Posts Filed Under cohabitating with a man.

Hey! Let’s stop telling women to have sex against their will! Sweet thanks!

by renegademama

I don’t have a problem letting the internet know I drank Ancient Age whiskey alone in my Ford Taurus for two show-stopping years, but talking about sex makes me feel weird.

Leave me alone I was raised Mormon.

But it must be done. Take this is a sign as my love for you.

The first time I heard it (what I’m about to say, not sex) I thought I had entered some anomalous reality where women forgot it’s not 1953. “Or,” I thought, “Maybe they were dosed by their Mormon grandmothers.”

THAT WAS A JOKE. Mormon grandmothers do not dose children.

Or they’re super religious themselves. Like this guy, who explains (complete with scriptural “evidence,”) all the things a “Christian man” should do to his wife (call her out in front of people, stop taking her out, deny her finances – basically abuse her psychologically) if she fails to perform her godly wifely sex duty.

One can only hope a beaver mistakes his penis for a log and has at it.

Small log?


But it appears my assumptions were wrong. Turns out there are actual, non-dosed, non-religious-zealots out there who think a woman should provide sex whenever her husband wants it because it’s her duty as a wife and if she doesn’t do it he’ll start boning his doctor. (See how I didn’t say “secretary?” Overturning gender stereotypes at every turn!)

Thus, in the interest of a lasting marriage, the Traveling Vagina must be open for business at all times, should the Brave Penis come a’knockin’. So many puns, so little time.

Recently heard a woman tell a room full of other women that wives should “suck it up for 15 minutes” and “get it over with” because it “ain’t that bad” and “he needs it.”


Call me old-fashioned, but I’m pretty sure we should not be telling women what to do with their bodies or casting them in the undisputed service of other bodies because those other bodies are more important than theirs.

That is, perhaps, not the finest sentence I’ve written. But I digress, because I’m nervous.

I’m pretty sure a woman’s body IS HER OWN and if she doesn’t want a penis in it, SHE SHOULD NOT HAVE A PENIS IN IT, even if it ruins somebody’s day.

What the hell is wrong with people?

I’m trying to like you, humans, but you make it so hard. (See what I did there?)


Dear teenaged girls: This is your body. You own it. It’s yours. You have total and complete agency over what happens to it. UNTIL YOU’RE MARRIED AT WHICH CASE YOU LOSE ALL RIGHTS HEREIN BECAUSE YOUR HUSBAND’S DICK IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOU.

 Look, I’m married with four kids *edging toward that uncomfortable feeling*. I know every time a married couple has sex it’s not hanging-from-the-sex-swing exciting. We’re old. We’re tired. I know there are times when one partner or the other isn’t super into it but we’re like “alright cool let’s do this” because it’s cool. Let’s do this. We love each other.

But that is the exception, not the rule, and it’s certainly not out of a sense of threat, obligation, or duty. It’s out of a place of “Well I’m not SUPER into it but I’m not NOT into it either.” The way these people depict it, it doesn’t matter if you have zero interest and the idea of sex sounds as appealing as a root canal without anesthetic, you do it because he wants it. Full stop.

Yes, that’s right. You submit to him no matter what. Whenever however forever.

I’ll be damned (and in the eyes of some, that’s in the bag) if the only factor in the do we or do we not have sex question is “Does the male want it?” And the woman’s job is to “suck it up” because she’s been told her marriage is at risk if his rocks aren’t blowin’ off enough times a week.

He was 15 once. HE’LL BE FINE.


It is a lie that men will die without sex. It is a lie that they can’t control themselves. It is a lie that they are hapless victims of penile drive and just can’t help it because biology. Until they prove that unused semen travels to the brain and starts consuming life-giving tissue at an alarming rate, you won’t convince me that a dude can’t just take a visit to the shower on occasion.

Not only is it a lie, it’s the root of rape culture. It reinforces “Well, she was drunk. There was an unprotected vagina just lying there! What’s a boy to do?” mentality, which perpetuates and justifies rape, placing the woman’s body under ownership of the man while reducing his conscious act of violence to “an uncontrollable urge.”

This is why nobody likes you, humans.

Maybe, instead of telling women it is their duty to provide physical gratification to their partner no matter how they feel about it, we suggest that couples ask themselves and each other what the problem is if one person is routinely not interested in sex.

I’m no genius but I think if a husband or wife loses interest in sex, there may be a problem that needs to be addressed in the marriage. 

Go ahead. Hire me for a life coach. I charge a lot though. We can talk about everything except sex because sex talk makes me uncomfortable.


