A Typical Saturday

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“Why does a catastrophe always follow you?” my husband asked, as he smoothed my hair and handed me a Kleenex. Yet again, Alison the Great made a hot mess of a situation. I don’t know why I do, and I wish I didn’t.

Yesterday, my husband was hired to photograph a friends’ daughter’s birthday party. We’ve known the family for quite a while, I lifeguarded with the oldest brother back in college and two of the younger brothers became good friends with my husband’s childhood best friend. So for this party, while my husband took pictures, Emerson and I attended as guests. And while I would consider these people my friends, and even those in attendance I don’t know well I find to be incredibly nice and friendly, I do feel a bit shy and awkward around them. I may seem very outgoing on the blog, but I do get a bit of anxiety when I am in unfamiliar situations, and it’s usually because I know I am not outgoing, not polished, and prone to catastrophes.

They had a Slip and Slide in the front yard and Emerson wanted to go in. I didn’t think we’d be going in the pool at this party and didn’t bring suits for us. But how do you say no to a four year old who sees all the other kids running around in the water? Emerson dressed herself for the party which meant she was wearing multiple layers (she can’t just wear a dress, it has to be a dress with a skirt and bike shorts or leggings underneath). I took off her sundress, hiked her skirt up like a tube top and left her bike shorts so she could play with the other kids. I felt resourceful, she had a blast, all was well. Then everyone decided to head into the backyard to go in the pool.

I didn’t have a suit on, so I told Emerson she couldn’t go in the pool. We had a discussion and agreed she could go in but would stay on the steps. I sat on the side with her for a bit, but there were a couple other kids hanging out on the stairs so I stepped back to allow her to socialize. She walked down one step, another, and then slipped and went underwater. It was shallow enough that the pool wouldn’t be over her head but she was freaked and couldn’t get her footing and the lifeguard in me kicked in, I jumped in the pool in my dress and pulled her out. I carried her to a bench to calm her and check on her. Though she was obviously okay by the volume of her crying, in my head I was thinking about this story. I calmed her, she said she wanted to go inside. I said we couldn’t because she and I were both sopping wet. She asked for us to go home, I said we couldn’t but did she want to go take a walk to the front yard where we could dry off in the sunshine and be alone for a moment. She agreed. We went to the front yard where I sat with my skirt around me trying to dry it in the sun, she danced around in the pooled water at the bottom of the Slip and Slide. And that was when I realized I had jumped in the pool with my iPhone in my pocket. I took off the cover and let it sun next to me, but could see the condensation in the camera and under the glass.

After a bit, my dress was no longer sopping so we went into the back, I changed Emerson into her dress and asked the host to use his dryer to dry her skirt, bike shorts, and underwear. Emerson played with a dollhouse, but was obviously not feeling good. Her nose started running again, she sounded all stuffed up, she said water tasted bad and didn’t want to eat. She was getting cranky, and wasn’t playing nice with other kids. She asked if she could go to the potty with me, and in there she said she didn’t have to go potty but wanted to talk with privacy and told me she didn’t feel good and felt sad and wanted to go home right away. Unfortunately we couldn’t leave since Karl was working, but we discussed what would make her feel better. She said she wanted to play with me, and wanted to be in the sunny room (luckily the one with the most toys in it). So I got on the floor in my damp dress and played castle while every other adult had adult conversations drinking adult drinks in adult poses.

Karl checked on me and told the host I had jumped in the pool with my phone so he put my phone in a cup of rice to help it out. I felt like such a goober, lying on the floor of their living room with frizzy hair and a damp wrinkled dress, playing with Emerson and a handful of two-year olds. Emerson had green snot coming out of her nose and the cloth wipe I was using previously was went since it too was in my pocket so I was using a flannel rag I had in my purse which was frayed on the side and faded and I know these people thought me batty for not just using a paper Kleenex or toilet paper.

Emerson was getting testy, sick of playing with these little kids. She started getting bossy and yelling at them. I brought her over to the couch to talk to her. She said she hated it there and wanted to leave. I had decided at the top of the hour we could leave without it seeming as though Karl shirked his duties. 30 more minutes, 30 more minutes. And then the heavens opened and an angel with the name Emilie came down. This little girl came into the play room and picked up a mini Magnadoodle and came over to Emerson and pretending to be a waitress, asked her what she wanted for dinner. She brought Emerson tea and pizza from the play kitchen. Emerson thanked her and it was off to the races. They were playing princess castle and kitchen and running around telling everyone they were best friends and going to have a play date and a sleepover.

I got myself a beer.

