Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tired of Mom Wars? Why I'm Making a #Mommitment to End Them

Everywhere I turn there seems to be another "debate" between moms. You name it, it's an issue. All day long, the choices we make for our families get blasted all over the Internet, lines are drawn, sides are chosen, and we prepare for battle. It gets ugly. It gets offensive. We get nowhere.

A recent video went viral really quickly by showing us a humorous side to the mom v. mom battle field.  We loved that video together. We laughed at that video together. We cried together. And then we found out it was actually an advertisement for formula, and started arguing about whether Similac has any right to use our emotions to sell their product. 

When does it end? I suppose if we all sit back and wait for it to conclude, it will outlive us all. 

Who has time for this? Don't we all have enough going on? Don't we all get tired of constantly explaining, justifying, and defending our choices to each other? Can't we all just show support to one another instead of bashing and name calling? Can't we just embrace our differences and have enough respect for ourselves and each other to live and let live? Wouldn't we have a better chance of understanding and learning from each other if we asked more questions and stopped throwing jabs?

I don't know about you, but I'm ready to put Mom Wars behind me. I'm willing to admit I have judged and been judged by other mothers in the past, and I'm prepared to move forward with forgiveness. I'm ready to stand up with other mothers who are sick and tired of this ridiculous game we play and say "ENOUGH."

Today I make a commitment to change and be kind to other mothers regardless of how our parenting styles, clothing choices, beliefs, and ideas may vary. I commit to an open-mind when I read something that triggers anger or hurt feelings - when I feel judged by other moms. I promise to try to see and understand their perspective before jumping to the conclusion that they're out to get me. I commit to showing all other mothers respect even when they totally disagree with everything I'm saying. Today I put down my ego, and all of the insignificant details that separate me from other mothers.

Today I make my #Mommitment to do my part to end Mom Wars, and I hope you will join me. I'm taking action against the noise, and raising the white flag of surrender with a petition to document our promise and commitment.

Will you join me? 

If so, click this photo to SIGN THE PETITION and make your own commitment to moms!!! Then share your #Mommitment on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram so we can share them, let others know where you stand, and invite them to join us!! 

Let's end Mom Wars for good... one mom at a time. 

 Click this picture and make your commitment now!

If you're a blogger, please write a post sharing your willingness to commit to end Mom Wars, and use the hashtag #Mommitment in your title. Also, feel free to grab yourself a button to display on your sidebar, letting all who visit know your site is a safe place.

Next Life, NO Kids

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Let's Stop Spreading Rumors. Parenting Does NOT Get Easier

I have three children. My youngest is in diapers and my oldest in college, so I feel pretty qualified to speak about the fact that parenting, no matter how brilliant you think you are, is hard.

If I've trusted someone and said, "This part sucks! I'm feeling ill equipped," I have often been told "...it will get easier." It's super difficult these days to admit a parenting struggle without fear of being railroaded by judgment and/or advice because, let's face it, some people love the opportunity to tell us what to do. Unfortunately, there's not always a simple fix in parenting.  

Like when you bring your baby home, do you place him on his side, belly, or back to sleep? These positions changed with each of my children, and each time I was assured "this way" was statistically proven to keep my newborn breathing. 

Sneaking into the room if a nap was longer than usual, bracing myself, and then allowing the breath back into my own body only after I knew they were okay never got easier.

Then, enter Mobility. It was no longer safe to put the baby down and look away for longer than four seconds.  We "baby-proofed" everything, and still my children managed to find the tiniest of overlooked pieces of you-name-it in the rug, under the couch, etc.   

Just vacuumed? IRRELEVANT. They would find something, and shove it in their mouth, nose, or ear the very second I closed my eyes to sneeze or yawn. This did not making breathing any easier.

It's quite possible I held my breath until each of my kids turned two.

Now, if you’ve never heard the term “Terrible Twos,” you probably don’t have any friends… with kids, I mean. Everyone knows that toddlers are terrific assholes. 

Most parents who have experienced  "The Toddler Years," will agree they should come with a support group and on-call psychiatrist. If you want to start some serious shit, tell a toddler he can’t have something. I dare you. Shit gets ugly real fast. Coping with a tantruming cling-on who both hates your face and can't stand a second without you can be...anxiety provoking. 

As my kids have grown and learned how to better communicate, screaming fits have lessened, but so has my level of sanity.  How many times can one person ask “Why?” in 30 seconds? Unclear.

I do enjoy "The Preschool Years," however because we parents are still viewed as completely infallible human beings. They ask the zillion questions because it’s clear we're fucking brilliant! I appreciate these years so much more with my boys, because I now understand this beautiful ignorance is short lived. 

School-age didn't get easier either.

The year my daughter started school, she was introduced to the battle between self-esteem and "what others think." While I certainly do my best to instill the idea that self-esteem is the result of taking esteem-able action, Society and the media sends quite a different message. I was reminded, very quickly, how cruel kids at school can be. There were plenty of days my little girl was tormented.

