La La How The Life Goes On

Archive for May 2014

Start Singing

Posted on: May 23, 2014

May has not been my month. First week, I ended up needing rather immediate and bizarre surgery. Turned out fine but was unexpected, exhausting and schedule-destroying. Second week the little one got strep. Midway through that, the older one got the flu. Both got better after a full week off school, but it was unexpected, exhausting and schedule-destroying. Third week OF COURSE I got strep AND the flu. Simultaneously. And I’m still not better. I’m exhausted. I feel like I slept under a car. The ramifications of having a subpar immune system just keep on coming at me, kamikaze-like, in nonstop waves. And, if I can say just between you and me, it’s really wearing me down. So I’ve been in a physical and mental funk all week. Just wishing my kids had a mom who could care for them when they are sick without having to worry about getting their infections too. Because I don’t just get what they have; I get it times ten, always with the bonus worry that it will go septic and I’ll die. And then, as much as I really don’t want to die from strep, I really really really don’t ever want my girls to ever feel like it was their fault. Which is why I never say, “oh I got strep from Bambina” within their earshot, because it’s nobody’s fault. It’s just The Way of The Germ. But The Way of The Germ is to decimate the weak immune system. And mine frequently obliges.

So whenever I’m in a funk I immediately start searching for ways out of that funk. I know there are people who love nothing more than a week- or month- or life-long boohoopoorme pityfest. I do not. I know I could be that person and maybe no one would fault me for it. But it’s not me; that hair shirt don’t fit.

So I watched copious amounts of Bravo TV while lying immobile on my couch. Million Dollar Listing NY never fails to cheer me up. I love every single insane one of those brokers, so the 102 temp felt better as I’m watching cocky Ryan freak out in the creepy basement of an old Murray Hill townhouse. At least I’m having a better day than him! Although he wins in the end with that 6-figure commission…

Then I go to Facebook, which proves a mixed bag. On the one hand there are the posts (from people I’ve now unfollowed) who are DEVASTATED to be 12 pounds overweight or omg this restaurant sucks! right next to an awesome, brave woman contending with ovarian cancer, a family member handling the multiple challenges of fatherhood and a rare cancer diagnosis like a goddamn boss, and friends remembering a classmate who passed last year leaving little kids behind. The latter give me hope and a reminder that my little bit of suffering might be the kind someone would gladly trade for. The former remind me that sometimes people without problems need to invent some for dramatic purposes. Or that maybe sometimes a person’s definition of “problem” could use some expansion and updating. And if only they knew how lucky they are to be so clueless.

So I was teetering between inspired and semi-bitter when my girl Kay-Tay posted the following commencement speech by Admiral McRaven.
http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/05/16/admiral-mcraven-commencement-speech/

He outlines Ten Things to do to change the world, based on his career as a USNavy SEAL. I read it while waiting for a lung CT scan to see if I have TB or pneumonia or whateverthehellelse, after being told our insurance might not pay for it, feeling totally defeated. And I get to his Ninth Thing to do to change the world and literally start crying (quietly, to myself, cause I don’t do public garment-rending) in the doctors office:

When you’re up to your neck in mud, start singing.

Boom. Yes. Just one voice. Just start singing. Even though you don’t think you can. Someone else up to his neck will hear you, gain hope and strength, and he’ll start singing too. Then someone else. And someone else. And their voices will give YOU hope and strength, and your combined voices will raise more voices.

So this is me. Singing. Join in if you need to, if you too are feeling like you’re up to your neck in mud. And then, together, let’s take his advice on number Ten as well: Don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

I know on this Mother’s Day that I’m supposed to wax poetic about how being a mom is The Greatest Job In The World. Blah blah blah

Sorry. No can do.

Here’s the reality:

With apologies to Donald Sterling’s publicist or Mariah Carey’s personal assistant, being a mom is the hardest, most intense, most insane job in the world.

Being a mom sucks so hard sometimes that I can’t even find the words to adequately describe the precise, exquisite nature of that suckage.

Being a mom requires you to dig so deep sometimes that I can’t even conjure the adjectives required to effectively illustrate how deep you have to go just to stay upright.

Being a mom demands that you put yourself second so often that I can’t even locate the integer 1 on the keyboard. (except for right there. Yay me). ๐Ÿ™‚

Nope. Being a mom is not The Greatest Job in the World. It is the shittiest job in the world. Seriously. It’s an effing sweatshop full of recidivist, insubordinate ingrates WHO LIVE WITH YOU. Imagine going to your job and spending every day with the following coworkers or employees:

–The one who ignores your requests until you raise your voice.

–The one who makes everyone late for important deadlines because she refuses to be ready on time. EVERY DAY.

–The one who slams her office door in your face because you “don’t understand” her.

–The one who embarrasses you at an important meeting because she cannot stop herself from saying, “farty poopy.”

–The one who goes into a roid rage over seemingly-innocuous requests like, “Please put your shoes on.”

And the worst part? Every damn one of these employees is Union. Tenured. So you are stuck with them.

Tell me you wouldn’t quit that job in a hot minute.

No? Consider this: Imagine going to your job and doing your job. For 12 hours. At the end of that 12 hours, a coworker comes into your office/cruiser/checkout line/classroom/wherever and ERASES everything you have done all day. Deletes it. Like it never happened, like you never accomplished it. And this happens almost every day. You work all day, you put in the time and the energy and effort, and–boom–by 6pm you look around and it’s like you were never there.

