If I’m being emotional, you’re being a soulless fuck.
I can run a company.
I can compete in the Olympics.
I have a name.
I have a brain.
I have a vagina.
I have value.
I have worth.
I have ideas.
If you’re annoyed by my change in mood every month, then let me tell you about the burden of being the only one of us that can continue the mother fucking species.
If you think my role is in the kitchen, in the laundry room, or in the bedroom, then you’ve missed the boat on a few hundred years of evidence that you’re wasting my talent, squandering my skills, and cutting household earning potential by at least half.
If my outfit, my breasts, or the way I look in a skirt is a consideration for employment, then we should discuss your ill-fitting suit, your “I gave up gut,” and synthetic leather shoes, and what they say about your competence and attention to detail.
I will choose my place.
I will choose my position.
I will decide my fate.
I will consider my options.
You do not own me.
You do not tell me.
You do not make me.
This is my body.
This is my mind.
This is my life.
I do not hate you.
I do not resent you.
I am not trying to steal your masculinity.
I am trying to define my femininity and I do not need your input, your opinion, or your objections.
I’ve recently been following a lot of fitness stuff on Instagram because I am attempting to suck the energy and motivation from these happy, skinny people and use it to force myself to quit being such a miserable fat ass. It works sometimes. A lot of times it doesn’t work at all. I start my morning (after commuting to the garage), riding the bus to my office and scrolling through photo after photo of egg whites, protein powder, neon colored workout gear, and high ponytails. #mondaymotivation #eatclean #getafterit #notimelikethepresent #eattolive #bethechange #gogirl #thintastesbetter #fit #imhot– the hashtags are endless and one of my favorite parts. I’m pretty sure I could start a satirical workout gear line based on hashtags. Because I definitely need some lycra leggings with #squatbitch written all over them. (BRB, I obviously just found my calling.)
But I digress. My new favorite is stumbling upon insanely fit, chronic selfie takers (who apparently own NOTHING else but coordinating sports bras and shortie shorts) who answer questions of from their fans in their IG posts. “People are constantly asking me: do you eat cake? YES! Yes, ladies. I LOVE cake. I don’t deprive myself of ANYTHING. But I do LISTEN to my BODY and do what makes me FEEL good. Sometimes that’s REST. Sometimes that’s a crazy WORKOUT. AND SOMETIMES IT’S CAKE! #eatcake #nodeprivation #fitmom” …or something like that. Occasionally I’m tricked by these posts and I find myself spending a hot second being like, “OMG. She really is just like me. She eats cake and is thin and there’s hope for me.” And then one of two things happens…
The thin, fit lady follows up her cake proclamation with some BULLSHIT recipe for her favorite cheat cake and it looks something like this:
Piper’s Perfect Cheat Cake
Serves: 1/2 a person
1/2 cup exotic nut “flour” (sometimes I use Kuelalala flour from the highest peaks of Japan– but only if I have to!)
2 cups gluten-free, cruelty free, organic oats
1/2 cup pureed acai berries (organic or nothing!)
3 TBSP coconut oil
1 TBSP macadamia nut butter (you can make this the night before)
16 organic avocados (buy local; I pick mine from my avocado tree in the back garden)
9 TBSP chia seeds (I can’t seem to keep these in the house– no matter how much I buy!)
3 dates, pitted
1 cup pumpkin milk
2 tsp cinnamon (ground yourself)
1/8 tsp organic, local maple syrup
Instructions: It’s so easy, y’all! Glaze the avocados with the maple syrup and roast for 3 hours on 250 until they begin to chant Om Shanti from the oven. NOT A SECOND LONGER. Simmer the pumpkin milk with the cinnamon and dates until it smells like a vegan Christmas party. Throw everything except the chia seeds and acai berries into a Vitamix Pro series and puree until completely smooth. If you need to sneak some batter, I totally understand. (But remember, that’s one less bite you get later! SACRIFICES!) Pour into a loaf pan– don’t panic if the consistency is “brick-ish.” Bake for 26 seconds at 325 to allow the flavors to marry. Let it cool and then ice with acai berry puree and sprinkle with chia seeds.
There you have it! My all time FAVORITE cheat cake. So good. Reminds me of the cupcakes my mama used to make!
