I’m Probably The Only Person Who Prefers Calls To Texts

I’m a ’90s baby, and there’s something really special about that. I grew up making mud pies in the backyard, rolling down hills despite the bumps and bruises I would definitely feel later in the day, and riding bikes in my neighborhood with kids from around the block so long as my hiney was inside before the street lights started glowing. On the other hand, and in what feels like a parallel universe, I also grew up with the sudden boom of technology — cell phones, texting, and internet being easily accessible in the palm of nearly everyone’s hands.

I guess you could say that I had the best of both worlds, but if we were to talk about the old soul that is me, I miss the simplicity of the one that came first.

Don’t get me wrong — the technological advancements of the modern world are nothing short of astounding. Technology literally saves lives. It has advanced, and continues to advance, the human race in ways we never thought possible, and it encourages a healthy connection with loved ones despite the miles that may separate us. It brings joy in the little ways, too, like finding old friends on Facebook you thought you’d lost forever, and having a portable alarm clock, calculator, radio, and GPS all rolled up into one handheld device instead of dragging along many (the good Lord knows I can’t read a map to save my life).

Still, I miss the raw connection we used to have with one another before the buzz of this digital age. My heart may not be aching to bring back the long, twisty and always-to-be-tripped-over phone cord that came with a landline, but I miss sitting at the kitchen table taking my phone calls and hearing about someone else’s day. I miss hearing that continuous ring during dinner and letting it roll over to the answering machine to pick up later. And I miss saying, “Let me call you back at nine when this phone call is free.”

Courtesy of Caila Smith

I’m a little ashamed to admit it, but as of right now, I have 121 unread text messages in my phone’s inbox. Why, you might ask? Because this millennial genuinely hates texting. I know, I know, I’m not supposed to feel this way. Unlike most others in my generation, this should sort of be my “thing.” Along with the other social platforms I should have down pat like TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram… but these things just aren’t for me.

My texts pop up with a preview of the message on my phone, and I’m able to see those as long as my kids haven’t robbed me of my iPhone to watch endless hours of Blippi or monster truck YouTube clips. So it’s not like I’m out here blissfully ignoring anyone and everyone who might be trying to get ahold of me. But in my opinion, a text message just doesn’t feel personal enough. Maybe I was born in the wrong era, but I’d rather talk on the phone with one of my friends or family members than guess their tone through words on a screen.

I want to hear their voice — really hear it — so that I may discern the mood that’s set the stage for their day. Then, I want to ask them about their day… the good, the bad, and the boring, all of those miniscule details nobody takes the time to share through a text message. And above all, I don’t want my loved ones bullshitting me through a rough season by covering up their wounds with a smiley face emoji.

Texting is great for some, but it feels to me like an easy way for words to get lost in translation. A simple “OK” can sound so cold, heaven forbid you receive the seemingly passive-aggressive “k” from someone who sucks at making everyday conversation. One word can lead the anxious mind to race toward ten different paranoid thoughts.

When strife does happen and it’s presented in many paragraphs worth of words, doesn’t that feel like a lot of tension and effort for something that could be discussed over the phone in ten minutes? People have hidden their emotions behind a screen for as long as there has been a screen to hide their emotions. As a busy mother of four, that is something I refuse to partake in.

To me, it’s catty and immature. Confrontation between two people isn’t something that should be read, thought on, and tossed around back and forth until someone stops responding. It is something that should be spoken, worked out, and possibly resolved in one setting. From something that was meant to bring unity, and does for so many in a multitude of ways, a brick wall has also been built around the emotions that bring one person closer to another.

Because we are human, there will always be times when a relationship experiences conflict, but I choose to deal with it in a way where I see the most beneficial outcome. I’d rather be open, honest, vulnerable, sad, and apologetic in real-time, not at an overly filtered digital level. I don’t want my words and tone to be misinterpreted.

My relationships are worth that to me.

I’m in the thick of motherhood right now, surrounded in a habitual cycle of sickness, covered in thick layers of snot and toddler tears, and there’s a top knot on my head that I’m almost certain I heard chirps coming from this morning. I can’t tend to my friends and family in the same way I always have and still desire to do so. I can’t always be hyperaware of what’s going on in my loved one’s lives, but I can cater to my friends and family in the next best way I know how to.

Sometimes a little transparency without the filter of a screen is all a relationship needs. And please, don’t @ me if you disagree. I probably won’t get the message anyway.

