Posts Filed Under I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING HERE.

So the kids are back in school

by renegademama

I really want to write a coherent and spellbinding blog post on some sort of topic – you know, how I usually do (ha.ha.ha) – but I’m finding myself somewhat without a brain.

It happens occasionally. It’s like my brain detaches from my body for a bit and I find myself going through the motions of my life with a bit of numbness. Kind of a lack of opinions, if you can imagine such a thing.

Also, perhaps the dumpster fire of our country is playing a tiny role in my apathy. It’s like I spend so much of my day wondering HOW THE FUCK people can say things like “Trump isn’t racist and supporting him is a step toward equality for all.”

I think my brain has had to detach from my body to avoid exploding. Like it’s all get me the hell outta here until things improve.

So then I try to not read the Twitter and Facebook but that goes terribly because I’m addicted.

What.

Anyway, my oldest kid started high school. This feels so profoundly wrong on so many levels. First of all, where the fuck did the last 15 years go, and why did nobody tell me it goes this fast?

OH RIGHT THEY’VE BEEN TELLING ME THAT FOREVER and it annoyed me.

Three years. I get three more years until she moves out. We’re trying to bribe her to stay. We told her we’d buy her a car if she stays at home and goes to community college. Any day now I’m going to figure out how to afford to buy her a car.

When I was pregnant with her at 22, I used to imagine the day she graduated from high school. I used to imagine her as a teenager, and I’d think it was so far off it probably wasn’t real. It felt so distant it was irrelevant.  

And now here we are.

And Rocket is in his last year of grammar school. Next year he starts middle school. Then he’s going to be a teenager too, and you know what? I have some opinions on that (OH THERE I AM): Hormones highjack our kids and turn them into intermittently intolerable nutjobs.

And that hurts. A lot. I watch it happening. I know it’s right and healthy and good.

Also, are hormones my excuse? As far as the intermittently intolerable nutjob thing goes?

But seriously, there’s a heaviness that comes, an adult-ness, and it creeps in and takes over and I know it’s about detachment and growing, and I know text-bantering with my teenager and relating to her on a more “friend” level is actually FUN, and watching her become herself is downright miraculous, but also, it fucking hurts watching them go.

You know?

And Rocket is almost there. I feel it. I see it. I want to scream “Nooooooo” until maturity changes its mind and I get to keep my little boy. Bah.

George started second grade, which was one of my favorite years in school, and I can handle that.

Arlo is three. He’s either the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life or a naked tyrant screaming on the kitchen floor because his frivolous wants are not being met.

Come to think of it, the three-year-old and teenagers have a lot in common.

Maybe I’m just feeling the weight of time moving on, as we head into a new school year, but also I think I’m pretty fucking tired of driving kids around in circles all damn day. Like “school year” means a lot of mundane routine, back IN IT, the SHIT. I’m always about half interested in these tasks, the way life becomes so FAST and BUSY and INTENSE. I suppose if I were a better, more devoted mother I would get really excited about sitting in “car line” and remembering folders and lunches and other such complexity.

Plus, the talking. The talking in the car. The car talking. The four kids car talking.

This morning I told my friend “I spend a good portion of my life pretending to give a shit what my kids are saying.” I DON’T MEAN THAT. Okay I kind of mean that.

Because by hour two of endless kid chatter, my detached brain is like PERHAPS THERE WAS GOING TO BE MORE THAN THIS ALSO WHY CAN’T YOU TAKE THE BUS AND HOW LOUD DO I HAVE TO TURN UP THIS MUSIC BEFORE YOU GIVE UP SPEAKING?

I don’t do that. Of course I sit in riveted fascination, hanging on their every word, because it all goes so quickly, you know?

 I’ll just let you decide what’s happening.

Anyway, they’re cute though, and I’m glad they’re here, and I’m here, and you’re here.

Much love to all of you affected by the floods in Texas. Thinking of you. Tell me how you are.

And happy fucking school year guys! We’re so good at this!

Arlo thought he was going to school too. Hence the lunchbox. I didn’t break it to him that he was in pajamas.

