Making Out: I'll Tell You Mine

Making Out is a series centered on how Jess Burnquist, mother, writer, and teacher is "making out' as she processes adolescent issues amid the glare of parenthood and the shadows of nostalgia.

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I tried eliminating sugar from my diet this week. That was dumb. I’m wiping the crumbs from a Thin Mint as I type this—damn you, Girl Scouts.

Earlier, a friend confided in me that she marvels over my ability to juggle so many things. You’re just so together, she said while making a hasty goodbye. As soon as she left, I popped another cookie in my mouth.

Has she always felt this way, I wondered. Does she really not know that I’m kind of a disaster?

In the spirit of full disclosure, here are fifteen things I wish I’d been able to tell her on the spot:

  1. When my son, Andrew, was two years old, and Lilly had just been born, the doorbell rang. We were in my bedroom and I was changing Lilly’s diaper. I told my toddler to watch his sister while I answered the door. Let me repeat that. I told my 27 months old child to supervise my days-old child. When I realized what I had done, I slammed the door in a stunned UPS man’s face before racing up the stairs to find my son watching his sister wriggle dangerously close to the edge of the bed as though she were an action movie.

  2. Right now my closet floor is a laundry pond that we need to trudge through in order to reach Clean-Clothes Island. A month ago, we filled a dry bathtub with dirty laundry when a friend called to say he would be stopping by in 10 minutes. Talk about teamwork and gratitude for the little things—like shower curtains.

  3. This morning my daughter was taking forever to get ready and her pokiness threatened to make us late for work and school. When I went to put my makeup on, I realized she had left my cosmetics bag in the car in spite of my requests for her to bring it in if she wanted to borrow it in the first place. I became irrational in my frustration. My husband came into the room and asked her what he could do to help speed things along. He found a lint roller because apparently she had been picking dog hairs one-by-one off of her leggings. They laughed about something. He returned to the kitchen where I was gathering my things and I yelled at him for being the ‘nice one’.

  4. When she finally got into the car, expecting me to race out of the driveway toward the freeway, I turned on the overhead light and began applying mascara. To make a point. As if I was 14. Like her.

  5. When my son asked me to edit his AP essay after I had just spent 4 hours grading my students’ work, I fantasized lighting his paper on fire and shaking my head in slow motion while the word no carried into the Universe breaking the sound barrier.

  6. I went to call my daughter the other day and realized that I dialed my own number. That felt horrifically Freudian.

  7. I have now attempted to listen to the Serial: Season 2 Episode 6 podcast every night for the last 8 days and have fallen asleep each time before the introduction is finished. WTF happens?!?

  8. I’ve worn two different shoes—not even in the same color category twice in the last three months. I’ve resorted to keeping an extra pair of sandals at work because I know I’ll do it again.

  9. I have almost called my mother 6 times this week just to cry about how I don’t even have time to cry.

  10. My son understands the stock market and when I asked him to explain it to me he gave up after 10 minutes. This is what it felt like to edit your essay, I wanted to say. (It would have been a lie. The essay was so good.)

  11. I have a staring contest with my at-home elliptical trainer machine every single day. I bought it used from my Vice Principal. I am always terrified she’ll ask me how it’s working because I might accidentally answer that it makes an amazing clothes rack.

  12. I curse when I drive. A lot. I’m vulgar-on-wheels. Did I mention that I drive my daughter to school every day? I bought her noise canceling headphones because some habits are just too delicious to break.

  13. The last time my family ate at a dinner table that wasn’t in my mother’s house or in a restaurant was around 2009.

  14. My daughter had 2 unexcused absences earlier this month. This is because I forgot to excuse her from the school where she attends and WHERE I ALSO WORK.

  15. The reason I even bought an at-home elliptical in the first place is because I’m still scarred from being asked to leave an aerobics class in college and told to come back for the beginners-version of the class. This request was made by the instructor—an Olivia Newton John circa Xanadu look-a-like. I was so bad at grape-vining that she considered me a safety hazard. Somehow all gyms have come to represent this moment in my life.

Anyway, I really, really, really want another Thin Mint.

What are your confessions in the name of transparent parenting? Please share!

You may find archived installments of Making Out, and other work by Jess, at