Why the hell do people have kids?

by renegademama

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Hi Janelle!

I’m a faithful reader of your blog. I don’t have kids but that doesn’t matter, your writing is awesome for anyone who isn’t into canned bullshit, and I SO appreciate it!

Soooo here’s my question, please don’t punch me in the throat – what the fuck is wrong with you people with all of these kids?! Seriously, I watched a friend’s daughter for 2 hours yesterday. TWO MEASLY FUCKING HOURS. And I wanted to curl up in a ball and die by the time she was leaving. They’re exhausting. Like to the core of my being exhausting. And that was only one 6-year old. For two hours. How the fuck does ANYTHING get done? When do you sleep? WHY DON’T THEY EVER JUST SIT DOWN AND CHILL THE FUCK OUT?

And she was really good, too. No misbehaving or anything. SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE UNRULY CHILDREN, like me when I was a little shit bird?! Or, for the love of God, more than one?! Um, I think I need to call my mother. Or buy her a BMW or some shit to make up for dealing with me from birth through at least 25. You parents are fucking super heroes, in case you didn’t realize that. THANK YOU for being willing to reproduce and repopulate the earth so I don’t have to. I think I’ll stick with my chickens!

***

Dear reader,

Oh my god. I don’t know who you are, but I love you. And I’m going to answer your questions as best I can.

First of all, I don’t know why other people have kids. I barely know why I have kids. Sometimes I think about the fact that I have four of them and I’m shocked then confused then delighted and grateful, in that order, although sometimes I stop at the first one.

I had my first kid because I didn’t know what I was getting into and found myself pregnant and thought newborns were cute.

I had my second kid because my husband and I were worried our first kid would think she was the center of the universe and didn’t trust our parenting skills enough to teach her otherwise, so we created a built-in sharing requirement.

I had Georgia because we went to a bluegrass show in San Francisco and forgot birth control then figured what the hell.

I had Arlo because I REALLY NEEDED ANOTHER BABY FOR SOME REASON.

Two kids make sense, sort of. Three? Not really.

FOUR?

Four is what the fuck is wrong with you? Too many humans. You’re a weirdo. You have a problem. You do not fit in restaurant booths, hotel rooms, or normal cars.

Anything beyond four kids means you reside in a highly religious cult commune.

The best part is that having four kids makes little sense in the context of my life: We are not wealthy. We do not have a big house. We can’t afford two hotel rooms. Amusement parks other than Disneyland make me think only of urine and broken dreams. I enjoy personal space. Excessive motion irritates me, especially after 3pm. Large groups of mothers trying to accomplish things, like fundraisers for example, are my personal version of hell. I dislike being pregnant. I do not like being climbed on. I hate kid music. And most kid shows.

And yet, we would have babies forever if we could. I realize that’s a strange thing to say. I know that’s not everyone’s experience and I do not glamorize or glorify or elevate it beyond any other life choice. Frankly, I can’t even explain it, but I’ll try.

I never envisioned myself not having kids. Neither did my husband. By 18 or 19, I was thinking about babies. I loved them. I wanted one. I have no further explanation. This is not to say I was ready to have kids when I found myself pregnant at 22 (I was decidedly NOT), but I always knew I wanted to be a mother. I think part of this is that nobody talks about actual motherhood and we get some bullshit smocked-pastel version of it all, so maybe we think of babies like accessories, like these cute things we add to our lives like a new purse, or brooch. Nobody wears brooches. Not my point.

A lot of people see through this, have the capacity to look at parents and SEE how hard it is. Like you, for example. A lot of people don’t though. And we’re blindsided by how fucking hard and relentless it is. And wonderful, though.

You see? This is the problem my friend. It’s a big emotional clusterfuck.

There are innumerable aspects of parenting I find mundane and tiresome and generally irritating. But for me, the beauty has always outshone the negative in a profoundly real way, and here’s what I see:

I have children for the realization that a tiny life and being has been created through a connection between the person I love and me. I do it for the look in my husband’s eyes when he finds out we’re having a baby. I do it for the all-consuming love that hits me like a tidal wave in that very moment, the moment I realize a little one is coming, of me but so beyond me. Of us but eternally beyond us.

