Lisa Kern

Lisa Kern
Pennsylvania, US
March 28
I'm a mom of three boys, a needy dog, and an insolent cat. When I'm not writing, vacuuming up pet hair, or cleaning pee off the toilet seat, I like to fantasize about jeans that actually fit and an all-you-can-eat-chocolate-and-cheese diet. Welcome to my party.


Lisa Kern's Links

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 5, 2010 7:39AM

Running Away: A Primer for Moms

Rate: 60 Flag

now THAT's running away 

That’s it.  I’ve made up my mind.  I’m running away.


This mom-thing is exhausting, the pay is lousy, and I don’t even get a single day off.  Besides, these kids are entirely too stinky and messy.  Today I came home to discover the entire first floor of my house smelling like feet.  Not just any feet, but godawful, what-died-in-here, apocalyptic smelly ones.  Even the dog, a creature that enjoys sniffing other dogs’ butts, whined to get outside and away from the smell.  I couldn’t blame her.  It was like being assaulted by an entire locker room of stink as soon as I opened the door.  I would pay handsomely for an air freshener that could successfully eradicate the odor of stinky boy-feet that have spent an entire school day in soggy sneakers but so far, none exist.


I’ve tried escaping to the bathroom in an effort to get away from the kids, but no matter how quiet I am, those buggers always find me.  They slip notes, homework, and permission slips under the door as if I’m in there bored, looking for something to do.  Occasionally, I’ll see fingers or an eyeball peering under the gap at the bottom of the door.  When the youngest one tried to stuff a banana that he couldn’t peel under the door, I knew I’d reached my last straw.  Running away has become my only option.


When I go, I’m going to do it the right way, not like that Pennsylvania woman who pretended she was kidnapped but instead had run away with her nine-year-old daughter to Disney World.  No sirree.  For starters, I’m going to run away by myself, which is how you’re supposed to do it.  No one will pay attention to a slightly neurotic middle-aged woman with bags under her eyes and a nest-like mess of hair on her head, but they will notice a cute nine-year-old child who isn’t in school. 


I can’t take that chance, especially since my nine-year-old is a talker and has a tendency to reveal embarrassing family moments when under pressure.   Actually, not much pressure at all is needed to convince this child to spill it.  He once fessed up to spraying chocolate milk on the kitchen ceiling and all I had to do was look at him.


I’m not going to run away like my son Ryan did when he was five, either.   After determining that I was the meanest mother ever, Ryan gathered his most important belongings together (his pillow, a Hot Wheels car, and some Pokemon cards) inside a blue bandana and tied it onto a long stick just as he’d seen nearly every cartoon character do. 


He loudly announced that he was leaving home since I’d been “bad” to him, and with a great slam of the front door, he was gone.  I watched as he slowly walked around the cars in our driveway, glancing back at the house every so often.  His blue bandana kept sliding down the stick, forcing him to stop long enough to push it back up again.  Eventually, he made it to the end of our driveway and to his hiding place behind a small red maple tree in our front yard.  From the living room window, I could see him perfectly, peering from behind the tree toward the house.  He was only about 20 yards away.


He looked so small and sad out there, as if he’d regretted his decision the moment he walked out the front door.    After a few minutes, I lured him back in the house with a peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, cut on the diagonal, and a glass of cold milk.  We didn’t talk about why he felt the need to run away, but he never again accused me of being “bad” to him and he never again tried to run away.


When I run away, I’m going to do things quite differently from Ryan.  First of all, I’m going to bring a suitcase instead of a bandana as I plan on staying away for longer than fifteen minutes.  Secondly, I’m going to go much farther than the front yard.  Bora Bora is probably far enough.   Lastly, I won’t come home simply because someone made me lunch.  Oh no.   Getting me to come back home is going to require something really big; something that will enhance the lives of mothers everywhere.


I’m holding out for that super-strong air freshener.





Photo of Bora Bora from



customizable counter

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Can this mommy join you? I'll bring my own hammock & do my own laundry...
This is a funny, snappy piece, worthy of Erma.
Hi Lisa, I remember those days. You could always spray a little Axe around. Funny and love the bandanna part.
LOL Been there and definitely thought that!! I even created an elaborate story in my head about the mom who never returned home.

