Family vacations are bullshit and I can’t wait until the next one.

by renegademama

There is a point in every family vacation when I begin referring to my children as “Poor Life Choice Number 1, 2, 3, and 4.”

Not to their faces, obviously. That would be mean. I did however refer to my older kids and nieces and nephews as “SLAs,” which stands for “slightly less annoying” (than the younger kids). But that is 100% the truth and I’m standing by it. And they wore it like a badge of honor.

Seriously, taking kids on family vacations is bullshit. I would like a family vacation without my family, please. Is that too much to ask?

“Family vacation” almost immediately moves from excitement, anticipation and all the beautiful mental pictures of “how great” it will be to throwing away a shit-filled pair of shorts in a Taco Bell bathroom.

Sorry, Taco Bell.

On the plus side, they weren’t my shorts.

I am the picture of positivity.

Also, sorry, hotel staff, for the puke on the bed you had to clean up at 4pm on a Friday because I played with my toddler too long and he LAUGHED TOO HARD I GUESS after drinking milk, and puked. So gross.

More proof one should always limit engagement with offspring.

I’m kidding. All I want to do in every waking moment of my life is engage with my special snowflakes on a level so exciting they vomit.

Literally four of the six of us puked at different times for different reasons WHY WHY WHY WHY.

 At least twice a day on every family “vacation,” my husband and I look at each other and say with our mouths or eyes, “We’re never doing this again,” “What the fuck is wrong with our kids?” and WHY ARE WE PAYING ACTUAL MONEY FOR THIS. It feels like tossing $20s into the air while chasing a sugar-fueled toddler into a Lego store.

To illustrate the level of bullshit, I made a Family Vacation BINGO card. Every one of these things happened during our recent trip to Disneyland.


I think I ended the trip more tired than when we left. Pretty sure the last hour of the car ride had every single one of us screaming at equal volume and with equal maturity. And we won’t be unpacked for a month. And holy shit is that place expensive. WE WILL BE HAVING A VERY SMALL CHRISTMAS, kids.

(Disneyland prices are some nonsense, and yet, it’s so oddly horribly fun. I mean, I think it is. I hate crowds. Fuck crowds. And yet, it’s a small world! What is wrong with me. WHY DO I LOVE DISNEYLAND with its corporate princess capitalist patriarchal systems of oppression? The rides are so fun, people. And it’s so clean! I want to hate it and yet I do not hate it. I think it’s like adult acid without the regret.)

BUT, the trip was amazing. We went to Disneyland for fuck’s sake. As a family. We are so lucky. I know all this, and yet, I got frustrated and lost my patience and thought WHY ARE WE HERE and kept thinking Janelle! You are ruining the family memories! Stop! Be grateful! You’re acting like an asshole!

And I gotta tell ya, these feelings were especially intense because just one week before I left for this trip, I sat in a hospital room with my grandfather and grandmother, mom, brother, and cousins as my grandpa passed his final hours on earth. I watched him pressed to the furthest right side of his bed so he could be as close as possible to my grandmother, the woman with whom he spent 70 of his 87 years, with whom he raised 4 daughters and shared 20 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren. I watched their hands never let go as they played and replayed with their eyes the story of their lives together.

 And I realized, they were replaying what I am living now.

I watched them travel a lifetime in a few hours, tracing cracked fingers over paths of kids, jobs, grief and joy, and a few times I stole a glance at my husband across the room of beeping machinery and nearly palpable love, and I observed his face, the barely perceptible lines when he smiles, the black hair with just a few gray hairs, the strong, square shoulders and quickness of the way he moves.

We are so young.

We are, so young.

My heart ached. My eyes were on fire. This is it, Janelle. These are the years. This is life. What the fuck are we waiting for.

It all felt small. It all felt unimportant. These days that race by in frantic monotony. The shit-filled shorts. The puke. The bickering over the front seat. The pure exhaustion. The whining.

I thought, “I’ll never forget this! I’ll never get worked up about stupid shit again!”

Two weeks later, I’m making a Family Vacation Bullshit BINGO card.

I guess that’s the luxury of being here, and not being a spiritual giant.

Still, I want to remember. We are a family. We are together. We go on trips. Wfullsizerender-2e
walk hand-in-hand and hold our babies and make them laugh so hard they puke. We watch bigger cousins holding younger cousins as our teenager races to a ride, as if she were seven, and we run to CVS at 2am because the toddler has a random, inexplicable fever. I see my son and daughter dressed up with Goofy. I nearly cry it’s so damn precious. I love them so much I almost have to look away.

We take pictures. We try to remember.

Someday, we will try even harder.

