I am starting a petition to rename my local children’s museum The Land of Shitty Moms.
A snit between me and some lousy parent nearly came to fisticuffs today.
She may have been pregnant or just a regular at World of Beer. Either way, I know I would’ve won.
Yeah, she made me that mad.
The first problem: It’s the week where admission is free with your public library card. Apparently people who enjoy free books also believe in a style of parenting that fosters stealing, hitting and general mayhem.
There wasn’t a single toy my children played with that wasn’t snatched from their hands within seconds.
There wasn’t a span of 5 minutes where they weren’t shoved out of their position in a line.
Their requests for a turn with something, no matter how polite, were met with a child holding onto the coveted item with a death grip, flashing an evil grin that would’ve earned them a role in a teen vampire flick.
But, no single instance of crappy kid-dom got my dander up like the following:
My kids were playing with giant soft blocks.
They are numbered, intended to be used to create an arch.
My kids are bringing me each number in order to stack them up.
As soon as we got three blocks high, some string-bean with a maniacal Joker grin would rush them like she was part of the defensive line.
She did it once and I waited patiently for the demon seed’s mother to intervene.
The second time, I said, “No, honey we’re trying to build a tower for an arch.”
The third time, I am looking around like, “Where the f*&k is your parent?”
Now, I’m not a complete asshole.
The first time some kid tries to bulldoze mine or treat them like straight poop, I take a deep breath and assume the parent was busy sneezing or wrangling a second child.
But, when it happens over and over, I am damn sure gonna tell your kid to back the f&*k off. (Obviously, in the gentlest way possible.)
Now, this kid’s mom turned out to be just feet away, watching and doing nothing. (In other words, totally approving of her little shit’s behavior.)
In fact, a few seconds later I overheard her say to her tiny psychopath, “They can’t tell you not to play. The kids’ mom is right there. You go ahead and do what you want.”
‘Do what you want?’
Well, therein lies the problem.
Your kid can’t do what she wants. What she wants is to destroy something other kids were playing with. (In the way it was intended to be played with.)
Next, she’s going to “do what she wants” and smother your newborn to death. But, ‘Go ahead honey! Express yourself.’
Now, as for what I want to do when I hear something like this? Well, it could be misconstrued as a published threat against a potentially pregnant woman.
Now, let me be clear, I do not hold similar grudges against other parents of toy-snatching underage assholes.
There were plenty of babies who grabbed a toy from my kids and I simply smiled and gave the “friendly shrug” to their moms.
If your kid is so little, his main objective is to deep throat that phallic fake fruit or use a felt piece of lettuce to wipe away the evidence of a cold accumulating under his nose, no apology needed.
(Yes, I noticed your son, the one with the gooey drainage traveling like a slow-motion river from nose to mouth and was offended. You took your sick kid to a freakin’ packed children’s museum during free week. Thanks a bunch! But, still… you’re not the mom I’m pissed at.)
As a parent, my job is to watch my child’s every move.
I have to make sure no pervert sneaks them off to a public restroom.
I have to make sure no mentally ill woman who miscarried 3 years ago tries to snatch my kid and pawn them off as her own.
But, mostly my job is to make sure my kids don’t act like dicks to yours. I do a damn good job.
All I ask is that you do the same, because if you don’t, I will take over the role.
Several times today I told a small child that wasn’t my own, “You need to take turns.” “You need to ask for a turn.” “You need to wait in line.”
My head was so hot today, all those moms are just lucky I didn’t throw a “f*&Kwad” at the end of those sentences.
Another brief example:
I was at a free music show event for kids at my local library the other day.
A herd of cackling moms sat in the back and talked the WHOLE time. (Great example ladies!)
Meanwhile, the poor guy performing had to yell at one of their kids over and over to sit down.
At one point, the kid pretty much slapped the guy in the face.
The kid’s mom was still laughing away at whatever-the-f&*k with her pals.
