Not Here to be Your Bitch

After a solid couple of years where I managed to mostly avoid drama in my personal life, I had a major falling out this week with my extended family.

Normally I wouldn’t write about something like this on my blog because it involves blood relatives who have not given their consent, but in this particular situation I think it is important to talk about what happened because it is so common — especially given our current social and political climate.

The event, which is a really nice way of saying “the crazy fight with my family on Facebook” was a result of years — a lifetime, really — of unspoken, clashing opinions about everything from politics to boundaries, until it all came bubbling to the surface in one of those spectacular social media trainwrecks that cause people to pull over onto the side of the road so they can safely upload screenshots to Reddit.

So, what happened?

Well, it’s a lot to try to boil down into a digestible explanation, but essentially I am related to people who do not understand how racist they truly are. Or maybe they do know, deep down, but they keep it sorta tucked away and ignored because they have the luxury to do that.

This relative is one I don’t know very well, but when he sent me a friend request on Facebook months ago, I accepted it. I have a sneaking suspicion that he extended that request because he enjoys the company of the rest of our family and probably, erroneously, assumed I share his views. And the thing is, this is typical — right? All of us are just trying to make it through the day. We are all human beings with our own thoughts and feelings.

But his comments. Oh, his comments. Just so much increasingly offensive racism. At first, I engaged. Then, I stopped and chose to ignore. That was a lot easier. I wondered, should I unfriend this guy? But I didn’t, which I now regret, because I have never censored my social media accounts. If people fight, they fight. If they call me names, I don’t hide their comments. I let the chips fall, because I am not in the business of trying to curate my image or the image of my family. That would make me a fraud. 

Additionally, I’m in weekly therapy to unlearn codependency. This is an important thing to note because through a lot of intense work I have come to understand that I am not responsible for anyone else’s words or actions. Only mine.

One day, I received an email from a woman of color who took the time to school me. I didn’t like what she had to say because she was calling me out, and it stung. She said, “You call yourself an ally, but you won’t even deal with your own family.” She’d lost respect for me, and the longer I sat with it, the more I realized that she was right.  

Over the summer, I started a job with Upworthy writing branded content. Shortly after, George Floyd was killed. The protests started and my work shifted in nature, giving me the opportunity to interview and really dig into the major racial and social issues in America. 

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it.

My non-white friends raising boys have different conversations with their sons than I have with mine. For them, it’s terrifying when their husband leaves the house at night to run to the grocery store. They dread the day their children learn to drive. My friend with a LGBTQ child was outed by kids at school. My son’s friends. My daughter’s friends. My friends. Their fear is legit; the things Maverick comes home and tells me that other kids say, the things they think, drives the point home.

“Why are kids so hateful?” People ask that all the time. 

It’s because they’ve learned it. Full stop.

We are faced with a choice: perpetuate the problem, or address the problem.

***

On the day that Joe Biden announced his running mate, I posted a Facebook status about how much I look forward to voting this November. Most of the comments were from friends who are similarly excited to restore some semblance of sanity to the White House, and other friends had questions about why I am voting for Biden rather than Trump. 

But then, here comes my relative, dropping racist comments. After months of ignoring him, I snapped. Now, let me be clear: I REIGNED IT IN when I addressed him. I did not say so many of the things I wanted to say so many of the times he commented and called me a “baby killer” (because I think women deserve the right to make decisions about their own bodies) or a “libtard” (I’m a registered Independent).

This time, when he started, it wasn’t about political differences. He was insulting me and my family, because his comments were about race.

Racial issues are not political issues. Why are we mashing them together? 

I don’t understand how we got here, but I do understand one thing: calling out my white relative was my responsibility. You’ve heard the saying “get your people,” right? That’s what it means. 

I called him out and my family lost their ever-loving minds, publicly, for all to see. They called me a hypocrite. They said I don’t understand where I come from. They called me elitist, and said I just don’t understand tongue-in-cheek humor.

They said I should be ashamed of myself.

Apparently, I failed to fulfill my family role and shield my racist uncle from the consequences of his actions, and they are very disappointed in me. As a recovering people pleaser, I didn’t enjoy it. My nerves are shot, my stomach is upset, and I’m fairly certain I’m giving Robbie nervous diarrhea. But also? I sleep really well at night.

