Mandy: college graduate, super-sinful unwed mother, narcissist, graphic artist by day, disillusioned writer by night, also super-sinful liberal, feminist (need I mention?); mixed bag, you know.

This is an Unsolicited Parenting Advice-Free Zone. I bitch; you listen; isn't that how blogging works?!

Drinks will not be served. But wouldn't it be awesome if they were?
Blissfully Unwed

Things That Will Totally Make Me Maybe Date You

Not that I’m blaming myself for any of the things that happened with Graham’s dad (I didn’t steal a few cool Gs from myself before deposing my son and I from our home, for instance), but I have been thinking that, if this experience doesn’t send me finally running to the other team, I might want to do some things differently. One thing I didn’t do before I started dating B, for instance, was look for specific traits in a man. It probably wouldn’t have worked, even if I’d tried, because I was in college and therefore generally too drunk to see any traits in the first place. But, anyway: I made a list.

1. No anti-drug dudes. I’m not saying this because I’m some kind of abscess-plagued hard drug aficionado who likes to drag dates from one crackhouse to the next all night; I just never really get along with teetotalers. I mean, at least be cool with smoking a little weed. Is that so much to ask? Oh, and definitely nobody who doesn’t drink; I look better naked with a buzz.

2. Must be good at sex. And, by “good at sex,” I mean “willing to do most or all of the work because I am lazy (but honest!).” And, also, the sooner you prove it, the better. No one likes to invest three dates in a sexual kindergartener who is going to be much more awkward to get rid of than they would’ve been after just one date. But that’s also why I don’t date dudes who wear Affliction shirts.

3. No dumbasses. Like, preferably, you have a degree, but, if not, maybe write an essay describing why you think we would have something in common even though you don’t have a piece of paper proving that we have at least both read books other than To Kill a Mockingbird.

4. Thick skin and a sort-of (ok, REALLY) bent sense of humor is a must. Like, you were able to read number 4 without squealing, “Stuck-up BITCH!” And throwing down your web-surfing device and crying.

5. But you can’t be a sexist douchebag Dane Cook wannabe who thinks you’re funny and that everybody else is just too sensitive because NO.

6. Realize that I am not your manic pixie dream girl and that you will never change me. Like, never, ever. At the most, maybe, someday, I will do a better job at picking up my dirty laundry, but even that’s iffy. This automatically rules out religious types who would like to “save” me, but, if you’re religious and cool with my attitude toward your beliefs, which is best described as *eye-roll*, that could work.

7. Understand that we will probably date for about eleventy-billion years before I agree to get any more serious than “Well, yeah, MAYBE I won’t sleep with other people.” I also reserve the right to go back on this one if one day I magically forget about that stolen money I mentioned at the beginning of this blog.

8. You must think my kid is the shit, but understand that my uterus is now out-of-commission for like, probably forever. Because, yeah… no.

9. No racial slurs, ever. I can’t believe I just said that, but this is the South.

10. Don’t say things that make me cringe. I can’t possibly categorize this list or write out every item, but, basically, I’m referring to things like talking like you’re black when you’re incredibly not-black, or using words like “yum-o,” which will send me running for the hills even if you are super hot and have TOTALLY read way more books than just To Kill a Mockingbird.

Ok, 10 is a good number, plus I think I covered all the important stuff. Oh, wait: it would be cool if you had a job and were attractive and taller than me and shit. There! Now everybody knows I’m pretty much intolerable.

In Which We Revisit the Concept That, Just Because You Weren’t Born to be a Mom, Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Get Knocked Up

I’ve probably told you this story before, but, you know, I’m kind of notorious for that.

So, before I had a baby, my only experience with one was babysitting for a family who, fortunately, never figured out that, every time they left the house, I put their little cry machine in its bed so it could exhaust itself by screaming until it passed out - hopefully before I was done raiding the fridge. The sound of babycries totally spoils one’s appetite, which is why I understand when people are pissed when their fellow restaurant-goers bring one to dinner like it’s just another person.

