“My life is just a series of awkward and humiliating moments separated by snacks.” ~Unknown
This morning, I stopped into the post office to pick up some bread and milk. Just kidding…I stopped to mail a package.
Anyway, there was only one person working at the desk and a relatively long line. After about five minutes, the woman in front me turned and asked if it would be OK if she stepped out of line for a moment to set her heavy looking package on the counter.
I smiled and told her I didn’t mind at all.
When she returned, she informed me that her daughter had just recently moved to Arizona and she was mailing her a box of duplicate Pampered Chef items she’d accidentally purchased more than once, while at different parties.
I thought about telling her the last thing my mom mailed to me were treasures from my childhood….covered in green mold and mostly broken….but I didn’t, because I’m working on improving my small talk skills.
“Obviously, I love Pampered Chef.” She said.
“Me too.” I lied….for literally no reason. “I have so much of it.” (Lie)
“What’s your favorite product?” She asked.
“Fuck.” I said. (Lie)
I have one thing from Pampered Chef. A pizza stone I bought when a neighbor hosted a party at least eight years ago and I doubt it’s the pinnacle of their product line.
What I actually said was, “Just one favorite?! There are so many.” (Lie)
She told me she had a lot of favorites too….including some kind of pan, that had some sort of foam thing and maybe a heart, I’m not really sure, I wasn’t really listening, but then she said her prized items were the knives.
That sounded good, so I told her I would have to agree. (Lie)
Apparently, those knives are pretty damn special, because she informed me she is the only person in her household allowed to use them.
I told her I was the only person in my household who ever cooked and that I doubted anyone in my family would even knew where to find a knife, let alone what to do with it if they did. (Lie)
Then she asked if I purchased often and if I knew a consultant, or just attended regular parties. Then, I panicked.
I knew that if I told her neither applied, I’d probably end up leaving there with a business card, a catalog and possibly a commitment to host a party in the very near future.
So, I told her I had a consultant. (Lie)
“That’s great! Good to have the connection. Is she local, what’s her name?”
“Fuck.” I said.(Lie)
“No, not local.” Her name is Wendy. I’ve known her since college, she lives in Kentucky.” (LIES….ALL LIES).
Then she gave me her card and told me that if I was ever interested in attending a local party and meeting some new people, to give her a call or send her an email.
“Awesome! I definitely will!” I said with enthusiasm.(Lie)
“To be honest, I’m just winging it. Life, motherhood, my eyeliner. Everything.” ~Unknown
Along with just about every other suburban mom, I worship regularly at the church of Target.
My Target recently went through a small renovation to make way for the implementation of even more self-checkout aisles.
Personally, I hate self-checkout. If I have to go into the store, do all the shopping and then do all the work of scanning and bagging my purchases, I feel like I should be rewarded with a discount for having saved the business the cost of an hourly associate.
But today, I needed to make an expedited Target run for three specific things. For me, an expedited run means that I quickly grab the things I need and then swing by Bullseye’s Playground. Because c’mon….I don’t have that much self-control.
The section had been largely picked through and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find anything to add to my basket, so I headed toward the check-out, feeling a little disappointed, but then deciding that my cost savings justified a stop at Starbucks on the way out the door. YES!
My Target has something like 127 check-out lanes, but rarely do they open more than two. Most of the time, I don’t care, because there is ample reading material and a wide snack and beverage selection to keep me occupied while I wait.
But today, I just didn’t have the time. I decided I would have to proceed with self-checkout. I approached the register and began following the instructions on the screen. Then, my eyes shifted upward and I caught sight of something so horrifying, I almost dropped dead.
It took me a second to realize that the swamp monster staring back at me, was MYSELF; reflected back at me through the over-sized security monitor Target found necessary to perch above each register in self-checkout.
I get it Target, it’s a crime prevention thing. I know that when I pull into the parking lot at this particular Target and spot a KIA parked among the Volvo’s, luxury SUV’s and mini-vans, I hold my purse a little tighter and sometimes jog into the store.
And I read the police blotter for this area. I know what kind of community we live in. All those damned by-law violators and that kid who keeps having pizza’s delivered to his neighbor as a prank….total degenerates.
So, I get it. I really do.
However, why is it necessary for me to have to see myself, on a screen the size of a small TV, and without some kind of selfie filter to soften the blow?
Do you not know your target audience, Target? What mom wants to see the enormous bags under her eyes, in HD?
And I swear, my hair looked far less greasy when I left the house this morning, than it looked on your shiny screen, so do you think you could tone down the brightness a tad?
Also, according to my mirror at home, I look a lot slimmer in the “I Love Twinkies” t-shirt I’m wearing today. Which, by the way, I purchased at your store back in 2005 if that gives you any indication as to how deeply my loyalties lie….so, please, consider adjusting the camera to a more flattering angle.