I went outside, and tried to talk to adults sitting in adult seats drinking my adult beverage but it had been three hours of a sick miserable child and I was chilled to the bone (hello wet synthetic underwear in air conditioning) and just done and I think the lovely people at the party found me strange and at that point I was too tired to give a fuck. I tried to have a pleasant face and make pleasant conversation, and watched Emerson wipe snot across her cheek and see her hair get stuck in it as she laughed and chased her new friend across the yard. I thought of how we were in the front yard together and she pulled me to look her in the face and she said, “Mommy you protected me.” And I told her I would always protect her. She then apologized for ruining my dress, and I reminded her it was an accident, and she is more important than any dress. And I wondered if jumping in the pool with my phone was on purpose, the whole everything happens for a reason. To be more present, to spend more quality time with this child, and less with dresses. To have her always know that she is more important than any dress, and that I will always be there to protect her.

And then, it was time to go home. Karl had gotten whatever cold Emerson had, I was utterly exhausted, and Emerson was obviously exhausted but on a high from playing with her new friend. She got her goodie bag, thanked the hosts, and took the long car ride home. When Emerson asked if she could have McDonald’s for dinner, though she had eaten cake and drank juice, we didn’t refuse. We all were looking forward to some fries and a clean kitchen.

The entire ride home, and the whole evening my body wanted to cry. It wanted to sob, and I wasn’t sure why. Emerson ended up having a good day, she went to bed happy and told me it was the best day ever. Karl said he got some amazing shots. And me… well it was just a typical day in the world of Alison, where a catastrophe always follows me. Lying in bed, Karl said he was right there when the pool situation went down, I could have just grabbed her from the side and not jumped in. But my instinct was to get in so I could pull her up, not grab and possibly drag her down. He reminded me that the host was right there in the pool, he could have gotten Emerson, she just needed a hand to right herself. But I saw a panicked child, my child, and knew a stranger may not realize how terrified she is of getting her face wet and going completely underwater would freak her out enough that she may not be able to be easily righted. But I am always the one who does something like forgets a swimsuit, tells a dirty joke to a conservative audience, or spends an entire day in a wet dress from jumping in to get her kid in 3’ water. I’m the one with the smeared lipstick who is gnawing on her nails, who has a run in her tights and a coffee stain on her blouse. I’m the one who loses her keys, gets to dinner and realizes she left her check card at home, trips on her hem and falls in the middle of Connecticut Avenue at rush hour.

I am no longer 25 where being a klutz can be passed off as cute. I can’t just say I’m Allie and I’m a catastrophe, ha ha. I’m 38, and I am the mother to a very wonderful person, I don’t want to be the joke in her bestselling memoir. I’m working on quitting the nail biting habit by getting regular manicures and taking NAC. I make more lists so I can be prepared better for situations and not forget events on my schedule. I try to slow down and think before I speak and act. I’m tired of being the catastrophe. It’s not cute, it’s not charming, it’s not funny, and it’s not a way to live a life, especially when I have another life to protect.

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  1. We just had another big party here at the house. I am a grandma now. But, I am astonished that NO ONE is playing with the kids or even aware of what they’re doing. And mostly, it seems, the bored kids are in my house – destroying it. Food everywhere, movies and their cases made into stepping stones, toys, drinks pecariously sitting on every horizontal surface. My husband tells me that I need to police them while they are here. And I’ve tried before. But it means that I never get outside to the party because I have to be inside running a child care center. It’s just weird and it makes me very cranky. So, from a grandma, thank you for pulling yourself away from the adult party and listening to your child! It’s not always fun being a mommy. But as you clearly heard from your daughter, she needed you!

    As far as clumsy, stains, rips, tumbles…..I’m 54. Still doing all the above. But what I have learned from my years as a professional in youth development is that pre-teens and teens are desperate to see us. They have thousands of role models who are perfect plus every media representation of perfect. It’s us who are very imperfect who tend to hide and not want to be copied. Like we are not good enough. Then we wonder why they feel not good enough. It’s not fair to them. Now, I let them see me. I learned that I need to step up today and say, “I’m still working on it and it’s okay.” You can feel their reaction. Nearly every other adult in their life is trying to sell them the myth. They connect quickly to an honest adult when they come across one in the wild!

  2. Oh I feel bad for you! Can’t argue with motherhood instincts, they won’t lead you astray. I can absolutely imagine jumping in the water to rescue my daughter (14 months old). My mother did the same thing for me when I was little, and she was pregnant at the time. I’m surprised no one at the party offered any help after that, it would have been quite a shock to both of you. Sounds like it was awkward because they weren’t very friendly.

  3. Having older kids who have weathered many storms I do think you were being over protective. But easy to say those things in hind site.
    What I do highly respect is your willingness to be so frank, however uncool it makes you appear. I read many a fashion blog (hello target inner circle, pick Allie next time) where the ladies must spend serious time spinning their life stories to be nothing short of sheer perfection. I agree I much more enjoy reading about someone real.
    I hope the advertisers you work with can appreciate that fact.

