Just So We’re Clear on the R Word

So mostly I'm funny. But every once in awhile, I have to be serious about something that feels too big not to mention and isn't funny at all. Like this.

There is a lot of talk about rape in my air space right now. I am simultaneously heartsick and bewildered. There is black, there is white; there is yes, there is no; there is consent and there is rape.

I don't have kids that are there yet, but because I'm a mama I know they will be some day. And we will have to have "the talk." (One of many horrific, awkward, but oh-so-important talks.) Whenever it is, I will feel like it is too soon, and I will be afraid I am unprepared. But I imagine it will go something like this. 

The Boy Version:

Some day, you will find yourself in a situation – if you haven't already – where you want to have sex with someone. When that time comes, I will hope that you are sober, I will hope that you are safe (as in using protection) and I will hope that you are committed (in some capacity). But even if you are not any or all of those things, there is one thing you – it – must be. Consensual. 

And just so we're clear, consensual does not mean:

  • That she's a certain kind of girl, and she's done this before with, like, everyone. 
  • That she's wearing a certain type of outfit, or even nothing at all.
  • That she's been flirting with you all night and you can tell she wants to.
  • That she didn't – or, God forbid can't – say no. 

Consensual means that she said yes. It doesn't mean she implied it, and it doesn't mean that you assumed it. It means you looked at her, and you asked her, and she said yes. 

As an aside, If you can't look at someone and ask them that question, point blank, you have no business being in that situation. So get out of it.

The Girl Version:

Some day, you will find yourself in a situation – if you haven't already – where you want to have sex with someone. When that time comes, I will hope that you are sober, I will hope that you are safe (as in using protection) and I will hope that you are committed (in some capacity). But even if you are not any or all of those things, there is one thing you – it – must be. Consensual. 

And just so we're clear, consensual does not mean: 

  • That you've done this before, so it is expected that you will do it again.
  • That you are dressed a certain way.
  • That you have been dancing or behaving a certain way all night.
  • That you didn't – or God forbid can't – say no.

Consensual means that you said yes. Not that you didn't say no. Not that you didn't mean it when you said no.

You don't owe sex to anyone. Not if he bought you dinner. Not if he drove you home. Not if you led him on. Not if he's been dating you for weeks or months or even years. If someone doesn't ask you, point blank, and you do not give your consent, it is not okay. 

With both:

I do not expect you to save yourselves for marriage, although I sure would like it if you wait until you are in love. I do expect you to accept that fact that having sex comes with feelings and responsibilities and cannot be undone once it is done. EVER. Behave accordingly.

 

Itscocktailthirty 101 | A Time Out for Mommy

You may have noticed that I like to reference "itscocktailthirty," which is a phrase my good friend Steph coined and we began texting back and forth as shorthand. We know what kind of day it is depending on what time "itscocktailthirty" makes its first appearance. 

Here are the most common types of itscocktailthirty, for your reference:
  • Preventative Itscocktailthirty: Also known as “I am a better mother after no less than one but no more than four glasses of wine.” I drink wine so I don’t yell. (As much.)
  • Parents’ Night Out (a few hours) Itscocktailthirty: We drink early to make the most of the time we have “off the clock.” We utilize road sodas like we haven’t since we were in college, only instead of red solo cups we’ve been known to throw our beverages into sippy cups. Because Lord knows we have enough of those lying around. Note: the hangover is exponentially worse. Add 4 hours of recovery time for each year you are over 25.
  • Parent’s Night Out (all night) Itscocktailthirty: When someone has the kids overnight, one of us (or both, if we aren’t driving) drinks way more than is advisable. Just. Because. We. Can.
  • It Takes a Village Itscocktailthirty: You’re in a social situation where no one is driving, everyone is drinking, and no one is 100% in charge of the children, per se. But someone will grab them before they light something on fire or fall into the lake. Probably. See, for reference: summer barbecues with cornhole.
  • New England Winter Itscocktailthirty: Alcohol + warm beverage + freezing cold outdoor activity for many hours. Also known as extreme weather survival itscocktailthirty. Not to be used during downhill skiing. Apres does, after all, mean ”after.”
  • New England Summer Itscocktailthirty: If mommy says “no, you may not have a sip of my lemonade,” it is because it is adult lemonade. I do not care that it is eleven am and we are on a public beach. This container is not “open” and my kids are wearing life jackets. STOP JUDGING ME.
  • Isn’t This Fun Itscocktailthirty: Some children’s activities are only fun for parents with a little help from our friends Johnny, Jack and/or Jose. Like trick-or-treating. Or Storyland. Or watching four-year-olds “play” sports. Or Tuesdays. Wait, what?
  • Code Red Itscocktailthirty: This one is serious. This is the one where you stop joking about putting Bailey’s in your coffee AND ACTUALLY DO IT. At 8 am. Because it’s already that kind of day. Use sparingly, or your spouse may put you in rehab. Although I think rehab has strict family visitation rules and spa services, so…you know, use your best judgement.
There are more. There are endless types of itscocktailthirty. But these are the most common ones around here. What did I miss?

