Why I Absolutely Am The "Angry Mommy"

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I'm angry because you expect me to do everything. I'm angry because you expect me to be everything. I'm angry because moms are not seen as people, but as emotional dump buckets who are also somehow expected to turn around and nurture from the same bucket already filled with everyone else's baggage.

"Are you the angry mommy?" the woman sitting across from me at the large round table asked me smiling. We were at a writer's conference in Iceland and I was caught off guard for a moment thinking my ragey, mommy past had followed me across the pond.

What does she mean "angry mommy?" Then I remembered. And laughed.

"Yes! I mean kind of, maybe not so angry any more. I write for Scary Mommy," I replied laughingly (correcting the hilarious linguistic snafu).

The word choice was indeed funny and totally accurate. "Angry Mommy" well, yes, probably. For many years I was a very tired, touched out, fed up, lost, angry mommy. The trouble with calling a woman "angry" (even by accident), is that women who aren't perpetually happy and smiling ALL OF THE FUCKING TIME are called "angry" by men and women by default. (Ahem, men and women with very sexist, narrow, and misogynistic thought processes call women who aren't smiling rays of sunshine 24/7, "angry"). That or we're told we must be "getting our periods." Women who aren't June Cleaver constantly are deemed "too sensitive" or "too emotional." The jabs all originate from the same fucked up place. This woman, however, was not making a jab. In fact, it felt like a compliment considering the emotional, well-being journey I've been on lately. A talk-therapy-sabbatical if you will.

To be honest, it's been one helluva ride, lemme tell you people. Like a rough, wild, scary, and also exhilarating and liberating motorcycle ride on a crisp Spring day.

So, OK, I AM angry. But not in the way I used to be. Not since I acted like a total asshole to everyone I loved and even complete strangers.

Allow me to elaborate on what an awful, horrific, mean-spirited human I allowed myself to be for awhile. If you cut me off in the Starbucks line, it was like fight club up in the coffee shop. HOLD MY HOOPS YO. Little things constantly set me off at nearly every twist and turn. Completely benign things I would somehow perceive (irrationally) as a threat. Criticism was a total blow to my ego (and insult to my intelligence)...supposedly. I catastrophized the smallest of illnesses, hurts, or behavior changes in my kids. Why are they limping this way? Do they have cancer? (No, they don't). Why is little one acting sad all of the time, does she hate me as a mother? (No, apparently she just needs about 30 more minutes of sleep per day to not be a weepy mess).
I would blow any and all situations out of proportion without a rational, step-by-step approach. I've been in attack mode for longer than I'd like to admit, and I'm exhausted.

Even for a fighter like me, constant combat got a little tiring day in and day out.

Let's back up to the days when I was a mother to two babies under two. The time when being in perpetual fight mode became most apparent. The situation I was in might be a stressful situation for anyone, but in reflection, I made it harder on myself by not dealing with my shit. You know what I mean, y'all with "MY SHIT." My baggage. My story. My damage. My Issues (with a very capital "I").

I'm not totally angry since my kids are no longer utterly helpless, crying, screaming, little humans (I HATED the baby stage - with and without booze). I'm not angry since the days of temper tantrums and toddlerhood have ended (wasn't a big fan of the toddler stage either).

I'm not angry like I was when the broken parts of me ruled my life. Impacted my parenting. Impacted my marriage. Impacted my jobs. Impacted how much wine I drank (aka A LOT- and side note - apparently if you're a mom that drinks a ton of booze this is a thing to be celebrated and glorified in our culture with cute napkins and magnets).

But make no mistake, I'm still angry. Just more about the stuff I should be angry about (i.e- definitely NOT the asshole in the Starbucks line).

Across the white linen table cloth the woman with wild salt and pepper, wavy hair and hip thick-framed glasses, and the most gentle and genuine smile says to me:

"Wait til I tell the ladies I know that I saw you here, they're going to love it. They love you and follow your work."

We were at a writer's conference in Iceland, OK? There were several smart, successful, and published authors at these workshops with me. The kind of brilliant minds that make you feel like you're surrounded by Joan Didion's and Stephen King's and you're the idiot they let just slide in because they felt bad or because they felt "Eh, she looks like she has potential." I know my place, but this woman knew who I was. Or knew of me, more accurately. Either way, I wanted to mouth kiss her in a room full of foreign people over a lunch of the most succulent lamb you've ever had.

When you say to a writer A) I've heard of you (or my friends have) that's like angels singing, clouds parting. Like, what? Who, me? SOMEONE BESIDES MY TWO BEST FRIENDS READ WHAT I WRITE- SHUT UP. Then B) "They love you" it's like this transcending moment- let me get this straight - people you know read my work ... and they still like me?!

I wanted to explain to the woman that I'm not angry in my writing (anymore so much), but certainly still very much aggressive

I aim to show the depths of pain mothers feel, women feel, whoever feels, but in a less fight-club, my-way-or-the-highway kind of way. (PS-I write about happy stories, and happy moms, and happy people too, ya know).

Sitting across from this woman - had I been my former, angry mommy self - I probably would've grabbed a glass of wine (or five) during the conference lunch buffet, got drunk, then made jokes to this woman about why all little kids who walk the earth are selfish assholes. Simultaneously I would've self-deprecated the shit out of myself and "mom life" with worn-out punch lines about unwashed hair and yoga pants....knowing....I don't do either. I wash my hair because I hate when it's greasy, and I don't wear yoga pants for anything except exercising.

