Today call me embarrassed.

Today call me embarrassed, although my kids would argue embarrasSING is more accurate. Just because I like to croon at the top of my lungs and car-dance in the front seat to Pink when I’m dropping Jack and Karly off at school. Please. They don’t know what true humiliation is. 

So for their sake (Kids? You’re welcome!) I’m devoting a post to moments from my past that were far worse than having your mom shout, “So raise your glass if you are wrong in all the right ways!” with the windows down. In her pajamas. And slippers.  What.

As a teacher, I’ve endured every embarrassing cliché one might imagine befalling a human being who stands before one hundred-twenty high school students each day:

  1. Zipper down.
  2. Hair sticking up.
  3. Booger in nose.
  4. Shirt buttons undone.
  5. Pit stains on blouse.
  6. Chalk streaks across butt.
  7. Pen smears streaking face.
  8. Food between teeth (extra-credit for green).
  9. Fart sounds from chair. I swear. It was the chair.

And the final submission – in all caps –

  1. MOTHERHOOD MISHAPS.           

Yes, to my mamas out there who have been or who are currently pregnant, trust me when I say having your water break in the frozen food section of the grocery store is small potatoes compared to the trials I suffered during the process of growing and feeding mini-people with my body. 

So I’m going to share a few favorites and let you decide which situation wins (like Us Magazine’s Who Wore it Best, except not. Because when there are only two celebrity pictures to compare, the caption should read “better,” and also everything I wear generally looks Worse.)

Ready to cringe?  Consider yourself warned.

Situation # 1:

I’m sitting in a circle with my American Lit class reading The Crucible out loud. My students are nailing the roles of John and Elizabeth Proctor.  And oh, yeah. I have to pee. Urgently.

But we’re in the midst of an emotional, thematically relevant scene, I tell myself. You can wait five minutes for the bell. 

Then suddenly?  I can’t wait.

“Sorry! I’ve gotta go,” I say, a tiny bit embarrassed. When I stand, the full weight of the baby crushes my bladder and I feel a slow trickle of horror that’s unfortunately NOT my water breaking. I try to keep my legs crossed as I hobble out the door.

You’re in a maternity dress, I think. They probably don’t know.  That you pretty much peed yourself in a room full of teenagers?

Oh, Julie. Believe me. They knew.

Situation # 2:

The Bladder Assaulter has been born (Hooray!) and I’ve returned to the classroom (or my bathroom, as I like to think of it). I’m a working mom who’s not only breastfeeding but also determined to prove the continued excellence of her teaching. So I work the whiteboard like nobody’s business. I explicate poems! Create Venn Diagrams! Outline expository essays!

I’m back in the saddle, don’t you see? (!) That’s when the rise and fall of my arms across my chest elicits a familiar tingle. Then a swelling. Then release. And my milk lets down in a room full of teenagers. 

Maybe they don’t know, I think, rushing across the classroom to slip a blazer over my dripping, stained sweater.

Oh, Julie. Believe me. They knew.

Situation # 3: IwillnotleakIwillnotleakIwillnotleakIwillnotleak. To that end, I lug a heavy-duty Medela Double-Sided Breast Pump to school. It’s more expensive than my car but it milks me like a dairy cow on my lunch break so there’s that. I simply lock my classroom door, turn off the lights, attach myself to the suction cups and Go. To. Town.

Until the assistant principal assumes my class is empty (lights out, door locked, what could possibly go wrong?) and opts to use his Master Key to “leave this note on Julie’s desk.”

I couldn’t even pretend he didn’t see my nipples stretched into twelve-inch tubes. Or the ten ounce bottles of Jacks’ breakfast dangling down the front of me.  At least the rhythmic grind of the pump drowned out his screams of terror. Or were those mine?

Either way, I ask you to be honest.  Is singing “If you’re too school for cool” really that embarrassing? 

And also, on behalf of Us Magazine:

Who Milked it Best?

63 thoughts on “Today call me embarrassed.

