Letting Go Is Hard When Your Child Can’t Wait To Be On His Own

“I’m so hot! Where the f*ck is he?!” my 17-year-old son said as we exited the college bookstore, looking for my husband who had clearly wandered off.

“Didn’t you see him?” I asked him carefully, trying hard not to trample upon the emotionally raw side that had woken him up this morning.

“No, I didn’t!” he retorted, “This heat is killing me!”

“Why don’t you go outside and cool off, sweetie?” I proffered in my kindest, most reassuring motherly tone I could muster. Two days into our campus trip, he was already nervous and annoyed.

“No, I don’t want to,” he replied, somewhat caustically. Of course, you don’t, I thought. Why would you want to make life easier for yourself, sigh? Ivan, my younger son, had been a ball buster since the age of two when he almost got kicked out of preschool for stomach butting kids, and punching elderly teachers. Not much had changed since then.

Unfortunately, my maternal instincts kicked in and I was overcome with the urge to teach him something, to shield him from his worst self. So I continued.

“Well, I just want you to be able to get over little annoyances that always bug you and focus on the positive. We’re here at your favorite school. We just toured around. We bought you some great swag.” And of course, I had to add in, “Your dad and I are sacrificing a lot for you to go here so a little positivity would be actually nice.”

Dead silence. That last line was too much for his self-centered adolescent self to take. After all, he was my explosive guy. The one that the day care center director said would be “a leader in the community if he could just channel all that energy in a positive direction.”

“Well, when you get hot when we’re in a store, you always say, ‘OMG, I have to get out of here, I’m so hot!’” he reminded me. “How is that any different from my complaining?!”

I took the bait, unfortunately. “Ok, so I had a hot flash while we were in the bookstore but you didn’t hear me complaining about it, did you?” I said, defensively. Maybe we were cut from the same cloth.

My husband, trying to play the peacekeeping role that he was accustomed to, tried to defend me by saying, “Well, your mother’s situation is a bit different…”

“How?!” Ivan asked sarcastically. “Really, how?!” Then he proceeded to go on about how I let little things bother me and that he was no different. He was right. We were the same. Maybe that’s why I got so heated with him in arguments. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t ignore his provocations the way my husband could.

I was a glass half-empty person and let things get to me when I was younger. But as I matured, I had really tried to change that and become more positive. But I knew he wasn’t. And I felt responsible for that. Of course he expected everything to be perfect. I had set his life up like that. As the second child, we catered to his needs, me especially. He didn’t want to eat what his older brother ate? Well, of course, I’d make him a special meal. He didn’t want to drink warm water that his brother did? Well, of course, I’d give him ice cold water. He didn’t want to learn how to wash his clothes? Of course, I would do that for him. He didn’t want to clean his bathroom sink of toothpaste stains? Of course, I would do that for him as well.

With both of my boys, I made them the center of my universe because I had not been the center of my parents’ world. Alcoholism and mental illness had displaced me from that role. But I was determined to make them my leading men. And I succeeded, FWIW. But I fear that I overdid it with him. I routinely catered to his childish culinary tastes, making him his favorite microwave chicken nuggets with microwave fries. No oven baked for this kid. I cooked him “fresh” meals most every night. He hated leftovers and I knew that. I went to bat for him with my husband to go to an out-of-state school even though we pledged that our kids would go in-state for undergrad for financial reasons.

“Look, lopov, I’m just trying to say that I wish you had some coping techniques to not let the little stuff bother you,” I said as we exited the store, my face flush from yet another hot flash. I was thankful for the strong wind and greenery.

“Oh, okay,” he replied, never one to offer more information than he absolutely had to. “Sometimes you just annoy me.”

“Yeah, well, sometimes you annoy me too,” I said, while giving a small chuckle, hoping to alleviate the tension a bit. “We’re a family and that’s just how it is. We can annoy each other but we still love each other.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” he replied somewhat absentmindedly.

We made our way to the field house for our last stop on the trip. I wiped the sweat from my brow and thought about why I was so on edge myself. Then it came to me. Unlike my older son, he didn’t seem to actually like hanging out with his father and me. He truly seemed to revel in his independence. He chose a school 11 hours away from us by car. Maybe that was on purpose? What if this move meant that he would stay there forever? What if he didn’t want to come back to us? My biggest fears were being realized by letting him go.

But that’s life, right? You do what you can for your children and you move on. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean that you signed up for any of this. But you just keep going, somehow, and hope that one day, he’ll come back to you.

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What I Gained From A ‘Buy Nothing’ Facebook Group

“You don’t know me at all!”