When I was pregnant, every time I confessed to my utter lack of relevant experience to qualify me for the position of Mom, everyone told me not to worry; that, the first time I held my baby, I would fall totally in love and not ever want to party, go to work or even have my old vagina back again. I’m guessing that whoever who told me this didn’t even come close to sharing my enthusiasm for having fun, making money and having a lot to offer in the no-no square department due to a great deal of personality flaws.

Don’t get me wrong: I DID fall in love with my son the first time I held him, and I like dandling him on my knee and other stuff that people with babies are into. However, by no means did making a baby turn me into a different person, which is the way I was told that these things happen.

I can’t be the only mom like this. In fact, I know I’m not: one of my friends told me just the other day that she didn’t feel bonded with her daughter until she was about 6 months old. And, when I say, “like this,” I don’t mean the kind of parent that blows cracksmoke in their child’s face; I just mean women who don’t really have that, you know, mom thing. And just because it doesn’t come naturally doesn’t mean that we suck at being moms.

Maybe it’s not the best example, but, when speaking about a helicopter mom in one of her memoirs, Chelsea Handler says, "[She] was the antithesis of my mother. There was more adult supervision at the Neverland Ranch than there was in my house growing up. When, a week before my fourth birthday, my parents told me to play my own birthday party - I knew I was pretty much on my own." You may disagree, but I think that anyone capable of writing My Horizontal Life turned out pretty great.

The bottom line here is that, if you don’t have some kind of knee-jerk reflex that makes you want to turn on Disney Jr. or sing lullabies or whatever, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad parent. As someone who marches almost every noise-making toy given to my child by well-meaning family members right back to WalMart to trade for store credit to buy underwear so I don’t have to do laundry OR listen to the same terrible song eleventybillion times this week, though, I guess my opinion might be a little biased.

I’m calling this one: “Things You Can Do When You’re Unemployed.” In addition to afternoon drinking, obvs.

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Behold: the results of donating plasma, as seen on my right arm. This is the same arm, which, as you may recall, was abused last Thursday by an incompetent phlebotomist. Much as I’d like to give this dude a pass by assuming that Octopharma’s employees suffer from low morale due to less-than-competitive wages, resulting in work performance that looks like, you know, my arm, I’m pretty sure that’s not the problem. Given the fact that a second phlebotomist came to my rescue and drew blood from my left arm with technical proficiency that would’ve made a robot feel inferior, I’m pretty sure that the maiming of my right arm was done by an individual who is also known as as That Guy Who Definitely Smokes Something Before Work, But We Can’t Figure Out What.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s an experience I’m happy to tuck under my belt, especially since the $30 I made bought me a fat bottle of wine and several new additions to my job interview wardrobe at Goodwill (I’ll wear your granddad’s clooothes), where I also found a ribbed tank so gorious, I believe that its fibers were cured in Jesus’ tears before it was sewn together. Behold!

Donating plasma is just of the many activities that I didn’t have time to participate in before losing the extra weight of my fundie Christian boss who did stupid fundie Christian shit like never missing an opportunity to bring any actual work that might be taking place to a screeching halt in order to correct any employee who dared to shorten “Christmas” to “Xmas.”

During my time of unemployment, for instance, I have not had to turn one pair of underwear inside-out because I’d run out of clean ones for lack of laundry-doing. I’ve prepared home-cooked meals for my family. I have maintained trimmed and styled hair (you would not believe how phenomenal it looks when I actually brush it). I’ve developed an exceptionally-close bond with all the pets in the house. I have even whitened my teeth with something other than Photoshop. Best of all, though: I have the selfies to prove it. Shall we?

I am not ashamed to admit that I have also taken two of the greatest photos of my butt that have ever turned my cell phone into a liability. I wouldn’t be ashamed to post them, either, but what little propriety I possess is standing in my way. I know; I’m a little surprised, too.

Mother Plans On Spending Nothing On Her Son in 2013; is My Hero

Hattie Garlick and Johnny, two: 'People Ive never met have said theyll take the challenge with me

See this lady right here? We have a lot in common. Her adorable child bears a great resemblance to mine (thus the adorable), she has a blog, and she has resolved to avoid spending any money on her son this year. Why the stingy parent business? I’m glad you asked.

I grew up digging through sale bins at thrift stores and yard sales for Barbies with clothes, battery-operated toys with still-charged batteries, or - and this was solid gold - a Polly Pocket toy with the Polly doll still inside. This gave me the impression that low-budget childrearing was the norm - right up until I had my own child to rear. Then, I stopped ignoring the images crowding my social media feeds of the latest and greatest accessories that my friends were buying for their offspring - offspring that couldn’t even ask for a snack yet, let alone demand expensive toyage.

I get it: consumerism is a powerful force. Sure, many of us don’t all feel all that compelled to buy our children this year’s version of Tickle Me Expensive as a matter of necessity. Be that as it may, though, most of us still want to avoid being known as the Goodwill Parent. And, in today’s “pics or it didn’t happen” world, it’s hard to give the impression that you’re buying the shit without actually buying the shit. And, if you’re not buying the shit, what ARE you buying, you selfish asshole?!

In the end, this whole thing comes down to every parent’s weakness: our desire to give our kids the best of everything. It’s a marketing strategy particularly effective on frightened and uninformed pregnant first-time moms, which is probably why it’s so played-out that it makes Call Me Maybe look fresh and exciting. But is a $50 pair of shoes for a kid who can’t even walk yet really “the best?”

I’m not sure what my takeaway would’ve been, had my childhood been ruled by consumerism. I do know, though, that I wouldn’t have learned that commercials aren’t a very good source of information if my parents had bought me everything I saw on TV. A go-kart that wasn’t rigged with a tiller engine and pool mat seats wouldn’t have taught me resourcefulness. Buying new, name-brand clothes wouldn’t have been a lesson in how to spend a little money and look a lot awesome.

Most importantly, there is my mom’s mantra, “You didn’t need new toys; you had each other! You were happy with sticks and dirt.” Without it, I wouldn’t understand the importance of family, and how much more valuable it is than anything you can get at Babies R Us.

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(Source: telegraph.co.uk)

Let me tell you why Christmas is bullshit.

I know you all missed my compulsive blogging (ok, I ASSUME you missed it) over the holiday, but I think the reason for my fall from the face of the earth is pretty obvious: Christmas is fucking stressful and it kind of sucks. 

There’s this unspoken rule, among parents, that, unless you’re really low on money, or you’re saving money for a big purchase, you go big at Christmastime. We certainly could’ve. But, in the long run, we only got Graham a few things, and we didn’t really put much into Christmas at all. And, while I can go on forever about the commercialization of the holiday, when Barry looked at me like a crazy person when I shrugged and said, “Whatever.” when he asked what we should get Graham this year, I still felt like the most selfish parent, ever. As if love could be measured by presents - and for a kid so young, he won’t even remember this Christmas. 

That aggrieved response is nothing new. For years, I heard the same shit: “YOU DON’T LOVE CHRISTMAS? BUT WHYYY?! THE JOY ON THE CHILDREN’S FACES AND JESUS AND FAMILY AND BLAH BLAH BLAH!” But I can’t help it; I get it from my family. 

Every year, on Christmas Eve, my parents and siblings (and, now, our significant others and kids) come together to make pierogies and get drunk all day. No extended family, no Santa Claus, no bullshit, just Polish food and a handle of Sobieski. My parents have always given my brother and sisters and I presents, but, even a a kid, I remember being at least ALMOST as excited about our other traditions. Was the year we got a trampoline awesome? Hell, yes. But the year we got nothing but socks and underwear from the dollar store was great, too. Celebrating our heritage in a way that we only do once a year (obviously, I’m referring to the pierogies here, and not the drinking) is and always has been the common thread throughout all our Christmases, and it’s the part that, as an adult, especially, I most look forward to every year. 