I do it for the fascination, the weirdness, the baffling reality that while the body begins from a cell, there is so much more than that: the soul, the spirit, the personality. We get to watch and love that and be part of a human crossing to join us, from where?

I do it for the mystery.

I do it for the moment I lock eyes with my newborn and he or she is placed on my chest and it’s ecstasy. I do it for newborn breath. I do it for baby rolls. I do it for smiles and laughter.

God damnit. I hate you. Now I want another baby.

And then, well, I guess I do it because I love our little tribe, our little crew. Our goofiness our joy our anger our traditions, the jokes we have, the way we are us, a unit, impenetrable and unbreakable. I do it for trips to our favorite beaches and camping and music and the friendship between siblings, watching older ones love the little ones and knowing forever they’ll have each other, long after we’re gone. I do it to learn. I do it to teach. I do it for holidays.

I hate the fucking holidays. They are the worst.

If you ever told me this would become my life I would LAUGH LAUGH LAUGH. They match, and there's a labrador.

They are the best worst.

Here are my kids in matching pajamas. >>

In the end I think the only thing to say is we have fun and that outweighs the rest. And I really, really like having people. 

But you have to understand something here: You can’t judge having kids by the feeling you get hanging out with other people’s kids. Other people’s kids are fucking annoying. I can count on two hands the number of kids I find engaging and tolerable, and most of them are related to me.

Oh, come on. I’m not that evil. I’m exaggerating. Sort of.

OR AM I?

The reason you can’t compare hanging out with other people’s kids to having your own is because your kids are YOUR kids in YOUR family and therefore will learn what works and what doesn’t and what’s tolerable and what isn’t in YOUR FAMILY, and this will be different from other families.

For example, whining. I fucking can’t handle whining. I don’t care how tired you are or what age you are or how badly you want the red cup. Normal voice. Figure it out. I hear other kids whine and their parents deal with it differently. No judgment on them, whatever people, but when my kids try whining – as they all do – I look at them and say “I do not understand whining” and walk away. Because I’d rather get a root canal than listen to tiny voices carry on about some bullshit they think they need.

And soon, the older kids are telling the younger ones, “Don’t baby talk. Don’t whine,” and soon nobody’s doing it because that shit is unacceptable in the house.

Also unacceptable: complaining about food, expecting special meals, not using manners, the inability to use sarcasm, watching Caillou, failing to recognize revisionist history, disliking the Grateful Dead.

THIS IS OUR HOUSE.

It’s ours. It works. My kids annoy the shit out of me but not in ways that make me question the meaning of life.

My point is that you get to raise your kids, and you’ll raise little humans that more or less fit into the culture of your family while also bringing that certain something that makes you want to scream WHERE THE FUCK DID YOU COME FROM?

I’m not saying you should have kids. By god almighty DO NOT DO THIS unless you’ve got some deep-seated overwhelming urge, because there are a thousand ways to connect with the mystery of life and enjoy cute things and have fun and have people. For example: Redwood trees, sea otters, any vacation anywhere without children because children ruin vacations, and friends.

Oh, and your other questions:

How the fuck does ANYTHING get done?

Barely.

When do you sleep?

Rarely.

WHY DON’T THEY EVER JUST SIT DOWN AND CHILL THE FUCK OUT?

They do, when they’re older, and then you miss them being little.

This is the fucking mystery I tell you. 

 

Also, don’t believe anything anyone says about kids. Nobody knows what they’re doing.

Have a nice day.

I hate everything.

I hate everything.

50 Comments | Posted in Ask Janelle | April 25, 2016

It’s not my job to entertain my children.

by renegademama

I do not play imagination games with my children. You know, the “I’ll be the mom and you be the baby” games? Yeah, those.

