It’s About Time

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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.

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

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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.

An Open Letter to Netflix

netflixMy Dearest Netflix,

First I want to say thank you for seeing me through the many highly productive, wine-fueled television marathons I’ve come to cherish over the past few years. Thanks for catching me up on The Walking Dead when the rest of the world wouldn’t shut up about it. Thanks for introducing me to underappreciated gems like The United States of Tara and Raising Hope. Thanks for being my patch when I was weaning off The Office but couldn’t get Jim and Pam off the brain. Thanks for the parental control options that give me a reason to feel slightly less crappy about the kids binge-watching on their tablets while I get work done. Thanks for filling many a late-night hour with old rom-coms I’d almost forgotten and new ones I won’t publicly admit I’ve watched.

Basically, Netflix, you’re awesome.

You were awesome long before August 4, 2015. But a few days ago, when you announced that you’d be allowing your employees up to a year of unlimited maternity and paternity leave, you brought “awesome” to an unsurpassable level of fucking fantastic-ness.

A year of maternity and paternity leave. A year! Unheard of.

For me, this is a majorly sensitive subject. When I got pregnant with my son unexpectedly at the tender age of 25, just months after getting my first huge promotion, I promptly learned I was ineligible for paid maternity leave from the MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR CORPORATION where I worked simply because I hadn’t signed up for short-term disability (because a baby is totally a disability, right?). My story gets uglier, but I won’t get into it. Let’s just say I don’t work there anymore.

My story aside, I’m writing today to simply say a heartfelt thank you, Netflix. And I think I speak for moms and dads everywhere in my praise….

Thank you from the mom who is forced to leave her child in the care of another, merely weeks after giving birth, because she can’t afford not to work.

Thank you from the moms who can’t afford to go back to work at all because child care is so damn expensive.

Thank you from the exhausted parent who often stumbles blearily into work on two hours of sleep after being up all night with a crying infant.

Thank you from the parent who is tired of missing milestone after milestone.

Thank you from the parent who wears guilt everyday like a pair of tired mom jeans.

Thank you from the parent who spends too many extra hours just commuting to work, wasting away precious time that should be spent with family.

Thank you from the parents who have opposite schedules, causing stress on their marriage because they never see each other.

Thank you from the mom who contemplates quitting every morning as she leaves for work.

Thank you from the parent who fights the urge to wake her sleeping children when she comes home at night, just to spend some time together.

Thank you from the mom who wonders how the bills will get paid if she is fired for taking yet another day off to care for her child.

You see, Netflix, although you can’t employ every parent in the nation, we thank you for leading by example. We thank you for setting a precedent, one that should have been in place for decades. We thank you for doing the one thing that other countries around the world already see as a no-brainer.

We thank you for proving what most other companies don’t have the balls, the decency, and the common sense to admit: there is NOTHING more important than family.

Signed,
One Grateful Mama

The Top Three Worst Social Media Offenses

I think we can all agree that social media is the worst. I seriously don’t know why I even bother anymore. Sure, there’s a lot of stuff worth rolling your eyes over: obnoxious political opinions, unwanted health and eating advice, painfully poor grammar, perpetual selfie-taking. It’s all pretty gagworthy. But some shit is just so bad that it practically has the ability to ruin your day. Like the type of shit that makes you toss your phone aside in exasperation and stalk off to go find something a lot more productive to do.

Thus I present you with my top three worst Facebook (and other social media) offenses.

1. Pictures of mangled children or animals. Yesterday someone posted a picture of a woman being hanged alongside her two small children, both of whom had been hanged as well, in some faraway country somewhere for some horribly inexcusable reason. I couldn’t tell you that reason because I was too busy splashing bleach in my eyes to un-see that hauntingly disturbing image. I’m pretty sure it was posted to further some sort of political agenda, something about the media distracting us with stories of transgender celebrities or something like that. I honestly don’t know and I never will, because this person has been blocked from my newsfeed for obvious reasons and I couldn’t care less what message they were attempting to convey. Thanks for the nightmares, asshole. I didn’t need sleep or anything.

2. Downright immaturity and/or personal attacks. I lost some friends recently. They aren’t like dead or anything, we just aren’t really friends anymore. I know, I thought I was too old for that shit too. Whatevs. I haven’t taken the time to delete them from my social media outlets yet, I guess because a part of me kind of hopes we can mend fences someday. But who has time for that, really? And if I do find myself with some precious extra time, I’ll probably spend it with my kids or maybe finding some friends who don’t suck. So anyway since undergoing this little friend reduction, I’ve come across a new phenomenon, something I suspect to be wildly popular amongst teenage girls. It’s the “hey look at us in this picture all hanging out and having fun without YOU, so eat it bitch!” thing. Obviously, their picture doesn’t actually say that, but with enough passive aggressive emojis I can easily read between the lines. Not cool, ladies. Not cool.

