Category Archives: Marriage

How to survive a road trip with your family (Part One)

Spoiler alert: You don’t.

Sure, you’re still alive. Technically. But you come back changed. Different. Hardened. You are not the same person who optimistically climbed into that tiny Hyundai Accent with your husband and two kids and elderly dog, all bright-eyed with dreams of adventure and bonding and Instagram-worthy shots of the highway.

You are now a survivor. You have been to hell and back. And let me tell you, Dante had it easy. He never had to help a toddler with diarrhea in a dirty rest stop bathroom. I can still hear the screams. “DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING…NO. STOP. WHAT ARE YOU DOING!? DID YOU JUST STICK YOUR HAND IN THE TOILET? NOOOOOOOO…”

And the torture isn’t just limited to the road. In fact, it begins long before the traditional road trip opening ceremony of stomping from room to room looking for the lost car keys. (Because why would the car keys be where you left them? That would be silly. Then you would actually leave on time.).

No, see, for every road trip there is a person who is designated as the Carrier of the Mental Load for the group. This is the unfortunate soul who is responsible for remembering everything that everyone could possibly need for every single possible eventuality. Clothes for every weather scenario. Favorite toys and blankets. Second favorite toys and blankets in case the first ones get lost. Swimsuits for the hotel pool. Sippy cups. Extra wipes. Extra diapers. Tissues. The night-night book. Dramamine because last time the back seat looked like a scene from “The Exorcist.” Two coats, per person, because it is likely to be 70 degrees one day and a blizzard the next. AND DON’T FORGET THE CHARGERS. ALL THE CHARGERS. DID YOU PACK YOUR CHARGER? WELL, CHECK AGAIN. WE ARE NOT BUYING ONE FROM A GAS STATION. YOU HEAR ME?

Even the dog gets his own bag. Dog food. Dog treats. Rawhide bones. A bottle of water and an empty bowl. His favorite toy, Lobstah Killah. His second favorite toy, Mr. Disemboweled Stuffed Squirrel. His arthritis medication that you can never get him to take but bring with you so that you can more confidently lie to the vet at his next visit.

Do NOT mistake this as a position of honor. It is not. It is the quickest way to destroy your brain without the help of illegal drugs.

But take heart. If this position falls to you, just know that someone else (hint: your significant other) will be designated as the Master of Luggage Tetris. This is the person who has to take the various shapes and lumps that all your Very Vital Vacation items have been stuffed into and fit them into a tiny car trunk. This is also not a position of honor, which is why cursing is allowed.

(Please note that the same person can’t do both jobs without permanent brain damage. Don’t be a hero and take it all on yourself.).

Once you are finally in the car, the typical rules that regulate our lives no longer apply. For example, you can never have enough snacks. Let me repeat that. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE ENOUGH SNACKS. Buy ALL the snacks. It doesn’t matter if they don’t all get eaten. They won’t. You will waste so much money on these snacks that never get eaten. Hundreds of dollars. Thousands, possibly. But it doesn’t matter. You would pay double, TRIPLE, that amount for any object that can stop multiple children who all decide to have meltdowns at the exact same moment. They will eat three Doritos out of that family-sized bag and then dump the rest on the floor and you will still spend the rest of your life thanking the God of Doritos for his divine intervention. You will get to a point where you are hurling SnoBalls like grenades into the backseat just for one moment of peace. You’ll let them snort straight sugar through a straw on the back of their Dr. Seuss book. And at every stop you will buy more snacks. Because snacks are the dam holding back the raging river of your kids’ “BIG FEELINGS” that you do not want unleashed in that tiny tin can you call a vehicle.

Naturally, as a result of this, your car will eventually become one of the scarier episodes of “Hoarders.” Half empty coffee cups as far as the eye can see. Happy Meal cartons that are breeding like rabbits under the seats. Chips and half eaten snack cakes littering the floor ankle-deep. Let it go. Do not worry about it. If it gets too bad, just ditch the car in a river a few miles from your destination and call an Uber to take you the rest of the way.

Of course, snacks does not mean liquids. Do not, under any circumstance, give liquids to anyone in that car. If you do, no one will be on the same pee schedule.