I would've told her all of the reasons I am supposedly angry like, "I don't ever sleep," "I hate making dinner for people that won't eat it" and "I never have time to take a shower" and "my stomach looks like it's been hit with a butcher knife" or "I can't connect with my kid because she likes her tablet more than me apparently." Knowing that all of these supposed grievances are actually misdirected rage about bigger stuff. Stuff that's been piling up. Bad stuff that's been perpetuated over and over again throughout the generations in my family. Stuff I let be perpetuated in my own parenting. Disgusting stuff that has been a symptom of horrific societal and cultural problems.

"...it's not your fault you're fucked up. It's your fault if you stay fucked up, but the foundation of your fuckedupness is something that's been passed down through generations of your family." - Jen Sincero, author, life coach, badass

What I was really mad about back then  - I couldn't articulate. When you're a new mom you're operating on almost zero sleep with haywire hormones. Your mind goes into this very primitive mode where you basically attend to all of the things that will make your baby survive. Then you barely make yourself survive (somehow by magic). When I had babies I lost my language. I was in such a primitive state of survival that I lost my words, my ability to articulate, and my ability to communicate in a way that made sense. Nothing made sense.

So I swore a lot. People use profanity when they are in fight-or-flight mode. My whole being was expletives. Hell, that's what readers supposedly love about me. My ability to use fucks like commas.

I still swear a lot, but how do you effectively articulate an experience in motherhood you've never heard anyone talk about before? Furthermore, how do you voice your dislikes and issues with motherhood when in the past when you've even hinted at these things, you were shamed, silenced, and stigmatized?

When I complained about the total lack of sleep I was getting as a mom (to anyone that would listen and let me drone on) - what I was trying to say was: Why does our culture expect moms to do EVERY DAMN THING? Stop stealing my sleep away dammit. Everyone in my house, everyone in the world- I can't nurture everyone, every day, nor should I be expected to.

What I was really mad about when I complained about making dinner every night for my family, was that I was always the one expected to put it on the table. My energy was sucked up by this supposed maternal task. Cooking dinner, shopping for it, and planning for it totally stole hours away from my days. It tapped my energy that could've been used for something else- like connecting with my kids. Like putting more hours in for work. Like exercising. What kind of fucked up society puts the task of meal-making solely on one gender? Is marriage institutionalized slavery? (why, yes, yes it is).

What I was angry about when I said I had no time to put my body under a water spout for five fucking minutes and rinse it clean was, WHERE IS THE HELP? WHERE IS THE VILLAGE? WHERE CAN I HIRE SOME HELP? Oh that's right, not many families can afford quality childcare because it's too damn expensive and out of reach even for middle class families.

What I was mad about when I complained about my stomach looking like a chopped up piece of meat (because of 2 C-sections and a really doughy mid-section post-babies) - is that who groomed me to think this way about my body? Who taught me this unhealthy self-hatred towards myself? I'm pissed that someone (or several someones) got it in my head that the metrics of a woman's whole worth hung solely (or mostly) on the shape of her body and numbers on a scale. I'm still pissed about this whole "bouncing back" mantra as if women, post-babies, can ever go back to the way they were before in any way, shape, or form. They are new beings, wholly transformed, physically and emotionally. We don't go back, nor should we try.

What I was livid about when I blamed tablets and TV shows for making the connection between me and my kid weak, what I was really saying is: I have no time to connect because all of these other little tasks I'm expected to constantly compute in my head (as the mother and do-everything person)- are taking over my life all of the time. Logistics of soccer practice, dinnertime, doctor's appointments, dentists appointments, etc. AND I'M GIVING INTO THIS IDEA THAT ALL OF THIS CRAP MATTERS. Why did I think putting all of these supposed necessary things ahead of quality time with my kid was OK? Where did I learn it was OK to detach and not connect, I mean truly connect, uninterrupted, with my kid? Why am I prioritizing busyness and filling up time and not quality time?

So many sick cycles here that were passed down from several generations in my family, perpetuated through society, and validated in modern MAINSTREAM motherhood.

So, yes I'll be that angry mommy. I'm angry as fuck about a lot. Especially about expectations of women, mothers, and girls. But I'm taking my anger to get razor sharp focused on the heart of these problems. The root. I'm keenly observing my interactions and experiences without the wolf lens of my totally warped and damaged self. I'm looking at life and writing about it with my ever-growing, still evolving self. The one that wants to expand, and learn, and be mind-blown, and stay curious.

I can be the angry mommy. But I don't have to act (or write) in anger.

This Mom Is On STRIKE: Don't Ask Me For Sh*t

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

2016 was a crazy fucking year. 2017 is shaping up to be a crazier fucking year. We have literally been in an abusive relationship with a woman-loathing, manipulative, controlling, gaslighting, all-people-that-aren't-white-men-or-Christian hating, egoist, freak of motherfucking nature. I feel like I've been trying to escape him and his garbage human supporters by staying the hell away from them physically in my real life, and figuratively in my virtual life. Unfriending, blocking, ignoring, deleting, not engaging, and in some cases trying to leave these relationships entirely... over, and over, and over ...until I break free.

At the same time, I've been planning, organizing, and supporting every single woman's cause I possibly can. I call my representatives and text them when they yet again, threaten my human rights. I give money to Planned Parenthood, ACLU, anyone that defends the rights of my fellow women to exist. I marched like a motherfucker. I went to Washington, D.C. on a bus with my 5-year old daughter and marched until I couldn't feel my feet (and she couldn't either), and then we marched some more.

And now I strike. And I will wear RED. Because red is the color of revolution.

This woman is striking for International Women's Day and #ADayWithoutAWoman because I motherfucking can. Seriously, people don't ask me for shit.

