Posts Filed Under bitching about the kids I chose to have.

My life is a wall of indecipherable sound.

by renegademama

Hi, my name is Janelle, and I barely like sound. For many years, I thought I was simply an asshole. While this is undeniably true, my condition apparently goes beyond an irrationally low tolerance for people trying to chew food.

You see, I have “misophonia.”

Apparently this is a real brain thing. Whew.

I’m the person who visualizes stabbing strangers for eating Corn Nuts across from me at the library, or my husband when he has the audacity to eat a chip. I feel actual rage. It starts in my toes and runs all the way to my forehead, where it gathers into helpful ideas like, “Maybe I can kill this person and run out real quick and get away with it.”

I’m being 15% hyperbolic.

And yet, I have seventy-five children.

Fine, I have four.

Do they have a term for the inability to handle the wall of indecipherable sound known as “children?”

 

All they do is talk. Well, no. One of them, Rocket, the twelve-year-old, evidently adopted the quieter demeanor of his father.

While Rocket doesn’t talk incessantly, he does make some seriously odd squealing noises pretty regularly, sounds I imagine a goat would make were he being held over flames, but he doesn’t chatter on endlessly requiring the undivided attention of his mother. Interestingly, he is the one kid I TRY to make talk, and he barely will, and even when he tries, his words are drowned out by the raging torrent of his siblings’.

That’s because my other three children basically never cease speaking, no matter what, or when, or what the topic, and I just need to say this out loud: I CANNOT LISTEN TO ALL THIS TALKING.

There seems to be an expectation of me, as a mother, to exist in a state of rapt attention, endlessly interested in the yammering of small humans, in the barrage of stories regarding this and that, in the 800 billion questions regarding Peppa Pig and the nature of existence, in the dreams.

Oh God. The dreams.

NOBODY GIVES A FUCK ABOUT YOUR DREAMS.

Wait. I didn’t mean that. I meant, “Aim high and dream big, kiddo!”

No but for real. Stop telling me what you dreamed last night.

Sometimes my three-year-old wakes up in the middle of the night, talking. He’s in our bed, and thus difficult to avoid. The last time he did it, he told me something about a motorcycle and tiger, and demanded to know why I was wearing a shirt.

Yes, good call. Let’s talk about that. We don’t talk enough. Let’s add 2am bedtime chats to our talking schedule.

 

Do people really expect me to give a fuck about every single word that exits the mouths of my children? I strongly believe those people have never actually been around children.

I’m being a dick in this blog post, but I usually attempt civility and feigned interest in the sound wave crashing into my face.

For example, when the dream recounting begins, I sit there staring at them with a sort of blank look on my face and my mouth possibly open, mumbling, “Oh.” And “Weird!” and “Dreams are like that.”

Later, I remind myself that kids can pick up on parental vibes and they surely know I was not exactly “riveted,” then I wonder if I’ve done irreparable damage to their self-esteem and psyches. On the other hand, shouldn’t kids learn that nobody wants to hear their self-obsessed chattering (lest they grow into mansplainers)?

I am grateful my teenager still talks to me, but the problem with the teenager (and three-year-old and seven-year-old) is that they are almost always asking for something.

So it isn’t just talking. Every word is adding a motherfucking task to the list of my life, and I already hate the list. I may have lost the list.

THE LIST IS NOT WORKING AT ALL ALREADY.

Reminding me of this or that commitment or wanting permission for something or asking for money or a ride or an outfit or some bullshit for school and I’m like For the love of god leave me alone for ten minutes so I can contemplate how I’m ruining you by trying to avoid you but also I need to avoid you.

 

Since we’re on the subject, I also don’t think kid conversations need to enter every adult conversation and I will, in fact, reject the blithering talk of my kids to enjoy an actual adult conversation and if I see my kids pummeling an adult with a wild stream of speech acts, I will make them stop.

Having hung out with many, many parents over the years, I have learned that this is not the way every one parents, and in fact, many parents make the child the center of all existence always and forever, no matter how fucking boring the kid is.

