Why Everyone Should Still Be Wearing Masks

I’ve been hesitating on posting on the blog until I have my straight-to-blog book about running for city council last year ready to hit the publish button. But this topic is just too important, and while the debate is gaining a fever-pitch for another critical moment in this ongoing pandemic… well, I just had to throw in my two cents.

We all have felt the whiplash of the back-and-forth recommendations from public health over the last year and a half; many of us as parents even moreso since the CDC announced that masks could be burned in the fire in almost all situations for anyone fully vaccinated. Our states quickly followed suit, along with individual businesses and enterprises everywhere making big announcements – as if such a thing was even necessary. Now I’m not saying that people always wore masks perfectly everywhere, but there is something to be said for just quietly changing rules instead of making such a hoopla over it.

Even local journalists were hosting Twitter threads announcing what locations immediately took off the masks; a shocking admission of their position on the matter, and moreover not equally covered now – weeks later – as cases have risen, neighboring counties have reinstated mask recommendations, and failing today to report on the actual quiet changes the CDC has made, such as reinstating mask mandates in homeless shelters for vaccinated people experiencing homelessness. To put it simply: the pressure on politicians and public health officials was strong from the press to take the masks off, but to back off on that? Not so much.

Now, a bit after the mask guidance dropped, and as coronavirus infections (for some) and variants (all over) have risen in number and prevalence all over the country, the mask debate goes on. I see doctors taking selfies unmasked, because – as they say – the vaccines do work. But I also hear wet coughs and comments about “freedom from face diapers” by people wearing t-shirts that say things like I will not be your medical experiment while I’m at the pharmacy picking up my unvaccinated four year old’s medication. As has been the case for the vast majority of this pandemic, when public policy has not intervened, the honor system has been asked of people. And while before public policy was effective enough to at least deter some of the negative effects, now – so it seems – people of all political persuasions have donned the Trumpian MO of staunch, and at time narcissistic, individualism. I got mine (vaccine), so you get yours and you’ll be fine. No more public policy needed.

Except every human being alive today under the age of 12 is not eligible for vaccination just yet.

In my own city in Southern California, the city decided they would encourage masks for everyone, but also make them entirely optional even for the unvaccinated. They (masks), thus, largely no longer exist. Anywhere, and for anyone – this being a total and direct defiance of county, state, and federal public health guidance. If immune compromised kids or adults want to go visit our local public library without at least some level of worry, they can – essentially – go blow.

(I wrote my city council on this, by the way, and not a single one of them could be bothered to respond… including, and most notably, the nurse.)

Masks, at this point more than at any other in the pandemic, have become so deeply political and incredibly controversial – both keeping them on and taking them off, and what each means in so many different situations – that I find myself spiraling down a hole that can best be described as Reverend Lovejoy’s wife on The Simpsons, just screaming over and over again in abject horror: “think of the children!” in hopes that some part of this will at some point settle down, and make sense. Pretty much 24/7.

Yes. Think of the children.

Please. Think of the children.

Severe COVID in children is exceptionally rare, though as more transmissible variants crop up, this may not remain to be the case. As with all new diseases and science – they just don’t know. As it stands, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that in the week ending July 1st, 1.3% – 3.6% of COVID cases in children required hospitalization, with an all time figure since COVID appeared ranging between 0.1% AND 1.9% of all children infected in the entirety of the pandemic (to this point). A concerning increase? Maybe. I’m not a doctor. But the real issue is that the more people in need of acute care in a hospitalized setting, the less people and supplies there are available to care for them (resulting in more severe outcomes).

Death from COVID in children is even more rare, with somewhere just above 300 children in the entire United States having succumbed to the disease, most with underlying health conditions. A child in my own county died earlier this year of it, and the most disgusting, and common, reaction was to normalize it by saying “but he had other health conditions.”

Nothing about having other health conditions changes the fact that without COVID, they would still be alive today. If there is more we could have done to save that child’s life – any of those children’s lives – we have failed them by not doing so. Which is exactly what we are running the risk of doing now as virtually all mitigation measures are being stripped systematically by hacks in local government who care more about being re-elected than doing the right thing.

Children Need To Be In School In Person Next Month

The same thing that happened last summer is playing out again this year: the debate about how schools should open in the fall are ramping up. At the same time, we’re seeing viral Twitter posts, alarmist doctors, and legitimate news sources with clickbait-headlines about debated studies (from Israel) on vaccine efficacy, and disastrous accounts of more and more breakthrough cases cropping up. Mask guidance has again become nuanced – because we apparently don’t learn our lesson about how the general public deals with complexity and nuance.

