Author Archives: betrent

The Horsemen of the Camping Apocalypse

Everyone has been asking how cabin life is. They are romantically assuming that we are living la vida little house on the prairie, rolling down hills in flower dresses, and giggling like school girls, tripping over daisies. It’s all true.  

For those of you just joining this broadcast, we are temporarily lodging at a cabin, in between moves. Mason is moving from Ft Riley to Ft Bragg. I came out to “help”, but instead of a hotel (like “normal people”) we are in a cabin.

Why are we in a cabin? Mason sold his house, we have to live somewhere until we can leave here at the end of May. Why the end of May? So we can stay in a cabin of course! The Army wants us to enjoy this time as a family, together, all cozy in a small, warm place, it has nothing to do with schedules, affordability, or availability. Back to my story: There are NO available hotel rooms for a thirty-mile radius. It’s graduation season. As one hotel manager so nicely put it, “We are a college friendly town, NOT an Army friendly town. We’d be happy to RAISE the price $100 a night.”  OH well, crap, I should have lied and told her were Air Force. 

Mason finally suggested that we might want to consider camping. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s windy here! NO. We called the lodge to see if we could a) get a cabin and b) not get charged an arm and a leg. They were kind enough to move around some other guests AND give us a break on the price since we’d need the place for three weeks while we waited for Mason to sign out of his unit. I love these people, and now want to give them cookies, every day, for the rest of their lives.

Let’s get back to the romantic and rustic cabin in the woods our happy little family is cohabiting. It is surrounded by woodland creatures daily, most of them singing to wake us. It smells like a scent straight out of Bath and Body Works Twilight Woods series, and it’s just so cozy. The kids sing Kumbaya every night as we toast marshmallows, holding hands, and stargazing too. 

The End! 

What a beautiful story!

We are living in a horror movie people.

It already smells like four adult truck drivers live here. It’s covered in the stuff we have accumulated and/or the stuff we need to exist in a cabin for three weeks; (like Gwen’s 45 Monster High dolls, why wouldn’t we have those for a temporary move), a bag of dirty mismatched socks (that’s a necessity), $60 bougie tanning cream left over from that fiasco at the tanning place last month, a Longaberger basket (don’t ask if you don’t know, and if you DO know stop laughing), all of Mason’s military gear, and other stuff, lots, and lots of other stuff. Lots of it. One thing we ARE missing? The key to this cabin. That’s gone forever since the day they gave it us. 

The other night, Mason wanted to sleep with the window open so he wouldn’t melt into the sheets.  I woke up at three am to a squeaking noise that is best described as someone rocking back and forth in a rocking chair on our porch. We don’t have a rocking chair. Terrified, I woke Mason to make him close the window and the blinds so I didn’t have to see what was on the porch beckoning us “to the other side”. He laughed, closed the window, and decided to use the bathroom. Oh yeah? Well I’ve seen this horror movie before so I was going with him! I wasn’t going to get killed while he was peeing! So we went into the bathroom to see a half dead coach roach on the floor, beckoning us “to the other side”. Looks like the porch ghost go to it first. Mason flushed it and was about to leave. I was lamenting flushing that damn thing because guess what? I also saw THAT horror movie and would now rather pee in the tub. Mason went on to explain the mechanics of a toilet complete with burials at sea but all I heard was, “Bla bla bla, it’s going to bite your butt!” We all survived the night, thanks to my horror movie smarts, but it was close. I could feel it.

In all honesty, the scariest thing is that Gwenghis Khan has invaded and taken over the main floor. Eli played it smart by claiming the loft. It sleeps two, in twin beds, and is half the size of the cabin. A teenage boy needs his space. He skillfully told Gwen he hoped he wasn’t a sleepwalker and fell to his death in the middle of the night. She’s been sleeping on the couch with the dog since day one, wondering if SHE is a sleepwalker. We haven’t seen much of Eli since he’s been enjoying the penthouse suite. Gwen has been dancing and singing, loudly, to everything Disney Channel, while she has managed to take over the entire floor like Sanford and Sons. I wake up whistling, “Ber Ner Ner Ner”, just like in the show. I can’t clean enough, or make her clean enough to make any of it seem to go away. This stuff reappears and multiplies over night like gremlin garbage. Like I said, horror story.

There is no place to hide in here. There is a “master bedroom” with a “door” on it that we can “close” but the kids figured out how “knock” and “open it” and “ask questions” or make “declarations of boredom”. They always want food, or clean clothes, or entertainment. They are SO needy!

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The bathroom? Terrifying. When you get out of the shower, the towels! They only PUSH water around on you. They don’t dry you off at all! I’m constantly checking for cockroaches now (I have a rotating loop of Reba’s “Fancy” stuck in my head; horrific in and of itself). It’s also a fun game to see who Absolutely. Has. To. Poop. While you brush your teeth. There’s just no telling. 

