25 Alternative Facts of Parenthood

pinocchio1I’m no politician, but I know a fancy phrase for bullshit when I see one.  It doesn’t bode well when you’re the actual advisor to the President of the United States of America. But as a parent? Let’s just say there hasn’t been a better made-up word since “threenager.”

When you have kids, lying becomes second nature. No one is saying you’re proud of it, but it’s true. The older your kids get, the more quickly you can come up with the perfect line of bullshit to suit every situation. Few parents will make it through their kids’ childhood without crafting a few necessary “alternative facts” here and there. I like to think of it as a survival tactic. So to celebrate my new favorite expression, I thought I’d share some of my favorite alternative facts of parenthood.
“The elf is watching everything you do and Santa is leaving you nothing!”

“No I’m not on Facebook, I’m fact checking your homework assignment.”

“What’s wine? This is grape juice.”

“Daddy was just in the bed checking mommy’s legs for tick bites.”

“Caillou isn’t on today. Actually, they cancelled it. Forever. Ditto for Max and Ruby.”

“Only grownups are allowed in the restaurant on date night.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“If you call 911 when there is no emergency, the police will come and take you to jail.”

“I LOVED doing homework as a kid.”

“Wow! That is the prettiest stick figure I’ve ever seen!”

“It doesn’t matter if you win or lose — as long as you had fun!”

“Your face will freeze like that” (technically this is true because I’ll snap a pic and share it on Instagram, where it will remain frozen forever).

“Sure, I’d love for you to help me cook dinner.”

“No, I don’t mind waiting (an eternity) while you button your own coat.”

“My kid will NEVER get away with (insert literally any offense at all) when he/she is a teenager.”

“It gets easier after the terrible twos.”

(To your spouse after being home with the kids all day) “I’m just gonna take a fast shower, be out in a few minutes.”

“I’m ONLY going to Target for diapers.”

“My Costco bill will be under $300 today.”

“I don’t have a favorite kid.”

“You’re never watching YouTube again!”

“Sure, I want to see your Minecraft house.”

“I missed you guys so much while you were in school today!”

“Yes, you can cut your finger off with a butter knife.” (also technically true, right Uncle Mike?)

“You can only use your tablet for ONE hour today.”

What are some of your favorite alternative facts in parenting?

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It’s About Time

time

I just came across this on a lovely friend’s Facebook page and man, it hit me right in the feels.

Go ahead, read it. Then read it again, take it in.

Ugh, right?

Time. The only truly constant aspect of all of our lives. It’s the one thing we all share. No matter who we are or what we are doing, time is always, always passing us by.

Some of us are wishing for more time.

Hell, I want at least six or seven more hours in the day. I want to stop running late for every appointment, party, play date, and errand on my calendar. I want to tack on an extra hour between my first alarm and second snooze in the morning. I want to add an extra hour before it’s time to get the kids from school. Girls’ night out needs to be at least two hours longer to make up for how rarely I actually attend one.

Some of us want to freeze time.

I’m watching my kids grow so quickly it breaks my heart. My oldest turns nine this year. NINE. Almost into the double digits. He’s getting smarter and more mature every day, and I swear he grows at least six inches in his sleep every night. But he still gives me a huge hug every day when I pick him up from school, despite his friends being fully able to see, and it’s a reminder that he’ll be my baby boy forever (even when he towers over mommy like most boys eventually do).

My youngest said goodbye to toddlerhood a few years ago, along with her chubby cheeks and baby curls. But when she laughs really hard, the giggles still come straight from her belly like they did when she could barely talk, and the sound makes me weak with love for her.

I know her belly laughs are as numbered as his afterschool hugs; I just don’t know how many I have left. I never know when the last one is coming, so I cherish each one as though there will be no more.  In my own, way I freeze time.

Some of us are wishing time away.

I remember waiting impatiently for my husband to come home from Iraq and meet our newborn son, and I admit I wished away the first three months of his tiny life. Who could blame me?

I wished away two pregnancies like any normal bloated, exhausted, aching woman carrying the equivalent of a small watermelon in her uterus would. But that was still 18 months of my life I watched swirl down the one-way drain of time.