Fuck those.

For me, not kids. They’re amazing for kids. Children should do it all day long. But I don’t want to. It’s not fun and it’s not interesting and if I did it with my offspring, the best I could muster would be thinly veiled disdain. And who the hell wants to play with a bored skeptic?

I used to feel guilty about this. I used to think there was something wrong with me as a mother because I didn’t hop into action once daily to join my child in her truck-bunny-on-the-moon play.

But then I asked myself: Where the hell did I even get the idea that this is my job anyway?

Who’s idea was this, and DID THAT PERSON THINK IT THROUGH?

I don’t think so.

 

First, please understand something: I was the queen of imaginative play when I was a kid. No joke I lived in fantasy more than reality. I used to make up whole lies when I met people because it was more interesting than the truth, and I sustained that behavior into adolescence. I’d wear a sling for a week to school. I invented whole alter lives and boyfriends and parents and countries of origin. Basically I was a compulsive liar.

I spent a good portion of my teenage years imagining my own funeral and what each person I knew would say about me. I would even cry. I am no stranger to imagination folks.

Potentially pathological issues aside, as a kid, I remember playing “school” every single day after actual school. I’d eat a snack, go back to my bedroom, shut the door, and “teach” my dolls, for hours. I also liked playing “restaurant.” And “store.”

Pretty sure I went into junior high still playing with dolls. I was extremely popular.

 

But at no point did it occur to me to ask my mother to join the fun back there in my room with my Cabbage Patch dolls all lined up learning about “The Miracle of Life.” That was my favorite book to teach. There were vaginas involved. It felt both educational and dirty.

And yet, here I am, 30 years later, thinking that if I don’t get on the floor and “be Ken” my kids are going to suffer some great harm.

No, no they are not. They are going to be fine.

Why? Because it’s not my job to entertain my effing kids. Who came up with that shit anyway? Hey parents, you need to provide for, nurture, clothe, feed, house and educate your kids and you need to MAKE THEM HAVE FUN WHILE YOU DO IT!

I do not owe it to my children to be somebody’s version of “good mother.” It is not my job to FAKE SHIT so I can fulfill society’s definition of “engaged parent.”

I get to be me. And “me” doesn’t like extended pretend play. And that’s okay. There are lots of ways to engage with children.

Besides, I have actual real issues to work on if I want to improve as a parent; for example, my yelling. But that’s another blog post.

 

You know what I like to do with my kids? Make jokes. Go outside. Go camping. Take trips. Hang out at the park. Bake. Cook. Read stories. Act goofy as hell. Indoctrinate them with my super progressive political ideas. Sing non-kid music. Play non-kid music loud while instructing them to please not repeat the swear words.

That’s me. That’s the family my little ones were born into, and that’s okay. My kids do not have a mother who enjoys crawling on the floor and meowing to complement their “kitty game.”

You’re cute. I like you. Please leave me out of this.

Meow.

Our kids are not stupid. They know when we’re bullshitting them, when we’re blowing them off, when we’re doing things half-assed. I do enough things half-assed each day – driving carpools, making dinner, waking up – so why the fuck would I add “play with you” to the list?

When I play with my kids I want it to be real and organic and spontaneous because we are both genuinely enjoying ourselves, not because one of us read some death article on Babycenter declaring that “imaginative play with children is critical to soul growth.”

Lies. They’ll be fine.

 

You know what I remember most about my childhood? All the weird and wonderful shit my mother did. I remember our spontaneous road trips and duct-taped van windows. I remember the impromptu trips to the beach where we’d barbeque hot dogs and play in the sand. I remember that one time our car broke down in Vegas and she played nickel slot machines to buy us daily buffets. I remember her singing Grace Slick in the car and pulling over to take a “power nap” while my brother and I died of boredom. I remember catching crawdads along the coast of Washington while she made us food under a tarp in the pouring rain. I remember the feel of her arms around me and that she never once told me I couldn’t come into her bed after a bad dream.