The door slammed hard in my face and I slumped against it. This wasn’t the first time a conversation with my 14-year-old daughter about leaving dirty dishes on her bedroom floor erupted into screams. When COVID-19 hit NYC and we relocated to our house upstate, our formerly close relationship unraveled. Our contact became stilted and tentative on the best days, explosive on the worst. She was exasperated by everything I said. At a particularly low point she didn’t come out of her room for 12 hours. (I used a screwdriver to pick the lock and peek in on her when she was asleep). We may have escaped the storm engulfing the city, but it was clear there was no avoiding the one we had precipitated under our own roof. For the first time in our relationship, I was at a loss.

Deep down we all carry the versions of ourselves we learned as children. Mine was: you’re not good enough as you are. One withering look of disdain or mere mention of disappointment from my father was enough to send me into spirals of shame. I grew skilled at finding ways to please him, but in the process lost the ability to please myself. It was not until much later that I learned the importance of being known — to myself and others — as I truly am.

By contrast, my identity as a parent to my first daughter came smoothly. I was determined from the outset that her needs would come first, and our bond made that easy.

We were that irritating unicorn mother-daughter duo–the ones giggling in the grocery store and sharing inside jokes. I knew how to soothe her. We got each other’s humor. When there was a Gilmore Girls pop-up in Park Slope we woke at 5 a.m. and waited in line for two hours to sit at a replica of Luke’s diner, pretending to be Rory and Lorelai. We snickered when someone sitting next to us marveled, “You guys have the dialogue memorized?”

I learned Tik-Tok dances and hosted sleepovers. Far longer than might have seemed appropriate, she wanted me to sing her to sleep. Over the course of yearly trips to Burma, she developed an intense friendship with a former political prisoner, a dear friend, who taught her art while I was conducting trauma trainings. Once, he caught me off-guard: “You know she might not always want to come here?” he said. It was the first time it began to occur to me that she might one day choose her own path, even foregoing these beloved trips to Burma, over the one we shared.

Eyes flashing, she snarled, “You don’t understand me, and you never did!” The explosion came after I had suggested she sit at a desk during online school rather than in the dark corner of her bed. She knew how much those words would hurt.

One day, the first time she had left the house in days, much less showered, we passed by a swan in a lake, her neck improbably high and elegant as she floated by. Absently, I commented on her beauty.

“Swans, seriously, swans? You think I want to look at a swan? You are so clueless. You disgust me.” She charged ahead.

Back at the house, we faced off.

“Now what, where do we go from here?” Even as I asked the question, I knew she had no answer. Wearing a Harry Styles sweatshirt two sizes too big, her dark brown eyes heavily lined in black, she flashed a look of disdain and stormed off, slamming her bedroom door behind her. This was no ordinary teenage temper tantrum, even in the time of Covid.

The next day, I was scrolling through Facebook when I landed in my neighborhood chapter of “Buy Nothing,” a national group based on sharing what is already owned rather than owning more. Typical pre-Covid requests included a pirate costume in need of a sword, a specific French board game, a seatbelt extender, or marshmallows (made urgently at 9pm by a member about to make Rice Krispie treats). As the pandemic wore on, posts displaying the group’s interconnectedness began appearing: A free pumpkin pie because “maybe someone needs one?” Legal advice to a woman who’d inquired about a divorce lawyer. A woman proudly showing off the blanket she’d knit using “buy nothing” wool, and free beer from someone who had received a homebrewing kit from the group. One particularly poignant post came from a woman who had requested a carpet to fend off a neighbor’s noise. Not only did she receive multiple rugs, but also noise-canceling headphones. Later, she disclosed that the group’s gifts had helped her better manage her PTSD.

The moments of kindness on Buy Nothing became a counterpoint to a world that felt increasingly small, fragile, and self-absorbed. I spent my days slogging through my patients’ worries, my children’s online school, the tedium of wiping down groceries and finding toilet paper. After my fifth colleague died of Covid, someone offered a brand-new vibrator to the group with the caption: “self-care takes all forms during a crisis.” After I’d attended yet another Zoom funeral, someone offered their apartment to a stranger who was a first responder. After an extremely hard day during which a patient, an ER doctor, had broken down describing the horror he was witnessing, someone asked for help clearing out the room of the baby she had just lost. The group offered her comfort, solace, and concrete help.

As the true horror of Covid descended upon us, we reached a kind of unspoken consensus that what we all needed was one place where people were nothing but kind. Times had changed, and so had the group. Noticing this change helped me understand something about my daughter. We had to become something new, too.