When I was a stay-at-home-mom, I spent half the day staring at the clock, wishing away hour after hour until my husband came home to save me from the endless pit of loneliness and boredom. I measured time in TV shows: 8am Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, 11am Dino Dan, 1pm Day of Our Lives. By the time Dr. Phil came on I knew I was almost there. Tick tock, tick tock.

Time connects us all. It’s as though the earth is nothing more than a giant hourglass and we’re all just one single grain of sand making our way from the top to the bottom, birth to death. You can love or hate the people around you, but they’re merely sand like you, passing time all the same.

Some of us are running out of time. My parents are always telling me they are “in the September of their lives.” It sounds so depressing, right? But I get it. We are all getting older, we know our time is limited. We’re all just one cancer diagnosis or terrifying car crash or sudden heart attack away from the bottom of the hourglass.

Some of us are even wasting time, which is perhaps the biggest tragedy of all. In the wrong profession. The wrong location. The wrong marriage. The wrong state of mind. We waste time for a thousand different reasons, but none of them are really justified.

Because if there’s one thing being a slave to time has made me realize, it’s that time doesn’t really matter at all—hell, it doesn’t even exist. Whether you’re running out of time, hoping for more time, freezing time, wasting time, wishing time away – it doesn’t matter. All that matters is what you do with the time you have. The places you go, the people you meet, the friends you make, the love you share, the family you have.

It’s not about the time you have. It’s about the times you make.

Enough with Slut Shaming Women on Halloween

harley-quinn-bodysuitI don’t dress up for Halloween. I didn’t as a child and I don’t as an adult. I have this one sweater with orange stripes that I inadvertently wear every year on Halloween, because that’s about as “festive” as it gets for a lazy person like me.

I’ve never dressed as a “slutty” version of anything (except maybe of myself, when I find shirts that are particularly flattering in the cleavage area because, you know, if you got it….).

I have nothing at all against dressing up, honestly. I’m just not a big Halloween person. I typically exhaust all of my Halloween energy on my kids in their yearly conquest for the coolest costume, annual obligatory pumpkin picking and carving activities, and of course, the extensive trick-or-treating sessions that seem to yield higher mountains of candy with each passing year. By November 1, I’m wiped out. And it’s basically already Christmas. So ain’t nobody got time for grownup costumes.

But I admire those parents with that Halloween gusto, the festive few who power on through Party City past the kids’ costumes, sparing some extra energy to find Tinkerbell in  an adult size or to piece together some hilariously horrifying murder victim ensemble, complete with a rubber butcher knife to the throat and enough corn syrup to bake 50 red velvet cakes (nope, no clue if corn syrup is even an ingredient in red velvet – or any – cake, but you get my point).

I even experience a bit of costume envy on Halloween weekend (typically the debauchery-ridden Friday and/or Saturday night closest to October 31). I sit on my couch in my pj’s, wine in hand, chuckling as I scroll through my social media feeds, ooh-ing and ahhing over the clever couples, the Jokers and Harleys, the peanut butters and jellies, the zombies and vampires, the Trumps and Hillarys, momentarily wishing I wasn’t such a lazy bum and swearing I’ll do it next year because, really, it looks very fun. I even have my costume already selected (a lifelong Nightmare Before Christmas fan, I’ve been dreaming of a Jack & Sally costume since I was 12 — I just hope not to fail as epically at Halloween as Jack did at Christmas).

Quite frankly, who wouldn’t want to be somebody else for one night? Hell, I want to be someone else 365 days of the year. Seriously, can I just climb out of my own skin and find a host body with a flat stomach, a knack for organization, and a husband who cooks? Is there a Halloween costume for that?

I have no problem with any adult’s choice of costume for Halloween, and neither should anyone else.

Yet inevitably every year, judgy people take to Facebook with their cyber pitchforks, bitching and moaning over all the scantily clad kittens, mermaids, and comic book characters who opted against a sweaty full-body costume. The audacity of these women! Showing a little skin on the ONE day of the year it is (or used to be) socially permittable to do so. As though every woman should just show up to the party in a giant paper bag with a stick figure drawing of her costume on it.

