Apply to Review My Newest Book!

Hey everyone!

If you – like me – love free shit, then I’ve got just the thing for you:

You can receive a signed copy of my new book, a Starbucks gift card, and a free swag bag of book-themed items. The value of this package is $100!

The return is that you agree to review my book no later than July 1st, 2019 on Amazon.com with a copy of your review sent to me (I promise, I won’t be offended by blatant honesty).

Apply to review it by clicking on the link below, to answer just a few questions and be entered in the selection process. I will be choosing 10 people to review my book, and of those that didn’t make the cut will be holding a raffle of the same value.

Thanks so much for joining me on my next adventure!

Here’s the linkie: https://goo.gl/forms/YhQkFBgzWfs4CyEq1

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An Open Letter To Single Mothers, Everywhere

Suck it up.

Yep, I said it. Suck it up.

I mean this with the utmost understanding of the struggles you are experiencing.

Suck. It. Up.

That’s what I read over and over and over again in the comments section of an article this morning on Scary Mommy, although it was the single mothers, everywhere, that were screeching it in what I can only imagine the shrillest of tones.

Nobody has it as bad as you, right?

UGH.

Suck it up.

So I woke up this morning, and as I always do, checked all the notifications on my phone. Then, after clearing them, scrolled through my Facebook feed and ran across this:

Single mothers everywhere, came to this post in particular, just to tell a woman (women, because others had empathized in the comments and were being directly addressed as well) to suck it up.

To the writer of this article: I identify. Big time.

My husband doesn’t travel for work, but he is never around either. He works the nightshift, extra hours, and takes extra jobs on weekends as side projects to further his career. When he is home, he is sleeping or sitting on his phone or answering emails from work.

He is not and he has never been an extra set of hands.

I am the lone ranger of our home. I do all the cooking. All the cleaning. All the driving. The baths, the bedtimes, the runny noses and endless doctor’s appointments – you guys get it, I do it all. There is no me time, no self care. No “I do the cooking, you do the dishes.” I do all of it, and then I make my husband a plate of food to eat the next day and many times he just throws it in the trash because “work catered this morning.”

Most days it’s all I can do to keep my head above water. And all for the income of barely above a livable wage, because not only does my husband sacrifice his time for his career, he sacrifices good wages. I cut my own hair, I cook every meal at home, and I go without basic necessities time after time after time to give my kids opportunity and my husband the chance to achieve his dreams.

This isn’t about my struggles, though; or my husband’s clear lack of participation in our family dynamic. Let me be clear: IT IS NOT. I’m just attempting to clarify why I am qualifying my own right to say to single moms, everywhere:

You. Need. To. Stop.

If I or someone else, like the writer of “This Is What Parenting Feels Like When Your Spouse Travels For Work,” ever dares to open our mouths and lament a particularly difficult aspect of our own situation – which certainly a lot of people can identify with, and benefit from hearing about – the army of single mothers, everywhere, come in on their high horses, spewing hate and venom about how no situation can ever be as bad as theirs.

Give me a break.

The defining comment on that article this morning was one of the first I read. It had over 600 reactions, and over 100 replies in unison:

“So, like single parenting but with an extra income? Asking for 13.7 million people.”

You can feel the ire radiating from the screen.

Comment after comment from there agreed and told the writer to suck it up. To “man up” and deal with her situation.

“At least you have that extra income.”

“Suck it up, at least you have an extra pair of hands when he’s in town.”

The ballsiest:

“No one’s situation will ever be as hard as mine.”

OH. MY. GOD.

We get it. Your life sucks too. The operative word there is “too.” Shockingly, misery in adulthood is not mutually exclusive. A lot of people experience it, in a lot of different ways.

You had a failed marriage. You told a man you were pregnant and he fled town. You don’t get child support. You do get child support, but it’s insufficient. You never get a break. You get a break, but you have to fight incessantly as coparents. Your kids will never know what it’s like to have two parents in one home. Your kids will and remember, but they will always have the trauma of a home, broken. You have to work two jobs to survive. You have to work one job, but long hours.

None of that is sufficient to invalidate the experiences of others.

There are a lot of people in the world that have it much worse than all of us. There are refugees. People on the street. People in abusive situations that feel they can’t get out. People with terminal illness. I could go on.