Underneath our closeness there had probably always been a cold fear lurking based on my own experiences as a child. Growing up, my father’s needs defined my identity. I checked out books from the library on how to excel at Scrabble because I knew it would impress him, the Scrabble champion. I’d wake up hours before everyone to study in order to make sure I got good grades. My coach cut me from the track team because I chose to attend my dad’s college reunion rather than the important state meet. My mother told me it was a mistake. I didn’t listen.

Realizing that pleasing my father would never actually make me happy was a punch to the gut, but one I finally accepted. After two years of deferring, I decided against going to law school. “But that’s what you always wanted,” my father snarled, before adding the coup de grace: “I’m so disappointed.”

At the time, it didn’t occur to me that he hadn’t bothered to ask me “Why?” Nor could I, in my shame, ask him why he cared so much. Choosing an indeterminate path over the security of law school was the most rebellious thing I had ever done. It took many years of therapy to untangle what this meant, and even longer to find my way to an identity on my own terms. Then I became a parent and endeavored to create a new story.

All this time, I had thought that by encouraging my daughter to express her depression, anger, doubts, and fears, I was offering her an alternative to my own experience. I felt so connected to her whenever we had an argument and worked it through or sat up late under the covers while she cried. I felt I understood her. I went out of my way to not express disappointment. What I didn’t see was that I had simply exchanged one identity for another: the dutiful daughter had become the hovering mother. My need for my father’s approval had transformed into a greed for closeness with my daughter. Somewhere along the way, my connection to my daughter had become more for me than for her.

It began to dawn on me that my daughter’s anger wasn’t the problem, it was my own need to save her from a fate from which I had only barely saved myself. But her fate was her own to discover, not mine to bestow. Unsurprisingly, my expectations were just as oppressive to her as my father’s had been to me. Unlike me, she wasn’t going to submit to them so easily.

“I’m trying—I am trying to understand you,” I told her one day as I sat at the foot of her bed, careful not to make eye contact.

“I just don’t want you to know me anymore,” she responded. “ I don’t even know myself!” She was right.

A day after Thanksgiving, I posted on the Buy Nothing group asking for a turkey wishbone. For years my mom would save the wishbone for my daughter, and they would delight in the ritual. Someone responded, and, after a contactless pickup, I walked the wishbone home, carefully wrapped in a paper towel.

As I unwrapped it, I was prepared for my daughter to scoff.

Unexpectedly, she lit up. “I want to make a wish,” she said.

“Hold on tightly.” She pulled on the wishbone and it separated. Our eyes met, and I let go.

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Bindi Irwin Shares Portrait That Imagines Her Dad Holding His Granddaughter

Bindi Irwin shares commissioned art that imagines her father holding his granddaughter on Mother’s Day

Bindi Irwin is celebrating her first Mother’s Day, a day filled with joy, but for those who have lost a parent, the day — like most holidays — can be bittersweet. Though Bindi’s late father Steve Irwin would presumably be thrilled to become a grandfather, Bindi honored her father the best way she could, with a sweet piece of artwork that imagines her entire family celebrating Mother’s Day together.

The artwork imagines Bindi, her husband Chandler Powell, her mother Terri Irwin, her brother Robert Clarence Irwin, and of course, her father, holding Bindi and Chandler’s daughter Grace Warrior Irwin Powell in his arms.

“Celebrating my first Mother’s Day. This day embodies the extraordinary gift of family,” Bindi captioned the photo. “Thank you to ‘The Monkey Brush’ for bringing my family and Chandler’s together in these stunning works of art. I wish we could all be together but sometimes life has other plans. To my beautiful daughter, always know that you are loved beyond description.”

Bindi welcomed her daughter Grace on March 25, 2021, which was coincidentally her one-year wedding anniversary.

Bindi announced her daughter’s arrival by saying she was “celebrating the two loves of my life,” and in the birth announcement, Bindi says little Grace is named after relatives on both her and Chandler’s sides of the family.

“Grace is named after my great-grandmother, and relatives in Chandler’s family dating back to the 1700s. Her middle names, Warrior Irwin, are a tribute to my dad and his legacy as the most incredible Wildlife Warrior. Her last name is Powell and she already has such a kind soul just like her dad,” Bindi shared.

Before Grace’s arrival, Bindi spoke to Entertainment Tonight and lovingly mused about dad Steve and what he would have been like as a granddad.

“He would’ve been a good, good grandpa,” said Bindi. “Yeah, he really would’ve been. I don’t think we would’ve ever seen our daughter. He would’ve just whisked her away into the zoo and it would’ve been perfect.”