This is, I’m sorry to say, the Secret Life of the Stay At Home Mom, whether we want to admit it or not. Amid all the exclamations of the joy! heartsongs! pride! of being at home with your kids, the daily grind of being a mom is in reality just one giant suck after another. It’s a job no one would sign up for if they really knew what it entailed. You can pretend you would. But you know, deep in the core of your being, that the job description is one that would cause any sane, reasonable, remotely well-adjusted individual to run as fast as possible into the long, unreachable distance.

So why am I still here, at my laptop, on my couch, chilling with my awesome Baby Daddy while our precious kids sleep in the other room? Because, my friends, this is the gig.

Yes, the job description is scary. It should be.
Yes, the pay is terrible. What IS the going rate anyway for raising quality humans?
Yes, the hours are exhausting. You can’t tell your 4th grader you’re off the clock when she wants to tell you what’s on her mind.

It all aches in so many ways, but I always come back to my mantra: this is the gig. You become a mom, you become responsible for human children who need you. Children who need you more than you need whatever it is you think you are needing that day. If you’re lucky you have an awesome partner to share the load. If you don’t, then you are more awesome than I will ever be and I salute you. But however you accomplish it, this is the gig, as-is. It’s hard. It’s thankless. It’s often just not fun. But it’s important. It’s meaningful. And although it’s definitely not the Greatest job in the World (I believe that honor belongs to Ewan McGregor’s towel), it is a job that has no rival. Because in between the recidivism and thanklessness exist moments of grace. Moments of joy. Moments of overwhelming pride. When the teacher tells you your 4th grader stood up to bullies on behalf of another kid. When that 4th grader tells you that you should have been nicer to yourself as a teenager because you really were pretty. When she declares (thankfully not in public) Wednesdays to be International Fart Day. When your 5 year old touches your face and says “You the best mama ever.” When you tell the household to get ready…and oh my freakin lord…they just do it on time and under budget without malingering or complaining. These–these are the moments that save you, that sustain you, that keep you punching the clock at this, the most terrible job in the world.

Happy Mother’s Day, sisters.

http://www.salon.com/2014/05/04/ill_never_apologize_for_my_white_privilege_guy_is_basically_most_of_white_america/

For the love of God. This guy. For the non-clickers, this is a link to a Princeton University freshman named Tal Fortgang on Fox News talking about how he will “never apologize” for his white privilege.

I have a few thoughts on this. But you already knew that.

1. First and foremost, there is no discussion that is ever expanded, edified or improved by the addition of the opinion of any college freshman from any school in any country at any time. I say this as a former college freshman who led, attended and invoked countless discussions, roundtables and symposia during my college years. I’m not being a hater; just a realist with an honest memory of my insufferability at the time. College freshmen have quite literally nothing to add to any serious discussion of any topic, simply because their heads are too far up their own self-satisfied and self-important asses to be of any value. So there’s that.

2. Ugh. He’s Jewish, and embarrassing the rest of us in the Tribe. Old Jews–and this kid–will claim that Jews aren’t “white” as the “check your white privilege” meaning goes. The very fact that this kid gets to claim this shows how white we are in America today. Please hear me. There is nothing wrong with us getting ahead and bringing our kids and grandkids with us. But to have gained all the benefits of whitedom in America as the GRANDCHILD of bootstrapper Holocaust survivors and somehow act like you yourself survived Auschwitz with a dollar and a dream is just disrespectful BS. And to get on TV to complain about it? Privilege. This kid’s existence on TV and in Time Magazine is making the point about privilege in gorgeous, living color.

3. I hear what he is TRYING to say. That being told to check his privilege is dismissive of him, based on nothing but his skin color and gender. I get it. My dad was a white guy who I assure you never felt privileged in his life. I have many friends who work their asses off in long-day jobs who I assure you do not feel the soothing milk of privileged kindness each day as they punch the clock. That’s a discussion we can have without pretending some wealthy 19 year old college freshman is a victim. So why can’t he just say that? He has to launch into a list of all the great qualities that were imparted to him by his hard working forebears (that obviously weren’t imparted to the lazy poor people he deals with). He has to whine about the Libruls being mean to him. โ€œI do condemn them for diminishing everything I have personally accomplished, all the hard work I have done in my life, and for ascribing all the fruit I reap not to the seeds I sow but to some invisible patron saint of white maleness who places it out for me before I even arrive.โ€ All the hard work he has done in his life. He’s 19 fucking years old. At Princeton. What if Tal had been born in Slapout, Alabama to a single mother in a trailer park? Would he still be at Princeton? Would he still be so sure that NOTHING BUT HARD WORK gets you to your goals? The fact that he has not even considered this alternate reality for himself tells us all we need to know about the real amount of thought that has gone into his beliefs.

4. THIS: โ€œโ€˜Check your privilege,โ€™ the saying goes, and I have been reprimanded by it several times this year. The phrase, handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laser-like at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness, and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung.โ€ Wow. He manages a swipe at the President, a florid description of his smooth creamy delicate skin, AND a ludicrously hilarious pseudointellectual German synonym for “point of view.” ALL IN ONE PARAGRAPH! Please please please refer yourself back to Point #1. And ask yourself, if there were no white male privilege operating at any level in the world, whether this ridiculous essay would have even been considered for publication had it been written by anyone else.

No, Greta and Sean and Megyn, this kid did not “take down” or “demolish” the liberal argument about white male privilege. He quite elegantly proved it.

http://getborntribe.com/a-change-is-gonna-come/

My latest post at getborn magazine about meeting Ruby Bridges. ย Image

ย