Welcome to the Circus

“Paper or plastic?”

I was in the grocery store yesterday, as I am on most Mondays. I was staring at the ridiculous magazine headlines near the check-out {just before purchasing two of these fine publications}. I was tired. I mentally calculated when I would have time for a shower later in the afternoon between school pick-ups, karate and dinner prep.

And I wondered if, just a day before, it had really happened. Had I been up on a stage? With my name in a program?

“Ma’am, do you have your Price Plus card?”

Had I been all dressed up? Blinded by the lights of the stage? Had I really heard the words of my own writing come out of my mouth, through that microphone and into the audience of hundreds before me?

“Any coupons today?”

What a difference a day makes.

I don’t expect that I’ll ever forget what a great experience it was to be part of the Listen to Your Mother show in New York. It was really a thrill to share a stage with such a wonderful group of people — some professional writers and performers, and some not {ahem} — who brought such a huge array of motherhood stories to life. Every one of them impressed me more than I can say.

Let me tell you a few truths about the whole thing.

  • I was terrified. Really terrified. Like, I-might-pass-out kind of terrified.
  • I was stressed out. In true Murphy’s Law fashion, my son was projectile vomiting the whole night before, which kind of limits one’s babysitting options. And I was convinced that I would be the next one taken down by this virus, just in time to take the stage. {Thankfully, this didn’t happen.}
  • And, for the record, how many maternity dresses do you think one would have to try on at 35 weeks pregnant to find something that looks decent-ish enough to wear on a stage? Does 25 sound about right to you? OK, good.

But, all that aside, everything — somehow — came together. I was lucky to have family and friends give up their own Mother’s Day plans to come and support me. And you know you have amazing friends when they offer to babysit your sick kids so that your husband can come and see the show.

I felt guilty about spending Mother’s Day largely away from my kids. Yet, it was still somehow so fitting to be exactly where I was. I was doing something completely for me, yet it was something absolutely drawn from the essence of my daily motherhood grind. So even though my kids weren’t in the theater, they were up there with me on that stage — in my mind and on those pages from which I read. They were the reason I could do this.

I’m told there will be a YouTube link available at some point and, depending on how much of a Mack truck I look like, I may or may not share it with you when I get it. So, here is the written version of the piece I read. For the full effect, picture me overheating with fear and wondering if I’m actually about to faint.

But I’d do it again. In a heartbeat.

Yep, it happened.

“No, no coupons today. Paper bags, please. And add these two magazines to the total.”

 

_____________

Welcome to the Circus 

 

Dear Child #3 {and, yes, we’ll get you a proper name},

I thought it might be helpful if we had a little chat before your June arrival.  I want to make sure you understand the lay of the land around here.  Because it’s probably pretty traumatic to be thrust into the world unexpectedly.  A world of chaos and strange customs.  A world inexplicably ruled a little more by Taylor Swift every day.

It’s hard enough for me to understand this place, and I’ve been here a while — so it must be completely unsettling for you.  Like suddenly joining the circus. Without even signing up for an audition.

So let’s think of this as your Circus Orientation Guide so that everything seems just a little less freakshow when you get here.

Let me introduce the main players to you.

There’s me – I’m the ringmaster.  The one who keeps the show running.  The one who attempts to contain all scheduling delays to under an hour. The multi-tasker who is just one flaming juggling pin shy of a domestic inferno. You may know me better as the person you often hear screaming “Get in the car, get in the car, get IN THE CAR, I’M LEAVING — GET. IN. THE CAR!”  That, incidentally, is nothing to worry about.  Just standard operating procedure around here.

And your dad.  When not pushing the limits of a gripping Home Depot addiction, he is the guy up on the high wire of our act — without a net — maintaining a sense of calm that keeps a certain ringmaster from throwing herself into the tiger’s cage. He astounds me every day with his solid footing and roll-with-the-punches mentality. And yet, this man never fails to delight the masses with his quirks and his laughter. He is the showstopper. Armed with extraneous power tools.

Let’s move on to the Clown Car.  Or, better said: Great news — you also have two siblings waiting to meet you!

Your big brother just turned six.  Currently Clown-in-Chief, he takes his leadership role seriously. He is a student of detail and a sensitive little soul. But he also has other aspirations.  For example, he is currently on track to break the world record for Number of Consecutive Questions Asked in a Six Year Period.  In addition, he can teach you all about the fine art of debate. I think his method, once published and with proper agency representation, will gain a loyal following.  The working title is Wearing Down Your Mother Through Endless Rebuttals: One Boy’s Journey From No. Anyway, he is really excited to have you around — as long as you’re a boy.

