Respecting ALL Parents

Stitch Edited

“This is my family. I found it, all on my own. Is little, and broken, but still good.”

~Stitch

I am a complete dork because I cry every time I watch this scene.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, Stitch finally realizes that he has found his family.  Despite its small size and its societal “brokenness”, he is happy.

We too can learn something from this little, but fierce cartoon alien.  We are often told how families are supposed to work and how they are supposed to look.  Well, life doesn’t give us little gift wrapped family units anymore than a stork dropped off our clean, swaddled infants like in the movie, Dumbo.  Wouldn’t that be convenient?

I was once a step-mother.  While it had its challenges, her mother, was the biggest challenge.  Everything my ex and I did was wrong and she would constantly tell us how to take care of “her daughter”.  I was even called and giving bathing instructions…..for a 2 year-old….who could swim.  I promised myself that if I EVER ended up on the other end of this relationship, I would treat my child(ren)’s step-mother with respect.

My ex is now remarried.  The girls have 3 parents and they are “our” children not “my” children.  Last time I checked, they are not in fact, the immaculate conception so they were never just “my” children.  Moreover, I completely agree that it takes a village and I love that the girls have more people who love them.

Each of us offers something.  Each of us love them unconditionally.  They have a parent for every need.  While they may go to one for one thing, they may prefer another for something else.  Remember that loving someone else does not diminish your position as their parent nor their capacity to love you.

With this marriage comes extended family as well.  As someone who doesn’t have a ton of family to offer, the girls suddenly getting another set of grandparents was a wonderful addition.  As we say often in this house, family is family no matter how you come by it.

As parents, we often forget that your children have a relationship with others outside of their relationship with you.  We forget that they can love more people and still love you.  We forget that we all need a break and having 2-4 parents is far better than playing the martyr.  Respect all the parents in your child(ren)’s lives because parenting is hard and they all sure as hell deserve it.

Nothing Has Gone Wrong Yet This Year!

I hope each of you had a fun New Year’s Eve and no one ended up vomiting excessively or slipping in someone else’s urine (I say this because I almost ate it coming down a urine soaked staircase leaving a club….classy).  Today is by far my favorite day of the entire year.  It’s so full of promise.  This year is perfect so far!  Nothing has gone wrong yet!

Whatever happened last year is done and gone.  We move forward to a year that has the potential to be a wonderful year or at the very least, be better than the last.

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions anymore.  The average person keeps a New Year’s Resolution for 120 days.  Me, I eat one salad, hop on the scale, see no change, and decide to order a pizza (and cheesecake).  My resolutions last about 47 seconds.  It’s a waste of notebook paper to record them and dangerous for the annoying people who keep asking me what my New Year’s Resolution is this year.

I do however take stock of the previous year and decide what serves me and what doesn’t.   As I do this recap, I think of my successes and know not to be stupid enough to be smug.  Why?  Because right after that, I review my failures.  No sugar-coating, no embellishments, just what I screwed up.  I actually out loud, exclaim “Ug!” at my stupidity over some of the idiotic things I’ve done and hope to hell I don’t repeat these mistakes.

Learning to let go is a skill most parents need.  Only you can change certain things, only you choose how you react to things, and only you can start being the change you want to see.  I know that’s a lot of “yous” and you are already exhausted.  Take a deep breath….you got this.  Take a nap, have a glass of wine, and review last year’s photos.  I guarantee there was more good than bad, and this year is going to be even better.

Ringing In The New Year – Let’s Learn to Thrive Not Just Survive

Invisible Edited

So we’ve made it through another round of holidays and another year of co-parenting (or any parenting for that matter).  You should totally be high fiving yourself right now…I know I am.  Some days, when the kids are fed and alive by bedtime (even if not clean), I consider it a success.  If they are bathed, ate something resembling a vegetable, and didn’t look homeless when they left the house, I feel like the fucking master.  I’ve learned that much of parenting is simply survival.