The family dysfunction explosion was so bad that all kinds of people texted and emailed and said “WHOA.” And I was like, “YEAH.” The shock and awe was hard to pinpoint: was it because of what I said or because of what was said to me? No way to know for sure, but no matter how you look at it, the situation sucked.

I love my family, and what I am about to say is complicated, because while I do love them, I am also so deeply disturbed by their thought processes that I’m not quite sure I ever want to be in the same room with them again. Which leads me to my next point: just because someone is related to you, doesn’t always mean they should be in your life.

The hill I chose to cut off my family on is the hill of white supremacy. They don’t know that they’re white supremacists because they refuse to acknowledge that it’s even a thing.

If I didn’t have children, I might not be bothered by racial issues, but guess what? I am a mother who has a responsibility to do the right thing. In the words of a friend, I am not here to make other people comfortable. And neither are my children.

Maverick is almost 12. He’s got a diverse group of friends. They talk about stuff. He has questions. We dig. We talk, because brushing it away or shutting down isn’t communicating and teaching — it’s actually the opposite. When I got sober, I leaned in real hard to being uncomfortable almost all the time. Because frankly, if I don’t teach my three children how to go out into the world and establish their boundaries, how will they ever be happy, joyous, and free?

They won’t.

Robbie and I teach our kids that if someone makes a comment that is inappropriate, it is okay put up your hand and say “That’s enough.” It lets the other person know that you have a boundary. That you aren’t willing to participate. If enough people would just SPEAK UP, maybe, just maybe, something would change. Maybe if enough white people said to other white people, THAT ISN’T OKAY, then we might be able to heal this unfathomable rift in our country.

But, if white people are not willing to acknowledge the problem, the problem only grows. If I shut my mind to the experience of other people and refuse to acknowledge my part in the perpetuation of racism, then my kids will absolutely continue the cycle. Nothing would ever change. 

I only have one life. I want to make it count.

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My Attitude Is The Best Attitude

Please note: I’m writing this post for posterity. In the event that I don’t survive the remainder of 2020, because there are so many hurdles left before Christmas, you guys — so many hurdles — I want to be remembered for my upbeat, can-do attitude.

** Robbie is reading this right now, wondering who I’m talking about. “Upbeat?” “Can-do attitude?” YES, ROBBIE. I AM UPBEAT. I AM THE MOST UPBEAT. **

Part of why I decided to go ahead and have “Trump” and “Pence,” (the two largest of my family of hemorrhoids) removed along with “Betsy DeVos” (the uterus, duh) is because this year is already terrible so let’s pour some more misery into this flaming fire, shall we? I am an all-or-nothing girl, so when things seem pretty bad, I like to ramp them up to nearly intolerable. That just makes sense to me.

Today I had my pre-op appointment. My surgeries are Thursday morning, bright and early. But here’s the important part: I learned during our discussion that Tammie, the nurse, talks to her dog breeder in Alabama more than she talks to her own son. The also instructed me not to shave any part of my body from now until after I return home from surgery.

I could feel my eyes widening, like REALLY REALLY WIDE, as Tammie talked.

Me and my Hibiclens.

“Um … Tammie? Can we circle back to what you just said about not shaving?”

I can’t.

I can’t not shave my armpits for, let’s see, 4 days. And I told Tammie this, very plainly, making sure my eyes were adequately expressing my level of alarm. I negotiated with her and was awarded permission to shave my pits but nothing else for the remainder of the week. The rest of the instructions — Hibiclens, enemas, whatever — didn’t faze me. I breezed right through, because administering two enemas back to back on Thursday morning before the sun comes up is no big deal. But prickly armpits? NOPE. Not having that.

Like I said, I have a wonderful attitude.

Speaking of attitudes, I wanted to tell you guys about my venture into the Land of Botox. I turned 40 in December. Then a lot of really stressful personal stuff that I’ll eventually write about, but can’t yet because I’ll scar my kids for life, happened.

Several days later, our world was upended by a pandemic, so by April I was really feeling terrible about my face. Now, I realize that is vain and shallow, but I was stuck at home 24/7 with the kids while my husband continued to work and every time I looked in the mirror, I just looked exhausted. Which I was.