19 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | August 30, 2017

15 Ways I’ve Fought for Personal Space While Sleeping Next to a Toddler, and Lost.

by renegademama

My youngest child will be three in June. He still sleeps in our bed. If you think my parental rights should be revoked or are going to comment about all the ways you successfully got YOUR sweet gem out of the bed, please send me an email and tell me everything in great detail, but be sure to do so with a tone of pretentious disdain for the likes of me. I swear I’ll read it.

I’ll read it with all my heart.

You can be very sure I will not delete it.

For the rest of us, the “co-sleepers” by choice or necessity or simply because we are losers, I’d like to share with you fifteen ways I’ve tried to get some personal space at night, because I think there are some really good ideas here.

  1. We tried “deciding” not to have a fourth kid, but then we did, because newborn breath is intoxicating and we forgot they become toddlers.
  2. Then we tried “sleep training,” but the sound of his crying was sad at the level of Goose dying in Top Gun, so we gave that shit up before any real effort.
  3. We tried putting him in a bed near our bed but the child can walk, so he walks to the nightstand, scales it, and crawls between us, which he calls his “pot,” or, for the non-toddler world: “spot.”
  4. About 10 times a night, I shove him as far as possible to the other side, against my husband, because then the toddler gets the physical closeness he craves while I get the NOBODY FUCKING TOUCHING ME which I crave, but as soon as I move him, he spins his legs out and sticks them on my chest, using my husband’s head as a pillow and my boobs as a footrest.
  5. I’ve tried trying to convince the toddler to go sleep with his siblings in some other room, but he just looks at me and says, “No thanks, mama. I stay here with you.” And then I stare at him slack-jawed, because how could anything so adorable be so annoying?
  6. I’ve tried creating the classic Wall of Pillows, but the toddler simply launches himself over the pillow wall back into his “pot,” which is zero centimeters from my body.
  7. Sometimes I put a pillow over my head, thinking if I turn the room black and drown out the sound, I’ll forget there is a 30-pound sweating, snoring machine wedged against my shoulder blades, but the toddler seems to think this is a “hide and seek” game, so as soon as he sees this, he lifts one corner of the pillow, victoriously shouting BOO in my ear. And then he gets back into his pot.
  8. I’ve tried sleeping in the other kids’ room but their beds are covered in stuffed animals and I’m 90% sure the sheets haven’t been changed in three years, since that is the exact amount of time it’s been since an actual kid has slept in those beds. (They prefer to sleep together in the living room or on our bedroom floor because apparently “co-sleeping” is a family disease.)
  9. Since the actual pillow wall doesn’t work, I’ve created a psychological boundary made of wishful thinking and broken dreams. In short, I simply will him with all my might to get the hell on the other side of the bed. This does not work at all.
  10. Whispering “holy fuck somebody help me” repeatedly. Nobody hears it, and nobody cares.
  11. Announcing to my husband, “I am so glad we aren’t having any more kids.” This would be a lot more believable if I weren’t crying four hours later over a newborn onesie I found in the back of a dresser.
  12. Declaring with great fervor and a very serious face: “For sure we are going to Ikea this weekend to let Arlo pick out some bedding for HIS bed, which will be on the floor no matter what by Sunday and he’ll never be in this bed again!” But then I forget Saturday morning or on Sunday evening he has a bath and is wearing flannel pajamas with purple dinosaurs on them and I think, “Oh my god you’re my last baby. I SHALL NEVER KICK YOU OUT.”
  13. I’ve tried Zen-like full radical acceptance of the present moment.
  14. But I can’t because the present moment sucks. A toddler just kicked me in my butt crack.
  15. Pretending my co-sleeping is actually some sort of deep overarching parental philosophy when actually it’s just that I like my babies there more than I hate them there but also sometimes I hate them there with all my soul but am too lazy to change it and those sweaty little cuddly heads complicate the shit out of the whole thing.

In other words, I have no idea what I’m doing here.

If anyone needs more helpful parenting idea lists, just let me know. I’m here to serve.

