The Month of Hopeful Productivity

November is NaNoWriMo. The month where writers try to create 50,000 words by the end of the month in hopes to create or start the novel that has been in their heads. This is a month that is supposed to be full of blissful productivity, one where you know you are working towards a goal and hope to succeed in it. Usually, I go in full of hope that this will be another year that I accomplish this goal. Some years, I try my best and fail mostly because life gets in the way. Some years, my own brain gets in the way. I have failed more than I succeeded, though it’s not about actually completing the goal. The spirit of NaNoWriMo is to settle down and attempt to start that novel you have wanted to write.

My problem, aside from my immune system and work and dealing with life’s obstacles, is that there are 2 books that I have started in this month, only getting about 5,000 words out of 50,000 but split between 2 books that both seem worthy of the effort. Finally, I settled on one only to second guess my call. I promised I would write a horror novel, but I keep undermining myself and critiquing my inability to write as I go. As a “published” author, I know you’re not supposed to think your book is utter crap until after you completed it, not belittle yourself as you go. I guess that’s just part of my process.

I spend most of my time writing for other people, then by the time I settle down to get my own writing done I feel like I’m all out of words for the day. My brain doesn’t want to think anymore. It wants to watch trashy television and recharge, only to pass out on the couch then fail miserably at going to and staying asleep at night. Then, I’m just in an endless loop of comatose functioning that there doesn’t seem to be enough coffee in the world to get out of.

I’m not having a month of productivity. I’m having a month of irrational insanity that is interfering with my peak level of productivity. I have paused my streaming for the month to focus on the work that I need to get done in the morning so that I can dedicate my evenings to whichever novel I settle on. As my youngest rants on about which actor stars in what movie and random facts about the actor and when a movie was released and whether or not the rating says it’s appropriate for him. As my teenager overdoes his physical therapy so that he can get in “peak form” when guppy week starts at the end of the month. Life is tossing some lemons my way so far these past 2 months, and I’m really in no mood for lemonade.

There have been times where the beginning of the month started off slow, but by the end of it, my brain goes into overdrive and nails the deadline even if I just finish mere minutes before 11:58 on November 30th. Maybe this is just one of those times. I’m not a quitter though. I will go insane until I either succeed or fail at the end of the month. But I won’t give up.

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The Right to Mock without Judgement

I’m a Scrooge. I admit it. I have a deep-seeded hatred of most holidays aside from Halloween. I don’t believe in a War on Christmas because I believe that some people just want Christmas to stay in it’s lane. I believe that when I’m shopping for Halloween stuff in September, I shouldn’t have a Christmas tree hitting me in the face. I believe in celebrating one of the crappy holidays that society tells me I have to celebrate at that time. Christmas doesn’t come before Halloween; it comes after Thanksgiving.

I want a break between these holidays I’m forced to smile my way through. I want to worry about not overcooking my food on Thanksgiving, not whether or not my Christmas tree still lights up or my ornaments are broken. I want to take some time without worrying about affording what my kids want for Christmas when I’m trying to Trick or Treat. I want to worry about the holidays when I’m supposed to, not because people want to call me a Scrooge or grump because I think it’s ridiculous that other holidays are supposed to be celebrated during their own time.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think you should. I will mock you for it, but I won’t judge you for it. You do what makes you happy. If celebrating for Christmas in early October is your thing, than own that. I’ll make jokes about it, but I don’t mean them as an insult to you. I’ll make a joke, but I am not there to insult you for how you live your life as much as I don’t think I should be insulted for thinking holidays need to stay in their own time without encroaching upon other holidays that rightfully deserve their time. As excited as I am about Halloween, I still wait until October to decorate for it.

The point is people should do what makes them happy without society telling them that they are asses for not wanting to do it or because they are drinking peppermint mocha lattes when November hits or pumpkin spice in August. I don’t particularly like the label of Scrooge just because I hate the holidays anymore than someone likes to be called crazy for their obsession with any given holiday. The world is terrible enough without taking the joy out of other people’s lives when it doesn’t affect you.

So I will post memes about Christmas’ intrusion where I don’t think it belongs because I find it funny. I will make comments about how holidays deserve their due respect because I believe that. I’m not doing these things to target people because I honestly don’t care what other people do. There is the capacity to believe something without having to put those beliefs on other people.

Was it Really about a Boo?

