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.


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?


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.


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.

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

Dear white women: This is definitely us.

by renegademama

NOTE: I wrote this post the day after Trump was elected, but never published it, because my grandmother was murdered later that same day, and obviously this blog was nowhere in my mind. I am publishing it today, in the wake of the Nazi Charlottesville terrorism, because the actual hashtag #ThisIsNotUs was trending on Twitter yesterday. And it feels like we will never learn. 

I wrote this to white women because I am a white woman, and most of my readers are women, but of course it’s relevant to all white people. And everything written here applies to me, too. We are all complicit and all responsible.  

Dear fellow white women:

We have got to stop saying we are better than this. We have got to stop saying this is not our country. We have got to stop saying “this is not us.”

This is us. This is our country. And we are not better than this. In fact, people of color have been telling us this for, oh, forever, and we are only “shocked” because we have not been listening.

62% of non-college educated white women voters cast their ballots for a KKK-endorsed reality TV star who bragged about sexually assaulting women.

53% of white women voters overall went for a KKK-endorsed reality TV star who wants to ban Muslims from entering the country, close down mosques, deport Mexicans, and remove our right to a safe abortion.

This means that white women – our aunts, sisters, grandmas, cousins, friends and neighbors – are largely more invested in white supremacy than agency over their own bodies.

Meanwhile, we make happy Pantsuit Facebook groups and gleefully exclaim, “busted glass ceiling!” Well, almost.


If we think we get to look away from the disaster we’ve built – that we asked for, that we lovingly coddled and massaged into being – largely by telling ourselves “this is not us,” we are worse than ever anticipated.

If we insist on believing that white supremacy is a distant problem rather than the core of our national rhetoric, we are worse than ever anticipated.

If we cling to American Exceptionalism in the face of undeniable evidence to the contrary, we are worse than ever anticipated.

And if we insist that a small minority of white people went to the polls and created this mess—that merely a fringe population is outright fucking racist—we are worse than ever anticipated.

We may not turn away. We may not blame Bernie Bros, email “scandals,” third-party voters, media, or the electoral college.

It’s all whiteness anyway.

We may not deflect blame.


I know. I know. You’re a “good one.” I’m a “good one.” Everyone in the Pantsuit crew is a good one. And yet.


This is definitely us.

And of course it hurts. It hurts because it’s truer than anything we’ve ever experienced. It is the moment we are faced with ourselves and cannot look away. It is the moment the stripped, hard truth is placed in our hands.

Trump is whiteness personified. He is masochistic white male mediocrity embodied. HE IS OUTRIGHT CLEAR FUCKING RACISM.

And we voted for him.

And yet still what I see is a bunch of sad people running around the internet weeping, This isn’t my country! This isn’t me!

We think we are excellent liberals. We want to be fair and true and just. But women. 53% showed up for Captain I Hate Brown People.

You know what percentage of black women voters voted for Trump?




They say the truth will set you free, but first it will really piss you off. The reason it pisses us off is not simply because we are wrong, but because the truth – the great truth – sets aflame everything we thought we knew about ourselves. It uses us up and spits us out into a pile of something we never imagined could exist in us, let alone thrive at the core of our being.

Do we believe people of color now?

Do we believe our silence is compliance? Do we believe our silence is not revolutionary? Do we believe that it is only through pointed, conscientious action that we can break down the system of supremacy from which we all benefit? Do we see that watching slavery movies and feeling bad isn’t doing a goddamn thing?

Do we believe we are responsible? That we must speak? That we must call out the fifty racists in our families–oh come on. I know they’re there. Even in Portland–that we must RAISE CHILDREN WHO UNDERSTAND AMERICA WAS BUILT ON RACISM?

We are not post-racial. We have never been equal. And it is an outright delusion to convince ourselves “This is not us.”

This man was brought to power because of his white supremacy, not in spite of it.

This is a backlash of eight years of black presidency. This is a backlash against people of color rising to power. This is white America reclaiming its Empire.

