To The Mom That Doesn’t Want To Be Told She’s “Lucky” For Having a Husband That Helps Out Around The House

Alternative Title: To The Mom That Doesn’t Want What Her Husband Does To Be Called “Helping”

Third Rendition: To The Guy Who Feels He Should Receive Zero Praise For Changing Diapers (Yet Still Posts About It Incessantly On Social Media)

I added those alternative titles in there just so we don’t get hung up on any semantics and lose our critical audience.

Sometimes when I read things on the Internet, I worry for my own health. Like: can you hurt yourself when your eyes roll so far back into your head that you see your brain?

Is it possible to have a stroke from just looking at dumb things that show up in your Facebook feed?

Last week I saw a doozy of an article, written by a woman that had just had it UP TO HERE with people telling her she’s “lucky” for having a husband that helps out around the house.

Upon reading it, I almost swallowed my tongue in disgust.

Her premise, which does make sense on some level, was that their home is equally his home, just as their children are equally theirs. So taking care of all of it is, presumably, just as much of a responsibility of his as it is hers.

It sounded, frankly, like the most entitled and ungrateful thing I had ever read.

I constantly see people rally behind that sentiment among my own, personal friend’s list. Every Sarah, Janet, and Cindy that I know has – at one time or another – posted a lengthy Facebook rant about how it isn’t “helping” when it’s your own child’s laundry you are folding. [Insert another brain-viewing eye roll].

Joining with them are the handful of men I know from high school and college that now pat themselves high key hard on their own backs for doing the most basic of things, while hard core lecturing everyone else for acknowledging it.

The point is well taken at this juncture: men and women are supposed to be equals, the result of which is that the work should be divided just as that. Equally.

But it’s like we can’t just do things for or with each other and be grateful anymore without offending people.

Or lament your own situation without getting a lecture from some hippy carrying a Dude Bag (the hallmark of fragile masculinity, as I see it…carry the diapers in a Vons bag in the fucking glove compartment like the rest of us).

Now we have to ban words from our vocabulary when it comes to adult-y type things like cleaning the house and changing poopie diapers.

Proponents of this current trend towards word fascism argue that to say that a woman is “lucky” or “fortunate” because her husband “helps” is to say that the work is not just as much a responsibility his as it is hers.

Hives are breaking out on my arms just thinking about this.

Expressing gratitude or acknowledgement of a person’s given fortune does not in turn deny anything.

Initially – like years ago – I agreed with the sentiment. I thought for sure it would begin a change in paradigm when it comes to household responsibility if we start to reframe the way we say things. I would say things to my husband like “no, you aren’t helping me with the dishes, those are just as much your dishes as they are mine to wash.” Or at family parties I would say: “it isn’t babysitting when they are your own children.”

I can feel my stomach churning every time my Facebook soap box sermons show up in my “on this day” memories posts.

Guess what happened? Very little in the way of a paradigm shift.

Also, I sounded like a pretentious and ungrateful bitch.

This isn’t to say that my husband does much in the way of anything when it comes to our home and raising the kids worthy of praise anyway (there I go being an ungrateful bitch again, but really now…). You could call it helping or you could call it doing his fair share, the bottom line is he doesn’t do it.

And he would be in the statistical majority of men that just don’t. Banning words from the colloquial vocabulary doesn’t change that.

It is because I fly the ship solo when it comes to our home and kids that I feel I can say with some authority that women whose husbands do stuff around the house AND help with the kids, ALL while bringing in a decent salary AND also being good husbands (because these things are not, and will never be, mutually exclusive), need to accept the praise from others, and be grateful.

Honestly.

Be grateful.

Be grateful that you have a partner in life, not a roommate. A lot of women in this world have roommates and it fucking sucks. They would give anything to have a man that does dishes or picks the kids up from soccer practice, reliably, and with no consequences.

Recognize how fortunate you are that a man didn’t skate town when the pregnancy test came up positive, or that your husband didn’t come into hard times and now finds himself in prison, with you holding the bag for everything.

Be grateful that you didn’t wake up one day to a stranger in your bed. You woke up to the same man he’s always been, and he’s downstairs vacuuming.

Thank. You. Goes. A. Long. Way. In both directions.

Be grateful that you aren’t in the statistical majority of women who, even if you work full time and bring in an equal or greater income, still come home and do the majority of the house work and child rearing.

Be grateful if you are a stay at home mom and your husband still recognizes how much you really do every day, above and beyond what anyone could ever imagine.

And if you are a man that is taking on his equal share of the responsibility, take the compliment. You earned it. It does not hurt your ego or your place in the world one bit to smile and remember that you are a statistical anomaly.

