I’m The Girl With The Big Umbrella

I’m Tracey, wife and mother of two. I was born, raised, and made my home in South Florida – the land of sun and sand and very tan people.

And I’ve proudly lived under a big, fat, glorious umbrella for over 20 years.

I didn’t realize I lived under one until very recently.  I never thought about the fact that I’m going to need to step out from under it very soon…and I’m terrified. Everything I love is under this umbrella. I’m so damn happy under this umbrella. I keep all my important things under it.  So many, many things. I’m probably just one “thing” away from being labeled a hoarder. I cannot part with even one because each and every one unequivocally defines me.

I’ve been under this umbrella so long, I’ve named it.

I’ve developed some serious skills under here. I’ve developed the ability to smell strep throat (my rate of accurate diagnosis baffles the pediatricians). I’ve also gained the ability to catch and contain projectile vomit from clear across a room before a single drop hits its intended target (usually bed linens or an overpriced designer rug). I’ve recently honed the invaluable skill of sniffing out toxic people before they’ve had a chance to take a seat in my life.  I became a yoga instructor and opened a thriving studio. It blossomed into five locations. In one crazy year. I wrote a cookbook for my daughter under here, too.

I’ve served as a PTA president.  I’ve chaired luncheons and coordinated community events while simultaneously creating a winning science fair project (with just three petri dishes, 2 hours and a glue stick). I’ve been a room mother eighteen times. I perfected a brisket that a self-proclaimed-brisket-hating rabbi became addicted to.

I honed my medical skills under the hallowed panels of the umbrella. I would venture to say that I could go head-to-head with a first year pediatric resident in a rousing game of “what’s that rash?”  And win.  Wearing a blind fold.  I can also roast a chicken like nobody’s business.

I’ve successfully crammed an entire year of Honors Chemistry into one weekend marathon and funneled it into a 14 year-old boy’s brain (he got an A, by the way).  I have perfected a mean “come to Jesus” that will bring even the most defiant teen to his or her knees.  I am currently raising a teen daughter and neither one of us has killed each other yet (my most challenging accomplishment, to date).

I’ve buried too many people too soon and lost too many friendships (many by fault of my own).  I have an overflowing shoebox filled with regrets somewhere under here. I’ve quit bad habits under the umbrella…and adopted some pathetic new ones (they usually involved virtual farms or crushing candy or flapping birds).

My husband – my rock, my childhood sweetheart, and forever love of my life – knows how much I need my beloved umbrella to exist. He knows that I’ve been holding my umbrella for so long that my skin has fused to the handle. He knows how much the umbrella defines me while sustaining my sense of self.  He patiently waits for me to step out from under the umbrella and feel the sun on my face, hand-in-hand with him, as we enter the next sunny stage of our lives. He waits patiently because he knows I am terrified. He also waits from a distance because I’m starting to go through menopause and he’s slightly terrified of me.

My big beautiful umbrella, by the way, is named “MOTHERHOOD.”  I love living under my umbrella.  I would live here forever in a state of frazzled bliss, if I could.

But here’s the thing….that chemistry whiz I spoke about is now a charismatic fraternity president in his third year of college.  I serendipitously got to go into “overtime” when he chose a college 30 minutes from my house.  He announced that he wants to attend law school in New York in two years.

That willful, beautiful, defiant daughter is in her second year of high school. She’s announced (too emphatically and too many times) that she is counting the days until she packs her bags and heads off to the great unknown of collegiate life outside of Florida.

These two amazing creatures evolved under my magical, marvelous, motherhood umbrella.

All the skills I’ve acquired were for these two people. Except for the cupcakes…cupcakes are universally useful. So is sangria, but that’s an entirely different post (and recipe)

In two years I’ll be standing under this umbrella, with all these wonderful skills…but the people I’ve honed these skills for will leave me.  Leaving is good….it means I did this right.  It means I formed independent, free-thinking, responsible, goal-oriented little humans.  That was the purpose of the umbrella and all the things I hoarded under it.  Right?

It’s just that I don’t really know what to do when I step out from under the umbrella.  I check the classified and have yet to see any job opportunities for highly skilled, slightly-used mothers.

So I’m venturing into the world of blogging before I attempt to step out from under the umbrella.  I haven’t figured out if this is a therapeutic journal or a shout out to my fellow umbrella dwellers.  If you’re out there, umbrella people, tell me:  what’s next?  What does one do with an open umbrella filled with vital mothering skills and no one to mother?


42 thoughts on “I’m The Girl With The Big Umbrella

  1. Hi Tracey,
    Your story is a beautiful one. It sounds as if you could do almost anything, once you adjust to the new ground outside the umbrella. Combatting Motherhood without lasting bruises deserves congratulations! Advice on that alone will probably take up a lot of blog time.

    I look forward to following “the girl under the big umbrella”. Great idea!

  2. Wow! Way to run with it….this is so wonderfully written and expressed I am already anxious for more! Tell me when I can share on my social media. You’re on to something big and I’m thrilled I can say I was there when it all began….Aroma! So glad we didn’t cancel on each other. This is brilliant…as are YOU!!