  4. Allie, I am late to this party as we were on vacation, and I hadn’t checked your blog in a few days ( I usually visit you with my morning coffee ). Girl, I heard every word you wrote. I won’t go into detail about my own multitude of awkward life moments, but suffice it to say, I know what it is like to feel “Beverly Hillbilly” in a world of Gwyneth Paltrows, it ain’t for wimps, girl. ;). But can I just say this? I would rather talk to and get to know a house full of Allies any day of the week. You rock. Don’t forget it.

  5. I can only say that you trusted your instinct, period. What could have been is in the past.

  6. I would have been in that pool in a second! I’m so scared of having my kids around water. You absolutely did the right thing. If that happened at my house I would have offered you some dry clothes, whether I knew you that well or not. Sorry you were stuck there, that doesn’t sound fun at all:(

    1. The hosts are amazing people and they did ask if I was okay but they had a ton of people over, their own child who was having her birthday, and events scheduled throughout the day. They did check on me, and I must say if I wasn’t having a bad day the party would have been quite lovely for both me and Emerson!

  7. Ali, I haven’t commented on this entry because it has taken me a few days to process what I wanted to say…. I think one of the most amazing things a blogger can be is transparent. Not a photo-shopped version of themselves, their lives, and their family. But the real, bumpy, messy rawness that is life. A life well lived will not be one where your dress never gets messed or you never embarrass yourself. Or at least, for me it wouldn’t be. I have always pictured you as a very put together woman. That is the face you present here, it is your professional self and your professional side. But you have also always been honest. This post reaffirms that you are real. That you are more than a picture of a beautiful woman in lovely clothes. You are the mom that jumps in the pool. You are the awkward joke teller. You are a person I could get along with in real life, and that is a huge thing for a reader of a blog to feel. You shared your story and I think your blog has never been better.

  8. ,,,oh allie, you did the right thing jumping in after your child. the very thing any parent who is watching their child around water would do. the dress, the phone can be replaced. but…emerson she cannot. cheers to what appears to have been a nice day afterall. (smile),,,

  9. Allie,

    I sent you another message earlier today but it seems to have vanished. At any rate, you are fabulous and plenty of us think so. Look how many supportive messages you got!

    Love and Hugs,


  10. Awww, we all feel like that sometimes. You are not alone and you did your best. Your daughter felt protected and that is all that matters!

  11. You are being a waaaaay to hard on yourself! Of course you jumped in to help your 4 year old! What would any mom (or in my case, auntie) do? It made my heart hurt to hear you doubt yourself. You’re human, just like the rest of us and I doubt anyone noticed anything amiss. Hugs.

  12. Alison, you’re a wonderful human being, a devoted mom, and a good person! Sounds like you had a crappy couple of days – I hope this week is better! My friend told me last week (when I was down on myself too) that I must feel better, and it’s my choice. So I urge you to feel better! (with love!)

  13. Hugs and smooches to you, Allie. You are not alone; I too am the klutzy one. At a buffet, I always drop something on the floor. At events, I can’t juggle a drink, my purse and a handshake. I’ve even ripped the back of flowy skirt by stepping on it trying to stand and shake someone’s hand! I was mortified, to say the least! But, I’ve learned to laugh at myself and not take everything so seriously. People may remember the incident, but in your case, they’ll remember a caring mom and not a dripping wet klutz. In the not too distance future, you’ll be laughing at this tale too.

    1. Your story totally resonated with me. I remember being a bridesmaid in a wedding, the first one to walk down the aisle and I got my heel caught in the chiffon overlay of the dress, tore it and fell as soon as I walked in the sanctuary. I remember, and I remember there was NOT a videographer and I don’t think anyone else does remember. And yes, being able to laugh at it is the best thing! 🙂

  14. I am that. I am the person who trips and scrapes my knee when I’m wearing a shorter dress, who gets pooped on by a bird, gets some weird rash when I’m meeting people for the first time. I NEVER look “polished.” And yet I am not one of those gorgeous gazellecreatures who populate my mountain town, the ones who look amazing in a basic stretchy dress and no makeup and a dazzling smaile and tan strong arms. Know what I mean?
    But I’m usually OK with me.
    But I totally have days like yours….
    Go easy on yourself. I recommend a frosty margarita. 🙂

  15. Hi Allison, I’ve been reading for ages but have never commented. I wish I could give you a huge hug, friend. You are an amazing mama. Not a catastrophe. You are beautiful and honest. Not a catastrophe. You are a gifted writer. Not a catastrophe. You are a loving wife. Not a catastrophe. You had a bad day – not a bad life. You got this, sister. Don’t get down on yourself about this. You were protecting your child – instinct kicked in. You are amazing. Don’t forget it.

