Cheating Our Children

At my age I considered myself almost “unsuprisable.” It takes a lot for me to be shocked most especially in the category of asinine human behavior but the recent college admission cheating scandal had me doing a deep WTH?

This story of parents paying a company upwards of a half million dollars to help their kids cheat on college entrance exams and/or bribing college coaches to secure their child a coveted spot on a collegiate athletic team (in all of these cases the child either had never played the sport or didn’t play the sport at a competitive level) solely for the purpose of getting admission to an elite university is so 21st century parenting that I really don’t know why I’m surprised.

In fact, I’m almost embarrassed that I’m surprised. All you have to do is endure any school drop off and pick up line and know that it’s full of parents who firmly believe the rules don’t apply to them or their children. Also, as a parent who has recently gone through the college admission process (including USC which is one the schools that had coaches taking bribes) I should be copping a “tell me something I don’t know” attitude.

Getting into college today has birthed an entire industry from college test prep centers to “collegiate coaches” who do everything from fill out your child’s common app to writing the essays and securing letters of recommendation. When your kid is applying to college you hear a lot of stuff thorough the parent grapevine like stories about a former teacher who now “makes a good living” writing “amazing” recommendation letters for kids she doesn’t even know.

It’s almost like you’re a huge loser if, as a parent, you’re not just involved in your kid’s college application process but you’ve taken it over. If you want to suck the air out of room just tell a group of moms that the only thing you’ve done to help your child apply to college is to give her or him a credit card for the application fee.

My husband and I through ignorance or through having very stubborn children had zero to do with their college application process. We never even read or proofed any of their essays. Last year, after I was mom shamed for not even knowing what my kid was writing about I did ask my daughter if she wanted me to take a look at some of her college essays. She did an eye roll and shared that “she had it under control” and then had to add, “Mom, you do realize that I find grammatical errors in almost everything you write so I think I’m good on my own.” Ouch, but also kind of true.

Parents meddling/micromanaging, and ultimately cheating for their children in the college application process is just another symptom of competitive parenting that begins immediately post womb. I remember being sleep deprived and flabbergasted by mothers whose infants were doing “baby sign language” while my four-month old was trying to eat his toes. Then there’s toddlers reading chapter books by age three, doing algebraic math equations by four and my personal favorite parents doing everything including threats of lawsuits to get their child a “gifted and talented” designation. And I’m not even going to touch upon all the crazy sports parents. We’ve taken our kids childhood and turned it into 18 years of plotting how to get our progeny ahead.

What a tragic waste of a childhood and what a waste of what might have been. Our kids shouldn’t be reduced to be our mini-mes nor should they be groomed to be reflections of our perceived awesomeness. We should practice basic human decency and allow our children to be their own person, to achieve something on their own without a parent scheming in the background, and to learn that failure is an opportunity for growth not something that might make us, the parent, look bad. When did parenting become more about us and less about what is good for our children?

Squirelly Anxiety

People telling me that I should be anxious is making me anxious. Apparently, Americans are in a very anxious state or at least that’s what I’m hearing, seeing and reading. I did a Google search about what are the top things making people anxious and could totally relate with anxiety number one – money.

I’ve been in a perennial state of being anxious about paying for college, retirement savings and all the other cash sucks for so long that it’s almost like I’m not anxious. I just consider the rumble in my brain of “Holy crap, I’m going to need to get a second job and a vigorous plasma donation schedule to make all this work out” as my new normal.

The second and third anxiety inducers on the list made me wonder if I had somehow gotten hold of the Kardarshian’s catalog of angst, especially number three – wrinkles. Who’s lucky enough that their third biggest anxiety is wrinkles?

Seriously, if getting wrinkles is at the top of your worry list you should consider yourself blessed beyond measure. It’s right up there with women who complain about how their elbows look. Do you know how much free time and lack of any obligations you would have to have that  your primary worry centers around the attractiveness of your elbows?

I’m stunned that my current and, as of right now, biggest anxiety, didn’t even break the top 100. I can’t be the only human freaking out over the full-scale squirrel invasion that is happening in the metro. Yes, squirrels are taking over and apparently my house is being used as ground zero.

Have you noticed that huge swath of squirrels are just prancing around like they own the city? And not only have squirrels increased in number, they’ve become much more brazen. I call it squirrel swagger.

I knew I was in trouble when the squirrels in my yard didn’t even scurry when they saw me. It was almost like they were taunting me or giving me the one acorn salute. Then things got much more personal. They laid claim to my home.

