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. 😉

Dear Snarky – My Mom Needs to Quit Wearing Sexy Halloween Costumes

Dear Snarky,

 I need help with my mother. I swear she thinks she’s Jennifer Lopez and by that I mean at 55 she is very proud of her body and loves to show it off. Every Halloween she goes all out with the sexy costumes. This Halloween she is wearing a costume that is a replica of the iconic dress J.Lo wore where she’s almost naked.

 My problem is she’s planning on wearing it to a Halloween party hosted by my boyfriend’s parents. I told her that costume was not appropriate for this kind of party and she told me I was just “jealous.”

 Seriously, she can’t show up to meet my boyfriend’s parents for the first time in a costume where she’s that exposed. How do I get her to wear something that at least covers her chest?

 Signed, Distressed Daughter

Dear Distressed,

First, let me say I’m not into body shaming nor am I the Fashion Police. In fact, the only style crimes that get me really ticked off are adults wearing P.J’s on a plane or people who wear shorts and flip flops to church weddings.

 As for your mother I’m afraid you’re not going to get her to wear a nun costume. I think the more you beg her to cover up the more she’s going to want to take the girls out. That said if I had a body that resembled Jennifer Lopez’s I might be inclined to be queen of the crop top.

 I suggest that perhaps the first time your boyfriend’s parents meet your parents is not at this party. Maybe you can schedule a coffee get together so their initial “how do you do” is with your mom wearing clothing and not a costume.

 Remember you’re not responsible for your mom’s behavior or life choices. At 55 years old how she dresses is her business and her business alone. Maybe she’s living her best life.

 As for your boyfriend’s parents if they are going to judge you based on your mother’s Halloween costume than that is just messed up.

 Now as for that  jealous comment it sounds like your mother’s maternal instincts might need a refresh. Her quip was very unkind and leads me to believe that her entire self worth is tied up in her appearance and let me tell you as an aging female that totally sucks.

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

Dear Snarky – My Mom and Mother-In-Law Have Turned Grandparenting Into a Competitive Sport

Dear Snarky,

 My mom and mother-in-law are driving me crazy. They’re both very competitive and my kids are always in the middle of their tug-of-wars as they try to one up each other.

 For example, they both just had to buy my daughters’ first day of school outfits when I had already told them that my girls had picked out their own clothes. I then had to send separate photos with my daughters in the outfits each grandma had bought pretending that it’s what they wore to school.

 I knew I finally had to do something when my oldest daughter told her little sister we had to take all these pictures because mommy lies to grandma and nana. How do I put a stop to each grandmother wanting to be my kids’ favorite because juggling all of this is setting a bad example for my girls?

 Signed, Exhausted

Dear Exhausted,

 You’re not going to like this answer because the problem isn’t just the grandmothers fault you also are too blame. Girl you should have shut this down a long time ago like when your firstborn was an infant. The fact that you’ve enabled them and let this continue and escalate for years is not cool and is going to make stopping it even harder.

 I would begin by having a frank talk with your mother and telling her that all this competitive nonsense has to stop and that it’s having an adverse effect on her granddaughters and stressing you the hell out because of all the subterfuge required to keep both grandmothers happy. I would also include the very important fact that your own daughter called you a liar.

 Next up, is your mother-in-law and I would include your husband in that conversation for back up. This is because the last thing you want is your mother-in-law telling your husband that you criticized her grandparenting skills or called her a “bad Nana.”  You need to emphasize how the competitiveness is hurting her precious granddaughters and has the potential for harming the wonderful relationship she has with them.

 Of course, for any real change to happen you are going to have to put your big girl britches on and stand up to your mother and mother-in-law by having a zero tolerance policy for their competitive foolishness. And if you feel yourself wavering just remember the four letter word your daughter called you.

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

Dear Snarky – Say Hello to the Prize Police

Dear Snarky,

 I’m in charge of our neighborhood’s Fourth of July parade and I’m getting some serious attitude from other people on my committee. In the past we have given out ribbons for best bike decoration, best patriotic stroller etc. and I want to change that.

 This year I would like to limit the number of ribbons and only recognize a few parade entries. By doing this we can spend money on better prizes and more importantly not keep rewarding kids for just showing up.

Last year, we handed out ribbons to kids who didn’t even decorate their bikes. It was a joke. I think the families who actually take the parade seriously should be rewarded.

 My fellow committee members think I’m being mean but I think I’m teaching kids and parents a lesson.

