WHAT IS STRESSING ME OUT TODAY:

(Fair warning, this old lady just learned how to do gifs in her blog! 
THIS IS GONNA BE A THING, Y'ALL.)

- My phone memory is almost full.

- Am I enjoying this beer TOO much?

- Chicken told me that he made a promise to be best friends forever with the kid who taught him the expressions "Shut up," "Ex-ca-yuuuuse you," "I don't care," and "Oh wow cool story."



- The kids are watching another movie. That's okay, right? Guys?

- It's a good thing Chicken's boots are waterproof because they are full of muddy water and by tomorrow one of two things is going to have happened:

a) They will still be full of water like the little boot-shaped tupperwares they are and they will NEVER AGAIN have that new-boot smell of rubber and baby foot sweat;

b) We will have created the host site of the first reported epidemic of Pacific Northwest malaria.


- The take-and-bake pizza place gave me 2 meat pizzas instead of a meat and a veggie. I haven't eaten meat since I was 10. I called the pizza place back and they were like, "OK cool, just bring us the wrong one back and we'll get it sorted out," and I was like



- I dreamed a dream about the state of my kitchen in the new house...





 ... and THAT DREAM IS NOT COMING TRUE.



- The new house noises, you guys. These noises aren't like, "Oh! So THAT'S what the new oven timer sounds like! It's almost melodic!" No, dude, these noises are alarming.

Number one, the oven timer keeps beeping until you turn off the timer, like you can't just open the door and turn off the oven, it keeps beeping until you push the TIMER OFF button, so I'll be juggling a casserole in oven mitts, using my butt to block my kids from running into the open oven door and scalding half their faces like Harvey Two Face, and trying to prevent them from spending the rest of their lives speaking at middle school assemblies about the dangers of running into ovens like:


And the whole time the oven timer's like ME ME ME ME ME ME ME and I'm like YOU ARE SO SELFISH OVEN TIMER JUST WAIT YOUR DAMN TURN.

Also, when the heat kicks on, it sounds like someone is opening the front door. I am not handling it well. As soon as the house temp drops below 67 I'm like:




- I would like a slice of cake approximately 4% less than I would like my children to live long and herpes-free lives. If a genie came out of a lamp and was like "I can grant you one slice of cake right now, but in return your sons will have herpes," I would be like:

which kind of herpes?
and I mean they're boys
so
they'll probably
like
never even know

nobody has to know


- No matter how many times I open the fridge there is no cake there. Wait, let me go check again.

nope
just
salad


- This conversation happened in my son's preschool class today:

Steve-O: I like soccer!

Pauly D: Me too! I'm gonna do soccer camp this summer.

Steve-O: Cool, I wanna do soccer camp!

Chicken: I wanna find an evolution class for kids!

Pan around the table like:

Chicken:


Steve-O:


Pauly D:

Chicken: Yeah! I wanna find a class about evolution so I can become an expert in how things change over long time, like how some of the dinosaurs evolved into birds?

I'm stressed because honestly that is fucking awesome that my kid asked me to find an evolution camp for kids. I can't help but blog about it like, "I have the coolest kid."

But the Venn diagram of "My mom thought I was cool" and "I barely survived high school," is a circle.

Also in that circle: "I attended evolution camp as a 5-year-old."


- Why is it "damn scared" but "damned excited." How do people even learn ENGLISH EVER?

- This "leader" doing what he calls:



- Every time I use white strips or whitening gel or any over-the-counter whitening aid I get huge sores on my gums a week later. Every time. And then I throw the $26 whitening gel away less a single dose and I say, "My teeth are white enough, I don't need this crap." And then three months later I see a photo of myself and I'm like GAH no wonder people have been asking if I'm dressing as Shrek for Halloween! How do people even look at me without developing an inexplicable craving for corn on the cob? And back to the pharmacy I go, and every time I'm like, "THIS TIME WILL BE DIFFERENT," and a week later I'm talking like Joan Cusack and SAYING NO TO PIZZA and that's how you know IT WAS NOT DIFFERENT.