Thanks to your cruelty, I felt like I had to return the Cadbury Cream Egg I planned to eat for lunch. Now I’ll just go hungry and you lost a sale. And good-luck finding that egg, because I most definitely didn’t put it back where I found it.
Lastly, do you know what always makes a person look better? A black and white image. I don’t think you need to be able to see the exact shade of my freckles (fine….age spots) in so much vibrant color.
Honestly, Target, I’m not happy. But, we both know I can’t quit you.
I’ll be back….probably later today, because I saw you were switching out the seasonal items in Bullseye’s Playground, but this is officially your first strike.
5,999,999,999 more and I’ll start shopping Walmart.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ~Charles M. Shulz
So, my son is now a first grade and I’ve learned that a lot has changed since I made my way through the public school system.
I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s when people didn’t care all that much about your feelings, so this whole, everybody get’s a Valentine thing is new to me.
When I was in elementary school, I loved Valentine’s Day. I spent days preparing my tacky Valentine’s box with construction paper hearts, feathers, stickers and paper doilies.
On Valentine’s Day, we placed our boxes on our desks and walked around our classroom depositing Valentines and treats into the boxes of our friends and our enemies? Well, they could go right on ahead and choke on a box of those chalky conversation hearts for all we cared.
Personally, I never gave a Valentine to a kid named Olin who had a harelip. Not because of the harelip, but because he cut a chunk out of my hair in Kindergarten and I never let go of a grudge.
I also refused to deposit a Valentine into the box of a kid named Bobby, who used to pick his nose and wipe it on all the girls. To this day, anyone with the name Bobby makes me want to vomit.
I spent years campaigning to blacklist a girl named Roberta, who beat me up, EVERY DAY, on the playground in second grade. That is, until I told my gramma, who arrived at the school one afternoon during dismissal and confronted Roberta using a variety of clever obscenities none of us really understood, but delighted in repeating whenever possible.
Example: “If you ever lay a finger on my granddaughter again you hussy, I will kick your ass so far up around your neck, you’ll have to spread your butt cheeks to sneeze!”
Not only could we exclude our classmates, but because nobody actually looked at the Valentine’s we were passing out, we were free to send hate mail too.
I got a few and I gave a few.
In middle school, we gave up the Valentine boxes and instead we got to purchase candy heart lollipops for fifty-cents in the cafeteria, to be delivered, with a note, to anyone we chose.
Throughout the week of Valentine’s Day, our classes would be disrupted by a knock at the door and the candy courier would walk in and announce who the lucky recipient was. Which of course made the rest of us feel like ugly, unlovable ducklings.
My friends and I sent candy hearts to one another, but mostly I sent them to myself and claimed they were from a secret admirer. I wanted the candy and I wanted to make the other girls jealous.
I also sent one to my seventh grade science teacher, because he was smokin’ hot for a middle-aged science teacher and I hoped to woo him away from his wife and kids, apparently.
In high school, candy hearts were replaced with single stem roses. The concept played out the same way. The roses were purchased for a dollar and delivered throughout the school day. Tables were set up before school, in the hallways between classes and during lunch, allowing ample opportunity for rose purchases.
Girls with boyfriends ended the school day with a dozen roses by final bell. Girls without boyfriends told everyone it was because those girls put out….because it was really the only way to save face when walking through the dismissal crowd without a single rose.
Honestly, all of it sucked. There were years in elementary school when my friends and I got into huge fights over Barbies and who got to be the teacher when we played school. We teamed up against one another and if Valentine’s Day happened to fall during a rumble, things could get ugly.
“Nobody give a Valentine to Laura….she’s bossy and she’s got a knock off Cabbage Patch.”
In middle school and high school, the number of candy heart lollipops and roses you received were symbols of how popular and well liked you were compared to others. Clearly, there was something wrong with you if NOBODY thought you worthy of fifty-cents or a dollar.
So, I think it’s better that kids these days are expected to spread kindness equally on Valentine’s Day.
They’ll have plenty of time as adults to be biter and cynical when the day ends without a bouquet and takeout for one.
“Let’s open a store called FOREVER 39. We can sell wine and yoga pants.”
As often as possible, I attend a yoga class. Though I never thought of myself as the type of person who could ever achieve a zen-like state….I’m pretty wound….all the time….I have to admit that yoga does wonders for me.
When I really focus in on the practice, I can feel the stress and frustrations of the day, or week, melt away….and I get my best night’s sleep post class. At least I did until yesterday, when I discovered that my face is falling off my head.
If you’ve ever been to a gym before, you might have noticed that the regulars tend to have a favored spot, or bike, or other piece of equipment they gravitate toward.
