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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thursday.

Today, I...


Inadvertently eavesdropped on a woman who has way too much disposable income:




 Bought five big containers of salt water taffy, for less than $.20 each:

But honestly, how could I NOT buy it?


Came across this super-sexy eye patch:

"Arr!  How YOU doin', landlubber?"


Experienced Christmas shopping in September:

Seriously Costco?  No.

...and realized that I may have done all this with my boobs visible to passersby:

 ...because a bra really doesn't go with this top.  :-/

 How was your Thursday?


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On Being a Stay At Home Mom.

Every time I sit down to blog...

I have  huge folder full of...

The thing is...

I can't even figure out how to start this post of properly.  That's how muddled my brain has been lately.  I know it's a phase, but when one is in a phase such as this one, it feels as though one will never emerge from it.

The incongruity of my situation is that right now I have loads of time to write.  My child has just gone back to school, and is now there for seven and a half hours a day.  I should be writing novels! and screenplays! and songs! and short stories! and blog posts! but I haven't been able to wade through the mud in my brain in order to dig out the words.  It's a problem.

This is not to say that I haven't been writing.  I wrote a short script yesterday which had been floating around in my brain for weeks and I've sat down daily to write blog posts.  It's just that none of it is very...good. 

Many writers and writer gurus say that if you're having a hard time coming up with words, the remedy is just to sit down and write.  So that's what I do.  I sit and I write and I'm very happy to do that, only I have had little to nothing to show for it at the end of the day.  If I had to pinpoint the root of my fog, I'd have to say that it's pressure.  Pressure to succeed.  Pressure to earn money.  Pressure to do this while also still maintaining my role as a wife and mother.  It's a lot.

"It's the toughest job in the world" has become a cliche, but after being a stay at home mom for more than six years, I can attest to the validity of that statement.  I do all the things that you would expect me to do--including being responsible for keeping a WHOLE PERSON ALIVE, which everyone seems to overlook--but the hardest part of this job is something that is rarely talked about.  Staying at home with my kid is mentally draining. 

First, there's the guilt.  I could write an entire post dedicated to the guilt of being a stay at home mom, but here's a small sample of things which cause me to feel guilty on a regular basis: not earning an income, wanting time to myself, feeding my kid food with corn syrup in it, not being a perfect housekeeper, wanting to take a nap, drinking alcohol in front of my kid, not having him enrolled in sports, the fact that he can't swim yet, getting the regular fruits and vegetables and not all organic ones, not being able to get my kid to eat anything green, spending money on myself, being addicted to caffeine, not scheduling regular dentist appointments for my family, forgetting to schedule oil change appointments for my car, reading a book or watching a movie, or basically doing anything which does not involve my family. 

Then, similar to guilt, but a different monster altogether is the worry.  Here's a sample of things I worry about on a regular basis:  that my kid watches too much TV, that he'll miss the bus, that I won't wake him up in time for school, that we're not reading enough, that we're not practicing his writing enough, that I've gotten him addicted to sugar, that he'll get a terminal illness, that he'll get his feelings hurt by someone at school, that he'll stop wanting to be seen in public with me soon, that I won't be able to get a real job by the time I'm able to because I've spent all this time at home with him and employers don't like big time gaps in resum├ęs, that he'll drown, that he'll fall in a sand hole and suffocate, that he'll be molested if I send him into the men's bathroom alone, that I'm not doing a good job as a mom, that I'm spoiling my kid, that I will forget to pay a bill, that my kid will never eat a vegetable I don't force down his throat and that he'll get a vitamin deficiency from it and cease to grow, that my car will break down because it's making a weird noise but I haven't figured out how to juggle our finances and bring it in to get looked at yet, that my kid will be addicted to technology, that my husband will lose his job and we'll be income-less, that I'm not spending enough time writing, that I'm not spending enough time cleaning, that I'm not spending enough quality time with my kid, and I could go on, but I'm pretty sure you stopped reading about halfway through this list anyway.