No one wants to be a tired mom for Halloween (well except for this little girl, who NAILED IT). We walk around in coffee-stained sweats, covered in toddler boogers, smelling like cooked casserole, hair messily pulled into in some pathetic excuse for a bun, undereye circles for days. We’re at a point in our lives where we can’t help but inwardly smile at catcalls from a construction workers and secretly envy the mom at school who wears heels to pick up her kids and looks like she actually has her shit together.

There’s barely enough time in the day to make sure our socks match, never mind to slap on a coat of makeup before heading out the door.

So if a woman wants to feel sexy in her own skin; if she wants to take some extra time to look as attractive as she deserves to feel; if maybe, just mayyyybe, it’ll bump up her often-bruised self-esteem, then I say let her be. If you’re dressed as “tired mom” 364 days a year and you want to be a slutty fucking cat for one night, then you should be able to do so without being judged. Because underneath those faded Old Navy pajamas, you’re a hottie and you damn well know it.

I speak for tired moms everywhere when I say, don those “slutty” costumes and enjoy the attention. For once, look in the mirror and smile at what you see. Tomorrow it’s back to stained sweats at soccer practice but for tonight, go be the sluttiest damn leopard in the animal kingdom. You deserve it.

In fact, I’m speaking for all women — with kids, without kids, in your twenties, forties, sixties, whatever. I’m speaking for all of us.

As women, we have so many reasons to feel bad about ourselves. We’re fat-shamed, skinny-shamed, our hair is too short, our teeth are too big, our breasts aren’t covered, our roots are showing, eyebrows not waxed, jeez, the list could go on literally forever. And what’s truly sad is that often, we’re our own biggest critics. When you are your own biggest enemy, the last thing you need is to be harshly judged by somebody else. Moreover, when something makes you feel beautiful, you should always embrace it. And don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it, ever.

This notion that women should be shamed for wearing something sexy on Halloween is total bullshit. Women should be allowed to wear ANYTHING THEY FUCKING WANT, any day of the year. If it makes you feel good, then that is all that matters.

Like they say, haters gonna hate. Don’t be one of them. And don’t let ’em get to you, either.

You’re Stronger Than You Think

hands

“Mommy I’m scared. I can’t breathe.”

You never want to hear your child say that to you. And when my four-year-old daughter recently said it to me one night around 2am when her cough went from 0-60 out of nowhere, I didn’t waste a second getting her to the emergency room.

This isn’t going to be the kind of thing where I pat myself on the back for getting my kid the medical attention she needed one scary night just in the nick of time. It’s a fairly basic requirement to keep your kid alive and I did what any normal parent would do in the situation. In fact, I spent the following seven hours pacing nervously around her hospital room, mentally berating myself for all the things I may have done wrong that, in my frazzled state, I thought may have landed her in that room in the first place.

You see, I’m THAT mom. The one who thinks the worst, all the time. The one who worries, who panics, who overthinks and overreacts. I know, I know. We’re parents, we all do that. But when the shit hits the fan, I retreat back into my shell like a terrified turtle — frozen, shaking, crying, feeling sick to my stomach and envisioning every worst-case scenario on earth.

Maybe this is you too. Maybe you’re a worrier, a crier, a freaker-outer like me. Maybe not by nature, but when it comes to your kids at least. Maybe you also often wonder how quickly your legs would turn to jello and your lunch would come back up if your world were to suddenly fall apart at the seams. If so, maybe now I can offer you some hope.

I drove as fast as the gas pedal would allow, flying past red light after red light, one eye glued to the road and the other to my daughter strapped into her car seat behind me. Finally at the ER, we sat for a minute and waited for a nurse while my baby cried and clung to my shoulders, calling out for me in between her tiny gasps for air. I could feel my body trembling from the inside, felt the desperate sobs gathering at back of my throat and the tears welling forcefully under my eyelids. I felt myself breaking down.

This is the moment you are not prepared for as a parent, should you ever find yourself in this situation. This is something you will not learn to handle in a parenting class or a self-help book. This is that make-or-break moment when you are faced with a choice. You can choose to fall apart in this moment, let your anxiety win, let the terror wash over you and just lose your mind completely. 