Now, as we move into a new year, we reflect on the past as well as look forward.  My goal for you this year is not simply to survive, but to thrive.  Now, I am by no means telling you to start baking your own bread, going on an all kale diet, ironing underpants, and cutting out sugar/gluten/alcohol (God forbid)/red meat or whatever else people get on kicks about to feel better.  No one actually keeps all that shit up (at least not for long).  I’m not saying these are bad ideas, but this is not what I mean by thriving.  Here are some examples:

  1. Do one thing every day for you.  I know, I know, but I’m a selfless parent and even if I wasn’t, where would I get the damn time?  Everyone has time for what is important to them.  Make yourself important to you, and make the time.  You may think your priority is your kids but if you work 60+ hours per week, they aren’t.  Look at how you spend the majority your time and that will tell you what you are making important and who you are making feel important (or unimportant).  You are a person with feelings.  Everyone in the house is happier when the person in charge is.  Learning self-care is a valuable skill (and I do mean a skill to be honed) that needs to be learned by every person, but for people raising people, it is a must.
  2. Listen to your children.  Children are people and they want to be heard too.  You will be amazed at how the bullshit declines when they don’t feel like they have to be little assholes to be seen and heard.
  3. Learn balance.  Yeah, I don’t have it either but I work on it every single day.  For every task you do for your kids, do one for you, one for your spouse (if applicable), one for work, etc.  Learn to put everyone on your to do list (see #1 – yes you too).
  4. Remember to enjoy your children.  I know this may seem like a no-brainer but I see too many parents panicking over cooking/cleaning/did I remember their vitamins?/why-the-fuck-did-I-agree-to-bake-9-dozen-cookies-for-that-bitch-who-runs-the-bake-sale?/dammit he needed a purple shit for school today/I forgot to buy dog food and now I’ll have to feed the cat to the dog….the list goes on.  STOP.  Your children are growing up so quick that while you are freaking out, YOU ARE MISSING IT.
  5. Drink because you want to, not because you have to.  Cultivate an environment that is filled with laughter and fun.  If this sounds like I’m living in Oz then take a step back and see what needs to change so you don’t dread getting out of bed in the morning.  Is it work?  Quit.  Is it your ex?  Put up firm boundaries.  Are your kids acting like dicks?  Learn another form of discipline.  Too busy?  Learn to say “no”, and remember that just because your phone is ringing does not mean you have to answer it.

Go easy on yourself this year.  People spend too much time beating up themselves and others.  There is enough bullshit to go around and no one is perfect.  Much of parenting is survival.  This year, make it a point to thrive.  That doesn’t mean work out, eat better, get more sleep, etc.  Unless that’s actually what you want.  Seek happiness, not perfection this year.

I “Merry Christmas” The Shit Out Of You!

Happy Holidays Edited

I “Merry Christmas” the shit out of all of you.  Not because I don’t care what your holiday of origin/choice is; I really do.  It’s just because it’s how I was raised.  I also love Easter, not the “Jesus rose from the dead” bunny, because that’s just weird.  I like Christmas trees, not “happy birthday, Jesus plants”.  I just want you to enjoy your holiday and not get mad because I don’t know what you celebrate (there’s only so much space in my head for information, guys).

If you’ve noticed, political correctness is lost on me.  Why?  Because it wouldn’t occur to me to look down on someone based on their appearance, color, gender, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and so forth, so remembering that people might think I’m being insensitive is new to me.  OK, let me rephrase, me being insensitive is not new, just how people interpret it is.  People are so touchy these days…..

I try to remember but the truth is….I just like people.  I think they are flawed and messed up and I get that (and I secretly enjoy it because it means I’m not alone).  I think people are too hard on themselves and each other.  I don’t expect people to know my affiliation any more than I am going to remember that you’re a circle-completing-cat-sacrificing-whatever-you-call-it.  I hear you, and I respect it, but truth is, I’m not going to remember.  I barely remembered to put on pants before leaving the house this morning.  Shit, I didn’t remember, now I have to go home for pants.

The important thing is, it’s the holidays.  Whatever holiday you are celebrating, this is the time to enjoy your family, not the time to put on your sassy pants.  More importantly, it is the time for your children to learn about your holiday traditions, religious or otherwise.  I used to think that being a kid on Christmas was the best thing ever, (this was quickly remedied by constantly getting socks and underwear for Christmas).  Now, I know that having kids on Christmas is way better.

My girls get so excited about things.  I wish I was that excited about ANYTHING.  Seeing their faces on Christmas morning (whenever we celebrate it), makes all the overtime and swing set assembly worth it.  Making my girls smile is so important to me.  It doesn’t matter what day we celebrate, as long as we are together, it can be whatever day we choose.  Don’t let anyone tell you that one day on the calendar is superior to another.  It’s not when you celebrate, but how.

