For weeks all I saw were posts about the new hipster grocery store that popped up in town. I live in a suburb of Chicago. There are six (yes, six) Starbuck’s in my town ALONE. It’s not like we have a shortage of grocery store chains around here. Everyone was losing their shit over the new store with an extensive olive selection, a granola station, and a BAR! You could drink your wine AND shop at the same time!
I’ll keep this short and sweet. Mariano’s is for Pinterest moms who shop with a detailed list, an organized map of the store, and a method for packing and unloading their cart onto the belt. I’m not that kind of mom. I’m the throw shit in as I walk up and down every aisle because I forgot my list and can’t remember what I need kinda mom. The one who walks up to the register apologizing for the overflowing cart and the kids pulling every piece of organic candy off of the end cap hoping they didn’t crush the eggs or the bread in the meantime.
I’m the mean mom that won’t let my kids take the tiny carts to entertain them through our shopping trip anymore because it always turns into a Gladiator battle of who can knock the other off their pedestal. Where the carts are used as vehicles to be ridden in or bumper cars to ram into each other in the middle of the aisle with the most glass jars. And someone ALWAYS gets hurt. And half of the time it’s one of my children. (The other half it’s an innocent bystander minding their own business just trying to read how many carbs there are in a bottle of barbecue sauce). The whole time I’m running to keep up with them while protecting every item on the shelf because I’m not sure if the “you break it you buy it” concept applies at Mariano’s but even if it doesn’t I don’t want the attention. After all, I came in ripped yoga pants and a t-shirt that still has some of my kids lunch on it. And my fiances (too big) shoes because finding mine seemed like too much work. So basically, I get no shopping done and we end up at the register with a bunch of ho-ho’s, chips, candy, and band-aids for the child bleeding after the battle royale in aisle 5.
Mariano’s is not a dream, but a nightmare for a mom like me. The number of times my kids have grabbed shit out of the damn nut or grains bulk bins (that I never buy anything from because I’m not the non-GMO, whole grain, organic, healthy mom unless it’s January 2nd of every year)…. countless. Cheese and produce being a child level is terrible… they dive right in as if they have never seen FOOD before in their LIVES. Last time I was there one of the coolers was shattered and even though I didn’t see it, I’d bet that one of my kids did it with their cart/weapon.
I’m the lazy mom that would MUCH prefer to pay the extra $10 to have my groceries DELIVERED in little coolers with zero interaction with the public and no chance of buying a bunch of crap I don’t need because I went to the store starving. So unless Mariano’s starts offering free daycare with the purchase of a jar of pickles, I’m out. And I’m never going back. And for the record, I’m also the mom that doesn’t give a shit about a bar in a grocery store because it’s just another line I have to wait in while my kids are screaming with no shame. And let’s be honest, if I wanted something to drink while I shopped, I would just spike my “coffee” and bring it with.
Mom on mom attacking needs to just chill the fuck out already. Since when did mom-shaming become a “cool” thing to do? It’s like one starts and they have an entire posse ready to pop in and crush someone’s soul. I’m saying it, others have said it before me, and I’m sure more are to follow. What is it about the world of social media that makes (some) people morph into these beings that basically share the same characteristics as sociopaths if they were to exhibit them in real life (but let’s be honest, they don’t. They only share their “knowledge” behind a screen where they are hidden, safe, and in the dark). Anyone who walked around on an average day pointing fingers, stopping people in the street to let them know they were “doing it wrong”, or walking up to moms with a child melting down and giving them (unwarranted) advice followed by multiple resources and recommendations. NOBODY DOES THIS IN REAL LIFE! If you did, you would have zero actual friends, and you would eventually land yourself in a “ward” of some fashion for having no boundaries, no filter, no empathy.
What are we DOING to each other? Can we just make a pact here and now to stop all the madness already? When a mom posts a picture of a rash on her child at midnight asking if anyone has any insight, it’s not because she’s a complete moron and didn’t think to call the damn DOCTOR! It’s because she’s a mom (quite possibly a new mom) and she’s freaking the fuck out and needs someone to talk her off a ledge while she’s watching her child breathe in his sleep and googling staph, syphilis, E-Coli, and other various catastrophic disease that (coincidentally) carry the same symptoms
When someone posts a picture of their child in the car – cute.as.a.button – and another mom jumps at the chance to teach her some serious lessons on how to correctly strap her child into their car seat it makes me HOMICIDAL. *Most* (not all, I know I can’t speak for all) but most moms snapping a picture of their kid in the car are doing it before or after they are even on the road. Their kid did something cute and they want to quickly document it before the demon child comes back demanding goldfish and juice (you think, by then they are speaking in tongues and you can’t quite make it out) on their way to the doctor’s appointment they are already late for. They shared a cute pic of their kid FFS. It’s not always your job to educate people on safety when you have no idea what the situation is.
