Outtakes Make Life Beautifully Imperfect
When we have beautiful moments that we don’t want to forget, we often plaster them all over social media to show ourselves and the rest of the world, “Hey, this one thing went perfectly today!” And that’s great, but oftentimes the outtakes shown after the movie is over are my favorite part of the story. They are real, they are hilarious and they are perfectly imperfect. I, for one, would like to see way more of those; the more outtakes I see instead of highlight reels, the easier it is to find the humor in everyday mishaps, breakdowns and everything else that goes awry. So as a public service to you, the readers, to feel better about all of the things that go wrong that you DON’T want to publish on social media or talk openly about, I offer you free tickets to just a sampling of our epic and ongoing Sh*t Show, with the hope that we can remember to laugh our way through this struggle together.
In order to even complete this article well before Halloween, I found myself in the dark listening to Sinatra’s Christmas album at 10:34 p.m. on a school night while whispering words into my phone using the dictation feature. I am not a fan of pushing holidays or seasons well in advance, but this was necessary for two reasons. One was that my youngest (who had a freshly broken elbow) requested it, and two, it was Frank Sinatra. You wouldn’t dream of saying no to Old Blue Eyes—neither Frank nor the youngest imp with the dreadlock rasta hair and cherub cheeks jabbing me rhythmically to “Jingle Bells” with her pretty new purple cast. Our past few weeks have gone down in the history books with some very memorable moments that were mostly not at all funny while we were experiencing them. But even a day or two, or talking to the right person, can give you the perspective of humor. And humor saves lives, people.
Let me just invite you into my kitchen on a recent (yet laughably typical) school morning: I have just tripped on a Furbee (thank you SO much Heather for passing that old school gem down), and then all three children jump on my back and begin singing “Unsteady” by X Ambassadors. I fall. Now we’re all singing, we’re laughing, and the kids begin taking bets as to which family member will be the next to break a bone. While down on the floor, I begin to scavenge through memories of our beloved minivan that drowned in Hurricane Matthew for the pieces of our lives.
The people at the rental car companies sent us on a wild goose chase that ended in Virginia to await a rental car that never came. After four hair-raising days, I gave in and dragged the whole pitiful lot of us to Carmax to purchase a new vehicle, wearing nothing but pajamas and weary glimmers of hope. My heart said, “electric engine VW Bus,” but the selection available and never wanting to get stuck in the wrath of our unpredictable weather again said, “gas guzzling ginormous Suburban with light-colored interior that shall promptly get destroyed by my spawn.”
We drove home victoriously in our new mothership, and the following day we had about 30 minutes’ notice to clean out our minivan/mobile home before it was hauled to the junkyard unceremoniously. Obviously notebooks were in the console, flip flops and water bottles were stuffed under the seats. “Important papers” were shoved in visors and sweatshirts were draped across the backs of car seats and randomly scattered about.
Being exiled in Virginia for days threw us off more than usual for our morning routine, so now we have some new games to play to put the puzzle pieces back together. “On your mark, get set…” This is the signal for the race to hunt down our morning outfits. Every item of clothing is clean, but since the housekeeper I don’t have never shows up, the items are strewn about as if the hurricane came directly through the house. The first to locate their complete outfit gets whatever “prize” I can dream up—a Skittle, being in control of the radio on the way to school, or other awesome incentives, like not being partially naked in school.
While negotiating with the youngest terrorist as to how many snuggle buddies she can drag with her “good arm” into the car, I glimpse at the clock. Damn it, late again! I call a spade a spade and demand that someone locate a crayon or marker and something to write our tardy note upon. I hope that someone is saving those notes, because they are probably worth an article of their own.
Believe it or not, I am grateful every single day for these insane moments and the tiny humans who live with me—grateful, every damn day. A dear friend sent me this quote by Sigmund Freud to start off my day the following morning: “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” Freud had some interesting perspectives, that’s for sure—but even in the midst of chaos I can see the beauty and the humor, and I hope you can, too.