  16. I know you are receiving a ton of rightfully positive and supportive comments, and I am so glad you are — and just want to add in my own: parenting is a messy, unpredictable business, and the hardest days are the ones we end up laughing about the most and the ones our kids ultimately appreciate the most.

    And also – I have the klutz gene — in fact I often marvel that you wear white pants, and I have thought of getting them but don’t because I just know I will sit in or bump into something within seconds of putting them on! Point in case: my husband and I recently had a rare day to ourselves downtown, I was feeling grown up and sophisticated, and we’re leaving a building and what do I do? Walk straight into a plate-glass window I thought was a sliding door — luckily the door did not shatter but I still have a giant bruise on my forehead. Life/shit happens! How we pick ourselves up and move on is the true test of grace.
    But I also agree with the advice that slowing down can often alleviate some of this klutziness, e.g., locating what is in fact the door and walking through it!

    1. Yes, white pants or white clothes in general, have a cosmic affinity for red pasta sauce and chocolate. Then only question is how many milliseconds will it take for the white clothes and the food to come together.


  17. Ugh, Allie. That just sucks infinitely. I agree with everybody else, I think you’re being a bit hard on yourself. But I know how it feels and once you get into that spiral of “ohmygod that was horrible, everyone thinks I’m a looney-toon”, it’s practically impossible to get out. My only consolation to offer is this: being at a party with your children is a lot like wearing a bathing suit in public. You’re so consumed with anxiety and convinced that everyone is looking at you and judging, but in reality, everyone else is too busy dealing with their own sh*t. If I had been there dealing with my toddler, I *might* have noticed that you fell in the pool, but only if I had been looking right at you at the time. More likely, we would have gotten in the car to go home and my husband would go, “Did you see that lady fall in the pool?” and I would have said, “No…is that a McDonald’s? I’m f*cking starving.”

  18. I wish I could give you a hug right now…this too shall pass and I am sure you were a hero in your daughter’s eyes. This will serve you well in those teenage years, by then the people at the party my not even remember your name or that you were there, definitely not that you were dripping wet. If this can be a consolation, I once spent a morning drying in the sun next to some obnoxious people pool in Greece: I was working as an au pair with a very nice family and one of my task was to teach a 3 year old to swim (the 5 year old already could). That specific morning we were visiting another family and I went into the pool with the girls as I would have at home. But an elderly lady from the host family came to tell me that “the help” was not allowed into the pool, I was mortified and had to spend what seemed like an eternity drying in the sun near the pool (I had to watch the girls).

  19. Every polished person you know has shitty days like that…..Every. last. one. What will be remembered in family history, in her memoir, is that she was lucky enough to have the kind of mother that didnt give a shit whether or not her hair or her dress would get wet when it mattered. The kind that knew how scared she would have been to get her face wet. My mother was so shy, so awkward at times. But she was and is the most intuitive and kind person I know. The kind that would understand a moment like that and the impact on me so well. That is what Emerson will remember, I bet.

  20. I resonate with this so much. (First time commenter, btw). I don’t have kids, but I consistently feel like the one that did something stupid, said the wrong thing, or just generally stuck out like a sore thumb. And I don’t know how to make it better. So I have no advice, but thank you so much for sharing this story. I wish we could have a klutz club and share these stories in person while we all collectively spill coffee on ourselves 🙂

  21. Chin up fabulous woman!

    This wasn’t a catastrophe and nothing about you (or anyone else) is always.

    Thinking this about yourself, or hearing it from husband, isn’t helpful.

    1. I think it was especially hard because he was working and wanted to leave a good impression on his clients and the guests who could be future clients. It wasn’t a typical party, but a professional setting. But we have gotten over it, it will now be something we laugh about 🙂

  22. I am so sorry you had such a bad day and you are feeling like this. I suppose we all feel that way at one time or another, but you are one of the last people I would expect it from. You are a total inspiration to thousands of people who don’t even know you. You have a successful career, a happy child and a seemingly happy partnership with your husband. If you were a catastrophe, we wouldn’t be reading this story. You are the opposite of a catastrophe, and thesaurus.com says that is one of the following: benefit, blessing, favor, good fortune, good luck, happiness, miracle, success, wonder. That’s what you are.