Bindi and Chandler have fallen perfectly into the family business as wildlife conservationists and Bindi’s mom already knows that little Grace is going to continue the family’s conservation legacy once day, too.

“Love is not a big enough word,” grandma Terri wrote on Twitter when Grace was born. “My heart is so incredibly happy. And I know that Steve would be beyond proud. Grace is the next generation to continue his mission and message of conservation. She chose her parents wisely. Bindi and Chandler are already the best parents ever!”

Looking forward to seeing bb Grace in a pair of khakis and hanging with the koalas. What a lovely family.

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Sesame Street’s New Vaccine PSAs Target Adults

Elmo is trying to convince adults to get the COVID-19 vaccine and is this what we’ve come to?

Sesame Street in collaboration with the Ad Council, COVID Collaborative, and CDC have launched a series of PSAs to convince grown-ups to get the vaccine. At face value this seems awesome. Shoutout to Sesame Street for spreading awareness that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and free, but also… why do Americans need goddamn Elmo to tell them this?

More than half of all adult Americans have gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, which is great, but daily vaccine rates are dropping as it appears that less people are enthusiastically signing up for the jab than previously expected. Vaccine hesitancy exists across all ages and demographics of Americans for a variety of reasons, but the facts are that people need to get the vaccine when it’s available to them if we have any chance of getting back to “normal,” and I guess America is running out of ways to convince people, so it’s time to bring in Sesame Street?!?!

Whole other countries have virtually zero doses of the vaccine and yet we have to get a bunch of Muppets together to convince Americans to get the jab!? Carol and Bob in rural North Dakota don’t want to get the vaccine because they saw some Facebook posts and “just don’t trust it” and now we have to get Big Bird out here to convince them to care about their health!? I can’t even say I’m shocked, because this is just so on-brand for America.

“Getting back to the activities children and families love starts with grownups getting vaccinated…With help from the Sesame Street Muppets, we can harness the power of Sesame Workshop and the reach of the Ad Council to help adults understand why it’s important to get vaccinated, where to learn more, and how to build hope for sunnier days ahead,” Samantha Maltin, EVP and Chief Marketing Officer of Sesame Workshop said in a statement.

The overwhelming message is that with the vaccine, “sunnier days ahead,” which is heartening and optimistic.

For example, one of the PSAs sees Elmo’s dad Louie showing off his vaccine bandaid and telling Elmo that now that he’s vaccinated they can do pre-COVID things again like hugging people, seeing grandma, and hanging out with friends indoors.

Certainly this will strike a chord with some viewers like those who have yet to get the vaccine and are truly curious and would simply like to get more information about the shot before they do it. For those viewers, Sesame Street and its collaborators at the CDC launched the website GetVaccineAnswers.org to help people feel more confident in their decision to get the shot.

I hate to be “that guy,” buuuuut liiiiiike, anti-vaxxers aren’t super motivated by needing the vaccine to “get back to normal” because they’ve been living their normal lives this entire time.

The Venn diagram of anti-vaxxers and people who just don’t care or believe in COVID is a nearly perfect overlapping circle. Have you walked past a Waffle House in a red state? Have you been to Florida at all? It’s like COVID-19 doesn’t exist there, except it does, because it’s still killing people. Is that too dark? Whatever, these are the stakes. Anti-maskers, COVID-deniers, the “but my rights” crowd — whatever you wanna call them — are typically the ones who aren’t getting the vaccine and they’re the same ones that have been hosting get-togethers and hugging and doing things indoors without masks the entire pandemic.

Although I hope these optimistic ads about hugging grandma will convince some people to get vaccinated, I don’t have high hopes for the rest of the typical vaccine-hesitant crowd.

Sesame Street

Le sigh. At least we know Elmo’s dad won’t get COVID-19.

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What Moms Really Want For Mother’s Day: The Gift Of ‘I Remember’

I watched “The Little Mermaid” for the gazillionth time the other day. It was the first time I’ve watched it this century. However, it’s still as fresh and clever as it was in the 1980s. My favorite part is where she sings,

“I’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, I’ve got whosits, and whatsits galore.
Thingamabobs? I’ve got twenty! But, who cares, no big deal, I want more…”

She goes on to explain that all of her material goods aren’t bringing her joy because she wants more out of life. In the case of “The Little Mermaid,” she needs a good set of feet. With Mother’s Day looming just around the corner, I was thinking the same thing — I don’t need gadgets or gizmos either. And, no, I don’t need another set of feet (although mine do hurt all the time). What I’d settle for is a 5-star Yelp review on my “Mommy Page.”

