Category Archives: Tracy Beckerman – Lost in Suburbia

Tracy Beckerman was living in New York City when her son was born, but a year later, they moved out to New Jersey for the fresh air and big hair. She remembers distinctly the first time she put her son down on grass and he cried. Actually, she did too. Many years later, they have all acclimated to life in the ‘burbs, understand that the wild animal in their backyard is a woodchuck and not a beaver, and have figured out that all roads lead to the mall.
In addition to blogging for The Balancing Act, Tracy writes the syndicated humor column, LOST IN SUBURBIA® which is carried weekly by over 400 newspapers in 25 states and reaches an audience of over 3.5 million readers. She is also the author of the recently published humor book, Rebel without a Minivan: Observations on Life in the ‘Burbs, and is a contributor to a new humor compilation called, See Mom Run: Side-Splitting Essays from the World’s Most Harried Moms.” Beckerman also writes a daily blog about her musings on marriage, motherhood, and dogs that get into the garbage and throw up on the rug.
Tracy has appeared on The Today Show on NBC, the CBS Early Show, LX New York, Better TV, CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood, and numerous radio and print interviews speaking about motherhood and life in the ‘burbs. She also has performed stand-up at the Comic Strip Live in NYC, and other venues.
Prior to her life as a mommy, writer and blogger, Tracy was a writer and producer in the television industry for ten years, managing the Advertising & Promotion department at WCBS-TV New York, and creating award-winning TV and radio scripts for such clients as Lifetime Television, WCBS-TV, CBS and NBC. Her numerous honors for writing include The Erma Bombeck Humor Writers Workshop Award, a Writer’s Guild of America award, a CLIO, International Film and Television awards, and a New York Emmy®. She is a member of the Erma Bombeck Humor Writer’s Group, National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and the National Writer’s Union.
Tracy Beckerman is married to a very understanding guy. They have two children and live in New Jersey where she writes, endeavors to get her family’s whites their brightest white, and avoids, at all costs, driving a minivan.

I Love Muffins… I Just Don’t Want to Look Like One

The Balancing Act

I have always been in awe of the celebrities out in Hollywood who have a baby, and then emerge from their home about a month or so later looking like they were never pregnant at all. Here I am, about 14 years since I popped out my last kid, and I am STILL carrying around the extra baby weight. Of course, after 14 years, you really can’t call it “baby weight” anymore. You simply call it fat.

So, I had been carrying those few extra pounds around for quite some time and failed to notice that over the holidays I had added on a few more extra pounds. And a couple more after that. How is it possible that I could not notice ten more pounds on top of the extra ten, er, fifteen, I was already toting behind me?

The problem was the jeans.

It used to be that…

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T’was a Week Before Christmas

’Twas a week before Christmas and we all were still shopping
Brookstone was packed and the Mac store was hopping
A sale at the Gap and at Lucky Brand beckoned.
There was 50 cents left in my wallet, I reckoned.

But the stocking was stuffed and the tips had been tipped.
The gift to Aunt Millie had finally been shipped.
The cards had gone out and we’d hung up the wreath,
So my husband and I breathed a sigh of relief.

The children were safely all tucked in their beds
as visions of Christmas gifts danced in their heads.
More Barbies, more Furbies, more Transformers too.
Dreaming of Angry Birds, Elmo and Pooh.

Then from way up above there arose such a clatter.
My husband ran up to see what was the matter.
Someone was walking up there on the house.
And that someone was bigger for sure than a mouse.

A burglar? A reindeer? What could it be?
Something was headed straight for our chimney.

And then with an “oomf” and an “ugh” he came down,
Not through the chimney but down to the ground.
With big rosy cheeks and good cheer galore
Our mystery roof-walker appeared at the door.

“I’m the guy that you called, I’m a roofer named Kringle.
All that snow that just fell? It ruined your shingles.
“You need a new roof,” said the man dressed in red.
“If you don’t do it soon it’ll fall in on your head.”

We looked at the children asleep in their beds,
At the pile of bills, and then scratched our heads.
Then we gave him a Visa to clean up the mess
Because Kringle won’t take American Express.

©2012, Beckerman. All rights reserved.
FINAL Book Cover copyMy new book, “Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant. Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs” is now available for PRE-ORDER! Yes, I know it won’t be out for 4 months, but think of how excited you’ll be in anticipation of receiving your copy the moment it comes out!” To pre-order yours, CLICK HERE>

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How to Tell the Difference Between a Knee a Flower

Me: “Hi Honey, it’s me.”

