Off Duty Mom

Thoughts from an exhausted mom who is NEVER really "off duty"

Archive for the category “Ugh. Life.”

Is it June yet?

Tgood teacheroday, I shall further my rant about teenagers.

In case, you haven’t caught up with my blog in a while, or…um…ever before, you might not know that I am a high school teacher and a proud momma of two little ones.  I have always said that I do not understand kids at all until they turn about 13.  Most other parents likely cringe at the thought of their children going through the teen years, but I honestly have no idea what to do or say to most 3-year olds.  I just don’t have that piece of DNA in me that makes me want to sit on the floor and play with Play Doh.

I “get” teenagers.  I don’t always like them.  But, I get them.

However…

It is nearly June.  And, if you have never taught you don’t know how much you just kinda want to get away from these kids by this point in the year.

I spent some time in a “real job” in an office.  I hated it.  HATED IT.  But, I have to say that I never wanted to get the fuck away from my coworkers with quite the same desperate passion as I truly want to get away from students after 9 months together.

Indeed.

Indeed.

My coworkers never complained that “someone farted.”  And, they never broke my box fan during a before-class wrestling match that involved a disagreement over a purple pen.  They also never surrounded my desk and yelled my name at me over and over again even though I was clearly talking with someone else.  Their parents never called me to scream at me, threatening to have me fired since they “pay my salary.”  I never broke up a fist fight between my coworkers.  My office was always air-conditioned.  I got an hour for lunch at my office (not the 12 minutes I end up with by the time I microwave leftovers, find something to drink, go down the hall to the lounge and sit down).  I could pee whenever I wanted.  I never had to repeat what I wanted others to do, like, a MILLION times.  My day started at a normal time, not 7:06.  No one ever threatened to slash my tires.  No one ever looked me in the face and said, “I am going to fucking kill you, bitch.”

Now, don’t get me wrong:  I 100%, without question love my work.  There is absolutely nothing I would rather be doing.  I did some soul searching while at that terrible office job.  I bought a book called “What Should I Do With My Life?” in the hopes that it would tell me what to do with my life.  It didn’t help one damn bit.  But, I did end up back in a classroom and it was the best goddamn decision I have made in a very, very long time.

ftsMoms and dads may complain about their children.  This does not mean that they do not love them.

I happen to have 102 children.  I complain about them all the time.  But, I do still love them.

But, now it is your turn to deal with them for a few months.  Get me outta here.

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Surviving Teendom

Teen angst.

Ugh.

We all went through it and yet somehow no adults seem to have figured out yet how to get the 12-19 year-old crowd to know for certain that

  1. You are not alone
  2. You are not ugly.  People who call others “ugly” are being ugly.
  3. Not EVERYONE hates you.
  4. There’ll be sad songs that make you cry.  They don’t freaking help anything.  Stop listening to them.
  5. Do not call, text or drive past your ex’s house or person.  It’s not helpful.
  6. School isn’t about algebra and sentence diagramming.  It’s about life.
  7. Your haircut is stupid.
  8. Reading books gets you farther in life than the “right” shoes, purse, belt or phone ever will.
  9. Punctuality matters.  Really.
  10. If you learn how to shake hands and look someone in the eye you will do well in both your private and your work lives.
  11. You should be the girl/guy who can be introduced to Mom or else you will never be good for anything other than a fling.
  12. It is not true that no one understands you.  We totally understand you.  We WERE you.  And we know you’re acting dumb so get over yourself.
  13. Swearing has its place.  Grown-ups do it, too.  But it isn’t for street cred.  It is only as a legitimate expression of emotion, amplitude or art.
  14. Yes, family is more important that friendship.  We’ve all had friends who were practically family, but that entire 8th grade clique of yours isn’t going to be with you when you’re 59 and your mother dies or when you lose your job with no explanation after 32 years of service.
  15. 99% of what matters to you today you will not even be able to remember in 10 years.
  16. Skinny jeans are not for everyone.  Find your own style that makes you look your best.
  17. You won’t die if you put down the electronics for a day.  Interact with humans, for crying out loud.
  18. Your mom will eventually prove to have been right about, well, everything, ever.
  19. It’s called a “waistband” because it goes around your thighs.  Just kidding.  You look absurd.
  20. Your poetry is probably not that good.

If, one day, we can find a way to convince the young buckaroos of these facts, peace will reign.  Doves will soar above the mountaintops.  Rainbows and angels’ songs will permeate all the lands.  All will be right with the world.

 

Getting from “I can’t” to “I’ve GOT this”

I have struggled for most of my adult life with borderline depression and probably a little anxiety, too.  These things, however, have not existed in real life like I would have imagined they would.

cryingI had previously figured that depression was reserved for people who had SOMETHING to be sad about.  And those poor saps wouldn’t be able to get out of bed each morning.  They would cry constantly.  They would probably resort to maniacal meth usage, would wear all-black and would get swoopy haircuts, but would ultimately not really wash or style their hair much, anyway.

I figured that people who had anxiety would be nervous wrecks 100% of the time, would talk really fast, drink too much coffee, talk incessantly about governmental conspiracy theories, and would be all twitchy and weird.

Most of that stuff is dead wrong.  For me, at least.  Except, I could get into a pretty decent conversation about conspiracies.  Like, what if the government actually secretly sanctioned the initial illegal drug trafficking in the US in order to infiltrate the Black community through unethical back-door methods in an attempt to decimate the community from the inside out, actually unofficially encouraging the Black community to disintegrate, stay uneducated, and foster violence and brain decay over decades of time?

But, after watching a particular Facebook reposted video of about a kabillion of my “friends” recently, I realized something:  I better get the fuck over myself.

Having come through a long emotional battle after a date rape well over 15 years ago now, I have had my fair share of difficulties in my weird-ass noggin.  I also suffered a miscarriage in 2007, and while I very rarely talk about this at all, I think about it often and it certainly added to my fucked-up headspace.

And, more than I could know, others out there have been through more and have suffered more and have required very serious help working through their mental and emotional issues.  I absolutely do not deny that these things are very real, nor do I believe that we can “snap out of” a depression, anxiety, or other problem any more than we could “snap out of” Congestive Heart Failure.

Nevertheless, I cannot deny that I ought to start taking more responsibility for the repeated phrase in my head to stop being “I can’t” and to start being “I’ve GOT this” a little more often.

Remember when you were a kid and you would swing as high as you could and you would hurl your body upward and outward into the sky above the playground and for those few moments of flight, your body (your soul, for that matter) just felt right, and you KNEW you would land safely?  I think it is important for more of us to have more of that feeling more often.

Somewhere in adulthood, far too many of us get trapped in a sense of fear.  We’ve lived life a whole lot of life.  We’ve, let’s say, played baseball for 14 years.  And for 13.96 of those years, the sport was fun and challenging and gloriously dirty and was an amazing way to be a part of a team–something larger than just ourselves.  But .04 of that time was spent on a bench nursing a really nasty, painful, ugly injury.  And, now, every time we run, whether it is toward home plate and a mean-looking, heavily-padded guy wearing sharp cleats, or if it is to catch a Frisbee in the yard with an 8-year old, we feel hesitant.  The awareness of that hurt is still there, even though it comparatively represents only a small part of our running experiences of the past.

So, as I sat on my couch last night watching that video, I found myself wondering:  “when do I plan to start living?”.  I have been sad and tired and worried and afraid in a dull but very persistent sense for years on end now.  Should I find out today that I have only a few months left on this planet, wouldn’t I be astronomically pissed that THAT would be how the bulk of my life had been spent?

My screwiness is legit.  Mental illness is not a joke.  People’s struggles are never anything to sneeze at.  But, perhaps we might take a moment to think about whether there is anyway we could start living life in a way that would make us proud to have been US at the end of it all.

And, as a teacher, I feel it necessary to leave you with words of wisdom on this topic that are not my own, but that belong to people far wiser than I…

“EMILY: “Does anyone ever realize life while they live it…every, every minute?”

STAGE MANAGER: “No. Saints and poets maybe…they do some.”

-Thornton Wilder — Our Town

It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.

-Seneca

If you cannot be grateful for what you have received, then be thankful for what you have been spared.

-Yiddish Proverb.

Parenting a “Difficult” Child

I am a teacher.  And a mom.  So, my days are full of “Be nice!,” “Go get a tissue!,” and “Keep your hands to yourself!”.

And, mind you, I teach high school students.

But, I am also the mother of two spirited little boys.  The older of the two is in preschool right now.

Now, I am going to sound like a total asshole here pretty soon.  Feel free to stop reading right now if you are easily offended.

In my career with high school students, I have tackled subjects from eugenics to Descartes to anitdisestablishmentarianism.  We’ve discussed psychology, faith and String Theory.  We read Shakespeare and Hawthorne and Orwell.

"Your little 'angel,' Prudence, colored on the wall today.  You don't LET her do that at home, DO YOU?  Please make her stop coloring on walls."

“Your little ‘angel,’ Prudence, colored on the wall today. You don’t LET her do that at home, DO YOU? Please make her stop coloring on walls.”

Now, I do not believe that my job is necessarily more important than that of an Early Childhood educator.  I don’t even know enough about Early Childhood to even speak intelligently about what it is that they do all day, though on more than one occasion I have snobbily remarked that they pretty much just pass out crayons.

But, my experience has led me to conclude that teachers of children of the ages 4 to about 7 just may try to blur the line between authority figure and parent a bit more than I find comfortable.

Whew.  That was better than I thought it was going to be.  First Grade teachers everywhere are probably a little pissed, but I am proud that I managed to keep my assholery to a minimum so far, though.

Let’s dissect a bit, however.

Personally, I do not feel as though my child’s teacher has the right or the responsibility to help me to “learn” to parent “correctly.”  Now, believe you me, I would love to tell a few parents of a few ninth graders I know about how to do a better job at home.  I’d probably be fired for saying some of the things I’ve been thinking.  So, I am not sure why the teacher of a preschool student, for example, should be offering “advice,” either, really.  In fact, I find it to be pretty inappropriate.  And, frankly, if I want your fucking opinion, I will be sure to ask for it.

In the past year, my son’s teacher has done a phenomenal job of developing curriculum, keeping academic rigor high, and allowing him to develop intellectually to his own potential.  She has also managed to send me “helpful” articles, suggestions, and daily “updates” that discuss the minutia of his behavioral “issues.”  She has also lassoed our part-time nanny into picking him up early from school on days (which I have paid — a whole lot — for him to be present) when she finds his behavior too trying.  Two days ago, she called the nanny 15 minutes into the school day to warn her that she may be calling to have our son removed from school that day.  She did not end up requiring him to leave, though.