Why don’t we try to get to the root of the problem rather than look at it as merely some deficiency on the part of the human in question? I don’t know. Maybe get some counseling. Maybe there is something emotionally lacking. Maybe depression. Maybe one of the people sucks in bed (obviously not in a good way). I feel weird.

I don’t fucking know. I know approximately four things about marriage, and three of them are questionable. One of them though is for sure that the solution to sex problems is NOT “have sex against your will.”

Grow up, people. Women want to get laid. Men want to get laid. Some men want it more than some women and some women want it more than some men, whatever, but I don’t see too many essays telling men that it is their job to meet the sexual needs of their wives at all times whether or not they feel like it.

So don’t fucking tell me this isn’t rooted in patriarchy and the assumption that women don’t have sexual needs but rather a whole bunch of fee fees. FEELINGS. Women are overly emotional, illogical creatures. Men need sex. Women need heart-to-heart talks while sipping chamomile and watching their tiny special snowflakes play in the sand. Duh.


But wait. If that’s true, and we’re all about equality, then there should be lots and lots of literature, articles and religions and “godly leaders,” telling men that if they don’t cater to their wives’ every emotion they aren’t doing their duty as a husband and she’s gonna run off to bone her secretary because he’s cute. AND CARES ABOUT HER FEELINGS.

Right? Where is that stuff? Oh that’s right it doesn’t exist.

Because women are looked down upon for this alleged/invented/bullshit “irrational, emotional” nature. Men don’t need to cater to it because it’s a weakness. A fault. A shameful sad thing that makes us unfit for politics, capitalism, and STEM. But virility, oh, manliness, oh, the mighty dick, that is a “need” and if it’s not satisfied, obviously you have to go bone your favorite computer engineer.

Newsflash: I am for sure irrational, emotional, and sensitive. Just like my husband. I am also fiercely intellectual, logical, and insensitive. Just like my husband.

Why? Because that’s how brains work, asshole.

ALL OF THEM. All the brains. Penis or vagina downstairs. No matter.

Okay. Pull it together, Janelle.


So let’s break this down. Here’s what society tells women about marriage. (I just want the young girls to have something to look forward to):

Ladies, you have profound emotional needs but men don’t need to meet them because they’re a sign of your flawed brain. We value reason and logic in this country. Act like an American! If you go out and find a man to be with because your emotional needs aren’t being met, you are a lying whore and family-ruiner.

Men have profound sex needs and you must meet them because you have a vagina and they want it. If you don’t give them that vagina, they will have no choice but to run out and find another vagina. This will be your fault because you locked away what’s theirs. Way to be a family-ruiner.


You know what? If a person is a cheater (I’m assuming we’re into the whole monogamy thing here) – man or woman – they’re a fucking cheater and no amount of listless sex is going to save that. And if a person is devoted to you and your marriage they’re going to invest in some quality shower time and ask you WHY you don’t want to have sex rather than finding the nearest willing human to cheat on you with.

So please, please stop thinking of people in isolated cells of definition: “Men will die without daily sex.” “Women will die without daily heartfelt sensitivity.” We all need sex. We all need sensitivity. We have got to let go of these rigid and arbitrary definitions that frame women as swooning feelers and men as walking virility, constructing whole societies recasting natural gendered variation as twisted, wrong, and defective.

Our problems reflect our individuality, our humanity. The solutions must reflect that too.

Anything short of that is a discredit to us all.

Wanted to close with something about “blue balls” but couldn’t quite fit it in.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Twigs. Beavers. Logs. Leave me alone.


hey look two married people. (no idea what photo to use)



I know you’ve got something to say. You just have to figure out how and where and when to say it.

Write with me in January. We’re all afraid to say what we need to say.

But we can learn together to do it anyway. 


49 Comments | Posted in cohabitating with a man. | November 17, 2015

There’s a deer hide in my garage, and I’m done caring

by renegademama

The other day, when I arrived home after doing something amazing (because I was alone, so whatever it was, it was amazing), Georgia yells “Hey mama! Look what we have in the backyard!”

I look out the window and see two puppies out there, just chillin’, as if they were home.

“Um, why do we have puppies in our backyard, dearest honey pot?”

I receive only a slightly nervous smile from the “dearest honey pot” (dripping in sarcasm) in question.

“Can we keep ‘em? Can we keep ‘em? CAN WE CAN WE CAN WE?” The kids are like straight out of a movie.

Uh, nope.