It also does not change that statistic to lecture people about your role as Dad or post video after video after video with captions a mile long about how you do your part and don’t appreciate people implying that you shouldn’t be when they say you are a “good man.”

I guess the critical part of the equation is that this isn’t really a part of feeling like you really hit the jack pot as a woman, or like you are taking a stand as a man in the 21st century, so much as it is just being a good person in a mutually respecting relationship. Wife does laundry, husband thanks her. Husband changes diapers, wife say she’s fortunate to have a man like him.

Seems pretty basic.

Women unequivocally continue to be the main providers of care to the home and children, in spite of the word fascism growing over the years.

To deny the anomaly of a man that does his fair share is not only factually wrong, it is taking the situation and fortune of it for granted.

We live in a weird time. I say that for many many, many …many reasons. But this time it is because somehow we seem to have misunderstood what it is to change the way people view responsibility.

Banning words won’t change who our culture believes should run the household. Modeling it for our children over an incredibly long time, and acknowledging the ones who are doing things right along the way, will.

So, to the mom that doesn’t want to be told she’s “lucky” for having a husband that helps out around the house: suck it up. Stop being ungrateful, and take the comment in stride. You are fortunate. You are a rarity. Your husband is a real man. It’s OK to acknowledge that. I’m certain he will still put the dishes away and maybe change all the diapers that night too; do more than his half of the work because sometimes that’s just what people do.






Dinner For One

Valentine’s Day is this week. ARE YOU READY?

Someone said this to me today when I was picking up my kids from tennis. I smiled and nodded, and said “what about you?!”

In reality, I should have said “Dafuq? Ready for WHAT?”

Valentine’s Day, traditionally, is a huge disappointment for me. Most years, my husband is at work. Since he works nights, that means my idea of a sexy weeknight outfit is stained yoga pants and my MOM AF t-shirt with a gaping hole under the left armpit, and last week’s spilled rice still stuck to the chest.

There’s also the simple fact that I don’t particularly give a shit about commercial holidays, Valentine’s Day being one of them.

I guess my disappointment actually comes from the fact that I feel like I’m expected to care – a lot – about the vacuous, mundane celebration of love, when in actuality I just don’t. Sorry! I don’t.

I get weary of always feeling like I have to explain or answer to people just why I am the way I am, or of having to justify my feelings. I don’t owe anyone anything, including – and especially – an explanation of who I am. Yet still, I have an entire deck of excuse cards, always ready to pull out for why I don’t what others do.

And as with many commercialized holidays, there is also the obvious: why do I need a special day to remember or honor or celebrate something I should be doing *every day?*

[Cue the high horse.]

This isn’t to be confused with the celebration of Valentine’s Day with my kids. I am all over that shit. Any opportunity to use colloquialisms and special events to teach them how to show people that you love or care for them, I’m all for it.

What I do for Valentine’s Day with my kids is pretty basic, too. I buy a gift bag for each of them, and slowly – over the course of about a month – fill it with things I see while I’m out that make me think of them, know they’ll like, or that I think they need. When the bag is full, it gets topped off with tissue paper and, vóila.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, I make our meals V-Day themed. Because it’s fucking cute.

As the years go by, and my kids get older, though, they become less and less impressed with the commercialism of it as well. That, I believe, is in large part due to the fact that you can’t go anywhere without the holiday being shoved down your throat.

Honestly, CVS: I’m looking at you.

I’m trying to then gear it more towards teaching them to give gifts that have personal meaning. An old necklace I had to pass on, a card that’s just silly, or something I saw while out that was only $1 but made me think of them. Arguably the most commercial of all holidays, Valentine’s Day seems an opportune time to teach gift giving sans commercialism.

So when I first met my husband, it was just before Valentine’s Day, and I will never forget his rant about how much he loathed the material aspect of it all (ironic given my husband’s propensity to acquire stuff, but we’ll save that for another post)…

Being the late stage millennial hipster that I am, and not knowing how much of a hoarder of things he really was yet, I ate that shit up. Ate it with a spoon.

I, too, had a deep disdain for The Man, and all of the ceremonious, faux holidays that came with it! What a match we were – we had so much in common philosophically!

That year, on Valentine’s Day, we agreed that we would hang out anyway and not be – like – romantic. But we were planning to hang out anyway, and it just happened to be Valentine’s Day, and we had to eat so we should probably cook too. Definitely not a Valentine’s Day thing though because fuck The Man.

[Cue the second face.]

