Please Stop Telling 30-Somethings What To Do (An Open Letter to Kallie Provencher at RantChic)

Today I read an article posted by a friend on Facebook. The article (and I use the term loosely, it was really more of a slideshow with a couple of fragmented mandates beneath each photo) was actually from late last year. I knew I had seen it before.

It was titled 24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30. It reminded me of another article I had seen posted on Facebook recently: 10 TV Shows Women Over 30 Need To Stop Watching.

Both made me equally nauseated, only worsened when I started looking into these  glad-handed slide shows to see they were both thrown together by the same person.

Kallie Provencher at RantChic.

24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30 was the one that really got to me. In it, she says we should all stop wearing graphic t-shirts, and trade old sneakers for upscale tennis clogs. In fact, she even goes on to say that if we can’t afford nicer things, we should all be evaluating our lives as 30 year olds.

Tell us more about this magical world where money grows on trees and everyone stops having a personality of their own, Kallie.

It doesn’t stop there. This leading authority on what women over 30 should be doing and, in most cases, not doing, has also recently written:

20 Pictures Women Over 30 Need To Stop Posting

15 Status Updates Women Over 30 Need To Stop Posting On Social Media

10 Games Women Over 30 Need To Stop Playing

There may be more, but I couldn’t stand to go past there.

Because I decided to write her a letter.

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Dear Kallie Provencher at RantChic,

You’ve garnered quite a bit of viral-ability lately. In recent months, perhaps because my peers and I are for the most part in our 30s, I’ve seen your posts on RantChic shared again and again. And again. Except when it’s shared, it’s typically with a comment like “this article makes me so mad!”

It’s a shame that your popularity is growing because people despise what you say so much.

I’m writing today to open a dialogue with you. That dialogue is about how you seem to think you are the authority on how people over 30 should behave.

I don’t know much about you. I don’t even know if you’re over 30 (wouldn’t that be ironic). And while I could make several assumptions based on the articles you’ve written, I’ll stick to just one: you seem to hate women in their 30s.

Let me see if I can break down that assumption for you vis-à-vis the Kallie Provencher School of Blog Writing…

3 Signs That Kallie Provencher At RantChic Hates Women In Their 30s

Living life to its fullest, relishing in the things you enjoy, and sharing with those you love are things Kallie Provencher at RantChic hates. Therefore, women in their 30s should stop doing all of that and just die already.

#3 Kallie Provencher Wants You To Be More Mature

So much so that every article Kallie writes about things women in their 30s should stop doing already start with a few sentences about maturity. Bask in her sage wisdom. Women should be eating at more mature places, shopping at more mature stores, and acting more mature in their relationships.

Move over Forever 21, graphic t-shirts, and old tennis shoes, Kallie Provencher insists we all shop at Dress Barn and Lane Bryant, and wear nothing but nice, floral, below-the-knee pinafores until the day we die.

#2 Kallie Provencher Wants You To Stop Enjoying Life

Stop watching television shows you enjoy, like Dancing With the Stars and Days Of Our Lives. Days Of Our Lives may be a soap opera, and soap operas are usually reserved for older women; but it’s immature to take pleasure in gossipy kind of stuff like that.

And we all know how Kallie Provencher feels about immaturity.

If you must go on living after you turn 30, for the love of God – don’t enjoy it and share it with others. DO NOT share vacation photos, and NEVER talk about how proud you are of your clean house or your pregnant belly.

Kallie Provencher doesn’t care. About any of it.

#1 Kallie Provencher Wants You To Come To Terms With The Fact That 30 Is The End

A lot of people have a more positive outlook on life. Like people that enjoy their lives well into their 80s and 90s; people that hold onto their youth as long as possible; and pretty much the general population regardless of their age or gender.

Except, of course, for Kallie Provencher.

Kallie understands that you used to play games, but you’d better cut that shit out now. You’re getting older. Holding out for the right man, or setting your standards high and playing a little hard to get is something 20 year olds do. Better to settle and start being easy in hopes it will land you a man before you become a crazy cat lady. It’s time to act desperate here, ladies.

At this stage in the game, Kallie doesn’t want to hear about your new milestones. She doesn’t want to see photographs of your new tattoos. She has no interest in your glitter make up tutorials. She does not want to know the size of your unborn fetus. And the only vacation she actually wants to hear about is your final one, to the funeral home. Which will surely be soon, because life is over. You’re 30 now.