Yeah, you weren’t facing some dire circumstances and were looking for a shoulder to cry on and momentarily lost track of your son in a small room during a public performance.
Well, maybe your kid has special needs.
Wait… in which case, you REALLY should’ve been watching him to make sure he didn’t ruin an entire event for a few dozen kids and physically assault the musician.
Here’s what I’ve realized since deciding to make my full-time job raising two children:
I’ve done a darn good job with limited time for the first few years of their lives and a whole lot of other parents are failing miserably with loads of time and they don’t give a crap.
Welcome to life as a stay at home mom.
Welcome to the Land of Shitty Moms.
I was swallowed by a career and just survived getting shit back out.
Career day in elementary school wasn’t a gathering of kids with big dreams of someday being underpaid, under-appreciated, mid-level employees facing brutal criticism and daily disappointment.
Upon graduating from high school, I thought I was making an incredibly sensible decision in abandoning the pipe dreams of being an actress to get a degree in Telecommunications.
Shit, I didn’t even walk.
I picked up my diploma from an office and started applying to jobs. Hundreds of jobs. Mostly radio jobs, where the salary offered wouldn’t have been enough to survive on without roommates and lots of Top Ramen.
When nothing panned out, I moved in with my mother in Miami and starting working as a bookseller at Barnes and Noble.
Little did I know, that would become my favorite job to date. That’s despite having to wear a ridiculous witch hat on Harry Potter nights.
No brown nosing.
I wasn’t giving up my sense of self either. Hoodies and jeans.
Deal with it.
Within a year, I was a full-time associate producer. Within 2 years, a regular producer.
I would sit at bars with co-workers and hash out the bullshit of the day, an alcoholic post-mortem always punctuated by my comments about how it would be “When I run shit someday.”
Four years later, I got sick of working overnight, paying my dues in sleepless nights, power naps that left a dent in my forehead from the edge of my desk.
Daydrinking because it was normal.
Breakfast baked potato from the 24-hour Wendy’s in the ghetto.
I took a position in Tampa with every expectation I was on the fast track to becoming an Executive Producer.
I watched my mom go from Associate Producer to News Director in less than 6 years.
I had this on lock.
Not to mention that the News Director who hired me referred to my cover letter as “beautifully written.”
He called my resume impressive. Once I started, he said he thought there was no way they were going to get me to come on board.
I was too good for THEM.
I met my husband and had a couple of kids.
Along the way I went from weekend producer, to weekday 11, to weekday 6.
Then, suddenly 2 years ago, I was doing the Noon show.
Then, they told me they were moving me back to weekends.
After 9 years.
I gave my notice the same day.
I don’t have some awesome other job lined up. I am not just giving up a job, I am giving up a career that I once loved very much.
While I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to focus on being a better parent to my children, there is also some sadness over a dream that has died.
But, as one of my very best friends said, “Defeated doesn’t suit you.”
Somehow I allowed this business, this job, to dig its hideous black talons into my spirit and squeeze out the very guts of who I am.
Enjoy my entrails.
Consider them the breadcrumbs that lead to another world, one where I am free to aspire to be something greater than I am every day.
Chew on that.
I am 98% sure I am having a full-blown identity crisis.
I am confident in my gender preference, sexual preference and my current status as being married and a mother.
Everything else is up for grabs.
When you become a parent your priorities don’t just shift. You don’t just put your needs on the back burner. You set them on fire and watch them turn to ash and waft away in the wind.
When it comes to my self-worth, I didn’t put all my eggs in one basket. There was a basket for being a successful News Producer, a basket for looking good, a basket for being loyal and loving and a basket for maintaining my sense of humor.
I didn’t drop the basket, but I may have crashed the delivery truck.
I have always wrapped up my self-confidence in a blanket of compliments. I was a great writer. I was skinny and attractive. I was smart and witty. Quirky and fun. Deep and loyal. Cynical and acerbic.