  1. You’ve got me beat. I weaned my twins 3 days before returning to the classroom (when they were 15 months).

    I did, however, show my breasts to everyone in Thailand. When friends and colleagues came over (which they did, all the time, because colleagues become family in expat situations), my husband would offer them deals on seeing my breasts. He’d say, “$10 per boob or $30 for a lifetime pass.” When you feed twins at the same time, you just take your shirt off.

    Also, in Thailand, bras come in battery sizes (AA to C at best), which I don’t fit in normally. So when I needed a nursing bra that fit (mastitis is a good motivator to find one), I had to go to the Wacoal factory where they measured me a kazillion ways and made me 3 custom fit nursing bras. It’s really nice to have 3 women measuring you as milk drips onto the floor.

    Still, I’d take that over teenagers.

    And no doubt this post is going to bring you some interesting search results.

    Yours in teaching teens,

  2. Leanne –

    THREE Wacoal bras? So you’re saying you can’t send the kids to college, right? Because that bit of lingerie must’ve cost a truckload of AA batteries…

    (I’m just guessing based on the ONE I bought once. But your bras were probably sexy. What with the nursing and the mastitis.)

    Either way, you rock, lady. And hooray for teaching teens and flashing boobs.

    Not necessarily at the same time.

  3. Julie,
    You crack me up! Yes, I think I may have disturbed my fellow “Goodyear” customers as I laughed (no, not a silent giggle) out loud. Your milk let down story was all too real. I obsessively nursed my kids for two years (or a few months more), and have so many “wet circles on the blouse – milk trickling in between my breasts” stories. You’re awesome. Keep the hilarities coming.

  4. those are some pretty awesome stories. while sometimes being a SAHM is incredibly lonely, it nice that i didn’t have any nursing mishaps in the entire 17 months i nursed my daughter.

    and i would just like to say that i admire your inner strength… you couldn’t pay me all the money in the world to spend day after day with a classroom full of teenagers. :/i can barely handle my 8 and 2 year old without losing my mind.

  5. Nobody –

    Teaching is hard. Parenting children is hard. Being a mother?

    The only thing that’s ever come easily to me?

    Laughing at myself.

    Fortunately, both teaching and mothering have provided me with plenty of material.


  6. Eric C

    Our joke at work is that we are waiting for a man to return a Medela breast pump because it didn’t produce any milk from his breasts.
    I can only imagine your vice principals face because I am sure you couldn’t just “slip out” of that thing.

  7. Deb

    I’d have to vote for Situation #3. #s 1 & 2 are good, but won’t scar someone for life. #3, however – I’m sure that image is seared in his brain FOR ALL ETERNITY.

  8. Ho. Ly. Breast milk. I’m laughing and so is my daughter because monkey see, monkey do. I love your sense of humor. My embarrassing moments have more to do with my clumsiness and inability to think before I speak than boob humor. Yours wins. All of them.

  9. Steph – My hat’s off (bra, maybe?) to anyone who nurses for over two years. Jack rejected me at a year (he was ready to move on to pizza and cheeseburgers), but Karly would’ve kept going much longer than 14 months. But in 2000, that was already a LOOOOOONG time to nurse among my friends. Will keep sharing stories. Whether my family likes it or not – ha!

    Deb – No joke, the guy switched schools not long after “The Unfortunate Incident.” I’d like to think it was because he found a better administrative fit. I’d LIKE to think that.

    Eric – Couldn’t slip out. The best is that the poor guy could NOT make eye contact with me ever. again. I’m not sure WHERE he was looking when we’d pass each other in the hallways. But it wasn’t at my face.

    Jess – It’s not too late for you, JButt. You, too, could still have boob mishaps. I know you’ve considered having more kids and what better motivator than the possibility of public milking?

    p.s. You are all very sweet to not even mention the fact that I wet my pants. For real. Sexy.

  10. cousin Heidi

    LOVE…IT. Dave just walked in to me rolling on the floor.

  11. Heidi –

    Just hope you didn’t wet your pants. Because that would be REALLY embarrassing.


