No One Understands What It Means To Have Toddlers (Or Just Kids In General) Anymore

I’m not sure what the reason is for it, but it’s as if no one remembers or understands what it means to have toddlers (or just kids in general) anymore.

Or maybe it isn’t that they don’t understand. They just don’t care.

I have three kids, at various ages. One is a teenager, turning 16 next week. The second is a tween, having turned 12 last December.

And then, I have my toddler. My 3 year old. The baby of the family who keeps all of us on our toes.

Well… he keeps me on my toes…

There’s something I’ve noticed with this, my youngest child, that I never noticed before: people, generally speaking, don’t seem to get it anymore.

They don’t understand that several hour-long phone calls to insurance companies or to fix the cable, or to just gossip about what aunt so-and-so is up to over coffee, is rarely – if ever – an option.

They don’t understand that if I do actually do something other than entertaining the toddler (and/or making sure the toddler doesn’t roam out into the street of busy traffic), I can’t just – like – drop everything to show them how to change the ink in their print cartridge, or send them a detailed email about how to start a blog. Or even sometimes engage in a twenty minute conversation about [insert just about anything here]. That if I work or go to school, the time I have carved out in my schedule is literally the only time I have.

Or – shocking as it may seem – usually when I have free time away from my toddler, I am taking care of my other kids.

They don’t seem to be able to wrap their heads around the fact that there are three of them and one of me, and I can’t actually split myself into three pieces to be at three places at once. Sometimes, appointments have to be scheduled around the other kids’ things. Sometimes, I can’t get them to an extra curricular activity that day. Occasionally, other things in the house have to wait so that the children can be cared for first.

Sometimes, if I’m sitting at one of my older kids’ tennis matches, I’m not a “bad mom” for having my laptop open and my school books out (as many parents so eloquently “joke” to me). It’s that it’s literally the only time I have that I am not talking about Toca Boca or Paw Patrol with a 3 year old to get that other stuff done.

When you have a toddler, that’s how life is. It’s a delicate balance between having enough time to fit everything in, and making sure your toddler is cared for.

This is honestly the way it is when you have multiple kids.

It is a lot of time cleaning. Cooking. Picking up food they threw at the wall.

Having a toddler is not showering sometimes. It’s going days without realizing that all you have eaten in 48 hours is Goldfish crackers and Jell-o.

Add two other kids at completely different stages of life to this, and forget it.

My time is spent driving my teenager to her college- and life-preparatory things, helping my middle schooler with her school work and making sure she gets to all of her extra-curricular activities on time, and taking care of my toddler. That includes developmental things, play things, reading times, and interacting with other kids and the world. When I’m not doing one of those things, I’m cooking dinner for all of them, making lunches, serving breakfasts, and cleaning up the messes.

It’s balancing screen time and play time. It’s taking a kid to an appointment and letting the other kid have more screen time so you can hear the doctor speak, then it’s managing the tantrum because that kid had too much screen time, all while answering the phone when people call you back about the one kid’s appointment and helping the third kid with her SAT prep book.

What I’m saying is, I have my hands full. A lot of people are in this position now. A lot of people have been in it at some point in their lives.

A lot of people have forgotten.

I’m referring to the people that ask me over and over again at tennis matches for my older kids where my little guy is, but then complain when he even breaths too loudly when I do bring him.

I’m referring to the people that don’t do their jobs, too. Like a doctor’s office, that owes me a refund and says they’ll refund me automatically, only for me to find out a month later they never did, resulting in an hour of sitting on hold to get it straightened out. Or a local water company that charges us six times for the same, one, bill, requiring me to both call and sit on hold, as well as go in to dispute the extra charges.

Maybe I’m just complaining, because I’m feeling a little overwhelmed right now. I’m not complaining about the fact that I am taking care of my three kids and have these jobs to do with caring for them.

I’m complaining about all the interference the world outside of me and my kids is interjecting into the mix of it all.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been asked to do all of these things, and then some, and then a little more, but – and this is a big but – I have to do it with my hands tied behind my back.

Or when I read articles about Stay At Home Moms or Working Moms, I sometimes feel like I’m going to explode. Not because of anything the article says (usually), but rather the comments from the working moms “oh, imagine having to do all of that and work a full time job.”

Except you don’t. When you are at work, someone else is doing all of this (vaguely gestures at school/cleaning/working/feeding/watching/caring for/etc) and the difference between a Stay At Home Mom and those people that provide those services so that you can do your job at work is one thing, and one thing only:

Those people get paid.

I’m not suggesting that I should be paid to care for my children (although it would be nice if somewhere in the budget were things for me like toiletries, healthcare, makeup, hair appointments, clothing, or – oh I don’t know – anything)?

And I’m not suggesting that Working Moms do not have other challenges or concerns or sacrifices that are distinctly unique from mine.

I’m just saying that at the very least, I could be paid in support.

I could be paid in understanding.

I could be paid in an occasional “hey, did you do something different with your hair today? It looks nice.” Even if my hair looks like a crow’s nest on top of my head.

I could be paid in the conscious decision to let things go and not harass me about stupid and mundane things, or demands that I drop everything to deal with X, Y, Z thing that – in the grand scheme of things – can wait. Or… dare I suggest… could just not happen. I could be paid in competence by insurance companies, so I don’t have to spend my time on the phone with them. Or a cable service that is good and doesn’t require regular and routine cable man work done by Mom (keep dreaming on that one, I know). I feel like everyone is constantly breathing down my neck for things they want – be it my husband, my dad (who lives with us), outside family members, or the lady at the allergist’s office, who has called me five times in the last 24 hours to fill out patient paperwork. Like I’ll get to it when I can, Linda. I’ll get to it when I fucking can.

Perhaps I am just complaining right now because I find my situation to be particularly Cinderella-esque at the moment. I don’t even get “Happy Birthday”s or “Happy Anniversaries” or thanks for meals anymore. The other adults in the house don’t talk to me about anything but what they want and things they need, and my text messages are largely ignored.

