Tag Archives: family

I’ll Take It

I’m an old mom – I didn’t have my kid until I was 40. I had been married, had a fine career, traveled, etc. I knew some stuff. So I figured I could work out the whole “have it all” thing. No problem.

Problem! Baby, house, job, husband, friend, gardens, laundry, dishes, dinner…I actually could do it, but I sucked at it. Everything was (in the words of my father) half-assed – I felt like a failure in every aspect. It was pretty low point in my life, about when my son turned 3 (the 2s are nothing, by the way). I was at my wit’s end.

At about this same time, we moved into a new house and had done some renovations. I invited my real estate agent/friend over to see what we had done to the house. She hung out, perfect in her blow-out, designer clothes, fabulous shoes and fantastic heart. She was amazing: three kids, a husband running his own business, her own top-notch real estate agent business. I could barely take a shower.

After chatting for 30 minutes or so, I finally broke down in tears about how sucky I am at everything. She was so kind and calming. I finally just asked her, how do you do it all? She cocked her head and smiled a little bit and said, “Oh, honey…I outsource everything!” She proceeded to tell me about the cleaning lady, carpooling, the nanny, the lawn service and stack of takeout menus in the kitchen.

It was a light went on in my brain. It was okay to ask for help, it was okay not to do everything myself, it was okay to feel overwhelmed. Outsourcing was the best advice I ever got…and I took it: we have a cleaning lady come every other week, we eat out at least once a week, we use after care programs at school. And life is so much better – I am so much more relaxed and happy and able to enjoy my son and my husband and my life.

I know not everyone has the resources to access this kind of outsourcing and that life looks different. But there are still ways to outsource: local and county services, school programs and, family, friends and neighbors. The ultimate lesson is to ask for help. Even with help you’re still doing it all – someone has to coordinate all those helpers, keep the schedule, mind the store.

Bottom line: If there’s help to be had, I’ll take it.

– Libby Bingham

About Libby

Libby used to have a stuffed bear named Alan as a child and recently found him in her parents’ attic. She now understands what it means to “love the stuffing out of something.” You can reach her here

Always On and Always Connected

I got my first cell phone in college, back when Nextel phones were still a thing and I paid by the minute, paid long distance charges, and certainly didn’t text. And I only bit the bullet after a stalled car made me late for work and I didn’t have a way to let them know I wasn’t going to be on time. This was strictly an emergency phone (though perhaps the definition of emergency shifted as the cost of my minutes went down…but I digress). About 5 years after that, I got my first smart phone through work and I’ll admit to being thrilled because as a young professional, it was a sign that I was important (the naivete of youth is adorable, isn’t it?). Fast forward to 2015, and 92% of adults in the U.S. now have cell phones. And don’t even get me started on kids having phones…

This leaves us facing etiquette challenges that just simply didn’t exist ten or fifteen years ago. The Pew Research Center, a subsidiary of The Pew Charitable Trusts, recently released a report, Americans’ Views on Mobile Etiquette. It’s fascinating stuff.  I share this not to reminisce about the good ol’ days before cell phones ruined our lives or propelled us into the greatest technological era of all time (depending on your view), but I do find our attitudes interesting when it comes to the appropriateness of using our phones.

When asked for their views on how mobile phone use impacts group interactions, 82% of adults say that when people use their phones in [social] settings it frequently or occasionally hurts the conversation. Meanwhile, 33% say that cell phone use in these situations frequently or occasionally contributes to the conversation and atmosphere of the group. Women are more likely than men to feel cell use at social gatherings hurts the group: 41% of women say it frequently hurts the gathering vs. 32% of men who say that the same. Similarly, those over age 50 (45%) are more likely than younger cell owners (29%) to feel that cellphone use frequently hurts group conversations.

And while those 82% said that using phones may hurt the conversation, 89% of adults who own a cellphone say they used it at their last social gathering. 89%. Yowza. Yet, before we mourn the loss of personal connection, of those 89%, 78% reported using their phone for what Pew termed a “group contributing” action: posting a video or photo about the gathering, sharing something that happened, looking up information to contribute to the conversation or connecting with someone at the gathering. My, how the times have changed from Zach Morris’ Saved by the Bell phone…

The report goes on to talk about always being connected, the types of activities for which we use our phones and how much usage we tolerate in different public spaces. As you would expect from a research study, Pew simply presents the facts. They don’t chastise us for our behavior, nor credit cell phones for bringing us together across the globe. Rather, they present the information and let you decide what it means to you. And it’s certainly had the wheels of my brain turning since I read it. What does your connectivity mean to you? And what do you think it says to others?

– Catherine Wemette

While Catherine does now have an iPhone, she still misses her Blackberry and has made peace with the fact that she’s a luddite. She is the founder of Good for Her Soul and you can reach her here.

