To the humans wondering why I’m always late

by renegademama

The other day a friend of mine and I were having a bit of friendly-text-banter about tardiness. She was like “Just start earlier” and I was like “talk to me when you have 4 kids” and she was like “I wouldn’t have 4 kids!”

And I told her she is a fucking smart woman, only I left out the f-bomb because I’m classy.

But it got me thinking about the whole late thing. Namely, that it happens with some regularity. I’m 90% sure my friends without kids tell me gatherings start 1-hour before they actually start because they know my, um, situation.

And I imagine repeated tardiness can get a little (ahem) annoying, so I thought I’d attempt to explain just for funsies what exactly happens when I’m trying to walk out the door with my 4 tiny dictators.

First, there’s the tween. She’s 12. She looks like she would be nothing but helpful. And often, she is. I mean she’s tall and mature and gets herself dressed and fed and stuff, but distributed throughout the crazy rad shit my tween is capable of doing is a mind-boggling penchant for snail-pace movement.

I don’t get it. She looks like she’s moving; I mean, her body is not actually stationary, but the tangible progress being made is AS IF she were standing still. It’s one of the great mysteries of humanity, I imagine.

She’s also, make no mistake, A KID. She’s not a do-it-all-for-me kid anymore, but she is for sure still a kid and as such, she sometimes gets way way way lost in her morning routine. Like one day she just forgets to set her alarm, or feed the dog, or make a lunch. Or homework. That’s due that day.

Yay fun!

Or she fights with her brother, who’s 9, over some profound injustice which, of course, WE NEVER ADDRESS because we’re always on her case instead of his. This is wholly not true because the “he” in question is hands-down the most annoying human to get ready with on the entire fucking planet.

I realize I haven’t tried getting ready with everybody on the entire fucking planet but it doesn’t matter. When you are relying on a human who literally forgets what he’s doing with the Tupperware he just removed from the dishwasher BY THE TIME HE GETS TO THE TUPPERWARE DRAWER and instead walks down the hall and opens the linen closet at which time he looks down at the Tupperware and thinks to himself “What am I doing here with this plastic at the linen closet?” then proceeds to put the Tupperware down and hold the kitten upside down because WHY THE HELL NOT PEOPLE?…

When you’re working with that, you’ve got nothing.

It’s all up in the air, folks.

Did you brush your teeth what about breakfast do you have a lunch why aren’t your shoes on did you feed the chickens where’s your homework OHMYGOD you didn’t do it DO IT NOW DO IT NOW eat a piece of toast get your backpack get in the car OHMYHELLDUDE your shoes still aren’t on?!

Every day, people. Every day. I mean it.

But you know what? Forget all this shit. There’s nobody worse than the Tiny Naked Insane Human. In fact, she’s so bad, only one of my handy helpful graphs will explain this nonsense.


You see what we’re dealing with here?

And then, there’s the baby. The baby. Oh, Arlo. Cute as a motherfucking bug’s ear. Doesn’t give a shit if we’re on time.

Possibly plans his bowel movements according to how late we are.

Always naps when we absolutely must leave.

Cries only when I really need him to be quiet.

Can’t walk.

So you see. All of this results in the following predicament:




NOBODY GETS BEHIND MY TIMELINESS EFFORTS except one kid. ONE. One out of 4, people.

Those are some bad odds, dude.


And yeah, I could wake up at 5am or better yet, 4:30am, to plan prepare and be AT THE READY for whatever nonsense may come up that day, but the truth is that would make me such an insane uptight pissed off mama I would need 13 Xanax to get through the morning and RECOVING ALCOHOLICS DON’T GET 13 XANAX.

Or at least this one doesn’t.

Plus, I usually don’t go to sleep until 11pm because the baby sleeps at 9:30pm and I need one point five hours to my SELF when nobody is touching talking yelling cuddling needing me, feeding off my nipple or otherwise using my body mind spirit emotions for the wellbeing of their overall persons.

Or, in short, leaving me the fuck alone.