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What You Don’t Know When You See My ‘Picture Perfect’ Life

My pantry is stunning. I got a set of glass storage containers from my kids for Christmas, and the very next day I went out and bought a few more. There are no bags of chips, pretzels, or boxes of cereal floating about. Everything is in a tight little container setting on freshly painted white shelves. I even painted polka dots on the walls for fuck’s sake.

On the surface, things look wonderful. The reality, however, is far more complex.

While the pictures I sent to my friends left them in awe and they replied with messages like, “How do you do it?” and “Can you come over and help me with mine?” and “You’ve have a real talent,” what they didn’t see was a mother who was missing her children so bad on a Tuesday night because they were with their dad that she spent hours organizing her damn pantry.

They didn’t see the tears and feel my emptiness I was trying so hard to fill. They have no idea how many tissues I went through or that my nose was red and dripping with snot as I scrubbed the shelves.

I like a clean and organized home as much as the next person, but since my divorce, vacuuming, organizing, and finding cute outfits on sale is something I do with a vengeance in hopes to ease the pain of not having my kids with me due to our shared custody arrangement.

Some like alcohol or sugar. Some binge watch reality shows. My buffer is the work of keeping my house and myself looking tidy and ready for a party at any given moment.

My drug of choice is staying busy so I don’t have to sit and think about the “good ol’ days” when we all would have been piled around the kitchen table or watched Wheel of Fortune in a lump on the sofa with random socks and pieces of dog food strewn about on the carpet, when the cleaning could wait until the next day. Or the next.

The strange thing is, back then my life felt clean and organized, because those were the years I didn’t feel the need to look the part of the happy single woman who was doing just fine despite having her marriage fall apart and missing her children so much she was in physical pain.

I’ve tried to fill the cracks of my divorce and the emptiness caused by shared custody with lash extensions and rearranging furniture. I’ve tried to control my tears by browsing online for the perfect pillow set. I have the bandwidth to coordinate my shoes to my cute knit hat before I walk out the door when my kids aren’t here. But I cannot, for the life of me, get rid of this sadness.

Maybe to others who are peeking into my life from the outside, through my Instagram feed, or even my front door, it seems like I have it all figured out.

I don’t.

You want to know what I have? More time without my children. That’s it.

And with that time comes feelings. With those feelings comes a natural reaction to somehow fix the fact I don’t see them everyday.

But no matter how good my outfit makes me feel, or how well put together my living room appears, or how happy a new candle makes me, the unnatural feeling of not being with them every day simply will not relent.

I may have a clean home, but that doesn’t mean I am lucky. I may take the time to get myself dressed and make my hair and nails a priority, but it all comes with a trade-off. You see, I’d take the chipped nails, the roots, the so-called “messiness” again if I could. Those days mean more to me than having gaps in my life where I feel it’s my job to feverishly fill the spaces so I don’t have to feel this angst.

My ex and I don’t miss each other, nor do we want to be married again. But I want to see my kids every single day. And because I don’t, I miss my old life deeply and grieve it every day.

Sometimes it feels like a small twitch. Like when I smell dandelions and think about how my son used to pick them for me. So, I go out and buy new flowers for the table.

Sometimes it feels like a bulldozer. Like when I’m home alone, the house is silent, and I reach for the remote and Wheel of Fortune is staring back and me and the sound of Pat Sajak’s voice hurts my ears because of the memories. So, I gut a whole closet and try to put it back together better than before, all the while telling myself this will help me feel a bit better.

When I feel this pain, I have to move, I have to change something, I have to make something better or prettier.

I know what I’m really doing though: I’m trying to control something, anything. Because I can’t control the fact my kids don’t sleep in their beds every night and I don’t make them meals everyday and I don’t get to reach over and kiss them whenever I want.

I can’t change this turn my life has taken, but I can shampoo the rug. I can paint my nails. I can redecorate the mantle. Because right now, it’s all I know how to do.

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Give Up On A Flat Stomach, Folks — Let’s Celebrate The VBO

You had a baby. Perhaps you had more than one baby. Perhaps, like me, you had several babies. Or maybe you are raising a child you didn’t biologically carry. Or you lost your baby.

Maybe when you got pregnant the first time, you had a flat stomach. Maybe it was perfect, the teenage-dream belly, a flat, perfect plane of skin that ran in one line straight from your breasts to your … you know. Maybe back then you could look straight down and see your … you know … without leaning forward a teensy bit. Maybe you mostly still can, kinda.