Maybe next week I’ll do potty training. I have endless ideas that don’t work on that one either.

the sweaty toddler head in question

**

Four spots left in this year’s last “Write Anyway” workshop.

Snag one, or email me with questions.

I’d love to write with you.

.

Even in this dumpster fire, we’ve got power, and it may or may not be on Facebook.

by renegademama

Remember when we used to go on Facebook to see pictures of people’s kids, read amusing Buzzfeed listicles – did I just say “listicles” because if so I hate myself – and see what drunk Phyllis posted last night?

That was so fun.

Remember when we used to go on Facebook to read meaningless shit instead of discover new developments in the systematic dismantling of what was left of American democracy?

I loved that.

Now, people who don’t post about the proto-fascist authoritarian dicks in office stick out like devious outliers while I sit there scream-thinking: “I don’t give a fuck about your cat. BETSY DEVOS THINKS GUNS SHOULD BE IN SCHOOLS BECAUSE GRIZZLY BEARS.”

On the other hand, if we didn’t have an occasional cat thrown in – or, my personal favorite: frolicking river otters – this shit would be unbearable, and it’s already unbearable.

Endless streams of bad news, of people referencing “alternative facts” as if that’s a thing other than, um, falsehoods. Our President tweeting about TV show ratings and slamming our judicial system, the very balance created to save our country from the likes of him. Not to mention the whole Putin situation. Ummmmmmmm. FUCK.

I pick up my phone, scroll, feel flames rise through my body, a sense of panic and rage and sadness and hopelessness, then throw my phone. Pick it back up, Google: “Does Spain take Americans?,” “Is Trump going to nuke the world,” and “What does anxiety disorder feel like and do I have it?”

Swear I’m getting off social media for good. Realize it’s only been THREE GODDAMN WEEKS, feel a sense of hopelessness, wonder how the hell we’ll get through. Commit to no more news.

Ten minutes later, get back on my phone thinking fuck these assholes I’m not going down without a fight.

“Fake news” everywhere. Real news conveyed as “fake news” because it hurts Trump’s baby feelings. A top presidential adviser plugging Ivanka Trump’s products as if our government is some new branch of QVC. The White House getting filled with Wall Street executives even though Trump campaigned against exactly that, but now suddenly his supporters don’t seem to mind. HOW WHY WHAT FUCK AGAIN.

Where are we?

It’s a dizzying dystopian fiction. It’s a constant sense of “is anybody else seeing this? SOMEBODY SAVE US.”

As if I can’t find reality. As if what I’m seeing before my eyes is not real, and yet it is real, and yet if it’s real, how the fuck are we expected to simply go on about our lives? WHY IS EVERYONE JUST SITTING HERE?

On the other hand, do we have a choice? Do we engage for knowledge or disengage for sanity? I go back and forth all day.

My go-to coping mechanism lately has been irate Facebook status updates. I guess it makes me think I’m doing something, while lying in bed naked at 2am.

I write some super brilliant (!) shit, then I reread it and add and subtract this and that, and then I hit “post” and wait…OMG will they like me!? A few likes come in, a couple comments. A share! Wheeee!

I am making fun of myself, but this is all real and true. True facts. Not alt-ones.

I’m a bit of child when it comes to this stuff and have no shame in admitting it. Welllll I have a little shame.

 

But what I’ve learned about social media is this: If not used thoughtfully, it engages my baser self. It engages the part of me that wants instant gratification, approval, and attention. It engages the part of me that wants to be RIGHT. It brings me fear and by the end of the day, I’m spinning in circles and essentially useless, mentally.

You know what? I’m tired of that shit. Now is not the time for me to run around trying to be right. Now is the time for me to run around trying to be helpful, trying to share what we know in a way that can be consumed, digested, and relatively useful for others. Now is the time that I ask myself how I’m using my time, voices, and commitment to resistance.

Look. You know me. You know my anger rants are like air to me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stop writing inappropriate, poorly thought out Facebook posts that strike me as amusing at the time but later seem irrational and somewhat unhinged.

I’m committed now. I’m all in.

