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Watching Television with My Husband... Buckle Up!

July 24, 2014

If it weren’t for my husband’s need to hold a clicker, and constantly bounce around channels, we would have long ago cut the cable cord and watched television programming strictly through a service like Netflix or Hulu. As it is, the mere mention of not having hundreds of channels at his disposal to watch on demand, bouncing between a half dozen different programs at once makes him break out in a cold sweat of fear.

This past Friday night we settled in for that classic, old, boring couple’s night of television watching and relaxation. We have not had an evening free in several weeks so I was eagerly anticipating some relaxation time with the television lulling us into a near comatose state.

Apparently, it had been so long since we’d been able to have an evening of relaxing in front of the television that I managed to somehow forget what it’s like to watch television with my husband.

He’s watching no less than a handful of shows at once including, but not limited to:

Any sports event being broadcast. And I do mean absolutely any sports event on television. Any! (On Saturday morning when I came downstairs he was watching women’s collegiate level lacrosse.)

Any television show on about life in Alaska. If there are people hunting animals, or better yet animals hunting other animals, that’s a bonus!

Anything that might pass as educational. If it is on the Discovery channel, he loves it. It’s automatic. Tell him how something is made, built, invented or bust a myth and he’s all in!

Hunting shows always get his attention. Could be anything from hunting for rodents (yes, there really are shows about that) to big game hunting.

Shows about rednecks acting like, well, rednecks. Lawnmower racing, keg stands, chasing alligators, big fat slobs with unreasonably hot wives!

Any show about guys eating really gross and disgusting food while talking about eating really gross and disgusting food. Last week I heard a guy on a show he was watching say “This smells and tastes remarkably like dirty sneakers” and yet the man KEPT EATING! It boggles my mind. Oh, and also a bonus if these shows are on while you might actually be eating something. Yum!

His idea of an ideal relaxing evening is flipping through all of these programs as often as possible. Basically any time there’s a commercial break, we’re changing channels. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left the room, or been distracted by a kid and looked up to wonder “wait, is this the same show?” because it suddenly makes no sense to me!

But wait, we’re not finished yet! Should his phone go off, or he has to go to the bathroom or even just leave the room to refill his drink or grab a snack, the television is paused until he returns. Doesn’t matter that he may get distracted and not return for 30 minutes or more, don’t unpause the TV! This part particularly drives me crazy, because even though he now has 30 minutes of paused television to fast forward through and skip commercials, if the show begins to lose his interest, we’re flipping channels again!

Just to give you some idea of the level of contrast between the two of us, I usually leave the television on the same channel for the entire day, or evening. I’m usually looking for the remote when the ‘the television is about to turn off due to inactivity’ message comes on the screen.

I’ve learned to enjoy watching TV with him even if I don’t always enjoy the exact programs that he chooses. More than once I’ve had to cover my eyes and say “Okay, new channel please! Uncle! Uncle!”

Is watching television with your significant other this crazy or is it just me?

Angela is a social media and online community professional who has always dreamed of being a writer. Blogging combines two of her passions, social media and writing! She blogs about anything that strikes her fancy and is always thrilled (and a little surprised!) when someone lets her know they enjoy reading her work. You can find her on her blog www.writermomblog.com, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

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You're Doing It Wrong. And Yes. I'm Judging You.

July 23, 2014

There’s been a lot of kumbaya mommy business hitting the Internet of late. Mothers are raising their collective voices to say, “Hey, we may approach motherhood differently, but we’re all in this together. Watch us film this touching viral video while hugging. As of today, motherhood is a Judgement-Free Zone.”

Mmm-hmm. Just like how school is a “drug-free zone.”

There are co-sleeping parents, homeschooling parents, cry-it-out parents, attachment parenting parents, free-range parents, non-GMO and hormone-free parents. And, frankly, you all sound batshit crazy to me. Because, yes, I’m judging you.

Before the Sisterhood of the Elasticized Pants comes for me in the night though, let me ask this: Why do you care if I or any other mom is judging you? I think lots of things are crazy, like decaf coffee and people who touch bugs. Check it out: I may be the only person in the English-speaking world who doesn’t understand the appeal of The Princess Bride. Frankly, I prefer Robin Wright’s character in House of Cards. That alone could merit a visit from Child Protective Services. Do you enjoy The Princess Bride and fondling spiders? Well, there, there. Rest assured that you are the better person.

I think we do ourselves (and even our kids) a diservice to suggest that judging is inherently wrong. We use judgement to make sound decisions. For example, I think most professional body builders look like a hot dog the minute before it explodes in the microwave. Thanks to judgement, I will never take up body building, and have thus avoided a life of steroid injections, spray tans, and exercise.