Before I had kids, I always sort of wanted parents of my students to know when their kids were real dicks.  I’d write down the blasphemous, racist, insensitive, vulgar, sexist bullshit they would spew word-for-word on detention forms.  I wanted to quote those little snots.  I wanted parents to know that they were raising animals.  I wanted some smug mom to know that her baby wasn’t the angel she thought he was.

Sounds right to me.

Sounds right to me.

Now, as a mom, I now realize that we all know that our kids aren’t perfect.  We all realize that WE aren’t perfect, either.  I suck at math.  But, I am pretty bomb at Wheel of Fortune, for example.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses.

So, I feel now as though a child’s perceived weaknesses need not be recapped, reiterated, written about, reviewed and discussed freaking constantly.

TEACHER:  “Your kid doesn’t really always play very nicely with others.”

ME:  “Neither do I.”

And, yet I find myself concerned about the potential stigma for my child and for me if he should be labeled (albeit secretly in a faculty lounge somewhere where ladies in holiday-themed sweaters, gossip about MY kid, repeat the crazy, out-of-context weirdness he learned from his father and me, and share strategies on where to buy the best scented ink-stamp pads) “difficult.”

"You know, Little Felix has not been able to take turns being 'line leader.'  I totally credit your inadequacy as a parent in this scenario."

“You know, Little Felix has not been able to take turns being ‘line leader.’ I totally credit your inadequacy as a parent in this scenario.”

Am I parenting a “difficult” child?  I don’t think so.  He is his own little man and his ideas don’t always mesh with mine.  His needs and desires don’t always align with mine.  His interests don’t always connect with mine.  And, every teacher isn’t going to think he is fabulous (just like every teacher isn’t going to think he’s a ghoul, either).

I go on the Super Nanny website.  I have “house rules.”  I set boundaries.  I have clear and pre-defined consequences for negative behaviors.  I have instituted a positive behavioral reward system.  I have consistent expectations and have regular talks about respect, kindness, teamwork, sharing, calmness, taking turns and showing love.  My husband is very much a co-parent in all of this, too.  My kid is absolutely getting a united front before him.

We’re doing things right.

And, now I see that many, many, many parents of the “difficult” children I have taught were doing things right, too.  It wasn’t my fault as a teacher that a kid failed a class or misbehaved in school any more than it was the parent’s fault.  Our kids are all given tools to survive in the world.  They choose, willfully, if, how, and when they will use them.

You are not parenting a difficult child.  Neither am I.  And, don’t let a teacher, healthcare worker, therapist, or judge tell you otherwise.  But, when problems seem consistent, something we’re doing to manage our children’s behaviors and abilities isn’t working.

And, you should feel free and welcome to ask the appropriate experts for their advice on how to approach things in a more meaningful and potentially successful way.

But, no one really should feel the freedom to provide you with that “advice” if it is not solicited.

Feel free to tell your teacher that you would love to have a phone call at work if your child is, say, bleeding from the head, projectile vomiting, fist-fighting in class, or making terroristic threats to other youngsters.  He or she should not call you at the office, though, to tell you that your daughter seems to need more structured playtime, your son should learn to share his toys, or your twins cannot stop pinching each other.

And, as a teacher, it is my JOB to deal with your crazy kids between the hours of 7:36 and 3:06.  It is unacceptable for me to tell you to come get your kid at 8:00 because I just can’t deal with her anymore.  I am paid to deal with her.

Labels are always wrong.  Except on Campbell’s soup.  We need those.  I don’t like surprises.  But, labels don’t belong on our kids.  Unless I ask you how you’d label him, you should keep your judgmental attitude to your damn self.

We all know that there are crappy parents out there.  Some of that bad parenting MAY cause some of our schools to contain horrifying little monsters.  But, we should be clear that it is not a teacher’s job to judge a parent’s worth or ability.  We can THINK anything we want as teachers.  But, under no circumstances should I share my opinions of your shortcomings with you.

Even though more parents than I can count have shared THEIR opinions about MY teaching shortcomings with me…

Hooray for Mother’s Day!

Off Duty Mom is proud to feature a special “Hooray for Mother’s Day” special publication!

************************************

GUEST POST BY:

Meredith Ethington

My hands are literally cracking and bleeding. My husband said to me innocently when I was complaining, “Can you just try washing them less everyday?” I scoffed, “No! I wash them when I wipe a butt, and before eating, or fixing a meal, and after going to the bathroom. Which of those should I skip?”

I was thinking about how my hands look like they belong to a 90 year old woman even though I am just a young, 35 year old mama. And, I thought of all the beautiful mother’s day poems out there about a mother’s hands. They are beautiful aren’t they? But, my hands? Not so much. Do these poems really get down and share the nitty gritty that every mother experiences everyday? Not really.

So, I crafted a short little poem of my own, which is ironic since I pretty much hated every poem I had to read during my high school and college years. But, this one came to me pretty quickly.

Busy, Dirty Hands (A Mother’s Day Tribute)

I’m thankful for my mother’s hands, which keep us kids at bay,

From destroying everything she loves, each and every day.

It seems that when I need some help, she says, “Do it yourself!”

So, then I climb up  very high and reach up on a shelf.

Her hands know how to clean up each and every mess I make,

When the shelf falls down, and I move on, to wreak havoc in another place.

Her hands know how to feed the baby, while making dinner too.

They send a text, and help with homework, while the house feels like a zoo.

Those hands wipe our bums 10 times a day, and rarely she complains,

Except, of course, when poop floats in the tub, and she’s almost gone insane.

Her hands are patient when we draw on the couch with a bright red pen,

She uses them to cover her mouth when she wants to remain quite zen.

Her hands catch every single thing that comes out of my mouth,

chewed food and vomit, are just two that no longer gross her out.

Her hands clean up the crusty things that come out of my nose,

when I wipe them on the wall, she says, “That isn’t where it goes!”

Her hands know how to clean and wipe, and clean and wipe again,

They do the same thing over and over, to clean up our pig pen.

Her hands show me so many things, like how much she must love me.

After all those hands have one dirty job, taking care of little ol’ me.

-Written by crazy toddlers everywhere

Meredith is a native Texan, recovering perfectionist, and mama to 3 kids living in Utah. She has been blogging for over 5 years, but just recently decided to make her blog public and get real about motherhood. Her tag line is “far from perfect, but blogging about it anyway”. Because that is exactly what she wants to do. Her goal is to be honest and not just blog all the happy, pretty moments. You can find her over at Faking Picture Perfect.

Congratulations! You have Water-Elf Disease!

Much is debatable in this day and age.  We are constantly inundated with arguments of political, sociological, theological, philosophical and historical nature.

According to some sites, this little guy has Yellow Fever, Acid Reflux, Bubonic Plague and a splinter.

According to some sites, this little guy has Yellow Fever, Acid Reflux, Bubonic Plague and a splinter.

I think we can all agree on one thing, though:  the best place for medical advice is the internet.

According to WebMD, I may have Cystic Fibrosis, Emphysema, Multiple Sclerosis, Windburn, Breast Cancer, Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, Dementia, Hepatits A, B or C, Lyme Disease, Malnutrition, Typhoid Fever or Radon Exposure.

To be clear, the sypmtoms I put in were related to being tired.  When asked if I bruise easily, I said that I do.  I also responded that I do, indeed, have dry skin.

That’s it.  From that, WebMD has determined that I have Typhoid Fever, which is frankly not something I have heard of since I used to play Oregon Trail on that one computer we had in the school library during study hall.

Other websites asked other batteries of questions that I answered honestly.  My potential diagnoses ranged from cancer and HIV to dehydration and mild anxiety.

When I put my main complaint as “fatigue,” though, not one website asked me if I was a parent.  Therefore, I was certainly not ever asked if I was a parent of two small children who sometimes have fights that must be broken up and who run seemingly incessantly during waking hours, or if in addition to my work as a parent I also worked a full-time paying job that required me to have a high level of patience and to stand for long periods of time, or if I live in a part of the country not prone to sunshine and year-round weather where my family and I could enjoy fresh air and Vitamin D, or if my boss was a dick, my family didn’t get along, my bills were piling up, my pet needed medical care, my house needed to be cleaned, my car needed to go to the mechanic, or my son’s preschool was giving me shit because I can’t volunteer or be around like the Stay-At-Home Moms can.

For, if the mighty internet had asked some of those questions, it might have come up with something more insightful and less alarming for my condition other than Syphilis.

And, while I don’t have ALL of the above listed “symptoms,” there are people who do.  And, on any given day, we all have a pile of crap we’re dealing with.

Just how DOES she do it?Oh...that's how...

Just how DOES she do it?
Oh…that’s how…

So, this all makes me wonder if anyone is really making the WonderParent thing work.

I would like to hear from you.  If you are a SuperMom or a SuperDad, please comment.  I would love to hear your tips and pointers for getting my act together and becoming the multi-armed Hindu Goddess-type I always thought I might be.

 

Advice for Moms

Want my advice?

If you knew me in person, you probably wouldn’t, but here we go…

Whaaaaaat?

Whaaaaaat?

It occured to me that we really ought to be able to offer better advice to mothers of little ones than “sleep when the baby is sleeping.” ‘Cuz that advice sucks, anyway. I don’t know about you, but when I was going through an 8-month stretch with a newborn who not once in that time slept for more than 2 hours at a clip, the whole sleep-when-the-baby-is-sleeping idea was unrealistic, unhelpful, and not at all restful for an adult.

Now, I am a total nutjob, so I am absolutely in no real position to be offering advice to anyone, really. Seriously, I am NOT keeping my shit together. Like, at all. But, I have learned a thing or two about feeling less likely to jump off of a clock tower. So, if you are exhausted, depressed, anxious, and lonely with a child or children at home under the age of 6, or if you know too well that weird feeling that comes when you know your eyes are open and stuff, but your head feels like you just swigged a bottle of Benadryl and chased it with a few shots of Tequila and a handful of quaaludes, then, maybe I can offer some thoughts.

1. Take a shower. ‘Cuz you stink. That was a joke. Sort of. You might stink, I actually don’t know. But, in reality, there isn’t a whole lot that a good, steamy shower can’t wash away — even if it is only temporary. Sometimes the shower is the only quiet place in your house, right? And, it smells like lavender and honeysuckle. And, there are no feces, crayon-stained walls or those tiny legos that make your foot feel like it is being murdered by itty-bitty Samurais when you step on them. Besides, taking a shower makes you feel human again when you are sleep-deprived, frustrated and hallucinating. Get some of the aromatherapy stuff that is energizing. You’ll feel a little better. Then someone will vomit on you. But, you felt better for a bit.

