Got Christmas Spirit? Don’t Ask.

smileysnowman-768212Christmas spirit is a holiday gift meant to spring up from spontaneous acts of generosity. You don’t ask for it–it happens when you least expect it from a friend or stranger overloaded with holiday goodwill and sugar-laden treats. But somehow due to the heavy rotation of stories like A Christmas Carol and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, people believe it should be shared at all times in December. They even demand it!

Too bad though I don’t want to give anybody anything. By this time of year I’ve given so much to so many people throughout the year that I want to give to myself and no one else. That doesn’t make me a Grinch, it just makes me someone who wants to be left alone. For instance…

CHRISTMAS SING ALONG
Just last week I went to an outdoor public holiday sing-along. I arrived early to get a good seat under a heater with a great sight line for my two-year-old son to watch the band. A woman who arrived later demanded I move over one so she could sit next to her grandson on our row. Forget the fact that there were plenty of empty seats around us or that the seat I had was empty because it was for my son who was with grandma using the potty, her wish for that chair was more important because she wanted to enjoy this holiday event with her grandson. And besides, she informed me, “You can’t hold seats for people. I can get a security guard and have you taken out!”

Then a woman in front of me got into the mix and told me to give the woman my seat. I explained that it was my son’s seat. “Oh like he’s going to watch.” “He will,” I told her proudly, “He goes to concerts.” She rolled her eyes, “It’s Christmas! Can’t you show a little Christmas spirit?!” No I couldn’t and nor did I want to. And neither did that lady in front of me because she never offered her seat to grandma either.

CHRISTMAS MOVIE
A few years back on Christmas day I went to see the opening of a movie with my husband. Once again, I arrived early. I walked in, counted the rows and the chairs to pick out the two most dead center seats. With our spot secure, my husband went to grab some concessions.

During this time the theater started to fill up in the middle but everywhere else there were plenty of seats. Then one guy came up and saw some empty seats on our row and asked that I move down. My brain froze. I didn’t want to move but my well-trained guilty conscience suggested I move over even if it meant denying myself a perfect seat. But knowing that this way of thinking is what causes me to be emotionally drained by the end of the year, I told the man, “No.”

NO?!!!!!

The man’s eyes widened. “It’s just a couple of seats down,” he retorted. I looked around and saw there were still plenty of other seats available. “No,” I said again. The man’s friend showed up and the man moved on, but not before snarking back, “Great Christmas Spirit.” Everyone on my row then looked at me as if I had broken an unwritten rule. I thought I had done something admirable. At last I was thinking of myself before others. Merry Christmas to me! I shrugged my shoulders and looked up to watch the pre-show.

Then a couple came up and asked if I could move over. “No,” I said. Once again I was met with looks of dismay, “Seriously?” “Yes,” I said again. As a favor I pointed to some seats down the way. The couple twisted their faces and puffed, “Merry Christmas!” “Merry Christmas,” I said right back but not as angrily.

My husband finally showed up with popcorn and drinks when another couple (I sh*# you not) came up and asked us to move over. Before I could say no and tell my husband about everyone else who wanted me to move, he moved over. Then him and the couple waited for me to move. I didn’t. When it became clear I had no intention of ever getting up my husband looked at me like I was crazy and asked, “Aren’t you going to move over?” “No,” I said.

My husband was mortified, “Why don’t you just move over?” “Because I want this seat,” I told him. My husband begged me with his eyes to move over. I kept my coat in my seat and told him I would see how the new seat was. I moved over and sure enough it wasn’t perfect. And for a few seconds as I sat there in that less than perfect seat I thought, “I fought hard for my spot. Why do I have to move over just because it’s what my husband wants? That’s not even what he wants, it’s what they want? Why doesn’t he do what I want?” I looked at my husband with much love knowing he’d be hardheaded about thinking I was hardheaded and got up, moved back over to my seat, took my popcorn and said to all three waiting on me, “No.”

“That’s really nice of you,” the couple huffed at me while the theater filled up more and more around them. I replied, “Thank you,” because by now I was enjoying being the sh*%head everyone was making me out to be. Desperate, the couple tried one last tactic: reasoning. “Is it that bad of a seat? Can’t you just move over one place?” Tired of the back and forth and wanting to enjoy the pre-movie show, I chomped on my popcorn and said, “You asked me if I could move down. That means I have a choice in the answer. I gave you my answer.”