But maybe my situation isn’t that unique, and it’s what a lot of Stay At Home Moms experience. We – as a society – tend to think that if a person doesn’t contribute financially to a household, they aren’t contributing anything. Of course the stupidity of this is self-evident, and yet large groups of people believe this way.

Or maybe it’s something more.

Maybe it’s that people just don’t remember what it’s like having a toddler or having kids. Or maybe they always had other people taking care of things for them, and they were never aware of how acutely precious a mother’s time really can be.

Maybe no one ever said anything about it, because they knew their words were just falling on deaf ears.

Well I’m here to say it today. I’m a mother. A Stay At Home Mother, at that. My kids are my job. And just as I wouldn’t march into someone else’s place of work and criticize them, tell them what to do, interrupt them multiple times for mundane things, or actually have the balls to expect them to stop working so I could get or say what I need to… I’m going to have to start expecting the same courtesy.

“Please be quiet during the meeting” is a sign now permanently hung on my door. At least for the next decade or so.

Oh the perspective a lunch date with a dead cow can give…

 

Steak

I’m in Texas, and if there is one thing I have learned in my four days here, it’s that the Texans like their meats.

We don’t eat meat very often in California. That’s not entirely true, I serve a very meat-and-potatoes-with-vegetables kind of menu for most dinners; but we aren’t talking Texas meat. Red meat. Beef. Cattle. Blood on the plate and shit. That kind of meat is infrequent in our house.

So naturally while in Texas, I am trying to find as many Texas-style places to eat at as possible, which I am finding is very beef-centric. Today’s lunch date with the dead cow was at none other than the Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse – a place I have heard of only in fables of the Lone Star State.

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Sitting in this place, with decor I hate to admit gave me all kinds of ideas for my own home (I’m a fan of taxidermy), I couldn’t help but notice a lunch meeting going on at the elongated table next to me. There were eight or so people there, and they all wore those weird things I can only remember vaguely from my days as a worker bee in the 9-5 business world: regular clothes. Suit pants. Collared shirts. It made me feel weird just to look in their direction.

And of course, because I am a self-professed misanthrope, they started to annoy me with their business mumbo-jumbo-jargon about 401(K) plans and cost analysis almost immediately. Puke. Puke in my pile of dead cow. What upsets me about these business meetings is that I was once one of those people: those self-important, arrogant bastards who takes themselves, and their meaningless bullshit that doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things, entirely too seriously. My husband talks like these people were sometimes – the pitch in his voice grows deeper and suddenly he’s talking in terms I do not understand, with acronyms and inside-jargon that makes bile form in the back of my throat. It isn’t that it’s contemptible (I mean, to me some of it is); it’s that some people so frequently get so wrapped up in this workaday world that they forget there is life beyond the numbers and the business of it all. That there is sometimes lunch which does not involve business, but rather personal growth. Or even just a pile of dead cow with a friend.

This certainly isn’t the first time I have observed one of these business lunch monstrosities. I’ll never forget the time I was eating at my local Macaroni Grill on a Wednesday only for the loudest and most obnoxious group of nurses to come in and loudly regale horror stories to each other of people’s bowels and boils, while they held a business lunch planning meeting for implementing a new computer system. Perhaps (though unlikely) to streamline the process of classifying the bowels and boils.

But it seems no coincidence that this always happens at the most opportune time. At times when I need to be reminded that I am no workaday, collared shirt-pant-suit-wearing kind of girl. Even when I worked full-time, I worked from home in yoga pants the majority of the days. I take very little in this world seriously, either, and feel that my time with my family and my soul take far greater precedence than some bullshit workaholic career that can go nowhere with me but to an early grave.

Years ago, I made the choice to become a Stay At Home Mom. Nothing more, nothing less. I do have hobbies. Like painting. Reading. Knitting. And writing. So I write my mom blog when I feel the itch; and am working on books only insofar as I have something I feel is important to say. (Not often.)

And while I would love for my writing to be seen as something with even a relatively small amount of redeeming quality to it, it is nothing more than something I do when I enjoy it. I am not a professional writer. I will not speak at conferences, nor will I teach classes on the subject. For me it is a craft and a love, not an occupation.

I veer off that track of certainty as to my station in life, though, quite frequently. I take on more technical writing projects than I’d like. I start thinking about more professional-looking business cards, and even apply for a job or two writing – vomit – SEO or ad copy. I veer off track for whatever reason, and am never happy in the process. Never.

So it is in times like today, when the most contemptible of things – the business lunch – plays out before me, that I am again grounded, and reminded of how happy I am to just be a mom. Oh the perspective a lunch date with a dead cow can give. Of course there is so much in that title (of mom, not dead cow): healer, nurse, chauffeur, chef, cleaning lady, kisser of boo boos, secretary, teacher…the list is endless. And while the workaday collared shirt-wearers of the world sit around the table at the Texas Land and Cattle Steakhouse; talking so seriously about their numbers and statistics and plans and retirement packages (should they all be so lucky to make it that far), it is in those endless list of tasks that encompass being a mom that the only truly serious jobs in this world are found for me.

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After Today, Someone Needs To Nominate Me For Mother of the Year

That’s a literary device we in the professional writing world call: sarcasm. Look it up, you will find it to be a delicious way to poke fun at others. Or (in this case) yourself. Myself. A delicious way to poke fun at me.

I’m starting to really wrack up the resume of Bad Mom days. Sometimes it’s just that I lose my temper and raise my voice a little bit more than I should. Other days it’s that I serve Top Ramen and a bowl of shredded cheese for dinner because – let’s face it – that’s all we have for food in the house, because I’m also vying for Bad Wife and never grocery shop anymore.

Seriously, though, I’ve had a lot of Bad Mom moments lately, owing in large part to just how crazy and insane our lives have been lately. We’re going on this unanticipated trip to Texas in a few weeks (to take my daughter to see her biological father, and basically sit in a hotel down the street for the duration of the trip in case she has a panic attack or meltdown). So I’ve basically been panicking myself for the last couple of weeks. And researching how to not get eaten by a scorpion, as well as the best ways to ward off being kidnapped by the Mexican cartel. (I have never been to Texas. Not sure if that’s obvious or not.)

