Dear Snarky – Something Smells About My Dad’s New Wife

Dear Snarky,

I smell a rat and it’s my dad’s new wife. Apparently, she has a “severe scent allergy.” She says she is hypersensitive to certain smells that can cause a reaction that could send her to the hospital.

Before the Christmas holidays she group texted the entire family about how we would need to clear our houses of any scents that would quote “trigger” her. It was a pretty long list that included no air fresheners, no plug-in room fresheners, no scented candles or soap including even dish soap. We also couldn’t wear any scented body lotions, perfume or hair care products around her.

My sister and I thought her list was ludicrous. If you’re that sensitive to smells how do you leave the house because everywhere you go there’s someone wearing something scented.

But because we didn’t want to upset our dad we followed her list which was a huge pain in the ass and yet his wife still had a reaction at my sister’s house on Christmas and she had to leave because she said she could “smell balsam and it felt like her throat was closing.” Talk about drama.

Imagine my surprise when I saw her at a Bath and Bodyworks store on New Year’s Day shopping their big sale with a bag loaded up with scented products from candles to body lotion. I didn’t confront her, but I took a video of her shopping and texted it in the family group message.

Now, my dad is angry at me and his lying new wife is saying she just put a gel in her nose that allowed her to go into the store and my dad is totally buying this.

Is there any way to get him to acknowledge that his wife is a huge liar? And if she’s lying about this imagine what else she is making up?

Signed, Something Smells Off

Dear Off,

Let’s examine the facts. One, your new stepmother is indeed a liar. I’m no doctor but I am a fan of Bath and Body Works and I know if you had a severe scent sensitivity this emporium of smells from wild lime and gardenia to Jasmine and Frankincense would not be a nasal safe space.

I also consulted an allergist and there is no nose gel that would enable a person with such an allergy to plunge themselves into that level of scent utopia and not have a reaction.

This means that your father’s wife is seeking to control the family dynamics and draw attention to herself with these alleged scent issues. Sadly, there is nothing you can do to get your dad to wake up and smell the crazy.

If this ever does happen and it might not, he’s going to have to have his own awakening. No amount of family pressure will make him change his mind. In fact, it could cause him to cleave to this woman longer. You know the whole us against the world dynamic.

I would strive to keep an amicable relationship with your dad while telling his wife that you will no longer be purging your home of scents for her visits. (#UseThatNoseGel)

I also suggest that the fact that you would like to purge her from your family should be kept on the down low – at least for now.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

 

 

 

 

Dear Snarky – My Cousin Went on Facebook and Posted Lies About Our Family

Dear Snarky,

My family has recently been devastated by a family member. After what I thought was a very nice Thanksgiving that included 31 members of our family from a great grandmother to nieces and nephews my cousin went on Facebook and wrote a disgusting post about how awful our family is.

She went off on just about everybody including kids. In my case she used my name and my kids’ names and said that I was a “mean girl raising mean girls.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough her post got a lot of likes and sad faces and even my high school math teacher from way back in the day gave it a sad face.

It has taken everything I have not to go on Facebook and comment and defend my family. I want too so bad. I’ve been going back and forth over what to do because it feels wrong to let her say these things without my family defending themselves especially when it comes to the kids.

Signed, Furious

Dear Furious,

To begin let me congratulate you on not losing your mind as soon as your cousin posted about your kids on social media. That took major self-control.

Now let me also share that my advice is going to be skewed because I don’t know anything about your family. You could be the best family in the world or horrible. I’m going to go with that your family is average. This means flawed with a crazy member or two or three.

My recommendation is that you do your family due diligence and get some relatives to meet with this cousin and try to decipher what’s hurting her because her Facebook post could be a cry for help.

After that is done I would let your cousin knew that writing about anyone’s child on social media is basically game over for your relationship.

I would then be prepared for your cousin to go back on social media and post some long, rambling diatribe about how her family tried to silence her. Because here’s the deal – your cousin craves attention, Facebook provides it. She’s probably not going to stop posting.

You also need to realize those likes and sad faces she’s getting are because when people see train wrecks on social media they feel uncomfortable so the easiest thing to do is the sad face.

Don’t fall into her social media pit of cray cray. You need to block her and move on. I’m going to say that again – BLOCK AND MOVE ON. You’re not going to stop her and to engage with her on Facebook is just going to create more fireworks.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Christmas Tree Crisis “BEARly” Averted

I put my Christmas tree up earlier this month and it only took almost an e-n-t-i-r-e day. Yep, from sun up to sun down I was messing with that tree. I have no one to blame but myself and my mother. Oh, yes most definitely my mother. The woman was a virtuoso with Christmas trees.