  23. First, you are not a joke or a catastrophe. Isn’t it funny how we assess things ? If someone had drowned ( God forbid ), you would have been called a heroine. But because everything was ok, you feel silly. You shouldn’t , you were very, very brave. But maybe I am projecting. 🙂 A few years ago, at the end of a pool party when everyone had gotten into their street clothes, an autistic boy went into the pool, grabbed a floatie and started drifting to the middle where he couldn’t reach botton. While his mom sent out a long, pool cleaning thing for him to grab, he just didn’t have the wherewithal. I jumped in fully clothed, he tried to get on my shoulders and kept pushing me under. When I finally got him out, he started hitting and kicking me. Then, I had to go straight to my parents’ house to take my sick mom to the doctor, soaking wet, with no skirt on..because it was hanging out the window to dry and hoping that the police wouldn’t stop me. For two years, every time the boy saw me he cringed and cried and pointed and sometimes tried to kick me. I stopped explaining to adults around us why he was behaving that way whenever he saw me. ( I volunteered at his school a lot . ) But you know what ? I felt like a super hero. And I hope that someone would do the same for my child….and I know for a fact that you WOULD. That makes me grateful for you. XXXXXXXX

      1. So are you !!! You made me proud. 🙂 BTW, the boy’s mother said to me after we both got out of the pool, ” You probably didn’t have to do that. ”
        ROFL !!!!!

  24. We women tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard than anyone else does. It is a blessing as well as a curse. Having high standards and expectations can spur us on to greater heights and allow us to accomplish so much more than we even thought possible. But it can also cause us to be hyper-critical of ourselves for our perceived shortcomings. We have an idealized version of ourselves that we allow to live, rent free, in our heads. Mine was absolutely perfect in every way. She was calm, and graceful, and organized, and seemed to float through life effortlessly. And she had great hair. Always with the great hair. For years that bitch made my life absolutely miserable, until I finally evicted her. The happiest day of my life was when she packed up her princess crown and hit the road. Allie, you are a good person. Good, kind, ethical, honest, and decent. And loving. Don’t forget the loving. These things are the only ones that matter. All the rest? Nice to have, but not essential. Years and years from now when you are gone, and your daughter is old and gray, what do you suppose Emerson will remember about you? Not that you had smudged lipstick or sometimes were late for appointments. She’ll remember the love.

  25. Being human is the worst thing ever.

    I am sorry you are feeling this way, but to me you are just Allie, perfectly imperfect, a wonderful mom and my friend.

  26. You sound so sad, and it breaks my heart. Reading this, I just want to give you a big bear hug. I am so glad to see others have rushed to support you here, too, because all I see in this story is a very caring mother, not a catastrophe. I really admire how strong you are, and I admire you all the more for letting us in at a time you don’t feel strong. I hope you feel better soon, and know that we all think you’re wonderful.

  27. It is nice to see something real in the blogosphere. Bravo. Don’t get so down on yourself. Everyone is awkward. it happens.

    1. Thanks Chrissy! And that’s a big reason why I shared it. It’s so easy to paint a perfect picture on a blog, the blogger has the control what to share and how. I am FAR from perfect, and sometimes I have a crappy day (or week, or month), but I know others do too. It’s nice to have such a great community to share reality and have such an outpouring of support! 🙂

  28. I assume this party was too far from home for you to leave and come back with your suit or to get your husband when it was over. An adult at a pool party could probably sit by the side and chat, but with a child not having a suit winging it for an entire afternoon/evening would have been a trial.

    I probably would have taken the opportunity to remember some pressing errand and have spirited my kid off with promises of a treat someplace where water clothes weren’t required, and then returned to get Dad afterwards.
    Sometimes the way to avoid bad situations where you know the cards are all stacked against you, particularly with small children in tow, is to rely on your instinct and pass up the situation all together. Usually people who do a token. “oh we missed you” but in reality they were pretty wrapped up in their own role in the situation, and won’t hold it against you.
    To bad about the phone – I don’t think anybody in their right mind would stop and say, “oh look, my child is underwater, let me empty my pockets before I pull her out!”

    1. The party was over an hour away from our home and in a very rural area where shopping was likely 15 minutes away and I didn’t know the area at all. And the last thing I wished to do while my husband was working was leave and freak him out. So yeah, things happened as they did and likely no one remembers it except me 🙂

  29. Another lurker, adding to the fray….
    Not only do I second what everyone else said, I want to tell you a true story. My parents were hosting a party in their backyard in which the children were playing in their backyard pool. I was watching the pool for my parents while my own children napped inside with my husband because a few of the parents invited are notoriously uncautious with their little ones. The mother of one of the children put her in a floaty suit, dropped her off the side, and walked away with her back turned to the child (age 3). The child immediately began to roll, flapping her arms, and was never able to right herself in the water. I saw and yelled out the child’s name. The mother, who was sitting only a few feet away facing away from the pool, never even turned around. Within seconds, the child got the glazed, panicked look in her eyes, her face froze, and she went limp with the next flip, remaining facedown in the water. I was already running in that direction when one of the teenagers jumped over top of me to grab the child. She was very frightened, but ok, but heaven only knows what would have happened in another 15 seconds. Drowning is so quick. My mother saw the whole thing happen from her porch about 25 feet away, and she says, a) the whole event took place over approximately 30 seconds, and b) the mother never even looked at her child. Other people there took the child to her grandparents to watch afterward.