They were abandoned at Mac’s parents’ ranch. He brought them to our house knowing they would probably have to go elsewhere, but I’ve been with the man almost 15 years. I know that look in his eye. If he had his way, we would currently have 3 dogs of questionable intelligence instead of one.

And I would be training them.

Later, I check the mail and open a package of tiny compasses and other tiny gadgets I don’t understand. That’s because Mac and Rocket and are making tiny survival kits that fit in Altoid containers. Obviously.

There are approximately one-thousand-three-hundred and forty-seven empty Altoid containers in my house.

I hate empty Altoid containers.

In my garage, there was a bin with a deer hide in it, soaking in an unknown liquid, because Mac and the kids are “making moccasins.”

As in, from scratch.

There are 4 knives on my mantle because they made knives a few months ago out of saw blades. They still need to carve the handles. They will probably never carve the handles. Saw-blade-knives will probably stay on my mantle forever, because where the fuck does somebody put such a thing?

Yeah I don’t know either.

For 2-9 months there were long pieces of taped wood leaning against walls in various locations in the house and garage (including the bathroom) because Georgia found a rocking chair in a magazine that we couldn’t afford, so Mac is making it for her.

There’s a rabbit hutch and chicken coop in the backyard. I’m 90% sure nobody has cleaned beneath them since they arrived, a year ago.


These are not my projects. These are their projects, and I’m not going to lie, sometimes I hate them. It sounds so cool in theory, and it sounds so cool when I tell you about it, but honestly sometimes it just feels like one more thing, one more mess. One more Thing to Put Away, to deal with, to figure out, and I don’t have any reserves, you know? Like I feel already worn to the bone, and I can’t quite handle a wayward, random deer hide in our this-house-was-clearly-built-in-1948 garage.

They start a new “project” before the last one is done. I feel a vague sense of dread and rage.

They huddle together on the couch sitting on the arms and chest of their dad, watching YouTube videos on how to do the next project. They watch video after video.

I’m probably cooking dinner or doing some other thing I think needs to be done. I’m probably cleaning up or emailing or paying a bill or doing some other Thing that I think just must get done now. I’m doing something IMPORTANT. I’m obsessed with IMPORTANT SHIT.

Sometimes I get mad at Mac for the abandoned projects, the messes made and left for how long? HOW LONG? Who knows. They’re still there.

Then I get mad at myself for getting mad about things that don’t really matter (because it all eventually gets done or cleaned up), and sometimes I wonder how or when or at what point I became The One who feels compelled to be the mess cleaner as opposed to the mess maker. The project asshole as opposed to the project beginner.

This stuff he does, it’s so damn cool: The time with their dad, learning that they can DO THINGS if they just DO IT. Realizing they can have an idea, learn how to execute it, do some work and make it happen. It teaches them patience, endurance, how to get dirty and irritated and inconvenienced. They use their hands. They use their heads. They get creative and active and frustrated and satisfied.

I know all this. I know all of it with all that I am, but it doesn’t matter in the moment sometimes, when I’m 4 days down on sleep and I’m making dinner and thinking of all the things he and the kids “could” be doing and the mess that will be left and even though we clean on Saturdays and maybe Sundays and my husband helps ALL THE DAMN TIME, there’s always more.

There is always, always more.


You know, my life really started 6 years ago, when I got sober. Before that, I didn’t grow or develop or move through things, becoming a new and better person over the years (that’s how life is supposed to work, right?). I pretty much just drank and hoped for the best. Eventually, I didn’t hope for anything at all. I never “moved through” anything in my life. You can’t move through things if you don’t feel them, if you fall unconscious on your pillow each evening, if your reactions are purely self-centered narcissism rooted in attempts to control others in hopes it will fix you. And fear.

But since the day I woke up on March 5, 2009 and realized I was 100% wrong about every aspect of my life, my life has really just become a series of discovering new things I’ve been wrong about. I was always so determined to be right. Oh, shit I’d fight to the death to be right. But I learned through nearly dying of alcoholism that life is really about figuring out how I’m wrong. All the things I’ve been wrong about. One more thing I thought was true that is just not true.

That is where the freedom lies. That is where the growth comes. That is where we find better ways to live and be of service to others, ourselves, our families, our lives.

And I realized recently, due to a trauma to my family, that I’ve been wrong about the shit that I thought mattered. I was very, very wrong.


I’m done being the asshole who’s bitching about the messes. It matters. Yes, it matters, to clean up after one’s self, to treat your belongings with respect, to contribute to the house in a way that teaches you to be a decent human and member of the home, and community, and earth. WORK, matters.