(A little side anecdote for you guys: having also had a conversation about how my unbeknownst husband-to-be had never had Macaroni and Cheese with BBQ sauce mixed into it before; I, trying to be coquettish, said “well I’ll just make it for you on Valentine’s Day then.” We did hang out that day and made mac and cheese. And if you guys really want to know how intolerable this whole thing became, when I showed up he said he thought it would be REALLY ARTISANAL if we added some red onion and FAKEN BACON, which he had pre chopped just assuming I would be fine with such a culinary abomination, quite obviously a portends to what was to come in our marriage no doubt. I know, you guys… I know…)

Anyway, so then we got married and suddenly it was like: okay yeah, but married people do Valentine’s Day, and they like it. So we thought: well, shit, if other people do it and like it, we probably should too.

The first year, we went on a fucking gondola ride in the swampy canals of Long Beach. Name me something more cliche to do on Valentine’s Day than that, I’ll wait…

[Cue the crickets.]

To this day, it remains to have been the most uncomfortable and awkward two hours of my life. I mean the boat was cool and all, but the guy doing the paddling sang while looking directly into our eyes, with a really weird I’m-borderline-sexual-about-this-song-and-paddling-gig, then turned and said he would “give us privacy.” All the while, dirt bags and homeless people were hanging out along the canal waterfront; one guy so drunk he repeatedly belched, seemingly in tune with our gondola guide’s song, which at that point had turned into something of a rhythmic, hip-thrusting chant. Towards the end, a lady and man in matching tight-fitting speedos and muscle shirts paddle-boarded past us, screaming at each other.

For years, we tried. Well, I tried. Or at least, tried to get on board. My husband always got home from work super late, pretending to be all stressed out because he got “stuck in traffic” (he had really just worked late like he always does). I would make a romantic meal, or I actually put on makeup for once, and then I would sit there – the doting wife – tapping my toe while I waited for him to get home.

It was so ridiculous.

One year we went out to a Japanese restaurant and I ordered this sautéed edamame dish that was so goddamned good I basically woofed it down like a pig with a feed bag on her face.

The next year, I saw a Groupon for a pearl necklace and was convinced that I needed those pearls. So my husband got them for me, but there was also a big Lakers game on that night so he threw them in my general direction as he made a beeline for the TV to turn on the game.

Then he started working overnights, and Valentine’s Day sort of just faded away.

I’m certain he has gotten me cards, either at CVS or one he printed off the Internet, typed message and all, since then. But every year it has been less and less of an effort. This year, I am firmly expecting not even an acknowledgment of the day.

To be honest, it has been a relief. That is, until I started feeling like people wanted an explanation as to why we didn’t celebrate as ostensively as possible.

The other day, we were celebrating my oldest daughter’s fifteenth birthday, and the topic of the swiftly approaching Valentine’s Day came up. Everyone was talking about their plans.

I was talking about my kids.

People were saying they had dinner reservations (for two), had special gifts coming in the mail, and my mother in law even said she and my father in law would be going on a boat cruise.

I said I would be making a cutesy dessert for my kids that night, and/or leaving them at home and making a dinner reservation for one since my husband will – obviously – be working. I was mostly joking; the truth was I would do the dessert and then binge watch You on Netflix (assuming I don’t finish the season beforehand).

In response, I got all these pity kind of faces. Like oh poor you, you’ll be so lonely, so sad, and so on.

Normally, I would start up my canned speech about how commercial and material Valentine’s Day is. I would blather on about the “why do I need a holiday to do what I already should be doing” sanctimonious speech I always give. And I would start up all the excuses I could fathom for why my husband and I ain’t doing shit at all.

This time, I didn’t go down that road, though. I just said: “I love myself enough to not need all of that.”

It cleared the room, and it’s true.

I don’t need my husband to buy me flowers (I buy them for myself), or candy (my tastes in candy change frequently, so it’s better that I pick out my own anyway). Cards are nice, but a couple of words in passing are just as good. I don’t need the fancy dinners and the boat rides and the romantic walks and the wine tasting limo rides to feel good about my place in my relationship and, more importantly, my life.

That may not be the case for everyone, but I think every relationship is different. For me and my husband’s, it works. And I’m done explaining it away because people just can’t accept that not everyone does what everyone else seems to do.

I’m perfectly happy and in love with my yoga pants and Mom AF t-shirt, stains and all. Don’t like it? Enjoy your gondola ride.


The 6 Stages of Watching Movies With My Husband

My husband works in film. Well, sort of.

He works for a multimedia marketing firm that makes trailers, sizzles, and other promotional materials for upcoming movies (including those dumb, digital billboards you see at the mall). He’s in the Disney division, so basically Disney movies have been forever ruined for us – not that he’s telling us anything (they are pretty crazy about their security); but Disney movies are now usually marred by how many hours of overtime the ad campaigns kept Dad away from home.

