You’ll pay more for that

Photo by Chasefx photo 

Theme of the week?  You’ll pay more for that. All I want is a good home, in a good neighborhood, with a good school district, and nearby water. But I guess I am of the class that isn’t allowed good things because I just keep hearing that I cannot afford it.

It seems following the rules, showing up to work everyday, and working hard isn’t enough to secure you a good life for your family. I am good at my job. Awesome actually. So good, I do my job and the jobs of several other people. Somehow, hard work isn’t enough.

I want to live in a small coastal town where I can feel safe letting my child play in the front yard and where we can spend Saturdays swimming without fear of contamination poisoning. Apparently, my husband and I don’t make enough money for that. 

Test scores are low as well as the rate of students entering a four-year college in every single neighborhood we can afford. Teachers need salaries and the former middle class can’t afford them so students in middle to lower class neighborhoods go under-educated. Seems education is a luxury ’round these parts. 

Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that my middle-classness puts me at a strong advantage over the poor folks trying to raise their kids up to middle class status. I know that as nervous as I am for my son’s safety it’s nothing compared to the mom raising her kids in a poor inner city neighborhood but that doesn’t diminish the sentiment. Why should anyone have to pay extra for safety, security, and a good education for their children?


Be grateful that you have the rich to tolerate your middle-classness 

There’s this commonly-held belief that when you don’t have wealth (of the dollar variety) you should be grateful for any little thing you have. As if you didn’t deserve even that much. 

The belief is that when you cannot afford to own a house you should be grateful that a landlord is willing to rent to you. And if they want to kick you out to make room for their son and his new wife, be sure to appreciate the entirety of the 30 days they graciously provide you to find a new home. Understand that they expected the house repainted before you left so be grateful for the bill you’ll get instead of your deposit returned. 

When you find another such generous soul to rent to you, you should be grateful to pay rent even if your family suffers periodic bouts of salmonella because the fridge that came with the house keeps breaking and the landlord is far too busy and important to fix it. You should be grateful for the broken fridge. You could have no fridge at all.

You should be grateful for the 60-hour work week and the time away from your child because lots of people are unemployed. You should be happy for all those hours you work while still finding no way to make ends meet. Be grateful for the execs who force you to work holidays and weekends to earn them their end of year bonuses while you struggle to keep the broken fridge stocked with food to feed your child.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter who wins the election. It’s all just a game of thrones between a group of wealthy people who either have no idea or have forgotten what it’s like to have to feed your kids McDonald’s because the big box meal is $12 while buying a healthy, fresh dinner is upwards of $30 and you have to pay the daycare to watch your kids so you can work the 60-hour work week that gets you no closer to ok.

But you should be grateful for them because they’re going to make this country great again while taxing the middle class who, in their minds, aren’t paying enough for the privilege to live “free” and work to support that “free” life. 

A typical day in the life of my anxiety 

I wake each morning to a pounding in my head: all the thoughts that congregated in my dreams overnight. There’s a pit in my stomach and a knot in my throat. It’s not that it’s difficult to breathe, it’s just that I’m so distracted by all the things that could go wrong today that I forget how to swallow the air I’ve captured. 

As Mothra dances the Harlem Shake in my belly I convince myself to ignore the bad thoughts and get dressed. Failing that, I remind myself that the kid needs a roof over his head and food in his belly, and if at all possible, he’d like Devastator, the $100 toy my husband made the mistake of showing him and he hasn’t stopped talking about. This all requires money.  More money than the hubby brings in so I just have to suck it up and get dressed. Best motivational speech ever!

During my 7 minute drive to work I plot through the things that could go wrong: 

  • Angry supervisor
  • Angry manager
  • Angry supervisor and manager
  • Staff quitting
  • Lay offs
  • Zombie apocalypse

Yes, I worry about zombies. Yes, I do blame my husband for this one. Yes, I have mapped out several escape routes. 

I have a few work friends. They came easily enough. I don’t trust it. I am not a person who makes friends easily. My filter is almost non-existent and I inadvertently offend people, rather easily, it would seem. 

I am the girl who the cheerleaders shoved into lockers. I have, on more than one occasion, accidentally walked in on my girlfriends making fun of me behind my back: 

  • too many freckles
  • gross hair
  • hand-me-down wardrobe… 

You name it, someone probably said it. So this next part seems like a very reasonable jump for me; although, my therapist says it’s just me carrying the old stuff with me.