Did I just say kids are kinda boring?

Yes. Yes I did.

It’s not about “seen and not heard.” Nah, it’s about recognizing when you’re dominating the conversation, assuming you’re the only one that matters, taking over everything because it’s fun for you. I know adults like that. They only get invited to dinner once.

 

Anyway, when it’s just the five of us in the car, and my teenager is telling me about the 463 things she’s got going on in the next week and my 7-year-old is telling me about what this one kid said in line today and also when can she get horse riding lessons and the three-year-old is recounting a day when he went into the clouds on a submarine and saved his grandfather from a monster who lived in a tree, and I’m sitting there trying to drive or think or plan dinner or my inner spiritual life, what I really want to say is: EVERYBODY SHUT THE FUCK UP.

Instead, if it’s really bad, I’ll yell something like, “Everybody be quiet for 30 seconds so I can think.”

Or I turn the music way up.

Or I try to choose which kid is actually saying something that matters, and I hone in on that one and ask the others to cease and desist.

The toddler just keeps on going. Forever. NBD. Who needs an audience?

What sort of bullshit genetic defect did I inherit that I have to hear every single goddamn fucking word that exits my children’s mouths?

There should be some sort of default silencing shut-down system in every brain to allow for the muting of unending child words.

And the worst part is that sometimes they say the sweetest and deepest shit imaginable, and I’m overwhelmed by adoration for their weird little kid brains.

But truly, no more dream talk. And I’ll wear a shirt if I want to, toddler. Also, tell your future therapist it’s not my fault. I have misophonia.

I HAVE KID MISOPHONIA.

Go team.

 

***

Let’s write together in 2018.

I have three workshops running in January/February:

Write Anyway: 3 spots left (one partial scholarship available)

Renegade Writers’ Group: 1 spot just opened

Brand new workshop on effective argumentation/political writing: 2 spots left

Join us, and please email me with any questions.

 

25 Comments | Posted in bitching about the kids I chose to have. | December 13, 2017

I hereby declare we get to bitch about motherhood because sometimes it’s bullshit

by renegademama

The other day I told Mac, “I don’t really enjoy hanging out with our family anymore.”

It wasn’t one of those moments of exhausted self-pity or fiery rage when we say shit we don’t mean (or maybe only I do that?), and it wasn’t a well thought-out expression of a deeply shameful secret. It was simply the verbalization of a feeling, and when I said it out loud, it simply felt true.

I wonder if it’s grief. Maybe I’m still jacked up about the murder of my grandmother last November. That was a ridiculous thing to say. Of course I am.

Maybe it’s because time is forcing me back around to the moment my cousin took her life: November 9, 2016 at 7:30pm in Livermore, California.

Or maybe I haven’t actually moved on at all. Maybe I’m still stuck in the moment when I found out, as if time halted and now I just travel in circles around a tiny, horrifying instant.

I don’t think that’s it.

I think it’s that my family has changed, a lot, and I’m having a hell of a time getting adjusted to it. I have a full-blown teenager now. She’ll be 16 next month. She’s a spectacular kid, better than I ever could have imagined, especially considering how her mother behaved at 16, but she’s a teenager, and the world pisses her off, a lot, and sometimes her moods almost perfectly mirror the toddler’s.

Speaking of which, every morning I wonder which Arlo will walk out of the bedroom: Satan Arlo or So-Lovely-I-Could-Spit Arlo. If it’s the latter, he’ll walk up to me and say, “Will you hold me for just a minute?” And I’ll pick him up in his motorcycle pajamas and pat his fuzzy blonde head and stick my nose in the fold of his neck to catch a whiff of sweet sweaty toddler.

If it’s the former, he’ll sit on the kitchen floor screaming and kicking the refrigerator because I won’t let him eat an ice cream sandwich for breakfast.

Rocket is twelve now. And he’s getting damn close to the same teenage angst his sister is experiencing, but he’s still pretty mellow, comparatively.