So anywho, you all can imagine that watching movies with him is therefore…trying…

There’s all the idiosyncrasies, the technical talk before and after, the “love of the game.” All of this for someone (that being me) who doesn’t give a single fuck about any of it, and moreover thinks the majority of movies made these days are piles of crap.

People tell me that this makes me super unsupportive of my husband’s chosen career. That because I don’t feign an utter love of the industry and films, in general, that this means our marriage is doomed and I’m the worst wife ever. Well beyond the simple fact that I was raised to believe that a job is just a job, and that your real life is actually defined by what you do with your family and for yourself…isn’t it just a little shitty to say that because my husband works in film, that I therefore must change my longstanding feelings and beliefs and just general preferences? That would be like a woman who hates baseball suddenly pretending to love it because her significant other likes the Dodgers.

Sorry, but that’s not how I play the game.

My husband is more than welcome to have his own enjoyments, and I of course support him, and make hearty sacrifices, for him to work in the career he chooses to work in. And in return, I expect the same for me. And whenever I intersect in this whole film thing…well, I try. I really, really try.

I always thought it would get better, or maybe easier; but alas all these years in, it hasn’t. In fact, every time we watch a movie, I go through a process. Sort of like a process of grief, I always make my way through these stages when watching movies with my husband.

Stage One: “Sure, this movie looks OK”

Even when it doesn’t look OK, I think to myself that it does because I need to go in being positive so that I’m not disappointed or angered too soon into the movie-going experience.

I should add that my husband and I watch a lot of movies, so I really try to keep upbeat about it because if I weren’t I’d be annoyed with the movie choice most days of the week.

The problem is that my husband has a very odd taste in film. Usually it’s some fucked up Lars Von Trier shit – and I absolutely cannot stand that guy. Or it’s something like a musical (in fact, we are watching Les Miserables right now, which I’ve seen before and just can’t deal with because I despise Anne Hathaway).

So I go in thinking “sure, this movie looks OK.” Even when it doesn’t. This is basically the denial stage.

Stage Two: “When can I start talking?”

I’m a movie talker. Not at the theater, no way. But at home, I like chatting it up about the movie while it’s going on. It’s just the way I am.

My husband, by contrast, is a silence-during-the-film authoritarian. If I breath too loud he gets upset. When we first started dating, we went to see The Reader in theaters and I sipped my Diet Coke (not even loudly), only to receive the dirtiest look from him I have ever received from another person.

It’s in my nature to banter through the movie, so usually pretty early on I begin to crave it. Like an itch I absolutely have to scratch, I start chomping at the bit to be able to say something – anything – about the movie that happens to be on.

Stage Three: “How did someone come up with this crap?”

To be absolutely fair…not every movie we watch is crap. And, I think I have a really high and strange standard for movies. My friend Jeremy used to make fun of me for how much I disliked basically every movie I watched.

I guess I just have really high standards. Or no patience. Or maybe I’m just not a movie person. I don’t know, but I’d say that 9 times out of 10 – unless we are talking about 80s movies – I get to a point where I wonder how someone even came up with some of these plot lines/stories/characters/whatever.

Stage Four: “Why couldn’t we just watch Uncle Buck again?”

I would be perfectly contented watching the same, ten or so 80s movies over and over again. I could just spend a whole day watching The Money Pit on repeat.

Why my husband is not willing to just do this continues to be beyond me.

Stage Five: “Fuck it, I’m going to talk.”

I’ve given up all hope, we’re usually about halfway through the movie at that point. And this is when I start to get the dirty looks, the sighs, and the attitude.  I typically start off by asking how much longer the movie will last. Then my husband will pause the movie over and over and over and over and over again as I ask questions, which just escalates into me rambling or talking or making the comments I wanted to make much sooner in the film.

Finally, we get to a point where I realize that the length of the movie is only being greatly prolonged by his constant, incessant pausing of the film. So I stop, and I move on to the final stage.

Stage Six: Sleep

I just turn over, lay down on the couch, and go the fuck to sleep. Go. The. Fuck. To. Sleep.

Rarely does my husband even notice that I sleep through the remainder of the movie. In fact, the other day he started asking me if I noticed something in the movie we had watched the night before. “Uh yeah, I was asleep for the entire second half of that one, did you not notice?”

He never notices. Which is perfectly fine by me.

The next day I always wake up, refreshed from my extra sleep yet guilty that I didn’t spend that time reading, and we start the process all over again. Either that night or later in the week. Another lull in our daily lives occurs, and we decide to put on a movie. And my process begins again.

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Toxic People That Are Family Are Still Toxic

There. Someone had to say it.

