The first time I saw my mother, and maybe you

by renegademama

He sat at our kitchen table, wrapping presents. The kids had finally gone to bed. We did the hot chocolate tradition and ate spaghetti like always and they opened their one Christmas Eve gift: pajamas. I bought them matching ones last year, because I guess I’ve become that mother.

the pajamas in question

the pajamas in question

Sometimes I surprise myself with my cheesy parenting. I do things now I never would have done at 22, when my first child was born. Too cool, I guess. Above that nonsense.

As I get older I find myself moving beneath it all.

At one point while I made us some tea he looked over at me and I felt connected to him in a way that stopped and silenced me, together on this Christmas Eve, a whole pile of gifts yet to be wrapped, kids in matching pajamas sleeping on the floor in the bedroom, the baby in our bed. The surprise. Their faces. The gifts we saved and planned for.

Our 4th child born that June. Six months old. The first Christmas of our last child.

I thought of the years we’ve wrapped presents together, of the 14 times or so, with one two three now four little sleeping beings in the house. Maybe one year we were apart. Maybe a couple we fought. Maybe a few I was drunk.

Now we’re just here.

Sometimes it irritates me how stupid moments give me the most insight. The banal, meaningless ticks of my life move on and on, and then they just stop ticking, and I’m there, here, new. It was a stupid leaf blower that made me realize I was a slave to alcohol.

It was looking at my husband on a Christmas Eve that made me see my mother for the first time.


I saw my mom in her bedroom alone, wrapping gifts while my brother and I slept soundly, oblivious to her hands. I saw her writing “Santa” on the tags, sorting the pile she created herself. When? When could she buy the gifts? When were we not there?

I saw her carry each gift under the tree, sure we were asleep, sure it was enough. The lights, the paper, the bows. They fell into the middle of the room and glistened. I wonder if she stopped and looked and smiled, the way he and I do, when it’s all done and we see it all and anticipate and hug each other, right before bed.

Though I saw her crawl into bed alone, and rise when my brother and I did, oblivious again to the hours, hands, thought, writing and preparing.

I wonder if she missed a friend. I wonder if she missed my dad. Or her mom. I wonder if she wished there was somebody to share it with. Somebody who would care as much as her. Our eyes. Our jumping up and down. Our glee and delight and joy. The tiny expressions. The things only she and my dad would notice.

We lacked nothing. We wanted nothing. We knew no empty because our mother was there.

We took and took and took, as kids do. We just felt what she created, breathed it in without a thought: home, life, Christmas. We never wondered how it got there. We never questioned how it appeared.


You. You are how it appeared.

And I don’t think I ever saw you before, fully, mom, before that day, when I looked at my husband and felt the warmth and love and energy between us and thought how Christmas had become as much our tradition TOGETHER as it did something we did for our kids, and how many glances do we throw to one another each year? How many? A hundred? A thousand? How many times do we send a knowing smile to each other when she is about to open that one gift? Or we see them dance. Act silly. Hug each other.

Or just watch them being them, really, when the beauty of the moment and tradition and family comes barreling into the room in all its sacredness and MY GOD somebody must see this with me. I can’t be the only one.

And I am not.

But she was. And maybe you are.

And I understand a little now what that means.


And now, I see you again, mom, a few months after Christmas Eve. Now that my husband is gone 5 or 6 days a week and I’m alone most days nights and mornings. It’s all on me when he’s gone.

And I see it’s not just the Christmases.

It’s the little freaking things. It’s the little, everyday, every moment things. It’s every breakfast and lunch and dinner. Every trip to the store. Every event every school paper every early release every tantrum every sick kid every swim practice every this and every that. Every conversation diaper change bath. Every appointment. Every bill due yesterday.

Every fire. Put it out. Get up. Do it again.


at my college graduation

And when the baby waves for the first time it’s just the kids and me. Nobody in the world cares as much as I do. In that second there’s nobody else to see, laugh, freak out. I wish he were here. I take a picture and share it.

But it’s not the same.