But I’m done using every fucking spare moment to straighten, clean, pay, arrange, organize, text, email, accomplish necessary tasks. I’m done using every spare moment “engaged in a productive activity.” I’m done looking around this house and seeing only and all that’s wrong. When did I make that “my role?”

I’m fucking done.

Tan the deer hide, kids. Sure, start the damn fire with flint and steel. Good thing there’s 75 pinecones by the woodstove (George collected kindling). And yes, I’ll pick out the fabric for that rocking chair. Just stick it on the end of the kitchen table. We’ll push it aside at dinner. Again. And sew it in a month or two.

I still won’t say “yes” to a couple more dogs, and I’ll still care about chores and work, but I’ll get on the floor for a few minutes with my kids, even though there’s 9 days of laundry in the living room, and I’ll forget about the fucking laundry in the living room, because I can, because I CAN.

I’ll still get irritated, and I’ll still make people clean, and I’ll still bitch and moan. SOMEBODY HAS TO BE A FUCKING GROWN-UP HERE PEOPLE. See? Oops.

Yeah, I’ll leave the perfection to those deeply spiritual Zen mamas (that allegedly exist). But I’m done focusing on the work, the mess, the “problem” so acutely that I fail to see the meaning of what’s happening, the life right here in front of me.

I threw the ball with George for 10 minutes in the front yard. I tell you people she damn near fell over from the shock.

Baby steps.

Because you know, these kids are HERE, NOW, and they’re safe, and they’re mine, and it isn’t about “embrace every moment” (impossible), or some “some day you’ll look back and remember the deer hide fondly” theory. Maybe I will or maybe I won’t. It’s about the fact that I realized recently that the joy, life, innocence and cohesion of this very family right here is sacred, and it’s always already at risk, and there’s a whole world out there of pain, threat, tragedy and beauty, all of which will come my way, and theirs, so each fucking chance we have to make Altoid-container-survival-kits is a chance to live, together, in all this mess.

And really, in the end, I don’t have much else.


"What? We're making moccasins." (cutting the fat off the hide)

“What? We’re making moccasins.” (cutting the fat off the hide)

Honest Valentine’s, For Married People (Vol. III)

by renegademama

Alright at this point it’s just a tradition. Happy Valentine’s Day, lovebirds…


The other day, while scowling at the absurdity of one of those feel-good chocolate hearts and roses Valentine’s ads, I placed my pointer finger against my face in the classic thinking posture and asked myself… “Hmmmm…what would an honest Valentine’s Day card say?”

And then, as this thought rolled around in my [acutely insane] brain, I realized that this is no simple question, but rather depends entirely on how long the couple has been together.

Because as you probably know…that shit CHANGES. (Relationships, that is. Men, not so much.)

So this small, profound monologue got me thinking about the fact that there are (in my opinion) three stages in a relationship/marriage, each of them obviously necessitating a different Valentine, were it to be honest and real and able to speak the truth of the insanity. Err, I mean “budding love story.”

Wow. Deep.

Anyhoo, I give you this. I ask that you please enjoy the clip art.

Stage 1

Years 0-2: The “I haven’t Been With You Long Enough to Realize How Much You Annoy Me” stage, comprised of long walks and hand-holding, starry-eyed dinners, cocktails, discussions, movie-watching, reasonable arguments, cuddling and pet names. Also, smug looks directed at women who are in Stages 2 and 3 with their men, and a distinct feeling of superiority, having obviously been deemed the first woman in history to not wonder if she could turn herself into a lesbian to avoid further intimacy with the male population. Also, women in this stage rest easy in the comfort and surety that they will never, ever want to pummel their little love kitten with a meat cleaver. Because he’s PERFECT. Duh.

A Stage 1 Valentine looks something like one of these:




And now…

Stage 2, Years 2-5: The “Holy Shit I had no Idea You Had These Sorts of Habits” Stage, also known as the “I Must Mold You Into Something More Like What I Had In Mind” Stage, characterized by a lot of discussions with girlfriends regarding the man’s deficiencies, as well as a decent amount of wonderment and awe as the female discovers The Male is not at all perfect (and may actually have some sort of disability, as evidenced by the fact that he can’t find stuff that’s 3 inches from his forehead and insists on passing gas in bed). This stage also involves the surfacing of all other incomprehensible tendencies, causing the female to realize she’s going have to fix this character if they’re ever going to make it. And therefore, she begins to WORK, which of course results in long, long, long discussions, unreasonable bickering, maybe therapy but for sure tears, cajoling, threatening, flailing and general malaise, and, most likely, the arrival of an infant or two.