My gym is no different, but no one is a bitch about it. So, when I arrived for yoga last night and found a new person in my typical spot, I just chose another, settled into Lotus pose and waited for class to begin.
My usual spot is near a half wall, that’s kind of like a long, narrow shelf. I like it there, because I can use the wall to cheat during some of the balance poses.
My new location was directly beside a wall of mirrors that runs the entire length of one side of the gym. I didn’t think much of it until I found myself in Prasarita Padottansana, which is a wide-legged forward bend.
We can pretend this is me….she’s OK….I guess.
Typically, I keep my eyes closed during my practice, unless otherwise instructed to open them. It helps me to block out the activity around me so that I can fully concentrate.
For some reason though, I decided to open them while bent over with the mirror at my back. The first thing I noticed was that the position made my ass look like a billboard and I wondered for a moment if it would be possible to write supercalifragilisticexpialidocious across my rear.
The second thing I noticed was that my cheeks (face cheeks) appeared to be on my forehead. It was legit frightening and after I gasped in horror, I did what women have been doing for centuries….I took a look around the room and compared myself to the other women.
This was only moderately helpful, since I was flanked by two, fresh faced twenty-somethings. But, I did notice that a few other ladies had pools of skin dangling from their hairlines as well, so I was at least relieved to know that the only thing dying was my youth.
Yes, I am aware that things change as we age, it’s just that I would prefer to defy nature….because I like to set goals that are high and largely unattainable.
Having lost all ability to focus on the original intention of my practice that evening, I settled on a new one. Trying to force my skin back into its original location by making a series of faces. This did not work.
Then, I was reminded of the Golden Girls and that episode where Blanche, Dorothy and Sophia are discussing how long each woman waited to have sex with someone new, after their husbands were no longer in the picture.
Dorothy says, “You know, when you’re twenty, everything stays where it’s supposed to. Now, when you lean over, it looks like somebody’s let the air out of your face.”
Dorothy then challenges an incredulous Blanche to look over a mirror and see the effect for herself, which she does with comical results.
Anyway, I’m not sure what to do about this. I’ve seen too many seasons of The Real Housewives of (insert any city) and the evolution of Kim Kardashian’s face, to go anywhere near Botox.
So, is there some kind of fruit, or plant, or cream I can use that will magically turn back time? I’m looking for a relatively inexpensive, quick fix. I’ll even accept a potion brewed by the devil, whatever is going to work.
But if there is nothing that can be done that does not involve a scalpel, or a needle….if I am to accept that this is just the natural order of things….then I guess I’ll have to accept it.
But you can bet your ass I’ll bitch slap the new girl at yoga for my spot back.
“I followed my heart and it led me to the Fiestada” ~ Me
Does anyone else out there remember the Fiestada?
If you were a kid in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I’m talking to you.
The Fiestada was an octagon shaped, little slice of pizza-like heaven.
It had a thin, cardboard crust and was topped with tomato paste? and tiny pieces of hamburger? and yellow cheese? that kind of all melted/congealed/slightly burned together to form a crispy, but mushy, kind of special goodness.
Had my subsidized school lunch program allowed it, I would have stockpiled my ration all week and blown it all on Fiestada day.
I day-dreamed about how I might score a second helping. I wished the school would announce a contest for which the grand prize would be a lifetime supply of Fiestada’s.
In the lunch room, I scarfed mine down and then circled the cafeteria like a vulture, hoping a classmate might be willing to share.
Are you going to eat that? Are you going to eat the whole thing? What!? How do you not like Fiestada’s!? Could typically be heard coming from my salivating, Fiestada juice stained, grubby little mouth.
I loved them so much, that I once asked the lunch lady for the recipe….and she pointed to a long, white, nondescript box with plain black lettering that said, “Fiestada” and then I just assumed they had been made in Mexico, because they were far too exotic to be American fare.
“I’ll go there someday. I’ll go there and eat my weight in Fiestada’s” I told myself, because I was not a kid without goals.
Some people have cherished memories of home cooked meals, served round a table full of happy family members in a warmly lit dining room….a fire crackling in the background.
I have cherished memories of linoleum flooring, fluorescent lighting and the heart burn inducing, probably ADD causing, artery clogging, early on-set heart disease producing, special little octagonal round of awesome that was….the Fiestada.
To this day, I am so obsessed with recapturing that precious moment, that I have scoured the internet in the hopes of tracking down my beloved.
I’ve found recipes on Pinterest that claim to be an exact replica of the original, but there was nothing “homemade” about what I ate in those days.
I want the original.
The one that sat in the industrial sized freezer of an elementary school cafeteria, safely wrapped in BPA leaden plastic.
But I don’t think it’s meant to be. The best I could find was this thing….made with Whole Grains.
“I would rather die than let my kid eat Cup-a-Soup.” ~Gwyneth Paltrow
I admit it.