This is every race-based immigration law in our history. This is Native America genocide. This is anti-miscegenation laws, the one-drop rule, and American colonization. This is white nostalgia and the rewriting of history.

This is Jim Crow after slavery. This is the prison pipeline after civil rights. This is redlining and white flight after the GI Bill of WWII.

This is exactly how America has always wanted it. HAS ALWAYS DONE IT.

Nothing could be more “us.”

We cannot run from this discomfort. We cannot hide from the dawning awareness that everything we’ve been taught about our country was a lie. We cannot soften this blow.

I choose to believe that this tragedy is not in vain, because I cannot believe otherwise. I choose to believe that this is an opportunity to finally, completely and totally rebuild a sick and broken nation.

We have let down people of color again. We have let down queer folk again. We have let down immigrants, and native peoples too. Again. We have let down women again.

But it is not “we.” Not all we.

It is us.

122 Comments | Posted in politics | August 13, 2017

I spent two weeks in Europe and I even came back.

by renegademama

Let’s get something out of the way right now: Taking a two-week trip to Spain and France is not generally in my repertoire of activities. In fact, the only time I’ve been to Europe was eighteen years ago when I studied abroad in Barcelona for my junior year of college.

I loved it so much I vowed to return as soon as I graduated college, but instead I had a baby. It’s a long story.

But, Mac’s sister lives in Paris and got married in a 14th century village in the south of France. His family helped us go. It was, well, a dream.

We flew to Barcelona, spent a day or so, then drove in a rented car to a town on the French and Spanish border called Argelés-Sur-Mer. The best part of the flight was that I arrived in the same month and at the same airport as I did 18 years ago. Only then, I was 20 and single and about 60 pounds smaller. WHATEVER.

I got to look around and remember-the thick warm air, the excitement I felt back then, the nervousness-and the words, oh, the words.

“Vale.” I had forgotten “vale.” I had forgotten how many times a day it rolled off my tongue. It was so goddamn fun to speak Castellano again.

We hopped in a rental car after 28 hours of travel, at night, and I remembered I had forgotten about Googling “Spanish street signs.”

So I started driving that damn Peugeot into the wild blue because what the fuck else am I going to do?

Then I was pretty sure we were all going to get killed by a 14-year-old on a moto, but we made it. It was incredible to take my family to the places where I used to hang out, although I was surprised at how much more crowded Barcelona is. Holy shit, the tourists! I don’t remember it like that. Of course, I was drunk the whole time, so…

On the Costa Brava on the way Argelés.

After the white sandy beach Argelés, and remembering what it felt like to arrive at a restaurant for dinner at 10pm, we came across an outdoor techno show at around 12am. What struck me were the children dancing with their parents. At midnight. Imagine! The horrors! People living. People dancing. People enjoying themselves on a Wednesday night.

We took a day trip to a little town near Argeles called Coulliore to spend the day. It was the most idyllic French beach town. The colors. MY GOD THE COLORS. Rocket immediately jumped into the ocean and started playing with a bunch of French kids on a dock.

View off the balcony of our tiny motel in Argeles. I made sure we only stayed in small family-owned places.

Collioure, France. FUCKING MOVIE, RIGHT?

The colors. The narrow streets. The window boxes.

i need more of this in my life

After that, we went to Carcassonne, a medieval citadel in southern France. It was fucking spectacular. Our tiny motel had a garden for breakfast that made me want to MOVE TO FRANCE, and it had a rooftop terrace with a full view of the fortress. At night, they lit up the walls, so Mac and I stood late at night and watched the stars behind stone walls destroyed and rebuilt by Romans and Visigoths and countless other armies, through centuries of war and nonsense, and it was as if we could feel the ghosts of the people once there. Warmly.

Oh hey, I too am friends of the resistance.

Rocket on that garden terrace that ruined our lives. He took to drinking espresso.



