I've been producing comedy for 15 years and producing my family for 11. Some days it feels like I have 150 kids, if I count the cast and crew on my shows. This year I got another Emmy nomination as a producer on the HBO series, Veep starring Julia Louis Dreyfus.
I've been on the road with my entourage, my three kids, since the nominations were announced on July 10th. We've been living out of two suitcases as we trek up and down the East Coast.
Summer has been a mix of work with play, juggling their boredom and my excitement. They've been shoved onto airplanes, scolded by train conductors and eaten too many car snacks to count. They picked up bad habits and I picked up five pounds.
Along the way, I've been hunting for an Emmy dress, and my entourage was given a job, to help their mama find a dress, and it turned out to be the best time I've ever spent "shopping."
Dress #1. Lady In Red -- Baltimore
After stops in Virginia, we arrived in Baltimore -- home to Veep. The car ride was long, but fairly easy and we didn't hit the dreaded gridlock outside of DC. Dress #1 was waiting for me. I pulled it out of the box and immediately fell in love. It did not share my affections. I squeezed into it and my daughter gasped in horror. The boys just stared at me, speechless. I looked like a sausage overflowing it's casing. I put it back in the box and vowed to find a new love, soon.
Dress #2 Metallic Demise -- Wrightsville Beach, NC
We made the drive in record time and spent several days at the beach. On the last day, after riding every water slide in sight, dress #2 arrived. The store suggested ordering one size larger since it ran small. Ran small? I'm not sure this would fit my daughter, maybe not even her Barbies. Worse the fabric was so metallic and shiny, it looked like a disco ball. My oldest son swore he could see his reflection in it and started making funny faces. Enough said.
Dress #3 A Beaded Affair -- Back in Baltimore
I know this drive so well that I plan our pit stops based on the drive through Starbucks locations. It takes about eight hours if you're lucky and on this trip, we were not. The dreaded gridlock could not be avoided, nor could the meltdowns my entourage had. One by one they lost it, either fighting or crying or both. I did my best to break up the kicks and pinches from the driver seat but by the time we got to Baltimore it was my turn to cry. Instead, a beautiful Jenny Packham gown was waiting for me. The beading was so delicate, I was afraid to try it on plus, it weighed like 10 pounds. I put it on over my clothes in the office bathroom and watched as my co-workers tried their best at complimenting me. They were so sweet and really trying to see the best of the dress. My entourage didn't see anything good about this one and just rolled their eyes and asked what was for dinner.
Dress #4, 5 & 6 I Hit the Repeat Button -- New York City
Apparently my entourage doesn't like sleeping alone while we're on the road and after several nights of musical beds, I was exhausted. We looked like the scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, where the entire family is in one bed, except in our version Grandpa Joe has been recast by four grumpy people. Lack of sleep led to lack of common sense, as I hand carried the 10-pound dress back to NYC. I needed to give it a fair chance and try it on without my clothes underneath. Surely, it would look better in the privacy of my own room. Surely, it did not, so I threw in the towel and made plans to wear an old dress. I've managed to collect quite a few over the years and there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Carolina Herrera, except the hole in the back from where I stepped on it at last year's Emmys.
Dress #7 & 8 More Beads -- Mid Flight
A few hours into our flight to Los Angeles, I realized that this Emmy nomination deserved it's own dress and I really wanted a new dress, one that I could feel smart and sexy in. (no small feat for an evening gown) and besides we were having fun. Somewhere over Colorado, I ordered two beaded beauties. Two days after we touched down in LA, they arrived at our hotel. After schedule meetings, casting sessions and a day at Universal Studios, I tried on the first one. It was definitely a contender and I felt smart and sexy until my youngest son started patting my stomach. I said hello to my little friend, Bob (my belly) who was not so little. Perhaps I shouldn't have eaten that churro while waiting in line for The Mummy Ride. The next dress was all beads, all the time, head to toe and once again my oldest son was convinced he could see his reflection. My daughter said she liked the color but really this dress belongs on a Miss America contestant.
Dress #9 The Keeper -- LA
In between meetings, I decided to go shopping in person. Imagine the horror of actually having to try something on in person! It's been so long I wasn't sure I would know how to behave. All the new dresses so far had come from online shopping and it must be said that I usually have great success with that. It's my vice. I stepped inside the store and within seconds I saw it, The Dress. Within minutes, and after struggling with the slip, it was on my body and it fit like a glove. Of course, the second time I tried it on I realized it has a lace back, so I'm dealing with bra issues but I love this dress and I love the journey I've been on with my kids. I decided to surprise my entourage and not let them see it until Emmy Monday.
As for my hair, I took a poll and the entourage can't decide between an up-do or straight. For the shoes, I'm going with a old pair that my daughter loves and my feet are familiar with, this way I'll have the advantage over those blisters that want to join the party.
On Emmy morning, my form of pampering will most likely be a battle between getting myself dressed and breaking up fights between my entourage. We're back to musical beds again and I can feel the meltdowns coming. Mine included, but I know when I walk out the door, I'll leave with hugs and kisses of good luck and possibly a stain or two on the dress.
As the tales of "Three Kids and a Dress" comes to an end, I'm grateful for the time we had this Summer. We weren't making TV, we were making memories. No matter what happens at the Emmy Awards, win or lose the statue, this mama has already won.
Follow Stephanie Laing on Twitter: www.twitter.com/stephanielaing