Every year around Mother’s Day, I wonder why I don’t see any cards that I relate to. Cards that speak to me. Cards that praise the everyday accomplishments of mothers everywhere.
Like calling poison control and discovering that the thing your kid ate is non-toxic. Or answering 204 questions in the span of an hour and a half without giving yourself a concussion just for the peace and quiet. Or getting anything—really, even one. single. thing—done while children are in your care.
So, because I’m a giver, I’ve whipped up some e-cards that really capture the spirit of Mother’s Day.
Happy Mother’s Day, mama! Here’s hoping there’s a mimosa coming your way.
I have about eight—drat, no, seven—minutes to pound this out. Seven minutes to cobble some words together and jam them onto this screen here, and hope they make some kind of sense. Tick tock. No pressure.
It’s been a while. Things in my life are basically freaking bananas all the time. I had another kid last year, (hence the pregnancy post) and I’ll be damned if that doesn’t just suck all time and energy right out of your life. I mean, sucking like a vacuum in a cartoon where all the forest animals and leaves and pine needles and newspapers and old people get sucked into it. Like that.
When this new lil’ babe was born, beneath the torrential avalanche of need, I extended myself a little rope, tied to the boat of sanity. That rope was this: you can’t do much more than this, Melanie. You just can’t. You’ve got two people that need you all the freaking time, the idea of “me time” is laughable, and parenting is about as easy as threading a needle with an invisible worm. So to make it I had to let go of my dream to-do list, and pare it down to something simpler. It turned out about like this:
• Get out of bed
• Survive 10 hours until Stephen comes home
• Do not slap strangers as a result of exhaustion and anxiety
• Hug the girls really and truly at least once a day
• Don’t stress-eat all the food in San Diego
It’s a pretty limited list, but I know it’s within my capabilities, though just barely.
(Crap, I’m out of time, you all.)
So, good morning, Snuggles. I’m still here and alive and I still want to write and I want to hug your blessed little faces with my thought pukes. Even if it’s only seven minutes at a time.
I just got hit in the face. Hard. Happy Mother’s Day?
Okay, so it’s technically the day before Mother’s Day and I’m being a bit dramatic. But I got hit in the face by my kid real hard, so I kinda think I get a pass.
Now I need to say this: by all accounts, my daughter is a kind, thoughtful, well-behaved child. She’s smart and funny and awesome. I say that not to brag about my kid, but rather just to point out that the best case scenario as a parent is that your kid will be kind, thoughtful, and well-behaved before and after she smacks you in the face.
That’s just parenting. That’s the gig. It’s some kind of insane, child-rearing blood sport. Lord help us.
So let’s buy dumb crap and alienate people!
I read this Salon article by Anne Lamott the other day called, “Why I hate Mother’s Day.” And while I usually just smile too much, nod, and hug my computer screen when I read her work, I sadly have to disagree with this one—at least a little.*
I think Mother’s Day can be kind of stupid and obligatory, but only because we’ve framed it wrong. Mother’s Day isn’t about claiming that mothers are better than other people, or somehow more valuable. They’re not. There are zero requirements to becoming a mother. Stupid people become mothers all the time. Big deal.
I don’t think you somehow become more of a person when you become a mother. Your value is there from day 1. You’re valuable just because, and there’s no amount of marrying or procreation or anything else makes you more legitimate as a person. So we can stop mother worship as a holiday. It creeps me out.
But I kinda need Mother’s Day, okay?
I don’t need pink cards, or flowers, or certainly one of those swoopy necklaces or whatever. It’s not about that to me. You know what it’s about? Survival. I need a day when people that are important to me say, “Hey, I see you over there, and I know you’re just barely making it. Good job and I’m sorry and here’s a beer.”
It should be called “Motherhood Survival Day,” where all mothers are acknowledged not for doing it all right, or being magically worth treasuring, but just for making it through another year. Just for making it through an unending torrent of questions and comments about your daily activities, objections to whatever plans you’ve laid, several-times-daily accidental injuries to your person or property, unbridled emotions and—yes—the occasional southpaw smack to the face.
I come into and out of too many days feeling battered and bruised, not knowing if I can stitch together enough scraps of my remaining sanity to hold myself together. And I’m guessing a lot of mothers feel that way, too.