Finding delicate balance between the desire to head to your child's school with a warning and baseball bat, and the awareness that shit’ll get you arrested can be difficult. I tried to live by example and teach my daughter that her opinion of Self was the only one that mattered, but honestly? Some of those days I wanted to tell her those kids were just dicks. Having a child suffer through shit we can’t fix is not easy.

Then came fearsome adolescence, and the days of sitting on my brilliant pedestal were over. She was suddenly on to me. 

The secret was out. 

My daughter not only realized I didn't know everything, but also began to wonder if I in fact knew anything. This made her really angry, as if our entire relationship had been built on a lie - a lie she thought I had told her. Like when the people on "Intervention" find out that they're not actually on a "documentary" about addiction. 

Teenagers are fucking scary. Their frontal lobes aren't fully developed enough to grasp what's happening to their bodies and hormones (Nature's cruel joke), and somehow… it can appear to be ALL OUR FAULT.  

During "The Teen Years," my precious angel poked and prodded at every-single-solitary insecurity I’ve ever experienced or imagined. Maybe it's different for boys and their fathers, but the game in our house became “I don't know who I am, but it's DEFINITELY not you. Here's why!” 

I didn't see it coming. It came out of left field. It seemed one day she adored me, and the next I was the dumbest person she'd ever met. It started slowly - like the upward jerks of a roller coaster right before the drop - and then... WEEEEEEE!!!  I spent most of those years with that pit stomach feeling between the moment you're unsure if this might be the day the car comes off the track, and the end of the ride when you realize you've survived.

The days of feeling wrapped up in usefulness and appreciation just for being present were slapped away, and suddenly my mere presence in the same state became unbearably annoying. It was painful, and I tried to laugh some of it off, but when I reached out to scream WTF, I heard "Don't worry. It gets easier." It didn't.

While my daughter fought for independence and tested boundaries, I wondered if I had succeeded in teaching the lessons she would need to combat the world we live in. In the later years, when she would storm out after an argument, I would pray she would still hear my obnoxious voice guiding her away from trouble. I had to hope, because there wasn’t much more I could do. I tried all sorts of things, but in the end it was she who had to make those life choices based on the information I gave her. Those were the most terrifying years of my life.

I’m happy to report that she totally got her shit together, and is currently a college Freshman. That should surely be the easy part, right? Obviously.

Now along with the plethora of anxieties I already had,  I also have to worry about binge drinking and frat boys. Will she continue to respect her body? Will others? I worry my beautiful, brilliant daughter might fall for the wrong person and have her heart and spirit broken. I’m not as sure I would be able to fight the urge to grab a baseball bat in that situation, and I worry about my limits. 

I’ve always worried about my limits.

Am I – Will I – Could I – Should I – questions have been running through my mind since each were born, and I'm not sure that will ever change.

I don’t think parenting ever gets easier. I think it gets different. With each new phase comes another hurtle to jump or mountain to climb. Some parts might seem easier to some, depending on what our individual strengths are, but I don't think it's fair to sell the idea that at some point, "easy" is the achievable outcome. That just leaves many of us wondering why we can't get there, or what's wrong with us. Then we clam up about our struggles because maybe we think it's not "normal" to still be having a hard time.

So, when parents trust us enough to share their struggles - their fears of their own inadequacies, let's not say, “Don’t worry, it gets easier.” Let's be honest! Let's say, "I'll pray for you" or "Holy shit, I totally get that," or let's just listen!

But let's stop spreading rumors.  Parenting does not get easier. 

photo credit: Holtsman via photopin cc

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Open Letter To That One Girlfriend On Facebook

Hey Girlfriend,

Can we chat for a minute? We were friends in high school so it makes total sense that we should be friends on facebook, but I'm feeling a little uncomfortable with some of the pictures you're posting on your wall.

Firstly, it's weird you haven't aged at all in almost twenty years. You look absolutely stunning in every single one of your photos, and exactly the way I remember you from high school. Your hair is always set perfectly, and it seems you have time to apply actual makeup - to your face - every day. 

I'm spending half my life, at this point, applying acne and wrinkle cream, and you're off perfecting the art of liquid eyeliner application? That seems reasonable.

I know you've had a bunch of kids, because you've been gracious enough to take us along the journey each month with photos of your belly growing. Thanks so much for inviting me in! But like, did you gain any fucking weight? I mean, really; not even back fat?

You look like you're glowing in so many of your pictures, I convinced myself you must have photo shopped the shit out of them. Because seriously, who looks that perfect all the time? 

I did some research and concluded that not one of them has been altered. Apparently, you just look that perfect all the time.

What the fuck, Dude?

You'll have to excuse my frustration. It's just that I try to hold onto this crazy idea that all of the skinny, popular bitches I went to high school with - who had boyfriends and perfect skin and hair - who got asked out repeatedly by the boys I liked - are now extremely fat, unattractive trolls, living a miserable existence. I really don't think that's too much to ask, do you? It's not that I wish that life upon any of you, it's just that the idea makes my torturous teen years seem karmically justified in some way. 

Kind of like "Mean Girls Gone Gross," you know?

Don't get me wrong, I think you're awesome, and totally appreciated our friendship during what were, quite literally, the most excruciating years of my life. 

