Climate Change Is Making Our Kids Sick–But We Can Do Something About It

Greta Thunberg has been warning us. So has America’s favorite scientist, Bill Nye. Climate change is real and no joke. It’s responsible for some pretty freaky stuff. Some pregnant women are going into early labor because of climate change. Changes have also caused car-size wasp nests to pop up. Sound scary? You bet. Eco-anxiety is a real thing, causing some hopeful parents to reconsider how many children they want have.

If you’re concerned about climate change and its effects, you aren’t alone. We hear and read about climate change on a daily basis, with articles, memes, and videos flooding our social media feeds. Thousands of scientists are adamant that we need to sit up and pay attention. Climate change is a legitimate worry of many, but especially parents, because it’s putting the health of our children at risk.

There’s a lot of talk about climate change, but what does it really mean and how does it impact our kids? According to the World Health Organization, climate change “threatens the essential ingredients of good health — clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply, and safe shelter — and has the potential to undermine decades of progress in global health.”

Yes, climate change is disrupting the quality and availability of our most basic needs. Yikes.

The statistics are grim. Between 2030 and 2050, there will be approximately 250,000 deaths due to climate change. Mainly, these deaths will result from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress. You might blow these off if you live in a more developed and medically advanced country, but the reality is, we’re not out of the woods. The current pandemic has made us gravely aware of that.

Extreme heat, caused by ongoing, overall temperature increases, make cardiovascular and respiratory issues worse. This isn’t just an issue for the elderly. Because pollen and other airborne allergen levels rise in the heat, asthmatic patients—including children—are triggered. As a mom of two children with asthma, this is a terrifying reality.

Other climate change concerns include natural disasters, rainfall levels, and infection patterns. These can impact crop production, increase the spread of disease, cause mental health issues (due to forcibly moving from a disaster area), and water contamination.

Greta Thunberg Joins Hamburg Climate Protest
Adam Berry/Getty

Climate change isn’t just a physical health issue, I’m learning. The impact on physical health can create issues with emotional and mental health, too. Our children aren’t immune to these fears. My children often know far more than I think they do, and they’re always eavesdropping in on adult conversations. Furthermore, with readily available access to the internet, climate change is no secret. Our kids know that something is up, and it’s something serious.

Dr. Courtney Howard, a physician, professor, and the president of the Canadian Association of the Environment, told Scary Mommy that a range of climate change factors are impacting our children, including wildfires and tick-borne diseases. These have both made the news many times over the past several years, including wildfires in California and the scary truths about living with Lyme disease.

I admit, I didn’t know much about climate change outside of trying to make good choices because somehow, those are supposed to help save Mother Earth. We recycle and re-purpose as much as we can. We use cloth napkins and real dishes, instead of paper and plastic. We shop using reusable tote bags. Isn’t this enough? Are we not doing our part?

Dr. Howard offered some practical steps our families can take. First, she recommends we can decrease greenhouse gas emissions and improve our health by getting from point A and point B by foot, bike, or public transportation. She also recommends moving toward a more plant-based diet. When our electricity comes via clean energy sources like solar and wind, instead of coal-fired power which pollutes the air, we’re making a positive impact.

That’s not all. Most importantly, Dr. Howard says our votes matter. What we do in our day-to-day lives is valuable, but who we vote for is crucial to making more impactful changes. When leaders can influence the laws, we can drastically decrease the damaging outcomes of what’s currently being done, especially by companies, to pollute our air and water.

If you’re feeling grim, you aren’t alone. The more I dug into broadening my understanding of climate change, the more overwhelmed I felt. Are my kids totally screwed? Should I become one of those doomsday preppers, stocking up on canned food and medicine? Dr. Howard offered me some hope. She noted that change-making does work, and including our kids in the discussions gives us “a sense of companionship and empowerment.” Then she added, “Action feels better than anxiety.”

With the 2020 elections coming up in November, I feel more pressed than ever to make sure that those I vote for believe in climate change (you know, real science). And not just someone who believes that climate change is legit, but also understands its impact on us all, and especially our children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing conditions.

Parents have to look beyond the here and now. In the midst of our day-to-day busyness, we need to remember that tomorrow matters, too. Our children deserve to live long, healthy lives, free from the toxic and preventable effects of today’s poor choices.

