Thoughts From The Backside

The Backside Of Motherhood –  It All Works Out In The End

Lara McKnight is a freelance writer who lives in Pensacola, FL. She and her husband have four adult children (and their companions) and four grandchildren. Lara flies through life by the seat of her pants as it is, and she is glad to share uplifting thoughts and in-depth observations from the backside of Motherhood in her tastefully-named, hyperbole-laden, overly-hyphenated blog, “Thoughts from the Backside”

Face The Truth

When I was a teenager, a 50-year-old woman looked like Bea Arthur on the “Golden Girls.” Not that Bea wasn’t a nice-looking lady, but to 17-year-old me, she looked like an OLD nice-looking lady. Today’s 50-year-old woman looks like Jennifer Anniston or Jennifer Lopez or Jennifer Garner –a different Jen-eration altogether- and it feels like the bar is set so high.

I’ve let my hair grow long, lost weight, started trying to take care of my temple (of doom!) and while my hips don’t lie, I’m no Shakira. But one of my responses to losing too many friends recently that were entirely too young to die has been simply to start to care … about The Other Woman.

When that wrankly, lizardy (and yet strangely attractive) old bee-yotch photo-bombed my selfie yet again the other day, I decided to seek out an expert for help. My youngest offspring works with beauty products at the professional level, and I asked her for some specialty advice the other day. She set me up with a reasonably simple skin care regimen. “It contains hyaluronic acid, which your body produces naturally.” She sounded like a news anchor when she said it, so I know it’s true.

It felt a little KY jelly-ish. “You mean I’m putting fake coochie juice on my face?!” I asked. Well, I’m not sure that is where hyaluronic acid comes from, but it was good for a laugh …

You’ve Got A Friend

The only guarantees in life are death, taxes, and your printer being out of ink when you tell someone, “Sure, I can print that up for you!” I’m alive and kicking and it’s not April (whew!), but the other day I did have to dash out to the Mart of Doom to snatch a refill cartridge. I know I’m using ancient technology, but apparently some of my neighbors don’t even HAVE printers.

When I saw the friendly gentlemen at the register in the electronics department, I decided that was an opportunity to hit and get and avoid the checkout lines, so I asked, “Can you check me out?”

As they looked at me in my “Never Planned To Leave The House Today” finest, I held up the ink cartridge and smiled.

The gray-haired friendly gentleman looked uncertain, but the younger fellow said, “Sure!” then began instructing his co-worker on which buttons to push to perform the transaction. Finally, the lesson was over and he told the man to finish up. “I’m going over there for a minute. If you have any problems, just call out my name … “

I looked at the gray-haired fellow as he finished his first-day flow on and decided I could be even more helpful. “And you know, wherever I am, I’ll come runnin’ to see you again …” I sang robustly (and nothing at all like James Taylor!) The Other Woman isn’t just a friend to me, she’s a friend to everyone!

Balance Beaming

I don’t know if you realize you’re in the presence of greatness, Dear Reader, but I am the 1980 recipient of the Betsy Shaw School of Gymnastics “Best All-Around Gymnast” trophy. All these years (and poor habits) later, I can still do a single cartwheel if I don’t think about it too much beforehand and don’t remember what happened afterward the last time I did it without thinking about it.

Something that has concerned me (a lot!)  is that I’ve felt my balance was “off” in the last few years – even before we all went down with the sickness. The backside of menopause is definitely not a place where balance comes easily, but The Other Woman refuses to go gentle into that good night!

Balance is my word – whether it’s balancing my diet to meet my body’s needs, balancing my exercise to fit into my day, or taking a more balanced approach to self-care, to include getting myself to a doctor, a dentist, an optometrist, a nunnery … no skip, that last part.

I’ve also found balance in my work life, happily earning a living with my words and doing things my way. Not because the end is near, but because my way, The Other Woman’s way, is to focus on balance.

One important thing about balance, though, is to remember that life is unpredictable. The things that contribute to your balance today may be the things that throw you off kilter tomorrow. Take it from the 1980 Besty Shaw School Of Gymnastics “Best All-Around Gymnast” trophy award winner … do your best to keep your balance and if you fall down, throw your hands up and say, “Ta Da!” like that’s what you intended to do. Hey, it worked for me!

Don’t “Martyr” And “Mother” Sound Alike

There’s a special kind of yogurt that is only sold in one retail outlet nationwide – a mart I shall not name because I try to wall it off in my mind. It is a one-of-a-kind combination, blending sweet tasty pineapple with a healthy dose of fiber and probiotic in an all-in-one treat to satisfy the health and happiness of the most attention-deficit stomach-issue afflicted old people among us.