 Do I listen to my committee or just know that I’m doing the right thing and not worry about what they think?

 Signed, Integrity Matters

Dear Crazy Lady (because I not going to use the word “integrity” in addressing you),

Are you freaking kidding me? You’re choosing your neighborhood Fourth of July bike parade to get all high horsey? You need to calm down and release your death grip on those ribbons. Your sanctimonious “kids shouldn’t be rewarded for just showing up” B.S. is totally out of place at a neighborhood parade. It’s not like the kid that wins “most red, white, and blue bike” is going to use the award to get into Stanford.

If you’re seriously on a mission to stop the practice of “everyone gets a trophy” than I suggest you chose another venue to proselytize at than the Fourth of July bike parade. These are your neighbors. Families are showing up to have fun not to face your judgmental wrath. Give everybody a ribbon that probably costs 10 cents and get over yourself.

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

Dear Snarky – Church Camp Went Straight to Hell Before It Even Started

Dear Snarky,

 My daughter has been excited about going to summer sleep away church camp since we signed her up for it in January. I recently found out that she won’t be bunking with her three best friends. A mom, who signed up late, bribed the church secretary to change the cabin assignments. The secretary sells some nutritional juice line and I was told that this mom bought a ton of it to get her daughter into the “good cabin” which meant my daughter got kicked out.

 I’m so angry! I can’t believe this has happened to my child. Right now I don’t even want her to go camp. Also, what can I do about this horrible church secretary?

 Signed, Summer is Already Ruined

Dear Summer,

 The first thing you need to do is put a mom spin on the cabin re-assignment. Tell your daughter there’s been a snafu and while she won’t be rooming with her best friends she will get a chance to make some new friends in another cabin which is a big part of summer camp –broadening your horizons.

 Also, remind her that she will be very busy at camp and will still get to do everything with her best friends except share sleeping quarters. Make it seem like this could be the best of both worlds. Sell it sister!

 As for the scheming mom and the greedy church secretary I would go straight to your minister about this wanton display of broken commandments. The secretary needs to be fired – pronto. She abused her position of trust and I bet the entire Sunday offering plate that this wasn’t her first rodeo. I’m sure she has a long history of being super shady.

 And to the mom who bribed the secretary she’ll eventually get what’s coming to her – like maybe choke on all that nutritional juice she bought. What YOU don’t want to do is give her the power to ruin your daughter’s summer camp experience. You need to rise above this and encourage your child to have a wonderful time.

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

Dear Snarky – The Teacher Returned Our Class Gift

Dear Snarky,

I’m super angry with my child’s teacher. For Valentine’s Day the moms went  all out and collected money for a really nice piece of jewelry from a popular retailer for my daughter’s 3rd grade teacher. The reason we did this is because the teacher is getting married soon and we thought this would be a nice Valentine’s Day and wedding gift from the class.

Well, come to find out from my sister who works at that store the teacher not only returned the necklace we got her but she was a huge, F bombing bitch, about it because she couldn’t get cash back. They would only give her a gift card because she didn’t have a receipt. According to my sister she even insulted the moms who picked out the necklace calling their taste – basic and low-class.

I’ve already told all the moms what happened and now we’re wondering if we should say something to the teacher.

 Signed, Insulted

 Dear Insulted,

 My advice is four words. KEEP. YOUR. MOUTH. SHUT.

Sure, it would be awesome to let the teacher know that you have Intel on what a boorish trog she was but after that thrill what do you have left? I’ll tell you – a kid that’s in her class for another three months. Talk about awkward.

I strongly urge you to not do that to your child. Instead learn a lesson from this. For the rest of your parenting career don’t get a teacher an expensive gift that’s very taste specific like jewelry. If you feel you must get a present go the gift card route. I also suggest the parents in your class skip the teacher appreciation and end of year gifts in favor of handwritten notes from your children highlighting the favorite things they’ve learned that year.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “Advice With an Attitude” email me at snarkyinthesuburbs.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.

Do I Suck At Being A Mother? ( Deep Thoughts At the Grocery Store)

I think I may be a bad mother. No, correction I think I may be considered a bad mother if you apply 21st century suburban perimeters to my parenting skills. Okay, I’m going to change that again because this admitting you’re a bad mother thing is hard. I’m a bad mother, but only in regards to the teenage years.