So, you've got your guilt and you've got your worry--either of which would be enough to warrant a hefty anti-anxiety medication prescription--but then you've got the outside world to deal with.  The condescending looks from strangers when you tell them that you're a stay at home mom.  The "so what do you do all day?" questions from well-meaning people, which carry the inadvertent implication that you live a life of leisure while they slave away all day at a 9-5 job.  The expectation from everyone around you that you will get a "regular job" now that your child is in school for a good portion of the day--not one of them taking into account the fact that kids get sick, schools have many holiday breaks, and that you would have to quit or hire a full-time caregiver (which is the entire thing you were trying to avoid BY being a stay at home mom) once summer vacation hits. 



My husband's job is not 9-5, it's often 8-6 (not counting the often hour-long commute each way) and sometimes it's even 9-3.  Yes, that's 9AM to 3AM the next morning.  On weekends.  I'm not complaining about it, but that's because I'm a stay at home mom.  That means that whenever he works crazy hours, I'm here as soon as he does come home and we can spend time together as a family.


Of course, I'm also a writer.  I've managed to write over 400 blog posts, three feature-length screenplays, a few songs, and a book all in stolen moments over the last six years.  In spite of all that, when people ask me what I do for a living I usually say that I'm a stay at home mom--because that's the job that takes up the majority of my time and mental capacity.  It's also the most important job to me right now.

If it seems like I'm defending myself, I guess that's because I feel like I always have to defend myself.  It's silly.  In how many other lines of work do people have to do this?  "Yes, I'm an accountant, but the building I work in is very tall and the benefits are great."  "Sure, I'm a mechanic, but the hours are flexible and the grease is actually pretty good for your skin."

I know that I shouldn't care what other people think, and I don't, really.  Contrary to what I've presented here, I'm actually quite happy with my role as a stay at home mom.  I know that I'm lucky to be able to do it and that many parents wish they were in my position, anxiety and all.  I just wish that people would let me do my job and experience my anxiety in peace.

Well, would you look at that!  I guess I did have something to say after all. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Imperfectly Beautiful Youth

My niece was complaining on Twitter not long ago that she got the short end of the stick, genetically speaking, comparing herself to all the beautiful women in her family.  This, of course, caused me to tweet back in a supportive fashion, telling her that she's beautiful and much prettier than I was at her age.  To illustrate my point, I showed her this photo:



She didn't agree with my assessment, which brings me to my point:  nobody is ever as ugly as they think they are when they're a teenager.


This was something of a revelation for me after, several months ago, examining what few photos I have of myself from that time in my life. .  I mean, I had convinced myself that I was REALLY ugly in those formative years.  I thought that I was repulsive troll.  I was not a troll.  My husband has been telling me this for years, but I've always thought he just had weird taste in women.


I remember being tortured by my looks as a kid.  I was the skinny, frizzy-haired, middle child, sandwiched between an older sister who had curves and shiny, straight hair and a younger one who was blonde, bubbly, and equally gorgeous.  Every summer, we'd all three sit at the same pool for hours, in the same sun, and they'd leave with golden tans while I came home with a blistering sunburn and a few hundred new freckles on the side.


Looking different, my shyness, combination skin, a sister who (as sisters do) teased me relentlessly, and the disinterest of almost every single boy I'd ever had a crush on worked together to form my crippling insecurity.  However, when I look at pictures of myself from those tormented years, I don't see a hideous, awkward girl with Bert eyebrows (okay, the eyebrows were a little too big).  I see a girl who stood out, even though she was obviously trying her best to hide behind all that hair.  And, actually, I'm going to say it:  she was pretty. 

I want to reach into this picture and shake some sense into her.


Adolescence is torturous in many ways, so I know that asking my lovely 13-year-old niece to see her own beauty probably sounds like an impossible feat from her point of view.  Heck, I just turned 34 years old and I'm only now able to do it.  However, I hope that she and all the other young girls out there reading this will at least give it a try.

Girls, listen up:  stop the self-loathing.  Those "imperfections" which you are magnifying in your brain are likely invisible to, or possibly even admired by, the people around you.  Embrace them.  One day, you'll look back on this time in your life and you'll regret that you were too busy dwelling on your flaws to have recognized the beauty of your youth.

Mark my words.

Sincerely,

A former (non-)troll.




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