I am super busy at work. So busy I probably shouldn’t take extra breaks but I do. My work friends like to take extra breaks. They’re smokers. I am not. But I go with them on nearly every break to the smoking section. They never come with me to the non-smoking section. I go in part because I want to be less socially awkward but also in part because my anxiety has convinced me that they will be trashing me if I’m not there. 

I know.

I know. 

I do my job, as well as the jobs of several people in my team, because I’m  still the nerd who got stuck doing the group project while everyone else went to a party. Mostly, I’m scared that a team failure will result in a cleansing starting with management and ending with the team lead, me. As mentioned earlier, I have a kid and he’s getting expensive. I need the money. 

On the drive to my mom’s to pick up the kid a truck stops suddenly and I veer off the road to miss it. Three guesses what the anxiety does next. 

  • I don’t have a will. 
  • What if the husband is also in an accident and the kid is left alone?
  • We need a will. 
  • But isn’t that really just tempting fate? 
  • And who should we trust with our kid’s life.

When we finally get home there’s dinner to make, dishes to wash, lunches to pack, and the kid needs a bath. I start to convince myself that we aren’t spending enough time with him. I worry that the lack of time is permanently damaging him. Then I think about the overtime I’m in for and worry about even more time I’m missing with him.

Bedtime is easy enough; until I fall asleep. Pretty sure I’m a super tense sleeper because my body feels like I worked out when I wake up. I do not workout. 

When did 35 become old?

I remember my mom at 35. I was 15. She was young, thin, and beautiful. The eating disorders and decades of abuse hadn’t taken their toll yet. Looking in the mirror now, as I use an anti-aging cloth to cleanse my face and replace the makeup with moisturizer, I see my mom’s clear, youthful face at 35 and think how old I have become.

It happened gradually, without my notice. One day I looked in the mirror and somehow, the face looking back was so much older than I remembered being. This face full of wrinkles and worry, this was not the face of my mother at 35. How did I become so much older than she ever was?

I remember my mother at 35, buying that Avon anti-wrinkle serum. I remember thinking she was crazy when I heard her complain to her sister on the phone about the wrinkles the same day she’d been carded for her pack-a-day habbit.

As I check in on my sleeping boy I feel creaks and cracks of life creeping into my bones. I wonder if he heard them. When did my body decide 35 was old age? My mom’s body never creaked when she stood up. Why didn’t I get the youthful gene?

I trace the lines I cannot bring myself to regret. The lines of laughter I refuse to give up and smiles getting me through the rough weeks. Even the canyon result of the worry line developed between my brows cannot be wished away. I am somehow stronger for it.

I remember my mom at 35, so much younger than I with so much less laugh lines. Perhaps joy is the cost of the youthful gene.

My kid hates brushing his teeth; and other battles we fight daily

Every day starts and ends the same: the battle for good oral hygiene. We get his toothbrush ready and he runs away. We even turn on toothbrush app to make him think it’s a game. To no avail. 

Invariably,  he wails and fights. When that doesn’t work he moves on to distraction. He’ll try anything, even talking to us about Super Mario Bros, Yokai, or Angry Birds. This goes on for a couple of rounds until he begrudgingly ends up brushing his teeth.

I’d like to say this is our only battle.  I’d like to say that. However, he is still my son; the product of 2 super strong-willed people who excel in stubbornness, so this is not the only battle. 

He battles everything. Cleaning his room. Clearing his dish. Eating. Side note: he even argues against eating the food he picked out. Yup,  he’s a stubborn little guy with the ability to argue his point. I’m not gonna lie and say it doesn’t get frustrating.  Honestly, most time I want to pull my hair out or hit my head against the wall or just just give in because it’s easier than dealing with the histrionics. 

But I can’t do any of that. I’m a mom and my job is too teach him to be a good person and to stand on his own two feet. If I’m being honest, as irritating as it is to be in the middle of these battles, I have to recognize that my baby boy is developing reasoning skills and a sense of self, and as much as I may want to lock him in room until he learns how to bend to my will, my job is to teach him how to express himself in a reasonable non-histrionic way.

Please pass the manual.

One day my boy will be a teenager…I’m scared 

Not to sound like ones of those old people at the park lamenting their lost youth and complaining about the lazy, disrespectful youth of today, but teens today are awful. They’re nastier and dirtier than I ever remember teens being “back in my day”.  

I blame the internet and cell phones. And maybe even our parents for making our live easier than theirs.  I also blame current parents for making our kids’ lives too easy. 

