Month: September 2014

All Of The Reasons You Shouldn’t Have Had Kids, According To Assholes On The Internet

“It’s not that I think you’re a bad parent, per se. It’s just that, like, you chose to have kids, right? Like, you got pregnant and you decided to go through with the pregnancy and now you’re having to deal with all these really common kid things. I’m not saying you should have had an abortion! Just maybe you didn’t think this whole kid thing through?”

Oh my word – this is perfect.

The Belle Jar

This is for reals satire, I promise – it’s based on the shitty shit people say to each other in parenting forums/Facebook/what-have-you

It’s not that I think you’re a bad parent, per se. It’s just that, like, you chose to have kids, right? Like, you got pregnant and you decided to go through with the pregnancy and now you’re having to deal with all these really common kid things. So I guess I’m a little confused about why you’re complaining? Like, you kind of asked for all of this, didn’t you?

Oh, you’re tired? Gee sorry I didn’t realize that no one had bothered to tell you that babies disrupt your sleep. I mean I just kind of assumed that you knew what you were signing on for when you became a parent. Jesus Christ, of course you’re fucking tired – that’s what having kids is all about. If you didn’t…

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Things you’re not supposed to say about your children

Or: The non-parenting blog parenting post

I am not ever going to be a mommy blogger.  If I were to be, my mommy blog would not be very good.

Sample post:

I got home at 7 after working all day, helped my husband make dinner while yelling at my kids not to throw various breakables down the stairs and for heaven’s sake, NO RUNNING in the house and can you PLEASE not kill each other while we’re cooking yes I KNOW you’re hungry I’m famished myself so the sooner you find some way to amuse yourself for I swear 10 minutes is all I need the sooner we can ALL get something to eat and for the love of God WHY IS YOUR BROTHER CRYING?!

There.  That is an example of what I am NOT contributing to the blogosphere.

You’re welcome.

But lately I’ve noticed that whenever I let slip any of several things that you’re not supposed to say about your children, they have a way of making people feel better.  People that want to be parents either soon or someday and are worried that they are not the parenting type.  Because I seem to be the poster child for “If I can be a parent, anyone can!”

And that’s great!

I’m not going to pretend I’m the perfect parent or that I have the parenting thing completely figured out.  But all three of them are alive and fairly independent for their level of development (11, 8, and 15 months, for reference), so I think I’m qualified to share a few things.  My path to parenthood was a bit untraditional so it puts me in a good position to challenge some of the reigning assumptions out there.

So here are several things you’re not supposed to say about your kids –

1) I don’t speak Baby.

I am terrible at intuiting what my babies need.  When they cry, I just stick a boob in their mouth.  It solves everything.  Hungry?  Boob!  Tired?  Boob! (bonus: they’ll nurse themselves to sleep)  Bored?  Boob!  Gassy?  Boob!  Upset because they just got their vaccinations?  Boob!  Poopy?  Boob!  Wait, I take that back – first change them, and then – Boob!

2) I don’t have warm, fuzzy feelings for my children when I am pregnant with them.

I understand intellectually that they are there and that they are alive and that they are my children from the moment of conception, but I really don’t connect emotionally with them.  I spend my pregnancies constantly checking the calendar and counting down the days to when I can expect to be done being pregnant so I can resume my alcohol consumption habits.

 
3) I also don’t have warm, fuzzy feelings for my children right after they’re born.

When the nurses hand me the baby, I smile because I’m supposed to, but inside I’m wondering how soon I can hand the baby off to someone else and not look at it again for a while.

What’s that look for?  I just pushed out a baby!  It’s only the most strenuous thing I’ve ever done, so forgive me if I’m a bit wiped and all I want to do is sleep.  I’ll deal with the whole “I’m a mom now” thing later.

4) I wasn’t “ready” to be a mom.

Not in any sense of the word.  I was 20 years old, not married, no college, and enjoying living alone when that pregnancy test came up positive.  I didn’t even like kids.  No way in hell did I want to be a mom.  But here’s the thing – humans have a gestational period of about 9 months.  Forty weeks if you count the ~2 weeks before conception even occurs.  So by the time you start inexplicably puking and take the pregnancy test, you’ll probably have about 7 or 8 months notice before the baby is born.  That’s more than enough time to prepare yourself.  Not that you’ll FEEL ready at all, but it’s enough time to have the necessary logistics in place.