But you, very likely, don’t have a flat stomach. Short of surgery, you will probably never have a flat stomach again.

Give. It. Up.

As we say in the South, let go and let God.

And the Lord God, the universe, the flying spaghetti monster, or basic human evolution decided when a woman got pregnant, her stomach would stretch. After this stretching, there would be no need for her body to look the same as it did before. It didn’t need to. She was fine the way she was. So her formerly flat stomach remained somewhat stretched. No longer did she look like she used to; she looked like she’s a mom.

That’s because she is a mom.

So after you have a baby, even if you lost alllllll the baby weight, even if you fasted yourself down to the same weight you had in high school, your stomach will probably  never look the same. It will never tighten up. It will never completely flatten out. Your formerly flat stomach will pooch. It will squish, or sag, or maybe some skin will hang down in weird little wrinkly folds (I have weird little wrinkly folds).

Give it up, folks.

Yeah, you could get surgery to take care of that. And that’s okay. Your body, your choice. But many of us  don’t have the money/time/inclination/desire to do so. We look exactly the way we’re supposed to look. We look like we had a baby.

Make it normal, people. Let’s normalize a VBO. Let’s normalize a belly pooch. Let’s normalize squishy bellies. Because they are normal.

Zachary Reed/Reshot

Stop walking around acting like you’re supposed to look any goddamn different. Stop being ashamed. When you look down at your belly and think, “God, if only I looked …” just shut that shit down. Your body is beautiful and amazing.

They have built an entire industry on making you think that you should have a flat stomach. It’s called “shapewear.” It’s clingy and sweaty and sticky and sometimes makes it hard to breathe, and you tend to bulge out the edges of it. I should know. I wore The Most Popular Of Shapewear for years, come depth of winter or sweltering heat of a Southern summer. I would not allow myself to be seen in public without it. Why? Because if people saw me, they would know I didn’t have a flat stomach.

They knew I didn’t have a fucking flat stomach. I was carting three children everywhere.

Because here’s the other secret: everyone knows you do not have a flat stomach. 

If you are someone who has procreated or is raising kids, we know your stomach is (more than likely) not flat. We know it (more than likely) sags or bags or flops or pouches or pokes or shelves or does one or many of the things that the female stomach does when it’s asked to stretch big enough to accommodate an eight pound human being for a certain period of time. Y’all, think about that baby one more time. Close your eyes. From a sheer that-thing-was-in-my-body point of view, that baby was fucking enormous. It literally shifted your vital organs around for the better part of a year. The whole world knows that.

Once you take the shapewear off, you’re left with the same stomach you had before you put it on. What are you going to do, wear that shit to bed? I sure hope not. You deserve comfort.

“Lose the mummy tummy”? Shut the hell up, tabloids and the Western beauty standards driven by capitalism to make us feel bad about ourselves. Moms have tummies. Period.

A flat stomach might be nice. So would some of those really expensive, weird gadgets in the Williams-Sonoma catalog that you wonder who the hell even seriously contemplates buying. So would a unicorn. A unicorn would be cool. I could hang towels on its horn or something.

A flat stomach is about the same. Pretty to look at, but not necessary. Not necessary to be an amazing human. Not necessary to live your best life.

So, try make your peace with your belly. Look at it. Realize that it will never be the same as before, short of surgical intervention, so you might as well learn to appreciate it for what it is right now. Be less self-conscious. That doesn’t mean you have to wear a crop-top (unless you want to). But you can drop the shame. You don’t have to look like you did before.

You can look like a mom. It’s okay to be a mom. There’s nothing wrong with being a mom. Moms are awesome. So are soft bellies, round bellies, stretch-marked bellies, all the bellies.

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Camel-Toe Underwear Exist And Literally No One Asked For This

If you are a person with a vagina, I’m sure you’ve felt the wrath of a pair of pants that give you a front wedgie. I mean, I love a cute jumpsuit, but I’m long-waisted and can’t wear them simply because I feel the fabric creeping up my front-crack so far I can taste it.

It feels like sandpaper rubbing on my inner lips, and after a few steps, I swear I start to see sparks coming from between my legs.

Not to mention, I don’t need anyone to see the outline of my vagina. I embarrass myself (and my kids) enough already; I don’t need to add an exposed love mound when I’m picking up my kids at school or have a meeting with my therapist.