We have been cooking on charcoal for over a week. Going into this cabin adventure I was so excited to “make foil packets”, and be all “outdoorsy” just like all those pretty Pinterest pictures suggest, despite the fact that I hate charcoal. Yes, I hate cooking with charcoal. It’s a pain in the ass. I am lazy, and I love lighting a GASP gas grill, setting a temp, and walking the fuck away to come back and have it at the SAME TEMPERATURE (ish). Anyone who is going to put in the comments section, “There is no better way to cook!” I am telling you now, I do not care, and I already know who you are too! SHHH! Don’t waste your time, You’ve already lambasted me in my head. As Mason says, “I am not the person who will adjust the temp of a charcoal fire, piece by piece, with joy in their heart.” Nope. Not me. I want to slap a foil packet of garlic and cilantro shrimp down, knowing that in 10-15 minutes that shit will be done! Not an hour later because guess what? The charcoal needs an adjustment but I can’t adjust it because the smoke got in my eyes, and now I’m in tears, swatting at bugs, with a burn on my hand, chasing the dog who got out and is barking down the road at unsuspecting campers, with the shrimp now somehow on the ground, Gwen asking me if I’ve seen the marshmallows, and can she have ANOTHER strawberry shortcake, and no she can’t because if she has ONE more I’m pretty sure she will develop diabetes, and figure out the secret of whip its, the dog is gone forever at this point and there might be dead campers at the end of the road now because they have stopped screaming, there is a bee in my hair, a tree is on fire, is that one of the horsemen of the apocalypse I see through the soot and tears? Shit.

 

 

 

The McDonald-Trent State of the Almost Union

I’m genuinely touched when people ask us how we are, and mean it. So often it’s a greeting we say in passing, with no intention of really wanting to know that someone is stressed, feels ill, and so on. We respond with a quick, “Fine, thanks!” and then move on. Maybe we don’t have time to get into all the details of everything that’s going on. For whatever our reasons, we say, “Fine.” I’m pretty sure when our spouses died, Mason and I both told everyone we were OK and left it at that. 

We have been inundated with questions about Mason’s homecoming, and our plans (mostly because my Facebook posts are vague and assume the reader doesn’t care what’s going on). My Facebook is mostly reserved for ridiculous things we find in stores, and insulting things my daughter says. I have a twitter account but I might have used it once to send a picture of a squirrel in a kilt.

I am going to take the opportunity now, while I wait on a pizza, to try to update everyone on what’s been going on. Real quick apology to the followers that have read exactly one blog and don’t even know my name is Beth. Thank you for following me! You are about to learn more about me then you wanted to. 

Mason came home from Afghanistan at the end of March, he swears it was the beginning of April, it might have been. I’m just thrilled he didn’t die. I remembered to shave my legs, and was able to donate all of that hair to locks of love. 

Mason hit the ground running. He got home with orders to move to North Carolina to be with me. That’s not really what the order says, I think It says he has to keep flying for the Army or something, but it’s so much more romantic to say it’s to be with me.

We have kids. One each, Mason’s son, Eli, is 19, and my daughter, Gwen, is 10. They get along 99.9% of the time. We have NO idea how this happened. In addition to that fun fact, they LIKE doing things with us. I don’t know if they haven’t spent enough time online, or watching Nick Jr. to know they aren’t supposed to even like us let alone want to go along with my harebrained schemes to go bowling on a Friday night because there is NOTHING to do here but get drunk and vandalize things (at my age, I’m not even talking about the kids!)

The house is nearly sold. VERY NEARLY. We have the best realtor ever in KS, thanks to the most effective best friend ever that just gets things done (Katie, you know who you are). (PS No offense to the best realtor ever in NC.)

We’ve been rolling along with packing, inspections, pretending to be a normal family, Easter, I don’t know, other mundane shit, and some other really exciting crap like finishing a semester of college for Eli, homeschooling Gwen, finishing my college semester, and we decided to try a month long tanning spree (dumbest move ever for two pale scots), packed up the house, and actually did some work that we get paid for, got some doctors appointments in, had to fight tooth and nail to get a hotel reservation for the in between time of moving out and moving to NC (we were one reservation away from either homelessness for three weeks or losing friends kind enough to offer a home), bought a GMC we could all fit in (because we are all Amazonian tall), managed to get blacklisted from every Chevy dealer from here to Topeka ((not a lie), and I’m sure we did other things but I can’t remember it all because it’s been so much, wash rinse repeat with Vodka (for me not the kids, that’s not “responsible parenting”). All of that happened in less than four weeks. 

