Tuesday, March 06, 2007

When the Ish Goes Down

I have exactly 15 minutes to spill the contents of my heart all over this post. Then I’ll have to gather up the pieces, put my game-face back on, wake up my daughter from her nap and pick up her brothers from their schools. I apologize ahead of time if I end abruptly or without reaching an actual point here.

Begin rant:

Over the weekend a trusted, respected friend advised me to perhaps look over my blog and spot areas where I could be more balanced, less negative, perhaps less cynical about my life, my career, my children. Basically, my everything.

I agreed with him. “Yes. I’m very negative. Nary a positive post can be found. You’re right. Perhaps I should write some “up” content. Some feel-good commentary.” A positive slant 8cmdeluded makeover might do me and (all 10) of my regular readers some good. Happy, happy. Joy, joy, right? Lest I should alienate anyone who tires of my droning complaint posts.

But you know what? I don’t feel good. I don’t feel up. And I certainly don’t feel positive and perky. So, why can’t I be up-front about it?

Truly I wish I could post more positive reflections on motherhood. Maybe my current situation would feel better and perhaps actually improve if I simply adopted a better attitude. But, shit, the place I’m in right now just won’t allow me to take that leap, needed or not. Plainly put, my attitude sucks.

Just as when I launched this blog six or so months ago, I remain committed to being as brutally honest about my situation as possible, without hurting my children or my spouse. With so much in the media as of late centered around the “how much is too much information” personal and mommy blog debate, I’m beginning to feel that I should hold back more. But holding back is against everything wrapped up in the confessional nature of my blog (and my personality). I refuse to be muzzled because what I have to say sometimes makes others uncomfortable. Isn't some of the best, most compelling art confrontational, challenging to behold at times? (Not that this is bona fide art ...)

I want this blog to be about catharsis, for both myself and those of you in the trenches of mad-crazy motherhood too. Allow me to enlighten you with the dictionary.com definition of catharsis, one of my favorite words/concepts:
1. the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, esp. through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.
2. Medicine/Medical. purgation.
3. Psychiatry. a. psychotherapy that encourages or permits the discharge of pent-up, socially unacceptable affects.
b. discharge of pent-up emotions so as to result in the alleviation of symptoms or the permanent relief of the condition.

If you’re still with me here, let’s get on with it and bust open a super-sized can of catharsis.

Meanwhile, if I had a soundtrack for this cathartic moment, right here right now, it would be Cypress Hill’s “When the Shit Goes Down” from their Black Sunday album, one of my favorites from back in the day. I find myself singing the lyrics a little too often when the kids are out of earshot: “When the shit goes down, you better be ready!” If there was ever a gangster anthem, this song is it. Yes, despite becoming a parent, I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with gangster rap. Blame too much childhood intake of YoMTV Raps! from the 80s and 90s and stations like 105.9 “Where Hip-Hop Lives” and 93.5, good old KDAY.

But I digress, as way too many people say these days ...

Now that you know what’s up musically for the setting of this post, here goes my hopefully cathartic rant, socially acceptable, feel-good or not:

I’m as broke as a joke. Spent the last money I had today at Target and I refuse to be embarrassed about it. Can you feel me? $28.80 on the essentials – bread, milk, eggs, cheese, canned fruit (can't afford the frest kind until pay-day), granola bars, apple and orange juice. Everything store brand or on sale. My kids think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a food group. A mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.

Again - “When the shit goes down, you better be ready!”

Well, if my shit went down, “shit” being something as minute as busting a tire or having to bare the brunt of another ER co-pay (knock on wood that I won't have to suffer either in the near future or ever), I am so NOT ready.

I’m about one flat tire away from financial collapse. One oil change away from not making mortgage.

And no, my husband does not work at 7-Eleven or McCrud. In fact, we both have our degrees. Hell, he’s on the verge of having three college diplomas. He is gainfully white-collar world employed but we choose to live in Southern California.

Some would say you made your bed … No doubt you know the rest of that saying. I agree and we’re lying it. But that doesn’t mean I can’t vent all the while in order to feel better.

“Just what are you doing to better yourselves?” you may ask. I don’t blame you if you’re wondering. Just what ARE we doing? I’m writing a book that will hopefully bring at least some grocery money in the door. Soon my blog will have yet more ads that hardly any one will click on.

(BTW, are any of you ad-incorporating mom bloggers out there making bank off your ads? If so, email me and let me know what your secret is. BlogHer seems the way to go.) Also, I’m trying to take on a couple of mundane writing and editing projects that really don’t interest me but would be irresponsible to say no to at this point.

I wonder how long my hair will get because I can’t afford a haircut. I could be the brunt of a grip of "Yo' Mama" jokes with this one.