GIPHY.COM

We all know that camel-toe feeling. I’m sure you’ve had the pleasure of being in a fitting room and pulling on a pair of drawers that just didn’t fit right and you couldn’t peel them out of your insides fast enough. Perhaps you put on your pre-baby pants a little early and felt your vulva eating your trousers as soon as you sat down in your car, or to enjoy a fat meal. There’s been a time or two I thought I’d have to call for backup just to pull the denim out of my deep socket. It’s not a good feeling and I wouldn’t put myself through it regardless of any current fashion trends telling me seeing the silhouette of my love button was in.

Up until the other day when my friend sent me a link to camel toe underwear asking me if it was a real thing, I was under the impression people tried to avoid showing their moose knuckles at all costs. Apparently I was wrong.

GIPHY.COM

After all, there are camel toe concealers available for purchase for a reason. I’ve heard on the street, people don’t particularly like the outline of their genitals being shown as they walk around the work place, or the grocery store.

Or do they?

You can now purchase underwear which will part and lift your lips while showing the world a more swollen version of your vulva right through your clothing on Amazon or Ebay. Thanks to the extra padding, support, and deep slit they provide, you can give your home plate a bit more face if you will.

 

It’s kind of like getting those underwear that give you extra stuffing in the rear for that bubble-butt effect, only it’s a bubble-vagina you’ll be getting with these babies. Zero pain or rashes included.

Social media is having a field day with the idea of showing the world a better picture of your vagina, and we have so many questions.

 

The fact is, fetishes come in all shapes and sizes. For some, that means they want to see more defined crotch cleavage in themselves or their partners. For this result, Amazon suggests, “If you want the camel toe to be more pronounced, try wearing it over a pair of tight panties or leggings.”

So, if feeding fabric to your vagina isn’t doing what you want it to do because you hate the feeling of a vedgie (vaginal wedgie), but you like the way it looks, it’s nice to know there are options out there for you.

Your accentuated slot pocket is only a click away.

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I Need More Than ‘Mom Friends’

When my kids were babies, I had tons of mom friends. I could recite their names like a list: Becky and Christy and Stephanie and Sophia, Rebecca and Jackie and Catherine, another Jackie, Elizabeth, Katie, Darcy, Rachael. Moms I’d met in my birthing class, moms I’d met while teaching babywearing, moms I could always call for a playdate or some downtime or a park date. We always had something to talk about: babies and toddlers, milestones and sleep schedules.

But our kids aged. Some of the friends moved. Others drifted. Most drifted. I never saw my mom friends anymore. These were women whom I shared Thanksgivings with, women who laughed and laughed when my son dug up their dead cat. But now, we live in the same city, but we never see each other. We don’t call. We don’t text.

Anne Helena talks about this in Motherwell Magazine. Her baby mom BFFs have turned into once-every-six-month friends, even the one who lives two miles away. She says she’s been replaced, not by another friend, but by a “to-do list,” and she’s not okay with it. She needs friends who know what matters. She needs, in other words, people who aren’t mom friends. She needs people whose friendship isn’t predicated on the shared experience of small people.

When I look back on those friendships, they were so necessary at the time. I needed a village. I still need a village, of course — but the needs of that village have shifted now that I have a better handle on parenting. I don’t need so much help with the other little people aspect of my life. I need more help with the me part of me. I don’t need mom friends to talk about my kids. I need friends who help me cultivate myself and my interests, who care about me as a person, not me as a mother.

There’s an important difference there. All my mom friends, for example, were hippie attachment parents. So was I. Shocking. We reinforced each others’ choices and helped each other through some tough times. Now that stuff doesn’t matter anymore, and we’re adrift. I couldn’t tell you which of them listens to what music. I don’t know their favorite TV shows. I don’t know where and if some of them went to college, and what they majored in.

We need different things from different people at different times. When I was a new mom, I needed mom friends. But the drift was probably inevitable as our kids got older.

I cultivate different friendships now. They’re much fewer in number. Many are male. They are emphatically not mom friends — we hardly talk about my kids, though they like them and say hello them, and one or two of them have close friendships with them (one in fact has a daughter of his own, though he’s not a “mom friend”). These friendships build me up, not my parenting. They feed my needs, not the my reassurance that I’m doing okay at this mom thing.

We talk about different things, these friends and me. First, I sought them out. Some I knew before kids, and I made a conscious effort to rekindle those friendships and remember what made them important before I got so busy with my mom friends. Luckily, we remembered pretty fast, and I found myself hanging out in my friend’s garage, taking him with me to get a tattoo, drinking beer and watching mutually loved TV while we talked about … stuff. Important stuff. Stuff that isn’t my kids.