Are You There, Me? It’s Old Me.

I just asked my kid to get his hands out of his pants. Again. For the 379th time today. I have asked his sister the same thing, approximately half as many times as well. They are 5 and 3. Where do we go from here?! Or, more importantly, how did I get here?!

What I mean is, I used to have a job outside these four walls. I showered, got dressed, applied makeup (usually while stopped at traffic lights, whatever) and went out into the world. I had coffees and lunch dates and adult conversations. Itscocktailthirty was usually a martini or four, made with top-shelf liquor. But today…
 
Coffee – from our coffee maker (it’s not even a french press), lukewarm by the time I transferred it into a to-go cup. That I hastily rinsed the remnants of yesterday’s coffee out of.
 
Lunch – finally happened around 3. Because every time I tried before that, my lunch ended up in someone else’s mouth. Seriously, these two eat like teenagers.
 
Adult Conversation – Toss up between a conference call which I spent mostly muted because the kids could not stop talking over me and sporadically mumbling half-sentences at a girlfriend as we browsed the aisles at Whole Foods and fielded phone calls from our business partner spouses. With our kids, of course. Because when are we not with our kids???
 
Itscocktailthirty – Wine. From a box. At 4pm sharp. Okay, maybe it was 3:45. But I round up to the nearest whole hour.
 
It could be worse. We could be out of wine. Or I could be pregnant. Or my kids could have their hands down someone else’s pants. See? Silver lining, people.
 

Why, Target? WHY?

(Editor's Note: Yes, I know it is March. I wrote this weeks ago and did not have a chance to post it. Now seems like a good time, and it also fits for FTFS. Because swimsuit shopping in January is nothing if not stupid. )

Finish the Sentence Friday
I am a Target shopper. And while the list of things I enjoy about the Target (say it with me now, Tar-jay) far outweigh the things I don’t, there is this one little thing.
 
Bathing suits in January. WTF, Target? 
 
Are you trying to make me feel bad that I don’t have vacation plans? Do you really think I’m looking to try on bathing suits even though I haven’t recovered from my holiday binging? Maybe you are passively-aggressively telling me it’s time to revisit the gym. Either way. Not cool.
 
But here’s the other thing about Target and the January bathing suits. By May, the only bathing suits you can find are size 2 or size 16, tucked away at the end of the “up to 70% off” clearance rack. And good luck to you if you wanted a top and bottom in matching sizes. HA.
 
So during my tri-weekly trip to Target, I spotted the cutest swimsuit. And because I am a seasoned Target shopper, and I know how the game is played, I added it to my cart along with a couple others. Because that is how the swimsuit game, in general, is played.
 
I got home, psyched myself up, and took out suit #1 to try on. It was a one-piece, made by Spanx, that looked phenomenal on. You know what did not look phenomenal? The angry red lines on my thighs from where I had drag the suit up to get it on. It was like trying to wrestle a sausage into its casing. RETURN.
 
Inner monologue: “It’s okay. That’s how Spanx work. We know this. I’m sure the next one will be better.”
 
Suit 2: On the one hand, my boobs look phenom – they are in the right place again, and this thing must have padding because they’re a lot more ample than usual. On the other hand, not only are the bottoms cutting into that unfortunate place that draws extra attention to back fat, if I were brave enough to turn around – I’m not – I’m pretty sure there would be butt cleavage. RETURN.
 
Suit 3: Appears to be an exact replica of suit 2, different pattern. I know better than to even try.
 
Dejected, I return the suits to the Target bag and commence "itscocktailthirty." It’s February. I am fat and finally understand what is meant by “a whiter shade of pale.” I know better than to try on bathing suits at this time of year, but Target has left me no choice.
 
The next day I present the suits at the Target return counter, avoiding eye contact with the skinny twentysomething counter girl who is helping me.
 
