Skilled, nonchalant, combo Slacker Pride at its bestBy ELIZABETH QUINN,
There is no pride like slacker pride. I can say this because I am one of the largest purveyors of slacker pride in the south.
It should probably bother me more than it does, but I am a disorganized, procrastinating lazy bones. I am constantly playing catch up following procrastination or clean up following forgotten events or duties.
I know there are people out there who always remember the empty milk carton for Gingerbread House Decorating Day and have all the costume props gathered days before the 100th Day of School dress up day - but I am not one of them. According to my age, I am in fact, an adult, which is ridiculous because just yesterday I was in college debating how many times you can wear jeans before washing them and confronting Sophie’s choices like going to an 11 a.m. class or taking a nap.
I often wonder when it will stop surprising me that my friends and I are the adults in the room these days.
When I do manage to act like the responsible grown up I appear to be for longer than a hot minute, I am imbued with the warmth that is Slacker Pride. I have to capitalize on these times for good mental health. Few things make me happier than being able to list my ‘good mom’ accomplishments to my husband at the end of a long day. If this type of behavior came naturally to me, or was a regular occurrence, then it wouldn’t be worth mentioning - it’s the rarity of it that warrants bragging about it.
Any day that ends in marital bragging, most undoubtedly also includes times I huffed and puffed and blew my lid at the recipients of my hard work (my children), but once it’s done, once my good deeds have been tallied on the score card that nobody but me is keeping—I bask in it. At least until the next day when my only accomplishments are keeping the kids alive and fed.
Taking all of my kids into public makes me understand why child leashes still exist, even though I don’t actually own any. If I did, it would be like when my neighbor takes her four dachshunds on walks with stretchy leashes: nobody goes in the same direction at the same time, strangulation seems imminent, and somebody goes to the bathroom where they shouldn’t.
Unfortunately, I hear that kids need educational outings for me to be a good mom - I mean, for them to be intellectually stimulated. I have little enthusiasm for such events; I wasn’t a big fan of field trips even as a kid. When a cultural or educational event is happening that does actually sound interesting to me, I’ll try to take them. By ‘try to take them’ I mean I’ll think about what a good idea it would be for a couple of weeks and maybe manage to get us all there on the last day.
Recently, I saw that the last day for the Keep Building Jackson exhibit at the Arts Center of Mississippi was the same day as of one of my daughter’s basketball games, and only a couple of blocks away. My husband was going to be gone all day and the forecast said the monsoon hovering over Jackson wasn’t leaving before nightfall. An indoor activity was appealing and I really wanted to see the imagined and real Jackson built with LEGO bricks by Dr. Scott Crawford.
I parked the car in a flash flooded parking lot and ran through the rain with two of my kids fighting over the lone umbrella and me sharing the hood of my rain coat with the toddler on my hip who kept saying ‘my head wet, mommy. My neck cold.’ The exhibit did not disappoint. The kids loved it and, through a combination of threats, gritted teeth, and Mom Eyes, I managed to keep them from destroying even a single brick of the display.
Since my husband was unavailable for a bragging session until later, I called my mom instead. “Want to join us for lunch? We’re just leaving the Arts Center and can meet you wherever.” Of course, since I’m not the kind of mom who frequents the Arts Center, she had many follow up questions which I answered in the most lackadaisical manner. “Oh, it was this great LEGO exhibit of the whole city of Jackson, real and imagined. I noticed today was the last day so we dropped by after basketball. It was really cool and the kids loved it. What food are you in the mood for?” Act like this is totally normal and somebody just might believe you. Nonchalant Slacker Pride.
Another solid source of ego boosting for me is exercise - not the actual workout itself, but the post workout praise. I have never been accused of being ‘sporty’ or ‘active’ or ‘athletic.’ I’ve made wishes over double fudge chocolate birthday cakes that go, ‘I want to be one of those people who feels physically ill if they haven’t run five miles that day.’ Alas, birthday candle wishes have not come through for me.
I’m a sloth at heart, so when I’m actually in a phase of exercising - everybody knows, I make sure of this. Since I am not actually a runner, but simply behaving like a runner in the hopes of creating the muscle memory for it to one day be true, I have still not achieved the level of skill required to get up early enough to run, shower, and dress before I need to start my day on a regular basis. It happens occasionally, but not often.
On the very rare occasions I wake up early enough to run, shower, dry my hair, apply makeup, put on clothes that don’t fall in the athleisure category, feed the kids something breakfast-like, and have them out the door on time for carpool - there is no stopping that kind of pride. It has no bounds. I should just wear a neck sign proclaiming my Super Adult status and everyone should steer clear of me unless they want a blow by blow of how I managed to accomplish this amazing feat.
Super Adult Days are few and far between, but my need for validation isn’t reserved to those days. If, on a regular day when I’ve run but not showered, friends I bump into don’t seem to notice my accomplishment, then I guide them there with a quick quad stretch while appearing to check my heart rate on my Apple Watch. I don’t actually know how to check my heart rate on my Apple Watch and I wouldn’t know what to do with that information if I did. “The weather - I know it’s just crazy lately. When I got up to run at 5 o’clock this morning it was so cold but it’s really warmed up.” See how I slipped in the part about how early I woke up as well? Skilled Slacker Pride.
The most fertile ground for Slacker Pride is often the dirt on your face from your more epic screw ups. Organization is not one of my strong suits and this has become more problematic as I have created more humans who depend on me to be places they’re supposed to be and wearing things they are supposed to wear.
I bought my first fancy grown up planner last year when I had forgotten Nursery Rhyme Dress Up Day, two birthday parties, and a Girl Scout meeting all in one month. Basically, my life made me do it - I wanted no part of it, but once I got that big beautiful book with tabs and pockets and inspirational quotes in my hands, I couldn’t wait to put all the things in my planner and watch it change my life (Spoiler: it didn’t, but my kids almost always have on the right clothes for school now).
I bought special pens for color coding and highlighters called ‘mildliners’ because they are pastel, and pastels are more soothing and conducive to organization, at least according to the rabbit hole I fell down on Google.
“Do you want to carpool to the birthday party on Thursday? I was looking at my planner this morning when I got up at 5 o’clock to go run in the cold and realized I could take them there if you could pick them up.” You don’t have to include the part about running in the cold, but why not? Combo Slacker Pride.
The lesson here is this: If you have a friend who keeps mentioning a thing they do that millions of other people also do, but without telling store clerks about it, then your friend is probably not naturally skilled at this thing. If your friend is like me, then they are a fraud with good intentions and new goals. We are faking it until we make it, hanging all our hopes for being a real grown up on birthday candle wishes.
Your job is to treat us like the children we are and give us the validation we need. This is how we will manage to stimulate our children’s brains with family field trips. This is how we will get excited enough about pastel highlighters to actually use the fancy planner so it can serve its purpose on earth. This is how we will get up at 5-freaking-a.m. again and drag our sloth selves back outside to run, in the dark so nobody can see us or hear us as we curse and gasp for breath and negotiate with ourselves about how if we run up the next hill instead of walk it then we can forgo the last quarter mile loop we usually do because clearly we need you to or we are hitting the snooze button and it will all be your fault. And that is what you call: Master Level Blame Appropriation.
Elizabeth Quinn makes her home in Northeast Jackson with her husband Percy and four children.