It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like F&ck This

Sorry for that whole censorship ‘o’ the title thing, but a lot of times blog posts won’t make it into email boxes if they have swear-y words in the title.

Fortunately that doesn’t apply to the content. So here we go.

It’s beginning to look at a lot like FUCK THIS. That has been going through my head over and over, AND OVER, again for about three or four weeks now.

I don’t know about you guys, but Christmastime is a combination of magical wonder and complete and utter bullshit for me. I have been screwed over, stressed out, raked over the coals, and that was just in the prep leading up to the *big day.*

Some of it didn’t even have to do with the holidays, either.

  1. Thankless Thanksgiving

I wanted to do that thing on Thanksgiving that yuppies do, where they go around the table and everyone says something for which they are appreciative. We don’t pray, and the other adults in our house have a hard time being grateful and complimentary; so I just thought it would be a good time to set a better example for the kids, you know?

I was too buried in mashed potatoes and mixed emotions to even remember to have everyone do it.

The thankful part of Thanksgiving – unfortunately – went largely unrecognized. This isn’t to disregard the sincere and kind comments made by our guests; I’m really just referring to the 25 times I had to ask the people that live here “is it good? Is the turkey moist? Do you guys like the sweet potatoes?” …only to receive grumbled “it’s fine”s, or to notice that many of the dishes I lovingly prepared went largely untouched.

Which was fine. We had enough leftovers for me to spend the day after Thanksgiving turning all of it into freezer meals that fed us for roughly 9 days.

2. Who has time for hurt feelings, though, when medical stress descends upon you?

We’ve had some medical situations that sort of pumped the brakes on the rest of life, anyway.

My oldest daughter – almost 16 years old – had been having weird pain symptoms for some time, and because she’s a woman, naturally, every doctor we had seen prior to the last two months has dismissed her as “just another chick complaining.” She’s had three, main things going on – simultaneously: migraine headaches, severe abdominal pain, frequent and unexplainable “sports injuries” (in bilateral joints). We’ve been blown off by doctor after doctor after doctor. “Just a chick with migraines.” “Oh obviously you are playing too much tennis and not resting enough!” “Cramps are normal.”

One doctor at UCLA Women’s Health – a woman, younger than me no less – had the audacity to look me blank in the face, say “believe it or not, pain is actually common in many women that experience periods.” Then she asked me to leave the room and asked my daughter what kind of birth control she was really there for.

So in the last couple of months, it’s all sort of gotten worse. My daughter has hardly played any tennis or worked out at all, and yet she’ll still feeling pain in her knees or her shoulders as if she’s been training 6 hours a day. Her migraine headaches have gone from once a week or two, to Imitrex every day. And a few weeks ago, she started having the abdominal pain she got intermittently, which she describes as barbed wire being wrapped and pulled around her waste and back (those of you familiar will immediately think endometriosis, I know…); well that’s been happening almost daily now, and so badly we’ve wound up in the urgent care, the emergency room, and a solid two weeks of one doctor’s visit after another.

What has made the situation all the worse is this: everyone is a fucking asshole.

Healthcare in this country is total garbage. And I’m not just talking about the expense of it.

I made an appointment with one specialist over 100 miles from our home. We got halfway there and were going to be a few minutes late for the paperwork check in time (but still on time for the appointment), so I called, only to find out that the person who made the appointment never actually scheduled it. We turned around, defeated.

In a startling turn of events, when it was time to figure out the migraine situation – in late November – I learned that there is exactly one neurologist in the entire county that sees children. And he isn’t taking any new patients right now. One. Apparently kids don’t have neurological problems where we live, this is just too perfect of a place, right?

Luckily I found a phenomenal physician in LA County, we just have to drive 57 miles each way to see. Every four weeks.

(But wait…the migraine maintenance medicine he prescribed makes her so groggy and sleepy she can’t even do her schoolwork.)

