Battle Buddies

By Julie Weckerlein

Before children, I was the one who was always late to the party, the one making the glamorous entrance after spending a little extra time perfecting the lipliner or hair flip.


I’m late to the play dates because I have to make 30 trips back into the house, grabbing an extra bottle/diaper/stuffed toy/band-aid/directions before we can finally buckle up and back out of the driveway. No matter how many lists I make, no matter how serious I am about planning ahead, it never fails.

I’m always late.

So it’s fitting that I’m late to the Army of Ermas, squeezing in a singular post before closing time.

But I have to admit, as a longtime lurker, I don’t feel like an FNG. Not when I’ve been following the likes of Stacey Graham, Jason Tudor, and Pauline Campos for years, snickering at the cleverness and laughing at the banter as the Army shared adventures from the front lines of family life.

Because let’s face it: parenthood is psychological warfare.

Nothing challenges, defines, and beats the crap out of our value systems, belief systems, emotions, reasoning, and behavior quiet like the job of raising children, and we get it from all sides.

We get it from Mother Nature as she tap-dances with our hormones from puberty onward. We get it from our spouses or significant others, intentional or not, as they hold us accountable to our promises.

We definitely get it from our children, from the very second they wrap their little hands around our hearts and squeeze, growing too fast and away from us because that’s how it’s supposed to be, even though it hurts.

And we get it from the outside. The pressure. The standards. The labels. The blame. We like to point to television shows, blogs, magazines, books, articles, photos, those other moms who are doing things better, faster, thinner, healthier, more lovely, more perfect. Everywhere we go, there are more than enough things out there ready to amplify our deepest insecurities as mothers.

There’s always incoming psychological artillery, and there’s really no way to avoid it. So, it’s good to have battle buddies.

Battle buddies don’t judge you based on how you’ve named your children.

They don’t judge your yoga pants or your thrift store jeans.

Battle buddies remind you that you don’t have to be the perfect parent by revealing their own imperfections.

Battle buddies get flustered and admit it.

Battle buddies will admit, too, that they’ve rewashed their silverware because it takes too much energy to pull ‘em out of the dishwasher.

They offer advice on romance and dating, for those who need it and even for those who don’t.

They give recipes, cleaning tips, some insight about the other gender.

Battle buddies want to help make things better.

Most of all, battle buddies reach...across tables...over telephones...through blogs: it doesn’t matter; they reach out, and they make you laugh.

Thanks for making me laugh, Army of Ermas.

In 2001, Julie Weckerlein started a little website called Julie and Martin for friends and family to follow her wedding plans. At the time, she was in the Air Force and Martin was in the German Army. But then the terrorist attacks on 9/11 happened, and the site took on a new role. Eleven years later, the site continues to be a reflection of their lives, reaching a worldwide audience with stories about juggling married life with home life with work life and everything in between. Now living in the Washington DC area with two daughters and son, Julie and Martin continue to document their lives on www.julieandmartin.com, which recently earned the 2011 Parents Magazine Readers Choice Award for Best All-Around Mom Blog.


Bacon, Boobies and Bad Choices

Once on-up a time, a merry band of bricoleur scribblers gathered, under the direction of Stacey Graham, with one goal: to make people giggle, and to do it regularly. With laughter being the best medicine of all, and an ever-invasive portion of the world teetering off its meds, this was a good goal. But as anyone who has peered into an empty Valium bottle (three days before it could be refilled) knows, the best of things may come to an end; sometimes, before you even know it. 

Writing our monthly essays started out sort of like experimental art. Eager to fill slots, I sometimes wrote more than one a month. We had guests, honorary Ermas and writers who slipped in and back out again. We continually shared what I believe were some of the funniest words-in-a-particular-order to be found anywhere. More than once, I approached Terminal Velocity Cackle. That is the point where something’s gotta give. Either I wrangled in a breath, or, as the Supreme Mr. Barber said, I would go on home to be with the Lord. Luckily I’m a fairly decent wrangler.

So many topics have flowed out of our minds, through our fingers and hit the digital page. Dating, marriage, childbirth and labor (in the middle of winter), empty nests, diapers, college, new houses, pantyhose and bra straps. M*A*S*H episodes, laundry, cooking (as a sport!), diets, death and flaming toast -- who among us can’t relate? We’ve crashed hot air balloons, groaned in commiseration about dysfunctional family gatherings and discussed the ever-intriguing Cupcake. Against a few protests, we’ve even discussed bodily functions. We’ve offered advice to our younger selves, and to complete strangers, all the while discussing everyday things like naming our Christmas trees, surviving dog and cat ownership, putting out kitchen fires and deciding whether to love or hate Spandex. 

And finally, we have fulfilled what we set out to do. We wrote, we shared our lives, and many of you found a reason to laugh. We’ve talked about boobies, bacon (Kevin, and otherwise), and bad choices, and now it’s time to climb out of the nest and sail on to our next destinations. If you think that the lot of us are finished, think again. You might have to follow us on our respective blogs to know where we’ve landed next time, but take my word: you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet! 


Carole Lee is a writer whose inquisitive nature sends her frolicking about after more music, more life, more words and more hedonism, because eventually all of the cupcakes and liquor run out. When she’s not renovating her historic folk Victorian nestled in the middle of Nowhere, Tennessee or wrestling with her geriatric Chow and neurotic Lab, she’s plunking out freelance DIY articles and writing her first novel. Visit her blogs, Irrational Propensity, and Irrational Propensity - Renovations to see what she’s up to lately.