The CDC has not even put out its guidance for schools in the fall yet, while some school boards have already made their decisions about what – if any – protections they will be putting into place. And at the same time, cases are rising in some areas of the country, even in my own heavily vaccinated state of California.

And yet the facts remain about school and children in the time of COVID: distance learning has profoundly affected children on an educational, as well as social and mental health, level. It’s also become a socio-economic hardship for families to have one parent staying home, with extended unemployment benefits expiring in the fall as COVID still ravages parts of the country, and other teacher’s unions signal they will not come to reasonable agreements over fears about breakthrough cases and variant transmission.

And yet still, I personally know of a handful of mom friends all over the country who are looking at rising cases in their communities, feeling uncomfortable with what safety measures their individual schools have planned, and are planning to keep their kids home, and in many cases strapping themselves even more financially, simply because so many people in their communities are now clinging for dear life to this rugged individualism that is killing people in real time.

There have been several studies proving without a doubt that children in school faired better with COVID. That is to say that in school with proper protocols being followed (ventilation, masking in some scenarios, etc), kids got sick less and had far better outcomes. With teachers and staff being protected now through vaccination, it seems to make sense that if we properly protect kids with other mitigation measures until kids can be protected through vaccination as well, getting them back into school is the right choice.

But…

As all things pandemic have been politicized to this point, what has become increasingly clear is that more than simply the educators and scientists will be making the decisions on this. Politicians, interested parties, and the parents with the loudest voices (though both sides are pretty loud and backed into their corners at this point), are already making school reopening policy with their rhetoric, and the virus and the media with their headlines.

To me, the logical thing to do to make sure we get kids into schools in person this fall in a safe environment is to universally mask back up until there is much more certainty about the variants, as well as the vaccines; until the headlines about the breakthrough infections subside, and the schools are at the point of no return to get kids back in their desks and in school.

It will put an end to headlines like we saw here in California yesterday, about the news that staffers at the Capitol had an outbreak with an unusually high number of post-vaccination breakthroughs, and only after the Capitol had slightly relaxed its masking guidance for vaccinated employees. It will slow workplace outbreaks, in particular in low wage service industry jobs that are public facing, where we rely on the public to be honest about who is in the store without a mask or a vax.

Because people can make their personal choices all they want. When you operate on the honor system, unvaccinated people by choice are violating this honor system, and in turn getting sick. Mask mandates in indoor public spaces showed they worked. Even with people continuing to gather in homes, at gatherings, and with capacity limits being lifted. By toning down the news cycle (which the media clearly cannot see any sort of moral imperative to do), we can make sure the ammunition in the school reopening debate is eliminated.

Won’t Somebody Think Of The Children?!

There are some other key points here that make sense to even someone like me – just a mom who pays attention:

People under 12 years old are not eligible for vaccination yet. Full stop. To say that it’s on the unvaccinated to protect themselves is a pretty dicey proposition to so many people literally cannot. They rely on the goodness of everyone else, and right now everyone else is not showing themselves to be very good. And while we already established that severe outcomes from COVID for children, including death, are exceptionally rare, long COVID (coronavirus symptoms more than 120 after testing positive) remains a persistant issue for children, just as: well, they’re kids.

Not a single child on this planet brought this pandemic on themselves, and to look at them and suggest that their risks are low, so we’ll now do nothing is… well, I can’t even think of a word to describe how awful that is.

Kids are also not as dumb as adults seem to consider them now. For the last year and half, we’ve asked them to make enormous sacrifices to protect the adults, in particular the elderly ones. We’ve taken away school, sports, aid for kids with special needs, consistency, they’ve watched families die, sacrificed much of their future, decimated their mental health; we’ve isolated them from friends, subjected them to greater food insecurities, pushed some into abject poverty and homelessness. Not everyone agreed with that proposition, and the science in the end has shown that some measures went too far.

But I continue to find not a single child that had a problem wearing a mask. And more so, including when I ran for city council, over the last year and a half, I have found that the kids were the most adaptable; the most willing to do what they had to do, no matter how hard it was, for the sake of caring for the adults. Will it hurt them in some way in the end? Probably. But they were willing to do it, because kids are like that – they have empathy and compassion that the rest of us seem to have, sadly, lost.