It’s when we start believing that our judgements are the gospel truth that we get into trouble. It’s when we prop up our self-worth by foisting our judgements on others that we pave the road to crazy town. Do you get what I’m saying? My bulging hotdog may be your powerful beefy treat, and that’s okay. Just, ya know, shut the hell up about it.

Because you may not be able to fathom why anyone would use cloth diapers or opt for formula, or feed her son so much birthday cake that he goes on a vision quest . . .

. . . but I bet you can remember the days when you would do anything for an hour of sleep, when you felt so clueless and afraid that you binged on shoddily written parenting blogs, when everyone in your house was sick, and the dog needed to be walked, and it had snowed, and you were out of toilet paper. You did what you had to do in whatever way you had to do it.

So, when I hear you telling your shy little girl that she’s a “pretty, pretty princess,” I’ll stifle my urge to add, “or a pretty awesome political scientist!” And when you see me slipping my 1-year-old a few spoonfuls of ice cream to ease the teething blues, I’d rather you not suggest I reexamine my relationship with refined sugar (which, by the way, is the most enduring relationship of my life). We are doing what we have to do, even if we’re doing it all wrong.

Failing to strike it rich as a poet, Jessica Rapisarda succumbed to motherhood, humor writing, and snack chip addiction. She blogs about parenting, guilt, and other redundancies at Welcome to the Bundle. You can also find her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

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Sometimes You Have to Get Lost, So You Can Be Found

July 22, 2014

As I was sliding down the hill in the middle of the woods, I had to question the wisdom of taking the trail my 12-year-old son, Tom, wanted to take.

I figured that because I was with my dad, it would be OK. But my dear 71-year-young father was way ahead of me and wasn’t looking back. I’d lost sight of him. Tom was behind me, exclaiming that this was the best day of his life.

For a minute I panicked. We were 15 minutes from home in a state park I’ve known since the age of nine, but I feared we were hopelessly lost. There are few things I hate more than being lost. I’ll do anything to avoid it. I have the worse sense of direction in all of human history. I can get lost getting out of a paper bag.

Tom had no idea anything was wrong. All he knew was that he was with his mom and grandfather having a great time. He trusted me completely. Poor kid. Then it happened. I had a flashback to 34 years earlier.

I was 11, at a sleepaway camp deep in the woods of Upstate New York. I had just successfully spent my first night in my new sleeping bag. I woke up that morning before anyone else and needed the bathroom. Not wanting to bother my counselor, I declined her sleepy offer to walk me the short distance to the outhouse. Getting to the outhouse was fine. But the return trip?

I must have walked out a different door and turned in the wrong direction because TWO HOURS LATER, I still hadn’t found my way back to my cabin.

There I was in my little baby doll pajamas, going from cabin to cabin, hoping to find mine. Each time a counselor would give me directions to get back to my cabin. Not wanting to look any more foolish than I already did, I acted like I understood just fine. Off I would go, only to get more lost.

Finally, I stumbled onto a cabin of boys, and that counselor brought me back to my group. I was lost for almost THREE hours.

Oddly enough I don’t remember ever crying or showing anyone just how terrified I was. Even at the age of 11, far from home, completely lost, I still wanted to look like I had it all together.

I was always terrified that people would think I was dumb.

Being dyslexic is never easy, but when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s, it was extremely difficult. At times I felt so lost in school. I often felt as if I was on a different planet where everyone spoke another language. I was desperate to find someplace to belong. Somewhere it didn’t require so much effort to fit in.

Who knew that the place I was looking for was the one that I would end up creating with a guy I met on a blind date 24 years ago this month? Joe understood and listened to me when I said I couldn’t do something. Then he told me I could do it anyway. For the first time, I believed it.

“I can’t type. I can’t go to college. I can’t drive. I can’t blog.” Each of my fears was countered by a “Yes you can.” And then I did.

Learning to find my way home that day and all the subsequent other times I was lost, both literally and figuratively, has allowed me to teach our three children that they, too, can go wherever they want to. Even when it feels impossible. Even when there are people saying that they can’t.

I know how hard it is to feel completely lost, and I know the joy when you find your way and realize you can do what you once thought was impossible.

I snapped out of my flashback and finished down the hill, Tom following right behind me. We soon found the path and my waiting dad. None the worse for the wear.

Tom couldn’t wait to do it again. Neither could I.

Kathy Radigan is a writer, blogger, social media addict, mom to three, wife to one and owner of a possessed appliance. She posts a weekly essay each Sunday on her blog, My dishwasher’s possessed. She is honored to have essays in two anthologies, Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother, and The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain and Power of Female Friendship. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

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What I Learned When I Fell in the Pool in Front of the Thigh Gap Crew

July 21, 2014

I’ve already made peace with the extra ten pounds I possess and the fact that they afford me the ability to eat cake, so the proliferation of moms with thigh gap on the pool deck is totally not affecting my self-esteem, I swear. Normally the kids and I have the pool to ourselves, so I really have no freaking clue where they all came from, but like I said, it’s totally not bothering me at all. I’m not comparing my cellulite to my neighbors’ firm, brown thighs, and I’m not even going to mention their perfectly round boobs (seriously, are those for real?), every set of them precariously supported by strapless bikini tops.

