A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

Category: behind the beard (Page 2 of 8)

Dress Code: Inappropriate

I’m over In The Powder Room today discussing my life long challenge with selecting appropriate attire.

I don’t know what it is about my inability to understand basic dress codes, but I have a special knack for always either over dressing or grossly underdressing for just about any occasion.

It’s a real pickle, let me tell you.

Because it is really hard to feel confident when people are tucking dollar bills into your dress at your cousin’s formal wedding.

 

And it’s equally frustrating to be continually mistaken for a hotel employee and/or someone who is not mentally competent enough to operate power tools in large crowded conference rooms.

The hell, dude?

I really don’t know why I didn’t make more friends at that there Haven Conference last June. Huh.

Anyheeeee. That’s just how I roll, I guess. Wait until you hear what I didn’t wear at my father’s second wedding. See you over there, m’kay?

-Leslie

A Few Good Vaginas

Timing is everything, or so they say.

Which is why it’s kind of funny that the very day I would “come out of the closet” and confess my real name to the world, The Huffington Post would include my recent conundrum in their “weekly roundup of standout writing from mom and dad blogs everywhere.” 

“This week, we agonized with The Bearded Iris as she decided whether or not to close down her blog.”
~Emma Mustich, The Huffington Post

Holy CRAP on a cracker. She said “we” and “agonized.” As in: more than one person and gave two shits. The Huffington. Freaking. Post. Whaaaaat?

Seriously, you simply HAVE to read it. Go now. I’ll wait.

I mean really. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

I read Emma Mustich’s gripping words to my 12 year old son this morning, and he responded by giving me a celebratory fist bump and a knowing smile that said, “Told you.”

Priceless.

Tulips at Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, University of Dayton

Hey, you know what would make this scenario even better? 

How about a follow-up post titled A Few Good Vaginas.

I know the irony is not lost on you, which is awesome.

You see, I have to write my weekly column for In The Powder Room about 8 days in advance so that my brilliant British editors (Gigi & Paula) have plenty of time to hem and haw about what kind of crazy-ass new American words I’ve invented. Then they have to choose a photograph to complement the piece and if Gigi can’t find one that’s just right (like that breathtaking sausage picture featured the day I shared my birth story), then Paula has to make one of her own with her fierce computer skills.

Honest to Pete, when I saw the picture Paula made for this week, I snarfed a Peppermint Pattie and attempted to give myself the Heimlich on the back of my chair, which just so happens to be on wheels, so I think you know where I’m going with this…right. down. the. hallway. Not pleasant. Peppermint irritates the trachea, people.

My point is… a lot can happen in a week. Let’s all remember that the next time we find ourselves in shitsville. If we can hang on long enough, this too shall pass. 

Thanks for being here with me. And here. Your friend,

-Leslie/Iris

I have an announcement to make.

Last Wednesday I shared with you that my semi-anonymous blogging cover had been blown and I was struggling with what to do about it.

On the one hand, I was very uncomfortable with the notion of my kids’ friends reading my blog. I definitely don’t want to have to censor myself, but I also don’t want to be responsible for teaching children about things like the most cost effective way to remove butt hair.

The other issue I’ve wrestled with for several years is how to write from the heart without getting my family ostracized by our community. We live in the quite provincial suburbs of Atlanta…a place where women call their vaginas their “down there” (while pointing at it and making the same face I make when I find a headless chipmunk on my back porch).

I mean, what if the good Christian mothers of my daughter’s scout troop discover my writing and conclude I’m unfit to lead their girls on an outing to the nursing home? Or what if my son’s preschool teachers don’t invite me for animal show-and-tell because they’re afraid I’ll say something inappropriate? Or worse, what if people treat my kids differently because of my opinions or drinking habits or odd hobbies?

I have to be honest with you, I was leaning toward something drastic like closing up shop per my motto: when the going gets tough, get drunk and cry.

But then I went to The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio last weekend.

And three very Erma-esque things happened:

1.) I was surrounded by my tribe of humor writers who embraced me, energized me, and gave me wonderful support, encouragement, and advice.

    Tricia, Nicole, Iris, and Ernie at our “Last Supper” of EBWW. (Photo credit: Kristen)

 

2.) I had the incredible fortune of hearing a number of inspirational keynote speakers like Dr. Gina Barreca, Adriana Trigiani, Connie Schultz, Ilene Beckerman, and Alan Zweibel who all resonated the same universal message: tell your truth without fear.

Iris with author Adriana Trigiani at her book signing Friday night.

 

“Don’t be afraid of what anyone thinks of your writing, EVER.” ~Adriana Trigiani

 

3.) And a first-time commenter named Kristen wrote this to me:

Iris,

In July of 2011 my husband was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, since then our lives have been turned upside down. Some days I don’t know whether I am coming or going. He underwent a stem cell transplant in February 2012 at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the kids and I spent many, many hours at his bedside.

It was during this time of relentless hours spent trolling the internet that I saw a post my friend shared on Facebook. “DIY Feminine Hygiene Tips” was the heading, of course this sparked my curiosity, who wouldn’t have to see what this article consisted of?

I have to tell you that I laughed so loud that the nurses came in to see what was so funny, and I believe your blog now holds a spot on their board in the stem cell transplant unit. I do believe you have some faithful followers there as well.

The whole point to this story is to share with you the epiphany that you brought to me on that day. My 13 year old daughter started crying and said Mom, I haven’t seen you laugh in a long time. You, it was you Iris, that brought me back from the underworld. From that day on I vowed to smile every day and laugh at least once (which you so often help me do).

