Self Care on Steroids

Self Care on Steroids

Exactly how much can you get away with in the name of self care? Asking for a friend….except that friend is myself….and I don’t really care how much I can get away with as self care, because I needed it, and there’s literally nobody telling me I can’t..not even the fine folks at American Express.

My mental health has been a somewhat rapidly declining shit show for the past couple of weeks. I know what I could do to change it, but I also know that the change I REALLY want to make isn’t a feasible solution, because there’s that whole house I need to sell, job I’d need to find, and ridiculously overpriced new housing market, so really, it’d just introduce an entirely new kind of stress in my life.

Weekends are the absolute worst, because if I’m not out of town, I spend WAY too much time alone with my thoughts, and trust me when I say, this isn’t a pleasant place to be sometimes. So this weekend, I forced myself to go out in public and actually do something instead of sitting at home in a horrible anxiety cycle feeling sorry for myself. I went to lunch with some friends, snuggled a brand new baby, and had a delicious drink, then shared my pictures from my photo shoot I did in December with them, because they’re in my car all the time and they wanted to see them. I got my eyebrows waxed so I didn’t have to do it myself, bought an Italian soda, and had a pedicure and massage, all in the name of self care.

The problem was, I still had to go home, and that’s where all the solo self care in the world doesn’t help, because the whole being in public by myself thing is doable, but being home by myself is just so soul sucking lately. So, I did the only thing I could think of that would work, short of taking enough Benadryl to sleep until Monday, and texted my best friend a meme that said “If I tell you I need you, do not take it lightly. I do everything I can to never have to depend on anyone, to never show weakness, and if I say that I need you, it means I am trusting you to catch me when I fall.” And boy did he ever catch me, instantly, and from over 100 miles away. He momentarily fixed literally everything I tried to shop away in the name of self care over the course of an hour’s worth of back and forth text messages. (Yes, I know a phone call would be easier, but 1- I don’t use my phone for that, and 2- The kinds of things he was saying, are really best when you’re able to read them again, and again, and again, and again, because they’re the kinds of things a girl just needs to hear more than once.)

That text message exchange was the best “self care” I ever could have asked for, and I could have stopped there, BUT…I didn’t. The next day, I shopped again in the name of self care and bought a designer pen that I didn’t need, but hey, it was Ted Baker, and it was insanely affordable, so #selfcaresunday justification for that one. 3pm nap. Self care, check. Post work grocery store run for all of the sparkling water flavors. Self care, check. Ice cream for dinner… Self care, check…check…checkity check. But wait, there’s more! Monday manicure in the name of self care, you bet! Finally caving to the Easter candy section of the grocery store and then eating eggs for dinner…..Cadbury eggs that is. Sure, why not. It’s self care after all!

That’s a whole lot of self care justified shopping/pampering over the course of 72 hours, and I’m not about to start thinking I shouldn’t have done it, or that I didn’t deserve one bit of it, but now it’s really probably time for the hard part of self care. The part where I need to have a serious conversation with my doctor about my stress levels and mental health in the name of self care. The part where I eat the whole foods, and do the cardio in the name of self care. The part where I keep surrounding myself with people who are good for me, and let go of the ones who aren’t, all in the name of self care. It’s time for the real self care, not just the fun kind, because self care isn’t all massages and manicures.

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It’s the little things

It’s the little things

I needed some best friend time in the worst way this weekend. As luck would have it, he had his kids until noon-ish on Saturday, so I asked if I could take them all to lunch. I mean, I needed some best friend time, but if I’m completely honest, I REALLY needed the excitement that can only come from a 3 and 9 year old who haven’t seen you in 4 months and also think you’re pretty damn cool. (Excuse me….3 and a half and 9 and a half….we’re at the age where these half years are important!)

