Here, fishy fishy fishy, ewwww wait, not THAT close

Okay, so I feel like whenever we go on vacation, there’s always like that one magical moment (of course once you have kids, it’s sandwiched between 10,000 shitty moments). Like when my hubby and I went on our honeymoon, there was this time our sailboat was surrounded by hundreds of spinner dolphins leaping out of the water all around us. Or the time we went to the Dominican Republic and my masseuse full-on massaged my boobs. Seriously, it was a couples massage and I was dying to yell to my hubby who was lying next to me with his eyes closed, “Check this shit out, she’s rubbing my nipples!!!” But I digress. Anyways, last week we went to Florida and we had one of those moments.

We were walking down the beach with the kiddos when suddenly there was all this bright silver flashing all over the surface of the water. Everyone on the beach literally stopped what they were doing and watched together. “Look, there it is!” And then it stopped, and then it was there again, and then it stopped and then it was there again, and so on and so on. It took us all about thirty seconds to figure out what we were seeing.

It was thousands of flying fish (I have no idea what kind of fish they really were but they looked like they were flying). Over and over again they’d leap out of the water in big groups moving down the shoreline for like ten minutes straight as everyone stood there mesmerized.

And then when it was done we all looked down at our feet and realized that something sucky had also happened. A bunch of those fish had jumped wayyyy too close to the shore and when the waves went out, they were left stranded on the beach dying.


Who’s gonna tell me what kinda fish this is? I’m sure one of you out there must be a brainiac who knows fish shit.

But hey, I’m a big believer in letting nature take its course and survival of the fittest and all that other Darwin crap, so I’m like sucks to be you, fishies. See ya. And I started to walk away.

And that’s when I looked up and saw Zoey’s face. She was devastated.

ZOEY: Mommm, they’re dying.

ME: I know, honey. It’s sad.

ZOEY: We have to save them.

Uhhh, yeahhh, you do that. ‘Cause my fingers don’t touch slimy shit from the ocean. Especially when it’s still alive and staring up at me with its little beady eye.

ME: Go ahead. Toss them back in.

And that’s when she looked up at me with tears in her eyes and I don’t think in her entire life have I ever seen her look sooooo sad. She couldn’t bring herself to pick it up.

ZOEY: I can’t do it.

ME: Yes, you can.

ZOEY: (sobbing) No, I can’t.

Well, why would she be able to do it? Here she is watching her mom be a lame-ass chicken shit, so where would she get the courage to do it? If I didn’t touch the fish, I wasn’t just failing as an AROS (Animal Rescue Operation Specialist) (yes, I made that shit up), I was failing as Zoey’s role model. Uggggh.

Deep breath in. Okay, here goes. Ewwwwwww. As I picked up the slimy fish between my two fingers, I prayed it wouldn’t start flopping around in my hand. And then I ran with it as fast as humanly possible and tossed it back into the ocean.

ME: Swim, little guy, SWIM!!!!!

FYI, I didn’t actually say that last part out loud, but if they make this into a Lifetime movie, the actress playing me (Eva Longoria/Kerry Washington/Megan Fox) totally would. But I digress.

You should have seen Zoey’s face. There really is no word that captures the elation she felt at that moment. But there were still tons of fish all stranded along the beach. And she still hadn’t done anything besides watch me.

ME: Come on, Zoey. Help me.

ZOEY: I can’t.

ME: (I stared straight into her eyes and used my deep James Earl Jones voice) Yes. You. Can.

And at that moment she pulled together as much courage as she could and she slowly leaned down and her fingers touched the fish at her feet. It was fast and there’s no way in hell she would actually pick it up by herself, but she did it. She touched it!!!

ZOEY: I did it!!!

ME: You did it! Come on, help me!

And she did. And we rescued like ten more fish together. See?


Hold onto my wrist and then you’re saving it too. Kinda sorta.


OMG, OMG, my finger’s so close to the beady eye!!!!


Seriously? Seriously??!!! In the middle of our GIANT rescue operation, my hubby snapped this selfie. WTF?


And after it was all over, Zoey celebrated touching a fish!!!

Before I became a mom, I knew I’d have to make all sorts of sacrifices. I’d have to stop going out as much at night. I’d have to stop listening to rap music in the car. I’d have to watch crappy TV shows (cough cough, Caillou). I even knew I’d have to touch totally gross things like poop and blood and vomit. But never did I think that being a good mom would require me to pick up a live fish.

I guess that’s what being a parent is about. Doing a lot of shit you never knew you’d have to do.  And sometimes being a kickass parent isn’t about being proud of your kiddo. Sometimes it’s about being proud of yourself.

There are 35 comments for this article
  1. Rachael S at 9:11 am

    ahhh! Great story! Love it! Why wasn’t your husband picking up the fish…? I would have delegated that s**t. But then again, it wouldn’t have been such a kickass story

  2. Angie Ellis at 9:16 am

    This made my insides feel all warm and gooey. I think i love you. Thank you for sharing your life with us and for reminding us that this parenting thing is bigger than we ever imagined. As a mom to 2 teenaged sons, sometimes I forget the wonder of little ones.

  3. Amber Jarnagin Hyatt at 9:33 am

    Omg I actually got all teary eyed! Beautiful moment!