I am in a state of resist (like my rhyme?;)

I get that I'm a privileged white woman who has the luxury of protesting in D.C. (my 2 bus tickets were not exactly cheap, nor were the fleece-lined leggings I bought myself from REI so I wouldn't literally freeze my booty off out there). My boss also gave me the weekend off when I told her that I was going to D.C. (it was not a problem). Not many people get to tell their boss they're going to a protest and need two days off from work. Some can't afford to take two days off from work.

I get that I'm privileged to strike because I work for two companies that honor striking. In full disclosure - I have March 8th off anyway. It's my one day off a week (seriously, I work six days a week, just like many of you). Besides not doing any paid work (freelance and otherwise), I've informed my two daughters (5 and 7-years old) to fend for themselves. I won't be driving them to school (nor obviously, picking them up). I won't be getting their cereal, lunch, or dinner - all food in this house is at eye and arm level for them. I won't be cleaning, doing laundry (unless it's my own), nothing. Nada. I will be enjoying the company of my girls, dressed in red, and may even go out for lunch with them at a woman-owned restaurant or cafe.

Why do I march? Why do I strike?

For starters, I gotta give throwback love. I protest to honor those that were in the marching lines and strikes before me and make sure they know – the walking, the fighting, the movement goes on. We’re still here, we’re not giving up.

All the greats – Angela Davis, Gloria Steinum, Sylvia Rivera, too many to name here in fact. And another important "great" -  my great aunt. My great aunt was in her twenties in the 1960’s and she was a fighter of women’s rights and social justice. She protested in the streets, she sent her white kids to inner city schools that were more diverse, she volunteered at a women’s domestic violence shelter in upstate New York and she’s gone door to door for Hillary Clinton. She’s in her 70’s now and suffering from the early hell that is dementia. As a woman who is normally "ra-ra women power," and "women can do this and women can do that"  - this last election broke her heart and it broke her spirit. She doesn't have many happy or uplifting days as it is with this illness, but it seemed a new hopelessness had fallen over when she heard the results. In her admittedly singular mental state, she kept saying "a man that grabs women without their consent and brags about it, how could this happen?" I protest to give her hope in whatever time she has left on this earth. I've looked up to her my whole life.

I protest for my two daughters. Their identities as girls and eventually women, and as little girls with Middle Eastern blood. As much as it pains me to reckon in my brain, the union between me and their dad has made them a target of discrimination, sexism, bigotry and hate on a level that I've never experienced. I can't help, but to blame myself. I should've never fallen in love with their dad. I should've never gotten pregnant and brought them into this world. Their oppression will likely be worse and more brutal just because of who their family is. And I cry for that. A lot. Their descendants, ethnic names, and body parts could make them targets of harassment and physical abuse.

And sadly, at ages five and seven, in their short lives, their identities as girls, and Middle Eastern girls has already proven to be gashes against them.

Boys IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL have made inappropriate comments about their bodies. Comments that I don't even think these boys understand, they just heard them somewhere. Which is precisely the problem. While the meanings aren’t understood by neither the young boys or girls, their unwarranted sexual undertones… are. And it’s troubling and heartbreaking to witness. My daughter's claims of unfair treatment have been ignored and dismissed by some of the people that they trust most in this world.

My daughters should be able to walk down their small neighborhood street without someone yelling xenophobic sentiments from their windows at their dad.

I protest for them to be heard. I march for them to know I fought for them. I strike to let them know I did better for them.

I march and strike for my friends and people I don't even know, who are in more marginalized groups than myself. I listen to them. I will amplify their voice, and never silence them. I support them. I stand with them.

I know that women who caretake for their elderly or ailing family members can't strike. I know that women who will get fired from their jobs for striking, can't strike. I know women who can't afford to strike, won't be striking. I strike for them too.

I strike for my motherfucking self. For all previous patriarchal fucked up gashes made against me – the subtle snubs that seemed unprovable and made me feel like I was crazy – to the overt, and violent – all that I put up with – only because I thought my very survival depended on it. My professional and financial survival depended on me "shutting the fuck up." Not complaining. Not whining. My very own blood-pumping life depended on me not making a peep, not making waves, not reporting, and not leaving.

I won’t anymore and I refuse to go back. I march and strike to be changed, and create change for future generations.

If you are fortunate to work for a company that is cool with you striking, don't waste your day. Support women in any way you can, call representatives, volunteer or donate your time to organizations that support women, donate money to these organizations, and simply be there for girls and women in whatever way, shape, or form that looks like for you.

PS- my nails are ready. I am seeing RED.

10 Times Grandparents Are The Literal Worst

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sometimes free child care, isn't so free.

The kids are going to grandma's house for a week while mommy and daddy are away on vacation, yeaaaahhhhh!!!!

That's what I say at first.

A vacation with hubby looks so enticing. I crave time away from my kids so much that  it apparently makes me a delusional idiot. Hand my kids over to grandparents for a week? Really, mama? Are you ready for TTHHHEEEE AAAFFFTTERRRMMAATTHHH??

I said that in my best Darth Vader voice.

Scary stuff, for real parents.

If your kids hang out with grandma and grandpa for long enough - you can pretty much expect obliteration and destruction of everything you've taught your kids thus far. Your kids turn into DEF CON 5 monsters. Your kids will become needy a**holes. Manners, disciplinary milestones, chore responsibilities down the friggin' toilet folks.

Your kids will start crying, YES BAWLING over stupid stuff, all because good 'ol gram and gramps put them on a sugar-filled, carbilicious bender.

Thank you grandparents. No really, THANK YOU for making me regret my decision to leave you unattended with my children EVERY TIME.