Before I had a kid, I was 100% one of those judgey, know-it-all jerks who made grand proclamations about all the things I’d never do when I became a parent.
Which was pretty bold considering that, for years, I’d known nothing about raising children. Like, literally nothing.
Was it acceptable to put Kool-Aid into a baby bottle?
Did you wait to change a child’s diaper until it had reached maximum capacity? I mean, diapers are expensive and if you can make a 24 pack last 24 days, that’s practicing good economics….no?
And, it’s not that big a deal to leave a toddler in the car if you’re just running into K-Mart for ONE thing, right? So long as the kid is strapped down somewhere and unable to reach the lit cigarette resting in the cars ashtray?
What can I say? I didn’t have the best maternal example.
It wasn’t until books and television taught me that I was basically a degenerate, that I began to form loftier opinions about things.
The police never showed up at the Seaver residence because Maggie was in the backyard with an ax hacking up the lawn furniture after a fight with Dr. Seaver.
Mrs. Walsh, of Beverly Hills 90210 never hissed at Brenda, “I am going to kick your ass so far up around your neck, you’ll have to spread your butt cheeks to sneeze!”
And not one of those chick’s from the Babysitter’s Club, had to take their earnings and immediately spend it all on candy at a sports bar/grocery store called Smokies before their mother could steal their wages.
So, it’s really thanks to the likes of the Tanners, the Camden’s, The Huxtables, Mr. Belvedere and Beverly Clearly, that I became self-righteous AF.
10 Things I Swore I Would Never Do When I Became A Parent
1. Let my kid eat a hot dog
Fast forward six years:
Me: Hey Snugs, want to have a hot dog and mac & cheese for dinner?
Snugs: I had that yesterday!
Me: I know, but it’s your favorite!
2. Leave the house in my pajama’s
Post Kids: Ok, I’ll never leave the house in my PJ’s without a bra.
A few more years post kids: Well, if I’m staying in the car and just going through the teacher assist drop-off line, it’s not like anyone will notice I’m not wearing a bra.
3. Let my kid buy school lunch
Me….Every Day: Oooh, buddy! French toast sticks are on the menu at school today and tomorrow, it’s nachos!
4. Allow screen time
A hot minute after giving birth: Get ready! To Wiggle!
5. Forego my personal hygiene
Post Parenthood Google Search History:
How many days in a row can you use dry shampoo?
How many days in a row can a person go without showering before the smell is too great to mask.
Is Listerine an acceptable alternative to teeth brushing?
6. Give-up my corporate career for family
My employer (a year ago): You haven’t made a career move in five years and we’re going to eliminate your current position. You’ll need to either move up, or move out.
Me: Cool, should I go ahead and start packing now?
I know I’m supposed to be leaning-in and pulling up a seat the table and bursting through the glass ceiling and blah, blah, blah, but I was over my career. OVER IT.
I didn’t want to spend my time traveling all the over the place, working insane hours, while someone else raised my kid, all for the privilege of helping to stuff the already bulky pockets of the executives and shareholders of corporate America.
I decided I didn’t want to pull up a seat their table. I decided to build my own table. I’m sorry if this isn’t the choice I was supposed to make.
Actually, no. I’m not sorry.
7. Participate in the Elf on the Shelf
Before my son was born, I considered the tradition to be an unnecessarily stressful addition to parenting and the holiday season.
Actually, I think I was just really jealous that I hadn’t thought of that bajillion-dollar idea myself.
After my son was born, I jumped right onto the Elf on the Shelf bandwagon and I’m not getting off anytime soon.
Quite frankly, I participate in the tradition for one person and one person only….and that person is me.
My childhood had all the magic of life at Spahn Ranch with the Manson family, so it makes me feel good to sprinkle my son’s youth with wonderment.
Also, that little Sprite gives me a whole month off from parenting….and I’m not going to lie, I can use the break….especially during the holiday season.
8. Formula Feed
To be clear, it never crossed my mind to judge another mother for the way she chose to feed her kid. If it hadn’t been for Hamburger Helper, Chef-Boyardee and Tang, I might not have survived my own infancy.
So, fed is best, as far as I’m concerned.
But I had a lot of guilt about being diagnosed with cancer while I was pregnant and so I felt like if I couldn’t breastfeed, I would essentially be a worse mother than Susan Smith.
Mom guilt. Am I right?
I wanted to breastfeed, but I couldn’t.
To make a long story short, my son was born premature, I had to finish chemotherapy and it wasn’t safe for my son to breastfeed while I was pumped full of R-CHOP.
I tried to “pump and dump,” but my body was all, “F-You. I’m not cooperating.”
Since starvation is, in fact, the worst of all options, I decided that what was best for my son, was formula. And what was best for me, was to stop torturing myself.