  12. Oh, man – yeah, as a guy, I only have the random “couldn’t hold the fart in” tales and a stray erection at a truly inappropriate time. Nothing beats the “becoming a mommy” and the “just became a mommy” levels of embarrassment, though accidentally exposing yourself to your mother in law will always be “bad”.

  13. Di

    …and underneath all the humor…a grammar lesson in comparative and superlative. LOVE IT!!!!

  14. KLZ

    I want so badly to have a witty comment for this post but I’m laughing too hard to come up with anything.

  15. John –
    Yeah. I’ve never accidentally exposed myself to my in-laws. That I know of. Or had any inopportune erections. Thanks. I feel better now for sure.

    Di – I really do miss teaching grammar. And Steve Rosentsweig…

    KLZ – I feel that way all the time. Too often, really. If I didn’t laugh, I’d be crying.

  16. Pop

    Having a wife who is also a high school teacher, I’ve definitely heard some stories. I don’t think I’m at liberty to share though. Ah what the hey. I’ll go w/ #3 since it’s similar to uhhhh,,,this other woman’s story that I don’t know and just heard about.

    So this woman I heard about was pumping as usual and she’s walking around her desk since she recently got a breastpumping bra (HANDS FREE FTW!). And then? HORROR! Someone is unlocking her door, she hurriedly tries to throw something on but NOPE, her coworker sees her in all her mammniferous glory.

  17. Pop – If anyone had thought to use the words “mammniferous glory” to describe my circumstances back then, I would’ve felt so much better about myself. Like this woman you heard about.

    She sounds great, by the way. And very smart. And pretty, too.

    I may have a crush on her, even.

  18. So, I’ve never been, um, interrupted while milking myself, but I did have the huge milk stains on my shirt. While I was pregnant. Yah. No one warned me I’d leak before the kid even came out. That sucked.

    I’ll just chip in, my boys love to rock to Pink w/ me in the car. I wonder how long this will last …

  19. MommaKiss –

    Keep those boys rockin while you can.

    And I’ll add “pre-birth milk stains” to the list of the many things women don’t tell you about when you’re deciding whether or not to pop out a kid or two. (p.s. I’m a little in awe of you that you leaked beforehand. nice.)

    I guess there are somethings mothers figure you’ll have too much fun figuring out on your own.

    Why ruin it.


  20. omg I love you. do i really have to vote? i can’t. 33% “best” to all 3. ps. I have the mom bladder to this day and Otto’s 2! If I sneeze once, I’m cool, if I sneeze twice I’m running to the bathroom (or the classroom as I like to call it). Whatever that means, haha my joke makes no sense, but when you used that line I yacked laughing!


  21. Ot’s Mom –

    Makes sense to me, for what it’s worth. I find that since I’ve had kids, I no longer think, “Hmmm. I should probably pee sometime in the next half hour or so.”

    Instead, I either do not have to go, or am pretty much going. Once I need to? I need to.

    I know. This post is just brimming with TMI and then I add this stuff in the comments.

    Love being a mom. Really.

  22. Christy H.

    Peeing pants is the worst. The other stuff I could pass off as mother nature/none of you have ever been pregnant so shut up stuff (at least I hope my students and Steve have never been preggers). But pee your pants? (Even though, granted, you were pregnant)That’s the worst…umm…best?

  23. Mom Mishaps are the worst. And does anyone fully appreciate the EFFORT it takes for a woman to go back to work after having a baby? The motorized sound of the breast pumps will haunt me for the rest of my life.

    Yeah, your kids have no idea what embarrassing is.

  24. Chris – I have to say, the worst part was that I had to interrupt the Proctors in their special moment in the Crucible. Painful. And then also wet. So not what Arthur Miller intended. But I guess that was the second-worst part. Worse? Whatever.

    Chalupa – I keep telling my kids that. Their lives have been full of balloons and roses. That aren’t embarrassing. And I think I might still be able to let down some milk if I heard that motor today. Even though it’s been ten years. It’s THAT powerful.