If you’ve done any of this stuff – shared a photo of a delicious meal you are proud to have made, talked about heading out for a much-needed pedicure, or God-forbid, have worn overalls, it’s time to reevaluate your entire life. The only thing you should be focusing on is doing nothing, sharing nothing, and destroying all evidence of your existence prior to this point.

Especially those comfy pajamas you bought at the Victoria’s Secret Pink store on your 29th birthday.

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Sounds terrible when you throw all of it into one place like that, doesn’t it?

I suppose we all shouldn’t be too surprised by the content of your articles and slideshows. Each one is titled negatively. What women in their 30s should stop doing, stop wearing, stop posting. Stop, stop, stop. That seems to be all you want to do, Kallie Provencher: to tell people to stop living.

Well I have a request of something I would like you to stop doing. If you are in your 30s, it’ll fit well – since you seem to believe that at 30 life ceases and some un-effusive robot with no personality or joy for anything takes your place.

Please stop telling 30-somethings what to do. Please stop judging 30-somethings for the way they are.

That’s what kids do.

Your ageist judgments, and grandiose assumptions of what life is supposed to be like as you grow older mean absolutely nothing to anyone but you. If you don’t want to wear glitter make up, short skirts, or old Converse; and you have no interest in catching The Bachelor every night it’s on – then don’t. That’s your choice, just as it’s your choice to post on your social media anything you’d like to post, or to (in your case) not post.

But telling others what to do, and suggesting they are making poor value judgments because they chose to live a certain way at a particular age doesn’t do anything but make you an asshole. In fact, since I’ve turned 30, that’s the most important thing I’ve learned.

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The Next Stage

10616161_791205745733_6681853197444697170_nI was at Barnes and Noble yesterday. I know what you’re all thinking – but wait, we thought you hated going anywhere during the holidays! Well, I do. But I had to go to Barnes and Noble to get what was apparently the last, mangled copy of the map of the world in all of Southern California. To finish a Christmas present I had been stalling since I finished all the rest of the shopping back in October.

So I was at Barnes and Noble and it was a mob scene. A mob scene at 1 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, which sort of makes me question whether or not anyone in my community works to be able to afford to spend so much money at the local Barnes and Noble. I mean, shouldn’t all of those people have been at work?

Nonetheless, I got my map and several other things I absolutely did not go to Barnes and Noble for, and headed to the check out line for the most miserable 45 minutes of my life. Towards the end, as I was close enough to the cash register to make eye contact with the employees as three of them aimlessly wandered around behind the register station, pretending to do something else, while one, lone cashier checked out the seven billion customers – when I was that close, I heard someone behind me approach people further back in the line. “Oh my God, we haven’t seen you guys in YEARS!” she shrieked as though they were – quite literally – separated still by miles, and then they started the old game of catch up that in a nutshell involved platitudes and niceties.

As if this experience could not have gotten any worse, these were the final moments of my time in line yesterday at my local, overcrowded Barnes and Noble.

Then it happened. Right as I was starting to walk up to the cashier, I heard one of the catcher-uppers say “and Joanie will be coming home from college for Christmas break tomorrow!” And in that little statement, made by a complete stranger and completely irrelevant to my life, I was hit with the striking realization that I probably should have made several years ago. Somewhere around the time I left graduate school five years ago, maybe earlier than that.

I will never go home from college for Christmas break again.

As I drove home – another 45 minute task, because every person with a car in Southern California apparently drives around and clogs up traffic on Tuesday afternoons as well – I realized just how many stages of my life are over. I’ve never really come to terms with this, or thought about it so seriously. Accepted it into my heart and soul that there are chapters of my life so fully completed that they have been burned up, never to be read again. At least by me.

Not only will I never go home from college for Christmas break again; I will never experience the butterflies of a first date. I will never have that “new mom” feel again, just as the thrills of skipping class to hang out at the local McDonalds with the other high school seniors are gone forever.

Admittedly, I have noticed signs of the ushering in of this next era of life. But have I never noticed before when one door closed and a new one opened? I don’t believe so. At least I don’t remember noticing the passing of time in the same way that I did yesterday.

The signs have been there, though.

