How Raising A Strong-Willed Boy Forced Me To Grow Up

I’m a late bloomer and rehabbed people-pleaser, and it wasn’t until I gave birth to our first child that I finally grew the hell up.

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This photo was taken on my first day back to work after a 4-month maternity leave, January 2009.

He broke my tailbone entering the world. I was bucked off a mule at age 8, which broke my tailbone and left it pointing inward. I was never aware of this until 20 years later when, after two hours of pushing, the doctors determined my baby boy was stuck behind it.

With the threat of a C-section looming, my son and I furrowed our brows, rolled up our metaphorical sleeves and did what we had to do. I pushed with all my might and he re-broke the bone, forcing his way out. It sounds awful, but really, what’s a broken bone when you’re pushing a human being out of your vagina? It was just another source of discomfort in an already uncomfortable area (and it makes a pretty fantastic story).

I was so unsure of myself when I became a mom. When I think about that person—so nervous about changing her baby’s diaper that she had to have “help” doing it for much longer than I’m comfortable admitting—I can’t be mad at her. She had no idea what she was doing. I give her grace. But also, she really needed to grow the hell up.

And so, because the universe knew I needed it, I was given a very challenging first child. I was forced out of my comfort zone in every way, having no other choice but to learn to ignore what everyone else said and go with my gut.

I grew up.

I learned that my mother does not always know what is best. She knew what was best when she was raising me, because she is my mother, but she does not by default know what is best for me now or what is best for my children. There comes a time when things change, and it can be disorienting. But it’s also necessary.

I realized that it doesn’t matter what other people think about my parenting or my children, because they are mine. Mine to screw up. Mine to encourage. Mine to raise into functional human beings. Mine. No one else’s.

I stopped apologizing, for the state of my house, for the food that I did or did not cook, for my appearance, for my child’s personality. One day, I simply ran out of fucks to give. I don’t owe the world apologies for being who I am, and I certainly don’t want my children to grow up under that assumption. Part of growing the hell up is realizing how fantastic you are and owning it.

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A typical scene at my house. Poor kitty.

I found inner strength. Parenting my strong-willed oldest child broke down every wall I’d ever built. It caused me to question every belief I’ve ever had. I had to throw out everything I’d read in every single parenting book and start from scratch. I am no longer a delicate flower—I can throw a 60-pound child over my shoulder and haul him out of Target if I have to, and he knows it. It took time, but eventually I discovered a durability in myself that I didn’t know existed.

I realized that I am a damn good mom. It was a slow progression, but one day I realized that I haven’t completely screwed up this complicated child. In fact, I’ve done an amazing job with him. He is still challenging, and there are still days that I struggle, but because I have grown the hell up I don’t question every choice I make anymore. I am confident in what I say and do because of everything listed above.

That boy who has given me so many gray hairs in just seven short years has also shaped my spirit in countless ways. He helped me grow up.

And thanks to him, I also always know when it’s going to rain, because my aching tailbone tells me.

© 2015 Harmony Hobbs, as first published on Scary Mommy.

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The Force of Motherhood

Motherhood is turning me into one tough bitch.

I used to be a mild-mannered, non-yeller who embarrassed easily and apologized a lot.

Before I had kids, things really used to get to me. I once had a female boss tell me that I’d gotten to where I was not because I was smart, but because I’d been “skating by on my personality.” I was too shocked and intimidated to tell her she was a dumbass bitch with a shitty personality, and what I’d really like to do is cram her Louis Vuitton bag down her pie hole.

Instead, I quietly nodded my way through the meeting and cried in the car when it was over.

That happened before I was toughened up by the experience of growing and expelling a human being. Is there anything more fortifying than bringing life into the world? Whatever was left of my modesty vanished; I was too busy mothering a squishy, red-faced baby into a spirited, defiant toddler to concern myself with much else.

Two more kids later, I’ve become a person who my old self would have shied away from. The version of me who cried in my car was before I bounced colicky babies for hours, and before I realized that three kids is way more than I have any business handling. Motherhood doesn’t care what you think you can handle.

The non-yelling me became a yeller when I gave birth without any pain medication, and my easily embarrassed self disappeared when I experienced the worst case of hemorrhoids, like, ever. I was in so much pain I was unable to explain to my husband that I needed to go to the hospital*. I just laid on the floor wishing I would black out so the pain would stop and he would forever be in my debt for not taking the situation seriously.

Motherhood doesn’t care about your modesty or self-respect.

I am tougher. I am bitchier. Because, let’s face it, motherhood does not care if you only had three hours of sleep. Motherhood does not care if you feel fat. Motherhood says, GET UP OFF YOUR ASS, LADY. YOUR SON IS EATING SILICA PACKETS.