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Social Distancing Can Result In Harmful Loneliness Too

Life can be hard enough during “normal” times, but life is far from normal right now and will probably remain this way for a couple of months. The COVID-19 virus is attacking our physical health, medical capacity, business and education infrastructures, and travel industry. Every piece of our everyday life has been turned over and changed, including the way we interact socially. In order to reduce the number of peak cases and slow down the rate of cases demanding medical and hospital intervention, we need to socially distance ourselves from each other by practicing social distancing.

Flattening the curve means staying the fuck home. However, social distancing is creating isolation from our social support systems, and it is making us lonely. I agree that we need to make the safe and correct decision to distance ourselves from each other, but I also need us to recognize that loneliness, the loss of our people and foundations of community, is another dangerous part of this pandemic.

Humans are social creatures, and when we are taken away from each other, we feel threatened and we feel a sense of danger. This need for connection is literally built into our biology. Compared to similar-sized primates or mammals, humans have a larger neocortex, the part of the brain involved in social cognition abilities like thought, language, and behavioral and emotional regulation. Empathy and the ability to read others’ intentions and their feelings live here too. We are said to have “social brains.” Our social brains have served us well, but right now, for our own physical protection, we need to pull apart.

For some folks, hanging on the couch and watching Netflix, finally getting to that project, or reading all of the books is a welcome two-week “vacation.” Boredom may surface, and it may be an inconvenience to stay home, but for others the discomfort isolation brings is far more significant.

Some of us are really struggling in this time of social distancing. Extroverts are bouncing off of the walls, looking for their interacting fix. As much as introverts love to stay self-isolated and recharge alone, they still want and need their small groups too. And no matter what anyone’s personality profile, social isolation is consistent with depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation. For those of us who already struggle with mental health disorders, those risks increase when our social support systems are taken away.

We benefit from social interaction with our support systems. A sense of community increases our happiness, accountability, and physical health. Our social circles give us a sense of purpose, improve our self-esteem, and help us cope with stressful situations.

We are living in a very stressful situation and yet many of our coping mechanisms are gone.

I am worried about the impact that loneliness will have on people as we are socially isolated during this strange and scary time—a time when, more than ever, we need the support of friends and the feel-good hormones that come with hugging and hanging out and laughing with the ones we love. I’m a little worried about me too.

I struggle with anxiety and depression from PTSD, and I am an addict in recovery. I rely on working out with others, volunteer work, and sober groups to keep me well. I am also queer and am an advocate for other LGBTQIA+ folks. Affirming churches, Pride centers, PFLAG meetings, and LGBTQIA+ youth groups at school are gone for those of us who need them most. My heart breaks for the extra layer of loneliness that have been added to already lonely folks. Add all of the worry and losses from the pandemic (childcare, school, work, money, health), and we have a very dangerous recipe for a social recession.

But here’s the good news: support is still available. We all just need to do a better job of checking in on each other while knowing it’s okay to reach out. Netflix has created a way for us to watch a movie with a buddy while miles apart. Skype and FaceTime chats are so important right now. Up your messaging game. Send more memes and photos.

But be aware that too much time on social media can add to anxiety and depression. Mute certain words or unfollow triggering accounts on Twitter and Facebook. Fill your Instagram feed with cute animals. And to keep yourself from looking at your phone every 30 seconds, set times with friends to meet up and check in.

If you can, take advantage of online meetings of the support groups or book clubs you are in. Tonight I joined a live yoga class taught by an instructor at the heated studio I normally attend in person, and it was exactly what I needed. I was by myself in my basement, set up with my mat and a small space heater, but 40 other people were also taking the class from their home. Six states were represented, and some of the folks taking class had kids or a partner nearby. It was the connection I needed. It was a piece of my old routine done in a new way that lifted my spirits. While so much is changing, I need to know some things are still available.

Our kids look for this too. My oldest is nine and the twins are six. They don’t like not knowing when school, sports, and playdates will resume. They miss their friends, but today I made sure they had ways to chat with their buddies via a kid-friendly app. They spent a very loud two hours talking and giggling with their buds. They sent emojis and videos and called and hung up on each other so they could quickly connect with someone else. It was loud and chaotic, but it was the connection they needed. Screen time is no longer just mindlessly watching cartoons or playing a video game; it’s asking friends what they did today and taking screenshots with goofy filters. It’s keeping an open line of communication and connection with the ones we love.

Many of the people who are most impacted by this isolation — people 65 years old and older and people in nursing homes or long-term care facilities — may not have technological abilities or access to technology. Phone calls, waves from windows, and deliveries of food and care packages that can be left on the doorstep will be keys to connection.