Sometimes, it takes a whole week to get your kids back to "normal" after a grandparent encounter. Getting your babes back to reality after grandparent la-la-land is a hot mess.

And while, I'm not waging war against grandparents - cuz you know you my peeps...I'm gonna have to let you know why grandparents can sometimes...be the worst.

1. Sugar. Grandparents inebriate your children with ice cream, cookies and lollipops.


And there ain't a damn thing you can do about it. When the kids are crashing - oh, lookie at that - it's time to go home to Mom and Dad. SHOCKER. Upon arrival - be prepared to do some serious detoxing.  Let the reality check of food rehab ensue. Kids, time for your rhubarb-raspberry smoothies!

2. They never say 'no.' Can we have ice cream? Yes. Can we watch TV and play video games for 10 hours even though the sun is shining outside? Yes. Can we go to the mall and pick out presents like it's Christmas? Yes.


All this coming from a place of 'yes' brings me toooooo.......

3. They make you look like sh*t in front of your own kids. You're definitely the bad guy if you deny your kid a cookie, or bag of chips in front of a grandparent. They'll be all like "It's no big deal, they can have ooooonnneee little cookie."


4. They hover. Yup - helicopter grandparents. They watch over their grandkids in ways they NEVER watched over you as a child. You feel slighted.

5. Gifts. Gifts. And more gifts. That you don't have room for in your house. Gifts for no reason. Gifts for made up reasons. Gifts that make your kids feel entitled. Gifts that go against everything you've been trying to teach your kids like that consumerism isn't cool. And Barbie doll is definite no. (Will all the millennial, feminist moms put your hands up in the air, and wave them like you just don't care!) Gawwwwddd ddaammiitttt GIIIIFFFFTTTSSSS.


6. They act like your kid, is their kid. You put the baby down in the rocker to sleep, MEE-MAA picks her up to hold her. WTF?! You tell your kids not to play with sharp objects, grandpa gives them a demonstrative chainsaw lesson in the garage while you're cooking dinner. Grandparents think they can decide what's best for your kid. They sometimes forget, you're the parent.

7. They love their grandkids, more than they love their own kids. And while, it can be annoying, and slightly unnerving to see them pour out all this love for a little person that's not YOU. It's a very magical love, unburdened by financial stresses, parenting pressure and daily responsibilities. But for real, I don't remember my mother getting down on the floor and playing with me like that.

8. They DON'T love their grandkids, as much as you thought they would. I know, this is opposite of above. But, uninvolved nanas and pop-pops is a reality many families deal with. Many grandma and grandpas don't seem very interested at all in the grandkid thing. Not interested in visiting. Not interested in spending quality time. Not interested in babysitting them, let alone spoil them. They're off in la-la land most of the time, and when they DO come around - they fail to engage with your children in any meaningful way.

9. They give parenting advice that's 40 years old. Okay fine, the whiskey on the gums of a teething baby advice- that one works. But the rest - save it mee-ma. I'm a millennial mom with google and a Facebook mommy group for advice.


10. They don't ask for permission. They didn't ask if it was okay to buy your daughter, who's in shoelace-tying-training mode, new sneakers that HAVE VELCRO. They didn't ask if Susie or Johnny could get a haircut. They didn't ask you if it was okay to buy a pet rabbit.
All this stuff that makes grandparents the worst to YOU, makes them the BEST to YOUR kids. Even the uninvolved grandparent. If they don't want to be around - then frankly, you shouldn't want them to be around either.

So let's raise our glasses to the bat-sh*t crazy stuff grandparents do to annoy us, and be thankful every day they are still here.

Writer's Note: A version of this essay originally appeared in Redbook

White Parents Do Something With Your White Guilt: Teach Your Kids About Black History Month

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

White parents talk about raising empathetic and tolerant kids, but the harsh reality is, it too often stops there. Most don’t actually actively do anything to help their kids learn about Black History month or the contributions of black people.

I’ll never forget my first experience and exposure to the great black thinkers of the 19th and 20th century. It was in my African-American studies class, sophomore year of college at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. It was the second year of what I call – my culture shock.

I grew up in New York in a fairly liberal and progressive environment. I had a very diverse, tolerant and culturally exposed upbringing. I always felt completely comfortable around my black, Spanish, Asian friends. If you were my friend, you were family.

But in the South it was clear that there were lines and you were supposed to pick sides. At times, I felt pretty uncomfortable about my whiteness because I felt so damn guilty about it. I had hella "white guilt." In my initial years at a Southern college I observed white people in the South being overtly racist and downright hateful. They gave zero fucks. They didn't even try to cover that shit up. They were emboldened by the fact that so many other white people felt the same way as them. I was disheartened and embarrassed by it.

I did not want my fellow classmates in my African-American studies class (most of whom were black) to assume that I was some stereotypical, racist and Southern white woman. I wanted to scream out that I wasn't like the rest of those racist ass Southern white people. I wanted to tell them they were safe with me and that I'd never hurt them. I wanted them to trust me. I wanted to be their friend and their ally. And just like any other white person with white guilt I wanted to show them I wasn't racist. 

I remember listening to two white dorm mates crying that their parents forbid them from dating their black boyfriends. Seeing the hurt, pain and confusion on these girls’ faces, and the pain it caused their boyfriends was awful. Sure, a college relationship might not last forever, might not even be marriage material – but that doesn’t negate the hurt that all of these people were feeling. The non-acceptance. The hate.

At that moment, I thought, my daughter or son will always be encouraged to love whomever they want – whatever color, gender, creed or tribe. Don’t care. This is WRONG.

