I was in CVS this past Tuesday picking up a prescription when my I phone beeped and I looked down to see a message from one of my editors at Redbook titled Why You Rock! I almost didn’t open it—I figured it was one of the mass emails editors sometimes send out to people looking for anecdotes for some sort of inspirational story or another—but on a whim I clicked on it and read “because you did an amazing job on the mommy tuck piece—which just got nominated for a National Magazine Award!”
I dropped my phone and gasped so loudly everyone in line who was complaining about waiting for their prescriptions stopped mumbling for a moment to turn and stare at me.
“Oh my god oh my god oh my god” I chanted as I got down on my hands and knees to scoop up my phone. I clicked on the message again. Had I hallucinated? Nope, I hadn’t. The message was still there.
“Are you okay?” someone asked. “I’m fine,” I said brightly, and then, unable to control myself, “I just found out I’m a finalist in the National Magazine Awards!” Everyone in line was gazing at me uncertaintly, and I realized how I must look…a slightly overweight, middle-aged women in grungy sweatpants rocking back and forth on her heels chanting. The only thing probably anyone there thought I was eligible to be nominated for was the loony bin.
“Congratulations!” the pharmacist behind the counter said, holding out my prescription. She had the fake frozen grin people have when they are accosted by one of those Jews for Jesus fanatics on the street and are trying to figure out their escape route.
“Thanks,” I muttered. I managed to keep myself composed enough to walk calmly out of the drugstore and into the parking lot, but once I got into the car I started bouncing up and down on my seat and screaming.
You see, the National Magazine Awards are in magazine speak the equivalent of being nominated for the Emmys. Ever year for, say, well, the last decade, I’ve had some editor email me excitedly and tell me they’d submitted one of my pieces for consideration, but every year, there’s some pretty stiff competition. Out of almost 2,000 entries submitted each year, less than 50 make the cut.
This year, I didn’t even realize I’d been nominated. I’d spent most of the year in a fog, between taking care of a newborn and dealing with all the random crises that had popped up in our small family. I figured this was one year where my professional aspirations were at the bottom of the heap, somewhere between the load of dirty laundry and Geoffrey’s smelly diapers.
But right before I had Geoffrey, I turned in an article to Redbook titled “Would you Get a Mommy Tuck” and somehow I had managed even through all the pregnancy hormones and fatigue and nausea and the anxieties of transitioning Jo Jo into the school system to do a good enough job that my editors had decided to submit the piece to the National Magazine Awards. (You can read the article at http://www.redbookmag.com/health-wellness/advice/post-pregnancy-tummy-tuck)
It was a great moment, one of those shining ahha! moments you have when you realize that yes, even sometimes with all the stress of raising three small children—including two with some very definite special needs—and those times when you feel so overwhelmed you can’t think straight and you’re really, really tempted to just swallow a handful of Xanax and crawl into bed and call it a day, but you can’t because everyone around you is under the age of five and screaming—you can still do a kick-ass job.
Of course, my moment of euphoria was short lived. I went home to relieve my nanny and found myself caught up in the shrieking, wailing, pooping chaos that has become my home. I always thought that after learning I’d been nominated for a National Magazine Award, I’d be celebrating with drinks at Elaine’s or dinner at Michael’s or some other fabulous Manhattan media mecca. Instead, I was standing in my kitchen dodging flying straw cups and cleaning up macaroni and cheese and wrestling the dog as she stood on her hind legs trying to eat sweet potato off of Geoffrey’s tray.
“Teddy!” I shouted at one point, as my two and a half year old sat in his booster seat shrieking at the offending avocado that had somehow made its way onto his plate,” Teddy! Don’t you care that Mommy’s a finalist in the National Magazine Award!” My voice was rising higher and higher and suddenly all three kids stopped what they were doing to stare at me.
Teddy cocked his head and looked at me, puzzled. “No Mommy,” he said calmly, in his sweetest little baby voice. “I don’t. I don’t care at all.” Then Jo Jo whacked him in the head with her straw cup and once again everyone started screaming.
By the time Jamie walked through the door that night, I was lying comatose on the couch, staring glassy eyed at the E! channel. “Don’t you want to open up some champagne to celebrate?” he asked.
“No,” I said. “I’ll take an Ambien instead.”
I did, and slept for nine whole hours. It was glorious.
The next night, I went into the city and celebrated the ASME nomination with my editors at Redbook. As I stood in their swanky offices and sipped champagne, I marveled at how wonderful it was to talk shop with other adult women instead of exchanging stories about spit up. I could actually feel my brain neurons reforming.
Best of all?
By the time I got home, all three kids were fast asleep.