Actually, scratch that. Even if you purposely dehydrate everyone, giving out one capful of bottled water every four hours like you are stranded on a desert island, you will still have to stop every 14 minutes. Yup, that’s right. They can’t even make it 15 minutes. The good news is that this gives you plenty of opportunity to buy an overpriced charger on your way out (that, it will turn out, doesn’t work with your phone).

Luckily, all of this will be forgotten when you reach your first destination, the hotel right off the Interstate. Because that’s when the real nightmare begins.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

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I know how this ends.

Despite the fact that I’ve pretty much made a career out of complaining, I must confess that lately things have been going well. My preschooler is slowly realizing that preschool won’t kill him. My 2-year-old has yet to burn down the house or train the dog to do her nefarious bidding. My husband and I are going strong, united in love and mutual exhaustion.

Financially we started from the bottom and now we’re here, the stage where we can afford name brand mustard again. My self-esteem is at an all-time medium. And I’m even able to carve out time for my hobbies, like running and pretending to write while really just daydreaming about the speech I’ll make when I win a Pulitzer.

Yup, despite the natural stress that comes from working and trying to raise a family, life is pretty damn good currently.

Which is why, naturally, I keep waiting for something bad to happen.

Look, I know how this plays out. I’ve seen how this movie goes, how this TV episode is scripted. If an unhealthy amount of binge-watching TV has taught me anything, it is that happiness is suspect. Your life will ruined if you are too content. So, when I step outside myself and look down at my happy little family, doing our happy little thing, I can’t help but wait for the ominous music to start.

Observe, if you will, this montage of tender moments: The mom singing the baby to sleep. The older son giggling as he’s tossed into the air. A goofy dance party in pajamas. The parents throwing up a cheers with glasses of wine after the children have finally gone to bed.

You know who else sees this montage? The serial killer watching us menacingly from the window. And as I go into the kitchen to get more wine, HE SLASHES MY THROAT.

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Crazy, you say? Far-fetched? Eh, you’re probably right. It’s actually much more likely that I’m hanging out at the playground with my mom friends and suddenly there is a natural disaster. POSSIBLY FILLED WITH SHARKS.

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And then, on the slim chance that my kids and I are the main stars and thus the only ones to make it out alive from the shark tsunami, one of them is likely to get kidnapped on our walk home when I bend down to tie what is left of my shoe. And I know exactly who did it too. It was the quiet neighbor who lost her baby years ago and was driven mad by the loss and now wants TO RAISE MY CHILD AS HERS.

Or, you know, it could be a vampire.   

Although, to fair, it’s equally likely that I’ll be the one attacked by the vampire, seeing as how they can’t resist a lone female jogger.

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Sometimes I even look over at my husband suspiciously. He’s so loving. So patient. So forgiving of all my faults. Because, and here comes the shocking ending, HE WAS THE SERIAL KILLER LOOKING AT US FROM THE WINDOW ALL ALONG. Any day now I know I’m going to stumble upon his collection of severed heads in some long neglected corner of our house.

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(Although I’m pretty sure if he IS a serial killer, he is one of those serial killers who only kills other serial killers. So, like, we can probably still make this work).

(Unless he does slash my throat in the kitchen because it turns out I have a split personality and UNKNOWN TO ME, MY OTHER PERSONALITY IS A SERIAL KILLER.)

Ridiculous? Sure. I know it is. But I can’t help feeling I am somehow undeserving of all this happiness. Life doesn’t work this way. I am dangerously close to having it all. Who gets everything they ever wanted?

Murder victims on crime dramas, that’s who. They’re all perfectly happy until, you know, they’re dead.

Which is why I find myself looking lovingly down at my wedding ring and then I immediately look up, panicked, waiting for the inevitable phone call telling me my entire family has died in a suspicious car crash.

I guess I’ll just have to take solace in the fact that the tragedy is likely to turn me into a heroic vigilante, hellbent on avenging their deaths.

Or, you know, maybe I could turn the TV off every once in awhile and just enjoy my life.

 

There will be blood

Welcome to my very first guest post! This week my hilarious and wildly talented writer friend, Melissa McCue-McGrath, has taken over and shares her experience of all the super fun shenanigans that can ensue when you’re a woman just casually bleeding in a field. 

The most woman-thing-to-ever-woman happen to me happened at the “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” taping at Tanglewood a few weeks ago. For the uninitiated, “Wait Wait” is NPR’s weekly news quiz and, as of 2016, a necessary spoonful of sugar to help the news-medicine go down.