2. Wear real pants. Now, look: no one (and I do mean NO ONE) loves yoga pants more than I do. I rock some flannel pj pants about 35 seconds after coming home from work every day. But, when I was on a very long maternity leave, I started to feel as dumpy as I looked as I sat around everyday in fleece, elastic-waist pants and an old sorority sweatshirt. You don’t have to try to squeeze your ass into an old prom dress. You don’t need that kind of bullshit making you feel bad. But, put on a pair of jeans for crying out loud. Go outside. Get some air. Even if it is warmer in your fridge than it is outside. You own boots and a heavy coat, right? Your kid has a parka. Come on. A body at rest in stretchy pants tends to stay at rest in stretchy pants.

3. Listen to your kid. Hard. My older son has prepared a dissertation on the merits of Buzz Lightyear’s heroism versus the entertainment value of Super Mario Brothers. I have no fucking clue what he is talking about most of the time. And, I always feel way too busy with important things like laundry, drinking wine and blogging to really pay all that much attention. He mostly gets thoughtless replies of “Yeah,” and “That’s nice.” But, I have tried to make it a point lately to listen to some of his stories as though they are the most fascinating things I have ever heard. I look at his eyes (something I try to tell him is important to do when he talks to adults). I ask questions. I try to make him feel as though someone really hears him. Because no one listens to a goddamn word I say all day and I know how shitty that feels.

4. Adopt a mantra. In a previous post, I talked about how lifesaving it was for me to hear someone talk about training the mind to repeat a positive statement. She was a yoga instructor and mom and she told us we could steal her mantra: “It won’t always be this way.” I think about it all the damn time. Yours doesn’t have to be that one, but when you are on the brink of tears (always, right?), adopt a better voice to hear in your head other than “I can’t.” You might try “Just breathe,” or “Right now, I am grateful for______.” Someone I know uses “At least.” For her, when her toddler threw a Tonka Truck at the living room window and cracked it, she said to herself, “At least it’s warm outside. And the window can be repaired.” Find what works for you. And, don’t let 2-year olds play with Tonka Trucks near antique glass windows.

5. Do something mindless (but awake) each day. I am a television junky. I love when I have the opportunity to watch some of my favorite shows. But, I can only take so much Sprout. Speaking of which, when any other co-host in the Sunshine Barn with Chica sings the birthday song, the camera cuts to Chica dancing her little birthday puppet dance. But, Kelly gets the camera on her the whole time. Who is she fucking at PBS? That really burns my ass.

So, I should tell you that I am absolutely certain that these things all work to help you feel more alive, more alert and more like being a better mom. I know that these things all work because I don’t do them. And, I am certifiable, so clearly, doing the opposite of what I do will make you well-adjusted and happy.

Regardless, though, of whether you follow this advice, we should all just hang in there, right? I mean, there are a whole lot of cruddy parents out there and if you are reading blogs trying to get advice on how to keep your cool and be better for your kids, you are not a cruddy parent. You are tired. And sick of hearing people scream things like “No!” and “But, wait!” and “I don’t wanna!” at you. It’s okay. Really. It is.

And, of course, if you are concerned about how much you are not keeping yourself together, please talk with your doctor. You are not alone. I promise. And, it is okay to ask for help. Call your doctor, call a babysitter, call for takeout and call the Winebulance. Did you know there was such a thing? Criminey. None of us need suffer any longer.

I know you are but what am I?

She was the kind of girl who smoked cigarettes in a car with rolled-up windows while fuzzy dice dangled on her rearview mirror.  I am sure she owned plenty of leopard print.  I would be certain that whatever her name would be, it would end with an “i.”

He scrawled on desks in high school with the end of a pen that no longer worked.  And he only owned clothes with band names on them or things that were made out of threadbare denim or cheap, knock-off leather.

Her friends all loved pink and had big hair and wore plastic bracelets and shoes.  One had a button on her purse that said “Save Ferris.”  Another knew the perfect way to scrunch up her socks at the ankle so that they were just awesome enough.

He hung with guys who snarled a lot.  They couldn’t afford muscle cars, so they hung calendars of them in their rooms instead.  They pretended to know about the world.

Everyone believed, firmly, that these kids were going nowhere in life.  Now they’re 40.  They wear shirts with buttons and pants that have to be ironed.  They have kids and a mortgage and a sensible SUV with a top-rated carseat inside.  They have no idea what the coolest music is anymore, but they do know all about Doc McStuffins.

This might sound like people you know.  One of those people might even be you.

The person who wrote this was once cool, I am sure.  Now she uses adult diapers and complains that the rain hurts her knees.

The person who wrote this was once cool, I am sure. Now she uses adult diapers and complains that the rain hurts her knees.

So, you’re old.  That sucks.

I understand.

But, I offer no solace.  There shall be no respite from the weariness of your lamentable aging today.

Instead, I offer you this:

*next summer, Forrest Gump will be 20 years old.  That makes Haley Joel Osment (young Forrest) now 24.  He could be your coworker.  Or worse, your boss.

*it has been 30 years since Michael Jackson first did that Moonwalk on TV while performing Billie Jean and 30 years since Vanessa Williams became the first Black Miss America.

*If you had had a child the night Seinfeld aired its final episode, that child would now be a freshman in high school.

*If Nirvana’s Nevermind were a person, it could now legally drink in the United States.  Actually, it was released 22 years ago.

*It has been 43 years since the first heavy metal album was released.  Original headbangers would now risk serious injury for rockin’ out.

*It has been exactly 40 years now since psychology experts removed homosexuality from its list of disorders.  It took Denmark another 16 years to be the first to legalize same-sex marriages.  It took 26 total years from that date for California to offer some rights for same-sex couples in committed relationships.

Remember these guys?  If so, you are at least 30.  The show ended in 1981.  Muppet Babies ended in 1992.

Remember these guys? If so, you are at least 30. The show ended in 1981. Muppet Babies ended in 1992.

*It has been 34 years since Nickelodeon first launched as a channel.

*It has been nearly a decade since Facebook launched as a social networking site.

*28 years have passed since the launch of the first Super Mario Brothers.

*If you were 13 years old when Pac Man first came out in the US, you are now 45 years old, geezer.

*If you were 18 when Jimi Hendrix died, you are now 61 years old.  Criminey.

*Cyndi Lauper is 59.

*Gene Simmons is 63.

*Pee Wee Herman is 60.

*TuPac would be 42 years old now, had he lived.

*Denise Huxtable from the Cosby Show would turn 46 this year.

*William Shatner is 81.

*Chuck Norris is 72.

*Brad Pitt is 48.  Two and a half years younger than George Clooney.

and, finally,

*Ralph Macchio, the Karate Kid is freaking 50 years old.

Wow.

 

YOU’RE OLD.

Getting old is awesome.  At least that is what I keep telling myself.

Getting old is awesome. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

What We Deserve

hand

 

 

 

 

 

My mother once told me that my first words were
“Me do.”
I said it, she claims, emphatically.
I am sure I meant it, too.

I had been raised with an ideal:
An idea that I’d be beholden to no one.

When a friend of mom’s asked me one time
In mid ’85 whether I’d marry rich one day and live high and fine
Driving Hubby’s Lamborghini
Wearing thousand-dollar bikinis

I looked her straight in the eye and said:
“When I grow up, I will make my own money and buy my own car.”

But, no one seems to say that anymore.

And no one seems to encourage it to be said.

And, when the Lambos don’t come easily, we hear that “it’s just not FAIR.”
As if fairness were determined by equality.

“I can’t, I can’t, I can’t” I hear from the mouths of babes.
Never is there a drive to work to find a way
But instead if you don’t have a pencil
That must mean you don’t have to do your homework today.

Or it is my job to give you one.

And, if I don’t, then it is my fault that you have failed.

And, if your computer broke this morning,
Then clearly you should not be held responsible
For turning in a paper that was assigned two weeks ago.

And it is the doctor’s job to keep you healthy,
Your mom’s job to keep you clean,
Your dentist’s job to make sure your teeth don’t rot,
And the Rev’s job to make you believe.

Nothing is up to you, anymore.

Put your hands out.
God and the Fates will provide.

Because you deserve it.

Teachers are told to adjust student workloads
For each according to his need.
No child should struggle, they say
As if struggling didn’t make us all free
Or didn’t build character.
Maybe, instead the struggle is the KEY.

For if every man, woman and child embraced the struggle now
We’d all learn just a little bit more about how
We can build ourselves into mountains
For it was pressure that forged the Earth’s peaks.

In Need of a Chainsaw

I have realized that my life would be a hell of a lot easier if there were two of me.

Wow.  That seems so obvious.  I could be so efficient.  I could do twice as much laundry.

chainsaw post2Let’s be honest, though, if there were two of me, I’d probably just creep twice as much Pinterest and drink twice as much snobby craft beer.

But, what I started to come to understand is that on days when the going gets rough, I could really use a metaphysical chainsaw to slice myself into two beings:  one who will lovingly care for my kids and the other who will get a pedicure, shop for handbags and have a long lunch at a restaurant with tablecloths.

‘Cuz here’s the lowdown:  I love my kids.  I also love not being asked 43 times in a day about Super Mario Brothers and Thomas the Tank Engine.  Some days I feel a little run down.  And maybe I cry a little.  Or  a whole lot.  But, when I get a little time to myself, one of two things typically happens:  either I completely waste it by doing absolutely nothing of any value whatsoever, or I spend it wondering what my precious babies are doing, smiling longingly at every beautiful child who passes me at the mall.

Mom said she wishes there were two of her.  Let's practice being helpful.

Mom said she wishes there were two of her. Let’s practice being helpful.

So, it would really be great if there were two of me – not so I could be Supermom and start baking more or inventing cool crafts that involve pipecleaners and homemade slime – but so that one of me could chill the fuck out somewhere, maybe read a book, go tanning, or visit a friend, while the other joyfully absorbs the peace and tranquility radiating from the other’s blissful calm and is able to appreciate every fabulous moment with a couple of terrific little boys.

I decided when founding Off Duty Mom that I was going to be honest about the good, the bad and the ugly.  So, let me go ahead now and tell you where my chainsaw thoughts are coming from.

The other day, when I pulled my car into my garage after a long day of trying to educate the very unwilling youth of America, I turned off the ignition and just sat there.  For a good, solid five minutes or so.  I just sat.  I couldn’t bring myself to get out of the car.  I didn’t want to go inside my house.  I knew that as soon as I did, two children would be bouncing and running and yelling and tossing toys everywhere.  My car was so quiet.  I had a very difficult time walking away from that quiet.