The point is that a lot of people in this world, dare I say most people, are struggling in one way or another. Other people are allowed to have a hard time with their situation while you have a hard time with yours. Moreover, it doesn’t make your experience any less valid to validate that of others.

I’m sorry, it doesn’t.

It sucks to have your struggles shit on. To the single moms, everywhere: just stop.

The point is: we get it. I get it. I hear you. Now it’s your turn to hear me.

Suck it up.

Not suck it up to your situation; rather, suck it up to the fact that you are not alone and you do not have it particularly worse than any given person.

Something magical happens when we stop shitting on each other and start working together: things get easier. I am much more inclined to carpool with a single mother that recognizes my own struggles, than to carpool with one who responds to everything I say with “at least you don’t…” In exchange, I am a listener, and will listen to you as long as you need me to.

It isn’t a pissing contest. We can both be miserable, and in acknowledging that, we can also both get some happiness, together.

Dinner For One

Valentine’s Day is this week. ARE YOU READY?

Someone said this to me today when I was picking up my kids from tennis. I smiled and nodded, and said “what about you?!”

In reality, I should have said “Dafuq? Ready for WHAT?”

Valentine’s Day, traditionally, is a huge disappointment for me. Most years, my husband is at work. Since he works nights, that means my idea of a sexy weeknight outfit is stained yoga pants and my MOM AF t-shirt with a gaping hole under the left armpit, and last week’s spilled rice still stuck to the chest.

There’s also the simple fact that I don’t particularly give a shit about commercial holidays, Valentine’s Day being one of them.

I guess my disappointment actually comes from the fact that I feel like I’m expected to care – a lot – about the vacuous, mundane celebration of love, when in actuality I just don’t. Sorry! I don’t.

I get weary of always feeling like I have to explain or answer to people just why I am the way I am, or of having to justify my feelings. I don’t owe anyone anything, including – and especially – an explanation of who I am. Yet still, I have an entire deck of excuse cards, always ready to pull out for why I don’t what others do.

And as with many commercialized holidays, there is also the obvious: why do I need a special day to remember or honor or celebrate something I should be doing *every day?*

[Cue the high horse.]

This isn’t to be confused with the celebration of Valentine’s Day with my kids. I am all over that shit. Any opportunity to use colloquialisms and special events to teach them how to show people that you love or care for them, I’m all for it.

What I do for Valentine’s Day with my kids is pretty basic, too. I buy a gift bag for each of them, and slowly – over the course of about a month – fill it with things I see while I’m out that make me think of them, know they’ll like, or that I think they need. When the bag is full, it gets topped off with tissue paper and, vóila.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, I make our meals V-Day themed. Because it’s fucking cute.

As the years go by, and my kids get older, though, they become less and less impressed with the commercialism of it as well. That, I believe, is in large part due to the fact that you can’t go anywhere without the holiday being shoved down your throat.

Honestly, CVS: I’m looking at you.

I’m trying to then gear it more towards teaching them to give gifts that have personal meaning. An old necklace I had to pass on, a card that’s just silly, or something I saw while out that was only $1 but made me think of them. Arguably the most commercial of all holidays, Valentine’s Day seems an opportune time to teach gift giving sans commercialism.

So when I first met my husband, it was just before Valentine’s Day, and I will never forget his rant about how much he loathed the material aspect of it all (ironic given my husband’s propensity to acquire stuff, but we’ll save that for another post)…

Being the late stage millennial hipster that I am, and not knowing how much of a hoarder of things he really was yet, I ate that shit up. Ate it with a spoon.

I, too, had a deep disdain for The Man, and all of the ceremonious, faux holidays that came with it! What a match we were – we had so much in common philosophically!

That year, on Valentine’s Day, we agreed that we would hang out anyway and not be – like – romantic. But we were planning to hang out anyway, and it just happened to be Valentine’s Day, and we had to eat so we should probably cook too. Definitely not a Valentine’s Day thing though because fuck The Man.

[Cue the second face.]