What else…

  • A kid in the ER one night threw up on me.
  • Over 6 different people have suggested that birth control will resolve everything (it won’t, in fact birth control makes migraines worse and if she really does have something like endometriosis, birth control or any hormones for that matter are not the answer).
  • We hit our out of pocket maximum, and yet everyone is still collecting the money up front, leading me to be owed over $4,000 now at this point in refunds, reimbursements, and “hey this is YOUR share of the medical expenses.”
  • For pain, someone gave her Naproxen, and even though she has no problem with Ibuprofen, with the Naproxen, she broke out in over 20 canker sores inside her throat and mouth.
  • I asked the nurse practitioner at our primary care physician’s office to send her for abdominal ultrasound, just to be sure…sure, sure, no one thinks her pain is anything legitimate, but can we just check? The ultrasound came back with her left ovary literally swarmed by ovarian cysts. (The nurse called to tell me the news and suggested I put her on birth control, even though one day prior we had discussed just how that was not a solution and would only worsen her migraine headaches.)
  • In response to the news that my teenage daughter, who has been experiencing pain in some way or another for at least six months now, to the point that she is unable to function in her normal life on many days, was going to have to start having tests and seeing specialists to get a handle on what is going on, my husband asked me when the budget would be freeing up for him to get some things preventatively done on his commuter car.

The good news is that we are – hopefully – finally getting to a point that we are going to be taken seriously. Why? Because finally the neurologist suggested I just take her to my OBGYN practice. They are old men and they don’t really deal with menstrual disorders, but they won’t blow her off and they will advocate on her behalf to get good care.

3. It’s beginning to look a lot like fuck this

And then there was Christmas. Because of everything going on, Christmas was a scurry in the last couple weeks to make magic. I think I slept about two hours a night, while the rest of the time baking like crazy, ordering gifts on Amazon, and – finally, in a moment of desperation – paying my 16 year old (who is too nonfunctional to do much else) to wrap the majority of the gifts.

I did manage to take the kids to a light show, like we do every year; although – lesson learned – my dad can’t go in the future because he just rushes everyone through it, complaining about how cold he is and ruining the evening with his griping.

When the real FUCK THIS came up, though, was about a week before Christmas, when I attempted to take my kids to the Polar Express train ride out of Fillmore and Western.

If you are in Southern California, you know that one of the priciest and – supposedly – magical Christmas experiences is actually to take a ride of the Fillmore and Western Polar Express. Everyone shows up in their Christmas pajamas, there’s lights and music and they act out the movie/book in front of you as you take a train ride and sip hot chocolate. Everyone gets a bell; it’s fun.

We had never been, and I decided with everything shitty going on, it would be a fun break one evening for my kids. So we attempted to go, and the bad news is that my 3 year old – who gets startled pretty easily – was getting on the train with me, and a man behind us started yelling to his kids who were ahead of us. It scared my little guy, and he started to cry.

Not like a screaming tantrum crying though. A basic cry. It was honestly so loud in there, my other two kids didn’t even know he was doing it.

Nonetheless, we were sitting in the front of that car, and had barely even sat down; he was still crying and I was starting to calm him down, when the train employee came over me and told me I should take him off the train to calm him down.

I understood, but I also didn’t. Like I know my kid, and I know that I can calm him down before the train leaves. We still had 30 minutes, and literally no one could have noticed what was going on. I also knew that if I did take him off the train, there was no way I would get him back on. When a toddler cries for a calmer situation and immediately gets what he wants, instead of learning to self soothe and adapt… well, come on…

Still, I understood that the lady was just doing her job. Right? And I don’t like the thought of being one of those people that ruins the experience for everyone else with drama; especially at an event for kids. So we got off the train, and I – obviously – couldn’t get my little guy to go back on. The train left, without us.

So I emailed customer service, and this is where it gets really annoying. I told them what happened and just asked if they could maybe send us the bells. At the end of the whole thing Santa gets on the train and gives everyone a bell. My kids just really wanted their fucking bells, and I paid for them, you know?

I got an email back from them not apologetic. Not saying I could have my bells.

I got an email back saying it didn’t happen. That what I said DID. NOT. FUCKING. HAPPEN.

At that point, I just gave up and gave in. Christmas became fuck this. I did the gifts, the day. All of it with as big of a smile as I could manage. I made Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning brunch, and we did all the things and I’m sure that it is a fact that my kids had fun.

But I was also just done.

The terrifying part is that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas is just the start of it for us. Now we have birthday after birthday after birthday, Easter…Moms have it hard you guys. We don’t just do it all, we bear the mental and emotional load of it. We are the figure it out-ers, we don’t just have to take our kids to the stuff, we have to figure out how to make it all work and advocate for them and make sure everything is where it needs to be so that things don’t get worse.

But also, we do it all because we want to. And that is where being a Mom is the weirdest and most emotionally conflicting job of them all.