My girls’ father just told me they are getting a BB gun and a 4-wheeler for Christmas from my ex-in-laws to play with on their new property.  It’s like they read the, “kids can hurt themselves with these, buy them for Christmas” catalog.  But really, it’s not my place and that’s the job of grandparents.  To buy them crap and feed them shit you, as a parent, wouldn’t.  With their dad and grandfather present, they are not going to get hurt….much, (I will not miss an opportunity to say “you’ll shoot your eye out”, though).  So, I let it go and let them have fun with family, who enrich their lives.  That’s what the holidays are about.  Tolerance, confidence, and togetherness.  Whatever that means for your family.

No holiday is perfect.  Remember that they are happy to spend time with you and your holiday counts.  Stop worrying what others think/post, and remember that you know what is best for your kids.  Your holiday of choice is going to be great.  Why?  Because you adore your children, you’ve worked hard to make it nice for them, and they love you unconditionally.  Have a wonderful holiday, enjoy your children, and when they head to the other’s parent’s holiday celebration and you are worried that it may be better….drink wine and remember that they love you equally.

Religion and Co-Parenting

Right Wrong Edited

Along with some other fascinating demands (yet outside the jurisdiction of the court – that whole separation of church and state thing), of divorced parents, is attempting to force the other parent to observe their religion, in the other home.  Hopefully we are seeing a pattern here that you do not control what goes on in the other parents’ home even when your children are there.  I completely understand that religion is a touchy subject and I await the flood of emails once I hit “Publish”.  But, some things must be addressed.

If you are a religious person, and you want to raise your child in your religion, you have every right to do so.  Your ex cannot tell you that you cannot take your child to church and raise your child in your religion, during your visitation.  It is your right as that child’s parent to teach your child about your religion.  That being said, NO, that does not mean that you get to show up on their doorstep and take the child on their days.  If a church event falls on the other parent’s visitation day, your child will not be allowed to attend without their permission.  This is where it is prudent for everyone to play nice.  It also does not mean that the other parent is required to observe said religion that you have chosen in their home.

If you are a non-religious person, that’s perfectly fine too.  You do not have to teach your child about God and organized religion.  This does not make you a bad parent, and you are perfectly capable of teaching right and wrong, without the fear of God and/or hell, as backup.  That being said, do not assume you are right.  Atheists are just as annoying as religious zealots.  Remember, as Mark Maron says, “there are no atheist soup kitchens”.  If your ex is trying to teach your children not to steal, kill, rape, pillage, etc., these aren’t bad lessons and they are not hurting anyone, so just stop.

Neither side will know who is right until we are all too dead to gloat, so stop competing.  

The trickiest situation is when each parent believes in a different religion altogether.  This is more difficult because you feel strongly that yours is accurate.  You really feel as if you are fighting for your child’s soul here, which is decidedly worth fighting for.  I get it.  But…yes, there’s a but.  You two don’t agree on things, that’s why you’re divorced.  I know this seems obvious, but I keep coming back to it because parents forget this.  Take a step back, do your part just like you do in every other area of your child’s life, and remember that what your ex does, or teaches in their home is none of your business.  Also, (and I know you don’t want to hear this, but it needs to be said), I don’t know any religion that condones divorce (correct me if I’m wrong).  If you two are so darn religious that you are at each other’s throats about it, how did you end up divorced?  Shouldn’t you be off building schools in Africa and flagellating yourself?  Exactly, you don’t get to be religious when it’s convenient.  It makes the rest of us look bad.  Stop it.

Your child will have questions when they receive conflicting information.  Use this as an opportunity to teach tolerance.  Many people believe many things.  That they should listen to everyone’s different beliefs because you can take something away from each person and their relationship with God, or lack there of, for that matter.

At the end of the day, you need to be honest with yourself.  Do not use religion as something to fight about (historically this fails *sweeps Spanish Inquisition under the rug*), because you like power struggles with your ex.  In the end, your child is going to grow up and decide for themselves.  You do your own thing, in your home, and the rest will fall into place.

Some People Are Never Going To Get It And That’s OK

 

Death Row Edited

There is a challenge of co-parenting that not many of us speak of.  It is the pressure from friends and family who are not divorced.  You see, society as a whole pushes marriage, the sanctity of marriage, the nuclear family, and so forth.  It’s clearly not working since more than half the population is divorced.  However, despite the fact that we are in the majority, we sit quietly and feel appropriately ashamed while the marriage and parenting experts show us failures how it’s done.