(A little side anecdote for you guys: having also had a conversation about how my unbeknownst husband-to-be had never had Macaroni and Cheese with BBQ sauce mixed into it before; I, trying to be coquettish, said “well I’ll just make it for you on Valentine’s Day then.” We did hang out that day and made mac and cheese. And if you guys really want to know how intolerable this whole thing became, when I showed up he said he thought it would be REALLY ARTISANAL if we added some red onion and FAKEN BACON, which he had pre chopped just assuming I would be fine with such a culinary abomination, quite obviously a portends to what was to come in our marriage no doubt. I know, you guys… I know…)

Anyway, so then we got married and suddenly it was like: okay yeah, but married people do Valentine’s Day, and they like it. So we thought: well, shit, if other people do it and like it, we probably should too.

The first year, we went on a fucking gondola ride in the swampy canals of Long Beach. Name me something more cliche to do on Valentine’s Day than that, I’ll wait…

[Cue the crickets.]

To this day, it remains to have been the most uncomfortable and awkward two hours of my life. I mean the boat was cool and all, but the guy doing the paddling sang while looking directly into our eyes, with a really weird I’m-borderline-sexual-about-this-song-and-paddling-gig, then turned and said he would “give us privacy.” All the while, dirt bags and homeless people were hanging out along the canal waterfront; one guy so drunk he repeatedly belched, seemingly in tune with our gondola guide’s song, which at that point had turned into something of a rhythmic, hip-thrusting chant. Towards the end, a lady and man in matching tight-fitting speedos and muscle shirts paddle-boarded past us, screaming at each other.

For years, we tried. Well, I tried. Or at least, tried to get on board. My husband always got home from work super late, pretending to be all stressed out because he got “stuck in traffic” (he had really just worked late like he always does). I would make a romantic meal, or I actually put on makeup for once, and then I would sit there – the doting wife – tapping my toe while I waited for him to get home.

It was so ridiculous.

One year we went out to a Japanese restaurant and I ordered this sautéed edamame dish that was so goddamned good I basically woofed it down like a pig with a feed bag on her face.

The next year, I saw a Groupon for a pearl necklace and was convinced that I needed those pearls. So my husband got them for me, but there was also a big Lakers game on that night so he threw them in my general direction as he made a beeline for the TV to turn on the game.

Then he started working overnights, and Valentine’s Day sort of just faded away.

I’m certain he has gotten me cards, either at CVS or one he printed off the Internet, typed message and all, since then. But every year it has been less and less of an effort. This year, I am firmly expecting not even an acknowledgment of the day.

To be honest, it has been a relief. That is, until I started feeling like people wanted an explanation as to why we didn’t celebrate as ostensively as possible.

The other day, we were celebrating my oldest daughter’s fifteenth birthday, and the topic of the swiftly approaching Valentine’s Day came up. Everyone was talking about their plans.

I was talking about my kids.

People were saying they had dinner reservations (for two), had special gifts coming in the mail, and my mother in law even said she and my father in law would be going on a boat cruise.

I said I would be making a cutesy dessert for my kids that night, and/or leaving them at home and making a dinner reservation for one since my husband will – obviously – be working. I was mostly joking; the truth was I would do the dessert and then binge watch You on Netflix (assuming I don’t finish the season beforehand).

In response, I got all these pity kind of faces. Like oh poor you, you’ll be so lonely, so sad, and so on.

Normally, I would start up my canned speech about how commercial and material Valentine’s Day is. I would blather on about the “why do I need a holiday to do what I already should be doing” sanctimonious speech I always give. And I would start up all the excuses I could fathom for why my husband and I ain’t doing shit at all.

This time, I didn’t go down that road, though. I just said: “I love myself enough to not need all of that.”

It cleared the room, and it’s true.

I don’t need my husband to buy me flowers (I buy them for myself), or candy (my tastes in candy change frequently, so it’s better that I pick out my own anyway). Cards are nice, but a couple of words in passing are just as good. I don’t need the fancy dinners and the boat rides and the romantic walks and the wine tasting limo rides to feel good about my place in my relationship and, more importantly, my life.

That may not be the case for everyone, but I think every relationship is different. For me and my husband’s, it works. And I’m done explaining it away because people just can’t accept that not everyone does what everyone else seems to do.

I’m perfectly happy and in love with my yoga pants and Mom AF t-shirt, stains and all. Don’t like it? Enjoy your gondola ride.