George is in the childhood sweet spot. Seven years old. Adorable, young, and still chill. But the oldest and youngest kids often demand so much of my attention, I can’t even hang out with her and Rocket like I hung out with the other kids when they were their ages, and I feel a little robbed, and resentful. And I think about middle child syndrome how I am surely, right now, causing it with my glaring deficiencies.

When we go somewhere as a family the bickering starts almost immediately – who sits in the bucket seat of the van (I hate my life), or who gets the last piece of sourdough, or one kid tells another kid to stop humming or whistling or singing or breathing and the other kid yells back until we’re on minute 20 of bickering or yelling and then I’m yelling and it all goes to shit.

Somebody is always in a bad mood.

Somebody is always throwing a tantrum, so rather than enjoy the kids, I’m dealing with a pissed off teenager or pissed off toddler or pissed off me.

It feels lately like it’s more trouble than it’s worth.

 

As soon as I admit that, I feel shitty for admitting that. I remind myself how lucky I am to have this family, these children. This home. I tell myself to be grateful, goddamnit, some people have lost everything.

And intellectually, I know this to be true. Right now, as I type these words, I feel like an entitled piece of shit complaining about a beautiful life. These aren’t even real problems.

And I know they’ll pass. I know whatever is happening here, whether it’s in me or them or both or the stars, will fade into a something new, maybe something I have never known before.

But then again, I think mothers need a chance to say “sometimes motherhood sucks,” and sometimes we need to be able to say it without anybody telling us “Cheer up, Charlie,” or looking at us as if we’re bacterial bottom-dwellers.

Sometimes parenthood is boring and monotonous and simply sucks donkey balls, and sometimes I’m tired in my motherfucking bones. Like a tired that is more than lack of sleep, like a tired that feels like it’s in the air and has moved into my blood, an existential tired. A tired of the cosmos.

Oh, the drama.

It’s an exhaustion that makes me feel like I can’t engage at all. I can’t even rally the resources I almost always have – to parent.

 

And yet, here we are anyway. Crazy fucking mothers. We keep showing up, every damn day. We keep trying to talk to our kids, to guide and support them, to advocate and fight on their behalf, to lift them up when they’re all fucked up.

And we do this even when WE are fucked up.

And that’s why we get to say it, you know? Because if our frustration or boredom or exhaustion led our feet out the front door to never return, well, then, that’s something. But that’s not what we do.

We show up half-broken and half-asleep with a headache.

We show up when every inch of ourselves craves bed.

We show up when the irritation and annoyance with the bickering is like metal stakes in our foreheads, over and over again.

We just keep showing up.

 

It’s not about martyrdom. It’s not about, “Aren’t I so sacred in my annihilation of self?”

It’s about “I love these humans and I am their mother and this is what I do and also they are not ALL of me and never will be and sometimes the entire thing is bullshit.”

Sometimes I just cannot get into motherhood and yet I can’t talk about how I’m not into motherhood because I’m supposed to be so fucking grateful all the time.

Well, you know what, I’m grateful AND I’m over it.

See you at the pick-up line.

Therefore, I hereby declare: Mothers are allowed to bitch about motherhood without anybody telling us “Well, you chose this.”

People choose to be doctors and lawyers and firefighters and they come home and bitch about that, don’t they? How is it weird to have moments when you are TOTALLY OVER YOUR JOB?

We all get to not love what we’re doing sometimes, and we can let the sanctimony surrounding this particular job (of motherhood – fuck the patriarchy forever) vanish like last night’s sleep.

We are real people with real needs and desires doing real work, and as such, we get to yell “fuck it all” into the cosmos on occasion, and realize that in showing up, and doing our best with what we’ve got – even if it’s small and half-assed or a bit sketchy – we’re there, every day, indicating how “grateful” we are for the life surrounding us.

The life we built.

And thank god for made-up pumpkin patch challenges, which I do every year (we go to like 8 or 9 in a month) and which this year involved so many arguments I can’t even begin to count them.

Pretty sure Mac at one point stated, “Pumpkins are ruining my fucking life, Janelle.”