A few weeks ago, I realized that I rarely wear make up anymore, unless of course we’re going somewhere. And even then I find a way to justify wearing none. Or just some mascara.

My outfits used to be coordinated perfectly – I’m not even sure why. I’ve never cared much for what people think of me, and yet my underpants always matched my belt. In this new stage of life, though, it’s all yoga pants, mom jeans, and stretchies. Tucked into slippers that could pass for moccasins. Paired with a tank top that has a bra in it.

I noticed this about a month ago when I was at the mall and realized that I can’t remember the last time I wore a Victoria’s Secret bra.

Someone at a family party a while back was talking about going to a bar and out to play pool, and actually planning to get home around 3 in the morning. I remember thinking – in earnest – to myself that nothing good ever happens after midnight, which is something my grandmother used to say.

I felt so disgusted at the idea of doing anything other than watching Netflix and reading a book, that I immediately looked for an excuse for us to go home and do just that.

More importantly, while I definitely have memories involving college and high school and growing up and going out, I still can’t remember what my life was like before becoming a mom. I actually have no idea what I was doing with my time.  And I don’t mean to sound diminishing to those that aren’t mothers, or to sound so cliche. But really in this new stage of my life, being a mom is not only my job but who I have become.

I’m a wife and mom. That’s about it.

I feel so ordinary, and there was a time in my life when to be ordinary would have been like spiritual death. But that time is over and I am fine with my new chapter in life. In fact, I have never been happier.

When I was younger, I wanted to make something of myself. Be something – be someone. But I think I had a very skewed idea of what it was to be someone. Rather than be known or famous or a published author or an accomplished painter, or someone everyone knows and writes about in history books and is remembered for generations to come… being someone really just meant being myself.

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In this new stage I am myself, and very few people know me. I’ve accomplished very little and have many talents. Not one of them results in a paycheck and that’s totally cool. I don’t wear make up often, and prefer comfortable moccasin-style slippers over high heels, even when high heels are the status quo.

And when it is my turn to run into people at the local Barnes and Noble that I haven’t seen in ages, my most exciting update on what I’m doing with myself and my life will be simply that I’m a wife and a mom. Some may find that meaningless or boring, but that’s what I’m doing, and it’s the most Me I’ve been in years.

Can We Just All Agree To Abolish The Term ‘Tween’ Already?

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Sometimes I get the impression that my friends that are moms are not really my mom friends. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but people I have known and called friends for years don’t seem to really identify with me as a mother. We don’t really talk about our kids with each other. And I’m not entirely sure we see eye to eye on a lot of stuff.

Maybe it’s because many of them are just starting to have kids and I’m an old pro at this point.

Maybe it’s because I talk about things other than my baby’s shitty diapers or my kid’s constant wetting of the bed. Sometimes I talk about books I’ve read or movies I’ve seen; or even articles I’ve written.

Maybe it’s because I’m an asshole.

I’d bet money it’s the latter. Whatever the case may be, as some of their kids grow older; and as my interactions with the world go beyond people I have known forever into the realm of mom bloggers and others in book clubs and different community groups I am a part of, I’m crossing people with older kids and different experiences that are using a word so glaringly annoying I just want to talk about it and make a motion that we abolish it.

It isn’t just that it’s annoying and inspires panic within me, either. It’s that it sounds stupid, obsessive, and even a little pedantic.

I’m talking about the term used to describe a child ages 10 – 12. I’m talking about the term ‘tween.’

Supposedly, the term is meant to describe a child that is sort of in the in-between. Getting ready to go through puberty; but still playing with Barbies and LEGOs. Not yet a teenager, but starting to act like one. Overemotional, slamming doors, and already using the word ‘like’ way more often than necessary; and yet still snuggling at night before bed.

It’s a confusing time, no doubt. I myself remember the complexities of being 10, 11, and 12. I remember still playing with Barbies and dolls. I remember continuing to play dress up with friends, and I also remember slamming the door emotionally on more than one occasion. Your feet start to get bigger, little boys’ voices start changing. It’s all starting to happen. And it sucks. It’s as if these people – the proponents of the term ‘tween’ – have forgotten how already upsetting childhood and change can be, without having a label attached to it. Have we not already learned our lesson about labeling our children?