My husband and I were enjoying a date night, our first in nearly a full year. We were planning on going out for drinks with some friends after the show taping and then go home to take advantage of the whole kid-is-sleeping-over-at-a-friends-house situation. We were very much looking forward to the entire evening until I went to the bathroom and discovered that my period started a week early. This wasn’t a uterus version of, “Knock-knock, is anyone home?” with a little light spotting. This was Kramer from “Seinfeld” bursting through the door. It was go-time. This was not a drill.

Instead of going to the bar to meet up with some friends and hopefully run into the panelists, including Mo Rocca and his amazing mom (girl can rock a pair of cat eye glasses like WOAH!), we had to first find a way to a 24-hour anything so I could handle my bleed-mergency.  There is no cell service or WiFi out in Lenox, MA, which made it impossible to know which direction to drive for supplies. None of this mattered yet, however, because we first needed to locate the car in one of several field parking lots.

I was doing the “play it cool but try not to bleed everywhere” shuffle. Ladies, you know this doesn’t work. Men, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. We don’t have control over how this works. It’s basically a faucet that once is switched on, you wait 5-7 days until someone in maintenance hits the menstruate switch to off.

Thank you to whatever Gods are in charge of keeping Meghna Chakrabarti’s voice on point (pun intended) and Terry Gross’s line of questioning unparalleled, we found the car in the second multi-acre field we looked.

Still shuffling in the direction of our car, I noticed a group of women giggling near a blue all-wheel-drive Subaru, the official car of every New England state (and Wisconsin). I instructed my beloved to stay put, which he did.

With a hushed voice, a lowered head, and a lot of stiff gesticulations, I uttered the only thing I could: “Um, I need a little help.”

One woman grabbed my wrist and pulled me into the center of the circle.  They all circled around, laser beam eyes at my husband, and dropped their voices.   Woman #1 asked, quite seriously, “Do you need help?”

“No – he’s good.”

It was at this point, the curtain dropped, and we all laughed. The woman still holding my wrist from pulling me into the sacred coven pointed to the woman directly across from me and said, “Oh, Michelle can help.”

Michelle then pulled out her Sherpani purse, opened it like one of Howie Mandel’s boxes from “Deal or No Deal,”  and casually blurted out, “I have them all, sweetie. What kind? Super? Plus? Regular? Do you prefer a pad or a tampon? Pink or yellow?”

“Give me the biggest one you got. We have a long ride home.”

“Here, Hon. Take two.”

My eyes had finally adjusted to the greyish-black that can only occur when the night sky is blanketed with a light cloud cover. I looked around and saw five women…

…and a dude. His eyes were as big as saucers.

I then rewound the tape in my brain. From his perspective, he saw a woman briskly walking away from a quiet, small-framed blonde man, asking for help, communicating, “No, I’m not getting murdered” and his friend opening a purse with a million feminine products. That purse must of looked like the Weasley’s car in Harry Potter – much bigger on the inside than on the outside because the only explanation all those products could fit is wizard magic.

He was so quiet, so dumbfounded, so in awe of what goes on behind the curtain of womanhood. There were no questions asked, no actual language about my “condition” – it just happened. We must be telekinetic! Women can just speak with their minds.

Because here’s the reality about being a woman in 2018. If a woman walks up to a group of women she doesn’t know in the middle of the night, there is a 50% chance that she thinks she is in serious trouble and needs you to call the police NOW. There is also a 50% chance she needs a tampon. There is a zero percent chance of any other option.

Since it was so dark, I couldn’t see if his face turned as red as…well, let’s leave that analogy alone. I could only assume it did. I then did what I would do in any situation when meeting someone first time and it’s uncomfortable: Immediately make it worse for the other party.

I grabbed his hand and said, “I’m Melissa.”

“Greg.”

“Hi, Greg. Yes, I got my period tonight. It sucks. So very nice to meet you.”

It’s not on me to be uncomfortable for getting my period. It happens. Monthly. It’s supposed to. So, if he’s uncomfortable, fine. He’s around literally five other women. Hell, because of me, they all likely started to instantly cycle. His night was going to get a lot more descriptive. As a woman, we have to protect our own, and find a way to be powerful, and not be ashamed of our actual bodies. It starts here. In a field parking lot after an NPR news quiz.