But I don’t want to actually look as miserable as I feel inside, so at my friend’s behest I made an appointment with the best cosmetic dermatologist in town, Dr. Zedlitz of Z Dermatology. Now, I’m not telling you about her because she asked me to (she doesn’t even know me, she only injected my face one time, but SHE WILL GET TO KNOW ME, BELIEVE THAT). I’m telling you so you’ll know exactly what I did to make myself look well-rested when I am, in fact, not well-rested at all.

First, I got IPL which is this treatment where they put goo on your face and then run over it with a laser. The light attaches to pigment, so any dark spots, hyperpigmentation, or redness is drawn to the surface. I looked like a spotted disaster for like a week and then it all flaked off and revealed really remarkably even skin.

After my IPL, I walked down the hall for Botox. Dr. Z talked to me about “the look” that some women have when they’ve gotten too much work done and how it’s really important to her as a doctor and AS AN ARTIST, BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT SHE IS, to avoid “the look.” She will flat out refuse to inject a patient with anything that will give them “the look.” I think her exact words were “I don’t want anything to do with the look and I don’t want people associating me with the look.”

What I’m driving at here is how important it is to find a doctor who understands that cosmetic shit is supposed to make you look BETTER, not like a plastic robot.

So anyway, she parked Botox between and all around my eyes and a little in my forehead, but I learned during my visit that my eyes are deep set and my forehead is short which is an unfortunate combo for someone with a wrinkly forehead. As far as my forehead goes, there’s not much they can do and that is why some women choose to get bangs when they are approaching midlife. See also: Britney Spears.

It’s now been about 3 months since I got it all done and I’m really happy with the results. I’m supposed to go back for another round of IPL after summer has ended, and after that I’ll likely have something done to get rid of the scarring on my chin from years of hormonal cystic acne, and then I can just focus on keeping up my very intense twice a day regimen of retinol and vitamin C.

Oh, and sunscreen. All the sunscreen.

I used to think women who got their face lasered and/or other cosmetic procedures done were wealthy. That is false. Robbie and I aren’t wealthy, and my decision to do this right as the world is basically imploding might have been a bad move financially, but know this: if I’m going down, I’ll go down looking damn good.

Also, I’m a grown woman and I can do what I want.

Within reason.

Ish.

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Let’s Discuss Butt Stuff

I promised you a special post dedicated to my upcoming hemorrhoidectomy, and today is your lucky day. Gather round kids, it’s story time!

After debating over how much detail to share about what, exactly, is the matter with my asshole, I’ve decided to start with this: a customer service representative from the hospital system where I’ll have my surgeries called me to make sure I am aware of the deductible amount that we’ll be responsible for.

But before she got into the exact dollar amount, she tripped over what I was having done. I think her words were “partial hysterectomy and … ** trails off unintelligibly ** “

Me: Yes, I’m having my uterus removed AND AN ASSHOLE REPAIR. Let’s call it a “butt job” just for fun.

Her: Oh my! That sounds …

Me: Like your worst fucking nightmare? Yes. Mine too.

Her: I was going to say that it sounds painful.

Me: It will be.

Her:

Me:

Her: Okay, Mrs. Hobbs, have a wonderful day.

Just so we are clear, I’m having two unfortunate procedures done on the same day because I don’t have time to recover from two separate unfortunate procedures. The uterus needs to go and my two hemorrhoids need to go and yes, I’m terrified. I cope with terror by oversharing.

People don’t like to talk about their assholes, I’m finding. Robbie had to ask for a couple days off work so he can keep an eye on me, and he told his co-workers “Harmony is having some woman stuff done.” Uh, actually, I’m having one woman thing done and the other thing is a human being thing, but he didn’t want anyone to ask questions.

“Why not? Are you embarrassed of my asshole?” I asked.

He totally is.

Now I want to talk about fears, because I have a lot of them. First of all, according to my Gastroenterologist, “no one gets hemorrhoid surgery without serious painkillers.” Even with the pain meds, he warned me that it will, and I quote, “feel like someone is stabbing you in the anus with an ice pick for two weeks.”

I corrected him. “You mean, it’s going to feel like someone is stabbing me in the asshole for two weeks.”

“Yes, it will feel exactly like you’re being stabbed in the anus.”

“You mean the asshole.”

“Whatever you want to call it.”

“I’d like to call it the asshole.”