I’ve written about family issues – generally speaking – on this blog before, and I am sure I’ll write about them again. But when I go through the history of my posts on this issue (the family issue), I can see a change in me as I’ve aged. As I have grown, I have come to realize something very important. Almost profound, at least as far as life and family and every day dealings go for me:

Toxic people that are family are still toxic. And there is nothing that requires you to allow toxicity in your life.

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If You Aren’t Someone’s Cup O’ Tea, Oh the Fuck Well

We have a lot of family issues, probably in part to the fact that we live close by to a lot of family (both on my husband’s as well as my side).

The other part I think is that I’m not many people’s cup o’ tea.

I am honest, and I speak out about injustice. I can be a little loud. I don’t say things like “someone has to say it,” or “I’m just telling it like it is” as an excuse to be a bitch, but at the same time I do speak up and out when I see something that I think is wrong.

And in two families full of work-a-day workers, who wear their busy schedules and hard work days like a fucking medal of honor, my lifestyle of writing into the wee hours, sleeping past 10, painting in my pajamas, reading for at least 3/4 of the day, and subscribing to more shows on Netflix and the DVR than any sane person could find the time to watch, has created – shall we say – a bit of tension.

It isn’t only all of that, though; my husband and I just have much different values than a lot of our family members. We believe in holistic care, my husband’s hair is shoulder length and he has a hippy beard, we homeschool the kids, and I can’t remember the last time I wore a bra. To top it all off: we eat gluten free.

I can’t tell you the last time we attended a family event where people weren’t harping on us about our lifestyle choices. Particularly my husband’s facial hair (I mean really, people, it’s just hair…); and then there’s that whole annual intervention where every single person we know within a 50 mile radius makes it their life’s mission to get us to stop homeschooling the kids (this is usually around the end of summer when the new school year is about to begin).

Of course there will always be the grandmother in the family that harps on the way people dress, or the aunt or uncle who have an opinion on everything. But then there is an innocuous old lady set in her ways, and people who legitimately believe that they have a right to tell you how to live your life. In the latter, the only thing to describe them as is: toxic.

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It’s only recently that I’ve realized, though, that you can’t be everyone’s cup o’ tea. And, that I’d rather be true to myself than someone else just to make people happy.

The Worst Comes Out Of People When You Start Saying “No.”

Especially when it’s hell no, but we don’t say it that way very often.

My husband and I only have ourselves to blame on this one: we used to say “yes” to everything. Ev.er.y.thing. Everything. Even when we lived 50 or so miles away from our respective families, we still would say “yes” to every fucking thing that asked us to do. And our health and relationship paid for it.

Finally, our kids started growing older and getting into more sports, which meant our time was limited. And then my husband started working the night shift at his job, making the “no”s a necessity. We didn’t have the luxury of being able to passively do what everyone else always wanted us to do anymore. Finally we had the reasons we had been looking for all those years to have balance in our lives, the balance we had been craving for so long.

We were going to have to say “no” to some things. A fair amount of things.

It is then when the worst comes out of people. After years of pushing us around and getting us to everything our families wanted us to be at, they have gone down kicking and screaming – in their own ways – since the first time we had to say “no” to something. So much so that now even when we say “yes,” what we say it to is never enough.

Go to a party for a few hours, “but why didn’t you stay longer?”

Have other plans the one day a week we have as a family with no sports and no work for my husband, “you should have cleared your plans with us first.”

This is why setting boundaries with people that have never had any boundaries set on them before is so difficult: they don’t like it, and become completely unreasonable and irrational. Because really, what kind of a person sits by the clock keeping time as to how long you stay at a party, or actually has the gaul to suggest people check with their social schedules before making their own plans? For their own lives.

I’ll tell you what kind: a toxic person.

Toxic People That Are Family Are Still Toxic, and Being Family Does Not Mean You Owe Them Anything

A meme went around the Internet the other day, something to that effect. You do not owe anyone anything, especially toxic people and in particular family that is toxic. Blood relation does not mean that a person has an uninhibited license to treat you like shit. Being someone’s cousin’s cousin or sister-in-law’s mother or even a closer relative, like a brother or a mother – be it by blood, marriage, or another association that makes these people call themselves family – does not predicate any obligation what.so.ever.

Let me be clear: the minute you identify a person as toxic to you, any obligations or shit you owe them (for example: owing someone for giving you life, as I often hear my father say) go out the window. Out the window. Out the fucking window. Out the fucking window and miles away.

You paid your debts to them tenfold just dealing with their toxicity for however long you dealt with it. Even if it was only once and for just a day.