I have friends who care about politics. None of my mom friends ever cared about politics, and it sort of made me bonkers, but I needed them to care about my baby’s sleep schedule, so I overlooked it. When you’re desperate for breastfeeding advice, you’ll overlook a multitude of sins. That’s not to devalue those friendships at that time in my life. But now that I don’t need breastfeeding advice … I need something else.

I have friends I met on the internet, friends I can talk to about the things that matter in my life: TV shows I like, writing, things I’m passionate about. My BFFs who I talk to on a regular basis? A buddy from high school who lives 700 miles away, and a hilarious, reclusive dude from Indiana who I can’t go a day without spending at least half an hour talking to on the phone (never about my kids).

These people, unlike my mom friends, know who am, not who my kids are. And when I went missing from the world for a few days, they noticed. They checked up on me. They messaged one of my BFFs (“Hey, haven’t seen her around the past few days. Is she okay?”). My other BFF knew what was up, and was desperate to call but understood I didn’t want to talk. She noticed and she understood. 

My old mom friends see me too infrequently to understand so many things. They don’t know who I am anymore.

Seasons in our lives change. We need different things from different people at different times. When I was a new mom, I needed mom friends. But the drift was probably inevitable as our kids got older. We can make a conscious decision: we can try to limp along, find out what we have in common other than our kids — and maybe we do have plenty in common, and we can maintain those friendships. Or we can seek out new friends, friends who feed our souls, who prioritize us, not our kids.

I’m grateful for my non-“mom friends”. Sure, I say hi to the other moms at the playground. We chat and we talk about our kids. But they aren’t my life anymore. I need friends who see me, not them.

Thank god I’ve found them.

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I Was That Impatient A-Hole We All Love To Hate, And I Learned A Valuable Lesson

I was running late to a dinner with girlfriends last week when I came upon an unexpected tollway. For those of you who are lucky enough to live in a place where you don’t have to stop and pay up during a road trip, let me explain: In order for you to keep driving, you have to stop in the middle of the highway and hand over some cash to a person in the booth. They pop up everywhere in my neck of the woods and if you don’t have the money to keep going, everyone behind you knows it and gets their panties in a knot as you fill out a long form promising to hand in your payment within a few days.

It’s happened to me a few times. It’s embarrassing, my titties start sweating, and I feel horrible for the cars behind me. Meanwhile everyone behind me is beeping and calling me names because I’m making them late.

Obviously, this is never intentional. No one sets out for a joy ride saying, “Hey! I wanna piss people off today! I’m gonna hit some tolls with no money while blasting rap music and have myself a splendid day!”

Oh, but how soon we forget what it’s like when we are on the back-end of someone else’s misfortune. And by “we,” I mean “me.”

Last week, I was running late to a dinner with girlfriends I hadn’t seen for a while. My brain forgot what it was like to consider what someone else is going through before I go to impatient-town.

The car in front of me that stopped to pay the toll was taking a long-ass time and I was getting antsy. Then, I was getting right pissed. Things escalated and I started slapping my steering wheel and rolling my head back in distress. I crept closer to their bumper for effect. I somehow thought the madder I got, the more it would speed them up.

Guess what, folks? It didn’t work. It did, however, make me more mad (and hungry).

I caught myself tangled in the middle of an asshole-spiral after taking a look in the rearview mirror to see how many cars were behind me to fuel my fire more. Only I didn’t notice the cars. Instead I noticed the reflection of an ungrateful, angry woman who was contemplating plowing through the toll on two wheels.

I hated what I saw.

I was being the pecker head on this fine evening because I felt it was more important to get to where I was going on time than to practice some patience and grace. Oh and by the fucking way, look how much better I am than you because I have my fucking toll money, motherfucker. 

I didn’t stop to consider what this person may have been going through on this day — something I constantly try to practice and teach my kids. 

Then I remembered this happening to me (more than once). I remembered the panic. I remembered the sweating titties. I remembered how horrible I already felt and I didn’t need the pecker heads behind me reminding me I couldn’t find my toll money.

I pride myself in thinking about others and what they might be going through because life is hard. Apparently I forgot these life lessons that night because I was hungry for some steak and wine with my girlfriends.

Being an dick is one thing. But being a dick to someone who has been in a situation you’ve struggled with yourself is a whole other level of dick-hole-ness.

I realized the nice dinner I had the privilege of buying and eating would not get up an walk away. I have good girlfriends in my life who will wait and understand if I’m late.

