Despite the family calendar, multiple marker boards, and post-its everywhere, I still forget where we need to be.We’re late! Let’s go! We are late. AGAIN. Hurry up! You can go potty when we get there. Tie your shoes in the car!

This was me, this past weekend, as I realized at 1:38 p.m. that my daughter was supposed to be somewhere at 1:40. And that somewhere was 20 minutes away. Shiiiiiiiit.

While driving like a bat out of hell across town and silently chanting “Are you fricking kidding you mother fricking what the frick…” every time we hit a red light or got stuck behind some grandpa doing the damn speed limit, I looked in the rearview mirror and saw three frightened faces. Mommy doesn’t usually drive like this. Mommy is mad. Mommy is frustrated. With us? No. Mommy is frustrated with herself, which is far worse for her to deal with than when we screw up.

Because Mommy is a perfectionist. Mommy doesn’t make mistakes. Mommy doesn’t forget to pick us up and she knows which day is library day and she makes us eat fruit with lunch and brush our teeth extra when we eat candy and always makes sure we have clean underwear. Mommy knows the schedule because she has a giant family calendar and 3 marker boards (one for each kid) and an intricate system of post-it notes all over the house for extra reminders. And her phone dings at various times throughout the day to make sure she gets it all done.

So how did she mess up? How on the earth is it possible that she forgot? Well I’ll tell you. As I was praying for green lights and watching the minutes tick by on my mini-van’s digital clock, I realized something. Mommy has three kids, all of whom are playing sports. All of whom are in school. All of whom need to bring their teachers gifts this week on the last day of school. All of whom are enrolled in summer camp, swimming lessons, have eye doctor and dentist appointments, and need new sneakers. All of whom need to be fed and bathed and nurtured and loved and taught and disciplined. And Mommy does all those things. But sometimes there are just too many things.

Saturday’s calendar block read:

9 a.m.: Game

10 a.m.: Game

2 p.m.: Game (be there are 1:40)

2-4 p.m.: Birthday party

4 p.m.: Cub Scout campout

And Sunday’s was not much different, between church, Sunday School, and another game. Plus Mommy needed to fit in some meal planning and grocery shopping and cooking and laundry and maybe a workout and 3 minutes for herself if she was very lucky…

So what was the catastrophic event that Mommy forgot, even though it was written on the family calendar, clear as day? Softball team pictures. For a kindergartener. In 20 years will my daughter look back and say, “Damnit, my childhood was ruined because I missed team pictures that day in May”? Probably not. And as I sat there at that last red light, 20 minutes late, making my peace with the fact that we probably missed the photographer, I had a talk with myself. I said Mom, you need to chill the fuck out. Your daughter is giggling back there because her brother said toot and she cannot wait to ride her new bike later and she really wants to wear braids tomorrow to school. She’s okay. So you need to be okay and cut yourself some slack.

And in the end, guess what? She made the team picture.

I run this motherfucker like Cleopatra. Until my kid shits everywhere. Then I'm dethroned.They say bossy girls get shit done. And I agree. I have always thrived on being the boss. To be honest, few things in life give me more pleasure than telling other people what to do.

Growing up I, like lots of little girls, often played house (of course I was always the mom, telling everyone else what to do). When I grew tired of house, I transitioned to playing school (where I was obviously the teacher, also telling everyone what to do).

As an adult, I achieved my childhood dream by becoming a real life grownup teacher—the giver of As through Fs for 100 students. With a stroke of my red pen, I could determine a walk across the stage at graduation. Or summer school. I was drunk with power.

Well into adulthood, my obsessive compulsive tendencies were allowed to flourish. Saturdays were for laundry and scrubbing the apartment spotless. Sundays were for grocery shopping and cooking. No deviation from this plan was permitted. Towels were color-coded in the linen closet, folded into perfectly symmetrical rectangles. Shoes were lined up on the shoe rack immediately upon entry. The bed was always made. Nary a speck of dust could be found. If it sounds a little OCD, it was. But I was the boss, so it was okay.

Then I had children.

You know where this is going.

Motherhood meant I was on my way to achieving my other childhood dream. Like in teaching, I’d get to be the boss of people all the time, I thought.

Like a fool.

And truth be told, as I look back on the past 9 years of being a mom, I think I was slowly stripped of my crown a little bit each day. I fought a good fight, though. I clung to each last bit of control with a death grip.

Once I stopped teaching and became a stay-at-home mom, I ran a playgroup with 75+ moms. I taught Sunday School. And Vacation Bible School. I was room parent—class party planner extraordinaire.

I was endlessly searching for ways to be in charge. Because at home, I was not.

I was coming to terms with the reality that the greatest joke to pull on a woman with control issues is to give her kids.

My epiphany came on a day of frustration, yelling, door-slamming, and time-outs. I had asked my son to put his toys away. Much to my dismay, he looked me right in the eye and said, “No thanks.”

“What just happened?” I thought. “Does he not know who I am? Does he not know how this works?”

I literally pointed my finger at myself and shouted “I AM THE BOSS!” as I sadly realized the truth. A real boss doesn’t have to tell everyone that she’s the boss. There I was, 7 years old again, telling the other girls in the neighborhood to sit down and practice their letters while they laughed and ran away to play Barbies.

However, even then, I wasn’t quite ready to wave the white flag of defeat. I could reclaim that crown. I WOULD reclaim that crown. The boss doesn’t quit!