I remember my mom for being HER. I love my mom for being the woman she is – the creative, weird, lovely human being that sets her apart from all other human beings.

She is my mother. She is enough, and always has been.

So fuck all that noise telling us we need to be different humans to raise our children with love and compassion and depth and wholeness.

My midwife says, “You birth the perfect children for your family.”

I think of that often, and let it be okay that I’m not all “they” say I should be. This is it. This is us.

Come in close. I’ll give you everything I got.

 

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****

 You know what else I do? WRITE.

And though it now helps my family, it used to be for just me.

Give it a shot, if you’re interested.

We’d love to have you.

dontcareworkshop

75 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | April 12, 2016

To the “angry” women of the internet

by renegademama

If you are a woman, and you critique social, political, or cultural institutions, figures, or narratives through your voice, art, writing, music, or social media, you will be called “angry” and told, directly and indirectly, to “calm down.”

Behave better. More pleasant, please. Maybe add a bow to your hair. 

If you are a woman of color in the aforementioned scenario, you will be called “angry” even if your tone is not angry at all, and Super Helpful White People will instruct you how you could “gain more allies if you were nicer.”

(People sit DOWN with that redemption bullshit. Nobody needs you.)

If you are a woman and you write satire, which, by definition, is used to call out another’s bullshit by elevating the situation or behavior to ridiculous extremes, you will be told you are “shaming” that “poor soul.” Even if the poor soul in question SHOULD be called out and NEEDS to be called out and you, as the motherfucking critic, have CHOSEN satire to do so.

That’s right: “shaming.”

Mean girl stuff. You know, vaginas in dispute.

If you are a woman and you say things people don’t want to hear, and you refuse to do it in a tail-between-the-legs, indirect, gentle, subdued way, your argument will be reduced to perpetuation of “mommy wars” or some other contrived battlefield of female bickering.

And as such, people will dismiss you as just “too much.”

Yes, even if your critique is balanced, researched, thoughtful and nuanced, your arguments will be ignored in light of your TONE. Your words will be reduced to the ravings of a “jealous,” “envious,” and “hateful” “shaming” woman.

But if you would have been nicer we would have listened to you, so it’s your fault.  

One wonders how many male comedians are told they are “shaming” people, how many male social critics are told they really should “stop being so angry.” That they are “mean” and “envious” and that is why they’re cracking jokes and writing satire and political commentary.

Even if the thing you’re writing about deserves anger, outright rage, clinched fucking fists and screams, even if the thing kills people, rapes people, unjustly incarcerates people, removes freedom and bodies and choice – the violence of the thing itself will fade to nothing under the shadow of your unpleasant delivery because check it out: YOU CAN SPEAK OUT BUT DO IT WITH YOUR INSIDE VOICE, please.

Nobody likes the yeller.

In other words, you’re not making me feel good about this topic, and I like feeling good, so in the interest of my feelings, please deliver ideas to me gently in a way that makes me feel good about myself and my pick-and-choose activism so I can go home and remember what an aware and enlightened human I am.

I love supporting causes, but I don’t like feeling uncomfortable. 

And it’s not just expected of women writers. It’s actresses and musicians and teachers and mail carriers and doctors and marines. Mothers and daughters and wives and friends.

WE GET TO BE FUCKING ANGRY SOMETIMES.

We get to say what we think in the way we want to say it.

And we get to say it out loud. And loud.

We get to not be “nice.” And they get to deal with it.

 

If you are a woman and you critique and publicly analyze people, systems, and rhetoric of society, you will be called mean and “judgey” and angry and irrational and shaming and “not displaying your best self” so often that one day you will wonder if they are in fact correct.

It will creep in unannounced and plant itself right there in the center of your mind, where faith in yourself lives.

You’ll wonder where it came from, that voice. Was it there before? When did it arrive? When did I grow afraid?

When did I start wondering if it is worth it?

When did I grow so tired?

