I’m Not a Bitch and Neither are You

I will never forget that moment.

The moment in which I sat in my bedroom, phone cord stretched through the kitchen, across the hallway and into my bedroom.  Stretching just far enough to allow me to close my door, and sit just inside the sanctity of my room in order to scheme with my friend in private.  The exact plans are moot today, but I am willing to bet the farm on the fact that they included alcohol, boys, and post-curfew plans of sneaking out through my bedroom window. As we plotted and solidified our teenage debauchery, the knock came and I heard the words that no teenager wants to hear on a Saturday night.

You have to stay home.

I remember flinging that door open so fast that the phone shot across the kitchen like a bullet from a gun.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN I HAVE TO STAY HOME?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  WE HAVE PLANS! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS!!!!!

She wouldn’t budge.  There would be no gallivanting for me on that delightful evening and I was beside myself with  a weeks worth of pent-up teenage angst.

Didn’t she realize how difficult it was to secure an evenings worth of alcohol when you are sixteen?  Didn’t she know how tedious it was to plan out an all night drink-a-thon complete with a post-curfew pick-up schedule?  She was ruining my life.

I mourned the loss of our illegal evening with my partner in crime, trying to hide in the corner of the room so that my mother couldn’t hear what I was saying about her.  There was no way I was going to show her how much she had fucked up my evening.  I was going to play it cool.

She taunted me:  If you have something you want to say to me, just say it.

I bit my tongue and continued to whisper into the handset.

Why don’t you just say something? Tell me how you feel?

It came out of my mouth before I could stop it:  YOU.  ARE BEING.  A BITCH!

At that very moment time stood still.  I had just called my mother a bitch.  To her face.  I saw my life flash before my eyes.

I had absent mindedly dropped an f-bomb in front of her before, but I had never said such vile things about her where she could hear me.  Sure I had said it behind her back, hello…..teenager.  Never to her face.  NEVER.

I think of the fear I felt.  Not only for my quickly diminishing social life, but for what I had just done to our amazing relationship. I had crossed that line and  the disappointment I felt in myself for calling the woman who gave me life such an incredibly disrespectful name sickens me to my core even after all these years.

If you use a dictionary, you will find that a bitch is defined as a malicious, unpleasant, selfish person, especially a woman.  If you prefer to use Urban Dictionary, you will find that a bitch is defined as a modern-day servant; A person who performs tasks for another, usually degrading in status. 

Sure I am unpleasant at times, I am always a woman, and at times I am selfish.  I suppose if you put that all together, there are days in which the term bitch would define me perfectly. A few days each month, I wouldn’t even argue with you if you placed the term ‘raging’ in front of it.   We all have our moments in which we are being an actual bitch.   Days that we are deserving of the term,  it fits us to a T.

Degrading in status, that is the part that gets me.

Why do we, as women, feel the need to continue to use this word as a term of endearment?  Not just the term bitch, but words like hooker, hoe, slut, and whore.  Do we not think enough of ourselves and the company that we keep?

Some will argue that those words are slang and the definition has changed.  That those words, when used in the proper context, are meant to show other women that we enjoy spending time with them.  That they are our friends.

Maybe in my old age I have lost a bit of my sense of humor and I need to relax a bit.  Maybe I need to grow with the times and get hip with the slang.  Maybe…..no.

I have never enjoyed being called a bitch, and I’ve been called one (and acted like one) many times.  For me it is a reminder to take a look in the mirror and examine my behavior.  That I am acting in a way that is not becoming and that there is a good chance that I have hurt someone in a way that I should be embarrassed about.  That I am in no way, shape or form acting like a friend.

As women, it is up to us to lift each other up.  To encourage and support, to demonstrate to our children how to treat each other.  Not to knock each other down and demean each other with derogatory names, no matter how entertaining we think we are being.  Just like text-speak and poor grammar, the use of words like bitch, hooker, and whore become acceptable terms of endearment only if we let them.  I may be old-school, but I refuse to bend.

Like a tree in the Kansas wind, when we bend our core weakens and before we know it we are broken beyond repair.

I think about that night.   The look of disappointment and the hurt in my mother’s eyes.  Knowing that my use of that one word had cut into her heart like a knife.

Her ability to forgive me only proved that she wasn’t the one being a bitch.  I was.

You Know it Happens at Your House Too: Bitch Please

 

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Are We Going to Be Okay?