My jaw dropped many times hearing other stories of utter and blatant discrimination from fellow black students. I couldn’t wrap my head around the hate. I was in disbelief that racism was still “a thing” down South.

But, it soon became very clear to me that racism was still very much an issue in the South.

The color line, couldn’t be ignored.

The horrible actions of racist white people, both past and present, made me feel ashamed in my African-American studies class. I felt the heavy and urgent impulse to launch into thousands of apologies. I felt terrific guilt for generations of disgusting, and vile behavior towards black people. In my New York progressive bubble, I was mostly shielded from the ugliness of racism. Even if someone was racist they didn't come right out and say it. In the South, that was not the case. They were racist, and they were proud of it. I felt the gravity of black struggles for the first time ever. But I needed to be more than guilty. I needed to do more than just show the world I wasn't racist, because let's be honest - that's a pretty self-serving way to live. It helps my own emotions greatly, but it hardly helps the real problem at hand. 

You have to do more than tell and show the world that you don't identify as a racist. 

You have to do some serious introspection and identify any and all problematic thoughts or behaviors you may have that may have (even if they are in fact, kinda racist). This takes total self-awareness, honesty, and commitment. 
People who feel white guilt need to do more than spout off on social media about racism (don't get me wrong, I think anti-racism activism on social media is a positive thing, it's just not enough to scream it into the abyss). They need to really listen, even when they get called out for showing racist behaviors. White guilt folks tend to get real defensive when someone calls them out for having racist moments. They flip. I'm not racist! How could I be racist?! 

People who say they're "woke" or "woke AF" should be reading black writers, admiring and paying for art done by black artists, and soaking up black culture not because consuming it is entertaining, but because they empathize with it. Unity and change doesn't come from a front, facade, or lip service, it comes from communal action and collective emotion.

In my college African-American studies class the barriers came down. This was where our voices, reading the texts aloud, became one. This was where WE ALL bonded. We read lines of heartbreaking poetry and prose. We collectively cried as the raw emotions in the literature took over the class. The words of despair, of suffering, of struggles, of survival and of hope – you can’t help but to be deeply moved by the black experience no matter what color you are. That class was a safe space for us all to be affected, moved and shifted to a new and higher understanding.

As we begin another celebration of Black History month I am reminded of a quote from one of the greatest American thinkers, W.E.B Du Bois, “The problem of the 20th century, is the problem of the color line.”

This quote is prophetic. The color line was a problem in the 20th century, but sadly, it continues in the 21st century too.

W.E.B. Du Bois wrote the Souls of Black Folk in 1903. More than a hundred years later, we are still grappling with the color line. Seems absurd, right? Surely, throughout the course of over 100 years, we would’ve come much further than we have in terms of race relations.

One of the barriers (among many) we have in this country, in addressing racial tensions and inequality is the utter lack of effort. Many have this idea that if it's not impacting them, then why should they care? I'll answer that for you: Humanity. Empathy. That's why you should care. That's why you make the effort. Efforts can and should be made by people who have a great deal of power in changing and progressing the minds of the next generation.

Parents possess this power.

We can all sit here and complain about racism, inequality and discrimination, but if we do nothing about it – we’re part of the problem. If you are not committed to talking about racism and discrimination with your children on a very consistent basis, you are not doing enough.

I know not everyone is drawn towards activism. I get it. I’m not saying you have to be protesting in the streets to do your part.

I also understand that some view race as a social construct – a dysfunctional one at that. And it is. We’re all part of the human race. But, that doesn’t change the fact that people with different skin colors, religions and cultures are discriminated against.

Maybe you have no interest whatsoever in Black History, or any history for that matter. We all have different things we’re interested in, or passionate about. I get that too.

But let me level with you, there is nothing more irritating, and stagnating than a person, or group of people, with lazy and disingenuous convictions.

If you’re going to say, “I want my kids to be more empathetic.” Or “I want my kids to be more tolerant of other cultures, religions and races,” take action. You have a great responsibility. There are things you should be doing on a daily basis.

This requires thoughtful action. ACTION, being the key word.

It starts at home.

Your desires and wishes for your children and future generations need to be more than lip service. Tolerance and celebration of other cultures should be an active and consistent theme in your life if your goal is to raise tolerant children.

Teaching your children about the heritage, great contributions and accomplishments of black people in America can be the first step towards molding more open-minded human beings. It can be the first step towards unifying the human race.

You have the control and ability to shape your child’s mind, and mold them into empathetic and compassionate people. You can start the cultural shift, where implicit bias will no longer exist.
I’m not saying go the color-blind route. Differentiating cultures is important. But, negatively dividing is harmful and damaging.

During car rides to school drop-off, or to soccer practice you can play blues music. And you don’t even have to play a lesser-known artist – an easy artists to start with is Ray Charles. Start with his sound. His music, and give your kids nuggets of information about Ray Charles.

For dinner, you can cook (or order takeout) soul food. Offer your children an array of collard greens, sweet potato biscuits, fried chicken or fish, black-eyed peas and corn bread. 

Play Mancala with your children. It’s an African counting game that you can buy virtually anywhere. My sister and I played it for hours as children.

For bedtime stories, read the poems of Langston Hughes, or Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech. My personal favorite book for little ones is What a Wonderful World, by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss – that recites Louis Armstrong’s famous song with colorful illustrations. My kids beg to hear the song on YouTube after we read it.

If you have a nearby museum or cultural center that celebrates the accomplishments of black people – visit with your kids in tow. It could be art contributions, political, social – whatever – bring your kids – no matter how old they are. If your kids see how important it is to you to actively learn about black people and black history – they will know that it’s important in their lives.

I make a commitment to expose my children, and celebrate multiple cultures with my children. It’s never an after-thought. 

Part of it is just innate in me, for which I’m grateful to not be a garbage human (well, at least on this front). But the rest, I plan. I mindfully interject cultural lessons and celebration opportunities consistently into our lives.
Children need to understand how discrimination manifests and how to stop it for themselves and for the next generation. Not talking about racism and the history of racism with your children is unacceptable — it proliferates the problem. Parents of every race and ethnicity need to make a commitment to talk about racism and discrimination regularly — even if it makes them uncomfortable.

If we commit to talking about racism, we can raise children who notice differences and celebrate them. 

During Black History Month, and during all other days of the year.

Love, empathy and tolerance can ripple effect through the generations if we, the parents, build the foundation and start the flow.

Date Nights Are Kinda Bullsh*t When You Become Parents

Monday, January 9, 2017

The romance isn't dead, it's just different.

Before I had kids, me and my husband bought into the whole "date night" thing hook, line and sinker. We'd go out to a restaurant at least once a week, and label it "date night." It was our big quality time to catch up after a whirlwind work week. We had very different work schedules, and we were like two ships passing in the night. Date night was our chance to catch up. It was our big attempt at romance. And novelty.

Although, admittedly, the most adventurous we really got was deciding to go to a new restaurant, versus the same 'ol Mexican restaurant down the street with the incredible mole' sauce and best frozen margaritas.

Wow. We're so brave.

Our current culture somehow made us believe that a date a week keeps the divorce away. I don't buy it. I don't need a date night with my husband to keep things hot in my relationship. 

Popular psycho-babble opinion tells couples to put dates on the calendar to keep the sparks alive. We got lots of sparks, right here at home. I don't need to go out, we got goddamn fireworks up in here.

No, not really, but here's the thing - I don't give a shit about fucking sparks. I give a shit about sleep, ya hurd me mamas?

Furthermore, everyone seems so hell bent on pushing their love for "keeping the romance alive" and "date nights" on me.

No matter how many times I've told my grandmother (bless her heart) that date nights aren't really our thing, she refuses to believe me. You know how I know this? Because every year for our birthdays or Christmas she buys me and my husband a gift card to a restaurant. And in the card she writes, Enjoy your night out!!!

While I appreciate the gift, I almost never use the gift card on me and my husband. I use it on going out to eat with my kids. It's not sad. It's not pathetic. It's just not my priority. I got married for this very reason: SO I'D NEVER HAVE TO GO ON ANOTHER DATE AGAIN.

My Facebook feed is littered with posts from people who buy into date nights, "I LOVE my husband SO MUCH. He vacuumed today and therefore deserves a GOLD STAR. HE is MY HERO. Can't WAIT for date night hubby!"

Excuse me while I vomit in my mouth.

Let's be for real, date night, with kids in the picture? Do you know how difficult that is? The logistics alone make me loony. Picking the date, lining up the sitter, having an outfit that fits, paying for the sitter and the date. To me, it's never worth it. I'd rather Netflix and chill with mah main man and call it a....date night.

Here are 10 Reasons Date Nights Are Kinda Bullshit

1. Too much planning. They require forethought. And honestly, since I've had kids I'm lucky if I can think about what I'm cooking for dinner an hour before I actually cook it (or order it). I use my planning skills for deadlines at work and vacations, not for one-on-one time with my husband. He's the one person I don't want to make a plan with. I'm supposed to just chill with him.


2. Clothes. Who wants to wear clothes? Especially ones that constrict, contort, shove, and suffocate mom bod doughiness. No thanks. And PS- spanx can suck a fat one. Just NOPE. NOPE AF


3. Grooming. Whether or not sexy-time is actually going to happen there's this expectation to be ready for it. And ready requires a little wax and shave. I just don't have time for all that.


4. Pressure to put out. There is this expectation that if you go on a date with your married lover, that you have to have sex. I can’t take the pressure. I’m not a fan of contrived, expected anything – including sex. Spontaneous sex is so much more sexy.


5. Hype. It's like friggin' prom night. You get a cute outfit, cute shoes, do your hair and makeup and then you get to dinner and it’s like wa-wa. You’re sitting across from the person you talk to every day, except in a fancy restaurant. Woopty-friggin’-do. I live with my 'date.' There's nothing more to get to know about him. During date night we end up having the same 'ol recycled conversations we always have. It’s regurgitated pillow talk, but with a restaurant bill.

6. Epic Disappointment. Because dates hardly ever live up to the hype.


7. Financial Cost. Babysitters. Transportation to and from date. Actual cost of date. By the time you're done, you're lookin' at minimum 100 bucks. That's if you saw a matinee movie and went straight home after.


8. Stress of the sitter texts

Susie is crying, I can't get her to stop. 
Tommy took crayons and colored on the walls and Susie is crying. Did I mention Susie is CRYING?
What time are you guys coming home?

9. “Kid Talk.” Any couple that vows to “not talk about the kids” while on date night is lying to themselves. You will talk about the kids. It’s OK. It’s normal. But, I’d rather do it for free, or over a nice bottle of not-overpriced-wine, at our damn house.

10. I hate dating. I was never a fan of dating. Main reason- small talk. I hate small talk. It pains me.

Again, isn't the point of getting married, so you DON'T have to go on dates anymore?
Since becoming a married mom of two kids, I'm lucky if I get to watch one hour of mindless television. And I would love to do that while vegging out on the couch, in my ugly pajamas, with no make-up on, hair in a messy bun with my main man. No frills, just foot rubs and love.