Today may have taken the cake, as far as Bad Mom days go, though. Let us examine the evidence.

Oh We Don’t Have Milk? Why Not Play Puppies Eat Breakfast?

Translation:

We got up this morning and there was no milk. There actually hasn’t been any milk for like three days, because I haven’t had an opportunity to go to the grocery store and buy any. (And God forbid anyone else around here be asked to stop at the store for anything.) In the prior days, it was manageable because we had other food stuff around. But now we’re even out of that, so basically it was Cheerios or Starlight Mints.

But, like I said … no milk.

So I did as I always do when there is no milk. I gathered all the stuffed dogs in the house (of which we have many), poured dry Cheerios into bowls and said “no milk, no problem!!! Play puppies eat breakfast with the stuffed animals instead!”

You read that right. I encouraged eating out of a bowl on hands and knees. Like a dog.

Bath time

Okay. So I know that the pediatrician says that short baths are best, because eczema is irritated exponentially by prolonged sitting in hot water. I know. I know. I know.

But we also had a big bottle of medicated Eucerin that could be put on after said bath, and I really needed about an hour to finish writing an article for someone I do personal consulting for.

So rather than sit there and ensure a short bath, with no eczema problems to follow… I instead filled the tub and said the words: “you know what, go ahead and play with all the Smurf bubbles you want.” Then I opened a brand new, super sized bottle of Smurf body and hair wash, and sat down on my bed to finish the article.

The bath ended up being about an hour and a half long. The new bottle of Smurf body and hair wash is now empty.

Remember That Thing About Having No Food?

It got worse come lunchtime. And the scheduling of shit did too, because my daughter who has to go visit her biological father in Texas in a few weeks had to go to her court-appointed therapy appointment with the lady that is going to put a halt to those visitations after we do this test one, if things don’t go well.

So there was no food in the house. No time, on account of that whole hour and a half bath thing.

I’m making excuses, so I should really just say fuck it and stop beating around the bush and admit: I went to fucking McDonald’s.

I know, I know. I KNOW! McDonald’s is the devil. The Happy Meal ain’t going to be very happy when it ends in high cholesterol and diabetes. I KNOW!! But, keeping things in perspective: I can’t remember the last time we ate at McDonald’s. It’s probably something like once a year, maybe twice. And honestly, there are a lot of things on their menu that are perfectly acceptable when eaten in moderation, once in a great while anyway. And the toy was a LEGO movie cup with a coupon for free movie entrance. So whatever.

Fuck you. Stop judging me.

At this point I just completely gave up and let everyone in the house sit on their asses after we got home, watching movies I had no idea whether or not were age appropriate; basically from about 3 in the afternoon until now.

We watched Galaxy Quest. We watched Beetlejuice. And now we’re watching Curly Sue. My dad was there, and I told him to keep an eye on the content; mute things that should be muted. Of course I was in the kitchen cleaning for a while and came out to find him sawing logs on the easy chair in my living room while an alien made out with the guy that plays Monk, in Galaxy Quest.

But whatever.

I’m not entirely sure how much further down the tubes of motherhood I can go at this point. I know I’m probably being a little hard on myself; and also blowing things a little out of proportion. But at the same time, I can see how people let some of these behaviors become habits, which then become the norm. The next thing you know your kids are constantly sick, covered in snot, eating Skittles and hot dogs on a daily basis for breakfast and lunch, with Pepperoni Lunchables for dinner; and swearing and making jokes about balls and dicks because of what they’ve been allowed to see on TV.

That’s where we’re going, isn’t it?

So now that I’ve laid this all out there, I’m sure one or more of you is going to jump up and nominate me for Mother of the Year, for whatever publication or TV show or website does such a pretentious type of award. And I’m going to try better for tomorrow. Really, I promise.

Though, I still haven’t gone grocery shopping, so I am setting the stuffed dogs and bowls up right now before bed…

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So I haven’t technically worn a bra since October…

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Ah, where to begin…

We went to Disneyland in October. I really hate Disneyland, and what I hate the most is that I have to wear regular clothing for a really long time. Like 9 in the morning until late at night.

That is just intolerable.

During the week (and on weekends and holidays), I typically stay in regular clothes no longer than a few hours. Eight, tops. And by “regular” I mean – like – jeans, sweaters, bras, shoes.

So back to Disneyland, we went in October. I was dressed all day and wearing a bra. It was really hot out that day – like 85 I think – and I was sweating for a while in the sun standing in line, and somehow that gave me a rash of some sort from the combination of the silky material of my bra and the sweat. All over my left side and back I had a gross heat rash for about a week. It was miserable and I absolutely could not wear a bra because it just made it worse.

As that week drew to a close, I realized something very striking: there is really, and truly, very little reason for me to even wear bras most of the time. I mean I do have sort-of big boobs (though when I say that to my bustier friends, they all laugh heartily at my 36Cs, which they often refer to as a drop in the booby bucket). In any event, they are big to me.

But I also wear those bra-ish tank tops most days, and I certainly don’t give a fuck about saggage and people seeing my nipples poking out through my shirt when I’m cold, and shit. Oh no – someone might sort-of witness a naturally occurring phenomenon that somehow became totally taboo and referred to as ‘cutting glass’ (because you can totally cut a piece of glass with a soft bit of pink flesh).

So I haven’t worn a regular bra since then.

That isn’t entirely true, though, on two counts: one is that thing I just said about the bra-ish tank tops (the ones with the bra-like insert in them); the other is that sometimes I’ll wear those nylon casual bras that have no padding or hooks or wires or anything – you just pull them over your head. Kind of like a sports bra only much looser.

I save those for fancy times, like when we go out.