But I get a break when he comes back, so I don’t know what it was like for you or the hundred thousand women and men alone right now with the baby who just crawled, or walked, or graduated. I don’t know what it’s like for my friend who lost her husband one night, stolen from the home and bed they shared with their baby girls. My best friend who raised her son and two brothers alone for 18 years.

I don’t know what it’s like for you single mothers and fathers, but for a few minutes lately I’ve been feeling what you do, and I was damn near crushed under the weight of your strength, determination, love and almost insane fucking bulldog tenacity, because there is no choice and no other way, and the kids need to live, know, know you’re there, know it’s okay, know it’s home. It comes rolling out beneath and around them and they don’t even wonder from where. From whom. From when.

They just get to be. You give them that. How the hell do you do it?


Someday I hope they see you, too.

And write a note or send a line that says “thanks.” Or better yet, show up. Open their eyes. Give it back.

I never quite saw you, mom, the hundred thousand times I didn’t need to, because you were air to me, everywhere, unquestioned, unmoved and unmovable.

I took a breath and you were there.

On Christmas Eve, and the day after, when only the mess remained.

I take a breath and you are here.

I see you now, though. Everywhere.


hey, mom, thanks.

30 Comments | Posted in Sometimes, I'm all deep and shit..... | March 24, 2015

I’m supposed to be at an ashram. 

by renegademama

I’m supposed to be at an ashram in the Sierra Nevada foothills, meditating and doing yoga with a bunch of blissed-out white people, but I’m not. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

The place was fucking beautiful. Green grass, ponds, flowers, stone walkways. Giant weeping willows, hammocks, sprawling oaks. The cabins were just rustic enough to seem earthy as opposed to “run-down.” I pulled up and felt a sense of relief just to be out of my house. Here we go. Nature, meditation, yoga. I SHALL BE FIXED.

Fixed from a dark mental place. I was not doing very well. A couple weeks before I stood at the GET SPIRITUAL NOW gate (It doesn’t actually say that. I just made that up.), I realized I was moving from “dealing with tough circumstances” to “not dealing with anything” due to an internal sense of hopelessness and the related apathy. I saw myself crushed under the weight of my own self-pity, of my childlike tantrums that my life didn’t look as it should, that I wasn’t getting “what I deserved,” that it wasn’t “fair.” I had become identified with asshole circumstances of my life and I couldn’t wrestle myself free. I knew I had ceased functioning but couldn’t figure out how to get past the paralysis of my feelings.


So, like any white middle-class northern California woman in despair, I bought a Groupon for a “Beginner’s Yoga and Meditation Retreat” at an ashram in Grass Valley. They kept referring to us as “The Groupon People,” which hopefully sets the stage for what I’m about to tell you.

Allow me to say it bluntly: If I see one more blissed-out Caucasian bouncing around barefoot in white flowing pants and a small smile of “Damn it feels good to be more enlightened than you” plastered on their vegan-fed faces, I may die.

I’m not talking about the people attending the retreat. I’m talking about the people running it. The ones who were apparently on “a spiritual path.” The volunteers (dressed in yellow and white) who were studying under the head “Swami,” who wore all orange.

One woman had actual flowers IN HER MOTHERFUCKING HAIR, and literally pranced. As in, gently hopped instead of walked. She was the skinny prancing flower lady.

I thought “maybe she’ll get strangled in her Tibetan prayer flags.”

This is why I’ll never be a swami.

A bunch of the volunteers were running around barefoot. My friend and I found this baffling because we were supposed to take our shoes off inside the buildings, presumably out of respect and cleanliness, so if they’re barefoot outside and walk inside, aren’t they still bringing the dirt into the room?

But one looks much more spiritually connected while barefoot, and that’s what’s important here, folks.


All the signs said “Blessed self” at the beginning. So it would say “Blessed self, please don’t put your tampons in the toilet.” Or something like that. I found that hilarious. “Blessed self.”

But if they actually believed we were all “blessed selves,” if their respect for us ran so deeply, as fellow manifestations of the Divine Creator, what’s with the air of smug superiority?

Check it out, blissed ones: I don’t care how many chants or “asanas” you do each day, you’re still an asshole and therefore missing the whole damn point.