(Obviously her mother was a loveless hippie with the kitchen skills of a cockroach. But whatever.)
2. I remember that when these ladies cheat, they do so once every 6-7 days.
Six days of eating roughage and egg whites, working out twice a day, and freezing to death in those sports bra outfits, and they earn a fiber cookie and a half glass of zinfandel. We’re not talking about moderation. Moderation is knowing that you should never go for four glasses of red on a weeknight. (Because only people who really hate themselves allow for that to happen.) This is something else. If I make it through breakfast and lunch without eating something completely shitty, I feel like I’ve earned something by 3 PM. That feels moderate. And I’m warm and comfy in my modern muumuu.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not disparaging these amazing women (and men) who have iron self discipline and bodies like gods. It’s really something. But like all media, I have to be really, really careful not to confused their goals and outcomes with my own, and therefore not confuse their habits with my own. I’ll likely never be skipping around town in a bra and wind shorts. (And if I did, the husband would have me committed.) I haven’t done that since the late 90s and even then it wasn’t my best look. I’m 100% sure that my before and after photos will not look anything like 99% of these folks. Not because I couldn’t (I couldn’t, realistically, but physically it’s probably possible if I REALLY committed), but because I’m not in that place in my life. Plus I’ve yet to find the Instagram account of the crazy fit gal who works 50 hours a week, commutes 3 hours a day, has kids, and still has friends who like hanging out with her. Because, let’s be honest, no one likes a sober gal who eats fiber cookies and talks about deadlifts.
So for now I’ll keep riding the bus, liking the photos, drawing inspiration from these otherworldly humans, and collecting design ideas for my activewear line. Starting with the sports bra emblazoned with #lovemycookies.
When I met my husband 12 years ago, I was a wee thing. A child. I’d had a string of completely insignificant relationships with random boys, but I was always just “one of those girls.” I didn’t really date. Partially my mother scarred me for life, implying that I would become knocked up and poor if I ever let a boy see my boobs, and partially I just never really liked it. I felt painfully awkward going on first, second, third, fourth– all dates. (I once insisted in sleeping in all of my clothes at a guys house. Like in his bed, in jeans, with my socks on. I turn crimson every time I think about it. Girls, listen up, sex is not that big of a deal. Don’t be a whore, but for Christ’s sake, please don’t shack up in a guys bedroom in all of your clothes and disappear through the fire escape after he’s asleep. You can’t recover from that. He’ll never call.)
When I met the husband, it was instantly different. I didn’t want to date him, I wanted to be his other half. I wanted to skip over all the awkward dating (we did), the boobie gazing (we didn’t), and arrive at the comfortable, compatible, for always stuff. I’d found my person. BOOM. Let’s move on.
Part of our courtship was fueled by an newly awakened desire to take care of another person. I wanted to make him happy. It was like a tortured, romantic fulfilling of Maslow’s hierarchy. I wanted to feed him, shelter him, clothe him. I wanted him to be happy and carefree and I would do all sorts of very loving, very out of character things to ensure those things were true. The biggest thing I did was cook.
I cooked things out of cookbooks. There were courses and sauces. I made dinner almost every night. After I was 21, there was wine. We got into a rhythm. I was the dinner maker, the grocery shopper, the planner. And that was that.
But here’s the thing… As it turns out, I really don’t like dinner. I don’t like making dinner. I think, more accurately, I don’t like to have any responsibilities after 6pm. Having a child was a real kick in the dick in this area. They need all sorts of things at all hours of the day and night. So Aut kind of puts me at my quota. By the time I commute home after a full day of work, orient myself in my house, and put all my shit away, I basically want to do the ABSOLUTE minimum between that moment and when I get into bed. Even if that means eating questionable cottage cheese over the sink and calling it dinner. My priorities are different now than they were over a decade ago.
When the husband is gone or busy, I get almost giddy. I think about the complete zero dinner I’m going to have and I’m set free. Calorically, it’s also a boon. If I don’t have to waste calories on proteins and health carbs (eye roll), I can use them all on a bottle of wine or sixteen pieces of chocolate. I can also just eat three spoonfuls of almond butter and go read for the rest of the night. Fuck. Yeah.
The bigger challenge is that I’ve started to feel anger towards dinner. Dinner mocks me and steals my time. When the husband says something like, “so, what do you think we should eat this week,” I get a little rage-y.