Criticizing presidents and politicians is the American way. It is our right as the people who these people are supposed to be working for. It’s our right as Americans to be able to express ourselves in a peaceful manner. We were given those rights in the constitution and we should be very thankful to have those rights, especially when you take a look at how people are being silenced across the globe. We shouldn’t take this for granted because I fear we may not have these freedoms for long.

When President Trump got booed at the Nationals game, it became a topic of discussion about how people should respect the office. I respect the office even if I may not respect the man holding it. But I don’t think that people should mistake blind loyalty as respect. There’s nothing respectful about blind loyalty. This is usually based on fear or ignorance, not respect. I get how an audience booing at a sitting president can be seen as disrespectful. I can see how chants of “Lock Him Up” can be disrespectful. But it’s not really about respect, is it?

When Obama got booed in public, conservative sites praised this. These were the American people using their God-given right to express themselves. These were true patriots. Now that Trump gets booed, these same people rant about the disrespect this president has received. The other side is just as guilty here because they have also flipped the script from taking one incident as disrespectful and the other as a proud moment for Americans. Make up your mind: is it disrespectful to boo a president or not?

It isn’t the act that is appalling; it’s the fact that these groups can’t get their story straight and the majority of people don’t seem to care. Would I boo a sitting president to their face? Probably not. But does that mean I don’t think other people should? I’m not entirely sure I like the idea of toeing that line of freedom of speech and disrespect. If it went to a side of violence or downright bullying, then I think there’s an argument for disrespect. Booing is something entirely different. You boo when you’re at a performance if you don’t like what you see; isn’t that all this president is? He performs on a daily basis, giving fodder to everyone around him through his unleashed Twitter account.

Now, what about the “Lock him up” chant? Was that disrespectful? I would argue “no”. I would argue that this is a precedent that he created himself when he did the same to Clinton as his political rival. This encouraged his followers to do the same. I’m all for the “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander” approach. If it wasn’t disrespectful that way, then it isn’t disrespectful when it comes back to you. If it was good enough to say to another person, it’s good enough to be said to you. The point is, when you open that floodgate, you should accept it. Just like people who “applauded” Clinton’s deplorable statement about Trump supporters should accept the “scumbag” label from Trump. I think both people should be ashamed of themselves for this insulting approach because I think these terms help to further divide the country. We need to start working together, not growing further apart.

The problem is as long as people rationalize and blindly follow, things won’t change. The world doesn’t need followers right now; they need leaders. They need to know that disrespect doesn’t change because of what party someone follows. They need to know that if they say something awful that they should suck it up when it’s used back in their face. The people should stop rationalizing those grown-ass adults who are supposed to be running our country when they sling insults at each other. They should stop applauding something as “so powerful” on one side, but slamming it when it happens to “your side”. There shouldn’t be “sides”. There should only be “Americans”. United we stand… divided we fall…

The Innocent Have Nothing to Hide

I live on the basic principle of “The innocent have nothing to hide”. Sure, it makes me a bit paranoid but this believe has served me very well in all my years. It helped me pick out the cheaters or weed out the friends that shouldn’t be trusted. This is probably what would make me a terrible juror as I would just assume that anyone lying or refusing to answer questions would be guilty. Though, we’re all guilty of something.

When the Clinton Email scandal happened, I said “The innocent have nothing to hide”. I didn’t trust her. I thought she was guilty of something. That’s why I didn’t vote for her. When Trump refused to release his tax returns as is customary, though not required, I thought this again. That’s one of many reasons why I didn’t vote for him. (#3rdPartyLife?)

Even today with subpoenas being ignored and other things that may be viewed as obstruction, all I can think is that innocent people have nothing to hide. It reminds me of something that I always say to the kids when they lie to cover up a misdeed: “The coverup is always worse than the crime”. I don’t care if you broke a plate but if you lie about it to my face after I stepped on the leftover glass shard that was missed during the cleanup, I’ll probably be really pissed and in pain.

While this is a much more important situation, the standard still applies. The coverup will always be worse than the crime. It wasn’t the fact that Clinton had the affair; it’s the cover up and blatant disregard of how betrayed others felt. He wasn’t impeached because he had relations with his intern; he was impeached because he lied about it and tried to cover it up.

Why would Trump hide his tax returns? Does he not want people to see what loopholes he used that all of the other businessmen use to keep more money in their pocket? Did he not make as much money as he bragged about and doesn’t want his poor ego shattered? Or did he do something shady? I think people would be less angry about using loopholes or that he isn’t a billionaire like he claims than if he committed fraud.