I’m sorry. I see you. Hang in there.
So, following last year’s tradition, I’ve whipped up a few Mother’s Day greetings for you to use if you wanna keep it real this year. Send and receive them with high fives and snuggles from me, okay? Happy Mother’s Day, mamas.
*it should be noted that I love Anne Lamott to freaking bits and if you haven’t read her work you absolutely should. Bird by Bird is an all-time fav of mine (thanks Matt!). Go check her out.
Next time you see a pregnant lady, you really need to stop and give her five bucks. Why? Well, the short answer is that pregnancy is the freaking worst. THE WORST.
Okay, having your leg chewed off by a bengal tiger is probably pretty bad, too. But pregnancy is freaking awful, and no one comes right out and says that because, well, I think it makes you look like a bad parent or something. But I totally don’t care about that. Let me endure the judgement and describe the terrible catastrophe that is pregnancy. You’re welcome.
Morning Sickness is a Lie
The term “morning sickness” is about as accurate as “occasional breathing” or “optional heartbeat.” For many, the nausea that comes with your precious bundle of joy happens whenever the crap it wants to, and—blissfully for some—all the live long day. I’ll let you guess which of those things happened to me.
It’s also not some adorable, dainty little queasiness. It’s as if food is now the enemy, and your body will do anything to keep it out of your mouth/stomach/necessary locations for life. I’ve read of women puking 20 times a day. Twenty. Times. Uh, give that lady five bucks.
My nausea was so bad that my doctors gave me a drug that they also give to chemo patients. Because apparently being on chemo and being pregnant have certain similarities. I don’t know why they don’t put that on Hallmark cards. Even that prescription-strength solution didn’t keep this pleasant little conversation from happening in my head several times a day:
I’m going to die. I can’t believe this is how it’s going to end for me. A shriveled, starved mess that can’t get out of bed. Wait, no, you live in California, Melanie. CALIFORNIA. I’m pretty sure there are a few steps between this and death. Right? Of course! They’ll hook you up to IVs and give you nutrients that way! All you need is hospitalization! No. big. deal.
Thankfully it didn’t come to that, though I did ask my husband several times to check into a medically induced coma. I’m still a little mad that he didn’t at least Google it. Right? Right.
“Cravings”? Not Exactly
You always hear those adorable stories of women wanting to eat pickles and ice cream, like that’s the cutest thing ever. The reality? Pickles and ice cream—and other equally absurd food choices—may be the only thing your body will accept. So, if the choice is between the aforementioned hospitalization and, say, shrimp-flavored Cup O’ Noodle and instant mashed potatoes, you kinda choose the Cup O’ Noodle. Turns out, the desire to not die in your bed is pretty strong.
There once was a time when I favored braised beef cheek and chilled grape soup with basil foam—pregnancy reduced my palate to that of a still-drunk frat boy. Thanks for that. Give me five bucks, please. I have no self respect.
I told my doctor about this terrible starvation/inability to eat anything that can reasonably be called food and her was response was, “Luckily, the baby doesn’t need nutrition right now.” Yeah, luckily. And it’s not like I need it, right? And where is the baby getting her nutrients? She’s stealing them from your body. Like a parasite. Where’s the greeting card for that?
(Sadly, that analogy doesn’t quite end at birth. Not that I hate my kid. I don’t. I promise. Look, I can prove it.)
“Luckily,” Lots of Terrible Stuff is Normal
If you’ve never been pregnant before, all this crazy stuff will start happening to you and you’ll be like, “Holy shitballs, this can’t be right. This is how humans are made?” and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll say as much to your doctor. And she will say, “Yeaaaaaaaah. I’m sorry.” Because it totally IS right. It’s normal. For your entertainment/education/horrification, here’s a bunch of bizarro stuff that’s just par for the course with pregnancy.
Days long headaches that you can’t do anything about, because you can’t take any pain killers when you’re pregnant. A wet cloth on your head in a dark room may be recommended.
Bleeding gums. Like you’re a pirate with scurvy. Sweet.
Not pooping ever. Someone I know might have thought she was going to die of not pooping. It wasn’t me, because why would I share that? But no one wants pooping to be mentioned in their obit.