"So is there anything wrong with these items?" (At least she didn't add ma'am.)
 
"Um, no, they just don't actually, you know, fit." 
 
“Oooooh, I love this suit, it is totally  cute! I bought it but had to go up a couple of sizes because it is juniors.”
 
My head snaps up – “Did you say JUNIORS?”
 
“Oh yeah,” she says. “I had to go up to like a medium.“
 
“You should really have a sign warning people about that. Where the line is between 'adult' and 'junior' sizes. With flashing lights and bright colors. Especially in swimsuits. But thank you for telling me. I feel MUCH better.”

Things I Wish Were Still True

It is cold and flu season. Which means everyone is sick, or recovering from being sick, or about to get sick. Fun times all around. And inevitably, you have a mother/grandmother/random person who interjects their two cents about treating “sick” – “just make them a hot toddy with lemon, honey and a little whiskey.”

Dude. My kid is 3. Whiskey, really? I mean…I like your style, but I don’t think that is allowed anymore. Which makes me think of other things that are no longer allowed, but I totally wish still were. Like…
 
  • No carseats, seatbelts optional. Then I would be feeling like a rockstar for buckling my kids in at all, rather than feeling like a jerk for forgetting the booster seat in the other car. Again.
  • I will put you in the car. I was a nightmare as a child. As a result, every time we went to a restaurant, my mother would park within sight of a window table in the restaurant and insist on being seated at said table. 9 times out of 10, she started the meal with two children at the table and ended it with one in the car. Who had been there since right around “can I take your order?”
  • I’m just running in. Any errand that can be completed in five minutes or less should not necessitate extricating children from carseats, locating errant shoes and socks, and bundling up in outerwear. We live in Maine. And I can see you from the store. You know who else I can see? Nosy McNoserson calling social services from the car next to mine. Dammit.
  • Go play outside. You know, by yourself. With no supervision. For several hours. Just steer clear of the ice cream truck. That dude is creepy.
  • Itscocktailthirty for kids. Also known as the whiskey rule. “Oh, rub some Jack Daniels on their gums for teething! Make them a hot toddy for their cold! They’ll feel much better!” Maybe, maybe not. But they will likely be in an alcohol-induced stupor. But they can get that from hand sanitizer, too, so…no judgement here.
So I’m (mostly) kidding. I buckle my kids up. I don’t leave them in the car unattended (often). And I’ve never let them have alcohol (on purpose). Because, unfortunately for us, it is a different world now than the one we and our parents grew up in.
 
Sad, because I know I would have made an awesome Betty Draper – only I totally would have held onto my hot husband and been nicer to my kids.
 

ecard credit: Alysson Homa

5 Ways Kindergarten Info Night Was Like the First Day of Middle School (Mine)

Earlier in the week, I had to go to T's kindergarten information night. I was a little nervous, as I always am what I don't know what to expect. But one thing I did not expect at all  is the overwhelming sense of deja vu that came over me when I walked in. It was like my first day of middle school – which was not great, thankyouverymuch – all over again. Here's why: 

  • Little Fish, Big Pond: The town where I grew up doesn't have its own middle and high schools, which meant the friendly familiar elementary school faces on that first day of middle school were few and far between. Twentysomeodd years later, same deal with familiar preschool parent faces. Only much, much fewer. 
  • The Cool Kids: On the first day, there is always that group – that one group – that just exudes "cool." Whether as students in middle school or as parents at info night, they are the ones who effortlessly know exactly what to wear, exactly where to sit, and exactly what to do when. They are also sooo popular that instead of sitting at one of the designated tables, they take chairs out of a chair rack to put around their own, larger table near back of the room. Both so they have enough room for all their friends and so they can be closest to the room's prime real estate – like the exit and the sign up sheet for screening day. 
  • The Unfortunate Medical Condition: My first day of middle school, it was that I had just had oral surgery and could not eat, drink anything except water or brush my teeth for two weeks. Which pretty much meant that I was "that weird girl that didn't talk or eat", at least for awhile. This time around, I have some kind of respiratory infection and no voice. Again, "the weird girl that doesn't talk." Ah, timing is everything. 
  • Navigating the Social Scene: A couple of groups make presentations on first days, convincing you of both the benefits their club or organization provides and how swell it would be if you joined. This is a trick. Choose a club, choose a label. So choose carefully.
  • Anxiety: I have serious anxiety and am socially awkward. Once you know me, I am actually quite funny and we can joke about it. Until then, you either think I'm weird, standoffish, and/or have an obscure skin condition that causes me to spontaneously break out in hives. 