NOTHING. I want to eat NOTHING. I want to open the fridge and fine random treasures and eat them indiscriminately over six hours. A piece of cheese. A few nuts. A bite of something that’s been in the fridge since… who knows. I don’t want to be tied to a single, well balanced plate, for GOD SAKE. As for that child of ours, he can take a page out of American Childhood and have a bowl of cereal and some disappointment.
But that’s not how grownups apparently act. We have to meal plan. We have to shop. We have to prep things. We have to eat dinner. We have to feed our children. Ugh.
This is actually the number one thing I fantasize about when I think about my impending mental breakdown and my move to a ramshackle cottage on the outskirts of Reno. Sure, I’ll be living in squalor and painted as one of those disgusting women who left her child out of selfishness, but I will eat the shit out of nothing every. single. night. I’ll probably never go to the grocery store again. It will be magical. In it’s own sad way.
But this is actually a story about marriage. About how the precedents we set (even subconsciously) at the beginning of our relationships start to define our roles and our interactions. And even though nothing is set in stone, it’s hard work to accept the ways you’ve changed, harder still to accept the ways in which your partner has changed, and even harder still to break these cycles and find new normals. My husband doesn’t (by any stretch of the imagination) expect me to cook dinner, but the scheduling, rituals, and ingrained habits that have to change if I decide to write dinner out of my life are bigger than not cooking any more. There would have to be a shift in responsibility, a reallocating of duties and expectations. And that is really difficult to do in a marriage.
And dinner is a small thing. When I think back at the girl I was then and the boy he was, our paradigms were defined by such narrow experience of the world. Our belief systems have changed, our goals have changed, and at every step we’ve had to reassess, acknowledge, and make decisions about our relationship and our dynamic. It’s hard work. Necessary, but hard.
Twelve years ago, dinner was my language. In all the years since, I’ve found new ways to show my husband that I want to take care of him. (Or maybe I haven’t. You’d have to ask him. I could have also just become one of those drag wives.) And his languages have changed too. Frankly, he used to agree with me a lot more. But we make a choice, like all married couples, to keep trying to translate these languages into insights about where we are in life, what we need, and where we are floundering. Sometimes we figure it out. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we eat dinner. And sometimes we don’t. And like all things, it’s a compromise.
Some nights it’s a big kid meal, and other nights it’s two beers and an untold number of cookies.
I was genuinely taken aback at my own response to Hillary’s official nomination last night. I haven’t been a Hillary supporter up until now. I threw myself behind Barack in the 2008 contest and behind Sanders during this nomination cycle. I’ve said since the beginning that she wasn’t the candidate I wanted, but she was absolutely the candidate I’d vote for if it came to that. So no #BernieorBust here. And maybe it’s because I was so focused on the task at hand–the singular goal of having my candidate secure the nomination– that I wasn’t focused on the historical significance of Hillary, a woman, securing the nomination. But there I was at Del Frisco’s, in a bar surrounded by white men drinking scotch, when the screen flashed the official announcement. She had done it. She had done it.
I held the hands of my dining companion (also a woman) and we stopped. We stopped drinking and talking, stopped hearing, stopped everything, and we took a moment to do the most appropriate thing. We wept. Because no matter what you believe about Hillary, no matter who you’re voting for, if you have a daughter, mother, granddaughter, or sister, you owed it to them to recognize what that meant. It was one less “never. ” And while those nevers are slowly being removed from our vocabulary, they still exist. They still silently affect our ability to truly believe in what is possible.
When she did it, she guaranteed that my 3-year-old son will add a new, female face to the fabric of history. When she did it, she gave my peers the confidence to push for more and better today and every day after today. When she did it, she also proved that men are aligned in this fight. That women are not doing it alone. Because women alone did not secure her nomination– we ALL did. For every man who pays us less, every institution that labels us less qualified, there are men who call bullshit. Men like my husband, my father, my grandfather. Those men are our army. Because of those hes, we have a she.
But there are months between now and November and a political shit storm is brewing. And there are many who are not with her. Many who espouse that she is a criminal, unqualified, and ill suited. On our own side, there are those who believe a vote for their conscience will prove their point. A vote for Trump will “show us.” Here is what I have to say to that.
