Remember How It Feels

Stigma is a word we don’t talk about much these days when it comes to divorce. It’s completely glossed over on TV or movies. Divorced women are always portrayed by a middle aged lady who was the perfect wife crying in a bathrobe over her husband who left her for his secretary but then wins a five star vacation on a radio contest and transforms into an empowered, red lipstick-clad world traveler. OR it’s an empowered, red lipstick-clad business woman who was the perfect wife but her husband never appreciated her dedication to her career and also he cheated on her with his secretary because he’s intimidated by her wild success and she reclaims herself with a five star vacation.

But hear me out…

Some of us are regular moms. We don’t get to embark on three month long jungle trips to find ourselves. We are struggling to find socks before school in the morning (don’t even think about asking for matching) and we are making pasta for dinner (again) before soccer practice. And we don’t all have sassy gay friends to give us makeovers. And we don’t have a crew of girlfriends to take us out dancing every weekend and do yoga in the park. Because our crew of girlfriends are still regular moms too and sitters are hard to come by.

I CHIME IN with a haven’t you people ever heard of…a normal suburban divorced lady with two kids just doing her goddamned best? (Did you sing it?)

Even my ex-husband, who regularly disagrees with me on many things (because arguing is forever, kids) made a very poignant comment recognizing that there were a lot of speed bumps I had to deal with in the wake of our divorce that he, as a man, did not encounter. Props to you Glen Coco. You go, Glen Coco.

For example, if you’re not dating, you’re constantly encouraged to get on a dating app (I didn’t.) If you are dating, you’re questioned about whether it’s going too fast.

Other moms that you thought were your friends “report” back to your ex-husband when you’re in the late line for school pick up, which is a lot because guess what, you have to work now. (Also, joke’s on you because I was frequently in the late line when I was still married, thank you very much.)

Some people just stop talking to you all together. And to them I politely say, don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. (I believe that is Psalms.)

Perhaps my favorite anecdote of all happened a couple of weeks ago when I was at a Women’s dinner at my church. A mom friend of mine gave me a big hug and said to me in front of a group of people, “Hey! I’ve been following your Instagram and you seem happy, but are you really?”

Excuse me, Brenda?

Is my non-shared life just cocktail party fodder now because I’m single? Do I ask you if you and your husband are as happy as you seem on Instagram? Honestly. The audacity. “Hey, I saw that you guys went to Disney, but between you, me, and these other dressed up ladies sipping white wine at this church dinner, how is Bud’s porn addiction, did you guys get a handle on that yet?”

My point is this…whether you’ve been through the process of coming out of hibernation after a divorce and all the social awkwardness that comes with it or not, remember  how it feels when you’re vulnerable. Remember how it feels when you’re fragile. Remember how it feels when someone has embarrassed you and you have no idea what to say. Remember how it feels to have something in your life implode publicly. Remember how it feels when people you thought were your best friends don’t call you for months. Remember how it feels to be humbled, to look back and realize you weren’t perfect and you’re not a victim and you’re just a normal person like everyone else.

And use those memories to recognize and help other people get through those times.

And no matter what -if you possibly can -take a five star vacation. And post all that ish up on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of Pie and Bravery

Thankful For Pie

I remember my first crush in Kindergarten. I also remember the first and last names of each boy I had crush on in subsequent grades up until middle school when I had THE BIG crush on one boy for like four years. He was the Winnie Cooper of my Wonder Years. I’ve had countless crushes in my life, most of whom never even knew. I suppose that is the gift of the combination of a big imagination and intermittent shots of anxiety to keep you practical.

I know some parents balk at the idea of little grade schoolers having crushes, raising eyebrows and saying how they are way too young for that, etc. But to these parents I ask, do you show your kids Disney movies? Continue reading

How many years are there?

The other morning my newly-turned-five-year-old and I were sitting on the couch watching cartoons and eating Doritos while the other half of our family went on a bike ride.

