Mediocre Mom Manual:
40th Birthday Surprises

Hello everyone! I’m back. Not that you noticed I was gone or anything, but in the event you asked yourself, “Hey, where’s that lady that used to write about sniffing panties and female crotch maintenance? I haven’t seen her posts in a while,” you’ll be glad to know that I am still standing and my fingers are still typing out words.

I took some time off to deal with a few things going on in my life, and over the summer spent a five-week sabbatical in Arizona with my three children while living with my parents who just moved into their new home and sharing two vehicles between three adults. If that doesn’t spell R.E.S.T.F.U.L., I don’t know what does. I did a lot of walking and a lot of wine drinking, and well, a lot of crying to be honest.

This year has been one of those years I’m going to look back on and label the-year-that-changed-everything, for a million reasons, many of which I won’t go into detail about now. But one of those reasons is that in a few short days, I will officially turn 40.



I have plenty of daily reminders that my age is not something that is slipping by quietly; such as the comments from my middle daughter. “Mom, how come you never wear cute clothes like the other moms? You always wear your stretch pants and baggy shirts?” Or the comments from my five-year-old. “Mom, will my boobs be that low when I’m older?” Or the comments from my son, “My hair looks just fine, I don’t need to use shampoo.” Okay, maybe that comment is about him, but then again, at 13, everything is about him.

I’m pretty honest about what type of personality I have (Type A), and that as a general rule I enjoy being in control of situations and making plans. But because of other things in my life this past year, I have also realized that most of the time my control is an illusion. Situations happen that I can’t do a thing about. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes not-so-good. But I’m learning to appreciate the times I’m not in control of.



My sisters and my mom brought this lesson home to me while I was in Arizona this summer. I had planned a weekend in Phoenix; the kids were going to stay at their aunts for a few days and I was going to visit with friends and relish in my kid-less moments. I had a detailed, itemized schedule of events, a timetable with very little wiggle room—coffee with one friend, lunch across town a few hours later, a facial before dinner, dinner with co-workers, and an evening swim at my uncles. Each day, planned, prepared, utilizing every minute.

And then my sister handed me a creepy note with words cut from a magazine, and when I couldn’t figure out if she was going to kill me or had lost her mind, she announced she was kidnapping me for the weekend. My mom laughed. She was downright giddy. She’d been part of the plan all along, too. My kids were just baffled, much like myself.

I was torn. It sounded exciting, but clearly she didn’t know about my plans. Clearly she didn’t understand I had people to see and things to do, and how could I possibly go somewhere for the whole weekend? I’ll admit it only to you: I was panicked.

“You’re worried about your plans, aren’t you?” she asked me. (Because it takes a Type A to know a Type A.)

“Ummm, yes,” I replied.

“Here’s your adjusted itinerary,” she told me, thrusting a piece of manila cardstock into my hands. “I’ve called all your appointments and rescheduled all of your activities, but you’ll be staying a few more days in Phoenix than you planned.”

Well. When your professional-sister-in-PR hands you your “adjusted itinerary,” you take it, nod, and say nothing. She’s dotted her I’s and crossed her T’s and she clearly covered all her bases, even down to the lies she (and my mother) told me for weeks. She’s always rocked her job, and now I was the direct beneficiary of her Type-A-ness. Woot!


To say that I was stunned (and still a bit confused), is an understatement of vast proportions, but I had a nice long drive to get it all sorted out in my head. They wouldn’t tell me where we were going, but it wasn’t in Arizona (what??), and I finally guessed we were going to Palm Springs, which meant my other sister in San Diego was meeting us there (I’m a crazy good sleuth). Double Woot!


My mom, my two sisters, and I spent the week at a resort in Palm Springs, sitting by the pool, shopping, drinking wine, getting pedicures, laughing, and being silly in ways you can only do with people you’ve farted in front of as a child. All because I’ve hit the age where my clothes aren’t up to par anymore and my boobs sag. I paid for absolutely nothing all weekend, which felt weird, and while I had the time of my life, it was difficult to understand (and accept) the amount of effort, time, planning, and money that went into a weekend Just. For. Me. Being the recipient of this amount of effort and unselfish love hasn’t been my experience, and quite honestly, I felt unworthy of it all weekend.

And as I sat down by the deserted pool at 7 a.m. each morning, drinking my iced mocha and staring at the amazing desert mountain vista, a life changing thought occurred to me. What started out as an anxiety-filled, uncontrollable weekend idea had blessed me beyond measure. Perhaps I’ve missed out on other graces and blessings in my life because I’ve always been so quick to control every situation. I didn’t plan that weekend—or would have ever conceived of something so lavish and self-indulgent—and yet, there I was, surrounded by beauty and grace and laughter and fun at every turn. As I head into my 40th year of life, I’m not where I thought I’d be and there are more questions in my life than answers now. But that doesn’t have to be a negative thing. Perhaps God has many more graces and blessings waiting for me around the corner—greater than I could ever imagine—and now I’m finally in a place to let them happen. My boobs aren’t heading north anytime soon, but my attitude and outlook sure have.

I’d love to hear what one of your birthday milestones taught you! Share with me! Cool clothing is optional of course!

More From GEM:

Forced Family Fun: The Apple-Picking Edition
Ask Rene: My Mom, My Kids, My Vacation NIGHTMARE!

Rachel Vidoni is a professional writer and blogger and former classroom teacher. She is a mediocre mother to three pretty neat kids. You can follow her humor and family blog at You might not be a better parent after reading her blog, but you will feel like one. Follow her on Twitter @RachelVidoni.