But ... somehow these dang kids manage to find me and bring me back home ... ;o)

Even funnier is the thought that the kids probably were clamoring for your attention even as you wrote this, holed up in the bathroom, with suitcases against the door. This is one of the best things I've read recently, Lisa. Bananas and bandanas.
I love you. (and I'm not even gay) (not that there's anything wrong with it) but you're superduper sweet and grounded and funny and droll and you love your crazy eyeballs peeking at you from under the door kids. great post.
you know something, kathy riodan is right. this IS superb writing. have you tried to sell your writing to the papers? this is the kind of addictive dave barry stuff that keeps people coming back.
Yeesh! Truths told in jest. One of the reasons I've always given, for choosing not to be a mother, is that "A 365 day per year job with no vacations or sick days would drive me straight out of my mind."
My first thought, Lisa? It's that Axe!!! If you do go to Bora Bora, send us some pics! This one is lovely! And, should your trip be a bit shorter, I bet there's a nice, sweet spot under a red maple tree for ya!!
Being home w/a puking child today, I can totally relate to this post and would like to join you.
Lucy - After those kind words, of course you can join me!

Rita - Oh noooooo...not Axe. I'm trying to get rid of the feet smell, not enhance it with the smells of simmering sofa and cat pee.

Rebelmom - Yep, they always find us, don't they?

Kathy - Wow - thank you so much!

Bonnie - A closed door is like catnip for kids. They're unable to resist it.

Foolish Monkey - And I love you back. :) Such nice compliments! I haven't tried newspapers, just figuring they're all about as broke as I am, but it gives me a lift that you consider my writing worthy of such a venue. Thank you!

Eva - I totally hear you. Thanks for once again being so supportive of me.
Julie - I don't know if Bora Bora is far enough to get away from the Axe. I might need to go to Jupiter to lose the smell of that stuff.

CherylAnneNY - Oh, I feel for you. Puking children are the WORST.
Christine - You may be the only person EVER to refer to my life as "gloss and glamor." Thanks so much for stopping by. :)
A banana under the door and footy smells would drive me under the porch with a bottle of gin! You're a hero for getting up in the morning!! Very funny, and very sweet too. (Why do I think we'd find you hiding behind the maple tree instead of in Bora Bora?)
Lisa, I am not so (un?) lucky to have kids vying with Bora Bora for my attention, but this piece really makes that experience real for me. Yikes! My secret guess is that you'd make it to the end of the street if not the driveway and come back too, but I won't tell anyone, even if you look at me.

(Try those solid salt deodorant rocks on their feet - it's supposed to really work. )
Oh, the poor dog (oh, my poor sides, from laughing so hard throughout this). You realize, of course, that in starting a trend, you threaten to have Bora Bora sink into the sea when millions join you!
Yep. My mom used to threaten this very thing, for similar reasons. Your version is much funnier, though!
Since I'm old enough to be your grandmother (yikes!) I know I should say that you'll miss them when they're gone, yada yada. But guess what--I didn't. I was not sorry to see my son move out. It was time. And it's actually rather nice to come home and smell only your own scents, to leave something out and know it'll be there as long as YOU leave it there, to know that the milk carton in the fridge still has milk in it, etc. My son still lives here so I see him frequently. And we have great times with all the "remember when's."

Good piece, Lisa. Fun and oh, so true! Good luck with the smelly feet thing--you'll need it! Rated. D
This was so funny Lisa, and perfect for Friday morning laughs here.
I am giggling now at the vivid imagery I get from the read.
Too much fun.
The idea is enticing too. Tropical isles.
Damn! Rita Shibr and her tiara got to the Axe line before me.

Maybe you could organize an adults-only OS meetup at the Kalahari (sp?) water park in Ohio, kind of half-way between you and Michigan. I hear they serve huge, free-refillable margaritas there. We could all show up wearing blue bandanas.
You are my soul mate. One year, I got a fake airline ticket drawn on construction paper to Ruba (that's always my default for runaway threats).

:) Gotta love 'em, Mom. Stinky feet and all.

Motherhood is a blessing, right? Cause that's what they told me and if that was a lie, I WANT MY MONEY BACK!!!

You rocked it, girl. You always do!
This is great! The bathroom thing is so true - we've probably all been there. I hate when I forget to lock it and Jacob comes crashing in like Kramer...Great funny treat before getting down to work. Thanks
You are paying the karmic price for banning Axe, which is that they stink. Kids, that is. If you figure this out, let me know; I don't think we can get far enough that they can't find us via text or Google chat....
I used to imagine just staying on the train in the mornings... not getting off at my stop, not going to work, and I didn't even have any children still at home then.