Savvy was singing the Days of the Week song, which is where you just start with Sunday and sing the days of the week to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine. Try it, it’s catchy.

Savvy: “I know how many days there are. Seven.” Continue reading

KC Live: The COOLEST Bath Toys for Toddlers (And gerbils?)

“So there I was, alone in a Ritz Carlton, crying into my used/hotel-issued ‘luxury’ bathrobe”….is a way I could start more than one story. But for now,  I’ll stick to Monday night. It was my own fault, in that I drank a bunch of white wine and turned on Mamma Mia on Netflix. If you have a little girl and think you could watch Meryl Streep sing this song without drunk-crying, fight me. Continue reading

Lessons In Broken Toys: Just Go With It.

Today we came home from school to discover that Savannah’s (weird, trashy, but favorite) My Little Pony “Barbie” had been severely mauled by Mr. Biffles. Savannah was understandably horrified. (Bif lacked any signs of remorse.)

Hearing Savvy’s cries of shock and grief, Avery and I made quick work of a rescue mission. Avery got the silver duct tape while I performed CPR. I patched up the arms and leg while Avery applied the defibrillator (a Shopkin), as Savvy hesitantly looked on. Soon the doll was stabilized and the wailing subsided. Avery declared the doll “still beautiful.” I offered that her name could be “Ilene,” as she was now missing one foot. Savvy was unpersuaded. Continue reading

The Hootie Diaries: A #MomFail

My daughter’s preschool periodically sends home the class owl named “Hootie.” He comes with a notebook and instructions to please add photos and a journal entry about all of the fun he has with your family. Since my daughter is 4 and cannot read, write, or pick up pictures from Walgreens, Hootie, while a fun concept, is largely just a homework assignment for me and pressure to look like we are “having fun” and “doing things.”

The first time Savannah brought Hootie home, we lost him. For like a week. I eventually found him hidden under the couch with several dog toys. I was just grateful that he still had eyes. Most of Hootie’s journal entries are lovingly crafted recaps of family leisure time with pictures of smiling children taking Hootie to church or posing with a fishing pole at their grandpa’s pond. ‘Here we are sharing an organic banana milkshake after a long day of helping the homeless!’

Savannah ended up with this:

Continue reading

When Will There Be Cupcakes Again?

When I was in grade school I read Number The Stars by Lois Lowry about little girls living in Denmark during the Holocaust. Since the Nazi occupation, resources are scarce but the little sister, Kirsti, longs for a “big yellow cupcake, with pink frosting.” For some reason, I have never forgotten this detail.

My daughters both have summer birthdays so they miss out on the fanfare of having a school day birthday. Instead, we celebrate their half-birthdays. Today we celebrated my sweet Savannah sunshine’s four and a half birthday. I sat in a tiny purple chair and read a few of her favorite books to a bunch of wide-eyed, pink frosting-covered, grinning little faces.

Milestones always make me sentimental, even arbitrary ones, like a fifteen-minute preschool half-birthday party, but I genuinely believe in celebrating as much as we can, while we can.

When I was in first grade, I remember the exact moment I heard my teacher say the word “war” as it related to the Gulf War. As a Senior in high school, I remember silently watching Mrs. Goldberg scrawl the name “Osama Bin Laden” across the chalk board on September 11th. My own first grade daughter overhears words in the media like “protest” and “gender inequality” and “racism.” Though I grew up hearing about military conflicts, my own children are growing up amidst wars between all kinds of people, and it’s nearly impossible to tell if anyone is winning.

But my little four and a half year old is still blissfully unaware of such topics. She thinks the President’s name is Donald Trumpet and once asked me to help her fill out a postcard to send to the White House because she overheard concerns of people losing their rights, but she heard “writes” and surmised he was stealing crayons and various other items. For real, we actually sent a postcard we tore out of a Highlights magazine to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue asking the President to please stop taking things from people and also give Savannah her fictitious stuff back. She doesn’t worry that someday someone could come into her school with intention to hurt people for no reason. She thinks skin tones come in colors called “brown” and “blonde.” She doesn’t live in fear of friends or family being deported. She doesn’t worry that she’ll be denied an education because she’s female.