So if you had happy holidays that resembled the most picture perfect scenario you could ever imagine in a Hallmark movie or quaint Christmas card hanging on someone’s mantle, I am genuinely happy for you. If you’ve had it rough this season, I feel you also. Or, if you are like me, and it’s a mixed bag of negatives and negatives, but also positives and unbelievably happy children – in spite of it all… well, I am right there with you in the trenches, my friend. This is a weird place in life to be. It’s beginning to look a lot like fuck this, but also fucking bring it.

By Now, I Should Know Better Than To Leave The House When I’m Crabby

I woke up this morning in a bad mood.

That’s actually a slight understatement, actually. I was so angry in the general sense that I continually thought to myself: “geez, Heather…you’re being pretty bitchy this morning.”

And to be honest, it was entirely my fault. I opted to sleep in bed last night, instead of on the couch. Knowingly I went in aware that it was unlikely I’d get a good night’s sleep. For after all the money we’ve spent on a new bed, our comfortable bedding, and exotic pillows I truly thought I’d have to sell a body part to afford, the truth to the matter is: I cannot sleep next to my husband. He thrashes, kicks, talks, shrieks, mumbles, snores, mouth-breaths, jolts, and – in all earnestness – punches.

But several times per week I glance at that Sleep Number bill and sleep in the bed out of guilt. Sleep is putting it politely, though. It’s more like: I lay comfortably in frustration.

Around 12:30 in the morning Nick punched me in the face and screamed “did you hear that?” I sat up and said “WHAT?!” – frantically, because I hadn’t heard shit. He rolled over and mumbled “I guess it was nothing” and started to snore.

At least one more time he woke me by kicking me. That, of course, was after I was finally able to get back to sleep around 4 o’clock in the morning.

At 6:30 his alarm went off.

At 6:45 he spent ten minutes dropping everything he could on the dresser directly next to my head.

At 7:15 he woke me up to say he was leaving for work and to ask what was wrong. At this point I imagined fire breathing out of my mouth when I said “WHAT DO YOU MEAN ‘WHAT IS WRONG?!”

So I was crabby today. And tired. Entirely my fault for choosing to sleep in bed instead of on our comfy, and solitary, couch last night.

all-i-really-have-going-for-me-is-sarcasm-resting-bitch-face-a-huge-rack-and-really-good-eyebrows--3d268I should have taken my aggression towards the entire world as a reason to stay at home, nestled on my couch with my pajamas, my Netflix, and my Pinterest. Everyone deserves a Resting Bitch Day every once in a while, anyway. And I’ve been working my ass off lately to get our house move-out ready, as well as to put together everything I want for our new place so that our move-in can be as seamless as possible.

 

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Oh, we’re also going on vacation next week – just a few weeks before we move – so a day to myself to calm the fuck down seems like it would be perfectly in order.

But by the time I was done showering and angrily getting into yoga pants and a t-shirt (but no make up, as I reminded myself with fierce hostility that no one notices when I wear make up anyway), I was convinced that I had to plug along with my plans for the day. Because tomorrow I could be angrier, and would then be pissed off at today’s self for procrastinating. And then the possibility of me becoming a huge ball of red, hot, fiery, pissed off was too great.

This was clearly a mistake.

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So I’m doing a project for which I have no fucking clue what I’m doing.

This is the general course of all projects I do, but I especially don’t know what I’m doing on this one.

In short: my husband and I use our two, ugly-as-fuck nightstands pushed together as a long dresser that houses our in-bedroom TV. I’m tired of looking at those fucking things on the rare occasion that I sleep in my own, extremely expensive and un-sleepable bed, though; so I’m repainting them AND removing the top drawers to turn that space into the DVD-VCR-cable-etc shelf.

You people have no idea how much I hate myself for not just going out and buying something new on this one. No idea.

So I had to go to the paint store, obviously to buy paint for this dumb-shit of a project. And I’ve never been to a paint store before, or bought paint other than the kind you put on a canvas for that matter. Which means that I had absolutely no experience with taking young children into a paint store.

What I’m saying is: I should have put this off for a different day.

What in the actual fuck is it about paint stores that makes kids lose their fucking minds? All of a sudden I’m one of those people. One of those people in the store for whom everyone else is either thinking that I – the mother – needs to get shit under control; or, on the flip side, is being pitied.

“Oh, her children must need refills on their Ritalin medication.”

At one point, my 11 year old came up to me with a pile of over 200 paint chip cards in her hand. “I have what I need!” she said, and I gave the oh-hell-no look that should put the fear of God in her, and yet only inspired a pout and silent retreat to put them back where she found them.