But then I wake up at around 3 or 3:30 with the baby, at which time he spends the next hour or so making up for that big stretch of not-nursing (which he barely survived, apparently, because he now must nurse for ONE HOUR STRAIGHT), which makes me going back to sleep at 4:30 or 5.

So “just starting earlier” turns my 6 hours of sleep into 4 hours, which is, incidentally, the EXACT number of sleep hours that transforms me into an irritable insane overly emotional zombie.


So there you go, people who can’t figure out why I can’t seem to pull it together in the timeliness department.

It’s either tardiness or zombie.

Sometimes it’s tardiness AND zombie.

Or maybe I just suck.

Either way, I’m trying. God knows I’m trying. (BUT 3 out of my 4 kids aren’t!)

And I guess really that’s all any of us can do.

You with your one kid or no kid, me with the four I can barely handle (although let’s be honest. I was late when I only had one.)

We’re all fightin the fight, man.

All we can do, once again, is try not to be a dick, one bullshit morning at a time.



Are you or are you not working with my girl Heather Thorkelson yet?

She travels around the world, takes crazy ass trips to Antarctica, leads groups through Peru,

and does it all through her freelance work.

She’s willing to teach you how.

Sign up for this:


She’s not just talking about it. She’s fucking doing it.

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I went to the mountains and remembered why we have kids.

by renegademama

Sometimes I get so full of self-pity I think maybe I could cut it with a knife, were it to materialize outside my body. Like a giant gray mass with indiscernible edges, and me, sitting in the center, looking at Instagram feeds of expat women living in foreign countries, or in big Craftsman homes with plants on the porch that aren’t dead and grass and bricks and stuff, or on farms in Vermont, or really, anybody doing cooler shit than I am.

Why the self-pity?

I don’t know why.

Because I’m a self-centered immature sot.

Because I’m an ungrateful wretch.

Because because because.

Because I’m a bad human being and you’re a better one.

Yes. Let’s get that out of the way. Cool.


Usually there’s some catalyst to my sadness, slight depression, profound sense of WHEN AM I GONNA GET SOME OF THAT GOOD SHIT?

This time it was losing my last source of income: the column I wrote over at allparenting. Ah, financial insecurity, old friend. Fear, my old buddy.

It just felt like too much. Suddenly I looked at my little baby and 3 other kids and thought “UH OH.”

But I can’t complain because I was the adult who decided to have a 4th child. I can’t complain because my choices got me here.

You can’t complain either. None of us can complain.

There’s always somebody worse.

That doesn’t help.

Fuck off.

(Can you follow the voices in my head? Yeah, neither can I.)


I hear you, Complainer-for-No-Reason.

Do you hate yourself for it, a little?

I do.

I know better.

I want to be better.  But I’m not. So let’s just sit with that. Shall we?


My husband’s been working seven days a week. And I’m here, with the four kids, that I can’t complain about. Because I had them. And I love them. And they’re gorgeous and healthy and we have a great house with wood floors and a red door in California, in the United freaking States of America. And we own it. I mean, sort of. We’re buying it.

There’s nothing wrong with my life. I know this.

I’m a lucky ass bastard.

I know this too.

Six years ago I was sitting alone in a Ford Taurus drinking Ancient Age whiskey and smoking Pall Mall cigarettes, about to get a divorce, staying in a room in my mom’s house, seeing my children occasionally.

What sort of piece of shit human gets ungrateful and full of self-pity after surviving alcoholism?

Well me, I guess.

I know my life is the best it could ever get.

Because I wake up every day free, or mostly free, and not dying so quickly, and like a normal human being.


But my heart and gut say otherwise, folks.

My heart’s all “This shit is meaningless. ALL OF IT.”

My gut says “When are things gonna not be so hard? Why did you have that last kid, moron? You clearly can’t afford these kids.”

I don’t fucking know why.

Because newborn breath. Because siblings. Because family. Because maybe I make crazy decisions. Because maybe I just did.

Because your logical-financially-sound-thoughtful decision making bullshit lifestyle doesn’t make much sense either. It doesn’t really seem to work either.