Everyone knows I am all about personal responsibility.  I do not think it is in any way your friends of family’s job to keep track of your visitation schedule.  Hell, I remind my girls’ father.  I hardly expect extended family and a random parent of a school friend to remember.  There will be times however, that it will become frustrating and I mean stuff-them-in-your-trunk-when-no-one’s-watching-and-enjoy-their-screams, frustrating.  Your friends and family are not always going to understand, even when they pretend they do.  Or my personal favorite when they say the appropriate words, while their body language and every action they take before or since says the exact opposite.

If you have your children every other weekend, which is standard, no matter who the primary time-sharing parent is, you only have your children 4 free days per month.  God forbid they play a sport or anything that requires scheduling on those days because that makes it even harder.  Summers are split with their other parent, which means that what may, on paper, look like 10 weeks quickly turns into 5.  Then you account for preparing again for the new school year, summer camps, and each person you promised to spend time with gets to see your kids for like….30 seconds.

The joy of having to explain several years post-divorce that if I have the kids this weekend, no, I don’t have them next weekend.  We’ve only done every other weekend for freaking years.  This, is never fun and happens all the time.

There are going to be other challenges as well.  Parents who are not in the same situation offer parenting advice that is impossible when the children are not with you full-time.  Additionally, they offer advice that I can only assume they heard 15 years ago on bad daytime television, because it simply doesn’t apply here on earth with our current legal system.  A reader actually told me she was told, “Well, just make their dad institute all the same rules at his house.”  If she had that kind of control, or he listened and executed that well, don’t you think they’d still be married?  Other fun ones:

  1. “Just go tell the Judge he fed them McDonald’s.  Poor nutrition is abuse.” – This is a whole other rant for me, but drive thru is NOT abuse.  Abuse is a terrible thing and the word should not be thrown around.
  2. “She/he should never be allowed to have a babysitter and should schedule everything when the kids are with the other parent.” – I agree if you have a free babysitter (other parent) every other week or weekend and it’s excessive, it’s a concern.  Seriously, if you have to “party” every weekend, maybe kids aren’t for you.  But sometimes, the other parent isn’t available and things come up.  If the children are provided for, stay the hell out of it.
  3. “Demand that the agreement say he cannot have women over when he has the kids.”  – The court has no jurisdiction over whom a grown adult allows into his or her home.  Also, if you agree to this, it goes both ways.  Are you planning on never dating again?
  4. “You’re the mom so you know best.” – No one, including the court, believes that a vagina makes you a superior parent.  You may very well be, but it’s not the lack of a penis that does it.
  5. Alternately, “Dads can provide better for their children so they should have custody.” – Though this is not always the case, many men make more because while their wives were birthing and raising children, they were putting in valuable years of work experience while she now has a hole in her resume.  On the flip side, many women smoke their male counterparts in the income department.  Financial success does not make you a good parent.

I’m sure there are many other fun examples that are eluding me now, but you get the picture.  Do what works best for your family.  Listen to your attorney if it is a legal issue (not your next door neighbor in the curlers) and most importantly, be reasonable!  As for friends and family who do not understand, there will be some that are never going to get it and that’s alright.  You’ve got this.  You are the best person to care for your kids and while you may want to stuff them in your trunk, it’s hard to be an involved parent from jail.  Also, when they complain about paying a babysitter, you can snicker quietly about how the you have free babysitting every other weekend and get to spend “babysitter” money on wine!

Happy Thanksgiving – Be Grateful, Not Homicidal

Thanksgiving Edited

See that woman up there?  Do you remember her?  Yeah, me neither.  My mom gave it a good run but it always ended in her pretending to be that lady up there, and instead terrified the rest of us.  Ten bucks says that woman up there isn’t even that woman.  No one is that damn happy.  Happy holidays!

In all seriousness though, holidays are stressful.  Does anyone not cringe when they see the holiday decorations appear in stores or hear Christmas music in the mall?  How have we allowed this magical time of year to become such a stressful burden?