  25. I can’t even imagine the horror of having someone walk in during you session with the breast pump. Sheer horror.

  26. Joey – Horror is a great way of putting it. And believe it or not, I think he felt worse than I did. I, after all, had the benefit of being half brain dead from lack of sleep.

    He had all his faculties. So to speak.

  27. I have found blogging gives me a new view of those embarrassing moments.

    There are a few too sacred for the blog though.

    I’m a SAHM, so no teenagers to teach to worry about, but I nursed my children for 15-17 months.

    I stopped caring if anyone stared at me while nursing. I wasn’t a woman, I was a cow during those periods of time, and damn if modesty would get in the way of feeding a screaming baby.

    My worst instance was having a teal t-shirt one day when I forgot (or lost) a nursing pad. I hugged a friend. I let down on side, forming the perfect wet circle over the breast.

    It was like having a flashing neon light.

    So I did the only thing I could to hide it. I went to the ladies room and splashed water all over the t-shirt, deforming the perfect circle and adding multiple wet spots all over the front. To me, it was better to look like I’d run through a sprinkle or had an incident with a class of water, than leaked milk.

    #3 takes the cake for me. While the others are embarrassing, they can be blamed on reflexes (or a baby), thus not placing you entirely at fault. #3 is awkward in so many ways…

    Great post.

  28. Julie – I vote for #3. *head desk* I’m sure that was traumatizing for both of you! Did he ever visit your room again or were you forever after called down to the prinipal’s office?

  29. Oh, my, god. You milked it best. Hands down. Or boobs down.

    I am feeling you. I hate that I have zero bladder control. I hate that I have to do the waddle and try and figure out how to dry my pants when the urge strikes. WHY DOES NO ONE TELL YOU THIS?

    But at least there’s you, sharing your world. THANK YOU!

  30. Kelly – Yes, motherhood has a way of destroying modesty. In mostly positive ways. Because isn’t it nice to not be so worried about appearances? To know something you’re doing is for the greater good? Even so. No one wants to have wet spots or witnesses to pumping. Thanks for sharing so I don’t feel so alone….ha!

    Kari Marie – I swear the assistant principal left the school after “the incident.” I’m sure it didn’t have anything to do with me. Positive. I think.

    Suniverse – Yep.If the sharing of my unfortunate circumstances can bring a smile to the world-weary mothers of the world? I’m all for it. I’ve had to live these moments. Might as well do some good with them. Or something like that.

  31. Oh my gosh – I howled with laughter (quietly, it’s still morning). This is so funny I have to tweet it!!!

  32. I think I would have quit my job never to return after the first incident. Embarrassed is right.

  33. Jennie – Quiet howling is sometimes even better. Because it’s something funny just for you. Glad I could make you laugh (and thanks for the support!)

    Jessica – I know. I have an unusually high tolerance for humiliating circumstances (which is unfortunate for the rest of my family). In fact, these situations, as bad as they are?

    Aren’t the worst of my life. (shudder.)

  34. You really had me laughing out loud!!! I knew that Medela pump very well at one time & know JUST what you are talking about. Loved this post!

  35. Thanks, Kelley –

    Fond Medela memories for everyone! (So worth the investment, right?
    And I’m not even a sponsor! ;-))

    Glad I could make you laugh and I’m STILL looking for an Orange Julius around here…

  36. liz

    Oh my, Julie! Each story was worse (or better?) than the one before. I don’t know that I’d ever be able to look him in the eye after him walking in on pumping!

  37. So you would not be surprised to hear me say that I am SO glad that I can say nothing like this ever happened to me?!

    Dear God, the pumping one is too funny….horrible for you, but pretty damn mortifyingly funny.

    Thanks for sharing!

    PS – Loved my Medela too 😉

  38. OMG! I can’t imagine having my asst. principal walk in on me like that! LOL

  39. Liz – I’m pretty sure we never made eye contact again. But I can still picture his face. Ha! Poor guy…

    Natalie – SO glad you came and read this; since the first hints of this breast pump story dribbled out on your site during a reply to one of your Monster Mommy Moments. By now, I’ve had so many embarrassing moments, I don’t mind taking them for the team 🙂

    Shell – I know! It should be a course taught during the teacher credentialing process: Pump and Teach 101. Or: How to Survive Mortification. Either one. I had to wing it with no training.