I can’t help wondering, do their kids really never pull down their bikini tops? If I wore a strapless top like that, the chances of one of my kids absent-mindedly yanking it off would be one hundred percent. But I’m not going to speculate as to what sorcery these women possess to make those types bathing suit choices possible, because I’m totally confident and done with trying to be perfect.

One of the thigh gap ladies squats down at the edge of the pool with a glob of sunblock on her fingertips, and reaches for a little blonde boy. She balances on her toes in a position I doubt I could pull off. “Come here, Carter! Come’ere, honey. Come’ere. Carter. CARTER. COME. HERE. NOW. One… two… Don’t make me get to three, Carter!

I kind of want to roll my eyes, but it would mean peeling my attention away from this perfectly-toned mother and her wriggly young child, and I simply can’t do that. I stare in open fascination as Carter finally shimmies close enough that his mother can smear the cream on his face. I’m in awe that she can accomplish this task without a) falling in the pool or b) flashing everybody. I thought people like this only existed in movies.

But no part of this scenario is causing me to doubt my newfound preference of tankinis over bikinis. I am at peace with myself. And besides, I’m too focused on the accomplishments of my four-year-old, Mari, who is not only swimming like a dolphin, but has just learned to do somersaults in the water. I get my phone so I can take a video of her new trick to send to her daddy.

“Good job, Mari!” I tell her, “Now sit on the pool steps with the other kids while I put my phone back in the pool bag.”

I send a quick text to my husband with the video attached, and as I deposit my phone back into the bag I see that Mari has migrated from the steps and is treading water, inches from the side. I’m not in the least bit worried, as she has become such a good swimmer, and plus I’m only about five feet from her. But then she says, “help,” which I have instructed her to say if she gets in a jam.

I quickly survey the situation: There are children blocking my way of jumping in the pool. I would land on one of them if I tried to jump to Mari, not to mention I would look like a lunatic as she is still treading water and doesn’t actually seem to be in any distress. I decide to take the steps. I rush though, because, I mean, who wouldn’t? She said “help.” That’s what you do when your kid is in the water and says “help.” You freaking hurry your ass up.

And everything is going fine… until my foot hits the first step and slides out from underneath me the way a cartoon character’s does when he slips on a banana peel. My arms flail hopelessly and time slows down to the kind of unbearable crawl especially reserved for moments such as these. I’m sure I’m going to land on someone else’s child, but there’s no controlling it; no amount of twisting or flailing can salvage the situation. My tankini top is riding all the way up to my boobs and my bottoms have lodged in my butt crack. In the chaos, I manage to think, This is why I can’t wear strapless bikinis.

My shin scrapes agonizingly along the edge of one of the steps and I jam my toe on the concrete. But whatever pain I’m experiencing pales in comparison to the mortification I know is coming. I’m submerged now, but my legs are over my head and out of the water somehow, brazenly defying the laws of physics. I wonder if the thigh gap ladies can see my poorly-groomed lady stubble.

I finally resurface after what feels like forty-six years, but was probably only about two seconds. I grab Mari’s arm as I discreetly tuck a wayward boob back into my bathing suit.

I sit on the steps with Mari on my lap, surveying her and my surrounding area as I gather my faculties, only now listening for the screaming of whichever child I surely pummeled to death in my glorious descent into to the pool to rescue my daughter who really needs to learn the goddamn definition of “help.” She is perfectly fine, by the way, staring at me all perplexed-like, as if to say, “Are you insane?”

And not one child is crying. In fact, the entire pool area has gone ominously quiet. I glance around and realize that everyone is either staring at me with their jaws on their laps or pretending to be totally engrossed in something fascinating that their kid is doing. Even the kids are like, “What the…?”

Finally, one of the thigh gap ladies – whose bathing suit top actually does have one strap – picks her jaw up off her lap and says, “Are you… are you okay?”

(No.)

“Um… I think I’m bleeding somewhere… but… I’m fine?”

I pull my tankini top back down and dig my wedgie out of my butt as delicately as one can accomplish those tasks. For the next thirty minutes, I spend all my energy pretending that I have not just experienced one of the most mortifying moments of my life.

The End.