We remembered to turn off the utilities, stop the mail, blablabla. Each time Mason called a service provider, they asked if anyone was remaining in the home. By the fifth call I wanted to start telling people, “Yes, we decided to leave the kids behind but they aren’t prepared to pay for the internet. That won’t be an issue will it?”

We started packing the trailer of things we will take with us to drive half way across the country, and got a call from the best realtor ever. The worst home assessor ever decided to assess the home, and sit on her good ASSessment for over two weeks, leaving us with a laundry list of things to accomplish in 32 hours before we leave for the Bahamas on a Disney vacation we planned in 1984 because it took us that long to pay for it. 

Enter stage left all of the best friends in the universe to help us, a contractor that magically appeared to help get it all done (admittedly after I may have called him several times, and he only showed up because I scared him). Regardless, it all looks like it should get done by the closing date. 

So how are we? We are stressed. We are a little harebrained, possibly over caffeinated, the kids forgot deodorant 2 days in a row, I lost mine entirely, BUT we are hopeful, still making our bad jokes, and ready to be heading out for some pina coladas! 

Thank you to everyone that has helped us! Thank you to everyone who has asked after us. We are doing well because we have so much love and support still and we are grateful every day for it!

By this time tomorrow we will be in Florida (without deodorant). 

*I didn’t proof read this post because I don’t have time. Please assume I’m more intelligent than my typos.

I Am a Curmudgeon!

I struggle with my inner asshole ALL THE TIME it seems. Those of you who know me, and have already started laughing, TRY to give me some credit. I know at least 2 people that could vouch for me, I swear. I really try to understand that everyone is doing their best. I try to take into account that people are struggling with some blabadeebla or something horrible, or stressful. I am well aware that my threshold for annoyance is low, no thanks to high expectations, experience, and an education that really serves no purpose other than irritate me further. 

I struggle with it enough that in my endeavor to be less of a jerk, Mason, in all his helpfulness, tried to find me better synonyms for the word so I didn’t have to keep saying “I’m an asshole”. He is so sweet he offered “curmudgeon” and then used the Google to find synonyms, then said, “Oh, no, none of the words I found can be repeated, even for you. 

Best friend forever, Nina, was with me at Dunkin Donuts the other day when my inner curmudgeon slipped out, as I called the cashier a dip shit, I promise by accident, until I meant it on purpose. We ordered at the drive through, asked for 2 glazed, and 2 Oreo glazed. We were informed that they were out of glazed. No big deal, we’ll take a chocolate donut. The kid tells us we’ll get our total at the window. When we get to the window, the kid is staring at us like a slack jawed yokel. Just staring. I look at him, too, just a blank well Botoxed stare. He gives me a slight look and shrug as if to say, “well?” so I ask how much. He points far below the window where the total is blaring at me from what I only assume is 3 feet below Hades it is THAT far down. Any of you that have been to Taco Bell, or Panera know that is right next to the window. Not at DD! Nope! That’s UNDER the window, ½ in the gutter. I go for my wallet and mutter, “Dip shit”, in the direction of my purse, but audibly. Not the kind of audible utterance you give when you want them to hear you either. It was the thought in my head that came out of my mouth. I immediately felt horribly for it. This kid didn’t deserve that. Dunkin Donuts is just a high school gig for this kid, he’s here to (hopefully) learn some skills that will take him on to bigger, and better things. He doesn’t make enough to be called names. He really didn’t deserve it. I looked at him sheepishly as I handed over the money, hoping he didn’t hear me. I took the donuts, already waiting for us before I acted like a jerk, and was grateful he didn’t have a chance to spit on them. When I opened the box, it had glazed donuts in them (surprise!), none of the Oreo donuts I asked for, and a vanilla something. I immediately wanted to turn around and call him a dip shit three times to his face but did not. I really DO try to curtail my inner a-hole. They are only donuts! 

I have to try to be better than an a-hole for the sake of my daughter. I do not want to raise another me, expecting people to, I don’t know, know what a glazed donut is, know to tell you a total, things like that. If the little things upset her, how will she get though life’s horrible crisis? Wait, we already have! Never mind! What is WRONG with people? 

