Surviving Summer with Kids

Day 9: I don’t have long now. I am very weak. I fear by the time you receive this I might be gone. The outcome of summer lock-down with my kids is unclear, but I want you to know I held out for as long as I could. I waited. Every day I waited, scanning the horizon for re-enforcements. They never came. I will put up a valiant fight, but in the end I may not be strong enough.

Surviving Summer With Kids

Photo credit

 

For as long as I am able, I will continue to write, numbering the days. That way my final moments and what, ultimately, lead to my untimely demise can be pieced together – in case Jon Krakauer ever wants to write a book about my brave yet failed struggle for survival. It’ll be just like Into the Wild, Krakauer’s account of Christopher McCandless, the young transient who vanished after college to live off the land in the Alaskan bush alone, which was based on the journal McCandless left behind.

When I began writing this that journal immediately sprang to mind. How similar our two stories were – except I’m not in Alaska, and I don’t have to gut a moose for survival or live in an abandoned, hollowed-out school bus without heat or water for the entire duration of the Alaskan winter. So maybe our stories aren’t exactly identical. Still, the fact remains both our lives remained in precarious conditions and under grave danger.

Allow me to recount the tale.

Bus
Ahh, home sweet home. Photo credit

 

With the final days of summer upon us and camp long over, I was forced to confront something I did not want to have to face: My children (and the gaping stretch of wide-open time before the start of school I was now saddled with filling). So I did what I always do in times of need or nervousness. I turned to social media.

“While Day 1 of Mommy Summer Camp went unexpectedly well,” I wrote on Facebook, “Day 2 found me screaming at the kids. By Day 3 I was no longer on speaking terms with my family. What will Day 4 bring? The kids might be out on the street with a sign reading, ‘Free to a good home.'”

Even though Day 1 went surprisingly well, calling into question my harsh assessment of my children and their ability to utilize vast quantities of unstructured, free time somewhat productively without my direct and continued involvement, Day 2 brought my real life back into sharp and painful focus. 

Day 1 was an aberration. Day 2 was my reality. It took a mere 48 hours for all structure, protocol and communications to break down and my vision of the final weeks of summer to play out exactly as predicted. At least, I no longer needed to feel bad about any undue harshness. 

There I was racing around trying to care for and occupy the kids while simultaneously attempting to get my own work done as The Kid moped around, grumbling about how I was inconveniencing her by delaying her transport to a friend’s house. 

“Now I’m going to be late!” she shrieked, storming off.

Oh, OFM don’t play that. This is the part in the status update where I was “screaming at the kids.” Only by screaming I mean cursing. And by the kids I mean The Kid. She drove me to it. And it was only the second day.

Let me pause for a moment here so we can soak in the absurdity of her statement. She was upset because she was going to be late to… do what? Hang out? She was freaking out on me, her parent, the very person on whom she was dependent for the ride because she was going to be late for nothing. I let her have it.

Then I drove her to her friend’s house. After that I exacted my revenge. The next day her request to go over to a friend’s house was denied, and instead we spent the entire day running errands. By the end the kids were fairly miserable.

So I think I made my point.

I’m not sure what Day 10 or 11 or 12 or any of the rest of the days will bring. I’m too scared to think about them. I’m fearful and still unsure as to whether I’ll make it, but perhaps I do have a fighting chance after all.

How to Travel with Teens & STILL Enjoy Your Vacation: Part II

With apartments in Rome and Venice secured, we were off to a good start. Of course your accommodations don’t count for much if your kids decide to be whiney and generally unpleasant during your vacation. So the other tip I have for you to ensure a wonderful vacation with your offspring is to threaten their lives. I found that to be quite helpful.

When dealing with kids, I find threatening their lives to be helpful. Click To Tweet

Before we left my husband told our kids in no uncertain terms that fighting on this trip wouldn’t be tolerated. And for the most part it worked. Whenever my kids started in all I had to say was, “Don’t make me feel like I’m back in America,” and the bickering stopped. I don’t know what it was, why that statement worked better than anything else I’ve ever shouted at my kids, but I do know I’m going to start yelling it at home, too, and see if it still has the same effect.

Venice

When we landed in Rome, we were shown to our apartment where we were given a brief tour by the owner’s representative before he wished us a pleasant stay and slipped out the front door. As I stood in the foyer and watched the door click shut behind him it occurred to me I was in Italy with absolutely nothing to do. It was 11:00 A.M. on the first day of our trip, and I had not one thing planned. The day followed a feverish 24-hours in which I raced around, pitching shoes and skirts and hats and everything else I might need for a 7-day trip into my suitcase before shoving my laptop and passport and flight information into a carry-on as the driver pulled up outside the house to take us to the airport. As the driver waited, I flicked off my computer, which I’d been working on until that moment, grabbed my bags and hustled out the door to take the trip to the airport where I boarded a six-hour overnight flight across the Atlantic. In the lead up to the trip I never once opened a travel guide, Googled an itinerary or downloaded a map, which may sound stupid or lazy or both but was really just a factor of time. Ordinarily, I research a destination until I could be a local guide myself, and I schedule every second down to the half-hour block of hammock time between 4:00 and 4:30 P.M. on day two, but with this trip I ran out of time.

