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On going to bed and other misunderstandings

On going to bed and other misunderstandings

After being married to the same person for almost 25 years, you learn where your strengths and weaknesses lie.  Areas where you are strong and also where you are incompatible.  I have to confess something to you.  There is an area of incompatibility that Clint and I have suffered through for years.  Come here so I can whisper it to you.  Shhhh…it’s in the bedroom.  Oh, whatever!  Had you going there, didn’t I you gutter-minded people!  Not like “in the bedroom”, but in the room in which the bed happens to be.

You see, it all begins with 4 little words:  “I’m going to bed.” Oh, sure, on the surface they seem innocent enough, but in truth, they are words that can strain even the best of marriages.  You see, to him “I’m going to bed” means, I am going to go get in bed, turn out the light and go to sleep.  I KNOW.  Totally weird!  I don’t get it either.

For me “I’m going to bed” means:  I am going to:  go check email one last time; check on the kids; get a drink; make sure everything is turned off, locked or put away; grab a book–maybe a DVD depending on how tired I am; grab my notebook; brush my teeth etc; make sure I set my alarm; crawl in bed and then…well, I read, watch a DVD, type on the laptop or want to talk.  Honest it is most often the talking.  Love the talking.  Such a weakness, I get that.

Can you see the incompatibility here?  (Yes, I know.  HE does make things difficult!)

Here are just a few things that I have found that my beloved does NOT find amusing when we accidentally hit the bedroom at the same time.

1) Poking him after he has turned off his light because I am cracking up and then insisting he read the warning label on the bottle of sleeping pills that says May Cause Drowsiness because that is just too funny.  He really doesn’t want to read it and probably doesn’t think it is funny.  Also, the giggling about it for a minute or so will not change his mind on this.

2) Watching anything on my tablet that will make me laugh is forbidden because–if you know me, you know this– I do not have the little demure “how cute” laugh.  If something is funny, I laugh all out, balls to the wall and have even been known to snort a time or two.  Even if I retell the scene that I am laughing about, he still does not find it funny.  (Oh, and shoving the tablet into his face does not help the situation.  In fact, it usually gets the tablet taken away.  I’m just sayin’.)

3) Just because he is quiet, that certainly does not mean he is opening the door for me to explain my ENTIRE day in excruciating detail right up to the moment he joined me in the bedroom.  To him, quiet means going to sleep. Like I knew that?!  Quiet means:  “Okay, now YOU talk.” Duh!

4) Nights when I am in a silly, babble-assing mood, I really, really, reeeeaaally need to learn to dial down the crazy.  He is not impressed by  “Omigod! You are totally not going to believe this, but…” followed closely by “Today, in People magazine I read…” That will get me the glare of death or the “punch the pillow in exasperation” thing.  Both…not so good.

5) I really should only listen to calm, soothing music on my playlist when I am trying to fall asleep because he REALLY does not not not like to be awakened to the screeches of me singing KISS’s Rock and Roll All Nite.  I mean, he REALLY does not like that.  At all.  Not one bit.  I’m just sayin’.  Oh, and even if there is no singing involved, head banging, hip tapping, and bed dancing are also unacceptable.  And singing Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me is NOT foreplay.  Who knew?

6) Finally, when he suggests that perhaps I go to bed a good hour earlier than he does, that does not necessarily mean that he is worried that I am not getting a good night’s sleep.  Oh, no sir, it does not.  It actually means that he is hoping against all odds that all of the insanity that occurs after I utter the words “I’m going to bed” will have died down and I just might actually be asleep or nearly there by the time he gets into bed.  Silly, silly man.  Does he not know that as soon as I hear him come in, I am more than ready to talk or sing or poke at him.

I mean, that is what marriage is all about, right?

Oh this is just perfect….he just now this very second gave me:

7) I really should NOT read my blog entry to him when he comes in, gets into bed and turns out his light.  He won’t think it is funny.  Won’t laugh.  And REALLY will not appreciate the genius that is late night writing.  In fact, as I type I am getting the glare AND the pillow hit.  Awwww, I just love this man.  But really, I am totally about to lose my laptop if I don’t go.  Now.