Today we were at dinner and as soon as we sat down I was looking for a way out of the booth we were put in. Two tables over was “Hover Mom”. We’ve all seen a HM, we’ve all been one. This lady was on my last, and only nerve from the second I sat down. She was hunched over “Bubala” yelling, “big bites, BIG BITES, BIIIG BIIITES” at him, and he was fighting her to the death. I might be exaggerating. I half expected this kid to go all Gladiator on her and start fighting her with his fork or something. I might be exaggerating again. She remained FOCUSED and INSISANT with Bubala. In all honesty the kid was doing nothing, that’s what annoyed me. He was well behaved and minding his coloring and she couldn’t let him alone.  She was sitting with another family that I can only describe as shell shocked by her raised, and forceful voice. “The Dad” that was with “The Wife” and “The Other Little Kid The Same Age But Not Being Traumatized” all had bug eyes were looking at her, watching her force Bubala to take his, “BIG BIIIITES! BIIIIG BIIIITES!” of food. They all looked frazzled and she was intent on Bubala. After approximately thirty seconds of this I ordered a martini and regretted it because my friend Sara told me there was a drink called the Painkiller on the menu. Apparently this lady had dined here with Bubala before. I did have my drink in two really long “as ladylike as I could muster” swigs when the waitress brought it. Gwen was sitting across from me and kindly reminded me to stop staring. I had a moment of motherly pride that my ten year old was telling me not to stare, then I was immediately embarrassed because she was ten and I was the one staring. “The Dad” was giving me dirty looks now. Sara thought it was because he wasn’t at the drinking table, and the waitress had just brought her a fish bowl full of sangria and margarita; I thought it was because that was just his face. I’d have that face too if I was stuck listening to that, right in my ear. The WHOLE time the lady was forcing Hot Wheels, or applesauce on this kid and the WHOLE time he was pushing her off. She really wanted him to have “Chucky Trucky” and “BIG BITES!” Bubala was trying to color, mind his own business, and she was doing the best she could to make him do what she wanted. I promise you all I had NOTHING better to think about this entire time.

Bubala didn’t make a sound once while they were at dinner. HM was in various volumes throughout dinner, mostly raising her voice to get through to Bubala that he HAD to take BIG BITES of applesauce. I kind of wish she would have raised her voice to talk about interesting stuff. I was forced to fill in the gaps for her. Every time she leaned over to talk to “The Dad” I had to make up stories for her.  By the time dinner was over she had a rare disease that was eating her appendix, her husband was philandering with three Thai hookers, it was causing them to go broke, and at this rate, she’d never afford to get her kitchen redone! It was better than focusing on eating my dry chicken, overcooked shrimp, all of it drowning in too spicy sauce that was intended to cover up the dry chicken and overcooked shrimp. Gwen had face planted about two minutes into sitting down because she couldn’t stand the noise either. I tried to talk about anything but Chucky Trucky or Big Bites but it was overwhelming. I need a hobby.

During the course of dinner the manager came by, the chef, his cousin Tommy, and his childhood sweetheart, all wanting to know how we were doing and I’m pretty sure by we they meant they. I couldn’t tell them I was irate because I’m an asshole, it wasn’t their fault. I was at a mediocre establishment, and it wouldn’t be fair to blame them for things that weren’t their fault. They also didn’t care that I might be a tad uptight because I quit smoking and was lacking coping skills to deal with that (cough drops are a poor substitute my friends, who knew? Don’t ask). I’m pretty sure they don’t want to hear my rant on perimenopause either. I’m having a hot flash just thinking about it. I’m always trying to keep the a-hole in check, no matter what I think my excuse is. I probably would have been annoyed had no one come to the table and cared how mediocrely they were doing.  Why is mediocrely a word? My life is a paradox. Hot-flash-sigh-non-smoking-deep-cleansing-exhale.

Do I even have a point to all of this? Probably. I don’t want to raise Gwen to be uptight. I’d like her to just not care that much. I want her to have coping skills, and tune out too loud ladies that are just doing the best they can and obviously care for their children without passing judgment. I’d like that for myself too while I’m at it, I’d also like a unicorn/Pegasus hybrid, I want to know where to put commas, and I’d REALLY love for autocorrect to be a mind reader. Hashtag letitgo! Sigh.

The Joys of Counter Parenting

My friends give me thoughts, lots of them. They raise great points in conversations about anything and thanks to them, I have things to blog about.

In a recent conversation about the battlefield we know as parenting, a friend and I were discussing the A-hole parent. We all know one, we all have been one, but this particular brand of A-hole parent is the one we have to counter parent because of.

Counter parenting is what I do when the child of an A-hole parent has gone too far as a result of being a spoiled, unapologetic, inconsiderate, undisciplined, bratty brat. I think I heard the educated person in me say something like “neglected” but what ever. I’m not listening to the educated person I might be. I am going to just indulge the irritated parent I am, with a side of chocolate to aid in the digestive process. Grab a side of Godiva and enjoy.

Parents who refuse to raise polite and considerate children are doing the rest of us a disservice and they irritate me and my child, my friends, and a lot of others. Just please stop. Dear overindulgent parent: No one wants to be around you and they can’t tell you. They may have mentioned it, and you had the audacity to get offended, standing your ground like Attila the Hun but with your hair done. That rhymed.