***

I was probably born with a weak asshole, but childbirth absolutely wrecked it. If it never bothered me, I would be content to ignore it; however, when we went on vacation in January 2019 and I missed out on zip lining because I was in the belly of a Carnival cruise ship where the hospital is located, that did it. I CANNOT LIVE LIKE THAT. It is, like my doctor says, “a quality of life issue.”

I’m afraid of the pain, obviously, but I am also afraid of the painkillers. I’ve never enjoyed taking painkillers, recreationally speaking, but I know myself well enough to realize that the combination of pandemic + painkillers + actual pain is not great for someone who is a recovering alcoholic. My anxiety over relapsing is worse than my anxiety over the actual recovery process itself, which is saying a lot.

My way of coping with the fear of relapse is to talk about it incessantly. I’m locked in a self-propelled cycle right now where I stress myself out and then wish that someone would shoot me with a tranquilizer dart to put me out of this self-imposed misery.

Asher had his tonsils and adenoids removed last week and took pain meds for a total of three days. The remainder of the Hydrocodone is sitting in our fridge. I envision guzzling it. Then I tell on myself. The vision goes away only to boomerang right back when my anxiety ramps back up.

Someone emailed me recently to ask if I am on medication for anxiety and depression. GIRL, YES. 100%. Five stars. Highly recommend. Super grateful that I was already doing this pre-pandemic, because WOW, guys, the world is really imploding out there.

In conclusion, no one talks about butt problems and if I tried not to talk about my butt problems I would feel ashamed of my butt problems and most likely relapse in one way or another. I don’t want to relapse, so I’ve named my hemorrhoids “Trump” and “Pence” and they have got to go.

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Removing Body Parts During A Pandemic

Okay … having Asher’s tonsils and adenoids removed during a pandemic was not actually a “nightmare.” It was an intensely stressful experience that likely aged my appearance several years.

The nightmare was the part where our recently-paid-off, 2-year-old refrigerator stopped working and Robbie had to run out and buy a mini fridge literally the night before the surgery so that we’d have a place to keep our popsicles. But before that, I spent the better part of an hour on the phone with a Customer Service representative from LG. During that time, she took down my name, address, phone number, email address, the model and serial number of the refrigerator, and the information on the repair company who told me the compressor was out.

Why did giving LG that information take almost an hour?

GOOD QUESTION.

The second part of the nightmare occured when Robbie (pictured below) dropped me and Asher off at the house after his surgery and immediately went shopping for a new refrigerator and did not return for the better part of the afternoon.

It took much longer than anticipated because Robbie is in sales and therefore he takes no bullshit from sales people. I genuinely feel sorry for the sales people who come into contact with my husband. He not only takes their tactics, twists them around, and somehow turns the situation in his favor, but he can also do math in his head at a startling speed and often calculates the prices two steps ahead of the person who is supposed to be “helping” him.

After spending a significant amount of time dealing with a salesman that Robbie later deemed to be incompetent, he took our business elsewhere to Best Buy where he found a unicorn of a fridge with all of the things we wanted for a way low price because someone stuck the wrong price tag on it. Until it is delivered, we’re making it work.

This thing is housing all the ice cream.

Asher is 8 years old. He is a quirky conundrum — delightful, but puzzling. He requires patience like all children, but I’m learning that there is a very specific brand of patience that he needs from me and it’s the kind I don’t come by naturally.

He is a quiet little guy. He shuts down if people are too loud, look too long, press too hard with questions, or are in any way aggressive. So that’s tough, because I am kind of aggressive when I’m under stress. It’s one of my biggest hurdles as an adult because when I’m agitated, I just want to burn shit down. I am extreme. I’m working on it, so moving forward, let’s just call it “passion” and “energy,” okay?

Right now, during the pandemic with all of the uncertainty which is another thing I don’t deal with very well, I have to work really hard to stay calm and even and kind and keep my voice at a normal level instead of screaming WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCKING HELL IS HAPPENING NOW at my laptop or cell phone screen.

Because I have passion and energy.

I was prepared for the worst. I expected Asher to hemorrhage from the throat or come out of anesthesia throwing up and I thought everything at home would be terrible.

None of those things turned out to be true, thank goodness.

He’s been a really, really easy patient. His brother and sister have been SO sweet and kind and my belief in our ability to raise good people is bolstered.