Statues of Hindu gods and goddesses lined the back of every room, but since none of us knew what any of it meant, it felt like a stomach-turning display of cultural appropriation. The statues had “meaning” and “depth” only because they were from “over there,” from far away. It was the eastern mystery and “otherness” that made them compelling and “deep.” To illustrate this point, I can only imagine people’s responses if there was a bunch of Judeo-Christian images and statues surrounding us. All the yuppies be like “What? Jesus? Fuck that shit. I grew up on that. Give me some nice deep sublime Hindu stuff!”

Meanwhile, there’s a dude with a pile of flutes telling me to chant something in Sanskrit to “wake up.” Weird thing is we didn’t ask him for help, or even indicate we were in the market for energy advice. His pretentiousness dripped from him like agave syrup in June.

I tried to kill him with my eyeballs.

He spoke to us like we were absolute morons, pathetic little creatures come to lap at the bowl of his insight. And I suppose it was kind of true, actually.

Pretentious dicks are bad enough, but pretentious dicks WITH FLUTES? I just can’t. I mean I literally cannot. Make me a white-girl “I can’t even” meme because ladies and gentleman, I can’t even.


The main teacher dude, another white guy with serene expressions, Swami something (they all changed their names to something more spiritually appropriate, like “Padma” and “Kala.” I felt like saying “You know your name is Kelly or Nathan. KNOCK IT OFF.”), anyway he lost me on day one when he refused to answer the question of a socially awkward teenager dragged there by his mother.

Deep Swami Guy said he wore orange as a symbol of him “burning up the karma.” The kid asked “What does that mean?”

Pretty relevant, I’d say.

But Swami Dude didn’t answer his question. He laughed and said “Well that’s a big question. There are whole classes just on that concept.” And with an air of “sucks to be you, small human” he moved on.

NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE. If you can’t explain something in a few simple sentences, YOU DON’T ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT. If you can’t put into layman’s terms your vast spiritual truths, you don’t understand them. Period. Game over.

And sorry dude, you don’t get to dismiss Super Annoying Teenage Gamer Kid in the front row because his questions aren’t feeding your ego appropriately. Of course he’s super awkward and annoying, but you’re supposed to be seeing his buddha nature, aren’t ya?


And the lectures on “prana” and how we should eat and “transform compassion” in all this esoteric bullshit nonsense. So much theory. So much in-the-clouds bullshit. Big concepts and big words and “deep philosophical truths” and “profound spiritual insights” are used for one purpose: To mask the fact that we have no idea what the fuck is actually happening.

In other words, Swami dude, you’re just as captured in the ego structure as I am. You’re convincing yourself you’re “deep” and “spiritual” because you’ve learned a bunch of scriptures and chant and live in an ashram and shit, but real teachers aren’t pretentious, and they don’t spout deep thoughts all the time. They’re on the ground, right here with me and you and all the other Groupon humans, and when they talk you know they’re speaking truth because it is you in the deepest part of you, not just some fancy idea that sounds good but has no practical application.

We feel more human in the presence of these teachers. Not less.

Oh, but how these earnest, lovely imposters helped me.

God damn it they gave me everything I needed.


In the late afternoon of day 2, after sitting through 2 more hours of esoteric posturing, I packed up my shit and left. I drove to a hotel in Sacramento, ordered some Thai food and went to bed at 8:22pm, alone. I slept TWELVE SOLID HOURS. Twelve, people.

I walked out of that place because I realized two things: 1.) I need some privacy and sleep; and 2.) Nothing will “fix” me.

There is no escape from reality. There is no silver bullet and there is no “fix.” No ashram, no teacher, no guru, no wilderness and no words. No change in my life circumstances.

My problem is not my life. My problem is that I’m battling my life, refusing to accept it as it is. Some things have happened recently that have deeply hurt and tweaked my family. I cannot change the past. My husband is working out of town and I’m struggling with the weight of these kids, work, and my powerlessness to change any of it right now.

But I refused to accept these things.

