Please Stop Telling Me I Should Do Things For A Living

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

No. That’s not what I mean at all.

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

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

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

Sue me.

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

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

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

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

[Insert drawn out eye roll]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Friggin’ Fall Ya’ll

39996558_10100196432125793_2550333043285950464_n

It’s friggin’ fall ya’ll.

Ghords and pumpkins and apple bobbing showing up in my Facebook newsfeed.

A trip to the pumpkin patch is on my calendar, and there would definitely be cobbler baking in my oven if it weren’t still a million goddamned degrees outside.

Pillsbury has like seven new cake flavors out, including candy apple and pumpkin spice. Which both sound less appealing than licking the roof of my dog’s mouth, but still – it’s friggin’ fall! I’m pumped!

My grocery store has an entire section of fall themed napkins and paper plates now. Like I walk in and – BAM! – there’s pumpkins and leaves to choose from for my family to wipe their disgusting, sloppy hands with.

All the memes are popping up on Instagram making fun of people for drinking their basic white girl pumpkin spice lattes, too. And on the note of basic white girls, I was able to get my husband his annual nutmeg and chai infused coffee creamer, only available – you guessed right – in friggin’ fall.

It’s way too hot out still to wear fall clothes, but I can now look longingly at my scarves and boots and Uggs, my sweaters, my cardigans, my hoodies, my cozy socks and comfy, warm pajamas. I can look at them and know that the five days a year it’s cold enough to wear those things here in Southern California are coming soon. Because it’s friggin’ fall.

Last week – as I mentioned in my post last night – we wrapped up a week of glamping with a couple nights in a hotel and fall shopping. Clothes. New shoes. School stuff. I spent no less than four hours on Thursday deciding whether I wanted to get a brown hurricane lantern with fall themed leaves inside it; or a beige hurricane lantern with nothing but a fall colored candle inside.

Even though it’s hot as balls outside still, I feel suddenly compelled to cook up some chowders. Clam chowder. Corn chowder. Chicken chowder. Potato chowder. I have so many chowders planned, it’ll be coming out of our eyeballs.

I planned out my kids’ Halloween costumes. Every year they dress together as a theme, and it goes a little something like this: I plan the costumes, start working on the costumes, forget about the costumes for two months, panic three days before Halloween and run around town like a crazy woman to put something together, they put said costumes on and take a few photos, then change into something simpler to hang out with friends. I friggin’ love it – it’s fall!

There’s like twenty five bags-worth of leaves piling up in my backyard too. Which doesn’t make much sense, because we live in Southern California and also what the hell do we have gardeners for if they aren’t going to take care of the leaves. But still. Leaves! Yeah! Fall!

I don’t know what it is that makes me more happy about fall. The fact that eventually (maybe in mid-November) it’ll cool down just a little bit. Or this year in particular having been a terrible summer, and fall signifies the end of that. Whatever the case may be, I’m psyched. Ghords and pumpkins and apples and apple bobbing and apple picking and stuff with nutmeg and the other seasonings that go into PSL I’m unaware of; Halloween and then Thanksgiving. It’s friggin’ fall, ya’ll. It’s friggin’ fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Went Camping And Survived

39913861_10100195612503323_5541391986692456448_n

Okay, so let’s start this off by saying that to call what I did “camping” is a bit of a stretch.

Four nights were in a hooked up RV with running water, air conditioning, and electricity; in an RV park with free Wifi by the beach.

Two nights were in a hotel.

Regardless of those little details, it was camping and I did it and also I survived.

I have a very complicated history with camping.

On one hand, the bulk of my childhood is made up of one camping story after another stitched together. So you’d think camping brought about fond memories.

I camped a lot when I was very little in Girl Scouts. We hiked and made s’mores and eggs in paper bags over campfires and we sang songs and did crafts, and all that other happy horse shit the Girl Scouts do that I currently am at a loss to remember. I think there was some ghost story telling and TAPS playing in there somewhere.

My grandparents owned a lot up at The Pines (near the California-Nevada border), so we went there often when I was little as well. In fact, there’s a huge pine tree on the mountain today that I planted when I was only 6.