Besides, I have all the seasons of Gillmore Girls to rewatch on Netflix.  Which will violate #2, but I like to live on the edge.  Might even fire up the old Spotify just for fun!  (Yes, it actually IS okay to feel sorry for him.  Just don’t tell me about it.)

Moms of teens don’t blog. Oh wait! Yes, we do! So why are we so under represented everywhere?

Moms of teens don’t blog. Oh wait! Yes, we do! So why are we so under represented everywhere?

I have a ten year old. By definition now, she is considered a tween. In addition to her I also have two teenage boys. A senior in high school and a sophomore in high school. Teenagers. Teens. Those who are not babies and not yet adult people. They are those who still live at home.

So where are the websites, resources, and “expert blog sites” for me? Does parenting end at 8 or 9? I proposed this question to someone who was touting their new blog farm as “The Go To Site For Parents of babies, toddlers and beyond!”  But I am guessing “and beyond” means up to 8. (Surprisingly, I got no response when I asked about their huge missing demographic of teens.)

In 2005 I spoke on the first mommyblogger panel at BlogHer. My kids were 10, 8 and 3. Today’s dream demographic for blogs and marketers! There are websites, blogs, magazines etc all dedicated to those ages. But guess what happened. Go on. Guess.

Did you guess they grew up? Bingo. Those kids are now the teens and tween. You see, these adorable babies and toddlers and young grade school kids grow up. And you want want to know what there is out there for the parents of these now older kids.

Not a damn thing. Squat. Nada.

Busymom wrote about it.

Cursingmom wrote about it.

JoanneGlenniaBeth,  Deb, and I sat and talked for hours at BlogHer’11 about how under represented parents of teens are online. How much marketers, magazine blogs and the latest in “blog farms” are missing out by ignoring such a huge demographic. (Trust me when I say I spend a helluva lot more on my tweens and teens than I ever did on the kid toys. WAY more!)

With one post on Busymom’s site commenters (parents of tweens and teens) agreed how sad it is to have such little representation out there.  I am talking about well known, long time bloggers like LizMelisa, Headless Mom, MelissaShannon, Cheryl,  Robyn, Babybloomr…those are just a few moms who piped up in agreement.

A big “argument” about why there are not many sites about teens is because our children no longer want us to write about them.(Your precious little one probably doesn’t you to be writing about them either, but that is a totally different topic.)  I am not talking about writing about their lives like we did when they were children without a voice to tell us to stop. I am talking about resources, advice, support.  When  newborn cries, there are usually only a handful of things that can be wrong. (I know there are exceptions.) With a teenager? Oh for the love of all things moody, hormonal and life changing there could be a million things. But even if it isn’t “What’s wrong?” there are things that we– as parents of teens– would love to have support with.

  • School.
  • Driving.
  • Health.
  • Dating.
  • Parties/gifts.
  • Changing relationships.
  • Jobs.
  • Cars.
  • College.
  • Etc, etc.

Unless you have a support system, you are on your own figuring it out.

I have also heard that marketers are trying to directly hit the teen market rather than go through parents. I call bullshit on that one. Where do they think these teens and tweens are going to get the money? It’s called the bank of Mom and Dad. To try to bypass us is ridiculous. And very, very short sighted. It doesn’t help when a company who is trying to reach out to parents of teens use parents whose children haven’t even hit the double digits as spokespeople. Isn’t that kind of like asking a man to tell  you what labor feels like?

I actually got an email from a PR rep that first mentioned that “even though your kids are still very young….” (tuned out right there) blah blah blah “and I have found there are so few bloggers with teens these days.” The hell? What Internet have you been on. I can give you a list of over 70 and still not have a complete list.

Those little kids on the adorable mommyblogs are going to become tweens and teens. Those adorable little Pampers wearing cherubs will become moody little strangers. Then what?  To quote cursingmama, “The Internet is no place for parents of teens.”