Hubby: “Hey Tray, what’s up?”

Me: “I just got back from the orthopedist about my knee and I wanted to let you know what he said.”

Hubby: “OK. What’s the verdict.”

Me: “He thinks I have a torn, um… a torn, um… shoot! I can’t remember what it’s called.”

Hubby: “What does it sound like?”

Me: “Umm. Oh, I know. It’s a torn Nabisco.”

Hubby: “You have a torn cookie company?”

Me: “No. That’s not right. Let me think. I have a torn… Spartacus?”

Hubby: “That would be an ancient Greek hero.”

Me: “OK. Hang on a second. It is a torn Hibiscus.”

Hubby: “I don’t think that’s it.”

Me: “No?”

Hubby: “A hibiscus is a flower.”

Me: “Well I know it sounds like hibiscus.”

Hubby: “How about Meniscus.”

Me: “Yes!!! It is a Meniscus! That’s it!!”

Hubby: “OK. you have a torn Meniscus. That’s not good.”

Me: “Well the doctor said it could be worse.”

Hubby: “How’s that?”

Me: “At least it’s not my Godzilla.”

Hubby: “Patella.”

Me: “Right.”

©2012, Beckerman. All rights reserved.
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Sit, Stay and Buy Me Something Shiny

(This story is part of the collection of essays in my first book, “Rebel without a Minivan.”Since we just adopted a new puppy and are reliving those awesome housebreaking days all over again, I thought I would share it here!)

Once we got our new puppy, I immediately started counting the days to when he could start obedience school.

“I know they can’t help housebreak him,” I said to my mother as I cleaned up another puddle in the kitchen. “But with any luck, in eight weeks I will have a dog that comes when I call him, sits, lies down, and stays on command.”

This got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be great if they had obedience school for kids? An eight-week program would teach such basics as, “Make your bed,” “Go to sleep,” and “Eat what I put in front of you.” Then, maybe you could do an extended obedience program that teaches more complex commands such as, “No whining,” “Turn off the TV,” and “Do your homework.” I know that technically, it’s supposed to be my job to teach them that, but since they don’t seem to be getting the point from me, a little obedience school reinforcement couldn’t hurt.

Then I thought, “Hey, why limit this to kids? How about an obedience school for husbands?”

The basic eight-week program would cover such necessities as “Do the dishes,” “Take out the Garbage,” and “Put your socks in the hamper.” Then you could do an additional program that would have them respond positively to such commands as “Give me the credit card, I’m going shoe shopping,” “Bathe the kids and put them to bed while I lounge on the sofa and do my nails,” and “Lets go see that new Chick Flick tonight.”

The possibilities give me goose bumps.

My husband, of course, would probably think there should be an obedience program for wives, as well. Forget mundane commands like “Pick up the Dry Cleaning.” His school would covers things like, “Could you wear something sexy to bed tonight instead of that ratty, old t-shirt,” “Could we have something else for supper besides meatloaf,” and “Let’s go see that mindless new action film starring that aging actor who’s really too old to be doing this and that hot model-turned actress who couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag.”

Oh yeah, he would loooove that!

But this is my fantasy, so we’ll move on.

In the same way that some people with driving violations have to go to traffic school, I would love to be able to send rude people to manners school. The guy who repeatedly tries to sneak 20 groceries on the 10 items or less line; the lady who swoops in and takes the parking spot you’ve been waiting for at the mall; the person who snorts and huffs and sighs loudly and taps their nails when they’re waiting for you to finish paying for something and its taking a long time but its not your fault because the debit card machine isn’t working. Yeah, those people. Send ‘em off to obedience school and teach them “No extra groceries,” “No stealing spots,” and “No impatient, huffy noises!”

I’d like to see schools for garbage men that teaches them not to dump half the garbage in my driveway when they empty the cans into their truck; schools for inconsiderate parents that teaches them not to send their coughing, sneezing, typhoid-carrying kids to my house for a playdate; and a school that teaches other dog owners that they do, in fact, have to clean up after their dog when he goes potty on my lawn.

Yes, this would certainly make life nice and easy. But then, I suppose, I would miss out on all the rewards of actually achieving the same results by utilizing my own communication skills. Not that I’m a big fan of confrontation. But there’s something to be said for working out your own problems.

I was thinking about all of this when I ran into a friend at the coffee shop.

“Where are you off to?” he asked.