I have three kids, you guys know this. One is 17, one 13, and one 4. My 4 year old was the hardest to convince to deal with the discomfort of wearing a mask, but when it came down to him understanding that we were doing this to protect others, he immediately complied. This was the theme of the mask debate in the earliest of days, including after the Biden Administration took over the pandemic response, and he issued that 100 days to wear a mask and protect our communities in doing so. Masks work if they are worn universally. They provide some protection for the wearer alone, but if everyone does it they work remarkably well. This, like all of the other things we’ve discussed, is proven.

So what does it say to kids that know they still aren’t protected that suddenly no one is wearing a mask? Kids under 12 know they haven’t gotten the COVID shot, some (like mine) were there when siblings got it. They know COVID is still out there, they know some places still require masks or some of their parents are still working from home. Many still have family dying of the disease, wondering if they or another loved one is next.

After a year and a half of asking them to wear masks to protect everyone, what does it tell them now that the adults won’t wear masks to protect them?

The pandemic did require sacrifice, and it still does. From everyone. And while we can debate on whether or not some was just or went too far: at least some lives were saved in the process. We may never know if it could have been more, we may not know what will be required of us in the future. Today, we find ourselves in a new stage of the pandemic: one that is about controlling the virus, and preventing the variants from causing more large scale catastrophe until everyone has had an opportunity to be protected. It is a fact that everyone hasn’t, and another one that a lot of people do not care. It is a stage that the CDC and Dr. Fauci argue should be based on each person’s individual risk assessment. But is that a realistic and grounded expectation of the average American? To assess their own risk and act accordingly? Arguably, based on the behavior of a lot of people over the last year, in addition to just the reality of the different paths and struggles we all walk every day in this modern American life, I would argue not. People barely have time to sleep more than a few hours a night, let alone take the time to read studies, follow community transmission, and consider personal risk assessments. Many also just trust the government to do what is right, and as a mom it seems right now like they are doing anything but.

When all is said and done, I would argue that everyone should still be wearing masks as we continue to think of the children. On the precipice of kids getting back to some sort of a normalcy this fall – with school, sports, friends, and good health – is it really so hard to just put the cloth back over your face sometimes? Personally, to me, it says more about you as a person if you won’t.

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.

I’m Offended. Here’s Why You Should Care.

My birthday is coming up and the craziest thing has been happening: I’ve been telling people I’m turning a year older than I am actually turning. Either it’s the old age, or the fact that my husband just turned that age (he’s a year older than me). But I’ve been doing it.

The fact is: I was born in 1982, which makes me – what I like to call – a late stage millennial. I’m like an older millennial who can see some of the ridiculous shit us millennials are doing, all while doing it. And loving it.

Like avocado toast and blaming the financial problems we millennials face on the crippling behaviors of Baby Boomers. Or using mason jars for drink ware. Spending my time reading labels, and breastfeeding my kids well past two (and in public!).

There are also, though, a lot of millennial things I can’t get on board with.

Millennial men’s haircuts, I can’t stand. Right now my husband is sporting a hairstyle that makes him look less like a Nick-the-film-editor; and more like David, the wanna-be goth who wears black lipstick and works at my local Starbucks as a barista. (It’s awful, and sorry David – I hope you can forgive me.)

I also cannot do the whole MLM candles, essential oils, and workout programs thing. The thought of taking forty-five selfies of myself a day, and posting story after story on Instagram in which I just sit there and talk – all in an effort to sell something – is …undesirable to me. That isn’t to say there’s anything against people who do it (and in fact I find myself envious of the people that can take so many photos and videos of themselves while I have to take 537 shots before finding an angle that suits me).

It’s just not my jam.

The conflict I really have with myself as an older millennial is the being offended thing. It is so typical of me as a millennial to get offended by things to such the degree that I do. (And isn’t that just the mark of our era: to always find a reason to feel offense at something someone else said/did/posted?)

And yet… I completely get it (the being offended).

Yesterday someone’s post on Facebook so severely offended me that I told literally every person I talked to about it for the rest of the day.

Today I was at Target and found myself feeling offended no less than four times.

Then tonight I made the error of going online, and …well…

Basically, it happens a lot.

The thing is: if you spend any time scanning the comments sections of online, you’ll see that it is hot topic now to not only get offended by things, but also – on the flip side – call out anyone that takes anything personally. Honestly, it makes me a little sick (or maybe offended, how meta would that be?) to see how crass people can be about it.

I get it: some people have taken it way too far. Like over the edge of the cliff and halfway down the river in the ravine far.

But also, in other instances, I think a lot of people have missed the point.