Why are we constantly reporting “nannies”? Who the hell even knows if that was a NANNY! There are so many nanny narcs on social media. “I saw this babysitter at the park and the toddler asked to go on the swing and she said NO because she was too busy playing on her phone! So I think it’s my civic duty to report her in case one of you 20,000 women employs this deplorable excuse for a nanny so you can fire her.” We are raising a bunch of tattle tales and we wonder why (ummm, hello!). Here’s where my anger comes in. Let’s get real, if I’m paying someone top dollar to take care of my kids when I can’t , then sure… I expect them to actually watch my kid. But if we are talking about the same kids I pushed out of my body and fed and fought with and listen to bicker and whine for hours on end in a day, well then, I know full well what they are capable of doing to the human spirit. And if my poor sitter needed a break so she took them to the park so she could screw around on social media for 10 minutes. GOOD ON YOU, GIRLFRIEND. Get your peace and quiet break. We all deserve one.
But, that wasn’t the only issue I had with this particular social media shaming post. My other issue was that someone commented that this could very well be their MOM. And I said “hell yeah! I do that all. the. time.” Well, you bet your ass people had things to say about that (of course they did). You take your kid to the park you should be playing WITH them! Not on your phone. Pay attention to them! Ummmm, listen. You don’t know the shit storm we have been dealing with in my house filled with tantrums and sibling fights, back talking, and lost socks and shoes to get to this moment of serenity. It was complete and utter chaos today. I just want to chill. So until you bother to ask about the REST of my day? Then back the fuck off with your judgements, mmmmk?
And if I have to read one more time about how someone is “really offended by that”, I might cut someone (virtually, of course. I would never act the way I do online in real life, like the rest of the human population). You’re on Facebook. Not everyone is going to agree with you in life, better yet in a virtual world of endless members. 99.9% of the time. Grow a pair, or get off the internet. Chances are, unless you are opening offensive to an entire population of people, I’m not judging you. But even if I was, you assholes seem to be judging me any time I open my thoughts up on social media so if you can’t take it then stop dishing it out, Nancy.
I’m not kidding when I say this shit has gotten WAY out of hand. I can’t even post asking for recipe ideas with chicken for dinner without someone chiming in about how unhealthy poultry is and “did you know about all of the antibiotics they bulk those animals up with? I suggest a nice big salad”. Thanks a lot, Suzie, for your unnecessary advice. I, too, watched “The Magic Pill” while I was snacking away on some Cheetos and washing it down with Cherry Coke. This is MY life, and I do what I want, so back off. Let’s all just BACK OFF, mmmk?
Give each other a break. You know you’ve also had bad, really bad, and worse days. Maybe keep that in mind before you start attacking other moms on a platform made JUST FOR MOMS. We are all in this together, are we not? Parenting is hard enough. And if you can’t figure out a way to be helpful in a non-condescending way and ONLY when someone has asked for it, then maybe you should take your own advice, chill the fuck out, and put your phone down and go play with your kid for a little bit.
If I complain about being tired during the day my partner will often say to me, “well maybe you should go to bed earlier…”
He doesn’t get it. Not even a little. It’s not like I want to be exhausted all day long. We don’t, as mothers, make poor choices nightly that effect us throughout the day out of desire. We do it out of necessity.
I tell myself every single day that tonight I will go to bed earlier. Tonight, I will put a limit on how much TV I watch or how much of my book I will read and I will shut.it.down. early. But then the evening comes, my kids are crazy, and the dinner/bath shit show starts and the marathon of a day finally comes to an end and as exhausted as I am, I just can’t wait to get my butt onto the couch or curl up in my bed with the remote in one hand and phone in the other for endless hours (however many I choose) of PEACE AND QUIET.
No one will come running in with their pants around their ankles asking me to wipe their butt. I won’t hear someone screaming my name because they can’t reach a cup or a bag of chips in the kitchen when I told them ten times already to WAIT. I can get up and use the bathroom without someone following me in whining about how their sibling called them a baby (well.. if the shoe fits, kid).