We finally figured out that mixing his pain meds with Sprite is the easiest way to get him to cooperate. He’s been eating a tiny bit, mostly ice cream, smoothies, and yogurt, but mostly he’s just drinking water because my second biggest fear after throat hemorrhage is dehydration so I push water on him passionately and energetically.

I’d like to give a shout out to my friend Jess, a working mom of 4 whose husband also works in the car business and is not home much, for bringing that yellow ice chest full of ice to our home. I wanted to hug her, but instead I smiled and waved and prayed that our family doesn’t end up giving her family the virus.

I prayed both passionately and energetically, so I’m sure it worked.

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Do You Want To Build A Deductible Snowman?

This morning during the short drive to summer camp, Maverick and I were talking about the virus. We all know which one. I don’t need to type it out.

“If an 11-year-old can understand the importance of wearing a mask, what is wrong with all of these adults running around without one?” His face reddened with anger.

WORD.

He’s worried about his grandparents and his great-grandparents. My kid, who already suffers from anxiety, chews his fingers until they bleed. He can’t understand how anyone would refuse to do something as simple as wearing a face covering in public, an act that shows respect and concern for our fellow humans. I mean, I don’t get it either — I have no explanation to offer him.

In our house, we believe in science. We have spirituality, too, although we don’t have a name for it — I tell the kids that something looks out for us, and I call that power God. Even though I’m unsure of God’s location or gender or even how much of the Bible is rooted in reality, I know there is a God, I know I am not God, and therefore, I do NOT need to know the details about how God chooses to operate. Because at the end of the day, why does it matter?

So back to the virus. There are countless conspiracy theorists out there producing countless conspiracy theories and I just don’t have the energy to even.

Guys.

There is so much actually happening … how do you have the mental capacity to come up with this extra stuff that may or may not be going on behind the scenes? Every time I start going down a rabbit hole online I get like 2 pages in and I’m like, NOPE. Just nope. Don’t have the bandwidth. Can’t. Real life is already crazy enough, I cannot handle additional crazy.

I cleaned my office this week and came across a few Christmas presents I never got around to wrapping or gifting to my friends. I think nothing could EVER BE MORE APPROPRIATE.

Speaking of bitter, our 8-year-old, Asher, is having his tonsils and adenoids removed tomorrow. I’m not bitter about that — I’m actually excited for him because he hasn’t been able to breathe properly since infancy. I thought it was allergies, so we had him tested. It wasn’t.

Then I thought it maybe since he shot out so fast at birth, maybe something was defective in his facial structure? Like, can that happen? Reddit says it can.

Anyway, multiple tests and scans later, we learned that his adenoids are enormous — what does that even mean? I plan to find out tomorrow. Are we talking golf ball size? — and blocking his nasal passages.

The part I’m bitter about is this: my husband picked our health insurance plan and I’m sure he pragmatically selected the cheapest one because that is how husbands are, and our family deductible is an actual pile of money. By that I mean I could withdraw said money from a bank, but I’d have to get a loan first, and I would have such a large pile that I could lie down on the floor in it and make a deductible angel.

Since Asher’s surgery is really important, because hello — our kid can’t smell anything — I figured 2020 should be the year that I finally address my messed up asshole.

The asshole repair deserves its own post. You’ll have to wait for that one.

(It will be worth waiting for.)

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I Mathed Today

Um, guys?

I write this from a very low (emotionally speaking) place where I ate half-baked brownies for lunch.

Today’s afternoon meltdown was triggered by a conversation I had with friends, via text, about herd immunity. Now, let me just say, I am by no means a medical expert, mathematician, or analyst. I’m just a mom who has taken to feeding her children microwaveable popcorn for dinner, because I am too busy clinging to my sobriety to think about preparing balanced meals.

I took the time to do the math and realized that in order for America to achieve herd immunity, approximately 65% of our population has to be exposed to Covid-19. We are currently at about 7%. SEVEN PERCENT.

And how long will it take to get to 65% at the rate we are going? FIVE FUCKING YEARS.

I will be 45 years old in 5 years. Maverick will be driving a car. So this means that I’ll have to keep being mad at people not wearing a mask for the next half a decade? How will kids get educated if they’re trying to learn in chaotic or abusive homes? And more importantly, how will the next generation do better if they aren’t getting an adequate education?