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A little later on in the day, we had been back at home for a while and I knew I needed to go to the grocery store. Half hams were on sale, and I’d be damned if I didn’t stock up on those.

Plus, my dad was home which meant I could go by myself. It’d be like the vacation I’ve truly needed all these years.

Hopeful that my day was about to look up, I grabbed my little notepad that I use for small grocery shopping trips, and I began to look for a pen. I knew for sure that there had to be at least one: the pen that I put a Post It note on just yesterday reading “DO NOT TOUCH –  THIS IS MOM’S.”

That pen, as well as all the others, were missing.

My eye began to twitch as I stalked around the house, searching. Mumbling under my breath that I just knew this was a part of some household conspiracy to make me go insane, I searched and searched until finally I had to settle for a crayon. Standing amidst an array of Barbie clothes, dried up Play doh, and a Lego cramming its way into my foot, I stood in the kids’ room writing my list with a broken, red crayon. If you didn’t look at my list closely, you might’ve thought it was blood.

“What do you want for dinner?” I asked, being polite and trying to preserve some semblance of the very sanity that would get me to and from the grocery store in one piece.

“Mommy, I think you’re getting a lazy eye.”

[Drops mic. Leaves the room. Goes insane. Blows up the world. Everyone’s dead.]

I wish I could say that this was the end of my terrible and intolerably crabby day, but it wasn’t. While I was at the store, this old guy came up to me and started shouting in my face about how “young people” are too wrapped up in social media to be a part of the world around them. To make matters worse, I’m pretty sure he was the guy that sang Tu Ra Lu Ra to me at the register counter when I worked in a pharmacy during college. I also got home to find a note on our front door: the neighbors complained that they didn’t like my patio arrangement, and wanted it removed in the next 24 hours. And that 11 year old that tried to steal over 200 paint chip sample pages at the paint store this morning lied to my face about picking up that dried Play doh I spied when using the crayon to write my grocery list.

So I’m going to bed, still grumpy. By now, I should know better than to leave the house when crabby. Next time I really will stick to my PJs and my Netflix and my couch.

 

Yes, I Judged A Kid Today. I’ll Do It Again Tomorrow.

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I am a believer in a lot of things. They range from really stupid things, like what color nail polish is appropriate to wear to a funeral (the answer is: clear); to very big and grandiose things, like whether or not God exists. If I learned one thing in graduate school, it’s that we  all have to have beliefs. It’s essential to our success as functional and happy human beings.

On the bigger side of things, I believe in love, compassion, and understanding. I believe in a universal “right” and “wrong.” I believe in not judging a book by its cover, most of the time. And I believe in boundaries.

I would go as far to say that I’m a big believer in boundaries; in fact, I believe so much in my belief in boundaries that I place boundaries on my beliefs.

I talk a lot on this blog about being understanding and compassionate towards others, especially parents. I want to understand that friends put their newborns in front of the television – knowing that TV is bad for developing infant brains – for a reason that is understandable and explainable. I bite my tongue often when I hear of friends birthing at home, rather than in the safety and security of a hospital or hospital-affiliated birthing center. I struggle to not judge other mothers, or other women or men even, for the choices they make: to work instead of attend a child’s school play; to bottle-feed over breastfeed; to serve McDonald’s night after night instead of healthier, at-home options. I try very hard to not look at a situation and say “what a shitty parent” over anything, even the most horrifying offenses (i.e. drug use, alcoholism, listening to Pitchfork) – I am not living in that person’s shoes and have no idea what they may or may not be going through. As with many parents in particular, my first instinct is to judge; my second instinct is to put that judge-y shit in check and act with love and compassion.

But then there are instances such as today, when I placed a boundary on my beliefs in compassion and decided to let the judgment out.

Yes, I judged a kid today. I’ll do it again tomorrow.

Last night I was bored and couldn’t sleep, so went through the typical humor sites to keep my wandering mind occupied, since my Kindle was dead so my book was unaccessible. A couple of pages into the most recent EpicFail.com posts and I came across this: a photo titled “Respect Fail” of a kid flipping off his teacher.

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My first mistake in putting boundaries on my compassion and making my judgment was to post it on my personal Facebook page and call the kid a dickhole. Let’s be clear: this kid is a fucking asshole. I don’t care what the circumstance was for him to do this – it was wrong. There is a line of right and wrong, and this crossed it so far into the territory of wrong, there is not a single fucking excuse on this planet that could even set it on the fence.