Of course dining with children means the 5 star, hole in the wall random place you found on Yelp in the shady part of town is out of the question, so the ever favorite of children it was…IHop, where there is a perpetual 15 minute wait, no matter what time or day you go. Surprisingly enough, the very hungry, and slightly tired kids were amazingly patient and very well behaved while waiting for a table. Then they were just as well behaved during the entire meal, and as anyone who has ever gone anywhere with a tired, hungry toddler knows, this is nothing short of a victory.

Meals were eaten in peace, and we all had a great time. Then the 9 year old decided he was ready to be done with lunch and wanted to wash his hands, and announced that he wanted me to take him, not his dad. Score one for me. (Actually, I rank pretty high on the cool meter with these kids every time we get together, so this wasn’t a surprise.) While I was waiting for him to come out of the bathroom, a very sweet woman told me “I’ve been watching your cute family, and just wanted to let you know that it’s a joy to see children who can behave in restaurants without needing electronics to occupy them.” Rather than explain to her that this wasn’t my cute family, I simply thanked her.

Later that afternoon, I thought of how incredibly difficult it was sometimes to take my own toddler to a restaurant, and how it never failed that EVERYONE noticed when he was naughty, and I was struggling with him, and always had unsolicited advice or condemning glares and thought just how nice it would have been to hear good things once in a while. So…I did what anyone should do in that situation. I sent a message to my best friend’s ex wife and told her that her children, her tired and hungry children, were perfectly behaved in the restaurant, and that they were an absolute joy to be around, because moms need to know when their kids are amazing. It’s not the first time I’ve done this…I always reach out to her when I’ve spent time with her children to thank her for letting me do so, and to let her know about anything special we may have done. Call it mom code. Call it respect. Call it whatever you want, but it works, because she doesn’t hate me, and that makes it so I can continue to see my best friend’s adorable boys without any awkwardness.

Perhaps it was karma on my side after following mom code yesterday, because when I came to work this afternoon after getting back in to town, one of the girls I work with came up to me and said “I need to tell you something.” She continued, “I know you’re worried because most of the people your son hangs out with are little shits. But he was the only one of them that came with his friend’s dad to help me move yesterday. His friend said ‘Why should I go; this doesn’t benefit me at all’ but your son came and spent all day helping me get moved, and I just wanted you to know he really is a good kid.”

I cried, because I really needed to hear something like that. Moms need to know that their kids are good humans. Single moms REALLY need to hear it. This parenting thing is SO hard, and things like this make it just a little bit easier sometimes. So do a mom (or dad) a favor, and when you notice something good about their children, tell them. You never know what kind of hell they were going through before that, and every parent needs a victory once in a while.

Let’s talk about Ed baby

Let’s talk about Ed baby

Please tell me you read that title and at least THOUGHT about Salt-n-Pepa’s song Let’s Talk About Sex. I linked it, so you can have it stuck in your head too. Coincidentally, I probably should have called this post “Could there be any more links in one post?!” You’ll see why, but back to the point….the big long drawn out point. Yes, this will be a long one, and it may not be worth reading, but then again, it might, because a few weeks ago, I did something that really should have terrified me. It definitely pushed me right the hell out of my comfort zone, and it was worth every single second of it. But first, the backstory.

When I was in 6th grade, I met my new best friend on the first day of school when I dropped my pencil in Mr. Hall’s math class, and rather than tapping the shoulder of the girl in front of me to ask her to pick it up, painfully shy me instead chose to lean over as far as humanly possible to try to inconspicuously reach it myself. Well, that didn’t work, because I reached too far, tipped my desk over, right on to the foot of the cute boy next to me, turned 50 shades of red as the ENTIRE class watched me pick up my desk, (I mean how could you miss it), and then the girl in front of me, who I should have just asked for help in the first place handed me that stupid pencil. We’ve been friends ever since. Actually, I think if I could have lived at her house, I would have in a second, at any time during our childhood. (OK, let’s be honest, I’d move in with her now.)

We were pretty much inseparable during the weekends and summer. Our favorite activity? Riding bikes or walking to the Saloon/convenience store (it’s a Mexican restaurant now) about a mile away from her house to get snacks, and then going back to her house to make mix tapes. We certainly got our fill of that during the summer after 6th grade, which was good, because during the beginning of the next school year, my dad dropped a bombshell on us. We were moving to an island with 14 miles of state road in Southeast Alaska. RUDE! Try as I may, I couldn’t convince my family to just let me stay with my new BFF. I had to move with the family. Double rude! I mean, I ended up loving the place we moved, because there’s really nothing to not love about Sitka, or the people in it, but that’s beside the point.

I was always active when I was a kid. We worked and played outside all the time. I played basketball, volleyball, softball, and we swam all summer long and ice skated all winter. We didn’t eat a lot of fast food as a family; my mom cooked almost every meal we ever ate. We never thought of food as either good or bad, we just had food, and sometimes we had treats. But when we were moving, my dad said something to me that forever changed the way I viewed everything. “It’s good we’re leaving,” he said, “because you’re developing bad habits with your friend on the weekends.” The bad habits he spoke of? Convenience store donuts. Our favorite treat at the convenience store that we WALKED to was those mini powdered hostess donuts that you can buy in a package of like 6 or 8. We each bought one. We each ate one, and that apparently warranted worry. It wasn’t long after that, that I realized my mom was using the good old Slim Fast, shake for breakfast, shake for lunch, healthy dinner routine a few times a year to lose weight I didn’t even notice she needed to lose.

I was 13 years old the first time I made myself throw up. I’d just finished a very in depth report on anorexia and bulimia for my 7th grade English class. I was sure I needed to break those bad habits my dad had mentioned, and if my mom was always dieting, surely I could stand to lose some weight too. Besides, my legs were way bigger than the other girls I played sports with, and 13 year old me absolutely couldn’t fathom that this was because they were solid muscle from all of the sports I was involved in, and the way that my body is built. I couldn’t simply not eat, because we had family dinner every night. I couldn’t pick and choose what to eat, because that is certainly not the way it worked, so to be more like the other girls, to be more like the beautiful girls, I just threw up whenever I couldn’t stand the thought of all of the calories in the meal we had just eaten, when I needed to be skinny like the other girls.

I managed to hide this for 2 years before my sister caught me and told my parents. They made me go to a doctor, but I had this thing under control, so I told her what she needed to hear so I could just be done with it. Nobody understood that this was the only thing I felt like I could control. Besides, it’s not like I did it all the time, just when I NEEDED to. And it’s not like I had the self control to just quit eating, so I was still getting nutrition that I needed….until that time my senior year, when I really needed to feel like I had some control over something…anything, so I just quit eating, because if I couldn’t control what was happening in my life, at least I could control what went in to my body, and what stayed there.

The world we live in feeds insecurity. The world we live in makes it SO easy to develop eating disorders. How? Well, because the world we live in focuses SO much energy on physical appearance. When I quit eating, it took about a week before I had a noticeable loss of weight. One week until the comments of “You’re looking good” started coming in. And if I looked good at one week, just imagine what 2 did, and then 3. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I consumed MAYBE 10,000 calories over the course of 3 1/2 weeks before I decided I really needed to stop that. And I did, but not before “Wow, you look great” was just about all anyone could say. I weighed 110 pounds, and on my frame I didn’t look great. I looked sick, and I hid it with baggy clothes and makeup.

For 25 years now, I’ve had to fight an eating disorder mentality every single day of my life. I had a friend living with me once that understood this struggle completely. We decided one day that we were going to call our eating disorders Ed. Ed is a bastard, but it was comforting having someone else who got it. Someone else who we could just say “Hey, Ed is really difficult today,” and without saying another word, we knew that we just needed to be a support to each other.

Ed is an asshole, a constant, unforgiving asshole. I mean, I clearly beat the anorexia side of Ed, but I struggle with the rest of it ALL the time. If someone compliments my appearance, I will assume they need their vision prescription checked. Thanks Ed. If I eat something that isn’t healthy, I want it out of my body, like now. Sometimes I can fight that, but still to this day sometimes I can’t. Thanks Ed. I look in the mirror and see someone who is at least twice the size I am, even though my rational brain knows that’s not the case. Thanks Ed. If I don’t work out today, Ed helps facilitate all kinds of negative self talk.

I have amazing people in my life, who tell me things all the time that are contrary to what Ed and I believe about myself. I ALWAYS brush them off (internally) as “they’re just being kind because they’re my friend” but a few weeks ago, I stepped in to a beautiful studio in Jensen America and had some Ed therapy in the most unexpected of ways. The girl that hides from the camera because she isn’t happy with what she looks like, the girl that layers clothing so nobody can see anything she doesn’t want them to see stripped down to almost nothing, and pranced around the studio while the most amazingly talented photographer took the most amazing pictures I have ever seen. It was a 1-2 punch to Ed, because for the first time in my life, I looked at pictures of myself and didn’t immediately pick them apart. Mindy Gale and Ali Dudley (linked, so you can check them out on insta) worked magic; Mindy with the hair and makeup, somehow managing to make it look like I had slept more than 20 hours in the week leading up to the photo shoot, and Ali with the wicked photography skills. The hour or so that we took pictures for went by SO fast, and as I left the studio and went home looking and feeling absolutely amazing, I felt a peace with myself that I don’t remember feeling ever.

About an hour after my photo shoot, Ali sent me a sneak peek of a couple of images. I literally sat on my floor and cried, because she did something I honestly didn’t believe anyone could do ever. She took pictures of me that I loved. Yes, I still struggle with not being where I want to be, and I still wish I was as fat as I was the first time I thought I was fat, but Ed is far easier to deal with now than he has been in the past quarter of a century, and all it took was stepping way the hell out of my comfort zone, and in front of a camera.

A friend of mine once told me “I don’t know why any woman wouldn’t want to pose for Playboy. They are the best pictures you will ever have taken of you in your entire life.” He may have been on to something, but while every woman won’t have the opportunity to pose for Playboy, every woman should take the opportunity to strip down their insecurities, and their clothes, and do a boudoir session. And before you start to stress about boudoir now that I’ve thrown in the Playboy reference, it’s not about the sexy pictures. It’s not about the sexy clothes; you can keep all of your clothes on if that’s how you’re comfortable. It’s not even about getting those pictures taken for someone else, because Lord knows, if I waited until I had someone to have them done for, they’d never get done! It’s about the confidence you’ll find, because if I can find confidence in a picture, anybody can. Just do it for yourself. You’ll be so glad you did. As for me, I’m pretty sure Ed is pissed about losing some of his power, but I for one, am so relieved that a sweet blonde with a camera and her hair and makeup magician could take that asshole down a few notches.

Bee stings in the burbs

Bee stings in the burbs

Have you ever met someone and you clicked instantly?  Like, sometimes you meet someone, and it’s so clear that the two of you, on some level belong together. As lovers, or as friends, or as family, or as something entirely different. You just work, whether you understand one another, or you’re in love, or you’re partners in crime. You meet these people throughout your life, out of nowhere, under the strangest of circumstances, and they help you feel alive.

I feel pretty lucky to have a few of these people in my life. Most recently, the one I met 3 years ago. He’s one of my best friends. Sometimes he has girlfriends who don’t mind it, sometimes they go batshit crazy because someone who he considers to be his best friend isn’t standing to pee like he does. I wish I knew if this was just a crazy girl thing, but I don’t really date, so I don’t know if guys would be chill with me having a BFF with different parts in the pants than I do or not. I mean, I’m sure the right one wouldn’t have an issue, but there are probably just as many fragile male egos as there are batshit crazy girls. Fortunately he isn’t one of those assholes who can only be friends with me when his girlfriend likes me, which probably makes them even more angry about this whole friendship, and again, makes him even cooler in my book for not just saying “Sorry…it’s just not worth the drama at home.”

The problem with having best friends who live 3 hours away is that you don’t get to see them anywhere nearly often enough, so you take advantage of any opportunity you manage to grab. This weekend, I was in Salt Lake, and only 20 minutes away from him for meetings. He had his kids, so we met at a park about 3 minutes away from his place so they could play and we could chat for a minute. The problem: his place is clear TF out in the suburbs southwest of SLC, in a place I like to “affectionately” call Almost Utah County. You can ALMOST feel the Utah County pretentiousness right there in Riverton. I hate the suburbs. I am a downtown girl. I know, it makes no sense considering where I live in rural UT, but whatever. I’m allowed to hate the burbs, and I do. BUT, I love those kids of his….he’s not so bad either, so it was worth the trip.

Do you have any idea how heart exploding cool it is to see someone’s kid jump out of the car, yell your name, and RUN to you to give you a hug when they see you? Kids and dogs…I’m telling you, they can sense evil, so when kids have this kind of excited reaction to seeing you, you know you’re doing something right with your life, no matter what some people think. Two hours of being the coolest person in the world (Yeah….even cooler than their dad for a little bit) was good for my soul.

Playing with kids who get that excited to see you is THE best therapy in the world. Even if that therapy includes getting stung by a bee for what I think may have been the first time in my entire life, and finding out I’m a little more than mildly allergic to them. Bee stings in the burbs….make that one more reason why I hate suburbia. Also, holy mother forking shirtballs…. bee stings hurt like a son of a B! Seriously, that little black and yellow asshole must have stung right on a nerve or something, because that STILL hurts more than 24 hours later. It’s also super sensitive to cold, and by sensitive, I mean washing my hands in anything short of water that is so hot it probably came from the depths of hell, where that bee was likely sent from, sends shooting pain from my thumb, all the way up to my elbow. In addition to that, there’s a nice area of red swelling that I decided needed to be traced in black pen so I can track any expansion and decide if I need to pay a visit to my doctor. Here’s the fun part of that. The redness goes up my thumb and has a bit of an awkward oval shape at the bottom of it, extending in to my palm. Yeah….it looks like I have a crudely drawn male appendage on my hand, so thank God there aren’t small children at my house to explain that one to.

Bee stings in the burbs, proximity to Utah County, and somehow staying conscious enough to drive 3 hours after taking Benadryl….they’re all risks worth taking for a couple of hours with 2 of the sweetest little guys around. And I don’t think it’s any coincidence that as I got in my car to go home, as turned the volume up, I was greeted with some POD just as this song was ending to hear “Now that I know you (I could never turn my back away). Now that I see you (I could never look away). I feel so alive for the very first time, And I think I can fly. ”  (And truthfully, I’ve taken enough Benadryl in the last 24 hours, and had enough caffeine in an attempt to negate the “you can’t have an allergic reaction if you’re unconscious” promise of that little pink and white pill, that I feel like I just may be flying…in my head anyway.)

The one with the regret

The one with the regret

I’m not the kind of person who typically regrets anything. I have a huge parenting regret though, and I didn’t even realize it until this weekend.

I’ve struggled with eating disorders since I was 13 years old. That’s just over a quarter of a century dealing with an eating disorder for those of you who know me and are doing the math. I WISH I was as fat as I was when I first thought I was fat. Mother eff…I REALLY wish I was as fat as I was when I was when I was 3 months in to post baby, depression fueled anorexia. If you know me now, you’ll see that I CLEARLY beat anorexia though. I mean, I’m not morbidly obese or anything (even if that’s what I see in the mirror…thanks to the eating disorder brain), but my body definitely says “loves tacos and tequila…and all the rest of the food.”

Here’s where this leads to the regret. I think it must be a universal thing that kids love the water. I have yet to meet a kid that doesn’t love to swim, slip-n-slide, run through sprinklers, or anything that involves a swimming suit and water. I live by some amazing lakes, we can swim in the river, and we have a pretty kick ass rec center pool. Do you want to know how many times I put on a swimming suit and took advantage of any of those experiences with my kid? Aside from a year or so where I had someone in my life who was seeing me naked on the regular, so it didn’t really matter how fat I thought I looked in a swimming suit at the lake with him and the kids (his and mine, not ours), I can count them on one hand. That’s not to say my kid was totally deprived of all water experiences. I just didn’t experience them with him. I sat on the sidelines, like so many other moms, terrified of what people would think of me if I just put on the damn bathing suit and joined my kid in the water.

This weekend, my best friend brought his kids to the tiny town I live in. They stayed at a hotel, partly so they had their own space with no questions back home as to the sleeping arrangements at my place, and partly because it’s been a loooooong time since I’ve had a toddler in my house, and it is NOT a toddler friendly place. (That, and I don’t have TV, so I needed something to help with the cool factor that I would have otherwise been COMPLETELY lacking…) Of course, since there are no Hilton properties in my town, and I refuse to willingly spend any of my money on any Marriott property ever, I just picked the nicer of the 2 hotels near my house, and made sure the pool was in working order before I made reservations for them.

Because this friend is one of the few people in the world I feel 100% comfortable around, you can bet I joined them in the pool, and you know what? Those kids didn’t care one bit that I am without a doubt packing around a few thousand (slight exaggeration) extra pounds. They didn’t care that once my top was wet, it clung painfully and uncomfortably close to my food baby. (Alright, alright…it wasn’t PHYSICALLY painful and uncomfortable….but you guys…I have an eating disorder brain, and the mental struggle was real.) You know what they did care about? They cared that I could balance on one foot, while the 9-year-old stood on my thigh, counting to 3 before I pushed him as high as possible out of the water so he could come crashing back down in to it for maximum splashing. They cared that I could lift the 3-year-old out of the water and on to the side so he could jump back in to me, and make sure I kept his head out of the water over, and over, and over again. They cared that I could do that for 2 solid hours, two different times that day. ALL they cared about was that there was someone there, playing with them, in the freaking water. The sheer joy was infectious. I haven’t had so much fun in the town where I live in YEARS.

I missed out on the one and only chance I had to experience things like this with my own kid. I missed out on that kind of pure joy because I was too damn worried about what other people would think if they saw me in a swimming suit, and after this weekend, I regret the hell out of that.  It’s one of the few things I’d change if I could rewind and try again. So learn from me being soooooo incredibly stupid, and just put on the damn swimming suit and play in the water with those tiny humans of yours. They’ll never forget it, and either will you.

Dating advice from the serial single…OR…You don’t turn down a date to a football game.

Dating advice from the serial single…OR…You don’t turn down a date to a football game.

I had quite the text message exchange with a friend who was looking for some dating advice today. It went a little like this:

Friend: Hey, I met this guy. He seems pretty cool and he wants me to go to a football game with him this weekend.
Me: Not that it matters, but met him, met him or Tinder met him?
Friend: Tinder met him.
Me: Tell me more about the football game?
Friend: It’s the one in Salt Lake.
Me: Ahh…So he wants to take you to the Utes game at Rice Eccles tomorrow?
Friend: Yeah. That’s the one. He said he has tickets on like the 50 yard line. Are those good? I just don’t know if I WANT to go to the football game.
Me: *in complete disbelief of that luck* Where exactly on the 50 yard line?
Friend: Like the 5th row or something.
Me: 5th row down from the top, or up from the field?
Friend: Up from the field. Why, are those good tickets?
Me: Why exactly do you not want to go to the game?
Friend: I just don’t know if I like him enough to spend the time tailgating and at the game with him.
Me: What about him do you not like enough to spend that kind of time with him?
Friend: Well….he’s really fun to talk to, and I know it sounds shallow, but I don’t really think he’s all that cute.
Me: As shallow as it sounds, with tickets like that at Rice Eccles, he doesn’t have to be. Besides, you swiped right, and didn’t un-match with him, so there’s that.
Friend: I don’t know why I ask you for dating advice.
Me: Either do I. Go to the game.
Friend: What if I REALLY can’t stand him after the tailgating? Can I just leave then?
Me: No. But you can change in to purple and cheer for UW, thank him for the freaking amazing ticket to the game, and tell him you have a friend with much better taste if he needs someone to go to the USC or Oregon games with him.
Friend: You suck.
Me: Not for free 😉
Friend: I should have known you’d say that. I’ll snap you from the game.

This is why you don’t ask your smart ass single friend for dating advice. Or maybe any advice really….

Eight years ago today

Eight years ago today

It was 8 years ago today, I know because Facebook memories told me so, that I took my kid, and the girl who I had spent the previous 7 years as her “other mother” (a name given to me by her own amazing mother) to a music festival 3 hours away. It was Friday during the first week of school, and I picked them both up as soon as it was over and we took off to a town 3 hours away so my kid could see the band he wanted to see the most, Finger Eleven. I was the meanest mom in the world for not letting him skip the 3rd day of school so he could make sure he saw all of his favorite band, but that was quickly forgotten as soon as we arrived at the festival, and again when we went back for the second day.

Not that it had anything to do with the music festival, but that was also probably the last year that my kid didn’t actually hate me. I don’t mean the “You won’t let me play with my friend, you’re making me do homework, I can’t have McDonald’s for dinner for the 4th time this week,” I hate you either. The kind of I hate you that I was getting thrown at me was the “It’s your fault I don’t have a dad at home, or someone who wants to be my dad, because nobody can stand to be around you, you never do anything for me, I’m practically raising myself because you’re always at work, it’s your fault I am not doing well in school, we never do anything fun,” kind of hate. You know, the mean, spiteful kind of hate. The punching holes in my walls, breaking everything in the house, underage smoking and drinking, kind of hate. It’s the kind of hate that has left me crying in the shower on more occasions that I will ever admit, wondering where I went so horribly wrong as a parent.

This weekend, I had the chance to talk to another friend of mine, and was completely blown away when I heard that they were having similar problems with their oldest. I listened for 3 hours as this person told me about all of the problems and trials they were having with one of their children, even though the family background couldn’t possibly be more of a polar opposite to the family background at my house. This child was raised in a 2 parent, affluent household, with FAR more conveniences than my kid had, and with the added benefit of one parent working, and the other at home, able to be there for the children at any given time of any given day. This family shouldn’t be having the same problems with their kid as I am with mine. It just doesn’t make sense…at all, right?!

Towards the end of this 3 hour conversation, I realized that we had so much more in common than I ever thought we could. Both of us felt like we had failed at some point as a parent, and couldn’t for the life of us figure out where we went wrong. Both of us saw our value as a person tied directly to how these humans we had raised turned out as adults, and as the conversation wrapped up, we realized we had BOTH come to the conclusion (her through professional counselling and me through boozy conversations with my best friends) that we both gave our children all of the tools we possibly could to be decent humans. They were loved. They had all of their necessities taken care of. They each had plenty of opportunities for the fun extras. They were safe. They had seen first hand how they SHOULD treat other people for their entire lives. How they chose to use these tools was not a reflection on how they were raised, rather it was a reflection of who they were choosing to be, no matter how heartbreaking it was as a parent to watch them turn in to little assholes who didn’t care about anyone but themselves.

So be kind to people you meet; you never know who’s raising teenagers, and in the stolen words of one of the coolest people I’ve met this year, “Hug your people y’all.” (Seriously though, those people raising teenagers who are being assholes for no apparent reason definitely need your hugs.)

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