Nosebleeds. Wha…? Or a constant stuffy nose. Also wha…?
The persistent feeling of being kicked in the crotch. This happens because of a chemical that makes your joints loosen. Sometimes your pelvic joint kinda, you know, comes apart. And that process might make you Google “pregnancy kicked in the crotch.”
Extra moles. To make you feel awesome about yourself.
Chest pain due to: a baby being where your organs are supposed to go; or heartburn; or maybe a blood clot or heart attack. Hard to know. Not that that’ll freak you out or anything.
Dark spots all over your skin. To help with camouflage in the wild?
Hot flashes. Because why the heck not at this point, right?
There’s totally more than this but…why? (Oh, wait…diabetes! You can get di-a-be-tes just while you’re pregnant. And middle-of-the-night leg cramps! And anemia!!) I mean, does it need to get any worse for you to spot a lady a fiver? If so, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU HORRID FIEND?
I will take one second to address something that might come up in the comments: some people have lovely pregnancies. They say they’ve never felt better, and that it’s such a blessing and they glow and all that crap. Ladies, you owe other pregnant women fifty bucks. Somehow they caught your share of the crappy part while you rubbed your belly and made cooing noises. Not okay.
So there it is. Go forth and procreate you poor bastards. I’ll give you five bucks if I see you.
I don’t know what it is about today; about this week or this month… Maybe it’s been years now, maybe a lifetime—but I’m hitting a little bit of a tipping point when it comes to how I perceive my body and its various shortcomings. For review, let’s list out what’s wrong with me (limited to physical appearance, of course—we only have so much room here):
deep forehead wrinkles…nay—crevasses
stretch marks (thanks kids)
flabby arms (or underarm dingle-dangle, as Ruthie would say)
untamed bikini line
splotchy pores on legs
hairy uprising on the facial region
several “companion pounds” I’ll call them, that may never leave me…
And you know what? Who gives a shit?
I have all of those things because I’m a human person. I am a human person who has yet to develop some crazy disorder that prevents me from aging. So, as I get older—as we all are forced to do by the time-space continuum—I look older. And, I ask again, who gives a even a tiny turd about it?!
Take just a moment to think about how nuts it is that we try to stop aging. I mean, when you see a product in the store labeled “anti-aging,” do you think, “What kind of crack pot monkey dreamed that up, and how stoned was the group of people that launched it into reality?” Because that’s what you should think. That’s what we should ALL think.
The Silver Fox of Snark
I started going gray in my mid-twenties. It’s not really a look that most people want to cultivate. I discovered I was gray when I stopped dying my hair. I was like, “I’m gonna be all natural and embrace myself and yadda yadda,” and my head replied, “Well, that’s fun because we’ve changed a few things around here.” And there it was. I kind of decided (likely due to my frequently mentioned laziness) that it is way too much fuss to dye away the gray. I just didn’t have the energy to put up a 70-year-long fight against, of all things, my freaking hair.
So here I am nearly a decade later and I’ve got a whole lot of that stuff sprouting out of my head. Every now and again it bothers me, but I really don’t care. My plan is to let it all come in and take over, then I’ll rock that business like I’m Steve Martin. I mean, look at that guy’s hair. Pure, 100% silver white and no one cares. Which brings me to a sticking point…
Men are allowed to age. Women are not.
Yep. That’s the deal. Steve Martin sports his gray hair like nobody’s business and he seems distinguished. Hillary Clinton grows her hair out and pulls it back instead of coiffing it just so and people go bananas. Hey, people: shut up. Because Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton is allowed to look however she wants. She’s allowed to get older, and to decide not to invest endless time and money into pretending she’s not getting older. Just like I am. We’re all allowed—men and women—to age with grace, and dignity, even affection (!) for our changing selves. My new rule: if Steve Martin can do it, so can I.
And then there’s the Thinspiration problem
I think the reason this is all on my mind right this second is because I keep happening upon what I’ve learned is called “thinspiration.” It’s like all those “how to drop 10 lbs in a month” or that picture of a woman squeezing her leg with the caption “how to solve the cellulite problem.” (Here’s a hint: stop squeezing your leg like that!)