I feel altered by my grandfather’s death. My grandparents were always there. They seemed immovable, fixed. Their home, where we played in the basement and now our kids play, and them, in love, inseparable. I knew in my brain it couldn’t last forever. I didn’t know it in my heart.

fullsizerenderI guess we can’t. It’s too hard.

But what if we could? What if we could live our lives in the knowing that someday, at the very best, at the very luckiest, we will think of the days of racing around after slightly less annoying children and puking babies as the memories that fill a room with so much love and warm light that it can almost be held, by me, by you, in the last breath of a man who had this once.

Or a hundred times.

Still, it would never be enough.

It feels it will never end. It feels relentless and pounding. It feels so sacred it takes my breath away. And one day, it will.

So fuck it. Let’s live this. Let’s hate it and love it. Let’s scream and laugh and let our babies fall asleep against our arms and with their hands on our faces and let’s stay up late and be bad parents and great ones on occasion but let’s not under any circumstances miss this.

It’s a BINGO game of bullshit, but it’s ours, and it’s the best we’ll ever have.

Until next time, kids.

And thanks for making me wear a tutu.


28 Comments | Posted in bitching about the kids I chose to have. | October 19, 2016

A message from your friendly neighborhood Trump supporter

by renegademama

It confuses me that Donald Trump is getting such a bad rap. I’m voting for him.* And I’m going to explain why.

I’m voting for Trump because I’m hoping for a fascist state. At least I think I am. I just want everybody of the Muslim nationality to wear patches and get into camps. I only like Americans.

Wait. Muslim isn’t a nationality? Oh, well. Whatever. Close the mosques! This country is getting overrun by the ethnics and someday whites will be a minority! We need to protect our religious freedoms!

We should make Islam illegal though because ISIS.

Thanks, Obama. (Another Muslim!)

I hear America put people in camps once before and that makes sense to me because it was rooted in racism and irrational fear. I like racism and irrational fear because I’m white and those things have served me well for at least 200 years.

I endorse Trump because Sarah Palin endorses him and I like Alaska and its big bears. Very American. I also hate sex before marriage but I enjoy the two kids I had at 16.

Forgiveness! God is good! I also like the freedom girls. Remember them? They wore sparkles! I love sparkles. I love small white cheerleaders singing memorized songs like Hitler youth. It makes me clap.

I also like vague rhetoric about America being the best country in the world and how we’re going to take down the bad guys because brown people in the Middle East are the bad guys. Also they wear weird clothes. This is how we know they’re bad guys. Sometimes people talk about “white terrorists” but we all know they don’t exist because terrorists are brown.

It may not be immediately apparent how freedom girls, brown people, and weird clothing connect with Trump’s promise of freedom, but I assure you, they are connected and I, for one, am ready to make this country great again!

Like when we had Japanese Internment. Those were the good old days! Also, anti-immigration laws based on national origin. Yes, please! The heyday!

And get marriage back to its sacred condition of a man and woman marrying and divorcing 2-5 times, like Trump did, and women staying in the home and not having access to safe abortions and no gays marrying because when I say “freedom” I mean for white straight Christian men.


I know everything The Donald says is true because he reminds me of my grandpa and I always liked my grandpa.

Which reminds me, I like Trump because he’s a real American success story. He’s white, male, and rich, which means he WORKED HARD for what he has and never took handouts. He didn’t pay taxes because he’s an excellent businessman! His billions make him more valuable and more American and even though I’m poor, I believe THIS MAN has my interests in mind. At least he understands the value of not taking handouts, unlike like those darn urban youth.

I’m not racist though. That Hillary is a super race baiter. If people would just stop talking about racism, it would go away! Like AIDS! And poverty!

I don’t see color as long as people act white and aren’t terrorists and don’t talk funny or wear weird clothes or have a name like “Sanchez.”

Speaking of which, we need to close our borders and build a wall!

Freedom. Stamina. Big hands.

Yeah. That’s right. I endorse Trump because America was founded on FREEDOM, and Trump symbolizes freedom. He is everything right in our country, which he explains by talking about really important stuff and using the best words and not being a loser.

Trump is so smart his sentences don’t even make sense to the standard mind. What a guy! He doesn’t lie. The media just skews his words. What they say about Hillary, though, is true. 100%.

I know this because I hate her.

Really though, mostly I just love those cheerleaders in red-white-and blue satin who make me clap. And the rallies where he says “Make America Great Again!” So much hope. Right around the corner.

I love clapping.

Trump 2016.



*This is satire. I’d rather have my left arm eaten off by rats.