We’d taken care of the main thing, though. We’d gotten ourselves there. And my husband and I had been to Italy once before so we didn’t feel the need to cram in every possible site to give ourselves the feeling we were having the best possible trip. So on that first day with no plan or schedule, which ordinarily would’ve sent me into heart failure, I drifted out of the apartment and into the bright morning light, not knowing where I was going. But I didn’t care. I was in Italy, and that was enough. My husband who was better prepared than I had downloaded a map app on his phone. As we headed down the cobblestone street, he gave it to our son to navigate us around because who cares where you wind up when you’re in Italy and there will be wine at the next stop?

That’s another thing I recommend – copious amounts of wine. Take every opportunity to sample the wine because it’s the best way to truly immerse yourself in the culture. And it keeps you open to anything your family wants to do, which was wander around and eat gelato. The perfect first day.

FUN!
FUN!

When we returned to the apartment that evening, though, I began to panic. A week was a long time to wander aimlessly, and I did actually want to see some historic sites and maybe one of the 7 Wonders of the World while we were at it. Rushing to my suitcase, I snatched my laptop and began frantically Googling tours of Rome and Venice. What if I was too late? What if everything was booked up? With my nose to the screen, I scrolled down the page as my eyes darted back and forth trying to scan all the tour descriptions at once. I needed a tour of the Vatican for four for tomorrow.

That day, the same one we landed in Rome, I miraculously managed to book all the tours for our trip. Of course, beggars can’t be choosers, and I feared I’d booked the bottom-barrel tours run by shady, unlicensed immigrants with no knowledge of the sites but what they gleaned off tourist brochures, which no one but those who couldn’t get in anywhere else and had travelled all the way to Europe with nothing planned took.

But that turned out not to be the case. The tours were all highly organized and professional, lead by enthusiastic, knowledgeable guides filled with fascinating facts. This good fortune only bolstered my spirits further, which I honestly didn’t think was possible. After the Vatican I was on a natural high although I don’t think the tour had the same effect on my son by the miserable expression on his face. But that’s the other thing – and this is key to having a wonderful time – you must ignore your children. I was so caught up in the stories of the artists and sculptures and paintings filling every square inch of wall space in the Vatican that I was oblivious to my son’s misery. It wasn’t until the end of the tour that I noticed his blank, little face, his eyes emotionless, black holes, staring back at me through the crowd. Still, he never once complained. For all of the three-hour tour, he was a trooper. Plus, we promised him gelato after every outing.

This part is crucial. In order to have a good time with your #kids, you must ignore them. #ParentingTips Click To Tweet
How to travel with teens and STILL enjoy your vacation. I got all the travel tips to vastly improve your quality of life with kids while you're on vacation. @OneFunnyMotha
BORING! ~Kids

After one of many gelato stops that day, we headed back to the apartment to get ready for dinner, and here is my final piece of advice for you. Listen closely because what I’m about to tell you is critical to the success of the mission: Allow your children a couple hours a day back at the room to play on their phones. I can’t emphasize this point enough. Whenever my kids were sluggish, trailing behind us on the crowded streets of Rome or looking bored and gloomy on the walking tours in Venice, all we had to do was mention electronics, and they perked right up. Quality time alone with their devices restores the natural balance. Electronics allow children to refuel and regain the vital energy they lost during the boring tour of the Sistine Chapel, and once they do, they are much better for it and much more agreeable dinner companions. Although I’m usually opposed all things electronic, I beseech you to employ this travel method. It will vastly improve your quality of life.

How to travel with teens and STILL enjoy your vacation. I give you all the tip, tricks and hacks to enjoy your trip with your children. @OneFunnyMotha
Gondola Shot.

While the whole trip was rigged together, I don’t think it could have worked out any better if we’d planned it. Maybe because I’m the type of person who’s always waiting for something to go wrong, when nothing does, I’m completely overjoyed. And, on this trip nothing went wrong. In fact, everything went right, and nobody was more surprised than I.

If you like this, you’ll love, I Just Want to Be Perfect, the fourth book in The New York Times best-selling series. It doesn’t have anything to do with travel, but it is funny. And, I’m in it. What more could you ask for? Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or order a signed copy direct from me: info @ onefunnymotha (dot) com.

