Gender-neutral bathrooms are a parent’s dream

by renegademama

So, people are concerned that male pedophiles are going to prey on girls in female bathrooms.

UMMMMMMMM geniuses. These flesh-eating-bacteria-scum were formerly sharing the bathrooms with your boys.

How were you not concerned about that?

And if you are so concerned about the safety of your children, why the hell aren’t you super freaking happy at the prospect of gender-neutral bathrooms? Gender-neutral bathrooms mean we get to accompany our kids no matter what their gender and age into restrooms.

For example, my 10-year-old son is too old to use the women’s restroom but I hate letting him use public restrooms alone because I’m weird and overbearing and have internalized irrational threat narratives, so my only option is to stand wild-eyed halfway in the doorway, glaring at the people and repeating his name loudly until I’m sure he’s peed safely. And washed his hands.

I’m kidding. I don’t do that. But I want to.

Gender-neutral bathrooms would allow my kids and I to all use the same bathroom as one big hand-washing batshit WHY DO I HAVE SO MANY KIDS family.

It’s a damn parent’s dream.

Everybody keeps talking about family safety. Family. Family. The threat to our girls! And now businesses are like, “Hey, you can stay in bathrooms with your kids to ensure their safety” and you’re like WHY DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT THE SAFETY OF MY FAMILY?

Also, our kids are way more likely to be hurt by people we know. This is awful. This is also a statistical fact. We should all get down with facts.

And if you’re worried about you as a woman getting raped, well, I understand that. That is a worry. I too am a woman, but frankly, we are at some risk no matter where we go, and I’m pretty sure if a rabid rapist were hell-bent on attacking a woman in a bathroom, some stupid fucking plastic sign outside the door wouldn’t stop him.

I don’t think sociopathic degenerates are like “Oh, well, if it says I can’t go in there I guess I won’t” when they plan on assaulting a human being. Something tells me societal decorum is not at the forefront of their minds.

I wish they would die in fires.

Let’s move on to freak-out number 3: Men dressing up as women to creep on females in the women’s bathroom. First of all, this already happens, only with men dressed up as men. Have you not heard about that fucking freak show that like lived in a porta-potty or some shit so he could watch women pee, and, evidently, get pooped on?

I read about that years ago and to this day I can’t use a portable toilet without glancing down to make sure a face isn’t staring up at me. Oh god. I should not have said that. I feel gross.

I hate porta potties.

My point is that there are sick fucks everywhere, people, and transgender people are not more likely to be those sick fucks, and if you think they are, you have bigotry transphobia issues. I suggest you work those out somehow, possibly with education. I am not being sarcastic. I am sincerely asking you to learn about what transgender means and how it is not associated with sexual deviance.

Well, unless you’re some sort of religious zealot like that lady who walked through Target waving her bible with her children in tow (how is that not abuse(?)) screaming about how Target hates babies. In that case, we’ll just hope you don’t homeschool.

And if some dude were claiming he is a woman and hanging out in the Target bathroom just kind of chillin’ randomly, don’t you think somebody would see him and he would get kicked out of the bathroom by security? Like all the other sick fuckwits in the world? 

For example, a couple of years ago there was a creepy-ass looking dude sitting at a table in the children’s section of the public library. There were no kids with him. He was filthy and glassy-eyed and had a coat thrown over his shoulder and lap. I’m going to let your mind wander to the foulest thing you can think of, because you would be correct.

You know what I did? Walked up to the librarian and demanded that the sick lap-stroking subhuman be removed from the library immediately, and castrated. Sorry. So wrong. But fuck that guy. And fuck all the men and women that want to prey on our babies. And fuck the people who think trans and gender non-conforming individuals are those people. 

 

This is my daughter, Georgia:

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She was recently thrown out of a bathroom by older children who insisted she was a boy. 

But I’m a girl. 

They blocked her from the stall until she left crying.

Please, be the change, in your family. 

AND BE IT NOW.

 

How to get mom-famous on Instagram

by renegademama

In this post, I’m going to share with you everything you need to know to get famous on Instagram as a mother.

What? What’s that you say? I’m not famous on Instagram therefore what the fuck do I know?

Look. You’re getting too caught up in details. You need to calm it down a bit if it’s going to work between us.

I know this information not because I DO it but because I’m a writer, which means I sit in an office all day getting ready to write, which I do mostly by looking at pictures of Kate Middleton being “super approachable,” and scrolling through Instagram.

