Being thankful for the crappy stuff

Every year around this time, I like to make a list of all the things I’m thankful for. One, because I think it’s an important tradition of the Thanksgiving holiday (in fact, I’d say it’s almost as important as the tradition of drinking wine all day while you cook).


And two, it’s the easiest column I write all year. The list just grows and grows the older I get. Loving husband, wonderful child, loyal dog composed of 95 percent fur, pizza that now comes with a hotdog-filled crust. I could go on and on.

But the thing is, it’s easy to be thankful for all the good things in your life. No one struggles to be thankful for having a roof over their head and enough money in their account to buy at least five pizzas with hotdog-filled crusts. So, this year, I’ve decided I’m going to be thankful for all the crappy things in my life. All the things that usually drive me frothing-at-the-mouth super nutjob crazy. Because if you can find a way to be grateful for sweeping up after a dog that sheds enough hair to fill the Atlantic Ocean on a daily basis, you have found the path to true happiness (or at least a path that doesn’t require wine for breakfast just to make it through the day).

So, for example, I am thankful for traffic jams, which give me a regular reminder that the zombie apocalypse is not yet upon us. Added bonus: When the zombie apocalypse does inevitably come, all our commute times will be cut in half. So, hey, a win-win.

I’m also beyond thankful that my toddler son’s lungs are strong and in working order, even when he demonstrates this by screaming directly into my face because his cracker broke in half. Because he broke it in half.


I’m also thankful that over the years I have amassed such a wide and diverse group of friends that when I scroll through Facebook, I get a wide and diverse viewpoint of how the world will end. Which will be, in no particular order, global warming, terrorists, crazy gun nuts, crazy anti-gun nuts, disposable Starbucks cups, orphan refugees, evil CEOs, evil poor people, robots, Millennials, the Koch brothers, the Clintons, gluten, aliens, that damn blue dress (it’s BLUE), women, minorities, gays, straight white men and robot aliens.

I’m thankful for cold weather, and in particular this icy blast of wind currently assaulting my face, because it reminds me I’m alive and if all else fails I can just lay down and hope to freeze to death because at least when you freeze to death, you feel warmth for a brief second before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

I’m thankful for the Kardashians for reminding me that I’m not the worst person on the planet.

I’m thankful for my student loan debt because…hmm…let me come back to this one.

I’m thankful my dog feels the need to bark at an unnaturally loud volume at anything that moves, smells weird, makes sound, doesn’t move, doesn’t make a sound but might be thinking of making a sound, etc. Because even though there is less than a 0.01 percent chance I will be murdered by the plastic bag floating down our street, if I ever am, he will finally be vindicated after all these years.


I’m thankful for people who are on a new diet and have to tell me about it in detail even though I didn’t ask (making sure to include everything that is wrong with what I’m eating) because somehow, it makes the deep-fried cupcake I eat right in front of their face taste even sweeter.

I’m thankful for my student loan debt because…education is…hmm…I know there’s a reason. Let me think it over some more.

I’m thankful I’m occasionally required to wear real pants because it makes me appreciate the magic of the humble elastic waistband all the more.

I’m thankful my son likes to wake up at 5:30 a.m. because there is something so satisfying about standing on your porch as dawn breaks and flipping off the rising sun.

I’m so, so, so thankful for extreme couponers at the grocery store because it gives me plenty of time to try to work out the details of how to get away with the perfect murder.

And lastly, I’m thankful for my student loan debt because there is a chance, thanks to my diet of deep-fried cupcakes and hotdog-stuffed pizzas, that I’ll die before the bastards are paid off.


If Schrodinger’s cat was trying to get pregnant

You guys remember learning about Schrodinger’s cat?

Yeah, me either. I mean, I vaguely recall something about a dead cat in a box but as for the rest…well, college is a hell of a time, kids.

Luckily, college is pointless now that we have Google and as it turns out, a quick search unearthed that Schrodinger’s cat is indeed a dead cat in box that is also simultaneously alive. Due to something, something, blah, blah, blah, a bunch of smart science junk. But the point is, the cat is both dead and alive until someone opens the box to find out.


I bring this up because it is the perfect metaphor for when you are trying to get pregnant. See, now that our toddler son has gained some independence and is sleeping like a dead cat in a box through the night, my husband and I decided we want to ruin our peaceful lives by starting over with a new needy nipple-shredding newborn. And so every month, we shed our Snuggies and have really giggly sitcom sex. And then for a few weeks every month, I’m both possibly pregnant and possibly not pregnant, with no way of knowing until someone (preferably a doctor but I’m not picky) checks inside the box.

(Get it? Cause “box” is slang for “vagina”? How have I not won a Pulitzer yet?).