Unfortunately, it is not available at any other store, nor can I simply purchase it as a stand-alone item. It comes packaged half-in-half with a lest tasty – albeit palatable – strawberry version. You know I know all of this, Dear Reader, because I wrote a letter to the company to find out my options.

I load the twelve yogurts into one of those little containers that makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something because your fridge looks like a picture in a magazine and when it is newly replenished, I’ll reach right in and grab one of those pineapple palate pleasers and enjoy it with reckless abandon. However, for the remainder of the yogurt cycle, I avoid the pineapple flavor because everyone likes that one the best.

The Other Womangave me pause the other day asI reached for the strawberry version, “Why do you always make the sacrifice?” Well … I became a martyr when I became a mother. My first concern has always been the other guy – husband, kid … kid … kid … kid … you get the drift.

Is it really okay, after all of these years of being the last in line, to put The Other Woman first? I’m going to go enjoy a delicious pineapple yogurt and mull it over …

Put It In The Book!

I never write anything down when I think of it. If I had, maybe I’d have figured it all out by now. But when my friend and fabulous publisher of The Other Woman magazine asked if I had an active blog (I don’t) I decided that this was my chance to rule the world!

Or maybe it’s just time to revisit blogging. I’ve been holding back a little lest I peak too early.

Ms. LSW of TOW has a favorite bit of delicately nudging advice that she frequently offers: “DON’T DIE WITH A BOOK IN YOU!” Oh, it’s in me, the book. It drizzles out in little tidbits of fabulous prose, with plenty of puns thrown in for good measure, but to read it you’d need to go through a zillion old Facebook posts.

What on earth would I write a book about? “All The Fucked-Up Shit To Expect After What You Were Expecting to Happen Never Happened,” “The Battle Hymn of the Sloth Mom,” “The All-Taco Diet?”

Maybe it’s just a mom thing. When my grown-adult children began to complain to me about any component of their upbringing or the resulting damage to their psyche, I suggested that they write a book called “How My Mother Ruined My Life.” I’m not sure how long ago it has been, but at the time, I suggested we could all go on Oprah together and make a zillion dollars off the movie rights. Of course, the part of moi would be played by J-Lo, because, you know, we look so much alike.

Now, at family dinners, holiday gatherings, and random public encounters, when one of them recounts a tale of my woeful lack of parenting skills, I simply tell them to “put it in the book!” We laugh, but I’m not kidding. I’m sure it would be enough to make Oprah come out of retirement …

Time Flies Like An Arrow, Fruit Flies Like Day-Old Bananas

Well, you came back to the Backside, Dear Reader. My regular gig for The Other Woman magazine is a little piece I call “The Backside of Motherhood: It All Works Out In the End.” Clever, no? Well, now that I’ve raised four humans to adult status, I think I can safely say that yes, things seem to have worked out … right up through today, but doom could still overtake us at any moment.

When I was a young mom, I used to think that there was some place where I’d arrive. Some port of Momness where the seams were always pressed and the accounts overflowing and everyone would know better than to ask the priest to “Pull my finger!” While it’s good to look forward to the milestones and celebrate them accordingly, today’s handy Mom tip #4 is an important one I learned from my 92 year-old Grandma the week before she died:

It just goes by so fast.

With that in mind, I’m still learning that there is no place where we arrive, so sometimes just getting through the day is a milestone worth celebrating. Or, like one frog said to the other, “Time’s fun when you’re having flies!”

More Flies With Honey

Speaking of flies (see last blog post), one important relationship tip I’ve learned during this life season of lockdowns and true crime TV is that murdering your spouse is apparently frowned upon. After thirty-plus years of cohabitation and marriage, I thought we’d look like those happy fellows in the retirement commercials at this “empty-ish nest” stage of the game – riding bikes, playing shuffleboard, peeing our pants freely because we were wearing those fancy panties.

Instead, I realized that my husband had been harboring a thousand annoying modioperadi and here’s mud in your eye. We have argued more in the last two years than we did in the previous twenty – politics, points of view, less filling/tastes great – you name it, we’ve dished it, discussed it, and debated dying on a hill to defend it. Finally, I had enough. Desperate times call for desperate measures and The Other Womanwas called upon to take on the task.

I decided to be extra nice. I don’t just mean choosing not to smother him with his own pillow while he slept, I mean fluffing that pillow and putting a mint on it before he rested his little pumpkin head. I made nice dinners without serving elderberry wine. I looked for common ground instead of burial ground and chose the high-ground with my words instead of taking a dig.

I returned the mountains to their molehill status and danced on top of them singing “I’m Allright!” like Kenny Loggins and that little gopher. I noticed that he followed my example, and soon we were like two pees in a Depends commercial – warm, cozy, and soaking up whatever comes our way.

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