The third circle of hell.

I’ll cut right to the chase. It’s the rehearsal for dance recitals. That’s where you go when you’re a bad person. Purgatory looks like Disneyland after an evening of whistles, shrill screaming and 1,800 varieties of cheap perfume battling it out to be the cause of your migraine. If you’re one of the rare few that haven’t tasted hairspray for 4 hours straight, let me shine a light on the worst of times.

I have searched out the nicest dance instructor within 40 miles. Miss Glitter is kind, loving, beautiful and graceful. The Dumpling counts down the seconds until dance each week, and it culminated in the grand Christmas recital last night. Being a single parent with an out-of-state ex means that I don’t get to skip any of this fun time. Not all instructors are created equal. The Troll we partner with for recitals is the worst of the worst. She screams at the kids. She says horrible, shitty things. I’m coming for her…don’t worry.

I would give all the money in the world to skip the rehearsal. Yes that’s an offer. Some of my friends and family read this. Take. My. Money.

Sadly, nobody wants your money when it comes to enduring this bucket of suck. I took headphones and the ipad. Ready to fire up my hotspot and check out for an hour.

Yeah. Fucking. Right.

The Troll is screeching so loudly that she’s overcome the extremely expensive headphones I have crammed into my irritated ears. She’s telling 8 year olds that they suck and to get off the stage. She comes dangerously close to my Dumpling and I start to walk towards the stage with murder in mind. She goes away and I return to my seat, simmering.

Parenting in your 40’s is so much more relaxing than it is in your 20’s, but if it’s one thing that doesn’t change, it’s that instinct to rip someone’s limbs off for coming anywhere near your child in anger. I shot the Troll an ice cold stare, letting her know that if she knew what was good for her, she’d climb right back under that bridge of hers.

She didn’t.

Now I need to take a moment and shine a little spotlight on every woman’s ego. We all have our beautiful moments, and our less than shining days. Sometimes you’re the belle of the ball, and other times you are the supporting cast. That’s life. It’s graceful to accept time changing and your body aging. It’s beautiful to embrace how the years affect you. I don’t begrudge my wrinkles, I look back fondly on the laughs and tears that put them there. I’m not ruling out Botox, but I’m not wearing my daughters’ clothes and hitting on 22 year olds, either. It’s important to know your place in the food chain and the Troll is the female equivalent to a dirty old man. When you’re a grandmother, it’s time to keep your slutty santa dress behind closed doors. Your day on the stage with bouncing titties, is over. Please, for the love of God and the audience. LET IT THE FUCK GO.

I wasn’t a dancer. I was a cheerleader. I’m fun, loud and unruly. I am not the one to piss off if applause is on the table. The Troll says something nasty and cruel to Miss Glitter, every single recital. Every one. Last time she asked her if she made her shirt from an old woman’s bedspread. To say there were a lot of shocked, wide eyes in the audience, is an epic understatement. Too bad I don’t do shocked silence very well, because the rehearsal is setting my blood on fire.

I have tapping ringing in my ears. There are a dozen babies crying in unison. There’s a sequined child hanging on the back of my chair, coughing up a lung. Her mother is coughing beside her. I’m about to snap.

The Dumpling comes running up in blue sequins, shining like a star on fire and beaming her million dollar smile at me.

D- I love dancing on the stage, mama. I wish we danced on the stage every day.

Sigh… guess who’s going to be spending the next 13+ years in this same seat? Which is precisely when I decided to have a few words with the Troll. If I’m going to suffer, so is she. I’m all about equal opportunity these days.

I walked my little Dumpling and Baby Sparkle backstage and ran into the Troll, who made the dangerous decision to try to confront me.

T- What do you need. Why are you back here.

J- I don’t need anything from you. We’re finding our Miss Glitter.

T- Glitter? She’s hiding downstairs.

Simmer, simmer, simmer….. BOIL.

J- Hiding? Miss Glitter is lovely, she has no need to hide. We love our Miss Glitter so much, let’s go see her and tell her how grateful we are for her. Tis the season to be humble and give thanks, right Troll?

She didn’t say another word and I didn’t tell her to go fuck herself in front of the babies. Win-win.

Also… she didn’t insult Miss Glitter last night. Not entirely or directly at least… and that is gift enough for me this holiday season.

I’d tell you to buy your kid a pony and steer clear of dance, but there is so much magic in all that tulle and sparkle that I wish I could share it with everyone. It’s worth suffering through all the Trolls… and in this scary world, that’s priceless. ♥

Not so festive.

I used to love Christmas. I was one of those annoying over-bakers and made all my gifts. I started sewing in July and my children always wore matching, homemade flannel pajamas to sleep on Christmas Eve. 

Gingerbread houses, homemade marshmallows in three flavors, chocolate dipped everything while carols played from thanksgiving to Christmas. It was my favorite time of year. Then my son left, and it’s been difficult, since. Holidays change when you’re missing someone you love. Everything does, really… but especially the days that you’re supposed to be filled with joy and love. 

I am pushing through my reluctance and exhaustion to get it done for the Dumpling. She deserves the same holiday magic her siblings had, but some things have had to shift. The jammies and gingerbread house are store bought because I’m not a stay at home mom anymore and have had to let some things go. 

I’m working crazy hours, into the weekends… and haven’t even started shopping yet. I sort of love leaving it until the last minute and I’m enjoying not stressing about it. Ish.

But I’m a slave to that motherfucking Elf on a shelf. I hate it so much that I wish our dog chewed things up because I’d leave Hallie on the floor in a bowl of dog treats. If the damn thing doesn’t move,  it means your child was naughty and devastation ensues. (Whoever thought this up really hated their parents) I have moved the damn thing on the fly so many times, it’s a miracle I haven’t been caught. Also, to hell with all of you who make your elf do spectacular shit. Chill out. You’re making my lazy, relocating elf, look bad.

I have high hopes for the baking today. I bought all the stuff. I got out the aprons. The kitchen is clean. The Dumpling has a Christmas playlist picked out and it’s going to be a magical day of doing the stuff that makes Christmas feel a little more recognizable to me. I’m trying to find the happy, and that’s the best you can do when you’re just not. 

My gift to you: our family sugar cookie recipe. They are the very best. ♥

Grandma Afton’s Sour Cream Sugar Cookies 

425*  for 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown.

  • 1/4 c Shortening
  • 1/4 c Butter
  • 1 c Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 2 2/3 c Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • 1/2 c Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 425*. Mix shortening, butter, sugar, egg and vanilla thoroughly. Sift flour and blend dry ingredients into a separate bowl. Add to sugar mixture alternately with sour cream until combined. Divide dough, roll out to 1/4″ thick on well floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. (Omit sprinkling with sugar if you intend to frost them)

Bake 8-10 minutes or until the edges lightly brown. These are MUCH better under than over cooked.