We Need To Talk About Kristen Bell’s Menstrual Cup

Um.

So.

I logged onto Facebook this morning, and AGAIN Parent’s magazine threw me for a loop. That makes two days in a row that I felt wronged by them. (Yesterday, which I posted about this morning, was about the re-share of that whole daycare pick up shaming thing.)

Today’s article was so startling, and yet at the same time so mundane, that I couldn’t help but double take.

“Kristen Bell Fainted While Trying To Take Out Her Menstrual Cup.”

Uh… sorry to hear?

How do you respond to something like that? Or, rather, react? Do you read it? Do you keep going? Why does anyone care? Is there some deeper meaning, or is this just another attempt at humanizing celebrities so that we identify them more when their movies come out?

Beyond the fact that I feel like every other day I’m learning about the goings on in Kristen Bell’s personal life, whether I want to or not, there’s something so remarkably mundane about a celebrity’s menstrual period woes, or anybody’s for that matter.

I mean, I get it.

There’s nothing to be embarrassed by when it comes to a woman’s period. So bold for Bell to highlight this by telling her own personal anecdotes. I, myself, could regale you all with a myriad of stories when it comes to my own monthly cycle, although I’m not sure Parent’s magazine (or any magazine) would pick the stories up.

And anyway, celebrities are people too! Right? These humanizing articles serve to remind us that the Kristen Bells of the world are real people, not just the characters they portray. They, like us, do quirky things, weird things, fun things. Bell, in particular, seems to have become the poster girl for just how normal celebrities really are. I feel like I’m constantly seeing articles shared over and over again about her (and her husband’s) humanness and – like I said, I get it.

But, is it news?

I guess I’m starting to question what the whole point is of a lot of media outlets, including legitimate magazines that you can still get in the mail, when they are sharing somewhat banal stories, like this one.

I even commented on the Parent’s Facebook post this morning, asking just that. Can Kristen Bell do anything without it turning into a news article? I would suggest, after this whole menstrual cup fainting fiasco, not.

I’ve Been Binge Watching True Crime Before Binge Watching True Crime Was Cool

I’ve been watching a lot of true crime lately. Like daily. I am absolutely addicted. I dream about it.

I’d like to think it started with the new season of Making a Murderer, but the truth is it started when I was a small child. My mom used to watch Murder, She Wrote and Father Dowling, with a smattering of Perry Mason and Columbo. Pretty much all the time. My childhood memories, at least the ones that involve her, are peppered with the shows.

Then when my parents got divorced, visits with my mom would include day long marathons of the shows. Sometimes the entire week to visit her would be just one Unsolved Mysteries episode after another, with take out containers and pajamas littering the living room.

What I’m saying is: I’ve been binge watching true crime before binge watching true crime was cool.

Flash forward to now, and for years I have irritated my husband by obsessively adding the age old shows to the DVR. When I get up and start doing chores, they come on and annoy my kids. Sometimes they watch too; other times it is the source of Mom’s weirdness.

Then I discovered the wonders of True Crime and Crime Dramas on Netflix. It took a while for me to get really obsessive about them, but these last couple of months… man… we sure are getting our money’s worth for our recurring Netflix, Prime, and Hulu charges.

Now it’s like Unsolved Mysteries all over again. I watched the 2nd season of Making a Murderer in a matter of two days. Twice. I watched both Fyre Festival documentaries. Ted Bundy Tapes, that was a good one.

It’s also moved on to podcasts; I listened to Serial in one, long, tireless swoop.

Oh and… I just watched Abducted In Plain Sight today. Boy was that a mind fuck.

Then I started spending time online looking for published lists of shows and movies to add to my to watch file. Which I have now, on the computer – a file with lists by streaming app of what I want to watch.

I’m not even going to tell you guys how long the list is.

For me, this insatiable love of true crime and even fictional crime shows and podcasts is rooted in wanting to know more about what is going on in the world. I can only handle so much news and media; it becomes repetitive and never gets into stories like the ones I learn about listening to This American Life, or by watching a show like Murder Mountain or I Am A Killer. My life is so sheltered in these suburbs, true crime helps me realize and be aware of the world beyond my city walls.

