This Blog Is Awesome

Child free people are constantly bombarded with questions about when they will create their own genetic masterpieces and comments about how very wonderful children are and what amazing joy they bring to your life simply by being born. Then, in the very same breath, the questions and comments turn bitter. “How can you afford to fly to Vegas/go out drinking/go shoe shopping so often?” and “You’re so luck you get to do so many awesome things.” A friend of mine, faced with this phenomenon recently, posted on Facebook, “No, it’s not “lucky” that I get to go do awesome things…It’s because I chose not to have kids.”

Of course parents, including myself, jumped on that immediately, but I understand it in the spirit it was intended. It subtly (unintentionally) implied that being a parent somehow made life less awesome, but he only meant to defend his own awesomeness. It is easy for him to do the things he enjoys because having children is not on that list right now. And that’s cool, too. We seriously need to lay off people who do not want kids, whether they just aren’t ready yet or don’t plan to ever be ready. It’s not like we have a human shortage. There are plenty of people mass producing children. No one should have to defend their choice or how much they enjoy their child free lifestyle

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What kind of marketing tactic is it to tell someone how beautiful and amazing an experience is while simultaneously blaming it for sucking the fun out of your life, anyway?

I’ve been a parent my entire adult life. I have wondered from time to time over the last 18 years how my life would have been different if had not had children. (You know those people at the bar that are always there, usually a hot buttered mess slipping off their bar stool and slurring in your ear? I sort of fear I might be one of those without kids.) I’ve never wondered if my life would be better. I have an awesome life. I’ve gone to many of my dream concerts and I plan to go to more and dream up even more. I take the kids to some of them, but prefer to go to most of them alone or with friends. We travel with the kids because it’s something we both enjoy. I went on a road trip across the southwest with my family and can’t wait for the next one. We also travel alone and with friends. And more than once I have stood in a room full of my favorite musicians, both “famous” and local, and experienced a spine tingling performance, the kind that makes you close your eyes and listen, thankful to be there for that spontaneous moment and realize, “my life is awesome.”

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On A Pale Horse at Wooly’s

Maybe that’s not your thing. Maybe you’re thinking, “Meh, music. The southwest is hot. Boo roadtrips.” One man’s trash is another’s treasure. One man’s hobby is another man’s hell. You’d rather fly to Italy or get your master’s degree. I know those parents, too.  I’m not wealthy, I have a small home daycare. My friends aren’t loaded, either. We’re just normal people with normal jobs who choose to continue being awesome, even with children.

Parenthood gets a bad reputation because it is exhausting, expensive and time consuming. So is anything else worth doing! Immersing yourself in your hobbies, pursuing your career, following your dreams, all of it is mind boggling difficult if you are doing it right.  If you commit yourself to one thing it will make the other things more complicated, but not impossible. I have a friend going back to school right now so he doesn’t have much money left for going out as much as he used to and often doesn’t feel like it after hours of studying complex math. (I’m so with him on that.) That doesn’t make continuing education less worthwhile and it doesn’t have to make his life less awesome. If you are doing what you want to be doing then your life is awesome. If you are measuring your life against someone else’s idea of awesome it will never be awesome.

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My awesome family (before Little S) at the Grand Canyon

If you feel like having kids has made your life less enjoyable you may need to shift your priorities before you lecture your friends on all the reasons they, too, should reproduce. Logically you know your kids aren’t the problem, or you wouldn’t be trying to get others to join you in parenthood. The problem is that you are not doing the things that excite you and make you feel fulfilled. Don’t blame your kids for that and don’t be jealous of your child free friends. Find a way to make it happen. Create your own awesome.

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Parents Are People, Too (aka A Good Ol’ Fashioned Guilt Trip)

Every so often I check my site stats to see which blogs are being read and shared and what search terms lead people to my blog. (I think a lot of lonely young men attempting to buy their own batsmoke leave my page disappointed.) I can see at a glance which blogs are the most popular and which blogs you are sharing with friends.

Most of my blogs are about parenting and all of the wonderful things that go along with that like cleaning the house, cooking dinner and trying to explain why I don’t have a penis. Those blogs are, by far, the most popular. I also write about movies I like or do not like and I suppose eventually I will write about books again and there will be a lot of blogs about The Bar and live music. Those blogs do not get read as often or shared as much but I will continue writing them. I write for me but I also write for you and I think you need the blogs about music and movies and drinking as much as I do.