If you are someone who is able to work from home and who doesn’t mind the solitude or is more immune to it, then do your part and self-isolate. The great news about limiting your exposure to others means that in a time of need, you will be able to check in on the most vulnerable people who are not only at risk for getting infected with COVID-19 but are also at a greater risk for the negative impact of isolation. Yes, it’s a lot to carry, but consider yourself a super hero.

If you or someone you know needs help, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration can help you find counseling services where you live. Or call 800-662-HELP (4357).

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a group of counselors ready to help the LGBTQIA+ population. Or call 1-800-273-8255.

AA also offers online meetings.

Loneliness is not simply a complaint; it can lead to serious mental and physical health problems. Please know that you are not truly alone and that this situation is temporary.

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9 Best Shopping List Apps To Download Before Your Next Grocery Run

You know the drill: you need one specific item, so you go to the grocery store to get it, only to stock up on everything else and forgetting the item you actually need. This has happened to us more times than we can count. But the good news is that there are several grocery shopping apps that can make that little oversight into ancient (well, recent) history. Sure, you could go with a good old-fashioned pen-and-paper grocery list, but it’s really easy to forget it and leave it at home. When you use these apps, the list will be on your phone and (hopefully) you won’t leave that behind. So enable your phone’s wifi and download the best grocery shopping list apps now (or at least pick one and try that).

1. Our Groceries

The Our Groceries app synchronizes your entire family’s shopping lists. So let’s say you’re heading to the store and your son realizes he’s out of jerky. He can add it to the list, and you’ll see it before you leave the store without dried meat.

2. List Ease

Like the Our Groceries app, you can synch up your family’s shopping lists. But List Ease also lets you virtually clip coupons and add them to the list, so they’re ready whenever anyone needs them.

3. Out of Milk

The Out of Milk app synchs up lists too, and also allows you to add items using Alexa or the Google voice assistant. It also comes with handy list templates to help you know what you’re going to need for things like party planning, cleaning your house, and a plant-based product app.

4. Flipp

The Flipp app has all the bells and whistles of the other apps on this list, but with an added bonus. Flipp automatically searches for coupons for your favorite grocery store brands, and scans your local supermarket’s circular so you know what’s on sale and when to stock up.

5. Grocery iQ

If you’ve ever been grocery shopping and come across a product that you don’t necessarily need right now but could be interested in in the future, the Grocery iQ app is for you. Just snap a photo of the product and the app will add it to your next shopping list.

6. Grocery Pal

If you’re always on the hunt for supermarket bargains, you’re going to want to download the Grocery Pal right now. It takes the guess work out of figuring out which store around you (including big box stores like Target and Walmart) has the best prices on the products you love.

7. Buy Me a Pie

The Buy Me a Pie app doesn’t only help you create lists, but it also allows you to customize those lists based on how the aisles are set up at your regular grocery store. Gone will be the days of forgetting something in the produce section and having to wind your way upstream through the grocery store to get the garlic.

8. BigOven

The BigOven app is what you get when you cross shopping lists and social media. Sure, you can organize your own list, but you can also compare yours with friends’ lists to see what they’ve been buying and cooking for some inspiration.

9. Yummly

Though not technically a grocery shopping list app at its core, Yummly lets you scan the products you have at home to figure out what you can make from the pantry, fridge, and freezer. It then automatically adds anything else you may need for a recipe to your shopping list.

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To Our Friends In The Facebook Memories

It has happened several times. I’m mindlessly scrolling through Facebook (with a full sink and inbox) when I come across a girl that looks vaguely familiar. Like an actor I once saw in a movie but cannot place. Occasionally I even look at her name before I realize what I’m seeing: the Facebook memory of a mom friend – a friend I’ve only known during her momhood. And she apparently looked quite different eight years ago.

Stumbling upon these gems is the best. As mothers of young children, we are constantly meeting other mothers – all of us with bags over our shoulders and under our eyes. We swap stories of sleepless months, diaper rash, meltdowns in Target and our kids’ meltdowns in Target. Our lives are dull to anyone not with us in the trenches. And we recognize that as we text each other sleep training articles that never work. We know and accept each other as exhausted, disheveled, over-extended moms.