Wars end in treaties. In compromises. With hope that change will continue to take hold. To walk away from something because you did not get everything is what got us into this mess. The road is long, it stretches on long after my lifetime or yours. The progress of the Sanders movement has fast forwarded our national dialogue in unimaginable ways. We were not shouting into a well. Our voices were heard. Our issues got more play, more time, more consideration in the last year than the last 10. We narrowly missed the nomination. There were dark forces, but dark forces are not new to politics. We cannot take our ball and go home. That is defeat. We were not defeated. We were victorious. We will continue to be victorious, if we remain.
What is at stake in the short- and long-term is bigger than today. It’s bigger than holding our ground, clinging to every principle. I am no traitor to this cause, but I am a pragmatist. The Supreme Court of the United States has the power to uphold or deny some of the most groundbreaking changes to social justice in the history of our country. A democratic/liberal majority bench is imperative to our stronghold on minority and gay rights. My conscience cannot nominate SCOTUS. She can.
The devastating effects of a diminishing middle class is evident. It’s causing unrest, division, and hate among neighbors. Access to education, reproductive autonomy, and living wages is imperative. We cannot further #blacklivesmatter without these three things. We cannot change the black American narrative if we do not continue to lay down in front of the train that threatened to undo all that we have managed to eek out these last eight years. My conscience cannot keep Planned Parenthood alive. She can.
We have to fight terror, not hope. Fear cannot be our military strategy. Do I believe we need to reassess our approach to relations in the Middle East? Yes. Do I think we need to push our allies to play a more active, cooperative role in ending ISIS? Yes. Do we need to end this reign of terror? Yes. Do I believe in spending more money, more time, more energy in building a military at the expense of the basic opportunities of the very citizens they protect? No. I do not. I also do not believe in walls. You cannot keep hate out with a wall. More hate comes to us through the internet than the borders. This is a global society. The last country to build a wall was Germany. I took us nearly thirty years to tear it down. My conscience cannot execute that foreign policy. She can.
Call her a criminal and I’ll show you 100 men who have done worse and served our country. Call her a liar and I’ll show you 100 men who have told bigger lies and become lauded in our history. But you cannot call her a bigot. You cannot call her racist. You cannot call her a misogynist. Because she isn’t. And that makes all the difference.
I hear you. I hear you saying that following the rules is the answer. I hear you saying that more guns are the answer. I hear you saying that black lives aren’t the issue. I hear you saying you want to build a wall. I hear you saying you want less color, less gay, less diversity. I hear you saying that the world you want is one of defensiveness, Darwinism, and solitude. I hear you saying that the America you’re voting for, pushing for, and hoping for is one where I take my kids to the movies with a gun, feel cautious and uncertain around black men, withdraw in fear from Muslims, and choose inalienable rights and freedoms over joy, hope, and peace. I hear you. I do not understand, I do not agree, but I hear you.
And I know you hear me. You hear me saying that no amount of rule breaking justifies any of this. You hear me saying that I don’t want more guns. You hear me saying that black lives are the issue. You hear me saying that I want more color, more gay, and more diversity. You hear me saying that the world I want is one of compassion, inclusion, empathy, and community. You hear me say that the America I’m voting for, pushing for, and hoping for is one where I take my kids to the movies with popcorn, feel camaraderie with black men, recognize the terror that my Muslim neighbors endure, and choose and adaptation, evolution, and compromise over militance, blind liberty, and stagnation. You hear me. You do not understand, you do not agree, but you hear me.
And this is our fundamental problem. We hear, but we do not agree. We want a different version of America. We are pulling mercilessly, tirelessly in different directions. We speak our truths to like-minded individuals, we commiserate with those who believe our side of the story, agree with our vision of America. Even in our rare agreements with our decided “foes,” we are quickly becoming enemies. Our frustrations and fears are slowly getting the better of us. These disagreements have leaked off of the pages of newspapers and Facebook feeds and seeped into our relationships. They have poisoned friendships, caused comrades to sling silent insults at one another. Our political differences, our social beliefs have divided us so far that we argue over the relative value of human life. We barter humanity like goods at market. We play God. We have created a theater out of our existence. Our original differences are unrecognizable. They are shrouded in rhetoric, defensive remarks, convenient facts.