As innocent or cute as it may seem, I feel that it’s degrading and embarrassing. Tween. It sounds vaguely familiar to teeny or weeny, and quite frankly a lot of the kids that I hear described as tweens look to fit both of those descriptions. I can just picture a mother calling her son a tween loudly as she drops him off for school only for him to get beaten up by a bully over the fact that his mother just highlighted his emotional insecurities and pending, already humiliating, puberty for the entire world.

Not only that, but nine times out of the ten a day that I hear or read people refer to their children as these teeny-weeny in-betweens, it’s actually meant to talk about themselves. And with Elizabeth’s 10th birthday, suddenly I have a tween! Where did the time go – oh she’s a tween, next a teen then college! OMG someone poor me a martini I have a tween, oh dear God I’m getting old!!!

Just as your child is not an extension or accomplishment of you, but rather an individual in and of him or herself; your child’s pending puberty and teenage years are not, and never will be, a statement about you or your age.

Finally – and perhaps most importantly – I think this incessant labeling of our kids who still just want to be … wait for it … CHILDREN … as ‘tweens’ is just another example of how we are forcing our kids to grow up way quicker than they should. It’s obsessive to place a label on a period of time that is no more different than the two or three years that preceded it. It’s pedantic to be so technical and have to place a name to imply or inform the world that boobs are about to sprout and little balls are about to drop. I have a ten year old and she is no more ready to be a ‘tween’ or a teenager than she was when she was six. She still plays with Barbies, watches Berenstain Bears, snuggles at night, calls me Mommy and thinks boys are gross. When a family member told me he thought she had a crush on a family friend I laughed and said “what, because she’s polite?” – and this was not out of denial, but rather an absolute knowledge of my daughter that makes me confident in the fact that she still doesn’t give boys the time of day, and that’s completely OK because there is absolutely no reason for her to. She doesn’t have a Smartphone or an email address or her own iPad or a Facebook profile – and she will not be receiving any of those any time in the foreseeable future. And there is nothing wrong with any of that. By contrast, what I do think is wrong is to encourage our kids to grow way too fast and embrace these ‘tweeny’-‘teeny’-‘adulty’ things and situations that children should be in no rush to embrace.

What I hope my friends that are moms, and mom friends (if I have any, which I don’t think I do), consider is the enormous impact something as dumb as a title like ‘tween’ can have. And, that rather than teaching our kids to label and to grow up so quickly, and to feel more awkward than they already do – we teach them to stop giving a shit about all of this and to just feel comfortable being who they are, changing as they do naturally, and feeling absolutely no shame for any of it.

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Just When I Thought My 30s Could Not Get Any More Annoying, New Years Eve 2013 Rolled On In

1098401_184942645012006_2101961229_nHappy fucking New Years. Seriously. I hope you have a really nice fucking 2014. Eat a dick.

That was directed at my 30-something friends, 30-something bloggy people, and 30-something colleagues in this illustrious career of a pajama jeans-wearing, ass-wiping Stay At Home Mom. The rest of you can skip the dick eating. Unless of course that’s your thing (GROSS).

It was only recently that I became physically able to say that I am 31. I mean like a couple of weeks ago, and even then it was ugly because I couldn’t remember if I was 31 or 32. Pretty fucking hideous state of affairs, huh?

I’m already back to saying I’m 28.

As I see it, I’m a fucking war hero. I survived that phase when everyone was getting engaged and/or married. I mean every damn weekend someone was posting photos on Facebook of their engagement rings (ain’t nobody doin’ that no more). Engagement pics were up next, and then of course the wedding planning status updates and social media meltdowns leading up to the big event.

I didn’t get invited to many of the weddings, though to be fair I didn’t invite many to mine. The ones I did – where I actually attended – were equal parts intolerable and lessons in banality.

And the drum of growing up marched on with its beat. I held my head high as my husband and I have slowly, but surely, become two of the few people we know that does not own their own home. I smiled as suddenly everyone was becoming those people that go on cruises for every, single, fucking vacation they take.

Currently, I am navigating my way carefully through the early divorces, and the baby-belly pics. I’ve learned to “hide all” from friends that share their nude popped-belly-button photos. I’ve managed to avoid conversations about breastfeeding while out for dinner and drinks. Everyone does it, why the shit do we have to talk about it? That’s what Le Leche support groups are for, not fucking girl’s night at the local Applebees.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m definitely excited for all of the people I know that are going through these awesome stages of life. And for the parts that I am partaking, I am happy for myself too. This is what it means to be in our 30s – all these great things (new jobs, new lives, new families, new experiences) and more.