I just learned today that kids are using fruit emojis for sexual innuendo.  Fruit!  If you can’t trust cartoon fruit on your kid’s phone, what can you trust?  Granted, I’m a little late to this emoji knowledge bomb party, but in my defense, my kid is only 5 and forbidden to have a cell or a girlfriend until he’s 30. Nonetheless, I am shocked and appalled, mostly at the 2nd part of this newly acquired knowledge, these texts start as early as age 12.

Twelve!  Hear it with me, 12. Know what I was doing at 12? Reading Babysitters Club books, riding my bicycle, and watching MMC on Disney channel.

On top of that, all this easy access to data and social media has created a mob-belief that children are more self-important and possibly more famous than children really should believe themselves to be. They also seem to think they’re older and more mature than they are. They think and behave as if they are tiny adults.  All of this is a recipe for disaster and we don’t help matters. 

Parents today want to be their kids’ bff. I admit it, I watched every minute of Gilmore Girls thinking, when I have kids I will be Lorelei. But then I started seeing where being your kid’s bff gets your kid, and that scares me.

One day my precious loveable little boy will be a teenager and that scares me. Number 1: I’m scared he will become numb to all the sex and violence in the media. Number 2: I’m scared what even more technology and even more “everyonr gets a trophy” will do to the already dangerous levels of self-importance and entitlement of each new set of teens and young adults. 

The fears I cannot escape

We live in a world of hate. There’s so much of it everywhere I turn. As a child, I used to cry watching movies about slaves and immigrants because they were treated as if they were less than dogs. As a young woman, I used to cry watching people treat people as less than dogs. 

We live in a world where people will spare no expense making the puppy feel pampered while bargain shopping for the childcare workers responsible for their children. Government cuts funding to schools, creating overpopulated and under-staffed classrooms. No one has time for raising kids. No one has patience. Life is too expensive. Too many hours have to be worked to keep a job because if you can’t work them, there’s always someone else to put in your position, and then how will you buy all the stuff? 

Children are being raised by television, video games, social media, and partipation trophies, creating a generation of self-centered adults believing life and society owe them something. And in case you have an overwhelming urge to be a nuisance to society, there’s always a post or a tweet with a built-in audience ready to egg you on.

I used to cry at the things people do to one another. I used to cry at the hatred of the human race. And then I had my precious, innocent boy. Now I cry at the thought that my influence on who he becomes is less than the influence of the words he hears at the park or grocery store and the images he sees on the news. I cry because my boy, my precious, innocent, curious, loving boy may one day be swayed by all the hatespeak and false idols and the only thing I can do is hope I am doing enough good in the world to sway him from the hate. 

The F-word not spoken in mixed company and how it’s formed me as a women

Until I was college I had no idea who the suffragettes were aside from the four sentences granted them in my high school honors history text book. I knew they fought for the vote but no clue as to the ultimate peril they put themselves through to get that vote. And about the vote, why did they want it so bad? It didn’t seem to be working out for us anyway.

And then I took a gender communications class in college. I thought it’d help me understand how to speak to mixed company better. As it turns out, it was taught by an uber feminist who really seemed to have very little concern how the other half communicates. More and more the class seemed to become an oultet for her to push her feminist agenda. I didn’t care about feminism. I’d learned enough to know it was a dirty word. Almost better to be labelled a rapist then a feminist. Didn’t those jocks keep getting away with date rape and then applauded for the escape while feminists were described as crazy extremists?


In the movie Suffragettes, Carey Milligan has a great line about war being the only language men understand. It was true in 1918 and it would seem still today.

When it was time to do my capstone project this feminist teacher was part of my review board. I thought I’d annoy her and debunk her teachings. So I reasearched. I read books and scoured the internet and journals.

My plan had back-fired. I couldn’t debunk her. What changed my mind? Which feminist philosopher won me over? None. All. It wasn’t the philosophy of it or the how and the why. It was simple history.

A mother was not allowed to be the custodial parent to her children in the event of a divorce until recent history and by recent I mean within my grandmother’s adulthood. ADULTHOOD. Not her lifetime, her adulthood. In the 1950s a woman’s husband could sign her up for a lobotomy simply for the crime of wanting something more than the life of a housewife.

Look up the term hysterical and it’s historical significance to women. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Here’s a clue, it was once thought the uterus was the cause of a woman’s “blues”.

We’ve had the vote for nearly a century yet we still get paid less than men. I know, an unpopular topic among men and highly paid females. We still hit a glass ceiling if we choose not to play the game like men. It’s somehow shameful to be feminine, both in males and females. Tomboy girls are accepted but according to my sister, I’m a bad mom for letting my niece paint my son’s nails.