73 Comments | Posted in fucking satire | September 27, 2016

The good news is I made it to back-to-school night

by renegademama

The good news is, I made it to back-to-school night. I am happy to report that after 14 years, 10 months as a mother, I have figured out how to read school calendars and not miss important events like “paper parades” – HEY BTDUBS WHY CAN’T WE USE THE INTERNET FOR ALL THAT PAPERWORK LIKE REGULAR FUCKING HUMANS? – and, of course “back to school night.”

I even went for both elementary kids.

The questionable news, though, is that once again I said something I should have kept inside, thereby marking myself already as The Freak Mom. In front of the entire first grade classroom.

Why is that always my job, people? Why?

It was going fine until I tried to be funny.

(Story of my fucking life.)

But it wasn’t my fault. The teacher asked if we wanted her to “review the homework packets or throw them away at the end of the week” and I was like HAHAHA reviewing homework of first graders LOLLLZ! And I laughed, and then she looked at me, and I was like, “Oh for sure throw them away. Less work for you, and, I mean, they’re 6. We’ll probably all be okay if they’re not, like, graded.”

Approximately nobody in the room thought I was funny but HOMEWORK WHAT COME AGAIN?

It’s first grade. Where are my people? 

I shot a look at my mom, who was standing in for my husband because he was at our oldest kid’s back-to-school night, which was scheduled on, that’s right, the same night at the same time.  

Maybe the school district hates us and that’s why they make us choose kids by having it on the same night.

You know what? Maybe the same person who created the paper parade – AND CALLS IT “THE PAPER PARADE” MIGHT I ADD – also decided that having the elementary and junior high back-to-school nights at the exact same time is a good call.

This is why I don’t go to PTA meetings. I hate everything.

Also, I prefer complaining about the way things are done instead of actually doing anything about them.

WHAT? Isn’t that the American way?

Not that they don’t have good reason for making parents show up at the school instead of, oh, I don’t know, emailing like humans. I’m sure they have a perfectly good reason for making us all show up at 5pm on a Monday in August when it’s 375 degrees outside so we can stand in line with a bunch of flailing children to get tiny half-sheets of paper check-marked instead of, say, texting.

For example, it gives them a chance to size us up, and it gives us a chance to size each other up.

I’m fucking kidding. I mean, I definitely don’t ADORE the “paper parade” – event or nomenclature – but I know it’s probably the first and possibly only time some of those parents will make it onto campus to support their kids.

Stop being dicks and ruining it for the rest of us, parents.


Anywho, I quieted down after the homework comment and started sorting through the papers. There was a common core math grading sheet, a list of all the things my kid needs to know by second grade, a sample report card, and a daily schedule, which was jam-packed minute-by-minute with math and language arts and science and all kinds of important shit except playing, art, music, and/or any variation of FUN.

Being something of a nihilist, my brain immediately shot to everything I know about schools being machines to create worker-bees and mindless obedient drones and I thought about my little 6-year-old George and was like I MUST GET HER OUT OF HERE.

And then I remembered her telling us how they have to line up all day by number (She is number 14. She was 6 last year. So on her papers she has to write “Georgia 14,” which has always freaked me out) and this got me thinking of dystopian sci-fi novels where all the people become numbers, and then I started imagining millions of humans whose lives had been reduced to numbered assembly lines of obedience and that got me thinking of unschooling, and if that was possible, and whether or not I was personally ruined by public school, and how really that’s not relevant because I used to PLAY in school in 1987 and then I heard my mom say, “Janelle! Are you even listening?!”

No. No I was not, mom. I was imagining dystopian death camps, but thanks.

Also, damn. Now the teacher is talking about folders. This seems important.

But I start coloring the bookmark we’re supposed to make for our kid because LEMME TELL YA SOMETHING IF I DON’T DO IT NOW THAT SHIT AIN’T HAPPENING EVER.

I write “You are my best” and possibly cry a little, because she was two years old when she started saying that to me and now here she is in The Matrix.

When I tune back in she’s telling us about “reading packets” and I catch the last, fatal words, “Must be turned in weekly,” and I know I’m fucked.

Uh, mom did you catch that? 

Hi, I’m 37.

Then it was over. I looked around at the parents and I was like, “Wow, homework in first grade, huh?” And they were like, “Yep!” with glee.

So I nudged, “Seems a little young, don’t you think?”

They unanimously disagreed, saying “it wasn’t much” and “taught responsibility.”

In my brain, I added VOLUNTEERING TO BECOME NUMBERS as a thematic element to my dystopian fiction while I smiled  largely) to mask my utter fear of them.

A sentence formed in my head: When did they give up living? The main character would ask that at some point. I felt a wave of depression.

All of this because of first-grade back-to-school night.

Is this normal?

