"Everyone says you'll look back one day and wish for this time with your children. But to be honest, I'm going to look back on it and be glad they can fucking do shit for themselves."
I’ve read a lot of mommy blog posts in my day, and specifically posts that focus on the things we want to tell our children during these difficult, puberty-stricken, social anxiety wracked tween years. I know your hearts, mamas. I know you mean well, and I know talking to our kids is important, even when they won’t listen (hint: they are always listening.) But please, please stop pumping out these trite compilations that sound something like this:
Be yourself, even when it’s hard.
Learn to laugh at yourself.
Wearing make-up, getting your “monthly visit,” shaving – none of this is a race.
Seriously, if your list includes the one-word sentence “Dance.,” just stop.
Do you remember what it’s like when your skin is crawling with how much you hate every single disgusting inch of your hideous body and the punk-ass bitches at school are treating you like you’re actual weird hairy pond scum and everything you once thought was certain about life and God and your best friend and your inner self is suddenly shaking? Do you remember the white-hate fear of exposing some humiliating truth about your gaping ignorance? Do you remember the ever-simmering, gullet-squeezing rage?
Dance my ass.
Here is what I want to us say to our middle schoolers: I hope you learn all of the big, bristly lessons that you can only learn by living. And I hope that, when you reach the edges of your ferocity and your clawing independence, you remember the warm, cavernous wells of my love. I am here. I am here. I am always, always here.
In case you’re gazing quizzically at the above photo and trying to understand what exactly you’re looking at, let us just go ahead and confirm: yes, it is a green rice krispie treat tucked into the modest cleavage of a busy yet delightfully deceptive mama. Here’s the rationale, as sent via Facebook messenger from one MOTY master to her tribe:
When you're cleaning up and you hear the kids coming so you shove the rice krispie treat you're eating down your shirt because you don't want to A. Share, B. Explain why you can have one and they can't, or C. Really interact with the kids at all during Rice Krispie Cleaning Time. It's a special time in a mother’s life.
This got us thinking, the Treat Yo’ Self movement may have all the 20-something Insta-singles ‘gramming about the crystal-infused unicorn soap they just splurged on at the hipster farmer’s market or the Thai ice cream rolls they’re feeding to their French bulldogs by the seashore. But we mamas? We have a different understanding. Take a look at our most lavish indulgences:
What’s your favorite #TreatYoSelf MOTY escape? Whatever it is, we hope you enjoy it! You deserve it. More than anyone else. More than your kids for damn sure.
"I'm beginning to think all the physical pain my 4-year-old inflicts on my every day is karmic retribution for the emotional pain I caused my own mother... But then I look at my other two kids, and I know that they were assholes to me in a past life, too, and I just calmly think, 'your turn now!'"
Did you notice last month, during the days leading up to Mother’s Day, how our social feeds were flooded with well-meaning blog posts and sharable graphics reminding us to practice empathy during this time that is so difficult to so many? If this open letter is really for you, I’m guessing you did. You noticed the steady stream of sweet illustrated graphics like this one:
The empathy is generous and lustrous and flowing and pure on Mother’s Day. But… it doesn’t seem that men are afforded that same kindness in June. Sure, there are scattered sentiments. I saw a friend or two who has lost a father share a personal message. There were a few rallying cries for step dads who have stepped up. But where’s the fortress of communal support, social media? Did our arms grow tired of lifting each other up? I saw no copious reminders that someone out there might be hurting when they see happy dad posts, no outpour of reflections on the ways that fatherhood shapes a man who has lost his context for it. I barely saw a moment spared on these issues at all.
I know you men aren't supposed to be as good with the feelings. Dads hang out and share tips and stories just as much as we mamas do but they don't feel the need to call it a tribe or layer it with sanctity the same way we do. I get that it's largely the women who are sharing all the Mother's Day encouragement. But, surely, the need for empathy still exists. So here's a moment, small and quiet, from me to you.
To all the childless fathers, to the fatherless children, to the men struggling with infertility, to the ones whose partner chose abortion when he wished she wouldn't, to the men who walked away for a really shitty amount of time but came back, to the single dads who have been pulling double duty all along, to the ex live-in boyfriends who used to do dad things and now can't, to the sperm donors who gave others the gift of fatherhood, to anyone who needs it… I see you. I haven’t forgotten you.