  40. I almost peed myself reading this.

  41. Oddly, most of my embarrassing moments are from SAYING things I shouldn’t. It appears that I like the taste of my own foot. Who knew? Thanks for sharing your stories, though. It makes my peeing when I sneezed at seven months pregnant seem not quite so bad. You win this round… 😉

  42. Renee Schuls-Jacobson

    Okay Julie.

    Like you, I was once a pregnant teacher. My high schoolers eyeballed my ever growing belly with suspicion and satisfaction, knowing – yesss, yessss. She has had sexxx. I even confiscated a discarded note where two students wondered in what position conception took place.

    Your horrifying stories rock. I, too, milked quietly in bathrooms and classrooms. Even in my car. Hell, when it was cold outside, I just tossed the plastic bags into the front seat and by the end of the day? Milksicles for Monkey.

    As far as horror stories go, I may have you beat. And this is absolutely disgusting. So it is for mature readers only. And probably no men. At month 8, I had a partial abruption (read placenta started to tear away from the uterine wall). Ultimately, it wasn’t a big deal but um… some of you might know where imma goin’ with this. So I’m talking about Lord of the Flies for the third time that day, when I feel wet. You know. There. But I figured I could make it through the 11 remaining minutes of class. So I sat in front of my students listening to their theories on if there was really a Beast on the island but my brain was like, I’m wet I’m wet I’m wet I’m wet.

    Finally, I needed to write their homework on the blackboard (no whiteboards in those days) and I turned to face the board when I heard an audible gasp. I looked at my students, two of whom were covering their mouths. I looked where I had been sitting, and the seat was drowning in blood. And I left a trail from chair to board and my ass was covered. Obviously. And I was looking hawt it that maternity jumper. Dammit. It. Was. Horrifying.

    Oh, and I barfed on students in my 1st period class for 5 months.

    How’d I do?

    I like to think that this further evidences that we really would be friends in real life.

  43. Mrs. Tuna – So glad I could brighten your day. Or something like that…maybe “moisten” is better? Either way. I love to see you here. Always.

    Lois – I am also queen of lying in bed questioning the crap that has come out of my mouth all. day. long. But unless someone captured it on videotape? I’m usually off the hook with regards to permanent evidence.

    But Renee – Holy Cow, woman. You DO have me beat. You had me with the yes yes yes she had sexxx and the note contemplating conception poses. But the rest of it? Priceless. Thanks for making me not feel like the craziest person on the planet for sharing my moments.

    And all the pregnant ladies out there will now not feel so alone when “moments of unfortunate circumstance” come their way…Either that or they’re all terrified.

    We got it covered, lady. And yes. We can be friends in real life.
    For sure.

  44. You ARE A WARRIOR! No shame in your game! These stories would cripple a lesser woman. But not you! Teenagers are scarier than 3 toddlers with only 2 toys at the sandbox. They can mock with their eyes! Love these stories–thanks for sharing!

  45. It’s a tough call between #1 & #3.

    Fear of peeing my pants in public is the reason I stopped acting. There is no excusing yourself to go to the bathroom while you are on stage.

    As for being caught breast pumping? I didn’t even like my husband to see me do it— unsexiest act ever. But my boss? OH THE HORROR. I am going with that one.

  46. Carrie – Never thought about being a Warrior. I like it. You are now my new best friend. You would never mock me with your eyes, would you? At least not before I get to my college stories…

    Llana – Ha! That’s some strong work thinking ahead to “worst case scenario on stage.” But I’ve got to admit. The sound of a key in a locked door still gives me the chills. And not in a good way…

  47. That was all just precious! I have tears running down my face, and I’m not sure whether it’s from funny or what. I loved it when you kept saying “Oh, Julie. Believe me. They knew.” Poor Mommy. It sure makes for some good reading though, I gotta tell ya! Loved it!