Then like an army of reinforcements coming over the hill to save a falling army, a woman behind me yelled out, “Leave that poor woman alone! She said no! Why does everyone keep asking her to move over?! She was here before you were! Get here early if you want this seat!” I turned around and thanked her.

So now when I think of Christmas spirit, I don’t think of sweet strangers handing over free mugs of hot cocoa, I think of anyone courageous enough to defend those of us in great need of being a little greedy at this most needy time of the year.

Pictured: Smilin’ Snowman, ShazzMack, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Commercial-Sharealike 2.0 license

Tagged , , ,

Do You Like Being A Mom?

DSC_0030

The month after my baby ejected himself from my wound, everyone wanted to know, “Do you like being a mom?” They asked either because they knew I was originally terrified of having a kid or it’s the go-to question for new moms. Since no one had ever before inquired what I felt towards any of my other jobs, I didn’t know how to respond.

Did friends really want to know? Or is it like when you’re asked how you’re doing and you’re supposed to give an uncomplicated perky response like, “Good!” The question might sound like it wants the truth but nobody really wants to know you just got fired from your dream job, got kicked out of your apartment and that your boyfriend changed his FB status to single after tagging you in his new profile pic of him making out with your best friend. Social etiquette deems it rude and discourteous to saddle the poor blameless questioner with so much baggage.

So for the first couple of months I was careful with expressing my feelings about being a mom. I would shake my head and restrain a panicked smile then answer, “It’s crazy!” Though my friends and family never called Child Protective Services, it was clear that my vague answer killed what were supposed to be joyous interactions instead of silent awkward ones.

Although no one explicitly tells a new mom how she’s supposed to feel, there are certain expectations conveyed through magazines, the way people smile and congratulate you for having a child and the lack of Complaint Boxes gifted at baby showers. Unlike most jobs that consider collective bitching as a healthy way to bond with coworkers, the unpaid and most times lonely mom has to say how great her job is with a smile not seen since her naïve maternity photos. She must not only like getting drooled, peed and pooped on, she must squeal about it like one woman I met during Mommy & Me Yoga, “I LOVE BEING A MOM! IT’S BETTER THAN WORKING!”

But I disagree. It can’t be BETTER THAN working because it IS working but for long periods of time with no happy hours available when you get off. I can’t fake my love for the position like so many glowing moms because I’m not crazy. The job itself sucks, no doubt about it: minimal sleep, breast infections, diminishing mental aptitude, loss of hearing and the vanishing ability to stay up past 9pm or move around the house at a regular noise-making speed. How can anyone like being a mom? How can anyone like being a parent? Unless you were in a bad relationship to begin with, wasn’t life better before having a baby? Yes it was. But this is where I feel I must be crazy because deep down as much as I think not having a baby was better, I can’t say it is because you can’t compare.

Having such a hard job now as a mom, I thought I’d be grumpier or at least hardened by being a parent and not give into the gush most people express. But what’s strange and something you can never feel in any other job is that as hard as being a new human’s caretaker is, it’s surprisingly really fun. Like carnivals!

There is nothing greater than seeing your kid trying to walk around, getting spun about, greeting you with too much cuteness standing in his crib and laughing the whole day between a few cranky spells before nap time. Plus, introducing him to the world is like living out one of those movies where a time traveller from the past ends up in our time and you get to watch him as he gets scared, delighted and confused by everything around him. Sure I may be missing out on going out with my husband whenever we want to see a movie or go to a club with friends, but now we do things we never did before because we have to educate our little guy on what the world has to offer. I even have a slight tan for once from being outdoors so much!