It's not like I ever told you how much I wished I was you, or secretly prayed you'd wake up, on school picture day, with a horrible rash on your face; only to have to walk in the pouring rain to ensure a full-on afro. 

I never told you how much I enjoyed that time you found out your boyfriend had been cheating on you with that girl from "The Tech." How could I tell you I took so much pleasure in your suffering without sounding like a total bitch? Nope. I just sat back quietly, waiting; waiting for the day I would see you again, and you'd be hideous.

Seriously,  you're like totally ruining this for me. 

While I realize that your facebook albums are just mere snap shots into your life, I wonder how you manage to take so many pictures with your kids looking happy and content. Even your new baby looks like she just got off a yoga matted meditation.

For fuck's sake, Woman! Get a zit. Just one zit. That's all I'm asking. Can you just throw me a bone here?!?  Just let yourself go a little, tiny bit and stop being so fucking selfish.

Think about it? Awesome.

(Julie Maida!  You know, a.k.a "Wrong Way Taylor" a.k.a "Gunga Lips" Oh, just forget it.)

P.S. Your boob job looks amazing.

God help me, I hate you so much.

photo credit: oc_layos via photopin cc

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dear Emily Ladau: A Response To Your Letter To Parents on HuffPost

Dear Emily,

I read your letter Dear Parents: No I Won't Run Your Child Over With My Wheelchair, and I wanted to respond. I couldn't help but feel like you were speaking directly to me, because I am that mother who moves her child out of your way when I see you coming down the street in your wheelchair. 

I cannot begin to understand what you must face on the daily with the amount of ignorance and discrimination present in the world.

I move my child when I see you coming down the road or aisle, because I don't want him in your way. I don't want you to have to stop moving or maneuver yourself around my daffed-out preschooler who is most likely staring off into space at a tile on the floor, definitely not paying attention to his surroundings.  I also don't want you to have an accident because he's practicing one of his many random, unpredictable break-dance moves. 

I move my son as a courtesy to you, not an insult. I imagine if I left him to block your path, you might be writing me a letter about how I should pay more attention to where I'm parking my kid, or about teaching him to be more mindful and respectful of disabled people. 

So, I move him. 

I move him out of everyone's way, so there really is no difference in the way I treat you. When people are trying to get somewhere, and the only thing standing in the way is my little boy, I do what I can to accommodate. 

I don't expect you to be grateful or anything, but I never thought you'd think it was out of some horrible plot to teach my kids that people with disabilities are evil or scary. That's SO not the case, and I wish so much you wouldn't assume that of all parents. 

I also want to address your concern towards my intervening when my child is inquiring why you're in your wheelchair. While I completely understand that you may view this as a way of teaching him that you're a monster, that's simply not the case. 

I don't let my son overwhelm you with personal questions because I am aware that not everyone is as open to the ruthless, intrusive interrogation tactics of a five-year-old. I don't want him to make you uncomfortable. There is no way for me to know how you will receive his questions, and because I know my child, I worry that it will get... weird - for all of us. I'm not trying to keep you from telling my son your truth, I'm trying to be respectful of the possibility that you won't appreciate the questions.

I try my best to teach all of my children to be mindful and respectful towards everyone - disabilities or not. I try to instill values and morals, and let them know they are responsible for their actions - actions which may affect other people's feelings. So, if we see you in a store and he heads over with his finger pointed, announcing loudly that you're coming our way, I do what I think is best and redirect his attention. This does not mean that I don't want him to be educated about or afraid of people with disabilities. I just don't want him to think that it's okay to make a spectacle of someone just because they look different. We do discuss your wheelchair, and the possibilities of why you're in it, all the way home and sometimes into the next day. 

I'll be honest with you though. After reading your letter, I feel this is a very slippery slope. I worry that there is no way for me to teach my child appropriate boundaries and keep you from feeling avoided. Because if I let him go at you with his curiosity, and he steps over the line, my fear is that it will result embarrassment - yours and/or mine.

I also worry about the next person he sees out and about that might look different, who is not comfortable with the exchange. Everyone has the right to personal boundaries, and that is what I want my children to understand. Emily, you ought to hear some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth when we're at home! I really don't feel comfortable teaching him that it's okay to drop that shit on strangers. 

And let's not forget that is exactly what you are. 

You are a stranger; and unfortunately in this scary world, we don't talk to strangers. I haven't really worked out the details in my head over this. Is it okay to talk to strangers if I'm present? But then what if we're at the park and I'm like there, but not right there, and he talks to the wrong one. Or, what if I am right there and the stranger is trying to chat so he or she is not be seen as a stranger next time? Maybe I watch too much Law & Order SVU, I don't know. What I do know is that it is never my intention to make you feel badly, miss out on interacting with you, or lose the opportunity for "teachable moments."

As far as people making comments about your disability, I wish I could fix that. We live in a terribly desensitized society where people think it's okay to say what comes to mind, without thought of people's feelings. I am trying to do my part to instill these lessons in my children. I appreciate the work you do as a Disabilities Rights Advocate, and it saddens me that you have encountered such discriminating comments.