Parenting is the hardest job we will ever have.  We’ve been told that time and time again.  None of us are perfect, and those that pretend to be are full of shit.  We all screw up, we all make mistakes, we all pray that we haven’t fucked something up so badly that it can never be repaired.  We all have those days in which we just want to throw up our hands and scream to the heavens “I QUIT!!!”.  

How do we handle this difficult journey of parenthood without completely losing our minds?  We reach out to friends.  We ask them for a kind ear and for some sort of guidance.  All else fails, we hope that they bring over a big ass bottle that we can finish off together.  Sometimes our friends don’t live close enough to share a bottle with, but knowing that a kind ear is awaiting you on the other end of the line (or in this case on the other side of your computer) is just what we need to keep moving on.  To keep fighting.  To reassure ourselves that we are surviving this parenting gig and that it will all turn out OK.

When a very dear friend sent me this story, I knew I needed to share it because she needs to know that she isn’t alone.  That we all have lost our shit at one point (or more) on this journey.  That she isn’t a terrible monster of a mother.  That she will be OK.  She gave me permission to share it here with the hopes that she will be offered support and love.  That she may be offered suggestions that will help her during this hard time.  That we can help build her up, not tear her down.  

Please read her story, and feel free to leave encouraging comments below.  Thank you all for your support and for being a part of this amazing village.

Yes you will!

Yes you will!

I am at a loss. I don’t know what has happened. I don’t know where I went wrong. I’ve tried to be an involved parent. I’ve tried to be a loving parent. I have been stern when I needed to be. I have given things that weren’t needed, but were wanted….when I felt that rewards were warranted.

I felt blessed with wonderful children. I felt loved. It all felt right. Then, things changed.

My son became a teenager and within a few months, I no longer recognized my child. What happened? I’ve gone nowhere. I’ve changed nothing. And yet, one night, after encouraging him to change his clothes because he was going to the movies with friends, I was treated to the most unbelievable behavior that I have ever seen from him. An explosion of anger that I would dare tell him what to wear. And it escalated to the point to me finally saying, “wear whatever you want. I don’t care. I was just trying to help. See if I give a shit anymore.”, leaving his room and taking a seat in the living room.

The next thing that happened forever changed me.

My son walked into the living room, with a large knife in his hand and said, “you know what, since you don’t give a shit, I will just slit my throat right here and you won’t ever have to worry about me again.” How did it go from me encouraging him to change clothes to him threatening suicide? He then turned around and went into his room. I was so terrified that I was unable to move….for 30 seconds. And then I jumped up, ran into his room, took the knife from his hand and we both sat down in the floor and cried.

I cried because I was terrified and relieved and confused and angry and everythingallatonce. He cried because he knew he upset me and that he was just so mad, he knew that was the best way to get my attention. He knew that I had a dear friend whose 13 year old son had shot himself in the head (details as to what/why and how are few and far between because it was a good kid, he was alone in the room and no one knows what happened) and how that had a profound effect on me, watching my friend go through that. My son knew of my reaction to that news, so he had a pretty good idea of how I would react to his threat.

We talked about suicide and how it was not something that you threaten people with. We talked about did he really feel like doing that? The answer was no, but that he just wanted to get my attention.

We talked about how so many kids just “wanted to get someone’s attention” with that and that the consequences were that they were dead and may not have really meant to be, but that they were. And that they left behind people with so many questions and such confusion as to what happened. I played out a scenario for him. He wanted my attention after arguing. He threatens to slit his own throat. He attempts it. He succeeds. I couldn’t save him. He dies in my arms. I am crying uncontrollably. His sister walks in the room to find me covered in his blood, him lying in my arms. And all I could do was cry that we just fussed over him having to change clothes. I didn’t know this would happen. That is how that scene would have played out. And I would never have been able to get over that I caused my son to do this, simply by having an argument with him…an argument, this time, over clothes. We talked about how nothing….NOTHING….is worth suicide. Especially not getting into argument over clothes.

We talked about how things, when we are teenagers, seem SO MUCH BIGGER than they actually are and that when you have feelings like it would be better to end it all, you need to talk to someone. He told me that he just sees so much on tv, about teenagers committing suicide over bullying and that suicide for teenagers just seems to be everywhere and that when he or his friends get upset that is what a lot of them think of first, because they hear of so many kids doing that. I couldn’t believe that this was something that he and his friends talk about, but dang if I wasn’t glad that he was sharing that with me.