Becoming a parent changes everything. It’s a cliche because it’s true. Humans, in general, are self centered. That’s not mean or a negative outlook on humanity, it’s just common sense. All of your most basic instincts are cleverly designed to protect you. Until you have a child. Between your biological urge to protect your child and society’s pressure to do so and do so better than anyone else, it is very easy to forget that you still have needs of your own. When taking a shower becomes a task you have to schedule, finding time to nurture your talents and explore hobbies can seem like a luxury.

Some time after Goldy and Beauty were born, but before my divorce, I discovered that I was boring. I didn’t do anything worth talking about and I didn’t have anyone to tell even if I did do something noteworthy. It would be easy to blame my ex-husband because he did instigate my isolation but it wasn’t intentional and I let it happen even though I know better. Lucky for me, he still had friends and one of his friends was still into girls (that is a whole different blog for another day) and he brought over my future best friend, H-Bomb.

It’s amazing what one person listening can do for your self esteem. My Ex had forgotten who I was before I became overwhelmed with parenting and house work. It wasn’t entirely his fault, though, I stopped reminding him. I suddenly understood all possible meanings of the phrase, “I need to find myself,” which I had always thought was complete hocum. How do you lose yourself? Now I know how very easy it is to lose track of yourself. Hint: You will not find yourself at the bottom of a pile of laundry.

No matter how deep the pile, you will not find yourself at the bottom.

Having someone to listen again made me want something to talk about. I didn’t want all of my fun stories to be about the past. I wanted to read books that weren’t by Mercer Mayer and go places that weren’t family friendly. I wanted to put on lipstick, not chapstick and paint my own nails, not my daughters’. I wanted my own life.

If any of this sounds familiar or you are nodding your head then you are the one I’m writing for. You need support. You need a friend to listen. And you need to know that it is okay to be a parent and your own person. It’s not only okay to have a life outside of your children, it is necessary to be a good a parent. You cannot be your best self if you are only focused on your children. You need a hobby. You need a night out. You need a shower. No really, you need a shower.

I often hear new moms say, “I don’t even have time for a shower!” I feel your pain, I do. Put the baby down and go take a quick shower. Yes, he might cry and you might feel guilty but when you are done you are going to feel so good.  Babies sense your stress and discomfort. They also sense your peace and happiness. Be at peace, be happy. It will be easier to get him to latch on or fall asleep if you are not a sweaty ball of nerves. This gets harder as the kids get older. Cages are frowned upon so you will need a good support system, but you not only deserve it, you need it.

These are not my kids. Do not call CPS.

We went out last weekend on Little S’ birthday. Without him. We spent all day with the kids and then took him to Grandma’s house after dinner. We have karaoke every Saturday at The Bar and our karaoke jockey was having a birthday party. We’ve only owned The New Bar for 6 months so it is important to be present, to meet people, to interact. We also had friends playing in bands on the other side of town. The Barkeep helped set up one of our friends, an old local music connection of mine,  on the bill at the last minute, so we wanted to see the show. I met a fellow at The Bar that night that asked about my kids. When I told him it was my youngest baby’s first birthday he told me I should be at home. Now, you might agree, but I want you to flip the phrase around in your head awhile and ask yourself why I needed to be home with a sleeping baby on a Saturday night when I had so many other options and a trusted babysitter. In case he wakes up and wonders why his Mommy went out on his birthday? This is your first baby, isn’t it?

People might make you feel guilty about pursuing your own interests. You might make yourself feel guilty. Consider this, it is our job to model the behavior we want to see in our children. We cannot raise well rounded people if we feel like half the person we used to be. We cannot encourage them to cultivate their talents and nurture their ideas if we are ignoring our own. We can’t teach them to explore hobbies if we don’t have any of our own. Humans have an actual need to share and enjoy themselves.Why do you think Sims have a social meter and an aspirations meter? They are based on us! (And now you know one of my hobbies…) Our children need us to remember that we are all people, too. Our children deserve to be raised by well rounded individuals.

If none of this convinces you then I have one last thought, a question actually. Think of your child’s favorite activity. Goldy likes writing. Beauty likes fashion. Sharkboy likes constructing. The jury is still out on Little S, he seems to enjoy dancing and eating. What does your child enjoy? Do you do your best to encourage that hobby, take her to lessons, buy the necessary tools and praise liberally? Do you want him to give it up for anyone, ever? Or do you want him to continue building on that interest and learning new ones as he grows?

At the core of everything we want for our children is the same basic premise. We want them to be happy. Se ta good example for your children and remember, your parents wanted you to be happy. Don’t let them down.