There I was one night at my most vulnerable, stark naked in my closet, when I heard a racket that sounded like a person buried alive trying to claw their way out of a coffin. I quickly alerted my husband and his response was a droll, “It’s the wind.”

I told him that I was fairly certain that I knew what wind sounded like and it wasn’t a hearty northern breeze making this sound. I got his standard issue follow-up to most of my complaints or quips the “You’re probably just crazy” murmur.

I, not being crazy, persevered, and discovered the very next day that the squirrels had done a little demo on my roof trim making their way into my house. Before you could say vermin, I speed dialed “Mr. Rodent.”

Mr. Rodent informed me that squirrels had basically turned my home into their own private Costco of nut storage. Apparently the winter we’ve been experiencing has resulted in very aggressive squirrels in search of a warm refuge with bountiful nut storage.

All I knew is that I wanted the nut Costco closed. Non-kill cages were put up and you would think that would solve the immediate problem except no squirrels were every found in the cages. Yep, that’s right they had outsmarted us.

So, now I lay in bed every night fearful about what they’re planning next. I had a dream that the squirrels had taken over my entire home and were holding a winter clearance sale. I ask you who has time to have wrinkle or elbow anxiety when there’s going to be a rodent uprising?

Filters: Good and Good for You

I’m going to throw my personal vanity aside in an attempt to address a growing societal problem – people with no filters. Here are two examples from the past several days of people free ranging with their thought process. Example number one: An auto mechanic commenting on how many miles I was putting on my car asked me, “Shouldn’t you have hit retirement age by now?” (And just to be clear he was referring to me, not my car.)

I was flabbergasted  and gave the idiot a lecture on things you should never assume or ask a woman, most especially one who is y-e-a-r-s away from retirement. The worst part is I had just gotten my hair highlighted and felt so fabulous I swaggered into the car dealership with my new sandals making a sassy clippty-clop.  Sadly, I did not swagger out. It was more of the angry mom brisk stride and instead of a clippety-clop my footwear was giving the floors a beat down.

Then, the next freaking day, I was picking up a 99-cent ice cream cone from the McDonald’s drive thru and a guy (Yes, again a guy. Hmm, I note a trend.) handed me the cone and said, “I don’t know if you should be eating this.”

WTH? I had no words. Literally, I said nothing because it didn’t merit a response and I was taking a jumbo bite out of my cone, right in front of him, just on principle.

Now, I know if I had allowed myself to have conversation with this filter-less goobers their standard response would be “I was joking.” No, you weren’t joking. Instead you choose not to practice verbal discipline. I think the whole Homeland Security tag line “See something. Say something” has been co-opted by the filter free crowd.

Therefore, I suggest that we, the filter crowd, must launch an educational campaign to educate the growing numbers of mammals who think their thoughts are either so special they must be shared or are just so lazy that they don’t want to expend the effort to edit themselves.

Of course, as in all my rants, I’m going to blame social media for part of this problem. Now that everyone is encouraged to make comments about the minutia of their lives this has led to people becoming embolden with their thoughts. It’s not a good look.

My education campaign will be kicking it old school. Yes, my friends, we are going back to the basics with the classic “if you don’t have anything nice to say zip it.” Now, don’t worry, I do indeed see the irony because I know that many things I write are not, shall we say, full of flowery prose that exalts the goodness of humans. But, I’m going to exempt myself due to the fact, well not really a fact, let’s call it a community service, in the generalist of terms, that my writing is all done for the greater good.  (Stop shaking your head and just roll with it.)

Now, in no way do I want to shut down anyone’s freedom of expression, the campaign will only urge people to think before they speak by asking yourself three simple questions. Will it hurt someone’s feelings?  Will I regret what I said about 10 seconds after it comes out of my mouth? Am I really as smart as I think I am? If the answer is no to any of the above, we will encourage people to not open their mouths.

I know this has almost zero chance of working, so my alternate plan is that the next time someone ages me by more than a decade and insinuates that I’m not ice cream cone worthy I’m going to go “full unfiltered.” Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Outsmarted By an Air Mattress

I have met my white whale. My quest to vanquish an enormous, intimidating beast was fraught with peril and, sadly, heart breaking defeat.

I swear I gave it everything I had. I wrestled. I punched. I stomped. I cursed. I wailed and even thought a trip to the ER was going to be necessary. But it was all for naught. The beast didn’t give up and at the end I had nothing left but to admit I had lost. I had literally brought to my knees and subjugated.