    I tell that ridiculous, stupid story only to say this. YOU have nothing to be embarrassed about. In a moment where your little one truly needed you, your inner superhero mama came roaring out without hesitation. A woman who ought to be ashamed is the woman I told you about above (and yes, I do judge her shamelessly). Please don’t be hard on yourself about this day. And, one more thing, I went from being one of those cool-as-a-cucumbers to a hot mess after my daughters were born. Then, one day when the youngest was about 5, I suddenly realized that I had myself (mostly) back together again. The difference is that I like the new me better. I’m not as much of an ice princess, but that’s ok because where some of the old cool seems to be gone for good, the fire in its place is even better.

    1. Thank you Lacy, and thank you for sharing that story. I think one of the best things about blogging and the comments is sharing life stories and having us all realize we’re not so strange or odd and there’s others who can relate. <3

  30. Allie, I am also a follower who rarely comments. I agree with everyone else’s comments, to be kind to yourself. My hubbie has disasters because he’s always rushing, and I have to remind him to s l o w. d o w n. As a good Mom, you took care of your child’s needs, and gave her a happy experience. And, I noticed that no one else noticed E’s distress, or you would not have been in the pool to begin with. I might tell hubby kindly that his hindsight was hurtful, as is his calling you disaster prone. In fact, I might mention that I never want to hear him say that again! A hear-to-heart that you understood the whole spectrum of your child’s needs and talked to her about ways to feel better, and that was the story that he seems to have missed with his drama theory. Men! They really sometimes just do not get it. This incident was not the 5% disaster that another commenter alluded to about perfectionists, but is the 95% that you handled extremely well!

  31. For what it’s worth, I’d rather have a mother/friend/aunt/etc. who was herself, not perfect, but perfectly human. The things we see as flaws make us human. You’re an inspiration to many, just because you don’t pretend to be anyone else but you. I for one have learned a lot about apprecciating me and my body by reading your blog. That’s not something someone “perfect” would’ve accomplished since their stories wouldn’t be something I could relate to.
    Not everyone would’ve shared the above story with us. You did, because you’re authentic. In my opinion that is heck of a more relatable and therefore more valuable than always being poised and handling all situations well. You rock, Allison!

  32. Awww c’mon Alison … Child care and adult activities rarely co-exist in comfortable harmony. One or the other, please. What others might think of you is irrelevant, and 38 is still
    young. You are perfectly lovely the way you are, but if it would bring you
    happiness to change all the things you mention as negatives? Only one behavior
    needs adjustment.


    It’s going to happen
    to you anyway…eventually. Nature slows down older people. If you want to feel
    more graceful immediately, use your brain to slow your physical self. Think
    before you act or speak. Problem solved 😉

  33. Another long-time reader, infrequent commenter. But this post has stuck in my head all day, because I am one of ‘these people’ like you (36, white collar professional, mom to 5 1/2 yo daughter). Also a certified klutz who is unlikely to outgrow it. I have the constantly changing bruises and scars to prove it. 🙂

    Two things stood out to me. First, there’s nothing wrong with your mama-bear instincts. Being a mother is different from being a father. You did what you felt you had to do. There’s no shame in that. E is clearly (from your posts) well-adjusted, happy, healthy. Clearly you’re doing the right things. Keep it up!

    Second was the ‘judging’ feeling. I dunno, but if these people were supposed to be judging you for having a kid and acting like a mom, whatever way works for you, maybe their opinion doesn’t matter. Really, if that’s their reaction, nothing you do will please them. I catch myself doing this and on better days I step back and realize that: either they are folks I don’t like anyway, or that I jumped to the wrong conclusion.

    Sending many warm thoughts and hugs your way. I think we’ve all been there one time or another. Four can be hard, that cusp between toddler and kid.

    1. I think the reason it bothered me so much is because while I am friendly with these folks, my husband was there for work and Emerson and I were a reflection on him. I didn’t want potential future clients of his (for he has gotten gigs from these folks’ friends) to think he’s a hot mess because his wife is. But they were all such nice people now looking back I doubt it would do that. 🙂

  34. I applaud you for being so self-reflective! We learn from our 20-20 hindsight when we are willing to see. That said, I too would have jumped right into the pool. I had a similar experience. The look on my son’s face as he slipped under water haunts me still. Nothing, especially not social norms or common sense, is going to stop me from helping my child when he appears to be in danger. I really appreciate your blog.