But we showed up anyway, and at the last pumpkin patch yesterday, the teenager said, “Mama, you have to take a picture of us jumping off the haystack like we do every year.”

So I did.

And remembered.

***

Want to write with me in January?

I started writing this blog in January 2011, and over the years, I’ve learned how to say the things I think even if they’re a bit unpopular, and may or may not result in people telling me I’m fat, should have my kids removed, or diagnosing me with some preventable illness.

Let’s just say I get unfriended a lot.

But also, I have been overwhelmed with the reverse: People saying, “Hey, thanks for saying it. I needed to hear it.”

That’s how writing works, I think. We say some truth to connect to our people, and in doing so, we lose some people and piss some people off, but at the last, we find those who need to hear our words.

I don’t have a monopoly on this process, and people are waiting for what you’ve got to say. I made a workshop to work toward getting you there. I don’t sell any fucking silver bullets, but I can tell you what I do to silence the assholes in my head and ignore the ones in the interwebs, to just Write Anyway.

Join me in January.

I found this a year after I named my workshop “write anyway,” which basically means Junot Diaz is my best friend and he loves me.

27 Comments | Posted in bitching about the kids I chose to have. | October 31, 2017

An honest account of “chore time” in the shitshow of my domicile

by renegademama

Somebody on Facebook recently asked me what chores are like in my house, so I thought I’d tell you about it in entirely honest, unequivocal terms.

In short, it fucking sucks.

Perhaps it’s a result of bad parenting, and surely in response to this post, all sorts of helpful humans will suggest infallible tactics to WHIP MY ASSHOLE KIDS INTO SHAPE, or, better yet, get my sorry ass functioning on the level of the enlightened, but I don’t fucking care. The truth is what it is, for whatever reason, and chores around my house go like this:

The second the teenager starts working, her mood becomes that of downtrodden elderly person sick of the way life has mistreated her all these years.

She generally walks around doing her work while shouting at her siblings for failing to do theirs and asking my husband and me if we would please “start parenting our children.”

I usually look at her and wonder if perhaps a better option would be to burn the fucking house down.

I TOO AM ATTEMPTING TO PARENT HERE, TEENAGER, BUT HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT I AM WORKING WITH?

Incidentally, she’s my favorite kid whilst doing chores because although she is annoying as fuck, she is, in fact, DOING SOMETHING, which is generally more than I can say for my son, who’s twelve, and has to be asked 5 to 27 times to complete a single task.

Every time it’s chore time, he suddenly has to go to the bathroom, for a long time, or he begins doing a task, such as the dishes, only to get distracted almost immediately by a funnel, which he will fill with water and bubbles until Mac or I walk by and remind him of the importance of progress in such situations.

He gets back on task but then sees a jar with a lid, which is apparently fucking fascinating, or hears Phineas & Ferb echoing out of the iPad held on the lap of his seven-year-old sister, who has been asked three times to turn the iPad off and clean her room.

Twelve year old somehow forgets all reality and saunters over to observe the sound, which now has my husband almost roaring because we’re on reminder number 6 to DO THE DISHES.

I take seven-year-old by the hand and escort her into the room, where I glance at the one-foot piles of clothes everywhere and ask, again, why all the clothes have to be removed from the drawers in order to find a single outfit.

“I was looking for my dinosaur shirt” is somehow her categorical answer.

Well, also there’s, “I don’t know.”

So infinitely helpful, these kids.

I scan the room with 12,000 stuffed animals never played with but somehow of great sentimental importance and the overturned magnetic tiles bin, the dress up clothes, the Legos—and I’m overwhelmed with such a sense of existential malaise I usually just stand there with mouth open wondering if this is really my life.

After staring into the ontological void, I often walk out of the room hoping for the best, knowing there’s a good chance the kid will shove all the shit under the bed. I’m conflicted about the whole bed-shoving thing. On the one hand, it’s a useless, lazy activity simply moving the mess from one location to another.

On the other hand, it moves the mess from one location to a less visible one, which in my state of deep malaise, kinda feels like a win.