This must look quite strange to a dude in the circle, the coven, but there’s nothing like telling your husband, “Yes, dear, they wanted to call the cops on you. Once it was clear we didn’t have a code blue but literally a code red, you were no longer on their shit list. They thought you were cute, once they realized you weren’t trying anything illegal or unconsented.”

Both these men got a glimpse of what it’s like to be a woman in 2018. My husband totally understood it, but poor Greg. He must think women are inSANE for jumping to the immediate conclusion that the other dude was perhaps going to cause great harm, but I, for one, am glad they did. I’m glad women will often take care of their own in exactly the way we are trained to, that we’ve learned to, that we sadly still have to. Because once the onus is on men to not rape instead of the woman to not dress in a way that’s theoretically “asking for it,” or once men can hear the word “period” or “vagina” without feeling taboo, then we’ll be in much better shape. In order to get there, we women have to handle our shit, use our language, and let men see all of it. Maybe they’ll see why we jump to the very real conclusions we must to stay safe and powder fresh.

Maybe next time I’ll get to meet Mo, Faith or Alonzo. Until then, I’ll keep a few extra supplies in my bag in case a woman approaches me. I’ll keep one hand on the emergency call button on her behalf, one on the Tampax Super Fit. I’m ready to help her whenever she needs it.

Melissa McCue-McGrath, CPDT-KA is a certified professional dog trainer living outside of Boston. In addition to dog training and writing books about living with urban dogs (Considerations for the City Dog, 2015), Melissa keeps a blog, Letters to Little, where she writes letters to her daughter, Aislyn, with the intention to share it in 20 years. It starts off with a lot of poo, (as these things often do) and wades into deeper waters including inadvertently introducing her Kindergartener to The Mariner’s Revenge Song (a dark and grisly revenge-murder song on the high seas), school lockdowns, and explaining the song Get Lucky as a song about watching a meteor shower instead of staying up all night getting stoned and boned.

Everything can be found at melissamccuemcgrath.com.

 

The swimming pool incident

Guys, it took me a long time but I finally found…hang on…sorry, I need a moment. I just get so choked up about it, you know? But I finally found…sigh…a friend with a pool. Like, a legit pool. In-ground and everything.

Better yet, I found this friend with a pool in time for the FOURTH OF JULY. She had a cookout BY THE POOL. I have pictures. We all look like we belong in a fancy beer commercial.

And when I think back on all those dreadful Independence Day celebrations I had to sweatily endure. YEARS of them. Just sitting there in the hot sun, water-less, hating all my stupid family and friends gathered around me with their non-pool-having asses. Yay, America or whatever. Sure, I’d love to have another beer so I can immediately leak it out of my pores, leaving me sober but with belly bloat and a slight headache, thanks.

But now…well, now, as I might have mentioned, I have a friend with a pool. And I ain’t letting her go. I mean, I wouldn’t anyway because she’s a great person, as are her husband and kids, and blah, blah, blah. But, yeah, the pool. I could find out she likes to go on Arctic cruises and club baby seals for fun while on vacation and I’d be like, cool, cool. You’re clearly an awful human being and I have every intention of stopping being your friend…in October. Mid-October at the very latest if it’s one of those really warm autumns.

There was only one drawback to this otherwise amazing, life-changing, event. Which, if you’re a parent, I’m sure you can relate. I mean, don’t you guys hate that awkward moment when your kid tries to kill your other kid? In public, no less?

We were all having such a good time too. Before, you know, the attempted murder and all. Laughing and splashing and screaming at everyone to stop splashing. My 2-year-old daughter was standing right next to my 4-year-old son on the steps leading into the pool. Then I blinked, like an idiot, and BOOM. The little one was facedown in the water.

Luckily there were multiple other parents in the pool and since every parent is a low key superhero, roughly six of them immediately dove toward her and she was scooped out of the water within mere seconds.

Still, she was hysterical. Because drowning isn’t fun at any age but especially at the age of 2. She was fine though. Everything was fine. I was cuddling and cooing and comforting and ready to chalk the whole thing up to childhood shenanigans…

…when, lo and behold, I heard one of the other kids say “he pushed her” and I instantly knew who that “he” was. Which is how I went immediately from feeling grateful that my one child was alive to worried that my other child wouldn’t be for long.