  35. I’m so sorry you are feeling down. I think the situation was compounded by you not knowing the people there well; I imagine if you were with your own friends and family that this would have just been a funny incident and there would have been more people helping out with Emerson. I hope after you dry off, and get a good night of sleep that you can see this for what it is – a charming, sweet and funny story you will all remember and tell to each other through the years.

    1. Quite true, if it were my closest friends they would all laugh about it, but with acquaintances, especially ones that have hired my husband and guests who would possibly hire him based upon his work at this shoot it made me feel all the more awkward. As someone said above, life is messy! 🙂

  36. Thank you for sharing with us. We’ve been spending a lot of time at the pol this summer, so I related to your story, and I could just feel Emerson’s panic. And I know that in the situation, I would react the same way.

    Also, I am happy(?), or maybe relieved, to hear that you too struggle in social situations. I swear I am ALWAYS the mom hanging out with the kids- I am so awkward and shy with people I don’t know.

    1. Yeah, I was a bit hesitant to share this fearing people would think I am depressed or feel the need to give me advice, but the main reason was because I know I am not the only one like this. So many bloggers paint this perfect picture but I think the majority of bloggers are a tad socially inept and that’s why we flourish behind the keyboard. 🙂

  37. I’ve also never commented before, but just have to empathize. So often I feel like the mess following my needy kids around at a party when everyone else seems to be having fun. It saps all my energy and makes me want to cry. Because although I do want to socialize and have fun, making conversation when I feel so awkward is incredibly hard for me too. So I’m stuck feeling generally awful.

    Your daughter will remember you saving her (I still remember my dad doing the same thing). And not only saving her, but being with her and playing with her and paying attention to her while you were personally feeling all that discomfort. You’re a hero in more ways than one.

  38. I completely agree with what others have said. But, for the record, why can’t you pull it off as a quirky trait??!?! Sometimes all your idiosyncrasies make an appearance at the same time and you can only be you!

    1. Eh… you all only see so much on this blog and I have to say I am more awkward than quirky. I have mastered laughing it off and making it quirky but I am finding it to be less charming and accepted as I age. You can laugh off falling in the middle of traffic and tearing your dress pants when you’re young and made of rubber but when you’re older people freak out and think you had a stroke or are crazy. Just working on finding that balance. I will never be perfect and never ever wish to be, just want to be a bit more balanced 🙂

  39. First time commenter: You are being far, far too hard on yourself. You are probably the only one who notices half these things (i.e. the run in the hose) and from the description of your day, it sounds like you handled an incredibly restrictive situation (trapped at a party with a sick kid and wet clothing) with style and elan. You’re not a catastrophe; you’re a perfectionist who’s getting hung up on the 5% of the time when you don’t have it nailed. Believe you me, everyone else notices the 95%.

    p.s. As a fellow lifeguard and a mother, I absolutely understand where you were coming from. It’s hard to remember “Reach, throw, tow, go” when it’s your baby.

    1. I also wanted to add: I have wavy hair that frizzes if you look at it funny. I’ve just gotten to the point where I figure, eff it, it’s my signature, like Carrie Donovan’s giant glasses or Carine Roitfeld’s raccoon eyeliner.

  40. Please don’t EVER apologize for being a protective, aware, PRESENT mom. The world would be boring if we were all polished and “together”… or at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m surrounded by my very polished, brilliant friends, who love me as I am.

  41. You’re an amazing mother, full of love and caring. There’s nothing wrong or klutzy about you! And you’re setting a wonderful example for E., that material things don’t matter, people do. Brava to you and big hugs xoxoxoxo

  42. I love your blog but never comment. Now I just want to send you a hug and tell you to be kinder to yourself xxx

  43. I second pretty much what everyone has written so far – you are such an incredible mother to Emerson, and she’ll absolutely remember that you jumped in the water to save her for the rest of her life. So what if you’re clumsy or misunderstood or feel awkward in social situations? You have things that many people dream of: you’re strong, confident, relatable, feisty, and an all-around excellent role model for what it means to be a woman in today’s day and age. Karl is a lucky man to have you as a partner, and I can’t imagine a more perfect mother for Emerson.

    I’m so glad Emerson is okay – to me, that’s the bottom line 🙂 Mama Bear saved the day!

  44. Alison, catastrophe doesn’t follow you…you’re a real person and that’s why I, and many others I suspect, love reading your blog. You saved the day for your little girl, not because you got her out of the pool, but because you didn’t let it ruin her day. You gave her the confidence to carry on and enjoy the day despite the little disasters and importantly go to bed happy.