But do we have to fucking remind ourselves of this every step of the way? That we have moved on beyond those treasured years of our 20s, when we didn’t always need caffeine to get going in the morning? When we could go out and have a few drinks and dance without having to call the goddamned babysitter to see if anyone puked? Can’t we just allow ourselves to stay nestled in the security of feeling like we will be young forever, rather than reminding ourselves constantly that time has not paused, and will not ever stand still?

I hope you all can sense at this point that my 30s felt up until this point that they could not get any more annoying. I truly thought they wouldn’t. Then New Years Eve 2013 rolled on in and it got even fucking worse.

1501770_10151848041001395_1761194694_nI logged onto Facebook at some point today and what did my newsfeed unveil to me but post after MOTHERBITCHING POST about staying at home in pajamas. “I wonder if I’ll be able to stay awake to midnight!” was perhaps the most commonly said phrase by people I know in their 30s. Suddenly people that were posting shit-faced photographs of themselves in the bathtub on New Years Eve just a couple of years ago are wearing their goddamned matching flannel pajama sets and playing Scrabble in bed. SCRABBLE IN BED.

Now sure, I stayed home this year too. Quite frankly, it’s the best thing to do on the most dangerous night of the year. Also, I’m tired and fucking lazy, and while we did have plans to go to a family party we ended up staying home instead and just hanging out. Truth be told, I cleaned until about 45 minutes ago. But was I yucking it up left and right about how old I’ve become? “OMG we have become soooooo old we will have to sleep a week to make up for staying up past midnight!!!” How I have passed on through this right of passage that apparently says that to prove you’ve become some old piece of shit you have to suddenly tuck yourself in before 6 pm on a night you used to let last until 6 the following morning?

Ugh. Seriously. Eat a dick people.

I get it. We’re all getting older. We’re getting more tired. We have more responsibilities, like kids and shit. We are done with the nonsense and the games, and drinking and partying all night just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We’ve been around the block a couple of times.

But looming over all of this is an image of my future: a future New Years Eve that all this pajama-comfy-night-wonder-if-I’ll-make-it-to-midnight-Facebook-bullshit says is speeding towards me at an unprecedented rate. That image is of me as an old woman. An old woman sitting in my easy chair, hair in curlers. My New Years Eve will be spent not partying but watching the Perry Mason NYE marathon. I’ll sit there while my dog licks toe jam off my feet, eating frosting directly out of the can until I fall asleep around 9:45 only to drool all over myself until one of my seventeen cats wakes me up to go to bed. I get that this is what’s probably next. Who knows when it will strike, but if only my 30s could just slow the fuck down with all this getting-old bullshit and let me just enjoy my warm, naive ignorance for a little while longer.

Happy New Years. May 2014 be as full of denial as I clearly hope it will be.

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4 Ways Our 30s Are Still Very Much Like High School

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Are you in your 30s? I am. I mean I’m really 28. Again. But according to my driver’s license I am officially a 30-something. Screw you, DMV.

In any event, I am still really good friends with a lot of my friends from high school. And as the years have gone on, people I knew only marginally while wandering the halls of those four miserable years have become better friends now as well. This summer I’m throwing a baby shower for one of these people while I’m in the Midwest, and as I combined her and her boyfriend’s guest lists today to send out a save the date, I realized that her shower could also be known as “high school reunion 2013.” In some respects, at least.

That’s the great thing about these big life events – they give us an opportunity to catch up with the people that are so much a part of who we are. And they give us time to reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re going, blaa blaabity blaa. For me, it’s made me relive all of my high school memories – the good, the bad, the pot-induced; and more than anything, come to a startling epiphany amidst it all: that our 30s are still very much like high school.

#1 People Are Still Loud

In high school, everyone was loud. People yelled down the halls. Girls screamed at their boyfriends in that oh-so-pathetic “help me” way when they needed their lockers opened or their bags carried. And don’t get me started on the ridiculous cheers and chants we were all required to do at our mandatory school spirit rallies. (How in the hell can anyone mandate spirit?)