I’m not writing some manifesto on social media behavior. I don’t care how people use it, and it takes all kinds of voices.

I simply just realized in a very real way that social media has to a large extent turned into a sort of self-congratulatory echo chamber for me: I throw out ideas and people who already agree with me respond with support, which makes me happy, and sometimes new people respond with dissent, which makes me mad.

WHEN DID I BECOME FIFTEEN AGAIN?

As the months (years? SHUT UP.) have passed– I realized I was completely swept away in anger and fear, and neither of those are particularly helpful to the world. Anger is an amazing fuel for action, but as an end in itself, it’s something of a dud. Also, it’s miserable. Like if I get mad only to get madder, I’m simply discontented. And useless.

The truth is I am a bit lost. A good portion of what I knew to be true about my personal life has crumbled in the past few months, and everything I knew to be true about my country and the people in it and the direction we’re capable of heading has also crumbled, and I feel a sense in me that I need to take a serious look at what I’m contributing to the world. You know? As a human being. As a writer. As a mother.

I’m questioning ALL OF IT.

 

I believe something fully though, and I believe it more every day: We already have what we need to make a real, clear, and vital difference in the community around us. We have what we need to survive, to get through this together as a fucking people. We have what we need to lift our voices and be drivers of change and hope rather than festering powerlessness and fear.

We make art. We write and we sing. We show up to school board meetings. We donate to the mission. We talk to our neighbors. We volunteer in schools. We rally. We march. We raise kids that love. We give money to the motherfucking ACLU.

And totally we post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, duh. And our blogs. Yeah dude, I get it. I get the hypocrisy.

I just wanted to remind you that she persisted, because I had to remind myself. I got a little lost in apathy and rage and generalized confusion. It’s easy to forget where you stand, who you are, and what you’re capable of.

This is a weird world right now, and it’s easy to get so overwhelmed we find ourselves recklessly spinning, forgetting perhaps that we will persist, even through this. Plus, if he nukes us we won’t be here to know the difference. Goddamnit I was trying to be positive.

For real: I see you. Your fucking talents and voice. And I hope you use them. And I hope you use them loud.

Because the world may be crumbling, rearranging, and exploding around us, but we are never powerless. They want us to believe that, they want us to get lost in restless anxiety and fear, but we persist by returning to the strength and creativity and fertile resistance we’ve got inside, and letting that run this fucking rodeo.

Also river otters. And each other.

Mac made me flowers out of scrap sheet metal. This is what I’m talking about. We gotta make flowers out of metal for no reason other than love.

***

I promise this post was not written for this moment, but I need to let you know I’m teaching the last two live sessions of my ONLINE “Write Anyway” workshop this April and June. April is the only evening workshop I’ll teach this year.

If writing is your thing and you’re not doing it, I hope you’ll join us. We work through and deconstruct the fears blocking us, and I know there are many. I have them all.

We fucking need you. 

Please email me with any questions: info@renegademothering.com.

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

13 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | February 15, 2017

Dear PTA, why do you hate us?

by renegademama

Look, first of all, I realize you do all kinds of amazing things for the school that benefit the kids, and you do it on behalf of mothers like me, who would rather spend the rest of their lives naked in an arctic cave listening to Nickelback than do what you do.

I hate meetings. The only thing more horrifying to me than a meeting is the idea of a meeting involving parents trying to accomplish things for 50 billion children.

I think it’s actually my idea of hell. There’s always that Super Serious mom who does not think you’re funny and I always think I’m funny, so, anyway. Also ill-timed F-bombs. Plus it’s boring.

Meeting participation is not, shall we say, my forte. I’m better at standing back and whining about what other people do in meetings. It’s a talent I’ve developed over years of self-important apathy and needing to work to help support my family.

But seriously though, I have one request: Can you please stop making shit up at random and expecting all of us to participate?

This morning I’m sitting at work, minding my own business, procrastinating my writing, when I happen upon a thread in the first-grade classroom list-serve involving words like “twin day” and “positive shirt” and “size medium” and “Target is out.” Since I have no fucking clue what’s happening, I brilliantly surmise that I missed some sort of back story.