It all began on a Sunday morning that was full of promise. The sun was shining and the house smelled like bacon and hot maple syrup. All the signs pointed to it being a very delicious day. Before I began eating my breakfast I popped into my daughter’s room to grab her laundry hamper and that’s where the journey began.

On the floor of her bedroom was a behemoth that was so large it almost covered her entire 8 X 10 polka-dotted area rug. Being a mother, I, of course, knew what I had to do. That sprawling brute had to be taken down.

Maybe it was the adrenaline talking, but at first I thought I could not just do it, but do it quickly. It just seemed like it would be easy. One of those things you could just pull the plug on. I did that. I promised I did, but then I tripped and it had me.

I was on my back flailing as the creature whooshed out air and entrapped me what felt like a cold, slimy, poly vinyl chloride embrace. I thrashed and gave it a right hook and then a left, but I still couldn’t get free. Finally, I escaped. The beast look deflated and I thought I had triumphed.

But my victory wasn’t complete. Although, I had beaten the air out of it I still had to remove the thing from my child’s room.  As I was contemplating if it would be better to roll it up or fold it I spied a small pouch.

Was this the conduit in which this now collapsed creature had been transported? It couldn’t be, could it? Why the pouch wasn’t even as big as a Ziploc freezer bag. How did something that measured almost 8 feet by 10 feet fit into something that small? Did this thing consuming floor space in my child’s room have magical properties? Was there a shrinking spell that needed to be cast? My mind was officially boggled.

I decided to abandon thoughts of sorcery and apply logic. Surely, this could be accomplished with some sort of precision folding. I was going to go “full mom” on it. For standing before you is a human that graduated, with honors, from the Martha Stewart school of fitted sheet folding. (Full disclosure, I watched a YouTube video, but if Martha had been standing next to me she would have been impressed.)

I first smoothed the surface, then I began using geometry to crease and fold and then crease and fold some more. Eventually, I had gotten the beast as small as possible. My fingers ached and my carpel tunnels had been aggravated, but it was worth it. I was going to jam the bad boy into that pouch.

Except I didn’t. I was fought every step of the way. No matter what I did from trampling it to trying a system of space-saving pleats nothing worked. Not threats, not curses, not even almost dislocating my shoulder by exerting so much shoving pressure did the trick.

I had no choice, but to bow before the king size air mattress and its storage pouch declaring it my master and overlord forever. I had been conquered by an inflatable bed.

Dear Snarky – Revenge of the Spray Tan

Dear Snarky,

I’m writing this letter to you while I’m orange. Yes, orange because I was given a spray tan by a FRIEND who, out of spite, turned me orange. The back-story is I started dating a guy she had broken up with more than six months ago. I even asked her if it was okay with her if I went out with him. She said yes and told me it was no big deal. So, we started dating and this weekend he’s taking me to his cousin’s wedding which is why I got a spray tan from her. I didn’t know she was secretly pissed off at me and her revenge would be giving me a spray tan that would turn me pumpkin f’ing orange!

I’ve taken pictures of my orange spray tan and want to shame her business publicly on social media because people should know she’s crazy but our mutual friends say I should let it go because she’s “suffering from the break up.” Umm, the break up was her doing and it was months ago. Also, all of this is easy for them to say because they’re not ORANGE!

What do you think Snarky?

Signed, Orange and Angry

Dear Orange,

First, I hope you googled how to get rid of a bad spray tan and you no longer resemble Ernie from Sesame Street. As for embarking on a social media shaming campaign I’m conflicted. Does a woman who runs a spray tan business and purposely turns people orange need to be outed? Yes. But, for you to do this means that you’re going to be adding rocket fuel to her crazy and the whole situation is going to get blown up.

Are you ready to be engaging with her on social media and dealing with what I’m sure are going to be threats and accusations of you stealing her boyfriend (never mind that she dumped him)? Also, a woman who would turn somebody orange is going to have zero compunction lying and saying that she didn’t do it and that you photoshopped the pictures because you’re trying to ruin her business after you stole her boyfriend. (Are you sensing a theme here?) 

Because I believe in living a life where you look forward not backwards I would wash off that orange spray tan and let that and your “friend” go down the drain. This means don’t engage. It’s not worth it and it would be a HUGE emotional time suck. Instead live your life without her in it and most definitely find a new place to get a spray tan.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “Advice With An Attitude” email snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com 😉

I’m Going to Insta So Hard

Brace yourself because I’m attempting to become “Insta Famous.” This, for those of you truly blessed and more enlightened individuals who steer clear of social media, is when a non celebrity with a zero fan base proceeds to launch and build a career as a social media influencer.