And she loves cupcakes.

So as silly as it may sound, I made these symbolic cupcakes to mark an arbitrary milestone with a bunch of preschoolers today. Because I can.

And that’s something to celebrate.

Cupcake

“Mama, is there anything to eat?”  Annemarie asked, hoping to take her mother’s mind away from the soldiers.
“Take some bread.  And give a piece to your sister.”
“With butter?” Kirsti asked hopefully.
“No butter,” her mother replied.  “You know that.”
Kirsti sighed as Annemarie went to the breadbox in the kitchen.  “I wish I could have a cupcake,” she said.  “A big yellow cupcake, with pink frosting.”
Her mother laughed.  “For a little girl, you have a long memory,” she told Kirsti.  “There hasn’t been any butter, or sugar for cupcakes, for a long time.  A year, at least.”
“When will there be cupcakes again?”
“When the war ends,” Mrs. Johansen said. 
She glanced through the window, down to the street corner where the soldiers stood, their faces impassive beneath the metal helmets.  “When the soldiers leave.”

-Lois Lowry, Number The Stars

 

Take No Preschoolers

Savvy 1 month

This morning my four-year-old Savannah (pictured above when she was blisfully unable to make biting, hurtful remarks) asked me if she could have a “healthy breffast, with no sugar.” I happily agreed to make her some eggs. About two minutes into me cooking, she took one look at the eggs and said, “NOT LIKE THAT! OH MY GOSH I WANTED THE KIND THAT ARE ROUND AND YOU CRACK THEM!”

“I don’t have any hard-boiled eggs cooked though.”

“NO, YOU DON’T EVEN UNDERSTAND ME! YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO COOK THEM YOU GET THEM OUT OF THE ‘FRIGERATOR!”

“I do understand you, but I’m telling you that I have to cook those kind of eggs FIRST before you can get them out of the refrigerator.”

She then let out some sort of primal scream of frustration and flung herself onto the staircase crying, “NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME IN THIS HOUSE! YOU DON’T EVEN LOVE ME!”

From his chair where he was enjoying his hot coffee and reading the news, my husband muttered, “Jesus, what is she, on her period?”

In this moment, I realized two things. 1. My husband is 100 percent going to infuriate my daughters when they are teenagers and I’m going to sit smugly in the corner with my hot coffee and watch him try to figure out what he said/did wrong. 2. My four year old is just a small version of me when I’m PMSing, hangry, drunk, or some combination therein.

We recently watched the Judd Apatow stand up special on Netflix and in talking about his wife and two daughters he hilariously said something to the effect of, “I don’t just live with three women. I live with three ages of the same woman.” So if that’s true, my husband is in for hell on heels.

Since Savannah’s been having these outbursts, I’ve been looking up a lot of parenting resources on discipline and how to curb anxiety in your children before it gets out of control. But probably the most useful article I came across is not a parenting article at all, but it should be. It’s called, Hostage Negotiation Techniques That Will Get You What You Want. It includes this chart and points out that the reason most people aren’t great negotiators is that they skip the first three steps and move straight to Influence, when the step that actually weakens someone’s defense the most, is actively listening while they talk.

hostage-negotiation-techniques

Via

So the moral of the story is Savannah ate Lucky Charms and I’m turning to the FBI for parenting tips.

Happy Friday, Y’all.

#MommyBombing

I got the idea for this post when I was volunteering at my daughter’s school and a fellow mom acquaintance dropped a snide comment on me that had me like,

The Audacity

Lucille Bluth

So I posted a call on my social media for what I’m referring to as “mommy-bombing” stories, meaning those verbal grenades lobbed by fellow parents during an otherwise friendly conversation that leave you like:

Excuse me what just happened

And you guys did not disappoint! So here, edited for brevity, is a gold mine of your experiences with Mommy-bombing:

Continue reading