By now my heart is pounding because I’m sure my 6-year-old is standing at that very moment in a classroom full of “twins,” realizing she is a singleton, or, in other words, the loser with no friends.

SHE HAS NO TWIN BECAUSE HER MOTHER SUCKS.

Anyway, I scroll through a thread the length of Donald Trump’s list of lies only to find nothing. No date. No identifying information. Everybody’s in on “twin day” except me. I’m lost as usual. There’s no doubt in my mind there was an a handout I missed – or one of the 1900 emails I receive from my kids’ schools, 1885 of which aren’t important – but I’m stuck again with that old feeling of “How does everybody know this shit and will I ever improve?”

I check my email. Nothing. And then I literally Google: “What is twin day” in case it’s some sort of national holiday nobody cares about like “national sibling day.” I see a post somewhere saying it’s a “spirit week” thing put on by the PTA, which immediately clears shit up, because the PTA hates us.

Why do you hate us?

You don’t hate us. I know that. You love us. But you must sort of hate us. Because this isn’t right, man. It isn’t.

Finally I learn it’s on February 3rd, which is two days from now, so, PRAISE JESUS! I find the original thread on the classroom website, and figure out the shirt my kid is supposed to wear to match the teacher (because matching another kid is outta the fuckin question), and I order one from Target in a neighboring town because this town is sold out because the PTA hates us.

Here’s the thing: I have four kids spread across the age spectrum from 15 to 2. AND THEY ALL NEED THINGS. My husband works two hours away. I am a writer with a major fucking deadline in like five minutes, and, quite frankly, of all the interest I hold in my body, about 2% is directed to spirited school events.

This is not because I’m a monster. I mean, I may be a monster, but mostly I am simply not living a life that lends itself to sustained and directed attention to shit like “whacky hair day.” Alright. Whacky hair day is kinda fun.

BUT TWIN DAY? THAT INVOLVES A FRIEND CLOSE ENOUGH TO BE A “TWIN” AND PLANNING OF AN OUTFIT AND COORDINATION WITH OTHER PARENTS I MEAN MY GOD HAVE YE NO SOUL?

 

It’s fine. I’m okay. I took a breath.

And I’m lucky to have flexible self-employment. I have also worked full-time while going to graduate school with 3 kids. Deep and heartfelt apologies, but in that condition, I have a really hard time tracking every goddamn spirit day invention y’all concocted when nobody’s looking.

I know. I know. If I don’t like it, I should join the PTA and change it.

But really, is that how this works? No. Because I’m the asshole here and we both know it.

The underlying message is that inherent in motherhood is an interest and devotion to random shit people make up to “help make school more fun.”

Meanwhile, I’m over here like “You want to make school more fun? Why don’t you let them play outside more, burn the worksheets, and stop forcing them to line up by number twelve times a day like factory workers whose souls disintegrated years ago?”

You see? This is why I don’t go to meetings. My nihilism shines forth and frightens people.

Anyway I gotta go. I have to buy a fucking “twin shirt.”

Oh well, at least I didn’t blow it this time.

Maybe I’m improving. Oh come on.

 

me learning of “twin day”

*Note: PTA please do not go I LOVE YOU THANK YOU I MEAN IT DO NOT STOP EVER.

38 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | February 1, 2017

21 things standing between me and “reasonable bedtimes”

by renegademama

Last week a super handy chart took its 10,000 laps around the internet and I once again realized either: a.) The whole fucking parenting world is batshit; or b.) I am worse at this than formerly thought.

You see, the chart in question outlines the times a kid should go to bed based on age and what time he or she wakes up in the morning. For example, a 6-year-old waking up at 6:30am should go to bed at 7:30pm.

Seven. Fucking. Thirty.

Mmmkay. This sounds amazing. This sounds amazing because if my little kids went to bed at 7:30 and my big kids at 8pm, my husband and I would have like two hours of KID FREE GLORY to ignore each other together on the couch while watching Netflix but actually just playing with our phones.

Truly, do we have no soul left? What is wrong with us?

I hate myself.