To The Girls In The Facebook Memories: woman and man posing for photo
Courtesy of Alicia MacNorth

And then we see her – our mom friend 10 years ago. At a college party. Red solo cup in hand. Hair freshly washed, flat ironed to oblivion with the flash from someone’s Canon Powershot reflecting off the shine. She is fun and beautiful and her only care is whether or not she’ll bother waking up for her 9am lecture the next morning. Or maybe she’s backpacking through Thailand with amazing friends. Or presenting her thesis on T cell regulation in her PhD program we didn’t even know she completed, looking polished and brilliant. Whatever she’s doing, she looks nothing like the woman with dried yogurt smeared across her fleece that we sit next to every Tuesday in story time.

To The Girls In The Facebook Memories: women posing for photo
Courtesy of Alicia MacNorth

These relics of the past are delightful and significant. Telling glimpses into the person our friend once was – and more importantly still is.  And just because that point in our lives is hard to remember and now seems inconsequential (why were we all wearing tiny vests?) – the girls in those photos are important. They are reminders that our friends are interesting humans with a lot to offer the world and so are we.

And as for the physical changes since bringing life into the world? Bring them on. It is not a tragedy that she is no longer a size 4 (or let’s be real, in my case a size 10). Women are supposed to look different. We have given ourselves over to small creatures who demand our body, brain and soul all day every day. Does that mean that occasionally our eyes, which were once vibrant and inquisitive, now look like dead shark eyes before our second cup of coffee? Maybe! Are our jaw lines a little less Ariel and a little more Ursula these days? Might be! We look different because we are different. And we owe zero apologies.

To The Girls In The Facebook Memories: women posing for photo
Courtesy of Alicia MacNorth

Back to the girl in the Facebook memories. Should she be overlooked because she’s carefree and looks good in ridiculously low cut jeans? No. The journey she’s on in those photos led her to the place she is today. Maybe back then she’d already found her future partner. Or maybe she’s having a wild time playing the field. (Tinder wasn’t on the scene yet, but we still managed.) Either way, she’s figuring out how to be loved and how to love. She is young, but she is making decisions that will shape the marriage and/or relationships her kids now depend on.

And the professional goals she was striving for all those years ago still can exist amid a sea of goldfish crackers and crayons. Maybe she actually has to leave the office at five or put her career on hold completely – either way, her ambition and knowledge are still there. Even if some days she herself can’t access it.

So do not disregard these beautiful young versions of our friends and ourselves who pop up on social media. They are amazing. Those girls rocking velour track suits and sticky lip gloss became the women we lean on and look to today. However, don’t look at them too longingly. Simply let them remind us who we were and who we still are.

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Twitter Thread Shows How We’re Eating Salads All Wrong

Let’s talk about salads. It’s hard to feel lukewarm about salads — you either love them or you hate them. But they are very universal. You can have a salad as a side or a full meal. When it comes to making one, the possibilities are endless. Few foods are quite as adaptable as the salad. In spite of this, a lot of people still find salads boring. They lack a certain something that allows them the respect they deserve. Perhaps it’s because people don’t put enough care into their salad-making process. A recent viral Twitter thread really nails the ways we can elevate our salads to the next level.

Twitter user Elan Gale gets pretty real about why people don’t like salads. It’s not because they’re inherently boring as a meal. Really, it’s because people aren’t making an effort. If you want your salad to be delicious, you have to put in the time to make it so. Just throwing some salad dressing on a bed of lettuce and adding a veggie or two does not a salad make.

Gale’s first point is a big one. Many salad ingredients don’t have a lot of flavor on their own. If you’re going to add something like tomatoes or cucumbers, you want to hit them with a little salt or pepper to enhance the flavor. An avocado, which is deliciously bland, needs some citrus. Hit it with a squeeze of lemon juice if you don’t want the flavor overpowered.

While what you put in your salad is important, so is your base. Lettuce is important, people! Iceberg lettuce is the equivalent of giving up. No one who cares about themselves uses iceberg lettuce. If you’re doing the bare minimum, go with romaine. But like Gale points out, you can mix it up. Arugula is a little lemony and peppery. Frisee is nice too. Spinach also makes a great salad base or mix.

Not everyone likes spice. Radishes are more mild than a jalapeno. They add a little peppery kick to spice up your salad. Plus a little crunch! If you’re not a fan of spice, try something pickled. The acidity and vinegar from the brine really does add a little something different to your salad. Same with herbs. You may wonder why you need additional greenery after lettuce, but seriously — try it. Parsely, cilantro, dill, and mint are great ones to start with. Basil or scallion are also excellent additions.