Toddler MobsterIf I have to run outside in mismatched pajamas to chase a naked toddler through the yard or to make sure my oldest gets on the bus, so be it.

If I have to leave a full grocery cart in the store because my kids are making a scene, so be it.

If I have to tell a stranger to back the hell away from my van or please stop touching my baby, so be it.

I don’t have time to be embarrassed.

I don’t have time to apologize for my choices.

I don’t have time to get my feelings hurt if you don’t agree with me.

I don’t have time to poop alone, so I’m probably not going to be able to have an hour-long phone conversation with you this afternoon, remember to pay the bills, or figure out where that smell is coming from.

An onlooker might assume I’m medicated.

Nope.

I am shell-shocked and desensitized, with an ever-present goal of getting through the day.

Motherhood—shushing babies and wiping butts and weathering countless, psychotic tantrums—changed me. And I am grateful.

Motherhood forces me to carry on. It forces me to love when I don’t feel like it. It forces me to keep going when I am exhausted.

Motherhood is a force to be reckoned with.

And now, I am a force to be reckoned with.

* I’m happy to report that my ass did eventually return to normal, but the experience resulted in me having very little patience for my husband when he complains of a headache.

(This post originally ran on Scary Mommy.)

Hashtag Awesome.

So …

I’m really trying to get on board the social media train so I don’t get left at the station. But honestly, it’s all a little overwhelming and I’m a slow learner.

Do you like Twitter parties?! I have never in my life participated in one and quite frankly, I’m terrified. BUT! Scary Mommy is hosting a Twitter party tomorrow night, 9-10 p.m. EST and if that’s your sort of thing you should totally check it out.

I will be there, trying to keep up.

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When Christians Curse.

What happens when a person (me) who calls herself a Christian (I am) uses inappropriate language in print?

1. Upon seeing herself in an actual book, she screams “HOLY SHIT!”

2. She burrows under the covers, fearing judgement from those who will read it. Her husband coaxes her out with coffee and scrambled eggs.

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3. Her husband also finds her bio with the rest of the authors, and points out the irony of the F-word being in the same sentence with “loves God.”

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4. They laugh. And cringe. But mostly laugh.

The language. The admission of drinking. The brutal honesty. Is this “Christian?” Some would say no, and I accept that. I was raised a third-generation Seventh-day Adventist, surrounded by wonderful, warm, God-loving people who did not drop F-bombs. I’ve never heard my mother use inappropriate language, and I myself don’t use it out loud that often. I’m thankful for my conservative upbringing, because I do believe in God and I do hold my children to a high moral standard.

I also drink wine at night after I have prayed with them and tucked them into bed.

I try my best not to scream expletives around them, ever.

I sometimes fail at this.

But you know, some people get my writing and some people don’t. That is totally okay. I do not expect everyone everywhere to agree with me or love what I do. I understand if there are people who think I’ve gone off the deep end or turned my back on my upbringing, although both of those assumptions are incorrect.

You know what is a virtually impossible achievement? TO MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY.

I realize that there are lots people out there who don’t want to read my work, and I get that, because I am also very picky about what I read. We are all different and we like different things. That’s a good thing! I embrace diversity. I also know that thinking too much about the opinions of others is the quickest way to kill creativity. My one big rule is this: if my husband is not okay with it, then it doesn’t get published.

I guess my point is, I refuse to allow the fear of judgement to hold me back. This is the one thing I have in common with Taylor Swift. That, and the fact that we’re both very, very white.

This — my writing — is me, in honest form. If I tried hard to glaze over the grittiness of life, then I would not be speaking my truth. Some people are good at writing nicely. I’m good at writing honestly. And honestly, life is hard.

I only recently started referring to myself as a writer. When I say it out loud, it makes me weirdly and inappropriately emotional. My eyes well up and I choke a little, and then I feel stupid. Maybe eventually I’ll get used to saying it, but for now I just feel blessed to be able to back up that title with some pretty awesome accomplishments.

Buckle your seatbelts, bitches.

Tomorrow.

THE BOOK COMES OUT TOMORROW.

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I’m going puke or cry or jump up and down. I really don’t know which one, or in which order it will happen, but I’m kind of beside myself right now … and my anxiety is manifesting in aggressive behavior towards my husband.

Please buy the book (you can get it here!) and give it a glowing review on Amazon!

I Totally Cried.

Wow. Just … wow.

This morning I was awakened at 4:55 by Asher, who said his legs were itchy. I rubbed lotion on and got him all tucked back in, I climbed back into bed … and decided to check Facebook.

This is when I learned that WE DID IT.