Now, I just feel old and tired. I have been told I am a bad writer and a bad Producer.
I drag my baby weight around like a yoke around my… well, let’s be frank here… belly.
My sense of humor is more bitter than acerbic.
Fun… what is that?
I have forgotten what it feels like to feel awesome.
I know it’s hidden in there somewhere, but you can only be told you’re not good enough for so long before you start to really believe it.
You know how it would feel if someone told you that you have an ugly baby? That’s how it feels when you love something tremendously and are told you suck at it.
I never proclaimed to be a stellar writer, but it’s something I’ve done like it’s a compulsion for my entire life.
To be told that I blow at it is a REAL BLOW.
It has made me question whether I ever had any talent to begin with. Is the full extent of my skill blogging, like this is some extension of a Dear Diary? Is my writing this right now proof of that?
I would be content if I was just focusing on raising two wonderful children, being Suzy homemaker but, instead I am stretched thin like a rubber band across the gap between work and home.
I haven’t changed how much effort I put into my job, but suddenly have hit a ceiling. While I continue to pour effort into a job where I am underappreciated, my home is collecting dog fur and grime and a stranger is cleaning it up. My kids have started to know when “Linda cleaned” the house.
I am opting for canned veggies, fish sticks and mac and cheese for the kids when I want to master a real meal.
I want to have someone take a picture of me that isn’t just from the shoulders up that I don’t immediately have the urge to delete.
There is the person I was, the person I am and the person I want to be.
They are all entirely different. I would love to say I’m ready to dig deep and reach that goal, but I’ve got to get out of the hole I’m already in first.
I need to be able to pour my heart and soul into something and have someone say just one time, “job well done.”
Let’s make it one word. Kudos. It’s cheap, cliche and a candy bar. I’ll take it.
(Warning: If you read my posts to have a chuckle or bond over the fact that little kids suck, you may want to skip this one.)
Ever find yourself trying to hide the tears streaming down your face at work because you’re overwhelmed by all of the tragedy in the world?
But, that probably has something to do with the fact that my job is reading and writing about all of the tragedy in the world.
Being a news producer, I try very hard to make stories more meaningful. When I am tasked with writing a dinky 45 second story on an art gallery and scholarship program in honor of two teens murdered 3 years ago by their own mother, I put real effort into it.
I find good pictures of the victims, check out their father’s Facebook page… and then I cry.
Because the two teenagers were once babies.
Because this is what their father wrote on their birthdays:
On your 16th birthday, I should be sharing some football and Krispy Kremes with you and laughing at your jokes until our stomachs hurt. Instead I find myself struggling to find adequate words to express the joy you continue to bring to me and to the lives of so many. I am so proud to be your Daddio. I miss you more with each passing day.
Love you forever …+1 with Beau Schenecker and Calyx Schenecker
Calyx, missing you is the hardest part. Celebrating you is the easy part. So on the eve of your 19th birthday, I join thousands who rejoice in having your presence in their lives. From your first day on this Earth, you set out to make the world a better place…Oh my, how you have greatly exceeded expectations! I love you forever + 1, Daddio with Calyx Schenecker and Beau Schenecker
Then, I move on from that story to a 20 second update on the Washington mudslides.
We’ve been updating the death toll for weeks. There’s only so many ways to talk about the search for the missing.
But, they named the latest victim.
I could leave it at that.
Or, I could go look up more information about him and find his wife’s Facebook page.
Their 4 year old son was rescued by helicopter, the mud so thick it ripped his pants off as they hoisted him to safety.
Their 2 year old daughter is still missing and presumed dead.
Their other two children are confirmed dead.
This is a woman who has lost her husband and three children and yet she still refers to the rescue of her son as a miracle.
Time to take a break and check in on my Facebook feed… where I get updates on a friend of a friend’s daughter who has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.
She posts pictures like this and somehow remains upbeat. Her strength blows my effing mind.