CHEESE. You definitely need some sort of cheese. As Gale points out, shredded mozzarella on a salad is boring and bland. He recommends Feta, which is a good option but maybe a little too salty for some people. Goat cheese would also be a delicious option. Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano add a nutty undertone. If you’re going to use a mozzarella type, use Burrata! It’s creamy and delicious and will soak up all the wonderful flavors.

Gale is right — dressing is an important factor. It’s easy to just drown everything in Ranch dressing and call it a day. But then you’re masking all the beautiful delicious salad flavors. Good olive oil, a nice vinegar (balsamic, red wine, or apple cider are great vinegar options), maybe a squeeze of a bright citrus. A little minced garlic also goes a long way. If you choose to make your own dressing, you need an emulsifier to tie it all together. He suggests horseradish, but again, spice. A nice mustard is always a more broadly appealing option.

One important thing he forgets is texture. Crunchy veggies aren’t enough. You need some good crunch, maybe a little smoothness. Croutons are a safe, albeit boring option. Try nuts like almonds and walnuts or sunflower seeds. Want to up the health factor? Flaxseeds. Add dried cranberries for a little sweetness and chewiness. Maybe use peeled orange or grapefruit segments. Don’t be afraid to add red pepper flakes for a little heat. Try olives if you want a little saltiness that won’t overwhelm flavor. Lentils, black or kidney beans add some different textures as well.

Salads don’t have to be boring. If you take the time to put a little care into them, you’ll find they’re actually quite delicious. They’re one of the few foods you can experiment with and not have it go completely wrong. It’s all about trying new things and seeing what tastes best for you.

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One Italian Town Had Wine Pouring From Its Faucets Instead Of Water

Unfortunately, it only lasted a couple of hours

Italy isn’t a country at the top of many people’s vacation lists right now, but what if we told you there was actual red wine pouring from faucets instead of water? Would that change your mind?

It’s not the work of Jesus Christ himself but a “technical malfunction” at the Setticani winery near the Castelvetro area of Modena in Italy’s northern Emilia-Romagna region that had residents filling up their pitchers with a nice Lambrusco instead of water. The malfunction was caused by a faulty valve in the washing circuit within the bottling line which seeped through the town’s waterline.

Unfortunately, as with all good things, the wine on tap was short-lived. The glitch lasted about three hours and impacted about 20 homes, said Giorgia Mezzacqui, deputy mayor of Castelvetro. But the malfunction did mean those lucky residents got about 1,000 liters of ready-to-be-bottled wine straight from source-to-faucet. It’s like farm-to-table — but better.

 

The incident may not have lasted long, but it provided a brief respite for residents thinking non-stop about the coronavirus, which has hit northern Italy the hardest. “At a time where we have very little to smile about, I’m glad we brought some levity to others,” Mezzacqui told CNN. “Hopefully, some day, they’ll remember us and will want to come visit us.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be great if you were, say, doing a load of washing at the time, but coming out your kitchen faucet straight into a bottle, now that’s the stuff dreams are made of. One could even argue taking a shower when it happened wouldn’t be too shabby either. Sure, you wouldn’t be able to collect it (well, except for in your mouth), but it would make for the world’s most relaxing shower ever.

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The local water board sent out technicians as quickly as possible (good for the winery, bad for residents), but not before families had “bottled as much of the precious liquid as they could to enjoy later at a lunch or dinner along with other typical Modenese specialities,” according to the Gazetta di Modena.

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The coronavirus outbreak has paralyzed and disrupted economic and social life in Italy, particularly in Castelvetro, a popular destination for food and wine enthusiasts coming to visit from across the globe. But since the COVID-19 outbreak, 80 percent of tourism destinations in the region have had cancellations, Mezzacqui said. Today, Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of the governing coalition’s Democratic Party announced that he had contracted the virus. “Well, it’s arrived; I also have the coronavirus,” The New York Times reported.

We could all use moments of levity like this right about now. If they could come in wine form, even better.

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It’s Important To Take The Time To Compliment People

I go to the local McDonald’s every morning to get caffeinated and start working. It gets me out of the house and helps me avoid urges to dust the overhead lights when I have a project due. I know everyone there and they know me as the “author” who sits by the window pounding away at the keyboard.

I walked in the other day and saw a woman behind the counter I’d never seen before. She was nervous and slow. It was obviously her first day —  I know this because I’m there every damn day. Also, she was doing a hell of a lot better than I ever would behind the register at a fast food joint. My head is spinning just thinking about it. 