I know some people with money coming out their diamond-kissed ears and you know what they do?
THEY BUY MORE SHIT. They buy things until there’s nothing left to buy and then they look around and say “Is this it?” And they’re REALLY screwed because they’ve got nothing, and realize way late they were sold a big, mean lie.

And others, they make well into the 6-digit incomes and you know what they freak out about?


The wrong private school. The wrong this or that or whatever the hell. Paralyzed with fear these rich-ass human. They can buy the best of everything this town’s got to offer and you know what they do? FREAK OUT ABOUT CHOOSING THE WRONG BEST THING.

So your way sucks too, grown ups.


I don’t want to talk about it because it’s wrong, and I know it. The way I have this strange sense of being unfulfilled and a little bored, exhausted and uninterested, the persistent feeling that life was going to be more. I try not to think about my year in Barcelona, when the world opened to me in a way that made me feel so alive I would smile walking down the street like some broad in a motherfucking Hallmark movie.

Or when I was 19 and it all seemed so goddamn possible, so there. Just waiting for me to decide.

I don’t want to talk about it because it makes me an utter and total asshole, and that’s a tough thing to face.


So instead, I feel pangs of self-pity, moments of dark gray, when I see somebody who I think has it better.

I yell at my kids more. I cry sometimes. I wonder if it’s depression.

I wish I were healthier. More patient.

I wish I hadn’t gained so much weight.

I wish I lived in the forest. At the ocean. Anywhere. Somewhere.


Eventually I get so sick of myself and my wallowing and self-pity I drag my ass to the motherfucking wilderness.

While there, I see my nearly teen go fishing, catch a trout, clean it with her dad. We fry it up and eat it at dinner.

I see my toddler naked for all the warm hours of the day and the Labrador curled up next to her.

I watch my kids learn to play poker with their dad.

I tell my nearly 9-year-old stories about this and that when I was a kid and he sits riveted to my face. He looks at me like he wants to look at me all day for the rest of his life.

I see my husband smoking his pipe in the sweater I bought him 10 years ago, because he says it’s the thing to do when we’re at the cabin, the cabin his great-grandparents bought when his grandfather was a boy. His grandfather who was born in the 1920s. There are pictures of his dad as a baby on the wall.

I tease my husband because his shirt came up when he wrapped the baby on. He pulls it up higher. We have a smoke after the kids go to bed. I feel oh so bad. At 3am Rocket pees outside and looks at the stars for a minute. I do too.

I row onto the lake on a little fishing boat and I’m rowing backwards. The kids laugh at my idiocy. I jump in the cold mountain lake and feel 30 years of mistakes roll down my back as I get out of the water.

I watch the smile of my baby.

I watch the smiles of my other kids in the eyes of my baby.

I watch the fire throw strange light on the faces of these tiny sleeping humans.


And I remember.

I remember that this pain is mine and mine alone and it isn’t because of this life, now, these kids, this house, the money we don’t have.

It’s the ache in me that’s lived forever, down down down and it’s the one that reaches out to you, you there mother, yes you, and says I hear you.

Talk to me.

It’s the one that laughs hysterically, sings terribly, old 1980s songs, while the sun hits the kids’ dirty scruffy little heads and we row, back into life, to family.

Cracking the hell up, because have you got a better plan?

I didn’t think so.

So just talk to me.

I hear you, mother.

And I fucking love you, too. We’ve got a thousand beautiful things to see.

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I thought age 4 would be better. I was wrong.

by renegademama

Georgia, age 4 (as of August 5), pretty much sees me in two ways:

  1. I need to be so close to you I’m literally sitting on your face; and
  2. I’m trying to figure out what exactly your purpose is here.

We all know “terrible twos” was an invention by some prick who never had a 3-year-old, and found it amusing to make new parents think 2 is bad when actually, Dante’s 10th circle of hell is right around the corner.

Age 2 is sipping hot apple cider during a crisp fall evening with big orange leaves crackling at your feet. Age 3 (and 4, evidently) is like getting a bucket of ice water dumped on your head (only not benefiting a nonprofit) and the leaves shoved in your ears by a tiny insane human squealing “I don’t like the orange leaves. I ONLY LIKE THE RED LEAVES!”