The reason I’m doing this two-fold. One, I read an article about how advertisers are targeting the 50 plus female market with a vengeance. Once, largely ignored by advertisers because it’s the not in the sweet spot demo of 18 to 44, the 50 and over female buyer has proven to still be the deciding factor in most family purchases.  Plus, there’s a gold mine of products to market to this group from anti-aging “lifestyles” to health care. And this demographic loves social media. Basically, it’s ripe for influencers who no longer drive a mini van but still love a good hydrating lip balm.

The second reason is because being a social media influencer if you’re a woman usually means starting some sort of lifestyle blog and they are truly hysterical. My university’s alumni association recently highlighted some of these lifestyle bloggers and voracious Instagrammers and I went down that rabbit hole for hours.

Granted most of these women are young and their posts feature a plethora of pictures of their very attractive selfs in various outfits of the day with a lengthy description of their fashion choices and instructions on where you can “shop what they are wearing.”

There’s also usually some travel spread highlighting a pictorial of vacay outfits and the fashion is rounded out with fitness, decorating and/or cooking photos all with links to take you to the shopping sites where the blogger/Instagrammer gets a kickback.

Don’t make the mistake thinking I am making fun of these women.  I’m not. A lot of these “grammers” are making a significant chunk of change and to that I say, “Move over and let me in.”

There are though some significant hurdles in front of me. First, I don’t have an Instagram account. But, I did what any 50 plus woman would do. I had one of my children hook me up. Then there’s the issue of posting pictures of myself in outfits anybody would want to buy. That’s a real problem for multiple reasons starting with the fact that I hate having my picture taken. Add in that just the thought of looking good everyday in cute, new, clothing ensembles triggers my IBS.

Plus, I feel a certain moral obligation to keep it real. It’s one thing for an attractive 27-year-old woman to try to delude people who her life is perfect through the magic of Instagram filters but at my age it would be laughable. Plus, perfect is overrated. So, I’ve decided to enter the Instagram game with unvarnished reality.

So, behold the picture in front of you. This is my first lifestyle fashion post. I’m #nofilter because who wears make up when they’re about to work out? And the deeper issue is would you trust someone who wore makeup to work out? That pullover hoodie I’m styling, that makes me look like I just ate my living room love sofa, is some free swag my husband brought home from a meeting. As for those leggings well, I don’t think I have to tell you those came straight off a clearance rack because they’re about as flattering as that hoodie.

Do I care that look awful? No. What bothers is that I don’t have any shopping links to post to so I can make some sweet Insta coin. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll figure something out because Insta famous here I come. 😉

Look for me on Instagram @snarky.in.the.suburbs and since I just started my account please share in the comment section any good/fun Insta accounts I should be following. Thanks!

Advice. I’ve Got It. Who Needs It?

A friend recently asked me what advice I gave my daughter right before she graduated high school. I laughed and said she wasn’t exactly into taking advice during that time period. She  had just turned 18 and was  battling the dreaded “know it all” disease. Basically, there’s no one dumber than the parent of an 18-year-old in the four months before they leave for college. My parenting style for last summer was the terminal eye roll.

I experienced this same thing with my son before he departed for his freshman year.  I call this period the “summer of hubris.” It’s the sweet spot when your kids are still being coddled by your tender loving care and yet think that because they’re on the brink of leaving the nest they’re geniuses about how the world works. (Never mind that they still lose their phone at least once a day. Sigh.)

This advice thing though did get me thinking about imparting some real-world wisdom. The kind that you won’t find in any book because it’s not that magical or even uplifting. It’s just hum drum common sense that every grown up should embrace. So, here’s five things that make my short list of “Hey, you’re legally an adult now so don’t be an idiot.”

  1. While waiting in line for 15 minutes to order food do be prepared to place your order when you get to the front and not act like you’ve never been to Panera (or a drive thru) before. Also, commit this to memory – a cup a soup is about half the size of a bowl.

2. Never ask a woman when her baby is due. I don’t care if it looks like she has a trio of beach balls stuffed under her shirt. Under no circumstances should you assume any woman is pregnant unless she readily volunteers the information. (Don’t ask me how I know, but I know, like really know.)