I thought about the fact this person in front of me may be a new driver, like my teenage son.

It crossed my mind they might not be able to afford the toll.

The memory of my son taking my nice stack of quarters and throwing them all over the damn car during a temper tantrum when he was four made an appearance. I had to bend over and dig for them while people slammed on their horns and thought if they practically tapped the back of my car while waiting for me to pay the toll, it would make me move faster.

I checked myself in that moment, and I can tell you the shame I felt for creeping closer behind the driver in front of me and throwing my body about in hopes they’d see my frustration made me feel more shame than the times I didn’t have the damn change myself.

Finally, the car moved along. When it was my turn to pay, the toll employee let me know the person in front of me paid for me because of the inconvenience.

OMFG, I’m such a miserable asshole, I thought.

So the only thing I could do to deasshole myself was to follow suit and pay for the person behind me, and remember to not act like a spoiled brat when I’m faced with this situation again.

It was the reminder I needed to have some damn patience with people in situations where I feel my life is way more important than anyone else’s, because it’s not.

I will take a breath, remember a time I’ve struggled before I go bonkers, and treat people in a way that would have helped me when I was in a tough spot.

I promise. 

It was also a reminder I can be a jerk sometimes and it will be something I’ll need to work on forever— especially when I’m hungry.

So if you see me being an inconsiderate, impatient bitch, don’t be afraid to set me straight.

Please and thank you.

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I’m A 36-Year-Old Divorced Woman Without Kids — And I’ve Never Been Happier

Today is December 3rd.

Today I woke up happy.⁣

Today is also three years since I experienced the worst day of my life. ⁣⁣

I can confidently say that, because I had never known such pain, betrayal, and fear before than on that day. I’d never felt so lost or alone or helpless than that day.⁣⁣

And I truly never could have imagined feeling happy again.⁣⁣

Three years ago today what I thought was the end of my “life” at 33 years old, was in all reality, just the beginning. ⁣⁣⁣⁣

It was dreary, cold, and rainy that day. I think I sobbed as many tears as raindrops fell that night. Alone, on my shower floor.⁣⁣

I used to be so ashamed and embarrassed to admit that my husband — my best friend, my person, my everything — said he didn’t want to be with me anymore. And didn’t even want to try.⁣⁣⁣⁣

I never saw it coming. ⁣⁣⁣

I think the hardest thing at that moment was feeling like I had nothing. And no one. In an instant. ⁣⁣

I realized I was living for someone else and when it got hardso dam hard via three miscarriages, three surgeries, doctor appointments, worrying, trying, disappointments, etc. I became obsessed about making other people happy. ⁣⁣

It’s still a challenge to write this and relive it, but I will never forget how I felt because I promised myself I would never feel that way again. ⁣⁣

I know my vulnerability helps others. ⁣⁣

I know I’m not the only one who has experienced this. So I’ll continue to have vulnerability hangovers even if it makes just one person realize they aren’t alone. Happiness is waiting for you on the other side.⁣⁣⁣⁣

No, I haven’t remarried. I don’t have any children, yet. I’m 36 now and know I’m considered “geriatric” at the OBGYN’s office. I don’t own a house anymore. And the last year has actually been one of the hardest years of my life — getting to know the real me.⁣⁣

And yet, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have really bad days — or months.⁣⁣

But I face problems now, and truly feel them so I can wade through them.⁣⁣

I have no idea what the future holds for me but I’ve taken control of it because if not me, then who? ⁣⁣

No one is going to save me. And I wouldn’t want them to. ⁣I can do this. Just like you can, too.⁣

All I know is I want to continue to share this journey in the hopes of inspiring others never to leave themselves behind. Maybe even spare them a few years of struggle along the way. ⁣

The true healing began when I started to lean on others, share my truth, be vulnerable, and believe that I am enough.⁣

Confidence to follow my own path was the only thing weighing me down. But like a muscle, you build and strengthen by doing, working, and acting. It’s never “easy” but always worth it.⁣

I’m still training…⁣

⁣The days can seem long at times. I remember asking my therapist when the pain wouldn’t be so strong. Or when I’d stop thinking about the betrayal as the first thing that came to mind in the morning.⁣

And then it happened. And then three years goes by and you become grateful.⁣

⁣Life is short. So I’m unapologetically staying in my lane, putting my head down, following my heart, and shaking off the negativity. ⁣

⁣Because once you’ve lived through the worst day of your life, it seems silly to let anything or anybody hold you back.⁣

The post I’m A 36-Year-Old Divorced Woman Without Kids — And I’ve Never Been Happier appeared first on Scary Mommy.