You call me liberal. You find me soft, unrealistic, and absurd. But I cannot even call you conservative. Because you, who I am talking to, you are not conservative. You are hard, unrealistic, and disassociated.
But what happens next? Will our shouts and screams slowly quiet? Will our rage and frustration slowly change to indifference? Will our indifference slowly choke us? Will we become so tired of holding our ground that we become our congress, arguing to fill space and time until nothingness becomes the goal? What happens to a nation when progress stopped? When equality is not longer at the the agenda? What happens if we take a step back and realize that we have irreconcilable differences?
Do we wage war on ourselves? Is that not what we are already doing?
I hear you say you will not compromise. And frankly, I will not either. I cannot agree to compromise any longer. I signed up for Rosa’s dream, King’s dream, Milk’s dream, Anthony’s dream. I signed up for the dream that was born of a desire for ongoing progress, equality, justice, and change. I signed up for the dream that suffered the consequences of a nation built on fear of one oppressor while ignoring the presence of hundreds. Our nation is not oppressed, but our citizens are. Citizens who did not have a seat on the Continental Congress. Citizens who were needed for their contributions, but not their voice.
And I am lost and angry and sad. How many times can we knock at the door before we give up? Or do we give up? Do we walk away or do we fight? Because to fight we need hope.
*If you give zero fucks about learning about these damn Kayla Itsines guides, or you are in peak physical condition, this post will likely not entertain you.
So I’ve been obnoxiously posting pictures to Instagram that chronicle my completed #bbg workouts. You’re welcome for that. (At least I’m not selling <insert thing people are selling all over my fucking Facebook feed>.) But here’s the thing…
Fitness people are crazy supportive of one another. I mean, I get it. They’re all hopped up on endorphins and being thin and strong and can’t help but love the shit out of one another, but it’s still a surprise. You post a picture of the human life you created and six people “like” it and one person comments. You post a picture of your fat, sweaty self after doing a terrible 28 minute workout and 26239 people come out of the woodwork to tell you what a badass you are. It’s motivating. And, frankly, I need it.
I haven’t reported much on the weight loss journey since my ohholyfuckiamsofat post from last summer, but the journey does continue. Through various means I managed to knock about 17lbs off. No small feat, but also kind of a drop in the fat kid bucket. I’m out of Kirstie Alley territory, but I’m certainly not ordering new bikinis. (Let’s be honest, I’ll never be ordering new bikinis.)
It was actually back when I first reported about my Stage Five Fatitude that a friend mentioned Kayla Itsines and the #bbg (Bikini Body Guides). I dutifully paid my $60 or whatever and downloaded the workouts. I even read through them a couple of times while watching TV or making dinner. They certainly LOOKED effective, but I couldn’t speak to that directly, as I never actually DID any of them.
When the Sweat with Kayla app came out and I was offered another opportunity to do the exact same work outs I already paid for, but for additional money, I was like, “yes! sign me up!” I did the 7 day free trial, which didn’t deter me nearly as much as I imagined, and then started paying my $19.99/month. Because why not pay $20 a month to jump around like an asshole in your bedroom?
Here’s what you need to know, in no particular order:
There are three resistance workouts, three cardio, and two recovery a week. (Though that’s kind of a lie because the app has me repeat one workout a week.) Resistance workouts are broken up into Abs & Arms (single workout), Legs, and Full Body. In order:
Arms & Abs are the most manageable for me. I generally don’t feel like vomiting, I have some success, and feel appropriately tired after.
Full Body is the second most challenging, namely because there are always burpees, which are what Satan does when he wakes up in the morning.
Legs. Last time I did legs I went downstairs to get water after and fell down the stairs. So there you have it.
I am horribly and offensively out of shape. My physical appearance, as poor as it may be, is actually making it appear that I am MORE in shape that I am. It takes me approximately 11 seconds to get out of breath.
Even though paying for something you already paid for sounds like a really dumb idea, the PDF version of the workouts can’t force me to work out like the app can. The app basically says “you have to do this today” and then turns on a timer and I have no choice. The PDF was more like my friend who said she’d jog with me, but actually meant she’d smoke pot and each cheesy curls on the couch.
Because the workouts are by week and are the same across the program, you can “work out with your friends” (i.e. do a work out in EST and then text your friend in the PST about how terrible it is before she even wakes up).
