Serenity Now

Ay dios mio, can’t we just give each other a break? I stumbled across this article last week and vomited in my mouth a little as I read it. It’s one of those mom stories that reads like it makes a non-controversial point, but at its core, is so judgy and mean. In a nutshell (for those of you who don’t want to read, which amen, sistah), the writer is calling out a mom who is sitting on a park bench and looking at her iPhone while her children play nearby. Her poor, poor children, who are desperate for their mother’s attention while they twirl around like a “beauty queen” and coo and wither away from total lack of attention.

But you know what? There are plenty of totally reasonable things that mom could be doing on her phone while her children play. For example, she could be:
1. Researching some awful diagnosis a sick family member just received.
2. Checking work emails on her phone so her kids can play in the park in the middle of the day.
3. Planning an amazing party or trip for her family.
4. Looking at porn.
5. Taking a goddamn break so she doesn’t spontaneously combust from exhaustion and stress.
6. Totally faking interest in her phone so she doesn’t have to talk to you about how beautiful it is to raise children.

Whatever she is doing, here is what I think: who the f cares. Unless her kids are attacking your kids, or hurting themselves, or peeing on the slide, then just calm yourself.

It seems like the god-awful, media-perpetuated “mommy wars” have cooled off a bit but I still hear moms talk smack about each other almost as much as I hear them support each other. Let’s all just be honest: we really have no idea what we are doing at any given moment. Right? We’re all just making our best guesses throughout the day, and are totally unsure about so many of our decisions, and deep down know that there is a massive amount of luck in raising well-adjusted, good kids. Instead of saying that, though, we bash each other’s choices to try to make ourselves comfortable with our own.

I try to be conscious about not judging other moms, but I have been so harsh on myself about my own choices. I tortured myself when I was a working mom, feeling constantly guilty about not spending enough time with my kids and imagining all the beautiful, thoughtful things I would do with them if only I was home. So now that I’m on the other side and have been a SAHM for a few months, I want to assure my working mom friends who feel conflicted: the way you parent probably isn’t going to change just because you stop working. For example, I used to see projects and recipes on Pinterest and other similarly evil websites when I was working, and think that if only I were home more, I would do them all. With a huge smile on my face, while wearing a lovely apron. And also, my kids would listen to me and seek out my wisdom and guidance, and I would suddenly be good at math.

But really, what has changed is that I do more stuff around the house (and I’m talking about the stuff that needs to get done, not optional stuff like baking holiday-themed after school snacks or ironing). I do some fun projects with the kids, but probably not much more than I used to, and I get to pick them up a little earlier from school. Also, I add flax seed to meals because in my head that seems like something a thoughtful SAHM does.

I think my kids are mostly happy to have me around for a few more hours every day, but it really hasn’t been a monumental change for them. For example, my son asked me the other day how my work was going. I asked him what he was talking about, and he said, “You know, your work, at the office I went to that one time, where I played on your computer and wrote FART really big on the screen.” Um. My normally very aware son, who can tell you exactly how many Thin Mints I have stashed in the freezer right now, had forgotten that I haven’t been working for the past seven months.

So my point is: let’s all calm down and give each other a break. The kids are fine and we’re doing OK. Working, not working, leaning in, reclining back, falling over – we’re all just trying our best to do a really hard job that doesn’t have any guidelines or guarantees, and the least the adults can do is be cool to each other.

And if you’re reading this post on your iPhone while your kids are playing nearby, and some woman is giving you the evil eye, it is not me. And you have my permission to totally ignore her and go right back to looking at porn reading about current events.

Superstaaaaaar

In honor of the last few days of winter and the Snowquester (are we really calling it that, guys? I heart you, DC, but oh lord we are geeky), I thought of this song by Wintersleep called Weighty Ghost.

Kind of like another song I posted, the lyrics are totally dark and sad but the song is upbeat and makes me want to jog. If I jogged. Also, because I have not been up to date on any cool things since I had kids, please note that this song came out in 2007.

In other news, something disturbing happened to me this week, and it was not finding out that Justin Bieber had a really bad birthday. I was driving to pick up the kids for the four thousandth time when I found myself alone in the car, and this song came on. It is one of my favorite ever sing-along songs.