5) The first month (or so) of taking care of a new baby is absolute hell.

There’s just no other way to put it.  Have you heard that saying, “Love is a choice”?  Well, loving my newborn babies was DEFINITELY a choice.  A choice that I continually, purposely, determinedly made every minute of that first month while reminding myself that there was literally no other (ethically acceptable) option.

I WILL get out of bed.  I WILL wipe the poop off the baby, and the changing table, and the floor, etc.  I WILL put baby to breast.  I WILL pick up and hold the baby when it cries.

The warm fuzzy feelings slowly developed beginning at around the six weeks or two month mark.  Up until that point, everyone’s telling me “Congratulations!  You must be so happy!”  And I say “Thank you – yes we’re thrilled!” because it’s not socially acceptable to say, “Thank you – my life is a nightmare!”

6) Going along with the last point, learning how to breastfeed can be a pain.

My first time, I had a screaming baby virtually around the clock for about a week until she figured out how to nurse.  I visited the lactation consultant three times.  My second time, she was really gung-ho about nursing, and it took her a while to get the memo that she didn’t have to work THAT hard.  My third time just hurt.  A lot.

In my experience it takes about a week, but I have heard that for some people it takes about two weeks.  Most people, when they get to the two-week mark, just say fuck it, switch to formula, and are instantly happier.  And good for them.

I will say this, though – if you can get the nursing thing down, you have about 4 months where you can take the baby anywhere.  And I do mean anywhere.  Movie? Yup.  Fancy restaurant?  Absolutely.  Bar?  Well, I wouldn’t go that far.  Mainly because people will look at you funny.  The reason you can get away with this is because up until about four months or so, babies don’t really care if they don’t get to move around or play for a few hours.  And if you’re nursing, you can just pop them on a boob if they start crying.  Works like magic.  Once you get to about 4-1/2 or 5 months, the baby will want to move around more, so definitely take advantage of the boob-solves-everything phase, especially if it’s your first baby.

So that’s me – what are your “things you’re not supposed to say” about your children?

Marriage from hell: the happy ending (V)

Continuing my series on healing from abuse, because I didn’t want to spend too much time ranting about abuse on my blog without balancing it out with the positive end of the story.

When I left off at the end of part IV, I had finished describing in general terms how I was able to create in my head an academic concept of what a healthy relationship looked like, and I was about to move on to how I took that concept from theory to reality.

I want to pause here for a moment because although I am telling my story, I did intend to tell it in such a way as to be useful to others.  And it occurred to me as I wrote the last post that some of what I did to address my issues with relationships was not just coming from having been in an abusive marriage.  Some of the work I had to do was necessary in order to correct the impact of the way I grew up.  See, I was strongly encouraged to isolate myself (for various reasons).  This isolation in combination with my natural social awkwardness served to deprive me of the opportunities that most people have during their formative years to learn the rules of social interaction.  So you may or may not see me having to teach myself things that just came to you naturally as a small child.  If you do, similar to my earlier discussion of triggers in part III, just allow yourself to feel more normal than me.  You’re welcome.

On the other hand, the silver lining of my personal brand of awkwardness allows me to easily disregard public opinion once I’ve decided on what I need to do.

LOOK_AT_ALL_THE_FUCKS_I_GIVE

If “what will everyone think?” handwringing is a struggle for you, unfortunately I’m not going to be a fountain of advice.

Anyway, moving on –

So, armed with all this new, fresh knowledge of how to be the type of partner that I wanted to have, I realized I should probably have some practice going through the motions before I tried the new and improved Athena out on someone I actually thought I could have a future with.  So I needed a guy.  Hmmm …

*Thinking, thinking*

*Snaps fingers* Aha!  I know!

Remember that neighbor I mentioned earlier in part III?  He’s perfect.  He’s a good guy, he wants to spend time with me, and the best part – I know he’s not going to develop any serious feelings for me.

Wait, what?  He’s not going to develop serious feelings?  How is that a good thing?

Since I was looking for someone to basically be my therapeutic tool, I didn’t want someone that I would actually hurt.  Now, of course there’s an element of risk on my end (what if I grow some feelings?) but that’s my risk to take if I think that this is what I need to do to work on myself.  The most important thing is that I not be responsible for hurting someone else.