NBD just a medieval fortress to the left

All throughout Spain and France, in all our journeying, I was struck by the presence of history, of old, old stories, of hundreds of years of life and death and love and babies. People just like us.

I wonder if perhaps that is America’s problem, that we don’t have enough history beneath our feet to remember how bad it can get, what freedom feels like, and the loss of it.

From Carcassonne, we went to his sister’s wedding at a restored 14th century village. I shit you not. That is real. There, we reunited with family and met people from all over the world, all of whom knew more about American history than most Americans. They knew the electoral college system, the parties, and asked me questions like, “Is this really true? Did Trump really do that?”

I asked them at one point how the hell they know so much about American history. They looked at me funny and said, “Because we learn world history in school.”

One person asked me, “Why doesn’t America learn form the dictators of Europe?”

And I said, “Because we don’t learn world history in school.”

And that leads us to think we are the City on a Hill, different, exceptional. Our dictator isn’t authoritarian. He’s “making America great again.”

Oh, my god. The wedding.

So many congratulations!

Ava was a bridesmaid. Rocket was the ring bearer.

Can’t lie. We fucking fell in mad love all over again.


My girl was so full of grace and poise. It damn near took my breath away. How. Where. When. And my pride. You know? The joy.

I mean, okay. whatever.

View sucked though.

From the patios overlooking the French rolling hills of sunflower and lavender, from the 12the century chapel my sister-in-law was married in, from the gothic churches, from the bridges and cobblestone and tiny medieval roads, I thought a lot about how there seemed to be a heaviness in America I didn’t feel there – a weight. A division. A tension that permeates the air.

(I believe we are perhaps more fucked than we even realize but have simply gotten used to it.)

Oh, and fun fact: so many boobs on the beaches! Women with their tops off! EVERYBODY LIVED.

And finally, we spent five days at a vacation rental in a tiny town called Uztegi in Spanish Basque country. In the motherfucking Pyrenees. The walls were mostly glass, and through them, we could see two lights at night. We could hear donkeys braying. There was a chapel on a hill miles away, the silhouette of which took my breath away as the sun set behind it, and the ancient hills.

There was an outside dining area with a table and hammock and swing, and a barbeque that was a metal box set atop an old sewing machine stand. We burned chicken on it perfectly, while gazing at the Pyrenees.

fake news

playing barefoot and barely dressed on the hillside

picking lettuce for our dinner salad

We took day trips to San Sebastian, where I spoke with Giant Jesus and he told me “Trump is a real asshole. Just wait til I get my hands on that fucker.” We had a moment. I dig the guy.

San Sebastian.

Hello, Giant Jesus.


Incredible memories for these siblings, and it was so fucking fun to watch them together. And since we could say “YOU ARE IN SPAIN RIGHT NOW!” they basically didn’t bicker because they knew we’d leave ’em in the hotel room for being ungrateful little you-know-whats.

We ate tapas and squid and whole fish and more cured meat than the entire Safeway section. The kids swam in the Mediterranean. We got lost one day and happened upon a little village on a hillside across a bay. We thought, “Wonder how you get over there.” Just as we said it, a little green boat pulled up to the tiny dock beneath us, and people piled out. We hopped on. We passed a couple hours. We watched a man throw a tennis ball into the Bay for his Labrador to fetch. Rocket laughed every time as the dog launched himself into the water.

That goddamn little village!

on the boat heading over there


It was stunning to spend such time with my two oldest children, Ava and Rocket, who are 15 and 11. Just to hang out, you know? Do nothing. Wander. Try foods. Just BE together.

I have never forgotten how much I missed sitting in these beautiful old squares sipping cafe con leche. I NEVER STOPPED MISSING THIS even after 18 years.

We cried on the way home, though my arms ached for little Arlo and George. I suppose we cried for the end of vacation, for the end of the time of the five of us (my mother was with us too), for the end of something that was such a miraculous gift.