I also have insomnia, and everybody knows the best treatment for insomnia is 1-2 hours of blue light via the “search feed” on Instagram.

So, in other words, I’m an expert.

Alright, here we go:

The first thing you need to do is get pregnant. No, wait. First you need a husband who is hot,

that one time Mac got a super hip haircut and looks like he should live in Portland

that one time Mac got a super hip haircut and looked like he should live in Portland

tattooed, and bearded. Like this fucking guy >>

But you need to act like you have no idea how hot he is. That way, you can humble-brag with each photo like you JUST HAVE NO IDEA WHY ALL THE WOMEN AND GAY MEN ARE TAGGING YOUR SHIT.

Do not be like me, openly admitting you’re weirded out that your hot ass husband still lives with you.

Okay, THEN you can get pregnant. Once pregnant, you need to take innumerable photos of yourself in extremely soft light, preferably in draping gauze by windows. Look down, curl your hands gently around your belly, and let your hair fall in sweeping cascades down your face. DO NOT GAIN MORE THAN 20 pounds the entire pregnancy but hashtag huge, also #thatbellytho.

Do not talk about hemorrhoids, marital problems, or any sense of impending doom or nonspecific regret.

You also need to have professional maternity portraits done, obviously, in forests, at least 9 times during your pregnancy. With your hot husband, holding hands, wrapped in gauze. Not your husband. Only you in the gauze. Obviously. Your husband should be wearing suspenders.

When you have the baby, name it Fox or Freedom or Wilbur or Banjo. Something super fucking weird but also quaint and meaningful.

Look, I don’t make the rules here. Do you want to be famous or not?

Newborn photos may proceed as follows:

1. In a wicker bassinet wearing vintage bonnet and white onesie, near window, bathed in perfect light. ALWAYS PERFECT LIGHT.
2. White and black leggings with crosses, black onesie with “Born free” or something similar written on it, moccasins, sleeping on a bed of crisp white sheets next to a small sleeping dog.
3. Baby close-up, wrapped in muslin swaddle blanket with matching hat, on a piece of fuzzy lambskin.
4. On dad’s chest without shirt.
5. On mom without shirt, nursing, but only showing one perfect round breast bathed in sunbeams. NO FAT ROLLS OR STRETCH MARKS.
6. In a light blue striped linen romper, on a sheet with flowers around the baby. Or branches. Or stones. Be sure not to explain why the fuck your baby is encircled in small green branches and pebbles because that doesn’t matter.
7. Hold baby up in air in front of bricks or white wall. Make sure you cut off the face of the person holding baby. Baby should just be suspended there, kind of randomly.

You can also fold your baby up and stick her in a bowl or pan or basket or some shit, but honestly, I totally prefer vintage millennial chic over all other forms of Instagram fame.

Throughout your journey, you’ll need a very fancy camera and a willingness to strategically place stuffed animals and pillows near your baby to create atmosphere. Atmosphere is everything.

Of course, some asshole will comment that it’s not safe to have pillows or stuffed animals in the crib (even if they are made of repurposed wool by a SAHM in Oregon). Delete those comments. Fuck the trolls. Atmosphere forever.

You need to put your kids in maxi dresses and scarves and crocheted elf bonnets. You need your toddler son’s hair long and messy but somehow perfect in an entirely impossible way and yet possible because there it is on Instagram. Hair should fall over the eyes but not have snot in it, or food, which is hard, because toddlers pretty much always have snot and food on their faces and thus in their hair.

Figure it out. Sacrifice.

You may also photograph:

Tattoos.

Leggings. Birkenstocks. Large sun hats.

$90,000 strollers.

Salads.

Oceans.

Your feet.

Your feet at the ocean.

You on your side with your tattoos showing holding a salad and your baby. Hashtag sundayfunday.

Older kids may be lined against brick walls and/or garages. They should be doing something cute but aloof because they’re just being kids and happen to be perfect and adorable and clean and stylish. It’s weird. It’s a thing.

You can also go hippie. Or fitness. You can’t go hippie fitness though.

It’s complicated. You’ll do fine.

 

And remember, I’m fucking kidding. Do you on Instagram, and beyond, posed or messy, neutral or fluorescent, carefully placed pebbles or unfortunate snot.

Fuck it. We’re all putting on a show. Some of us are simply vintage.

And famous.

If lacking a dog, cats will suffice

If lacking a dog, cats will suffice

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.

52 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

79 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