Take today, for example. It’s April Fools day, and while there have been a myriad of dad jokes and corporate brands having a good time posting dumb shit on the Internet for us all to enjoy, there have also been some steadfast reminders going around about what is too far.

One of those things that goes beyond clever and turns into just, plain crass is the ever-predictable fake pregnancy announcement. What better way to fool your family and friends then by posting a faux memo for the entire world to see that you have a bun preparing itself to fly out your lady hole. Then on April 2nd you let the truth be known that your womb is, in fact, still childless, and everyone had a good laugh. Right?

No. Just no.

I guess if I’m in my 50s and everyone’s going through menopause, it has the potential to be silly. But I’m 36, almost 38 (scratch that, 37) and a fair number of people in my group of peers has lost a child, miscarried a pregnancy, or had a tremendously difficult time getting pregnant. And while those people may all have a sense of humor, I often wonder if for everyone that thinks it’s silly, there isn’t someone quietly hurting as a result of the insensitivity of the whole prank.

I’ve been saying this for years: fake a marriage, fake a gigantic Amazon delivery. One year we put candy melts on brussel sprouts and fooled my husband into thinking they were cake pops. Awesome!

But don’t fake a pregnancy.

The best equivalent I can think is going up to a friend whose Grandma died on March 31st, and saying “my grandma died – APRIL FOOLS SHE IS ALIVE!”

I’m not one to take life so seriously, but I know when the time for jokes is over and the time for compassion begins. It seems that others are starting to figure it out as well, because this time, I saw an article going around about this very topic: how not funny the April Fools pregnancy announcements can be to some people.

And as usual, the comments proved how awful humanity has become.

The comment that I read on one of the postings that stuck out the most for me summed up perfectly what is wrong with the our culture (or at least one of the things):

“When are people going to understand that it’s not my responsibility to worry about what everyone is offended by?”

Who the fuck said anything about being offended?

From there I got sucked down the comment hole, in which I read heinous reply after heinous reply, all from the likes of women named Candy and Monica, with big haired profile pictures and those stupid cause filters laid over the photographs, quite obviously meant to cover up their total and utter lack of humanity. Yeah you are really passionate about lupus, but don’t give a fuck about people’s feelings, Tiphani with a ‘ph.’

That’s when it hit me: it’s super cool to make fun of millennials for always being overly sensitive to people’s sensitivities; and yet a lot of the time, what we are talking about are actual matters of human compassion.

The same woman who says it’s not her responsibility to worry about what others feel (because that’s what that comment is saying) is the same person that will drive by a homeless veteran and call him a drunk. It’s a weak viewpoint, weakened mostly by narcissism.

This is where things get dicey. Because you don’t want to be one of those people who’s just up in arms about everything. But also, you need to be compassionate towards others: even if it doesn’t affect you. And it’s dicey only because there’s a fine line between the two, one that is incumbent on all of us to walk along carefully.

So I’m pretty offended, obviously, about this whole issue. April Fools. Fake pregnancy announcements. Being offended. People saying people are offended too easily. Millennials.

And you should care for the same reason I do: the world of Candys, Monicas, and Tiphanis lacks the thing that makes us who we are. Our humanity.

The Intolerable Sports Parent

Today, like many Saturdays, was consumed by my kids and their sports.

I am among the millions of American parents whose children chose sports activity over something far cooler. Like a Saturday book club or a weekend Thespian Society. My kids are not in band. They are similarly not into something like D&D or other gaming types of clubs.

They are into fitness.

When I was their age, I spent my weekends reading Teen magazine, organizing my Caboodle, trying to tape my favorite songs off the radio without getting all the commercials, and crying into my pillow because my dad wouldn’t buy me a new pair of Rollerblades.

Not my kids, though. They can’t do cool stuff like lounge around all weekend eating Cheetos and watching reruns of Saved By the Bell.

Nope.

It’s only after you are knee deep in strings, racquets, and the mounting costs that come with it all, that you realize just how much single sports specialization becomes a way of life. The question every morning when we are getting ready for the day is: are we playing tennis today? Today, in 2019, the kids that pick one sport essentially devote all their free time to doing that sport. And if your kids get really into it, entire weekends, holidays, and vacations are reserved for – you guessed it – tournaments.

All complaining aside: I do love that my kids have found something that they have a passion for. There are a lot of kids (and I mean a lot) that sort of flounder around from thing to thing, until they eventually succumb to complacent boredom. Nothing good can come of a kid (especially an older one) that is bored. Tennis, for my kids, has not only curbed boredom; it’s kept them healthy, taught them about caring for their bodies, helped reduced school-related stress, and brought them into a social setting with other kids that have similar interests.