As a floral designer she would decorate people’s homes for the holidays and my Texas mother had a go big or go home rallying cry as her Christmas tree adornment strategy. Basically, if you could still see pine needles you’re doing it wrong.

Her trees were abundantly decked out and she prided herself on everything from light placement – white lights only and those bad boys better be fastidiously wrapped around the tree trunk and then worked through the branches to give the effect of a “gossamer fairy woodlands” to ornaments that should only be attached to the tree with a velvet or satin ribbon.

Showing my mom an aluminum ornament hanger was like throwing garlic at a vampire – sheer horror.

Because I am my mother’s daughter I have tried to live up to her tree décor standards. This means I’m a Christmas tree control freak that has managed to take the fun out of decorating the tree for probably a good 20 years.

Almost every December my husband, in a brave move, tries to “reset” my Christmas tree OCD, by suggesting a new tradition. This year he gently floated the idea that we should think about getting an artificial tree.

I, being a mature woman, humored him and even consented to looking at some phony trees. This resulted in me getting weepy in the fake tree forest at Lowe’s and asking him, “Why he hated me?”

Although the small scene I created at Lowe’s was nothing compared to the Great Christmas Tree Caper of 2006. This was when my husband decided we needed to go full “Griswold” and cut down our own tree.

Back then we lived in Northern Nevada where cutting down a tree was pretty standard. All you needed was a permit from the Forest Service and a saw. Then off you trek into the mountain wilderness in a quest to find the perfect tree and hopefully not get mauled by a 600-pound black bear, which is a personal fear of mine.

My family didn’t share my bear terror. In fact, they mocked it. My son, then 10, told me as we hiked up a trail searching for the “perfect” tree that I would get eaten by a bear first because I was the slowest and “meatiest” member of the family.

I didn’t doubt this at all which heightened my anxiety that was already extremely exacerbated due to the lackluster tree selection. One would think that there would be a veritable smorgasbord of trees to chose from but the Bureau of Land Management in their infinite wisdom only let you cut down the Pinyon -nature’s least attractive pine.

Gnarly, needle challenged and lacking symmetry this tree is more of a Christmas don’t then a do. But I knew if we went through the ritual of cutting one down then I was going to be stuck with a stubby, balding tree that resembled George Constanza from “Seinfeld” for the centerpiece of my holiday decorations.

This meant there was only one thing to do – scream “BEAR” and force my family to evacuate the forest.

It worked like a charm. Panic ensued, we raced for the car, hauled back to civilization and got our tree from a nursery that specialized in majestic fresh cut Fraser Firs.

I’d like to think I made my mother proud that day.

Dear Snarky – My Sister Wore a Bridal Gown to MY Wedding

Dear Snarky,

 It’s official my sister is insane because she wore a wedding dress to my wedding. Let me back up a bit. She wore a wedding dress she had purchased two years ago and never got to wear because her fiancé called off the wedding.

 My crazy, sneaky sister who was my maid of honor changed out of her bridesmaid dress and into a wedding dress minutes before MY wedding started. She did this after my mom had been seated in the front pew and when my dad and I were in a back corner of the church waiting for our turn to walk down the aisle so we couldn’t see her.

 The other bridesmaids did see her and were horrified. My best friend tried to stop her from walking down the aisle but was afraid of causing a scene. So, imagine my shock when my dad and I come from the back of the church and start walking down the aisle and I see my sister at the front of the church in a wedding dress. I almost lost it.

 Thankfully, my now husband whispered in my ear not to let my sister ruin this wonderful day. So, I kept it together and focused on the positive – I was married.

 Now, I hate my sister and want nothing to do with her and her lame excuse that wearing a wedding dress to my wedding was because she didn’t want “her beautiful dress to go to waste.” My mom says family is forever and I need to “make peace with it.”

 Don’t you think I have a right to be mad and stay mad?

 Signed, Angry Bride

 P.S. My mom did make my sister change out of the wedding dress for all the photos.

 Dear Angry,

Umm no, this isn’t a situation where your mom can wave a magic happy family wand and presto everything is all rainbows and unicorns.

You have every right to be beyond angry. One of the reasons you sister did this besides being a huge, narcissistic, jealous, loser is because your mom, and I imagine other family members, have made excuses for her behavior over the years. They did your sister no favors by covering up her obvious character defects by papering over them with all that family means love B.S. Long ago they should have been  imposing some consequences and therapy, lots of therapy.

 What she did, in my opinion, was an act of family terrorism. She tried to ruin your wedding. You would be a fool and I think it would be mentally unhealthy for you to just sweep it all under the run for the sake of family harmony because what your sister did was unforgivable.