I was just going to stay on the train and either knit or read.

I completely sympathize!
Ah, Bora Bora, never boring. I was the dad, but running away sounded great sometimes. Even a little time out for just me and the mom was hard to come by. I like to assure expectant parents that it will be great. The first 30 years are the hardest.
What is wrong with me? Is it because I only had one? I almost *never* wanted to run away. Now that she's gone to college, well, you can only imagine how hard it is not to apply for house mother position. Just kidding about that part._r
Very wonderful writing, by the way.
I think almost every mother can relate. Well done. -r
This is so good.... it reminds me of my brothers when I was growing up, one did do what your son did and the others feet....uggh! You've probably seen the movie HOLES after the book, where (Fonzi what's that actor's name?) plays the dad and is inventing the antedote to smelly shoes, he finally comes up with it including peaches and onions...I'd like to run away too!
If this doesn't goes viral, I'll be amazed. Wonderfully written, Lisa. My mother admitted to hiding in the bathroom to get away from us when we were small children. I'm guessing you're really hitting a nerve here.
Oh my lord. Laugh out loud funny. Thank you so much!

(I spent most of the fall wondering what died in my living room, or if our new dog peed on the carpet. It was my son's soccer cleats by the front door!)
Yaaay Lisa, congrats on EP!
I'm looking into flights and hotel deals now. Not for you, not for me, but for my mother. I realized upon reading this that after raising three boys into adulthood, she's totally earned it.

Actually, I think that's the new Axe odor you're smelling: wet dog and athlete's foot. It did really well in the focus groups.
My poor mother use to run away, usually on Saturdays.
This is delightful.

You know I have three of my own. Can't we run away together?

Recently, I had to start locking the bathroom door. I'm sure you understand why.
You bring back the days when my two sons made the house smell like stinky feet. For that alone, not to mention the wonderful writing, highly rated.
so sorry about the feet. my son never had that problem but i am sure if he had i would definitely have run away as i thought about it for much less onerous reasons. i can only tell you that the urge gets less and less the older they get. promise. honest. really.
That's it. You've inspired me. I'll meet you in Bora Bora.
Sound good?

Don't get me wrong. I Love my little guys to pieces but if I don't go somewhere exotic once a year by myself I think I'd
lose my mind.
Um, I thought you were blocked? Not bloody likely. Probably the feet smell unblocked you... so glad to see your usual hilarity back in full form. One of the best ever. (Maybe you should bottle that smell?) heh
Feet and body spray! Someday I will miss that smell (I think)
This is SO funny. I totally relate.

Gad, sneakers + sock + sweat + winter. I'll bet you long for true spring.
Can I come? The other day, the Little One, who is getting an F in Wiping My Own Ass, came out of the bathroom walking funny to tell me "some poop was on the floor." I get her back in there, clean up the poop, and then yank down her pants. Her butt is a Pollock painting. I tell her to take her pants and underwear off, as I am cleaning up the toilet, the floor, etc., and then I turn around to see her shaking her foot (to get the pants off of her ankle, of course). poop is being rubbed all over the floor in the process, and I just want to drive drive drive. AWAY!!!!!
OK, this was an excellent piece that I will IN NO WAY allow my wife to EVER get ahold of.


NOT that I'm trying to dissuade you from absconding, but have you tried Febreze? It works pretty well on Stinkfoot.

Some foul language at the beginning of that, so those with sensitive ears beware.

Highly rated.
I can't imagine smelly boy feet, my daughter's teenage girl feet are bad enough!

Can I meet you in Bora Bora? Or perhaps Easter Island? That may be even further off the beaten path...Both the husband and the daughter were away for several hours last Saturday - I took a nap.
Oh this brings back memories..LOL
THEN the image of Bora Bora...
Great post.
Absolutlely wonderful, Lisa!
Now that I'm mostly rattling around by myself in the house those days seem far off, but this brought back memories.
Great post!!!

As I was reading this, I was thinking how the mom character on In The Middle really is accurate. Have you watched that show? It's really funny.
yes! running away - by yourself...perfect. This was great...xx a
Cute and funny.

Lovely! This reminds me: write a post on the ecstacy of the empty nest. Thank you!
Bellwether - Your comment made me giggle. I never thought of hiding UNDER the porch before. I suppose the gin would make you not care about any spiders or other nasties under there and the nasties would probably keep the kids away. It's win-win!