Or this is the moment you quickly realize there is no choice to be made, and that there never really was. And I promise you, you won’t fall apart. No, instead you will be hypnotized by the adrenaline. Your mommy autopilot will kick in. You’ll push that terror so far back inside that you may never see it again. You’ll put on the bravest face you can muster for your child and you WILL power through it. You got this, mama. 

So in perhaps the strongest moment of my entire life, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and shook it all off. I held my little girl in my arms as tightly as I could and I swore to her that she was going to be absolutely, positively fine. Inwardly, I made the same promise to myself.

If you’re the type who is normally good under pressure, this probably isn’t as big of a deal to you as it seems to me. But in that moment, I will never forget the way I looked fear dead in the face and told it to fuck off. For just a little while, for my sweet, scared baby girl, I was her superhero. I didn’t recognize myself, overcome by this sudden strength I never knew I was capable of. I’m grateful for it, and I sleep a little better now knowing I had that cape all along, tucked away and waiting for the day I’d need to put it on. I really hope I never need it again, but if I do at least I know it’s there.

In case you’re wondering, my daughter is perfectly fine now. I may have kept her calm, but her amazing nurses and doctors kept her alive. I can’t thank them enough.

Five Things I Need in a Bestie

Bestie goals.

So I haven’t posted a new blog in over six months. Why? Well, I won’t bore you with details, but mostly because life. Because stress. Because marriage. Because work. Because 4-year-olds. Because 8-year-olds. Because writers block. Because summer. Because back to school.

Speaking of back to school, my daughter just started kindergarten at the school where my son is currently starting third grade.

If you read my most recent blog post, aptly titled People think I’m a Bitch, you may already know that I’ve struck out pretty hard when it comes to snagging some new mom friends from my son’s class. Apparently hiding behind trees to avoid social interactions does not win you any points in the new friend department. But I’ve decided to turn over a new leaf with my daughters class this year. I’ve been given a second chance with these mamas and this time I won’t screw it up. Heck, I’m already planning my future blog entry titled “People Think I Couldn’t Be More Fucking Awesome.” I’m gonna leave that one at the top of my blog for even longer than six months this time!

Sorry for the painful cliche, but this is a new year and a new me. No longer will paralyzing social anxiety leave me hiding behind trees (and no, not just because there aren’t any trees shading the front entrance where the kindergarten classes are dismissed). I’m going to slap on a smile, maybe swallow a Xanax or two, and get my ass in friend-making mode. This year I will meet my future mom friend BFF.

Full disclosure (and before she kills me) you should know I already have a bestie and she’s, well, the best. But whatever, she works a lot.

So here’s the thing. I just have a few small requirements for my future bestie. I know, I know, someone with a social circle the size of a cheerio shouldn’t exactly be picky, but if we’re gonna be sharing wine and bitching about everything from husbands to homework, then she’s gotta fit some necessary criteria. Like the following:

She must drink wine. Like copious amounts of it. I’m not really into that whole “oh I need a glass of wine, I had a rough day” crap where you literally drink just ONE glass of wine and then act like it made an ounce of difference in the shittiness of your day. I want my future BFF to be the type of chick who goes “oh today sucked” and then guzzles a whole bottle before ordering $300 worth of Christmas decorations on Amazon and passing out on the couch with her hands in a half-empty bucket of Party Mix.

She must not be a judgy bitch. Look, we’re ALL guilty of passing judgement here and there. But you can’t be a total witch about it. Like if we’re at the park with the kids or something and I see a woman breastfeeding her kid and  I’m like “hey good for her, breastfeeding her kid in public and not giving a fuck about what anyone thinks” and then you’re like “oh gross, she should put those tits away,” and then I’m like “well the baby’s hungry, it’s no big deal” and you’re like “oh but there are kids around” and “I’m like yeah totally, there’s one even hanging off her boob” and then you actually walk over to the poor woman and tell her to go feed her kid somewhere else, then not only can’t we be friends, but I will loudly call you the C-word before asking Public Breastfeeding Mom to squirt some boob milk in your bitchy, judgemental face

She must watch trashy reality TV. If I send you text during the Bachelor asking who you think is SOL on getting a rose this week and I don’t receive a response within exactly five minutes, then this isn’t gonna work out.