We got past that point, but not without me worrying about every little fuss we had, whether or not he was thinking of suicide. I’m telling you, when your kid threatens something like that, it stays with you, permanently.

Then right around Thanksgiving, he had approached his dad and I about allowing him to have his cell phone past 9:00 PM. He pleaded his case. He felt that he should be able to keep it all night, as he was now a teenager and was responsible. We listened. After discussing it, we told him that we would extend it by one hour, but that wasn’t good enough for him. And instead of accepting what we offered, it turned into another huge argument. There was never any yelling or screaming during the negotiation of his phone, but it wasn’t going his way and he had such a defiant attitude and refused to listen to our reasoning, because it wasn’t what he wanted to hear and so it kept going on to where he looked at his dad and said, “I don’t know how you put up with that crazy, fucking bitch.” Now, let me tell you….my son has never seen me be a crazy, fucking bitch before and neither has my husband, really….until that night. I come up off my chair and got up in his face, pointing my finger and spitting while trying to coherently scream at him and I lost control.

The smirk on his face caused me to lose it and I slapped him.

And then I couldn’t stop hitting him.

Until my husband had to literally pick me up and pull me away. I have never, ever had that happen to me before, but I knew that it was there inside of me, because it was how my father was with me and I have worked so fucking hard to not be him and in a matter of seconds, I turned into him. Only it wasn’t my father…it was me. And I was devastated, because I just gave my children a memory of me, that I never wanted them to have. Ever.

My son ran into his room, I ran outside, my daughter was crying, my husband didn’t know who to go to first.

I did this to all of them.

I did.

What the hell happened? Now, I know there will be some people who say that I was 100% in the wrong. I accept that. I make no excuses for what I did. I am the adult. I should have had more control of myself. Then there are some people who will say that he deserved it because he never should have said that. Do you know what my kid said when I went into his room to apologize profusely, after calming way down, yet still crying? “Mom, I deserved that. It wasn’t your fault. Please don’t cry. You weren’t wrong. I hit you first, but in a different way.” Then I cried even harder, because, yes, he hit first, verbally, but I still had no right to that reaction. No right. And here we are, two months later…well, almost….and we still fuss and I still feel like I have no idea where my sweet, young, loving boy went.

I wonder will I ever get him back.

I wonder how much damage I have done from that one night.

I wonder how I got here with him.

I see news reports about a local 17-year-old boy, killing his dad and sister, because he felt like he was abused and although, I don’t know the background of that story, I wonder, Oh god….could that happen to me? Every parent thinks that they are doing a good job raising their kids. No parent thinks that they are raising one that does stuff like that. And yet, they did. And I wonder is that a possibility with mine? Or is it all just hormones and normal teenage angst?

Are we going to be okay?

And I pray that we are.

 

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What Do We Do Until?

As I read the news (AKA my Facebook and Twitter feeds) over the last couple of days, all I could think about was this:

WE ARE SO FUCKED.

Seriously F-U-C-Ked.

Until we have the desire to change.

Until we have to desire to care.

Until my friend Keesha can tell her son that the color of his skin doesn’t matter.  That he can walk down the street and be seen as a BOY, not a brown boy.

Until I can confidently tell my daughters that society doesn’t really give two shits about what size they wear.

Until my bestie can take her bi-racial children out in public and someone doesn’t ask her “what are they?”.  They are children you tool.

Until we actually care about a cause before a tragedy happens.  Not just after.

Until my friend Bliss can get the insurance coverage she needs in order to help her Autistic son get the therapies that he needs to succeed instead of a constant stream of “we don’t cover that, it’s not necessary”.

Until we can take our kids out to the park or to the movie or to the grocery store and don’t have to constantly worry about who is lurking in dark corners.

Until….

Until we can use our words to help each other instead of to constantly attack/belittle/discourage each other.

Until my friend Courtney can tell her kids that their dad is going to be just fine.  That they’ve found a cure for cancer.

Until our nightly news actually contains more positive news stories than negative.

Until it isn’t about white/black/hispanic/asian/gay/straight/purple polka dots, but instead it’s about us as human beings.

Until those that work “for the people”, actually do work “for the people”.

Until my nephew can get the life saving medicines that he needs without a battle with the insurance company, because contrary to what they may believe it actually won’t be better if he is no longer with us.

Until we stop fighting against each other and instead we work with each other to make a difference. To encourage change.