I always thought that when we got out of high school, shit would quiet down. But it didn’t. College was just as loud, only without the lockers. The workaday world was loud too, only a different type – people yelling at you, phones ringing, and so on. And now our 30s. Our 30s are filled with the permeable screams of children running a muck and the arguments about money/time/priorities/and so on we get into with our spouses.

The noise level has not changed.

#2 Nachos and Pizza Still Sound Tasty

That’s another thing I thought would change when we got out of high school. Everyone ate crap at my high school – nachos, pizza, and the always-daring pizza dipped into nacho cheese (puke, I never did that). I don’t want to hear anything about obesity either, because if you are my age you know that we come from a time when kids still actually did things besides sit on their computers.

But I still – for some reason – thought that when we got out of high school those things wouldn’t be appetizing. Suddenly I would be transformed into an adult. I would crave baby arugula and spinach salad with roasted pine nuts, organic heirloom tomatoes and just a hint of basalmic vinegarette. I would look at imitation chicken and squeal with delight. Soda would instantly be disgusting.

It’s quite the contrary, though. Nachos and pizza still sound tasty to me over baby arugula any day. And let me tell you something about balsalmic vinegarette: it tastes like licking the inside of my husband’s asshole. The only reason we say those things are tasty in our 30s is to make us feel better about the fact that we can’t eat nachos and pizza and pizza dipped in nacho cheese all the time without gaining weight anymore.

#3 Clearasil Remains In The Medicine Cabinet

When exactly do breakouts stop? I’m just wondering, because in my 30s I expected to stop getting a huge zit on my forehead before date night. And yet it happens. All the time.

#4 Everyone’s Still All Judge-y

Yesterday I posted about that “Dear Mom On the iPhone” thing that was going around Facebook, which made me think a lot about how judgmental we are in our 30s.

In high school, I could not wait to get out because it meant life would cease to be about worrying constantly what others thought. Anyone that says they weren’t self-conscious in high school is a total jerk, and a liar to boot. There were cliques in high school. We were all trying to find our places in the world, and define ourselves beyond what our parents told us to be. And bullies were everywhere. We didn’t have anti-bully campaigns to protect us, either.

It’s all the same in our 30s, though. Sometimes we’re judging each other for the same things – weight, height, boob size. Other times it’s a little different, like about our parenting style, our lifestyle choices, and whether or not our weddings/bridal showers/baby showers/homes/living situations are ghetto.

Don’t get me wrong. There are definitely ways in which things have changed. For one, it’s no longer a scandal when someone announces they are pregnant. That lasted for a little bit into our 20s and then it became the norm. Now it’s almost scandalous for people to not be having babies. Princess temper tantrums don’t go over too well anymore either, unless you are a bridezilla.

But above and beyond all that change is the sense that nothing ever really will. Maybe it’s because we still feel young – we still feel like teenagers, trying to craft an existence of our own in a world that is terribly confusing and ever-changing. Or perhaps the real truth is that high school was our grand entrance into the real world. That it didn’t happen anytime after high school, but rather while we were there. What a terrifying thought that is.

To The Writer Of “Dear Mom On the iPhone”

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To the writer of “Dear Mom On the iPhone” –

This morning I woke up and served breakfast for everyone in the house. I sat down to eat my own, and as I always do, I checked my email, Twitter, and Facebook. I did miss the moment when my daughter spilled milk all over the table. I’m sure it was ironically adorable, as her sloppiness usually is. But I had taken the time to make a special breakfast, so being absent mentally for a few minutes to clear out my emails and notifications seemed fair. No one’s life is entirely defined as being a parent.

As I scrolled through my email and Facebook, though, I came upon a letter, titled “Dear Mom On the iPhone.” I’ve seen this before. Many, many times before. There are many versions of it, as there always are of Internet memes and cyber-urban legends. (The best cyber-urban legend is the one about the black man on the airplane being moved to First Class…if I had a dollar for every time that one was retold…)

This one – Dear Mom On the iPhone – talked about a mom at the park with her kids. The kids were having a great time and the mom was missing it, because she was on her iPhone. The daughter spun around and her dress twirled; Mom on the iPhone missed that, or just smiled. The son was teetering on something and yelled “Mom look at me!!” and we were to take this as a sign that mom doesn’t care. There were a few paragraphs indicting Mom On the iPhone for using her phone and teaching her children that they are unimportant. Then in the end it seemed like we were all supposed to join forces to judge Mom On the iPhone as a shitty parent, and remind ourselves how much our self-righteous superiority has validated our own choices.