I Don’t Want Children. Period.

I was having an indulgent Friday. I slept in late and was snuggling with my dog and scanning Facebook while watching Sex and the City reruns. The episode in which Charlotte leaves her awesome art gallery job was on — My Motherboard, Myself if you’re in the mood. I was in the middle of the scene when Charlotte calls Miranda and is angry about the judgement she thinks Miranda has about Charolotte leaving her job to try to start a family. Charlotte was screaming, “I choose my choice!” and I saw a Facebook post featuring a cartoon from Upworthy about a woman choosing to not have kids.

Much of that cartoon resonated with me. I do not have kids and I do not want kids. Yet, I’ve been told so often that I will change my mind. That I will make a great Mom! That kids will change my life in ways I could never imagine.

And of course that makes me think of a scene in Trainwreck when Amy Schumer’s character is told her life hasn’t started yet because she doesn’t have kids. I’ve been on the receiving end of those kinds of comments many times (see above). One person even told me that I was depriving my husband of his natural desire and right to procreate. Another asked me how it felt that was ruining my parents’ lives by not giving them grandchildren.

Geez. I simply do not want kids. I do not dislike kids. I do not judge people who have kids. I know myself and I’ve made a reasonable life decision with my spouse. And I’m happy in my life.

Yet still, I feel as though when I tell someone I don’t have kids that I have to follow up with a story to help them understand why I, a seemingly intelligent person with ovaries and a uterus, has made such an against-the-grain decision. And here is my spiel:

“Oh no, I don’t have kids. I have furry children and am a fun aunt to my nieces and nephews. I never really wanted human babies but when I met Dave I knew that I could have a family with him. But I was never so relieved when he told me one night that he didn’t want children. And we’ve checked in over our ~15 years together and are still on the same page.”

Phew! That is a mouthful. It’s all true, but nobody needs to know all of that. And I shouldn’t feel obligated to provide so much context. I shared it here to make my point that I’ve acquiesced to the societal pressure that if I don’t have kids, I better have a darn good — and specific — reason.

But as of today I’ve decided I don’t want to tell that story again. Not unless we’re close friends and we’re chatting over wine or beer about our lives and relationships.

Until then…I don’t have kids. I choose my choice! I don’t want children. Period.

About Bobbi

Bobbi is a freelance consultant who lives in Washington, DC. When not serving as an operations octopus for her clients, she can sometimes be found watching reruns of Sex and the City, One Tree Hill, and Beverly Hills, 90210. To chat about any of these, you can reach her here

Being Friendly

funny background for kidsI was talking to my son the other day and it dawned on me what an a-hole I am. Intellectually, I am able to recognize what an awesome kid he is – how accomplished and talented he is at such a young age. When I look at some of the skills he’s mastered and habits he has compared to others his age, I breathe a sigh of relief. But somehow I can’t stop nagging him about doing more, being better.

I don’t expect him to be perfect, so it’s not that – I am not looking for some kind of uber kid. I’m just looking to not be annoyed. But really, whose problem is that? It’s mine – I can (or should be able to in theory) control how and when I react to things he does, but I struggle. And then I take it out on him. Instead of trying to change my needs and perspective, I try to change him. This needs to stop.

Let me assure you that I’m not beating him or constantly screaming at him in an emotionally abusive way, but there is a low-level undercurrent of general annoyance and that’s not cool. I can tell he’s frustrated because it seems as though I am always disappointed in him. I’m not, but I can 100% see how he might feel that way. So what do I do?

I like to observe him with other people – it helps me see that he’s not annoying to others; he’s personable and open, and while he sometimes gets a wee bit out of control with other kids, he also brings a joy and happiness to any interaction.  I think I also care a bit too much of what other people think. I’ve observed that most parents seem not to care at all how their or their children’s interactions impact others; I think I’ve gone too far to the other side and have made that a driving factor in how I view his behavior. Fuck people (sometimes) – he’s learning and having fun and I need to let that ride a bit more (within reason).

Anyway, I’ve decided that his short-term less-than-desirable behavior should absolutely take a backseat to his long-term emotional health and well-being, that he should see me as an ally and not someone he needs to try to make happy or not disappoint (constantly). Support and kindness are just as important to encouraging him to be “a nice, smart, kind person that people want to spend time with” as are reminders about manners and self-control. After all, no one is perfect…especially me, and he’ll never be either. But if I change my behavior, I’m sure his will evolve beyond my own which is comforting. I will never be his friend – and as his mother, I really don’t want to be – but I can certainly be more friendly.

About Libby
Libby and her family enjoy camping trips that help them appreciate each other and their running water when they get home. You can reach her here.