Mrs. America. Mrs. AMERICA!! Since April 18th when I was fortunate enough to become Mrs. Colorado America 2015, the mystery surrounding when and where the Mrs. America pageant would be held actually became part of my reality. To be fair, up until just a few weeks before that night I was blissfully unaware that there was any uncertainty regarding the subject at all. I figured Tucson at the end of August – just like the last few years. I remember someone mentioning it to me in passing (apparently they thought I knew!) and the feeling of not being quite able to fully catch my breath. RUSSIA?!? They’re planning on having Mrs. AMERICA in RUSSIA?!? Aside from the obvious question of WHY? And the concerns that come with figuring out (hypothetically) how in the world I would ever make the logistics of that work, my most pressing concern was what in the world Bill would say to that one! I mean think about it, if you have young children that isn’t something that could necessarily be figured out easily. Maybe if you have grandparents or other family that live close it wouldn’t be quite as challenging, but we don’t. My parents are in Texas and Bill’s mom is in North Carolina. Rumor had it that the state representatives would be there for two weeks or more. Besides, I’m pretty sure it’s frowned upon to leave your 4, 6 and 8 year-olds with pizza money and a ride to and from school. So my solution was to not get ahead of myself – it may not even be something I would need to concern myself with anyway. I chose to focus on April 18th and if I won on that night, then I would worry about it. And mention it to Bill.
Fast forward to April 18th and there I stood with a beautiful banner (my goodness, I do LOVE a pretty banner!) and a shiny tiara and I had a voice of panic in head because as Bill approached me with flowers I could hear the voice yelling, “Oh no!! Russia!! I’m going to have to tell Bill about Russia!!” Unbeknownst to me, someone casually mentioned the whole Russia thing to him while he was standing backstage. Oops. I vaguely remember him saying something about it to me almost immediately after telling me how much he loved me. I used the excitement and chaos of the moment to postpone the discussion. NOW the possibility of traveling to Russia for the Mrs. America pageant was a reality – MY reality. Cue the shallow breaths and minor panic. Moderate panic. Thank goodness for Emily and Shalon. They advised me not to get ahead of myself since nothing had actually been confirmed yet and not to focus on it until we knew something for sure. As it turned out, we waited until July to find out we would be staying stateside. So in the meantime I (along with my fellow Mrs. America class) lived in a bit of a state of limbo. While that presented some challenges, we just enjoyed the process of planning and preparing for Mrs. America….whenever and wherever that would eventually be.
There is an unlisted, yet incredibly valuable prize you get when you become Mrs. Colorado America – it’s your Mrs. Ohio sister. It may sound cliché, but it’s true. Ashley Starling is Mrs. Ohio 2015 and she is the. Best. Ever. From the very first phone conversation we had I knew that she was going to be a friend well beyond this one year. You can’t imagine how comforting it was to know that someone else was worried about the same things I was. And then some! Ashley is not only fabulous, she’s Jake’s mom, Jason’s wife and an attorney. All of a sudden I realized that my worries about scheduling and what I would do with my boys should I find myself in Russia, paled in comparison to worrying about how to schedule court hearings when you don’t know whether you be in town…..or the continent. Ashley helped keep me sane and although I guess technically some people might think we were “competitors”, we simply became girlfriends. And I still have a gown of hers, but that’s another story…..
Thanks to Jessica, Mrs. New York, my fellow sisters and I quickly found each other on Facebook and formed a closed group where we could all get to know each other. We asked questions, got opinions, asked for and gave advice, celebrated successes and defeats, frustrations, fears, bad hair days, funny appearance stories, even funnier stories about our children, and sadly the resignation of one of us – only to be joined by her sweet and adorable successor. And we shared our anxiety about the uncertainty of what was happening with the national pageant. Believe it or not, we got to know each other pretty well. I already knew I loved Ashley, but it turns out I fell in love with 50 other women. It was announced in July that we would not be going to Russia, but it was well into August before the date and location of Mrs. America was finally announced: we would be going to Las Vegas from September 19-25. The only thing that alleviated the panic of worrying about whether everything would be ready in time, was sharing the experience with those women. We weren’t competing against each other, we were competing with each other – as a team. A team where only one of us would “win”, but all of us would walk away with the prize. Jessica’s costume was delayed in Dubai (fancy, I KNOW!!!) and we all celebrated with her the day it showed up on US soil. There was a huge problem with Beth’s wardrobe and without hesitation many of us offered up gowns, shoes, jewelry…whatever she needed – and this was before any of us had ever even met in person. I know it was clear to all of us that we were a part of something extraordinary. My sisters are simply amazing.
I realize at the moment that I have written quite a bit so far and I haven’t even really gotten to the details and fun of discussing wardrobe selection, the drama of picking the perfect picture, or the actual event. In an effort not to turn this blog entry into a short novel, I’m saving that part for tomorrow. But here are a few pictures of Ashley and me - funny how we're almost always standing on the same side of each other!