“I’m on my way to obedience school.”

“Oh really,” he said. “Is your husband sending you?”

Apparently, we need an obedience school for wise-cracking friends, as well.

How Shopping for Toothpaste can Melt Your Brain

Recently I had to go to the drugstore to buy a tube of toothpaste. It took me an hour and a half and I almost had a nervous breakdown. In all honesty, I absolutely believe that there are people in psychiatric hospitals right now who are there as a direct result of shopping for toothpaste. In fact, in the top ten list of life stressors, I think toothpaste shopping is right up there behind Death, Moving, and Divorce. And actually, if done with your spouse, toothpaste shopping can probably lead to divorce.

The problem for me started, of course, when I ran out of toothpaste. Surprisingly, in my house, this is not a common event. I typically buy a good number of my heavily-used drug store items in bulk at one of those wholesale clubs where the choices are limited and one box contains enough toothpaste for a year. Given three different kinds of toothpaste to choose from, I can usually narrow it down pretty easily and be done with the whole thing before you can say, “Look Ma, no cavities.”

However, one fine day I was packing for a trip when I realized we were almost out of toothpaste. I didn’t really feel like making the whole trip to the wholesale club, so I decided to just swing buy the local drug store and pick up a tube.
What I didn’t realize was that at some point over the years while I had been buying in bulk, the toothpaste manufacturers had all lost their minds. What other reason could explain the fact that toothpaste now took up an entire aisle of the drugstore, all by itself, with more brands, features and shapes than you could squeeze a tube of, er, well, you know what, at.

There was the Cool Mint Gel, the Rejuvenating Effects Liquid Gel, the Multicare Paste, Multicare Gel, Tartar Control Paste, Tartar Control Gel, Toothpaste Plus Scope, Gel Plus Scope, Sensitivity, and Sensitivity with Scope. There was the Whitening Paste, the Whitening Gel, Dual-Care Whitening, Multicare Whitening, and Tartar Control Whitening. There was Whitening Plus Scope, Whitening Plus Scope Extreme, Vivid White, and Whitening Expressions in Cinnamon Rush, Extreme Herbal Mint, Refreshing Vanilla Mint and Lemon Ice.

And this was just one brand.

There were thirteen other brands to choose from and they all had their own versions of gels, pastes, flavors and features. There were toothpastes just for seniors, toothpastes just for kids and toothpastes for people who don’t even have any teeth. There was toothpaste with ginger, toothpaste with fennel, and toothpaste with all natural sea algae for people who want breath as fresh as kelp. There was so much toothpaste, it made my head hurt and I finally had to take a break and go over to the analgesic aisle and buy some aspirin. Unfortunately, when I got there, I couldn’t find the aspirin because the shelves were overflowing with various brands of Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen and Naproxen in caplets, tablets, geltabs, gelcaps, coated caplets, coated tablets, liquid and drops.

Realizing that I would get a bigger headache looking for headache medicine, I bailed on the analgesics and decided what I really needed was a cold drink. Fortunately, this was one of those drug stores that also had a refrigerated section, so I headed over to the soda case and searched the racks for a diet soda. They had regular Coke, Diet Coke, Caffeine Free Coke, Caffeine Free Diet Coke, Coke with Lemon, Coke with Lime, Cherry Coke, Vanilla Coke, and Coca-Cola Zero.

Don’t even get me started on the Pepsi.

Feeling utterly and completely overwhelmed by the myriad of choices in just about every category of the store, I went back to the toothpaste aisle, closed my eyes, reached out and grabbed the first tube my hand came in contact with.

That night my husband went into the bathroom to brush his teeth before bed.

“Hey Honey,” he said, holding up the new tube of toothpaste. “Why do we have a toothpaste for people with dry mouth?”

 I looked up and shrugged. “It was all they had.”

©2012, Beckerman. All rights reserved.
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This Blog is Full of Bologna

The great thing about handbags is that no matter how much weight you gain or lose, they always fit. This is why I love bags and have more of them than I am willing to admit in a column or a court of law.

As obsessions go, it is a relatively harmless one. The only down side is moving all my stuff from one bag to another. In an effort to simplify the process, I got one of those big inserts that is essentially a bag within a bag so I can just pull the contents of my bag out in one fell swoop. But even with that, I still manage to lose track of things from time to time. The issue is actually less one of having multiple bags and more to do with the fact that no matter which bag I use, as soon as I move into it, it becomes a virtual black hole of bagdom.