And you’re like “but I didn’t make the leaves, sweet angel from heaven.”

And she’s like “I. DON’T. LIKE. THATTTTTTTTT!!”

And screaming and crying and growling and fists and shit and you’re like “This is why nobody likes you.”

But you keep it inside, because you can’t actually say that to a toddler. I mean, out loud. Plus, it’s not true. Everybody in fact likes her a lot since she saves this behavior for you and you alone. And maybe daddy. But mostly you.

And sometimes, when you’re in public.

Like the other day when we went to get Arlo’s birth certificate from the court records place and it had already been decided that Rocket gets to push the button on the elevator (because these are the issues that now concern me, people. This is important stuff here. WE MUST MAKE SURE IT’S FAIR AND EVEN AND RIGHT AND TRUE when it comes to elevator-button-pushing. Fuck my life.) But somehow, even though it was clearly Rocket’s turn (Georgia pushed them on the way up), and sharing and turn-taking have been working parts of our psyches for at least 2 years, suddenly, right now, this shit is INTOLERABLE and the thing to do when Rocket pushes that elusive, gorgeous light-up button is stand in the corner and let out some wails that might shatter the elevator glass, were it not bulletproof.

I ask her “Why are you such a dick?”

No, I don’t. But I really, really want to.

Instead, even though it’s never worked once in the history of motherhood, I attempt reasoning with her (also because this makes me look like a good, conscientiousness mother in front of strangers) “Georgia, you pushed the buttons on the way up. It’s Rocket’s turn now,” but we’ve entered full-toddler-psychosis. It’s no use.

Only thing to do is ignore it. Only way through it is through it. Going on a fucking bear hunt, folks. Somebody save me from these horrid jokes.

I am, after all, in an elevator with a toddler, newborn and 8-year-old. Can’t really sit there and “talk it through” lovingly in a supportive mom voice, exploring complex feelings of displacement (new baby came, very hard on toddlers) and existential toddler angst.

She probably just has to poop.

Or needs a nap (which she abandoned 6 months ago, because clearly if it’s helping her mood we should get rid of it immediately).

Besides, I have no capacity for supportive mom voice at that moment.

So the husband picks her up and puts her over his shoulder and she loses it all the way home.

People look at you wondering why your kid is so terrible, all tantruming-the-fuck-out and you just ignoring her. I feel like that’s excessively unfair because in my experience the only way to get them to stop being assholes is to ignore their asshole tantrums.

Yes, that’s my profound parenting insight.

If you have a better plan, please shove it up your ass.

Sorry. I didn’t mean that. I’m just bitter.

Well maybe I meant it a little.

But seriously, right? I can’t give in to my daughter’s irrationality and so, a tantrum ensues. The only thing that will stop the tantrum is letting her push the button. But if I do that, she’s earning what she wants from the tantrum, and will thereby do it again. And again. And again.

And the next thing you know, she’ll be the woman at the Target checkout line screaming at the pimply faced teenager for not giving the appropriate discount on her Scrubbing Bubbles cleaner. You know, the one we all look at and think “Why didn’t your mom teach you any damn manners?”

So in the interest of the greater good, sometimes you just gotta let them wail and wish you didn’t have kids, and endure the looks of strangers who have either never raised offspring or are better parents than you. Or think they’re better parents than you. There is no doubt that there are many, many better parents than me.

Except at the county fair. I am better than those parents. Just saying.

Anyway, the other day, Mac was changing the screen on one of the windows in the back of the house, nowhere near Georgia’s room, FYI, and she starts screaming and crying that Mac had “ruined the magic secret door to her bedroom.”

Look, kid, you can’t hold us accountable to your paranoid delusions of weird toddler shit. Err, I mean “imagination.”

A few hours later, we were driving along in our vehicle and Georgia asks “What’s that?”

I answer: “A restaurant.”

She asks “Why? Why mama why? Whywhywhy?”