Because I was going to kill him.

It’s an interesting feeling, that one. As a mom, you’ll do pretty much anything to protect your family. Until that moment comes when you have to protect your family from your family and then you’re just angry and confused, a panting Momma Bear who is growling at everything because you’re no longer sure who to strike out at.

I’m happy to report that there were no casualties that day. Mostly because my husband took one look at my face and then quickly removed my son from the scene so as to have a chat with him about why we don’t drown our sister under any circumstances.

And within an hour we were all back playing in the pool. Because, let’s face it, you can’t let a little thing like sororicide get in the way of a good time.

If I sound a bit callous, or a bit too casual about the whole thing, it’s probably because I am. Even I was a bit shocked at how quickly I shook it off. But I learned three very important lessons that day.

One, drinking sangria your friends made that would put most frat houses to shame helps blunt the edges off the never-ending stress of being a parent.

Two, being surrounded by other parents when something like that happens, parents who have been in the trenches, parents who are hardened veterans, parents who have seen things, man, helps you realize you are not alone and that your kids aren’t the only kids who have ever tried to kill each other.

And three, in order to survive these precious but clearly hazardous child-rearing years, you have to learn how to brush things like this off. Like, oh, ha! Baby’s first attempted assassination. How adorable. Did anyone get a photo?

Because when it comes down to it, we are all raising tiny psychopaths.

They’re learning. You hear that a lot as a parent. You tell yourself that a lot as a parent. These kids, they hit and bite, they throw stuff and spill stuff, they can’t control their emotions. Because, hey, they’re learning. How to human. How to handle. How not to murder.

Which was clear the next day when my two kids were happily playing together again, no thought of murder on either of their minds. Just lots and lots of thrilling suicide attempts while seeing if they could fly by jumping off the kitchen table.

 

37 things I’ve learned in 37 years

Decluttering your life only works if you refuse to allow your family back into the house.

You should do one thing every day that scares you, like skydiving, or answering your phone when it rings even though this will likely result in having to talk to another human being.

When you’re a mom, children turn into gremlins the minute they find out it is your birthday.

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After a certain age, every musical guest on Saturday Night Live makes you squint and say “who the hell is that?”

Always do the voices when reading books to your kids.

If an entire drawer in your fridge isn’t devoted solely to cheese, are you even really living?

Nazis are bad. Always. No exceptions.

Saving the planet is good. Always. No exceptions.

If you cook Thanksgiving dinner, apologize for nothing. I don’t care if the turkey tastes like hot garbage and the mashed potatoes are on fire. You just spent 16 hours in the kitchen. Apologize. For. Nothing.

Everyone talks about how important it is to drink water but it is equally important to know that if you do start drinking water, you’ll have to keep doing it forever because now you notice how dehydrated and awful and death-ish you feel when you don’t drink water. You’ve been warned.

If you take your dog on a walk, he will poop exactly one more time than the amount of plastic baggies you brought with you.

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Don’t say maybe when you want to say no.

After a certain age, you wake up in pain for no discernible reason. Maybe it’s from your three-mile run. Maybe it’s from when your toddler was practicing WWE moves on you while you tried to make dinner. Maybe it’s because you sneezed too hard. Who knows?

Pillow fights are fun for exactly 24 seconds before it all devolves into attempted mass murder via fluff.

Parenting gets easier the day you realize that the food will never be eaten, the laundry will never be done and the term “clean” is now highly malleable.

Don’t just be nice. Strive to be kind.

Camping is always a great idea. At first. Then nature happens. A lot of it.

Never feed small children spaghetti unless it’s their bath night.

Never feed old dogs leftover spaghetti unless it’s their bath night.

No matter how many times you threaten them, someone is going to eventually poop in the tub on bath night.

Wine.

After a certain age, people start looking too young to be your doctor.

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Remember to have fun.

You can never own too many books. You can definitely own too many cheese slicers. (Seven. SEVEN.)

Make friends with people who understand you when you say things like “I’m having a really good boob day.”

Screw it. Just order pizza for dinner.

Let your loved one know you care. Pinch their butt more.

Resist the urge to buy your children finger paints. They’ll play with them for five minutes and it will take you roughly the rest of your life to clean up the mess.

After a certain age, no matter how positive you are that you’re right, you are definitely not using that Internet slang term correctly. Trust me. I’m Netflix and chill AF.   