And when you sit down to write that thing you want to say, you will wonder if silence is perhaps a better option, because you’re not sure you can take one more assault reducing your brain to petty shit-slinging, your voice to the squeals of a little kid not getting their way.

In that moment I hope you come back and read this, and say it anyway, because every time you do, I hear you, and I see you, and even in your rage I witness your love, and turn around to do the same, maybe even a little truer than last time.

 

gofuckyourself

****

WRITE WITH ME.

LOUDLY. Or quietly, actually. It’s cool.

We just need you to say the thing as opposed to not saying the thing.

We start May 24 (and we need your voice).

bastards1

 

How to raise an excellent toddler

by renegademama

Arlo will be two in June. We have entered full-blown toddlerhood. Luckily, he’s my fourth child so I know lots and lots of helpful things about toddler discipline and entertainment and excellence in general.

I’m basically an expert. As such, I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve learned in the service of all humanity. 

Here you go. How to raise an excellent toddler:

1.     Make sure you give your kid plenty of attention so they don’t act out in pursuit of “negative attention” (because, as we all know, it’s “still attention”).

2.     However, do not give them too much attention because you will spoil them, and they will grow up to be the dude driving 55 in the fast lane because that’s how they like it gottdammit TO HELL WITH THE REST OF YOU.

3.    Siblings are a good way to make sure your toddler doesn’t think they’re the center of the universe because your time will necessarily be divided among all the kids. But this can make the toddler feel neglected. Make sure you balance that. Also, siblings are a good way to make your toddler think they ARE the center of the universe because everybody in the family is all “OMG look how cute the baby is!”

4.    In other words, your toddler is acting out because you are spoiling them through their siblings and neglecting them because of their siblings.

5.    There is no apparent way to fix this. Have a nice day.

6.     Sometimes toddlers need you to soothe and hold them during tantrums. Other times you need to walk away from them. These tantrums appear identical.

7.     FIGURE IT OUT.

8.     Giving in to a tantrum is a uniformly terrible decision and by all forms of reason, decency, and logic will only result in a total dick of a human, but sometimes you have to do it because you’d rather die than listen to this shit for one more second.

9.     Keeping a toddler busy by offering questionable food items so you can get some critical thing done is a horrible parenting move that pretty much only concerns you through child number one. Just yesterday I bought cookies at Starbucks and gave them to my toddler solely so he would sit in the cart at Target. Leave me alone.

10. The only things toddlers want to play with are: toilet water, knives, and ash from the fireplace. Wait. No: Dog water, cat food, anything out of the dishwasher that can impale them, trash, marbles, liquid soap, and iPhones. If you stop the toddler from playing with any of these things, they will scream. These are “walk away” tantrums.

11. Sometimes, for reasons unknown, toddlers will throw themselves around the room in unbridled glee at bedtime. You may think: “Was there caffeine hidden somewhere in the day? Did one of those other kids give him a sip of the green tea latte they shouldn’t have been drinking?” Then you will think, “I have ruined this child. He has no routine. WHAT HAVE I DONE?” They will scream when you make them go to sleep. This is a “cuddle” tantrum.

12. You can definitely trust my tantrum classification method. I’ve made it up randomly over 14 years of parenting based on my initial gut instinct and the level of remorse I feel after.

13. People will always, always blame you for the deficiencies of your toddler. You will suspect they are correct. Also, you will want to cut them. Then you will remember the number 1 rule of parenthood: Kids are who they are and you really can’t change them but if they aren’t perfect it’s your fault.

14. WHAT? Yes. That’s what we have here, folks. If you aren’t following, read another book.

15. Parenting books are the fucking worst. Unless they help. I wouldn’t know because I gave up hope around child number 2.

16. I’m kidding! Never give up! Constant self-improvement and hope! Unless your kid had one of those twenty minute car naps replacing the actual nap. If that’s the case, give up hope. You’re going DOWN. Your toddler, however, is not.