And so for this reason, my husband and I have taken a pledge to our selves and to our kids to cut out all the toxic shit we have dealt with for so long. People want to say nasty things, be nasty people, and act in nasty ways? Well they will be flushed out with all the other nasty toxic shit that gets flushed out of our lives on a daily basis. We don’t owe anyone anything, especially our happiness and senses of self worth. And our kids deserve to be surrounded by good people, or else that cycle of being surrounded by bad ones will just continue.

I’m not saying that everyone in my or my husband’s families are toxic; and honestly this post isn’t about us or them or a particular incident. I’ve only been thinking about this lately because I’m just so tired of being mad at myself for letting people treat us, and me, in ways that I would never treat someone else. And I’m even more tired of seeing and hearing people overlook bad behavior for the sake of the family. What about the sake of the self? Does that not matter anymore?

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I Don’t Care About 3D Mascara, Jamberry Nails, Facials, ITWorks Wraps, or Beach Bodies

That may sound a little harsh.

i-dont-always-do-my-hair-makeup-but-when-i-do-i-make-sure-to-post-it-on-facebook-d8951Of course I care about mascara, I wear it often enough to. Not often enough to obsessively buy your Younique 3D lash mascara that comes out with something new every two months. Not often enough to suddenly abandon my go-to make up brands for the occasional times that I wear a full face-worth of the stuff. As though Benefit and Smashbox weren’t good to me all these years. As though because someone I once knew of in high school selling Mary Kay cosmetics or Younique fiber lashes is going to erase all of my previous and perfectly acceptable experience with Revlon.

And while I definitely like for my nails to be well-kept and nicely polished, I heretofore politely decline any and all invitations to your Jamberry Nail Parties.

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What I don’t give a flying fuck about is getting facials. I’m a stay at home mom and a writer – I can’t afford that bullshit. And anyway, I must have magical skin made out of unicorn puke and Carebear stare juice – because I have literally never considered doing anything other than washing my face with some basic ass soap every morning, followed with some moisturizer I got on Clearance at Target that has an SPF in it. I have no wrinkles. I have no frown lines. I have no cystic acne. My skin does not flake or peel. I am perfectly content with my skin and do not need Rodens + Fields or Nerium or Beauticontrol that all cost a hell of a lot more time and money than my bar of Dove.

I have no interest in wraps, either. Whether ITWorks or not, I don’t fucking care. As I scroll through my Instagram feed and see photo after photo after photo of people’s before and after ITWorks shots – bulbous legs, arms, and bellies suddenly made ultra thin by a piece of miracle saran wrap – I am more compelled to sign off social media altogether than at any other time in my daily social media usage.

That is how much ITWorks annoys me. Be it the photos, or the fact that one person selling ITWorks follows you, and suddenly you’ve got forty-five spammy ITWorks people sending you messages about how you too can sell ITWorks and change people’s lives!

I have a way to change people’s lives and help them get skinny: eat a fucking apple and get off the couch.

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The newest thing showing up in my Instagram and my Facebook and my Twitter and my email and in just daily life is the Piyo. The 21 Day Fix. The Beachbody. The Shakeology. I don’t know if these are all the same thing, or if they’re different, but I do know one thing: you people drank the Kool-Aid. Drank it. Drank that shit right up, probably out of your Shakeology blender while posting thirty selfies of your post-work out sweat.

I do not begrudge anyone getting in shape. I do not hate people eating healthy.

What I can’t stand is when they’re shoving it down my throat, trying to force me to drink their Kool-Aid too. What I do begrudge are the people suddenly becoming Beachbody consultants – or whatever the fuck they are – and making a little fan page on Facebook and asking me to “like” it, when just a few, short years ago NONE OF THEM would “like” my fan page for my WRITING CAREER.

I am like an elephant – I have an exquisite memory. When I was doing my undergrad, I worked full time at a pharmacy, and I had a disturbingly uncanny ability to remember all the customers, recognize their voices over the phone, and even some of the details of their medications and insurance claims. The manager of the pharmacy used to say that it was like Cheers: everyone came to our pharmacy, because when they walked in the door I’d always shout “Norm!”

I remember who was supportive of my writing career from the get-go. I still have the unfortunate and recent memories in my mind of all the people who said they don’t read books and don’t like blogs, and don’t “DO” fan pages.

Well guess what? If you were supportive of me, and continue to be supportive of me, I will cheer you on to the end of days as you sip your kale smoothies and make your pastas out of ground up beans, because the 21 Day Fix told you to. I will “like” your fiber lash updates, and politely and quietly just ignore your attempts to sell me make up. I will attend your Jamberry Facebook parties, and even though I won’t buy anything I’ll at least be supportive.

Because I really and truly think that’s what people should be doing for one another – supporting each others’ endeavors, no matter how few fucks they give. That’s what friends and family are for, right?