Don’t let your kids “win” at board games. That’s how those insufferable people who say “well, actually” are created. Crush them at Candyland. Crush them hard. Society will thank you.

Making the bed in the morning seems so pointless. Until you go to bed.

Kids are resilient. So are you.

Your partner cannot read your mind. When they make you angry, tell them how you feel right into their big, dumb, stupid face.

For those of you wondering, a nice Kentucky whiskey pairs best with dinnertime temper tantrums.

After a certain age, you’ll start yelling at people to stop wasting paper towels. Do not panic. This is a natural part of the aging process.

Slow down. The only thing waiting for you at the end of all this is death.

I’m 37 now and I can officially declare that there are no grown-ups. We’re all faking it.

Finding my tribe

I thought it was like riding a bike. Or shotgunning a beer. That it was a skill, once mastered, couldn’t be forgotten. But then, at the age of 36 and a mom of two young children, I realized I had forgotten how to make friends.

I mean, I have friends. Of course I have friends. Lots of them. In fact, according to Facebook, I have over 1,400 friends. So, yeah, I’m doing just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Except, thanks to our semi-nomadic life, these friends live in Ohio. And Texas. And Colorado. And Oregon. And dozens of other places.

I also managed to snag a few wonderful local friends right here in Boston before I got pregnant for the first time and turned into a permanent swamp witch. Except they are younger, or older, and childless, or their kids are grown. And also I keep forgetting to contact these wonderful local friends to hang out in real life because all my time and brain power is now spent cutting up fruit my kids are BEGGING for, and then cleaning the mess from all that cut-up fruit that they did NOT eat but felt needed to be spread all throughout the house.

I’m also on friendly terms with our downstairs neighbors. Whenever we see each other. Which is roughly twice a year.

It’s not like I can’t talk to people. I’m not what you would describe as shy. I can strike up an awkward conversation with the best of them. And on really good hair days, I can even score a hot mom’s digits.

But after that I’m pretty much useless. What’s the next step? Text them? I guess. But underneath their name I usually put something like “Chick from playground” or “Blonde Lorelai Gilmore” because I never actually listen when I ask someone their name. And if by some miracle I do remember their name, I forget how to write a text like a normal human.

“Hello. Maybe sometime henceforth we could, whenever is convenient for you, of course, together our offspring get for a coffee. Or a beer. Or nine beers. Not that I’m an alcoholic or anything. LOL. OK. Well. You have neat eyebrows. *random gif of Chris Pratt from Jurassic Park.*”

It also doesn’t help that I am awful at first impressions. Just awful. The reasons for which I’ve narrowed to the following three things.

One, I have a major case of Resting Bitch Face. Some people look wistful when they daydream. I look like I want to murder you and your entire family and then will strangle your pet in front of your lifeless corpses. Two, whenever I do smile, I smile weird because I hate my teeth, which really only adds to the illusion that I’m probably a secret serial killer. And three, when I’m nervous (like, say, when I’m meeting new people for the first time) I always think of the perfect thing to say roughly three minutes after I should have said it (which you would think would stop me from saying it, but no, no it doesn’t).

So now, without the crutch of school or a regular 9-to-5 job where people are forced into close proximity to me on a regular basis (and thus are eventually able to see through all these quirks to my much more endearing quirks) I found myself struggling to make friends with other parents.  

For a long time I told myself I didn’t need friends. It’s 2018, man. We, as a society, are beyond friends. That’s why memes and Netflix and mermaid blankets and boxed wine with straws were invented.

Coping mechanism, you know?

But you do. You really do need friends. At every age. And every stage.  

I’d see these groups of parent-friends talking and laughing at places like the library and the park. Just go up and talk to them, I’d tell myself. You’re a grown-up. This isn’t like third grade. They won’t make fun of you because you’re wearing the wrong color scrunchie. But then my oldest would start yelling “MOMOMOMOM!” and I’d realize my youngest was running straight toward traffic and the moment passed and we’d head home. Friendless.

Secretly though, I was always hoping one of these groups would take pity on me and adopt me. It was a fantasy I often had while staring off into space (and looking like I wanted to murder you). That they would see me sitting there by myself and just swoop in and take me under their collective wing and say “let’s go get a beer, or nine, and by the way, you have neat eyebrows.”