  4. Cynthia at 9:34 am

    Karen, your story made me tear up. I’m proud of Zoey, but prouder of you! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Kristina at 9:37 am

    Totally mom crush on you right now!
    By the way, where is Florida was this? It looks beautiful and I need a vaca

  6. kait at 9:39 am

    Hope you washed your hands afterwards!
    P.S. I’m enjoying the insertion of multiple pics in recent posts!

  7. Sam at 9:49 am

    so… moms and fish 🙂 I took my kids fishing (7 and 4). My kids never catch fish, but standing around with their rods in the water makes them happy. Plus, they have to be super quiet so they don’t scare the fish…Right?! So its a win… Until my daughter caught a fish. A fish! A salmon in fact. We catch fish to eat… I was very ill prepared for a fish. No net, no fish bonky thing. This story ends with me covered in fish blood, a bloody rock, and two very proud kids who ate every bite of their fish for dinner. We haven’t been fishing since.

  8. Colleen at 10:03 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. LOVE IT! It’s so hard to remember it’s important to be proud of ourselves too! Kudos to all the kickass moms out there making sacrifices every day!

  9. Amber at 10:21 am

    I think this is my favorite story yet. Love all the photos.

  10. tessamartinuk at 10:36 am

    Well done you for touching them, I have to admit, I so would have delegated that Job to the hubster lol luckily my kids are a lot older (15&11) so they could have saved those little fishies without me 🙂

  11. mecolleen at 10:38 am

    Awesome story. im a Mother of one 3 year old, u always remind me I’m awesome too even.

  12. Adriane at 10:40 am

    I have caught snakes and tarantulas for my boys. Blech! Baited hooks, taken fish off hooks…vomit and p**p are nothing any more lol

  13. Margie at 10:55 am

    you guys as a family are the best. Love your story and your photos. Zoey is super and your hubby…. he is a crack up. My son would have done the same d**n thing. Glad you helped the little fishy even though according to a post up farther they are a bait fish. They are doomed!

  14. Denise Mack at 11:00 am

    So sweet. It is amazing what we can do to empower them when they doubt in themselves. Great job!!!! Such a sweet sorry.

  15. Jenna at 11:27 am

    I’ve spent the last week holding and caring for a green anoles lizard. I would never have even remotely ever touch one. But he’s my son’s pet, the love of his life. So I hold it. And force feed it 4-5 times a day. And give it antibiotics twice a day. And speaks sweetly to it. And now I’m emotionally invested in this little lizard. And he died an hour ago.

    • BabySideburns at 11:39 am

      Awww, I’m soooo sorry Jenna!!! So sad. At least you made sure the end of his life was filled with love. You did good.

  16. andbabymakes3imean4 at 11:34 am

    Wow! Such a great post! I laughed and got tears in my eyes. What a heartwarming story! You are a great mommy! Your kiddos are very lucky to have you (and you, them!)

  17. Meg at 11:42 am

    I love the “NAP, SCHMAP” t-shirt in the background on your son!

    • BabySideburns at 12:23 pm

      It’s from Detention Tees!! I LOVVVVVE them. So soft and cute!

  18. Alisha P. at 12:51 pm

    Aww! Look at you being all “Mom of the Year” and s**t. You made me proud, BS. I’m fixing to match socks. Not children or adult socks. But tiny a*s newborn baby socks. WTF am I thinking?

  19. Akhila at 12:58 pm

    I loved your story… and it was kind of different from all your usual posts (which I love too.. btw). 🙂 BTW, didn’t Holden also want to save a fish? What was his reaction during the entire time? Was he quiet during the entire rescue mission?

  20. Judith Taylor at 2:18 pm

    Overcoming my fear of all sorts of bugs, but especially spiders – and to stop being seriously freaked about what people think of my lard-a**e in swimming togs so that I can take my kids to the pool…. Yeah, motherhood makes you HTFU in so many ways

  21. Toni Caban at 8:44 pm

    You’re a great role model for your children.

  22. Nikki at 5:00 am

    That is awesome!! I totally had to do that too to pull a leech of my little ones leg — Ugh!!! But you gotta put the big girl panties on and do it so that they don’t see you as a chicken s**t! 😛

  23. Bronwyn Joy @ Journeys Of The Fabulist at 7:52 am

    Bless you for saving all those fish. If not for that act, bigger fish would have gone hungry that night. (As it was, just the seagulls went hungry, or possibly just tourists trying to enjoy their chips.)

  24. Kitchen Tested (@kitchentested) at 9:17 am

    I am pretty much OBSESSED with this story! Best you’ve ever told. Yes, Baby Sideburns has brought me to tears and I’m not ashamed. That celebratory pic at the end is perfection and I hope you print it out and hang all over your house!! Maybe print out your husbands evil selfie as well 🙂

  25. Jessica Briante at 7:34 pm

    Super cute story!!! Glad it was you touching the fishy and not me…but I guess we do these sort of things for our kiddos right…ok, perhaps I would touch a slimy fishy for my little guy 🙂 Love your stories….please never stop telling us your adventures!

  26. jess fritzges at 5:39 am

    Eeewww! I do not think I could do it. You are a brave woman.