PS….to that lady from the online La Leche support group I reached out to for advice on stimulating my milk supply, the lady who told me I should really consider stopping cancer treatment because, Breast is Best!
I still know who you are. My social media stalking skills are on point and oh honey….time has not been good to you.
9. Subscribe to a parenting philosophy
Me, today: I’m the I Don’t Give a F*ck Mom.
The IDGAF mom is the one who can’t even commit to the long term implications of a bumper sticker, let alone a parenting philosophy.
She’s the one who sometimes feels like she’s got her shit together and other times, get’s stuck in her sports bra.
The mom who roots for other mom’s, (except that bitch from the La Leche support group….I never let go of a valid grudge), because she knows that parenting isn’t actually a competition.
We’re all just doing the best we can to roll with the punches of parenting and life and in the end, we all want the same thing. Nice kids who are healthy and happy and who go on to be productive and kind members of society. That’s the only trophy we’re going to get.
10. Allow my kid to throw a tantrum in public
I really thought I would have this one down. I assumed that I was the adult, the one in charge. I thought my firm, but loving approach to child rearing would be thing that would separate me from the mom with the toddler sprawled out and screaming on the floor at Target.
I thought that right up until the time my son was about three and I told him it was time to leave Chuck E. Cheese and he looked at me and said, “Over my dead body.”
Ok, so he didn’t actually say that, but trust me, his wails and feet stamping and fist pounding on the Skee Ball machine made it clear that I could suck it.
So, now I just like to tell myself that he’s strong willed and that strong willed children become adults who change the world. I high five myself and hope that he’s at least a good dictator someday.
Then, I take another helping of humble pie with a side of crow, pull up my yoga pants and tell myself that, at the very least, I’m still way better than that La Leche lady.
About three years ago, I joined a women’s only fitness studio and truly, it changed my life. I have always enjoyed physical activity, but in the past, I had a habit of joining big gyms, for like five minutes.
Then, I would get super bored, because I didn’t know what I was doing, and then I would quit….four years later….because canceling a gym membership is the tenth circle of hell.
But after I had my son and completed my cancer treatments, my body felt like it had been run over by a truck. In addition, my anxiety, which had been a minor issue for me all of my life, suddenly started to attack more often and more viciously than it ever had before.
I talked about it with my doctors and also a therapist I had been seeing for a while. It was normal and typical for cancer survivors to experience symptoms of PTSD and anxiety. Medication was an option, but I didn’t feel like it was a good option for me.
I just needed some way to release that energy from my body. I began to recognize its build up. I could feel that it was trapped, but I didn’t know how to go about getting it out and it made me feel manic.
On the advice of my Oncologist and my Cardiologist, I decided to start working out again. Their suggestion was based more on the physical benefits I would get from regular exercise, but I thought maybe it might be a good way to exorcise some crazy while I was at it.
At first, I bought the book, Fitness for Dummies, thinking it would help me understand how to properly use the equipment at the gym and create a worthwhile routine for myself. And yes, I could have just asked someone, but no I could not. (See post, I’m Known as the Death of the Party).
Anyway, I quickly realized that I was just on my way to falling into the same old failed routine I had gotten myself into so many times before. So, instead, I turned to my community Facebook page for local moms….because if you want to know anything from where to get a good bikini wax, to what that noise was over on Main Street at 4:37am, that’s where you go….and I posted something like the following:
“Hey ladies. I’m looking to join a new gym. Somewhere with maybe small group classes and trainers who tell me what to do. And if they are mean, even better. I need someone to shout my ass back into shape. Thanks!”
Within minutes, I began to receive a flood of responses. Eventually, I chose a new, women’s only fitness studio that had been open for just a few months. I chose them, because I loved their body positive message.
After my first class, I knew this time would be different. Exercise has been a game changer for me, both physically and mentally and it’s a literal lifeline I can’t do without. And it was thanks to joining my gym, that I came to know my friend Gazelle. (I call her this, because she has the body of Gisele, minus the height, and she runs like some kind of prancing, dainty, woodland creature).
Gazelle doesn’t teach at my studio. I know her through a game of six degrees of separation that includes both a personal and exercise related connection. It was through that combination that I came to attend a cardio-kickboxing class she was hosting to raise money for charity.
The class kicked my ass. In a good way. So I began following her around to other gyms, where I take her class as a drop-in whenever possible. She’s amazing.
Fitness is her full time job. She has a degree in Exercise Physiology, but instead of working in a clinical setting, she likes to teach. She gets up most mornings around 4:00am to begin her day, which includes a variety of classes taught at several different gyms. I’ve seen here around noon-time when she’s already five classes into her day and you’d never know it.
In addition to her workload, she’s an avid runner and she’s constantly trying to get me to take it up.