How to Travel with Teens and STILL Enjoy Your Vacation

You actually can enjoy your Italian vacation – or European vacation or island vacation or some-sort-of-nice-destination vacation – with your kids. So if you want to take that trip to do something like whale watching california, then you should do it. I’m living proof. I’m the last person to say those words lightly, and I never would have had I not experienced it for myself. On this vacation I discovered many things not the least of which was that traveling with teens to places I actually want to visit is possible. My family traveled to Rome and Venice and while the cities were beautiful and enchanting, perhaps the singular best part of the trip was that my kids never once bickered. That’s 8 days and 7 nights of non-stop togetherness in fairly close quarters. It was so surprising, unexpected and delightful, it inspired a meme. Going on vacation with your family can be a big adventure. It’s often the most looked forward to time of the year, which shouldn’t be a surprise, as there are loads of places that people go to, in order to enjoy their vacation. If you are trying to plan a vacation, but have no idea about where to go, then as a suggestion maybe you should take a look at visiting somewhere like Chicago? You can easily find accommodation at the Crowne Plaza Chicago West Loop. However, there are so many other places that you could also visit. Perhaps you might want to go to Rome or Venice like me.

Part of the reason I think I enjoyed the trip so much was that it in no way resembled my regular life. I don’t just mean I was in a new, beautiful location (although that helps) in carefree vacation mode (that helps, too). I mean my life abroad was so unbelievably pleasant it was unrecognizable. From the time I got in the car to head to the airport to the moment I touched down back on American soil, my life was trouble-free, something with which I have no prior experience.

Is this really how some people live? Could I live this way if I relocated to Europe?

The spell, I was sure, would be broken soon enough, but I still wanted to move to Europe to find out for certain.

Upon my return when my parents enquired about the trip, I replied, “The kids never fought once.”

“Out of every thing you did,” my father remarked, “that’s the most memorable part of the trip?”

Yes. It was. Because if the kids argued or complained or were sullen or grumpy, it would have marred everything else, making our wonderful Italian vacation miserable. But the kids were happy and agreeable. Something I never saw coming.

Before we left I had serious reservations about the trip. In fact, I was against it. At 13 and 15, my kids were old enough to travel abroad, but were they old enough to appreciate the trip? If not, we were laying out a lot of cash to listen to them complain in another country for a week. Should I have done what my friend did and buy a motorhome with help from Auto Finance Online Ltd and just travel in my own country? But this trip taught me my kids are eager and enthusiastic travelers. Like me, they delight in adventure.

Going in, though, it was a gamble, and I was convinced the trip was going to be a disaster. So I wasn’t actually eagerly anticipating this vacation. But on this trip I learned a few things, and these things that I’m about to share with you are guaranteed to make any vacation a success.

First, the best thing you can do to ensure a fantastic time is to dread the trip and not plan a single thing for it. That’s what we did, and it’s undeniably the best approach to travel. That way when things work out, you’re completely astonished not to mention thrilled at your good fortune.

Although we’d known about the trip for well over a year and kept planning to plan for it, we never actually planned for it. At least not until the date on the calendar indicated our trip was 3 weeks away, and my husband and I became fairly certain we were embarking on a one-week stint to be homeless in a foreign country. That’s where the beauty of Airbnb came in. With T minus 20 days, we whipped out our laptops, logged onto Airbnb and launched simultaneous frantic searches for accommodations in two cities on our side-by-side laptops.

After some scrolling Kevin found the most beautiful, two-bedroom apartment in all of Rome. It was way nicer than anything I called up in my $99 searches. When he turned his laptop toward me to reveal the photos of what my life could be, I gasped. I sat, starring at the screen in stunned silence. When I could speak again, my first words were, “Contact Lorenzo immediately.”

With bright, sun-filled rooms, romantic antique furnishings, and stunning floor to ceiling windows that opened onto a rooftop terrace, I had to have that life – if only for three days.

You CAN travel with teens and still have a good time. The apartment in Rome where we stayed.
This is where I’m moving when I come up with the money.

The place was slightly different from the one we stayed in during our first trip to Rome 17 years earlier. Before we were married or had any money, my husband and I travelled together to Rome. I did most of the planning and research and booked a room in a great location near the Spanish Steps. It was in a pensione and while I had no idea what that meant, after staying there I think it roughly translates to English as Motel 6.

This time with Airbnb, we were moving up in the world, but since we’d never used Airbnb before I didn’t know if it was just a way to swindle people out of their money when they arrived in a foreign country and no one showed up to meet them with the key and their increasingly frantic emails were suddenly left unanswered. But it wasn’t. Lorenzo did, in fact, have waiting at the apartment his representative who, as he let us in through the little door cut-out of the massive, original door, informed us we were staying in a famous apartment building. Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister – you know, the one involved in all the sex scandals with young women and prostitutes – had an office in the building. I was honored. I kept an eye out for wild parties and orgies the three days we were there, but I never saw a thing.

You CAN travel with teens and still have a good time. I'm living proof. By @OneFunnyMotha
The view from the rooftop terrace.

With one apartment down we turned our search to Venice where we found not quite as lavish an apartment but one right on a canal. As thrilled as I was to be staying on a canal I had no inkling of what that meant for us other than it was very Venetian and that if my kids grumbled or fought I would toss them out the window into the fetid water. Aside from that, I had no concept of what view lay outside the window.