Mom For The Holidays: Total Sh*t Show

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The following essay is a version of what appears in  Mom For The Holidays: Stories of Love, Laughter, and Tantrums at Christmas and Hanukkah available now on Amazon.


So far, decking the halls has been a freakin' shit show.

To start, all of my expectations have been dashed -you know the ideal Christmas decorating night.

It's Saturday or Sunday, your kids are dressed up in something festive and comfy (red sweaters and jeans), the Christmas tree has just been lit and the room is glowing, the house smells like pine, and Christmas music is playing in the background.  Everyone is gathering around the Christmas tree smiling, and delicately placing the ornaments on the tree.


We got our nine-foot Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving (in 70-degree sunshiny weather).

We get it home - and it doesn't fit in the tree stand.  We're trying to shave the trunk down with a hand saw (wood chips are flying) and our 2 kids are running around like maniacs with branches in their hands - using them as magic wands almost about to poke eachothers eyeballs out. We need a bigger tree stand.

Okay, no big deal, I'll go back to the place where I bought it - and get a new one.
They ran out.  The lady tells me to come back at 8AM, and they'll have the stands. Ummmmm Nooo.

Still staying in the Christmas spirit I hop down to Lowe's to buy a new stand - they have one. Phwew.

But unfortunately, I get the tree stand home so late and the kids are asleep.
I don't want to wake them - so the tree is sitting in it's too small stand leaning up against my wall.
I think I actually prayed that night, "Please God do not let the tree fall, set off the alarm, and wake the kids."

Next day, tree lights. We bought the big bulb colored ones this year.  I'm usually a classic white kinda girl - but I'm over them.  Boring.

We string them all up - it's 30 seconds of beautiful multi-colored glowiness - and then BLACK. The whole tree goes black.  So after some trial and error we believe the bottom strand is faulty.  I tell my husband to back to Lowe's to exchange lights.

He comes back with new lights, we do the same routine....30 seconds... Black.

Okay - is it possible that two strands are faulty?  Who knows?! Back to Lowe's he goes.
He comes back - same routine and the lights stay lit.  We put on the music, break out the ornaments and we start decorating.  And then about five minutes into it BLACK. Like the whole freakin' room blacks out.

Clearly, it's electrical over-load on my old ass house (100 + years old to be exact).  FINALLY, we figure out how to ease up on the electrical situation, and we're back in business. The third time - it stays lit (everything).

We start decorating.  Except my kids are playing with the ornaments and in some cases, royally fucking up the ornaments.  Some of those ornaments are like 30 plus years old, and they're wrecking them, destroying them, throwing them.  Santa's foot fell off, and his long white beard was pulled up over his eyes.  My husband is literally fuming.  I'm literally buzzed (thank you two glasses of wine 20 minutes).  And I laugh.  Then, I hand my husband a beer.

The tree eventually got decorated - although I think we should've just done it ourselves while the kids were sleeping.

The next day, we decide it's going to be "Take a Picture with Santa Day."  We haul the kids to the mall kicking and screaming(because they're coming down from their pancake high).  The whole time I'm threatening - if you're not good girls today you are NOT going to see Santa.  They were bad and I didn't keep my word on punishment (I mean I do have to get out my Christmas cards in a timely fashion).

Two-year old sits on Santa's lap no problem, and starts talkin' to the old guy like he's her long lost girlfriend.

"Da-ta-da-ta-da, yes I want roller skates for Christmas.  Anything else? No, just roller skates." Enter: Child number 2 (the one-year old).  She freaks out.  Full on shrieky, screaming cry and in mid-flash her winter boot goes flying.

The picture shows Santa smiling, two-year old smiling, one-year old screaming and a flying boot. Awesome.

This essay was written in December 2012, published in 2014

My Multi-Ethnic, Middle Eastern Family Is Terrified About Your Trump Vote

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My kids are multi-ethnic like so many children here in America. They're pretty fair skinned with a tinge of olive. They have light eyes and light hair. But they get pretty “brown” in the summer.

Our existence in this country doesn't exactly fit in a box. For the record, we were all born here and so we're American. I feel like I shouldn't have to say that, because it shouldn't matter, but here we are. We're American.

We've got a lot of mixed blood in this family. But the problem seems to be because it's mixed with Middle Eastern blood. 

I know others who are darker than us, more "middle eastern" looking and those who are actually Muslim, probably experience the discriminatory wrath more aggressively and severely than us. I get that. But if we're experiencing rampant bigotry in our mixed family, can you imagine what others are facing?

Photo Credit: Melanie Mercogliano Photography
I don't do pie graphs or percentages of bloodlines because I honestly don't know the exact numbers. If geneology was completely reliable I would probably know more, but I don't. My kids, like many mixed ethnicity kids in America don't identify as one or another. They don't identify as 50 percent this and 25 percent that. They identify with their cultures (yes, plural) by what our family eats, the languages spoken around them, how our family upholds certain values, traditions, and holidays.

They know they're Italian, Polish (and probably a bunch of unconfirmed European ethnicities) from my side of the family. And they're aware that they're part Iranian from their father's side. Their father's family is from the Middle East. They speak Farsi, so does my husband, and many are Muslim. OMG. I said Muslim. Don't freak out!!! But, yes I'm gonna go there with the Muslim thing.

Here's the thing - Americans see radical so-called Islamic leaders and terrorist groups spouting off hate against America. The bombings and killings in the name of Islam. They see people, including leaders, manipulating Koranic scripture and misrepresenting the faith. But that's all they see.