Until us mothers can put down our mops, toilet brushes, and baby wipes and quit fighting over who is a better mother and just be. Well, just be mothers, friends, supportive and encouraging.

Until our kids can go to school and not worry about what Snotty Sally or Jackass Joseph are going to say (or do) to them during the day.

Until our news feeds are no longer filled with Amber Alerts and posters of missing adults.   Abused animals and murder suspects.  Bombings  and shootings.

Until…..

 

 What Do We Do Until?

 

 

 

 

A Full Serving of Laughs With a Side of Advice

Advice

Every day, hundreds of people decide to start a blog.  One of the best resources for advice is to ask other bloggers, and for some reason, people come to me for advice.  Little do they know that I don’t  have a damn clue what I am doing here, I just pretend I do and usually just pass on the advice that I have been given.   I have made many, many mistakes in my first year of blogging so instead of giving my advice,  I have asked some of my very funny friends to help me.  So please  sit back, adjust your Poise pad, have your notebook ready to take notes, and I hope a little advice from my friends goes a long way.

Dear YKIHAYHT,

I have just started setting up my blog and I am not very good at design.  Can you give me some insight into what will keep my readers visual interest?  Thanks for your help~Color Blind

Dear Color Blind,

 A suggestion from my friend Paige Kellerman is to always put your entire post in red.  Readers love the interactive feel of having their corneas slowly burning while digesting your well thought-out content.  This is stellar advice if you are striving to drive your readers one step closer to blindness.  

Another important thing to remember is the organization of your sidebars.  There is nothing better than the appearance that you are in fact an advertising guru and not a writer.  I know personally, I love it when I try to read a blog and the ads have vomited all over the text.   As a matter of fact, Anna from My Life and Kids suggests this; Before writing your first post, be sure to load up your blog with ads, pop ups, and video ads. Make sure you get paid for every single page-view before you even start!  Brilliant Anna.  Simply brilliant. Once you are getting rich off of those ads, Kim from Let Me Start By Saying suggests you hire someone to create some fabulous graphics to fill the inches of open space in-between your ads; The more dancing graphics you have on the sidebars, the better, she suggests.

One last item  for you to consider adding just to make sure that your readers are fully annoyed before they leave.  From Allison motherhoodwtf?; People LOVE opening up a website and finding that it’s musical. What a great surprise! Pick your favorite music and give your readers a chance to get to know the bands you love.   Nothing would start your reader’s day off right like having to change their pants.  Take it from Kerry at HouseTalkNAdding music to your site is not good for the bladder impaired. It startles me into kegels every time.  Of course this decision is completely up to you, but I don’t know too many people who appreciate a heart attack brought on by Metallica first thing in the morning.

Hope this helps you just a bit.  Just remember, busy is key.  You want the words to be the last thing your readers look at.

Dear YKIHYAHT~

I have been blogging for a while now, but  I simply cannot figure out why I am not getting any comments.  Could you please give me some helpful hints to help increase my comment count?  ~All Alone

Dear All Alone~

Comments are the bloggers equivalent of a football player’s slap on the ass.   JD from Honest Mom suggests you take these steps to help increase comment count; Be sure to make your would-be commenters jump through TONS of hoops to leave a comment on your blog. For example, don’t allow them to comment with their name and blog URL – make them register for an obsolete AIM or Open ID account! And of course, don’t forget to make them struggle to translate a CAPTCHA to leave a comment. We all love doing that! Ah yes, nothing like creating yet another account on another website on which you will never remember your log-in name and password.  That will surely get them to come back and comment on future posts.  

If you implement this plan and you are still not seeing an increase in your comments, you have no choice but to take it one step further.  Ninja Mom insists you take this final step to ensure you will see an immediate comment count that would make even the most popular of bloggers jealous; Add extra layers of security. Word verification’s good for keeping out spammers, but what about testing the loyalty of your 5 readers? Consider having them complete an accounting exam, or identify all of the former US vice presidents before being able to comment.  Boom.

Dear YKIHAYHT~

Everyone tells me that I should comment on other blogs in order to help promote myself, to make my blog more visible to others.  I have been doing that but am not seeing an increase in visitors.  What do you think I’m doing wrong? ~Too Wordy

Dear Wordy~

Maybe your comments are too long and complex.  Take this advice from Robyn at Hollow Tree Ventures, it is certain to work;  Make sure to leave a comment – “LOL” always works, even on a serious post – to indicate that you enjoyed a blogger’s work. Then casually mention that you’ve started following them. A request for a follow-back and a link to your blog shows that you’re genuinely interested in developing a long-standing relationship, based on your appreciation and respect for whatever it was that person wrote about, which you really did read, pinkie-swear.