But posting that brought out the Mama Bears and the Papa Bears, very likely defensive about their own choices to parent in a way that would excuse this behavior of their own children for reasons they believe to be valid. It brought out the non-conformists who want to understand and fuck the man and be punk rock parents that are all about ending the corruption of authority, all that other happy horse shit that could otherwise be described as an unrealistic view of what it is to help our children enter the world well-adjusted.

Then it turned to being about how I’m a hypocrite and I live in a shitty town in California where people repress children’s feelings and create psychopaths that don’t know how to stand up to authority. My yoga pants were mentioned no less than five times (whateverthefuck that has to do with anything). Someone said “shame on you” because I obviously have no idea what some kids have been through – maybe that kid just lost a parent and is a total douche now because he’s really hurting!

All of the debate and the very sad statements aside, there is one thing I want to address, and one thing only:

Yes, I judged a kid today.

I judged that kid because regardless of whatever is going on in his life, he is a symptom of the bigger problem of our culture. Our excuse-making, back-patting, nobody-fails, everyone gets an award for participating, blame the teachers, scream at authority, fuck the man, it’s everybody else’s fault but my own – culture. A culture where people don’t want to call things as they are, and pussy-foot around it in the name of being nice and understanding.

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When I was ten years old, my mom abandoned my father and I to move across the country with a guy who was still married (and subsequently went back with his wife a few years later). No one let me get away with bullshit like this because of that. If I spoke to my dad disrespectfully, I got grounded. If I got bad grades, I didn’t get to go to pool parties in the summer.

When I was in middle school and high school, kids did stuff like this all the time, for no reason other than that they were disrespectful pricks who needed a lesson in respect. They got in trouble for it. I remember my friends’ moms grounding them for ditching school; I can think of countless times that people were yelled at by their parents, rather than their parents yelling at their teachers. I remember a boyfriend’s mom calling him a jerk…she said “you’re really becoming a jerk, you know that?” Maybe it was right, maybe it was wrong for her to name call him. But you know what? He was being a jerk. A big one.

But today I say what anyone would have said years ago – that this kid is a dick and needs to learn respect, effective dissent, and appropriate conduct towards authority, and everyone loses their fucking minds. People are taking it personally – attacks on them, attacks on their kids. Just another sign that I am a mean, heartless person who should not even be allowed near children with a ten foot poll.

In the end, I think this all boils down to something bigger than all of us; something that all of our free-loving hippy shit about being compassionate and loving and understanding does not apply. It’s about bullying, it’s about respect, it’s about authority, it’s about responsibility. First and foremost, it’s about us. We – as parents and adults, leaving our children a world much different than it was forty or fifty years ago – owe it to our children, to the little dickwad in that picture, to stand up and say this behavior is wrong. To say that maybe our behavior that allows it or contributes to it, or maybe even models it, is wrong. To look at other things that happen – kids destroying grocery stores; toddlers being allowed to crawl all over million dollar art installations at museums – and consider just when the fuck children became the masters and commanders of society. To admit our flaws and move forward together to make better people who would never – not in a million years, no matter how awful the teacher may be – think about flipping off a teacher while friends laugh and take photos of it with their camera phones. To give our children the tools of respect for others and themselves, and the resources to effective and healthy dissent and expression of their feelings.

Maybe I’m just as bad, because I’m calling this poor innocent child names. Maybe I’m the asshole for not understanding the context-less nature of the photograph. Yes, I judged a kid today.

For this, I’ll do it again tomorrow.

6 Things No One Told You About Becoming a Stay At Home Mom

When I became a Stay At Home Mom, I quickly learned that most people have absolutely no idea what it really means to be a Stay At Home Mom. I don’t mean that they are missing something about how hard it is.

Well, some are. A lot are…

Some don’t have much respect for it either, which is another topic of conversation altogether.

What I really mean, though, is that the essence of a Stay At Home Mom – what it is really and truly like day in and day out, what it is reduced to – is just never truly clarified for you before you become one. I’m talking about the feelings of it, I’m talking about the actions that become commonplace – that soon define you. Sine qua non SAHM.

Above all, there are six things no one ever told me about becoming a Stay At Home Mom. Things that – above all the hiding in the closet to get a break, and having people assume you are a complete moron because you don’t have a high-powered career – I just wish I had known in advance. So I could have mentally prepared myself for them, you know?

Lucky for all of you, I’m going to do what no one did for me and give you that head’s up.