“Hey, want to go for a run today? It’s going to be so nice out!” she texts.
“No. Running is dangerous.” I say.
“Running isn’t dangerous! What are you talking about?”
“Um, have you never seen Dateline? Or 48 Hours Investigates? There’s like a 90% chance I’ll be murdered.” I tell her.
“We’ll be together though.” She says.
“No, we won’t. I’ll quit after three minutes and tell you I’ll catch up. And by the time I’m attacked, you’ll be too far away for me to trip you as a sacrifice to save myself.”
“Want to go for a run? The foliage is beautiful!” She tries again.
“Imagine how much better I’ll be able to see it while walking.” I say.
“Let’s go for a run today! Just a short one!” She begs.
“I’d love to but I can’t. Oh wait. No, I wouldn’t love to.”
“Ok, I know you’ll probably say no, but how about you give running a chance today?”
“I can’t, I hate it.”
“Have you ever tried it? Like REALLY tried it?”
“Yes, that’s how I know that with every stride, a part of my soul dies.”
“You are so dramatic.”
“Hey friend, great day for a run!”
“If God wanted us to run, he would not have killed off the Dinosaurs.”
“That makes zero sense.”
“It makes perfect sense. Think about it while you’re running today. Alone.”
I’m just not a runner.
There have been many times I’ve gone out and invested in expensive, top of the line running shoes, devised a training plan and envisioned myself crossing the finish line of the Boston marathon. But then, I just end up gardening in my expensive, top of the line running shoes and watching the marathon from a bar on Beacon Street.
And I can always tell who the real runners are vs. the people like me who go out thinking, I’m going to pound out some miles and then end up walking three minutes in, because running is stupid.
Real runners seem to glide, their strides steady and light, their facial expressions stoic, their breathing, steady.
When I run, I look like a sack full of rocks being dragged across a bumpy road as I desperately suck wind. My facial expression says, “This sucks, I’m bored, I hate every minute of this and it’s only been half a block.”
I will hike for dozens/hundreds of miles carrying a 20 pound backpack up and down mountains for days and I won’t complain, even once. I will bike ride for hours. I will Spin and Barre and Booty Build and Muscle Pump and Namaste every day of the week….but I cannot bring myself to jog a lap, let alone a mile.
So I will keep on telling my friend no. And she will continue to ask.
I will offer to drive alongside her in my car, while she runs. Promising to shout out inspirational quotes, throw paper cups of water at her and play Eye of the Tiger at the highest volume setting for as long as her little legs will go.
And she will attempt to trick me into running by using words like “fun run” and promising a “yummy lunch” afterward. And I will tell her that her idea of “yummy” includes a plate of twigs and crab grass and my idea of “yummy” includes cheesecake.
Though it probably doesn’t sound like it, I do appreciate her persistence. I know that it comes from a good place. She’s rooting me on, because she thinks I can do it. She has faith in me and my abilities. Running is a passion of hers and she wants to share it with me. Motivation is part of her job and she is really good at it.
It’s just that in my case, there is no will to find the way. But her constant nagging has encouraged me. I work out harder, because of her. I push myself every workout and when I think I’m at my max, I push just a little bit more.
But if you ever see me running, you should probably start running too….because chances are, a zombie, or a serial killer is gaining on me.
“Opinions are like butt-holes. Everybody has one.” ~Unknown, but I wish it was me
As a mother, I’ve grown accustomed to being on the receiving end of unsolicited parenting advice.
Just the other day, while in the toothpaste aisle at Target, I was accosted by a woman who approached and said, “You shouldn’t choose a toothpaste that contains aluminum. Unless you want your kid to have Alzheimers.”
How do you even respond to that?
When I was pregnant, I was diagnosed with cancer at twenty-two weeks. Once, while shopping, a woman approached and asked, “Don’t you think you should have been more responsible?”
Throughout my entire illness, I never had a problem sharing my story with curious strangers. I spent many minutes in check-out aisles and at my doctor’s appointments, chatting it up with random, but kind, strangers, about my diagnosis and how it all came to be.
But this woman?
She was a twat-waffle.
So, I didn’t feel bad when I suggested that she should hop into her douche canoe and row, row, row the boat far away from me….before I did actually make an irresponsible decision.
After I gave birth, I wasn’t able to breast-feed. My son was born one week before my last chemo cycle. Although the medications were unable to cross through the placenta while my son was safe and snug inside my womb, they could pass through my breast milk and that wasn’t safe for him.
In the beginning, I tried to “pump and dump,” which I would need to do for a minimum of six weeks after my last chemo cycle, in order to flush out all the poisons.
I tried. I really, really did.
I followed every bit of advice from the hospitals lactation consultants. But nothing worked.
