My 12-Year-Old Self

Recently I had the pleasure of talking to Allison Tate, a widely respected editor and writer who, at 40, seems wise beyond her years. Her writing has gone viral over and over again not only because it’s beautifully written, but also because she knows things.

I soak up everything she says like a big nerdy sponge.

We were talking about goals and being happy with where you are in life. She suggested thinking about how your 12-year-old self would feel about where you are right now. Would she be happy with what you’ve achieved? Would she be proud?

I have spent the past week reflecting on this. If someone threw out the question “Are you happy?” I would say yes without thinking. Of course I’m happy! I’ve always been happy. It would be weird to have a name like Harmony and be a sullen bitch.

But in the day-to-day grind, I’m not sure that I am happy, not really. I feel frustrated and dissatisfied for reasons I’m unable to pinpoint. I’m tired of being broke. I’m tired of cleaning up puddles of pee. I’m anxious to get all of my kids in school so I can devote more time to freelancing, which will hopefully translate into money. Or maybe I need to find a real job where I can do real things without little people following behind me, immediately undoing them.

One afternoon this week, my three-year-old accidentally peed all over the bathroom floor. Thankful he at least made it to the bathroom, I mopped it all up while he changed into clean clothes.  Approximately 20 minutes later, he asked for some lemonade.

By this point in the day, I was desperate for peace and I didn’t care that the baby was playing with plastic sandwich bags in the kitchen; I stepped over them and poured him a cup full of lemonade.

I was just turning around to remind him to be careful when he stepped in the pile of bags and slipped, slinging lemonade into the air and landing on his arm, which I was sure was broken. Blood poured out of his mouth as he screamed. Lemonade dripped into my cabinets and drawers.

His little sister ignored it all and kept playing.

20150430_170626The arm was not broken, and the blood was coming from his tongue. He was fine. Approximately 20 minutes later, he had another accident in the bathroom. This time, he carefully covered the enormous puddle with thin layers of toilet paper.

“I trying to clean it up, Mommy,” he explained when I walked in. A valiant effort, which I thanked him for as I gathered wads of pee-soaked tissue off the floor.

Maybe the real issue is that I am done with childbearing and now I just want to move on to the next phase of my life, where afternoons like the one I just described don’t happen anymore. Don’t say it — I know these challenges will be replaced with bigger ones. I like to believe that I am better-equipped to cope with older kid problems than potty training problems. I am so over potty training problems.

So why can’t I just settle into to life as it is, right now, and be satisfied with it?

I did what Allison suggested, and thought about what my 12-year-old self would think. I can barely remember being 12, so I pulled out some pictures to jog my memory.


In all my 12-year-old glory.

I had a perm and glasses that covered my whole face. I was embarrassed of my changing body and wore the biggest clothes I could find to cover it up. I was awkward, smart, and a voracious reader. I still played with dolls and I didn’t want my friends to know. I loved music. I looked to be about 40 years old.

So basically, not a lot has changed.

Then I found this picture of me opening a typewriter. I had forgotten that my parents gave me a typewriter the Christmas that I was 12.

20150502_085202~2I was a writer then and I am a writer now. Also, try not to be jealous of my air-brushed sweatshirt.

My 12-year-old self would not only be happy with where I am, she would be in AWE OF IT. I am happily married with three beautiful children, I sometimes write things that get published, and I have discovered contact lenses.

My 12-year-old self would eye roll me for being dissatisfied with where I am. I deserve to be eye rolled.

Amy Poehler wrote in her memoir Yes Please, “Success is filled with MSG,” meaning that no matter how much of it you get, you’re left wanting more. This is the root of my dissatisfaction, in addition to the fact that no matter how many times I clean up pee, more seems to appear.

Maybe my 12-year-old self wouldn’t have minded cleaning up pee. Her knees certainly weren’t as creaky.

(If you liked this post, then you will LOVE I Still Just Want To Pee Alone! Click here to find out more!)

Courage Is Being Scared To Death.


First of all, I did a podcast interview about 6 weeks ago (remember that?) and it’s now live and available for listening to!

Yikes. All the yikes.