You also have a big sister, the clown apprentice.  She will be four this summer.  But she thinks she’s 12, so don’t say anything.  This is the girl who will grow up to tell all the jokes and charm the crowds. And because she has zero regard for her personal safety and would be well-served by wearing a helmet at all times, we are considering her for the human-shot-out-of-the cannon act.  Or, based on her table manners, she may soon headline the plate-spinning portion of the show. She is also really excited to have you around — as long as you’re a girl.

Back to me, though.  Because I’m the one you’ll be hanging out with the most in the beginning.

Just to be clear, I’m far from perfect.

For instance, I curse too much.  I know this because a sailor once told me during Fleet Week that I have a bad mouth. Also, I had very high hair in the 80s.  I miss living in Manhattan sometimes but I carry its residual pent-up road rage around the suburbs with me.  I am deathly afraid of craft stores and am 100% lacking the DIY gene, so you shouldn’t expect any sort of popsicle stick building or rainy-day diorama creations from me.

But, on the flip side: I make a mean red sauce, have been known to tell a good story now and then, and I am uniquely qualified to teach you – in 21 years – how to responsibly conquer a roulette table.

And here’s the truth about running this circus: There was actually a time when I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to be a mother.  Until I was.

And then, after your brother was born, I knew I had to have a second child.

And then I wasn’t sure about a third.  Until I was.

And then I knew I wasn’t finished — even with my imperfect parenting, a high rate of baking disasters and a broad cynicism of class moms.  I knew we needed you.

And you’ll be here before I know it.

So, welcome to the circus, baby. It’s the show of a lifetime and the best gig, by far, I’ve ever had. What some call madness under the big top, or three rings of crazy, we simply call the “home” command in the minivan navigation system.

Now, all that’s left is whether to buy the pink or the blue baby unicycle.

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Comments

  1. Love this, Kim!!!

  2. Jen T. says:

    Love this…still sad I couldn’t make it.

    For the record, this was the only year I’ve spent MD with my family. And it sucked. I’m totally going back to the spa next year, with not a shred of guilt.

  3. Anna says:

    Third in a row with LOVE THIS. I wish I could’ve heard it live, so you will have to post the video link when you have it!

  4. Estelle says:

    Great post, Kim. I loved your reading at the NYC LTYM show, and I was so happy to meet you. As a member of last year’s production, it was certainly bittersweet to watch the new “group”, while I enjoyed it, I also long for the spotlight again.

    You write with such a great mixture of humor and realism. Welcome to the circus indeed.

    Estelle

  5. Becky says:

    Brava, Kim. I’m so happy for and proud of you. Much love always xx

  6. Beth says:

    Oh my. Me and all my post-pregnancy hormones are balling while my baby #3 is nursing for the 264th time today. Beautiful!!

    • fordeville says:

      Thanks Beth. Please shield my in-denial brain from the reminders of 5,000 newborn feedings per day :)

  7. Devan says:

    Oh so beautiful! I love it! Please post the link when you get it. :)
    Thanks for this! <3 Devan

  8. Kim, I’m so happy to have finally read the piece that erupted that joy and laughter from the audition room. It is perfect. Equal parts sweet and sass mixed with your insanely smart humor. I just wish I could have been there to see you perform it. Wonderful. And, I’m so happy your tightrope walker was able to make it.

  9. I loved your essay, Kim! And someday, baby #3 is going to love hearing this from you. Lovely.
    It really is an amazing experience to be on the LTYM stage, isn’t it? I can’t wait to see all of our videos from this year. Congratulations, fellow alum.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Always Bad News; Kim Forde and her 8 and 1/2 month pregnant belly gave us some love and laughs with Welcome To The Circus; and Elizabeth (Kizz) Robinson wowed ‘em with About Me. Hopefully, I’ll be able to […]

  2. […] indignities: my fellow cast member Kim Forde’s reveries were interrupted when some cashier  asked for her Price Plus card. The nerve! Plus, Kim’s son started projectile vomiting. So I guess it’s not just […]

  3. […] Forde, 8 and 1/2 month pregnant, read Welcome To The Circus, a guide to the family […]

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