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Friday Five – The Worst of the ‘Wisdom’ I Get From Moms

6 Apr

image courtesy of inthefresh09.com

Every now and then I hit my threshold of listening to unintentional stupidity. Since I’m a married woman who does not have children, and society is ever-pushing us into the next stage of life, I get more unsolicited random ‘advice’ from mothers than I want. To be fair, the amount I want is none, but even so, I usually can do pretty well for awhile at brushing off comments as they come. But every now and then I’ll get a bunch in short order, and I’ve got to let it out somewhere. So I submit for your approval a collection of the five most common and innane things I hear from those who bear the title “Mom.” Because I have to rant/laugh at it all, or I’ll go crazy. Who’s with me?!?

*As an added bonus for levity, I’ve included a few related STFU Parents categories. Enjoy!

“You don’t understand [insert noun - life, unconditional love, sacrifice, happiness - here] until you become a mother.”

Really? (Somehow I have a feeling all my responses could begins with, “Really?”) I feel like I have a pretty good handle on all of the above. Do I have more to learn? Yes. Do I understand all there is to understand about any of the above? I’m pretty sure I’m not God, so no. But I feel like I do a pretty good job. I’ve seen parents who are horribly self-centered. I’ve seen parents put their well-being and happiness above the best interest of their child, sometimes to the point of abuse. I’ve seen parents so self-obsessed that their children are merely extensions of their egos. If this common mom saying were true, everyone would magically be imbued with all these qualities when they become a parent, and that’s just not how it works. Some of the wisest, most sacrificial people I know aren’t parents. (Mother Theresa, anyone?) To be fair, I do kind of understand this one. I definitely gained a fuller understanding of happiness, life, sacrifice and unconditional love by getting married than I had before. But just because I learned something through my marriage, does that mean I can say that my understanding is somehow better or more authentic than someone who is not married? Whether you really think it’s true or not, saying this out loud just makes you come off as a smug, self-satisfied, condescending jerk.

Related STFU Parents Category: Mommyjacking

“You’re tired? Try having a [screaming newborn, screaming two-year-old, a child with the stomach flu] keeping you up all night. Then you can talk to me about tired.”

Really? (Ok, I’ll stop after this one.) So just because I didn’t choose to pop out a kid I don’t have a right to be tired? Working full-time, keeping a household running while my husband is putting in 90 hour weeks for tax season, while making time to work out and have a social life doesn’t earn me the right to say I’m tired? Oh, right, because I choose to add working out and a social life to my time, I have no right to complain. After all, moms never get time for themselves, amirite? (Heard that one a lot too.) But guess what? Moms make a choice too: to have a kid. Just because a mom’s choice involved bringing another person into this world doesn’t mean they can plant the Mommy flag and lay claim to the land of tired. Suffering insomnia for weeks on end means I’m not tired? I’m pretty sure insomnia, especially caused by a migraine, is comparable to being up with a screaming kid. Inability to sleep no matter how much I want to? Check. Pounding head no amount of Advil can cure? Check. Looking like an extra on The Walking Dead at work the next day? Check. But what do I know? I’m not a mom. I’d never understand.
Similarly, we have “You think you’re busy? Try keeping up with two kids still in diapers. Then tell me you’re busy.”
Because no one who’s not a mom is busy. I hit three campuses across the Bay Area on an average day at work, and teach 15 classes of Preschool through 8th grade students. And run the errands. And do the cooking. And have a very busy social calendar. And mentor teenagers. And, and, and, and. Everyone is busy, especially if  you live in the California Bay Area. Get over it.

Related STFU Parents Category: Woe is Mom

“You think your job is tough? Try being a mom.” or “Moms have the hardest, most important job in the world!”

This one really gets me. Not because I think my job is particularly hard. As I’ve said, I have the best job in the world. No, this one gets me because some people have job titles that look like this: Neurosurgeon. Cardiothorasic surgeon. Heck, any type of surgeon. Commanding Officer of a platoon about to enter enemy territory during wartime. President of the United States. Heck, any job where the lives and wellbeing of more than 2.5 people are in your hands. Any  of the thankless jobs featured on Dirty Jobs that keep our society running by doing the work none of the rest of us want to do. Ever seen A Day Without A Mexican? Other jobs are hard. Other jobs are important. Get over it.