The other day I came to realize this and as a result went immediately to my nearest Gap Outlet and bought more of those little nylon pull over the head things made of wonderful, which was the moment I realized that I may never wear a regular bra again. It’s just that I’m so much more comfortable now, and also just don’t care. I’m sure I eventually will, but damn do I feel free right now.

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And on the note of being freer, I’ve also noticed lately that I’ve shied away from wearing regular clothes, and wear yoga pants and stretch pants out to even do errands and (most recently) hang out at the in-law’s house. This is a big step for me, personally. I live in California – the land of judging and anorexia – so to be so lax in my physical appearance means that I’ve finally crossed over that bridge of insecurity into the land of truly not caring about what people think of me. In spite of how Judgy McJudgerson seemingly everyone in my immediate surroundings can be.

This is huge for me. Huge in a good way.

So I’m wearing my yogas and my lounge pants so much now that they are wearing out quicker, which gave me a reason to buy more than just those non-bra nylon bras this weekend. As I walked up to the checkout to pay for my nylon things, and my new stockpile of lounge clothes, the sales clerk started gushing about how comfortable the lounge clothes there are, and how she wanted so badly to wear them all the time. I smiled and nodded and muttered a …”you are so right… I wish I could wear them all the time too!! Because I totally don’t now. Not in the least bit…………..”

Right then.

As I walked out of there, and headed home, I wondered to myself if this is just another sign that I’m depressed; or that I’m unhealthy and not taking care of myself. I wondered if this is just a phase – where I’m just too busy to look cute.

But then I realized that none of this could be any further from the truth.

I take care of myself, quite well actually. I am active, I shower and put on makeup every, single day.

I eat healthy foods too. It’s been this way as long as I can remember, except for one thing: I didn’t have a healthy feeling about myself. I always felt uncomfortable in my clothes, and worried about what people would think of what I was wearing. How I looked.

Now I just don’t give a fuck. Don’t. Don’t give a fuck. I think this is healthier than anything else I could ever do for myself, which is why I love that I’m not wearing real bras or real clothes; plus who is to say what is ‘real’ anyway?

So I haven’t technically worn a bra since October. And I wear lounge clothes or pajamas all day, most days. My husband still loves me and I feel about a million times better about myself now than I have in years.

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How This Halloween Has Taught Me to Be Less Of An Overachiever

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For the last couple of weeks, I have been totally not feeling it with Halloween. This isn’t normal for me. I’m not like one of those weirdos that obsesses over it all year long, and spends more time and money on decorations and shit than the month’s rent. But I’m still usually pretty gung-ho about it. I start costumes early. I do a lot of Halloween decorating and baking; and we visit pretty much every pumpkin patch with in a 50 mile radius. Twice.

It was around the time that I started suggesting we do something other than a trick or treat marathon this year, and then immediately started trying to come up with excuses for us to just do nothing but dress up, that I realized there was something wrong. More so than my usual “there’s something wrong” as in there’s something wrong in my head. There was something not right about me and Halloween. Something lurking in the inner caverns of my subconscious, just waiting to come out – likely at the worst time possible.

Such is the life of an overachiever. Shoving any reservations or actual desires down as deep as you can, until they come out at the worst time possible. Or in a total meltdown. It happens all the time. I say I’m going to do something, but really don’t want to. I know I don’t want to, but convince myself I do. Then I complain, then I procrastinate and procrastinate, and procrastinate some more. Then I finally do whatever it is I said I would do, crying the whole way through it. And hating myself, more and more each time.

But what is it about Halloween this year that has been making me procrastinate to such a degree that I started trying to come up with reasons why we shouldn’t even go trick or treating at all? What the hell kind of a shithole mother does that?

An overachieving mother that made a commitment to costumes she knew she couldn’t make, that’s what the hell kind of a shithole mother.

Around June, my nine year old got this crazy idea to be peanut butter and jelly this year. I thought it was weird because she doesn’t like peanut butter. And when I asked what kind of jelly, she said “orange marmalade.” Fucking orange marmalade? Bitch, you’ve never even had orange marmalade. (Yes, I did just refer to my nine year old daughter as “bitch.” In a blog, remember. I don’t do it in person. At least where she can hear.)

Regardless of all these logical fallacies, everyone in the family jumped on the peanut butter and jelly bandwagon and suddenly I was making multiple costumes, and being asked to make candy bags that look like bread too. As the life of the overachiever goes, I simply went along with it and started knitting.

524512_695212985993_197672610_nKnitting you ask? Well, when I looked up peanut butter and jelly costumes, all I found were these completely dorky, huge slices of bread that had fake-PB&J crap slathered all over them. That would have been embarrassing. Super duper embarrassing. So I decided I would make jar costumes. Coming out of the top of the jars would be scarves (to keep everyone warm) – which would be made to look like peanut butter or jelly coming out of the jars. It was going to be super cute, except for one problem: I had not a clue in my stupid fucking head how I would do anything beyond the scarves of overflowing condiments.

After I finished the scarves, I didn’t do shit for the costumes until three days ago. I finished them somewhere around July. So July, August, and September, I did nothing. Halloween in my mind didn’t even fucking exist.

1233963_700005776203_2026613288_nThen the questions started. “How are the Halloween costumes going?” “When are you going to work on the Halloween costumes again?” My husband, my dad, my mom … it grew relentless. So I made a bread bucket (because I finally had to admit that I am way too lazy to sew, and don’t have a sewing machine; so bread bags or whatever-the-fuck had been suggested were just totally out of the question). Then I started panicking.

Finally yesterday, I figured that the only way I could do this was to print off large versions of the labels, glue them to cardboard, and then hang them with ribbon. Then the other problem came in, though: the cost of printing was going to be more than buying super expensive, cliched costumes over at the Party Rip Off City. Plus I was going to have to piece together some kind of bottoms, because the jars couldn’t cover the crotch area – obviously – since that would make it tough to walk.

So I gave up. This Halloween taught me to be less of an overachiever. I apologized. I made promises to put together other, easier, costumes. I tried to compensate by decorating the house today with Halloween decorations, even though I said this year would only see a little bit of Fall stuff.