I roll down my window and scream into the night “I can’t live in these conditions!”

But nobody hears my cries.

Leaving the house the other day, she says “I want to bring that stroller!”

But we don’t need that stroller, so I tell her.

So she furrows her brow and wails and screams, because that makes sense.

I tell her “I’ll give you $100 if you stop making that noise,” but she has no appreciation for money.

God help you if you don’t give her the red cup.

Or ask her to leave, anywhere, ever, in a hurry.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT, change your plans in the middle of the day if those plans involved parks, friends or grandmothers.

Right, because plans never change in families of 4 kids and a mother who puts things in her calendar then forgets to look at the calendar.

And if she squeezes the newborn’s face and makes him cry, don’t say anything, because SHE WASN’T HURTING HIM.

And I’m not jumping on the couch, she says, in an up-and-down motion.



Oh, George. You’re driving me fucking batshit.

Next week you start preschool.

I’ll miss you terribly.

Sort of.

Yes, terribly.

And not.


Yep, this is it. Motherhood. Age 4.

Thumbs up.




up-on-the-hill-ad-v2.1You know how you “meet” somebody via the interwebz and you know you could be friends? Yeah, that’s what’s happened with Amii and me. At least on my part.

She founded and runs “Up on the Hill,” a seriously awesome store that carries all the things I want to buy my annoying toddlers and babies. No, I mean it. That’s true and real.

Read her words and figure out why I fucking love her and what she’s done: “My husband used to work in the beer and wine industry, and was actually quite well know for his palate when it comes to beer, but was laid off 3 weeks before my due date with baby #2. Despite the stress we had a successful HBAC, and a little bit of savings. After 2 months of unsuccessfully trying to find a new job, we decided to open a business ourselves. 

We opened Up On the Hill in October of 2012 and never really looked back. Having a passion for cloth diapers and baby-wearing I jumped into this with no real business background, just 15 years in food service. It’s been quite the learning experience.

We are located in Historic Shepherdstown, WV and also carry children’s clothing and natural toys. We strive to carry items you won’t find in big box stores, and are huge supporters of local and small businesses. I have a 4 year old son, River,  and 1 year old daughter, Luna.”


So click this link and buy some shit. We have an “affiliate” arrangement going, so I actually get a little something too when you buy. So help two mamas out. Fuck Walmart. Thank you.

Much love.

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Don’t mind me, I’m just lost (in the existential sense, thanks)

by renegademama

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I get lost sometimes.

And then again. And again.

But I don’t want to write about that. I’m tired of writing about that.

I’ve written it all before.

I don’t want to write about anything, really. And that’s not new. I’m sick of myself. Do you ever get sick of yourself? Your story? Your “insights,” the shit you keep giving the world, even your humor or other things people like about you?

Does it ever begin to feel false and wrong or just simply totally uninteresting? Like it’s all a gimmick? A bunch of bullshit?

Or maybe that’s not even it. Maybe that has even too much definition, too much clarity. Maybe you’re just floating up in the air at random like a balloon 400 feet in the air and wind and clouds.

That’s where I am.

I think.

How the hell am I supposed to know?

I haven’t written anything here for a few weeks.


I’m struggling. When I’m struggling a little, I write a little.

When I’m struggling a lot, I write nothing.

(And worry all day about the fact that I’m writing nothing (because I’m never going to write again, obviously.))

I get ideas, but they don’t seem right. I start things but I don’t finish them, because it all feels like a lie.

It all feels so wrong I eventually determine I’m just fucked.

But maybe I’m not fucked. Maybe this is just new motherhood, again, when I’m rearranged and my life family home brain is recreated. Destroyed, and reborn, though I kick and scream and worry I won’t get found again. Maybe I’ll stay lost this time. Maybe I was never found at all, but rather just found some groove that felt comfy and cozy and allowed me to delude myself into thinking I had some control, like my life was moving in a direction that made sense, that I’m a grown-up.

I’m not trying to be deep.


I’m fucking


I want to be “authentic” but I can’t find “authentic.”  What the fuck is authentic?