- I'm pretty sure that everything I care about in terms of my parenting is meaningless except for ONE THING, and if I could just stop doing all the other meaningless bullshit I'd have enough free time to get my teeth professionally whitened with lasers that don't cause mouth sores... but the problem is that I have no idea which ONE THING it is.

God, just tell me. Is it table manners? It's table manners, right?

Or, wait, is it "checking in" with a friend after you run over their toes with your balance bike?

It's one of those that's the THING, right?

Fuck it, I'm just gonna keep doing all of them and drinking too much coffee.


 I thought I was doing everything right. 

Our library is stocked with kickass woman picture books about Amelia Earhart, Malala, Lucille Ball, Rosie Revere, and the Paper Bag Princess.


and wonder woman
obviously
although it's pretty tough to find a female superhero
that doesn't look like she's wearing
the flirty halloween costume version
of a real superhero outfit




I never force my children to hug or kiss anyone.

I encourage my kids to explore lots of toys, clothes, and interests, not just “boy” things. Buster’s favorite outfit is a jazzy little workout set in pink and turquoise. Chicken gets regular mani-pedis in our home “salon,” complete with cucumber water in a sippy cup.

My husband and I consciously subvert traditional gender roles - he cooks, cleans, kisses boo-boos, and yearns for a room of his own. I sit in an armchair by the fire with a scotch and the evening paper and bark at the children to “Pipe down, ya mongrels.” Because feminism.

I educate myself about how to limit their exposure to dudebro dirtbaggery and magnify feminist heroism. 

Sexist soccer coaches, gendered Legos, parents of other kids who tell their sons that “big boys don’t cry,” I was ready to take on all that BS.

I had great ideas about how to protect my kids against the damage that the world will try to do to them.


But what I didn’t remember, what was far harder and far more painful to consider, was how to protect my kids against the damage that the world has already done to me.

___

I reminded Buster to grab his water bottle. He shook his head, sighed, and muttered, “so stupid,” on his way back to the counter.


I didn't have to ask where he heard that kind of talk. 

I said it. 

I say it almost every day. 

Not about him, of course. 

About myself.

When I finally get all the kids and backpacks and rain boots out the door to the car, and I reach into my pocket for the keys and realize I left them on the counter…  (sigh) so stupid.

When I leave my sunglasses on the roof of the car. Nice one, dummy.

When I lose my shit and scream at the kids about which color cheese sticks I packed in their lunch. Ugh, I’m crazy.

When I decide to read a book or watch TV instead of matching the kids’ socks and the next day I have to spelunk in the sock hamper for mismatched socks (again). I was lazy last night.

I hear moms everywhere I go using words like this – dumb, silly, crazy, stupid – not about their children (we would never say things like that to our children!) but about themselves.  

The problem is that the words we use around our children become their words, too. The way we talk to them, and to ourselves, is the way they will talk to others. And themselves.

___

I’ve been a parent for about 5 years. I’ve been a girl for 32.

I am a feminist, but I was born and raised behind enemy lines. My underlying chromosomal makeup can’t compete with 32 years of hardcore, unrelenting conditioning that has taught me that my chromosomal makeup and its physical expression is at best second-class, inconsequential, and strange, and at worst a weapon, a weakness, a tawdry distraction to these good men just trying to do the Lord's work over here.

Equality, respect, and safety for women are in my best interests, yet STILL I catch myself  disliking “abrasive” or “chilly” female CEOs for reasons that I don’t stop to question, and swooning whenever a famous man recites the line fed to him by his publicist, that "women are people too."

#OhMyGodHesSoNice 
#HeThinksImAPerson 
#WhatACatch
#ThatIsHumiliating
#LetsRaiseTheBarPeople

My conscious mind wants to smash the patriarchy; my unconscious habits snuggle comfortably at his slippered feet.

The day I heard my not-yet-3-year-old call himself stupid, something he learned by listening to me, was the day I started to notice how much I talk shit about myself.