In the end, the only one that gave a shit was my mother. She threw herself around. She complained. She obsessed over how it could work – “you could just…” and “why don’t you…” She even cried a little. What she didn’t realize was that I had already started working on the costumes that will actually be worn, that are within my limited D.I.Y-crafting genius. And I started working on them with much more ambition and fervor than the last four months of avoiding the peanut butter and jelly costumes I am just not that accomplished enough to make.

Are you faithful blog followers overachievers at holiday times? Typically, Halloween is only the tip of the iceberg for me; but this newfound sense of “fuck it, I ain’t doing this shit” has me thinking that maybe the holidays will fair more low-key and within reason. I suppose only time will tell…

Trials and Tribulations of My Trailer Trash Mom’s Family

Ugh…

So we went to my grandmother’s 85th birthday party yesterday. It was at the assisted living facility she and my grandfather live in – near our place, so not out of the way or anything. I baked the cake; and ended up baking two cakes (one for the adults, one for the kids). These people are usually pretty up and down with their drama; although, over time I have come to give them the benefit of the doubt and think they are just coming from the position of what my Trailer Trash Mom lies to them about. Of course every time I give them an inch, they bite me in the ass for it – so maybe they are all of the same breed. Okay, they all wallow in hillbilly pig shit.

But let’s not wax philosophical about them today. Let’s talk about the Trailer Trash Momma Drama that went down at gammy’s party.

“Why Does [Poor] Nick have a film strip tattooed on his arm?”

My husband has a tattoo of a film strip on his right arm, owing much in part to the fact that he works in fucking film. He studied film in college, and has worked at a post production company for close to eight years, working in the editing and management side of the process.

For a brief time after college, my husband worked at Starbucks; although, for the entire time I’ve known him, he’s been in film. I have told my mother he works in film. My mother has seen him go to work. She has talked about the projects he does with him. She has even written down a goddamned TV show he was assistant editor on for my grandpa to watch.

But for some reason the following conversation happened between one of my cousin’s spouses and me yesterday:

“Heather, why does Nick have a film strip tattooed to his arm?”

“Because he works in film.”

“Nick works in film?”

“Yeah, he works in post production.”

“No, seriously? Your mom just told us recently that he works at Starbucks.”

This reminded me of the time we showed up to visit my grandfather at the hospital about a year ago and someone started yelling at me because my mother told them I had never really graduated from college.

For some unknown reason my Trailer Trash Mom seems to want everyone to think we are total fucking losers. I’m not saying that people who work at Starbucks are losers; quite the opposite, actually, they likely have way better benefits and job security than almost anyone in the film industry does.

But why always downplay our achievements like that? It’s a little weird.

The awkward speaker-phone phone call

Something my Trailer Trash Mom always does at a family party is call whatever family member is not present, put them on speaker-phone, then require everyone to yell “hello!!” to them.

The first time or two that she did it, it was cute. Now that it’s been ten years or so since my mom got a cell phone, and there have been countless family parties since, it’s gotten a little fucking annoying. Especially since now it always involves her hillbilly husband.

Yesterday was no exception. After walking around and sharing with everyone the many different stories about her husband’s cancerous mole on his face (the worst is the story about how the doctor supposedly showed him photos of what he would look like after the mole was removed – something doctors do not do – and claimed he would look ‘like a hideous freak of nature.’) … what does one say to the guy when he gets put on speaker phone and says “hello” to everyone?

I’m also a little frustrated right now with them because my mother was talking to him the other day and told him I got a job writing for a magazine. She detailed that it was a column about being a mom, and I heard his hillbilly asshole voice say loud and clear “what does she know about that?”

Bitch, unfriended

Towards the end of the event, I was sitting there talking to my grandma. It was legitimately 95 degrees in the room at this point, the assisted living facility having left the air conditioning off despite the unseasonably warm temperatures. They were finishing the gift exchanges and I just wanted to leave. Then my cousin’s bitch of a wife (who writes occasionally for some two-bit newspaper near where she lives) turned to me and started talking about her job.

These people have got to be the most narcissistic, self-centered people on the fucking planet. They never come to family events, ever. And while I don’t blame them, it isn’t to avoid the drama but because they legitimately believe they are better than everyone. It’s been so long that they had never met one of the children that was at yesterday’s party. She turns 6 years old next month.

(But of course everyone excuses their absences, while causing an unending series of drama if I ever miss an event…)

So she turns to me and she starts rambling on about her day job doing some marketing bullshit, and then she tells me she’s doing this article for the newspaper about wineries or something. Then she says someone suggested she quit her day job and become a full time blogger. She laughs, and then says “God, why would I want to become one of those losers?”

Indeed.

This bitch knows I write a blog. I don’t know what she knows about me beyond that, but she knows I write a blog. In fact, she is a Facebook friend.

Wait … make that was. Just a few days ago, I went on her Facebook and wished her a Happy Birthday. Sure, she’s a total bitch, but I’m still going to be cordial – something few of my Trailer Trash Mom’s family members seem to know the meaning of. Well, when I got home, I went to look on her Facebook and see just what “newspaper” she does these cutesy little articles for, only to learn that she had defriended me. Sometime between about five days ago when I wished her a happy birthday, and yesterday when she said she doesn’t want to be a loser blogger. Like those people (me).

Good riddance.

Well, happy birthday to my grandma! And may my Trailer Trash Mom’s family continue to wallow in their trailer trash pig shit they seem to wallow in most days of the year.

Does Dad Ever Know Best?

 

Short answer: no. Long answer: sometimes.

Before you dads out there get all your tails wadded up inside your assholes over how much I’m emasculating you, let me be clear: there are some things that dad does know best on, although it’s the long answer and I’m not sure you want me to ramble on about it. Dad usually knows best about bar-b-queing, probably because he has no fear of fire-related death. Some dads know best about cooking; I can name quite a few friends whose husbands are amazing in the kitchen. Dad also traditionally knows best about bringing home the bacon, so to speak – at least in our house that is the case. Lastly, I will concede that Dad knows best about tools, unless of course he is one and that is an entirely different blog post altogether. Beyond that, it’s a little more complicated and drawn out. Like I said, ramble.