Instead, I was kicking and screaming and thrashing against it. Fighting it. But I can’t win this fight. Life is. Reality is. I can work with it or die from insanity trying to beat it. I was on the path to the latter.

It isn’t about loving it. It isn’t about even liking it. Accepting reality is about freedom, a little serenity, and effectiveness.

One of my greatest teachers told me: “If you’re in the living room and you want to be in the kitchen, first you have to realize you’re in the fucking living room. Otherwise you’ll never know to get up and walk into the kitchen.”

You see, simple? I have to accept the truth of my life as it is RIGHT NOW before I’ll understand how to effectively move in new directions. I was stuck and dying and wasting time knee-deep in futility. It looked like resentment, anger, self-pity and fear.

So thank you, out-of-touch swami and swami wannabees with your flowing linen pants and serene smiles, for being just like me: Broken, kinda pathetic, judging too harshly, working like hell to get someplace new, oblivious to the fact that we’re already there, and everything we need is right here already.

(But please, stop being a dick. Nobody likes enlightened dicks.)

I’m headed back to the ashram of my insane family.

Tomorrow my husband leaves again.

I’ll miss him like crazy, and in a week be back to mind-numbing exhaustion, but I think I’ll start meditating again, and it appears I can sorta do yoga, and that’s some healthy shit. Healthy shit is good.

And goddamn that weeping willow taught me a few thousand things. And the king-sized bed with the clean white sheets, thank you. You just told me everything I needed to know.

Nice to be back where I can listen again. Nice to have a few minutes to write to you. Nice to be alive.

Om Shanti, motherfuckers.


Swami one, two, three and four.

Swami one, two, three and four.

58 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | March 15, 2015

Fuck the lie that we can have it all

by renegademama

My husband was called to work out of town and I’m fucking pissed. Sometimes I resent the shit out of this motherhood gig, the way it goes down for me.

Yeah, I said it. Sometimes I don’t want to be the one on whom the KIDS ALWAYS FALL. Sometimes I don’t want to be the one “with the flexible career” who picks up the slack when my main-life-partner has to build shit in another town. (Hey internet incapable of nuanced thought: I’m not talking about all mothers. JUST ME.)

Sometimes I don’t find this fulfilling and I want a few (hundred?) things to be about me and I wonder what exactly I was thinking when I was all “Yeah totally let’s have LOTS O’ CHILDREN!”

(But then again I don’t really wonder because yesterday I watched my beautiful first kid push my FullSizeRender-4squishy last kid in the little wooden horse swing and I felt the pull of their love as if it were its own special force field.)

Sometimes I don’t want to be the one nursing the baby, though I don’t want to formula feed, either. And sometimes I loathe being the one who gets up in the night because I can “take a nap” if it really gets tough (AS IF THAT NAP EVER HAPPENS), but I like being here for my baby and when the kids get home, and it means something to me to work in that damn co-op preschool. I’m so here for the little angel terrorists.

But you know what?


My career has been central in our past. And it was his career that allowed me to go to graduate school, and if one single douchebag on the internet attempts to talk shit about my husband or bring up some second-wave feminist bullshit they learned in Gender Studies 101 back in 1989 about “women getting out of the home” and “shared partnership” or whatever the fuck you gleaned from your Gloria Steinham-worshipping instructor, well, I don’t know what. I won’t approve your comment and I’ll visualize shoving The Feminine Mystique up your misguided judgmental ass.

Kidding. I’ll totally approve your comment. But the ass-book visualization is true.

I don’t care what you learned in class or believed back in 1973: THIS SHIT AIN’T FIXED and some of us still find ourselves unable to find the glorious holy grail of the work-life balance, “have it all” goodness allegedly bestowed upon us by our crazed bra-burning predecessors.

That’s because it doesn’t exist and we were sold a lie.


I bought it. Hook line and motherfucking sinker. But that’s not my problem. My problem is I have 4 kids.

Is that my problem? Does it really matter? Little late now.