As I grew older, though, I became way more high maintenance; the result of which was that camping was no longer something I generally enjoyed. I grew to love my conveniences and my hair dryer and my makeup. And, more so, to dislike things like hiking and allergies, being bored sitting and fishing and getting nothing, and really not liking to be almost eaten by a bear.

…which, for the record, happened once. We were camping when I was 15 at Kings Canyon and after my entire family hiked to a waterfall, someone started screaming because a brown bear was walking up the pathway, straight for us. It ended up turning back (or something); nonetheless, I slept in the car and stayed close to our campsite for the rest of the trip.

Everyone this year was doing big vacations and trips, though; and – by comparison – my kids had an all time shitty summer. It started with a funeral for my husband’s grandmother; and shortly after that my oldest daughter sprained her ankle, effectively canceling all of her summer tennis plans. My younger daughter still played some, but then around mid-summer we found out she has Osgood-Schlatters, further hindering our tennis stuff…and to make matters worse, we have no AC and it has been HOT AS BALLS since mid-June.

All in all it just kind of sucked.

So as summer started coming to a close, I was determined to figure something out to salvage the season. But I was also on a tight budget, it being last minute and all; so when my mother in law offered us up their RV whenever we want it, I knew that was the best option.

39613712_10100195435657723_1667510126275198976_n

In all honesty, with the amount of a high maintenance, pain in the ass princess I am now – today, 21 years after that day the bear almost mauled us all to death up at Kings Canyon – I considered our four nights in an RV and two nights in a hotel really roughing it.

  1. Have you people ever showered in an RV? First off, it made me feel like Andre the Giant. My head hit the ceiling; and the shower head was effectively a glorified hose. And to make matters worse, calling RV hot water “hot water” is a bit of a stretch.
  2. It was just me and the three kids. That, alone, was absolute craziness. I had to make fires, put together the charcoal grills, use matches – all while keeping the baby from falling out of the RV window, and the girls busy and happy enough to feel like the summer had been salvaged.
  3. The third morning we were there, it rained. This soaked all of our stuff outside, including our firewood. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal (the sun came out shortly after the rain storm); except that the firewood wouldn’t light in the evening. I came up with the GENIUS idea to pour lighter fluid all over the small amount of flames I had been successful in getting going. I’ll let you guys know when my eyebrows grow back.
  4. The final morning we were there – and this was a big one – the RV toilet clogged. As it turned out, we were using the wrong type of toilet paper. Nevertheless, we couldn’t figure out how to get it unclogged, until finally we found this magic wand my in laws had stored in one of the outside compartments. It sprayed the paper out of the toilet, but after we got it back outside, my daughter started unscrewing it from the hose before the water was fully off; and, in short, there was a large mess.

39958253_10100195783286073_8498014187262312448_n

Okay, obviously two nights in a hotel was not even remotely like camping. But it was      still roughing it. We were on the first floor with some noisy walkers above us; and there was a local corn hole tournament going on, so the hotel was packed with rowdy corn hole enthusiasts.

We’ve been home, now, for two days and I feel like my entire perspective on life has changed. I can handle a long and rough vacation with the kids, alone. That’s a really big deal. Also, I can figure out how to do things like build fires and unclog RV toilets if I’m given enough time and resources.

I’m definitely more of an all-inclusive resort kind of gal, though. What about you?

39611006_10100195234600643_4715635385315622912_n

Survey Says…

The results are in!

A while ago, I sent out a survey to you guys on Surveymonkey, and the responses were OVERWHELMING.

Just kidding, a ton of people took the time to click the survey; a mere 17 of you took the time to complete it.

To you 17…a sincere and heartfelt thanks…

To the rest of you: well, you have a chance to redeem yourselves from your complacent silence.

First, let’s get to the results of the survey.

First-first, let’s remind ourselves what the survey was about.

I am trying to really get my blog more social. I feel as though I haven’t been networking and marketing quite as effectively as I could. Not that I’ve had a drop in readers on my small corner of the Internet; just that there is so much out there available to get your content out there as a writer, and I feel as though I wasn’t taking full advantage of what the world of the wide web has to offer.