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1. Fucking. Laundry. Never. Ends.

In the last two weeks, I have actually kept a count of how much dirty laundry our household produces. Right now – Friday of the second week – I have done twenty-four loads of laundry.

Twenty-four fucking loads of laundry.

Twenty-four. Fucking. Loads. OF LAUNDRY.

And I have six more of miscellaneous things sitting there by the washer, waiting for their turn.

The thing about being a Stay At Home Mom is that you notice when things are a little dirtier than you’d like them to be. You look for things to keep you busy sometimes, too; and you spend more time reading articles in the news while you eat breakfast and pick oatmeal out of your hair. What I’m saying is you have more time to be a little bit more paranoid and neurotic about germs and stuff. So you wash the blankets more frequently. The stuffed animals all get cleaned after a cold.

When I was working, I didn’t even know that people washed stuffed animals. Now someone sneezes more than twice and everything is in the washer. Maybe I’m a hypochondriac, or have terrible OCD. Is the hand-washing disorder next for me?

But in all seriousness, when you are a Stay At Home Mom, you usually don’t do one big bout of laundry, you know like once a week. Laundry day and so forth. You just keep doing it as it comes up, so eventually it feels like it never ends. Ever.

Because it doesn’t.

2. The only way to keep things together is to run a tight ship.

I have recently realized that when people say you should let go and let others help; allow more sleepovers with the grandparents or let the babysitter take the reigns on homework once in a while … well, those people are full of shit.

A total recipe for disaster in your household is to let go of your status as Stay At Home Mom – slash – Prison Warden.

Recently, I let go of the reigns to try and get some more “me time” and all hell broke loose. It was like the state of nature in my home. The laundry wasn’t getting done every day. Meals were consistent of crap thrown together or through a drive thru. No one was following the rules – like brushing their teeth, washing their hands, doing their homework before TV.

And what happened? My kid fell while camping with the in-laws and got a mild concussion, then she got food poisoning, then she went to the dentist and came in with an unexpected cavity. And did I mention she admitted that all the times the babysitter had her doing her homework she was allowed to skip reading time? For years I have kept everything in our house in tip-top condition. Let go a little bit to have six hours a week to myself and everything goes to hell.

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Now I don’t know how Working Moms keep everything together, having to rely on daycare, spouses, and family to help. I sometimes think that maybe they don’t have to because they aren’t in it all the time. But because Stay At Home Moms never get that 8 hour with society-time, running a tight ship and keeping shit under control is absolutely essential.

3. Absolutely nothing will ever be just yours.

At least once a week I wake to find that my daughter has helped herself to my expensive lipstick. Usually it’s smeared all over her face ala the makeup stylings of 1990s Courtney Love.

Almost always the lipstick is destroyed.

When you are a Stay At Home Mom, you don’t have a work place that you can hide your nice NARS lip gloss, or keep your adorable pink Martha Stewart calendar book from little hands drawing all over the inside of it.

And for this reason…

4. You will envy your Working Mom friends.

While I will probably never go back to work in an office, at a desk, again (hear that one, honey?), I envy my Working Mom friends. Big time.

They have that desk or that work locker, where they can keep their most prized and cherished possessions – to never be touched by anyone but themselves. Like lip gloss and hair barrettes. And Twix bars.

They have 10 minute breaks to sit in a break room and read. They have lunch hours. Sure, some of them use lunch hours to run errands or volunteer at their kids’ school. But some use it to sit down and be quiet.

They have quiet.

I’m not saying they have it better, or I have it better. I’m not saying anyone’s plight is worse, either. I’m just saying the grass is always greener, and in some instances my yard is dead as shit and my Working Moms, well their yards are lush and beautiful and glorious. And full of non-destroyed lipstick.

5. That whole thing about yoga pants and being unkempt is not just a joke.

I live in California, so often I see Stay At Home Moms out and about town looking very cute. I’m talking adorable tops. I’m talking expensive CK jeans. I’m talking sparkly TOMS.

Yesterday I wore regular pants for an hour and forty-five minutes. That was a bit much for me.

People joke about yoga pants or not wearing makeup, and you think it’s silly and – oh my friends are Stay At Home Moms but surely they don’t really look that unkempt all the time! They are just joshing me!

When you’re schlepping groceries in the house, juggling everybody’s shit because they are too lazy to carry it themselves, vacuuming, cooking a bagillion meals, scrubbing oatmeal out of your hair and fingerpaint off the kitchen floor … there just ain’t no time to be fancy.

