From Now On, I’ll Do Me

I haven’t had much time to write for the last few months. I’ve written, just not on my blog.

Still, I hadn’t realized how long it’s been since I checked in with you guys until a couple weeks ago.

My daughter was playing a for-fun tennis match with a friend, and the friend’s dad asked me: “so, have you been doing much writing lately?” My response was plainly “no,” and then I remembered I had written the obituary for my husband’s grandfather (who recently passed away at the age of 90). So kind of.

But I couldn’t remember the last time I had written on this blog, so I checked and it’s been …well, a while.

I started making my usual excuses, the ones I always make when it’s been a while. If you read through some old posts, you’ll see them. I’ve been busy. I have three kids. My life is crazy. Blah blah blah.

Those things are all true, but in the past no matter how busy I have been, I have always found the time to write. It has been a few years since that was the case, though. For years now you could scroll through my blog posts and see little spurts of zany, fun, self-deprecating Heather, broken up by large swaths of absence.

The real truth is that I haven’t written in those voids because I’ve been living someone else’s life.

That someone else was so worried about what everyone else thought about her, she’d make herself sick over little things like what someone thought of her eyeshadow color, or whether she wore make up at all for that matter.

She handmade every Christmas gift for all immediate and distant family several years in a row, because  she didn’t have a real job, so what else did she have to do?

She made her family go for an entire 18 months without eating a single meal out of the house. Because mom’s cooking is better, and better for you (spoiler: it’s actually not, on both counts).

For a brief period of time, every free moment she had was spent volunteering in the community for organizations she didn’t give a care about, doing volunteer work that she had no interest in; fully immersing herself into the belly of the beast of each organization as if any of it had any bearing on her own life whatsofuckingever.

Every party was a blow-out Pinterest party. Every corner of the house was spotless.

Everything about life was exactly the way other people wanted it to be. I was living a life that was not one for me; rather someone else carrying out her life, which was entirely for other people, in my body.

What a bunch of shit.

This person that worried about what everyone else thought about her was the biggest shit of the shit. I’m certain that this came about as a result of years, now, of being berated and bullied by people in my community and immediate surrounding (that’s a nice way of saying “family”), but it also is the complete antitheses of who I am to always worry about what others think of me.

Especially over some of the trivial shit I worried the most about.

I’ve actually been so concerned with what other people thought that I’ve intentionally written blogs containing no swear words. I censored myself to be more palatable to people that don’t like words like “hell” and “damn.”

Then all of a sudden, I heard myself say aloud about a week ago “language please” to my dad, and I didn’t even recognize my voice.

Handmade Christmas gifts are shit too. Like literally and figuratively.

Really, who wants some crappy, homemade DIY gift when I could just as easily give them a gift card to Hooters?

And I’m not even good at making things either, like I would knit a scarf and it would unravel while I wrapped the piece of crap in a DIY Christmas gift bag, whose trimmings also fell off before Christmas came.

Seriously, fuck that DIY Christmas crap. It’s like ten times more expensive to make things you could just as easily buy anyway.

I won’t even get into the thing about the 18 month eating out hiatus.

Okay, yes I will. This one I am proud to say faded fast when I got pregnant with Andrew. Between being too lazy to peel carrots, and way too nauseous to consider eating any of my crap cooking, the eating out hiatus got turned on its head quickly.

That doesn’t erase the memory of those terrible, and costly, 18 months, though. I got this idea that it would save money to make things at home, but that’s a total and complete lie. It’s only cheaper to eat at home if you have one kid and eat Hungry Man TV dinners every night. Fruits? Vegetables? Lean proteins? That shit’s expensive, and newsflash a salad at your local salad spot tastes a million times better, and is considerably cheaper, than throwing it together at home.

Moreover, my cooking is about as predictable as Trump’s Tweets. You know they’ll be there, but how good/bad/volatile the reaction is always a gamble. One of my kids one night looked at the meal I made, shook her head, said “mommy no, mommy no” and straight up threw her dinner – plate, silverware, and all – in the trash.

It’s shit.

The volunteering was pretty bad too, because it spoke to that larger issue I have had over the past few years, that need to justify my existence to other people by doing things and impressing people. As if raising two kids, or just being Heather, isn’t enough.

Unlike the 18 month eating out hiatus, I actually don’t want to get into this one, because – frankly – I’m ashamed of myself for going there.

I will, however, say that to make up for those couple years of doing so many things I had no interest in doing, I plan to spend the next few doing absolutely nothing. Not. A. Got. Damned. Thing.

What’s left?

Pinterest parties are shit. Seriously, you spend like tons of money on food labels and dessert tables, for what? People to make comments about how fancy it is, or to not even notice any of your hard work. I’ll never forget the time we had my uncle over for dinner, and I made some fancy table layout, and he kept going “what’s this?” like oh my fuck why did I spend so much time personalizing napkin rings when I could have just ordered pizza and everyone could have eaten off of paper towels?