Shit, I can’t afford my kids’ haircuts, and they’re starting to look skuzzy and unkempt. So much so that it hurts my pride. My husband cuts his own hair, thank God. I’m not too far from allowing him to buzz the kids’ heads once more. And you know that’s desperate because I nearly castrated him the last time he tried that shit.

“Why would you want people to know how broke you are? Have you no shame?” No. No, I don’t have any. Why don’t we do away with societal shame all together by writing from the insides of our hearts, right from where we are coming from, where we are living. What’s wrong with admitting the “real” stuff from your “real” reality?

Where on the Internet are the voices of the stay-home, part-time working suburban poor mothers like me? The mothers who don’t qualify for assistance because their husbands earn two or three thousand dollars too much to? Why can’t I find them?

Why is it shameful to write about falling hard times? Is it because you expect to hear this from someone who lives in the projects? Someone who never finished high school? Not someone who has her bachelor’s and graduated Magna Cum Laude like me? Someone with a different skin color perhaps?

Chew on these facts for a minute if you’re still perplexed. According to a recent Newsweek article titled “Poor Among Plenty: For the first time, poverty shifts to the U.S. suburbs,” “… for the first time in history, more of America’s poor are living in the suburbs than the cities – 1.2 million more, according to a 2005 study… “The suburban poor defy stereotypes about how and why people slip into poverty.”

Wow. My fifteen minutes are up.

All I can think of to end this is yet more depressing commentary. Even when “money’s too tight to mention” as Simply Red sang it, you smile in front of the kids, keep their young spirits high the best you can. Even if it’s eating at you on the inside. Even when you have to put back the extra pack of gum they asked nicely and politely for at the check-out because it’s $1.25 more than you have in your pocket.

Though it will be hard to click “publish” this time, I want to. I need to. Maybe some of you suburban struggling moms will be able to relate and will somehow find comfort in my situation, knowing you aren’t alone. Keep your chin up, ladies. I'll be chinning up too.

And that, my friends, is how the shit is going down at my house.

(No time to spell check or edit. Sorry.)

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At 3:14 PM, Blogger Adventures in Baby Fat said...

All I can say is you're not alone. I used to be a stay-at-home mom and now I'm a work-at-home mom, and it is completely out of necessity. The backstory is long and traumatic and dramatic, so I won't go into it here.

Just suffice it to say that you're not alone. I'd venture a guess that many women feel the same.

I know of a few great resources where you can find some work here and there until things get better financial, shoot me a message. I'll be happy to point you in a direction that might just be helpful.

I certainly wish I made money blogging. I'd be the bloggingest blogging blogger you'd ever met. So far, I've had no luck. So I do wish you luck with that venture. If there is a secret, I wish I knew it.

See? Not alone.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger mad muthas said...

15 mins well spent. keep on telling it like it is. you know you're right. don't be deflected - or deflated.

At 5:14 PM, Blogger Em said...

Well I'm not a suburban struggling mom, but my wife sure is. And I'm so freaking proud that you wrote from the heart instead of trying to pretty things up for us. This is what blogs are for. An outlet to say what needs to be said. And you said it well. And you are not alone. My wife and I have 5 college degrees between us. And we are in debt up to our eyeballs. So I understand. And you inspire me to write more bluntly about my own life. Probably won't get me any new readers, but then, I didn't start blogging for popularity anyway. LOL

At 6:23 PM, Anonymous healingmagichands said...

Hey, I like the way you write. Tell your critic to stuff it.

I am so sorry for your situation, I know a lot of people who are exactly where you are. There are people who are old and retired and struggling along on their fixed incomes trying to make ends meet, at least they don't have children to worry about.

Again, I count my blessings for my good health and the good health of my husband and our very fortunate good life. I have been where you are (sans the children, however) long ago, and you are right. It sucks.

At 7:17 PM, Blogger Nikki said...

I would love to know when you're gonna get outa my head!? Seriously. You have no idea how close to the truth you just said it for me. As for the SAH moms who don't qualify for assistance because of a lousy two or three grand... try less than a grand and we still can't get assistance for Heat, we survive off of a wood stove and the fan from our furnace. The propane tank has less than 20% of propane in it and if I could crap $450 to fill it, I would have done it already (like 2 months ago, then crapped another $20 to get those haircuts my boys need to)... So trust me, I'm here and I am listening.

At 7:20 PM, Blogger Christina said...

I understand how you're feeling. We live in the suburbs, have a nice house, and give all appeareances of doing well, but our money is very tight. While our day-to-day isn't dire, we're still in heavy debt and one major health or maintenance issue from financial disaster.

I work part-time because we can't afford full-time daycare, and because I'm going back to school for my second bachelor's degree, hoping to improve my job prospects.

Blog ads can help add a little extra money, but it's not a lot. E-mail me (amommystory@gmail.com) if you want, and I can tell you what little I know.