This was the view. Every afternoon before dinner I sat in the window with a chilled glass of Soave gazing out as the gondolas lazily floated by. I doubt I’d ever get tired of that view. It hardly looks real.

You CAN travel with teens and still have a good time. I've living proof. I took my kids on vacation to Venice and Rome and a great time was had by all. @OneFunnyMotha

Our apartment in Venice was on the aptly named Calle del Paradiso. Everyday as we navigated our way through the maze of narrow streets and single-width alleys, Kevin and I marveled at the beauty and questioned our reality. We half expected to turn the corner and run into Goofy or Donald Duck or some D-list cartoon character because we were actually in a Disney resort engineered to look like Venice instead of the city itself. The scene was all too perfect.

Calle Del Paradiso

Paradise it was.

I’ll have more travel tips for you next time, but I think I’ve said enough for one day. Maybe I should call this series (or my blog) the Practical Guide to Traveling with Kids. There’s so many travel articles out there, but none of them tell you how to survive and thrive with kids. Here, I give you bonafide, proven strategies guaranteed to get you that vacation you’ve always dreamed of but never thought possible – a pleasant one with your family. More on that next week.

If you like this, you’ll love, I Just Want to Be Perfect, the fourth book in The New York Times best-selling series. It doesn’t have anything to do with travel, but it is funny. And, I’m in it. What more could you ask for? Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or order a signed copy direct from me: info @ onefunnymotha (dot) com.

Funniest Parenting Tweets of the Week #624

I’m back in action after my trip to Italy (more on that later) and mad tweeting. Ok, not really, but other people are and I like to share them with you because you should never let a good tweet go to waste. Plus, I did have a couple of funny tweets of my own recently, and if you missed them in the 1.5 seconds they appear in your Twitter feed, you can see them here where they can be enjoyed for a long time to come. I’m particularly proud of this Twitter list I’ve come up with. It’s super funny. Just look.

Right? What are we supposed to do with them? I don’t have a curriculum or a library or gymnasium in my house.

Which inevitably leads to…

May I suggest everyone try it as a preventative measure? Because nobody wants to find themselves in a situation like this: 

Or this:

Which might explain…


Funny Parenting TweetsAnd right after that they’ll start pestering you for food.

She just has to ride that out for the next five years or so until the kid turns into a teen.

Here’s another great meal planning tip.

But couldn’t he have tweeted this like 15 years ago when it really would’ve helped me out? I don’t care if Twitter didn’t exist then. I don’t want to hear excuses.

I’ll tell you who else doesn’t want to hear excuses. This four-year-old.

Only four and already a master manipulator.

I just hope she likes her vegetables or I imagine trouble ahead.

Of course with kids you can’t really avoid trouble.

Still, every now and then, the heavens shine down on you, permitting you to experience a moment of grace.

Even if you don’t get to experience it, there’s always this to look forward to. 

That’s it for this week guys. I hope you enjoyed it. I know I certainly did. Meet me back here again soon when I’ll be discussing my adventures in Rome and Venice WITH kids. I’m living proof you can travel with kids and still have a good time. Next time I’ll tell you how.
If you like this, you’ll love, I Just Want to Be Perfect, the fourth book in The New York Times best-selling series. It doesn’t have any tweets in it, but it is funny. And, I’m in it. What more could you ask for? Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or order a signed copy direct from me: info @ onefunnymotha (dot) com.

A Few Thoughts on the Brock Turner Rape Case, Ben Roethlisberger & The Bachelorette

The Brock Turner rape case and The Bachelorette are connected however bizarre that may seem. And it does seem rather bizarre.

I don’t like to get political here. I really don’t, but the political is personal, and so I find myself needing to speak.

Actually, I said it all on Facebook last week, and a good Facebook post shouldn’t go to waste. So I decided to collect some of what I said here. After all you might have missed it, and nobody wants that.

I didn’t want to write about the Brock Turner rape case because, honestly, I think I’m at the point of injustice fatigue. When I read the news I just slumped over my computer keyboard, muttering, “Not another one.” I knew the internet would be flooded with posts, and I didn’t think I had anything intelligent to add to the conversation. So I kept quiet. I’ve already said what I have to say on rape and the culture that keeps it thriving in this country on The Good Men Project. The Stanford rapist, the father whose statement makes it clear how exactly to raise a rapist, and the judge are just another sickening example of that.

But then in the wake of that horrible news last week I flick on the TV and, against my better judgment, tuned into “The Bachelorette.” It’s one of the worst shows out there, I know, but when you’re exhausted and depleted and desperate for something mindless and open to endless mockery, The Bachelorette is the program to watch. When I turned it on, the contestants were in a football stadium where the males could literally battle it out in some sort of demented, 21st Century contest for JoJo’s love because clearly tests of brute strength is the only way men can prove their worth and demonstrate their compatibility as a mate. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve needed my husband to tackle another man for me. Usually it’s while we’re shopping in Costco, and someone has taken the last pizza bagel bite from the little red sample tray.) But that’s not the point I wanted to make.