To the writer of Mom On the iPhone, I say: here we go again.

Here we go again, judging people at face value. Do parents often display an addiction to technology – both at home and in public? Yes. Is it an ever-growing problem in our society? Sure it is. But do we know everything about their lives that gives us the right to judge what they are doing on their iPhones, or whether or not ignorance of their child(ren) swinging gleefully in the sunlight is justified? Absolutely not.

Here we go again, telling others how to parent. Ignoring your kid all the time is shitty, yeah. So is feeding your child McDonald’s for a steady three meals a day. But who is the one that has to pay the price in the end? Is it us? Or is it them? Well, sure – it’s actually their kids. But are those our kids? No. They aren’t. Therefore, it’s none of our goddamned business, now is it?

And again, do we know everything about their lives? Maybe the kids are being ignored sometimes because Mom On the iPhone was only given the afternoon off if she stayed in constant contact with work. It’s surely better that she be there on her phone, than not be there at all. Maybe Mom On the iPhone would lose her job if she didn’t respond to emails. Or maybe Mom At McDonald’s only has $5 a day to feed her kids, and the only way to stretch that is to eat fast food. I don’t want to hear any bullshit about how Mom On the iPhone could just ignore her boss’s demand, or how Mom At McDonald’s can cook at home for cheaper. Both are just categorically false.

Here we go again, dictating how others should live their lives. Maybe Mom On the iPhone is a stay at home mom. Her job is that of a housewife. She cleans, cooks, shuttles, cooks some more … does laundry, gets the homework taken care of, chairs the PTA, and supervises the soccer clinic. She has few friends, and virtually no escape. Her every waking moment is spent on her kids. Except that 30 minutes of downtime at the park, when she can put the kids on autopilot and take a breather.

Everyone needs a breather.

Here we go again, demanding that we cease to exist the moment we have children. Sure, people chose to have children and often don’t realize the gravity of that choice. Your kids are there all the time, so you should be too and all that jazz. But having kids is not the end of you. Having kids did not make me love books less. Having kids did not make me want to stop traveling less. The decision to drop one out the vag does not mean that suddenly we have to surrender everything we know and love.

Here we go again, worrying about others instead of ourselves. And this is the real kicker, and why I think the “Dear Mom On the iPhone” urban legend is just another piece in the puzzle that is the Mommy Wars. Rather than worrying about what we are doing as parents, we spend all of our time telling others what they are doing wrong. I can only assume to justify our own decisions. For every version of “Dear Mom On the iPhone,” there is another “Dear Mom…” that does nothing more than tell others how to live their lives as parents. “Dear Mom That Doesn’t Breastfeed;” “Dear Mom That Had a Home Birth;” “Dear Mom At McDonald’s;” “Dear Mom In A Short Skirt;” “Dear Mom That Works Too Much;” “Dear Mom That Had an Elective C-Section” … it could go on forever.

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of hearing (or in this case, reading) people telling others how to live. I’m tired of knowing that people are this judgmental and lacking of compassion. I’m sick of being reminded that we all seem to expect everyone’s lives and situations to be just like ours. To the writer of “Dear Mom On the iPhone,” and all of the other “Dear Moms…” there are out there, perhaps you should start worrying about your own parenting. If I were to write a letter to you, it would be all about how you are raising your kids to be judgmental assholes. It would include a little paragraph about how while you are out attacking other people’s values, your kids are learning the quality of self-righteous superiority. That kind of indignation sticks. You are just contributing to the next generation of jerk-offs.

But then I would never write such a letter. I mean I know I just did, but you faithful blog followers know what I mean. Rather than always worrying about others, and expecting everyone to live by the standards we have set up for ourselves, why don’t we just focus on raising our own good kids, that will hopefully become really good adults? Maybe instead of writing letters to others, we should worry only about inscribing letters to ourselves.

“I’m Pregnant!”

Hah! Man … did I fool you suckers.