To understand my standards in moments like that, please take regular standards and remove them entirely.

If I don’t leave, I usually start working, somehow always donating 20% of what I see to the goodwill pile – BUT HOW DOES THE SHIT JUST KEEP MATERIALIZING OUT OF NOWHERE? – while shouting to Mac how “we need to make the kids pick up their room every day after school!” and he adamantly agrees despite the fact that we have never once accomplished this task with any regularity.

Alternatively, I will call him into the bedroom to say things like, “Do you see this shit?”

And “SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH OUR FUCKING KIDS.” Or I blame their habits on him.

I find that goes well.

We will then usually say something about garbage bags and how all items on the floor will end up in them unless shit starts changing today.

Vague threats and empty rhetoric are my most essential parenting tools.

Meanwhile, the three-year-old is running around with a large sword from the dude in Moana, whacking his siblings until they engage with him and Mac and I shout “Get back to work!”

The dog sits farting in the living room.

To contain him (the toddler, not the dog) sometimes we’ll turn on the TV, but then the sweet siren sound of the electronic babysitter radiates throughout the house, attracting the semi-addicted 7-year-old and 12-year-old until all three are huddled in living room and the teenager is once again accusing me of “not parenting.”

This generally continues for two to four hours until each kid (sans toddler because he’s useless) has managed through some miracle of baby Jesus, Mary, and Buddha, to complete the fucking chores on their chore list.

As miserable as chore time is, the idea of not having them do chores is about eighty times worse because who the fuck wants to raise entitled assholes who won’t do chores? I DO NOT.

And yes, I know, Super Capable Mother who will comment on this very post letting me know how I need to be consistent, firm, and reasonable and my kids will follow in line perfectly, I REALIZE MY DEFICIENCIES ARE THE PROBLEM HERE AND NO I HAVE NO POINT OTHER THAN TO SAY CHORE TIME SUCKS ASS.

The most infuriating part of chore time is that at the end of it, each and every kid minus the toddler because all he cares about is removing toys from shelves we just organized starts saying things like, “Wow, our house sure is nice when it’s clean like this!”

And I’m like “Yeah, it really is isn’t it? Maybe we could do this WITHOUT THE WRATH OF SATAN.”

But they look at me like I’m speaking some other language.

Sometimes, when feeling entrepreneurial, I will print out some chore charts and through a hundred forms of self-delusion, convince myself that my devotion to them will last more than three days.

Oh, and how long does the nice clean hopeful beauty house last?

One to one and a half hours.

So yes. There you go. That is how it goes down in my house. Every damn time, even though we’ve had kids for nearly 16 years and there are four of them.

Bring on the internet helpers! I’m all ears!

That is a lie. I am not listening.

If I listened, wouldn’t I be in better parental shape by now? 

In other news, here’s my toddler’s contribution to chore time:

thanks, Arlo.

***

I may suck at chores, but I don’t suck at teaching writing. 

COME WRITE WITH ME GODDAMNIT

in the 

January 2018 “Write Anyway” Session

 

I found this a year after I named my workshop “write anyway,” which basically means I am Junot Diaz.

 

37 Comments | Posted in bitching about the kids I chose to have. | September 20, 2017

I hate it when the assholes are right.

by renegademama

Five years ago, I would have told you there’s nothing more irritating than the moment you’re struggling in public with one to four children and some stoic-looking human in her forties smiles gently, tilts her head to one side, and says, “Enjoy it while it lasts.”

Five years ago, I would want to say, “I have an idea. How about you go fuck yourself and then we’ll talk.”

But I’ve always had a bit of a patience problem. Nobody asks me for marital advice.

But, now that I’m an enlightened monk, I know that actually there is something WAY more irritating than the “wise elder woman” bestowing upon me the depth of her insight: It’s realizing she is right.

Look, she’s not right about telling a struggling, irritated mother to “enjoy every moment.” That’s a bullshit move no matter how you cut it. If you see a woman sweating her ass off in Disneyland with a baby in a carrier and a toddler trying to dive into a moat, FUCKING HELP HER, don’t advise her.