I have better things to do than raise my child using counter parenting techniques to offset your terrible parenting. I could be teaching junior quantum physics but instead, I’m teaching her coping skills, on a grand scale, and telling her that being a Buddhist monk at 10 isn’t really a consideration. My child is a master breather and one step away from being considered a self healer because we have had to stop and have thoughtful lessons on why other kids do the things they do and turn the shades of red and purple they do because they didn’t get what they wanted.  We live a very good life. I say yes as often as possible and no when necessary. Gwen happens to think I say no all the time, I am ok with that, until she gets entitled. Then I have put on my angry eyes.

She does chores, and asks why yours doesn’t. I don’t have an answer.  She wants to know why she has barbeques and pin the tale on the donkey for her birthday parties and yours has a grand theme and trips. I like simplicity. I want to keep my child grounded. She asks why your child has everything handed to them and she has to do yard work to support her Monster High Doll habit. Work has value I tell her. Gwen walks around our house singing songs from Annie and hypothesizing what life with Daddy Warbucks would be like and I really want to see if you’ll let her have a sleep over and try her on for adoption but the moral of that story isn’t something Erma Bombeck could pull out of “The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank”.  We all know real children would eat their weight in chocolate at that A-hole parent’s house and beg to stay as much as we’d want them to appreciate how much we are trying to raise humble, wonderful, philanthropic humans. Gwen doesn’t see her life as privileged and my only reaction is a blank stare and not because I have enough Botox to have a beautifully smooth and unexpressive forehead but because you are an A-hole! Balance is a struggle, but that’s our burden, it shouldn’t be our children’s or their friends.

When Gwen and I have our quiet time, the time in our day when school work is done, errands are done, we are just sitting and doing nothing, Gwen will talk. She lets it all out in those moments. Sometimes they scare me because they are the questions I don’t want to answer, the questions that mean she’s growing up.  The explanations for what she heard from little Sally or Jonny, or worse yet, YouTube, where I have to explain a colloquialism I’d rather her not have in her vernacular. Then there are the things that hurt my heart because some A-hole parent doesn’t have the chutzpah to tell their kid no, or take any joy in simplicity, or put their foot down and discipline their children for anything at all.  Your little hellion is a bully because of it. They don’t take any responsibility and guess what? Our kids don’t want to play with yours. They don’t want to be friends with your kids, hang out now, or when they are older, they won’t want to eventually date them either. They are making people miserable, they are going to continue making people miserable and it’s kinda your fault as the A-hole parent. Your kid probably makes YOU miserable too and you KNOW it! Why are you afraid of your child? Why did you give them all the power in your household? The short term “happiness” of letting kids have their way and not saying no is foolish. It’s just that, short term. Is it really worth it though? That short term happiness you get for giving in isn’t even happiness is it? The short term discomfort of saying no and dealing with that eye roll, whine, and or insert other foot stomping action here _____ is nothing compared to the added benefit of raising a child that is a decent human is immeasurable.

We are raising children that other kids are going to have to put up with. People that the real world is going to attack and we are doing them no favors by sheltering them and spoiling them. One of my friends was lamenting on a particularly irritating parent that was spoiling her daughters to no end and that her son was going to eventually date girls like that. He’d never be able to even get in the game one day with girls like that. She went on to say, “If we teach our kids that everything is going to be handed to them, who’s going be doing the handing out? Who are the generous ones?” Excellent question!

Say no to your children. There is value in it I promise you. I say no to my daughter, she does chores, she works to earn the extras she wants and she still hugs me, tells me she loves me, and cuddles with me on the couch to watch movies. I even caught her doing a load of laundry on her own the other day. My heart swelled as my cashmere sweater shrank, but she is learning to care for things, herself, others, she’s learning the value of work, and I’d rather have a shrunken sweater than a jerk for a kid.

 

You will love your body if you don’t look at it!

It’s that time again…time for the interweb, magazines, and mailboxes to fill up with horrific images of skinny people in bathing suits reminding us normal people that’s is swimsuit time.

While we all look forward to our dreams of margaritas, and palm trees the grim truth remains; we can’t dress like Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story to brave the polar vortex and hide our flaws much longer.

My sister and I have FINALLY planned our Bahamian cruise/ Disney vacation extraordinaire for her really belated 40th birthday celebration. This trip has been through so many “next year”, and “maybe someday” routines I’ll be damned if I let the tears of trying on a bathing suit at Target stop it. 