You can imagine my surprise, then, when one did.

It was a chilly spring afternoon. A group of them descended on the playground. I’d seen most of them around the neighborhood from time to time. Made small talk with some of them over the years. Which is how this encounter started. But then, just like that, they let me in. Within 20 minutes, they had added me to their Facebook Messenger group. Within 45, I’d been invited to their weekend barbecue.

And that’s all it took. I had found my tribe.

And it’s made all the difference.

My kids now have neighborhood kids to hang out with. My husband has other husbands to stand over cooking meat and say meat cooking things about. And I…well, I can finally smile my real smile, forgetting how much I hate my smile for awhile.

Loneliness is a real epidemic. As adults we don’t like to talk about this. For too many of us it conjures up too many horrific childhood memories of bullies and not fitting in and birthday parties where you were terrified no one would show up.

But we should talk about it. And address it. Because not everyone is as lucky as I am and has a circle of friends that reaches in, deus ex machina, and saves you from your loneliness. And tells you, in big ways and small, that you are great, just the way you are. And will agree that yes, your kids are being total buttheads today.

Everyone deserves to have people in their life like that.

So, here’s to hoping you have found your tribe to help you get through the long days and short years of parenthood. And if you haven’t yet, hang in there. It will happen. And if it doesn’t, approach that lonely mom sitting all by herself and start the tribe yourself.

 

Mom is always right, even when she’s wrong

To my dearest, dearest children,

You two are the light of my life. I love you both so much. Which is why I’m writing this even though it’s…difficult. Very difficult, in fact. For me. Your mother. To admit this. But it’s important you know this so…

Sigh…

Listen up and listen hard because you will never hear this ever again.

I was wrong.

Long exhale…

BUT I AM RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING ELSE. AND ALL FUTURE THINGS. ALL OF THEM.

However, ok, yes, I was wrong about this ONE thing. You guys were actually wonderful on our recent vacation.

I spent all that time moaning and whining about how awful I expected you guys to be; the likely sleepless nights we’d share, the public tantrums you’d likely have, the running off and disappearing into the ocean you’d likely do, tarnishing my reputation as a mom forever.

And then…nothing. You guys behaved. Not only that, you were charming and sweet and loving. It was like living in one of those old black-and-white photos of the Kennedy family on the beach.

Now, in my defense, it’s easy to assume the worst when it comes to children. Because I’ve seen your worst. On multiple occasions. And I think we can all agree that when it’s bad, it’s BAD. So bad. All the bad. And neither of you is shy about proving it.

There’s the dual meltdowns in restaurants where I have to scream to the waitress over your screaming “AND THE KIDS WILL HAVE A GRILLED CHEESE AND I’LL HAVE AN ENTIRE BOTTLE OF JACK DANIELS, THANKS!” The waiting in line at the store where you’re hitting each other but not the normal little kid hitting. Oh no. The “reenacting scenes from ‘Atomic Blonde’” level of hitting (no more playing with the remotes anymore, by the way, kids). And, my personal favorite, the night-night time “I don’t want to brush my teeth!” freakouts that end with me screaming so loud I’m worried my neighbors now know what kind of mom I actually am.

But nope. None of that. This vacation was everything a vacation is supposed to be. Fun. Exciting. Even, believe it or not, a tad bit relaxing.

I mean, you slept. You both slept. Through the night. Every night. You slept so well, in fact, that I was worried you had maybe both been replaced by changelings. (Luckily a third glass of wine made me realize that I was totally ok with raising the changelings instead of you as long as they kept up these fantastic sleeping patterns.) 

You didn’t complain about the food. You even ate some of it. Which allowed me and your dad to eat. And eat we did. We ate everything. We ate whatever is the scientific amount of calories you can eat in one sitting without dying. And we did it three times a day. Every day.

You occupied yourselves. You played together. Without us. Which allowed us to sit back and drink the aforementioned wine from the big fancy box we had brought like the big fancy people we clearly are.

You were polite to every cashier, every waiter, every little old lady who stopped and gushed over your red hair for 15 minutes.

You were…simply wonderful.

Which leads me to the conclusion that, clearly, the key to an amazing vacation is to dread it. (And to put that dread into writing. And post it online. For all to see.)

And as such, I look forward to dreading many more vacations with you.

Love,

Momma