!  Now go hit the drive-through and never come back, you little minx!” For sixteen weeks I had starved and slaved and starved again, losing a total of twenty three pounds.  I was so hungry, but also terrified of slipping up.  The nights before my weigh-ins I had horrible nightmares that I was standing before a Chinese buffet shoving as much food as possible into my mouth.  I would wake up in a cold sweat and whisper, “Someday… someday.” to my starving, gurgling stomach. The only way I […]

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