  48. Oh, Terri you just made my evening. I love to think that the mortification was worth something.

    And if it made you laugh? Totally worth it.

    In the grand scheme of things, life is more interesting with stories to tell. I’ve got enough to never be bored another day of it.


  49. O.M.G.

    I completely laughed out loud. With you, or course. No, never mind, it was totally AT you.

    I sincerely hope that principal was a dad and had seen this all before. Otherwise. He’s so scarred for life!

  50. Oh, I adore you. I must say that pee wins every time. It’s kinda my personal mantra. “Pee Wins.”

    I may get one of those rubber bracelets.

  51. Cheryl – Don’t worry. I laugh AT me, too. Seriously. It’s like a full-time job. That’s why I only post once a week. The rest of the time, I’m too busy making fun of myself. (p.s. I think the poor principal had kids but he didn’t strike me as the kind of guy who’d watched a lot of pumping. Just a guess, but…)

    Nancy C – Pee Wins. Oh, my! I think we may have to go into business selling these at hospital gift shops next to the teddy bears and balloons. Truth can be profitable. Sometimes.

  52. I think #3 wins by a nipple.

    (But they’re all pretty horrifying.)

  53. I’m going with #3 because he was a co-worker who unexpectedly witnessed mammary gland rape. That visual is worth some therapy! I had the same thing happen to me while my mammaries were being hosed and I believe the gentleman sustained some temporary visual loss…and all I could offer was a sheepish “Moo” Traumatic stuff!! #3 all the way.

  54. Tracie – Horrifying for sure. But I like giving the nipple to # 3. Perfect. (p.s. I’m not friends with him on facebook, so hooray!)

    Beth – Moo? Bwahahaha! I wish I would have thought of saying that. But I was too frozen in my own distress at the time. Now, I appreciate the humor factor. Kind of.

  55. I think the breast pump always beats all. There’s a chance that the teens were so immersed in their usual thoughts (memememememememememe) that they didn’t noticed the pee or the leak. But those pumps. I could never tear my eyes away from the horror of my elongated nipples sucked from here to eternity. What chance did an assistant principal stand?


    Oh brother. Nobody ever talks about the most most embarrassing parts of having children. It’s not even doing things like accidentally ingesting your baby’s poop. Or having them drag tampons out of your purse in the middle of a party. Oh no. The most embarrassing parts tend to be the complete betrayal of our own bodies.


    The kids have no idea.

  57. Nicole – Just read your post about how our parents pray for us to have toddlers. Awesome. And so true. But apparently, my parents just had to pray that I get pregnant. Punishment enough, right?

    Carol – So true. I have been betrayed in so many ways. And I fear the treachery has only just begun. Is it too late to become a vegan who moisturizes regularly and drinks three gallons of water a day?

    Yeah. I thought so.

  58. I sometimes still make my husband turn away when I change. So, yeah. I would have hauled out a shotgun and just ended it all if I had encountered #3. YOU TOTALLY WIN.

    (I love driving in slippers. It’s so…freeing.)

    (How have I not discovered this blog before? How did I never notice the URL in your comments on mine? I mean, it was DESTINY.)

  59. Kate – So glad you finally found me. Especially now that we know we would both eat a lot in each other’s presence. And probably not breast feed. But definitely be cool with slippers. Destiny, indeed.

    (LOVE your blog. And NOT the Littlest Pet Shop. Eerie.)

  60. You just described a recurring nightmare of mine. Maybe I was you in a past life, in a wrinkle in time. I don’t understand that Stephen Hawking shit, but I’m putting on a Depends today. Just in case.

  61. Erin – Best be prepared, for sure. From what I’ve learned about you, we could be sharing the same life. In different bodies. Different wrinkles. Wait, what?

    You kill me lady. And if anyone can rock Depends? It would be you.
    (p.s. Let me know when you’re working on that fourth kid so I can start working on your lasagna…)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *