I have been a mother for five months now.
And I’m a total pro.
I have been a mother for five months now.
And I’m a total pro.
In life, sometimes you’ll have feelings of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.
Maybe you never told someone you loved them and then they passed away never knowing you cared. (Too dark?)
Or maybe you lost all of your money playing the slots and couldn’t make rent, so you were forced to live in your car, and because you could no longer receive mail you missed an important letter notifying you of your great aunt’s death and the subsequent million dollar inheritance, so it was given to the government, and you died penniless. (This happened to someone I know.)
Or maybe you ordered a salad and your husband ordered a burger, and when the meals were delivered to the table, you had overwhelming feelings of sadness, repentance, or disappointment and forced your husband to switch dinners with you. (This happened to me.)
The regret is real.
To be completely honest (and when am I anything but?)… Those regrets do not even come close to the regret I’m going to tell you about!
(So get ready!) (Are you ready?)
The husband and I were vacationing in Oahu in November 2016, during the week of the U.S. election. We thought we would be celebrating the first female president, and instead we watched as the United States elected the worst* human** ever.
It completely and utterly ruined our trip.
We attempted to waterslide our troubles away. (For the record, 79 times down the waterslide does NOT make the pain go away.)
When we got home, we made all kinds of declarative statements about not returning to Hawaii until the U.S. sorted their shit out.
(Full disclosure: we thought that they would get their shit sorted out much quicker than they are getting their shit sorted out.)
There have been so many times over the past year that I’ve excitedly said to the husband, “Pack your bags… [insert scandal here]!”
And then we wouldn’t go to Hawaii. (Because we made those declarative statements saying that we wouldn’t return to Hawaii until the U.S. sorted their shit out, and the U.S. still hasn’t sorted their shit out.)
The regret is real.
* Absolutely, positively
When I was a kid I watched a lot of TV.
I’m talking a lot.
(Like, at least 50% more than what you think is “a lot.”)
I couldn’t wait to get home from school and plop down in front of the TV, and then stay there for the next 4-6 hours.
TV was my babysitter, my friend, and my teacher (and yes, I realize how sad that sounds).
My favorite TV shows were sitcoms that revolved around families… Family Ties, Who’s the Boss?, Growing Pains, ALF, The Cosby Show*, Different Strokes, Mr. Belvedere, Silver Spoons, et al.
The families in these TV shows were perfect. The parents had a loving and equal partnership, the kids had very different personalities but always found common ground – and in every episode the family would learn something important about themselves or each other.
These programs were very formative in my life – meaning, they had a profound and lasting influence on my development, and helped form my opinions, thoughts, and beliefs.
For the longest time I thought that these beloved TV families were an accurate reflection of regular, non-televised families.
Obviously, I was very disappointed when my own family did not behave in a televised way.
My dad never took me out to his garage to have a heart-to-heart about making the right choices in life. My mom never told me that she understood my feelings and why I was acting out, while sitting next to me on a porch swing. My sister never punched a bully for me.
These things never happened.
The thing is… (and I just learned this)… These shows aren’t real. Aside from the fact that they are scripted television shows with paid actors (I totally knew that**), they also don’t reflect real families. In fact, I don’t know anyone in my life who has a sitcom-esque family.
Sometimes I’ll ask people: “Is your family like an 80s sitcom family?” And after they ask me who I am and why I’m asking, the answer is always “no.”
I have learned that it’s okay to have expectations of your family, and to strive to create a special kind of bond, but you (I) should also realize that people are imperfect and they might disappoint you sometimes.
I have also learned that those TV shows definitely impacted my brain development, and it can occasionally get weird.
A few years ago, the husband and I were in Hawaii (the big island). As we headed down to breakfast one morning, we got on the elevator… And there he was… Steven Keaton… The perfect dad.
It was a very surreal experience for both the husband and I. We both felt such a weird and familiar connection to this man, so it totally made sense for both of us to give him hugs and call him “dad,” – and on the other hand he doesn’t know us at all, so it also made perfect sense for him to scream and then call security.
I bet we been together for a million years,
And I bet we’ll be together for a million more.
Oh, It’s like I started breathing on the night we kissed,
And I can’t remember what I ever did before.
What would we do baby, Without Us?
What would we do baby, Without Us?
And there ain’t no nothing we can’t love each other through.
What would we do baby, Without Us?
Sha la la la.
* I didn’t know! He didn’t seem like the type of person to abuse his power with drug facilitated sexual assaults!
** I almost knew that.
You might be thinking that it’s marrying my wonderful husband, or meeting Larry David.
Or maybe you’re thinking it was when I went on a tour of Henson Studios and met Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson, and got to hang out in his office with him and hold his Emmy, and then go watch a puppet show.
Some of you might even be thinking that it was the time that I sat in the front row at a Martin Short show and he gyrated in my face while wearing a nude bodystocking with drawn-on genitals.
While that was certainly a life-changing experience, it was not the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Perhaps you’re wondering if it was finding out that I’m 5-10% Jewish.
That was pretty awesome, but it’s not that.
I’ll bet that some of you think that it must be the time I received a letter from Steven Spielberg, or perhaps the time I was in a sketch with Amy Poehler.
Those events were boring and forgettable compared to… THE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME!
(While it was fun to keep you guessing, I’m going to tell you now.)
The best thing that has ever happened to me is a Roomba®
I mean he’s high performance, good for pets, Wi-Fi connected, hypo-allergenic, and he has incredible suction. He’s everything you would want in a man AND he cleans.
Who knew that you could experience such a true and pure love with a robot vacuum*?
He’s taken on so much work around the house that I now have more time and space to just think (I’m planning on picking up where Stephen Hawking left off).
* Probably some weirdo.
I’m officially a yuppie.
I realized this while driving my Toyota Prius down a Vancouver street, listening to U2, with five avocados in a reusable grocery bag on the seat next to me.
(FYI – the official, Mirriam-Webster dictionary definition of “yuppie” is: a young college-educated adult who is employed in a well-paying profession and who lives and works in or near a large city. While I’m not especially young (I may or may not be in my mid 30s) or in an especially well-paying profession, I do live and work in a large-ish city so that should count for something.)
It just sort of happened… I slowly grew up and began conforming to accepted behavior and established practices – including shopping at Whole Foods, eating tofu, and listening to classic rock.
(Believe me, I didn’t seek to conform. For much of my life, I definitely did not conform. In fact, some might have even called me a nonconformist because my behavior and/or views definitely did not conform to prevailing ideas or practices – i.e. I wore thrift store clothing and dyed my hair yellow and read experimental poetry!*)
I want to talk about the best thing about conforming… Whole Foods.
I love Whole Foods.
I love everything about it… I love the smoothie station. I love the natural products. I love the cashiers with their green aprons. I love that some Whole Foods have bars and food and a really great happy hour. I love that all of the bathrooms have toilet seat covers!!!!! I love the paper bags which are super handy for so many things. I love the high ceilings. I love the pre-cut watermelon. I love the varied and vast assortment of kombucha drinks. I love that you can return anything with a receipt (I returned a chicken that tasted gross last week). I love the free parking. I love the free samples. I love that they have six kinds of tamari. I love all the things!
And you know what? It’s okay.
Conforming is okay.
It’s just going with the flow, playing the game, meeting halfway, rolling with the punches, following the beaten path…**
I mean, we all grow up, and we all feel a little bit less, and we all die a little bit inside every. single. day. This is totally normal. This is just growing up, and taking on responsibility, and signing on the dotted line of a mortgage that you can’t afford. It’s totally okay. This is just being an adult.
It’s just maturity… and it’s fine.
I mean, they have six kinds of tamari.
* And! Because I was a member of a Protestant church in England that dissents from the established Anglican Church (which is also called a nonconformist)!
** These are all just synonyms of conforming.
There are moments in one’s life that define one (and one’s life).
In other words, there are going to be moments that define you, determine your fate, and are important in you life’s journey. Some might even call these events momentous,* which, I must say, is a really good word to describe such things.
A job interview. A first date. A first kiss. A third wedding… Those kinds of things.
Moments that are etched in your mind forever. Moments that you will never, ever, ever forget… No matter how much you try, and how much time has passed, and how much therapy you have undertaken, and how good your therapist is.
Those kinds of moments.
I hope you’re picking up what I’m putting down.
Not all of these moments are good. Sometimes these moments are really, really bad and also quite embarassing.
If, for some lucky reason, you have never been embarrassed and have managed to coast through life poised and graceful, then I actually feel sorry for you because embarassment builds character (and you can quote me on that).
If, like me, you have not managed to avoid embarassment (the self-conscious emotion dictated by a disconnect between how we feel we should respond or act in public and how we actually respond or act), then you might appreciate this story.
The date was March 30, 2015. The city was Burbank, California. It was around 6pm. My husband and I were meeting some friends for dinner at Adana, a Persian restaurant that had recently been praised by The New York Times writer Mark Bittman. In other words, it was quite a scene**.
The restaurant is in an indrustrial area on San Fernando Road, which is a busy four-lane road. The windows have dark drapes that are kept closed, and you wouldn’t know it was any different from the self storage next door, except for a small sign that says, Adana.
As we walked up to the restaurant, we noticed a Buick LeSabre*** pull up in front and an older gentleman get out of the vehicle. We didn’t pay much mind, because there are approximately seven billion people on earth, and he was just one of them.
I wish I had.
I opened the door, stepped inside the restaurant, and was immediately blinded by no fewer than 100 camera flashes and a very enthusiastic and deafening rendition of “Happy Birthday” that quickly trailed off when they realized I was not the birthday boy.
I stood there, paralyzed with fear, in front of at least 100 Armenians that did not look happy****.
My whole life flashed before me: my first job interview. My first date. My first kiss. My third wedding… And then I thought about how bummed all of these Armenians would be to go through their photos later, and see pics of some stupid white chick.
I reached for my husband’s hand… knowing that we have taken sacred marital oaths and consumated our marriage literally dozens of times, to signify that whatever life brings our way, we will get through it together…
Yeah, he was nowhere to be found. Apparently, when he saw the flashes go off and heard the singing start, he ducked back outside the restaurant, leaving me alone, red-faced, literally***** dying of embarassment.
Finally, a waiter rushed over and pulled me aside, just as Buick LeSabre guy opened the door, and was immediately blinded by no fewer than 100 camera flashes and a very enthusiastic and deafening rendition of “Happy Birthday” that was sung through to completion.
My husband entered the restaurant and rushed over to me, but it was all very momentous and I needed to sit down.
Let’s just say we didn’t consumate our marriage that night.
* If you’re the kind of person who likes to throw around big words to prove to the world (and specific people) that you’re very highbrow and fancy, I would suggest adding momentous to your vernacular. Momentous (if you don’t already know) is an adjective to describe a very, very important decision, event, or change, which is of great importance or significance, especially in its bearing on the future.
** You know, associated with or immersed in a particular cultural scene.
*** I can’t actually remember what kind of car it was, but if you’re telling a story and you need a car make and model, I highly recommend a Buick LeSabre.
**** Okay, full disclosure: some of them looked happy, and some of them did not look happy.
***** Not literally.
Oprah announced that she will not be running for president in 2020, stating, “It’s not something that interests me… I don’t have the DNA for it.”
And the world let out a collective sigh.
Oprah was, and is, relatable, brilliant, emotionally intelligent, inspirational, and she has great hair. Oprah would have made a great president.*
When I was seven years-old, watching Oprah’s first syndicated tabloid talk show that I definitely should not have been watching at age seven, I knew that she was destined for more. (I was a very perceptive child.)
Aside from having the it** factor, Oprah is Oprah. And when you have just one name, you are always destined for more.
I mean, the very fact that your parents looked at you and said, “This child only needs one name!”
Side note: It must be really nice to have parents that think you are so special that they give you just one name. In fact, I’ll bet that having parents that think you are so special that they give you just one name contributes to increased feelings of self-worth that sets you up for a lifetime of success. It’s just a theory – but I think it really checks out.***
Still, I’m sure that there are pros and cons to having just one name.
Pro: You’re definitely destined for greatness. See: Madonna. Cher. Beyonce. Bono. Sting. Prince.
Pro: You get to hang out with other people that only have just one name because you are all fabulous, and you can relate to each other on a one-name level.
Con: It can get confusing at Starbucks when the barista calls out your order: “Oprah!” And you look around, and you wait to make sure no one else is reaching for the non-fat, half-caff, extra hot latte because at Starbucks, everyone is special and is called by one name.
Con: I would imagine it’s not super convenient when you’re registering for Amazon Prime, and it requires a last name.
Oprah should run for president.
* Dear Oprah, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that even though you said you didn’t want to be president and that it doesn’t interest you and that you don’t have the DNA for it, it is totally cool if you want to change your mind. For the longest time I thought that I hated avocados, but then I tried one and I loved it, and now I eat avocados all the time (5x/week). Another example: I thought knitting was for sad, old people, but I now know that it’s for very cool (and warm!) people, so I’m considering taking it up. I don’t know how much thought you actually gave to the presidency, but maybe just let it percolate for a few extra years. Washington D.C. is lovely, and there’s a restaurant there that has pizza with a sourdough crust, which is really, really good. I can’t remember the name right now, but if you end up being president I’ll make sure to get it to you.
** Charisma! Something magical that you just can’t put your finger on!
*** I have three names, and I have suffered.
I was so sure that I had created a new term.
It wouldn’t be the first time… Barf bag ripper. Wacky bat nuts. Those terms came from my brain, vibrated through my vocal chords, and then spat out of my mouth – and were quickly and firmly entrenched into the lexicon of modern English.
Last fall I spent a week at Royal Roads University doing a residency for my Communications Management Post-Graduate Certificate. During the residency, I met a very special group of ladies (and one man!), and we just clicked.
To be clear: I don’t mean that we made a short, sharp sounds as of a switch being operated or of two hard objects coming into contact. Or, the act of selecting options on an electronic interface by pressing a button or touching a screen.
(I mean, we definitely did both of those things, but that isn’t what I meant by clicked.)
What I meant by clicked is that we immediately formed a very close relationship in a way that is usually associated with an empowering summer camp experience, or a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
In five short days, five of us went from strangers to best buds, and our friendship has continued to flourish. We may live in different cities in Western Canada, but we text and email regularly, we send holiday cards, and we meet up when we’re in the same city.
Last night we were texting, and one of the ladies commented on our bromance (you know, a close, emotionally intense bond between two men).
I replied: “You mean womance.”
I was so proud of myself. I wrote the word down on a scrap of paper: womance… Yet another phrase to be quickly and firmly entrenched into the lexicon of modern English. I felt super cool, self-important, and lofty.
And then I googled it and I found out its already a thing. (insert crying emoji.)
So it’s already a thing.
So many things are already things!
This happens to me all of the time: I’ll think of some thing, and then I’ll get all excited, and then I’ll google it, and then I’ll find out its already a thing, and then I’ll become so disheartened that I need to go lie down.
Creativity is really a blessing and a curse.
That’s already a thing.
I have to go lie down now.
A note about this blog: I was already considering the subject of sympathy before I was struck down with the gruesome norovirus last week, which then transitioned into a monster cold/flu that had me down and out for the last seven days.
As we all know, “sympathy” is a Latin term from the late 16th century, from Greek sumpatheia, from sumpathēs, from sun- ‘with’ + pathos‘feeling.’
Sympathy means, roughly (and, according to Dictionary.com) – feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
An example of misfortune could be* contracting the norovirus and then spending 14 hours on the cold, hard, marble floor of your bathroom between bouts of barfing and wondering if there is a God, and if there is a God why does she/he/they let very bad things (like the norovirus) happen to good people**, followed by three days of trying very hard not to barf. And then, just when you think it might be over, you are plunged into an extreme cold/flu that knocks you out for another four days, giving you plenty of time to consider your life’s choices, and where it all went wrong. Because when your face is dripping with mucus and fluid, no one can see your tears.
That is definitely an example of someone else’s misfortune where you might want to express some sympathy – maybe with a card, or some flowers.
We could all use more sympathy (“we,” meaning all of humanity).
Expressing sympathy means that we have looked up from our phones*** and thought about someone else, and their misfortune.
It’s nice to think of others.
It’s also nice for others to know that you are thinking of them.
It’s also nice to think of others, thinking of you, thinking of them.
For example, when I very, very sick last week (like really, really sick), I got a very thoughtful text from a friend asking how I was, and I have to say, I was really touched****.
As I laid on the cold, hard, marble floor of my bathroom, wiping the barf from my cheek, and weeping (and! questioning God!), I heard that familiar ding from my phone, and I thought: “Someone is thinking of me… Someone has looked up from their phone, and then looked back down at their phone, and used their finger to type me a short message. I’m going to use everything I have in me to get up off of this floor, and check my text messages.”
It turns out that the ding was actually my cell phone provider alerting me about data overages.
Two days later, when I got that text from my friend asking how I was, I thought it was really nice of her to think of me.
Because I love sympathy.
* Just one example.
** Or, at least – people who try very, very hard to be good.
*** It’s always a phone.
**** Moved emotionally, not caressed or handled.