It’s like everything that was already super wrong with America warped into overdrive and it is all colliding together to create the Biggest Clusterfuck Ever.

People are out there acting like nothing is amiss. Uh, EVERYTHING IS AMISS. Our President is Tweeting about the CDC … I can’t even coherently tell you what he said today because it is just that crazy. You just need to see it with your own eyes.

Okay, Donald. YOU DO THAT.

Listen. I am a registered Independent so I feel like I can say this: we have no leadership. The shit has hit the fan and it’s slinging all over us and WE ARE JUST SITTING HERE BEING COATED IN POOP.

I have no solution. I am merely stating facts.

Yesterday I wrote a blog post and I felt so much better when I was finished, so I am going to commit to writing here again as much as possible because there is something about knowing I’m not alone. Other people have crazy lives too. We are all wondering if other people feel like they are being covered in poop.

I think the shitastrophe is probably the thing that binds us all together. But it smells, you guys. Like … REALLY, REALLY BAD.

PUT ON THE MASK.

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Pandemic Parenting

I’m one of those annoyingly literal people who struggle to comprehend abstract ideas, so the concept of a pandemic is like, really hard for me to understand. Everything has a beginning and an end, yes? But we have no idea when this thing’s gonna end?

Bullshit.

I do not accept.

For real, give me an end date. I need to put it on my calendar.

I’m wearing a mask. I’ve been wearing a mask, and the people who claim that they can’t mask up because of their “rights” make me want to scream. Sometimes, I do.

I don’t bring the kids anywhere that I don’t absolutely have to, and when I do bring them out in public, they are also masked. They’re also kids, so it doesn’t really matter that they’re masked because they shove their fingers underneath the mask to dig around in their noses, so there’s that.

We go to the pool. I go to yoga, keeping my mat sort of away from other people. In a desperate, dark moment, I signed all three kids up for a variety of summer camps which they’re attending on a rotating basis, giving each child a week at home with just me while the other two go to camp.

I am walking the squiggly line of following the rules and keeping myself sane because parents, the only way we are going to make it through this nightmare is by taking care of ourselves.

I have always said I could not homeschool.

I never should have said that.

The truth is, I can homeschool, I just don’t want to. I don’t want to with every fucking fiber of my being. My entire system rebels against the mere thought of it. Absolutely nothing could possibly displease me more, except for the idea of living without electricity. And yet, here we are! WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE.

I’m resentful. I’m bitter. I hate everyone and everything, A LOT. But this post isn’t supposed to be about my irritation. This post is about self-care.

We will not make it to the end of this journey if we don’t put ourselves first. I don’t mean “after the kids start school.” I don’t mean “once Maverick gets braces” or “once I lose 15 pounds” or “after Asher’s tonsillectomy,” which are all actual excuses I’ve given.

I mean today. Now. Right after you finish reading this blog post, you need to take care of yourself. Take a bath. Lock yourself in a room and watch all 5 seasons of The Affair. Pluck your eyebrows. Organize your underwear and throw out the raggedy ones. Set boundaries and stick to them. Feed yourself things that will boost your immune system. Go outside and breathe.

If you think my ideas are stupid then just think of something not harmful that makes you happy and go do that thing. Ignore your family. They will be fine.

Last week I managed to attach magnetic eyelashes to my face and went to dinner for the first time with my husband since Valentine’s Day. It was nerve wracking and I feel like it should have been more romantic than it was, but he’s been working like 72 hours a week and neither of us are great company right now, just FYI.

I’ve seen articles about mom rage in a pandemic and I’m like damn, that’s me. That is all of us. We’re going to all explode into bloody pieces if we don’t figure out how to mother ourselves so we can turn right back around and be a not shitty mom to our progeny.

My therapist has been on my ass about self care for 3.5 years. I blow it off — I don’t know why. It’s HARD to learn how to genuinely care for a body that I abused for so long. When I think of self care, I think of vodka and cranberry and a crushed up Adderall, but that’s because I’m a recovering alcoholic and addict and my thinking is warped.

Actual self care is softer. Gentler. Easy on the liver. Most of it sounds boring, I know. But if we don’t do it, we’re going to lose our shit and I don’t mean in the comical way. This situation is a pressure cooker, both on a very nuclear level (in our homes) and on a majorly large scale (the entirety of America) and I don’t want to see it get any worse. And yet, somehow, it is.

