I am a really nice person.
No seriously, I’m so nice I spend probably 95% of my waking time doing nice things for others, and in doing so have sacrificed a great amount of myself.
I also feel ashamed of myself most days of the week because of the degree to which I let others criticize me and my parenting without speaking up about it.
I think we could all go on for hours about the problems that being that kind of a nice person can cause, and I could go on even longer about all the disappointments I have experienced for the sake of doing nice things. That isn’t really what I want to talk about, though.
I want to talk about the way in which I’m no longer going to be so nice.
I’ll continue to sacrifice my own passions, interests, and education for my husband’s career, and my family. I will continue to make nice things for extended family and friends, for no reason other than that I’m crafty and bored and can’t continue to let the knitted, baked, canned, and cross-stitched goods pile up around the house. I will continue to let people flake on us to babysit without speaking up about it. Of course I will go on providing food to family parties and hosting dinners, baking desserts in excess and with unrealistic designs to them. Even though I hate to cook. (And I mean loathe.)
How else will I justify my existence to all of you if not doing nice things, anyway?
I’ll even let everyone continue to tell me how I homeschool wrong, parent wrong, discipline wrong; how others think homeschooling is a bad – some say irresponsible – thing for our family, and all the other subtle criticisms that are really no one’s goddamned business – yet still come through every time I leave the house and respond to inquiries about just being a mom who stays at home. Whilst sipping my drink, listening to the “perspective” of others, and trying not to bleed to death from biting my tongue so hard.
It isn’t that I’m afraid of conflict, or confrontation; or that I particularly care about what others think of me. God knows I say what I think the majority of the time. I just want to be a nice person whose kids aren’t ostracized because their mother’s seen as an asshole.
If you know anything about me, you know that most of the people immediately around us already think I’m a pretty big asshole anyway (to no fault of my own), so I try to be pretty nice because I always feel as though I’m walking on thin ice. Thin ice made of judgmental assholes who blame all their problems on others, think a woman who doesn’t work is a lazy piece of shit, and – most importantly – believe that an educated person is one to avoid. Because all her smarts and shit make you feel stupid, right?
I’m going too far.
So I’m a super nice person, to a fault really. You guys get why, and I’m sure a lot of people – ironically – hate me for that too.
But there’s one way in which I refuse to be nice any longer…
I’m not going to let people’s disgusting, diseased kids get away with infecting my family anymore. (There I go, going too far again.)
A while ago, I realized that I’ve become a real germaphobe; and in the past few months have even blogged about it. While blogging about it, I started wondering how I came to such a place. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, per se; though I’m sure my hands would love to not be washed so frequently, and a lot of my time could probably (maybe) be better spent than obsessively cleaning and sanitizing.
But the compulsion won’t go away, in spite of how much I will it to – which made me question why. And really, Why am I so germaphobic? is a simple question to answer.
Because I’m sick of my family being sick.
Everyone knows that when you have kids you’re going to encounter a lot of childhood illnesses. It’s just the nature of having children. But then there’s a point where your kids are sick more days than they are healthy, and nothing is actually, physiologically wrong with them. So you become a germaphobe, to try and deal with the problem how mothers and germaphobes before you have; all-the-while ignoring the elephant in the room:
Where the fucking germs are coming from.
Without going into all the details (that inevitably turn into a big family-and-friend gossip-fest about how Heather’s a bitch who isn’t really nice, but rather a nasty jerk who talks all kinds of shit on her blog), we’ll leave it at this: we’ve attended a lot of events in which people have brought their children ill. Knowingly ill. Not “oh little Johnny just seems a little out of it today”-ill. We’re talking complete knowledge of a fever for several days; obvious cough and cold symptoms that are medicated through the course of the event-ill.
We’re talking about small talk at dinner about diarrhea-ill.
Well, I may be nice; and I may be willing to tolerate a lot of shit that people throw my way. But I’m not willing to tolerate this anymore.
Call me rude. Call me a jerk. Call me antisocial. Say I want to seal my family in a bubble. Whatever you want to say, doesn’t matter to me; because in the end, the only one losing the sleep, feeling like crap, and – most importantly – paying all the doctor and pharmacy bills is me.
(Our current bill for doctors and pharmacy this year has already hit $7,000.)
On a larger scale, this is something I’ve always felt utterly confused about. People consider that attending a party, or going to work, sick is “taking one of the team.” They suffer through for the sake of – what? Getting work done? Not really. Making sure the party-goers know your attendance was important? They probably didn’t care that much.
With the exception of employees who have no sick pay, or those that could lose their jobs from calling in (and of course for moms with no other support or help); there is absolutely no excuse to leave the house when you are ill.
Because you never know what other people are dealing with, which is why I also feel so strongly in favor of vaccination. People could have compromised immune systems; they could have the elderly living at home. Someone could have terminal cancer and be unable to ward off illnesses they’ve already been vaccinated against. The possibilities of how you going to a party with a bad cold could seriously fuck someone else up are endless. And yet the solution is simple: stay home. No one has any right – at all – to think that because they can handle a particular ailment means that others can, or should, have to as well.
I’m not rude, you’re just diseased. And I’m broke from all the expensive children’s Tylenol and new thermometers and $45 copays and uncovered antibiotics. So stay at home. Keep your kid at home. Call the relatives, they’ll understand if your kid can’t come to the party because he just blew uncontrollable shits all over your carpet. Take your sick day, chances are the company will still be standing tomorrow – in fact, your coworkers may appreciate you leaving your hacking cough at home.