If that doesn’t work, you may have to resort to using DG’s favorite comments;  be sure to use the 3-two-word comments that bloggers love most…”loved it!” “well said!” and “amen sister” – this really conveys the point that the blog was total shite and/or you didn’t read it. That should really draw in the new readers.  Try it and get back to me.

Dear YKIHAYHT~

I am have been working really hard trying to make a connection with other bloggers but am not getting any requests for guest posts or to join any communities.  Can you help me with that? ~Anti-Social

Dear Anti-Social~

Might I suggest you take in these suggestions from these more experienced bloggers;

Meredith from Mom of the Year: If you want to be featured in a series that a blogger is running, instead of asking her to participate (or ever commenting on her blog or contacting her in any other way), write a post about how stupid the blogger is and how she was snotty for not including you.  Publish the post, don’t tell her about it, and let her find it by checking her traffic sources.  This is truly the best way to go about networking and building relationships within the field.

Stephanie from Binkies and Briefcases: Need a blog mentor? Be sure to research your area and find all of the big bloggers who live around you. Email them and invite them to lunch. If they say no look up their phone numbers and call them directly. Be sure to leave lots of personal Facebook messages as well. You want them to know you are VERY interested.

Anna from Random Handprints loves it when she follows a blogger on Twitter, and then finds a DM asking her to visit their site, pin to their really great Pinterest Board, join their Google+ circle, not to mention buy their eBook, contribute to their IndieGoGo fund, and of course, like their Facebook page.  Because who doesn’t want to be hounded by every person they decide to follow on Twitter?  I know I love DM’s asking me to follow them on Facebook.  I just run right on over. 

Dear YKIHAYHT,

I can’t seem to grow my readership, can you give me some suggestions on how to get more reads on my pieces? ~Struggling for Survival

Dear Struggling~

This may be a multi-level problem, first of all take this suggestion from Kathy at kissing the frog:  Feel free to write in stream of conciousness style while centering your text. Don’t bother with that silly spell check – just hit “publish” as soon as you’re done unloading your thoughts. You will appear spontaneous and quirky that way.

Courtney from Our Small Moments suggests that you try this:  Conventions stifle creativity.  No one really cares about commas, paragraphs, and periods, especially avid readers.

Once you have the spelling and grammar down pat, you may try this advice from Jen at PIWTPITT:  I love it when bloggers only write something new every three weeks or so.  I make sure to take time out every day to visit just to make sure I haven’t missed something.  I so look forward to that one post a month and it really keeps that blog fresh in my mind.

Since this is my blog, I suppose I will offer up this one piece of advice.  Please make sure to post two or more times per day.  It is super easy for me to keep up with all those posts since I have nothing else to do with my day but sit and read only your posts.  Please, once you have an idea, write it and post it even if you just posted something an hour ago.  No need to save that for another day when you don’t have an idea to write about.

If you get nothing else out of this post, I hope that at least you could get a good laugh.  Really, these ladies are some of the funniest people I know and their expertise is second to none.   None of us are perfect, but at least we can have fun and laugh about it.

What is Important. RIGHT. NOW.

I have been conflicted about writing about what happened in Connecticut on Friday.  So many have been so quick on the trigger to put out their opinions and I didn’t want to be that one who threw out some fodder before really taking the time to think and process exactly what has happened.  At first I thought to myself that I just had to put something out there.  I needed somewhere for my anger to go.  I needed an outlet.  Then I made the mistake of getting on my social media sites and found my anger going somewhere I didn’t really want it to go.  I immediately logged off and curled up on the couch with my kids for a while, then baked some cookies, and decided that writing out of anger was not a good idea.  Today I have had limited access to my social media, and the few minutes I spent checking in on things, I remembered why I had logged off yesterday.  I was left asking myself this question, and I suppose I am asking you the same; What is really important here?