Welcome to 2020.

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Sobriety is tough right now

A producer from Nightline reached out a few months ago and asked if I’d be willing to keep a video diary of my daily life as a mom hanging onto my sobriety while in isolation.

The piece they created and put out into the world is ACCURATE. I’m so, so grateful that I was able to be a part of it.

If you need help, reach out. Tell on yourself. Trust me, you’re not alone.

Parenting Quirky Kids During A Pandemic

Last night, I leaned against the counter in our hall bathroom with my arms crossed, watching my 11-year-old brush his teeth.

I choose to watch him mostly because if left to his own devices, he only cleans the right side of his mouth, completely forgetting about the left. Kids on the spectrum — who also have ADHD — are like that. It took me a long time to understand and accept this behavior as something other than carelessness.

As he brushed, I noticed that his height likely surpasses 5 feet and made a mental note to measure him. He’s all arms and legs; even though he’s one of the youngest in his class, he will never be the smallest.

Out of nowhere, he blurted, “Sadness is going up, isn’t it?”

I wanted to make sure I’d heard him right, since he was talking with a mouthful of toothpaste, so I asked him to repeat the question.

“Sadness. It’s going up, huh? Because of the virus.”

That is when my child looked at me with genuine concern and asked if the rate of suicide will increase because of what is happening. Because of the number of businesses closing their doors. Because people are losing their homes and their livelihoods and their loved ones.

Oh.

I had to answer him honestly. I told him yes, he’s right, a lot of people are sad and a lot of them are ending their lives. I think I tacked on some stuff about the importance of mental health and how there is ALWAYS a better way out, that there is ALWAYS hope, even if it feels like there isn’t, but I’m sure I bungled that part up because of what I’m going to go over with you in a moment.

So, he’s not the kind of kid who blissfully be-bops through life, and he’s also not the kind of person who is willing to accept what you tell him at face value. He’s going to sniff out a lie — or even a glossed over, watered down version of the truth — like nobody’s business, and if he thinks you’re not telling him the whole truth? HE WILL NEVER LET IT GO.

I don’t even try to skirt issues anymore; I address them directly and to the best of my ability. Maverick just knows things, no matter how much I try to wish away his level of awareness. He notices every slight change in my mood, even when it’s imperceptible to others. All that hyper awareness is exhausting — I should know, because I’m the same way.

Before the pandemic suicide rate discussion took place, we’d survived a typical evening at home.

The first time I typed out that sentence, I’d used the word “enjoyed” instead of “survived.” That was a lie, so I changed it.

My husband arrived from work around 7 p.m. I was hanging by the very last shred of my sanity after helping our 8-year-old assemble his Nintendo Labo. I peaced out for a walk to clear my head, slash, talk myself out of running away from home for good, during which I discovered one of our neighbors (an elderly man wearing sweatpants) playing bagpipes on the sidewalk.

The music was so hauntingly beautiful that I captured it with my phone, although I stayed far enough away so that he wouldn’t be in the video clearly enough for people to know who it was because I’m polite like that.

When I got home, our 6-year-old was insisting in her screechy-screech voice that we all participate in something I can only describe as Hobbs Masterpiece Theater — she wrote a script, we all had lines, and there was singing and dancing involved.

Then there were baths and pajamas for the two younger kids, the usual reading/playing/screaming for no reason combo that our children love so much, an episode of our favorite show, cuddling with Robbie, and at the end of all of that, exhausted, was when I stood in the bathroom with my oldest.

The discussion with my son happened at the end of a very long day of pandemic parenting. And this is why all of us are so beyond over this shit.

Not our kids. We love our kids. But the confinement, the isolation, the “distance learning,” “crisis schooling,” mask-making, scary news bullshit? DONE. WITH. IT.

None of us are doing great. I mean, maybe some people are, but I don’t know those people. Every parent I know well enough to have an honest conversation with is slowly dying inside from the agony that is modern day parenting and working whilst isolating because there is a pandemic out there.

So, if you are wondering if you’re the only person out there who is struggling … you aren’t. (Insert something uplifting here, like “WE CAN DO HARD THINGS!”)

Deep breath.

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