This year I can confidently say, with Thanksgiving 3 days away that my “rest of the year self” has finally taken hold of my “holiday self” and beaten it into submission.  I am not stressed and I am not panicked.  I do not spend the holidays (or any other time if I can help it) with people I don’t like or that make me feel bad about myself anymore (I used to feel obligated, but I found this passes with age).  As such, if I mess something up, they will forgive me and therefore, there is no need to worry.  The key here is who you choose to surround yourself with.  Learning to say “no” helps here.  Avoid twatwaffles.  If they show up, add wine.

Thanksgiving is not about having the perfect family because no one does; more than half the population is divorced folks.  It is not about being the perfect cook; thank goodness because my family is screwed there.  It’s not about having a perfectly decorated house; by the time I remember to decorate I don’t feel like dragging that shit out, just to put it away again two weeks later.

Thanksgiving is about being grateful that your kids love you unconditionally even though you are an idiot.  It is about being glad you have someone to fuck up (yes, I said “fuck” in a holiday post, that’s just how I roll), cooking dinner for in the first place.  It’s about having had a relationship to make these beautiful kids even if it failed (maybe it’ll teach you something for the next one).  Thanksgiving is awesome because it isn’t about buying crap for people out of obligation and running up debt.  It’s about hanging out with people you like and eating (which is always fun) and drinking (also one of my favorite things) and bullshitting (because they like you too and want to listen).

Thanksgiving is about being grateful, not about being perfect.  This Thanksgiving, focus on your family not on obligations or appearances.

It’s Not Just Parenting, It’s Making Big People

Congrats Edited

Parents are tired.  It’s a fact.  Any parent who isn’t either has minimal custody or a nanny.  Sometimes it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day bullshit and responsibilities.  You all know I am the first one to say to cut yourself some slack.  They will not in fact die if they eat drive thru when you are running late.  Their feet won’t fall off if they get dirty.  No one has to know you bribed them before going in just so they didn’t do something that makes you want to kill them while you’re in <insert annoying location>.  No one is perfect all the time.

All that said, do not forget the main goal of parenting (and yes there is a goal).  The goal of parenting, lest you forget it, is to raise functioning, competent adults.  To slowly wean your children from your interventions and teach them to take care of themselves by incrementally giving them more and more responsibility.  No one wants their child to weigh 300LB and live in their basement while subsisting on pizza and thriving on friendships they have acquired through playing online games alone.  It’s not healthy and ew, hygiene.

My girls’ aftercare program is preparing to send the children to Epcot.  I learned this when I went to pick them up.  As I read the form, I was excited for them and remembered how much I enjoyed field trips growing up.  I start tuning in to the concerned conversations around me.  I was confused that many of the parents are having a freaking cow over this.  “But it’s three hours away.”  “What if they lose my kid?”  “That’s a long bus ride.”  “Are they trained to handle this type of trip?”  The list goes on and on.

Let me start by saying that the aftercare director has single-handedly turned around our aftercare program.  It wasn’t a negative experience before but with her changes, I see what we were missing.  My children take Zumba, architecture, yoga, and art (there is other stuff but they talk a lot and I forget crap).  There is a curriculum independent of what they are taught during the day and they finish their homework before any of this even happens.

The reason I say all this is that these wonderful people are good enough to care for these children while we parents have to work.  I wish I could be there with homemade fresh baked cookies every day at the bus stop but that’s not my life.  I drag my ass to their school after running myself ragged all day and finally get to see two of my favorite people, whom I see the least over the course of the day.  These skilled people make sure I can keep my job, you know, to feed the kids and stuff.  I hear it’s frowned upon to not provide food, clothing, and shelter…so picky.

The school campus is not a magical place.  They do not lose their enchanted “child whispering” powers if they get on a bus.  Most importantly, those kids are safer on a bus than they are in the parents’ Mercedes while they are texting and judiciously ignoring them while on a “work call”.

These parents have forgotten the goal of parenting.  All children are gradually going to grow up and move on.  They will experience things without you and they absolutely should.  Doing so in a controlled environment with child care professionals is the best possible way of allowing them to explore this.  I know it does not seem like it now, but your children are going to grow up.  They are going to drink, have sex, and if you don’t fuck it up, move away.

My peers that had the most trouble growing up were the kids that had overprotective parents.  They were hands down the biggest drunks, and slept around the most, because oh-my-God-no-one-is-here-to-regulate-me-every-second-of-every-day-and-did-you-know-you-can-drink-any-time-you-want-and-college-provides-hot-guys-like-everywhere?  Part of parenting is slowly letting go and letting them learn to regulate themselves while still in a safe environment.