I felt pretty shitty.  The guilt was significant.  What kind of mother leaves her babies all day and then isn’t running into the house at the first chance that she gets to see and spend any quality time with them?

This gal.

And, I felt crapilicious about it.

A good mom, I told myself, is thrilled to come home and wrap her arms around her children.  And then I cried.

But, I pulled my shit together and came into the house.  My kids ran up to me and yelled, “Mommy!” and hugged and kissed me.  It felt so good.  But, it didn’t change the fact that I was so tired.  So.  Very.  Tired.

But yet, I played and I cooked and I sang and I rocked and I bathed and I brushed and I read.  It was lovely.  And exhausting after an already long day.

I thought again about how I’d love to split into two so that one of me could go get a massage.

Now, I have a pretty terrific husband who gives me time to do the things I need to do.  I have regular chiropractor appointments and stuff.  But, things would be a heck of a lot cooler with another “me” around, anyway.  And, since I am so lovable and adorable, I am sure my husband would agree that two of “me” would be pretty sweet.

chansaw postBut, I suppose that like money and time, if I had extra “me” around, I would probably just waste it.  That lazy bitch would probably just take naps, eat BBQ Pringles and watch SVU repeats all the damn time, anyway.

Ugh.

I wish someone would have warned me that parenting was going to be this hard.  Spread the word, people:  parenthood makes you think about chainsaws.

This has been a public service announcement sponsored by the marginally insane.  Thanks for listening.

The Weeds Behind Me

fire2

Today, I realized that it’s been lost
Sold and on fire, destroyed like Faust.
I recall seeing signs, blazing, “We will never forget”
But we did.

About everything.

A whole generation knows nothing of ones before.
They choose purposeful ignorance, opt to be whores
For attention.
It is about ME, they imply, not my Great Grandma Finch
Whose first husband died the night he was lynched
In Arkansas. Not Ar-Kan-Sas.

You might wonder why the schools don’t teach
About Booker T. and W.E.B.,
Wounded Knee, Kennedy, Gandhi and philosophies
Of togetherness.

Well, they do.

They teach it, over and over, to deaf ears and blind eyes,
To Orwellian automatons, in self-selected coveralls of
Skinny jeans, 60-dollar tees, an air of sleaze and a set of Beats.
And they cry about harassment, racism, and having to WORK,
Of sexist comments and how GW was a jerk
Without the slightest hint of irony at all for the absolute lack of knowledge and experience they possess.

All they know is Martin Luther King
Once upon a time had a dream.
And they can tell you that the dream was to end racism.

But, they can’t tell you a thing about Coretta, Malcolm, Louis, Rosa, Cesar, Bobby, or others who shared that vision
Except that one of those people sat down one time when she was tired.

They can’t pronounce “Tiananmen” because they’ve never heard of it.
Or “Gorbachev,” “Emmett Till” or even know of South Central before they burned it.

The only “Wall” they’ve lived knowing preceeds “-Mart.”
And it all makes me sad.

Worse yet, we try to teach a generation of kids who not only don’t know that their ancestors swung from trees in Birmingham, burned for the color of their skin,
But, they really don’t care.

This is a generation that wasn’t even old enough to remember the Trade Center collapse,
Let alone Roe v. Wade, Vietnam, or the Day the Music Died.
And, I first chuckled that teens had never heard of Nirvana, John Hughes, the Spice Girls or the Beatles.
Then I realized that this was an intellectual tragedy like I couldn’t dream of.
There was, kids, a world before Dubstep.

Believe it.

I used to write research papers by investigating information found in…BOOKS.
Now, the very suggestion of doing that would bring terribly confused looks
From students who appear to need to be surgically removed from their “smart” phones.
And I wonder when we will finally redefine the word “smart,” then.

They don’t know where they’ve come from and don’t care where they’ve been.
And yet they all think they will earn “big G’s,” drive a Lex and be freed
From the tyranny of their parents and the “system” upon turning 18.
And, they don’t know that when you’re 18, you’re still pretty stupid.

And, so Pat O’Leary hides the wire to his earbuds through his Hollister shirt
Adamantly refusing to read Swift or learn about how his ancestors survived tenement living in NYC
Only to be spat upon, labeled non-white, forever a slave to the New Country’s “dole.”
Because he couldn’t care less about how they paid the toll
For him to even sit in that seat and receive a book today.

Lily Locklear doesn’t even know she’s 3-quarters Crow
But, she’d rather chant in her head, “You don’t know –oh –oh”
“You don’t know you’re beautiful.”
Indeed, she doesn’t, but that is a whole different topic altogether.

And, Marcus knows how to design his own Nikes online and pay a few hundred for them,
But he’s never heard of Stokely Carmichael and he doesn’t own a pencil OR a pen.

Zooey is half Jewish. She thinks. Maybe.
But, she couldn’t tell you what that even means.
Is it a culture? A religion? An identity?
“What’s the difference, anyway,” she wonders as she draws on her hundred dollar jeans
With the same Sharpie she used to draw all over her best friend’s arm while they were supposed to be learning about Quadratic Equations.

And, it is a tragedy.

Not like the Challenger, which I actually remember.
But like that of the American Cheetah,
Which had existed but now is extinct
And our children’s minds, their heritage, their culture, their identities,
Too, are depleting, once having been beautiful, hopeful and strong.

I was not alive to witness Woodstock or Pol Pot; too young to really remember when AIDS first made the world stop.

But, I learned about them.  And, I grew.

And, now I say, “I, too, sing America,”
But the trail I leave behind me is growing thick with weeds and ugly from neglect
And, I can’t convince many 14-year olds to sing with me anymore.

 

I lost my Parent Manual

Blue.

Fire Engine.

Hiccups.

Golf tees.

Balloons.

Giant giraffes eating grass in the windy fields.

Bananas.

Yellow lillies.

Craptacular.

This is what happens when my mind wanders.

Did you ever do this exercise?  You just completely refuse to censor yourself and allow whatever gobbledegook that wants to come out, come out.  I ain’t no Hemingway, that’s for sure.  When my mind wanders I don’t get “Hills Like White Elephants.”  I get golf tees and bananas.

All of our babies can be gifted, it appears...

All of our babies can be gifted, it appears…

So, I wonder what are the signs of an extraordinary mind?  How do you tell if you’re truly gifted?  Better yet, how do you tell if your kid is?

As a teacher, I have a very clear and thorough answer to that question.  I have worked with “Gifted and Talented” students for a large percentage of my educational career.  I can spot a truly academically gifted child from a mile away.

But, that’s not really what I am talking about here.

I have known perfectly average kids who have gone on to achieve true greatness in their chosen fields:  biomedicine, law, communications, science (actually, I say “science” because I don’t even understand what this one kid does.  He works for the government doing something with aerospace engineering.  It is way too smart for me to get).  I have also known students who were labeled as “Gifted,” but went on to live in their parents’ basements or work in jobs that don’t even require high school diplomas.

So, when you are raising a little one, how do you know how to recognize talents, how do you determine what is the best way to harness those talents and how do you go about encouraging growth without pushing your kid to become a toddler with a tiara or a mini-Tonya-Harding crazed on winning at all costs?

Well, I don’t actually know.

This is not your mamma’s advice column.

I am just like you:  someone a little lost, fumbling through life in the most graceful way possible (which often is very clumsy, indeed).

One day, though, I suspect we both would like to look back and believe that we did a really great job of raising some really great kids.

But, when your 4-year old seems to gravitate toward, have a genuine interest in and be weirdly good at golf, video games, reading, baseball, painting, writing, and building things (and he appears to be adept at picking up on foreign languages, exhibits kindness and compassion that is not typical for a child so young, is naturally organized, has a freakishly good long- and short-term memory, and has a spoken vocabulary that puts kids twice his age to shame), what are you supposed to do?  Do I try to help him focus and perfect one or a few of those talents?  Do I let him decide first where his joy is most commonly found?  Do I sit back and let this all play out the way he would like it to?  Do I offer enrichment in any of those activities?  Which ones?  And, do I try to have him work on areas where he doesn’t excel so naturally just to help him become more well-rounded?

Yup.

Yup.

Ugh.  There is a whole lot to this parenting stuff.

I, again, was not properly prepared.  I really do want to know where the Parent Manual is.

I am very interested to hear all of your thoughts.  It would be especially nice to hear from more veteran parents regarding how  you assess and foster your children’s talents and skills.

Please comment.  We could all use the advice, I suspect!

Every parent out there wants to make sure that the job gets done right.

Or, well, you know, right enough.

I think we can all agree that we just don’t want to end up with this:

lohan

Or this:

children

Or this:

rush

Agreed?

 

Coulda Done Without…

Tell me, friends:  who among us cannot appreciate the beauty in the little things in life?

Ah, the beauty of the world around us.  Some days I just can't fucking find it.

Ah, the beauty of the world around us. Some days I just can’t fucking find it

I can’t.

Sometimes even the voices in my own head are of people I’d like to punch in the trachea.

The past two days have been days like that.  I have felt a permanent snarl on my face.  It isn’t iconic like Billy Idol’s or quirky like Elvis’ or cute like a puppy’s.  It is the physical manifestation of disappointment in the human race.  It is the muscular byproduct of my involvement in a culture of stupidity.

Let’s explore some things that are wacky, ridiculous, senseless or just generically aggravating for thinking people.

Strange Days, indeed

Strange Days, indeed

1.  Television.  I have before chronicled my irritation with some modern-day children’s programming.  What has happened?  Where are the Snorks?  Can I get some Great Space Coaster up in here?  I miss my Electric Company.  I feel sorry for kids today who will never learn who is “bouncing here and there and everywhere,” with “high adventure that’s beyond compare.”

2.  Modern technology and inventions.  Now, I am not going to bitch about kids who try sexting, or about the problems with Windows 8.  I am going to complain about the inventions of items such as antenna balls, the Snuggie, the ShamWow, The Shake Weight, the Flowbee, the KFC “Double Down,” and the laser disc.  Where are we going, world?  I don’t want to know what is next up for a world that has invented the wearable DVD player, “Two Broke Girls,” and those little decorative pieces of junk that you cram in the holes of your equally stupid Crocs.

3.  Baby Names from Mars.  What are some of you thinking?  Now, I am really sorry if you are the proud mother of an Orangejello, Nevaeh, Q’Daunteus, Le-A, Yummalewis, Princess, Rambo, Angelbaby, Cha Cha, Kredonshea, Sugar, Zither or Falopiana.  Actually, I am sorrier for your kids.