Maybe I am selfish. Maybe I should stop bitching at Barry for spending money on presents that we could use for ourselves. Buying a lot of gifts is, after all, a part of his tradition, even if it’s not part of mine. But, you know what? Soon enough, our kid will be begging for bikes and video games and unicorns and whatever else expensive shit kids like. It’ll be a lot harder then to stress the importance of family gatherings over gifts. So, until that happens, I’m going to stop stressing over whether I bought my kid enough shit for Christmas. Maybe then, I won’t have to hate it so much, after all. 

So, Curious George was all like, ooh, I want to explore the possibilities of holding this hairdryer myself!

OH NO I WAS SO WROOONG

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So, Curious George was all like, ooh, I want to explore the possibilities of holding this hairdryer myself!

OH NO I WAS SO WROOONG

Oh, Santa. Whatever are we going to do with you?

One thing I’ve been thinking about quite a bit during this holiday season is something I’ve really never given a shit about before, Santa Claus.

I assume that I don’t have to fill you in on the story of Old Saint Nick, traipsing about in the homes of children at night, leaving presents, taking cookies, and chuckling. You know, as they’d call it in Supernatural (SHUT UP), “the lore.” Grown-ups everywhere seem to enjoy looking back fondly upon the time in their lives during which it seemed totally plausable for a fat fuck to make his way down their impossibly-narrow chimneys (where chimneys actually existed) each Christmas - much as they once believed that world peace was possible and that girls could grow up to do anything boys do. Except for me, that is. I never “believed in” Santa Claus.

My parents, I guess, figured that their kids weren’t idiots, and that, although their parents had convinced them, for a time, that the guy in the red suit was actually a thing, they decided not to foist that burden of three-to-five-year-old disillusionment upon my siblings and me. Or maybe it was because they wanted to take credit for the present they bought us, dammit. Either way, I totally get it.

Whenever someone poor-things me for my apparent loss of childhood illusion, I always assure them that I haven’t suffered any permanent damage. What I’d like to say, but don’t, because people can get pretty damn hostile about this Santa thing, is that knowing the truth all along was AWESOME. At the precocious and impressionable age during which most children are so excited about Santa’s arrival that their pants-accidents increase dramatically, my sister and I were goading our peers into telling us everything they knew about Christmas Jesus (BUT WHAT?! HE IS!), and then laughing behind their backs. Which explains a few things.

Of course, since our offspring will barely be a year old, come Christmas, the whole Santa thing isn’t really of concern to my partner and I, currently. But, someday, not too far from now, it will be. And, while I dream of telling Graham that all his friends believe a very transparent lie, but that he must never expose them to the truth, for ignorance is bliss, my partner has his own dream: a dream of our child LEAVING FUCKING COOKIES OUT FOR A CREEPIN’-ASS OLD DUDE.

When you think about it, this is a pretty damn delicate situation for me. For example, if Graham is told from the jump that Mommy and Daddy spend their hard-earned cash on his incredibly annoying noise-making toys, there’s little chance that B could ruin it by telling him that his annual holiday loot comes from an old guy in red. On the other hand, though, if B tells him it’s all Santa’s doing, and I chime in and say, “Wanna see which one of us can actually fit in the chimney?!” I ruin everything.

I MEAN. How do you deal with something like this? I feel that setting a precedent for lying doesn’t exactly foster the best of parent/child relations, but I also don’t want to disappoint my tradition-bound husband, whose memories of Christmas sparklies and happiness have clearly prevented his mind from drawing the obvious conclusion that I’m right. How do you handle this, followers? Do YOU tell your kids about Santa?