But just know that deep down I don’t give a shit. My level of shit-giving is currently at -15, and it gets lower with each invite to sell ItWorks or to join a Piyo training session.

Congratulations if you have figured out a way to make some extra money off of your lifestyle choices. Kudos – really! I am genuinely happy for any and all people from my past, my present, or just in general that have been able to balance life, health, happiness, and to earn a little extra cash doing so.

But that doesn’t take away the sting when many of those very people were so unsupportive of my own endeavors just a few short years ago. I’m suddenly expected to jump on board with their shit – which I do, to the extent that I can be supportive without having to buy anything – while they continue to tell me that they don’t “do” blogs or “do” books. But could you give me advice, Heather, about starting a Facebook fan page? Oh and could you make sure to please “like” all of my many weekly Runkeeper updates?

Life and relationships are a two-way street, people; and at the end of each road, you won’t always find a set of Jamberry Nails.

I’m Sorry, Does My Infertility Make You Uncomfortable?

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It has been a well-kept secret that my husband and I cannot (apparently) have any more kids.

I say apparently because nothing has been confirmed beyond that we are both physically capable and healthy. It could just be a matter of timing that will work itself out eventually. And then again, we really could be one of those cases where after thirty things get really complicated in the baby-making department.

These questions would require a fertility specialist to answer, which we still haven’t come to terms with tackling. After three years of planning for the next one.

Nevertheless, as soon as we started revealing little bits and pieces of our well-guarded secret lives, it became overwhelmingly apparent to us just how uncomfortable our infertility issues make people.

There are several reasons why this could be the case.

It Could Be Because I Won’t Tolerate That Everything Happens For A Reason Bullshit

60379074I get it: a lot of people are fatalists. They like to think that everything really does have a reason and a place, and that when bad things happen to good people it’s because God – or whatever they believe in – has a plan.

For a while, I bit my tongue when people said to me that everything happens for a reason, then always, without fail, managed to turn the conversation into being about their own philosophical constitution regarding God’s plan.

Then I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I didn’t get into an argument, or anything like that. I just thought that if I had to listen to some random, drunk family friend I have met twice ramble and stumble over his own feelings about God’s plan and how everything works out in the end; at the very least I could be a part of the conversation. For once. So I said my own belief: that my uterus is in no way a part of God’s plan. That God has more important things to worry about than knocking me up. The conversation ended around there.

Was it something I said?

Maybe It’s Because the More We Open Up, the More I Share

My sister in law just recently had a baby, and my husband’s cousin is now closing in on the final months of her fourth.

Babies and birth and afterbirth and breastfeeding and dropping the baby out your pee hole and episiotomies that cut all the way from the V to the P – and all these delightful topics of conversation – are dominating the convo these days.

So, naturally, as time went on and we were more open about these infertility issues, I figured that it fits in with the general topic of having babies. All the articles say that you feel less isolated if you talk about it anyway, so I thought I’d share some of my own anecdotes.

They went over like a lead balloon.

Apparently, it’s much less uncomfortable to discuss the look and feel of the mucous plug than to hear about the day I peed all over my hand while sleepily taking my ovulation predictor test one morning last month.

I thought it was funny.

I Guess It Could Be Because I’m A Jaded Bitch

I mean, I made this:

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Go ahead and say it: everything happens for a reason, and the reason this whole infertility thing is happening is because I am a real asshole.

I’m Sure A Lot Of It Boils Down To Simply: People Don’t Know What To Say

There are a lot of situations in which people just don’t know what to say. At the news of the sudden death of a loved one by suicide. A divorce of two close friends. Hearing about a miscarriage. Infertility fits in there too – I think.

So I get it, people are uncomfortable because they just don’t know what to say. They don’t know if including you is going to hurt your feelings. Or, on the flip side, if excluding you is going to hurt your feelings. They don’t know if you want condolences or jokes (“you want more kids? Take mine!”) And I’m sure, on some level, it raises insecurities, past experiences, and fears within at least a fair amount of people. Sometimes it’s easier to just avoid the situation altogether.

I have read a lot of articles – countless articles – about what to say and what not to say to someone experiencing infertility issues. The end result of all of them – and I mean all of the articles – is this: you shouldn’t say a goddamned thing except for asking the question “is there anything I can do?”

That means no fatalistic comments about God’s plan.

That means no reminders to be grateful for the family we already have.

And it definitely means no unsolicited advice to just relax.

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I have no idea if this fertility problem is an actual problem; and I also don’t know if we’ll ever find out. What I do know is that there are 6.7 million people in America right now facing the same thing. I can’t be the only one feeling like the elephant in the room.