I'm not really sure why that mom made a joke about you running her son over either, and I can't speak for her. I can only speculate and think about why I might make inappropriate jokes in that situation. Maybe she was worried about what was about to come out of her son's mouth. Perhaps she was dealing with her own discomfort or anxiety about strangers, or maybe she really was just an ignorant dick. 

I just wanted you to know that we're not all ignorant dicks. Some of us are just trying to get through our own anxieties and the line at Penn Station - with both our food and our child - without having a nervous breakdown. 

I will definitely think about your letter, and continue to work on the boundaries between stranger and friendly face. I should probably also stop watching so much Law & Order... maybe.

I appreciate your truth, and the part of me it struck. 

Until we meet again,

A Mother Who Knows You're Not Going To Run Her Child Over With Your Wheelchair 

photo credit: EmilyWhitwam via photopin cc

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Someone is Getting Divorced

I was going to title this post, "No one is Getting Divorced," but it's quite possible there are a ton of people getting divorced right now. I'm just not one of them.

The post that was published on Scary Mommy yesterday was published on my blog over a year ago. I was in a terrible place with my own mental health and with two young kids and a teenager in the mix, I was legit losing my fucking mind. My husband and I were arguing a bunch about stupid shit, and I sat down with my frustrations and decided to publish the piece. We have worked through much of that stuff, and are (for the most part) communicating much better these days.

My husband was obviously not thrilled about my airing our business on my blog. It has been a bit of a struggle between us honestly. I've always been quite the over-sharer, and he's pretty modest and shy. My blogging has definitely put a strain on our marriage, but I think in some ways it has saved it. He insisted I publish "I Don't Want My Marriage Today," stating that he didn't ever want to be the reason I censor myself. It was a HUGE step for both of us, mostly because by the time it was published we'd already worked out our feelings and were in a better place. 

Marriage is hard, and parenting on the same page can be even harder. Obviously even wonderful things can put a wrench in the works. Maybe that's why we feel so guilty talking about it. How many others would just die to have the luxury problem of children to parent? Perhaps that's why we pretend. The problem is, we may pretend so long we actually forget it's normal to struggle.

After the post went live, people we hadn't spoken to in months started to reach out to let us know they were there as support. It was obviously a little uncomfortable at first, but it was also pretty neat to see how many people we have who give a shit about our marriage.

This year has come with its own unique struggles with the adoption of my non-profit organization and the 9000 distractions it has created, but we've managed. We've survived another year of marriage, and enjoyed the majority of it.

Since starting this blog, I have learned many things. The posts I am completely terrified to publish are those that will resonate most with people. Perhaps because they're mostly about the things we don't often discuss or subjects that accompany stigma or judgment. Trust me, it is NOT easy to write about these things, and it often takes me over a week to click "Publish." 

I've NEVER regretted the decision to do so.

I have also learned that the connections my honesty here provides are always worth whatever fear and/or panic I may experience. When you say "Me too," it is the greatest compliment. When you trust me enough to tell me my words have touched you in some say or helped to lesson your pain, it matters to me. It means the shit I've gone through - the struggles I experience- make sense. It gives them purpose, and helps me to better understand the WHYs. 

Your support means the absolute world to me. Your willingness to come read my stories, and share bits of yourself with me is what has made this blogging experience so indescribably wonderful. 

Oh, and twitter is pretty fun, too. ;)

photo credit: jrayfarm1980 via photopin cc

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I Laugh at Mental Illness

I was diagnosed with “severe depression” when I was thirteen years old. It felt like all of my motivation, hope, and desire to live were hijacked overnight and replaced with the daunting task of making it through the day. It felt like someone pulled the rug out from underneath me, and it became a chore to breathe. Those feelings made everything more difficult, and surviving became harder and harder. 

It was exhausting. 

My parents became concerned after I voiced feeling like I wanted "...to fall asleep and not wake up." I didn’t have the energy to think about killing myself; I just wanted to be gone. I was sent to a psychiatrist and put on medications that didn’t work. This started a very long stretch of what I like to call "pharmaceutical guinea-pigging." Up that one, lower that one, add a few more – and let’s see what happens. The problem with most anti-depressants is their inability to provide instant relief. I had to force myself to take pills every day for weeks - pills that caused immediate and disgusting side effects - before it could be determined that they weren’t working against my desire to die. 

When I was fifteen, I found the solution to all of my problems - Alcohol. Drinking enabled me to feel “normal,” for the first time ever, and interact with people in a way that didn’t have me crawling out of my skin or wishing I was invisible. I quickly found my sense of humor, and became "the funny girl.” 

After being teased most of my life by both kids at school and at home, humor served me very well. It helped me make light of my feelings of inadequacy and uselessness. I made jokes about being chubby and having acne before you did, and I learned that if we laughed together it hurt a lot less. 

I medicated myself with alcohol until I was 22, because it stopped working. The voices kept getting louder and more hateful when I drank. Playing the role of Drunky McDrunkerson lost its flare, and it became clear to everyone around me how much I hated myself. Alcohol turned on me, and the previously colorful veil it had provided me to hide behind turned ugly. I could not find comfort anywhere; not even in humor.