When this tragedy first hit the news, all I could think about was how horrible I felt for these families, the victims, the survivors, the community, the country.  There was a pit in my stomach that brought tears, sadness, anger, fear.  Tears and sadness for those parents who sent their children to what is supposed to be a safe place and now they will never be able to tuck them in at night or kiss their angel faces.  Anger that someone could commit this heinous act against another human, let alone defenseless children.  Anger that so many people are so insensitive and self centered.  Fear in my heart that not even our schools are safe anymore.  Fear that I am here raising five children in this world so full of uncertainty and hate.  Fear that my children will not be allowed to be the children that they should be, but instead they will be forced to be children who are constantly looking over their shoulders unsure of the dangers that are lurking behind them.

Like so many others, I turned to social media for information, for a place to find guidance and help, a place to share my emotions, a place to comfort not only myself but my friends.  What I found instead was anger.  Not anger towards the coward that committed this act, but anger towards each other.  Anger not about what actually happened in that small town in Connecticut, but anger over a political issue.  Anger that brought out words that I was disgusted to read so soon after such a tragedy.  Words that were meant to hurt others and incite an argument.  Words aimed to divide and separate us instead of bring us together. Words so unnecessary in the moment that it was then that I realized my mistake and immediately logged off.  Two simple words really.  Two words that are a hot debate, a hot political item.  Two words that, to me, have absolutely no right being discussed on the day of, or the days immediately following, a tragedy such as this.  Two words that cause such a divide in this country that it brings out the worst in people.  Two words; Gun Control.

I am not a card carrying member of the NRA, nor am I anti-gun, so before you go all bat shit crazy on me I ask you to just read and think.  I am a mother.  I am a wife.  I am a citizen of the United States. I have my own thoughts and I will not push them on you and I ask you to do the same for me.   I have very mixed emotions on this entire issue and I am not looking for someone to sway me one way or the other.  I am not looking for a debate on why we need more control or why we don’t.  What I am looking for is some compassion.  Some understanding.  Some separation.  Some support.  Some love.

I have a very difficult time understanding why, in light of such a terrible tragedy, everything is turned into a political platform.  Yes, it is unimaginable and horrific what happened in that beautiful school. No, I do not see what politics has to do with what happened at this. exact. moment.   I truly, in my heart, do not believe that bringing up the topic of gun control makes a damn bit of difference at this very moment.  This is the type of change that takes months, if not years to make.  The type of change that is riddled with arguments, anger, and resentment.  The type of change that isn’t going to change what happened in that elementary school.  These families, these children, this community don’t need to be subjected to the debates and hate speech aimed at the opposing sides.  They need to be shown that we are truly joined together in support.  That we are praying for them, meditating, thinking, lighting candles, however you show support and love for those who need it.

Now is not the time for arguments.  Now is the time for help, and for healing.  This community has a long road ahead of them.  Funeral arrangements to be made, decisions about their school, grieving, crying, healing.  Now is the time for the rest of us to quit bickering for just a few days and think about what is really important RIGHT. NOW.  Right now at this very moment.  Right now there are twenty sets of parents grieving for the loss of a child that was supposed to outlive them.  Right now there are seven families grieving for the loss of a parent, spouse, cousin, sibling.  Right now there is a community drowning in sorrow.  Right now there are survivors dealing with emotions that those of us who were not there could never imagine.  Right now there are families who have gifts under their tree that will never be opened.  Right now we, as a country, need to help lift them up and show them that we do care about them.  Right now is the time to help, not argue.  I beg you to please stop the arguing over gun control.  It isn’t helping this community.  It isn’t helping anyone RIGHT NOW at this very moment.  We can debate next week, why don’t we HELP this week?

Here are just a few ways that you can help RIGHT NOW.  If you know of other ways to help, please leave a link in the comments.  My comments are moderated, so once I have verified, they will be published.

Life According to Julie: Helping a Family Who Has Lost Their Beloved Son.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/connecticut-elementary-school-shooting-how-to-help_n_2302760.html

http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/How-to-Help-Victims-of-Newtown-School-Shooting-183635951.html

Do You Need a Day Off?

I am just going to admit it, I’ve been in a slump.  I can’t call it writer’s block because I actually CAN think of topics to write about, but it is the actually writing process that I am having a problem with.  I  am going to attribute it to the craziness that has been my life the past two weeks with back to school, starting back to work, and trying to find our “schedule”.  I know, excuses, excuses.  Well, I decided to take it to my friends, so I asked on Facebook on Sunday what the people who read what I have to say on a regular basis want me to write about.  I had great responses to my request, enough that I think I shall deem this Facebook week here on the ol blog.  The comment with the most “likes” (over 60 at last look) was from Andrea and this is what she wants to know:

How to get partners to participate more with their Children! Sooo sick of hearing “I work all day you stay home and do nothing” any SAHM knows its NOT easy! Especially when another is coming! Then on their days off they don’t want to help because it is THEIR day off. Where the hell is my day off?