Pinterest is brimming with these things, but so is the Today show, major news outlets, magazines—basically everywhere you look, you can find some “solution” for the problem of your—ahem—normal human body.
And to revisit my last point, how many dudes do you think are trying to solve their “cellulite problems”? How many under-eye creams do you think dudes are buying? Waxing kits? Boxes of hair dye? Skin primers? Lip balms? Anti-whatever-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you salves? Not nearly as many as women are. If a guy can save his money to go to the movies instead spending money to rip/bleach/laser blast his hair off, don’t you think you’re allowed to do the same? And menfolk, if you find yourselves falling into the trap of needing to look like a glowing, 2% body fat stone sculpture of a human, don’t worry about it. No one cares. Be a real human person with skin and hair and flaws. It’s okay. For all of us.
I don’t need to feel beautiful
I think our normal response in this discussion is to affirm beauty. To say, “No, no! You look [enter appropriate compliment here]!” And while this, indeed, is quite comforting, it doesn’t entirely solve the problem. Because, you know what? I’m not going to be “beautiful” when I’m 85. In fact, I’ll likely fall well below the beauty standard far, far before then. So will you. Even if you get surgery and shellac the crap out of yourself, everyone’s going to know that you’re not a 16-year-old girl. (Which is, apparently, our effed up standard for what people should always look like.)
I need to feel human. I need to watch time mark the days around my eyes and on my hips and through my hair and somehow feel more like myself, not less. I want each season to bring new scars, new wrinkles and more sag and for all that to make me feel that somehow, some way, I’m winning. I’m living. I’m human. I’m aging. It’s great.
Closing eyes and clicking heels
I want to believe all of these words through and through, without batting an eye. I want to banish that pang of guilt I feel every time I’m presented with the b.s. yardstick society so politely reminds me I’m not measuring up to. I want to embrace my changing, aging body without the knee-jerk reaction to sculpt it, starve it, or slather it into some other, better form. But for now, I’m closing my eyes, and clicking my heels, just hoping I’ll be transported to a mental home, free of these crazy, shrieking, body-hating monkeys.
And so, heroes of the internet with sagging boobs, and gray hair, and furry potbellies, I ask you to join me. Try with me. Get everyone you know to be down with aging. Wouldn’t it be rad if in 2033 there isn’t a single person out there writing this same freaking blog post? Fighting these same shrieking monkeys? There’s no place like…
What do you think?
(p.s. Check out this TED talk from model Cameron Russell. If models are still bummed about how they look after, you know, being the model for how people should look, maybe we’ve got it all wrong, huh?)
Our public servants are gleaming examples of how to succeed. They’ve pushed forward through adversity, overcome tremendous obstacles, and weathered the storms of life to get where they are today. Awe-inspiring. Tear-jerking. Eagle-spurring.
Thank you, politicians.
The last two weeks, both the Republican and Democratic parties have put on their Cirque du Serviteur and we’ve all had the fabulous opportunity to see their tactics in all their splendor and silliness. Now, because these people are our examples for success and responsibility in our societies, I think it’s best that we pay close attention to how they live, and try to live the same way.
To help us in this effort, I’ve adapted the aptitude and artistry of America’s finest citizens to a circumstance we will likely all face in our lives: the job interview. Aaaaaannnnnd…here we go:
Put a Bow on It
The first step is to make a nice, pretty, shiny package of yourself. You want something that is clean, and simple, but too abstract to actually say anything specific, but emotionally manipulative enough to make someone feel that if they don’t like it, they’re a terrible person. Eagles, stars, swoopy things—you should work in these elements as much as possible.
History Doesn’t Matter—Your Version of History Does
Has your life thus far been rather unimpressive? Who cares?! Just don’t admit that on your resumé. Instead, take whatever banal, bland goings-on you have under your belt, and add a little razzmatazz. This is also known as “lying.” But we’re going to be doing that a lot here, so you should probably get over it. (And I do mean a lot, a lot. Not a little. Like, a truckload.) If you need some guidance on this, here are some options:
“Worked at McDonald’s” becomes “Fed the hungry with speed and efficiency.”
“Administrative Assistant” becomes “Organization Architect” where you were “the keystone for success in inter-departmental relations.”