Honest Valentines at this stage may look like this:




And then, if the couple in question makes it past Stage 2, they enter Stage 3 (years 6 – ?), commonly known as the “Well Obviously You are not Going to Change and I’m Tired of Fighting so I’ve Accepted you and your Weirdness” Stage. (Yes, these stages have awkwardly long titles. Not particularly catchy, I know. Don’t blame me. I didn’t make it up.) Oh wait.

As you can see, this is something of a deal-breaker stage – since it’s pretty much Stage 3 or Stage Bye-Bye. Stage 3 is characterized by a lot of glaring but less complaining, fewer divorce threats and a surface-level acceptance of small, irritating habits (such as buying odd gadgets that will never ever be used EVER, or eating onions before bed). It also involves some strange compromises (“Honey, if you pick up your bath towel from the floor every day, I’ll start squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom.”) and subtle retaliation (as opposed to the long, long, long discussions in stage 2 (or therapy)). On the plus side, this Stage results in a weird peace and vague sense of serenity and, occasionally, some intense relief  regarding the fact that you didn’t throw in the towel when things got rough (and therefore, thank god, you don’t have to deal with these hoodlum children alone). Women in this stage feel a little like badass survivors of some great calamity, like a tsunami, or fire. “We almost didn’t make it, kids. We really had to work HARD to make this marriage work. Ah, but look at us now…”

And we feel a little victorious. And yeah, alright, I’ll say it: A little in love.

Enough of the sappy crap.

Real valentines in this stage may look something like this:

val3a val3c


Sometimes people ask where I come up with this crap.

In response, I give you one word: LIFE.

As proof, I give you this…

My own real life Stage 3 Valentine (from last year, but not much has changed).



10 Comments | Posted in cohabitating with a man. | February 14, 2014

No really, what does love have to do with it?

by renegademama

I am officially tired of people talking about “love” as the glue that seals a marriage. You know, the “all you need is love” mentality. Like if you “love” each other enough, things will stay cool. If your “love” is strong enough you will end up together in 59 years, rocking in old oak chairs on the porch of the home where your family was raised.

This all sounds nice in theory, and it sure looks good in Meg Ryan movies, but there is one [rather enormous] problem with this approach: When your marriage is really, really in trouble – when it’s actually at risk of disintegrating – the last thing you fucking feel is “love.”

Profound irritation? Yes.

Rage? Probably.

Desperation? For sure.

Loathing? (Did I say that?)

Boredom, disillusion and a profound sense of regret? Good chance.

But love? Nah. That’s something you wish you could remember from those early days when it still seemed a possibility. It’s that elusive thing you think will fix your marriage, if you could only get a hold of the slippery little bastard.

You see it around every corner: Your annoying little sister and her new wife. The love songs. The movies. The Hallmark cards. Damn. The adoration is palpable. It’s so believable, so seductive. That feeling you had with your first love in high school – what if I could have that again? I deserve that! Why don’t I have that anymore?

You remember those first few months or year or two you spent with the person you married – that feeling of falling home in their arms – when “soul mate” made sense to you and “you complete me” actually resonated.

What the hell happened? What exactly is this pile of shit I’m living in now?

Damn. If you could just “fall in love again.” If you could just “rekindle the old spark.”

Find that lost love.

But while you ache for the love that’s gone, there’s this man (or woman), in the house, annoying the shit out of you. He’s like all human. Excessively flawed. It’s not hot. It’s not interesting. And it’s certainly not love-inducing. You’ve become the worst of yourself and you know it. You can’t communicate with this person. He’s a stranger you know everything about, so you’re not just irritated, you’re BORED. You walk around raw, in a state of isolation surrounded by your family. Falling into a pit of “I can’t believe this has become my life,” you sink deeper in the surety that you made a huge, terrible mistake.

I guess you never loved him. Or maybe he never loved you.

It feels that way to the depths of your bones. It becomes like air to you. You grieve, but eventually you’re done fighting and you grow numb. There’s a chance you don’t care anymore.  You just want peace. You just want things to change.

In that moment you make a choice: Stay or go. Drop the bastard like a bad habit or settle for a shit life with a subpar human.

And in my experience, “love” is not the determining factor of that decision.

Why? Because in that moment I can’t feel “love,” so how the hell can it help me?

How can something I can’t feel have any effect on my life? How can something that doesn’t exist guide my choices like some sort of shining beacon of hope?

That’s right. IT CAN’T.