    • Rochelle, you have motivated me since SPA days and I’m humbled to be the recipient of your “paying it forward” once again. Thank you! Share away 🙂

  3. Well done Tracey, both in your parenting and wonderfully relatable, touching blog entry!

  4. Tracey you always amaze me, enlighten me, make me laugh and now made me cry! This is so honest and scary. I look forward to more “umbrella” and to continuing to follow your journey as I go thru mine. Love you!!!

  5. From one new terrified blogger to the other, Bravo! I forgot how much we do have in common. From the tough stuff to the fun stuff, and a decade in between, I totally “get you” Ms. Lady Under The Umbrella! Stick with it! Kudos to you! Xo

  6. Wow, Tracey! I am a mother of a 6 and a 4 year old and although, G-d willing, they will stick around for a while, reading I’M THE GIRL WITH THE BIG UMBRELLA really touched me and transported me into the not-so-far future! My dad says that all of a sudden, our children leave. We no longer prepare meals, clean noses, schlepp them around… and YES, he claims it truly happens all of a sudden.

    I like to think that we all get a break to enjoy our spouses, our neglected life partners and that the break ends when we become grandparents. Greater parents, that is!

    You have a follower here. You go girl! Kol HaKavod!

  7. You need to write a book, a sitcom or a movie. Seriously, you are too witty and talented to place all your humor on a blog. The Big Umbrella could be the next Modern family or Seinfeld. I laugh til I have tears in my eyes from your Facebook statuses. I know I’d have completely destroyed my makeup if you would turn this into a movie.

  8. Love it! You are very smart and talented so I know it’s going to be great! Good luck and looking forward to more posts.

  9. Tracey you’re my official Momcrush™ btw your umbrella never goes away it just gets patio sized….because you need to make room for the future grandchildren, duh.

  10. LOVE this! Never looked at motherhood as an umbrella but always as a cocoon where I live very very warm and comfortably! I love reading your Facebook posts so I am more than looking forward to reading a blog from you..in the immortal words of someone “You Go Girl!!”

  11. Tracy, you’re amazing and you made me cry. My son is the same age as Lily and I can’t believe it! The time has gone by so quickly. We will always need to keep that umbrella open and ready. You never know when it’s gonna rain and a mom is always prepared. I thank g-d every day that my mom never closed her umbrella, rain or shine! I can’t wait to read your next post!! You need Lily to cover Rianna’s “Umbrella” for your theme song 😉

  12. No words!! But I love love love reading anything you right and always “feel” what your saying!! Blog away! I can’t wait to read more!! Xo

  13. My friend Caryn just shared this on Facebook. I normally do not comment on blogs, but this made me cry. My youngest daughter is a junior and I have an older one in college you have managed to articulate what I haven’t been able to put into words. Thank you, I will share it with other mothers.

  14. Tracey you have a way of saying what everyone is thinking only much funnier! As I prepare to have my firstborn leave for college, I can totally relate to what you are going thru. He is leaving us alone to deal with his thirteen year old sister! Who by the way, puts my death stare to shame. I look forward to reading your blogs for guidance.

  15. Take a peek from under-the-hallowed-panel and dance in the rain. Don’t forget to walk and talk with unconditionally-loving Lucky.

  16. WOOO HOOO Tracey!!! Thanking you in advance in what I’m sure will become another (of my very long list) addictions!

  17. You probably don’t remember me. We’ve only met once or twice. My husband Richard is a friend of your husband. I was so touched by this. I can’t wait to see more.

  18. Tracey….This is great!! Loved reading about your umbrella and looking forward to following your blog….Congratulations!!

  19. Kinda crazy that my umbrella is just opening and I’m already tearing up at the thought of walking out from under it! Well written Tracey! Xo

  20. I am so excited about your new blog! I will share it with everyone. I feel like we just talked on the phone! Good luck!

  21. Congratulations, Tracey! You have such a natural talent as a writer- I can’t wait to read more from you! Best wishes for much blogging success!

  22. Great writing Tracey! I guess I’m a girl with a small umbrella, no kids..

  23. Tracey,
    This is so beautiful!! You are such a talented writer along with everything else you do. Wishing you much love and success under your big umbrella.

  24. Thank you for putting a name on the umbrella….look forward to reading more about “Motherhood” and what it will be like stepping out into the rain….

  25. Tracey…this is amazing. I love the way you write and cannot believe I am now closer to coming out from the umbrella than further – and it is very scary! Looking forward to more posts.

  26. Hi, just wanted to say, I loved this post.
    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

  27. with all your accomplishments…you have already stepped outside your umbrella ,in fact I think you may have built your umbrella

  28. With my older one in college and “baby” in high school, You put my feelings into words…..BEAUTIFUL!

  29. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be useful to read content from other authors and use a little something from other web sites.

  30. What’s up mates, nice post and nice urging commented at this place, I am truly enjoying by these.

  31. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d definitely donate to this excellent blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to brand new updates and will talk about this blog with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

    • A donate button? That exists? (Must immediately research opening up a charity for “almost-unemployed” umbrella dwellers.) I’m totally buying a pony with the donations. Mind blown.

  32. Keep up the excellent work , I read few articles on this website and I think that your site is real interesting and has got sets of superb info .

  33. Hi there! I’m at work browsing your blog! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the fantastic work!

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