3. Be spatially aware. This seems to be a growing affliction where people assume that they are the single carbon life form inhabiting the planet and therefore have no compunction about physical space. Are the rest of us ghosts, phantom apparitions that you can walk through with no consequences? Short answer – no. Also, beware points of egress. A door or any entry way is not a place to park your personhood as you stare at your phone.

4. If you’re returning what amounts to wheelbarrow full of items you ordered on-line to a brick and mortar store on the weekend before December 25 for the love of Saint Nick have your receipt so the sales associate doesn’t have to physically enter, by hand, every piece of merchandise into the computer system thus ensuring your return takes about an hour (which in the Christmas time continuum feels like an entire day to the person behind you in line).

5. You’re not that special as in you’re not that special that anyone, not even your mother, wants to hear you’re one sided, long-winded cell phone convo in a public space. This is why texting was invented to keep people from having to hear you talk. Also, if any of my children ever has a conversation with their phone on speaker at an airport, grocery story or doctor’s office they should officially consider themselves disowned.

Of course, this list could go on and on, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned by being a parent for 22 years is that advice is best given in bite size chunks. Too much at one time tends to get ignored or forgotten and these five pearls of knowledge need to be committed to memory. 

Dear Snarky – The Teacher Returned Our Class Gift

Dear Snarky,

I’m super angry with my child’s teacher. For Valentine’s Day the moms went  all out and collected money for a really nice piece of jewelry from a popular retailer for my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher. The reason we did this is because the teacher is getting married soon and we thought this would be a nice Valentine’s Day and wedding gift from the class.

Well, come to find out from my sister who works at that store the teacher not only returned the necklace we got her but she was a huge, F bombing bitch, about it because she couldn’t get cash back. They would only give her a gift card because she didn’t have a receipt. According to my sister she even insulted the moms who picked out the necklace calling their taste – basic and low-class.

I’ve already told all the moms what happened and now we’re wondering if we should say something to the teacher.

 Signed, Insulted

 Dear Insulted,

 My advice is four words. KEEP. YOUR. MOUTH. SHUT.

Sure, it would be awesome to let the teacher know that you have Intel on what a boorish trog she was but after that thrill what do you have left? I’ll tell you – a kid that’s in her class for another three months. Talk about awkward.

I strongly urge you to not do that to your child. Instead learn a lesson from this. For the rest of your parenting career don’t get a teacher an expensive gift that’s very taste specific like jewelry. If you feel you must get a present go the gift card route. I also suggest the parents in your class skip the teacher appreciation and end of year gifts in favor of handwritten notes from your children highlighting the favorite things they’ve learned that year.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “Advice With an Attitude” email me at snarkyinthesuburbs.com 😉

Nailed It

Do you ever lay in bed at night and wonder where your day went? Then you mentally review what you did and experience a sense of shame that you spent an entire hour looking at something called fingernail art? Okay, maybe that’s just me.

Just to make it clear, before you judge me too harshly, technically I am looking at art and my voyeurism is more motivated imagining the person who had the patience to sit there for h-o-u-r-s so their nails would look like mini masterpieces with teeny-tiny pictures of everything from flowers to images that could qualify as nods to the Post-Impressionism movement. I find myself deeply pondering who has the fortitude to not only endure that level of manicure but to then not ruin it immediately afterward. Because that’s my M.O. – mani/pedi destroyer.

I have a long history of obliterating my nails before I even exit a salon. I don’t even bother to get my hands done anymore because apparently, I’m gifted in the “manicure messed up in ten seconds or less department.” In fact, years ago, I switched over to the pedicure only family thinking it’s a lot harder to ruin your toes than your hands. Well, lucky me because I also have talent in that arena. There’s at least a 50 percent chance that I will not make it to my car without damaging the polish on at least two toes.

The last time I got a pedicure I didn’t even make it out of the salon chair before the polish on three toes were smeared. I, a fully ambulatory woman, couldn’t vacate the salon chair without tripping and smooshing my toes. Meanwhile, an elderly woman, who walked with a cane, was more graceful, lithe even, in her chair departure than I was.

My daughter who was with me laughingly suggested that I just give up the whole mani/pedi experience. “At this point mom you’re just wasting your money.” Sadly, I think she’s right because it doesn’t matter how long I let my nails dry or how much UVA power the drying lamps possess I have issues leaving the salon with polish that is still intact.