 

Brock Turner Rape Case, Ben Roethlisberger & The Bachelorette (1)

The point is as the camera sweeps across the football field, looming large in the middle is Ben Roethlisberger. All of the male contestants are all clearly enamored with this man, and in true Bachelor/Bachelorette style, they are all gushing profusely over him. I new nothing about this person because I try my hardest not to know anything about sports – it only upsets me – but my husband happened to be in the room, and he made a comment.

“Out of all the football players, that’s they guy they pick? A rapist.”

“What?” I scrambled to sit up in my seat. My husband typically doesn’t take any social, political or moral stands. He cares. Just not enough to get outraged about things. He leaves that to me. So this statement came as a bit of a surprise. My husband briefly explained that Roethlisberger had been accused of rape and although he wasn’t charged, his reputation was not untarnished. 

This came a day after the recall petition for the California judge in the Brock Turner rape case and two days after the news broke of the paltry 6 month sentence the rapist received after the prosecutor had won a unanimous conviction, which is pretty close to miraculous. And here we are putting a known assailant on national TV – a dating show no less – and celebrating him. The men and one woman on the show could not be more sycophantic over this accused rapist. It was heart-warming to watch.

While I know Roethlisberger was not charged in the most recent case (which sadly is fairly common and is also no indication of his innocence) concerning a 20-year-old student who was plied with alcohol by Roethlisberger and then taken to a back room in a bar by Roethlisberger’s bodyguard who then blocked the entrance, the fact that he received any kind of disciplinary action from the NFL who likes to protect its rapists and wife beaters, tells you something. Roethlisberger is also being sued in another previous sexual assault case so his connection to this crime is not new. While he may not have been found guilty (yet), the fact that he has been implicated in a vile and contemptible crime (twice) should be enough to keep people from lionizing him and major television networks from chasing after him for television spots.

But this is our society where none of that matters. You can treat women however you want because what are the repercussions? Typically you won’t be convicted, and that’s if charges are even brought. On the off chance you do, you’ll only face 6 months in county jail because more time in an actual prison is far too harsh, and as Judge Persky, the judge in the Brock Turner case, said would have a “severe impact” on the criminal. We wouldn’t want that, would we? On the bright side, the rapist might get a T.V. show or book deal out of it so you really have to look at the positives.

This is rape culture at its best.

Why is rape the only crime for which people – the general public, the media, the very people charged with enforcing the criminal justice system – feel bad for the rapist?

Why is rape the only crime ppl-the public, the media, the ppl charged w/ enforcing the law-feel bad 4 the rapist? Click To Tweet

Twitter Tuesday: Funniest Parenting Tweets #623

I know I haven’t done a Twitter Tuesday in about 56 Tuesdays, but give a blogger a break. I’ve been busy. I’ve been working away on the book, and it’s been taking all my time, and I’ve wanted to quit about 1o hundred thousand million times but then what? I’d have to get a real job and at this point I really have no employable skills. And the proposal was done and then it wasn’t because I had to shift focus a little, which meant revising the proposal and I just wasn’t that into it because, God damn, I already did the proposal once and shouldn’t that be enough? But it’s not enough. It’s never enough, and I still have to rework the proposal, but first I have to do some research, and meanwhile I’m working on a chapter that just won’t end and is written all backwards so I have to flip it, but it’s not as easy as it sounds because I can’t just cut and paste and swing my arm out toward the computer screen and say, “Voila, it’s done,” because it won’t make any fucking sense because you need transitions, people, transitions. Do you know nothing about writing? And transitions, it turns out, are a pain in the ass so after working for two weeks vomiting up this crappy, indecipherable chapter, I now have to rearrange the whole damn thing into something that is somewhat coherent, but that’s the thing. There’s no guarantees it will be. None. I might spend the next week completely rearranging it just to find out the new order makes no sense either. Do you hear what I’m saying? Because I don’t think you do. It’s sheer and utter lunacy, and I’m only on chapter 6. That means there’s another 9 more chapters of this agony to go, and I’m really not sure I’m going to make it. You know what the worse part is? The worst part is reviewing your work at the end of a long and frustrating day and hating every single word you’ve written. That’s the worst part, and it happens to me pretty much every day.

Anyway, that’s what’s been taking my time if you must know. Plus, I did have one of my essays published in a book (more on that below).

But I did take some time out to go on the Twitter lately. Not a lot, but in the short time I was on I read so many funny and worthwhile tweets that I  said, “I simply must do a Twitter post.” It was just the right thing to do. So I collected them here so we could all have a good laugh. Normally, I try to form some sort of theme or logical story out of them, but this time I said screw it. It’s late, we’re all tired and I’m pretty sure no one reads my little story, anyway. You’re all just here for the tweets. I know that.

Funny Parenting Tweets

I want to start out with one of my favorite twits. I think you’ll like her, too.