I was in the middle of Target yesterday when I got the notification that it was live. From now on, I need to leave my phone off when I run errands because otherwise I’m just a hot fucking mess. The shopping cart came to an abrupt halt in the middle of an aisle and while my toddler screeched “OUT!!!!!” I frantically texted my husband to please listen to my podcast and tell me immediately how idiotic I sound.

You sounded nervous but it’s fine, he replied.

Then I took this picture of myself fearfully gripping a box of Honey Nut Cheerios, because I thought later on I might want to see what I looked like on the Day That My Podcast Interview Went Live.


Terrified in Target.

I look terrified.

I was. I am.

Even though I love doing this stuff, it’s still scary as hell. Apparently this is all a normal reaction on my part and it will continue to get easier as I become accustomed to the ways of Following Your Dreams. At least, that’s what they tell me. And I’m not going to let a little fear get in the way of me doing something. If that was the case, I would never do ANYTHING.

You can find the interview here, but beware — it’s 32 minutes of me talking, and because I was so worried about people not being able to understand me if I jabbered too Southerny or too fast, I overcompensated and talked too slowly and basically sounded like I was high as a kite (I wasn’t. Sadly.).

Second … guess what tomorrow is?!


11079547_433655656794354_4695438212564475753_nI am excited and anxious and I can’t sleep and I’m eating all the wrong things.

I’ll post again soon and give you all the details on where you can find the book. In the meantime, let’s all hold hands and quote John Wayne: “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.” Right?


Just Be You.

My cousin Jackie came over the other day with her son, who is Maverick’s age. We tried unsuccessfully to hide from our children so we could have adult conversation while they beat the hell out of each other with action figures. I lost track of how many times I shouted “JUST GO PLAY!!!”

What is it that makes them want to crowd around the grownups? We have no candy. We’re talking about pulled chest muscles. Nothing fun is happening over here, and I’m sick of spelling out s-e-x.

Just. Go. Play.

Jackie — and I’m not just saying this because she’s my cousin — truly inspires me. With what she has been through in her life, she should have been a statistic. But she’s not. She’s amazing, and I AM SO STINKIN’ PROUD OF HER.

The fact that she is extremely successful in her business has nothing to do with luck; she has a deep, unstoppable drive to succeed. When the zombie apocalypse hits, I’m going to Jackie’s house. I don’t know how or why, but she could talk the zombies into leaving us alone … and I fear I do not possess that skill. Robbie does, but what if they got him first? I feel better knowing that she’s my backup plan.

I confessed to her that sometimes I wonder if I am doing the right thing by writing so honestly and putting everything out there. Will my kids one day grow up to read that they drove me batshit fucking crazy and get irrevocably screwed up, even though I also write about how much I love them? Because … I really do love them. But also … I really do feel batshit crazy.

The other morning I was talking to Robbie about a post I’m working on for Scary Mommy, and Maverick looked up from his breakfast — I didn’t even think he was paying attention — and very seriously said to me “Mommy, I believe in you and I think that you’re the best.” GAH. Will that same kid one day read my words and be warped by them?! These are all the questions I posed to Jackie.

She listened to everything I had to say, and shook her head before speaking. “You won’t regret any of it,” she said, “Because you’re being YOU. You’re not trying to sound a certain way or act a certain way … this is WHO YOU ARE. How can you ever regret just being yourself?! Your family loves and knows you, just how you are, and the rest of the world will love you too. Just do your thing, girl.”

I seriously almost ugly cried.

Sometimes it’s nice for a person who is close to you, who really knows you, to bring it all back into focus. I am not pretending to be a certain way. I just am. And even though I don’t personally know everyone who will read these words today, I’m still going to tell you this: JUST BE WHO YOU ARE AND DON’T APOLOGIZE FOR IT. It is truly the best way to live.

And also? If you want to wear sunglasses like these when you’re about 15 years too old for them, that’s totally fine. Rock that shit.


This is how women in their 40’s and 50’s end up walking around in sweats with sparkly words emblazoned across the ass, isn’t it? I can see my future very clearly right now.

Effing Hard Work.

This week I hit my rock bottom of parenting. It doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, it’s ugly.

Thank goodness for my village, is all I can say. Sometimes I can’t even put into words how much it helps just to have grandparents close by who can pick the kids up and take them for a few hours, or have Maverick come spend the night.