Let me explain.

I went on a road trip with one of my adult daughters the other day and learned a lot about myself. As a person and as a mother.

At one point, in the six-hour drive, she said, “Remember the time…” and began to recount an abstract conflict resolution theory I shared with her when she was around nine. She shared the exact situation involving my sister-in-law from which the theory emanated. I was rather shocked she remembered.

“Oh, I use it all the time Mom!”

In a world where we can’t help but dwell on the things we’ve gotten wrong, it was gratifyingly uplifting to hear that all these years later, she remembered such a subtle lesson.

Earlier in the day, she’d referenced the “criss-cross” cookies we used to make and the songs we used to sing when we made them and, as much as that meant to me, it wasn’t nearly as touching as hearing her credit me for some random abstract wisdom from yesteryear I’d completely forgotten about.

All of this got me to thinking about Mother’s Day. Retailers across the country are gearing up for this event. And every mother’s grown child is unholstering their credit card fully prepared to swipe it with fervor, as they purchase Mom something she probably doesn’t need. But whatever. It’s the American way…

Every year my children ask me what I want from the retailer’s offerings and every year I direct them to purchase me yet another pair of pajamas, slippers or robe. Sometimes I veer off of the traditional sleep-inspired paraphernalia and ask for a candle or bubble bath. This always strikes me as amusing gift requests coming from someone who never relaxes, much less sleeps … obviously the effort and desire is omnipresent.

But this year I’ve decided to steer things in a different direction.

What I really want is a 5-star Yelp review. (I’m speaking metaphorically — I don’t actually have a mommy page where my kids can drop by and leave a review and comments. I’m way too chicken for that!) For Mother’s Day, I want my kids to arrive at brunch prepared to share a wonderful memory of me from their childhood.

This can be a memory of:

– an over the top party I threw them
– undeserved mercy I granted (there was plenty of that!)
– times I saved their booties from a mistake or a poor choice (again, plentiful)
–  the holiday traditions that still hold the most meaning

And so on and so on … you get the picture.

As I was working on this piece, thousands of examples of my great personal sacrifice came flooding back. I started thinking of all the hours I drove kids to dance and sporting events. This got me to wondering if there shouldn’t be some kind of program whereby we could log every hour and trade them in at some point for extra time at the end of our lives.

Eventually I said to myself, “It isn’t your job to remember and appreciate all the wonderful mom things you did as a mother, it’s your children’s!” What was my job was to remember my mother’s. I do remember, and often recounted to my mother, all the wonderful things she did for me in her life. I just did a lot of that in her declining years. But I can’t really recall if I truly appreciated my mother soon enough, or if I mostly took the easier route with the pajamas and candles.

I can’t speak for every other mother out there; I can only speak for myself, and I guess maybe The Little Mermaid. We’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty. We want more. I’m proposing Mother’s Day becomes the new Thanksgiving of Spring. I’d much prefer to hear what my kids are grateful for during my tenure as a mother than have them running around on Saturday wasting their hard earned money on $5.00 Hallmark cards and pajamas for a woman who doesn’t actually sleep.

I’m starting to think I’d prefer a simple, “Thank you for your service!”

Kids — for Mother’s Day, save your money and simply share an obscure memory, a lesson I taught you, or a tender moment I’ve probably forgotten about in all the hullabaloo of raising you people. Mothers really just want to know you remember.

But, I will take that bubble bath if you absolutely insist.

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Parental Burnout Is Real: Let’s Make It Stop

“I feel like I am failing my kids.”

That’s how a conversation began with a friend of mine who needed to vent from one mom to another. Even before she uttered the words, I could hear the exhaustion and worry in her voice. But at the time, I wasn’t ready to admit that I felt the same way as she did. 

The very next week, to the same friend, I said almost the exact same thing, “My kids are going to fail kindergarten because of me. I can’t do this all.” The pandemic made me say words I would have never said before: “I can’t do this.” Because before the pandemic, I did it all. I can’t say I did it all well, but I damn sure would never admit that I needed help; if I got “it” done, then I could in fact do it. Writer Anne Helen Peterson shares in the New York Times, “This is parenting burnout, pandemic style: You’re still managing the mental load of the household, while also making sure the masks are laundered, the Zoom schedules are followed, and trying to figure out how much kid screen time is too much and how much screen time is necessary to just get through your day.”

FG Trade/Getty

But why did I, and so many other parents, feel like we must do it all? Because society tells us we must. From the shiny living room floors and spotless kitchens on Instagram photo after Instagram photo, other women are “doing it” — so we should be able to as well, right?