If I want to read an article, I can pay attention and focus on what the writer is saying without interruption or background noise in the form of child yelps or YouTube celebrities blaring from the other room. I can watch a show or movie on TV and actually understand the plot line and the characters and be surprised by the dramatic turn at the end. (I did NOT see that coming!) Late at night, I can understand what the hell is going on in this movie, even if I am dozing off between scenes, because I’m not jumping up to every loud thud I hear wondering which one of my kids I’m going to find bloody when I turn the corner.
No one will tell me they are hungry shortly after I just made them a meal (that they refused to eat). I can plan out my week and write down all of the appointments, sporting events, school functions, and birthday parties I have to remember to deliver my child to.
And in the off chance I actually have some energy, I can fold the laundry, clean out the refrigerator, wash the floors, or do the dishes. And for whatever reason, at night, when it’s quiet and I’m alone, these mundane tasks don’t seem so mind numbing. Frankly it pains me to admit, I kind of enjoy them. But only at night.
There are plenty of moms out there that go to bed shortly after their kids. Who have self-control at night and make sure they are sleeping at a decent hour. But, if I had to guess, the majority of those moms are the ones who set the alarm early. They wake up in the wee hours while their kids are still snoozing away, and use the time to just be with themselves. To think, to peruse social media, to play candy crush or sit in silence. To read, watch TV or do the things us night-owl moms did the night before. Because soon, the tornado of the day will start and the whole atmosphere of the house will change.
If you are a mom, you get it.
We don’t have a choice. If we want any time to ourselves, it has to happen at night after the kids (and everyone else in the neighborhood without the title of “mom”) is asleep, or it won’t happen at all. We might regret it in the morning, but I guarantee no matter how many times we promise ourselves that this day will be different, once our kids are in bed… we will do it all over again tonight.
As you skip up the walkway and get into line with a group of your peers, all bright eyed and fresh faced with hope and dreams and the future in your eyes, I promise not to lose my shit in front of the friends you don’t know you’ll make yet. I won’t embarrass you and bawl. I won’t scream your name and tell you to tie your shoe because you’re jumping around and I can foresee the future of you tripping on your own laces and face-planting in the hallway. I won’t lick my finger and wipe away the leftovers from your breakfast off your cheek.
When I come in to wake you that morning, I assure you I will not stir you with my sobs while I stare at your sweet sleeping eyes and think about all of the times I have watched you sleep. Carefully sneaking into to your room to gaze at you longingly, to study the rise and fall of your chest. Expertly moving out of the room begging not to wake you or there would be hours of hell to pay, but I couldn’t help but watch you breathe one more time before bed.
I vow not to tell you that as you were getting ready this morning and making sure you picked out your best clothes and combed your hair to perfection that I was thinking about the day you came into this world and took me by storm. How beautiful and perfect you were and how I stroked that same hair with my hands, in the same way you are now as I nursed you into the wee hours of the night. How I too, carefully picked your clothes before you even took your first breath so that I could make sure to document the moment, with the best photos, and never forget.
I pledge while you sit and eat the special breakfast I made for your very first day, I won’t tell you about the look on your face when you tried a new food that you realized you liked and the faces you would make when you didn’t. I won’t tell you about all of the messes, the noodles stuck in your hair and the sauces rubbed on your high chair like paint and the discolored baths that followed. I won’t tell you that even if in those moments I was frustrated, I was tired, or I seemed mad, in this moment, I would do it all again.
I swear on my life I won’t tell you stories about how through my sleep-deprivation, my stress, my long days, that even though I may have appeared defeated and tired, I (secretly) loved waking up extra early with you and sneaking in extra snuggles. I adored watching the sun come up with you in my arms while you fell back asleep…. but my coffee was finally kicking in and now I was wide awake. Just studying you. Memorizing the lines on your lips, the wrinkles in your neck, how you smelled, your perfect little nose, those miniature ears. The way you smiled in your sleep. Your incredible sense to reach up, even when you were fully enveloped in dreamland, to search with your fingers for my face before you sighed with relief and continued on snoozing away.
And after the day is over, I cross my heart that while I hear your stories about all of the friends you made, your new independence and the experiences you’ve had (and will have) that didn’t include me, I won’t tell you that I missed you. That after I walked away and left you in the hands of the school, your teachers, your friends…. I cried today. How I thought about all of the things we could have been doing if you weren’t busy at school, without me. I won’t tell you that I worried about how you were alone with no one to hold your hand and guide you. But you weren’t lonely at all. I was. But I promise I won’t tell you that.