That was the day I realized there was a fox in my hen house.

___

Meet The Fox.

He’s been in my head for as long as I can remember.

He told me that I should wear flimsy slick-bottomed ballet flats that looked like Cinderella’s, that made me slip on the hillside when I chased after the boys in their rugged-soled boots.

He crooned, “See? Wasn’t that easier?” when I smiled prettily and agreed with the loudest voice in the room.

He told me I was fat when I was 11.

He shook his head when I lost my temper and everyone said I was crazy or bleeding from wherever.

I live every minute of every day with a fat-mouth, fat-head, bag-a-dicks fox in my hen house, and he never stops telling me that I’m not good enough, and I’ve spent most of my life agreeing with him because he is the loudest voice in that room.

When I veto the Batman DVD for movie night because it’s too violent: You are such a silly little girl.

When I remember to call the cable company: Wow, slow clap for you. It took you a week and a half to make one phone call. Are you even an adult? Would you even have a functioning life if you didn’t have a husband to take care of the REAL stuff?

When I'm white-knuckling the steering wheel as I attempt to negotiate peace between one kid who wants to listen to Disney Storybook Favorites and the other kid who wants Frog and Toad:  Get a grip, crazy lady. It’s not like you’re curing cancer here.

If The Fox had a central thesis, it would look something like this: 

It is important for you to understand that no matter what you do or how hard you work, you can never take pride in your accomplishments or feel valuable or competent. 

I will take every opportunity to remind you that your work doesn't matter; that your mistakes are proof that you will never be a worthwhile person; that your thoughts, opinions, and feelings are less important than mine and based in silly irrational nonsense; that you do not deserve to have time, space, or a voice; and that your only value lies in the pleasant feelings you can give me by being nice and pretty, and the work you can do to support me.

___


There’s a fine line we have to be aware of – the line between inviting women to recognize that they deserve good treatment, and blaming women for their own poor treatment.

I am doing the first one. Not the second one.

I am saying that when I called myself stupid, lazy, or worthless, I was talking to myself in a voice that was not my own.

I’m not telling you how to be or how to talk. You are already great.

I am telling The Fox, the one who calls you a stupid, lazy, dumb, crazy, inconsequential, worthless, silly, hot mess, train wreck, boring, pathetic loser, to sit down and shut up.

It's our turn to talk.

___

I began to practice positive self-talk in front of my kids. 

You might hear me walking the canned bean aisle at the grocery store, declaring in the voice of the Yia-Yia Sisterhood, "I MAKE THOUGHTFUL CHOICES ABOUT NUTRITION BECAUSE I AM SMART AND STRONG. THIS WEEK, WE BUY KIDNEY BEANS."

You might see me screech to a stop in the parking lot, get out of the car, and pull down my iced coffee from where I left it on the roof, and pronounce in a voice stentorian with years of theatre training, "I REMEMBERED MY ICED COFFEE. I REMEMBER MANY IMPORTANT THINGS."

I say good things about myself.

Because before I do anything else to raise my kids to be feminists, I have to identify and address the way The Fox demands that I try to reach unreachable standards for women's beauty, silence, and virtue, and then makes me feel shitty for falling short, being too loud or messy or ambitious or mean, demanding more space, wearing clunky sneakers, or chewing my hair.*

I have to see how the world has damaged me first.

Because I don't hear women say good things about themselves very much. Because a child could take that to mean that women can't think of anything good to say about themselves.

Because the voice we use to talk to our kids (and to ourselves) will become the voice in their heads.

Because I wouldn’t let a sexist soccer coach talk like that to my kids. I wouldn’t let a teacher, babysitter, uncle, or friend talk like that to my kids.

Because I won't let my sons learn how to talk to themselves, or to any person, like a Fox.

___

The Fox tells you that you can’t do anything right.

Let me flip a switch for you.

Every day you pick up 400 objects from where you left them the night before, and you start to juggle them again.

All of the objects are different sizes, shapes, weights. They all require your constant touch to keep them in motion. They all require a different touch.