So I have someone to work with – great!  So …. um …. What now?

Well, one specific thing I knew I needed to do was have sex.

Bear with me while I digress for a minute – 

Now, depending on your particular ideological persuasion, you are probably thinking one of two broad categories of thoughts –

1) Of course you should have sex!  Sex is an important part of any relationship!  How exactly is this relevant to anything?

2) Sex is only a good thing within the context of a heterosexual sacramental marriage.  Any other sex is inherently destructive and abusive.  You don’t fix any dysfunction you’ve previously experienced by engaging in more destructive behavior.

At the time I got divorced, the dominant picture of married sex in my mind was something coercive.  Remember that I didn’t know what healthy even looked like?  Yeah, that applied to sex, too.  So if I were to remarry without having had sex in the interim, how was I supposed to know whether or not my husband was using sex to abuse me?  “Well, duh, Athena – it’s obvious when someone is abusing you.”  With your frame of reference, maybe.  Not with mine.  So I started having sex again.  When I wanted.  With whom I wanted.  And if I didn’t want to have sex, then I didn’t have sex, and there was no bribing, cajoling, pleading, or begging that could convince me.  I was learning how to be in control of my body again, and I was learning that sex could be enjoyable.  Once that realization hit home, I found that I actually had a sex drive again. (Finally!  I’ll be honest – I didn’t feel like myself without a sex drive.)

By the time I started dating my neighbor, I was pretty firmly comfortable with my body and being upfront with what I wanted in bed.  I was ready to push my boundaries a little and see how normal people navigate differences in sexual preferences.  My neighbor was into some … things that I didn’t enjoy.  But he didn’t push me.  He asked what I wanted and he asked what I would be open to.  If I was open to it, he was gentle and patient.  If I wasn’t open to it, the discussion was over.  He didn’t bring it up again, he didn’t make fun of me, he didn’t badger me or physically force me to do it anyway.  In short, he was what a normal guy should be like.  And we had a normal sexual relationship with mutual attraction and respect.

TL/DR: At the risk of sounding a bit too “Eat, Pray, Love,” without my post-divorce sexual awakening, I would have been in no shape to get married to my husband.

Now, where were we?  Oh, yes!  I was telling you about how my neighbor helped me recover emotionally  –

It so happened that learning what a “good relationship” could look like in real life turned out to be blissfully easy, because my neighbor was really an excellent choice for this process.  If he said or did something that hurt my feelings, I told him that he hurt my feelings, then he held me and apologized, and here’s the best part – he didn’t do it again!!  No, he didn’t shrug off my hurt feelings and tell me it was all my problem for being “too sensitive” or “not woman enough,” he didn’t file the information away for later so he could hurt me on purpose – none of that.  He simply apologized and didn’t do it again!  I seriously don’t know if I can overstate how excited this made me – this realization that there are actually men out there that don’t purposely exploit my vulnerabilities!  This really changed my perceptions and expectations going forward.  This became the “normal” that I expected out of everyone.

Another really awesome thing my neighbor did was talk to me.  He didn’t just insist that I plan everything and choose every activity and then complain about it later.  He brought his own ideas to the table, he planned some things himself, he told me what he enjoyed and what he didn’t enjoy.  And if he didn’t like something after the fact, he didn’t blame me – his attitude was “lesson learned – now we know.”  So it was a much more equitable relationship than I was used to, and it further helped me paint a better picture of what a “normal” guy is like.

And then a really amazing thing happened.  Something that I wasn’t prepared for.

Do you feel your emotions physically?  I do.  When I’m angry, my heart is a ball of white-hot flame that I want to hurl out into the world.  When I’m sad, my heart feels like it’s being squeezed and my breathing becomes shallow; crying and forcing deep breaths help release the pressure.  During this relationship I was in a safe place to be able to explore and work through my raw emotions, and I found myself exploring depths of joy, grief, anger, lust, tranquility … depths of emotion that I didn’t realize existed.  The more I felt myself come alive again, the more I could see how dead I was.

So, at this point I have worked through my major triggers, I am able to enjoy sex again, I have some practice at constructive conflict resolution, and I’m just in a better place emotionally.

And that was when I met my husband.

To be continued …