Life is about sharing your experiences with others. Not all the experiences are positive, upbeat ones. But not all the trials and tribulations need to be swept under the rug either. Moreover, for some people, the only answer to the question “is there anything I can do?” is easy. Let me tell my stories about peeing on my hand during the ovulation prediction test; or about explaining to our 11 year old why she found a bowl of uncooked rice under our bed (according to Eastern medicine, it channels fertile chi – though we didn’t tell her that).

Amidst all the talk about mucous plugs and baby heads crowning, it seems an innocuous way to let me be included, and to make light of an otherwise shitty situation. But then I don’t know if people are going to be able to get over the uncomfortable feeling of hearing about our not-so-successful adventures in expanding our family. I’m not the one who is dealing with a friend or family member suffering from infertility. I’m just living it.

 

Roses Are Red; Violets Are Blue; You Will Die A Terrible, Terrible Death

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If you have been around this blog’s block for a while, then you know I watch The Simpsons daily. I’m talking about reruns – we have roughly half the seasons on DVD and I watch them every night before bed, and also when I inevitably wake up at 3:13(ish) to ponder all of life’s problems. I think what The Simpsons does that no other show has pegged quite so perfectly is make very serious social commentary in a way that even the most unaware person can grasp.

This habit of mine has been going on for years, just the same shows over and over. And over again.

I know what you’re all thinking: my poor husband.

One of my favorite episodes of the show (in truth, they are all my favorite) is when they go to some kind of a fair and Lisa visits a psychic. The psychic starts by telling Lisa “you will die a terrible, terrible death” – but that’s a mistake, then she (the psychic who specializes only in predicting failed relationships) goes on to tell the story of Lisa’s almost-marriage to Hugh, a British snob who won’t wear Homer’s pigs-in-tuxedos cufflinks on the big day.

Fucking genius, eh?

Since the very first time I saw that episode, I have wanted to visit a psychic. I always thought it would be fun, also I have always wondered if it ever ends as dramatically as in Ghost when Whoopi Goldberg hears Patrick Swayze and embarks on the big endeavor to help Demi figure out who killed him. You guys have to admit that kind of shit happening to me would be pretty rad. Right?

I’ve asked and asked, to no avail. I keep saying I want to do it for my birthday – well that’s a stretch, because I don’t even get cake baked by someone other than me on my birthday. I’ve said I want it for Mother’s Day, which is a total waste of my breath. (I’m not even going to go into the type of reception I get for the one day I actually should be celebrated…)

Finally, a few months ago, I all but gave up on my quest to visit a psychic. No one would give it to me for my birthday; I wasn’t going to ever spend the money to do it myself if everyone else thought it was uncool … my future would just have to remain untold.

1505276_725035416603_1099103144_nThen this evening, we were exchanging Valentine’s Day gifts. We already started over the weekend – my husband of course works tomorrow, and he works in the city (about 50 miles away) so typically on Valentine’s Day he gets home late as a result of holiday traffic. A few years ago, he got home so late we couldn’t even go out for the dinner we planned on going to; last year he didn’t get home until about 9 – my daughter yelling “she is so mad, her boobs are sweating” as he came storming in the door. Before this evening, he had already gotten his I -heart- Dad mug, and all the kiddie things had been dispersed.

But what still remained was my gift to him, and his gift to me.

Having all but given up on gifts and my husband years ago, I basically just went out and bought him some baked goods. A piece of bread pudding. A piece of New York cheese cake. Some chocolate-covered strawberries. Then I put them all in a nice, heart-shaped box and felt kind of shitty today, so got take out for dinner which meant I made him no lunch for tomorrow. So when gift exchange came, I gave him the box and called it his Valentine’s Day gift-slash-Friday lunch.

If you’re thinking at this point that I’m winning at this game of being a housewife and Stay At Home Mom, you would be correct (not really). I do everything just about as half-assed as this whole Valentine’s Day thing.

Anyway, I opened his card, and to my amazement something so wonderful and amazing was contained within it. I was – almost – speechless.

He got me a gift card to visit the Psychic of the Stars.

This is the kind of gift that vindicates him for all of his peeing on the side and back of the toilet; the crumbs on the counter and beard hairs in the bathroom sink; for being a jerk when he should be loving and working way more hours than anyone with a family ever should.

Vindicates him for a short time, that is.

So what will my psychic reading say? Or should I do tarot cards? (Apparently I can use the gift card for either.) Will she say I will die a terrible, terrible death? Or will Whoopi Goldberg hear a ghost following me around, then we’ll embark on an epic adventure along the lines of Ghost (only I’m not kissing Whoopi like Demi did)?

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