Yes, for those few weeks, all possibilities are possible. And it’s the worst. As much as I want another baby, I can officially say that this is no way to live your life. It’s like being permanently in limbo and all my time is now spent debating and justifying every choice I make based on highly limited knowledge.

“Hmm…maybe I shouldn’t drink two pots of coffee this morning. In case I’m pregnant. Then again, I might not be pregnant and drinking all this coffee increases the chances I won’t murder someone today.”

“A glass of wine probably won’t hurt even if I am pregnant. Right?”

“I may not be pregnant yet so I can’t justify eating this ENTIRE bag of Doritos. Can I?”

“Two glasses of wine probably won’t hurt. I mean, these are small wine glasses. Smaller than normal. So technically, it’d be just like having one glass of wine.”

“Protein is good for growing fetuses so I should definitely order two cheeseburgers. Just in case.”

“If I mix this third glass of wine with coffee, they cancel each other out, right?”

It’s like you know the jailer is probably coming soon but maybe he got lost on the way and won’t arrive until next month. Then again, she could already have snuck past you and is living in your uterus. So LIVE IT UP before your freedom is taken away! But not really cause you may already be imprisoned!

It’s exhausting. Especially when you already have a kid and know exactly what to expect when you’re expecting. I fooled myself the first time with dumb, naïve platitudes like “I can survive anything for nine months!” and “It’ll all be worth it when they’re born!”

But the thing is…

  1. You’re not pregnant for nine months. You’re pregnant two weeks past FOREVER.
  2. It’s worth it six months after they’re born. The first six months you are just a feral animal surviving on stale Triscuits and instinct.

As unromantic as it sounds, I also want to be pregnant and out of limbo just to get the whole thing over with. I know I only want two kids, so once I safely pop out another gigantic Viking baby, I can shut down the whole damn factory and forget I even have inside lady parts. (That is, of course, until menopause kicks in and takes an entire decade to slowly strangle everything down there to death).

Of course, I shouldn’t complain too much. I mean, I’m just trying to get pregnant. It could be much worse.

I could be a zombie cat stuck living in a box.

The real American Horror Story

Once upon a time, a group of evil people who hated parents of small children decided to cast a spell that would torture them on one very special day each year.

So, they sacrificed a goat or some crap and threw in some eye of newt and invented Daylight Saving Time.

And that is why generations upon generations of parents have had to deal with the following…

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Dear Mommy, life is not a series of memes

The one piece of advice you get the most when you’re a parent (and, not so coincidentally, the one I hate the most) is that the housework can wait, your children can’t. Leave the dishes and spend time with them! They’re only young once! They won’t want to snuggle on your lap for long! A dirty house means happy kids! When they look back on their childhood, they won’t remember how clean the carpet was, but they will remember all those times you sat on that dog hair covered toxic waste dump of a rug and played Legos with them!


And on and on, etcetera, etcetera.

In theory, this is solid advice. Any quality time you can spend with your precious little minions is utterly priceless. As that other overused phrase goes, you will never be this loved again. So enjoy it. Even those confusing little made-up games they always want you to play that have no rules based on Earth logic and involve an Elmo doll, 37 tiny cars and a Snickers wrapper.

So, yes, those dishes CAN wait.

But not for long. Not for long at all.

I mean, have you ever spent time with small children? These are creatures born with the innate ability to turn a normal, inhabitable house into a “Hoarders” episode within a mere 24 hour cycle. And for some of the more gifted ones among them, they can do it in 15 minutes. One quick trip to the bathroom and you leave a living room that is “cozily chaotic” and return to “holy crap, we’ve been robbed.”

Making it even worse, this never-ending plea to ditch the housework and play “Barbie vs. the Tupperware Monster” for three hours straight is not coming from well-meaning people with real life experience. It’s being shoved down your throat anonymously in the form of the saccharine sweet meme.


There you are on Facebook, just trying to innocently see if your old friend Piper is still a hot mess so you can silently gloat, and BOOM! You’re visually assaulted by a stock photo of a size 0 mom and her baby running through a field of lilies with the passive-aggressive words “Play with me, Mommy!” slapped underneath in a fancy font.

Shutterstock Photo

Shutterstock Photo

But just because something makes a good meme doesn’t mean you should base your life on it. If we did, we’d have a whole generation of Scumbag Steve’s. And I don’t know about you, but there are no fields of lilies close to my house and even if there were, my toddler would want to plop his diapered butt down immediately and use a stick to poke a dead leaf for five hours. Put that image in your meme and see how quickly it goes viral.