Yeah, sorry, there is no life lesson. I fell in the pool and my boob fell out in front of the thigh gap crew and it was humiliating and that’s it, The End. It was super duper embarrassing and I’ll never forget it. I’ll be ninety-five years old, on my death bed, Mari hovering over me with tears welling in her eyes, and she’ll say, “Mom? Is there anything you want to say before… well, you know.”

And with my last dying breath, I’ll say, “Only ask for help if you really need it, you little twit.”

Kristen Mae is a devoted wife and mother, ADHD momma-warrior, violist, health-nut, and writer. She is the voice of Abandoning Pretense, where her goal is to provide a community where women are free to be honest about their struggles with marriage, parenthood, and life. In addition to her blog, Mae shares hilarious and heart-warming tidbits of her life on her Facebook page, Google+, and Twitter.

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The Night My Son Gave Up On Me

July 20, 2014

Ever since our two sons began sharing a room, their bedtime routine has been the same. Baths, PJs, teeth, stories, cuddles. And every night as I leave their room, Eli always says, “Remember to come up, cuddle, and bring water!”

I head down the stairs with a quick, “Okay!” knowing full well that the likelihood of following through on that promise is next to nothing. The days are long, and by bedtime I’m ready for some downtime. Even then, I still need to finish cleaning the kitchen, pick up stray toys in the living room, and pack a lunch for my kindergartener before I can even consider sitting down.

Occasionally, after several minutes of quiet, the hollering will begin. Although it’s low at first, it quickly gains volume and frequency. “Mommy. Mooommmyyyy. MOOOOMMMMMMYYYY!!!”

So I stand at the bottom of the stairs and yell back in annoyance, “What??”

“Can you bring up water?”

“I’ll be up in a few minutes.”

I finish my current task, fill a couple of water bottles, and begrudgingly climb the stairs, annoyed that my ‘me time’ has been cut into. Quickly handing out the waters, I give one last round of kisses, and skedaddle on out of there as fast as possible, telling myself that my children need sleep. I’m just looking out for their best interests.

For over two years, some form of this scenario has played out nearly every night, which makes it all the more surprising that I didn’t notice when it recently changed.

I was cuddling with Samuel and listening with one ear as he told me his latest superhero tale while with the other I caught snippets of the conversation between Eli and my husband. ‘Mommy’ and ‘grump’ were the two words that stood out. I jokingly reached across the beds to tickle or pinch whatever flesh my hand could reach while crying, “Hey, who are you calling a grump??”

Not long after, I plopped myself in the living room chair beside my husband. As I settled in, he said, “Did you hear what Eli said? ‘Mommy was always grumpy when I’d call her to come back up to cuddle, so I stopped asking.’”

Immediately, I felt the old familiar weight of guilt drape itself over my shoulders like an unwelcome blanket on a hot day. I stood, dashed up the stairs, and rounded the corner into the boys’ bedroom. Eli had just dozed off. As I lay down on the bed, he stirred and I took the opportunity to whisper in his ear, “I love to cuddle you.”

He mumbled something back and drifted off again, arm around my neck, face pressed in close to mine, just the way he likes it. All was forgiven; the situation rectified.

But as I lay beside him, the true weight of his words hit me.

“I stopped asking.”

I never gave much thought to the way he perceived our nighttime ritual, always assuming my words and actions were inconsequential. Unbeknownst to me, however, my hurry to be somewhere else did not escape him, nor did my attitude. At some point he decided that it wasn’t even worth the trouble anymore.

Which makes me wonder what else he might eventually stop asking.

“Mommy, will you read to me?”

“Will you play with me?”

“Mom, listen to this joke!”

“Guess what happened at school today.”

“Will you watch me shoot hoops?”

“What do you think of this girl?”

“Can I talk to you about something important?”

And what will be my reply? What will be my attitude?

“In a minute.” That turns into three, four, ten, twenty minutes.

“I don’t have time right now,” mumbled in frustrated distraction.

“We’ll do it later.” And the pile of broken promises builds and builds.

My excuses may be valid and sometimes even necessary. Children need to learn patience and that sometimes something other than them must take priority. But it is my words coupled with my attitude, week after week, month after month, year after year: At some point maybe he’ll stop asking again, and it might be about something a lot more important than a glass of water and an extra hug.

So lately I’ve been giving longer cuddles at night and I’ve been making sure that when I say ‘Just a minute’, it really is just one minute.

My son gave up on me, but I realized it early enough to make it right. I shudder to think how life might turn out if I had learned that lesson too late.

Lauren is a SAHM of three who realized a couple of years ago that trying to make other people think she has it all together is exhausting and ridiculous. Due to her epiphany she began the blog, Oh, Honestly! where she shares her real life (messy house, meltdowns, and all) in hopes to inspire others to drop their act as well. When she’s not blogging, Lauren can be found breaking up fights, sneaking chocolate in the pantry, and talking about how cute her kids are. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram

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