I get having a cute little layout, whatever; but at least buy things you can use again.

Keeping the house cleanish is still a sticking point for me, but this idea that when people come over I have to remove every speckle of dust from my shutters upstairs, in rooms no one will even go into, is for the bees. My home is the condition it’s going to be in. If you came to see it and not me, well then you are welcome to leave.

If you are in to all of this stuff: into the volunteering and the Pinterest parties and the house cleaning and the impressions and all – that’s totally cool. It’s just not my jam. No matter how much I tried to force it to be, I just couldn’t.

As the saying goes: you do you. From now on, I’ll be over here, though, doing me.

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An Open Letter To My Family, Friends, and Casual Acquaintances

Today marks four weeks since my husband started his new job. Our lives kind of-sort of revolve around his work schedule – well that, homeschooling, tennis, and you know…daily life.

But everything is sort of geared around his very hectic, often unpredictable schedule; if it didn’t, our idea of being a family would be waving casually to each other in passing.

If there is one thing I absolutely, and without a doubt, refuse to turn into, it’s one of those families.

So he started this new job, and today is the end of the fourth week. It’s a night job, which has changed things for all of us – more than we could ever have imagined. He leaves at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and gets home sometime before he has to leave the next day. Last night he got home around 1 in the morning, and was wide awake so he and I watched a movie. Other times, he gets home when we’re leaving for tennis at 9:30 in the morning.

We’re all sleeping in later most days now, which is fine because we homeschool. In fact, we’re all sleeping better now (which makes little sense to me). And we’re all better off for him being home during the day. He’s a part of tennis, a part of homeschooling, he helps with the chores now, and he can even attend things like – gasp – doctor’s appointments and annual visits to the optometrist.

But it hasn’t come free of struggles. Because of our strange schedule, which works for our family but would not work for all, we have had to go through a longer-than-expected period of adjustment. Not only that, but because some days he’s gone for 14-16 hours of a 24 hour period (which, I have quickly learned, has a whole-house domino effect for the days that follow), we just really cannot commit to do much more than our own stuff.

This is why I decided it’s finally time to pen a little letter; an open letter to my family, friends, and casual acquaintances.

Dear Family, Dear Friends, Dear Casual Acquaintances –

It’s not you. It’s us.

We’re sleeping strangely and eating all the time. Dinner, for us, is now at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Lunch is at 7:30 at night. If you ask us to have a big meal after 5 pm, we’re all going to screw up our new sleep patterns and get sick. Our bodies are used to this now. We’ve adjusted. In fact, we like that we can eat dinner together, even though it’s in the afternoon after we’ve only started to get the day going. Until he took this job, we only had dinner together as a family on weekends. Sometimes.

As a result, any further dinner invitations will be declined. Unless they’re for mid-afternoon.

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It’s not you. It’s us.

I want to attend your candle party and your make up event. I really do. I want to meet up with you all at craft group. I really want to get my reading on with my book nerd friends, and paint like a professional at my art class. I’d love to go out for a girls night out. But babysitters are expensive, and what we have in terms of a regular sitter is for me to have time to clean the house, get the grocery shopping done, and to keep my garden alive.

As a result, it is unlikely I will attend much, if anything, in the evening any more. Unless everything else is already done, the babysitter hasn’t called in sick, and I happen to not be too exhausted. (So don’t count on it.)

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It’s not you. It’s us.

Yes, we get it that we still have weekends. And that weekends are for family and you are all our family, blood or otherwise.

But keeping in mind that some nights my husband gets a whopping 1&1/2 hours of sleep during the work week, with me never sleeping well when he’s gone, and all of us trying to tip-toe around the house during the day while he gets the few hours he does – the weekends have become the most critical time for us to decompress, catch up on ZZZZs, and – frankly put – get shit done.

As a result, it is unlikely we will be available for many weekend events either.

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It’s not you. It’s us.

We have lives besides my husband’s job.

We homeschool. Every single day of the year, and this is important to us – not only because we have little lives hanging in the balance of our very adult-like decisions, but because education is a value that is paramount in our household.

We play tennis. Every single day of the week, and this is important to us too. What comes with tennis is not only practice and lessons, but tournaments. So now we’re trying to juggle daily life, homeschooling, my husband’s insane and unpredictable work hours, and tennis too.

As a result, we’ll see you the next time someone gets married, graduates, or dies.

I wish I were kidding.

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It’s not you. It’s us.

At some point, we started talking about the impact this was having on us and our health. Trying to please everyone and everything under normal circumstances is a tenuous proposition. And there is nothing normal about this new lifestyle we have.

When things are tenuous under normal circumstances, and who knows what under abnormal circumstances, you eventually realize that you just can’t spend all your time trying to take care of everyone else and not yourselves.