17. In related news, your toddler will hit, kick, pinch, and possibly bite other humans. You will think for a moment there’s something pathologically wrong with your child because who the fuck bites people? But then you will remember that all toddlers, ALL TODDLERS, act like rabid animals for at least 2-4 months of their lives. The only person at the park who doesn’t know this is the mother of the child your kid just bit. (WHY UNIVERSE WHY?)

18. Potty training before two. Ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Go home with that nonsense.

19. Toddlers are like border collies: If you don’t give them a job, they will dig out of the yard and eat the fucking hose. Only unlike border collies, toddlers hate all your ideas for entertainment, preferring only their own, such as eating butter off a knife blade, dipping broccoli in a toilet, or playing with the toilet brush, or really anything at all involving toilets and their water and brushes. Except peeing into the toilet. That is a stupid, stupid, very boring game.

20. AND YET, toddlers are the cutest mammals alive and are so profoundly adorable whilst talking, running, and expressing their little personalities that you will think, at least once a day, “Oh god please never grow up. I SHOULD HAVE THREE MORE.”

21. And then they will throw your FitBit away and shit on your arm somehow.

But it won’t help.

You will still find them irresistibly annoying, and simultaneously mourn and beg for the time that they’re a little bigger.

Basically, after 14 years, here’s what I’ve got going on in my brain: Do not fuck this up, Janelle. You are fucking this up. You are not fucking this up but will feel like you are. Sometimes you do fuck it up, in which case you should try to do better and that may or may not work but in the meantime you’ll notice the kids are growing up and turning out fine. Good, even.

And you’re more surprised than anybody.

So let’s just focus on that because the rest is too fucking complicated.

Go ahead. Make a suggestion for an activity.

Go ahead. Suggest an activity.

****

Eight spots left in my May writing workshop.

I hope one of them is yours.

bastards1

Sometimes we need to hear it, so I’m saying it again

by renegademama

I have long believed that the problem with motherhood is that you can’t check out for a bit, go on vacation, take a motherfucking “mental health” leave, “recharge” over the weekends. Look forward to Friday.

Or, you know, two weeks in Mexico. (Do people actually do that?)

There is no built-in relief valve and very little potential for “a relaxing evening.” And yet, sometimes you really aren’t into it, and you have to keep going. For like, years.

You can’t “leave it at the office” at the end of the day. There is no end of the day. THERE IS NO END OF THE DAY.

It feels relentless sometimes. It feels unforgiving. It feels forever.

(Hey there HI, look, quick note: I know it’s not actually forever, so we can just go ahead and not write the “Someday you’ll be very sad they’re gone, Janelle” comment because thanks I know and yes it hurts my soul and I’m super fucking tired anyway.)

But I realized something recently, from my friend, Lynn. I told her I couldn’t write or get anything done beyond the most critical components of each day. Like I just couldn’t fucking do it. No motivation. I just want to lie around in my bed and eat simple carbs and drink tea, for health, but also flavor. Mostly flavor.

I told her I couldn’t muster the willingness to do more and didn’t know what was wrong with me. I told her I want to watch movies all day.

She told me, “That’s cool. You should do that.” And I was like “What?” And she was like, “Just fucking DO THAT. Why do you think you shouldn’t? You’ll get done what you have to. We always do.”

I couldn’t answer. I guess because I feel like I “should” be doing this and that and the other damn thing, and disengaging, doing things that are frivolous and “not helpful to others” is somehow wrong or ungrateful or a waste of time but mostly what I felt was shame.

 

Shame? Really? We’re there, Janelle? We’re at “shame?”

You know what?

FUCK SHAME.

Where the hell did it come from anyway?

When did I start believing that “me time” is some scheduled-in healthy activity to recharge my soul and feel capable and mature again? Did I ever feel capable and mature? When was that, exactly?

Like a bath or spa trip or pedicure or “night out with friends” is enough to soften the fact that I was awakened at 5am and puked on by 5:30am, while lying in a bed with sheets I had put on the night before.