4.  Prissy Drinkers.  When I was in college, I was repeatedly annoyed by girls who would go to frat parties and not be willing to drink beer.  “I don’t liiiiiike beer,” they’d twirl their hair and whine.  Really, assclown?  You came to a FRAT PARTY.  Oh, yes, Sweet Cheeks, let me get you a Pomegranate Cosmo.  You’re 19.  Drink Schlitz with the rest of the crew.  And, get your hands on that barrel and your feet in the air and be fun, dammit.

5.  The Discriminatory Childless.  Everyone’s an expert, right?  There is no shortage of people out there who have no children of their own, but who will roll eyes, scoff, or even offer unwelcome advice about you and your kids.  Now, I used to be one of the Discriminatory Childless.  And, then I had two kids.  And, now I am sorry to that mother I yelled at at Wal-Mart that one time.

Tell that to the perky-perks.

Tell that to the perky-perks.

6.  The Habitually Optimistic.  I am a grump by nature.  It is just who I am.  My husband asks me all the time “what’s wrong” or mentions, sweetly of course, that I “look miserable.”  Most of the time I am not what I would say is “miserable.”  But, I am adorably misanthropic.  Well, at least that is how I like to think of myself.  But nothing makes me grumpier than when I am faced with a perky, doe-eyed happy-cat.  You know the type.  Ever see “Office Space?”  I think about “Accounts Payable, Nina Speaking…JUST a moment!” repeated enough times to make me want to vomit all over her rainbow-colored world.

Feel free to share with me the things you could do without in this world.  Grump with me.  Try it.  First one’s free.

 

I don’t care how your vagina looks

Why is the Brazilian Bikini Wax even a thing?

I mean, honestly, why is it sexy to leaf through Playboy and ogle women who are adults from the belly-button up, but are 9-year olds from the shorn labia down?

I suppose I understand the arguments one might make about staying appropriately groomed for swimwear and…well…that’s actually the only argument I can think I might understand.  But, I am a little wierded out by the long-running trend that glorifies having a stranger toss your ankles in the air, stick her face near your C-U-Next-Tuesday, and forcibly tear out your pubic hair by the root en masse.

What is the male equivalent of this phenomena?  What do our gentlemen friends have to do stay sexy?  Um, get a job?  Not wear Wife-beaters?  Take out the garbage?  Kill spiders?  Steer clear of Crocs, skinny jeans, and pleated khakis?

And, pray tell, why are we as a society — a WORLD society — so preoccupied with private orifices?

For example…

–How did Vaginal Rejuvenation surgery come to be?  After children, no woman’s lady parts look like blossoming lotus flowers anymore.  That’s life.  Whatevs.

–Who invented Anal Bleaching?  Has anyone ever seen an anus that needed to be bleached?  I don’t understand.  Is it…um…dirty…so the process is like bleaching your kid’s socks after he played flag football in the yard without shoes, or is it a skin color issue and a matter of the monstrous impact of white-normed culture that is the culprit here?

–Did you know that you can get your hymen restitched?  In some parts of the world, it is critical that a woman be a virgin upon marriage.  So, in case you said “fuck you” to that tradition and now have some Buyer’s Remorse, or if you accidentally jogged and opened your hymen (as is the case, apparently for most women — hymens split through natural means), you can recreate the illusion of childhood-fresh vagina-dom with Hymen Repair surgery.  Wow.

–If you don’t like how large, small, or misshapen your clitoris is, you can change that, too, through specialized plastic surgery.  Now, really.  I understand women who have suffered through Female Genital Mutilation, but I wonder how many people, statistically, have this surgery for vanity’s sake.  I don’t mean to judge, but I actually wonder why our society puts so much pressure on appearance that women feel the need to adjust this (normally) hidden part of their bodies.

–Men aren’t totally immune to this, either, though their options are more limited and the number of men who partake is grossly smaller.  There are numerous schemes, pills, devices, surgeries and home remedies to help men enlarge their penises, though.  (Is that correct?  penises?  Might it be peni?  I have never had much use for plural penises [hee hee — that’s what she said]).  There are also options for men who want to tighten their ball skin to reduce sag and options for men to be circumcised as adults.  Ouch.  While the former may be for vanity (but may more often be to improve sexual function or prowess) the latter, I assume, is more often performed for medical reasons to relieve discomfort.  These are not just to make them more attractive.

Look:  I believe in freedom.  Have yourselves waxed, dyed, plucked, primped, tanned, pedicured, shaved, implanted, lifted, Botoxed, reshaped, liposucked, dieted, styled and glossed if, when, and how you want.

But, don’t be surprised when the phenomena into which you fall becomes the topic of a post from your friendly neighborhood blogger as she rants about cultural obsessions with human undercarriage.

All I wonder is this:  have we gone too far?

At what point will humankind ever just be satisfied with things as they are?  At what point will people begin to accept one another?  When might we begin to see and celebrate uniqueness instead of trying to rip, tear, pluck and reconstruct into some weirdly agreed-upon ideal?  When do we start to love and accept one another BECAUSE of, not IN SPITE of our differences?

I imagine that will happen…um…never.

I blame video games.  And gun violence.  And Global Warming.  And President Bush.  Either one.  It doesn’t really matter.

What say you?  Feel like dabbling in some anal bleaching or hymen reconstruction yourself?  Want to recommend ball tightening to someone?  Ever seen a clitoris that really needed a makeover?  I would love to know about the circumstances.  I am all ears (actually, if I were, in fact, ALL ears, would I have to get plastic surgery on them to be pretty?).

I look forward to your comments.

 

The long, winding path to our family

The December series on fertility issues is, of course, over now.  However, we received this guest-post the other day and felt that it was important to include as well.  Many ODM readers may find this story touching, relevant and hopeful.

Many thanks to guest-poster, JD, for the submission!

We knew we were going to start a family after a year of being married.  We decided to travel to St. Lucia for our one year anniversary and for our two year anniversary we would have our first child.  Next thing we knew, two more years passed, many more destinations were traveled and still we hadn’t gotten pregnant.

We had been trying to get pregnant on our own for about a year when a friend of mine suggested my husband and I should see a fertility specialist and stop wasting time.  I hesitated on seeing a specialist because it’s admitting that there is something wrong and we will end up being that percentage of people that can’t plan when they want to conceive, or better yet, get pregnant when they aren’t even trying and don’t even want the baby (but we’ll get into that later).

At first it was exciting to being getting all the tests and appointments.  Every time they would tell me what test I had to get done, I would think that this was the one that would finally work.  The first was the test where they blow your tubes out with air to make sure they are opened.  I was told it would be uncomfortable with mild cramping, so I was prepared with my two Advil.  That was a crock of shit because I almost passed out when they were done and everything was already cleared! We tried on our own after that hoping it had worked, but after all the temperature-taking and pissing on sticks, still– nothing.  After two months of Clomid along with IUI with no results, we finally opted for the laparoscopic surgery to see if there is anything inside that is not seen.  There was only a little bit of endometriosis that was found and scraped out.  Even though the doctor told me there wasn’t enough to make a difference with fertility, I was still hopeful that it was enough.  But unfortunately, my hopes were shot down once again.

Besides not knowing if you will ever be able to have kids, the worst part is the emotional roller coaster each month.  I began to wonder what I did wrong and why this is happening to me.  You hear of this stuff happening to others and you always feel bad for them and talk about how hard of a situation it must be for them to deal with, but never do you think it’ll be you.  We didn’t want to tell our family what we were going through as they would want to keep asking for updates.  Others that haven’t gone through this don’t realize how insensitive and hurtful it can be to constantly ask.

Our next step was to continue IUI for 4 months but this time we had to begin hormone injections instead of Clomid.  Of course, insurance covers none of these treatments, so we started having to pull out the plastic and start watching our spending. This brings up a good topic: why insurance won’t cover something that will help someone who would be a good parent and can afford to raise children when it’s outside of my ability.  It’s not my fault that I can’t get pregnant, but others that receive welfare for their children do have the ability to not have kids could keep their fucking legs closed! I hate to get political, but why should I give money from my paycheck to help those that aren’t good parents and keep having kids “by accident” to receive more federal money when there is no one there helping me pay for my fertility treatments?  Why am I penalized for making too much money and having a uterus that is the black widow?  It doesn’t seem fair, but that’s life I guess….

After giving myself shots in the stomach each night for about 13 days, my husband would come to the office at 7 am to watch his porn and do his business in a cup. I would then come in a few hours later to have his washed sperm shot into my uterus hoping it would find those few mature eggs.  But of course, after 4 months of this, no baby!!  Our doctor then advised us to start looking into IVF with this being an unexplained infertility.  We set our consult appointment for a clinic in Maryland and compiled our list of questions with cost being at the top of the list.  We decided to pay more money for their Shared Risk plan which gives you 100% of the money you paid back if you don’t have a baby after six tries.

So I began doing 2-3 shots in my stomach each night for about two weeks in hopes our first shot at IVF would work.  The shots are painful but I kept telling myself it was temporary.  After constant ultrasounds, the last thing I want to do is have sex!  What’s the point?  You have doctors doing this for you.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if we didn’t have to drive to Maryland 5 times during this cycle, but again, just kept hoping it would work and we wouldn’t have to do this anymore.  They ended up taking 15 mature eggs and out of that only two were of the quality we needed.  We implanted one embryo and were able to freeze the other for a later time.

Luckily, I found out that our one embryo took and I’m pregnant!!  I formed OHSS due to all the medications I was taking which has been miserable.  My ovaries are enormous and my stomach got so big after only 4 weeks of being pregnant that I looked like I was 5 months pregnant!  It’s been painful, but now that I’m eight weeks pregnant the pain has subsided a little.  I still have to take Estrace and Endometrin which isn’t fun, but I have only two more weeks and then I can start enjoying the journey of pregnancy.

From all of this, I have realized that you have to have faith that there is a master plan and everything will work itself out.  You may not realize it now but someday you will look back and realize whatever is meant to be, will be (with a little help and a lot of money!)  At times you feel alone and like it’ll never end but it eventually does.  At the end of the day, it’s not the worst thing that could happen to you.  Give it time (and again, lots of money) and your dreams will eventually come true!

Heartbroken

GUEST POST BY

INFERTILITY CHICK

from Infertility Journal

My husband and I have been trying for 5 years.

The journey started with what we thought was going to be an accidental pregnancy.   All the symptoms were there. Everyone looked at me and said you must be pregnant…

On Christmas eve when my period was late by about 7 days, I took a test and almost like a time clock I started bleeding. I was in great physical pain, (not that unusual for me as I have PCOS) but the emotional pain was unbearable. That moment when I started bleeding I remember sinking onto the tile of the bathroom floor and crying until I couldn’t breathe.