She must not be too weird on Facebook, Instagram, or any other social media site. I guess it goes without saying here that she needs to also be ON Facebook and Instagram, mostly because I’m a huge fan of the screenshot and she should be too. I don’t have any specifics for “not too weird” but if your kid comes down with some hideous rash and you post a photo of it, asking for opinions from all the Google University doctors on your Facebook page instead of consulting an actual doctor, then that falls into the “weird” category. Also weird? Is the compulsive desire to post nauseating pictures of your significant other every day, declaring your undying love for all the world to see as often as possible. Aside from an overabundance of daily selfies, there’s nothing more likely to get you deleted, or at the very least, politely hidden. Don’t mean to sound bitchy, it’s just that if I don’t even want to see your face in my News Feed then there’s no way I want it anywhere near me in real life.

She must dislike talking on the phone. There are very, very, VERY, few people whose calls don’t go directly to voicemail (or they would, if I ever bothered to set my voicemail up in the first place), and I’ve known all of these people for over 30 years. So unless you want to wait til we’re in our sixties to chat, let’s just stick to texting, k?

Are you out there, future bestie?

People Think I’m a Bitch

the-office-quotes-9

They’re wrong. Well, for the most part. I’m actually a pretty nice person, once you get to know me. My problem is that I am separated from the outside world by a very thick cement wall of social anxiety, and it prevents me from functioning normally when interacting with people I don’t know very well.

Whereas most people can have a normal conversation with an acquaintance and then proceed to go about their day as planned, I will spend an additional half hour after our interaction has ended psychoanalyzing every word I said and wondering if I sounded as stupid aloud as I did in my own head. I’ll wonder if I spoke too loudly and called unwanted attention to myself; if others were gawking at the tiny rip in the sleeve of my jacket or the mud peeking out from the bottom of my shoes; if I was regarded as a shitty parent because my kids weren’t using their “inside voices” (while also publicly beating the crap out of each other).

In short, I will waste a lot of time psychotically obsessing over a whole world of shit that DOESN’T MATTER AT ALL. And it’s not even that I really care that much what other people think of me (hence this entire website devoted to my half-assed parenting and other personal problems). I just don’t enjoy the uncomfortable feeling of being scrutinized and consequently unaccepted. It kinda makes my stomach hurt.

So that’s why I tend to avoid 99% of unnecessary social interactions with people I don’t know.

Because I’m the idiot who is incapable of handling basic conversations with other adults without the help of alcohol or maybe narcotics. I’m the babbling moron who hasn’t mastered the art of small talk and probably never will. I’m the jerk who will pretend I don’t know you at all even though I have walked past you while picking my child up from school at least 100 times since he started elementary school three years ago. I’m the asshole who would rather stare at my foot, a tree, parked cars, my phone, anything in the vicinity without a pulse, just to avoid making eye contact with you, person who I kinda-sorta know but kinda-sorta don’t.

And speaking of picking my son up from school– there is no other activity within my daily life which I despise so vehemently.  Talk about social anxiety to the max. Everyone’s chatting, Lizzie lost another tooth, Joey got a soccer award, yada yada yada blah blah blah. I don’t totally mind discussing the difficulty of the recent second grade math test with these ladies, honestly, but I’m just not the type to walk right up to you and start the conversation. It feels weird. What if you don’t really want to talk to me? What if you just want to talk to this other girl who is suddenly approaching us and you don’t want the responsibility of introducing us? What if you don’t introduce us and I just stand there awkwardly while you start talking about someone I don’t even know, inching away ever-so-slowly, silently begging the powers-that-be to make my son’s class be dismissed first today. And then I will say another prayer that he doesn’t ask to stick around and play with his friends in the schoolyard for a little while, thus extending this unpleasant social situation by an extremely painful extra half hour.