At 7:20 PM, Anonymous cce said...

I so hear you, you're speaking my language and loudly!
We are a struggling family with my husband working and me home. I am facing the what to do with the rest of my life moment, hopefully something that pays more than $10 an hour allows for flex time. Please, please see my post from last week on this very issue http://www.madmarriage.com/blog/2007/03/01/34/
I certainly have no pearls of wisdom about making money or paying off debt or enjoying this parenting thing more but I promise I can help you laugh about it just a little.

At 7:31 PM, Blogger Sara said...

Does it really make any sense to present a positive-sounding post? Why? For someone else? It's your blog.

As to the financial situation, I'm newly a WAHM. My family and I sold our house and moved to an area where my husband earns more $ than we could have imagined in our old town, but now we can't afford a house.

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Nikki said...

I want to ad that I tagged you. Please check it out!

At 8:09 PM, Blogger Rae said...

As I get older, I start to realize that virtually everyone is fucking broke. They just don't talk about it as much as I do. I went to a babysitting co-op meeting last night and everyone was chipping in $5 for pizza. I totally didn't have it. Not just "couldn't get to it." DIDN'T HAVE IT. Had to beg my 8 year old to empty out his piggy bank and promised to pay him back (plus interest) next week.

The interesting thing about our situation is that if I were go back to work full time, I would make just enough to break even on daycare. It never ends. I always feel trapped.

It makes me feel better to realize that other people struggle just like we do. That other moms out there are feeling like shit for buying the Hamburger Helper on sale for 99cents when, like me, they are completely opposed to such prepackaged shite.

Thanks for the post. From one broke mama to another.

At 8:13 PM, Blogger Awesome Mom said...

Hugs to you. I think that most people do not want to admit that their situations are very much like yours. It is your blog and you make it what it is so don't try and be what you are not.

At 9:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have two VERY economically wealthy friends- one of them just delivered a still born baby girl and the other just laid her 1 1/2year old son to rest after battling a rare illness- I have three healthy, beautiful children and a car payment I don't no how to make- having money isn't everything- we are put through situations so that we are forced to appreciate the things that are truly the most important- do me a favor, tell somebody tomorrow how lucky you feel to have the honorable name Mommy, and i bet that will make your heart smile- if even for a second and the money stuff it will all work out- even if that seems impossible
one love

At 11:08 PM, Anonymous karenkt said...

Who wants to read a blog about the happy status quo? Does that really exist?? Doesn't all humor have its roots in pain? Sheesh. Your critic doesn't have a clue that we all blog and read blogs to VENT and to comisserate and share the trials and tribulations of mommy hood. And yes, I just got my haircut after 3 months of not feeling like I could afford it, either.
Blog on, Slacker Mom. You have at least 13 readers at this cound, not a paltry 10, hee hee!

At 11:26 PM, Blogger jeanie said...

"I wonder how long my hair will get because I can’t afford a haircut."

lol - I am currently at 1/2 way down my back and it is midsummer here!!!

Keep your style - I like it, and I like the fact that if you have a gripe then darn well get it out there, girl!

At 12:04 AM, Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I think everyone here has said it well enough. I don't really think that blogging is a great way to make cash, especially when it is more of a personal diary blog. Very few make anything of substance, but that said: It is your blog. I really don't go for blog crits simply because it is so personal and it is your LIFE. NOT a story, NOT a play, NOT an article- Your life.

Who has the right to edit your life but you? NO ONE.

Chin up. Everyone has a times where they are digging through the sofa cushions and realize that they don't have money for even a slurpee.

Everyone understands. Hug.

At 3:25 AM, Blogger karrie said...

I know many, many women who have to put back the gum. The only reason I'm not one of them is because my husband is one lucky intarweb geek. And luck can always change.

Try not to get so upset when people dis your blog. Part of writing involves upsetting others. If you write with a true, honest voice just think of all the people who will hate your book! You need to be ready for them, along with the people who will read it and love you.

Personally I think you're rocking the vblog angle. You come across as very real and likable.

At 5:26 AM, Anonymous cce said...

Clearly you've touched people with your candor on this topic! Nothing boosts your readership than tales of financial woe. Can you say $20,000 worth of credit card debt? I can!

At 7:00 AM, Blogger Dee said...

Everyone else has pretty much already said what I was going to so I'll just say that I'm right there with you. Kudos for being honest about it.

At 8:07 AM, Blogger In the Trenches of Mommyhood said...

Very well said. And very identifiable. It's tiring and worthless to try to keep up with the f*cking Joneses.

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Iris said...

You are so not alone. I make very good money at my job, but raising 4 kids and having a deadbeat husband for a few years has had me on the verge of financial ruin several times. I can so completely understand.