Related STFU Parents Category: Sanctimommy

“Get all your [sleep, travelling, sex] in now, while you still can!”

Oddly, this is the comment I most often get from people who seem desperate to induct me into The Cult of Mom. It comes right before I hear, “But I can’t wait until you have kids! You’ll be the best mom ever!! You’re going to love it!!!” Not really making a great case for yourself here, ladies. What if I don’t have a burning desire to backpack in Europe? Does that mean I’m doomed to be forever unfulfilled because I didn’t fit it in during the third of my life without kids? What about after kids? I’m looking forward to exploiting my empty nest syndrome, thankyouverymuch. There’s a reason all the moms I hear these things from have kids under the age of ‘teen.’
So life stops once you have kids? Really? You want to cop to having a boring life and blame it on your kids? I’d say blame it on yourself. We make time for that which is important to us. Need extra sleep? That’s what babysitters are for. Want to go on a trip? That’s why we have family. (Blood born or chosen.) Want more sex? Well, that’s between you, your spouse, and The Guide to Getting it On. We’re also told that sex goes out the window after marriage, and I know many married couples who would disagree with that. (That’s assuming you had sex pre-marriage, of course. I didn’t, so I can only speak to the joy of the after.)

Related STFU Category: WTF of the Day

“Just wait until you have kids. You’ll say/do all this stuff too!”

Um, no. No I won’t. I am blessed to have lots of absolutely sane friends who also happen to be parents. If they’re obsessed with all organic food, they keep it to themselves. If they are fanatical about using cloth diapers, they don’t berate other moms for making different choices. They’re respectful, and they don’t make me feel less-than because I’m not a mom yet. My BFF Melissa in particular is awesome at being a parent who raises two kids that are more well-rounded and loved than any I’ve known, while having boundaries and making lots of time for her husband, her girlfriends, and herself.
When I hear this from moms, I think about that thing we heard in college. You remember, everyone said how drinking only made the real you come out. Alcohol takes away your filter and gives you an excuse to follow your inner desires. There’s a reason they call it ‘liquid courage.’ Well, I replace the word ‘alcohol’ with ‘parenting.’ In my experience, having a child gives some parents an excuse to let out all of the parts of their personality they’ve kept hidden for fear of public shunning. If you’re a closet narcissist, your children are the most perfect beings ever to grace this earth. If you’re a hypochondriac, every cough turns into a frantic call to the doctor. If you wish you achieved more in your life, your children represent everything you wish you could have been. And on, and on, and on… I have a lot of qualities I’d rather keep under wraps, but I also have a pretty good sense of when I’m pissing people off. To be fair, I don’t always care to change if I sense this, but still. I also have friends who I fully expect to snatch me bald-headed if I start acting like a stuck-up self-important parent. Or if I call them to say hi, only to put my three-month-old on the phone for ten minutes at a time because she’s just so cute! Or if I start pushing The Cult Of Mom with a side of breast milk-laced Kool-aid on unsuspecting non-parents. Sorry, I’m not going to obsessively talk about my baby’s bowel movements on social media sites. Not going to happen, because I’m NORMAL! Just because you do it does not make it normal.

I know I’ve come off just as self-righteous and pompous as all the moms I claim to abhor. Please know it’s all in good fun. Kind of a ‘laugh at it before you cry’ kind of thing. Because I really do hear these all the time, and I Do. Not. Get. It. I do not get the need to push your choices or life-stage onto someone else, especially one as completely life-altering as becoming a parent. I’m happy to be a DINK for now, thank you. I’m loving it, I’m living it, I’m owning it. I’m sure when the time comes I’ll love and love and own parenthood too. But not just yet. And I solemnly swear that if you are childless when I have kids, you have my permission to kick my sanctimonious @ss if I do anything that would land me a feature on STFU Parents.

So what do you think? I know I’m not the only married-without-kids gal out there that’s gotten burned by The Cult of Mom, so share your story. What do you do, laugh or cry?