 Just because you are related to someone DOES NOT give them permission to disrespect you or be hateful to you. Family maybe forever but this doesn’t mean you have to stand for their shameful behavior.

 I suggest taking a break from your family until you’re in a better headspace and when you’re ready to reengage with them I would do so with some basic rules of human decency in place.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

Dear Snarky – I Was Left Out of the Family Holiday Photo

Dear Snarky,

My feelings are really hurt by my boyfriend’s family and it has me wondering how my boyfriend can be so nice and his family so mean. Last weekend his family had professional holiday photos taken for their Christmas card and I wasn’t invited to be in the photos.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost six months and it’s getting pretty serious. I’m even hoping for an engagement ring for Christmas. It feels like his family, especially his mom, went out of their way to exclude me and hurt my feelings.

I even showed up for the photos with my boyfriend as a way to offer moral support and in hopes that because I was there someone would say go ahead and get in the photos but that didn’t happen.

I feel like I deserve an apology from his family but my boyfriend says he’s not going to start an argument about this. Now, I’m wondering if I should just flat out ask his mom why she has a problem with me?

Do you think this is a good idea because I’d rather know up front what her issues are before we get married?

Signed,

Pre-Mother-in-Law Problems

Dear Problems,

Girlfriend you need so slow your roll WAY DOWN  because you’re the problem not your boyfriend’s family. First up, there should be zero, and I mean zero expectations, that a girlfriend of six months should be included in a f-a-m-i-l-y holiday card photo.

Also, you showing up for the photo to give your boyfriend “moral” support is ridiculous. Trust me every single family member saw through that ploy to get yourself included in the holiday card. I’m sure the side eye you were getting that day was epic.

I urge you to forget about demanding an apology or confronting your boyfriend’s mother. You do not want to go there primarily because you’re the one at fault.

If you want any chance for this relationship to make it to the new year you need to lower your expectations and that includes what I think is very wishful thinking that you’re getting an engagement ring for Christmas. My vast experience in personal relationships is telling me that’s not going to happen and you need to right now start adjusting to this reality so you don’t ruin Christmas for his family and yours.

 

Writing Can Get Pretty Ugly

*Note:  I write a weekly opinion column for the Kansas City Star. Some of the stuff I muse about is a little more political in nature than I what share on this blog and by that I mean in the past I have written about education reform, health care etc. Because of this I get emails where people disagree with me, which is totally appropriate and welcome. This recent column was in regards to people who feel free to write to me about my looks – because that’s how you disagree with a woman right – by disparaging her appearance? Ugh. I’m sharing this column on my blog because I believe it has a message that will resonate with a lot of you.

 

I don’t get a ton of emails from readers of my Kansas City Star column hating on me but I get enough that I’ve been able to classify them into categories.

There’s the people that can’t grasp the concept of self-deprecating humor and therefore think I’m an idiot. There are the people that like to write me six paragraph emails on an almost weekly basis with the theme of, yep you guessed it, that I’m an idiot. There’s the people who disagree with me on a topic and use this as an excuse to take out all their life frustrations on me and then there’s my favorite – the people (all male based on their email signatures) that like to tell me an idiot AND that I’m unattractive.

These brings me a special joy because I’m in awe of how any man could have the hubris to believe that I care about their opinion in regards to my looks. As an advanced middle-aged female giving a hoot and holler about what any man thinks about my appearance ended about four decades ago.

How some dudes could conceive that telling me I’m unattractive or fat is going to be the coup de grace of my existence makes me laugh. Also, what makes these men presume womankind cares about their opinion on our looks?

Haven’t we as a society gotten past that just a wee bit? Sure, based on social media you could think that that answer to that question is a great big NO.

But don’t be fooled by all those filters and sexy posts by women on Instagram who are living the “like my post and link in bio” lifestyle. Most females today care more about than own judgment way more than what any guy thinks. Plus I think we’re raising girls today to have what I call self esteem swagger.

I’d like to believe that my father was a pioneer in this trend. Almost every day of my life he told me I was smart, beautiful and strong.

When I was in high school he drove me to school in the mornings and the entire seven-minute drive consisted of my dad telling me how amazing I was. It became a running joke between us. I called it “Dad’s morning pep talk.” He called it “telling it like it is.”

I would greet his soliloquy with rolled eyes and share that he was “full of it” but the man knew what he was doing. To this day if I’m having a crisis, large or small, I go back to what he told me on those drives to school.

This is why when men send me disparaging emails I feel sorrow and it’s not because they think I’m a “fatty” or “could use some work” but because based on my father and role model they’re failures as human beings.