What do you think? Do you want your voice heard? Do you want more resources? Do we storm the gates trying to get the current market to listen or do we do it ourselves?  Just as we had to fight the whole “mommy bloggers aren’t worth our time” situation almost 8 years ago. (Now? They are are holy grail of bloggers. And yes, I am going to say that those who now have tweens and teens did help pave the way to that reality.) Is this our new stand? I’d love to hear from you! Share your blog. Share what you want to see. What do you think about the representation of tweens & teens– or under representation?

If they aren’t able to meet our needs,  do we do it ourselves and pave the way for the Pampers generation to come? Again?

The summer before it all changes…Or how do I officially have a high school senior planning for college?!

The summer before it all changes…Or how do I officially have a high school senior planning for college?!

Ahhh, my sweet, beloved (and neglected) blog readers. You’re still here. I love you to the moon and back for checking in on me here in this tiny, dusty corner of the Interwebs.  Summer break has finally begun. (Why, yes, that IS the Hallelujah Chorus you hear!) I am one of those rare breed of moms who loves summer break with her kids. I adore having them around. Truth be told, they make me laugh so much! We have a good time.

So, I officially have a high school senior, a high school sophomore and a fifth grader.  “So what?” you ask. (First, that is rude. Don’t be rude.) A  s-e-n-i-o-r in HIGH school. High freakin’ school. As in, I am planning for college. For someone I gave birth to. How is that even possible?? First of all, I am too young. Second of all, he is too young. Third of all, COLLEGE? We get to go on college visitations. We get to discuss majors. We talk about the real question of “What do you want to be when  you grow up?” conversations. Wha-huh?

When I started my first online journal I had two kids. I now have three. When I started this baby– Mommy Needs Coffee– I had three kids ages 2, 7 and 9. My babies. Now? I have one talking about college. How did that happen so fast? Trust me, mommybloggers– those of you who think these days of diapers, toddlers, playdates and tiny people will never end– it comes up on you so fast you won’t know what happened. You’ll blink and before you know it, you’ll be planning for college, scheduling SATs, getting driving tests taken and watching those little babies drive off towards their very own lives.

And you will be proud. And sad. And happy. And overwhelmed. And excited. And scared. And it will be one of the most amazing times in your life.

Or? You’ll live in denial. That works, too.

After 8 years of blogging, why do I still do it and should I? (Or: Oh my, how things have changed!)

After 8 years of blogging, why do I still do it and should I? (Or: Oh my, how things have changed!)

When I started blogging nearly 8 years ago (next month-ish), it was as if some magical portal was opened into the world of words and stories and the actual people who wrote them. Blogs were places to go to read about others’ lives. To meet them on their turf and get to know them through their words. I understand that a blog is a representation of what people want others’ to see and never the full story. But the stories were there! A post would lead to a comment which would lead to a conversation that later lead to phone calls. Soon, those words on the screen were people in my heart. It made me feel incredible every time I wrote. I began to know the people who commented either through comments that led me to them or even in emails.

One time I posted that I was having some health issues. Who called me? Gloria Steinem. Yes, that one. She was concerned about me and left me her home phone number so I could call her back.  Because I wrote a post on my blog. Because I was myself online. I opened up about who I am and what was going on in my life. (I could use more information on that heart/stress/health connection  again, my friend. I sort of lost the information and, well, when Gloria Steinem calls, one can get forgetful about writing down information to remember 5 years later.)

Then of course there was the most life changing, terrifying yet amazing comment on my blog that changed the way I looked at writing forever. That comment led to emails which led to phone calls which led to me being signed by a literary agent who has had enough faith in me for both of us when I lost my way. Because I wasn’t afraid to put it out there that I was working on writing a book proposal, she found me. When life kicked my ass from here to hell and back, she didn’t give up on me. I pray she never does. (Laurie, I’ve got something you’ve waited a long time for!)