That’s really what this is about. Own up or stop complaining when people lose their trust in you. If you didn’t do anything wrong, then there’s nothing that needs to be hidden from the public. I don’t believe in blindly following anyone. I don’t believe in just trusting someone. Just because the Democrats say he’s guilty, doesn’t mean he is. Just because the Republicans call this a witch hunt, doesn’t mean it is. It just means politicians are more concerned about protecting their party than protecting the American people.

Eventually, the truth always comes out. That’s why it’s easier not to lie about it. Eventually someone will slip up or someone will blurt something out. But lies rarely stay hidden forever.

The Best Marriages Appreciate the Little Things

I always get that look of pity or a lecture about prioritizing my relationship when I make a comment about how my husband and I only go out maybe once or twice a year for a “date night”. They assume its a backhanded comment about my husband refusing to take me out. They assume our marriage is broken somehow. That relationship can’t be that strong if you don’t go out to some fancy dinner where you blow $100 on food that lasts for 20 minutes in a crowded restaurant that is often either too loud you can barely hear each other or too quiet to want to bother the silence with a conversation. The thing is that this scenario isn’t fun for me. I don’t find it appealing. I’m awkward enough without putting myself in this position of feeling even more awkward.

The thing is that I enjoy being at home in sweatpants, curled up with my forever partner. We’re not “go out for romantic dates” people. We sit at home and eat trash food together while playing a board game with the kids or catching up on Netflix when the kids go to sleep or even playing video games together. That’s our perfect date night. We don’t need to doll up and pretend we are something that we aren’t to be considered normal. The whole point of marriage is to love your partner for who they are, not turn them into who you want them to be.

Every couple is different, but I think that the one thing that people need to remember is that it isn’t how much your spouse spent on your ring or how massive the diamond is. Rings break, they get too small/too big; it’s about making sure the marriage doesn’t break. I barely wear my wedding jewelry. I’m not a huge jewelry person, though I do have a weakness for bracelets. What does matter is how my husband just knows when I’ve had a long day or how he knows that I’m exhausted and brings me a coffee made exactly how I like it. How if I’m sick, he steps up and makes my life as easy as he can. Those are the things that are going to last. Jewelry will tarnish, but the person I chose as a partner should be as reliable as ever.

Marriage isn’t about the shinies or the parties. It’s about being in the trenches for even the most difficult times. It’s not about how many times you go out on dates. It’s about standing by each other’s side as your children undergo surgeries or dealing with their “quirks” as a team. It’s about having their back, even when you think they are wrong. It’s about fighting even harder when you know they’re right. They aren’t your spouse; they’re your partner. It doesn’t matter if you argue 1000 times as long as you resolve it and move on. No relationship will be perfect to the outside world; it only matters what’s perfect to you and makes you happy. Because if you aren’t happy, then what’s the point?

Mommy’s Little Monsters

Anytime someone talks about how easy parenting is, I wonder how much they pay for a nanny every month. I have pretty awesome kids and I have it much easier than some parents, but I don’t think I’ve ever once said “This is easy. I’ve got this.” Usually, I don’t. Usually I’m taking a “hope for the best approach”. People tend to think that I’m a terrible mother because I have a more “sink or swim” approach to raising my children. As much as I want to control every aspect of their life to make sure that they don’t make the wrong choices, they have to learn accountability. Maybe if I regained control, I could have an “easy time” too.

For instance, I will help some with their homework sometimes. But they need to work through the things themselves. I won’t babysit them to make sure they do everything, because I can’t be there all the time. If they don’t finish their work properly because they wanted to speed through it or not do something at all, then they should face the consequences of that. Some people view this as harsh, but kids need to learn consequences or they never learn to be accountable for themselves. For my own sanity and their own level of responsibility, I can really only do so much.

The thing that we have to remember is that no matter how hard we think it is to raise them, imagine how much harder it is for them to grow up. They have those struggles of wanting independence, but still wanting their mommy to give them a hug or have brownies waiting for them. They want to do well, but they also want to hear you say how proud you are of them. Sometimes they forget that we love them unconditionally. Sometimes they forget that even if they get a bad grade or have a bad behavior report that we are still going to love and accept them. My youngest son got his first “yellow” card of the year a little bit ago after doing so well, and he was convinced that he was going to be punished forever for it. Some of it could be my own failings as a mother. Some of that is just your normal anxiety that young children have.