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6. The world outside your home will start to seem very odd, very soon.

It didn’t take long before I started to look at life before becoming a Stay At Home Mom as entirely bizarre. Some of the way my life was before didn’t even make sense.

I always hear my father and his retired friends talk about how they don’t know how they got anything done when they worked. The same goes for a Stay At Home Mom. How did all this laundry get done before? How were meals on the table every night? How did I have the time to actually do my hair, when I’m home all the time now and sloppy pony tail complete with dried oatmeal is my normal 30-second go-to? And why are all these people so dressed up anyway, it’s just the grocery store!

Moreover, you start to love it, and that is perhaps the weirdest feeling anyone could ever experience.

If I were to make a word cloud of all the words that best describe being a Stay At Home Mom, it would be the most confusing, fucked up word cloud ever – including phrases like ‘completely isolating’ and ‘euphoric chocolate hidden in the bathroom.’ But it would also include phrases like ‘greatest job in the world’ and ‘wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.’ I guess it’s like the old you have to experience it to understand what I mean.

At least now you’ve all been warned.

Vacation After Kids

I always think it’s funny when people act like things won’t change a single bit once they have kids. You hear these yupster couples, talking at dinner parties over sushi and flippant conversation that they will be different when they have kids. Life won’t change for them. Vacations will still be all about wine tasting and relaxing during couple’s massages and shit. Their kids will just backpack through Europe with them.

Not for us, though. For us there were no flippant conversations or unrealistic expectations about just how much having little terrors around would change things. We knew that children meant an entirely different way of life – with everything. Including vacations.

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See this? This is me. I’m not the bear, though. I’m the fish inside the bear’s mouth. The bear is my Pookies; and after just three days of vacation I’m done fighting for my little, fishy life. Maybe it’s because my husband was not along for this one.

Or perhaps it’s that children really do change the way our lives are, whether we wanted it to or not.

Vacation After Kids: Constant Talking

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Whether you have one kid or twenty kids (although, if you have twenty kids, you are a fucking moron if you take them anywhere), when kids come on vacation with you it involves a nonstop stream of chatter, prattle, and bickering. The bickering is the worst, especially when you are in a restaurant in a strange place, trying to enjoy yourself, and your little angel decides to bicker with you about whether or not s/he is going to eat what is on the table.

We have been on vacation for three days and in that time there has been not one singular moment of silence. At one point yesterday, I thought about feeding Pookies to the ostriches at Ostrich Land in hopes for just a little bit of silence.

Vacation After Kids: All Sorts of Eating (Not for you, though)

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Vacation is – for many people – about eating. The thing is: you are in a new place and have the opportunity to savor the local cuisine, so to speak. And who doesn’t enjoy the opportunity to have every meal cooked for them by someone else?

But not when you have kids; no sir-ee-motherfuckin-bob. When you have kids, you will sit there and argue about what you ordered for them off the kid’s menu. Then they will destroy what is on their plate, making it totally sticky and inedible. And finally they’ll turn to your plate and eat everything on it, instead.

Yesterday I ordered Danish pancakes for myself and got one bite. Then at dinner I had a chicken salad, only none of my chicken was left after Pookies got a hold of it. Today I just said “screw it” and split a meal. I am sure it will be no surprise when I say I got very little of my half.

Vacation After Kids: What Adult Activities?

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There was a time when my husband and I were able to go on a trip and do adult things. I don’t mean sex. We never did that. I mean massages. Gambling. Wine tasting.

Now if we want to do anything like that, we have to call the babysitter to come to wherever we are, or else we aren’t doing it. On New Years Eve, I was telling my in-laws all about the trip we were going on this week and they asked if I was going to gamble. Did I miss something? Do they allow children in casinos now? Is that cool on the ol’ Indian Res these days, to bring minors in to a smoke-filled establishment where I will no doubt lose every penny I came in with?

No. No it’s not OK. There will be no gambling or excessive drinking or massages. There will be ponies and ostriches and bickering and stealing the food off my plate. That’s about it.

Vacation After Kids: I Never Want To Go Home

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Whenever I see friends post after a vacation on Facebook, I can usually tell if they have kids or not based on the following: are they happy to be home, or praying for death upon reentering their house and normal life?

My logic isn’t going to go how you think it is on this one.