I want to be “real” but “real” is a series of days that knock me flat. How do you write about that?

I can’t get anything done. I NEED A MOTHERFUCKING ROOM OF MY OWN.

I get, you, Virginia.

Actually, at this point, I’d settle for a corner of the bed.

“Authentic” is that I’m so exhausted I can’t think of simple words and I wake up feeling like a bolder is flattening my forehead and my eyelids weigh approximately 12,000 pounds each and I’ve got 3 kids and a newborn in the house all day and night and it’s summer and every time I “finish” the laundry every hamper is full again.

But that’s not it.

My tired is a relentless tired, one that smashes me every single day, and keeps happening because Arlo goes to sleep at 11pm or so but I NEED SOME FUCKING SPACE so I hang out by myself in bed and read or play on my phone for an hour or so which puts me asleep at 12am or 12:30 and he wakes at 3 or 4 and then Georgia wakes at 6am and it starts all over again. I have a tired that makes me want to sit down and cry sometimes, or throw a temper tantrum, which I do occasionally, then I feel guilty for acting worse than the children I’m trying to raise. Sometimes I realize it’s 3pm and I have eaten only 4 bites of Cheerios, but not on purpose.

But there’s more.

I have ONE article due each Tuesday and it takes everything I’ve got, people. ALL OF IT. All the creativity. All the energy. All the mental faculty. Is that pathetic? Probably. But it’s real. There’s no time for creativity, for art, for spirit.
I’m an insane overly sensitive irritable zombie milky ass human.

Nah, not that.

IMG_0963I’m a mom hanging out with 4 kids, happy as hell to be home with them, loving her house and dog and backyard hens, grateful for the article-writing gig (virtually my only income right now). And in the evening when I give my baby boy a bath he coos and smiles at me and it’s just him and me and sometimes I hold him naked against my chest and I almost cry I love him so much and I’m so grateful for him and his milk sweet breath.

And we’ve been going to the library every week, which is a new thing, discovered because it’s hot as fuck and we’re broke and it’s free and cool. Ava thinks she wants to grow up to be a librarian. Last year it was a NASA engineer. I find that wonderful.

I told Rocket Arlo is getting his shots soon, so every day he asks “Is it today?” Finally I asked him why he keeps asking and he said “I just think I should be there.”

Those were the words, but the look on his face said “I don’t want my brother to hurt without me.”

And I thought about the way Mac always said he wished he had a brother and now there are brothers in our home and it’s gorgeous.

That’s true, too.

Georgia turned 4 and I enrolled her in a little nursery school around the corner. We got a cedar play structure as a gift from my inlaws and Georgia taught herself to swing. This morning I looked out there and she was naked, swinging in the sunlight. The light hit her gold hair and body and I just stood there watching because it was beautiful.

We have 4 hens. The kids named them all “Tina” so they can yell “Tina you fat lard come and get your dinner!” The labrador has made friends with Tina. Yes, that’s correct. The 90-pound dog kicks it with the chickens.IMG_1239

Rocket is begging to go back to regular school because he wants to be with the rest and he always wants the opposite of what he has, but did I mention he learned to read FOUR WEEKS after leaving school? Four weeks, people. Four weeks of homeschool and he went from knowing maybe ¾ of his letters to reading at a kindergarten level. By 8 weeks he was at a 1st grade level. And now, sometimes, he reads some 2nd-grade-level books. The pressure and anxiety of that classroom were literally destroying his ability to learn. It’s so hard for him.  He worked so hard to read. My God he worked so hard. I knew public school was slaughtering him. I knew it, so I responded, and he thrived. Sometimes I don’t blow it. What.

But he wants to go back to school, and we live in a better (read: wealthier) district so we’re giving it a shot, again.

I’m terrified though. And it’s probably a mistake. But as my friend said, “If he’s going to make it in public school, it will be this one.” So here we go.


Yes, here we go.

Please don’t tell me I’m depressed, or need help, or whatever the fuck. Maybe I’m a little depressed, but depression is an abyss, and I’m not in an abyss. I can see out, and I know it won’t last. This is different. This is right. This is life knocking you around, making you uncomfortable.