The good news is that I survived, both times. The even better news is that this time around it is not about me. T has made some great friends in preschool who will be going to kindergarten with him. He has an energy and exuberance that seem to endear him to other boys his age. And as most mamas do, I know I will put myself out there and rise to the occasion in ways that I didn't have the courage to the first time around. Because this time, it's for my kid. 

And there is not much I will not do for that kid.

Being Sick – The Silver Lining

Moms like to talk a lot about how we never get a sick day. And in large part, that is true. But every once in a great while, some bug or virus comes along that leaves us no choice but to succumb to being sick and take a sick day. No, it’s not the same kind of sick day it was before you were a mom – where you lay on the couch for hours on end watching Lifetime movies and drinking tea, not getting up until you feel ready. Still – it’s your body’s way of saying “hey, stop putting everything else first and ignoring me. I’m going on strike.”

Turns out there are actually good things about sick days, I realized today. A silver lining, if you will.

Asking for Help: No matter how old you are, most of us never get too old to want our moms when we’re sick. Yes, our moms – you know, the people who feel the same way about us as we do our tiny humans? And when you are close enough in proximity to your mom to send out an SOS call and have her come by? Bliss. And the fact that she dresses your kids, packs their lunches, brings them to school and leaves you a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee when she goes? Even bliss-er. (Yes, I am aware that is not a word.)

Not Asking for Help: And getting it anyway. Ry had already left for an early meeting when I realized I needed help yesterday morning, hence calling my mom. But since I didn't ask for his help at all yesterday and even managed to throw something into the crock pot for dinner, I got a pass out of feeding the kids dinner and bedtime. Heck yeah!

Skipping #itscocktailthirty: I go through a nightly "should I or shouldn't I have a glass of wine" routine. But since I'm trying to get back on track with eating healthy and working out, I've been struggling with not drinking as much. No problem the past two days – the only things I want to drink are coffee and tea. Oh, and entire bottles of Nyquil.spring flowers

Taking "Me" Time: When my mom left with the kids yesterday morning, I climbed back into bed with my coffee and watched The Bachelor. Then I took a super-long, super-hot shower.  I didn't return any work calls, because I literally can't speak. Later in the day, I didn't feel guilty about letting Ry do everything for the kids. Today, the only things on my agenda (aside from driving the mom taxi to and from school) are cuddling with my girl, watching shows and drinking hot beverages.

Karma, Baby: I believe in karma. Which made me grateful for the fact that I randomly bought myself flowers on Monday for a little color. It's like I knew I would need a "get well soon" bouquet – to me, from me. It also, strangely, made me grateful that I lost my voice and could not yell at kids. We all had enough yelling on Monday.

I miss talking to my friends on the phone. I felt like a weirdo at kindergarten information night grabbing my throat when I tried to talk in some weird "I have no voice" Ariel the Little Mermaid sign language. It is not fun being sick, but it is necessary, and for a couple days anyway I'm kind of okay with it. As long as I feel better by the weekend.

Things are looking good, though – A just declared "Mumma, I can hear your voice, you're better!" so it must be so. 

tea for two

 

 

Yelling Hangover

This morning could have – and should have – gone better. Everyone was up, dressed and ready to leave for school early. Everyone got enough sleep and no one is sick. We were set up, it seemed, for a brilliant start to the week.

Until I was halfway out the door. Literally – one foot on each side of the threshold. 

T: "I want to bring my iPad." (Which is not an iPad, but a VTech VReader, FYI.)
Me: "No. Put it down please." 
T: "But I want it."
Me: "Put it down."
T: "No."
Me: "Put it DOWN. NOW."
T: "NO!"
(Repeat previous exchange fourteen times. Because that's not insanity.)
Me: "PUT. IT. DOWN. NOW!" (Yelling. Super loud yelling. Meanest, loudest mommy voice.)
T: Now crying.

There was more yelling, followed by more crying, followed by door slamming. A text from R asking if I had lost my mind screaming that loud when he was on a work call. A profanity-laced return text. Deep breath. Sip of coffee. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

The rest of the way to school, the kids and I discussed using their listening ears and mommy not yelling so much. Apologies and promises to do better all around. But still. 