But by God if the parents don’t suck the fucking life out of it sometimes.

Honestly. These parents that put their kids in sports are the most intolerable of the bunch. And I recognize the irony in the sense that I – too – am a parent that has put my kids into sports.

But I definitely see myself apart from the pack.

1. I don’t coach my kid.

You can always tell you are dealing with the intolerable sports parent when you roll up to the tennis court and see that they are coaching their own kid. Even parents that played in college probably shouldn’t be coaching their kid (unless, of course, we are talking about a sport like baseball where the dad volunteers to be the coach for the team – an entirely different circumstance altogether).

I know parents that know absolutely nothing about tennis whatsoever and insist that they are their kid’s coach.

I know parents that bust out Youtube videos to show their kids a new stance for serving or hitting a backhand.

I know parents that will stand there and argue with their kid about what is right and wrong in the game. That will do this not only on the public court on a Saturday afternoon, but in front of a large group of other people at a tournament. The kid just lost, usually badly, and the dad is standing there lecturing about the racket head being closed instead of open.

We get it: a lot of professional tennis players have parents for coaches. But your kid isn’t Serena Williams, nor are you Serena and Venus’s dad.

2. I also don’t push my kid into positions they are ill-prepared ready for.

My kids play team tennis. Team tennis parents are the worst.

Granted, we have made friends with a lot of team tennis families over the years; but there are always those few that seem to have made it their mission in life to ruin the team experience for everyone.

Usually they are mothers, and typically they think they are auditioning for Dance Moms, at least when it comes to the high key drama and the nonstop shit talking.

Typically their names are something like Tammy, Tiffany, Brenda, Debra, Linda, Tobi, or Jenipher – spelled, emphatically, with a “ph.”

Speak to the manager haircuts are not required, but almost always a part of the get up.

This intolerable sports parent makes the situation unbearable for everyone else by trying to push her kid into a place the kid isn’t really ready for.

Why isn’t my kid playing #1 singles?

Why isn’t my kid playing singles AND doubles?

Why did we even come if my kid isn’t going to play the top position?

I’ll admit, there have been times that I have gotten annoyed when my kids are put at the bottom place week after week after week after week. But my annoyance usually isn’t because I expect them to play at the top, rather I am just tired that they are shit on by way of these overbearing, intolerable sports parents stepping on them to make their under qualified kid the star.

3. I don’t act crazy or loud at the matches.

It really doesn’t matter what sport your kid plays: there is no reason in the fucking universe why you should be acting crazy or loud in the stands.

One time, my oldest daughter was on a tennis team and there was a mother that would bang her fist on the table and scream at plays she didn’t like (either from her daughter or her daughter’s opponent – she was not discretionary at whom she screamed).

That same lady, one time, went totally ballistic because her kid was placed in doubles, and literally fell on the floor crying. Fell. On. The. Floor.

It was fodder for a bad reality TV show, at best; and to this day, I have not since seen anything so extreme.

We used to live in a townhome complex across from a soccer field, and every Saturday would wake up to the sounds of parents getting into outright brawls over something that had happened during the game. A yellow card or red card was pulled and parents would start screaming at each other, then two mildly obese men in Raiders t-shirts and Levi jeans would be rolling around, fists flying.

Once, at a tennis match, my younger daughter’s coach walked in late (having come from another match) and stepped right into a huge circle of parents and coaches that were screaming at each other about who was actually allowed to call balls out. At one point I heard someone yell “is this a racial thing,” to which another person said “no I’m Mexican but apparently my skin isn’t brown enough” and several people walked (no, ran) away.

Even the parents that cheer too loudly seem to be intolerable at a point. It’s one thing to clap or be happy for your kid; it’s another to stand up and scream like it’s the Super Bowl.

On one hand, I get it: sports, like everything else, costs a lot of money. Like more than a lot. For my two, oldest kids, our cost runs about $280 a week, and that does not include the strings, rackets, clothing, bags, grips, shoes, etc. that are replaced at least every other month, some every week.

So when you are putting out this fuckton of money, I can see how some parents could want some sort of a return for the money.

In truth, I think it’s really about the fact that some parents are living out their wildest fantasies through their children.