Ardee - Solid deodorant rocks, huh? I am SO going to look for them. Thanks!

AtHomePilgrim - I'm so glad you got a chuckle out of this. That makes the smelly feet worth it. :)

Owl - I'm starting to think that more MOMS than kids run away (or at least want to.)

Yarn Over - I know I will miss them when they're gone, and I feel guilty sometimes for wanting time alone. Still, those feet...I'd be perfectly fine if that smell went away and never came back.

Mission - I'm so happy that you enjoyed this piece. When we all run away to Bora Bora, you're definitely coming along.

Maria - Refillable margaritas? I'm so there! Wouldn't that be a fun time. you've got me thinking...

Ann - Thank you, my friend. By the way, feel free to pass on any stinky foot cure that you might have learned from having five kids, OK? My nose can't take much more.

Blue in TX - You nailed it; "crashing in like Kramer" is EXACTLY what it's like when kids ignore a closed bathroom door. You poor dear. I think I hear Bora Bora calling you, too.

Ann - Choosing between foot smell and Axe is like choosing between hemorrhoids and cold sores. Neither one is going to be pleasant!
wait, I'm almost packed! and what Lucy said, so worthy of Erma.
I'm with you, sister. I have three boys and a girl. The boys are just foul. The two youngest are six-year-old twin boys. I know. Just send a condolence card. I try to hide in the bathroom and my kids do the same thing to me. Even the cat will stick a paw under the door. Try keeping your feet off the floor when you hear them coming.
ktm - I've thought similar things while driving. Imagine the freedom. It would be fun until they found us again, right?

charliemk - Oh, getting couple time is even more difficult than getting alone time. So it's tough till they're 30, huh? Excuse me while I get my Prozac refilled.

Joan - I think that having more than one definitely increases the desire to run away. It's you vs. them. They always win. Always.

Densie - Yes, we all understand except for my mother; I was a delightful,non-stinky child every day (kidding!)

Anne - I LOVE the book Holes! The father in the movie is Henry Winkler. I just spent 30 minutes trying to remember his name. :)

Cartouche - Thank you! Such a nice compliment, especially since it comes from you. :)

Froggy - I feel your pain about hunting for the source of the stink. I'm glad you finally found it and hopefully have banished the smelly shoes to the garage.

Rita - Thank you! XOXO

Shaggy - You're a good boy to want to give your mom a vacation. I wish my kids would do that. By the way, your new Axe fragrance is the best. Everyone wants to smell like wet dog, right? Especially since cat pee is so popular.

Ocular - Of course she did; Saturdays are the best days to run away.

V - Yes, you can come with me. I call the bottom hammock!

Denise - I totally understand. Remember what Blue in TX said about her son crashing into the bathroom like Kramer. It's best to just lock the door.

Lea - You're the best. XOXO

Lisa - Please tell me your secret; how on earth did you keep your son's feet from stinking? I thought it happened to all of them, kind of like acne or their first heartbreak.

Eden - DEAL! Bora Bora it is.

Sally - I was terribly blocked, for all of last week and most of this one. It just goes to show that sometimes the muse shows up in the most unlikely places - sometimes even in foot stink.

boysofsummer - It's hard to imagine now, but someday, we probably will miss all of it.

Connie - Great to see you, girl! And you are so right; wearing boots for weeks on end hasn't been helping things.

angrymom - Oh. My. Gosh. I've never been more grateful to have the Potty Years behind me as I am right now after reading your comment. You sound like you need Bora Bora even more than I do.

Bill - Frank Zappa! I'd totally forgotten about that one. Thank you for stopping by, my friend.

Bluesurly - Naps are almost as good as Bora Bora.

Algis - Thank you! You've probably actually been to Bora Bora. Is it really as lovely as the photo? I'm holding out hope for Someday...

mcginmn - Thank you! If you start to miss the smell and the mess, let me know and I'll send my boys over.

Gwendolyn - Do you mean Malcolm in the Middle? That show is a hoot!

Akopsa - Yes, running away is best done alone - or with other moms who understand the need for running away in the first place. :)

littlewillie - Thank you!

Deborah - I'm glad my suffering could give you something to write about it. :)

jkujhui jhuli - Ordinarily I'd delete you, but I'm feeling merciful today since you made me a flower. Just don't tell your friends, OK?
Don't look at me... I gave up closing the bathroom door YEARS ago. i think it's been at least 20 years since I went to the bathroom without SOMEONE walking in, sitting on the counter and trying to carry on a conversation.