I worry about any man who could write me, an aging female with no illusions about becoming an AARP super model, to call me out on my looks. What kind of man, husband, father are you that you can email a woman and attempt to tear her down by commenting on her appearance?

If you’re doing this to me, a total stranger, than how must you treat the women in your lives and what kind of damage are you doing to their mental health?

My dad’s name was Bob. I’d like to suggest that before you hit send on that next hate filled email you think about your legacy or as my husband likes to say during any big family decision ask yourself, “What would Bob do?”

 

 

 

Dear Snarky – I’m Being Shunned For Bringing Cupcakes to a School Party

Dear Snarky,

 I’m being shunned at my son’s elementary school due to having the “audacity” to bring mini chocolate cupcakes to the first grade Halloween party. I never received the link to the online sign up sheet for food and didn’t know that sweets were not allowed at the party. I only brought cupcakes because I didn’t want to show up empty handed.

 Now, the anti sugar Nazis are furious and suggesting that I’m a bad mother because I dared to bring a dessert to a Halloween party. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Halloween all about the sugar? Now, I’ve been told by the two room moms that I’m not allowed to volunteer or sign up for any party duties for the reminder of the school year.

 I cannot express how angry this makes me. What course of action do you think I should take because this is total bull shit?

 Signed, Cupcake Mom

Dear Cupcake,

You have to pick your battles. Ask yourself are cupcakes the hill you want to die on? If your child is only in the first grade you have a L-O-N-G time to spend with these mothers.

This means you can do two things. One, not volunteer at the rest of the parties but absolutely show up for your son or two take a stand so these moms know not to mess with you for the next 12 years and lord help me but I’m leaning towards this one because these moms need to simmer the hell down and learn to reign in their control issues. Their kid’s elementary school is not their personal fiefdom. #getalife.

Admittedly you should make sure moving forward that you’re up-to-date on your emails, apps, etc related to school events but you shouldn’t have to cower in fear around these mothers or kiss up to them because you dared to walk into the school bearing cupcakes. This means one thing – go over their heads. Yep, talk to the teacher the real boss of the classroom.

Explain what happened, express your desire to help out and ask if there is anything the teacher needs assistance with. Then resist the urge to tell the two room moms where they can shove their “no volunteer” edict and focus on making your child’s first grade year wonderful.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – advice with an attitude – email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com. 😉

MacGyver Mom

There are times in the parenting journey when you feel like you have taken up  a permanent residence in the innards of your child’s disesteem. Lucky for me, in regards to my daughter, I didn’t care – that much. Being a mature woman my teenager’s lack of shock and awe about the greatest that is me was quite frankly her loss. But, a part of me still craved her acknowledging, just the tiniest bit, that I was a-okay in the mom category.

I know I’m not the cool mom or the hot mom or my kid’s very best bestie because none of those roles interest me. I’m just a solid mom with no gushing adjective attached. But then something happened last week to change all that. My daughter had a life crisis and I swooped in and saved the day. I rescued her Apple AirPods.

For the technology, unaware Apple Airpods aren’t the name of a family pet or anything remotely human. The Airpods are miniscule little wireless headphones and if you’re a teenager they come in at number two, right behind the iPhone, as the most cherished thing in their world.

We were out-of-town when the tragedy happened. Like most cataclysmic events this one came out of nowhere. One second we were both exiting the car to go inside our hotel and then before I could say “make sure you throw away that Chipotle bag” an Airpod had vanished. One of the little buds had been swallowed whole by the interior of my car.

Well, to be more exact, as my daughter was disengaging one of the pods from her ear it fell out and got lodged in the no man’s land that is the seat belt thingamabob. In the part where you click in the seatbelt there’s a space that was just the right size to eat the Airpod. It was trapped, ensnared by plastic. We pounded, we went under the seat, over the seat, prodded and plied and yet the headphone remained imprisoned.

My daughter’s despair was at Defcon 1. She pleaded that we take the car to a mechanic and have the seat taken apart to free the headphone. I tried to explain that the labor expense of making that happen would equal the cost of about 10 Airpods. She then latched on to the idea of maybe, must maybe, going to buy new Airpods. This earned her a look that said – never going to happen.

Due to her distraught nature, I suggested she go up to the hotel room and mourn her Airpod in private, maybe start planning its memorial service, while I parked. What she didn’t know was that I was about to go full MacGyver on that car seat. I was getting that headphone out.

The big problem was I didn’t have any tools. So, I took a headband that was a piece of flexible metal covered in fabric and straightened it out. Then I got out a bra that fell out of a bag I had taken to Goodwill a couple of days earlier and using nail clippers cut out the underwire. Next, I attached the underwire to the metal of the headband and started the precision maneuvering needed to snake the wire into the crevice and release the headphone from its plastic grave. I felt like I was doing endoscopic surgey. It took about five minutes and required me hanging out of the backseat in a very unlady like fashion (ass in the air) but finally I freed that headphone!