Because let’s face it: a lot of us didn’t grow up in a time where kids and their activities are so at the center of a parent’s universe. We were sent outside with our bikes and a stick; and, sure, some of us played a sport, but it wasn’t a daily thing like it is now. What we did daily was homework and Nintendo and hanging out with our friends.

And, if I’m being honest, our parents didn’t expect so much from us.

Or maybe I have a skewed memory of it all and my parents were intolerable sports parents when I was in t-ball or, later, tennis as well. I’m sure they existed in some way or another. Maybe there was a fight or two in the stands I was just completely oblivious to.

Or maybe me being so against living through my children and berating them after a bad match; or choosing to give my kid some space while they play, and keep quiet when I do watch, is the actual enemy. My lax approach to this whole thing really unsupportive; my insistence that my kids just enjoy themselves and have fun being just another example in a series of times I’ve missed the point. Maybe I’ve misunderstood the right and the wrong of this whole thing, and the only intolerable sports parent is me.


An Open Letter To Single Mothers, Everywhere

Suck it up.

Yep, I said it. Suck it up.

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

Suck. It. Up.

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

Nobody has it as bad as you, right?

UGH.

Suck it up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You. Need. To. Stop.

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

Give me a break.

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

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

You can feel the ire radiating from the screen.

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

“At least you have that extra income.”

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

The ballsiest:

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

OH. MY. GOD.

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

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

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

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

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

I’m sorry, it doesn’t.

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

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

Suck it up.

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

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

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

[Just A Long Post About Laundry]

UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH.

We need to talk about laundry.

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

Honestly.

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

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

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

It’s none of that shit.

It’s the laundry.

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

But holy shit. Laundry.

LAUNDRY. WOAH.

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

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

I tried two loads a day; somehow also insufficient.

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

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

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

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

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

Which basically means we don’t.

There’s also that whole Gain thing.

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

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

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

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

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

But it was the point, you know?

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

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

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

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

Well I’ve Had A Week. What About You Guys?

Well I’ve had a week. And by that, I mean a pretty awful one.

It isn’t one particular thing, it’s just thing after thing after thing that’ve gone wrong. Extra appointments. A lot of driving. And a frustrating series of phone calls with AT&T to resolve something that they did wrong.

There was also a terrible scene in the doctor with my dad, who was forced to undergo a strep test. He mentioned that his throat was a little sore (turns out he has bad allergies), but they took one look at my 2 year old and jumped to conclusions, assuming my dad must have strep (didn’t you guys know toddlers are disease bags?). A ton of gagging and awful sounds later, and we learned that my dad has a terrible gag reflex, and he in fact does not have strep throat (his throat wasn’t even sore anymore at that point).

To be honest with you guys, I can’t even believe it’s still January. Like there’s still another day this month. For people in the Midwest, where it’s snowy and cold and miserable, this never ending January thing is pretty status quo. But I live in California, and there is literally no reason for it to be dragging on like this, save for all these pain in the ass problems rearing their heads, what seems like every single day since January 1st.

Here’s what I think is the hardest thing about having a bad day or week or month, or even year, though: people always say shit that makes me feel like I am not supposed to feel bad about a rough time.

They say things like “oh just be happy you aren’t dealing with …..” or “just be grateful you aren’t…”

Or they turn it into all of their problems and why there’s are invariably a million times worse than mine. And you are right, Janet, I just will never understand how hard you have it.

It’s always so shocking to me that people (in general) don’t seem to be able to accept that you can be capable of both 1. lamenting a shitty situation, and 2. also be totally grateful for your situation on the whole at the same time.

It may come as a surprise to some people. But I can be super grateful that I have a roof over my head and food on my plate, and also still be pissed that AT&T keeps screwing up our plan and sending me a bill for double what it should be.

Here’s another one: I can have gratitude for my opportunity to stay at home with my kids, and also feel like I’m isolated from the world and doing the work of twenty people for – essentially – basic room and board and absolutely no breaks.

I can be stressed out and burned out about my toddler’s daily meltdowns, and also enjoy my kids on the good days.

[Screams in absolute shock and awe.]

I think that the worst I have ever felt is when I’m trying to pretend like everything is perfect. To be honest, it’s even harder to acknowledge what is great when I can’t even allow myself to accept what is bad.

And the people I despise the most are those that have to shove their nonstop positivism down my throat. I don’t mean that they are nice and positive and whatever; I mean that the de facto response to me having a bad day or a pejorative tone to my voice is to lecture me for twenty five minutes about how wonderful life could be if I would just remove the rain cloud from over my head.