3. Ignorance. If you have a pulse and a pair of eyes and/or ears, then you probably knew which transgender celebrity I was referring to earlier. It’s sad that we live in a world where people will post pictures of mangled children just keep you from caring about serious issues like the vile mistreatment of LGBT individuals. What’s really sad is the amount of hatred and ignorance I’ve witnessed on social media since the world met Caitlyn Jenner. It’s nothing short of astounding, really. Hateful and mean posts with “likes” galore have surfaced all over the internet. It amazes me that we live in a world where that level of ignorance can even coexist with the level of technology required to easily share it with every person you know at the same time. Translation: it’s 20-freakin-15, people. Get over it. And what really gets me is not merely that so many people are such small-minded douchwads, but the fact that so many people are IDIOTIC enough to openly share their hateful thoughts and not expect repercussions. You can lose your job for posting the wrong thing on Facebook, people. It happens. And please, please, please, think before you post. Stop ruining my damn day.

This is How I Know I’m Failing at Adulthood

Am I the only one who has that single spot in their home that is just a constant, infuriating reminder of how epically they are failing as an adult?

For me, it’s right here:
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When it’s clean (semi-annually), it’s supposed to be the counter where you’ll find kitchen utensil storage and perhaps a place to store a few pieces of new mail. There is a little stack of post-it notes and a pen or two nearby for scrawling messages, like people in tidy homes do for each other when one isn’t home. There’s a calendar hanging up, not at all buried under a plethora of reminder notices and kids homework assignments. It’s an orderly, functional area of the home. Or at least, it’s supposed to be.

The thing is, this kitchen counter is more than just a ridiculously cluttered spot in a home that is almost equally disorganized. It’s more than an inside-out junk drawer that seemingly threw up on itself.  It’s more than a mere representation of my extremely messy personality.

It’s like…… a symbol of adulthood as I’ve come to know it.

Look closely. There isn’t just random junk mail and school art projects strewn carelessly about (though you will find an abundance of those too).

There are actual important documents in that pile. Things that should be dealt with immediately or at least put away neatly. Things like unpaid bills. Important school notices. Insurance paperwork. My income taxes. My daughter’s first ever “report card” from preschool. Copies of the magazine I work for — my own words literally published in print for the first time in my life. Like, seriously important shit.

It’s as though everything that is vitally significant to my existence resides within a chaotic stack of crap on my kitchen counter, sandwiched between loose crayons and old Costco catalogues.

It’s not like I really have time to clean it. I sometimes distractedly stop what I’m doing and grab one or two things off the top to either toss in the recycling bin or file away somewhere safe. But then I take a second look and think “who the hell am I even kidding?” and give up to stick my head in the fridge to find something to snack on while flipping through the TV (which I also technically don’t have time for, but…..).

Basically the stack just grows higher and higher with each passing day, more and more art projects and potentially important documents piled on top on a regular basis.

Sometimes I walk past that counter and I’m just like, holy shit. If being an adult were a class in school I would be seriously flunking out. If growing up were a video game, I would lose one life every time I added another “Final Notice” to the never-ending stack ‘o’ crap. If the fate of the entire free world hinged on my ability to be an actual, mature, grown, human being, there would be a crisis of apocalyptic proportions.

I think that kitchen counter represents the apocalypse of my ability to have my shit together. My shit has never been so UN-together in my whole life. I thought it was bad when I was in college and only did laundry when my clean underwear ran out or when I was tired of dousing my waitress apron with coffee to cover the split-pea soup stains. But these days I only do laundry when the dirty clothes in the laundry basket are no longer stackable and begin heaving themselves onto the floor like a Jenga puzzle.

When you’re young, you have this built-in notion that someday you’ll enter adulthood and just automatically grow up. Like it happens overnight or something. Maybe the domestic goddess fairy will sprinkle some fairy dust on your pillow one night and you’ll wake up the next morning as June Cleaver or at least Monica Gellar.

How idiotic, right? No one ever seems to realize that keeping your shit together is hard enough when you only need to care for yourself, but it’s exponentially more difficult when you’re suddenly taking care of others as well. Why did no one ever tell me this? Guess it doesn’t matter now.