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Not just you and I, but all the other “Scary Mommies” and not-so-scary mommies and businesses and kind-hearted people.

We did it. We made sure 2,152 deserving families will have food on their table on Thanksgiving Day.

TWO THOUSAND, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY-TWO.

That’s a lot.

Well done, you.

LISTEN UP, PEOPLE.

I could slap you with hundreds of heart-felt stories of those who have been helped by the nonprofit Scary Mommy Nation.

But I won’t.

Not that you aren’t good people, but most of you would skip over it or go to the next page. And I don’t blame you, because I would normally do the exact same thing. I get it. We don’t have extra money. We need our money. Why should we just hand it out to random nonprofits who want to feed total strangers?

I have a dog in this particular fight because I donated my time to write an essay that I didn’t think anyone would ever read. And now it’s going to be published, in a book, that will be released on Monday, November 17. (If you want to buy the book, there is a picture of it on the right side of the screen under the heading “PRE-ORDER THE BOOK!” If you click there, you can buy it. Excuse me while I hyperventilate.)

ANYWAY … whatever royalty money that the authors would have received from sales is going directly to Scary Mommy Nation, and that will translate into families who can’t afford food getting fed. I am incredibly proud to be a very small part of making someone’s holiday better. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know them. It doesn’t matter that we will likely never meet. I HELPED SOMEONE BECAUSE I CAN. Period.

We now have 24 hours left to raise the money needed to feed the remaining families on the waiting list, and I intend to guilt you into donating. Let’s begin!

First, let’s discuss what $50 can buy. I’ll start with this “Figural Turkey Bowl Stand” from Pottery Barn, which costs roughly $50.

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Of course, you could get the “Figural Fox Bowl Stand” instead, shown below. It’s regularly $49.50, which is just fifty cents shy of being enough to FEED A FAMILY IN NEED.

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I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Are you ready for more? The next one involves this little guy below. Prepare yourselves.

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The “Figural Squirrel Serve Bowl and Stand Set” IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE from Pottery Barn. It looks just like the turkey and the fox, as you can see. But it’s more popular because the squirrel bowl can hold nuts! Apparently so many people with money to spend wanted a squirrel with a bowl for an abdomen that they bought them all up. They’re gone, off to hold appetizers for people whose lives are so bountiful that they serve nuts in bowls held by woodland creatures just because it’s CUTE and THEY CAN.

So, what else can $50 buy? Let’s see …

– This Ninja hoodie.

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– A “Personalized Wood Watch Case,” like this one from overstock.com.

Vintage-Brown-Finish-Wood-Glass-Top-Watch-Case-w-High-Clearance-Holds-10-watches-P13973992– Or … a Snuggie.

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If you love me, and I feel like you do, I am begging you to please take your extra $10 or $20 or $100 and use it to feed a deserving family. Don’t take that money that could be used for good and buy a bunch of crap that takes up space in your home that is already full of beautiful things. Just … don’t.

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To donate to the 2014 Thanksgiving Project, click here.

Did my guilt trip work?!?!? Be sure to let me know!

Disclaimer: I really do love Pottery Barn, just not right now, and if you own anything shown here, I have no judgment. Just remember all the people in need when you enjoy them, is all I’m saying.

News!

I have NEWS!

Last month I was invited by Jill Smokler of Scary Mommy to contribute to an ebook she is putting together titled “The Scary Mommy Guide to Surviving The Holidays.” This is part of the 2014 Scary Mommy Thanksgiving Project, which you can read about here. It’s still unclear if the book will be for sale and the proceeds will help feed families on Thanksgiving, or if she will give it to the donors as a thank you gift, but either way I’m going to be part of it.

Right after I screamed WHAT?!?!?!?!? YES!!!!  after reading the email and firing off a reply, my life seemed to go into overdrive and a bunch of major things happened that affected my ability to write. The stress of the approaching deadline (this Monday) and the knowledge that God-knows-who is going to read this ebook was almost too much for me … I was waking up at 4:00 a.m. thinking panicky thoughts with a constant feeling of impending doom and dread that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. But with the support of my husband and friends, and the aid of a Bota Box, I think that I did. And now that it’s written, all I feel is excitement that I will be published, and all my hard work is in support of a fantastic cause.

Scary Mommy is totally irreverent, but so is motherhood. This gig is one part Holy Mother Mary, and one part Linda Blair (of The Exorcist). In my real life, I’m very calm and kind and I smile a lot. But the Linda Blair part of me just wants to yell “FUCK” about 10 times a day, like when my kids have food fights or when Asher is having a complete meltdown because he can’t make the banana he broke in half stick back together.

And that is where Scary Mommy comes in.

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(Did you miss my Scary Mommy piece? You can find it here!)