I’m just lost, so every story I try to give or say or write sounds not quite right, because if you’re lost you can’t wrap life up into some package, to be delivered and opened and consumed. You can’t turn it into something contained and palatable and friendly. It’s only messy and rugged and spilling wide open, everywhere, until it finds new edges, and contains itself a bit, and you open your eyes wider to a world you thought was much smaller, before.

And you’re glad you didn’t settle for the old, comfortable version. All worn out and tired.


Now the baby is crying. He was asleep.

I had a few minutes. Those few minutes are gone.  More will come.

Georgia is singing to him, trying to soothe him: “It’s okay, I love you, you love me, all the bad animals are gone….”

Kids are insane.

This shit is nuts.

I’m a fucking maniac.

Nope. Not that.


Here I am.




brothers, found.


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Imagine all the people trying not to be dicks

by renegademama

So the other day I was at Costco. For our overseas readers, Costco is grocery store on steroids. Everything in is it huge, bulk, wonderful. I love Costco. It’s very American.

I shop there often because my family somehow manages to consume like 3 loaves of bread and 2 gallons of milk a week, even though I rationed milk consumption to dinner-only since the kids kept getting dehydrated in this fucking Valley heat.

Why do I admit these things online? There’s something wrong with me.

Though I’m technically there for “staples,” the miracle is that once I enter those giant roll-up doors, I realize I pretty much need every single thing in the damn warehouse, but none of this has anything to do with the story.

So anyway, against my better judgment, I venture into Costco with all four kids. Yeah. That’s three plus a newborn, folks. I knew I was playing with fire. It was like 3pm and 104 degrees or some nonsense. 3pm sucks. Everybody’s tired and miserable and generally over it, but rather than staring at walls at home (or napping), I’m towing them all through the sun-kissed aisles of ridiculous American consumerism. The baby was asleep in his carseat but I knew it wouldn’t last. He’d been asleep too long. Georgia was nearing the point where her exhaustion turns into squirrel-on-crack behavior. Bouncing off the walls, I believe it’s called.

And the two other kids, well, they’re pretty reliable. They behave in Costco. MOSTLY.

My coffee had worn off.

The kids were hungry.

So, why, exactly, why was I doing this?

Because I was having a little dinner party for my mother-in-law’s birthday that evening, and I had no food, as per usual. No choice, motherfucker. GET THIS SHIT DONE.

We do okay as we walk through the aisles. I was going quickly. There were samples. I thought I might actually pull through without disaster.

Then we hit the checkout line. It became very, very clear to me that I will not pull through.

The baby starts doing that closed-eye head-turn “wah wah wah” thing. The fists start shaking, the legs kick a bit. Of course I start pushing the stroller back and forth, doing the frantic “Shh shh shh” thing, but I know it’s not going to work.

He settles for a moment. Five seconds letter he’s back at it with more force.
“Fuck. Should have put him in the carrier.”

But I didn’t want him on my body. IT’S 9 MILLION DEGREES and the thought of 30 minutes in air-conditioned Costco without a sweaty head and 20 feet of material across my chest just sounded too amazing. Sometimes we need our bodies back for a moment, ya feel me?

I glance at the line ahead of me and see the slowest moving humans on the planet. They’re enjoying a chat with the checkout dude. I realize this hell is my own.

The baby’s really getting worked up now. I remove him from the seat but he wants to nurse, bad. It’s been over 2 hours at this point. He’s clearly wondering how he’s managed to stay alive this long.

I hear a woman say “Honey, sit down! You’re going to fall!” I look back and see Georgia attempting to STAND in the cart (which the

Hey dumbshit, bring the carrier next time.

Hey dumbshit, bring the carrier next time.

kids were pushing). With the baby in one hand I grab Georgia with the other, tell her to sit down. She ignores me. She’s been ignoring me lately. I can’t figure out if it’s a fun feature of age 3 or some twisted symptom of my-mom-just-had-a-baby-and-I-hate-life syndrome. At any rate it’s loads of fun!