I must first say that I will not refer to moms or dads, only partners, during this post because I have gotten to know quite a few stay at home dads that work their asses off on a daily basis as well.  When thinking about how to attack this post I kept thinking about my This Journey Called Motherhood post from last month.  I think it is so hard for us stay at home spouses to juggle it all.  Cooking, cleaning, homework, changing diapers, take one kid here, take one kid there, pay the bills, you know what I mean.  It seems as if the list never ends.  I decided, for just a minute, take that list and forget about it.  Now imagine that you are the one getting up every morning. You leave behind your little people and your home, and you head to a job that at least 3 out of 5 days you do not enjoy but you go to because your family is depending on you for survival.  If it isn’t for that job you have no home, no food, no car, no money.  The pressure is really on.

For me, I will take the cleaning and the “menial” work that comes with staying home over the pressure of providing all the financial support for my family.  I know how stressed Farmer Bob gets at times, especially since we have been in a drought, and I feel so stressed for him.  I would understand to a point why he would need a day on the weekend to decompress, but he also understands to a point why I need the same thing.  It wasn’t always this way.  We have had our moments of disagreement and selfishness, but we have learned that parenting is also a sacrifice.  Parenthood is such a learning process and I can remember Farmer Bob and I having this same lively discussion about who really needs a “day off”.

When you bring home that first baby, you have this picture of perfection in your mind.  I will wake up every morning with a smile on my face, send my spouse off to work with a kiss and a smile just like a 1950′s housewife.  I will spend my day teaching my baby everything he needs to know and when he naps I will clean the house, do the laundry, and cook supper.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!  Seriously, those pregnancy hormones can do crazy shit to your brain.  Those first few months when baby sleeps most of the time and you actually do get things accomplished are so deceiving.  Before you know it all hell breaks loose and you realize that maybe, just maybe, raising this little person is not always going to be all peaches and cream and that you can NOT do it alone.  You find yourself  deeply conflicted about your decision to stay home and raise the babies.

Hands

Not only are you learning how to be a stay at home parent, but your spouse is learning how to be a working parent as well.   They are learning how to balance being gone all day and playing catch up when they get home.  I don’t know this for a fact, but I would imagine that there would be a small amount of guilt felt by them for missing out on all the things that we stay at home parents get to witness.  Those first smiles, those first giggles, those first steps, that first time they find a pair of scissors and cut out a chunk of hair.  Just as we have moments of jealousy that they get to leave the house ALONE every day, they have those same moments when they walk out the door.  Maybe not every day, like when the kids are screaming at each other as they are heading out, but I am sure that they have them.  You will never know if you never ask.

Your partner, the financial provider, goes to work every day.  They have no idea what you do while they are gone they just know that they come home, the house is clean, dinner is cooking, and they have clean clothes to wear.  They have no concept of exactly what type of miracles you had to perform in order to do those tasks.  Communication is key in sharing with them exactly what it took to get it all done.  They don’t know that you had to hold a screaming baby in one hand while running the vacuum with the other.  They don’t know that you had to keep a busy toddler from throwing all the laundry on the floor before, and after,  you had a chance to fold it.  They don’t know that you were busy body blocking the kids from touching the oven while trying not to burn the hamburger you had cooking on the stove.  Your partner will most likely tell you about their day, shouldn’t you tell them about yours?

Parenthood is such an ever evolving process.  Just when you think you have found your “comfort zone” something changes. A new job, a new milestone, a new baby.  Communication is essential to your emotional survival.  If you cannot communicate about how stressed you are and how you need a “day off” as well, your relationship and your kids are going to suffer.  Yes, it is so important for both partners to have time alone. I look forward to it, even if it is just to go grocery shopping or to go to school to volunteer.  When I am gone, I find myself looking forward to returning home…later.

More importantly, it is imperative for you to say to your partner; hey, I know you are tired after a long week of working, I’ve had a long week too.  How about we go do something as a family to unwind?  Go to the park, go to the zoo, just go out and do something that you all enjoy.  You may be surprised how quickly both of you forget about how stressful your week was and exactly how wonderful your family is.