I Am Sylvia Plath

Christmas break can often be a mini version of summer break in that by the end of it, parents are at wit's end, kids are bored and moping, having lost any interest in the hundreds of dollars of STUFF they got under the Christmas tree. Oh and the money! They get shittons of money! And did I mention, the parents, conversely, are now BROKE. They have also probably gained 5 or 10 pounds, had no time for themselves to like, be healthy or sane, and they're ready for a vacay from vacay but can't afford it. The holidays were fun, yes but the magic of the holidays are gone and reality sets in and well, you know. Or you don't!  At least that's how I'm feeling and the vibe in my house currently. And I realized all of this because I am leaving to go to yoga that I haven't been to in weeks and the guilt hangs heavy and the kids are whining for Chick Fil A breakfast biscuits and well, yoga and guilt don't mix. SO this reminded me of this Chick Fil A/ mom going a lil cray post I wrote back in the day when I had little ittle bitty kids and we went to Chick Fil A a lot.. I was a complete basket case most of the time but man, I miss those days...somehow. Here goes (written c. 2010):

I'm pretty sure the manager at Chick Fil A thinks I'm a mother on the edge. About to pull a Sylvia Plath, as I have mentioned it enough times that if I did it now, everyone would just think I'm crying wolf.

"What? He walked in and her head was literally in the oven and the kids' bedroom doors were duct-taped shut? So he laughed, decided they must be safely quarantined from harm and decided to jump on his dirtbike and ride it at top speed around the neighborhood, since he never gets to do that without the kids wanting a ride. He came back an hour later and her head was still there. So sad. I heard she was obsessed with Sylvia Plath long before she even had kids; she read The Bell Jar like five times."

As I'm sure you assume, I refer to Sylvia Plath in good fun, in jest. My life isn't that bad.

Anyway, the first time this manager identified my Plath-ness, I was taking Becks to lunch there while Izzy was at school. Just the two of us, mommy-toddler date. So cute. Right. It was just one of those days. He was totally defiant, wouldn't eat, only wanted to play on the outside playground and decided, once out there, that he was going to the car for something. We had a few minutes of arguing about it and hand gestures that I'm sure all the people inside could deduce there was an argumentative toddler. "I'm going!" he yelled, and I was all, "yeah sure you are," thinking I would just jump up if he got inside, and went back to my iphone to play my turn on words with friends. Next thing I know he'spulling open the glass door open that weighs a ton, and it's almost slamming back on him when 3 employees run to his rescue, and glare straight at me, Shitty Mom. "This is really heavy and could slam his little fingers!" "Oh I know! I'm sorry I didn't think of that! Sorry." The pleasant-faced blonde manager comes up to me and and pats me on the back in an I Pity You sortof way. "I know it's hard. I had two. But enjoy it, it doesn't last long." Thank you, words of wisdom from wise woman. She kept standing there and talking and I seriously thought she was casing me out to decide whether or not I was a candidate for S.C.A.N. I thank her and we leave. I get to the car and without thinking, back up. Straight into the Dodge Charger that I had watched, earlier, park nearly diagonally in the parking space behind me. But I couldn't go forward because of the line of 20 cars dyin for some Chik fila. I had already forgotten, that's how brain-dead I am. I bash into the Charger.

EFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!! I picture a horrid dent that Chris is going to demand we get fixed immediately and spend God knows how much because he is so obsessed with aesthetics (despite that it's a 1997 Landcruiser) and I get out, crying. To my surprise, I have no dent and the Charger only has a little scuff, and possibly a cracked side headlight.

I'm frantic about what to do, can't hit and run, so I leave Becks in the carseat, lock the car and run inside, right into Nice Lady manager. She finds the people and brings them out to see the damage. My perfectly good karma helped me out here, because the Government Agent said it was the govt's car anyway, and the other light was already cracked. I was like, "soooo, what should I do?" and wondered if I should offer her cash, which I didn't have...or to write a check? for what? bribery? We stood there long enough and she sensed my poor sweet frantic momness enough to say "Don't worry about it." I wanted to hug her but I didn't. And the Nice Lady manager was visibly relieved for me, thankful I wouldn't go home and wail on my toddler's poor little white booty or even worse, stick my head in the oven.