It’s actually a good thing that I switch bags fairly frequently because if I used the same bag all the time, there are things in there that would be lost for years. I have found the usual suspects, such as lone earrings, missing safe deposit box keys and errant change. But I have also discovered other things that I didn’t ever even recall putting in there, including such questionable items as an egg timer, a tooth (not mine), the neighbor’s cat (just seeing if you are paying attention) and a fake rubber fly. I’m pretty sure if the Feds ever decided to step up their search for Jimmy Hoffa, they would most likely find him at the bottom of one of my bags.

Because things tend to disappear in my bag, I have gotten into the habit of making sure I hang up my car keys the minute I walk into the house, lest I drop them into my bag and they get sucked into a tunnel and out the other side of the universe or into John Malkovich’s head.

I was sure I had done this the day I came home from the supermarket. But when I went to retrieve my keys from their hanging place so I could drop off the kids at school, the keys weren’t there. I knew I hadn’t put them in my bag, because I never put them in my bag, so I went to check the car to see if I left them in the ignition.

No keys.

Then I looked in the pocket of my jacket.

No keys.

Then I checked the bathroom.

No keys.

Now I was starting to freak out. The kids had to be at the school in 10 minutes and there was no time to walk there and no keys to be found.

I took a breath and thought for a minute. Since the only place I hadn’t actually checked was my bag, I figured I had nothing to lose. Rather than fish around in the black hole, I grabbed the bag and dumped the contents onto the floor. Out came my wallet, sunglasses, makeup bag, a couple of pens, and… a package of bologna.

Blinking in confusion at the bologna, I shook my head and then had a sudden realization.

I picked up the bologna and walked over to the fridge, opened the door and peered in.

Just then, my daughter appeared in the kitchen.

“Ready for school,” she said.

“Great,” I replied.

“What are we having for lunch?” she wondered.

I reached into the fridge and pulled something very unmeat-like out of the meat drawer.

“Car keys.”

©2012, Beckerman. All rights reserved.
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The Evolution of Naked

When your kids are babies, they have absolutely no concept of you being naked. They have bigger fish to fry such as eating, sleeping and pooping. But sometime around age two, they suddenly get what naked is and then the naked questions come out.

“Mommy, where is your penis?” Asked my son the first time he saw me naked and actually realized I was, in fact, naked.

When I admitted that I didn’t have one, he wondered if I had lost it or if it had just wandered off.

This seemed like a good time to explain the differences between girls and boys. It also seemed like a good time to stop being naked around my son.

Of course, he had no problem with his nakedness and he and his sister would run around sans clothes whenever they had the opportunity.

This was the beginning of what we came to know as the funny naked stage. The kids figured anything that you could do with clothes on, was much funnier when you did it naked. This included answering the front door, getting the mail out of the mailbox and walking the dog. Not that we let anyone actually do that last one, because, you know, it would have embarrassed the dog.

Funny naked lasted for several years. And then, just like when Eve bit into the apple and realized she and Adam were wandering around Eden without so much as a catcher’s mitt to cover their private parts, my kids suddenly decided that being naked wasn’t funny anymore. Oddly enough, this was still years before they had anything to hide. Yet, at some point a naked clock went off in their heads that said, “Time to cover up,” and naked went away. Except for butts. Butts were still funny. Especially when they belonged to other people.

As we entered the teenage years, though, even the butts got put away, and then only butt cracks were funny. We were down to just a tiny little line between two cheeks. It was truly the end of naked.

I was a little sad for the end of naked. It was a milestone… the transition from childhood to adulthood. I realized that there wouldn’t be another little naked body running through my house until I became a grandmother one day. Not that I wasn’t enjoying the new place we were in with our teens, but I still mourned the end of the innocence, sweetness and joyful nakedness of my children’s childhood.

Then one day someone got an accidental glimpse of me naked. This is when I realized that we had indeed left the funny naked stage and had entered the grossnaked stage.

“EWWWW!” bellowed my daughter, slamming the bathroom door shut closed after she had walked in on me getting out of the shower. “You’re naked!”

“Yeah, you kind of have to be naked for the shower to be effective, you know?” I responded through the door.

“Okay. But ewww, anyway!” She answered.

“Why eww?” I wondered. “It’s all the same stuff you have.”

“Yeah,” she responded. “But my stuff naked doesn’t look as bad as you’re stuff naked.”

And that, was the naked truth.

©2012, Beckerman. All rights reserved.
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