Dear Snarky – My Mom is Trying to Buy Her Way Into My Labor and Delivery Room

Dear Snarky,

I’m nine months pregnant with my first child and at this point in the lock down I’m only allowed to have one person in the delivery room with me when I give birth. Of course, that person is going to be my husband. My problem is that my mom at first was  “heartbroken” that she can’t be in the delivery room.

Heartbroken quickly turned to furious because she has been in the delivery room for the birth of all her grandchildren. She’s refusing to understand why my husband would be my first choice to be in the delivery room. My mom even said that, “men are totally worthless and just stand there looking embarrassed and confused.”

Then she offered to pay my husband her entire stimulus check of $1,500 if he would give up his right to be there and let her go instead. Hold on because it gets worse. My husband told her he would think about if she upped it to $3,000.

I almost wanted to kill him. He said he was kidding and just messing with my mother because she deserved it due to her bullying us. But then my mom  came up with the three grand so she definitely thinks she’s going to the delivery room.

How do I stop this madness? Honestly, at this point I think I would rather just go alone.

Signed, Ready to Pop

Dear Ready,

Let’s start with your husband. You’re going to have to cut him some slack. I think he was just enjoying toying with your mom because she was being so ridiculous. Come on, did your mom seriously think that a father would basically sell the rights to see his child being born? That said, no man should ever contribute to the stress levels of a very pregnant woman. So, yes he was being very stupid. That I’ll give you.

As for your mom I have one word – YIKES . The hubris alone is mind boggling. So, your mom thinks she’s more important than your husband, the baby’s father? To that I say, “Okay crazy grandma, you need to get some help.”

On top of that your mom is just a brat. What she’s doing is throwing a temper tantrum because she’s not getting her own way. Granted she’s also throwing money around but it’s still a tantrum.

My advice is I wouldn’t tell your mother anything about the birth until you’re safely ensconced at the hospital with your husband. You would be a fool to let her know that you’re going into labor or are on your way to the hospital because girlfriend the odds are she would meet you there.

Letting her know later takes care of the issue because you will already be at the hospital with your plus one and security will take care of the problem if she shows up in an attempt to take your husband’s place.

Congrats on the baby and please keep me posted on how this turns out.

 

Dear Snarky – My Husband is Having a Quarantine Midlife Crisis

Dear Snarky,

I love my husband very much but I’m afraid he’s about to ruin his life and our finances. He’s always wanted to be an artist but became an accountant instead. Since he’s been working from home for a month he’s had time to paint and recently announced to me that he would like to quit his job and pursue his dream of painting full time.

I just about lost it. We have two kids and a mortgage. We literally can’t survive without his income. Also, not to be unkind but his art is very abstract. Frankly, I don’t like it.  Back in the day, he even applied to several art schools and didn’t get in.

How can I convince him that we can’t afford for him to follow his dream right now? I don’t want to crush his happiness but keeping a roof over our children’s heads comes before a 37-year-old’s painting aspirations.

Signed, Painted into a corner

Dear Painted,

It’s never easy being the voice of reason or the dream killer but sometimes tough love is required. Was I devastated when my father told me that I would NOT BE  running off to New York City after high school to become a soap opera star? Hell yes, my “All My Children” dreams were off the charts but  it was the right thing to do.

You need to do the next right thing with your spouse and it’s going to take some finesse. The bottom line is you can support his dreams but with limits. As an adult with family responsibilities it’s not exactly doable for him to just flat out throw caution to the wind and start painting full time BUT you can work out a weekend schedule where he can paint uninterrupted and have his creative freedom.

Because you don’t want your marriage to tank and/or have a spouse who is depressed you should also talk about other career options that are more creative. Maybe it’s not that he loves painting maybe it’s more he hates being an accountant.

I think if you combine being open minded along with being realistic the solution to this quarantine midlife career change can be navigated.

P.S. Keep your opinions about your husband’s paintings to yourself. He never needs to know that you’re not exactly a fan.

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

 

Dear Snarky – My MIL Has Gone Quarantine Crazy and is Planning a Party That I Don’t Want

Dear Snarky,

 My mother-in-law is driving me crazy. I had a baby in February and since the lock down went into place she has been blasting me with texts, phone calls and emails about how when the shelter in place is lifted we’re going to have the “most amazing baby christening party of all times.”

 It’s gotten pretty bad. She even has a Pinterest board of party ideas and from everything I’ve seen and what she’s told me this woman thinks my husband and I are going to be hosting a party for like a hundred people.

 I have so many problems with this. The first one being I don’t want a huge christening party and second we can’t afford to basically throw what from the Pinterest board I’m seeing looks like a wedding for our baby. I’m on maternity leave and my husband was furloughed from his job so we’re cash strapped and the last thing we want to do with any money we have is blow it on a party as soon as the quarantine is lifted. #mortgage

 How can I get my mother-in-law to understand this is not what my husband and I want and that it’s not going to happen?

 Signed, Trapped

Dear Trapped,

 Let’s start with the positives. It’s wonderful that your mother-in-law is so invested and excited about her new granddaughter. I’m sure it’s hard on her that she hasn’t been able to see the baby as much as she would like. I also think all the party planning is a way for her to channel that frustration and a quarantine distraction.

 That said, it’s never too early to start setting boundaries with your MIL. You need to explicitly, and girlfriend I mean in writing, share that you and your husband will not be hosting a large christening party for your baby girl.

You also need to give a quantitative figure of how many people you will be up for inviting to the party. This is because words like “small” or open to interpretation. One person’s small party may mean 5. Another person’s may mean 500. I suggest sending a very kind email where you share that, you will be drawing the line at (insert number here) people.

 Again, be gentle with your mother-in-law. She probably means well. But to protect her feelings and your wallet now is the time to send that email about what your plans are so when all this is over no one can utter those two phrases that have doomed many, many, family relationships, “I never knew” and “You didn’t tell me.”

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

 

Dear Snarky – I’m Getting Attitude For Taking a Pass On Our Family Easter Dinner

Dear Snarky,

 My parents and sister are acting like spoiled brats and being totally clueless about social distancing.

 Not only are my parents, who are in their late 60s, still going to the grocery store almost every day like they don’t have a care in the world but my sister and her six kids are hanging out with my parents.

She’s even dropping her kids off at their house so they can babysit because she needs “a break” and her Bunko group still got together last week. 

 It’s like the coronavirus is happening to other people. My sister had the nerve to actually call me “selfish” for saying there was no way I was going to attend a family Easter dinner. She also said that I was ignoring my parents.

 I’m not ignoring anyone on purpose I’m following the rules. I also have a child with asthma so you can bet we’re hunkered down at home.

 Why am I being made to feel like the bad guy for sheltering in place? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

 Signed, Ticked Off

Dear Ticked,

 I don’t really have any words of comfort for dealing with idiot family members except know that you are not alone AND that this is the time where you need to unapologetically stick to the rules.

 I would also, and I’m sure you have already done this, explain to your parents and sister why these stay home mandates are so important. Perhaps graphs or a pie chart might help or pictures of overwhelmed hospitals.

 Sadly, the bottom line is it’s hard to herd idiots. Some humans are just predisposed to be morons who thrive at picking and choosing what they want to believe like they’re at an all you can eat buffet of stupidity.

 You can only control your own situation and I applaud you for following the rules. Stay strong and don’t let your family bully or manipulate you into doing anything else. Lives depend on us staying home. You’re doing the right thing.

 P.S. Your sister sounds like a total tool.

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?”