The more I watch, as well, the more I realize how many people there are out there – in the world – who want their story to be heard. If I were to count up the number of times I, myself, felt unheard, my list would be so much longer than my own to-watch list, saved on the desktop of my MacBook. What better justice than to let the laundry go and the vacuuming wait so I can binge watch another true crime series, or another group of movies about real life crime? At least that’s what I tell myself.


[Just A Long Post About Laundry]

UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH.

We need to talk about laundry.

I don’t know about you guys, but laundry is probably going to be the thing that does me in.

Honestly.

It’s not the cooking, which I loathe and yet find myself spending about three hours a day doing.

It’s not the cleaning, which – again – I’m not really a fan of; though being a health and sanitization freak, I see the necessity of. (Still, it would be nice if the second I wipe down a counter, my family could not immediately spill food and walk away…)

The errands. The kids’ sports. The homeschooling. The breastfeeding, largely unsupported.

It’s none of that shit.

It’s the laundry.

I never understood – before having three kids, plus my dad, husband, and myself – just how much laundry a family could produce. Like I kind of understood. When I was little, we had a big basement and the laundry would just pile up higher and higher until my dad or I finally got around to doing it.

But holy shit. Laundry.

LAUNDRY. WOAH.

Every week, the piles get bigger and bigger, and I’m just not sure how to go about doing it. I have a teen, a tween, and a toddler, so naturally all three of the worst laundry-with-kids phases. My kids also play sports too; and my husband and dad… well, men.

I tried one load a day, but that was insufficient for a family of six.

I tried two loads a day; somehow also insufficient.

I tried just continuing the laundry all day, every day. The problem with that was then the folding never got done and we just had piles of clothes waiting to be put away laying around everywhere.

I’ve tried one or two, specific, laundry days a week. But busy lives and a lot of people means that for the days afterwards, there’s still the laundry piled up everywhere waiting to be folded or put away, like with my daily laundry routine. And also, with a family of six, the longer it takes to finish “laundry day,” the more laundry gets added to laundry day.

And you guys get it; it just never gets done.

I’m at the point, now, of thinking: ‘let’s just burn all of our clothes once they start to smell.’ We can start fresh with the latest Target wardrobe du jour. Right? (Honestly, it would probably cost less than the endless amounts of detergent, combined with the water and gas bill from the washer and dryer – essentially – running constantly.)

It’s not just the doing of the laundry, it’s the folding and putting away. We are a family of six, and we live in a small house (duh, California cost of living). So we have to squeeze things in as best we can.

Which basically means we don’t.

There’s also that whole Gain thing.

Do you guys remember a while ago Gain laundry detergent had that Gooder campaign, and I basically lost my mind about it?

I wrote blogs, Tweeted, Facebooked, and even wrote a letter to the president of the company. I just could not handle a marketing campaign that used improper grammar. (Because, at the time, I really was that much of a pretentious grammarian. I know, I know…I hate me too.)

To my surprise, those motherfuckers over at Gain had the BALLS to respond to me, and their response was even more appalling than the campaign: they said THAT THEIR GOODER CAMPAIGN WAS GOODEST ENOUGH FOR THEM. (Or something along those lines.)

Like they not only defended it, they went so far as to bate me further. I. Was. Livid.

So I stopped using Gain for quite some time, which I’m sure was a real crisis to them. I mean I do a lot of laundry, so much so that I was once asked for identification because my local CVS security team identified through camera and cash register surveillance footage that I was purchasing Tide pods at an “alarming frequency and quantity” (their words); still, I’m fairly certain my lone boycott of Gain and their bullshit GOODER campaign had absolutely no impact on the company whatsoever.

But it was the point, you know?

So flash forward to last summer when we went on a little mini vacation and had to buy one of those one time use packs of laundry detergent – because, duh, I have a huge family and even vacations include Mom doing laundry. The only option was Gain, so I begrudgingly bought it…

…WELL… have you guys smelled that shit lately? They were right: IT. IS. GOODER. It was like someone had sewn roses into my clothes when I washed them with Gain. Like all of the good smells in the universe have been infused into a tiny pod, that they don’t even call a pod – they call it a fling. Some romantic shit you had the summer between your junior and senior years of college is now working overtime to get the scent and stain of your daily filth out of your Cotton On underpants. Like heaven is real, and it’s the smell and feel of my freshly laundered linens.