So I will SELFISHLY say D is my final answer. I can appreciate your predicament and completely understand if you should decide against it, I will follow you no matter where your jokes take me. You are my prozac!

 

Sorry – I know you like when I give you a tissue alert.

I swear I have read Kristen’s comment at least 50 times in the past 72 hours. I shared it with my friend Janet (Muffintop Mommy) while we were sitting next to each other in a stand-up comedy workshop and we were both blotting mascara off our cleavage. (No offense to the dude juggling mewling kittens and chainsaws, but we weren’t crying because of you.)

This comment perfectly illustrates another gem I heard this weekend at EBWW:

“Writing comedy is the greatest spiritual gift you can give to anybody anytime.” ~ Adriana Trigiani

I am so deeply humbled by the outpouring of love and support you – my regular readers –  gave me with your comments last week. My cup truly runneth over.

So instead of shutting down my blog and/or starting over anonymously, I think I’ll try a different approach.

“Bad girls are the only ones with stories to tell.” ~ Gina Barreca

Hello. My name is Leslie Jeanne Marinelli and I am a writer.

Leslie with EBWW roommate Nicole of By Word of Mouth Musings.

To blog, or not to blog, that is the question.

“Mom, some of the kids at school know about your blog,” my 12 year old son sheepishly told me after school on Monday.

“WHAT? Are you serious? How? How do you know that? What did they say to you? Are you okay? Are you embarrassed? Do you want me to take it down?” I verbally vomited all over him.

“NO Mom! Don’t take your blog down! I don’t care if kids know about it. I’m really proud of you.”

(OMG – my son is proud of me! SWOON! But holy crap, his friends know about my blog.)

Nature Boy and Iris, 2011.

 

This is quite a predicament.

When I started this blog as a hobby nearly four years ago, I did it anonymously. I never showed my face or my children’s faces, I didn’t use anybody’s real names (still don’t), and I never worried about potential risks.

But blogging anonymously wasn’t a good fit for me. Not having my face connected to my words made it easier for me to write things that weren’t really my truth. I felt like I was living a lie and eventually I quit.

I missed it though and I decided to give it another shot in January of 2011. But this time I wanted to do it with more authenticity and more skin in the game: I would show our faces and I would blog not just as a place to express myself, but as a way to entertain and serve others with ideas, tips, recipes, and hopefully, laughter. Maybe if I was good enough at it, I could turn it into a career.

Yes, it was a risk. The Internet is a scary place.

But the gamble paid off. My readership and opportunities grew exponentially when I started showing our faces. Was it easier for readers to connect with my family when they could really visualize us? Did my writing improve with time and practice? Or was it because I was suddenly putting more thought into each post knowing that my face was out there? I don’t know.

Every mom blogger worries about their children’s safety. We worry about stranger danger and accidentally handing Internet predators the keys to our lives. So we use code names and limit information about schedules and geographic details.

But is that enough to protect our families from the dangers of blogging?

There has been a lot of online dialogue lately about mom bloggers oversharing about their kids lives.

I am torn.

What would the mom blog genre be without REAL stories about ourselves and the crazy shit our kids do?

Frankly, I never dreamed that I would ever have enough readers to make blogging about my family an issue.

And I certainly never imagined there would ever be middle school peers of my kids reading my stories. My kids are not allowed to read my blog and they know why. It is unconscionable for 12 year olds to know about some of the very adult themed issues I’ve shared here. I write for mature audiences. I use language and discuss content that is inappropriate for children. 

I have always tried to keep my school/church life pretty separate from my personal/blogger life. But I have always feared that if my blog got into the wrong hands, it could cause problems for us. I’ve read horror stories about some of my blogging heroes like Cecily Kellogg who have gotten into hot water over their blogging.

However, I have always been willing to share my real life online because I have seen the benefit that it can give to others. Parenthood, marriage, life in general can be so difficult at times. Knowing there are others experiencing the same (or worse) challenges can really ease the burden. And after all, isn’t that what we are all called to do? Ease each others’ burdens?

But I have no control over who reads my work and what they do with the very personal information I have shared.

So now I have a choice to make.

Here are some of the options I’m considering:

A. Shut The Bearded Iris down and walk away from blogging.

B. Shut it down and start over anonymously somewhere else.

C. Go back through the blog and unpublish any posts that I am particularly uncomfortable with children reading.

D. Say screw it and stay on my path.

E. Embrace my new audience, increase the fart jokes, decrease the vagina talk. Or increase the vagina talk as a PSA to boys in puberty who need to learn about the traffic patterns down there sooner or later.

F. Other: _____(Please advise me in your comment below.)_____

This is not an easy choice for me. I have worked so hard to create years worth of original content. I have potential business opportunities in the works that are dependent upon my current status in the blogosphere. For the first time in my working life, I absolutely LOVE what I do. I don’t want to walk away. But I don’t want my kids’ friends to know anything about my genitals either. That’s not cool. Not cool at all.

Ack! Blogging. What a double edged sword. I totally picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue.

What say you?

-Iris

I’ll have what he’s having.

I’m over In The Powder Room today sharing my counterpoint to my colleague Glen’s brilliant post about internal dialogue and what men see when they look in the mirror.

mirror mirror: Glen and Iris discuss In The Powder Room

 

Come on over and join in the conversation! I’ll save you a seat.

But see you back here tomorrow, m’kay? I could use some advice about a real humdinger of a sticky situation.

-Iris

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