Here’s a funny thought: I just realized that the time I’ve devoted to writing about my messy kitchen counter could have been spent ACTUALLY CLEANING IT.

Ha! As if.

How to Go From Better-Than-Nothing to WAY Better-Than-Nothing on Valentines Day

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Today is Valentine’s Day. My only real excitement on February 14 lies in waking to squeals of delight from my children upon finding the treats I left out for them the night before. This morning, my daughter was particularly excited by the Peppa Pig Beanie Baby I got for her, which brought a big smile to my face because I totally knew I hit the jackpot when I found it in the card store. Apparently, pigs with British accents are all the rage for toddlers nowadays.

The kids’ enthusiasm wore off after about ten minutes (it isn’t exactly Christmas, you know), and then my husband and I exchanged our own treats. After seven years of marriage, I’ve come to expect very little on these cheesy Hallmark Holidays. I find that it successfully avoids unnecessary disappointment and marital arguments. He handed me his classic Valentine’s Day safety net trifecta of roses/card/candy, and I forked over my own card for him. Kiss, kiss, Happy Valentine’s Day, and back to the regular daily routine.

I had to laugh a few minutes later when we were watching the morning news and they were doing a segment on making last minute V-Day gifts look like they were planned out for weeks. The last line of the piece read: “and whatever you do, avoid that cheesy drugstore flowers and candy combo!” To which we both laughed and I added “unless you’ve been married for seven years.”

My husband has never been a big gift-giver or an over-the-top romantic. He proposed to me in the car while driving on the highway, saying “so I was talking to my aunt and she thinks that, since you’re pregnant, maybe we should just get married.” I cried immediately, obviously not because I was so moved by his gesture. And I cried all the way to our dreamy City Hall wedding a few weeks later.

But I don’t blame him. Failed birth control combined with the need for better health insurance never does create the perfect environment for romance. But he set the bar pretty low from the start, and I have learned that the whole mushy-gushy, sweep-her-off-her feet shit just isn’t a requirement, and its absence does not a bad marriage make.

While my little less-than-fairytale romance isn’t exactly one for the books, I’m 100% sure I’m not the only wife who doesn’t bother with high hopes on most gift-giving occasions. Even those who didn’t exchange vows in the same building where ex-cons go to have their urine tested for drugs.

But here’s the thing: since so many married wives have low expectations on Valentine’s Day, it at least gives their husbands an opportunity to catch them off guard by doing something seriously sweet once in a while. I think that, sometimes, guys should toss their “better than nothing” flowers and candy out the window of the same car they proposed in, and do something extra special for the special ladies in their lives. And really, they don’t even have to think that far outside of the box to do it.

Thus I present to you my five, fantastic, WAYYY-better-than-nothing gifts for wives on Valentine’s Day. If there are actually any guys who read my blog, be prepared to slap yourself in the head, coulda-had-a-V8-style, for not thinking of these nifty gifties on your own.

Jewelry. It’s expensive, so I think husbands like to avoid it because they can get away with their wife thinking “oh we can’t afford that right now”. But no one’s telling you to hit her with a diamond from Tiffany’s. It’s 2015, and the timeless gift of jewelry comes in all sizes, shapes, and price tags. From crystal to silver to cubic-Z: it’s ALL better than nothing.

Lingerie. You would expect this type of gift when you first start dating, but it does seem like the last thing a married mother could ever want. Right? Wrong. Think about it. Receiving that type of gift from a husband shows that, after all these years, he still sees his wife as being just as sexy as she was when they were first dating. It’s pretty flattering. She’ll feel like maybe, just maybe, she doesn’t look so bad for a married mom after all. Plus, it might be something extra to look forward to on Valentine’s NIGHT. Wink wink.

Wine or champaign. I mean, if he’s going for an edible gift, it shouldn’t be a gigantic box full of little chocolate regrets. In fact, if you pair some bubbly with #2 on my list, it’s really one hell of a win/win.

Dinner. Either cook it, order it, or take her out for it. Whatever happens, just make sure she doesn’t have to deal with it for at least one night. And for pete’s sake, do the damn dishes after it’s done. And if there’s time, feel free to also sweep, mop, dust, do the laundry, make the beds, scrub the toilets, and clean out the fridge while you’re at it.