There’s a nutrition guide that people really love, but that I basically ignore. Clearly this woman doesn’t live in New England. She eats kiwis and mangoes. Most New Englanders don’t even know those two words. But it seems to be a reasonable diet plan focused on nutrients and not calories.
You need minimal “gear.” I already had some weights, which are needed, and it appears that a medicine ball is in my future. (But you can also get creative… fill a milk jug with nails or something.)
Oh and a jump rope. Which may also mean a box of Depends…
Each work out is two circuits. You do the first circuit as many times as you can in seven minutes and then do the same with circuit two. And then repeat. All in it’s 28 (7×4) minutes of working out. It’s up to you to modify or slow your pace so you don’t die.
If at any point you feel angry and sad, you can hop on my friend Kayla’s Instagram account and look at all the people who are doing these workouts and look like fit little wood nymphs. (Including moms who look WRECKED in their before pictures. Which is double motivation.)
Overall the app is a mediocre user experience, but it performs its main function well: shows you the workout and times you.
The real reason I seem to be enduring these terrible workouts is because they make me feel really good. In less than two weeks I feel stronger and I think I look better. As bad as any one workout gets, it’s only seven minutes and then I can do something else. And while there have been times I’ve cursed everything in my presence, I didn’t quit. I kept going, just trying to make it to the buzzer. (There’s actually a buzzer on the app. It’s very exciting.) Plus it’s only 28 minutes. You can’t excuse yourself from 28 minutes. (Well you can. But then you’re just being lazy.)
It’s bad, but it’s not so bad. And I’m doing it. Which is more than I can say about anything else. Like I said, there’s a 7 day free trial on the app, so you can always give it a spin and decide whether it’s your cup of tea. If you do, be sure you tell me so I can bitch with you via text.
Happy 4th. (Yesterday.) I was on social media channels a few times. I saw a bunch of adorable kids in gingham and stripes watching parades and looking American and perfect.
My kid was awful. Just terrible. He made a three-day-weekend seem like a prison sentence. By Saturday afternoon things were fragile. Sunday evening my marriage was starting to fray. And when we finally reached Monday night, everyone had to retreat to their respective corners so there was no bloodshed. It is a wonder to behold how a single 37 inch person can fuck things up so thoroughly.
The good news (if that’s how we want to categorize it) is that this appears to be age associated and completely predictable. Late two/early threes are notorious for their shittiness. Unfortunately, no amount of warning can adequately prepare you for the psychological and emotional damage that a toddler can exact over a three-day-weekend.
What I struggle with the most is actually how much I struggle. I’m 32 years old. I am a fully grown human being. I have pretty well developed coping skills. I’m good with conflict resolution. I have sound logic and reasoning skills. And my toddler gives ZERO fucks. If my husband and I had a dollar for every time the phrase “walk away. just walk away.” was uttered in our house, we could both retire. And yet for all our chanting walkawaywalkawaywalkawaywalkawaywalkawaywalkaway we can’t actually walk away. We’re locked in some intellectual death match with a tot. I’ve experience more logical and redemptive communication with cats.
And the stubbornness. Oh sweet lord the stubbornness. This is why people of the olden days resorted to physical acts of violence. Because it takes an incredibly well controlled and evolved human being to get to the brink of sanity and not be overcome with the urge to exert physical force over a lesser being. And I’m not even talking about beatings. Even just a well placed flick. Because when your child tells you for the 2736974120382039 time that they WILL NOT CLEAN UP their blocks and you’ve wasted 682 minutes of your day asking, and you’ve taken away everything you thought they held dear, and you’ve reasoned, begged, yelled, threatened and there are still mother fucking blocks all over the floor… your ability to keep your shit together is questionable. Worse than that, when you’ve sacrificed your plans, your desires, your activities in order to do the activity that should most appeal to your child and then they act like a domestic terrorist, you begin to question the very meaning of life.