I’m Done Putting Myself Last — And You Should Be Too

This past weekend was Thanksgiving weekend and I spent about 12 miserable hours of it feeling depressed and irritable. It wasn’t for the usual reasons that holidays bring people down. Thanksgiving itself was fine. I got along well enough with my extended family. My kids weren’t too cranky or annoying. I wasn’t stuck in endless holiday traffic and I didn’t have to cook or clean up. I didn’t have PMS either.

It took me one moody evening and one morning where I did nothing but snap at my husband and children to figure out what the problem was. It was that I had done literally nothing for me all weekend.

In the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving weekend, I’d worked my ass off so that my job-related stuff would be squared away and I could do nothing but relax and hang out with my family. After the Thanksgiving festivities were over, I made a list of all the things everyone wanted to do, and I coordinated our days so everything would get done.

I planned a family outing to shop for our Christmas tree and some new holiday decor. I made a plan for going to the movies—finding a theater that was showing each of the movies my kids wanted to see so that we could split up and everyone would get what they wanted. I zoomed through my online holiday shopping like a boss on Black Friday morning, checking each of my kids’ requested items off their detailed lists. I even made a plan to squeeze in a date night with my husband.

But I hadn’t penciled in any “me” time.

Like most moms, this is totally on brand for me. My default setting is to put everyone’s needs before my own, and just hope that my own needs will get met somehow, someday … by osmosis, maybe.

I should know by now that this always, always fails. It’s not like the opportunity to do something just for me will fall out of the freaking sky. Nope, like everyone else, my life is B-U-S-Y. Between work, kids, keeping the house in decent order, and all the emotional and invisible labor of managing a household, the only way anything happens around here is if I make a damn plan.

It’s just that planning is so much easier to do when it involves anyone’s needs but my own. I’m not sure why this is. Is it because I’m a woman and I’ve been conditioned to live that way? Is it because of the caregiving role I always played in my own family growing up? Is it something in the water?

I don’t know, but it’s the way it’s been for so long that it feels nearly impossible to change. It’s so hard to say, “Hey, I worked my tushie off for this four-day weekend, and I’m gonna take an afternoon to myself to do whatever the fuck I want.”

It’s hard as hell to do that, which is both ridiculous and incredibly sad at the same time.

This past weekend, however, after living with that heavy feeling of depression and prickly anger for half a day, I had a little revelation. It’s going to sound corny AF, but here goes: I MATTER. I matter. And that is a complete, goddamn sentence.

Getting a few hours to myself—even during the most hectic times in our family’s life—matters just as much as everyone else getting what they want.

It’s not just because of that old adage about how you can’t pour from an empty cup–that you can’t give to others unless you give to yourself. That’s true too. But even that presupposes that the only reason a mom like me should do anything for herself is so that she can be a well-rounded, even-tempered mother and wife.

That is misguided. I should be able to do something simply for me and me alone, and not just because my happiness will rub off on others. Why on earth isn’t my happiness and joy enough on its own? It sure as fuck should be.

I’m done putting myself on the back burner. I’m done delaying my own plans and passions.

So, after my pitiful night and cranky morning, I told my husband to take the kids out for the afternoon so I could spend some time doing what I love best: curling up in bed with a book and spending time writing poetry (which I love) — and that’s exactly what I did. I read and wrote and drank peppermint tea to my heart’s content. Without guilt. It felt so damn good.

My goodness, I’m going to do that more often. I’m done putting myself on the back burner. I’m done delaying my own plans and passions. I’m done putting everyone’s wants and needs before my own. It isn’t helpful to anyone, and it ignores my own need for personal fulfillment, my own hunger for joy.

For me, a natural introvert, putting myself first means spending a quiet afternoon at home alone with my poems. For you, it might mean finally signing up for that dance class. It might mean booking that girls’ trip. It might mean spending a day in the city alone browsing bookstores. It might mean restarting that sewing or scrapbooking project you shelved a few years ago.

Whatever it is, do it. Now. Don’t put it off any longer. And don’t overanalyze it, trying to figure out the meaning behind it, or how it could somehow benefit others around you. Do it for the sole reason that it makes you feel good and brings you joy.

Why deny yourself something so basic—so human—as pleasure and joy? You deserve it.