Nobody likes advisors.

But the “enjoy” thing? Sadly, I get where Captain Wisdom is coming from now. I always thought it was just trite nonsense thrown around by the socially inept to feel vaguely superior and profound. I always thought it was an underhanded insult, an unappreciated “learning moment.” Forever, fuck learning moments.

But my oldest kid finished middle school a couple days ago. She’s fifteen and will be in tenth grade (high school) next year. She wore nude pumps.

And my baby, my last baby, well, he turned three, the asshole. He turned three without my permission. He’s tall and talks incessantly and barely wants to nurse. YES I NURSE MY THREE-YEAR-OLD FIGHT ME.

And I am 38. My grandparents are gone now. Seven months ago, I lost my last two grandparents.

I feel, well, a little out there in the wind. A little untethered. My family is selling my grandparents’ home of 45 years, the one I played in with my fifteen thousand cousins, the one that smelled like my grandmother, my home, my history.

But mostly, the one that was simply always there.

Until it’s gone.

I didn’t ask for some “knowledge.” I didn’t ask for some “new perspective.” That shit was slammed into my brain against my will, and now I find myself remembering the days when my oldest kid seemed she would be a kid forever, and my second kid, Rocket, wasn’t pulling away, just a little, the way tweens do, as a tension constructs itself between us, a natural letting go, the way it’s “supposed to be.”

There is a letting go.

I didn’t ask to look back on the days when they were all little and I felt it would last forever, because I didn’t know yet that the day will come when your child no longer plays in the surf or builds sandcastles, but rather, sits on the blanket eating Doritos and complaining.

I didn’t know you don’t get 18 years of child. You get 10, 11, 12, maybe. In moments, you get maybe 12.

And then you get something else, and it’s gorgeous and fun and holy hell can we talk about how fun it is to mess with teenagers via text message?

But it isn’t the same. And I look at my little family and see that in three years, my oldest will leave, and my second oldest will be almost fifteen, and in three years, my family will be reformed, reorganized, without Ava, the one who used to run down the trail ahead of us, under the redwoods, while I wrangled her little brother and wished I could do something about boob sweat.

And some lady heard me snap at Ava as I walked, looked over at me and said, “Enjoy it while it lasts.”

I hated her then. I possibly hate her now, but still, I wonder if they say it because they fucked up, you know? Because we all fuck it up. And we forget the monotony, the boredom, the dragging days of uninteresting parental work.

We look back and wish we could see what we have when we have it, rather than when it’s gone. Why is life like that? Why can’t we see what we have in the moment it’s ours, when it seems so solid and permanent it will never fade, as opposed to achieving mad clarity at the very moment it’s rendered useless?

It isn’t useless, but I wish a little I would have known.

I’ll never be the woman correcting and counseling and gazing lovingly into the eyes of a tired and pissed-off mama. Shit, I AM STILL THE TIRED AND PISSED OFF MAMA.

But now when they say it, I feel it a little in my bones, a moment of reckoning, of redirection. A little nudge.

I hate it when the assholes are right.

And you know? Even though I’m all advanced and profound and shit, I STILL can’t wander around stoically adoring every moment with my kids. I don’t even try.

Instead, I put my book down a few minutes early each night, turn off the light, and pull my toddler against me, to bury my nose in his sweaty little neck and inhale the sweetness of life just as it is right now, and I feel it as far as anything has ever gone.

That’s enough, I think, for those of us on the ground.

***

Join me for the only craft-focused workshop I teach all year.

An 8-week workshop with only 6 people, beginning August 15.

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

by renegademama

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

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

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

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

Sorry, Taco Bell.

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

I am the picture of positivity.

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

More proof one should always limit engagement with offspring.

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

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

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

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

vacation1

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are so young.

We are, so young.

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

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

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

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

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

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

We take pictures. We try to remember.

Someday, we will try even harder.

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

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

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

Or a hundred times.

Still, it would never be enough.

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

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

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

Until next time, kids.

And thanks for making me wear a tutu.

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