My husband and I then realized that we were ready.  We wanted to start trying to have a family. We made plans; we came up with names for the children we prayed for. We even created a timeline. We agreed that if my husband turned 30 we would stop trying to have children as we did not want to be old parents.

Well, that came and went and here we are.

After the first false alarm the symptoms of pregnancy seemed to toy with me and my emotions. I have gone through so many wasted tests and painful doctor’s appointments I have lost count. The worst part is our journal is rounding year 5 and the pain has only gotten worse with every minute, hour, day, week and year. I cannot begin to describe the pain that I personally feel. We have talked to our family doctor about the options and sadly we do not have many. We are not in the financial position to pay for IVF or any other experimental treatment and, well, now that my husband has lost his eyesight and is on disability we do not have insurance for anything else.

I know there is more to say but I just cannot bring myself to think about all of the details. No one can ever truly understand the feeling like you’re dying from the inside out because you are heartbroken every second of the day.

Alternative Infertility

GUEST POST BY

MEREDITH BLAND

from PILE OF BABIES

I have never been into alternative medicine: I like vaccines, ibuprofen, and surgical options. When I hear people talk about the benefits of using Chia seeds in their food, I think that they are wasting what could be a perfectly good Chia pet. I believe that colonic enemas are NO THANK YOU VERY MUCH, rather than “cleansing.” So it is super odd that when my husband and I were being treated by a reproductive endocrinologist for our infertility, I tried some alternative medicine treatments as well.

We had been diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” which is the medical community’s way of saying, “Uh…the fuck if we know.” We started out with the usual medical treatments: three IUIs with Femara, which didn’t work. Then we moved on to an IUI with injectible drugs, and I ended up with somewhere in the range of 5000 mature follicles, so that got cancelled. At that point, our doctor recommended moving on to IVF. So we did. And then that didn’t work, either.

My husband and I were exhausted by then. All of the money, all of the time, all of the shots in my ass…we had enough. We decided to take a break for a few months. You know the saying, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop?” Well, so is an idle uterus when you are dealing with infertility. Instead of using the time off to relax, refocus, and recharge, I got re-crazy. I started looking into all of my options, and researching anything that might help. I wanted to try it all. I didn’t want to miss the chance to be the person who later said, “You won’t believe it, but Mongolian Throat Singing is what did it for us!” I could be the one for whom that last ditch effort, that one silly thing, was what made all the difference.

And so, I took the Cuckoo Express to Crazy Town.

Here are the stations I visited along the way.

1. Acupuncture

Okay, so acupuncture isn’t full-blown crazy. Lots of people do it and have great results. But…sticking needles in my head to open up my uterus? I just don’t know that I can travel that road with you, my friend. I did at the time, though! I was all, “yes, the needle in my big toe will open up my blockages, and improve my blood flow, and stimulate my chakras,” or whatever the fuck. I can’t say I loved it – I have never been a huge fan of needles, and I always had these nightmares that I was going to roll off the table face down with a face full of needles. How do you think Pinhead from the Hellraiser movies got that way? The man had poor motility and sperm production. And his wife talked him into acupuncture. And then he fell and got a face full of needles. I’d be pissed, too.

There is a lot of research out there supporting the use of acupuncture during IVF. I will also say that I enjoyed my sessions – there’s something about being stuck full of needles in a dark room with soft music playing that is very relaxing…relaxing in a “well, I guess this is how I die” kind of way. And it didn’t work for me, but I might do it again. But probably not.

2. Uterine Massage

Uh-huh. NOW we’re starting to sound a little nuts, right? Right.

The place where I got my fertility acupuncture also had a massage therapist. I love me a massage, so when the acupuncture team recommended I get some sessions with her, I said, “Here’s my wallet! Sign me up!” Turns out, this massage therapist focused on the uterus – in particular, freeing your uterus from fear.

I could not possibly be shitting you about this.

I would lie down on the table, and she would go to work, kneading my stomach like a happy cat. Then she would start to go deeper, and I would start to cry. She told me it was alright to cry, because I was probably releasing some deep feelings about my previous miscarriages. I agreed that it was alright to cry, but that I would probably stop if she removed her thumb from my fallopian tube. That shit HURT, y’all! I mean, holy hell! After 3 or 4 sessions, I started to “forget” to reschedule with her. I was terrified that my poor, mangled uterus was going to have a fight-or-flight response the next time her hands got near me and would either try to crawl out through my belly button, or send out both fallopian tubes to deliver a one-two punch to her well-meaning face.

So, that didn’t go well. The employees there recommended I try one more thing to clean me out and prepare me for me frozen IVF cycle. And that was…

3. Vaginal Steam Bath

I know.

I’ll give you a minute to re-arrange your face, which I am sure is twisted in disgust right now.

Ok. Let’s talk this through.

I don’t know how to defend myself on this one, you guys. I have to plead “temporary insanity.” Towards the end of my treatments with the acupuncturist, they recommended I try to cleanse myself with a vaginal steam bath. At first, I was deeply offended.Then I remembered that they had not been putting any needles in my business area – thank christ – so I probably shouldn’t take it personally.

I was instructed to sit in a chair that had some kind of weaving in the seat – like a steamer basket for my cootch – and to boil this bag of stuff and then stick a pot of it under me and lay a towel over my lap to keep in the steam. I don’t know what kind of hippie nonsense was in the bag, but it looked like either tea from the clearance rack at the supermarket (you know, the stuff that they put in a grocery cart at the back of the store, next to the toilets), or dirty gerbil bedding. It definitely smelled like the latter.

Since I am an idiot with a highly tuned sense of self-preservation, I decided to wait to steam my vagina for a time when my husband wasn’t going to be home. One night, he called to say he was going to be working late, and I pounced on the chance. I immediately ran into a problem – I had no chairs with holes in the seats. How was I going to get the steam into my beaver pond?! I did some quick problem-solving, and decided to put the pot in the bathtub and then squat over it with a towel over my lower body.

And I did it. God help me, I did it. And what was the result? A swampy crotch, and a house that smelled like no smell I had heretofore encountered. I dumped the stuff down the sink and opened the windows, trying to air the place out before my husband came home. It didn’t work. When he got home, he said hi to me, walked about five feet into the house, and asked, “What smells like death?”

“Oh,” I said, “I tried a new recipe and it did NOT work out.”

“What was in it?! Whiskey and roadkill?!”

“Something like that…”

So, the vaginal steam bath didn’t work, but our frozen IVF cycle did! We ended up pregnant with our awesome, exhausting twins. It was worth every minute of stress, sadness, needles, and uterine manhandling to get them. I don’t regret trying alternative medicine – I would have wondered about it if I hadn’t gotten pregnant and never tried it. And while it didn’t work for me, I am not discounting the whole field. Worst case scenario, you get a relaxing acupuncture treatment and a fearless uterus. If someone asks you to steam-clean your vagina, however, make sure you ask if they have any lavender-scented gerbil bedding. The “classic” scent is no good.

Meredith Bland blogs at Pile of Babies and writes humor essays for other websites. Read all of her nonsense at http://www.pileofbabies.com.

Sentimental and introspective (just for now)

I kind of want to learn conversational Spanish.  And Sign Language.  Just because I feel as though these things might make me more interesting.

I’d also like to say that I’ve been skydiving, though I am not sure I actually want to go skydiving.  And, I would really like to get my PhD. and learn how to drive stick.

Someday, I want to visit Greece.  And, I would like to have an idea of mine patented.

I want to learn to tap dance.

Tell 'em, Red.

Tell ’em, Red.

Some days I am afraid that I am living a bit of a hollow existence.  Now, being a wife, mother, teacher, friend, daughter, neighbor, doggy mamma and spectacular driver are all really great and all.  But, if I were on my death bed right at this moment, I don’t know if I’d feel satisfied that I’d led a life well-lived.  I don’t know if my life is interesting.

Now, people with attitude problems all over the place might get all pissy and leave comments about how a real mom would be satisfied simply with her role as a mother.  It is the most important job in the world.  Blah.  Blah.  Blah.

It is important.  I am thankful every day for the gifts I have been given.  My children are amazing.  And probably awesomer than your kids, anyway.

But, every once in a while I wonder which of my dreams I am letting die because I am watching America’s Next Top Model instead of learning expert knife skills at the local culinary institute.  I have a bucket list.  That bucket list itself is dying.  I am getting too old to learn how to surf now.  And, I think every so often about how many more things will simply never get crossed off of that list because I can’t leave my house since my kids are sleeping upstairs.  And, toddlers aren’t welcome at Knife Class.

I know that the simple answer to all of this is just to get off my ass and start crossing things off of that list.  But, as any responsible parent and working adult will tell you, doing things that are just for YOU isn’t something that happens too often for many of us.  I am certainly not deprived.  And, I have a good life, but I still haven’t ever tried a ridiculously expensive glass of wine or run a 5K.  No.  Really.  RUN.  The whole way.  And, that makes me just a little sad.

You Shaw it here first, people.

You Shaw it here first, people.

I wish I could go back and tell the younger me to live it up a little more.  Everyone tells you to be so responsible, save your money, get a good job, buy a home, settle down.  But, not enough people tell you to have fun, get drunk, laugh, make a memory, take a funny picture of a friend at the base of the Eiffel Tower at 3 AM, sleep in, and own your stupid 2-seater dream car before you have to become an exhausted, minivan-driving, in-bed-at-10:00 grown-up.

As I sit today on the eve of the beginning of Off Duty Mom’s series on fertility issues we’re featuring via Guest Bloggers this month, I realize the seeming hypocrisy of it all.  I blog and crab and complain about how tough it is to be a parent.  Yet, I sat in doctor’s offices for YEARS where I cried and blamed God and cursed and puked because I was incapable of carrying a baby to term.  And now, I have brought two amazing young angels into the world.  And I still cry and whine and curse.  And I blubber about how I wish someone would give me the time to travel to Scotland or learn how to skateboard.

Nevertheless, I realize that we all feel as though we’re missing something sometimes.  We all wonder if life would just be better IF

And, at the end of the day we all have something that we take for granted, but that someone else is wishing and hoping to have.

Starting tomorrow, we will publish our first in the series of guest posts about issues of pregnancy, adoption, fertility and miscarriage.  Some of the posts are funny.  Some are heartbreaking.  Some are touching.  Some are uplifting.  I encourage you to check back often throughout December to read all of the posts.

Then, in January, I will stop being introspective, sappy, thoughtful and melancholy.  Off Duty Mom will return to tackle important issues such as the classical philosophy of Handy Manny, bathtub turds,  toddler beauty pageants, gray hairs, and public drunkenness.