I read your blog because of the sarcastic humour, the fact that you don't sugar coat motherhood to be all sunshine and roses. God knows it isn't.....tell it like it is, sista, and don't let other people's uncomfortableness with your words dictate how you write them.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for sharing your post. You really are not alone. My husband and I are both full time workers and even so we are going through major financial problems. I've posted about that several time in my blog.
I'm making some experiences with craft work (on my lunch hour)in order to try to sell something to earn some extra cash, but I don't know if it will work out.
I don't know what else to do. You're in the same boat. This s*u*c*ks. And besides all this my kids are away from me all day, and even when I'm with them we are always struggling to pay bills. Is this a live style? I don't think so. As you can see I'm on another continent but the problem is the same. Best Wishes to you and your family.

At 9:48 AM, Blogger Domestic Slackstress said...

Thanks for all of your comments and for stopping by. In defense of my friend, he was simply brainstorming with me on ways to make my blog potentially profitable. He's a great guy, really. As far as all of your "I-can-relate" style comments, I'm stoked that you appreciated my bluntness. I appreciate yours as well. For some reason, letting off steam here just feels right. Thanks for letting me rip. I've been super busy this week so I haven't stopped by all your blogs lately. I'll try to come by and be more than a lurker soon.

At 12:56 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Oh mama.....

First off, your blog is so great. I don't see it as negative at ALL. The 'shit' has been going down at my house which is why I have not read this until today. Whatever, if someone would like to give creative guidance to your blog maybe they should start their own perhaps?
One of the reasons I come to your blog is that there is an authenticity about your vloging and bloging. It resonates with me. Your writing is heartfelt, funny, and thoughtful.

making ends meet...we must be cosmically connected as I just blogged about this in a less personal way today. It is freaking hard to be the full time stay at home mom who is trying to work as well...but we are somehow supposed to be all chipper and happy about it. All I know Is that I am working my ass off and it never feels like my income makes one bit of difference.

Im sorry things are hard right now...kids think pb&j are awesome...we do eggs for dinner a lot ...sometimes even cereal. they would never know its for financial reasons. Its fun to them.

a big old pat on the back to you mama.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

It's already been said, but I truly can totally relate. I think the hardest part about keeping a blog is that the more family and friends read it, the less you can say. I am having an increasingly difficult time with sensoring myself so I don't hurt anyone's feelings.

That's why I now have a couple of secret blogs! ;)

Keep on with the honesty. It is what makes me come back every day.

At 7:59 AM, Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

I think all too often moms are pushed to be positive & pretend everything's peachy when it's not. It's not healthy & it leads to everyone feeling inadequate and overwhelmed, as if we're the only one in the world who can't manage to do everything and have everything. So keep bitching!

At 12:02 PM, Blogger Crunchy Carpets said...

"Why is it shameful to write about falling hard times"
Because we are all supposed to be faking it.
Like when people as you your day is going or how you are feeling...they don't really want to know the truth.

I have been sulking because while we were told we could get an 'okay' mortgage...still wouldn't buy us anything intown (Vancouver is like So Cal)...but we could get something nice further out...but then the monthly mortgage would kill us and there we would be...nice house and barely able to feed ourselves.
So mud pit town house that has mold or broke in a nice house....what do we choose!

Life DOES stink some days and so we can't help but get it out there....we can't fake it all the time and nor should we.

At 12:05 PM, Blogger ALMOverton said...

All I was thinking as I clicked to add my comment was ... you are not alone. And that was the first comment, and many more. What more can I say - but thanks for keeping it real. While it sucks to be here, it's nice to know we're not here alone.

Hope you don't mind a link to you!

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Peg said...

Where on the Internet are the voices of the stay-home, part-time working suburban poor mothers like me? The mothers who don’t qualify for assistance because their husbands earn two or three thousand dollars too much to? Why can’t I find them?
*raises hand* I'm one, too! I eke out a few bucks working from home...not enough to end the shit storm that's on it's way to us.

You know, I'm sorry your friend feels that you should perk things up a bit, because the reality of life just isn't all that perky all the time. And that is what makes your writing so true to life, readible, and downright enjoyable. You say what so many think, but fear to put into words.

I know that there are times I could be more positive. More pleasant. But it's the less than pleasant that really gets my writing juices flowing--and so be it. There are times when I have to sort of step aside for a minute and ask myself..."For whom am I really writing?"

At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Andrea > Become a Consultant said...

Thanks for your very honest and genuine post.

I'm making money off my website. I use Adsense ads (I get paid when people click the ads) and I've written two ebooks. I couldn't support my family on what I earn, but I'm doing okay. I also make money from consulting, freelance writing and teaching at the college level. I am new to your blog, but perhaps you could try one of those strategies.

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading some of your recent blogs and don't want to be a lurker so I am posting a comment. Great stuff...keep it up! Your writing style makes for addictive reading!


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