    When she is 38 she will be a lovely woman who knows that tripping on your hem, getting the tenor of a situation wrong, or being misunderstood by people are just those little disasters of life and she’ll have the ability to pick herself up and carry on with a shrug of the shoulders.

    Please don’t be so down on yourself, I wish you were a friend in real life, and round the corner rather than across the Atlantic because I know I would like you and together we could have a beer and laugh about the stupid things we both manage to do.

    Be nice to yourself….you’re great xxxx

  45. Agreed – you are being way too self-critical! But I think we are all happy to reassure you that it is totally normal to feel this way. Everyone feels awkward like this from time to time. It’s important to share those feelings, too, so we all feel less alone.

  46. You are e one who is a good mother to Emerson. You are the one who is a good wife to Karl. A sister to you sister. A friend to your friends. And don’t even get me started on what you do for all of us, your readers !

    You are the one who jumped in to the pool to help your daughter even though you had on a dress and an iPhone in your pocket.

    In my book, it is how people act as parents that says the most about them. All of the above are the things that really, really matter.

    Yes, it would be so lovely to be graceful and remember everything all the time. And it sounds like you are just feeling frustrated with the day in general, which I totally get. I will issue a challenge though: this is the 3rd or 4th time that I’ve read a post dealing with themes of wondering if the pace of your lifestyle might be too fast. So, I would challenge you to think about whether you can/should make changes in that regard.

    Here’s hoping that you and Emerson are having a lovely morning snuggling on the couch and that you feel the Light today.

  47. What an amazing woman you are! You took wonderful care of your daughter, and unfortunately, sacrificed some of your own fun to do so. What could you have done differently? borrowed a swimsuit for your daughter? brought more kleenex? left your iphone in your purse? You handled the day perfectly, as life is messy and children are unpredictable. Iphones get wet and dunked all the time.

    I would have jumped in, too, and ruined my outfit. So, what did you learn? Always bring extra clothes when water is involved?

    I know what you mean, as I am a bit of a mess myself, too. But what if we all were engineer types? The world needs you! Just as you are, so don’t be so hard on yourself. xoxo

  48. Allie- We all have days like this. Even Jennifer Anniston has days like this. Your “Mother Instinct” trumps any other logical explanation of how you could have retrieved Emerson. Even if the entire cast of Bay Watch was standing by the pool, you would have jumped in to save your baby.
    If it will make you feel better, I will tell you a little story. Two weeks ago, I was vacationing at my son’s lovely Boston apartment. When I go to Boston, I try to behave like the sophisticated, elegant 64 year old that I imagine myself to be (not!). I decided to take an early morning Sunday walk down by the docks. Unfortunately, when I got there, I tripped and went sprawling across the pavement. I was so happy that it was Sunday and very few people were around. After I assessed the damage, I rolled to my side to get up. Lo and behold, I had fallen next to the whale watching boat getting ready to launch with all the passengers on deck watching my performance. So much for looking like the senior Carrie Bradshaw. Life just happens, my dear, to all of us.

  49. You are way too hard on yourself! Life is messy. 🙂 I think that your daughter will appreciate having a real-life mom instead of a seemingly perfect mom. I love your blog because you are real and wonderful; if you seemed perfect, then I would hate it. 🙂 Keep being you!

    1. Allie, I read this post and I wanted to just hug you…You present the most sympathetic, compassionate, loving reponses in your blog…Your love of your sweet little munchkin is just awesome…And here, you are just being so hard on you…You did what you did as part of just being human…I have done just such seeming to be klutzy things…But the underlying motivation is Allie the wonderful Mom, wife and friend to those of us who read your blog..I will bet you money that the people at the party saw only a sweet concerned mom who paid special attention to her child…Again hugs to you…You are awesome!

  50. Thank God for the Emilie’s in the world, eh? As for the rest of your day, it sounds like it totally sucked. I could say that I think you’re wonderful just the way you are – you’re a loving wife, mother, and daughter and in my mind that’s the best thing a person can be. But I also know exactly how you feel, and I totally empathise. I have days when I’m the person with a Dora sticker stuck to her butt, with rain-frizzed hair, or I just did a stinky fart and someone just walked into the room. Hope tomorrow’s a better day, hon. XOXO

  51. Oh Allie, sad to hear you being so down on yourself. :(. I had to jump in a pool after my daughter when she was a bit older than Emerson. She was in the deep end and I would have ruined every dress in my wardrobe to save her. She still remembers that I saved her and always will.

    1. I think I was so down because it was a culmination of so many things that week, and this was the crappy cherry on top. After some time away, I know it was the right thing I did and I know E will remember that. THANK YOU <3

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