As she handed me my cup, I noticed her nails. They were long and pink. She was killing that long, oval manicure that was adorned with gold gems; something I’d never be able to carry off, but wish I could.

“You are doing a great job,” I told her. I went on to tell her I liked her nails and then stopped myself thinking I needed to tone down my extra-ness. But as soon as someone came up behind me and starting lighting into her that they had ordered a sausage, egg, and cheese instead of the bacon and egg sandwich they had received, in a tone so rude it made the manager stop and pause to gain composure before he handled it, I blurted out, “Your nails look amazing.”

She smiled at me and I could see her start to breathe again. We then talked for a few minutes about our favorite places to get our nails done and how she was going to try leopard-painted nails next.

I try to do this as often as I can — compliment complete strangers when I see something I like. I need to do it more though. I know it can take my mood and lift it right up. I’ve seen it give people that extra pep they need to make it through the day. 

We’ve all had second thoughts about doing our hair before we leave the house because it seems like no one notices anyway. Then, when someone does say they like our hair, it’s validating and puts a smile on our face at the very least.

It’s not about being vain or caring what others think, but it does us all good to hear about the positive things others see in us. We can often have a hard time seeing to our own good qualities, and compliments from others can radiate into our own minds. 

In fact, it happened to me yesterday when I went to an appointment. I felt like I’d been looking so awful and tired lately. I gave myself a quick glance before I got out of the car and I felt self-conscious about the way I looked. 

But, as soon as I walked to and saw the beautiful (much younger) blonde greet me, she told me how great my skin looked. “Your skin tone is so even and glow-y.”

I told her she looked young, healthy, and vibrant. We both felt better after I left; I could feel it in the energy we exchanged. 

I’ve realized during my time on earth people are so quick to criticize others. They are so fast to point out our shortcomings– not just to strangers but to those they know. It seems to be a knee-jerk reaction and it’s gotten to the point where people don’t think about their delivery or how it might affect someone else if they speak to them in a way that disregards their feelings. It seems like nothing to lay on your horn to the car in front of you, or get pissed at the waitress for getting your order wrong. 

But letting someone know you like their dress? That doesn’t come as easy, does it?

We may not understand someone else’s struggles or even know about them. We may not know a lot (or a single thing) about their life. We may not know why they are rude to us for simply being in a certain place at a certain time.

But we do know this: Compliments are for everyone. They take nothing from us but a few seconds. They have the power to transform someone’s day or week. They not only make the person receiving them feel good, they can make the person giving them feel good, too.

We are all constantly listening to the negative voice that lives within our heads because, as Julia Roberts said in Pretty Woman, “The bad stuff is easier to believe.”

That’s true for all of us. Remember that when you feel too busy to tell someone you like their earrings or how they are wearing their hair. Even during the moments you think your kind words won’t matter, they will.

You could be the reason their negative voice is calmed for a bit and make their entire day.  

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Stop Sh*tting All Over Someone Else’s Joy

You’ve heard the saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Well, more people need to take that to heart. When sharing your opinions, specifically the ones no one is asking for, pause for a minute. Consider if voicing your opinion makes you sound like an asshole. It’s really easy to make someone feel bad with an unnecessarily judgey or mean comment. If you don’t like something, it costs nothing to just keep quiet. Don’t rain on someone else’s happiness parade.

Obviously, not everyone likes the same things. That’s great! In fact, it’s nice to have people in your life who like different things than you. What’s not nice is when someone who doesn’t like what you like has to be an asshole about it. There is never a reason to make a person feel bad about what they like because you don’t. That shit isn’t cool, nor is it necessary. If you don’t like something, there is nothing better than to just keep your mouth shut.

For much of my life, I’ve loved things that people love to make fun of. When I was younger, it bothered me that my friends would give me shit about liking things they didn’t. But as I got older, it started to affect me less. After a while you just get used to it. Doesn’t mean that I’m not bothered by it, but I’ve learned to accept it. What bothers me is that people can’t keep their mouths shut. Just because I like the musical Cats and Harry Styles, doesn’t mean you have to. All it means is you can respect that I like it. Don’t rain on my parade just because you think what I like is basic.

It doesn’t take anything to not be a jerk about what the people you know are into. Chances are they’ve already heard whatever comment you’re going to make before. Shockingly, people are not particularly original when they’re mocking what others love. But there’s only so many times you can make fun of something before you’re hurting someone’s feelings.