And to all the bog-standard #blessed, typically awesome dads who are living regular old lives? You think Father's Day is just about grilling burgers and enjoying family time? Yeah, well here’s my gift to you: a big fat dose of #momguilt like we live with all the time. No, there is never a day that is just about you.
Tomorrow marks dress rehearsal night for my daughter’s dance recital, and I am all a-jitter. Not because I’m worried about how she’ll perform or if she’ll feel confident on stage. Nah. She’s got this. I’m worried about me. I’m worried about this mountain of paperwork. You see this spread? All of these pieces of paper relate to the dance recital. They contain detailed instructions regarding costumes, make-up, hair poofs, hoop earring, tickets, programs, safety pins, times, orders, false eyelashes, finale tees. Note: There are paper clips and staples at play. Some of these papers have multiple sheets beneath them.
My daughter is dancing in two numbers and the finale. She will be on stage for a grand total of approximately seven minutes.
And this is one activity for one kid. I have three kids!
Mamas, come on. How are you doing it? You cheating somehow? How do you always know the color of the week? How do you know which day book orders are due? How do you know which teacher to avoid next year? How do you know when the park hosts the free craft class? How do you know when soccer signups are and what churches have bible camps this summer and when the safety patrol meeting is and how to enroll in the library summer reading challenge?
How do you know it all? All the time? There are so… many… papers. What sorcery are you dipping into?
These are not rhetorical questions. I am a smart woman, but I cannot retain this information. I have a master’s degree but I cannot master our family calendar. I have a director-level position at work, but I cannot direct my 6-year-old as to what day he is supposed to bring a beach ball to school.
You know what? I don’t even want to know. But know this: I commend you.
And I will continue to nag the shit out of you for all of the answers for the rest of our time together.
Perhaps I am just lazy, but so be it. I hate potty training. Johnny, my not-even-2-year-old has been showing all the potty-ready signs, and I've casually ignored them as long as possible. So I finally dragged the potty out. Dutifully displayed the potty training books. But, hot damn, if I can find any real motivation.
Still, I decided to let Johnny be diaper-free this morning. I gently led him to his potty. He sat several times. We read book after book upon the potty. Then... somehow within the two-minute time-span it took for me to do my daughter Sofia's hair, Johnny managed to poop on the floor in three DIFFERENT ROOMS, plus pee on the kitchen floor, PLUS poop on Sofia’s bed. I'm not even upset. Not even overwhelmed. Just so not feeling it. I am already drowning in laundry. Now, to clean bedding. Ah well, Monday.
It's my daughter's last day of her first year of preschool. Exciting, yes, emotional milestone and blah blah blah. What that means in my immediate MOTY world is that I have to get two cranky kids up, dressed and out the door earlier than usual for an end-of-year show and picnic. (Dressing myself for mama-mingling is an added bonus at this point.) Which brings us to... veggie straws and Swiss cheese! On the floor!
When in doubt, mamas, feed your kids yellow food on the floor. It's the fastest way to get them out of the house. Gott run, we're late AF!
Happy Day After Mother's Day, mamas! We were going to do a post about all the super-mean shit our kids say (Can I have a different mommy? I liked your hair better before you cut it. I don't like smelling your farts. I will never love you. Et cetera ad nauseam) as a reminder of why we deserve a special day. Then we were going to write a post about our Mother's Day wishes for all of you (it would have been most empowering). Then...well...
We decided to just be moms and take the day off to enjoy our children! Because WE deserve it! Except that... one of us was doing a wine tour with an old friend, one of us was hosting a huge family dinner, one of us was comforting our own mother during her mother's funeral, and one of us was dragging a thrashing, biting, scratching child from a party.
Which is to say, yes. Yesterday, we were just moms.
My first-time mama sister: We had to do a round of shots today, which Baby handled pretty well. (Mommy and Daddy did their best.)
Second sister, in support: Awwwww!!!! The shots are always so hard....for ME! Haha. My heart just BREAKS.
My mother, mama of four, grandmother of six, and former pediatric nurse: Oh, I always hated shots days! The only good thing (besides protecting them from life-threatening illnesses!) is the extra cuddle time.
Me, aka MOTY: I always kind of liked it that they slept all day and I got a break.
We love our kids. They drive us crazy. We write about it instead of going insane.