My body had been through a lot and it seemed to draw the line at producing breast milk. I was never able to produce more than about a teaspoons worth, which, admittedly, made me feel like a horrible mother.
As a last ditch effort, I reached out to a La Leche Group I found online. Now, I’m sure that if you are a regular woman, who is struggling to breast feed and looking for advice, that these groups are helpful. In my case, not so much.
I explained my situation and for the most part, I got back the same advice the lactation consultants had given me. In a few cases, some of the women essentially said, “I’ve got nothing, I’m sorry.”
But then, one woman decided to offer me this piece of sage advice. “You should stop your treatments so you can breastfeed. It’s really the most important thing you can do for your baby.”
“Um….like, more important than being alive? Bitch.”
That’s all said. I might have added in a GFU.
Ok, I did definitely add it in, because who says that!?
And honestly, my experiences with breast-feeding shame didn’t end there. I found a super expensive, organic formula that made me feel a little bit better about my inability to feed my baby from my own body and I’m not even kidding, but nine times out of ten, when I was at the store purchasing his food, a woman would tell me that breast milk was best.
And you know what? I agree! It is THE BEST. I get it.
But, we can’t all do it and for some, we don’t all want to do it and that’s OK too. It really is. Because you know what’s second best to breast? Fed.
A few years ago, while my son played at an indoor playground, a man asked me, “Aren’t you afraid that letting your son wear a pink shirt will make him gay?”
He asked, as though being gay was a bad thing.
As if I would be all bent out of shape at the prospect of being the number one woman in my son’s life….forever.
As if a child’s preference in color, is indicative of his sexuality.
But, I suppose when you can still recall the smell of the air from the bough of the Mayflower, you can sort of be forgiven for your ignorance.
I am by no means a perfect parent. There are days I think I’m nailing it and there are days when I wish that life allowed a control z function, so that I could have a do-over….or five.
I appreciate and even love, all those Parenting Blogs that talk honestly about the trials and tribulations of raising children. It’s nice to find a community of like-minded parents. But the second they hop on a sponsored soap box and start using words like “should” and “never.” They’ve lost me.
Because, I’m sorry, Karen, you don’t know squat….unless you have a PH.D in child-rearing, in which case, what you know is still debatable. Parenting, like everything else, is constantly evolving.
My generation is the first to raise children in the age of social media. And I think a byproduct of that, is that we’ve lost a bit of our self-confidence and our willingness to trust our gut and our instincts as parents.
It’s so easy to compare ourselves to what other families are doing. All we have to do, is open up our computers, or our phones and we are immediately transported into the lives of families all over the world, which brings a whole new meaning to the term, “Keeping up with the Joneses.”
But the truth is, we are all just winging it and hoping we get it right.
Personally, I vaccinate, because Polio seems like a real bitch.
I don’t spank my child, because I got my ass kicked as a kid and from that, I learned only one thing. That I don’t want to hit my child.
Depending on the circumstances, I’m a helicopter parent. Other times, I’m that mom, sitting in the corner, reading a book.
Some days, I make homemade, from scratch, wholly organic meals and other days we go through the drive-thru at McDonald’s.
I allow screen time, almost every day. Some days, it’s no more than hour. Other days, whatever.
I am at times, authoritative and strict and other times, weak and super permissive. Most of the time, I’m weak and super permissive.
I’m a big believer in the importance of self-care; for moms and dads. And sometimes, I prioritize myself over everyone else. And no, I don’t feel guilty about it.
My house is obsessively clean and organized. Because my brain needs it to be that way and I have no problem doing all the work. In fact, I LIKE it.
I have been a corporate career having mom and a stay-at-home mom. Both are hard.
Sometimes, I let my son win and other times, I wipe the floor with him.
And I don’t care what kind of mom the internet, or the media tells me I should be.
I can’t force him into a specific parenting philosophy. I know this, because I have actually tried. But I don’t think he came out of the womb a blank slate. He was already a person. Predisposed, I guess, to certain personality traits and needs that would and do influence his interests.
So I only care about being the kind of parent my child needs me to be. And I’m sure I don’t always get it right, but I trust myself to get it mostly right. Because no one knows him and loves him like I do and nobody ever could.
“I am not a jerk. I am an introvert and I say fuck a lot.” ~Charles Bukowski
I don’t get invited to a lot of parties.
This is not surprising, because I don’t have a lot of friends.
This is not surprising, because I’m the human equivalent of a turd in a punch bowl.
I don’t necessarily mean to be, but I’m a definite introvert trying to force myself to function like a “normal” person, in a world that is noisy and won’t shut up. A bi-product of which, is a somewhat bizarre form of what I suppose could be called, social anxiety. Or, a bad case of chronic, verbal diarrhea.