Talking about feeling great…

The interesting thing about kids is they are so very versatile in the ways in which they can be jerks.

 

 

They don’t need books. Just give them sesame seeds.

Well, maybe they need one book.

On that note…

Maybe do this.

Totally worth it.

Maybe The Glad Stork can help him out.

Until next time, people.

If you like this, you’ll love, I Just Want to Be Perfect, the fourth book in The New York Times best-selling series. It doesn’t have any tweets in it, but it is funny. And, I’m in it. What more could you ask for? Get it on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or order a signed copy direct from me: info @ onefunnymotha (dot) com.

I Just Want to Be Perfect Out TODAY

Guys, today’s the big day. The book you’ve all been waiting for or at least that I’ve been waiting for is out. It’s called (if you couldn’t tell from my title) I Just Want to Be Perfect. Which is so me. Actually, it’s not. When Jen Mann of People I Want to Punch in the Throat asked if I wanted to contribute, I thought, well, she’s got the wrong woman for this job. I don’t know if Jen knows this, but I’m not striving for perfection. I’m just striving for mediocrity. But I guess I Just Want to Be Mediocre isn’t a good book title.

Don’t let the Perfect title fool you, though. This book takes the cult of perfection and turns it on its head. As women we are constantly bombarded with messages to be the perfect girlfriend, wife, mother, woman, dominatrix. These “helpful” tips are provided by practically every media outlet and glossy magazine (which is why I don’t buy them – I’m perfectly fine being mediocre, thank you), and amplified by social media. Even if you’re like me (just trying to get by), we’ve all felt the pressure to be perfect – to look younger, thinner, prettier, smoother while trying out the 7 tricks guaranteed to turn him on! (like looking at him and saying yes? It’s one trick. It’s all one trick, people.) at night and then carrying in the latest Pinterest-inspired dessert to school the next morning for your little angel’s class party. The pressure is constant and overwhelming. And, it’s everywhere.

It’s also false. Perfection is an impossible goal. Yet, we fall prey to it. It’s hard not to, I suppose, when we are always being told we are not good enough, that we are in need of improvement. So we try the latest workout craze (hot or naked yoga anyone?) or diet fad or waxing trend or miracle wrinkle product or vaginal care services (forget steaming – may I interest you in a little vaginal weightlifting?) or bleaching of any kind including those parts that have no business ever being bleached or making a mad attempt to declutter our homes to vanquish all those thing that don’t spark joy. What if it’s your kids? What if your kids don’t spark joy? How do you get rid of them?

What if your kids don't spark joy? How do you get rid of them? Click To Tweet

ANSWER me!

If you've ever tried to be perfect and failed, you're not alone. In this humorous collection of stories, 37 women detail their misguided quest for perfection and the epic failures that result. Get your copy of I Just Want to Be Perfect, the fourth book in the best-selling series, today, and laugh along with us at the silly and impossible pursuit of perfection.

No one’s got that answer to that, now do they? That’s the advice we all really need. If someone figured that out, I bet we wouldn’t need all the other crap.

So, ladies, if you’ve ever tried to be perfect and failed, you’re not alone. In this humorous collection, 37 women detail their misguided quest for perfection and the epic failures that result. My piece wasn’t so much about striving for perfection in the typical sense. It was more about my pursuit of perfect health. Or, at least, decent health. Some kind of health because my back had been bothering me for years. Then several months ago I went on a quest to improve my health, and even that I couldn’t get right. Read my story in I Just Want to Be Perfect. I promise you’ll laugh. And check out the bang-up collection of other humor writers who share their funny fails along with mine.

Jen Mann – People I Want to Punch in the Throat / I Just Want to Pee Alone

Bethany Kriger Thies – Bad Parenting Moments

Deva Nicole Dalporto – MyLifeSuckers

Julianna Wesby Miner – Rants From Mommyland

LOLA LOLITA – SammichesPsychMeds / MockMom

Kim Bongiorno – Let Me Start By Saying

Alyson Herzig – The Shitastrophy

Kathryn Leehane – Foxy Wine Pocket

Harmony Hobbs – Modern Mommy Madness

Erin Dwyer Dymowski – Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Tara Wood – Love Morning Wood

Kelcey Kintner – The Mama Bird Diaries

Lisa René LeClair – Sassypiehole

Joelle Wisler – Joelle Wisler, Writer

Christine McDevitt Burke – Keeper of The Fruit Loops

Meredith Spidel – The Mom of the Year

Meredith Gordon – Bad Sandy

Nicole Leigh Shaw – NicoleLeighShaw.com

Allison Hart – Motherhood, WTF?