Anyway, my kids never go to bed at 7:30pm even if one of them has strep. Lies. They go to bed at 7:30pm when they have strep.

Why are we talking about this? I hate this conversation. Getting my kids to bed “on time” each night is somehow the hardest goddamn thing I do each day. I realize that probably means I have pretty nice days.

I try people I TRY. And every day I feel the sun kissing my face with the promise of a new day, a new chance to get my kids to bed before 9pm. Or 9:30pm.

GET OFF HERE IF YOU’RE JUST GOING TO TELL ME HOW I’M RUINING MY KIDS WITH MY LACK OF CONSISTENT BEDTIME.

Nobody likes you.

We eat together at least 75% of the time though, so there. Leave me alone.

 

It’s hard, you know. And seriously, 9:30pm is late even for us, but SEVEN FUCKING THIRTY? Come on.

Usually my evenings go like this:

Do shit

Do shit

Do shit

Do shit

Do shit

Relax…

REALIZE IT’S 9:15PM HOLY FUCK HOW DID THAT HAPPEN EVERYBODY TO BED NOOWWWWWWW

There are just so many things standing between me and reasonable bedtimes. For example:

  1. Absolutely nobody under the age of 30 is as interested in reasonable bedtimes as I am. I made an infographic to convey the complexity of the situation:

BEDTIMEsit

  1. And yet, they are the ones whose bodies need to move to their beds. And sometimes, I just don’t feel like dealing with them. Here’s a pie chart of things I’d rather do than deal with four bodies who aren’t interested in bed:

bedtimeratherdo2

  1. Also, we’re supposed to eat dinner before bedtime.
  2. And I am supposed to make that dinner.
  3. Or my husband is supposed to make dinner and he sucks at it as much as I do.
  4. Also sometimes I realize we have no food and it’s 6pm so instead I sit on the couch in denial about dinner.
  5. Or I “run to the store” but once I get there, start enjoying the alone time, so I spend an hour gazing at earth-friendly toilet cleansers, which gets me home at 7pm, and ruins everything again.
  6. After-school “enrichment” activities including but not limited to Boy Scouts, swimming, dance classes, random teen “fun” events. HOW THE HELL DO YOU GET KIDS TO BED AT 7:30pm IF OTHER KIDS NEED TO BE SOMEWHERE UNTIL 8PM?
  7. All the kids are sitting quietly somewhere and I’m enjoying the silence so much I can’t bring myself to disturb them by demanding they get up and go to bed.
  8. Fights with my husband. Look, you never know when a good clean fight needs to happen. I can’t control nature people.
  9. On the other hand there is a small possibility I can control when I fight with my husband.
  10. Forgotten homework at 7:45pm. The fucking worst.
  11. Forgotten project at 8pm. Never mind this is the worst.
  12. Trips to urgent care because I’m sure he’s got swine flu this time. I AM SURE OF IT.
  13. Baths, because there is only so long you can push it. You know?
  14. Random total parental failure.
  15. Temporary lapse in judgment.
  16. We’re at my mom’s house and I like it there because it’s clean.
  17. We’re at the farmer’s market eating lamb shawarma. Have you ever had it? One does not simply leave lamb shawarma. I don’t give a fuck who needs to go to bed.
  18. My child needs her 75th glass of water and a new sleeping arrangement or that one stuffed animal or possibly a new life entirely, but definitely the glass of water. 
  19. WE ARE ENJOYING EACH OTHER AND HANGING OUT FOR ONCE AND FRANKLY I DON’T WANT TO FUCK WITH THAT.

I get it. Sleep matters. All this parenting stuff matters. But seriously, fuck these charts.

I COUNTER YOUR CHARTS WITH RIDICULOUS INFOGRAPHICS.

You know, sometimes evenings are really the only time we all get to BE together. Just hang out. It’s the end of the day. There’s nothing to do. We can chill as people who like each other. We can sit around. We can calm down.

It can’t be all business all the time. Right?

Plus, it’s 7:30 somewhere.

It’s a reasonable bedtime somewhere. And that’ll have to do for now.