I’m sure you’re wondering how I came to this watershed event of questioning my parenting greatness. It happened at the grocery store. Yeah, the flipping grocery store. There I was trying to decide if I wanted to buy the classic Cheez It or the new Cheez It Bacon and Cheese duo, which is quite the taste sensation, but you feel a tad greasy and a smidge shameful after eating them. So, as I was reaching for the Bacon and Cheese Cheez It (Of course, I decided the greasy shame would be worth it.) two mothers that I know strolled into the same aisle. As moms do we started talking about our kids and that’s when it hit me.

I stink at motherhood.

These moms, who both did not have carts with any processed snack foods, began rhapsodizing about all the things they were planning on doing to ensure their teens last summer before they graduate high school would be “magical.” Instead of nodding my head and just rolling with the conversation I had to open my mouth and blurt out, “My definition of a magical teen summer is making sure my kids get  jobs that run June through August.”

This was not the right thing to say. I got “THE LOOK” x 2. Any mom knows what the look is. It’s a judgmental side eye delivered by another mother that’s accompanied with the slow burn of sanctimony.

At first I was confused. What did I say that was wrong? Summer jobs and teenagers go together like bacon and cheese infused into a cracker. It’s a good thing – right? Well apparently not because according to these moms by making my children work I was “robbing them of memories.”

Oh how I wished they hadn’t gone there. I’m not a memory mom. A long time ago I took a pledge to not base my parenting and every moment of my life ensuring my kids would be living in their own personal fairy tale thus ensuing a childhood resplendent with momentous memories. Sorry, but I have/had no interest in raising a prince or princess. Primarily because for that happen you have to be their servant. I took a firm pass on that job.

For a brief moment I thought about defending myself and then just accepted that in these moms eyes I was a bad parent. It hurt a little. No mother wants anyone to think she’s failing at raising her children. I, adroitly as I could, made an excuse to leave that conversation and hauled over to the frozen food section.

As I stared at the Eggo chocolate chip waffles I had a moment of deep reflection. Had I made a mistake by years ago not embracing the “memory mom” movement? Would my kids look back on their childhood and shudder because I never packed their lunch boxes with food origamied and styled to look like Cinderella’s castle? Seriously, I was Smuckers Uncrustable mom. Good Lord, the horrors of eating a sandwich that wasn’t sculpted into Thomas the Tank Engine.

I got so upset I had to lean my head against the cold glass doors of the freezer section for relief. Then one of the memory moms walked by and she was on her phone. It sounded like she was having a fight with one of her kids. I stood up, held my head high, and thought that’s the problem with parenting in Fantasy Land, no matter what, reality always finds a way to creep in.

Dear Snarky – Pokemon Go Away

Pokemon-Go-Full-Google-Access.pngDear Snarky,

I have a friend who is now calling me a stalker. We both have boys who are 9  and do a lot together. A couple of days ago I texted her about taking our boys out and doing Pokemon Go. She told me that she was already doing Pokemon as a family “team building” activity which I thought sounded weird, but whatever. THEN when I’m out with my son I see her with some other moms from school and their boys playing Pokemon. I parked my car to join them and I heard the mom, that I thought was my friend, whisper stalker.

I’m hurt and angry for my son that he was left out of Pokemon Go and furious that I was called a stalker. Should I confront my friend about it?

Signed, Pokemom

Dear Pokemom,

First, I’m going to tell you what you want to hear. The mom who called you a stalker is a jerk. Now get ready for some hard truths. I’m afraid the problem might not be all  the other mom’s fault. I could be wrong here, but you seem awfully needy and I’m going to guess that possibly you’re more upset that you weren’t included than the fact that your son was left out. So ask yourself why did you feel the need to join up with a group when your friend had fibbed to keep you away? Why didn’t you just keep on driving and have a blast playing Pokemon Go with your son and be done with it?

Attention mothers everywhere you don’t have to do everything in groups. It’s okay and a lot of times preferable to enjoy your child’s company without a gaggle of other moms around. Think back to your childhood did your mom coordinate everything you did to such an extent that each outing was a like a mother/child mixer?

My advice is to get over being called a stalker. Yes it was mean, but who cares. This woman doesn’t sound worth you expending anymore energy on. The fact that you now know this is a blessing. You need to focus on appreciating the things you can control like spending one-on-one time with your kids and not worrying about what everyone else is doing.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky 21st Century Advice With an Attitude email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or leave me a private message on my Snarky Facebook page.