Maybe or maybe not. Let’s be real — they just aren’t capturing all the photos of their piled up laundry, and they probably even loaded the dishwasher so their sinks would be empty. My point is that our ability to “do it all” is an illusion, and we must talk about how unrealistic it is. Because it’s causing burnout, and the struggle is real, and it’s okay to say it out loud. Try it, listen to  yourself, repeat after me: I am burned out.

We are burned out because of all of the shit we have to do. We are burned out because we think we can never take a vacation day. We are burned out because we are hellbent on giving our kids as much normalcy (even during a pandemic) as we can. Peterson shares in her article, “How Burnout Became the Norm for American Parents” that “The metaphor of the second shift isn’t a metaphor at all — they are doing two full-time jobs. And in order to make time for both of those jobs, they are sleeping less, and spending far, far less time on themselves or their own leisure.”

We are burned out because we want our house to be clean and our yards to look good. We are burned out because we are simply afraid to ask for help or can’t afford to hire a cleaning lady or a nanny or a babysitter, even for a few hours.   

ferrantraite/Getty

It’s the normal we’ve created for ourselves and there’s only one way to get out of it: To admit we are tired, we can’t do it all, and that we shouldn’t be expected to. We are afraid to just stop. We are afraid we will be fired, our partners will love us less because the house isn’t clean or dinner isn’t made, our kids’ teachers might think we don’t care about their education. The negative self talk is real; turn it off. It’s up to us, as parents, to choose to do life differently. Sure, it’ll take more work to advocate for ourselves in the workplace, at home, and with our kids’ schools, but our mental health is on the line.

What can help us even more, as a New York Times article by Jessica Grose notes, “[G]oing outside, or even simulating the outdoors, may help when you’re feeling mentally dull. Studies have shown that spending time in nature, and even looking at pictures of nature, can improve cognitive functioning. Though it may be difficult to find the time, a 50-minute outdoor walk has been shown to improve memory and decrease anxiety, no matter what the weather is (though you will probably enjoy it a lot less if it’s 25 degrees out).”

Once you recognize how burned out you are, pause and take a hard look at your kids — maybe they could use a break too? If so, lead by example. Let them see you sitting down, feet up, coffee mug in hand, dirty dishes all around, unanswered emails in your inbox, and your favorite show on the television, or your favorite book in hand. They need to know that you can, and deserve to,  take a break too … and that giving yourself a breather is something we should aspire to do, without shame or judgment. 

If we don’t do what we need — let the laundry pile up, order takeout when we don’t feel like cooking, not sign our kids up for another activity, complete one task at a time instead of frantically multitasking — we are setting our kids up for the same kind of life we’ve made for ourselves. One in which we are perpetually exhausted, don’t ask for help, and feel like failures.

It doesn’t have to be this way; let’s not teach the next generation that this is normal. Take a goddamn break. You might be doing yourself a favor, but your kids will benefit in the long run too.

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A Gender Reveal Party In New Hampshire Set Off 80 Pounds Of Explosives

Another day, another gender reveal party gone wrong — this time in New Hampshire

From sparking a 10,000-acre wildfire, to ending in tragedy after a stunt plane crashed into the ocean off the coast of Mexico, gender reveal parties continue to get out of control. And the latest party to make headlines involved 80 pounds of explosives.

The gender reveal party took place in New Hampshire this past week; and it was such a blast, it not only set off reports of an earthquake, but it also could be heard from across the state line, the Associated Press reports.

According to the police in Kingston, N.H., they received reports of a loud explosion on Tuesday evening. They then responded to Torromeo quarry, where they found people who hosted a gender reveal party with 80 pounds of Tannerite.

Tannerite is an over-the-counter explosive target sold in kit form used for firearms practice, and is made by mixing aluminum powder with ammonium nitrate.

“A Kingston Police Detective met with the individuals that were on site, who cooperated with the detective and informed him that they were having a gender reveal party,” police said in a statement on Thursday, Boston Globe reports. “During the investigation, the detective was informed that the location, a quarry, was chosen as they felt it was a safe location to detonate the Tannerite.”

The blast was so strong, it was felt about eight miles south of Kingston, in the town of Plaistow.

“It was a loud boom that shook our four-family townhouse,” Plaistow resident Amy Owen tells the publication. She was watching her 9-year-old daughter play with her friends in the backyard at the time. “The kids stumbled and yelled ‘earthquake! and asked me what it was.”