You all know that I have blogged openly about my history of addiction and my kicking its ass on a daily basis for nearly 11 years. Because I was not afraid to blog about being a recovering addict that led to a relationship with Five Moms which led me to a trip to DC (Face it, Dave, there is no real White House!) which led to dinner, a day of lobbying and a face to face talk about my addiction with Dr. Drew Pinsky. A conversation that made me see something in myself and my addiction that not only had I never thought about, it was a complete game changer. I wish I had more time that night to talk about it more in depth but with just a few insights into what I was saying, Dr. Drew changed something broken inside me.

I was able to test drive several different cars for months at a time. I made incredible connections with the gaming community. All because they knew they would get a quality write up from me. Whether I liked the product or not.

I was offered paid writing jobs that I loved so very much! (But as kids tend to do, my babies weren’t so  young and a target market anymore. But, the opportunity was incredible!)

Because I wrote a blog.

Where people comment.

And relationships are formed.

And things changed. Suddenly all of these new catch phrases were vitally important for bloggers. Things You Must Know. Your stats? (You have to know your stats! They measure whether you are worth anything in this world!) Branding. (“You are your brand!” was shouted around the land.) Do you know your page rank? (Everyone should know that! Duh!) What about your Twitter followers? (Do you have enough clout (ahem) to mean something to PR pros?) Facebook fan page? Have you optimized it? Where is your media kit? Don’t run with scissors! (Okay, I threw that in to see if you were paying attention.) Have you set up an LLC? Are you actively seeking sponsors? What ad network is best? Should you use an ad  network? Do you know SEO? How much do you charge for every single thought in your head?

Holy crap on a crispy cracker! ENOUGH!

And that magical portal that was all unicorns and double rainbows slammed shut for me.

BAM!

Writing online wasn’t fun anymore. Writing online had to be work or you were a crappy blogger. Blogging for fun? That doesn’t pay the bills. The noise in the blogosphere became so loud, I could no longer hear my own voice. I lost my blogging voice. I couldn’t find any passion for writing about anything. Oh, I could kick and scream and be that old blogger yelling for these new-fangled bloggers to “get off my lawn” (and I did to my old school friends in private) but that didn’t change the climate. It just made me feel less significant. Less effective. Just…less.

So I started to write in a real journal. (Like with real paper and a pen!) And I wrote mundane things and memorable things. I vented my frustrations and fears. I wrote funny stories and things that broke my heart. I took 2003 and flipped it around. When I started blogging 8 years ago, I went from a journal to a blog and it brought forth the writer in me. In 2010, I went from a blog to a personal journal. And it brought back the writer in me.

Now? I’ve learned to merge the two with (somewhat) peace of mind.

I may not follow the shouts of what blogging “should be” today and I may not know all of the buzz words of the day but what I do know is that I love to write and make connections. It truly makes me happy and fuels my passion for writing. If that leads to opportunities, that is wonderful. And? If not playing by the “new rules” gets doors slammed in my face, so be it. The bottom line is that I blog for the love of the blog.

Not for love of the game.

It’s alive! (Or how my blog went down for a week and all I could do was stare at an empty screen and weep when I had that perfect post in mind)

It’s alive! (Or how my blog went down for a week and all I could do was stare at an empty screen and weep when I had that perfect post in mind)

I did not scrap my blog.  I did not die. I did not decide that blogging was so 2003 and go all new social media on you. Nope. I just had a blog sitting there on a broken server and there was nothing I could do about it.  I have SO much going on that I can’t wait to share with you. But, I am WUI. (Writing Under the Influence) Granted, the influence is cold medicine but nevertheless, I try to avoid those posts. Stay tuned while I tell you about:

  • a new blog
  • my writing life updates
  • a big break-through for me
  • in defense of the slacker mom
  • how I glued my fingers together and am still able to type this but can’t feel myself type it
  • and more!

I just wanted to check in and say howdy!  And rejoice that my blog is working again! Now…to update & upgrade her to make her all shiny and new looking.  Got ideas? I’d love to hear them! Also, anyone know any great designers who are just sitting around bored and want to take on a new design? Hook a mutha up!