So my survey results, few as there were, spoke volumes about what I’ve been doing right (thank God I’ve done some of it the right way), and what I could cut out or quit wasting my time on, so that I can spend that time doing more of the right stuff.

Also: we’ve concluded that I was correct in my previous assumption that Myspace is dead and Snapchat is for kids and hos.

I’ll paste the specific question results in below, but first-first-first let’s talk about how you guys can help me just one more time (and in the case of you lazy bums that looked but clicked away, for the first time):

The thing I’ve been really trying to integrate into my blog content is more video or podcasty type of stuff. No matter what I’ve done though, I can never seem to come up with enough of what I would call good material to do something like a weekly video blog or monthly podcast.

I really want to do it though. I feel video and audio is the wave of the future – who has time to always sit down and read some random lady’s rantings on the Internet? Give me a quick a dirty something to listen to in the car, or watch while I am at a kid’s sports event, and I’m good!

So what would you guys like to see or hear from me (as opposed to read)?

Seriously, that’s the only question in this second inquiry: what the hell do you want to see or listen to me talk about (if I can ever get over how annoying my voice sounds)?

Comment, message, or carrier pigeon me your wishes… I’m open to *almost* anything.

Thanks again to those of you that replied to my survey a while back. I’ll paste in the results as a little slideshow now for your enjoyment:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ISO Social Media Help (Because I’m Social Media Dumb)

You guys, I don’t even *really* know what ISO means. I mean, like, I think it means in search of; but I also don’t know when is actually the most appropriate time to use it. Like when I type it I feel like I’m some weird, middle aged pervert putting out a personal ad.

MWF ISO [insert disturbing series of acronyms meaning hook up with some bizarre set of preferences]

With that being said, I am ISO social media help. I’m social media dumb, which is hilariously ironic because sometimes people I know call me a social media expert.

(Side note: did you guys know that social media experts are actual people that get paid for going on Facebook and shit? Give me a fucking break, amiright? It’s like all the Communications majors of the early 2000s got together and realized they needed to legitimize their previously illegitimate major, so they created an entire field whose major qualification is the ability to post in 140 characters or less.)

Here’s a newsflash for the people that refer to me as that, though: knowing how to log onto my Facebook page makes me an expert in literally nothing.

So. I need social media help.

The problem with my blog (besides my general lack of genuinely likable qualities) is that it’s not getting out there.

You know, like I do the whole SEO and tag shit, otherwise it all boils down to who sees my posts on Instagram and Facebook and the like.

And, from the analytics I receive from all of those accounts: very few people are seeing them.

So what is wrong with me and my use of social media that makes others so seemingly successful, and me such a terrible flop?

I will tell you this: there is a lot I won’t do on social media that other, more successful writers and bloggers do handily. The two big ones are:

  1. I cannot – for the life of me – bring myself to post videos in which I sit in front of the phone camera and talk about dumb shit no one cares about. They all start the same way: “OK you guys…” and “SO I just wanted to hop on for a minute and share with you guys …” {Big, ridiculously loud UGH.} When I come across stories on any – and I mean any – social media platform that begin like that, my immediate reaction is to tap through that shit until it’s clear that it’s over with.
  2. I cannot get on board with the whole OOTD thing. Maybe once in a while I’ll post what I’m wearing, like any of you gives a flying fig; but outfit of the DAY?! Like a daily thing? No. Sweat-stained yoga pants and food crusted tank tops are not exactly what I would call Instaready.

Is that really what sets me apart from the winners, though?

So to help things along here, I’ve put together a quick, little poll for you guys to take. That is, if you even see this post.

Click my link and it’ll take approximately two minutes to complete… MWF ISO SMA

 

Countdown to Christmas… How To Wrap Gifts

I hate the holidays.

I mean, I think we’ve established that I hate pretty much everything. And everyone. And myself.

But I really fucking hate the holidays.