For Sara Taglieri, another nearby resident, the explosion knocked pictures off her walls.

“We heard this god-awful blast,” Taglieri tells NBC 10 Boston. “It knocked pictures off our walls … I’m all up for silliness and what not, but that was extreme.”

Taglieri also told the station that neighbors reported cracks in the foundation of their homes.

Another nearby resident Jason Whitney says that he felt the shock from it against his house and windows.

“I can’t imagine a pregnant woman standing near that blast or being anywhere near that … would be good for her or anyone else standing there,” Whitney says. “It would probably be deafening to the people who were close to it. I hope no one is injured, and if a pregnant woman was there, I hope she is okay.”

Luckily, no injuries were reported; and the man who purchased and detonated the explosives turned himself in and is cooperating with the investigation. According to police, he could face criminal charges.

Since the blast, residents have complained of dirty water and a damaged foundation, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.

“I’m hoping that in the next 24 to 48 hours it will settle and resolve itself,” says Plaistow resident Maggie Jasmin. “If not, we’ll probably be taking showers at my in-laws.”

Police said the investigation is ongoing and that they will make a determination on charges. In the meantime, we do know the explosive had blue chalk. So, uh, congrats on the baby boy?

The post A Gender Reveal Party In New Hampshire Set Off 80 Pounds Of Explosives appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Moms Aren’t Meant To Be Perfect

I have just about had it with parenting.

I don’t even care if that sounds terrible. It feels like such a freaking challenge every day, and maybe it’s the teenage years or the fact that I am divorced and sharing my kids with my ex-husband or maybe it it’s the fact that my bank account is almost always hovering near (or below) zero or maybe it is both all and none of the above simultaneously. Because if it isn’t one thing it’s another. If it isn’t this mom, it’s the one down the road.

Parenting is hard freaking work; it requires us to be the equivalent of a CEO (of a company) whose employees we love so damn much and whose futures we are way-too invested in. The challenge of balancing parental love with discipline and responsibilities and just the right balance between authoritative and fun is near impossible. Every day, I start over and try to be better (actually, I try to be perfect) and every day I fail.

I love my kids so freaking much. I enjoy my time with them more than anything in the world. They make me laugh and they warm my heart and they are the best little (well, kind-of big) people I know. And when they leave my house to go to their dad’s, I miss them so terribly much that it physically hurts. And then the guilt sets in. And I desperately want a do-over of our time together so I can be the perfect mom I strive to be every damn morning and I beat myself up because I am so not perfect; I am not even close and while I know that none of us are perfect and I know that I never will be perfect, I still set the expectation of myself as a mother to perfection.

My own mother, who has five children, has always told me, “You are only as happy as your saddest child,” and oh my goodness is she right on the money with that one. And guess what? One child is always sad or upset or anxious or jealous or fighting for my attention. One always feels left out or less-loved or like everything in life is just not fair and oh-how it hurts my soul – no matter which child it is or why they are upset or even if they are justified in their emotions — it doesn’t matter. It hurts me to the core. If they are sad, I am sad times ten.

And I feel like the solution to their sadness lies in me. Like if I were a good enough mom they would never be sad. If I always choose the right words and hugged instead of yelled or gave space instead of invading it, or if only I had enough money for fun spa days and exotic vacations, then their pain would disappear. If I was patient enough and loving enough and fair enough in my parenting, well, then, they would be content and they would never fight with one another; they would never retreat to their rooms and bury their heads in their phone or roll their eyes or slam their doors. I want to take their every pain away and for some delusional reason, I think I can do it.

If only.

But I can’t. It does matter how hard I try or how much I pray for strength or how patient I am — I will never be perfect and I will never fully take away their sorrow and pain. And maybe that’s a good thing, in addition to an inevitable one.

Maybe my kids need to learn that life isn’t fair and that we can’t have our way all of the time. And maybe as a mother it isn’t my job to stop or prevent or take away the pain. Maybe as a mother I need to embrace the imperfection as a stepping-stone to growth and strength and to help my kids see the lesson. Maybe I need to embrace my children’s pain and learn from it. And maybe, maybe above all else, when I wake up each morning, I should promise myself that I will not try to perfect, but I will do my best on that given day because moms aren’t meant to be perfect. And neither are kids. Or life. And maybe that’s okay.

