It might seem odd to admit to the world that you’ve had the same pair of earrings stuck in your ears for 12 years straight, but that’s exactly what Jennifer Fulwiler from Austin, Texas, is doing. And she’s doing it with pride.
Fulwiler, 41, a mom of six, radio show host, and author of the book One Beautiful Dream, which comes out in April 2018, recently shared an Instagram post that has got the Internet talking in a very unusual way. In her post, Fulwiler described exactly how she had landed herself in the interesting predicament of not removing her earrings for over a decade — and how she finally was able to fix the situation thanks to Amazon, a wire cutter, and some good-old fashioned motivation from a friend.
The story began back in 2002, when Fulwiler’s parents gifted her with a pair of diamond earrings for her 25th birthday. The earrings, Fulwiler notes, were a very special gift from her parents and actually the only precious gemstones that she owns, so she wore them frequently. And although she loved the earrings, they had a tendency of not staying in her ears very well, thanks to some loose-fitting earring backs. So, a few years after she had received them, she decided to fix the problem by finding some earrings backs that stayed put.
She found some earrings backs that stayed put, all right. In fact, they stayed put so well that she couldn’t get them off.
“I went to take them off and they were stuck,” Fulwiler describes. “I pulled as hard as I could, I had my husband pull and I realized I would have to get wire cutters or something to take off the posts.”
At the time the earrings got stuck, in 2006, Fulwiler had recently given birth to her second child and she was in the throes of taking care of two young kids while also keeping her foot in the freelance writing game. So, while annoying, taking care of her earrings was just not a top-level priority to her.
“As a busy mom I was just like, ‘I’ll get to it one of these days,’” Fulwiler laughs. “And 12 years later, I finally got to it.”
Surprisingly, Fulwiler swears that the earrings never hurt her or got infected. She notes that she cleaned them several times a week with hydrogen peroxide and that there was never a issue with them at all. There were, however, a couple of awkward incidents when friends gifted her with earrings as gifts and she had to explain that she couldn’t wear them, because she had a pair already that was stuck for, you know, years.
Her husband, Joe, 46, a lawyer, also helpfully offered to take them off a few times through the years, but knowing that all he had was a pair of really large wire cutters, Fulwiler waved him off. The years passed, with the busy mom adding more kids and expanding her career, and in the earrings stayed.
It wasn’t until a fashion consultant friend, Meghan Ashley Sokolowski, entered the picture that Fulwiler had a bit of a panicked moment. As her helpful friend began suggesting earrings to spice up her wardrobe, Fulwiler realized that she could no longer hide her secret.
”I realized it was going to come out and I am going to sound absolutely insane and I need to deal with this,” she explains.
So, the determined mom bought some small wire cutters on Amazon, and during a spare moment in her office before she went on air, finally made the snip. And what was the long-awaited fateful moment like after 12 years?
“It was this funny, kind-of, anti-climactic moment,” Fulwiler describes. “The wire cutters worked so well, it was like cutting string, and then I laughed and I thought, ‘Why didn’t I do this earlier?’”
The more dramatic moment was showing her family, who couldn’t believe that she had finally done it. Considering the fact that Fulwiler’s oldest child, now 13, was barely a toddler when the earrings first got stuck, not one of her six children had ever seen their mother in anything but her accidental trademark diamond earrings. Their long-known version of their mother was officially gone.
And in a way, Fulwiler sees parting ways with her earrings as a symbol of sorts, because the mother she was for all those years is changing, too. She describes how, after having six babies in eight years and operating in full-on “survival” mode for so long, she’s now looking at a new season in life as her youngest is about to turn five. Going from what she calls a decade of every little thing being difficult (so relatable) and never being able to go even two minutes without some small child staining her outfit, she’s now able to do things she never could before, like wearing (gasp) dry-clean-only clothes and trying out new accessories.
“I feel like this was a symbolic moment of embracing my new season of life,” she notes. “I can put a little more effort into my physical appearance.”
More than anything however, Fulwiler decided to share her earrings story to show that as moms, we all have something that we’re dropping the ball on — and that’s 100% normal and OK. She’s not ashamed in the least bit that she pushed her stuck earrings to the back-burner for 12 years because sometimes, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.
“Sometimes, I think, it’s just a healthy and good thing to do to embrace the fact that you’re in survival mode and that there are going to be some things that really get pushed to the side, maybe even for a long time and that that’s OK.” She adds, “I think a lot of women beat themselves up that they don’t have it perfectly all together. Anyone who is trying to balance a million things probably has a lot of things that they aren’t dealing with.”
Whether it’s earrings or not, Fulwiler hopes that by sharing her story without shame, other moms will realize that we all have that little “crazy” thing we are hiding from the world.
“I think that sharing my own crazy gives other people permission to be crazy,” she says.