Pre-hydration went well-much better than last time! First chemo was started about an hour ago and the second will be going up soon. Chloe didn’t want to nap earlier so, of course, when the nurses started her Benadryl at 5:15 to pre-medicate her she passed out cold. It may be a very long night or very early morning!
I try to keep my posts upbeat, sarcastic and brutally honest.
Some days I can’t keep up the charade.
Some days are just heartbreaking.
The only benefit of spending my days writing and reading about such heart wrenching, soul crushing things is that I love my kids more than you do.
Kidding, of course.
But, it does put things in healthy (or unhealthy) perspective.
It is the reason why every single stupid-cute thing my kids do makes me worship the ground they walk on.
It’s why I post pictures of them obsessively and daydream about being a stay-at-home-mom.
I want to spend every second loving my children, because you never know when you could end up being the story someone is hunting for more details about to make it more “meaningful.”
Oh, and one more thing.
Damn you Viral Nova for being a perpetual buzz kill.
Maybe this was just one long excuse for why I’m not gonna workout today. Who can go to the gym after that?
I asked her what it was.
She said, “Dirt. I dig and dig and dig at school.”
I asked, “Why?”
She responded, “I dig for worms and snakes.” “I dig for worms and snakes.” “I dig for worms and snakes.”
Seriously, she said it three times while looking zoned out. Sounded just like Rain Man.
Yet, I find my daughter’s bizarre eccentricities endearing.
Occasionally while I’m putting her to sleep, she launches into rapid-fire monologues, complete non sequiturs.
Last night, she randomly said, “Jimmy James (boy from school) can’t find my house. It’s way too far away. We can’t find his house either. It’s way, way, way, way far away.”
So, I’m wondering if they plot escape from the playground at daycare together. Then I picture them bumping into the enormous gator that lives in the lake nearby. (Reason #465 why I wish I was a stay-at-home mom.)
As I’m reading her Mother Goose, she starts twirling my hair with her finger and says, “I like your hair growing long like mine.”
Then she says, “Ha! You cut my hair outside at our old house!” (Holy crap, that was at least a year and a half ago. I don’t even remember it.)
Then she gets obsessed with the fact that there is no actual Mother Goose inside the Mother Goose book, so I have to go find the other Mother Goose book we have so she can flip through the entire thing to find said gander.
As I walk out to leave, she tells me it makes her happy that daddy helped her put on her sneakers and that I let her wear them to bed. She explains that she likes sneakers with dresses now.
She’s random, weird and perhaps slightly unhinged and I adore her.
I was born in the 80’s. I grew up in the 90’s. So, what the heck do you call the now’s?
Here’s a quick comparison of the quintessential 80’s toys I remember and what the kids are playing with these days.
1) Popples. Pointless, partially pink, nebulous creatures that you can whip into ball-shaped pink, nebulous creatures.
Today’s version: The Furby. Owl rapes hamster and gives birth to a creature that speaks a made up language so your child will learn absolutely nothing.
2) Tabletop Donkey Kong. Donkeys mysteriously find an endless stockpile of barrels in a jungle in order to thwart attacks by crocodiles.
Today’s version: Angry Birds. Use a slingshot to launch birds at pigs. Because that makes so much sense.
3) Cabbage Patch Dolls: Creepy, cuddly dolls that resemble the girl from Poltergeist and have hard heads that make them perfect weapons when battling big brothers.
Today’s version: Monster High Dolls: Slutty, zombie chicks that look like futuristic strippers. Won’t hurt brothers. Scare adults.
4) The Rubik’s Cube: Spend hours being frustrated so your parents can have some peace.
Today’s version: Leap Pad. Little battery-operated mind suck.
5) Roller Racer: Awkward death trap on wheels.
Today’s version: A Mercedes… for kids. Whose bright idea was this? I know, let’s give reckless, uncoordinated people who are 10 years from getting a license a much smaller, plastic car and let them hit the road.