We continue to live in a society that promotes rape culture by blaming the victim and slut-shaming. If an unqualified woman gets a promotion over another woman she obviously did some naked overtime, but put a man in that position and there’s a different story to tell. We tell our girls no tanktops in school or the office because it’s distracting, rather than tell our boys to pay attention to the task ahead. Every girl in every social class is trained to walk nowhere alone and never drink from a glass you’ve turned your back on but how many boys are trained to not attack a girl or drug a drink?

Men still feel a sense of dominion over women. Don’t believe me? Ask 10 men if they’ve ever been with a woman who was the breadwinner and how did that make them feel. Ask college boys how many dates they expect before they expect  a return on their investment.

We may have won the vote but until the history of that warrants more than four lines in textbook, Suffragettes should be shown in every middle and high school.

Sending you to bed doesn’t make me happy: an open letter to my son


I sent you to bed early again tonight. By the time we got home and you got ready for bed, it was actually only 5 minutes early, but you weren’t allowed a bedtime story, and we ended the night in tears. Let me just say this much about that, I HATE ending the night in tears. I HATE skipping bedtime story. I HATE sending you to bed early. It all makes me feel like an awful mom. 

You have been pushing the limits, which, if I’m being honest, I really don’t mind. I like that you push limits. I enjoy the idea that you are figuring out for yourself what your boundaries should be and challenging the rules because it means you are using critical thinking skills. I don’t mind that you ask for a reason for the rule or the edict handed down to you. I want you to grow up challenging what is expected because it means you will be one of those people who will not accept unfair practices simply because “it’s always been the way we’ve done things”.

The problem is, EVERYONE around us has a different idea of what is acceptable behavior in a child and for most of them, children are seen and not heard and accept everything they are told no matter how wrong it may sound. There are a lot of things I see you do and chalk up to you being 5-years-old. I am willing to let a lot of that go, but when everyone around you is reprimanding you, they are also questioning my ability to raise you as a respectful and well-behaved young man. 

It’s exhausting! For both of us! I have to sidestep the opinions of the “well-meaning” adults, while limiting the inevitable outburst from you when you only want to know why what you did was wrong when all you were doing was following your natural impulse. So, the early bedtime becomes a necessity. You have to wade through the varying degrees of punishments to determine whose law you should follow. I know you don’t get it, but we’re both tired, and when a person is tired, they can’t process their thoughts and emotions properly. You need the early bedtime to help your brain get the rest it needs to self-regulate those outbursts and help you sidestep the people who want to keep you under their thumbs.

Unfortunately, right now, you’re 5 and from your perspective, Mommy is mean and cranky. And so, we end the night with me feeling like an awful mom, trying to make a stupid point, while trying to escape the judgement of the other moms who don’t get the point of allowing a certain freedom to encourage cognitive growth in my boy.

My kid is sad and it’s probably my fault

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I have the most lovable, happy-go-lucky kid in the world. Usually. Lately, though, he’s been less than happy-go-lucky. His spirits are a bit low, not terribly low, but low enough to be noticed. It’s easy to blame the recent changes in his life: suddenly having to move to a new house, in a new town, in a new school district; graduating preschool, which he was not looking forward to, by the way; Grandma and his cousins getting ready to move to Myrtle Beach; Grandma and his cousins not moving to Myrtle Beach.

His poor little world has been thrown into such uncertainty even a sane, well-adjusted adult would have trouble dealing. Unfortunately for Boo, he does not have a sane, well-adjusted adult in his life to model so he deals as best he can. He smiles while you’re looking. He continues to talk non-stop about whatever topic dejour has struck his fancy. He continues to play with his toys and create complex play-lands with in-depth back stories.

Like me, he still enjoys jumping in puddles in the rain, watching the clouds swim across the sky, and thrives on knowledge. 

Also like me, he smiles less brilliantly when the audience is gone. He chatters less when your ears turn deaf. Like me, he stares off into the ether until snapped back. 

It’s easy to blame life’s new challenges for the slight, oh so slight dimming in his bright blue-green eyes and let’s face it, I want to blame life. But there’s this nagging thought at the back of my mind, a tiny whisper, what if it’s not the recent changes upsetting him? What if it’s me? What if my tendency toward anxiety is rubbing off on my poor boy? 

This playful little boy, full of curiosity and love looks to me for his queues. ‘Are we OK, Mommy?’ As much as I may try to keep up the brave face, is it possible my queue anxiously and indirectly tells him, ‘No, we are not OK’?