I think I would rather run away to Siberia though... the KAMCHATKA area... near... Klyuchevskoy
Irish Colleen - Yay! You're coming with us! Thanks for the Erma compliment. :)

Writer Mom - You have TWIN boys? Plus a boy and a girl? You don't need condolescences, you need a party - and respite! Thanks for the tip about bathroom hiding.
Mrs. Raptor - What is it about a bathroom that invites the need for company? P. S. Siberia...Really? After this winter, I thought Siberia was just another name for Pennsylvania. :)
I knew it! I knew I'd being spraying Axe everwhere and cursing my fate. Very funny and enjoyable piece. The little fella with his bandanna sounds adorable, smelly feet or not.

Picturing Joan's daughter being informed, " What a coincidence... you mother just go the position of house mother ...six degrees of separation.. huh? ..." didn't hurt matters.
Add me to your traveling companions list...but I know I'd be sucked back home by the first little tear or "mommy we miss you."

I remember when I ran away from home as a kid, packed some carrot and lettuce seeds and hid under a neighbors bush and planted them, thinking they would bring me enough food to survive. That lasted until my mom leaned out the front door and rang our dinner bell...never even noticed I had run away!
Siberia... really... There are some absolutely stunning volcanoes on the Kamchatka Peninsula ... of which Klyuchevskoy is one that is currently erupting.
Wonderful comedic writing and Ohh...Ewwww the smelly teenage boy feet! How did moms put up with us on any of those long, long days?
Fernsy - Thank you! And I wouldn't be surprised if Joan isn't filling out that house mother application right now.

mamoore - You packed carrot and lettuce seeds? That is too cute, but when we go to Bora Bora, I hope you bring something more substantial - and already grown.

Mrs. Raptor - I wasn't aware that Siberia had anything but snow, so now I'm heading off to Google. Thanks for the education I'm about to receive. :)

Gary - Even your comments are a delight. Thank you. XOXO
Typically entertaining post, Lisa. Yes, run, run my dear. This was really fun to read.
Lisa, of course you are going to get to Bora Bora and have a great time, make lots of friends, and no one will find you.

But first I have a single word for you: Ozium. (google if necessary).
I'm so excited! I just remembered I have the perfect solution: Asspray ... it works on feet! And, can be sprayed through bathroom door cracks to keep nosy peepers away. Yea me!
Dr. Spud - Thank you, my friend!

Wendyo - Thanks for the practical advice. I did google Ozium. That sounds like what I need - something INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH. Can you believe they actually have it at Amazon?

Sally - Oh, girl...I don't know how I missed your Asspray post, but that informercial is the funniest damn thing I've ever seen. Thank you for the gift of laughing so hard my sides hurt. XOXO
Do I know that smell Pee eww... When the students must have PE in the gym I smell it to. Kid stink whew...Usually young hormonal boys! Can I go if I promise to be quiet?
Lunchlady - "Kid stink stew" - I love it! Of course you can come along. You can bring the fish sticks. P. S. Hope your birthday was a good one!
I would run away, too!
Enjoyed reading this. I'm glad those feelings are a memory for me now, but I can see many moms identifying with you. Rated.
Poignant and also very, very funny. rated.
I loved this post. BTW, stinky boy feet becomes stinky teenage boy feet which is WORSE. You cannot imagine how bad it is. I've been airing out my son's room since he went to college two years ago. We're getting there.

Delia - :)

Fusun - The fact that you've shared these experiences and are now beyond them is inspiring. Thanks for stopping by.

Caroline - Thank you! I appreciate the kind words.

Bernardine - Wow, two years and still the stink remains? Now I'm really depressed! Thanks for stopping by to commiserate.
Even now, as I try to find my time to read and enjoy a few blogs, my children keep interrupting to ask for things -they should be in bed by now!- in Spanish!! You are right, moms of the world, let us just run away to Bora Bora, LOL!
Marcela - Yes. Running away to Bora Bora is the only option. I'll pick you up on the way, OK? :)
Janie - Thank you! As far as the beach goes, I heard that warm sand and plenty of sun is a cure for any kind of blues.
My six month old daughter peed on me today, while I holding her in one arm, running a bath for her in the kitchen sink, which she needed to have immediately due to the explosive... oh well never mind. At least the stinky feet smell won't stick to you the way skunk spray does.
I love the image of your children pestering you through the bathroom door. Very funny and relatable.