In the Words of Seth and Amy, REALLY?!?

28 Mar

Ya’ll know I don’t have network television. We watch everything online. Which means we see a few commercials over and over and over again. I keep seeing this one every time I turn on Up All Night or Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and I just have to say, in the words of Seth and Amy, REALLY?!?

Really??? I’m a working woman. I have a full-time career, a home to keep running, a marriage whose health and happiness requires intentional upkeep, family and friends to make time for, a full workout schedule to maintain, not to mention all the volunteer work and relationships with my high school kids that I care about keeping up with. God help me when I have kids. But, really, now I’m being told by the host of Biggest Loser over and over again that I need to make time to make sure my pets get enough exercise? Um, REALLY?!? I know this commercial is about cats and I have dogs, but I see this commercial and all I hear is ‘here’s one more thing you need to be making time for and feeling guilty about if you’re not.’

 “I can imagine as a cat owner, things start to get into a routine.” Really?!? You’re honestly telling me that monotony in a pet’s life is a serious problem that I should worry about?

Really, I love my dogs, I take care of my dogs. I’d go so far as to say they’re pretty spoiled, especially since both were severely neglected rescues before we got them. I volunteer my time at that rescue, and am all about pets being treated very well. This commercial seriously encourages scheduling daily quality time for pets, as if pet obesity were as big problem deserving of public concern as, oh, I don’t know, getting your pet fixed so we don’t have so many unwanted pets being euthanized in shelters. As if people aren’t already so concerned with their pets that pets are a $41 billion a year industry. REALLY?!? Cats get enough exercise. They’re cats. My indoor dogs get (mostly) daily walks and regularly tear around my house after the toys A and I throw for them. I spend time with them and play because it brings me joy; if someone owns a pet and doesn’t feel that way, why are they pet owners? As if a 30 second commercial is going to stop the neglect if someone doesn’t love their pet enough to play with them? Save the public service commercials for things that really matter, like spending wisely to end child slavery, combating kids being used as war pawns, or telling bullied kids that it gets better.

Marriage is Cheap on ABC

23 Feb

What is up with all these separated couples on TV thinking that separation equals a dating free for all? Ok, it’s really only two couples on two shows that I’ve seen, Desperate Housewives and Private Practice, but it’s a trend that I find really disturbing.

I’ve never read a single marriage book or heard of a marriage counselor or reputable psychologist that said “you know what would be a great idea? You two separate because of your irreconcilable differences, make vague promises about working it out and just seeing how things go, then start sleeping with other people. It’ll be a great test to see if your marriage was meant to be!” But that sentiment seems to be the major plotlines this season between Lynette and Tom Scavo and Dr. Pete Wilder and Dr. Violet Turner.

How in the world are people supposed to try to save their marriage when they’ve got someone else, someone exciting and new in their beds? Dealing with marital problems is hard enough, never mind problems serious enough to separate over, without a third person adding jealousy, resentment, and feelings of betrayal to the mix. And yet on two major television shows you’ve got people actively in relationship with someone other than their spouse, with their spouses’ full knowledge, while they’re still married. Worse, their friends on the show are all for it and advise them that they can’t do anything about their spouse’s behavior and they should hook up with someone too, as soon as possible. Really ABC? Really?!? Can we back the crazy train up for a minute and look at the messed up message that sends?

What happened to recognizing that until a person is divorced it’s still called adultery? I’ve seriously heard on both shows dialogue along the lines of “why feel bad? You two are separated. If it makes you happy, then go for it!” or “He’s moved on, you should too.” And that’s another thing: if both parties are ready and moving on, then why keep them married? Why keep them in a perpetual state of limbo, ABC, letting them act like single adults while still having all the legal constraints of their nuptials hanging like an albatross around their necks? I don’t think it makes for good tv, you can get just as much drama from having them divorce and still have to find ways to be in each other’s lives, seeing the other person date, spying to see who’s sneaking out of their house at 5am. See, the drama possibilities are endless! I’m sure that they’re planning a big thing, at least in D.H. which is in its last season, where the man realizes that he was in love with his wife all along, drops the girl on the side, and comes back and all is happy again. But if they do that, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that they won’t show the years of work that have to go into rebuilding the marriage and the trust that is lost when your partner starts sleeping with someone else while you are separated, NOT divorced. They won’t show that, because that is not good television, but it is reality. ABC, if you’re going to go down this road with not one, but two of your shows, at least give marriage the dignity of calling it over when it’s over, instead of letting your characters drag the beaten-down carcass of their failed marriages behind them while trying to decide if the person they’re with is enough of a reason to make their divorces final.