At first, I thought my problem was the salon chairs. Those recliners with triple massage action are troublesome. First, the whole “massage” element feels less like a spa experience and more like you’re on a Southwest flight with an unruly five-year-old kicking the back of your seat. Then there’s the issue of exiting the chair which is elevated and usually very close to another chair.

I don’t think much thought was given to the point of egress for women with size 11 feet (Cautionary tale – I wore a size eight until I had two kids. Where’s that Mother’s Day card? Dear Mom, thanks for giving birth to us so your feet could grow by three sizes.) It’s almost impossible to get out of the chair without messing up the polish on at least your big toe.

The problem with that theory is that even when I do my nails at home and use copious amounts of nail polish drying spray, I still don’t escape with the polish on all 10 ten toes staying perfect.

Maybe I need to start a “no polish” movement. It would give me something to be self-righteous about this summer when everybody else is in full mani/pedi mode. Because instead of nail polish I will be wearing the color of “bare and don’t care.” This, I will tell polished toe women, means that by “letting my toe nails breathe” I’m practicing the ultimate in self-care. Only I will know that I’m cursed with the dreaded SPS – smooshed polish syndrome.

 

Be Careful – I’m Packing

If only going out-of-town didn’t require packing a suitcase.

I love traveling. I just hate packing for that travel. It’s not that I stink at packing. I like to think I’m pretty good at it. I know my way around the various Ziploc space saver bags and I’m up to date on all the packing hacks from how to roll, not fold your clothes for optimum luggage stuffing to condensing your cosmetics.

My problem is I loathe packing. In fact, I despise it so much that when I’m packing, I’m secretly thinking that I’d almost rather stay home than endure the agony of taking a 64-ounce shampoo bottle and squeezing it into a three-ounce container. The blame, like 100 percent of it, goes to my children and my husband.  Over the years this trio has managed to kill my suitcase mojo.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, ruins the packing experience like years spent packing for yourself and your kids. The best thing about my kids getting older wasn’t things like their ability to drive themselves to and fro it was that I never had to pack a suitcase for them ever again.

Because when they’re young not only are you packing a suitcase for each kid you’re packing a “go bag” of items required if anything goes wrong from medical emergencies (coughs, colds, flu, diarrhea, nausea, headache, earache, sore throat, and enough various sizes of band aids to cover the entire body of at least two family members) to food provisions that ranged from fruit to items with a shelf life that would take you through a doomsday scenario.

Then there’s the “backpack of fun” that each child needs jammed with things to keep them busy during the journey, so they don’t drive you or any fellow passengers bonkers. This means craft supplies, books, toy cars and dolls, miniature board games and of course electronic items and at least three back up chargers. Each trip we took more than 100 miles from our home required the skills of a packing Ninja, the Best Buy Geek Squad and a CDC medical specialist.

Meanwhile, my husband would throw some underwear, a pair of jeans and couple of shirts into a suitcase and ponder why it was, one, “taking me so long to pack?” And two, why was I complaining so much about it? Some days it’s a wonder that man is still alive. One year, I did throw a pair of shoes at him. They were kids’ Sesame Street flip-flops, so he got off easy.

Trust me when I tell you that if you go through all that enough times packing to leave town can make you jittery and cause feelings of intense anxiety. Never mind the worry that you’re going to forget something. And what’s up with that? I feel like that when I pack, I act like I’m never going to see a Super Target again. If you’re vacationing domestically and you’re not going off the grid there’s 100 percent chance, you’ll be able to buy whatever you left back at home fairly easily.

My packing phobia has also been known to affect my self-esteem especially when I see large families traveling with only one suitcase. Are they using witchcraft to get a family of seven’s clothes and assorted shampoos into one carry on? Are they privy to some secret space age cramming technology that allows you to shrink your items by 90 percent? It’s either that or the outfits they wore on the plane are the ones they’ll be styling their entire vacation.

One time at the Orlando airport I did ask a fellow mom how she got her family down to one carry on suitcase for her ENTIRE entourage. She gave me one of those condescending looks that moms use when they feel superior to you in both the parenting and intellectual arena and quipped, “We only stay at five-star resorts with laundry facilities.”

Because I didn’t like her la-di-da tone, at all, I shot back with, “Yes, because nothing says vacation like doing laundry,” and then I did a subtle hair flip. After that she dramatically shooed her family away from mine in the gate area. Her loss because I’m the person you’ll want to be close to in case of any travel emergency. I’ve got everything you’ll need from batteries to bacitracin.