I turned it up full blast, cleared my throat, and started singing along with all of my might. At intersections I held my phone up to my ear so the people in the cars next to me would think that I was talking on the phone. OMG, what is wrong with me. So I’m right in the middle of the “STAAAA-AAAAA-AAAAAARS!” part when Sirius goes out for a second. I am left alone in the silent car, just me and my voice, which only moments before I was convinced sounded way better than Grace Potter’s. In reality, though, it sounded like I was screaming for help and trying to yodel while someone was punching me in the throat.

Some secret part of me always thought that if all else fails, at least I have my singing voice. No one else in my life has ever thought that (particularly people who have heard me sing), but still. And just like that, in that moment of satellite interference with my car radio, the universe told me that I would never be a singer, and that if I had any hope of my kids not being tone deaf I should probably stop singing to them. Sigh.

But it’s probably for the best. Now I can really focus my energy on becoming a stage mom, I mean, helping my kids pursue their dreams. Which hopefully involve sold out stadiums, concert merch, and thousands of screaming fans.

Wild Things

We live in the woods. I mean, not like the Alaskan wilderness, but some pretty legit woods with wildlife, and big trees, and lost hikers who have resorted to cannibalism. Also, yetis. This bug was on our screen door one day last summer:
Moth

It is hard to get a sense of scale from this picture, but he is approximately six feet wide. That hairy neon-colored bastard clung to the screen door for two days before it soared away above the trees. And probably carried somebody’s dog with him. Also, one day when my husband was traveling (well of course he was) I went down to the basement to do the laundry and was greeted by this mother-effer, sitting right by the dryer:
Spider

I wet myself, ran screaming upstairs and did not go back to the basement for a week. My husband took that picture when the evil wolf spider (which Google says is harmless but CAN JUMP VERY FAR) re-surfaced. And no, my husband NEVER says, “Aww, look at this cute picture!” and then shows me the spider picture. Because that would be mean.

Then, just last week, I was relaxing on the couch, watching The Bachelor a thoughtful PBS analysis of the sequestration and its effect on the middle class. Suddenly the gate to our back deck creaked open and a raccoon the size of a PONY walked on to the deck and right up to the sliding door. And then he stared at me and screamed, through his foaming, rabies-infected mouth, that he was going to open that door and come in our living room and eat my feet and then take the remote and watch nature shows in high def. At least I think that’s what happened; it was hard to tell, since I immediately did a kind of handstand on the couch so that I could get my feet as far as possible off the ground.

This is exactly what he looked like, except about 80 times bigger with more foam around his extremely sharp teeth:
Raccoon

So, in a nutshell, I am often a little on edge about what creature is going to visit us and try to attack me next.

Wednesday during dinner, I had to run to the fridge in the garage for some milk. I was convinced that the raccoon was going to come sneaking out from behind the fridge and go for my feet again, or that he was going to drive the car at me or carbon monoxide poison me, so I was on high alert. But instead of a rabid attack on my feet I WAS ATTACKED FROM ABOVE.

No, I am NOT kidding you. Just as I opened the refrigerator door, I hear a rustling above my head and feel a slight breeze. I turn and see a flash flying though the air and immediately know it is a bat, because a bird would not be scary enough. And then I think it is probably a vampire bat because I still don’t know if those are a real thing or not, so I slam the refrigerator door, put my hands around my neck (so as to avoid vampirization) and high-knee it into the house (to avoid the rabid raccoon foot attack) and I don’t stop running until I hit a wall. My husband asks me what the hell is wrong, and I tell him SOMETHING IS IN THE GARAGE SOMETHING THAT FLIES AND SCREAMS!! He is unphased, probably because he knows that I exaggerate a wee tiny bit occassionally I am totally fine. So he goes outside, opens the garage doors, and waits for the bat to fly away. And now that he is free, the vampire bat can meet with the rabid raccoon in their coven to plan their next attack on my feet and/or sanity.

I am determined not to pass my anxiety about our neighborhood wildlife on to my kids, who love all things nature-related. So instead of telling them that mommy lost her mind because there was a bat in our garage, I tell them it was a cute little baby bat – OR MAYBE IT WAS A FAIRY. A beautiful, sparkly fairy, with little wings and a wand! Because, frankly, I would like to believe it was a fairy, and my daughter certainly wanted to believe it was a fairy, and my son always enjoys a good argument with his sister. So, win.

If that fairy gets too close to me, though, I will cut her.