We see her again at a benefit for a girl from Izzy's school. She sees me with the whole family, and we seem stable and happy enough. Maybe she lost her concern.

Then a few weeks later, yesterday, I take both kids to the crowded Chick Fil A. Becks is sliding off my hip because he refuses to walk, and both of them look like rugrats with their crazy curly red unbrushed hair. She comes up to me just as Becks turns over his napkin with ketchup all over it and spills a drink. "How are you?" she asks in a seriously concerned tone. "Let me get you another one. I'll get them another fruit cup too. Are you not eating mom?" as she looks down at my wasit to see if I'm starving myself. "Anything to drink?" Umm do you have wine at Chick fil A? I mean the woman thinks I'm seriously on the brink I guess. She's so sincerely concerned for me I wonder if I should ask her if she'll take me in a couple days a week so I can have time off or maybe score me a year's worth of free nuggets and chocolate milks..?

~R

Defense, in Hindsight, for SAHM's everywhere.

{WARNING: Excessive use of profanity and defensiveness herein}

SAHM def: Stay At Home Mom

I’ve been full of piss and vinegar for a few weeks now, and I’ve been saying what I think way too much. Is that part of getting older? Maybe. PMS? Quite possibly. So I thought I’d use that piss and vinegar to get something off my chest, that goes many years back. Let’s call it part of a cleansing process.

This morning, rushing to get ready for work (for my salaried, flexible job in which I make my own schedule -  don't hate), after making lunches and smoothies and finding homework, and yelling to brush teeth etc. etc. etc.... this thought came to my head.

Here’s how my life's fairy tale has gone (note: I don't regret a single minute):

I finished my masters classes at 30 only to get knocked up within a year. I had been working for a magazine, selling advertising. When BabyDaddy and I found out daycare would be oh, about 2/3 of my measly salary, we decided I would stay home, pinch pennies and raise the kid. I pinched the shit out of those pennies. My life was small, my circle was small, my wardrobe nonexistent. But guess what? That friggin' kid was happy and is now a phenomenal girl, a straight A student, a competitive dancer, in gifted and talented, but most importantly a kind and GOOD person. Better than you, I’ll bet. Damn sure better than me.

During those years I tasted chicken fucking nuggets for Walmart gift cards (food science research at the university), I sold shit on Ebay and Craig's List and I did freelance writing gigs when I could get them. Sometimes - rarely, but sometimes, I got a paycheck over $1000 for a project and thought I was rich. I did my damnedest to contribute financially (I also wanted to buy magnums of Yellow Tail) and I was 100% child rearer and home maker. My phenomenal person was still in preschool when, as I was using the Basal (HIPPIE) method to NOT get pregnant, I got knocked up AGAIN. So there I was, 2 kids, one salary, and 2 days of preschool a week so I could do my freelance, grocery shop,  maybe hit the gym or walk outside so at least I wasn't fat in my sweatsuit. Whatever. My life, still small. My wardrobe, just sweatsuits.

I defended my masters, 5 years late when I was 6 months pregnant with my second surprise. In an ice storm. When he was still a toddler, I completed a cookbook to benefit hunger relief with a friend/partner, published and sold it. It wasn’t a lucrative project but I got to write and meet some pretty fantastic people in the process. Then, the second phenomenal kid went off to kindergarten.  I started going out for girls happy hour. That same fall, the book led me to a job with a food magazine. My circle was growing and my life branching out beyond the perimeters of my house, the Library and Target.