We’re currently in the stage whereby all perceived offenses are of equal weight in his eyes. Not having the right color juice is as egregious an offense as refusing to allow him to play in the hose or trying to give him away. (Just listing the kinds of things that brought our weekend to its proverbial knees is giving me PTSD.) There’s usually a light whimper, followed by the introduction of a baby voice, which then becomes a fake machine gun cry, that then devolves into a full on melt down. (And then usually one of us walking swiftly out of a public place while our child confirms to single people within earshot that they are the superior species.) The single most terrifying thing about three year olds is that the truest and quickest way to incite a meltdown is to give them EXACTLY what they want. What? What is this you say? Yes. Exactly. Give them exactly what they want and they will most certainly meltdown. Because they hate you.
For example. Aut has been totally into bike riding recently. (We got one of those bike seats that you get when you have a child under 4 and you no longer care about how uncool your life is.) Generally speaking, he loves riding around on the back of the bike, going fun places, seeing new things. So we planned on an awesome bike ride on Monday. We were going to bike up to Marblehead and stare through the gates of yacht clubs at rich people. We told him… and he melted down. He didn’t want to bike ride. Turns out, he’d found a long-forgotten set of paints in his cubby and all he wanted to do in the whole world was paint. (Painting is a cruel invention by people who hate parents.) After much hmming and hawing, we consented. He could paint outside. In his underwear.
We went outside. It was beautiful out. We set up a drop cloth, staple gunned a canvas to the fence, got out the paints and brushes, slathered sunscreen on him. And feeling like THE BEST PARENTS IN THE WHOLE WORLD we set him loose on his artistic endeavors. Which lasted about 14 seconds.
The sun is too sunny and it’s on my head. We got him a baseball cap.
I need something different for my eyes. (Because THE BRIM OF THE HAT WAS NOT SUFFICIENT.) We got him his sunglasses.
I’m thirsty. We made him hold out but eventually realized this was not the one to nail him on when it was 90 degrees outside. Got him water.
I need different paints. Go fuck yourself.
I want to paint on the fence. Not on your life.
I need to wipe my hands. Shouldn’t have stuck both hands in the paint.
I want to do yoga with Mups. No, you’re painting.
I want to cut all my fingers off in the air conditioner compressor. Nope. [wailing]
I don’t like painting. Well, too bad. We got this all set up. You’re gonna paint. [more wailing]
I need a snack. We just had breakfast. You’re fine. [repeated slower and screaming I. NEED. A. SNACK.]
The sun is too hot. Sorry, we’ll talk to the solar system about that.
I need Buzz Lightyear. Buzz is napping upstairs. [whimpering, but surprisingly no wailing]
I really want to stick my entire hand into the A/C compressor. Ask me again and I’ll probably let you.
I need to go into the basement to get something. No you don’t. [full-on, mind blowing meltdown]
I want to go for a bike ride. You’re dead to me.
I don’t want to exaggerate, so I’ll say this was all within the span of about 11 minutes. Conservatively I’d say six tantrums and one meltdown in 11 minutes. Because we were doing exactly what he begged us to let him do.
And like I said, the very worst part is how ill prepared we are to cope. It’s impossible to ignore, but equally as impossible to correct. Stupidly I allow myself to imagine these scenarios whereby we’re doing these things happily and peacefully as a family. The hubs is drinking coffee on the porch, I’m doing yoga on the driveway, Aut is painting like the gifted painter we will joyfully discover he is. But it’s never anything like that. It’s screaming and whining and trying not to lose our shit at how unbelievably insufferable he can make 15 minutes in the sunshine. And then the guilt when he says something like “why do you always yell?” And I feel so terrible but I also want to be like “why do you always try to make me insane?” But I know he’s 3 and he doesn’t know why he does it. He just does. And my job as his mother is to cope. And get through it.
And I don’t want to wish his life away. I don’t want him to grow up too fast. And inevitably there’s some gray haired woman (as there was this weekend) who says “enjoy every moment” at exactly the wrong time. And I get it. I know she’s wistful and hindsight is rosey. But these moments are not enjoyable. They’re trying and terrible. They make you question yourself. They push you to dark places where you have to look hard at yourself. And that’s an unexpectedly difficult part of parenting– seeing yourself through your child’s eyes. Because every now and then, you won’t like the person you see. But this too shall pass. And tantrums about paints and Buzz Lightyear will be replaced by heartbreak and humiliation and things that will make us long for the days that the absence of Buzz was the most meltdown-worth part of the day.
But for now, we cope. We parent. We continue onward. Knowing they won’t be 3 forever… for better or worse.