Worst of all, this type of advice ignores the most common and hard-wired aspect of every child’s personality. No matter how much time you spend playing with them, they want more. It’s never enough. They are tiny imagination junkies and as such, will use all sorts of manipulation to make you think you’re neglecting them when you choose to do laundry instead of playing Candyland for the 104th time. Hell, I still remember forcing my grandma to play card games with me for HOURS as a kid, which the incredible woman DID, with a smile on her face no less, and I STILL got upset when she had to stop so she could make me dinner.

So all this “grown-up stuff can wait, go on a picnic instead!” crap pretty much just serves to make you feel guilty. Which is wrong on many levels but the most important one being the fact that parents are already living in a perpetual state of guilt. Guilt that you’re doing everything wrong. Guilt that you fed them a hotdog for breakfast this morning to avoid a meltdown. Guilt that you didn’t start a college fund for them when you were 15 (which is the only way you would be able to afford college for them). Even guilt over the fact that some days you’d prefer dental surgery over one more mind-numbingly dull game of Hi-Ho Cherry-O.

The last thing exhausted parents need is an unrealistic expectation about what parenthood actually is. Because it’s not sitting in a beautiful meadow while you braid flowers in your child’s hair. It’s sitting on their bedroom floor and trying to pay late bills online while they stick G.I. Joe’s in your hair that you haven’t washed since Tuesday.

Having a child is personally the best thing that has ever happened to me. But it didn’t stop the world from turning. Which is why tomorrow we will go on a picnic. And then we’ll head home, where I’ll plop him down in front of “Sesame Street” so I can finally scrub that weird fur off the tub so the next time he takes a bath he doesn’t get a weird fungus.


Why parents really go through their kid’s Halloween candy

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The trick-or-treater always rings twice

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, it was dark and sprinkling a little bit. But that annoying kind of sprinkle that gets your clothes all soggy.

It was quiet inside the house. Perhaps a bit too quiet. Well, not really too quiet. I mean, the TV was on. And for some reason the fridge always emitted a high-pitch squeal that could be heard throughout the rest of the house. (But everyone always ignored that sound because it probably meant the fridge was on its last legs and honestly, no one really wanted to deal with it).

On the couch sat two nervous creatures. One wide-eyed and tense because she knew what was coming. The other wide-eyed and tense because he didn’t know what was coming but since she was acting weird, he felt there was no time like the present to also act weird. So while she absent-mindedly picked at her nail polish and cast furtive glances in his direction, he awkwardly climbed on her lap, not really sitting and not really standing, but nonetheless blocking the TV from her view anyway.

They sat this way as agonizing minutes ticked by.



High pitch squeal from fridge.


And then, just when she thought they might have lucked out this year, thought that maybe by some miracle the porch light burned out, it happened. The very thing she had been dreading.


And that’s when all hell broke loose. Before she could stop him, he launched his (freakishly strong, by the way) 32-pound body like a rocket off her lap, hitting the floor mid-stride and doing a Scooby-Doo scramble around the corner of the coffee table until he reached the door at the top of the stairs of their second-story apartment, barking and howling the entire time like the neighborhood feral cats had finally gotten organized and were attacking the house en masse.

She, meanwhile, started calmly yelling at him to “shut up!” and “knock it the hell off!” while simultaneously trying to pull him back from the door by his collar so she could squeeze her frame through without letting him through (which, since she didn’t weigh 32 pounds, was no mean feat). This was followed by trying to close said door as he repeatedly launched his entire (freakishly strong) body at any and all openings. After finally getting the door shut and ignoring the desperate sounds of him howling and trying to dig his way under the closed door, she made her way as quick as she could down the stairs to the front door, which she threw open to some very startled trick-or-treaters and tried to breathlessly yell “Happy Halloween!” over the clamor of what probably sounded to a small child like a dog getting murdered.

Luckily, the little kids who didn’t burst into tears at the sight and sound of a crazed dog and even more crazed and out-of-breath woman, got their candy (name brand, of course, because said woman felt bad for putting them through all that trauma just for a bite-sized knock-off Twix) and went on their merry way, no more worse for the wear.

And then she slowly went back up the stairs, back to him, he who had finally stopped barking and was enthusiastically wagging his tail like “gee, wasn’t THAT fun!?”. They sat back down on the couch together, he once again not quite sitting, not quite standing on her lap, she once again not able to see the TV.

And they both breathed a sigh of relief.

Which was quickly followed by another “Ding-dong!”

Repeat 27 more times.

The moral of this story, kids? Appreciate your Halloween candy. Treasure it. And try to remember through the fog of your sugar-induced mania the sacrifices some of us dog-owning adults had to go through to ensure that the candy got into your little hands.

Thermodynamics, according to babies

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