This is why the question “Do you like being a mom?” should be banned from the general parenting conversation. The job itself is much too complicated for the kind of easy answer the questioner expects. No I don’t like being a mom, but I love being my son’s mother and more importantly, I love him and would never go back to not having him. Sure the job could be easier and I could handle a few nannies (like ten of them) here and there, but strangely it’s the tough parts of the ride that help me bond with him and make my love for him grow. It’s like why Christie Brinkley married that one guy after a helicopter crash. What I’m saying is, who cares if you like the job or not–as long as you try to do it well and love the person you’re working for, that’s all that matters.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

You’re Like A Suburban Midlife Crisis In America–No Middle Class

peacock mid life crisisHooray! Last week I entered my midlife crisis! No Saturn Return, no Pre-Midlife Crisis, no Late Onset Puberty; I’m talking the exciting big mirror in the aging face “Oh $hit What Am I Doing With My Life” Crisis. I’m at the point where adults finally become mature and live out those inspiring second chance stories that give people hope and aging rock bands one last chance to tour. And since so many people before me have been through it, I know I only have to survive some existential hell for a couple of years until I come to the conclusion that what I really need is to get rid of my old life and start a flashy new one! Problem is that with the middle class going extinct, middle class protégés like myself are finding that we are no longer able to afford the kind of satisfactory crisis that we are accustomed to. While some fear that with the demise of the middle class, motivated stoners and Teva wearing revolutionaries will finally rally to overthrow our current capitalist system, I fear that it will cause my midlife makeover to suck.

Without the same time and resources the middle class once enjoyed, the peacocky crisis we’ve come to know and mock will soon be a thing of the past. Of course there will still be two others available. There is the Rich Man’s Crisis carried out by those in the upper stratospheres of rich. This crisis as opposed to others, does not question career paths taken since the wealthy have always had the money to do whatever they’ve always wanted to do. These enviable midlifers are only subjected to the fear of losing their youth and the promise of impending death. So with a few new spouses (each one younger than the other), Botox shots and some hot sweaty yoga their midlife crisis is complete…ly Zzzzzzzzz.

Then there is the Poor Man’s Crisis, also known as The Struggling Artist’s Crisis. These are the ones who in their 20’s and 30’s did everything people in the other classes of crises try to emulate at 40 or 50. These creative types always dated much younger people but for like-minded conversation not for youth-sucking purposes. They chose day jobs that required little commitment so that they could concentrate on an artistic career that nearing 40 they discover never happened. Tired of living with roommates for 20 years and wishing for a few creature comforts they once scorned (Brookstone foot massagers), these once rebellious folks suddenly question their lifelong misgivings of society’s norms and immediately want to shed all semblance of their nonconformity. Ready to prove that they can succeed in a conventional way, they suddenly work hard to find someone their own age to marry, find a “real” job and settle down by buying a home or a fuel-efficient car in place of the incredibly cool beater or Volvo station wagon they swore they would keep until they died. Even less exciting than the rich, the poor man’s midlife crisis makes me go through another midlife crisis just reading about it.

It is because of the rich and the poor man’s midlife crises that we need to safeguard the middle class. Theirs is the iconic American midlife crisis. They followed the rules for so long they’re ready to break them! With 80’s style self-reflection and real jet-ski consumerist pizzazz, here in the middle you are promised toupees, red hot convertible sports cars, motorboats, cheesy young dates, divorces and the chance to sell that suburban home to buy yourself a downtown loft and finally live like all those cool artist types you stood in line with at the coffee shop and hated on your way to your 9-6-or-more job. You can go out to nightclubs, get college-style wasted on Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds because that’s what you last heard was hip from a temp a few years ago, leave your job in corporate America and make a new small business venture in something cooler like a distillery that makes bacon flavored whiskey with kitschy bacon flavored fruit roll-ups or by making specialty facial hair clips for wine tasters in Napa Valley, then get photographed in Sunset Magazine and show it off to your new family you just made with that temp you met a few years ago in your long-gone corporate job! That my friends, is a real crisis! Something I was ready to join in until I realized I couldn’t.

mid life crisisLike a chubby girl who lost weight but still sees herself as chubby, I like so many others raised middle class, learned that I had been mistakingly considering myself middle class when financially I am nowhere near it. So when my crisis turned up as a 16-year-old me to evaluate what I had made of her life and was unimpressed, I couldn’t escape or hurriedly make things better in a colorful, over-the-top, expensive way. I was sorry to let Young Me know that Now Me can’t just pack up and move my family to Paris or New York and live the life she wanted because I can’t afford to. Instead, the two of us have had to settle for lying in bed to piece together what makes sense from my past, discover what traits hold me back, support the ones that move me forward, take a close look at what’s important, what I want to spend my time working on and how to go about doing it. I discovered that I am part of a new class that is gaining traction in America, and our Lost Class Midlife Crisis is completely…ho hum practical.