Tune in tomorrow, though, for our very first (and very funny) installment in our December series from Pile of Babies author, Meredith Bland.

To be (myself) or not to be (and bake cookies from scratch insead)

Since becoming a mother, I have grown.

I mean, I haven’t grown UP, per se, nor have I really become a better person, truthfully.  But, I have learned a thing or two about a thing or two.

Several months ago, I came to terms with the kind of mother I really was, regardless of the kind of mother I might hope or wish to be.  And in the time since, I have found great humor in re-learning over and over (sometimes the hard way) who I really was.

Totally.

However, I find myself still wondering how to reconcile who I am versus who I think the world wants all of us moms to be.

Before having kids, I worried that I would make a lousy mother because I never really liked to play in the yard, get dirty, crawl on the floor, make baby talk, design handprint turkey paintings or use Play Doh.

It turns out that I still don’t like any of those things.  I mean, have you ever SMELLED Play Doh?  Jesus.

But, I really feel as though I will rock at tailgating for varsity football games, hosting sleepovers, chaperoning dances and giving advice to wayward teenagers whose own moms aren’t cool enough to tell about experiments with Zima and Jolly Ranchers or about brewing girl feuds on Instagram.

I don’t know why the Universe didn’t just allow me to give birth to 14-year olds.  I don’t know what to do with my children until that point.  Right now they are running around the room using a remote control and an old telephone to “zap” one another in some sort of faux galactic war.  I don’t really know how to take part in this.  But, they seem fine without me taking part in it at all.  Some piece of my heart, though, tells me that I am supposed to pick up that hairbrush over there, tell them that it is the ultimate celestial laser launch rocket that was invented to destroy the galactic war once and for all, run after my tiny fighting space pirates, and declare my interstellar victory as we all fall, laughing, into a pile of pillows and stuffed bears.  I could pretend, but in the end, this is just not who I am at my core.

So, I wonder if I am supposed to fake it.  Or if I am supposed to just go ahead and be me.  I want to be the awesome fun mom who dresses in a superhero cape or mentions building a snowman before the kids do.  But, I wonder if this is contrary to what I have been teaching my children about how to be honest about themselves.

IS this really what most be “above all” else?

The lessons I teach my children about being true to themselves, I believe, is one of the most critical lessons I can give them.  Am I supposed to follow my own advice or do a “better” job at being “better” with kids?  And, what does that really mean, anyway?

I know that no matter what I do, my children will eventually end up blaming me for something in some therapy session years down the road.  That’s what we all end up doing, anyway, right?  But, I would like to think that I did everything I could to send the right messages, be the right example and provide the best childhood for them that I could.

That’s a Wilde thought for ya.

Until then, I am going to go find my youngest kid some rainboots so that we can all go for a walk and splash in puddles.  I will probably whine on the inside that I am cold and dirty and cranky.  But, the kids will have smiles.  And, tomorrow, I can figure out whether I need to learn how to make Christmas ornaments out of pipe cleaners and Cheerios or not.

Last call, y’all

Tomorrow is the deadline to submit a post for our December fertility series.

Please remember that you may remain anonymous if you wish, but these stories-your stories- are important to tell. So many of us have been through struggles with infertility, miscarriage, pregnancy illnesses, birth issues, testing, sterility and a host if other issues related to the process of conception.

I am still hoping to add a few more stories to this series. It would be particularly important to hear from those of you still in this fight, and/or from the men impacted by these issues since these stories are less common to read about. Many of us don’t speak up until after we’ve found peace. Many men don’t talk about their roles in these fights at all, but for men these battles are no less painful to endure.

Please share your thoughts.

Send us a message through our Facebook page or via the Guest Posting page here.

Happy holidays. Thanks for considering working with us!

Bad Grammar, Sluts and the Undead

As a teacher and a mom, I wonder sometimes.

I wonder (and worry) about the future of my community, of my country and of humanity.

Every time I make even the smallest decision relating to my child, I worry about the impact that decision will have on his growth and how that decision might lead him to success or, ultimately, into eventual therapy one day.  Is there too much refined sugar in his lunch for today?  Should I let him watch Caillou when I know it will just teach him how to whine better?  If he refuses to eat dinner, how should I handle that?

We are all bombarded each day with a cacophony of critical moments — one after another.  Robert Frost never warned us that there’d be so many roads to choose.  I’d give my eye teeth for the opportunity to choose between just two paths in one day.

I find myself in a constant state of questioning how I am helping to make an impact on future generations, and how I – as just one person – can forever make a positive dent in the seamless shell of human time.

Even with being as introspective as I am, and working with young people everyday, I am consistently shocked to hear about how my finger is absolutely NOT on the pulse of youth culture and (subsequently) the promise of tomorrow.

…and Abraham Lincoln, William Shakespeare and Plato all simultaneously rolled over in their graves.

If you are over the age of 25 and do not work with or regularly have contact with kids ages 12-18, please let me enlighten/terrify you with the following:

1.  We are raising a nation of illiterate jackasses.  Not only can people born after 2Pac died not write a sentence that makes any kind of coherent sense whatsoever, they (and just wait until you learn this) CANNOT READ HANDWRITING.  If I teach a lesson to 10th grade students, I must write on the board using only printed, block letters.  Otherwise, moans and groans will erupt, followed with complaints of “I can’t read cursive!”  I blame an over-eager generation of text-o-philes for this phenomenon.  And, it sucks.  Kids today can only process typed language.  Many 16-year olds I know do not know how to sign their own names.  If asked for a signature, they print instead.

2.  This is really showing my age, but for people who are too young to remember the Challenger explosion, some weird social convention has come about.  Everyone turned into a big bag of whores after Generation “X” got real jobs.

I was at a party in 1999 where a wet t-shirt contest was taking place.  The final “contestant” to be revealed were actually two 19-ish year-old women who got water poured all over them while they stood in their thong underwear and white tees making out with one another.  They won the contest.  But, I remember wondering (and, I was completely shit-faced, too, mind you, but I don’t ever recall being drunk enough to think that this was a good idea): what would possess young women to degrade themselves for the gratification of young men?  I’ve never been a complete feminist per se, but come on, people.  I was only slightly older than 19 at this time, but the times they were clearly a-changin’.  Have you been to a dance club recently?  If not, just stay the hell home.  It’s gross.  And loud.  Chris Rock once joked that a dad’s only job in life is to keep his daughter “off the pole.”  If you have been out of your house to witness the under-24 set lately, you may have found already that deciphering between who sucks up dollar bills with her ass cheeks for a living and who is on her way to Philosophy 101 at the local community college is tough since they look an awful lot alike.

3.  Technology is a way of life now.  Isaac Asimov tried to warn us about the rise of the machines, but the damn kids these days seem to be welcoming it all in.  My child could use an iPad before he could pour himself a glass of juice.  At the time, I thought that I was just allowing him to be immersed in educational experiences.  But, I realize now that he’s likely sitting back and secretly plotting my demise.

Watch your backs, old timers.

Kids view technology as essential for life now.  Many adults I know cannot be separated from their smartphones, but the whipper-snappers these days very literally cannot function without electronics.  As a teacher, I cannot remember the last time I saw a teenager do even simple addition without a calculator or cell phone.  Well over 90% of my students show up to school every day without a pen or pencil.  It isn’t that these are bad kids, either.  They just don’t typically USE these items in their daily lives.

And, now I have come to realize that kids know that we don’t understand C++ coding techniques and Java Script, I realize that these illiterate sex fiends are poised to be the only survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse (which, for some reason, every 14-year old INSISTS is imminent).

I wonder sometimes about whether I am just becoming old, senile and out of touch with the changing landscape of human society or if that very human society is disintegrating into a wasteland fed by cell phone radiation, whipits and ramen noodles.  Either way, I fear I am pretty screwed.

So, adults, beware.  I have spoken with the future of this country.  And, they are prepared for zombie war and careers as fluffers, but not for writing thank-you notes to their grandmas.
Sleep well.

Happiness, Snark and the “F” Word

I have spent about a decade and a half as a real, honest-to-goodness, working adult.  In that time, I have stayed in the same general field of education, but have worked in four very different positions in two very different school systems.

And I have complained about every job I have had.

And, of course, at a certain point, I do have to ask whether it is the job that sucks or whether it just might be me.

It is an awfully shitty moment when, as a grown-up, you realize that it isn’t everyone and everything else out there that needs to be fixed.  All the jobs in all the world can’t be awful.  Maybe it ain’t the JOBS that are the problem.

Crud.

So, what does one do when one is punched in the throat with the hot, sloppy mitts of Reality?

If “one” is “me,” then “one” makes inappropriate jokes, becomes sarcastic to a fault and hides behind the thin veil of snark and other condescention.

I don’t know about you, but I use humor as a defense mechanism.  The problem with this is that everyone just thinks, then, that I am a snotty bitch.  I, however, think that I am hilarious.  I think I know how Joan Rivers must feel.  If she can feel anything with all that plastic shit in her face.

 
See?  There I go again.

And, so I am left with trying to figure out a better coping skill here.  Throwing around ill-crafted jokery and f-bombs isn’t, in the end, really making me feel that much better.

I take that back.  It does make me feel better.  Plenty better, really.

But, it doesn’t make me HAPPY.  And, I wonder what happiness IS, even.  Not that I’ve never felt it, but I don’t know that I understand it in the way someone like John Stuart Mill or Martin Heidegger would have.

By the way, I am sure that my 200-level philosophy professor will come across this blog post one day and totally take back that “D” he gave me in 1996 because I referenced two dead guys above that I am sure he talked about in class.  Or something.  I don’t know.  I was probably hung over.

Anywho, I am now on the hunt.  I am in search of an explanation as to why I can’t settle my ass into a job, stay put for more than a handful of years, stop complaining about it, eventually retire and move to Tahiti already.  I constantly feel unsettled.  I feel as though I need to “find myself.”  Whatever the crap that means.  I question everyday what I am supposed to do with my life.  Then I make a lame joke about it all.

So, if you are working in a field or at a place that is just amazeballs, I would love to hear about it.  And, hear about when they’ll be interested in hiring a quirky misanthropic wannabe writer.  If you identify with feeling a little lost (despite being all grown up and being of an age when you are totally supposed to have your shit all figured out), let me know I am not alone.

In the mean time, I think there are some bad drivers I haven’t flicked off yet today, so I better hop to it.

It won’t always be this way

In high school, they make you take health classes where they explain to you that you should just hold hands with your studly quarterback boyfriend because if y’all get naked and even think about doing the hibity-jibity, you will most certainly get pregnant and have babies and you’ll never get voted to be Prom Queen in a maternity gown from “Hoebags-R-Us.”