I’ve had people in my life who have lied to themselves about this very thing, starting a relationship with a married-yet-separated person before the divorce was final. Never mind all the reasons why a relationship can’t be healthy if one party is still coming off of a failed marriage, what about the responsibility that comes with potentially being the reason a person didn’t fight to save their marriage? And yet people make choices like this all the time without a second thought, regardless of whether people in their lives or their faiths tell them “slow down, wait a minute! What’s the rush? Let the ink dry before you jump right in with both feet.”

Television has a way of shaping culture, and I really don’t like how this is becoming the new norm on television. It’s not healthy, it’s not smart, and it’s not ok.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Any other television trends ruffling your feathers?

Friends, Friends Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink

20 Feb

image from equally great article: are 5,001 friends too many?

We’ve talked about why Facebook and I aren’t friends. We’ve talked about how insecurities can be exacerbated by Twitter. And other people are talking, too. Last weekend I came across this New York Times article on TMI on the internet. Then one of my regular reads, MWF Seeking BFF wrote a post on the same article, talking about the phenomenon where seeing how ‘happy’ your friends are online can make you feel less-than. People don’t show their warts-and-all selves online (or they do, and give new definition to the term TMI) they show upgraded, glamorous, fun versions of their lives. I don’t tweet about sitting at my desk for hours, or working with a class of kids who don’t want to cooperate, I tweet about my vacations, the people I’m hanging out with, the new cool location I found to have lunch. I tweet about how much I love my friends and tag them by name, inadvertently leaving others not tagged to wonder what they did, or didn’t do, to not get tagged on that list. I tweet about going out for girls night, leaving other girls to wonder why they weren’t invited. I don’t do it on purpose, but I know it happens because I’ve felt that when looking at friends profiles online. And I’m not even on Facebook!

If the internet is considered a teenager in the broader scope of technology, then social networking is a baby. We don’t know how this new culture of putting everything out there for public consumption will affect us longterm, because it hasn’t been around long enough for us to figure it out. I predict that these kinds of conversations will continue as long as we’re trying to sort out the difference from the permissible and the beneficial.

From the NYT article:

“I had to go on a vacation-photo diet,” admitted Laura Zigman, a novelist. “I had this bizarre, voyeuristic habit of scrolling through people’s travel photos online and then feeling like, ‘Why haven’t I walked the Great Wall of China?’ And guilt: ‘I should be taking my son to Spain.’ I don’t even like to travel!”

“You meet someone at a party, and instead of them asking for your number, they’ll say, ‘I’ll find you on Facebook,’ ” complained Dodai Stewart, editor of Jezebel.com. “Then I’ll see drunk party photos of the guy with other women he’s dating. I end up unfriending because I just can’t deal with it.” It’s impossible to electronically untangle yourself from an ex without generating a big fuss in your mutual extended network.

Go check out the article, it’s a great read.

One commenter on the MWF Seeking BFF said:

“I used to be a huge facebook stalker, but it was draining me. It got to the point where I got nervous when I was about to go on facebook thinking: “Damn, what I’m I going to have to worry about now, what am I not doing, why am I not as pretty.” I knew, every time I logged in, that I was about to ruin my day. I got fed up and as part of my happiness project I decided to delete everyone that I hadn’t talked to in over two years, hide everyone else but the people I really care about from my news feed, and make my privacy policy so that I only share personal information with close friends and family. The funny thing is that some people get offended if you put them on limited profile! But, not surprisingly, I am much happier.”

I love this idea. I’m not saying to nix Facebook or eschew social media. I just think that it behooves each of us to take stock every now and then and figure out if the things we’re letting into our lives are helping or hurting.