At any rate, I’m sure if I made better life choices I would find myself in more amicable life conditions where I could be Janelle Hanchett, Wildly Successful Writer and Top-Notch Mother, but instead last night I screamed at my toddler for flailing one more time in her chair at dinner because I’m so tired my face burns and I’m sick and bitter about my life being placed on hold because my husband has to work out of town, and I’m pissed off that we can’t survive on one income alone but I don’t make enough to justify working out of the home (um, childcare for 4 anyone, anyone, Bueller?), and I want to write a screenplay with a badass filmmaker who wants to work with me and there’s a draft of a book saved in MS Word so neatly and hopefully but starving for hours of merciless revision, and an agent who asked for a proposal (but was abandoned by me approximately 18 months ago), but the mortgage. It needs to be paid in a week.

Fuck it. I want to give up. I won’t.

But I want to, today.

Arlo also feels wildly put-upon.

Arlo also feels wildly put-upon.

How much self-pity can fit in one belly, I ask you? (I’m doing an experiment and I tell you it’s A LOT.)

I worked out of the home for a long time when I had fewer kids and it was worth it financially. That was one of the biggest crocks of shit ever. All the work of the week was just moved to the weekends and I just found myself stuck OUT THERE when I wanted to be IN HERE and if a kid got sick by god I was screwed and leaving a 4-month-old was like wrenching my guts out of my soul (drama?) and then I just sucked at work AND at home and found myself getting older on a rat wheel in a shit home in a shit area where the schools sucked and had no resources to help my dyslexic son. So we moved to a better area, where life costs more.

Oh the tangled web.


Which reminds me, can we please stop making these issues about MORALITY/right-and-wrong when it’s really about ECONOMICS? Can we please stop bashing women in and out of the home as if we all wake up one day and say “You know what? I’m just going to DECIDE to work or stay at home!”

Most of us are here or there because we are responding to the ever-evolving circumstances of our lives, and sometimes those circumstances are clear and good and neat (you know, for a week or month or two) and sometimes they RELEGATE US TO ONE ARENA OR THE OTHER WHETHER OR NOT WE WANT TO BE THERE.

Fuck the lie that we can have it all.

I get a little here and a little there and some success here and there and a baby, one two three kids. It’s my fault.

I made this bed. I’m restlessly not sleeping in it.

I nurse my baby at 3pm and play with him and want to burn his fuzzy chicken feather head into my mind forever, I love him so. I watch my husband roll out in the morning and he’s gone to work. I feel slightly resentful that he goes up and away, alone. Maybe I would give anything for a workday alone.

I'm home to get this, and give this, and that's a big fucking deal.

I’m home to get this, and give this, and that’s a big fucking deal.

Then I remember that sucked too.

I’d rather be here.

I’d rather be there.

I’d rather be both. I am both. I “work from home!”

I hate both.

I try, I fail. I’m going to make it to kindergarten info night this year. I found a babysitter for a couple days a week so I can write. When she’s sick I am wordless. I stay up until midnight staring at a blank page. No matter, because there’s the baby again. Nobody’s explained to him that sleep is possible without a nipple in the mouth.

They tell me to sleep train. It feels wrong. They tell me I can do anything. They tell me I’m enough. They tell me I can have it all but it seems they’re just saying DO IT ALL.

Some tell me I had too many kids. I tell them “NO FUCKING KIDDING ASSHOLE.”

But I would have 3 more if I could.

I can’t find my way sometimes, wedged here in this half-in half-out workplace, neither fully stay-at-home nor fully “working mother.”

I can’t find my way in and I can’t find my way out so I just keep moving here, and there, to preschool, to the doctor’s office, to the classroom where I teach, to my baby’s petal lips and dimpled fists, to the most beautiful lie I’ve ever bought.


They say I’ll look back and love these times. I could punch them in the throat, if I could only find them. If I weren’t too tired to search. If I weren’t too busy looking for my other fucking shoe.

In a few hours my kids will be home and I’ll make them dinner, teach them manners at the dinner table and ask about their day. We’re out of Cheerios and lunchmeat. I want to write fiction. That’s my next frontier.

I have 2,000 stories to tell but I’m living one I can’t contain, can’t write, can’t hold and can’t understand.