One night after trying one last time to rekindle my love affair with booze, I loathed myself into an attempted suicide. When I awoke the next day only half dead, I made the decision that it was time to get sober. Okay, I didn’t actually make the decision. The emergency room physician who referred my ass to a hospital for crazy people did. It was there that I realized and said out loud for the first time that I was an alcoholic.

I have been sober since that second day of May in 2000. The desire to drink didn’t leave right away, but lessoned over time with help and support. I can’t remember the last time I thought alcohol would make anything in my life better. It’s just no longer an option.

Here’s the thing - I don’t want to be drunk anymore, I just want to be okay. Getting sober didn’t do that for me, and I had to change basically everything about the way I related to the world. I found out that being is achievable without a substance in my body.

Since then, I have soberly fumbled through many difficult situations. I have found peace in places I would never have imagined while drinking. I recovered from alcoholism.

The depression, however, never went away. No matter how long I stayed sober, or how much I changed - no matter how many different therapists I went to, it was always there. 

Years ago, after seeking help to process an experience that had me all fucked up, I stumbled upon a therapist specializing in trauma. It was determined that, for most of my life, my depression has actually been a symptom of something greater – part of a cycle that stems from all of the trauma in my past. I had to get sober to deal with the wreckage I created, in order to discover the roots that so many of my issues stem from. 

I have a dissociative personality disorder.

I’m not ready to share specifics, but I will say that at some points it has been quite difficult to manage. Over time, I have identified many of my triggers – things that cause me extreme anxiety, irrational or intensified fear, and/or what is called “flight or fight response” (ie. do I punch you in the throat or run away screaming?) Understanding these things really has been half the battle, and gaining insight into why I’m a basket case has been invaluable to my healing process. It has not, however, necessarily solved the problems they still create in my life. 

Living with this kind of diagnosis sucks more often than not and brings back the feeling of surviving the day - a feeling I don't enjoy as a stay-at-home mom.

Bad days aren’t always just bad days. Sometimes they turn into catastrophic days, where I find myself questioning every decision I’ve ever made, and wondering if my life is a mistake. I get easily overwhelmed, and when I do, that old familiar feeling of just wanting to go to sleep and not wake up creeps in.  I get irritable, sometimes child-like, and it becomes extremely difficult to focus on being a good wife and mother. I start to wonder what my husband could possibly see in me that's lovable.

Sometimes I lose time and entire conversations, which can be frustrating and disappointing to those I love.  

If I manage to string a few “bad” days together, the depression kicks in resulting in hibernation via my good friend Agoraphobia. 

It has become vital to my pseudo-sanity that I laugh at some of this. I'm afraid if I don’t, I will completely lose my mind. I haven't needed inpatient hospitalization in over ten years, but if I focus too much energy on how fucked up and damaged I am, time in a psych ward starts to sound like a vacation. The people closest to me, who must adjust themselves to accommodate some of my broken pieces, don't always see the humor. 

Don't get me wrong; I'm not always a Hefty bag of crazy. I also have really great days...I think. Just kidding, I do. But there seems always to be a cautious, hovering fear that happiness and contentment is temporary. 

I have an incredible husband, children, and friends who love me. I have an amazing life that I would love to feel connected to every single day. I have made many wonderful memories I wish I could hold onto longer. Writing has helped me tremendously. 

So, big fucking deal. Why am I ending my humorous post streak to share this now? I guess it's because December is a really triggering month for me, and I’m struggling to find humor. I hate struggling, and I really hate feeling like I can’t control my feelings and/or thoughts. I have too much love in my life and too many tools to feel hopeless, yet there are days I still do. I’m trying to keep my focus on all of the wonderful things I have in my life, and most days I’m successful. 

So I laugh. I make jokes so you'll laugh with me, and sometimes...it hurts a lot less.    

 photo credit: virtualwayfarer via photopin cc

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Elf on the Shelf People Scare Me

I thought it might be a good idea to start this post off with a little history behind Elf on The Shelf.

Once upon a time we were all sheep. Someone suggested it might be fun and help us control our children during the holidays if we invited the idea of Big Brother into our homes in the shape of an ugly, creepy, stuffed toy. Although some of us were and remain completely against the idea of violating our own rights to the expectation of privacy, many of us said, "fuck it, it'll be fun" and went for it. 

My friend Becky recently tweeted about feeling like the only person refusing to conform.

Next Life, NO Kids: Elf on the Shelf People Scare Me #StupidChristmasTraditions
Becky, you're not alone. I too think it's a ridiculous idea to teach our kids that some creepy little dude is moving around our house at night watching them. Isn't it enough that Christmas, which I'm pretty sure was intended to celebrate some kid named Baby Jesus, has been commercialized to the point where we wait for some big, fat, old guy in a weird red suit to sneak into our houses in the middle of the night to leave presents? Isn't it enough that my 5yo thinks he might be entitled to an iPad for Christmas because he heard a rumor at school that your kid got one last year? 