My husband and I have had some dark times. We separated for two years once. I was sure we were done. He reached a point where he agreed.  And yet, on December 19 we celebrated 12 years of marriage. (Of course I’m using that term “celebrated” rather loosely. We were actually fighting all day and didn’t “make up” until it was too late to “celebrate,” but whatevs.)

You know what’s kept my marriage together? You know what’s kept us from pulling the plug permanently?


Just work. Sweat and blood and grime. Nasty, dirty WORK. The super ugly kind. The kind that covers you with black dust of unknown origin and clogs your nostrils and nearly stops your breath from exhaustion.

If that’s “romance,” well then shit, romance saved our marriage.1010675_10201533207475101_154869193_n

But it’s not. It’s not romance, not a rediscovery of sparks or whatever the fuck. Not a renewed commitment to love. Just work, fueled by a relentless, slightly irrational refusal to give up.

As in, I gritted my teeth, screamed “FUCK IT” into the universe and held on for dear life.


Because I could not stomach the alternative.

Another woman around my kids, co-parenting, the kids darting back and forth between houses the way I did when I was young, shared holidays, the fact that I would have to go through this same damn process with another man. SO yeah. That’s why I stayed. Isn’t that sweet?

No. It’s not sweet. It’s desperate. I couldn’t win. If I left, I faced a life I didn’t want. If I stayed, I faced a life I didn’t want.

And friends, I had some solid evidence for the “this whole thing was a mistake” theory. Most of you know this, but I’ll repeat anyway: My husband and I met in a drunken stupor at the ages of 19 (him) and 21 (me). I knew him for three months when I found out I was pregnant. We were both drunk for the majority of our three-month “courtship.” Though I was “sure: I “loved him” and there was something in him I had never seen before in a man, the truth is we were kids who married and had a kid. We “got to know each other” while engaging in the work of pregnancy and child-rearing. We had no business doing either. (Incidentally, I’m still shocked that baby has grown into a totally decent kid, which furthers my theory that parents have very little effect on the outcome, but I digress.)

After I had the baby, we moved into his parents’ house so I could stay home with her. We got married when she was one-month old, at the courthouse, on a cold December day. As if it were a sign, I wore all black. Ha! (No really I did.)


I’ll never forget the first time I realized without a doubt I had made the biggest mistake of my life. My baby was a day or two old. She had woken in the night and I got up with her. There was a rocking chair in our bedroom, facing a big window. I sat in that rocking chair and nursed my baby with aching nipples and fear. I looked back at the barely man sleeping behind me. I looked at my baby in the moonlight. I looked back at the man in the bed and I said to myself “You’ve ruined your life.” The words roared into my brain and planted themselves right at the center. They were true.

And I knew it.

But I also knew I was inextricably connected to both of these humans, for the duration, and I was terrified. I wanted out but there was no out. I had a life I was going to live, before. It’s gone now.

What had I done?

And that, my friends, serves as the foundation of my love story.

I realize not everybody has this experience. I realize some of you took your time and dated and shit and got married when you knew this was a human who could work with you as a domestic life partner (as opposed to having a kid and hoping for the best). Maybe you’re all swooning in love all the time and it’s always been smooth and good and loving. And you know what? Good for you. I mean it. I think that’s rad sauce. BUT I’M NOT TALKING TO YOU.

I’m talking to those of you who can’t see in and can’t see out. I’m talking to those of you who can’t find the love. And I’m talking to the people who have straight evidence (as I did) that they were stupid fucks and made a giant mistake.

So many people divorce because “they love him but they’re not ‘in love’ with him.”

Every time I hear that I want to respond: OF COURSE YOU’RE NOT. That’s what marriage is, dude: Loving somebody despite the fact that the “sparks” have gone. Committing to somebody beyond the initial “OMG let’s have sex in all the places.”

The “in love” period is a phase, the beginning phase of three-phase deal. That’s my theory, anyway.

Am I telling you to stay with your partner? God no.

Am I telling you not to divorce? Fuck no.

Photo by Tracy Teague

What the hell do I care what you do? I don’t know shit about marriage. I only know what happened to me, and it’s this: It was only after I settled, gave up, surrendered to a crap marriage with a man I knew I didn’t love that I fell into a love deeper than I ever knew possible.

It’s so backwards I can’t explain it. It makes no sense.