I don’t like Star Wars or anything relating to it. Nothing about the franchise (except for Baby Yoda) appeals to me. But a ridiculous amount of people in my life are obsessed with Star Wars. They all get so excited about every facet of that fandom. Since it’s not something I’m into, it’d be easy for me to constantly shit on their love for it. But because I’m not a total douchebag, I don’t rain on their happiness. Actually, I think it’s sweet they have something they love.

Social media has given people the belief that everyone cares what you think. Having spaces like Facebook and Twitter to voice our endless stream of opinions means people are constantly seeing them. And when you’re engaging in that manner with other people’s opinions, you place more value on your own. Especially because we live in a world where we seek validation from likes. Sometimes people forget that not everyone needs to hear their hot take. Especially if it’s only invalidating someone else’s feelings.

Don’t wreak havoc on someone else’s comment section simply because it’s not something you enjoy. If you see someone’s post about You and you think the show is trash, don’t tell them that. It may make you feel like hot shit for a few minutes, but what did it accomplish? Chances are, you leaving your trash opinion just made your friend feel bad. And even if it didn’t make them feel bad, they’re likely not happy with you. They were just looking for a space to talk about something they enjoy. Maybe they’re looking to find other friends who watch a show to talk with. So don’t bring your unsolicited opinions into their space if you don’t have anything nice to say.

Really, it doesn’t cost anything to be kind. It won’t hurt you to not share your opinions if you see something you don’t like. Who cares if Susan shares a cute video of baby raccoons and you think those loveable little trash pandas are vermin? Obviously Susan loves raccoons and doesn’t really need you to come in and talk about how they all carry rabies. Don’t rain on Susan’s joy that only watching a video of raccoons eating bananas can bring. Why would you intentionally bring down Susan’s good mood by being a judgy ass raincloud? Don’t be that asshole, seriously.

Here’s a novel concept: if you see something you don’t like, you can just keep scrolling. Yes, it feels like a ridiculous idea, but hear me out. Not everything is about you, and sometimes your thoughts are best left in your head. I don’t make the rules here, but it feels that this isn’t something that should be shocking. Keeping your opinions to yourself when they’re not being asked for isn’t hard to do. It’s only hard if you refuse to acknowledge other people’s feelings. Especially when you’re coming into their space. If you wouldn’t talk shit about that thing if you were face to face with the person you’re disparaging, don’t do it online.

It’s so easy to not be an asshole about things that aren’t directly affecting your life. Whether it be my love for Cats or Susan’s racoon videos, they’re things that spark joy. But if they don’t spark joy in you, don’t rain on our parade. You’re entitled to your wrong opinion, but keep it somewhere where I don’t have to see it. No one wants to feel attacked by their “friends” because they like something like ridiculous musicals or furry scavengers. Just let Susan enjoy her fucking trash pandas. Stop being that jerk.

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If Someone Has Something In Their Teeth, Tell Them

I was walking into my favorite restaurant last spring to meet a friend for lunch. It’s one of those places that serves everything from rabbit to brick oven pizza, and it looks like  Joanna Gaines decorated it herself. It’s my happy place and all I could think about was the taste of the balsamic, glazed chicken and a glass of wine when I walked in. I was starving and could practically taste the food as I saw my friend already seated. However, something had me seriously distracted.

I couldn’t help but notice a lady in front of me standing in the lobby, digging through her purse. I loved her jeans and, upon a second glance, I noticed an inspection sticker on her left cheek.

I had to physically stop myself from pulling it off for her. I’m a mom and that’s just what we do. But it’s also not fun to tell someone— especially a stranger— they have an inspection sticker on their butt.

I didn’t especially want to tell her she had a white circle on her patootie. I would have rather gotten the jean info and ordered that wine ASAP but, instead, I set aside the awkwardness, leaned in close and told her. Because let’s face it, if you let someone walk around with an inspection sticker on their butt — or an unblended blob of make up on their face or spinach in their teeth, for that matter — you’re kind of an asshole. You’re putting your feelings of comfort before theirs.

She was so relieved I told her. This woman, who looked fabulous by the way, was on her first blind date in decades. Decades. She was a nervous wreck and was so thankful I told her there was a white sticker with the number 125 stuck on her booty. That’s right, I’m just out here doing the Lord’s work.

It takes some effort and can be a bit uncomfortable to tell someone they have their zipper down, something in their teeth, or their skirt tucked into their hose, but for fuck’s sake, tell them!