Why does this upset me? Because it makes me feel like my totally human and totally normal emotions, some of which are not perfect and positive and oozing with gratitude, are abnormal. And moreover, that I’m some heinous, ungrateful monster for having a shitty day, week, or month.

Being human is such a weird thing because we have all these complex emotions and there is so much in popular culture telling us to stop having so many of them.

Well I’ve had a bad week. And last week was pretty terrible too. To be honest, 2018 and 2017 were both kind of a disaster; and 2016 wasn’t too much of a peach either (more of a rotten orange, if you know what I mean). What’s great, though, is that in that time I’ve learned to accept and acknowledge the bad with the good; to be OK with not being OK, and also to enjoy the moments in between when everything really is nice.

So are you guys having a bad week too? Or month? 2019 getting off to a rough start?

I’m right there with ya.

All I Want For Christmas Is For The Holiday Debating To Stop

It’s the 21st century, and I would wager a bet that there is one thing historians will one day point to as defining these earliest decades of the age: the Internet debates. 

You know them. 

They are the debates in which everyone has an opinion that is confused for fact, and it needs to be heard. Loudly.

They are often arguments about the right way to parent. Or, generally speaking, how people do things in different ways, all the while believing theirs to be the only right way.

Everyone involved is undoubtedly offended at some point.

This year’s Christmas season is not lacking in them, the Internet debates. At the strike of midnight on Halloween night, the holiday-related debates started seeping out the woodwork of every crack and crevice the Internet has to offer.

The people who decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving kicked it all off in the debate against those that wait until their turkey has digested.

Shortly after, people started spitting hatred at each other over Thanksgiving turkey or Thanksgiving ham.

It continued with the people that do the Elf on the Shelf versus the people that think it’s creepy and/or over the top and/or teaching your kids to adhere to an authoritarian government’s surveillance. 

(A bit much on the last point there, wouldn’t you say?)

Then it was the people that maintain Santa Claus is real (at all costs) fighting – sometimes virulently – against those that couldn’t lie to their children for any reason. Ever.

This was around the time it became insufferable, as it does every year.

And this year has, so far, been a real doozy. It’s been a lot of discussion about consent and ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside,’ which I have written about on this blog. It’s been the age old correctness of “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas.” It’s even gone down the dark hole of whether or not Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer has secret and insidious messaging to it.

The most recent debate I saw float up out of nowhere in the comments section on Facebook was White versus Colored. As in the color of lights people put on their trees. I could not believe some of the things people were saying, either. Straight lined, cold blooded hatred and bitterness towards people of the side opposing.

Is it just me, or have things gotten a little weird? Culturally speaking, I mean.

Political correctness and everyone’s opinion suddenly being considered fact has effectively taken over not only the Internet, but daily life. I’m not talking about people giving you actual facts… I’m talking about opinions, and that escalating to being offended. At my local grocery store, the cashiers keep a list of holiday greetings they are and are not allowed to say to people for fear of offending someone while checking out their cheese curds and quinoa.

The folly in it all is it’s destroying everything people have, and for what? To prove a point? To be right? To be less offended? 

So you have chosen not to do Elf on the Shelf for your kids. Great! It isn’t necessary to go on a crusade to therefore stop others from doing it, even going as far as to tell your kids to tell their friends that their elves are creepy and perverted.

Or you are an atheist and offended by the mere idea of The Nativity. Cool. I have beliefs too. That doesn’t mean I insist that every thing inconsistent with my own beliefs be taken down around my hometown, as a group of atheists in my community recently suggested of local nativity displays. 

With all of these debates, there are two camps: those that do, those that don’t. There is no in between, and it all seems to be rooted in a whole lot of judgment. What the proponents of each side fails to realize, though, is that what they do actually bears no weight on anyone else.

All I want for Christmas is for the debates to stop. 

I don’t mean for people to all suddenly believe in the same things. And I don’t mean for people to start ignoring facts, let’s be clear there. I just mean – maybe – for the holiday season we could give each other the gift of keeping our divisive, judgmental opinions to ourselves.

Maybe we could have a little more understanding that other people live life differently. And that it’s okay. Your neighbor can eat whatever they want for the holidays, and in turn you have the freedom to have your Elf on the Shelf engage in all the shenanigans you want, unencumbered. You prominently display your nativity scene on your front yard, the guy down the street doesn’t celebrate any holidays at all and you keep your mouth shut about it.

After all, it’s just a holiday. Let people have it for whatever they want it to be (or not). 