Sometimes, I’m just over this shit, and what I need to do to “nourish myself” is perform the absolute bare minimum, possibly for days at a time, until something changes.

Yes, that is my deep conclusion. You’re welcome.

 

I lose motivation and I think something is wrong with me. I think “You should be progressing, Janelle, moving forward on projects at work and at home, feeling inspired and healthy and shit!” I lose the ability to be all the things all the time and suddenly I’m deeply flawed and need help?

Fuck that. I’m human. I’m being human. I’m tired.

Then I feel guilty for feeling guilty about my limitations because clearly I have internalized gendered work expectations and I should be okay with who and what I am without thinking I need to be “fixed” and improved somehow by “positive self talk” and yoga, so I’m ashamed about dropping into bare minimum and I’m ashamed for feeling ashamed for dropping into bare minimum?

WHAT THE FUCK HAVE WE DONE TO WOMEN?

Or maybe I’m just crazy. Whatever.

I unsubscribe.

 

I’m going with Lynn’s theory.

This weekend, I did approximately 12 minutes of housework and stayed in my pajamas 85% of each day. Big activities were: Trip to store (alone) and trip to movies (with kids). That’s it. Full stop. Have a nice day.

Today, after dropping my toddler off at day care, and driving to my office, I turned around and drove the 15 minutes back home. Even though I had a hundred things to do, emails to send, people to contact, words to write, I felt a heaviness in my eyes and across my face and remembered that I had changed the sheets again, on account of the vomit, so my bed had crisp white sheets on it, and the house would be silent and empty, and I could let the cats in and we could get in that bed, and sleep.

So I went home, and silenced my phone, and took my jeans off and went to sleep, with my hair still wet from my shower, and when I woke up after an hour, I realized I wasn’t done yet, so I went back to bed, and I slept for 2.5 hours straight.

Then I got up and wrote to you.

Because you know, here’s the thing:

We already do, at the bare minimum, a ridiculous amount of work. We get up at ungodly hours and get puked on and deal with kids with nightmares and kids in wet pajamas and breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Getting dressed, getting to school and work, getting home, groceries, activities (they pop up even when you avoid the bastards). We’re driving carpools and packing diaper bags and getting dressed for work. We’re feeding and cooking and “leaning in” and washing and texting and planning and getting degrees and getting sick and well again and helping other humans do all these things. It’s a beautiful shit show.

And somehow, on top of all that, we think we need to be fit, happy, and organic. We think we need to be sleeping well and using soft voices and engaging in age-appropriate play and we need the weeds pulled and the dust bunnies gone and the garage organized. The entryway cutely designed.

I don’t even believe these things. And yet somewhere, deep in my gut, there’s a voice telling me, “No Janelle. You can’t sleep for 3.5 hours when you’re supposed to be working, even though you’re nearly out of your mind with exhaustion.”

And I look at my garage and think “Does anyone else live this way? Seriously?” And I wonder if there’s something wrong with me, secretly.

And when my kids are being assholes, I think, “I probably made them this way with my yelling.” And I feel ashamed, and afraid.

And sometimes I realize it’s 5pm and I picked up my baby at 4pm and I’m already tired of taking care of him. I ask myself “Janelle! What are you doing? He’s already almost two! He will be gone soon! How are you not enjoying every moment? How are you not savoring this time?!” And my heart drops again into a flash of deep shame.

You know what?

Fuck shame.

 

This is what I’ve got. This is it. It’s either enough or it’s not.

Sometimes it’s full of power and creation. Other times it’s asleep during working hours with a pillow over its head. But it’s always here, and it’s always ready to grab a tiny hand, examine the fat little knuckles and wonder how anything so beautiful could possibly exist, and why, why the fuck are we up at 5am?

I guess what I’m saying is we’re enough.

But you don’t need me to tell you that.

We can look around, and see for ourselves…

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Though sometimes it’s nice to hear.

 

******

Hey. Fuck housework and write with me

We’ll have fun.

bastards1