I have it all, except that. I have it all, except an answer. Tomorrow I’ll figure out there isn’t one, and become okay right there.

Or, I guess, I’ll become okay right here.

To the losers who haven’t sleep trained their babies

by renegademama

We all know an infant “sleeping through the night” is the holy grail of parenthood about 12 of us have actually accomplished but all of us are somehow expected to make happen, but hey. Who the fuck is counting?

And we all know that if your baby is not “sleeping through the night” one of two things is happening:

  • Your baby is an asshole. No wait. That’s not right. She’s a “bad baby.” Bad babies don’t sleep through the night. GOOD babies do. (Knowing this, sometimes when my baby wakes up at 3am, I hold him close and look him dead in the eyes and say “Arlo, STOP BEING A BAD BABY. Don’t you want to be good? Good babies don’t demand the boob at 1am 2am 3am and 5am. They are GOOD in that they comprehend the sleep needs of their parents, at 8 months.” Strangely, he just looks at me like “Why is there no nipple in my mouth, loser?”
  • YOU are an asshole. That’s right. Stop complaining. You’re having sleep problems because you haven’t SLEEP TRAINED your baby. Get a grip, douche.

So basically if your baby is not the problem you are the problem. Simple.

Oh just knock it off. I’m not trying to make an argument about sleep training or not sleep training. Well, yes, I absolutely think you are a dick for letting your 3-month-old scream uncontrollably until he vomits on himself and then on the 3rd day he gives up and you’re all “SUCCESS!” and tell all your friends about it on Facebook. Sorry, but that’s some fucked-up shit. On the other hand, if it keeps you from driving yourself off a cliff, do what you do. Whatever. Perspective.

But most people don’t do that. And there are many variations of “sleep training” and most of them are pretty civil, from what I hear, having never actually successfully “sleep trained” anything in my entire life.

The only one to not sleep with us and nurse pretty much all night was Georgia, who actually screamed “Thank GOD I’m FINALLY FREE!” when we put her in a crib at 3-4 months. But she’s George. She needs no human.

beautiful baby

George in her crib like a motherfucking boss


My friend said she got her 9-month-old to sleep half the night in the crib (I only want a few hours, folks, JUST A FEW) by going away for 2 days and having her husband give the baby a bottle and then back in the crib, with some limited crying. Next month I’m going to a beginners’ yoga retreat (THEY PROMISE ME FAT PEOPLE CAN DO YOGA) at an ashram in the Sierra Nevada (I can’t make this shit up), so our plan is for Mac to attempt the same.

My expectations of this working are hovering around 5. Percent. As in, 5% likelihood of success.

Why? I don’t know why. Because we suck. Because we’re subpar humans. Because we’ve just never done it. Because the crying makes my soul hurt. Because maybe I have defective children. Because I DON’T KNOW WHY.

Because a good portion of my life feels like a constant state of “winging-it” while the rest of the world appears all in control, planned out and solid, while I’m over here flailing in “WTF is happening” land and wondering how I could get my hands on some of the Kool-Aid they’ve evidently consumed.

Actually, maybe not.

But I know I’m not the only one, and so, this post if for you, losers who have never successfully sleep trained their children. Or really, anybody who has kids who aren’t “sleeping through the night.”


I get you.


Does your head hurt every single day when your eyes open? Me too. Sometimes my cheekbones ache. I didn’t even know that was a thing until this most recent one came along.

Usually my eyes open and I think to myself “Oh god no,” which is not exactly a “fresh start” to my morning but we do what we can. The prospect of copious amounts of coffee and having no choice whatsoever in the matter are the only two things dragging me out of bed. I rely on the bright screen of my phone and the utter cuteness of my baby babbling next to me to remind me that dying is not the way to go here.


georgia and rocket

well, she came in our bed sometimes…

And I understand the weight. On the shoulders and forehead and back. It hurts almost all the time. I want to get to the gym but I can’t. Well, I can, but it’s so much. If I ate better I’d feel better. Why the simple carbs when I’m tired? Why the sugar? Next month I’m going to an ashram where I will be whipped into shape faster than you can say “loose-fitting hemp pants.”