It doesn’t take Oprah to find your authentic self

It doesn’t take Oprah to find your authentic self

Have you ever seen one of those “entertainment shows” (term used rather loosely) that take a self-assured, confident, smart, beautiful woman with inner strength who has life by the….horns and watch these shows put this woman (or women) into a suit/costume that is the exact opposite of who they are?  You know, where it is a great sociological experiment to put the skinny model in a fat suit or the brilliant Harvard MBA  with a high powered career and dress her like a “frumpy housewife” all in the name of “learning how the other half live” for a while?  (I’m looking at you Tyra Banks.  You, too, 20/20.)  Some of these shows- when done to sensationalize how horrible it is to be “the other half”–  make me want to smack the ratings grubbing producer and send them into the Brazilian Rain forest without a survival guide.  Just for the sociological experiment of course.  But that really isn’t the entire point of this.  Sometimes- those rare sometimes– it turns out that it isn’t just poor little pretty Britney crying that “OMG, I am so fat! Make it stop!”  Sometimes they actually do something that surprises not just the women who are doing this experiment but the people around them.

At first, these women are the same.  It doesn’t matter what is on the outside, they are confident and know what is on the inside.  They are fully tapped into their authentic selves.  And?  They are confident nothing and no one can shake that.  But after a day, two days, three days, a month…they begin to react not as the woman inside the “costume” but as the woman the rest of the world sees.

The beautiful, skinny model no longer gets the adoring looks and attention she has always known.  It causes her to react to the way she is treated- to what people assume she is when they don’t look further.  She begins to hold her head down when she is walking, not quite looking anyone in the eye.  She is no longer the first to speak up, if she speaks up at all.  She hears the rude comments and begins to cry and is truly hurt deep down inside.  With her self-esteem at an all time low for her, she feels beaten down and broken.

Or take the brilliant Harvard MBA executive who becomes the old stereo typical stay at home mom who spends her days with her kids or running errands or volunteering somewhere.  She begins to be treated as someone who can barely manage a grocery list.  Her “mom jeans” and sweater sets are frowned upon and she is rarely taken seriously unless she is talking about household affairs, PTA or Johnny’s latest accomplishment- and then rarely is she truly taken seriously.  Surely this frumpy mom couldn’t know anything about the stock market, foreign affairs or politics.  I mean, just look at the way she dresses!  She doesn’t even wear makeup everyday.  She must be “just a mom” and therefore not worthy of the intelligent conversations offered up at business dinners or get-togethers.  She belongs on the playground with the “other mommies” and before you know it, she begins to act less self-assured.  She buys into the lie that maybe she isn’t as smart as she thinks she is.  Maybe it is a man’s world and she does belong just on the playground.  Her authentic self may be able to command a board room and handle multi-million dollar accounts but when she is treated as less than, she begins to feel less than. She begins to believe that she IS less than.

What happened to these women?

I suppose as a society we are quick to judge what we see and what “truth” we have been told.  Take the woman above.  A stay at home mom is the “truth” that is told.  Her dress is not the most fashionable.  She doesn’t look high-powered but perhaps a bit overly tired.  Is that who she really is?  Is that her authentic self?

Well, yes and no.  It is who she feels she is after repeatedly- I mean time and time and time again– being treated in a way that isn’t true to her authentic self.  When it comes to the collision of perceived reality and personal reality, sometimes perceived reality wins even for the woman inside the suit who knows better.  She knows who she really is.  Yet, her heart is broken by the reactions and actions of others based on  the way they perceive her to be because of the “truths” they are either told or choose to believe on their own.  However, her authentic self is not lost.

After a while, that authentic self fights back.  From deep inside the suit, the pain and the reality she has been living– which is not reality at all– become too much for her authentic self to bear and her authentic self begins to emerge and beg to be let out of the suit, out of this experiment.  It hurts too much. You may first see it as a fierce look in her eyes.  It may come from a retort to a comment that went just a bit too far.  Or you may not see her authentic self come out until piece by piece the suit is removed and she has a chance to stretch both her body and her mind, refresh her emotions and feel once again at peace with herself– her real self.