So now I feel like a hypocrite because I took Gain to task during that whole Gooder campaign thing, now I literally stand at the washing machine with my nose in the Gain Fling container like I’m sniffing a fine wine for the first time.

I’ve clearly lost it in the thick of all these socks that need to be folded, and bras that need to be hand washed. I don’t really know where to go from here.

Please Stop Telling Me I Should Do Things For A Living

The title, alone, sounds ridiculous. Please stop telling me I should do things for a living? What do I expect – to sit around and do nothing as a grown ass adult?

No. That’s not what I mean at all.

A couple weeks ago, we had a little family and friend get together for my toddler’s second birthday. It wasn’t too extravagant. About 20 people came by. We had burgers and broccoli cheese soup, a cake, and a donut display. Truth be told, he slept for 75% of it, having started his nap that day a little late.

As I always do: I made the party set up a little on the extra side. The table of desserts and foods looked Pinterest-perfect, which truth be told I always do. Not because I feel that I have to, but simply because I want to. It’s what I do to feel alive.

Yes. I want to have personalized water bottles and theme-specific drink glasses. Yes, DIY tables cape projects actually make me feel like I’m living my best life. This is just something that’s important to me as a parent, to give my kids some of these fun picturesque memories that I didn’t have as a child.

Sue me.

Just as with all parties I throw, meals I cook, or hostess gifts I bring, the comments almost immediately rolled in:

 Oh Heather, you should do this for a living! Seriously you should get into event planning, think of how much money you could make if you did this for a real job!

You are doing too much for someone that doesn’t get paid!

Imagine how nice this party would be if you were getting a paycheck to throw it!

[Insert drawn out eye roll]

I completely get that this is meant to be a compliment, and isn’t it just so late-stage millennial of me to be offended by something someone said that was meant to be nice?

But honestly: is there ever going to come a point when a woman can be a mom and have that be enough?

As in this is just what mom does – she throws parties, and those parties are extra.

Or when a woman, who is a mom, does something nice and it’s just a part of what she does as a mom – not something she should do in another sphere for a financial payoff; will that ever just be enough? That Mom did something really nice for us?

And really, when did we fall into this black hole of equating the things people do solely by how much money they bring in?

When people tell me that I should event plan or personalize shop or bake for a living, they are telling me that what I am actually doing for a living – raising and educating three human beings while running a household so my husband can pursue his dream job – is of little or no value to them. Like it’s temporary, or just something I do for fun while figuring out what I’ll do when I become a real adult.

Every time I am told that I should do something else for a living than what I am actually doing, a little piece inside of me breaks in half and turns on itself. What if what I do has no value?

Moreover: what if my children heard someone say that to me (which they have)? Will they begin to find no value in anything I do? If they want to do what I do when they grow up, will they feel as worthless as this makes me feel?

And the big one: what in the hell am I doing spending all this time with people who share values I don’t espouse, or want to raise my kids to learn?

There’s a folly to it all because it is meant to be a compliment: that I do something so well I could make money by doing it professionally. But does it really teach our children the value we want to teach them – that something is only really valuable if it brings home a paycheck? And, taking it a step further, that if someone does something for free they are either wasting their time and energy, or not contributing to some grander vision?

I’ve asked so many questions, to which I have one answer: a mother’s contribution is not defined by how much money she does or does not contribute to the household budget.

As I said, I do these parties, the Sunday dinners, the homemade gifts because I want to. The things I do that I do not get paid for as a stay at home mom go well beyond that, too. It’s the homeschooling, the Mom Therapist Mode. The extra curricular activity taxi cab driver. The scheduler-medication administrator-personal chef- laundry woman-housekeeper. It’s all of it.

Becoming a stay at home mom was the most valuable decision I ever made, and one even my husband continues to believe is not what I really want. Women have come so far, how could I ever want to define my life as just a mom? You could do so much more if you did something for a living.

Please stop telling me to do things for a living. As I see it, I am. I’m doing a lot of things for a living – not for a paycheck or a promotion. But to live.