This is where I could continue to list the myriad of stressful situations for a socially anxious parent like myself, running the gamut all the way from play dates to birthday parties. But I won’t. If your anxiety is anything like mine, you know how horrible they are. Let’s not even get into it.

If my behavior sounds silly to you, then you clearly aren’t plagued by social anxiety. You are the head of the PTA, the Class Mom, the good neighbor, a person with social circles galore. You and I will never be the same. Which is okay.

Just please understand that I’m not really that much of a bitch. If you approach me and mention that pain-in-the-ass math test, I’ll agree that it was difficult. I’ll talk about how much my son hates studying too, and commiserate with you over how many days are left until the summer vacation. I’ll be surprisingly friendly and kind, maybe even a little bit funny.

But just know that afterward, I will silently berate myself for every weird thing I’ll definitely think I might have said and then wonder if you think I’m the biggest idiot you have met in your life. And the next time we see each other, don’t expect more than a half smile or tiny wave as I rush wildly past you to go hide behind a tree.

I swear it isn’t you. It’s me.

The Thing About Preschool Parent Teacher Conferences

preschool chairs

Photo credit: Kevin Nealon. Yes, my child’s preschool teachers are famous comedians.

 

Preschool parent teacher conferences. Sigh. What’s the point? You don’t want to be there. Your kid’s teacher doesn’t want to be there. But through some glitch in the guilt-inducing dynamic of modern parenthood, here you both are.

If you’re on the first kid, you might not mind it so much. You may even be excited about the meeting, visions of your toddler’s Picasso-esque artwork and miniature Mozart music abilities dancing in your head. “She’s the sweetest, most intelligent, mature, loving, and generous  four-year old I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing” the teacher will gush. You’ll swoon with delight as the compliments continue until your head is so big it fills the entire classroom and you both float into outer space.

Uh, yeahhhh….good luck with all that. Here’s how it really goes down.

You plop down in a chair seemingly designed for members of the Lollipop Guild. Your child’s teacher sits directly across from you in a seat equally as ridiculous. You scan the room for signs of tornadoes and flying monkeys.

Off to gleaming start.

The teacher pulls out your child’s latest artwork, a moving depiction of the friendship between an 18-legged purple giraffe and her pet cloud. She tells you that the detail on the drawing is impressive and you bob your head in agreement, wondering wtf they spike the juice boxes with around here and how you can get your hands on one.

Next she hands you a page that appears to be your child’s attempt at writing her own name. The first letter is clear as day, and you temporarily swell with pride. Her fierce little “S” has more curves than Beyonce! And then you peer at the following 13 or so letters that may or may not be written entirely in Greek. Or Klingon. Who could tell? You warily glance up at the wall where little Liam scrawled his own name on a drawing like some preschool handwriting prodigy. Pshaw, whatever. Anyone could write a measly four little letters. Moving on.

The teacher explains that your child is doing well in most areas but needs improvement on holding pencils the right way. Apparently she uses the same technique for drafting her masterpieces as she does for stabbing her toaster waffles in the morning. Hopefully she enjoys writing as much as she enjoys drowning food in maple syrup.

Next the teacher asks if you have any questions and that’s when you really start to squirm. What do the other parents usually ask? How can she enhance her cognitive development? What activities will improve her gross motor skills? Are her social interactions on par with what is expected for her age group?

The thing is, all you really want to know is whether she wipes her boogers on the classroom furniture as frequently as she does at home. And where the hell does that little witch Jenna live? You’ve got a bone to pick with her about drawing on other kids’ Peppa Pig blankets.

So you reluctantly tell the teacher that, no, you have no questions. You then stare awkwardly at each other for a moment, not sure if the meeting is over or whether she’s waiting to divulge some hidden gem about your kid’s sick cymbal skills during music time or her unfailing ability to nap far longer than any of the other kids in the class. After a moment you concede that your child is just about as normal as any other four-year-old. You need to hightail it home to catch a new Grey’s Anatomy anyway.

Quietly praying that the shrunken chair doesn’t tag along for the ride when you finally yank your ass up out of it,  you thank the teacher politely and say goodbye. You then walk back to your car wondering if other parents feel as underwhelmed by these things as you do, or if you are really just an asshole.