While I have mixed feelings about my Catholic schooling, it did teach me about safe rebellion.  We wore uniforms.  One day, we were having a class discussion about why we would get detention for wearing the wrong color socks.  The very honest Theology teach said, “so you have a safe way to rebel”.  That made sense then and still does.  If you can rebel by wearing the wrong socks, you don’t need to use drugs in the bathroom.  One can “stick it to the man”, without doing any real damage.

I know how hard it is to let go…believe me….I know.  It is still healthy and necessary.  We know that you cannot always be there.  Children have to take responsibility and figure things out.  All of these things start from day one.  You let go a bit more every day and pick your battles.  I fight when I need to fight, and tell my kids to suck it up when I have to.  None of this is fun, but it’s parenting.  And what’s the goal of parenting?  To grow people.  Adult people, who can function without you.  If you need your kid to need you, you should find a new hobby, and probably a therapist.

The next parent who complains that their son keeps moving back home and lies on the couch all day; ask them if they ever kept him home from a field trip to “protect him”.  If the answer is “yes” then tell them they deserve it….then slap them for me.

Refusing to Argue Doesn’t Make You Enlightened, It Makes You A Controlling Bitch

Hemingway Edited

I know several, “I don’t argue” people.  I thought these were the exceptions but more and more, readers have mentioned being frustrated with people in their lives who refuse to discuss issues and never hear what the other party is saying.

For all of you who refuse to discuss issues, who think they already know what the other person is going to say, or simply don’t like being uncomfy having a tough talk, refusing to argue does not make you enlightened or superior, it makes you a controlling bitch.  Stop it.  No one likes it and it makes you look like a prick.

There are going to be disagreements in life and people are not always going to share your views or feelings.  It would be pretty boring if this were not the case.  If this person is important to you or in the case of co-parenting, important to your kids and a general fixture in your life whether you like it or not (because suck it up, you slept with them), you are required as an adult to deal with issues and work through them even when it isn’t fun.  Life’s tough and it doesn’t get any easier.  Do it anyway.

For the person trying to discuss and being shot down by, “I’m more enlightened than you and do not lower myself by ever getting upset about anything”, (hear, “it makes my tummy hurt and I don’t want you having the satisfaction of knowing I’m upset too because I’m an emotional 12-year-old”), there are ways to deal with this.

  1. Remember that people who “don’t fight”, are actually controlling.  This type of control is hard to identify but if you know what to look for, it’s there.  Control monsters have learned they can actually hurt and control sometimes, by doing nothing.  Sometimes it can be by simply ignoring you to let you know how unimportant your existence is to them (but what they really are, is threatened).  Other times, they make comments, stir up shit, and then fade into the crowd leaving you pissed off, issues unresolved, and then they get the satisfaction of you coming to them to resolve it.  If you can identify this, it will go a long way in preserving your sanity.
  2. Write it out. When a topic is sensitive and you are afraid a discussion will be too heated or the other party is ignoring you, this gives you the opportunity to get your thoughts and feelings out in total without the other person inflaming you further.  Additionally, this gives you the added benefit of not having to keeping playing out this argument in the shower and in the mirror while getting ready for work because the asshole won’t talk to you about it.  Not looking like a mental patient is always positive.  They may not read it but at least you get to say what you need to say and hope that some tiny piece may have been understood.  If it is about your kids, sometimes even if you want to let it go, it still has to be said because these are your children and it’s your job.
  3. Let it go when you can.  I am definitely NOT a proponent of talking out every issue.  This will drive everyone crazy because moods change and chances are it wasn’t that big of a deal.  If this issue is not a safety concern or threatening to end your relationship (whatever that may be), try to let it go.  If this is your ex, you are not a couple for a reason and you are not going to agree.  If this is anyone else, they have no power over you.  Let them go on feeling superior, who gives a shit?  The answer is no one, because 9 times out of 10, the person who does this has a constant stream of friends and/or romantic partners that come and go because they can only be tolerated in small doses and since they don’t work through issues like an adult, long-term relationships are all but impossible with this person.
  4. Drink wine and say “fuck ’em”.  You are trying to keep your head above water like everyone else and their immature version of communication or lack there of, is always going to be a much bigger problem for them than it is for you.

I know this is frustrating and dealing with these people makes you want to pull your hair out but don’t.  If they ever want to be an adult and talk, you’ll want to look your best.