I imagine I’ll come back a yogi.


Sometimes I put the milk in the cupboard, and sometimes I get really, really angry at my kids over really, really stupid shit and as it’s happening I realize I am actually nearing the delusional insane/profound irritability state of sleep deprivation and I think to myself “JANELLE YOU MUST SLEEP TRAIN. DO SOMETHING!”

But when 10pm rolls around I just collapse again into bed, with my baby at my side, because sleep, now. I guess. I don’t know if I could do this if I had to work outside the home. What did I do before? I can’t recall.

BTW: Why do we get on each other’s cases for sleep training/not sleep training when the real thing we should be fucking enraged insane livid pissed about is that WE HAVE NO FUCKING PAID MATERNITY LEAVE in this country?

And then there’s the weekends. If my husband’s home, he takes the baby in the morning and I feel 40-60% human again.

And I get that sometimes the whole house is asleep and you’re awake and then you’re sure you really have lost it because what are you doing awake? But the quiet.

And I get that sometimes you hand your baby to your partner and say “I need 20 minutes without a human touching me, looking at me, actually, near me at all.”

And, if your partner works and you stay home (and therefore the nighttime parenting usually falls on you), I get wanting to bludgeon the motherfucker (lovingly, of course, and just a LITTLE) with something that will hurt but not kill because just look at him over there snoring (the partner, not the baby).


It doesn’t all suck

And I get that none of that is all there is, and there’s the cuddles and laughing and baby snores and fists and the smell of them after the bath as they tuck up against you, and the kiss you give his head anyway, 3 or 9 or 12 times a night as you do that grab-and-roll thing to nurse on the other side, and the softness of the breath, the cheeks and neck. I know there’s a gratefulness that you can be there, even as you’re hating it, and the oldest one will be 18 in 5 years.

There is always that, too, or maybe that’s only because I’ve been doing this for 13 years, and it feels like 9 days, and one of them is going to go soon. I’m not saying I know more than you. I think it’s pretty clear I don’t. And I remember when all I felt was resentment. Love, but resentment. Because it couldn’t possibly be this hard, and yet it was. And I couldn’t see through or out because I had never gotten through or out but now I have a kid who doesn’t need me at all at night, and sleeps in a space all her own, and with her, I’m through, and out, and can’t even recall.


So now, now I’m not angry. I’m just tired. Well, sometimes I’m angry.

And I still haven’t figured it out.

And maybe you haven’t either.

So I wanted you to know. You’re not the only loser. And when I come back a yogi, I’ll tell you everything about how to fix all your shit, because I know, I know it’s right around the corner.

The same. The tired.

The end.

It’s all right there. Or here, actually.

Right here on my fucking chest.


Arlo is relieved that I’ve finally been successfully sleep trained.


A handy guide to pleasing a 4-year-old

by renegademama

When Georgia found out Arlo got to write directions for how to please him, she decided she wanted in on the action.


Dear Mom,

When I wake up in the morning, I need you to be ready to party. Right now. As I enjoy it. I like partying. I like furniture jumping, yelling and being naked. Basically I’m you when you were 20.

I need you to make me pancakes. I like pancakes. I only like eating things I like.

Stop talking about protein. I don’t give a shit about protein. What I give a shit about is pancakes on my plate.

If you put something on my plate that I’m not sure I like, I will tell you I don’t like it and do pretty much everything other than try it. If you play a super stupid game with me I may try it. Yeah, I’ll try it, but I might spit it out. But you can’t get mad at me because you said I just needed to “try one bite.” At some point you’ll give up because I’m so fucking annoying at the table nobody can stand me.

Don’t hate yourself. I’m just better at this. I’m actually having fun.

That’s your downfall. You don’t think this is fun.

I think this is fun. That’s why I always win.

Speaking of food, I like fruit, so please mostly or always just feed me fruit. Sometimes I like chicken but I don’t like any other meat that isn’t chicken so just call all meat-like substances chicken and you’ll have a better chance of me eating it.

Chance. I said “Chance.” Calm down.