Kids think that they need to do 10000 activities to make us proud. That they need to be perfect and excel at everything. We may be well-intentioned in trying to keep them busy, but we may also be setting them up to burn the candle at both ends too much. My kids have the choice if they want to do an activity or not, but they need to something aside from screen time for a little bit each day. My oldest does sports in winter and spring, taking the fall and summer to relax. He does well in school and I think this is a perfect balance for him. Plus as a junior with 2 AP classes, CCD, volunteering, and college stuff, he shouldn’t take on much more than that. My youngest doesn’t really have any interests in those things. He prefers to play games or work on building/drawing something. That’s who he is. Rather than change that, I ensure he gets plenty of exercise, he goes out and has experiences, and get him to play puzzle games that are meant for critical thinking and not just fun. That works for him. Every kid is different. Plus, I think I’d go insane trying to juggle all those activities. This is as much for my sanity as it is for theirs.

My boys are Mommy’s little monsters. They fight with each other, they destroy my house, and eat everything in sight. But every time I want to yell at them for how hard they make things or because I’ve gone insane by 5pm, I just image what they are going through. Maybe my oldest had a bad day but because he’s a teenager, he doesn’t want to talk about it until he wants to or never. Maybe my youngest had an anxiety attack at school and he’s got his second wind of energy. Those boys are struggling as much as I am some days, and that’s something we can often forget.

And It Just Breaks My Heart

I wasn’t the best student. Teachers would probably point out how bright they thought I was, but they would also probably point out that I was wasted potential. Some people would probably agree with that statement still today. Maybe they are right. Maybe not. But I understand it now, as a parent.

I worked hard to get into a good college, though it took me a couple of years to get back on the college track that I realistically was never on. I didn’t have any real goals. Then I was pregnant at 18 and my only goals became preventing my child to turn out like me. I was determined that he was going to be better. He watched me work hard every day at my hotel job. I know I worked a lot and it seemed I barely saw him. But he deserved the world and I wanted to give him everything. When I went back to school, I made sure he saw how hard I worked. I wanted him to have goals. I knew he was smart. But I didn’t want him to waste it like I did.

Things always came easy to him. When they didn’t, he became easily flustered. He was a perfectionist. I didn’t care about perfection; I cared that he did his best. I would never punish him for doing his best. If he needed help, I would make sure he got the help. He never needed it before but I would do anything to make sure he got what he needed.

Then, I saw him struggle with his homework. Homework in a subject he has always been fascinated in, despite never actually taking a course. He spent all the time he had on the assignment, and he kept getting one question wrong over and over again. He grew more frustrated. He began to get himself worked up. He snapped when I tried to help or told him to take a deep breath. He called himself “dumb”…

And it broke my heart. As adult as these kids think they are, they are just hormonal kids struggling and too afraid to ask for help. He knows he’s not dumb. I hope, anyways. I told him that he should ask his teacher for help. That was what he’s there for after all. He was determined to figure it out, even after the deadline that his homework was due. I saw him unravel and it just breaks my heart.

Junior year isn’t for the faint of heart. This is when things get real. The classes get harder. The expectations are raised. They have the added stresses of SATs and college fairs, driving school, the acknowledgement that adulthood is sneaking up on them. It isn’t easy for the parents, but it’s even harder for the kids. I’m hoping that we both make it out in one piece. But I’m worried that if he cracks this much now, it’s only going to get worse. And I only have myself to blame for that.

I see so much of myself in him. There was a time where I worked hard in middle school until I realized that I was a nothing that was getting bullied relentlessly. When you see your homework get tossed out a window and no one cares, you start to not care too. It’s easier to fail when you detach yourself than to fail when you tried so hard. But when you put everything you have into something and fall short, it’s hard. It’s how you deal with this failure that can determine your success in life. You can get flustered, but as long as you keep trying to succeed, that’s what matters. But sometimes, admitting defeat and asking for help is what the strongest person will do. This help could be exactly what you need to get to that next level. By getting stuck on the basics, you won’t have the building blocks that you need to stay on track.

I hope this was just a moment of being tired. That he burned the candle at both ends and needs to realize that you can’t do it all. Maybe now that driving school is done, he can refocus. But what happens when swimming starts? It’s hard to teach balance when you struggle with balance yourself. I hope this is a passing phase. I hope he realizes that life will get harder and that taking it too sensitively will only make things harder. That you have to accept that you aren’t a natural at everything just because it has been so easy so far. But most of all, I hope he realizes that he is loved and supported and that we are so very proud.