Well folks, turns out she does. I’m here today to confess that the boss is tired. I’m done fighting for my title. Despite my room-mom status and shoe racks and color-coded towels, there is truly one aspect of motherhood I am not the boss of. And it’s killing me. But it’s true.

I am a mother. And I am not the boss of poop.

There, I said it. That’s the first step, right?

It has take me nine years to accept this reality, but I think it’s time.

I am not the boss of when poop emerges from my children’s bodies.

I am not the boss of where they are when it comes out—like sitting in a church pew, or jumping in a bouncy house, for example.

I am not the boss of little hands trying to clean up after said poop, or even better, “hiding” it.

I am not the boss when I see my child’s eyes, wide with terror, across the room at a birthday party, and I know the “get there in time” window of opportunity has closed.

I am not the boss of poop floaters in the bath. I am especially not the boss when I watch in horror as it begins to disintegrate while I frantically try to grab it.

I am not the boss when poop falls out of tiny butts and rolls away. I am not the boss as I search on my hands and knees for a poop ball that rolled under the bathroom vanity and I wonder how in the hell this is my life.

I am not the boss when I check my child’s swim diaper every 90 seconds for fear that we will be the family causing the “pool is temporarily closed” announcement over the loudspeaker.

I am not the boss when I am unclogging a toilet for the 3rd time in one day.

I am not the boss when I am at the park with my kids where the nearest bathroom is a 10-minute walk. And I say, “Can you make it in time?” and the response is, “Probably not, Mommy.”

And I am definitely not the boss when that same child tells the cashier at Target about her park mishap later on that afternoon.

Finally, I am not the boss when I do the chocolate or poop test upon finding a brown stain on my clothes, and the verdict is “not chocolate.”

So, I’m here today to confess my truth. I’ve been overthrown. My crown has been usurped by my children’s bodily functions. Despite my exhausting efforts, I am, in fact, not the boss of this.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go cook up some dinner, put some shoes back on the shoe rack, and of course, fold some towels.

Like a boss.

This post was originally read at the 2017 Listen to Your Mother Show in Kansas City. 

Summer Camps: What the F*#k?!

There she is, your proud daughter, showing off her skills at f-ing TREE CLIMBING CAMP.

I am often reminded about the many luxuries 21st century moms have that make our lives easier than the lives of our mothers and grandmothers. Like, for instance, my mother did not have a baby monitor — not even one with JUST sound. A video monitor?! Not even fathomable. Also, and this one floors me, she did not have the luxury of baby wipes! What the hell did she use to wipe our butts? (Never mind our hands, faces, arms, church clothes, spills in the car…) I sort of don’t want to know what she used / how she wiped our butts though, so let’s move on.

Despite the fact that mommies of today have mini-vans with back-up cameras and doors that open automatically, what’s inside those vans proves my next point. Although mommies of today have it a lot easier, things are a hell of a lot more complicated for us as well. Check out our car seats! They weigh 30 lbs, require a 2-hour training course on installation, and our kids need to be in them until they leave for college. Compared to the 1980s… you know the scene: rolling around in the “way back” of the station wagon. Not buckled. Certainly NOT in a car seat unless you were a baby. Or you were in the front seat, where you were allowed to fiddle with the radio. (MAYBE your car had a cassette player. Fancy!)

Lives of mommies of decades past were harder, but they were also simpler. This has never been more apparent to me than in the past month as I finally began the arduous process of deciding on summer camps. Holy crap! People! Seriously with the summer camps??!!

Growing up, we went to summer camp. It was free. It was called: Go outside and play. Come back when hungry. Full? Good. Go back outside and play. And repeat.

Now don’t get me wrong, as a mom, I am a fan of the summer camp. The idea of having a place to park my kids for a few hours every day for a week… sounds marvelous. So let’s do this. I start with my town’s Parks and Recreation camp catalogue. I am instantly overwhelmed. There are, of course, baseball camps, soccer camps, arts and crafts camps, and even the dreaded dodgeball camp. However, did you know that there are also camps like these?

Fencing Camp (like, the sport of fencing)
Tree Climbing Camp
Jedi Stunt Training Camp
Frozen Princess Camp
Taylor Swift Music Camp
Video Game Camp
Fiesta! Camp (a.k.a. foreign language camp)

I mean, are you kidding??!! Tree climbing CAMP?!

Also, as I quickly learned, there are camps through my town’s Parks and Rec department. There are also camps available to me through the neighboring 5 towns’ Parks and Rec departments. And finally, and this is the fattest catalogue of them all, our entire county has its OWN Parks and Rec camps. And those are JUST those run through all of the Parks and Rec departments! It seems there are also 2,523 privately run camps within a 30 mile radius of my house.

I spent more time than I will admit agonizing over which camp to put my children in, but we finally made our choices (one of which IS, in fact, Jedi Stunt Training Camp).

As I nostalgically think of my simple, happy, carefree childhood, I like to think of what summer camps for girls would have looked like in the 80s. Here is my list:

Jem and the MisFits Camp
Rainbow Bright Camp
Punky Brewster Camp
Proper French-rolling of Pants Camp
Hair Crimping Camp
Cabbage Patch Dolls Camp
Hungry Hungry Hippos Camp

(I would have kicked ass at French-rolling of Pants Camp.)