Jennifer Lizza – Outsmarted Mommy

Suzanne Fleet – Toulouse and Tonic

AK Turner – Vagabonding with Kids

Robyn Welling – Hollow Tree Ventures

Ashley Fuchs – The Malleable Mom

Kim Forde – The Fordeville Diaries

E.R. Catalano – Zoe vs. the Universe

Chrissy Woj – Quirky Chrissy

Stacey Gill – One Funny Motha

Wendi Aarons – wendiaarons.com

Jen Simon – jensimonwriter.com

Janel Mills – 649.133: Girls, the Care and Maintenance Of.

Jessica Azar – Herd Management

Susanne Kerns –The Dusty Parachute

Audrey Hayworth – Sass Mouth

Hedia Anvar – Gunmetal Geisha

Christine Organ – christineorgan.com

Shya Gibbons – ShyaGibbons

Now you can get your copy of the fourth book in The New York Times best-selling series, and laugh along with us at the silly and impossible pursuit of perfection.

Get it today on Amazon.
Or for your Nook on Barnes & Noble.

On The Big Waste of Money That is a Backyard Playset

It’s that time of year again, the time when hundred of thousands of parents across the nation will shell out their life savings for a backyard playset. I know. I was one of them. I don’t know what came over me – pure, unbridled optimism; utter delusion; dementia – but there was a point not too long ago where I just had to have a backyard playset for the kids. In my heart I harbored hope that this was the answer to all my problems. My problems being my kids permanently attached to my body like Siamese twins – or in this case Siamese triplets with one of bunch approximately 35 years older.

I needed something with bells and whistles (but not too many bells and whistles because that’s expensive) to captivate their attention outside in the glorious sunshine and fresh air where kids have played naturally for millennia. Instead of kicking them out of the house and locking the door like I should have, I plunked down good money on a playset. This is the tale of that playset, and my words of caution to you. But you’re gonna have to go over on Scary Mommy today. Well, actually, it was over there yesterday, but I forgot. Can you believe that? I completely and totally forgot. I had it marked on the calendar and everything. I had it marked on the calendar, looked several times this week at that day on the calendar, which also had several other notes and appointments marked on it, and forgot. So, I’m telling you now. But that’s OK because it doesn’t go stale. If you haven’t read it yet, go do yourself a favor and read it. It’ll save you a couple thousand dollars.

How to waste a boatload of money on your kids with a backyard playset. Parents, I got the answers for you right here. By @OneFunnyMotha
It looked something like this.

Epilog: When we sold our home a few years ago, the new owners had two small boys. They asked if we were going to leave the playset. I nodded and felt relief. I thought, at least someone will get some use out of it.

Like this? Find even funnier stuff in I STILL JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE, the third installment in The New York Times best-selling series from some of the funniest women on the web. What I’m trying to say is, I’m in this book. Buy it, ok? Available on AmazonKindleiTunes and Barnes and Noble. I will love you forever. 

My Kid Has a Potty Mouth (and He Got it From Me)

I love cursing. I do. There’s nothing more cathartic, liberating and enjoyable than letting loose a string of expletives. I love the release I get from throwing down some f-bombs, and there are certain situations in which screaming “Shit!” is just a reflexive response. No other word can capture the moment quite as precisely as that lone, four-letter one.

Of course, I don’t curse as often as I’d like because I’m aware there’s a time and a place, and I don’t want to appear rude. I reserve cursing for more private situations, like with my husband at home. The only problem is my kids live there.

For a good long while I held my tongue. Or at the very least, I was exceedingly cautious as to when I unleashed the torrent of obscenities so my kids wouldn’t overhear. It was a difficult struggle for me, but I endured for the children. As time went on, though, I found it increasingly onerous to squash my natural tendencies. As mothers, we are asked to give up so many things for our children — the late nights out, the drinking, the fun, our whole lifestyles. And I sincerely tried to give up the cursing as well. It just didn’t take. To me, spewing profanities comes as naturally as breathing. Expletives, I believe, allow me to best express myself. And, honestly, there’s no other time in life when the need for cursing is as great as after you have kids. Tell me that isn’t a kick in the teeth.

My Kid Has a Potty Mouth

So I found myself occasionally slipping up. It started out with a damn and a hell, but we all know those are just the gateway curses to shit and fuck. Eventually, I couldn’t stop myself. As the kids grew, so did my repertoire of expletives. The profanities were so enmeshed in my vocabulary that they just came falling out whenever the kids pissed me off, which was frequent.

And I discovered something. Profanities can be quite effective.

Sometimes a, “Dammit, Jack, I told you no more Skittles” gets your point across more readily than, “Now what did I say about snacks before dinner?” really can. A succinct, “Your ass is grass” conveys your dissatisfaction better than, “I’m really not pleased with your grades right now” ever will. And, a nicely placed, “You’re full of shit” tends to express your feelings more accurately than a, “I have difficulty believing your iPhone broke all by itself when I found it in your pants pocket after I removed the laundry from the dryer.”

At first, I had reservations about my language, but then I thought, Fuck it. This is who I AM.