People hear Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump calling for a ban on all Muslims and they think of those people over there.  The people not in their communities. The ones with the hijabs. The ones with the "towels" on their heads. The ones wearing burqas. The ones with more brown skin than my kids' skin and my husband's skin. They don't think about our family. Our paler-skinned, lighter-eyed, "American looking" family.

The Trump voter is not thinking about the Muslim aunts, uncles, and great grandmother that my kids have in their lives. And how devastated and terrified my kids would be if anyone in a powerful leadership position hated their family and wanted them out of this country.

Our family unit is a family unit just like everyone else's across this country.

The Trump voter doesn't think about the aunts, uncles and cousins that come to the US to visit to shower my kids with love and gifts, just like any long-distance family members would. They don't think about those priceless and precious moments we share with them.

They don't think about how those wonderful, loving family members that we've made great memories with, might not be allowed to come to this country to see my kids again if a narrow-minded, person like Trump is elected.

They don't think about it because either they don't actually give two shits about us and other families like ours. Or they erroneously mistake our Americaness for full blown identification with white culture. The truth is, we can't identify with white culture because that would mean we aren't oppressed. That we aren't hated. That we don't care continuously about our safety on a very real level. Every. Single. Day. If I'm being honest, after what I've seen and endured recently I'd like to separate myself as much as possible from white culture, even if my skin is in fact, white.

It's absurd and ridiculous that in 2016, the millennial, where we are supposedly post-class, post-race, post-non-binary people that we're still seeing intolerance and hate. I shouldn't have to make my family palatable to you, for you to understand and accept our blood, background, and culture. For you to understand that we have family members that would be possibly horribly impacted by a Trump presidency.

We have family moments and memories that could possibly be altered.

We all want the same things in our families - to be loved, to give love, and to spend time with loved ones. We're fearful of losing the very things every single person in this country holds dear. Kin. Family. A home for and among our loved ones.

As parents of two daughters with middle eastern names and blood, we don't just care about our kid's future in terms of are they going to college? Are they going to have jobs? Social security? No, we wonder if they're going to actually make it to the future- physically. Without being ferociously attacked verbally, assaulted, harassed, and physically abused on the basis of their blood and their names. THAT'S what my family is worried about. That's what countless American families who are discriminated against in this country ARE  WORRIED ABOUT.

Just like first grader Abdul Aziz in North Carolina that I wrote about in Scary Mommy recently. The seven-year old boy (YES, SEVEN) was made fun of by his classmates for refusing to eat food that wasn't halal, then beaten by his classmates for being Muslim. His mom greeted him at the bus stop that day to find him bruised and battered. The family decided to move out of this country.
This is not OK. If you are not actively denouncing this disgusting behavior you are guilty. If you aren't separating yourself from people that think this way, raise their kids to think this way, and people that act this way, you are doing nothing to help your fellow Americans.

With the presidential election less than a week away, yes, I'm admitting that I'm scared for my middle eastern, multi-ethnic family...and my daughters ...  should Trump be elected.

To be clear, Trump has attacked and insulted several groups of people including women and minorities. And his proclamation of hate, discrimination and bigotry has given other people who have hidden their disgusting behaviors and divisive thinking a platform. His "effect" on this country by simply spewing his disgusting rhetoric has turned up the volume on the dangers we face. The dangers that everyone who isn't completely white or male faces. The threats I've received online and in social media is baffling, hurtful, and yes, scary. His perpetuation of Islamaphobia and discrimination has created a tense environment in my own neighborhood. People screaming hateful things and mocking us as we simply walk down the street. I live in a cookie cutter, suburban neighborhood with manicured lawns. THIS is where hate is brewing. I'm fearful and I'm weary.

I’m just so fucking tired of defending my kids, my husband and myself to white America. And even though I mostly view race as a flawed construct, we are technically all considered white in this family within the confines of the definition. Except clearly, not enough white, right? Because of the tan skin, foreign language, the blood line to the Middle East, and cultural practices of Islam. It doesn't even matter that we don't personally identify as Muslim. White America just wants to paint a broad stroke over all of us. A very dark one.

I'm tired of defending our mixed-ethnicity and our names. I’m tired of defending our marriage. And tired of defending what we teach our kids in culture and in religion.

I may be really tired of defending the dignity, rights, and inherent respect we should be given, but I won’t stop talking about it. I may even be downright terrified right now, but I will take every opportunity and pause when I can to call out the subtle and the overt. I will no longer be complicit (not that I was much in the first place, let's be honest here folks;)). I will no longer politely smile when a friend says something even remotely racist or bigot. I will not politely continue to be your "friend" or "follow you" on social media. I'll separate myself. I'll protect myself and my family. I’ll keep defending. I’ll keep talking. I’ll keep teaching.

Islam is not a hateful religion. Middle Eastern people aren’t violent people. Not ALL Middle Eastern people practice Islam. And not ALL Muslims are extremist freaks.

But frankly, I should not have to say that. Because you, as a person living in a global world, should know that. I shouldn’t have to go into every reason. I shouldn’t have to debunk every myth and lie you’ve ever heard. C’mon people—you should know. Go to Middle Eastern communities. Mingle with people who don’t look like you, live like you, or talk like you. Visit these countries. Ask the people about their culture.

There are Muslims that were BORN IN AMERICA. There are people with Middle Eastern blood that were born in America and so are therefore, American. WE ARE AMERICAN. And yet we, as Americans are being hated. Americans are being hated. Donald Trump and his gross set of supporters are in fact DEPLORABLE. Unlike Hillary, I make no apologies for saying that.

Those who vote for him, are basically voting for us and many other American families to be hated. Those who vote for a third party are giving Trump a chance. There isn't anything more UN-American I can think of than that.

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