Be an even better Dad than usual. There is so much joy in seeing a father make his kids feel special– when he spends time with them, plays with them, shows them how important they are. So on Valentine’s Day, go the extra mile for the kids, too. Take them out to lunch, make a card for Mom together, maybe even pick up a special gift for them too. They’re the littlest Valentines, after all. And honestly, that’s probably one of the most romantic things a man can do for his wife. Because there is NOTHING sexier than a really, really good dad.

Winter: 10 Things I Hate About You

sled (2)I used to really like the winter. At least, I felt like enjoying winter was a requirement of anyone who despises the summer. Like you can hate one, but not the other. Otherwise, you’re just a complainer.

Well, screw that. I AM a complainer. I own it. If I want to hate the summer, I’m gonna hate the summer. If I want to loathe winter, I’ll do that too. Hell, if I want to go outside one day in the middle of May and trample on a bunch of spring flowers, or maybe smash some giant pumpkins in the street sometime in October, I’ll do that as well. Screw the seasons. All four of them. Yea, I said it.

But since it’s winter, and most people hate the shit out of winter, I figured I’d dedicate a blog post to it and maybe give the people what they want. Plus, the Super Bowl is on right now and I need something productive to keep me busy in between the commercial breaks, and blogging about the weather seems productive enough.

Dear Winter. You suck. Here is why:

1. I always spend more time dressing my kids in snowsuits, coats, hats, gloves, boots, scarves, two layers of pants, three pairs of socks, and two shirts with an extra sweatshirt than they spend actually playing in the snow. Like, wayyyy longer. And it just doesn’t seem fair.
2. Not every type of snow yields decent results when building a snowman. The light, powdery, fluffy stuff is impossible to roll into a ball. But the kids don’t understand that and want to know why we’re building a “snow lump” instead.
3. Have you ever dragged children around on a sled, cross-country style, in the freezing cold? Maybe it’s fun for some people, but an Olympic athlete I am not. I’m usually huffing and puffing worse than an 85-year-old chain smoker by the end of my block, meanwhile my kids are begging me to “pull faster!”
4. There is no graceful way to slip on ice. There’s a painful way, a mortifying way, and an ass-bruising way, but no graceful way. Except maybe if you’re Kate Upton.
5. Shoveling. Because potentially throwing your back out and/or risking potential cardiac arrest beats the dangers of an icy walkway. Right? Right??
6. No one wins with board games. NO ONE. Young kids holding tiny game pieces + everyone being forced to take turns + someone having to lose eventually = mommy chugging wine before noon.
7. This might be mostly an NYC thing, but getting a parking spot is a pain in the ass enough on its own, without having to worry about needing four-wheel drive to be able to pull out of it.
8. After Christmas, wintertime holidays are nothing special. I mean, they’re great excuses to get a day off, but I work from home on those holidays anyway. And don’t get me started on the most pointless holiday in the whole damn calendar: Valentine’s Day.
9. There is no deeper hell on earth than a nasty mid-winter stomach virus sweeping violently through your home, complete with green-tinted children and vomit-covered couch cushions. And of course, the promise that you’re up next!
10. I’m not a fan of facial pain. That’s right, facial pain. You know, the kind of pain you feel when it’s so fucking horribly cold outside that it literally makes your FACE HURT? Well, I don’t enjoy that.

For argument’s sake, the winter does have its moments. You can drop off and pick up your children from school without a bra on and no one will ever know. Trips to the park are entirely off limits. The sun sets about ten seconds after it rises, so you can put your kids to bed as early as you want. The phony conversations you have when you run into acquaintances are cut short because everyone is freezing their asses off. That being said, I’m still looking forward to the end of this winter. I doubt I’m alone in that.

Ten Ways to Combat Stress (Or However Many I Can Come Up With)

stress

See stress-reliever #9 for details.

I’m just going to preface this post by saying I have no business, at all, whatsoever, telling people how to combat stress, since I could probably be the poster child for how NOT to deal with it. I think I might be more stressed out lately than I’ve ever been in my whole life. Want proof? Go check the date on my last blog post. I still had Halloween decorations up (and not the kind of Halloween decorations that are hiding behind the Christmas tree). Blogging is one of my favorite things on earth. But ain’t nobody got time for that these days, you know?

Anyway, I guess I’m kind of just mentally searching for ways to, well, calm the fuck down. Ease up. Relax. Stop feeling like the walls around me are closing in. And if I actually manage to come up with some decent stuff, I want to share it with you. Just in case you are as stressed out and mentally imbalanced as I am to think anything I say actually works. So good luck to us both.

I’m going to list as many “stress relievers,” as I can, with my ultimate goal being ten. If I make it there, awesome. If not, well, at least it was a quick read.