When I get blindsided by conversation, you know, normal, friendly small talk, I tend to contribute something like, “Hey, did you know that humans shed forty pounds of skin in their lifetime?” just as you’re about to sprinkle some parmesan cheese onto what used to be your favorite dish.
I once said, ” Well, I hate the Yankee’s” during a professional networking event, in New York, with a bunch of Yankee fans, at YANKEE F*CKING STADIUM, in response to the question, “Do you like baseball?”
And you know what? I don’t even really hate the Yankee’s.
I’m sure it would be quite nice to be a social butterfly, instead of a wall flower; to be the kind of person who oozes charisma and charm, instead of oozing verbal diarrhea.
But I wouldn’t know.
I’m attending a wedding at the end of the month and the last time I saw many of the people who will be in attendance, I filled an awkward moment of silence with the following:
“Hey, did you guys know the average fast food eater consumes like 12 pubic hairs a year?”
I don’t know why that was necessary. I have no words….also, it was me who caused the awkward moment of silence.
The thing is, when left to my own devices, I’m just perfectly happy being alone.
It’s not because I’m sad, or depressed, or need to be pried from my shell. I’m not shy, or lacking in self-confidence.
And it’s not that I don’t like people. I think people are fascinating, especially from a distance, when they don’t know I’m watching them.
It’s the socializing I don’t love; the small talk and the pressure to contribute to a conversation. I don’t like the pauses, with expectation, waiting for me to share my thoughts, which usually consist of something like, “Every year, 40,000 people are injured by a toilet in the United States.” Except no one is ever talking about toilets.
I am capable of having regular, deep conversations with my small circle of close friends and family, but take me to any sort of outing where there are large groups of people and shit gets weird, real fast.
When I manage to find a quiet, dark corner where I can lurk in the shadows and just observe and eavesdrop, there is always some do-gooder who tracks me down with a “Why are you over here all by yourself? Come join us!”
And I think, “Damn-it, Susan, you’re ruining everything!”
For a long time, I was hard on myself for my shortcomings as a socialite. It bothered me that nearly everyone else I knew gracefully made their way through parties, networking events, conferences, etc., while I spent my time rehearsing a series of basic social niceties, only to then spend days months obsessing over all the ways in which I still ended up accidentally telling someone her purse was ugly and then insulting her entire family for good measure.
But, I’m pushing forty now and honestly, I don’t care anymore.
This is who I am.
My idea of excellent of customer service is to be completely ignored, until I ask for something….which I will never do. The other day, I discovered that I can look up a specific product on Home Depot’s website, while in the store, and it will tell me the items exact aisle and bay number, thus forever sparing me an awkward encounter with a store associate. I am now a lifelong customer of Home Depot….so long as I can continue to get a decent cell signal in their stores.
I have had the same cell phone provider for eighteen years. Because even if I wanted to break up with them, I don’t want to have to actually initiate the conversation.
But you know what? Loyalty does it have its rewards, even if it’s unintended loyalty….because I have a seriously good cell phone plan that is so good, they don’t offer it anymore. I’ve been grandfathered into it with like two other people, because….eighteen years.
I’m that friend who will never answer the phone when you call, but will immediately respond with a text and then tell you I’m somewhere with shitty cellular service. And of course you’ll know I’m lying, but you know me, so you’ll let it go.
Actually, if we’re really friends, you’ll never call to begin with, unless it’s a true emergency. Like, you need help burying a body, or something.
Also, if you invite me to your wedding and I look thoroughly confused in every photograph, you’ll know it’s because I’m trying to work out exactly why I needed to include the world vulva, in a conversation with your new mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law.
I know, I know….I sound like a real pain in the ass. Truly, most of the time, I feel like I’m not worth the effort, but believe it or not, I’m a good friend when it matters most. *See body comment above.*
I’ll just never be the life of the party. And I don’t want to be.
When life requires me to people, I will always be that person trying desperately to blend into the wallpaper. Literally. I call ahead so I can match my outfits to the décor.
I now have a six-year-old son, who is a first grader, which adds a layer of challenge to my hermit-like aspirations. He wants to socialize, which means that, by extension, I need to socialize; with other parents at playdates and birthday parties and school events and so on. And of course, I do these things for him.
But there is also a part of him that is just like me. He’s dreamy and imaginative and for as long as he’s been able to string a sentence together, he’s declared that he wants to be a writer.
At six, he’s written dozens of very short stories in a little notebook he keeps. Sometimes the stories have no real beginning, or ending. Just a thought he worked out and put to paper with an illustration.
Sometimes, when I pick him up from school and I ask him abut his day, he’ll tell me it was good, but he played by himself. And I’ll ask, “How come? Is everything OK?”
“Of course, Mommy,” he’ll say. “I just needed some alone time.”
And I get it. So we’ll drive home in a comfortable silence. Both of us, a little lost in ourselves for a bit.