It was only after I threw up my arms and gave up fighting, figured “Well this is hell, but it’s your hell, Janelle, so get used to it” that I was, a year or two or three later, able to recognize that while I was busy hating my marriage and trying to “fix” the man I married, love had found its way between us and I stood across from a human who made my stomach flutter, a little, when he called. But not because of romance or newness or fresh flirtation, but because a life had been built beneath us – 13 years of struggle and work and joy and I was only 21 when we met. I’m 34 now. And there is so much meaning there. That’s the hottest shit there is.

I look at him and I see history. I see shit that matters. I see life and growth. And I’m grateful there’s been no cheating, or beating, or other absolute deal-breakers. And I’m grateful he’s been willing to work too, because it cannot be a one-sided mission. And I can’t believe he stayed with me, waited for me, a once worthless alcoholic, a woman who abandoned him and our kids and life. And I can’t believe he knew the moment to say “Kick rocks, bitch” and the strength of his soul and arms and heart complete me. Ha. Like a motherfucking soul mate.

No. Not like that.

Rather, like I see I’ve got a damn good deal with a fucking great man who I love with a depth beyond the surface, because of WHO HE IS and WHAT HE’S DONE in the time that I’ve been lucky enough to know him.

40382_1575895720353_4927693_nLove is not something that held us together.

Love is something that developed over the years that we were held together through bulldog like tenacity.

It sure as hell blindsided me, friends.

I guess because I had given up, I was able to see him for the man he is, not the projection of what I wanted him to be (cause that ain’t love, folks). Not the screen onto which I cast my expectations and needs, but rather a man who has stood by my side and built with me an insane gorgeous disastrous perfect life.

And I fucking love him for it.

And I want to get older with him, to see where it all goes.

And when our kids leave I’ll stand somewhere more wrinkly and kinda old and a little spent and I’ll look at him and remember 21 and 34 and 40 and 50 and he will be the constant, like a long lost beacon of hope – Ha! As if.

Nah, he’ll be what he is now: the one who’s committed to me as I’ve committed to him. The one who agreed to let go of the bullshit in light of that one single interest, in light of a life we’re building together, in light of this partnership. And what’s happened is that partnership has found its spot in the motherfucking cosmos – a little life of its own – and we flirt and laugh and hold hands again because it’s bigger than us, because it holds us up with a love we never knew was possible, a friendship that spans a decade and a connection that’s reborn in newborn breath and the squeals of our tween’s attitude and Santa Cruz and camping trips and each night when we crash into the same bed, over years, in pain and boredom and delight – and that alone is breathtaking.

It doesn’t always work. I know that. All I want to tell you is that there’s a chance it might.

Because that was something I never believed, until I saw it with my own eyes, and felt it with my own gut – the slippery little bastard that sits now like an old friend on a worn-out bedside table.

Stealing a kiss and taking a photo at the fair like a couple of goddamn newlyweds.


If you tilt your head to one side and squint, my yelling will look like “gratefulness”

by renegademama

I would just like to announce that I have officially lost control of my children.

I thought I lost control when child 3 entered the world, but I hadn’t.

I lost it Sunday. Or at least I realized it Sunday. It was confirmed today.

You see, child 3 has grown old enough to follow the directions of her older siblings, which brings the number of insane noise-makers with remarkably poor judgment to THREE.

You know how many there are of me? ONE.

So we’re driving home on Sunday in our big-ass SUV and all three kids are lined up in one seat (long story), and they start having “fun.” You know, “fun,” as in the silly crap kids do that I’m supposed to think is “cute” but really I just find annoying, which simultaneously makes me feel guilty and inadequate, because as a mother I’m supposed to bask in the antics of my little ones, RIGHT? So I’m irritated, guilt-ridden and questioning my capacity for mothering while wanting to stab myself in the face. Just another day in paradise.

More on that later.

So anyway they get bored and start making Georgia repeat some line from horrible show like 27,000 times, and they’re squealing and laughing and making noises that remind me of what I imagine a donkey on meth might sound like. It’s as if the noises are actually SCRATCHING MY BRAIN OUT. Like I can see it in shreds at my feet. A big pile of it.

Ok that was graphic, but you feel me, right?

I gently ask them to settle down. IGNORED.

I sternly ask them to settle down. They’re quiet for approximately 47 seconds.

They giggle and start up again.

I look over at Mac (I’m driving, of course. I’m always driving. It’s not my fault the man can’t drive properly.), and you know what he’s doing? SMILING.

I swear to you he’s giggling. AS IF IT’S CUTE.

His eyes mock my agony: “Aren’t they sweet?” they seem to say, “Aren’t you glad we have kids?”