Sometimes I forget to ask for help because I’m too busy focusing on what is right in front of me: a screaming baby, figuring out what’s for dinner, determining who hit whom first … and before I know it, I’m drowning. Robbie will come home and say, “How can I help?” And I just look at him blankly because the work for the day is already done, and asking that question just means I have to think of a response. I have to say something. I have to answer another question.

Sometimes I can’t answer, and sometimes I can’t ask. Sometimes, it’s all I can do to keep it together amid two toddlers and an extremely challenging 5-year-old. Sometimes I spend my whole day exerting the energy it takes not to yell, to handle things I don’t feel up to handling, to remain calm in the face of defiance. The physical part of my job, I can handle. The emotional part is what takes a toll.

The old me wouldn’t have understood that. The pre-child Harmony was an exceptional communicator who was in tune with her feelings and needs, and would never have believed that one day she would find herself unable to ask or answer. I would have thought, How is that possible? You open your mouth, and you voice your thoughts.

And yet, here I am. I’m so tired. I’m tired of answering questions and I’m tired of talking. I’m tired of thinking and I’m tired of making major life decisions. I’m tired of trouble shooting problems. I’m tired of trying to creatively handle issues. I have nothing left today and maybe even tomorrow, because I. Am. Tired.

This week, I clipped Asher’s paci because we felt like it was time to break him of that habit and all of the books and people around us said so, too. Robbie took him on a special trip to the store today for a new bedtime toy, a Ninja Turtle Dream Lite. He was so excited, and we were optimistic. Perhaps this would be the magical solution, a replacement for the paci that he clearly missed so much.

Asher with his new toy.

Asher with his new toy.

But tonight, six hellish bedtimes and super-early morning wakings later, Robbie was home to witness the insanity for the first time. The Dream Lite did not do the trick. Asher screamed and cried almost just like he did when we had to teach him how to sleep in a big boy bed. Nothing is ever easy with this kid. He doesn’t do change well.

We can’t do this,” said Robbie (I’m paraphrasing). I wanted to yell, “I HAVE BEEN DOING THIS! YOU JUST HAVEN’T BEEN HERE TO SEE IT!” But instead I said, “Well, what do you think we should we do?

He went to the store for more pacifiers.

While he was gone, I thought about all the people who told me it was time to nix the paci, and how none of those people were the ones who actually had to deal with the reality of it. Even my own husband couldn’t make it more than one night, and so I decided, once again, that mothering is Effing Hard Work.

I think we can all agree that no one can pass judgement on another person when it comes to Effing Hard Work. When I see city workers out there rummaging in man holes, running wires or digging in concrete, I acknowledge that is Effing Hard Work. I wouldn’t want to do it, and I wouldn’t try to tell them how to do it. I just appreciate that they are there, digging and running wires and making sure the traffic lights are working. No judgement. I applaud.

I write this for the mothers who are in difficult situations — and there are many shades of difficult. Being a parent is hard enough, and parenting a challenging or unique kind of child is … well … it’s impossible, really. I don’t know how we do it, we just do, because mothers are amazing creatures who should be exalted. And if you know a mother who is parenting alone for whatever reason, she deserves double exaltation.

And for the people who love those mothers, but don’t know how to help them, know this: it doesn’t matter what you do, just DO SOMETHING. Any word or act of kindness is an incredible gift. My friends and family are a constant source of support, mostly via text or email as I am locked in the purgatory of my kitchen. They help by listening and by encouraging. When I say things like, “I just want to be the mother Maverick needs,” Amy says “YOU ALREADY ARE.” When I tell my mom “This is so hard,” she says, “Don’t give up.”

Mothers need hugs and encouragement. We are all just digging and running wires, really, and if you have a challenging child like Maverick then you basically feel like you’re doing it all with a blindfold on.

I may hug the next mama I see, and thank her for sacrificing her sanity and her uterus, her vanity and her self-respect, in the hopes that one day her child(ren) will make this world better.

That’s a lot.

That’s Effing Hard Work, actually.

I had an eye exam this week. Occupation? B.A.B.

I had an eye exam this week. Occupation? B.A.B.