It wasn’t until then that I finally saw some respect, from certain (or most?) people in my life. The respect that had been silently missing started to replace the disrespect thought or spoken behind my back. I never got respect for forfeiting a career I had gone to school seven years for, but I got respect once I had J–O- B. I still didn't make much money but it seemed to satisfy people that I had to get out and beat the streets. Maybe they needed to know I was struggling. But the fact is that staying at home in your sweats not showering all day feeding short people is often more of a struggle than being "in the real world." I guess they wouldn't know that. However, the fact that I wasn't bound to AN OFFICE seemed to make said employment questionable to many. Still not quite LEGIT enough. You have to get all Tom Versus The Volcano fluorescent-lit suicide office to REALLY have a JOB it seemed. 

All the time I was innocently at home, I may not have realized how much the people I’d had in my life were judging me. FOR RAISING MY OWN KIDS. Especially women who had jobs, who paid for daycare. Or in some cases, men who didn’t have jobs but had women who did have jobs. Who paid for daycare. These men were available to pickup from school and take to activites and shit. Gee that's so convenient. My husband, he was not. 

I knew there was disrespect when as a stay home mother I heard “What do you do all day?” and comments about having time to cook on my facebook pics of a nice dinner. I cooked at least 5 nights a week.  I thought, you make time for what’s important to you, mutherfucker. Feeding my family well had always been important to me. I made ice fucking cubes of food, for your information. I made goat milk formula when I was no longer breast feeding. I MADE THE GODDMAN TIME. I made time to take them to the library and do shit with them instead of sending them off to some asshole at a daycare. Yeah I was frazzled and wearing sweats but goddammit, I am glad I did it. 

I realized even more that I was judged when I heard comments later like, “Wow you really got on the ball when your kids went to school” and shit like that. "Got your shit together." Oh, excuse me but did I NOT have my shit together raising two children full time, feeding them 3 squares a day and teaching them Goddamn Spanish!? Really?  Well, DUH. They are IN SCHOOL NOW which means no daycare costs and 8 hours a day free to work so YEAH that was the plan, asshole- getting them to school age and starting my super late career!  What did you think I was doing, trying to get out of working by pushing out a few puppies, to be 10-20 pounds heavier, covered in puke, snot and flying food all day every day, looking like an unshowered piece of shit when my poor husband got home at 6 PM from doing hard labor thinking "Shit, why didn't I work later?" Yeah, that sounds like a plan a person with a graduate education would make. Sure. It was a total SCHEME to just not work. Fuck paying back that student loan! I would rather run around barefoot in sweat pants and be broke as shit with greasy hair, for sure.  You Dicks.

And now, I see women who had kids, worked during that precious age when their little personalities and values are forming, sending them immediately off to daycare. Then I’ve even seen the women STOP working when the kid goes to school full time.  Whats the logic there? I’ve seen many women go to great lengths to get rid of their kids. To stay away from them. And yeah sure there are obviously situations where they HAVE to work so shut your mouth trying to tell me that happens. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the other.

So Guess what?! I don’t need anyone’s fucking respect and they can curse themselves for name- calling and shit talking me in the past. Because now they know they were assholes. My kids are both EXEMPLARY people in (almost) every way, I have a flexible job for a great company (with health and dental)in which I can make my own hours and not even have to wear heels that fuck my feet up, and get paid a salary, and goddamit I have earned it. Earned it with every goddamn bite of chicken nuggets and every stupid piece of crap I boxed up for Ebay and every Craigs List Killer I escaped, I earned it. In addition to working every day I still cook scratch dinners, keep a blog and clean my own house, and Yes I’d rather be ranting like this on a blog and writing all day long, pissing people off, instead of "working" but guess what I’ll eventually earn that too. I know I will. And when I do I'll Netflix binge and watch SOAP OPERAS AND ELLEN just to piss people off and maybe buy a box of Bonbons (where the fuck do you get those besides at Christmas when my mom makes them anyway?). Oh, and I WILL drink wine whenever I goddamn well want to. Because I will have earned it.

Hatas gonna hate.

SO to that sorry excuse for a man (who is now divorced and still running around in knee high white socks and Kmart tennis shoes) who called me WORTHLESS for staying home TO RAISE MY CHILDREN, guess what? I am WINNING, baby. Are you?  How are your kids, you jerk?

And I guess that's all I have to say about that.

#pissandvinegar