No joke, this strange species of human thinks this crap is charming. I want to kill myself and he’s looking at me like “Let’s have another, please?”

And that, people, is why my kids will always, ALWAYS like their dad more than they like me. On the plus side, I figure he’ll balance out my generally poor attitude and short temper. I mean one patient parent is enough, right? You know, to raise well-adjusted children? Let’s talk about something else.

So clearly he’s no help. I’m in this alone.

I plug in my phone and turn up Macklemore really, really loud, hoping to drown out the sound of their death screams. I meant “playful songs.”

Doesn’t work. Just gets them louder.

I tell myself I’m a rock in a stream.

I follow my breath like Thich Nhat Hanh says I should.

I remind myself it’s just 20 more minutes to the house.

Then I yell. Loud.

“BE QUIET! I can’t take this anymore!! NO MORE TALKING! NOT ANOTHER SOUND! The next kid to scream is doing an hour of chores when we get home!”

That shit used to work. You know what happened this time? They made church straight-faces for about 12 seconds then burst into laughter when Georgia announced “I pedo” (I fart).

And that’s when I knew: I’ve yelled so much they don’t even hear me anymore. Well shit, that’s rad. My kids have become immune to me.  Parenting WIN!

I recalled reading somewhere once that if you yell at your kids too much eventually they stop acknowledging your yells. Apparently that’s true. Who knew? Guess I’ll have to start some more advanced parenting approaches, maybe like, um, well fuck. I don’t actually know any advanced parenting approaches.

Please don’t share any with me. I have a mental block against improving as a parent. Actually I just hate helpful parenting advice. We’ve been over that. I much rather prefer blowing it enough times I give up and try something new.

Don’t ever say I don’t have a system.

So I resign myself to the chaos. I give the whole situation a mental “fuck it” and turn on Kingsley Flood (my most recent band obsession) as loud as I want, and start singing.

Eventually I forget the demon spawn. Sort of.

As we drive along my mind drifts to the words I’ve heard so many times: “Why do you have children if you’re just going to complain about them?”  Having just done a large amount of mental complaining about my children, the sentiment was particularly poignant.

You chose to have kids. Deal with it.

As if deciding to do something in life negates the possibility that that thing might get hard at some point, and you’ll want to express that. As if pursuing a path results in nothing but infinite joy as you follow it through the years.

You made this bed, sleep in it. Don’t expect us to listen to you whine.

And I wonder if this sentiment is equally distributed among all professions, or if there is a special expectation reserved for mothers, a special spot carved out just for us: Because we’re “mothers,” we’re “nurturers,” right?

And nurturers don’t want to launch themselves out of a moving Expedition on account of the horrible noises being emitted by their offspring.

They love that shit. They match chaos with fortitude, serenity, perspective.

They had these kids because they just love it. All of it: the noise chaos squeals cackling kicking crying and bickering. Obviously.

[Or, they marry a dude who loves it hoping he’ll make up for their deficiencies. I jest. I had no idea he was like that. ]

Well, check this out, my friends. I’m going to say this loud and clear: I don’t love it all. I particularly don’t love feeling like I’ve lost control of my kids. Some people are going to read this and say “Well, if she were a better mother she wouldn’t be having these problems.”


But the fact is I’m not a better mother. I’m this mother and my kids irritate the hell out of me sometimes and I don’t handle it well. I’m this mother and I don’t love every second of child-rearing and this is my job and sometimes it FEELS LIKE A JOB just like any other job a human might have, and if the world thinks I need to shut my mouth and suck it up like some grateful puppy begging at the door of my master, well the world can bite me.

Mothers are doing some seriously hard work, as hard as any work being done anywhere. And we won’t hide our sweat or shut the hell up because society thinks we should bow our heads in gratefulness at the profound opportunity to be mothers.

We are grateful, and it is profound. OTHERWISE WE WOULDN’T BE DOING IT – day in and day out. It’s not that we’re doing more or less than anybody else in the world. We are just doing a very particular kind of work, sometimes thankless work, and for some reason we face an expectation that we do it gracefully, gratefully, smiling, full of laughter and sunshine, all the time. Because it’s beautiful, pastel motherhood!

Frankly, it’s fucking ridiculous.

Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and it’s raw and messy and real. And yet, I’m doing it. I’m always already doing it. Against my better judgment, I keep on keepin’ on.

As do you.

But we don’t have to do this alone, and we sure as hell don’t need to do it quietly.


Forgive us if our voices grate on your ears, upset your groove, irritate the living hell out of you.

We know how that feels.

We deal with it every day.