Some of you may or may not have been around here long enough to know all the fun details of my relationship with my mother. In a nutshell: it’s dysfunctional. It’s mom abandoned dad and I when I was only 10 to move across the country and have an elicit affair with a married man, which turned into 20+ years of bad relationships, childhood traumas, and other assorted maladies.

What is making this holiday season particularly horrid is that my mother is around. Her new husband lives in New Mexico, so I’m not sure why she is here. To compound things, I didn’t ask her to help plan my daughter’s birthday party, so she was a bitch to everyone there (for which I had to spend the entire following day making apologetic phone calls); then today she screamed at me about how this was the equivalent to me stabbing her in the back with a knife, and destroying her sense of place in the world. And by the way how dare you go shopping for Christmas gifts with your mother in law so she gets what you guys actually need, instead of shit that will just get wasted or donated. And my God you are such a bitch why aren’t you buying me more dinners and inviting me over for more free lunches, and what the fuck with your not coming to visit me two or three times a week to play puzzles and color with grandma.

Other. Assorted. Maladies.

This is making me really fucking hate the holidays even more so than usual. It’s adding another layer of shit to my plate that I don’t want to deal with, and quite frankly – after 20+ years of this shit – I’ve essentially had it.

It’s very complicated.

In any event, I am counting down to Christmas. In a big way, because (obviously) I just want the damn holiday to be over with.

This year Thanksgiving and Christmas were closer in days to each other than they have been in years. Decades maybe – what the fuck do I know on the length of time it’s been since the two holidays ran this closely together. I just know that’s the case because (a) my mother in law told me so, and (b) it seems like Thanksgiving was just over a week ago, because it was.

This compacted time, along with compounded stress, means even more fuck it all I hate my life God why are you doing this to me-feelings are rising to the surface.

Are any of you feeling the same way?

So this is how I wrap gifts.

(Sound insane, I know.)

First I take all the bullshit that my mother, and other assorted family or friends throw at me, and I crumple it up and shove it in a bag. A gift bag of anger and hostility, you might say. Then I cram as much of the stress and the strain and the holiday nonsense bullshit bake cookies decorate a tree clean for relatives fuck this I’m getting drunk and wrap it in paper with a pretty bow.

What I’m saying is that I take out my aggression on two, maybe three, nicely wrapped gifts. You can tell I’m extra stressed out if I do shit like make my own wrapping (which I did this year).

This looks so pretty because all my rage and hostility and crazy is being channeled into something – GASP – productive (versus my usual channeling, which involves alcohol, cupcakes, and Netflix).

After a couple of nicely wrapped gifts, I take a break to eat lunch. By that I mean emotionally eat.

Does anyone remember that scene in the beginning of The Bell Jar when she’s sort of losing it and she cracks an egg into a bowl of raw red meat and stirs it up and eats it? Because she’s suicidal, so why the fuck not?

When I took my break from this pristine wrapping today, I ate three turkey and cheese sandwiches. And I thought it would be just yummy to cover them in red pepper.

Not sure why. Made me think of that scene from The Bell Jar, minus the suicidal tendency.

At this point in the game, my channeling of anger has all been spent and I then turn to letting go of all life’s stressors through gift wrap. Because none of this really is in my control – holiday stress, family problems, psychotic and likely histrionic mother hellbent on giving me an ulcer… these are not things I can control.

So I let go. I let go of being so upset. I let go of being stressed out. I let go of feeling the expectations weighing down on me like an anchor attached to the very top of my skull.

(This isn’t entirely true, I don’t let go of anything I just symbolically do it through gift wrap.)

And I no longer give a fuck about the way the wrapping appears.

I mean I really really no longer give a fuck. Here are two gems from this evening.

1520746_716572186983_1791327516_n 1495465_716523888773_1742933467_n

And then, by the time it’s all over and the last CVS bag has been adorned with bows (because fuck you, I ran out of paper and fancy bags)…I feel better.

I don’t really feel better. I do, however, have everything wrapped and ready to go under the tree.

Countdown to Christmas. There’s like a week or some shit left. Are you ready? Show me your worst wrapping job…it may be featured in the next step of this most horrific of countdowns.