It all started several weeks ago. I took Gwen to Target (mistake number 1) to try on bathing suits sober (mistake number 2).  I know you are all reading that like Gwen was sober? Yes, shocking that my ten year old was sober, so was I. There we were, hopped on a full fat breakfast from Panera, some chocolate milk, and a latte (mistake number 3), and standing in a circus mirror with horrific lighting, near tears, and mostly naked. My internal monologue went into overdrive. The rotating loop of negative comments I could make about myself was on fast play so on top of being negative, they all sounded like munchkins from Oz AND I was in Mom mode desperately trying to set a good example on body image for Gwen so she didn’t grow up looking at herself and thinking terrible thoughts. Mom of the year that I am gave up too quickly, looked at Gwen, said, “I need better lighting.” Gwen replied, “and a tan.”  I pursed my lips, closed my eyes, and took a deep breath. I know what the preying mantis eats their young. I went to VS, paid more than I wanted to, but thank you Oprah, the lighting in there is soft, and they had a one piece! I forgot my troubles, went home, and promptly distracted myself from the day’s stress (with a bag of Oreos).

A few weeks later, one of my dear friends reminded me the VS catalog is out (an epic occasion to cry over how “padded” I’ve become over the winter months, how old I’ve gotten, and how gorgeous I’ll never be) on the same day my sister called because she made my very same rookie mistake at Target, with her daughter, sober (both of them). I had forgotten the swimsuit issue AND the experience at Target because for years I’ve been doing two things: 1) don’t look down 2) forget about it. While I made the mistake of looking in the mirror at Target, I certainly remembered to forget about it. 

Years ago when I was 200 pounds I didn’t want to go on the beach at all. I went from being a babe to having a baby and looked like it. I had stretch marks, wobbly bits, 60 extra pounds, and NO desire to do anything about it. Luckily, we were in Europe and no one cared. Sure there were beautiful women, topless, next to us, but there were also larger women, topless, next to us. FANTASTIC! Body image over there is so different. I put on my bathing suit, refused to look down, and learned to not care! Best summers ever.

We moved back to the US a few years later and I forgot, people here DO care, and so did my doctors. They hounded me to lose weight because I wasn’t healthy. I lost weight but not the stretch marks, the wobbly bits, the “porcelain skin”, the blue veins that were now turning purple, was my hair thinning too? Shit! Oh and I also have wrinkles, everywhere. Botox only covers the face, ladies, get it anywhere else and you just stop “glistening”.

If it worked in Europe it was going to have to work here too…I kept not looking down and it was liberating. My neighbor, a former bodybuilder,  had had 2 kids and always wore shorts to the pool. For years I told her she was insane, and should just stop looking down. Really, she looks fine to me. She is in her 20s, her skin is still pretty elastic. I told her that but she didn’t care, she knew how she felt. She finally bought a red one piece last year and stopped wearing clothing into the pool. I am so proud of her. 

Here’s the thing ladies, we all look like crap in florescent lighting. We look better in natural lighting, or better yet, dim lights, or the dark. Insert some more advice here about having a drink before making important decisions about bathing suits, insert some more psycho babble about being happy with your tree here blabla, but really…don’t look down. That’s the best advice ever.

We are all real people, unphotoshopped, jiggly, had a baby, didn’t have a baby, have a few pounds or several pounds, lost weight or didn’t, we are real people and I don’t think one of us is going to look at a fellow sister at the pool and think, “you shoulda worn the shorts.” No! We wouldn’t. If you did you’re just an A-hole. We’d compare our veins, our rolls, pass the vodka disguised as lemonade to look more responsible, and curse the latest wrinkle, and see who gets the cheaper Botox. 

Here’s a WILD idea! Don’t look at yourself that closely. Just don’t, nothing good comes out of it. Try on a bathing suit, FEEL it. Can you breathe? You have a winner. Now go home, have another drink and forget what just happened. When you put the suit on, make sure it’s sitting as well as it will, grab another vodka lemonade, head to the pool, and don’t look down. Pay attention to the beautiful day, and instead of making fun of yourself, make fun of the dad sucking it in when he walks past the teenage girls. 

The Pointlessness of Pretensions

I am beginning to wonder if I had an original thought at all this month. This is ½ my reaction to another blog and ½ my reaction to a real life scenario.

This past week I saw a blog posted by a mom about her rock bottom MOMent and ended up having several interactions with friends of mine that ultimately reminded me 1) why we are friends, and 2) that this woman was a %$#@. The bottom line for her post was that she had her three children, clean, dressed, entertaining themselves, and feeding each other in a quiet, organized manner BUT one was in Christmas pj’s in January and the other was in a car seat she was too big for. She was also lamenting that two of them were playing with their iPad’s, while she was getting ready for a social engagement. Poor, poor, privileged children, and poor, poor, socially engaged mother of three able to juggle all of it while maintaining the cleanest floor I’ve ever seen. Sigh. She just HAD to capture her “rock bottom mom moment on film and share it with the world!” because we are too focused on everything being so picture perfect. She really only wanted a compliment but it got me thinking…