But I think I also cried to return to tweets about a transgender military ban, and Bannon sucking his own cock (?), and Spicey getting fired – not that I care about Spicey, but rather, the unrest it all represents – the idiocracy, the mayhem, the mass shootings and hate crimes and racial division. Healthcare getting more decimated. My student loan payment going up $250/month because of “new federal guidelines.”

All of this news hit me by the time I got off the plane.

And yet, when I got off that plane in Oakland, I felt home. God damn you, America, with your sick clinging to nostalgia, your twisted devotion to nationalism and rhetoric that we have never deserved. But God love you, too, for the fire in your heart, for the part of you that keeps fighting, keeps rushing headlong into a better place we cannot see, have never seen, but refuse to believe cannot be ours.

Because in this disaster, in this heaviness, in America, I feel too a pulse, an energy, a motherfucking resistance. Music. Art. Film. We are a bunch of fucking crazy people, and I am not convinced I want to be among us, but I also know we have what it takes, to live in peace, to live in maturity, to live among the ghosts of our ancestors, deep in the hills and valleys, who perhaps also believed we could someday become the country we all sing about.

Until then though, anybody know the immigration laws for Spain?

as long as I can bring these two, too! reunited felt so damn good.

Checklist before commenting in internet mommy groups

by renegademama

I made a handy checklist to help people determine if they should comment on social media mommy/parenting group threads.

  1. Am I about to give a complete stranger parenting advice about a kid I’ve never met in a situation for which I have no context because I’ve only read a single fucking social media post?
  2. Am I about to post a serious parenting suggestion on a satirical blog post joking about children?
  3. Am I unable to read satire?
  4. How about sarcasm?
  5. Actually do I have no sense of humor AT ALL?
  6. Is the sole purpose of my comment to elevate my standing in my own eyes?
  7. Am I about to say #AllLivesMatter?
  8. Am I about to say “Stop creating division by talking about race?”
  9. Am I about to quote the Bible then reference Donald Trump while simultaneously arguing the Declaration of Independence is “fake news?”
  10. If the person I’m about to reply to were standing in front of me, would I say what I’m about to say, or am I a sad keyboard warrior who would get slammed in the face with a closed fist because I am a total fucking asshole?
  12. I shall be more specific: Am I about to make fun of somebody’s kid’s name?
  13. Am I about to say vaccinations are child abuse?
  14. Am I about to say cutting the umbilical cord is “violent? Or “formula is poison?”
  15. Am I about to suggest weed and essential oils to the wife of somebody dying of cancer?
  16. Am I about to talk about how my children never bicker, leave messes, or generally fuck shit up because my parenting is “informed?”
  17. Do I believe in Amanda Chantal Bacon and/or anything involving white people and the words “shaman warrior goddess?”
  18. Do I suggest international travel, yoga, and activated cashews as the solution to oppression?
  19. Do I not understand why some people wouldn’t dress their kid in all organic cotton sustainably sourced in their own state?
  20. Do I not understand why some parents don’t take their kids to other countries each year even though “It’s a verifiably excellent way to enlighten them?”
  21. Am I the mother at the preschool saying, “I really just don’t have the body for four kids. I MEAN LOOK HOW TINY I AM.”
  22. Do I read Breitbart for data?
  24. Have I ever had a clue at any point in my life?
  25. Am I a dog owner who thinks dog owning qualifies as “parenting?”
  26. Am I about to tell women to clean up their language because their use of “fuck” is unladylike?
  27. Am I mansplaining? (Where men are allowed.)
  28. Do I believe mansplaining is a creation of radical lesbian “feminazis?”
  29. Am I unwilling to listen to what “mansplaining” means?
  30. When I look in the mirror, do I like what I see, or do I experience such a sense of existential malaise and vast self-loathing, the only thing I can do is hop on social media mommy group threads to attempt to shred strangers into a million pieces, failing to recognize that I am, in fact, the eternal dick, and endless fool, and everybody knows it.

KEY: If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, do not comment.

You’re welcome.

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.