Oh, and please don’t expect those boring, traditional de-stressing techniques from me. At no point would I ever suggest you light candles, take a bath, take deep breaths, listen to Enya, or write your feelings down in some type of journal. Unless your feelings involve a lot of cursing.

1. Keep watching your favorite TV shows. You don’t have time for TV? Make time. I make a ton of time for TV. You know why? For the exact reason that people say you shouldn’t watch it. Because it’s completely mindless! That means I don’t have to think about anything that really matters while my shows are on. I’m free to wonder who the new crazy bitch on the Bachelor will be, or why they can’t just let Darryl and Carol do it already on the Walking Dead, or what the hell Penny was thinking when she cut off all her hair on Big Bang Theory. You know, the kind of stuff that doesn’t matter in real life AT ALL. It’s the perfect way to zone out of your own real life problems.

2. Make your husband fix all broken household appliances. Or do it yourself. Or hire a fucking handyman. Whatever it takes just get it done. Non-functional crap around the house doesn’t directly cause stress by itself, but it often serves as the straw that broke the camel’s back. My dishwasher recently broke, and it stayed that way for two months. Two fantastic months of handwashing thousands of dishes and sippy cups and plastic takeout containers Tupperware. Because after working all day and cooking and cleaning and and doing laundry all night, I TOTALLY had an extra hour to spare for hand-washing dishes, like, 1955 style. I guess l’ll sleep when I’m dead, right? And now that the dishwasher is finally fixed, the toilet in our only bathroom took a nosedive. I need a basin and a gallon of water to flush it manually every single time, and plunging is my new workout routine. I can’t even talk about it without wanting to literally dropkick my husband the person who broke it in the first place.

3. Cut out the people who suck. This makes me sound like I’m one of those people moaning and groaning on every social media site in the world that they can’t trust anyone, and their heart is delicate but they’ll protect it with the fire of a thousand suns, and yada yada blah blah blah. But really, those are the people you should delete on Facebook and in real life too. I’ve come to realize that if you want to vomit every time you think of a certain person’s face, you probably shouldn’t be friends with that person. Not on the internet and certainly not in real life. So move on.

4. Have a glass of wine or two or ten. This is self-explanatory. Just don’t do it alone if you’re the crying type. And if you do it alone, I recommend having Youtube and a list of awesome 90’s music or movies nearby. Good times.

5. Make some new friends. Not that I have any fucking idea how to do this. But it seems like it might help, if you can figure out where to find some people who are as awesome and cool as you are.

6. Buy stuff for yourself sometimes. Last night I was on Amazon ordering some stuff that my kids need, and I hesitantly added a hat to the cart that I wanted for myself. I proceeded to checkout, reviewed my order, then stared blankly at the screen for ten minutes in a silent self-debate over whether I really needed to spend $19 on a hat. And then I deleted it from my shopping cart. But then this morning, my ears were really cold and I was all like WTF? I should have bought myself the damn hat. So don’t be like me. Keep your ears warm. Buy the damn hat.

7. Plan a night out, but don’t expect it to make you feel any better. Going out is fun. I haven’t really done much of it ever since the time I got drunk and fell and broke all my teeth (true story), but it’s definitely still fun to do once in a while. However, do not expect one night out to cure any kind of stress you are feeling. You will probably just drink too much and end up without teeth very hungover, causing you to fall a day behind with the endless crap on your to-do list. Even if you aren’t a big drinker, just know that one “much needed” night out, though fun, will not leave you feeling refreshed and stress-free. It’s just a night out. Don’t get your hopes up. But definitely still go.

8. Clean something. I know it doesn’t sound very fun, but I find that cleaning gives me a great sense of accomplishment, and also leaves surfaces in my home shiny and stuff. I fucking loathe doing it, but after a full day of scrubbing, mopping, and organizing, I usually feel amazing. Well, at least I feel amazing until my little bulls-in-a-china-shop children come stampeding in and wreck the place. But until that  happens, I like to sit back and enjoy the stress-free feel of a sparkling clean home.

9. Have your cake and eat it too. I hate that saying. What the hell else would you do with it?? Stare at the damn thing? Anyway, nonsensical idioms aside, you should eat cake. It’s delicious. Obviously, it won’t help with your diet woes, but like I said, IT’S DELICIOUS.

(I seem to be grasping at straws here. But I will think of a #10. I promise).

10. I give up. Now the stress of finishing this blog has ended for me, so at least one of us is less stressed out, right?