If You Bathe With A Man Only Your Boobs Get Clean And Other Things I’ve Learned

Apple Edited

Being a parent teaches you many things, for me, the most important was quickly learning I know nothing and I had to learn to ask for help and advice (even if I don’t always use it).

Yesterday when I picked my girls up from school, my youngest had a huge hole in her backpack and my oldest had ripped out the tongue of her tennis shoe rendering it useless as it wouldn’t stay on her foot.  Off to the mall we go….  Of course, they are starving so we make a pit stop in the food court.  They all want Chinese food.  Score!  I only have to stop at one place!  While waiting, my oldest starts doing this obnoxious, rude, and racist fake Chinese/Asian accent (I assume Chinese because we were getting Chinese food?).  In her ear I tell her stop and threaten things that make her go completely pale.  When we get to the table she tells me she has no idea why she was corrected.  I explain that it is incredibly racist and that is not how their beautiful language actually sounds.  She tells me that the dog in Looney Tunes wears a pointy hat, sticks out his front teeth, makes his eyes “squinty” (her words), and speaks the same way.  So, I have to explain that cartoons were known for being inappropriate and while we still have an incredibly long way to go, that’s why she does not see them in her recent cartoon favorites.

She then tells me that a friend at school who is half Japanese does it all the time and that’s where she learned it.  I then have to explain that you are allowed to say things when you share that culture and use words that other cultures cannot or should, when you belong to it.  She says “so I’m part Native American so I can make fun of them?”  My answer, “honey, you have platinum blonde hair and blue eyes, you will never be allowed to make fun of any culture ever and you shouldn’t anyway.  Besides, you have pride in your culture and I can’t imagine you finding something bad to say.”

The conversation went on longer and I hope I made some sense, and taught her the beginning of understanding racism (which in case anyone is wondering, ignoring differences and pretending we are all the same is NOT the answer either).  The family behind us with two younger children got up to leave.  The mom leans over me and says, “well done, I’m not prepared for those conversations.”  Neither….am….I.  I did learn how I feel about some things and remembered things we don’t really think about by having this discussion though.

So, this conversation has been on my mind and makes me think of all the things my daughters and being part of a family has taught me.  Often, I am surprised to discover how I feel about a something when I start speaking on the subject with my daughters.  Sometimes, when I explain something I didn’t think I really understood and actually explain well, I’m convinced I’m brilliant!  Other times, I crash and burn.  So what have I learned?

  1. It is a myth that boys are more active than girls.  Yes, they play differently, but sheer energy, it depends on the kid, not the junk.
  2. Girls notice boys WAY before they notice them.
  3. There is so much I don’t know.  The more you learn the more you realize you don’t know.
  4. If you bathe with a man, only your boobs get clean (seriously guys, there are way dirtier parts that need attention).
  5. Even when your kids sleep through the night, you never sleep the same way again.
  6. You will have to repeat yourself constantly.  To the point that I’m considering making signs on sticks so while I’m sitting on the couch, I can simply hold up the correct phrase and go back to reading.
  7. My children are equally brilliant and brain-dead.  My youngest explained that “grandparents and parents have to die because people keep having babies and we would all be squished together.  If we live too close, people would get sicker because you shouldn’t touch people all the time.”  So, she has figured out population control but hello, use a fork, change your underpants, and use soap in the damn shower!
  8. Your kids will forgive you, even when you don’t deserve it.
  9. People who have a dog and no kids should NEVER compare the level of responsibility or tell parents how “busy” they are.  It makes us stabby.  We are not superior, just exhausted.
  10. Kids are mean to each other…I mean, really fucking mean.
  11. As your kids get older, they can actually be helpful.  Who knew?  However, you have to actually make them help, you are not the maid.
  12. It’s incredibly tough to balance the lesson of independence and desperately wanting to protect them from everything (but then, they would experience nothing).
  13. Patience is not a virtue I was blessed with, but I swear my children have made it their freaking mission to teach it to me.
  14. There are always going to be people who judge you for being too good or not good enough, with absolutely no information at all (these are usually the loudest).  All should be ignored.
  15. The lava game never gets old.

I’ve learned more than that but no one really cares to read it all.  I’m just not that important, and that’s OK.  The point is, for all your lessons, corrections, and teaching, your children will teach you as much as you teach them.  Listen.