In The Company Of Rockstars

Going out with rockstars can be fun but there are some drawbacks.

They always need a drink. You can never just walk out of the house empty handed.

They’re messy. You never know when you might get puked on, peed on, drinks spilled on you… but you still have to dress nice because they are apt to draw attention your way at any moment, either by being loud and unruly or incredibly charming.

Everyone wants to talk to them, touch them and give them things and tell them how wonderful they are right up until all the attention goes to their head and they turn into a hot emo mess, then their adoring fans scatter, taking their trinkets and smiles with them.

Sometimes they’re weird and do weird things that don’t make any sense.

One on one they are okay people but in groups they become even more unpredictable and prone to hysterics.

Rockstars?

I’m seriously laughing out loud at what some of these stock photo companies consider rockstars…

Did I say rockstars? I meant toddlers…

I took Sharkboy and Little S shopping today. It was meant to be a quick trip but it is rare and exciting for us to be out during the day on a weekday and it is always an adventure to travel anywhere with young children. I wanted to pick up a Baltic amber necklace for Little S because he finally has teeth coming in, and they are coming in fast and fierce now. Sharkboy has one of his own that he was getting annoyed about sharing. I’m not going to advocate teething jewelry because I am still sort of shocked that it seems to work, I’m just going to quietly keep putting my boys in their necklaces everyday and if someone asks I will admit that it seems bizarre but they are more pleasant children in the evenings when wearing their jewelry. If you want to try it I recommend Inspired By Finn online. That’s where we got Sharkboy’s necklace. They were out of the kind we wanted when I went to order one for S and since I had the day off and access to the van we trekked over to the local natural parenting store.

The plan was to head straight home but then I saw it, a Block Sale sign! Sure you can go to block sales on Saturday… if you don’t mind picking through the junk all the stay at home parents and retired people left behind on Friday. The boys were loaded up on Burger King, (lettuce and pickles can be vegetables, right?) and we still had a little while until nap and I had cash in my pocket, perfect block sale conditions.

In case I have not previously mentioned it, my kids are unbelievably cute. They attract a lot of attention in public. Sharkboy is usually quiet but he has terrific manners and a killer smile. Little S is pretty noisy but he is charming and social. And they are just so incredibly handsome. It really is like going out on the town with rockstars. I also do a lot of weird, somewhat non-conventional things. We use cloth diapers, my boys wear jewelry and BabyLegs, I “wear” Little S in a carrier. Put all that together with a social butterfly mother and it’s hard to even get out of the car without someone striking up a conversation. Usually I don’t mind and I must have that look because people talk to me a lot. It’s not always friendly. I had an elderly woman tell me I was making life harder for myself by wearing my baby. It was July and she insisted he was suffocating in his sling, as if going from the hot car seat in the car to the hot car seat in a cart would be so much cooler and more comfortable… in July. Just today someone asked me if Sharkboy’s BabyLegs were knee highs. Maybe, dickhead, does it matter? They are keeping him warm in the rain, meanwhile your kid is shivering. I’ve had more comments than I can count or repeat about how gross and unsanitary cloth diapers are. They’re not, but I don’t bother to argue or correct, I just keep quietly saving money.

Maybe BabyLegs deserve their own blog! ❤

Today, though, we had almost entirely positive comments from the boys’ adoring fans. Sharkboy said he was hot so I simply pulled his BabyLegs off from under his shorts, immediately attracting the attention of other moms. I shared the code for the huge sale going on right this minute. (FAN50, 50% off of everything AND free shipping!) A young girl asked me a ton of questions about cloth diapers before I finally realized she was a mother and interested in switching. We always save the cutest prints for going out in public, just in case anyone is interested. Everyone oohed and ahhed  over Little S waving and gave Sharkboy cookies and kool-aid so he was able to impress them with his stellar manners.

(It rained off and on, giving me a chance to mention that we had our towels with us for Towel Day. In honor of Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and many other amazing books and an all around brilliant man, I happened to be  carrying a towel today, which oddly, no one asked me about. Please refer to my comment section for an explanation. The towel made a nice umbrella for S.)

Then we found a slide. And other children. Getting Sharboy back to the van became a scene from Get Him To The Greek. We finally returned home three hours later with a new necklace, books about owning and running a bar, new toys, a diaper bag, empty cups, mustard stained pants, a shirt covered in kool-aid and two hot emo mess little boys. My little rockstars needed a nap.