There would be so many terrible, terrible; horrific things about me saying those words in earnest. For one, that would have necessarily required me to experience an awkward 30 seconds with my husband some time in the last month. Yes, that’s right: Poor Nick and I would have had sex. Ick, we’re married – I prefer bickering until we fall asleep, thank you very much. For two, the poor kid would have come out with some major fetal alcohol issues, because Mama Bear’s been sucking back the ol’ box -o- Franzia pretty hard this month.

So, sorry to announce, but there will be no more Pookies added to the clan. At least not this month. (Unless shit gets immaculate conception, in which case we are all screwed.)

It’s amazing, though, how those two words change over the course of our lives. In the last few weeks, I’ve had a whopping total of four friends – count them, FOUR – inform me that they are withchild. Each is in a much different situation than the next, too. So while I’ve sucked back my Franzia and shoved my tropical flavored marshmallows down my gullet in celebration, I’ve done a lot of thinking about just what the appropriate responses have been over time.

Teens – “I’m Pregnant!”

I think the only response to a teenager winding up pregnant is “oh fuck.” Or “oh shit” – or some variant of either. I had a few friends in high school that ended up having babies by the end of our senior year. It wasn’t pretty for any of them, and they were each amazing young women to deal with it all if you ask me.

Nonetheless, when a teenager winds up pregnant it’s one of two scenarios. Either it was an accident and she is terrified. Or she’s psychotic, in which case the dude should run and hide. I’ll never forget that episode of Jerry Springer with the teenage girls that wanted to get pregnant. During his final thought, he mentioned how “not right in the head” they all were.

20s – “I’m Pregnant!”

This could go one of two ways, and sadly the majority of the people in their 20s that I have known have been in the latter. Either it is someone that got married and had babies early. Or it’s another accidental pregnancy, although not necessarily a bad thing in the end.

Because of the uncertainty of just what “I’m pregnant” coming from a 20-something (especially earlier 20s) means, I have always considered that the most important time to tread lightly. One friend who got pregnant on a one night stand when we were only 22 dealt with it rather well; and she is now one of the greatest mothers I know. Another who had been married for a few years sobbed uncontrollably for three days.

Tread lightly.

30s – “I’m Pregnant!”

Here is where I am now and I’ll tell you: it makes me feel old.

No matter what situation anyone is in, when you are in your 30s, your clock is ticking and finding out that you are pregnant is going to bring nothing but a lot of congratulations. It’s going to bring on baby showers. It’s going to bring on excitement.

And if it isn’t, you are in a position in life where everyone around you knows exactly what will go down. And you are all mature enough to handle it maturely.

When you are in your 30s, there’s no more “oh shit … what are you going to do?” There isn’t any more gossip or shit talk. If a woman has a baby in her 30s and doesn’t have a boyfriend or husband, everyone just assumes she did it through IVF or some other donorship arrangement. If a woman has a baby in her 30s and has a boyfriend or husband, no one ever jumps to Maury or randomized state paternity testing to make sure the baby daddy is accurately identified.

In your 30s, a baby is pretty much the status quo.

40s and 50s – “I’m Pregnant!”

My opinion is that when a woman reaches her 40s or 50s and announces to the world that she is pregnant, that she gets a little more scrutiny such as she would have in her 20s.

This doesn’t mean I think there is anything necessarily wrong with it.

This isn’t to say that I am saying people are bad for doing it.

I just mean that a lot of people in society question people’s decision to have babies so late. Is it safe? Why wait so long? And so on. Although I don’t really know because I haven’t encountered anyone that has had babies that late in the game.

Yet.

60s – “I’m Pregnant!”

You, old bitty, are off your fucking rocker. Or you’re one of those weirdos that gives birth to their grandkids since their daughter or daughter-in-law is drier than the Sahara Desert.

I won’t even go there.

So am I reading too much into this? Perhaps I am. Perhaps I am thinking too much about it in an effort to justify the excitedness with which I approached the pregnancy announcements of all four of my friends this last week. Or maybe I’m trying to just over-think things to silence the noise of my own biological clock ticking slower and slower each passing year.

But ick. That would mean an awkward 30 seconds with Poor Nick. And while it would only be about 30 seconds, there are plenty of other things I could do with that time. Like suck back some more of my box -o- Franzia. Or do some 1-click purchases on Amazon with all that baby money being saved.

Congratulations to all my friends that have successfully inseminated and recently given birth!! You are all the greatest moms this Mama Bear could ever be lucky enough to know!