No, let's make it even worse. Let's take the "Santa's watching you, and if you don't stop being an asshole the big fat dude won't bring you anything, " right off the table. Let's send in a middleman - a crazy-eyed, skinny little elf thing that will forever take child stalking to a new level.   

Next Life, NO Kids: Elf on the Shelf People Scare Me 

Seriously, have you people not seen The Conjuring

Dafuqs-a-mattah with you??

Creepiness factor aside, I just don't love the message it sends that it's cool to spy on our kids...PERIOD. 

I'm not a fan of spying, and I feel like privacy has become a thing of the past in many ways, and that sucks. I mean, I don't even use the wifi at Target because I know they use it to track my location in the store to see what I'm buying. That kind of stalking kind of makes sense, but I still feel like it's a violation of my right to head in for toilet paper and lose hours walking around dropping shit into my cart that I do not need. Wait, what? 

I just don't think telling my kids a disturbing little stuffed toy is watching them and comes alive at night to roam will help anyone or anything; least of all my already rocky relationship with Sleep.

Next Life, NO Kids: Elf on the Shelf People Scare Me
I'm not even going to get into how many of you have concerned me with your elfish activity on social media. I'm not going to bring up the fact that some of you have actually created twitter accounts for your creepy little fucker to communicate with your kids. And I'm definitely not going to discuss the countless pictures many are taking of their elf in awkward positions with Barbie. 

 I refuse to write about these things for one very good reason...

You people fucking scare me.

photo credit: ladybugbkt via photopin cc photo credit: Geek With Kids via photopin cc

Friday, December 5, 2014

Nina Needs To GO...In Her Pants

First, I would like to make clear my understanding that this post and video may land me on the banned list at Disney forever, and prompt a restraining order. I'm willing risk it, because this shit needs to be said.  


How many times can something "NEVER" happen again?? 

If you haven't seen this serious, check out one of my personal favorite episodes...HERE


Oh look, I'm not the only one! 



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Why I Voted to Ban "feminist" in 2014

My husband asked me what I was writing this post about, and when I told him it was about the word "feminist," he asked if he would be sleeping on the couch. 

That is what this post is about.

Much like my husband, the word "feminist" makes me nervous. If fills me with anxiety and puts me on the defensive. Which is crazy, right? Because I'm fairly certain it's supposed to bring me peace or something. 

It doesn't.

When I hear or read the word feminist, it's usually followed by the word "attack" or "fight." These words make me uncomfortable. They alert me to the possibility of chaos and drama, and I can't feel comfortable there. 

The wonderful things I have learned about feminism is mostly from its history. I know that there are many rights I enjoy today because there were women willing to "fight" for them. I struggle with the way they fought and the way I see feminists fighting today. Today I read about topless women attacking men praying outside of a church to make their point about their right to abort, and it makes me sick. I read about celebrities being attacked online because they didn't answer the "Are you a feminist?" question correctly or decided to take their husband's last name in marriage. These are not honorable fights in my opinion, and I feel like they drag the word "feminist" through the mud. 

Feminism is a beautiful thing. This whole world benefits from its existence. There are countries where the "fight" is real, and an appropriate word. Where women are literally treated as individual property and do not have any say in what happens to their bodies. There are places in this world where rape is not rape. Although we have much more work to do in the United States, we are privileged to live in a country where we have rights to be violated. I understand how terrible that sounds, but I mean it in the most respectful way possible. As a child and young adult I suffered many injustices where my body was concerned. It was kept quiet because those responsible knew it was wrong, and when I grew up I had every right to press charges...because it's not legal to have sexual relationships with little girls in this country. So although I endured what I did, I know that I am lucky to reside in a country that recognizes that what happened to me was a crime. 

A month ago I watched Emma Watson's speech at theUnited Nations about "HeForShe", and felt inspired by her words. She made feminism seem so simple and inclusive. She wrapped it around the whole world like a warm blanket. She made the word "feminist" sound like a label anyone, man or woman, would be proud to wear, and I wanted it. If I could see more evidence of Emma's description of "feminist," I would have no problem identifying as one. But then I read more articles in my facebook news feed about how I'm setting feminism back by choosing to take my husband's name and telling the world that he owns me. So many "feminist" blogs bashing the choices that feminism has made possible... and quickly snapped back into reality. 

By all definitions, the word “feminist” means "someone who supports feminism."

I believe in and support feminism. I believe that we all have the right to be treated equally for no other reason than the fact that we breathe. I am a humanist. In my mind, there is no better than-less than. PERIOD. 

I don’t like the word "feminist."

I don’t like the reputation that seems to precede it, and I don’t appreciate how many women perpetuate the stigma with their own actions and attitudes. I don't like the icky feeling I get when I hear it; expecting to hear about how some crazed lunatic, ranting about her "feminist" beliefs, thought it smart to bring in a plate of vagina cookies to her child's elementary school. 

I feel there are many who hide behind the “feminist movement” to justify angry, hateful behavior, and ruin the word for the rest of us. I feel the word has been crucified by women who have allowed the anger of being "oppressed by men" cause them to lose control in the name of feminism. I don’t wish to identify with a group well known for man hating and/or disrespecting others’ rights to make their point. Those are the feelings that come up when I hear the word “feminist.” I don't necessarily like it, but that's how I feel.