There are a lot of things that the short answer (NO!) fits better with. And while this may be generalizing a little, in my experience it stands pretty true for the majority of the men I know.

Dad does not know best on matters of housecleaning.

So you’re a dad and you pitch in your fair share to keep the house pretty clean. You throw on a frilly apron once in a while and prance around with a feather-duster. You pick up on occasion, toys and books and things laying around the floor. You help fold some laundry once in a while.

For some reason, a lot of men seem to think that this is all there is to cleaning. Last night my husband said he would be totally willing to help clean the house when it needs to be cleaned – once a month.

Once a month you say?

If any of you faithful blog followers have let your home with kids in it go for more than even a week at times without being cleaned, you know why the words “once a month” are probably the most ridiculous words ever spoken in the history of talking. I wish the house could go for a full month without having to be dusted, mopped, scrubbed, wiped down, disinfected, vacuumed, and otherwise cleansed of the disgusting mess that is daily life with kids.

Dad does not know best on matters of having respect for a woman’s feelings once she’s become a mother

To be fair, I’m sure a lot of guys don’t realize that when a woman becomes a mother, some of the things she previously overlooked would no longer be “cool.” Recently my husband and I got into a huge argument about a book (I know, stupid to get into an argument that can be called “huge” over something as little as a book) all about sex. The word “fuck” was on the cover, so I thought it was totally inappropriate to be out there – in the open – for little eyes to see. My husband thought it was no big deal and called me a “prude,” which ushered in the huge argument.

Sometimes it isn’t just about being a mother or wanting to avoid little eyes from seeing things, though, but really just a matter of respect for a woman’s feelings. For years, I overlooked this little figurine of someone taking it up the behind that my husband had for reasons I still do not know. For years, I said in the back of my mind “boys will be boys” until Pookie saw it and asked what those people were doing. It wasn’t Pookie seeing it that upset me, though (I told her “playing leapfrog”); what upset me was that my husband never considered that something like that might offend me – a woman. Not a roommate. Not another dude. A woman.

Dad does not know best on matters of personal hygiene

Ever woken up in the middle of the night because your husband ate way too much broccoli and beans for dinner and you’ve been dreaming of a loud tuba concert, only to be woken by the grande finale of the song which turned out to be loud, tuba-like sounds in your own room?

No? Okay, well I have.

Ever been laying in bed and thought you might suffocate because the smell of rotten feet was so overpowering in every crevice of the house and it was just so late for you  to go anywhere for escape but under the covers, where you were then confronted with those feet sticking right in your face?

No? Okay, well I have.

To make matters worse, it sometimes seems like Dad doesn’t know best on when to replace things. I keep trying to explain to Poor Nick that if only he would replace his tooth brush, his teeth and mouth might not be so nasty in the morning. If only he’d buy a new pair of cheap sandals – rather than wearing the same ones for over seven years that literally fall apart on his feet every time he wears them; maybe if he would just fork over the ten bucks and buy new ones, his feet wouldn’t be so rancid all the time.

Between the the rotten feet, the urine on the side of the toilet, the belching in your face, and the gas at the most inopportune times, Dad does not know best on matters of personal hygiene.

Dad does not know best on matters of interior decorating

When I met my husband, he was living in a condominium shared with his brother and two other roommates. They had sort of a mute, hodgepodge of decoration in the place. Really everyone used it as a place to sleep and that was about it. When we moved in together, I therefore inherited a world of wonderful goods he had just been waiting to put out for all to see. There was a fucking Lord of the Rings goblet placed on the TV stand when I came home one day. The treasures of course were really worthy of nowhere but the garbage dump. Besides the goblet and that anal sex figurine there was a rusted African figure, an entire bookcase full of out-of-date AAA travel books; there were guitars that are never played, two bins full of miscellaneous wires that “may one day come in handy;” and, a whole host of other gems.

Recently, I realized that my husband really is eligible to be on A&E’s Hoarders. He keeps things just because they may one day be useful. I used to be like this (a little), but as the years go on I’m getting more and more frustrated with keeping around a bunch of tacky crap just for the sake of having to clean it.

Case in point: in the last three or four years, my husband has played those guitars once. They are merely matters of decoration now.

I was talking about this last night, because it would feel so much better in our apartment if it always wasn’t so cluttered. At one point in the discussion, he referred to those guitars and the amp and all its cluttering accessories as “part of the decoration.” Odd, I didn’t know a beautiful vase with faux branches in it came with two ugly guitar cases, an amp, and a bunch of wires!

Dad does not know best on matters of interior decorating.

 

As I said, there are a lot of things that Dad knows best on. Maybe we could add a few things to the long answer: sometimes list, like playing catch with the kids, teaching a little boy how to pee standing up, and so on. But then it gets complicated and the answer gets long again, for example in the case of the peeing dad who obviously doesn’t really know best because if he did then why would generation after generation after motherfucking generation of men continue to have such a problem with aim? If only Dad really did know best on the matters of peeing standing up the whole personal hygiene thing might be a little better.

The bottom line, really, is that when push comes to shove – unless we’re talking about a bar-b-que or a game of catch or using a screwdriver, just assume the short answer. So who knows best then? Well, the answer is obvious: Mom knows best. Always.

Party Peeves

We went to a couple family parties this weekend. One was a Labor Day bar-b-que – which was relatively mild; the other was a family dinner in honor of the seventh birthday of my cousin’s kid. These parties (the latter for the most part) inspired me to compile yet another list of pet peeves. Today while we were eating lunch at Panda Express, I got a little teary over the music they were playing and realized it must be getting close to Rag Time, so excuse me if my reasoning sounds particularly bitchy.