6) Lite Brite: Most obvious choking and fire hazard ever marketed to children.
Today’s version: Anything made in China that could contain lead, which is everything made in China.
7) Barbie: Inhuman body type, white blonde hair and a permanently surprised look.
Today’s version: Inhuman body type, now available with pink hair and tattoos.
I am a horrible mother. I missed a phone call from daycare and didn’t even get the message for an hour that my daughter was sick. They said she’s complaining that her belly hurts. Which can only mean that she has a urinary tract infection which has caused kidney failure and/or a tumor and/or her organs are all shutting down and that hour I wasn’t aware may have made the difference between life and death.
Or it could be a belly ache.
But, it still stands that I am a horrible mother. If I didn’t work, I would be able to ask her to explain how it hurts, figure out if she needed to go to a doctor, make an appointment if needed, give her Saltines and Ginger Ale and watch 30 back-to-back episodes of Super Why cuddled under a blanket with her.
If I didn’t work, I would be a fantastic mom. If I didn’t have kids, I would be a phenomenal Producer. Because I am a working mom, I kinda sorta suck hard at both.
Today, my husband needs to pick up a rental car for work, so he has to leave the kids with his parents. If I stayed at home, I could pick them up from school. Tomorrow, he has to head out of town at 5:30 a.m. That means I have to try and shower, get ready, get the kids ready and get them to school when it opens at 7 a.m., encounter rush hour traffic and get to work late.
I will be sweating, even if it’s 45 degrees outside.
My ears will be ringing from all of the screaming.
If I stayed at home, Alma could wake up leisurely and we could bicker about what she’s going to wear for an interminable amount of time. Instead of sweating, maybe I would actually end up SMILING.
My husband just called the daycare and they say Alma was just “tired.” What the hell? Yeah, when I’m exhausted I always confuse it for a stomach ache. So, it could still be the swine flu or appendicitis. But, I won’t know until it’s too late, because I’M WORKING!
My dad was a teacher, high school football coach and even the school bus driver to make ends meet. My mother stayed at home or worked part time. We went camping, took road trips and had family night every Sunday. We had what I refer to as the Christian Conversion Van; complete with blue shag carpeting for the interior, floor to ceiling. We didn’t have a lot of money. It wasn’t all Slip ‘N Slides and swimming pools. But, it’s safe to say I had the quintessential childhood.
Now, that I have my own children, I’m trying to figure out what makes my children’s childhood seem so vastly different.
Oh, wait I know.
I work full-time.
My husband works full-time.
My kids spend 8 to 11 hours a day with complete strangers. No wonder they don’t even vaguely resemble the children I spend a couple of hours a day trying to mold them into. By the time I get home, I’m too dang tired to be Supermom.
My mom was June Cleaver. I feel like Courtney Love.
My baking skills begin and end at banana bread. Woah, I can mix a bunch of crap in a bowl and hit “bake.” I dread the day my kidlets need help with a science project. I will probably just suggest that whole baking soda volcano thing EVERY YEAR. My mom actually made our playdough. My mom actually baked our birthday cakes. I stand in line at the Publix bakery for one and feel frazzled.
While most stay-at-home moms probably daydream about power suits, fatter bank accounts and adult conversation, I’m sitting around imagining what it would be like to rush the kids to soccer practice in sweatpants. I want to have playdough stuck in my finger nails, not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. I want to smell like a campfire, not like long-day-at-work funk. I want to finger paint with my daughter and kick the ball around with my son. Instead, it’s a mad dash to feed them, bathe them and rush them into bed so they can sleep so we can wake them up and clothe them, feed them and rush them to school. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I’ve spent all of these years working overnight, working weekends and working holidays so I could give my children a better life than the one I had.
Now, I am slowly coming to the realization that less money and more time is what they need to have a childhood even a fraction as awesome as mine was. That and a Christian Conversion Van.