Occupy V-Day*

14 Feb

photo from bencandance on etsy

*It seems like every organization is occupying something these days…figured I’d follow suit.

1989 - I carefully picked out Jem and the Hologram cardboard cards to put in my classmates’ Valentines Day mailboxes, because mom said I had to give one to everyone, even that boy who called me names and said my card had germs. He so didn’t deserve that card. It was truly outrageous.

1994 - I painstakingly glued doilies to construction paper hearts, believing handmade to be far superior to store-bought, and hoped that my crush noticed that I put extra glitter on his.

2003 - I baked my new boyfriend a honey cake in the shape of a heart, with honey icing, because I wanted to bee sweet. He said no one had ever baked him a cake before and told me he loved me.

2005 – My new fiancée and I decided that it was stupid to go out on Valentines day and sit among bored-looking couples you just knew didn’t go out to dinner any other day of the year, and the newly not single! who were just so excited! to have someone! on valentines day!!! We decide to start a new tradition of alternating years where one of us cooks a fancy dinner at home, and the other one buys the chef a present. Everyone wins.

2008 - I asked A to spend way too much on flowers to have them delivered to my office (it was the first time I had an office!) so that my co-workers would be impressed by how much my devoted husband loved me.

2012 – A. and I decide that Valentines Day, as a whole, is a stupid, overrated game that makes singles feel bad and couples feel pressured. So we decided not to play.

Listen up people! The hearts and flowers made-up holiday shenanigans have gone on long enough! I’ve done the single thing on February 14th. I’ve done the girl-power anti-valentine Valentines. I’ve done the dating, have to find just the right way to say you care without going overboard shopping, thing. I’ve done the “ok, so we’re married and we show each other that we love each other every day, but now we have to make extra effort on this arbitrary day” thing. None of it’s good, and it’s high time the juggernaut that is Valentines Day be stopped.

I feel like breaking out in a Spice Girls song…
Colors of the world! Spice up your life!
Every boy and every girl! Spice up your life!
People of the world! Spice up your life! Ahhhh….

Reasons not to play the V-Day game:

  1. If you’re single you’re made to feel like you’re not as good as those with significant others, which could not be further from the truth, and you’ll feel strangely optimistic when viewing (pointed and blatantly manipulative) eharmony ads.
  2. If you’re dating you are made to feel obligated to buy something for you significant other, not because you care and want to, but because every store, every advert, every billboard and sale ad reminds you that VALENTINES DAY IS ALMOST HERE, and you are brainwashed into believing that buying stuff on this day means you really care.
  3. If you’re married you are made to feel fearful at forgetting this hallowed day and disappointing your spouse and having to sleep on the couch. The pressure to meet and perhaps surpass last year is tremendous, and you start to watch your partner anxiously as the dreaded day approaches to figure out what in the heck they might want to make sure you do enough.
  4. All the focus is put on one day and one type of love, instead of celebrating that love is a daily action, a daily choice, and that there are many types of love, all equally worthy of celebration.
  5. No one looks that good in pink and red.

To all those, including my past self, who have bought into the idea that throwing an ANTI-V-Day party (or celebrating Single Awareness day with champagne and chocolates) is sticking it to the system…let’s not fool ourselves people. This holiday is all about buying and consuming to make ourselves feel better. Buying anything remotely V-Day themed, including that bottle of bubbly that your supermarket ordered extra of to meet demand, is putting your hard-earned dollars into the deep, heart-shaped pockets of The Valentines Day Machine.

So I say we revolt! If you’re single and sick of being targeted as sad desperates looking for love this time of year…if you’re married and don’t feel like shelling out $200 just because a day says you have to, and you just had three date nights last month alone…if you’re dating and are tired of the emotional vice-clamp that increases pressure the closer February 14 gets…let’s be brave, be different, be against the grain. Let’s treat February 14th like every other day and make it not matter. We can take this mother down if we all work together.

They can take our hearts and glitter but they Can’t. Take. Our. FREEDOM!

If you’re tired of V-Day and want to see it taken down,  click to share and spread the revolution!

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