Where are my fellow weirdo nihilists? I NEED YOU. Can we have some sort of signal for events like this?

Like at the paper parade and back-to-school night we can have a hand gesture that means, “Yes, I too am worried about folders and numbers and lines obliterating humanity one gleeful school year at a time and together we must FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT for of brain and body!”

Later, my friend told me I could just not have her do the homework, which I thought was fucking brilliant, but when I asked George about it she was like, “I can’t wait to do homework!”

So that was a motherfucking quandary.

But she does hate lining up all day. And I can’t blame her.

I told her she should enjoy it now, because someday, when we all exist on rubber assembly line belts moving through our lives with microchip-brains, lining up in sequential order will feel like the good ol’ days.

I didn’t actually say that though. I know better.


I just told her, “Lining up sucks, but keep one foot out of the line at all times to remember who you are.”

She looked at me like I am an alien and ran away, but as she left, I whispered, “They can never break you unless you let them!”


Happy new school year, bitches! Let’s make it a great super normal one!

found this battle-axe drawing on Rocket's desk so that's promising

found this battle-axe drawing on Rocket’s desk so that’s promising

What if I asked you to rethink the “low” kids?

by renegademama

Growing up, I understood that there were two groups of students: The smart ones and the dumb ones.

The ones who couldn’t sit still, who fidgeted, who “got in trouble a lot,” who got “bad” grades, who the teachers didn’t like – they were the dumb ones.

Maybe it was their fault. Maybe not. Who cares. All that mattered was they weren’t as good as the rest of us and somewhere, somehow, I knew school was made for me.

I felt a little sorry for them because their work was never on the walls and they never got picked for anything. Their position was locked forever in the barely shrouded “ability level” groups.

Call it “Group C” all you want, teacher. We know what it means.

I shook my head in irritation and sat back in sweet superiority.

They were the low kids.

I was with the high kids.

Basically, we could never mix. School was MY ZONE. They were interlopers.


Hey. Hi. I have one of the “low kids” now.

It’s hard to look at your son and know that some teachers will dismiss him as just another problem to be passed on to the next year and each new school year feels like teetering over the edge of a deep chasm waiting to see if we’ll fall, or, which teacher we will have.

It feels like a fucking lottery. (Thankfully, we won it this year.)

It’s hard to see your son in all his complexity reduced, once a year, to a pdf of psychological assessments and charts and tables, the far right column stacked with numbers correlating to the “low average” and “deficient” and “at risk” section of their bell curve, over and over again like a brick across your face even though the very first line states “high intelligence.”

My boy will be the one coloring on his notebook while the teacher is talking. He’ll be drawing a battle-axe on a tiny sliver of paper. He’ll be fidgeting with a loose screw on the desk leg.

He’ll be the slowest to read. He’ll be pulled out of the room. He’ll be on question #1 when the class is already done with the worksheet. He may be told to “hurry up.” He may have a pen ripped out of his hand. He may have an aide sit next to him and say, “You’re doing great. What can we do next?”

He’ll be tongue-tied in the front of the room. He’ll be struggling for the right word. In the timed spelling tests, he’ll get 1 out of 10.

And you may see him as the low kid. You may see him as the interloper. The trouble. The bother.


What if I told you he memorizes directions to cities we’ve been to once?

What if I told you he fixes our vacuum by scanning the damn thing and tells me how small engines at the fair work even though nobody has taught him about engines or vacuums or maps?

What if I told you he does math word problems in his head and what if I told you when he’s sitting there flicking the end of his pencil over and over again that HE IS ACTUALLY LISTENING, that is him listening, and if you ask him a question about what you just read he will tell you all about it and even more than that he’ll tell you what he knows about it because he’s curious.

What if I told you he’s curious, wise, and trying?

He wants to be with you. He wants to succeed. He wants to be a “high kid.” Fuck these categories. He wants in anyway. We all do. That’s how this system works, you know.

He wants to speak more clearly. He wants to talk as fast as you. He wants to get his thoughts out he wants to decode he wants to read at the level his brain is capable of comprehending

but mostly he wants to not be broken.

Shamed and punished.

For being dyslexic.

(But even that he can’t say. That is what I say, and fight for, and will accept nothing less than.)


What if told you he has a headache at the end of each school day and falls asleep by the time we are at the freeway exit because every hour my kid works at school feels like an entire day and he gets up every morning and does it anyway. Because he wants to have his work on the wall.

What if I asked you to remember that?

What if I asked you to remember that when you’re teaching or volunteering or speaking with your “high” kids or watching that kid who’s always behind, like an irritant, an intruder, a distraction from the “smart kids” who “want to learn.”