I don’t care if you don’t know them, are never going to see them again, or they don’t look approachable. The decent thing to do is to not let them walk into any more potentially embarrassing social situations that could have been avoided.

That little twinge of putting yourself out there and bringing it to the person’s attention takes about two seconds, and you are saving them from a day’s worth of embarrassment.

If you’re keeping it to yourself that the cashier has toilet paper stuck to her nose, or your coworker appears to have only filled in one eyebrow, you should take a look at your manners.

They obviously don’t know and they are the ones who will have to wonder how long they’ve been walking around with salad stuck to their teeth, not you. 

If you’re keeping it to yourself and staring just because you don’t want to embarrass them, there’s a way to do it so no one else will hear. Pass them a note, whisper, point to your zipper, whatever. Just do something. They’ll get the point.

Maybe their cheeks will redden for a moment, but they’ll be thankful you’re looking out for them and not turning a blind eye and going about your day.

If you were walking out of the restroom with toilet paper on your shoe or your dress caught up in your spanx, wouldn’t you want someone to tell you as soon as fucking possible? Yes. Yes, you would.

Or would you rather walk around the grocery store and see silent stares that scream, “Thank god I’m not you right now”? No. No, you would not.

My point is, we’ve all been oblivious to things that are happening to our face or body. I once had a friend meet me at the park and she drove up and had a tick stuck to her forehead. A tick. It was engorged and I had to help her pull it off so, it had been there a while.

She’d just been at the store before we met and said the lady in front of her kept turning around and looking at her, but never told her. I mean, she found out as soon as I took one look at her and screamed in horror, but she could have known soon if someone let her in on it. In this case, telling her wasn’t just saving her from further embarrassment; it could have actually saved her from Lyme disease.

Come on, let’s be decent. Tell someone if they’ve got something going on you know they wouldn’t like. It’s called human decency.

But if you can’t pull yourself out if your own selfishness and let them in on it because it’ll put you out too much, remember karma works in mysterious ways. It’ll be no time before you are walking around with a clump of dryer lint in your hair, or a hanger in your nose so big people across the room can see it.

Do the right thing and take a moment to tell someone (quietly) if they’ve got something extra going on that would upset them if they were to spot it in the mirror at the end of the day.

Humans shouldn’t let humans walk around with stuff in their teeth or hanging out their nose, period.

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I Don’t Drink, But We Can Still Be Friends

I had a drinking problem. I’m not afraid or ashamed to admit it. After years of binge drinking, hangovers, and all around unattractive behavior, I gave it up. Ten years ago I took my last sip of beer and my final drag of a cigarette. Sober life suits me. I’m a mother of four and don’t really have room for alcohol in my life. But just because it doesn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it’s not OK for you.

For some people, my sobriety makes them uncomfortable. Just because I don’t have a wine glass in my hand, they think I’m judging them. That’s simply not true. I don’t care what other people do. Alcohol is fun. Alcohol is relaxing. And some of it is downright tasty. Happy hour after a long work week is a great release. I love that release too, I just have it with a Diet Coke instead of a Chardonnay. Trust me, I can still talk and laugh and gossip with the best of them even without a cocktail.

There is another huge benefit of being friends with a non-drinker. I will quickly volunteer to be the designated driver. I’m not being pushy, or bossy, or holier-than-though, I’m just in a better position to drive. Let me! And go ahead and imbibe and have a fun night away from your troubles and relax. I’m happy to do it.

I promise, I’m not judging you. I also don’t just assume that you get wasted every day because you drink in front of me from time to time. But I will probably be the first to tell you if I think you’ve had enough. I definitely will be the one who takes your keys or calls you an Uber. I love and care about you.

I want to spend time with you. I want to be invited to girls’ night out. I’d love to come to your party and make great memories with our friends. I look forward to my family’s annual Pig Roast and opening my home to our family and friends even if I’m not tapping the keg. Don’t think that if you’re invited to my house I won’t serve you a cocktail. I promise we will have plenty of booze and delicious food and friendship. Our parties are just like everyone else’s.

I’m not better than you because I don’t drink. My laundry is piled up in the mud room just like yours and I still yell at my kids. I’m like your other friends, and I want to be accepted as so, that’s it. So let’s ditch our husbands and our kids and head to that cute new wine bar. My only request is that you let me pick you up and that they’ve got plenty of Diet Coke on hand.

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