Because here's the thing... Our society sexualizes women here in the states. There are women here who agree to be plastered on magazine covers or naked inside of them for money. We, as a society, seem to encourage this behavior when women like Kim Kardashian can "break the Internet" by posing, glazed like a ham, for an inappropriate picture that goes viral.

Why Julie @ Next Life, NO Kids voted to ban the word "feminist" #TimeMagazinePoll #Feminist

Regardless of the definition, I don't feel that "feminist" means just supporting equal rights for men and women. I feel like it's become more than that, and I do not buy into all the tenets of feminist-ism. 

I don’t love the fact that the word “feminist” seems to be a badge of honor that one either wears or gets shafted. I don’t enjoy the fact that unless I identify as a “feminist,” it’s assumed I might not believe in feminism. 

I don’t like being told what I should and shouldn’t say or do, as a woman, by feminists claiming to only have my independence in mind.

There seem to be a set of "acceptable" responses to questions regarding abortion, name changes after marriage, and gender roles, etc.  If, as a woman, I use my right to choose to think outside of this box, I am judged and thought to be against feminism or weak. 

This is where feminist-ism loses me. 

There was a saying where I got sober that's meant to keep members of the "club" from possibly destroying the reputation of the organization. It was suggested that I might be the only evidence someone had to base a judgment of our fellowship on. If I ran around yelling that I was a member of this group, and acting like a loon, it could give others the impression that the organization was for crazies, and deter them from seeking help and finding peace. It was made very clear that I am responsible for my behavior when being upfront about my membership for this very reason. 

Recently, Time Magazine added the word "feminist" to its list of words to ban (they have since removed it with an apology) , and I voted for it. I was not alone.  

Why Julie @ Next Life, NO Kids voted to ban the word "feminist #TimeMagazine #Feminist

Contrary to popular belief, I made this decision because I believe in feminism. It didn't list "feminism," it listed "feminist." I don't believe those words are necessarily synonymous. I want to claim my seat on the feminism train without having to wear that ugly word. I want to be included in this movement without the "supportive" judgment of other women.

I want to be able to speak freely about feminism without my husband running to hide the knives. I want to feel comfortable identifying as a "feminist." I just don't want to have to "fight" and "attack" everyone who disagrees with me or think a certain way in order to fit "the mold."

I enjoy the relationship I have with my husband and the roles we play in our home. I took his name because I wanted to be his. Not in the like “own [me] like cattle" his, but “his” in other ways that I shouldn’t have to and will not justify. I don’t care how some "feminists"
 feel about my decision. 

Thanks to feminism, it's my decision. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

I Have a Confession...

Julie @ Next LIfe NO Kids has a confession #BlackFriday #Shopping

I like to think of myself as an open book. There's really not much about who I am that I'm not willing to share with anyone who will listen. Most of the details I've kept private here are out of respect for others. So, in keeping with my share-all tradition, I'd like to share with you something that might make you really angry. "How dare you," you might think. It's kind of a doozy, but I can't keep quiet about it much longer. 

I enjoy kicking puppies and tripping old people.

Just kidding, it's actually WAY worse. 

READY? Here goes...

I LOVE shopping on Black Friday. 

I know I know - I'm terrible, but ever since the night my faith in humanity was restored, I've looked forward to it. On top of being the worst thing that has ever happened to retail employees, it's also a way that family members can bond over freezing temperatures and an embarrassing commitment to being cheap a great deal! 

It has become my time; after putting the kids to bed and making a list with my husband. Believe it or not, I have made very many forever friends over teeth chattering laughter and camaraderie waiting for the doors to open. It's a crazy thing I do every year, and most of my family and friends think I'm insane for it (they're 100% correct). I don't care. I love it. 

I've seen many people posting their pledge to NOT shop Black Friday, and I totally respect the reasoning. I worked in retail for many years, and believe me, there are many things about it that suck beyond Black Friday. Yes, perhaps I am justifying.

Anyway, I just wanted to be honest about my intentions and explain why I'm not sharing your badge of decency. 

I'm a selfish asshole, and I will be joining other selfish assholes, ass-plopped outside in the freezing cold at midnight, after spending the day eating my weight in turkey and pie. 

Judge me if you must, but I'm getting that $20 flat screen.

Julie @ Next Life, NO KIds has a confession #BlackFriday #Shopping

If you'll be joining me, feel free to share this badge of indecency. 

original photo credit: Mac Hotels via photopin cc

Friday, October 31, 2014

Kristen Johnston bursts your bubble... and her 'Guts' - Book Review

When I first heard Kristen Johnston wrote a book about addiction called "Guts," I thought for sure it was going to be some boo hoo tale about all the balls it took to get clean in Hollywood with supermodels and America watching. 

I don't usually write book reviews, because I don’t read. I haven’t considered myself "a reader" in over a decade because…well, because MOTHERHOOD, that’s why. I don’t have as much time to escape into someone else’s reality as I’d like. 