Party Peeve 1:

You Scratch My Back, I’m Not Scratching Yours

How many birthday parties have we gone to where the other person never comes to ours? These people with this seven year old kid (relatives of my Trailer Trash Mom) are the worst offenders. They are the only real family we have in California – which makes it particularly difficult – because every kid party we have they never show up for, making ours sort of un-kid kid parties.

Year after year, though, I send down a gift when it’s time for one of their two kids to celebrate another birthday. When they have a family party for it, we make the two hour drive there and two hour drive back and bring wine and a side dish. We smile. We listen to people talk about their hillbilly family dramas. We show interest when my aunt talks about all the oppressions put upon her working for the Girl Scouts. We laugh when her husband tells jokes about watching pornography on the Internet.

But when it comes time for a kid party here, they can’t make the same trek.

Party Peeve 2:

Cow-Towing To the Old People

I’m sure when I’m elderly, I’ll want everyone to cow-tow to me like they do at my family parties. Kiss my ass and act like everything I say is plated in gold and shit. I’m not being a dick, either, by saying it’s a problem to let the elderly have the comfortable chairs or use the bathrooms first or whatever would make me sound like a real asshole. Because that’s not what I mean.

By cow-towing I mean that everyone in the family acts as they always do – as though what the old people say goes. An example: my grandma and grandpa went to college in Nebraska, so of course are Cornhusker fans. But if you aren’t a Cornhusker fan too, you have to sit there for forty-five minutes while grandpa fucking yells at you for being such a dumb ass. It’s really mean, actually, if you think about it because he will shout at you and tell you to get out of his presence if you support a team other than the Cornhuskers.

Just about everyone in the family swore their allegiance to the Cornhuskers a long time ago just to get grandpa to shut the hell up.

Party Peeve 3:

Feeding Kids Different Food

Oh dear God, this really roasts my ass. If you think it’s totally acceptable to let your kid drag you around by your she-balls, and therefore prepare meal after meal after meal until you settle on Spaghetti-O’s because your precious cargo has been conditioned (by you) to be a terribly picky and unhealthy eater – well then you should stop reading now. Because I don’t tolerate that shit, and so it really pisses me off when other people do it at a kid’s party we attend.

I can see that not all kids at the party are healthy eaters and the host just doesn’t want them to go hungry. I’ll accept that a lot of people were born and raised in a barn and, therefore, don’t care much about instilling basic values in their kids’ upbringing.

At our house, you have to try everything that is put on your plate. If we go out to eat or to someone else’s home for dinner, we all eat what is served. We do not request that people make us something special because we’d rather have neon-orange fat-O’s in a can.

At the family dinner Sunday night, they served BBQ chicken, bread rolls, fresh fruit – all in all, a pretty healthy meal. You can imagine, then, that I was fucking livid when I saw my mom carrying plates of per-request food for all the kids, none of which had BBQ chicken or fruit. All of which were covered in Spaghetti-O and macaroni and cheese slop.

Party Peeve 4:

Inadequate Planning

When I plan a party, I typically plan everything down to the “T.” It isn’t what you faithful blog followers are probably thinking: that I’m terribly anal retentive and OCD. (Well I am, but that isn’t what this is about.) The thing is that when people take the time and effort to come to a party you’ve thrown, the least you can do is have things organized at least enough so that things don’t get out of control and chaotic.

I mean, every party in which kids are involved is going to have a little chaos. But at least have it be organized chaos.

This party on Sunday was so poorly planned (go figure, it was done by my mother and her sister with the porno-watching-husband). It was supposed to be a kid’s party (sort of), but they really didn’t plan anything for the kids to do besides terrorize everyone else with chaos, out of control screaming, and whining that they were bored.

Of course my Trailer Trash Mom was too busy rambling on about her recent Hillbilly Husband sagas to actually entertain the kids. My aunt was busy cooking the food. My grandpa was yelling at me for being a Notre Dame fan, instead of the Cornhuskers. My aunt’s husband was in the other room looking at his Internet porn. Pretty much everyone else was just sitting back, watching carnage unfold until finally, towards the end of the party, Poor Nick and I took charge and played Duck-Duck-Goose with the kids to try and get things under control.

Party Peeve 5:

Dresscode

This is always a sensitive subject for some people. I get it: people didn’t come to the party to see my fancy house or my fancy clothes. So the place isn’t perfectly cleaned, and I’m wearing sweatpants – but we’re family so it should be OK, right? Or as a guest, you should just be grateful that I came and spent the money on a birthday gift and the time preparing these appetizers and the gas driving down and my Sunday that could have been spent doing something else I actually want to do, so I should be cool in these coolots and halter top, no?

Actually, NO. You should not be “cool” or “down” with people dressing down for a party. As is the case with organization, the least people could do is wear regular clothes or even just pants. When I opened the door to my aunt and her husband’s home Sunday, you can all imagine my surprise when I was greeted by her porno-watching husband wearing nothing but a t-shirt and Cornhusker boxer shorts. Maybe he was trying to impress my grandpa. Maybe he needed easy-access for when he’d be spending the duration of the party in the other room, looking at Internet pornography. Maybe he was just really hot. I don’t know, I just thought he could have actually put a pair of pants or at least shorts on. His boxers, in combination with my mother’s pant-wedgie that lasted the duration of the entire party and seemed to cause her nothing but pleasure, made the dresscode at this particular hillbilly brawl just intolerable for me.

After the lack of organization, the food problems, the underpants, the screaming at me for not pledging my loyalty to the Cornhuskers, and my mom rubbing her pant-wedgie further and further up her asscrack during the inevitable family photos that always cap off a family party with these people, I had just about had it.

What are your party pet peeves, faithful blog followers?