People that don’t have kids are happy to come home. They come home feeling relaxed. They come home wanting their own bed. They love going back to their daily existence, that is oh so posh and urban, and fulfilling. And after they have kids, it will still be that way. Because we’ll be different, right?

People that do have kids pray for death upon reentering their house and normal life. Maybe it’s just as a stay at home mom, whose life is confined to the walls around her and the slobber and puke she spends her days cleaning up, that gives me that perspective. Or maybe it’s because vacation provides no (or very little) relaxation after you have kids.

Whatever the case may be, regardless of how un-relaxing, unnerving, and un-adultlike vacations can be as a parent, it is still a break from the prison cell that is the daily grind. And back to my own bed? You mean the one where I constantly have a child’s foot wedged up my asshole, as opposed to vacation where the concept of a hotel bed keeps the Pookie foot out of my bed, and subsequent nether-region?

I always feel a little depressed when I get home to the same-old, same-old.

The next time one of your friends is sitting at a sushi bar, hair combed back perfectly and entirely free of Cheerios or vomit; and s/he says to you that children will not change a thing about life, tell them to take your kid(s) on vacation for a few days. I guarantee they’ll feel like a fish in the bear’s mouth too. Chomped at the bit and ready to fold.

Reason #123 why I shouldn’t be allowed to raise children…

… is of course that they turn into me.

My darling Pookie home schools and so never gets much exposure outside of daily ME. Being gifted and stuck in a state with an awful paradigm of education, right now this seems to be the best choice, except for in one instance: all this time together means she’s quite obviously turned into me. What does that mean, faithful blog followers? It means she’s snarky, sassy, sarcastic, and jokes around constantly. She also tells it how it is, and rather bluntly I might add. I find these to be among the greatest qualities a human being can possess, although I’m finding myself now in a position of having to tell her to tone it down a bit because – quite frankly – I don’t want people to hate her as much as they hate me. Being me often comes at a high price.

So today, sitting at Quizno’s while eating sandwiches and talking about the Christmas party we’re hosting tomorrow, Pookie turned to me and made the snottiest face I have ever seen and announced loudly that she doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. She said it’s far fetched. She said that the idea of a “fat guy coming down a chimney is just absurd,” and that she refuses to leave out cookies when they’ll just be thrown out because Santa doesn’t exist. This apparently came because she found one of her gifts wrapped up and labeled “From Santa,” and despite my explanation that I put “From Santa” on everything so that no one feels embarrassed if they didn’t get her as many or as quality of gifts as others do, she apparently figured it out. Just like me, since making the discovery, she has sat and thought on it, overanalyzing it until all of the inconsistencies in the entire Santa Hypothesis are now blatantly obvious to her.

I feel sort of bad for her, actually. Not only am I the worst present-hider and liar when said presents are found, but the last few years she has had to endure one drunken Santa character after another when getting the yearly picture at the mall. She doesn’t like eating meat either (that’s right … she calls herself a vegetarian) and year after year prime rib and other such meat-centric dishes are forced down her throat on Christmas Eve when we attend the annual family events. Christmas is a rough time for little Pookie.

Did I mention she’s only seven?

We should consider that this is coming from the kid who told me this past April that the Easter bunny is “…nothing more than some psycho dressed in a bunny costume. What kind of a kid likes to sit on the lap of that kind of a weirdo?” See what I mean by blunt? She has a point, though. The concept of the Easter bunny never made much sense to me either. How, exactly, our culture went from Jesus to a pink bunny leaving behind colored and inedible eggs is still beyond my level of analytics. Back to the kid, sometimes I think she tries to be snarky and funny not because she actually is, but because she knows how much I am – more proof, though, that she’s turning into me whether it be directly or indirectly.

In the end, you’ll see Pookie still dressed in her Ho Ho Ho pajamas and insisted on leaving some carrots in the front yard “just in case this whole shenanigan is real and the reindeer are hungry” – said flippantly as she rolled her eyes and tossed them on the ground. (We celebrate on Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day…so the nonexistent Santa is due to come tonight.) Then she walked inside, lecturing me about how Christmas isn’t about the gifts anyway before leaving some carrots and a bottle of water near the tree. “What are you doing, Pookie?” I asked – legitimately bewildered. “Like I said, if this whole Santa drama is real, I should leave something. But Santa drinks too much and has clearly eaten too many cookies in his day – as evidenced by his increased belly size in Santa Buddies. So I’m going to leave him carrots and bottled water instead. Maybe then he won’t drive his sleigh so drunk anymore.”

Okay, darling…