So, when my friend Rachel told me about Kristen's book and how much I would absolutely love it, I decided to put it on the list of books I’ll probably never read, but totally should. I told her I’d buy it, but other than look around while already in a bookstore, I didn't really put forth much effort. 

Then one day I tweeted about my struggle to find the book after a conversation with Rachel, and Kristen replied with the suggestion I seek one out on Amazon. Honestly, I was a bit floored that she took the time to personally respond, so I followed her on twitter. I started to notice how often she was reaching out to other addicts, and actually trying to help them. 

BOOK REVIEW: Guts By Kristen Johnson #addiction #recovery #celebrity
Okay, let’s be honest…
Kristen Johnston is not the first celebrity to write a book about overcoming something miserable. Fair. But, she is the first one I’ve witnessed with her hand out, in a sincere attempt to help others. 

Once I figured that "Guts" wasn’t just another, “LOOK AT ME!! LOOK AT ME!!” fallen celebrity story, I ordered the book. 

I was shocked to learn that the “Guts” title had very little to do with her courage. It was something else entirely, and I found myself loving how wrong I was (which is VERY rare. I do not typically enjoy being wrong). I appreciated the fact that no one had actually told me exactly what to expect from the book, so I will not spoil it for you.

As many of you know, I am the founder of and editor in chief at SoberMommies.com. Obviously, I am no stranger to gut-wrenching stories about active addiction. I feel, as a writer and recovering alcoholic, these testimonies are the most valuable tool in reaching out to someone who may be experiencing the struggle. Addiction is a liar, and wants nothing more than for whoever’s in its grip to feel alone and misunderstood. 

Someone recently told me they couldn’t think of anything more painful than someone living in denial of their addiction. While I totally respect that opinion, I also totally disagree.

Someone long ago once broke it down for me very simply:

D-E-N-I-A-L = Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying

True denial isn’t painful. It’s fucking Denial! People who live there don’t know how completely fucked up they are. 

I have, for very short periods in my life, experienced this beautiful state and sometimes - even fourteen years into sobriety - wish I could go back and seek refuge there...just for a minute. Denial was like a warm blanket or a mask I could feel safe behind. In some cases, it saved me.

Denial is awesome. It's awareness that sucks. 
I once heard a man say, “ I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.” At the time, I was still vacationing in Denial, and had no idea what it meant.

Until I did. 

That being said, the art of pretending and/or faking denial in regards to addiction – or anything as equally shitty and defeating - is the most painful place I have ever been. For me, the most horrifying tragedy in addiction - in anything really - is living in awareness of something terrible; trying to believe I can’t change it and that no one else can see it. 

"Guts" invites us into Kristen's mind during her last ditch attempts at the “denial” phase of her addiction. She recalls knowing something wasn't quite right, and provides us a front row seat to the final act Narcotics played in her life before the curtain fell. Her writing is attractive, and flows like an exciting roller coaster ride you don’t ever want to end. I usually hate those types of rides, honestly, but I could not put this book down. I was locked in immediately after she had me both in tears AND maniacal laughter before I had finished the forward and introduction. I connected with her sarcastic sense of humor right away, and identified with her awkward childhood struggles and the adoption of "humor" as tool.  There were also times when Kristen let this guard down and gave us a peek at her loving spirit. For instance, I fell in love with the way she tells the story of how her message saved “Jay,” (grab some tissues).

There aren’t many people who get “it.” The fact that there is no such thing as “normal,” and that we’ve all got our shit. Maybe you’ve never gotten drunk and woken up naked in a stranger’s bed. Perhaps you don’t have a box of Hostess cupcakes hiding under your bed in case of emergency. You might not obsess about the fact that the next scratch ticket might be the winner you’ve been waiting for.

But you’ve got something, I promise. We all do.

Kristen Johnston not only gets “it,” she writes about it in a way that doesn’t provoke the desire to punch her throat for daring to address it. She talks about experiencing the devastating effects of awareness with such detail that I caught myself jaw dropped, nodding my head in agreement.  I couldn’t help but identify with her feelings of complete defeat and self-hatred, the debilitating fear of being “found out;” of losing the respect of my friends and family. And then, seemingly out of nowhere, she dropped a bomb of hilarity and made me belly laugh.

It was awesome.

Kristen is very brave to speak up about her addiction, PERIOD. Not even just as a celebrity, because DUH, thanks to trash mags wallpapering the line at the grocery store, we all know who gets wasted and does fucked up shit. Anyone who speaks up about addiction, with the stigma attached, is a hero in my book. And she didn’t just write a book about her old battles with addiction and walk away. She’s probably tweeting some addiction resources, love, and support to someone right now

And THAT is the shit!

BOOK REVIEW: Guts by Kristen Johnston #celebrity #addiction #recovery

Maybe anyone can write a book about his or her journey into recovery and sell it; I don’t know. What I do know is not everyone - book or no book - celebrity or not, makes themselves available to share with and advocate for other struggling addicts. 

Kristen Johnston does. And that takes guts

P.S. I'm also a fan of Kristen's blog. Check out One Big Mouth and follow her on twitter @kjothesmartass to see her in action. 

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