I think my rock bottom MOMents are hilarious! I have so many but my favorite was when Gwen had Vesuvius like diarrhea on a flight. It was a short flight and I had 3 diapers. We hadn’t even taken off and Vesuvius erupted. Gwen wasn’t even acting sick, she was giggling! Ok, fluke I thought to myself, I’ll change her and that’s that. I was very wrong. She erupted FIVE MORE TIMES! There was turbulence. I smeared Vesuvius on SEVEN people I passed in the aisle by accident! Apologetic and trying to keep her as high above them as I could, I reached muscle failure, and deeply regretted never having worked out so that I had any arm muscles to hold a two year old over my head, dripping with poo. In the bathroom, a flight attendant from Scotland told me, and I quote, with a brilliant accent, “For God sakes, don’t leave that diaper in THERE!” every time! Every time I returned to my seat I accidentally put the offending bags of steaming poo in my best friend’s purse instead of mine in my hurry to try to bury the wreaking pile, I never looked down to clarify the bag I was making a deposit in. After I was out of fresh diapers, I had no choice but to clothe my darling child in plastic bags from the waste down. I had to deplane my homeless looking cherub, muttering things “your mother will be appalled when she finds out!”  I drove her all the way home, in plastic, praying the eruptions had stopped, and they had, from her rear. Out of her mouth, sitting in traffic, came a perfectly enunciated, “Fucking go!” to the cars in front of us, while I was on the phone with my sister to witness it.

I will admit my pretensions do exist. I’d like my child to learn to curse in a few different languages, but vague ones, not easily recognizable ones. I think cursing sounds more dignified with an accent and en Francais! 

I wished Gwen was interested in Barbie. She loves the Monster High series of dolls. She asked for a Barbie mansion once and I got excited! She immediately turned into a Monster High Whore House of the Damned (because you know, those dolls aren’t dressed like puritans), and I hung my head, pretension defeated again. 

We all stage moments. We have to! We should all have a pristine memory or two. I understand that, I just wonder about the people that only share the staged part of life? We all know one, one person that only posts the staged, perfectly poised “I just dressed my kids perfectly for our Disney vacation in their little Cinderella outfits” people. Gwen dressed like Mulan flashing gang signs and photo bombing those kids at Disney when we were there in 2010. True story.

I can’t help but wonder what those people are afraid of. Maybe they aren’t afraid. Maybe their lives are so horrible that all they have is a perfectly staged world of fiction on Facebook.  Maybe they need to fish for compliments in their pools of ambiguity because they have no confidence in themselves. I would hope that’s not the case. I would hope every Mom I know has undefeatable confidence. I don’t care if you pretend to be the alpha blonde of the play group, we are all share the same fears in the end and our children should have some freedom to be their creative selves. 

I can go on for hours analyzing other people but we are talking about pretension so I’m going to make chocolat chaud and ponder why people do as they do so I don’t completely waste a Harvard education.

 

I don’t know how to be a feminist…

I am not in the habit of responding to what’s trending. I don’t want to get into that habit either. It just so happens that this topic is something I think deserves a good discussion. 

I wouldn’t call myself a feminist. I’m hardly feminine some days. I hate doing my hair (but do it anyway), I belch like Homer Simpson, and I like greasy burgers, beer, and Springsteen (wait, that makes me an American…never mind). I just read a blog about feminism, motherhood and marriage specifically, that I think made some great points but the tone was so off it did us a disservice. 

Amy Glass writes a blog on Thought Catalog. She wrote a blog titled ,“I Look Down on Young Women with Kids and Husbands and I’m not Sorry” (http://thoughtcatalog.com/amy-glass/2014/01/i-look-down-on-young-women-with-husbands-and-kids-and-im-not-sorry/). I read the article and I wasn’t as inflamed as other readers or bloggers that responded. I clicked on her other blogs and read them too. I wasn’t hungrily eating them up, rubbing my hands together with an evil laugh, muttering, “more! MORE!”  but I was reading her blogs and taking note of every decent point she made and shaking my head because she missed a great opportunity to drive those points home with any experience. Talking about mothers and wives and how we screw it all up while not being one is like talking about how men screw up standing and peeing and not having a dick to aim with. 

Ms. Glass made some really good points! She talked about how men focus on careers and women have to leave work early to take care of the family, women let themselves go, we lose ambition, we lose mobility and freedom, we complain about how hard life is, we will never be equal to men because our word play is holding us back. AMEN! A-FUCKING-MEN.  Oh crap, this is a feminist article…I meant A-FUCKING-WOMEN! Now let me break this down…and use some experience… 

Once I got married I did have to sacrifice. It was a choice I made knowing I’d have to make sacrifices. What Ms. Glass missed though was that there can be balance. Maybe balance is the wrong word. It is possible to do all the things you want, maybe just not the way you wanted to do them? 