All of the scientific evidence, they say, leads us logically to conclude that even dry-humping might let an accidental sperm swim his little flagella-wiggling ass off on its desperate course to your eager-to-breed uterus.

Then, you become a responsible adult who actually wants to start a family and you quickly learn that it ain’t as easy to make a baby as it was always supposed to be.

Of course, there is no lack of irresponsible young people all over the damn place procreating and creating unplanned pregnancies in droves. That makes things worse as you might then wonder why the FUCK God, Zeus, Shiva, Jupiter or whoever is in charge of the universe would choose to entrust a 17-year old heroin addict with a tiny, precious human life and would opt to keep a loving, reliable, financially stable and healthy couple from starting a family.

Infertility blows chunks. And, according to the CDC, 6.7 MILLION women aged 15-44 suffer from impaired fertility in the US. That’s just a little more than 10% of the female population of this country. That’s a whole lot of blown chunks.

Incidentally, men contribute to infertility issues as well, with about 30% of reported cases of infertility being caused by male deficiencies, says Canadian group, CGICM. Overall, too, causes of fertility are completely unknown or unexplainable in about a quarter of all cases. That means one in four couples will not ever know why it is that, after repeated trying, measuring Basal body temps, predicting ovulation and doin’ it every other day like it’s a job, they STILL cannot get pregnant.

And those responsible, adult, stable couples who try so long to get pregnant doing all of the right things and by reducing their love lives to a regulated, charted chore of boot-knockin’ will ultimately have at least one friend who advocates heartily for good, Catholic family planning methodology that entails regular prayer and then shagging during the appropriate times of the month. To make matters worse, those motherfuckers will be on kid #4 while you sit in a waiting room hoping to get a prescription of Clomid and a super-fun test involving uterine scraping.

Infertility (which sounds to me like its definition must mean that someone is absolutely incapable of producing offspring,) is, by definition, what you are if you have “tried” for a year and weren’t magically graced with a little pea in your pod. If, in that time, you have been using no prophylaxes and haven’t miraculously put a bun in the oven, you are supposed to discuss your sexual history and habits, and your husband’s choice of underwear with your doctor. You may be infertile if you’re doing everything right and can’t make a baby. Really? Thanks, WebMD. Go fuck yourself.

Infertility occurs, then, when you are having an obstacle to getting pregnant. It doesn’t mean you’re barren. But you might be! Again, WebMD: you’re a bitch.

Then, even if you are able to get pregnant after you’ve been poked and prodded and made into a science experiment, that’s no guarantee of anything. Just giving it to you straight, ya know. I miscarried after three years of trying to get pregnant. It was the single most devastating thing that has ever happened to me. It is, quite literally, the absolute worst thing just about — ever. And, the nurse calling me to tell me, “Honey, this is great news. We know you CAN get pregnant now,” didn’t really help at the time, though her sentiment was heartfelt, true and was genuinely meant to help me keep my eye on the prize.

A few months later, I was able to become pregnant and carry that beautiful boy to term. He’s at the bar right now with my husband watching football. ‘Cuz we’re classy. And, he’s four now, so it’s totally cool for him to watch Disney Junior on the mini-TV in the booth at the local pub while dad watches the big screen in the corner. We also have a 1-year old who is asleep right now. I am listening to the sound of his breathing through the monitor and I am reminded of how lucky I am and how beautiful life can be. Seven years ago, I thought life kinda sucked and that the universe hated me. Things do happen as they’re meant to, I suppose. But, that is absolutely no consolation for anyone who is currently in the “life sucks” phase of the journey.

I try to remember now that if I hadn’t miscarried in 2007, I wouldn’t have the kids I have now. My life course would have been very different. And, that seems more tragic than the original tragedy seemed at the time.

When I had my first child, then, I attended meetings for new moms and we talked about how to cope with the struggles of motherhood (and there are many). I didn’t know if I had the right, at the time, to complain that things were hard as a new mother, but they indeed were – as any of you with children must know. But, a woman once said that she had adopted a mantra: “It won’t always be this way,” and I have found myself thinking of how amazing that is almost every day.

If you’re currently going through a fertility struggle, remember, “It won’t always be this way.”

If you are struggling with illness, depression, family problems, financial difficulties or other obstacles, keep in mind that “It won’t always be this way.”

If you’re a new parent and you’re sleep-deprived and sad and overwhelmed, just know that “It won’t always be this way.”

If you’re a new parent and it seems impossible to be a breadwinner AND the appropriate support at home, remember that “It won’t always be this way.”

If you’re the parent of a child who is having problems, know in your heart, “It won’t always be this way.”

And, if your life is amazing and you have no complaints and that fucking rhythm method worked for you and you are getting everything you want and you’re wealthy and everything is just perfect, please know, “It won’t always be this way.”

And in those moments when you are holding your little, tiny baby, swaddled in your arms, smelling of lavender after a bath, and you’re crying both from the joy of the moment and from the fact that you’ve slept a total of 4 hours in the past 3 days, just think about how “It won’t always be this way.”

**If you’ve got a story you’d like to tell, ODM is currently seeking guest posts for a series on fertility to be published later this year. Please check out the “guest posting” page to learn how you can tell us your story.

Growing up, Getting better

Before I was married, I lived on the second floor of a duplex in a beautiful neighborhood. Having just graduated from college, I couldn’t afford all of the luxuries I might have now, but I did have the most comfortable bed of all time. I slept in it, diagonally, using 5 or 6 pillows at any given time to prop, cover, cradle and comfort my body perfectly. I slept well. Every night.

Before we had children, my husband and I never made plans for anything. Ever. We typically ate dinner at about 8 pm, on the floor or on the couch in front of the television. We had both a dining room table and an eat-in kitchen, but we were just too informal for that. With the exception of having to let the dog outside, we had few responsibilities that dictated that we be home at any specific time of day. It was easy and normal for either one of us to stop for drinks with friends after work or to run errands at odd hours.

I miss parts of my old life. Before becoming a responsible, married, home-owning adult with children, I was a different person entirely. In fact, I suppose I have gone through several incarnations of myself over the course of my lifetime. The person I was in my youth is vastly different than the person I became in high school. That person doesn’t even resemble the person I became in college. And, that person differs, still, from the person I became as a young professional. And, even so, that person differs greatly from the person I became as a newlywed. And, of course, that person is so different from the person I became when I became a mother.

I miss some (but certainly not all) of the pieces of my former selves. I don’t want to go back to being any of them, though. Make no mistake about that.

It is interesting to me how as a mother I have the privilege to watch a child become a full person even while I am certain I, too, am becoming more of myself each day. I suppose growing, changing, developing and evolving never really end in a human life.

Each day I will try to learn more about myself and answer questions like, “Why did I like ‘Magic Mike’ enough to refer to it as a ‘film?'” and, “Why do the Olympics make me sad that I never thought to pursue a career in beach volleyball even though I have never played volleyball of any kind?” And, I will learn more about the little ones I hope to mold into responsible men, hopefully answering questions like, “Why do little boys think kicking each other in the head is hilarious?” and, “What makes automatic flush toilets so terrifying to a 4-year old?”

It is poetic, and aggravating, never to be a completed model– always to be a work in progress. But, if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that the best thing to do upon making this realization is to have a glass of wine and stop worrying. My oldest son always wants a cup of juice if he is hurt or sad. “Juice makes everything better,” he says. Yes, it does, son. Yes it does.

Life in the Middle

I realized recently that I’d been living — for a long time — in the middle.

Perhaps the opposites of both “happy” and “sad” are, in both cases, numb, lifeless, middlehood.

I have had a job that is okay for about 4 years now.  It’s not good.  It’s not bad.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

My days, otherwise, are not active.  They’re not entirely sedentary.  They’re somewhere in the middle.

My clothes, shoes, handbags and other girly things are not extravagant.  They’re not meager.  They’re somewhere in the middle.

I am not too fat.  I am not too skinny.  I am somewhere in the middle

I don’t get to read a whole lot.  Yet, I am not living totally booklessly.  I am somewhere in the middle.

My diet is not healthy.  It is not indulgent.  It is somewhere in the middle.

My weekends aren’t typically spent doing adventurous things.  They’re not spent entirely in front of the TV, either.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

My daily work is not terribly engaging.  It’s also not completely boring all of the time.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

My home is neither large nor small.  It is somewhere in the middle.

I’ve not fully lived up to my intellectual potential.  I am also not exactly sitting around as an aimless high-school dropout.  I am somewhere in the middle.

I don’t get to spend most of my time with my children.  I don’t see them infrequently, either.  It’s somewhere in the middle.

I’m not a bad cook.  I’m not a great cook, either.  I am somewhere in the middle.

I am sure I am not always the best example for my kids.  I am certain that I am far from the worst.  I am somewhere in the middle.

I don’t wake up each day excited for the possibilities it will bring.  I also don’t wake up and find it terrifying or exhausting to think about getting out of bed.  I am somewhere in the middle.

All of this has left me wondering whether I am really living my life well.  And, if I am not, when do I intend to start doing so?

Perhaps too many of us are afraid to take real risks because with the chance of experiencing very high “highs,” we have to risk experiencing very low “lows,” too.  My old job was like that.  There were tons of hills and valleys.  No — mountains and abysses.  Or, meteoric peaks and vortexes of darkness.

Yet here I am now living a life that is… tepid.

So, I am trying to dig in to my “bucket” list.  It is time to cross some things off, face some fears and start living life as a better me.

None of us gets a second chance, right?  There is but one lifetime for each of us.

I’d like to know what each of you has done lately that demonstrates that you’re living the best life you can live.  I know I am not alone it this middle ground.  Let us all gather strength to conquer a better existence together.

I’ll start:  last month, I faced one of my biggest fears.  I have spent my life absolutely embarrassingly terrified of boats.  I can swim.  I am not afraid of water.  But, I am afraid of getting sucked under an enormous body of water Titanic-style.  And, I am scared of being helpless and stranded away from land and civilization with no control over my whereabouts.  But, I got on a fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico in May and set out 5 miles away from shore to lay my godmother to rest in the beautiful waters off of Clearwater, Florida.  Never in a gazillion years would I have imagined that I could do that without becoming hysterical or needing prescription sedatives.  But, I did it.  I didn’t even cry once.  Or rely on pharmaceuticals for an easier go of it.  Now, I am not jumping up excitedly trying to clamor onto another boat anytime soon.  I am not miraculously cured of my baseless fear.  But, I faced it.

How have you made yourself proud lately?  Let us know.  Your comments are always welcome.

Tell us how you’re getting or staying out of the middle.

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