We’ll be around when we can, and it’s not impacting our health and stress level too much. And we’re sorry, for what it’s worth.

So, dear friends, dear family, and dear casual acquaintances, if I’ve learned one thing in these first four weeks of my husband working his new, exciting, fun-filled, and yet incredibly exhausting and insanely unpredictable job, it’s that taking a step back from all the busyness and the chaos and the weekly parties and the nightly commitments is diluting our experience as a family unit.

Perhaps this was going on all along, and it was only through a drastic life change that we were finally able to see the truth.

 

Ironies in My Home

Friday I ranted on STFU Fridays about hipsters, which is very close to home for me because I’m married to someone that wishes with every breath in his body that he were a hipster. From his belief that he has a superior taste in music, to the douchey Fedora and neon green-rimmed sunglasses he hasn’t worn since he came back from Coachella a few years ago, my husband is infatuated with the idea that he is ironically cool.

I’m not sure if there is a correlation, but in our home we have a lot of ironies too. It likely has nothing to do with the fact that my husband loves expensive vintage-looking things and dumpster diving to save the world of being wasteful (while using twenty napkins at every meal); still the same they are there too.

Hypochondriacs that ignore being sick

Whenever someone in this house starts to feel sick, there is a barrage of questions that come along with it. Whenever I have a stomachache, I overanalyze it until I’ve diagnosed myself with some horrible, life-threatening condition. Within 30 seconds of saying something is awry (cramps, headache, stuffy nose, choking), my husband asks the very same question “are you going to take something for that?”

But then when we are actually sick, we ignore it. We’ve all had head colds since sometime last week. It hasn’t been bad at all – in fact, I wish every cold was like this. Runny nose, scratchy throat, and that’s about it. Yesterday, as my husband’s nose was literally dripping onto the couch, I suggested he call in sick and just rest all day to get rid of it so it doesn’t develop into something worse. “I’m not sick,” he responded.

You don’t say?

Well if you aren’t sick, then I’m clearly not sick either, despite the fact that my voice sounds like my throat got gang-banged by a gaggle of horny frogs. I guess doing my wine-salsa-spicy-soup blow out yesterday, followed by a gallon of OJ today, will all be for naught too since I’m “not sick.”

Californians that do nothing but work

When we got up this morning, Pookie said to me perhaps the most depressing thing I have ever heard come out of her sweet, little mouth. She asked if my husband’s bosses forced him to hate us and love working more than spending time with his family. I had to walk into the bathroom and cry over that one.

It’s true though: we never stop working. My husband is never off the clock. Every evening, every weekend, is interrupted with emails after text messages after thirty minute phone calls sitting outside with work. I started technology-free hour every night a few weeks ago and over three-quarters of them have been missed. He doesn’t even remember how many personal days he is supposed to get every year since he never takes them.

But it isn’t just my husband working like a crazy person all the time. Our house is pretty high-energy. We are always moving; I am always cleaning something or cooking something or picking up after people, because I have a terribly unhealthy fear of the cleaning situation getting out of control (as well as how depressed I will get if I sit down and look at what’s happened to my life). My husband can never sit still when he’s home either, which means that we are the Californians that are supposed to be all relaxed and laid back and chilled out, smoking weed and shit on our way to surfing and lying on the beach; and yet “relax” is not really in our vocabulary. At all. The closest thing I’ve come to relaxing was weeks ago when I put my feet up on the back of the seat at the movie theatre.

Way to let loose, Heather.

A cook that hates cooking

Have I mentioned before that I hate cooking? Fucking hate it. I don’t know what it is. The high cost of cooking? The patience required that I just don’t have? The sweating over a steaming stove? The look and feel of things that I realize gross me out while cooking them – like raw chicken or ground turkey, mashed in my hands? Kind of makes a girl lose her appetite to wash blood and guts off tonight’s dinner.

And yet I cook all the fucking time. I cook breakfast every morning. I make lunch sometimes (maybe 1/2 of the week). I cook dinner almost every night. I bake constantly, so we’ve always got cookies or cake coming out our ears and assholes.

I’ve recently gotten into making things and sending them out for people to try too. I was on that canning kick for awhile and have now moved onto this homemade, low-fat pumpkin bread that I just threw together the recipe for. After my cold is gone I’m baking 10 more loaves of it and sending them out to friends.

But I will hate it the entire time I’m doing it. And afterwards I will collapse on the couch and whine about how my feet hurt; shoveling pumpkin bread in my own mouth to deal with how depressing this kitchen slave life is. Then I’ll get up a little later to cook another meal, willingly.

So these are just a few of the ironies in our home. There are a lot others. So many that the statement “those people are so ironic” makes you almost think it should really say “those people are such hypocrites.” I suppose it depends on how you look at it. On STFU Fridays last week I ranted about hypocrites too, since hipsters are like the gods and goddesses of the hypocrites. Perhaps I’m the authority because that too is so close to home.