When I delivered the amazing news of the successful rescue of the Airpod (via Snapchat, of course) there were literal tears of joy.

I, for one brief, shining moment was my teenager’s hero.

Furniture Shopping With My Husband -Perhaps My Worst Idea Ever

 

If someone gave me the choice of being stabbed in the cornea with a fondue fork or going furniture shopping with my husband, trust me I’d pick the fondue fork/cornea combination hands down.

I will confess that it was my bright idea to force (really more of a cajole) my husband into going with me to shop for a sectional sofa for our basement. But my intentions were pure. A sofa purchase requires a butts in seat experience and I wanted an extra pair of cheeks to help make the decision.

Granted, asking a man who purchases almost everything on-line to venture inside a furniture super store on a Saturday wasn’t one of my greatest hits, but it had to be done. And all was well until we got to the store and had to park about a mile away.

It appeared that a significant portion of the metro decided to go furniture shopping that day. The parking lot, which was big enough to house a sectional sofa for Godzilla and 1,000 of his closest friends, was at capacity. After we hiked in things got worse.

The store was like a maze. I, being a veteran shopper, decided we should tackle the furniture section in a counter-clockwise motion making concentric circles to ensure we saw everything. It was a masterful plan that seamlessly covered the entire area.

My husband disagreed. He just wanted to race walk through all the furniture in what I would call a very harried fashion with no rhyme or reason. I argued with him that his free form exploration of the furniture department would result in us, perhaps, missing out on seeing the “sectional of our dreams.”

My plaintive pleas made no impact on him because he just took off.  In the two, maybe three seconds I had spent being embarrassed that I actually said out loud, “the sectional of our dreams” he was gone, as in vanished.

I was so put out that I thought, “I’ll show him” and stuck to my genius plan of covering the area in concentric circles. As I perused sectionals I got madder and madder (Where was he and why wasn’t he answering my texts?) until I was distracted by the sight of four young children drinking cans of orange soda on a white couch. Those parents either have the most spill proof kids or like to gamble because just seeing it made me a nervous wreck. The mother in me was about to shout out “Be careful!” but then I spied my husband and I was off.

Where in the heck was he going? He was leaving the furniture department. Sure, it was jam-packed with humanity, but he needed to buck up. We had sectionals to sit on.

I followed him through the second level of the store, down an escalator and then to the very back of the first floor. He seemed very sure of where he was going, almost like he was pulled there by a force field. Then it all made sense. Of course, he has gone to the electronics department, specifically the huge televisions. When I caught up to him I said, “Um, these aren’t sectionals.” He smiled informing me that he decided the size of the sectional should be based on the width of the TV.

“Really,” I asked, “Is that that some sort of dude math?

“If it gets me out of the furniture department it is,” was his quick reply.

Spoiler alert. We didn’t get a sectional, but we are getting a new TV.

Dear Snarky – A DNA Test Ruined Our Family Reunion

Dear Snarky,

 My family reunion was a huge fiasco. My idiot cousin got one of those DNA tests and discovered that he had half siblings he didn’t know about. It looks like his dad, my uncle, cheated on his mom because one of those half siblings is my cousin’s age. 

He then thought it would a great idea to being his brand new two half siblings, who he had recently found and been in contact with, to the reunion and introduce them to the family. My uncle said he never even knew he had gotten their mother pregnant and was shocked. My aunt, his wife, got hysterical and we had to call 911 because we actually thought she has having a heart attack or seizure or both.

 Now, my cousin is asking for a family apology from everyone at the reunion for making his two newfound brothers feel so unwelcome. I think he’s the one who should apologize for putting everyone, including these new family members, in such a horrible spot.

 Signed, I need a Xanax.

Dear Xanax,

Your cousin needs his ass kicked. Make no mistake he was not motivated by kindness to his new kin. Nope. He used his two new bros as a weapon to shame and humiliate his father for having what amounts to a secret life. Mission accomplished there, but what he also did was put his mother in a horrendous situation and made his two half-brothers feel like they were part of a freak show at a carnival.

 If there’s any apologies to the family, it should be from your cousin. He needs to apologize to his new brothers for using them for his own messed up game and to his mother for humiliating her. As for his dad – the cheater – that’s a marital issue that everyone needs to stay out of. 

If I were those new family members I think I would go into hiding from your cousin because he sounds C-R-A-Z-Y!

If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude  😉 please email snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com