I curse myself for not bringing the carrier inside. I consider leaving the checkout line completely and nursing the baby in one of those giant chairs in the furniture area. But the dinner party. I don’t have time. And his diaper is wet too. Nope. I have to plow the fuck through. Get through this line with a screaming newborn and horribly misbehaving toddler and the card and the wallet and groceries and the cart and stroller.

By this time, Arlo is wailing. I’m bouncing him on one arm and pulling the toddler into the seat and trying to use my nicest voice (as opposed to my “I’m going to fucking kill you” voice) to tell my older kids to please load groceries onto the black moving belt thing (WTF are those called?) and I realize in a flash that I look absolutely pathetic. My shirt was even pulled up a bit, exposing stretch marks and a belly modern society would call “fat.” I’m straddling the line of humiliation and PURE BEAST MODE.

The dude asks me for my Costco card. I’m trying to buckle Georgia in with one hand and soothe the baby and direct the other kids and get the card and pull my shirt down and move the cart through the thing.

People are looking at me. I’m terrified of keeping them waiting.

My god in that moment I swear I almost looked at complete strangers and asked “Would you HELP me?”

But I didn’t, because we don’t do that sort of thing. Nope. This is America, where each human fends for herself and a dumb broad like me, well shit, I’m the one who decided to have all these kids and go to Costco and whatever, whatever.

Ain’t my problem, lady.

Sucks to be her.

HURRY UP, pathetic mommy, so I can get home.

Imagine if somebody walked over and started putting some groceries on the moving thing. Imagine if somebody came over and said “Here. Let me get this toddler buckled in.” Or asked “Can I help you?” Shit. Even a smile would have altered my life.

Honestly, I can’t believe somebody didn’t intervene solely because it was too painful to watch.

I’m a tough sonuvabitch. I’m tough as nails. I don’t break easily and this ain’t my first rodeo, but you know what? Sometimes we need help. Sometimes we need somebody to take a minute or two and just HELP. I never ask for help, but I would have proposed marriage to the human that lent me a hand in that moment.

But nobody did. And that’s cool. I don’t deserve shit and I’m not entitled to anything. I knew I’d survive, and I did, and I don’t feel sorry for myself.

But I made a decision right then and there that the next time I see some human struggling, I’m going to help her. I probably would anyway, but from now on it’s a self-imposed requirement. And I’m going to make my kids help strangers when it’s obvious they could use a hand. We live in a community. When the fuck are we all going to act like it?

Of course we don’t have to. Of course it’s not our problem. But you know what is our problem? Not being a dick.

And as far as I can tell, watching some pathetic, overwhelmed woman like me in the Costco checkout aisle while glaring at her angrily is, in fact, being a dick.

And once again, my comment policy pulls through like a brave warrior, life mantra, the deepest spiritual concept ever written:

Try not to be a dick.

Just try. Let’s all try. I’ll try, you try. Boom.





Marianne Elliott (author, yoga teacher and human rights activist) had me at this question: “Do you wish you could find the courage to do what you really feel called to do?”

Well, until I read this one: “Do the voices in your head tell you that you can’t do it because you are not ready, not qualified enough, not good enough?”

Um, yes.

You know, the thing is, you know when somebody is speaking your language,willing to speak the truth, and brave enough to face the real shit.

Marianne Elliott strikes me as one of those people.

She’s enrolling now (deadline is August 1!) for her online class 30 Days of Courage, which is meant for “people who want to step out of their comfort zones” and lead a more courageous life. (Is it wrong that I immediately think about traveling the north American continent in a trailer with my family? That’s what I’m into lately.)

In her words, you’ll learn:

• how to build a stable foundation for your courageous life;
• practices to cultivate your innate inner courage;
• ways to use curiosity and experimentation to sneak past the guards at the gate to your comfort zone;
• how to find the small act of bravery that you can do right now;
• exercises to tone your courage muscles;
• practices to ensure your courage is also compassionate.

She offers all kinds of other classes too. Check them out.

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