A first haircut is a milestone for any parent and their child. Most parents will take their kids in for a big to-do snapping endless photos, snipping tiny locks of hair and saving them in a book or a box to remember the day forever. (Even though we all know it just sits in a bin in the basement or attic collecting dust until we move, and then the box is moved to a bigger basement/attic to collect new dust.. but, hey, we care).
Even though there will be a million more to come, and eventually the “magic” of the first or second haircut dwindles and the routine becomes mundane like any other, we celebrate this event for our kids. For my son, right now…. haircuts continue to be a big deal. Maybe bigger than they were before. His “first” haircut was years ago, and it was very uneventful. A tiny trim to conserve his perfect ringlets that seemed to get fuller and more dramatic (and devastatingly beautiful) with age.
But now, we don’t count that hair cut. For him, his very first true and memorable haircut came after he revealed me that he is trans. And it’s a day that will forever be etched in my mind as a turning point for us, for the better. After my son told me how he felt on the inside and that he felt he was living a lie: a boy trapped in a girls body, he wanted badly to change his hair to a boy style. It was a drastic change that had us all very nervous, even just talking about it before the day came caused (me) panic.
I was anxiety ridden, he was scared kids would make fun of him after, and I might have been holding on a little too tight to that tremendous head of hair he had. Honestly, at first I thought he might back out. He seemed unsure once the moment was staring him in the face and I definitely didn’t want to pressure him into anything. Before the first scissor blade almost grazed his hair he turned his head and stopped everyone. He asked for us to be alone to have a chat. He explained to me that he desperately wanted this change. He was dreaming about it for months. He was ready. BUT – he was petrified. He didn’t want the kids at school to “call him names for being a boy now”. A haircut meant that his appearance would match his heart and he couldn’t hide anymore if he felt uncomfortable. He would be exposed.
School was almost out, summer break was close and my son wouldn’t be going to the same school next year. So I tried to urge him to wait a couple weeks. Once summer officially started this whole thing would be a lot less stressful, for all of us. But he didn’t want to wait another day longer. This was happening and it was happening today.
The stylist first put his long, beautiful curls in a pony tail and asked one last time before she started moving her blades through the bound locks. He nodded and… snip. It was GONE. And I anticipated the tears, the instant regret he would have once he realized that this was it. There was no going back now. But instead, my child beamed.
As the stylist continued to even out the long layers my son increasingly got more and more frustrated and my heart dropped because surely this was the remorse setting in and soon he would be crying all over the floor. Yet instead, he said, “it’s not short enough, I still look like a girl.” So my friend (his stylist) kept snipping away, looking at me for reassurance as she slowly cut more and more off until he had a Bieber-esk style cut and was grinning from ear to ear. Once he found words through his smiles and giggles he looked at me and said, “mom, I really look like a boy now, isn’t it GREAT?!?!” He was so incredibly happy and all of my fear, my panic, the tension this day had built up, melted away and all I saw was a very happy little boy who had just experienced one the best days of his life.
I walked in to that appointment scared out of my mind, questioning everything I was doing and feeling so unsure about all of my most recent decisions as a parent who’s child just expressed to them that they might be transgender. This was such a huge moment for him, and for me. Once his hair was short and he was thrilled, it all made sense. I wasn’t doing anything that I couldn’t take back (after all, hair grows back) but to my son, I was “allowing” him to make the changes he needed to feel himself, to feel loved, to feel like his body and his mind finally made sense, and to know that with me, this was all ok. And in the end, that’s all that mattered.
Since then, we have had many haircuts. And every time he wants it just a little shorter than before. And afterwards he still walks around rubbing his head and smiling in disbelief. Like he went to bed a frog and woke up a prince. As if he never thought it was possible to look in the mirror and see someone staring back that matched how he felt inside. But it was possible, and I couldn’t be more grateful that I was the one that stood by and held his hand while that transformation took place. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I will forever remember his first haircut as a defining moment for him, and for me. Maybe more so than I will remember my other kids hair cuts. Because this haircut was one of the experiences that made him who he is.
Of course I held on to those long locks of his from this very official day. Bound together by the very same ponytail and wrapped delicately in a ziplock bag…. sitting in a box… in my attic.