When Gwen was born, we took her to Oktoberfest in Munich. She was two weeks old and we were on our way home from the hospital in Landsthul, Germany to Vicenza, Italy. It was a quick trip to Munich on the way back, and also did a little castle hoping on the way home. We had to! I wasn’t about to let my little bundle of joy begin her life and end mine. I traveled all over Europe with Gwen for three years after that and loved every minute of it. My only regret is that she is too young to remember any of it. I never imagined touring Europe with a small child, but I did. I made it work. I learned a lot about Gwen, myself, and how to take a tour of the catacombs in Rome with a baby with colic as did EVERYONE on the tour with me. Lucky people. After that we stuck with wide open spaces. 

I continued to work because I loved my job and I loved the people I worked with. I had an amazing boss then and continued to be blessed with great bosses, understanding of our situation. I had to be the one to stay home with Gwen when she was sick. One friend (and coworker) would tell me, “Enjoy your day off with your baby.” What sage advice! Enjoy that time. Even if I’m covered in barf, it’s a day to hold my precious girl. I would miss travel opportunities when Trent was away but it was OK because my boss never did schedule that business trip to Hawaii. I couldn’t stay late but let’s be honest who wants to?  People want to get home. They want to be with their families. Do men want to stay late? Do men want to be the ones that are always seen as ignoring their families? I had to make concessions but I didn’t have to fight for my rights in the work place either. I was already respected. I didn’t resent being a mother or a wife. 

I’m not saying it is all la-dee-da Shang-gri-la work and be a mom superhero. It wasn’t. It was gritty and I was furious about things sometimes. I’d come home, the dogs would have chewed everything from the kitchen to the doorway, Gwen would have a nose bleed, Trent would be sitting at the counter asking where dinner was, oblivious to the chaos around him, and my boss would be calling at the same time. Those are the days I would walk right back out the door, phone still ringing in my hand, and say, “I don’t know what you’re having, but I’m going to Applebee’s.” We have choices. Some days those choices are mediocre margaritas, it IS a choice. It is also a fact that it happens this way, women sacrifice. If it wasn’t a fact the internet wouldn’t have been ablaze with the picture of that dad doing his daughter’s hair. We don’t typically see men this way because of that fact, and many of us haven’t been married to that guy. It’s not fair to beat up Ms. Glass for pointing it out.

I get a lot of shit for wearing make-up/ doing my hair, and this is a point I agree with Ms. Glass on. Look your best. We feel better about ourselves when we look our best. No one got mad at Suave for that commercial about letting ourselves go and getting ourselves back with Suave. Mom’s talk about letting ourselves go all the time, how harried our lives are and this is where the complaining comes in. We ARE guilty of this (and with good reason so don’t unfriend me just yet). Why put on nice clothes when they are going to get blood stained and puked on and insert the list here ________ . I get it. I also get the Parisian style of parenting where the mom’s put the effort into themselves and children benefit. Better Homes did an article years ago about 5 couture items you should have (yes, as a mom), that make you feel like a million bucks when you’re covered in puke, on your way to Walmart to get children’s Tylenol at 10 pm. Airplane crash mentality people! Take care of yourself first so you can better take care of others while you are covered in barf.

I was content putting my dreams to the side and living the life I chose. In reality being a forensic expert for the FBI,  or an assassin, would have been a lonely choice. I did lose ambition though and it cost me. I got stuck in that rut of go to work, come home, feed everyone, pass out, wash, rinse, repeat. I chose that as much as I did everything else and I won’t get mad at Ms. Glass for pointing that out.  We all need to read this article and take a deeper look at ourselves and make sure we aren’t falling into a rut. She could be helping us if we let her.

She is absolutely right with word play. That is hurting us. I think she nailed it when she said doing laundry is not as important as being a doctor or building a business.  I’m not doing laundry. I’m managing a household. I’m running a business here. Managing a household “used” to be a job (ask Mr. Carson). I hire people to do things, I have accounts payable, distribution, refurbishment, the list goes on. I’m not homeschooling my daughter, I’m the administrator of her education. How did I work full time and run this house? I have NO idea! We can’t demand equality and respect if we meekly say things like “I’m a stay at home mom”. Who invented that term? I don’t even stay at home! We downplay our roles with verbiage while complaining about their difficulties and it only makes sense if we start discussing antithetical parallelism.

Maybe I don’t know the struggles of a true feminist. Maybe I live in a world that’s more fulfilling than hers because I have amazing love, understanding and satisfaction. Maybe I didn’t and I just chose to see or react to it differently? I do know women struggle and I will never deny that. I also know we shouldn’t look down on each other for our choices (except at maybe Walmart). I think true feminism is supporting those choices and learning from each other, our experiences. The richness of those experiences, with children, and husbands, without them, we should be able to talk about them and help other sisters in their fight for their rights for equality where there is disparity.