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I Need More Than A Damn Bubble Bath

As a working mom of young kids, my nights are interrupted as littler bodies collect around mine at random hours until someone wakes up, setting off a chain reaction of wakefulness to start the day. A half-hour to an hour later, the alarm goes off (I did not choose to co-sleep, it chose me). Mornings might be calm, or a tsunami of bickering might surge before 6 a.m.

Feeding, dressing, and brushing everyone else’s teeth means that my morning “self-care” is brushing my own teeth, followed by “cardio.” Cardio is frantically rushing around to collect all the debris necessary to get everyone out the door on time. Post-work, the river of rush hour traffic flows into dinnertime. (Do all kids hate dinner, or just mine?). The day ebbs into an overtired hour of reading, sometimes baths, pjs, more teeth brushing, clean up, next day prep, and the chores that make the lights stay on and the house livable. Around 9 p.m. everyone is asleep and the house is less of a disaster.

Time for…what exactly?

Parenting magazines and mommy blogs describe this as the precious hour of “me” time, to be filled with a glass of wine, a bubble bath, or some “guilty pleasure” trash TV show. Is this when Pintrest projects get made at other people’s houses? It’s just not enough for me, and I think we need to talk about it before we moms find that we’ve lived our lives for the other people in it and forgot about ourselves.

I think it’s because my kids are mostly sleeping through the night that I’m no longer too tired to ignore myself. I feel antsy, energized, like stretching and growing. Bubble baths are just a band-aid on a wound that will keep bleeding unless I can get the kind of “me” time I crave. I need to feed my soul after doing the repetitive work of adulting and childcare. I’m a new age with a new post-kids body, and I need time to discover who I am, to look around from this new perspective. I don’t just want to read the next great novel; I want to write it.

It’s hard to articulate the feeling of flow. I miss diving deep into a project that leaves me feeling replenished and purposeful. I miss doing work I enjoy without keeping one eye on the pick up or dinner or bedtime clock. I need creative immersion, flow, to feel like me. I’m reclaiming my “me” time in a way that feels meaningful for me, and here’s how:

1. Time from sleep (a dangerous game)

Tony Morrison got up before her kids to write. I’m a night owl, and stay up too late. But burning either end of an already short candle is risky. Running a working household smoothly is a precarious tower of cards, and pulling precious sleep out from under the foundation is going to eventually cause the tower to collapse in illness and burnout. So, I’m trying to be reasonable here, but some nights I’m living dangerously with purpose.

2. Time from work (when you can)

Days are filled with work, and momming, so time for you pulls time from one of these. Have you ever taken a vacation day just for you? I’m going to try it. I know, we already take more than the time we have, for sick kids, for snow days, for random school vacation days, for when the sitter cancels last minute… My career is challenging, and so even though I’m lucky to have it, I’m scheduling time away from it too, just like I would any medical appointment. My soul is hungry (and also, I need to schedule that dental cleaning sometime too…).

3. Time from parenting (if you can shake off the guilt)

The workday is long and bedtime comes early, weekends are a blur of fun and chores and errands. Taking from this time is hardest for me because I already feel so guilty about not seeing my kids enough. But I’m deciding to do it anyway, as guilt-free as I can. Before kids, this used to be all my time. Now, I’m taking back a tiny part of what I have completely given over. One night a week I don’t see my kids. There, I admitted it out loud. Fridays I stay late at work, wrap up and cap off my week, then go to candlelight restorative yoga. Substitution: see if your child-free good friend will let you lie on their floor with your eyes closed for an hour (basically restorative yoga). Some weekends I’ll head to a coffee shop for a little while to write. Some evenings I’ll take a walk by myself to think. You deserve no less than to own your own time at least once a week. Well, you actually deserve way more than this because parenting is hard, but I know your alternate kid-watchers are also busy and/or cost money, so it’s a start.

Parents of babies, you’re in a special kind of working parent hell, but have faith – you’ll get through it. When you’re crawling out of that pile of diapers, bottles, and wake up calls on the hour every hour, don’t forget to check in with yourself and make sure you’re still there. You need this time, and the world needs you. That education you fought so hard for? The loads of job applications you submitted? The things that move you and inspire you, be it creating art, canvassing, playing a sport, talking with a friend, listening to your favorite songs and writing new ones? Don’t forget that person. She’s still in there. She still needs time of her own, and more than a damn bubble bath. Put on your own oxygen mask first. You have a spark and it’s never too late to decide to let it shine.

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