Then again, maybe this – like everything else – is just a debate waiting to happen.

5 Ways I’ve Accepted Mediocrity As A Mother In My Mid-30s

I don’t know if it’s the fact that I have 3 kids now, and my life is a total and utter shit show 90% of the time; or that I’m just getting older. But I’ve accepted mediocrity in so many ways.

1. I’m okay with being an okay mom

Honestly. There was a period of time that I wanted to be the best mom. The coolest mom. The mom that always made the treat bags, chaperoned the field trips…and did it in sparkling Converse and trendy hairstyles.

Somewhere along the line, though, I realized that being a stressed out but spectacular mom was not what my kids wanted. They wanted a happy mom. To be a happy mom, I have to be a little mediocre. Not like a do nothing mom, just an okay mom. The okayest mom ever. Like yeah-I-breastfed-but-also-you-had-cheez-its-for-lunch. Like sure, let’s throw a big birthday party, but I’m definitely not DIYing shit for it.

2. With that in mind, I don’t beat myself up about screen time

Look: I’ve read all the articles and examined all the studies. I know the affects of too much screen time on every age group.

But remember…I’m okay with being just okay. Which means I’ve accepted my limits of what I can do, how much I can facilitate, and to what extent I can resist. When it comes to screen time, I’ve just given in, but not so much that it’s gotten out of control. Like not 100% given in, but a lot more than my pre-mom self would have ever imagined. 

Here’s the thing: if you can tell me how to keep a toddler happy and entertained, as well as a tween not bored and behaving well, all while a teenager plays hour after hour after hour of sports …I will probably still let me kids have the screen time to keep them under control. It’s just where I am in my mediocrity as a parent and person.

3. Sweatpants and Target t-shirts > Pinterest outfits

I used to spend hours – literal hours – staring at magazines, and – later – Pinterest boards, to put together stylish, yet practical outfits. My outfits always had a theme, or were appropriate for the activity. I even paired my makeup to the outing, which was also paired to the outfit, and by the way even my underpants matched perfectly with my pajamas when I went to bed.

I was just so put together.

Then I turned 30 and had 3 kids, Advil and caffeine became my best friends, and all that went out the window.

Now my wardrobe can best be described as: 76 black shirts in various styles, Target brand t-shirts with food stains on them, a million and one sweaters (in spite of the fact that I live in California), a variety of yoga pants and leggings, most of which have been worn to the point that they are no longer black, but a slight off-black-ish-gray; and exactly one pair of jeans.

3/4 of my clothing is stretched out, stained, or contains some sort of a child-related rip/tear/breakage.

And, for the last couple of years, my decisions of what to wear have been largely determined by how comfortable I will be, coupled with how easy it will be to lift my shirt up so my kid can have easy access to his boobsnacks.

4. Holidays are pretty blasé now, and honestly that’s how I prefer it

One year I made seven desserts for the Christmas Eve party at my in-law’s house. I’m not sure where I was going with that, but here I was showing up with box after box after box of desserts. Some old lady who is a family friend showed up with a box of Otterpops and stole the fucking show, though, so my carefully crafted Santa belt cupcakes and Christmas tree brownies wound up in the trash.

Since then, year after year has grown to be less of an ordeal from me for the holidays. I still do all the stuff for my kids I do every year – the decorating, the light drive tradition, the Elf on the Shelf, the cookie baking together… 

But as for the over the top shit, I’m done with it. Beyond being under appreciated, it’s just too much work. Santa belt cupcakes look cute and all, but mediocre Otterpops win every time.

5. Cheats, hacks, and short cuts have become my lifeblood

For those that aren’t familiar with me: I have 3 kids.

One is a teenager who homeschools and plays competitive tennis. She is training to play in college.

One is almost 11, so a tween, and if you know anything about pre-teen girls, it’s that they are a handful of emotions and drama.

My third is a toddler and he’s crazy. Like saying he is quite the handful is an insult to handfuls.

Since the birth of my little ball of terror complicated life as a picture perfect mother immensely, I’ve adopted the philosophy of Ockham’s razor: the simplest answer is always the best answer. Or, the easiest way to do literally anything is the way I’m going to do it. Otherwise it ain’t getting done.

So I’ve become someone half-assing her way through life – sue me. So I’ve embraced my mediocrity and decided it’s better to be mediocre and present and happy than amazing and perfect and miserable all at the same time.

For some people, doing all the things and being great is essential to their happiness in life. To me, being good enough seems to be just that: good enough.