I’m not saying cursing is always the answer, and I do try to use it sparingly around the kids. You don’t want it to lose its punch. And, I did have concerns about the kind of example I might be setting. Obscenities coming out of the mouths of 12-year-olds are not cute. But I know my kids curse. They’re at the age when all kids start cursing, and they, too, must learn there’s a time and a place when it can be used. That time and place is not around me or in public. It may be a bit of a double standard, but that’s OK. I’m the adult, so I can make the rules.

In many, many areas I’m a careful, prudent and responsible parent. I make sure my kids get enough sleep and eat a healthy diet and do all their homework and brush their teeth and do their chores and treat others with respect. This is just one area where I fall short. And I fucking don’t give a shit.

Like this? Find even funnier stuff in I STILL JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE, the third installment in The New York Times best-selling series from some of the funniest women on the web. What I’m trying to say is, I’m in this book. Buy it, ok? Available on AmazonKindleiTunes and Barnes and Noble. I will love you forever. 

© 2015 Stacey Gill, as first published on Scary Mommy.

20 Things That Are Too Hard for Teens

When our children arrive at the doorstep of teendom—becoming less children and more adults—we parents feel a tremendous burden lift from our hunched, tense shoulders and rejoice in having arrived at this final frontier, the homestretch, the last leg of the tour. We can see the finish line up ahead, almost within our reach. As our children stand on the threshold of adulthood, we take pride in seeing them develop into independent, capable, intelligent human beings. If they are not ready to go out into the world just yet, they soon will be, and we delight that we have done our job and done it well.

Until, that is, we ask our children to do a rather routine task and find they are no longer able. In fact, they are incapable of doing so very many things they’d previously performed without much trouble that we start to wonder if something’s wrong. We think they may have contracted some rare, little-unknown disease–one that seems to be affecting their entire body but showing no physical symptoms. We become convinced our community is in the midst of a mysterious outbreak, because most of their peers appear to be afflicted as well. It’s so strange, because the tasks that are now too difficult were once so simple.

And we fear there is no cure.

20 things that are too hard for teens. By @OneFunnyMotha

But with time and practice, you hope they’ll be able to overcome this disability. You pray one day, they’ll be able to live full and happy lives. You persevere and alert others to look for the warning signs, because if caught early, you’re optimistic the progression of the disease can be slowed. Awareness is key, and knowledge is power. Make sure you know the signs!

20 Things That Are Too Hard for Teens

1. Brushing their teeth.

2. Changing their clothes.

3. Opening the refrigerator.

4. Pouring a drink.

5. Putting dishes in the sink.

6. Making toast.

7. Loading the dishwasher.

8. Unloading the dishwasher.

9. Pushing buttons on the remote.

10. Getting up.

11. Sitting down.

12. Throwing garbage in the trash can.

13. Turning the lights on.

14. Turning the lights off.

15. Thinking.

16. Tossing dirty clothes in the hamper.

17. Petting the cat.

18. Peeling a banana.

19. Fetching the mail.

20. Walking.

Although the list is long and rather unnerving, it doesn’t have to mean the end of a promising life. I’m convinced kids can be rehabilitated, and I’m determined to get my children the help they need. This disease may not have been studied or written about in any scientific journal and there may not be any proven treatments, but I’m not going to let lack of medical research hinder me. Instead, I devised my own therapy, and it seems to be working.

Now, whenever my daughter says she’s thirsty, and I say, “Go get yourself a drink,” to which she responds, “Oh, just forget it,” I say, “No, now I demand you get a drink.” She may roll her eyes and slide off the couch onto the floor before picking herself up and heading to the kitchen, but when she gets there, she is actually able to remove the iced tea from the refrigerator and pour it into a glass. It’s a real confidence builder.

When I sit down on the couch next to my son, who’s watching the 5,000th consecutive episode of Regular Show, and I ask him to change the channel, he still resists, but I assure him he can do it. There’s some debate back and forth, but eventually he slowly lifts his limp arm up off the couch and moves it over the remote control lying beside him. As his hand hovers over the remote, I say, “You can do it,” and finally he pushes down and presses the button. It’s all about encouragement.

And when both are doing their homework at night and I walk into the darkened room questioning how in the hell they can possibly read in the dark, to which they insist they can see their textbooks perfectly fine, I say, “Put the goddamn light on already, because I’m not paying for glasses when you go blind.” And they do.

I find once the children have tried and see they are, in fact, successful, it makes performing those tasks much easier the next time the opportunity arises. Eventually—five or ten years down the road, perhaps—you hardly even have to encourage them at all. This method might not be perfect and it takes some investment, but with time and persistence, I truly believe our children can overcome these challenges. Who knows? They may even some day walk again or pet the cat unsolicited.

Like this? Find even funnier stuff in I STILL JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE, the third installment in The New York Times best-selling series from some of the funniest women on the web. What I’m trying to say is, I’m in this book. Buy it, ok? Available on AmazonKindleiTunes and Barnes and Noble. I will love you forever. 

©2015 Stacey Gill, as first published on Scary Mommy.