I like to do everything myself always unless I need your help. If you try to help me when I don’t want it I’ll throw a temper tantrum because I hate feeling belittled, but if you don’t help me immediately when I need help I’ll cry really, really hard because obviously you’re never there when I need you and I’m pretty sure nobody has ever loved me ever and I am a forsaken, lost child alone in a cold dark world.

I’m a complex, mercurial human you can only hope to understand.

I like doing chores that I like doing, which you’ll recognize because they’re MY idea, and I like getting dressed when I want to get dressed but if you want me to clean up a mess I made or get dressed when I don’t feel like it I just won’t do it. Ever. I’ll sit down. I’ll turn around. I’ll walk backwards. I’ll do a thousand things but I won’t do that. Why do you bother convincing me? We can do this all day.

I like swinging.

I like swinging.

Basically I like doing things that I like. I like the park. I like swinging, and I like running. Because they’re fun.

You know what’s not fun? Naps. I fucking hate naps.

Naps are for assholes.

But if I don’t get a nap I’ll act possessed by insane demon spawn by 3pm. Not napping actually makes me more wild and unpredictable, and really quite miserable in general, but since I hate naps you need to figure something else out, maybe drive somewhere 30-40 minutes away around 1 or 2 or 3pm. Maybe I’ll sleep then. Give it a shot. But if you have somewhere to be and you’re relying on me napping in the car so I’m not demon spawn, I definitely won’t nap.

That’s for damn sure.

Why are you crying? I love you.

I’d love you more though if you’d stop letting me down. If you tell me we can do something and then we can’t, I’ll remember it around bed time and hold it against you. You know, like if you tell me I get a bath but then I don’t get a bath for some reason I’ll throw my head back and wail so you’ll wonder if perhaps I have been seriously injured, physically, but actually it’s just my heart suffering under the weight of your bullshit.

Also that one time you told me I could have a playdate with my boy T but then you cancelled because I had the flu? We need to talk about that. Now.

If you’d stop letting me down I wouldn’t have to act this way right before bed, when I’m tired and worn out because I didn’t take a nap, because naps are for assholes.

You also bother me when you fail to adhere to the random incoherent patternless rules I invent, including, but not limited to: 1.) Which days are doughnut days; 2.) Who pushes the elevator button; and 3.) Who gets the blue cup.

I fucking hate the blue cup.

We’ve been over this. I feel I’ve been pretty clear on my cup-color needs.

Let’s go have fun. Can we go the park? You promised yesterday.

It was sure cute when you tried to establish the “talk it over chair” thing in our house because you saw it in the preschool and thought it might work here. You’re so cute.

Nothing you see or read will actually work in real life.

I’m glad I’m here to help you.

Want to take a picture of me? I feel like smiling unnaturally.

smiling unnaturally

smiling unnaturally

Are you in a hurry? That’s weird. I suddenly can’t move my body.

We’re going somewhere? I need to hide under my bed.

Is it raining and muddy? Awesome! This is the first time I’ve ever wanted to wear that expensive white tank dress you got me last Easter.


Let’s go snuggle.

And then, after that, I can tell you the next way you can please me.

Later, I’ll give you a big ass grin and say something hilarious, or I’ll do something that makes me seem big and growing too fast and you’ll say “Hey kid, get over here and hug me!”

And I’ll say “Sorry, mama, I gave all my hugs and kisses to daddy and his hurt hand.”

And you’ll die.

Don’t die. I need you.

At least I think I do. Sometimes. Sometimes I need you.

The rest of the time I’m wondering what in the hell you’re still doing here.

It’s cool though. We’re friends. I’m 4. I’ll be 5 in August. Then I’ll go to kindergarten. Why are you crying, mom? Why do you look at me like I’m your favorite tiny insane roommate and couldn’t take a breath without me?

It’s alright, mama, I love you too.

Wait. Is that the fucking blue cup again?

Peace out,

The 4-year-old



(Hey! There are 5 spots left in my writing workshop that begins next month. Get with it. Get on it.

Fuck your damn blue cup. Wait. Sorry.)