5 Reasons Housewives Are Losers

So today I was just sitting here at home, worrying about what kind of cupcakes to bake for my book club Tuesday night, when I logged onto Facebook and saw that one of my friends had attended a Housewife Party last night. Have any of you faithful blog followers heard of these? It’s not like a Tupperware party or playing Bridge with the other gals or whatever. It’s a party where a bunch of arrogant yupsters dress up in the most gaudy housewife garb they can, get drunk, and act like Peg Bundy. Of course none of these people are actually housewives. And these are also the same people that say they couldn’t find any meaning in their lives were they to just be married and have kids.

As I sat here in my leopard printed stretchie pants, looking through these photographs, I have to admit that I was somewhat hurt. This isn’t the first time a friend has attended one of these. And now I’m just wondering if these people can really be called “friends” when they are so arrogant and judgmental.

But the way a housewife dresses isn’t just what makes her a loser; an underbelly of society in these people’s eyes. In my experience there are really five main features of a housewife that make her such a waste of space, a drain on the world’s resources – at least in the minds of the anti-housewives.

Reason #1 Housewives Are Losers: We Dress For Comfort

Yes, the first is about the way we dress. 9 days out of 10, we dress for comfort. So that does mean we often dress ala Peg Bundy. Stretch pants. Comfy tops. Sweaters. Just yesterday I bought myself some leopard printed stretch pants and they are probably the most comfortable pair of pants I own. My favorite outfit is just that – stretchie pants with a dress or tunic and a cardigan sweater. Or we go with yoga pants.

Do you know why we dress for comfort though, rather than cuteness (and, by the way, most of the time we look cute in our comfort)? Because we aren’t sitting at a desk all day. We aren’t processing on a computer or sitting in comfortable meeting room chairs. We aren’t spending our lunch hours in fancy restaurants – we don’t even get lunch hours. Wearing uncomfortable heels for 12 hours of vacuuming, folding laundry, and corralling the children would hurt.

Reason #2 Housewives Are Losers: We Are Immersed in Contemporary Culture

I don’t mean that we’re cool and hip and we dress like yupsters, riding our bikes tandem around Coachella while listening to the musical stylings of Pitchfork on our iPods and shit. I mean that we are more aware of what is going on in contemporary culture on the whole because we’re home for it 24/7.

We listen to AM radio and watch talk shows during the day. We read the news and we read books that are new and popular, because we have the time to. We join book clubs. This morning I realized that my own intellectualism has been debased a little bit because I was reading an article on the Google News Aggregate about Snookie giving birth to her devil spawn early this morning. But then I realized that at least I’m reading, which is more than I can say for a lot of people I know with successful careers. Some of them haven’t cracked a book, magazine, or newspaper since college, and don’t plan on it. It’s a personal choice that everyone has to make for themselves, but I see the added awareness of the world and contemporary culture a plus.

If anything, it gives us more to talk about at a party, other than the most annoying dinner party conversation ever: how our jobs are going.

Reason #3 Housewives Are Losers: We Are Meaningless Realists

Perhaps the most glaring thing about housewives is that we are realists. We are in the real world. We don’t have any pie-in-the-sky dreams of saving the world with our two-bit jobs as a secretaries at the local power plant. We don’t have any idealism that we will cure cancer or stop global warming or end world hunger. It isn’t to say that these notions are bad things to have, in fact the world needs people with these notions to work at least a little bit closer to them; it’s just to say that as housewives we keep our lives and those of us around us in a little bit of perspective.

What this means, though, is that people sometimes call our realism “negativity.” “Oh, you can make a change; you can make a difference!” Sure, I can recycle or raise money for a cause or go out and vote for every election, but realistically speaking there is only so much one person can do. If people want to have an idealism; want to stay away from realistic negativity, that is fine. But just because someone has a job and a vague sense of meaning in their lives does not mean they are the next Steve Jobs or Neil Armstrong; and most importantly it does not mean that our jobs as housewives are unimportant and meaningless either.

Reason #4 Housewives Are Losers: We Worry All the Time

As I mentioned before, I was worrying about baking cupcakes for my book club on Tuesday night. The reason why I was worrying was actually just because it’s been so hot out lately that running the oven is not something I particularly feel like doing. But you see, as housewives we over think and worry about everything.

Sometimes my former self – the young woman in graduate school on her way to a Ph.D. in philosophy and successful teaching career – rears her ugly head and says to me “is this all you have to worry about? Jesus, get a life!” But then I start to think about why I worry about things like cupcakes, vacuuming, cleaning the toilets, what to make for dinner, and so on: because they are a part of my job as wife and mother. Not to sound corny or anything, but I place as much importance and value on my job as any other person in the adult world. Now not all housewives worry about everything that I do, but I can say with certainty that the majority of us do. This makes it even more hurtful for someone to say a housewife doesn’t have a care in the world. Because while your care in the world may be an 8 to 5 kind of care, a housewive’s is 24/7.

Reason #5 Housewives Are Losers: We’re Online A Lot

… but are also clueless technologically.

As a housewife – especially one with kids – life can be a little bit isolating. We don’t get to go to a central location with other human beings every day. Sometimes we have play dates or extra-curriculars, but a lot of the time we have is spent alone. So we go online and interact with blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

On the flip side, we aren’t necessarily equipped with work-sponsored laptops, Blackberries, and other new technologies. While we understand Facebook and how to do our blogs (those of us that have one, that is), we don’t necessarily understand all the other social media and equipment that is out there now. And you won’t often find housewives checking their email while out to lunch with friends, or standing in a group of people completely oblivious to each other because they are too absorbed by their smartphones.

What I always find to be ridiculous, though, is when people judge a housewife because she spends time online every day; simply because those that do that are the same people that can’t go an entire meal without checking their work email. That can’t have a conversation without interrupting it for a phone call or a text message. How are these things any different from each other?

So you can see, I don’t actually believe that housewives are losers. I am one, why would I? Okay, sometimes I believe I am a loser, but that’s more my former self rearing her ugly head again. I guess the real point is that before judging what another person does, we should all consider that there may be meaning and value in it, and that everyone defines that for themselves. And for God’s sakes, if anyone invites you to a Housewife Party – graciously decline. They’re just rude and arrogant.