The New Stay-At-Home Moms: How the “Privilege” of Staying At Home is No Longer

After exchanging bad mom secrets last night with the so-much-like-me-it-has-to-be-fate Lessons from Layla, I took a walk down memory lane and cruised the blog I kept on Open Salon when I was pregnant with Graham. After crossing myself and thanking Jesus and all his friends that pregnancy isn’t a permanent condition, I was inspired to re-explore a few of the topics I’d written about before I knew that breastfeeding is a form of torture and that, despite eveything I read in The Mommy Brain, there is no regaining all or even most of the intelligence that the female brain hemmorhages during pregnancy.

One topic that I had written about while I was pregnant is actually one I’ve been meaning to bring up on this blog, now that I’ve gotten some first-hand experience in the matter: the inherent privilege of being a working mother.

When American mothers first began to join the work force due to the absence of their husbands during World War II, they did so out of necessity. Even though many women realized that careers are empowering anad chose to stay in the workforce after their husbands’ return, the undercurrent of thought that mothers who work outside the home do so out of necessity has remained prevalent. 

Besides being sexist as fuck, the idea that all or most women who work outside the home do so for financial reasons is problematic and classist, rendering a large segement of American mothers invisible.

For mothers with the education and skill necessary to earn a fair wage, working outside the home is an attainable and profitable option that can provide their families with much-needed extra income if they’re parenting with a partner, or, for single mothers, the only source of income her family may have. For mothers whose earning potential is lower, a group composed largely of women who became mothers at a young age, before they were able to obtain a college degree, relevant job experience, or even a high school diploma, words like “necessity,” option,” or even “obtainable” are often simply incompatible with the concept of working motherhood. These are the new stay-at-home moms - and we need to start paying attention to them. 

This obstacle to employment for mothers is most pronounced in those with very young children, for whom the dream of providing for their families is typically shattered when they compare their first minimum-wage paycheck to their child’s first daycare bill. For example, my son’s weekly daycare cost, for a child under a year old, is very reasonable, at $145. If I worked a forty-hour week, earning $7.50 an hour, which is the minimum wage in Texas, I’d earn $300 a week BEFORE taxes. Throw in the cost to travel to and from work and daycare, the cost of missing a day of work but not a day of paying for childcare when a child is sick, and add another kid or two to the mix, and the title of my profession would be Stay-At-Home Mom, whether I liked it or not. 

One thing that conservatives criticizing mothers raising their children on the public dole fail to understand is that these women simply cannot afford to raise them any other way. The encouragement some states foist upon single mothers relying on public assistance to raise their children to get and stay married is equally despicable, as it puts the woman at the mercy of the man she must depend on to support both her and her children. 

As a mom who also has a career, I’ve made the choice to make my very own clumsy pass at Having it All. Not because we couldn’t survive off my partner’s income alone, but because I enjoy working. I love my son with the same disturbing level of intensity that I suppose all mothers do, but the thought of having only him for company all week long sounds like torture on a stick. I’ve worked alongside a lot of other women, though, who don’t feel the same way. They’d rather be at home with their kids, and they wish that their careers were not a necessity due to a husband who didn’t earn enough to pay the bills, a husband who didn’t earn enough to pay for the no-good beer he drank, or a lack of a husband, entirely.

In a perfect world, we’d all be able to choose. We’d be able to consider the implications of motherhood both at home and at work, without the heavy weight of financial factors. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. But, if you feel like you’ve been compelled to make the decision to juggle a career and a family, just take a moment to remember that there are a lot of other mothers out there for whom going to work was not a decision they were able to make. 

Kinda says it all, doesn’t it? 

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Kinda says it all, doesn’t it? 

I know it’s late, but there was no way I could avoid posting the photo I took when I checked in on Li’l G a few minutes ago. Look at that deep, peaceful, open-mouthed, drooling-on-everything sleep! I sho hope that’s where I’m about to be in 3, 2, 1…

View in High Quality →

I know it’s late, but there was no way I could avoid posting the photo I took when I checked in on Li’l G a few minutes ago. Look at that deep, peaceful, open-mouthed, drooling-on-everything sleep! I sho hope that’s where I’m about to be in 3, 2, 1…