I think that is true of all of us.

At one time or another we step out of our comfort zone and try new things.  Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn’t.  It’s in the trying that matters.  Over a year ago I put on a new suit that I truly wanted.  It fit like a second skin and I was happy.  But bit by bit, piece by piece layers were added to that suit.  Some by me and some by others.  The more that was put onto that suit the heavier it became.  The harder it was to wear and still be my authentic self.  There were times the “real me” would scream so loudly to get out but by then the suit was so think, so heavy and attached so strongly, I couldn’t break free.  In the Spring I knew it cost me too much personally to continue wearing it.  I tried to brutally claw it off to get back to the real me. But let me tell you something.  The process of ripping, tearing and clawing at something that is attached to you like a skin just scars you more.  You have to go through a process to take it off.  Though I was succeeding, I had a long way to go.  I made mistakes.  I hurt myself, my family and some friends.  To those I could offer an olive branch, I did.  Some accepting it and everything was put in the past to move forward.  To others, the olive branch was thrown down and walked away from.  There is and was nothing I could do about other people and how they react and choose to respond.  I was working on getting myself back and didn’t have the energy to argue, fight or try to make my side heard.  It became counterproductive to what I needed to do and who I truly am.

The beginning of summer I learned about finding the authentic me. I spent a week with people I love who love me.  Not only do they support me but they love me in spite of me.  During that week, the suit started to melt away in a beautiful and pain-free way.  I learned that the ones who love me not only accept me as I am but they expect me to be who I truly am.  It was a wonderful time of letting go, healing and getting to know myself again.

But that wasn’t the end.  It just doesn’t happen that easily.

In July my family went through a crisis.  I think all of us at one time or another (at least once) go through something that so thoroughly, completely and irrevocably changes you.  Sometimes it is a wonderful event. Sometimes it is traumatic.  But there is a moment, a time in life that you can exactly pinpoint, where everything changes.  It doesn’t matter if it is something everyone can see or just those close to you or even something only you know happens.  The point is, nothing will ever be the same after that moment.  Ever. Things that seemed so painful lose their sting.  Things that seemed so important become trivial.  Things you thought you would struggle with for a long time to get past are suddenly no longer roadblocks in your mind or heart.  You move on.  You have to.  You are not that person anymore.

I would never wish the events of my summer on anyone.  At all.  But I am forever grateful that I was able to be where I was needed, go through I needed to go through and come out on the other side the person I am now.   Through crisis I mended fences that should never have been put up in the first place and found an amazing friend on the other side. A gift that I wanted, needed and came to accept through a crisis situation.   I grew closer to people I love and have a tighter bond with them that nothing in this world can ever loosen.  I found strength in myself  I honestly didn’t know I had.  I found peace in a way I have never known. I learned lessons about life that will forever be with me and keep me strong when I feel broken.

That suit?  It completely melted away.

I thought I would find “the old me” underneath waiting to emerge.  That didn’t happen.  I found a new version– a better version– of the authentic me that I never knew I had the capacity to become.  I never want to be the “old me” before my suit wearing days.  Ever.  A part of her is still with me but what I found when the real me emerged is so phenomenal and strong and at peace that I gladly put the old me in the past and embrace who I have become.

What about you?  Are you struggling with a “suit” that doesn’t quite fit anymore?  Do you need someone to stand beside you and say, “I believe in YOU and I will be here for you if it hurts to find the real you!”?  Let me know.  I’ll stand in that gap with you.  I’ll hold you hand or your heart and be someone you can know cares.  Or have you recently been through something that has brought you to a point where your own “suit” melted away only to find a wonderful new authentic you?  Share it with us.  Those stories always help us feel connected.  Your story, declaration or simple “I’ll stand by you, too” can make a huge difference to someone who may need to hear it….even if you never even know it.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”