*16-year-old me is completely over me and has moved on to her next victim.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Baby Made Me Do It

Hi everybody! I haven’t written in over 6 months. You know why? ‘Cause I had a baby. Yep, the excuse that superwomen like CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer would never dare use, but smart women like myself do. Why not make use of it? I suffered through hours of what felt like two gigantic hands digging into my flesh and pulling my bones apart, a week with my downstairs blown-out and endured a new mom sentence of six weeks without sex. I earned this excuse card and shame on me if I don’t use it!

The excuse I HAVE A BABY covers everything from forgetting birthdays, to not contributing anything to potlucks, to flagrantly violating traffic laws. And unlike your usual rotating list of cop-outs that don’t involve saving for college–work, sick, sick cat–I HAVE A BABY can be used over and over again with your friends and you will never look like a dick. And don’t worry about coming up with an explanation either–no one wants to know because singles and single couples are afraid of babies. They believe as I once did, that newborns are a plague which, once contracted, wipes friends out from existence and prevents them from doing what those without spawn assume is prized above all else: hanging out with them.

Now that I’m on the other side, however, I’ve discovered that the whole thing is a sham. Sure babies deprive parents of their sleep and give them new problems to solve every day, but the thing new parents don’t share with the public is that newborns give them massive amounts of baby love hormones which make them perfectly capable of going out and seeing people. Thing is… they just don’t want to. Babies don’t turn parents into the walking dead, they turn them into selfish, socially undependable lying a**holes.

For instance:

  • You think your friends couldn’t make it to your party because little Aiden was taking an extraordinarily long nap? Wrong! They’ve always hated your parties and are glad they finally don’t have to go.
  • You invited your friends to see your band play on Saturday night but they couldn’t go because babysitters cost too much and they need to save for a house? Nuh-uh. Look on Facebook the next day to see what they’re doing. That’s right…checking in at a pricey mimosa brunch and spending money on friends they think are worth spending on a babysitter.
  • You tried calling your mom-friend to cry about your boyfriend AGAIN but she said she couldn’t talk because darling baby Mackenzie was crying to be fed? BS! That little bitch Mackenzie cries all the time. EVEN WHEN SHE’S HAPPY!

Of course when I first joined the club I was dumb enough to prove everyone wrong about what it meant to be a new mom. I didn’t want anyone to think I couldn’t do it all even when I didn’t want to do it all. I posted photos like this one:

Work Out Baby

You know what that got me? Friends inviting me to work out with them when all I wanted to do was sleep in and eat pizza… at the same time. But after several mornings of Burpees, ab exercises on furniture sliders and jumping lunges, I smartened up. Who cares if taking on the public’s perception of being a parent makes me look like a shut-in slob. When else will I be able to not do all the things I’ve never wanted to do? I took inventory, held a meeting with my internal Board of Directors, saw what others in my field were doing…

sleeping-mommy-and-baby

Oh no she didn’t! Pretending to be exhausted with perfectly side swept bangs and make-up! Good for her.

mom and son

Where’s momma heading to after this photo?

…and immediately posted my own version of this common mommy and me pose:

Do you think this image would tempt anyone to bother us with any invitations or obligations? Of course not. That’s because when you see photos like this splayed across Facebook and Instagram, you might comment, “Oh how sweet. Momma and child sleeping, Exhausted from so much love,” but subconsciously the photo makes you think, “F’ing stoner roommates.” Instantly this new look brands me as undesirable and totally useless. Success! A new parent through and through! As a result, guess what this pic has been getting me? Days and nights of doing nothing but sleeping and eating pizza. At the same time.

Pizza and Sleep

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gone Fishing

charlie-brown-christmas-peanuts

I just had a baby. As traumatic and awesome as it was and is, the last thing I can do is think beyond ME WANT PIZZA, ME WANT WATER. So I will spare you any uninspired posts and instead invite you to look through the archives of the Platform for the next couple of weeks while I recoup and stare at my baby.

Happy holidays and see you in the New Year! Well, if we survive the end of the world, that is.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 701 other followers