You juggle a feather, a soup pot, and a belt.

You juggle nutrition, empathy, and trash day.

You juggle a single piece of paper that you need to sign and return today, that flutters and swoops unpredictably, that falls to the ground.

The Fox says, “You are so stupid.”

I say, “Look at you. You are a marvel, an athlete, an X-woman. Look at the way you keep the world spinning for your family. Look at the way you can pick that up again. It shouldn’t be possible for a person to do all that at the same time, but you do it, and you make it look easy. You are amazing."

You are amazing. Tell your kids. Tell yourself. You are amazing.

___

*PS*

OK, The Fox, well played. 
You get that one. 

Chewing my hair WAS super gross. 
I can’t even defend it by saying I was trying to subvert misogynistic standards of female beauty. 

I had a single damp, shiny dreadlock that smelled like Johnson's baby shampoo and morning breath. It hung next to my right ear until my mother cut my hair so short I couldn't chew it anymore. 

I can still remember the way single strands of hair would get stuck between my teeth as I bit the clump of hair flat, gnawing on it as happily and absently as a puppy on a rope knot. 


___


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Thanks for reading! xoxo
Hello from the new house. 

this is not the new house

Hello from the new house.
I put up a post-it with this address,
so I don't sound like a dork when I call the cable company.

We live here now. This is our place.
The unseasonably cold air last night carried campfire smell
and an owl's call.

I said, with an air of mystery, "I heard an owl's call last night,"
and my city friend said, "What kind of owl?"
I said, "What the fuck kind of question is that."

How long do I have to live here 
before I can distinguish between owls, 
based on the pitch and timbre of a velvety call?

More than one fucking day, I'd say.
Also, I only know three kinds of owls:
snowy, horned, and Hedwig.

Hello from the new view. 
The house across the street has three Subarus 
and a plum tree.

There are no growling buses.
There are owls.
(Owl breed tbd.)

Hello from the new bedtime.
The kids laugh maniacally
and empty the new closet.

"THIS ROOM IS TOO DARK."
Ryan and I look at the clock,
our mouths are matching lines.

When we both need help,
do we help ourselves or each other?
Everyone thinks there is a right answer.

Hello from the new commute.
To get to I-90 do I turn right or left?
I'm going right.

Most of the time when people think they're turning in a random direction,
they're turning in the direction of their dominant hand. 
(Things you learn reading novels.)

I should have turned left but see I'm right-handed.
But I found the market
and the library and a couple of rad barns.

Hello from the new kitchen.
I open seven drawers before I find the foil.
There are eight drawers. 

I keep turning on the right front burner
and waving my hand over oil in the cold pan
on the left front burner.

We're back to electric
so that kind of mistake creeps up on us
while the dinner doesn't cook.

Hello from the new yard.
The boys are on the deck stacking emptied boxes
and B is wearing a cracked colander on his head.

Rats in the city gross me out
but mice in the country are fine
as long as I never, never see them.

The old owner's cat sleeps on the deck.
She meows urgently, slaps the glass with her white-mittened paw.
"What the fuck," she seems to say.

What the fuck, indeed, cat.
What the fuck
indeed.

Hello from the new mailbox.
Oh wait, there isn't one.
We will fetch our mail from the post office.

I imagine Mr. McFeely works there.
You remember him - speedy delivery!
What a nice man, that Mr. McFeely.

Too bad about that name though.
Makes me want to cross my arms
and legs.

Hello from the dining room.
As I unpacked napkin rings I wondered
when that happened in my life.

I also have four or five vases
(vah-zes)
which isn't something to brag about
but was, at some point, a choice I made.

Chicken spends his pocket money on sour patch kids
and bouncy balls (putting the quarters in the machine is half the thrill)
and I have vases and when did that happen?

"When did that happen"
might be my new personal mantra
along with "what the fuck indeed, cat."

What
the fuck
indeed.

PS hello from Greg our new snail.
He's alright.

hey