“Crossing Guard” becomes “Guardian of Safety for the Youth of America”
“Sandwich Artist at Subway” can stay just the way it is—there’s no way to make it sound more pretentious. Well done, Subway.
Blow the Competition Out of the Water
You’ve bluffed your way to the interview. Now’s the time to really roll out the big guns. Here are some key phrases to really make an impression:
“I want to thank Jesus Christ for getting me this interview.”
“If I don’t save you enough money in my first three months here to buy a herd of elephants, you can fire me.” (Don’t worry about the “fire me” part. You can always just threaten to sue for discrimination, or fabricate a story about sexual harassment. There are lots of options here.)
“The applicants in the hallway are communists and plan to give all of your assets to lazy people. You’ll be out of business before anyone can say ‘herd of elephants.'”
“The applicants in the hallway kill babies. Now, that may not affect their work, but do you really want be in a workplace where people have to literally hide their kids?”
“The applicants in the hallway hate America. I know, I’m shocked, too.”
“The other applicants aren’t like you and me, Sally. They just. Don’t. Get it.”
“If you care about your family, your neighbors, your business, or—really—your life…you’ll do what’s right: you’ll hire me.”
After delivering that last line—the clincher—just get up, raise up your arms, smile, and wave off in the distance. Say, “Thank you! Thank you!” and do that hands-together-at-your-heart-falsely-humble bowing thing as you make your way out the door. Then, just wait for the congratulatory calls to come a-rollin’ in.
Well done, you brave Pinocchio, you! Well done.
Lots of thank-yous to the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic parties for doing some truly trailblazing work in the art of lying. Bravo.
This week I’d like to talk about love. Specifically, what Mr. Jason Mraz has to teach us about it. But first, look at these freaking girls:
Isn’t that the cutest/most awesome thing you’ve ever seen? That much talent so young…whoa. I could squeeze their little cheeks straight off.
Now that we’ve got that cuteness out of the way, let’s talk about how this song is basically all you need to know about what you should want in love. That’s right. Mr. Mraz just covered the whole kit n’ kaboodle in one pop song. Impressive, sir. Impressive.
So, let’s break it down. Here’s what you should be looking for in love:
Someone Who Thinks You’re Freaking Amazing
When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
There’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?
Do you hear that crap?! Those are like EPIC compliments. Big, gorgeous, gushing, not-at-all-gun-shy compliments. That’s how compliments should sound coming from someone who loves you. You should feel better than you think you are. You should be blown away. And notice that he didn’t say anything stupid like, “You’re keepin’ it tight” or “I love that booty” or some other trash. He’s not just ogling. He’s complimenting eyes and the soul behind them. He’s complimenting the person, not the body the person is in. A+, Jason. A+.
Someone Who’s a Kick Ass Friend
And when you’re needing your space
To do some navigating
I’ll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find
I am loving the crap out of this line. Not only is he supportive of the life/soul work people inevitably need to do, but he’s waiting, excited to see what happens. That’s what you want. Someone who’s waiting…waiting to see who you’re going to be tomorrow. Someone who’s convinced it’s gonna be good. You’re gonna be good. Love it.
Someone Who’s In It In It
I won’t give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I’m giving you all my love
I’m still looking up
‘Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We’ve got a lot to learn
God knows we’re worth it
No, I won’t give up
Love is hard. Not the beginning, usually, but along the road, it gets hard. It’s hard because life is hard. We lose our cool, we’re selfish, we’re needy, we get depressed…there’s a whole myriad of things that make life and love a tough gig. So when you’re thinking about loving someone for a long time—about inviting them into the forever part of your life—you want someone who’s dedicated. Someone who’s going to hold on as hard as you will. Someone who’s gonna do that because “God knows we’re worth it.”
Someone Who Writes and Sings Pretty Songs
Just kidding. (But it doesn’t hurt. I mean, use what ya got, people.)
I think everyone deserves love that’s potent. Love that rips right through you. Love that makes you forget what came before and incapable of imagining anything better. Everyone deserves to be loved in that way that makes you cry when you’re happy. Love that makes you thankful to be alive. Love that you can only meet equally if you love with your whole, entire heart. Everyone deserves that. Everyone.