What if I asked you to rethink the whole scenario, all the “low kids.”

Because the main difference between my kid and yours is that SCHOOL IS NOT MADE FOR MINE.

(Possibly, it’s not made for either of them, but that’s another blog post.)

So here’s to the kids in the back. And their parents.

They’re higher than we know.

It’s up to us to rise.

And meet them.

I share this photo often because it's everything I'm trying to say in one image.

I share this photo often because it’s everything I’m trying to say in one image.

21 things standing between me and “reasonable bedtimes”

by renegademama

Last week a super handy chart took its 10,000 laps around the internet and I once again realized either: a.) The whole fucking parenting world is batshit; or b.) I am worse at this than formerly thought.

You see, the chart in question outlines the times a kid should go to bed based on age and what time he or she wakes up in the morning. For example, a 6-year-old waking up at 6:30am should go to bed at 7:30pm.

Seven. Fucking. Thirty.

Mmmkay. This sounds amazing. This sounds amazing because if my little kids went to bed at 7:30 and my big kids at 8pm, my husband and I would have like two hours of KID FREE GLORY to ignore each other together on the couch while watching Netflix but actually just playing with our phones.

Truly, do we have no soul left? What is wrong with us?

I hate myself.

Anyway, my kids never go to bed at 7:30pm even if one of them has strep. Lies. They go to bed at 7:30pm when they have strep.

Why are we talking about this? I hate this conversation. Getting my kids to bed “on time” each night is somehow the hardest goddamn thing I do each day. I realize that probably means I have pretty nice days.

I try people I TRY. And every day I feel the sun kissing my face with the promise of a new day, a new chance to get my kids to bed before 9pm. Or 9:30pm.


Nobody likes you.

We eat together at least 75% of the time though, so there. Leave me alone.


It’s hard, you know. And seriously, 9:30pm is late even for us, but SEVEN FUCKING THIRTY? Come on.

Usually my evenings go like this:

Do shit

Do shit

Do shit

Do shit

Do shit



There are just so many things standing between me and reasonable bedtimes. For example:

  1. Absolutely nobody under the age of 30 is as interested in reasonable bedtimes as I am. I made an infographic to convey the complexity of the situation:


  1. And yet, they are the ones whose bodies need to move to their beds. And sometimes, I just don’t feel like dealing with them. Here’s a pie chart of things I’d rather do than deal with four bodies who aren’t interested in bed:


  1. Also, we’re supposed to eat dinner before bedtime.
  2. And I am supposed to make that dinner.
  3. Or my husband is supposed to make dinner and he sucks at it as much as I do.
  4. Also sometimes I realize we have no food and it’s 6pm so instead I sit on the couch in denial about dinner.
  5. Or I “run to the store” but once I get there, start enjoying the alone time, so I spend an hour gazing at earth-friendly toilet cleansers, which gets me home at 7pm, and ruins everything again.
  6. After-school “enrichment” activities including but not limited to Boy Scouts, swimming, dance classes, random teen “fun” events. HOW THE HELL DO YOU GET KIDS TO BED AT 7:30pm IF OTHER KIDS NEED TO BE SOMEWHERE UNTIL 8PM?
  7. All the kids are sitting quietly somewhere and I’m enjoying the silence so much I can’t bring myself to disturb them by demanding they get up and go to bed.
  8. Fights with my husband. Look, you never know when a good clean fight needs to happen. I can’t control nature people.
  9. On the other hand there is a small possibility I can control when I fight with my husband.
  10. Forgotten homework at 7:45pm. The fucking worst.
  11. Forgotten project at 8pm. Never mind this is the worst.
  12. Trips to urgent care because I’m sure he’s got swine flu this time. I AM SURE OF IT.
  13. Baths, because there is only so long you can push it. You know?
  14. Random total parental failure.
  15. Temporary lapse in judgment.
  16. We’re at my mom’s house and I like it there because it’s clean.
  17. We’re at the farmer’s market eating lamb shawarma. Have you ever had it? One does not simply leave lamb shawarma. I don’t give a fuck who needs to go to bed.
  18. My child needs her 75th glass of water and a new sleeping arrangement or that one stuffed animal or possibly a new life entirely, but definitely the glass of water. 

I get it. Sleep matters. All this parenting stuff matters. But seriously, fuck these charts.


You know, sometimes evenings are really the only time we all get to BE together. Just hang out. It’s the end of the day. There’s nothing to do. We can chill as people who like each other. We can sit around. We can calm down.

It can’t be all business all the time. Right?

Plus, it’s 7:30 somewhere.

It’s a reasonable bedtime somewhere. And that’ll have to do for now.