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Mom Gives Powerful Testimony Against Texas Anti-Trans Bill

The loving mama asked Texas legislators not to pass a bill that would categorize supporting transgender kids as a form of abuse

Parenting littles is the toughest job we’ll ever have. We don’t get vacations — and what’s more — the love and worry we have in our hearts doesn’t stop when our little ones turn 18. Nope. That sentiment stays forever. We’d do anything to protect our little ones. A Texas mother of a transgender boy gave an extraordinarily powerful speech to lawmakers this week, requesting the body not to pass a law criminalizing parents who authorize their trans kids to undergo certain gender affirming medical procedures.

“Honestly, these bills are a huge waste of time and tax dollars, but we’re all here, so let’s do this,” she said. “When my son was four years old, he asked me if scientists could turn him into a boy. Briggle allowed that she “didn’t understand” initially that her child was trans. “I only knew that he wasn’t like most girls his age and that something inside him was hurting,” she said.

“I’m terrified to be here today,” Amber Briggle told the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs (via CBS News). “I’m afraid that by speaking here today that my words will be used against me, should S.B. 1646 or S.B. 1311 pass and my sweet son whom I love more than life itself will be taken from me.”

Senate Bill 1646 describes the legal definition of child abuse and on the list of things that count as child abuse is doctors or parents who allow transgender minors to take hormones or surgeries to affirm their gender. Senate Bill 1311 would stop the provision of liability insurance coverage for gender-affirming treatment and procedures for some children.

Briggle mentioned that her now-13-year-old is the “most popular boy in the seventh grade.” The proud mama indicated this is because her son “has parents who affirm him and provide him with the support he needs.”

“Taking that support away from him, or worse, taking him away from his family because we broke the law to provide that support — will have devastating and heartbreaking consequences,” she said.

“If this bill becomes law, that, senators, is child abuse,” Briggle stated in her statement against the bill. “And I promise I will call every single one of you every time a transgender child dies from suicide to remind you that their lives could have been saved, but you chose not to.”

Texas Republicans say gender-affirming healthcare (a decision that should be made between a child, their parents, and medical professionals) should be banned for minors under Texas law. However few senators were in attendance to hear opposition to the proposed law.

“Like many of you, I thought [my son] was asking for surgery, and I freaked out,” Briggle said. Briggle explained to the committee that gender-affirming surgeries are not even performed on minors, “and that there is a whole array of options available for transgender youth, including hormone blockers that are 100% reversible, are not new, and are clinically proven to save the lives of the trans children taking them.”

Numerous parents, trans children, and adults testified before the committee this week. You can watch Briggle’s testimony in full, here.

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Hilary Duff Explains Why She Wanted Her Son To See Her Give Birth

Hilary Duff shares badass reason why she wanted her nine-year-old son Luca to see her give birth

Hilary Duff just gave welcomed her third child, a daughter named Mae, during a home water birth surrounded by her husband Matthew Koma and her son Luca, 9, and daughter Banks, 2. Although she had someone look after Banks when she was delivering Mae, Duff said it was super important to her to have her nine-year-old son see what a badass his mother was and we’ll cheers to that.

“It was kind of important for me [for Luca to be there] because I’m really big on being open and honest with him about how strong women are and what childbirth looks like,” Duff told The Informed Pregnancy Podcast. “He knows all about periods and it’s important for me to normalize that conversation with him for all the women that are going to be in his life.”

Duff said she wanted her son to understand what human “strength” actually looks like.

“I think that sometimes a 9-year-old boy is like, ‘Well, men have bigger muscles,’ and, like, yeah, but we bring life into this world. We move a baby through our body,” she adds. “There is a big topic of conversation in the house right now: equality, and strength coming from different places besides your muscles or whatever.”

Hilary Duff Mae James Bair
Hilary Duff/Instagram

Unfortunately, Duff’s big water birth with the family didn’t go quite to plan. Duff says the birth happened so fast (labor and delivery was just over three hours) that Luca, whom she shares with ex-husband Mike Comrie, reportedly ran into the room “right as I was pulling the baby out.”

“He wanted to be there for it, but it happened so fast he missed it,” Duff added.

 

She also said she wanted her son to see the variety of ways that a person can give birth.

“I want him to someday, when he’s ready to have a child with his partner or wife or whatever, I want him to be able to respect the way that she wants to be able to have a baby, and if that’s at home, that can be at home, if that’s in a hospital, it will be hospital,” she said. “There’s many different ways.”

Duff said she shared her story with the podcast because she “loves hearing others birth stories. It’s absolutely amazing and fascinating to me that women are capable of such tremendous things…. hope this helps another mama as listening to these amazing interviews further educates and inspires me!”

Mae James Bair was born on March 24, 2021 — congratulations to the fam, it seems like Mae has quite the feminist older bro leading the way. What a joy.

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