I am at a loss. I do not want to be a mom who screams at her kids all the time. I do not want us to start our days like that. But I don't know how else to express my frustration or get my point across sometimes. We are not people who spank our kids – I am not judging you if you do, but it is not for us. T has been spanked maybe twice in his life and it made me feel so horrible, particularly the last time, that I never did it again. I also know myself – I have a nasty temper. And if I give myself license to hit my children when I am angry, it is possible that I will hurt them. Slippery slope. No thanks.

So I yell. Loudly. With the intent to scare them. Cue the yelling hangover that I am going through now.

Tomorrow is another day. I will do better. Breathe deeper. Count to 10…20…125… Walk away. Other things. There have got to be other things. Right? Because this doesn't work for any of us.

 

Remembering the Baby Days

Maybe it is because they are not with me today. Maybe it is because I printed out T's kindergarten registration packet this morning. More likely it is because I am more confident than ever that we were meant to have just these two, and there will not be another baby in this house. 

Regardless, realizing just how big these two littles are is taking my breath away and making my heart ache. I want to pause them, or put them into slow motion. And because I am an emotional cutter, I went through an album of old photos – baby photos – instead. Because it's the closest thing I have to a rewind button. 

Long days and short years, for the past five trips around the sun. I was here, really here, the whole time. I did not miss much, as lucky as I was to be able to work from home and be with them the majority of the time. 

So why am I so sad? Why do I miss those days so much? 

I hated being pregnant. Postpartum stuff made me a special kind of crazy that I doubt I ever fully recovered from. I struggled with not being able to sleep through the night until the tiny humans did (both at thirteen freaking months, yes, MONTHS). I missed jeans that fit, wearing makeup and showering every day.

The terrible twos were awful but have nothing on the terrible-r threes and f-you fours. I cried. I complained. I probably wished away entire days with thoughts of "when will you finally…?" If I'm being completely honest, I still do sometimes.

Now, looking back through my rose-colored glasses and the knowledge of how everything has turned out fine so far, I miss those baby days.

Walking around in a daze because you are working off a couple of hours sleep but not really minding that much. Learning how much you can do with one arm because you have a baby in the other. Wearing yoga pants all the time because they are the only pants that fit and that doesn't bother you even a little bit. Eating everything in sight because, hey, you're breastfeeding and you need  the extra calories. Knowing that your tiny human is finally, blissfully asleep in your arms because of the way their bodies go completely limp. And you still hold them a little longer anyway. The way they need you, just you, all the time.

Yeah, that. All of that. And so, so much more. 

Young As I’ll Ever Be

I grew up hearing about how my mom didn't get an engagement ring from my dad, per se. Instead, she received the gorgeous emerald cut diamond that I coveted most of my childhood as a "holyshitimthirtyandhavetwokidsunder18months" present (peace offering?). Apparently, she had a meltdown on par with Britney shaving her head and attacking the paparazzi with an umbrella over the big 3-0. Which I never really understood. I mean, it's just another year, right?

WRONG. As soon as I turned thirty, I started saying, "I'm too old to…" about just about everything. I'm too old to…have long hair, wear makeup with "shimmer", go to certain bars (I'm looking at you, "Pearl" which is really just a fancy way of saying "Liquid Blue"). I mean, I'm thirty now. That's, like, at least halfway to being dead. (Which is actually not true, except in my head.)

I stare at myself in the mirror constantly. "Is that an age spot? Fine lines and wrinkles; there is nothing fine about those lines. How long have I looked like this? Why isn't Ry aging AT ALL?" I buy products that I'm pretty sure are formulated for women twice my age. Whatever, I am stopping the aging process. 

Except for the fact that I am not. It is not stopping, or reversing as some of these things claim. I am as young today as I will ever be. 

Here's the thing – I am over thirty. I have two children under the age of six (but, thankfully, over the age of three!). I think maybe my stomach is supposed to be a little round, my laugh lines are supposed to be starting to show, and I am not supposed to be able to walk around without a bra. Those things mean I incubated and nursed two tiny humans, and that I somehow managed to laugh while I was doing it. 

And, contrary to popular belief, I will probably never look younger than I do today. So I have two choices: continue to obsess over something I cannot change or age gracefully. I choose aging gracefully.

Which does not mean I will stop working out, or putting on wrinkle cream, or wearing my hair halfway down my back. I'm not going to let myself go; I am going to give myself a little leeway. To look and act good for my age, or even just my age. Because given the alternative – not aging – this is what I choose.