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Mommyhood
Category

  • It’s Going to Hurt!

    We adult humans spend a good portion of our lives avoiding pain. When we get too cold, we most likely go inside to stop the discomfort of freezing fingers. When we’re too hot, we again go inside – but this time into chilly air-conditioned rooms. We take painkillers to dull the uncomfortable sensations in our bodies, and medicate our brains to ease the uncomfortable thoughts in our minds. We often don’t attempt physical risks in fear of injury, and will avoid relationships altogether that we think have the potential of breaking our hearts. And when we participate in golden showers, we do so in the comfort of a Ritz, not in a grimy a Holiday Inn.

    We run from pain because we fear it.

    Because of this pervasive trepidation of suffering, we socialize our children to avoid pain also. If you go to a playground, you will hear a chorus of parents shouting “careful,” over and over in a round – like an extra annoying version of “row row row your boat.” Parents are constantly trying to protect their children and keeping them from falling – forgetting that a face-plant is actually a pretty important part of learning. Sometimes falling off the monkey bars and getting the wind knocked out of you is a good thing. That way next time you’ll know to fall on top of another kid, to soften the impact.

    I guarantee you that the most crucial and life-changing moments of your existence were not your happiest – but rather overcoming something challenging. We don’t learn from ease, we learn from pain. When we breakthrough pain, we realize our own strength and resilience. That is how we grow and evolve. No one remembers the days that were super chill, nothing difficult happened, and someone served you bonbons on a golden plate. We instead remember the times a grown man pissed on a prostitute, or got pissed on by a prostitute.

    I think one of the greatest disservices that we can do to ourselves, or our kids, is thinking that life shouldn’t be painful – because guess what? IT’S GOING TO BE! The expectation that we can evade pain is not only unrealistic; it’s setting you up for a lifetime of disappointment. I don’t know about you, but I would rather know I can get through painful experiences than pretending life will shower nothing but prosperity upon me… because only then will I realize that I’m actually wet with urine.

    You guys… I just can’t stop with these references. It’s too special. Trump’s life is comedy gold…en shower.

    Back to the point. The other day The Munch got a splinter. Now there are two kinds of splinters in the world. A splinter that goes into your skin at a diagonal angle – which means it is easy to get out – and a splinter that goes into your skin at a 90 degree angle – which means your fucked.

    The Munch got a 90-degree splinter into the heel of her foot. I was out of town, and her dad called me to explain the situation. I told him to soak her foot in warm water to soften the skin… but I forgot to mention SOAPY warm water. So basically he put her foot in purely warm water, and immediately the wood expanded – making the splinter even harder to extract. He tried to get it out, but at that point it was too embedded.

    The next day I came back, and the splinter was still there despite many attempts, and holistic remedies. We tried olive oil, eggshell, banana peel, Epsom salts, whale sperm. Nothing worked. I could run my finger over the skin, and it wasn’t even poking out anymore. Anytime we tried to grab the end of the splinter with tweezers, the wood just splintered off. The Munch couldn’t walk, so there was no choice but to get it out, yet the question was how? I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to take a splinter out of a 6-year olds foot, but it’s kind of like wrestling a rabid wolverine.

    Munch: Ow mom OW!!!!! Don’t touch it! IT HURTS!!!
    Me: Well I have to at least look at it…
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW OW!! STOP NO OWWWWWWW!!
    Me: I can’t get it out if you keep moving around and kicking your foot!
    Munch: YOU’RE NOT BEING GENTLE!
    Me: I am trying to be… but if you don’t let me get it out, we will have to take you to the doctor to do it. You can’t walk, and it can get infected.
    Munch: NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY!!! I AM NOT GOING TO THE DOCTOR!!!!!!
    Me: Then you’re going to have to let me do it.
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW!!!
    Me: Dude you have to stop kicking!!!
    Munch: I CAN’T STOP KICKING BECAUSE YOU KEEP POKING AND HURTING ME!
    Me: Well, do you want to go the doctor then?
    Munch: NO NO NO NO NO I WON’T GO!

    You can see this was not going well. Then I realized something. Part of why The Munch was resisting so much was because she thought I was going to be gentle, and not hurt her. Yet the problem was that there is no way to dig a splinter out of a foot and not have it hurt! The only way to get this demon wood out was to pick, prod, squeeze, and shear the skin.

    Me: Listen. This is going to hurt. There is no way I can do this and it won’t be painful. But if you don’t want to go to the doctor, you have to let me hurt you.
    Munch: Fine, but you have to be gentle.
    Me: I’m will do my best to be gentle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt. It is. I am going to hurt you. You have to wrap your head around that. But that’s the only way I can get it out. Life is full of pain okay Munch? There is no running from it. But you’re the bravest girl I know. You had someone cut your eyeball out of your face… twice. You’ve lived through surgery; you can live through this okay?
    Munch: Okay. Just don’t take me back to the hospital. I hate that place.
    Me: Deal.

    For the next hour of our lives, with her dad holding a flashlight to The Munch’s foot, I dug into her skin. Sure The Munch would have to take breaks, but there was no more resisting, no more kicking, no more shouting. She just let me carve my way into her foot and then squeeze the shit out of it to try and loosen the splinter. Then, I finally saw my moment. I got the tweezers, and pulled it out. We all started screaming and jumping up and down in celebration. I swear on everything holy pulling that splinter out was as emotionally satisfying as watching the birth of my child. In fact, it was more gratifying.

    Obviously the Munch had a shift of consciousness. Once she not only expected the pain, but also accepted it, her tolerance quadrupled. She was able to sit there peacefully and deal with the discomfort because she had surrendered to that reality. Once you allow the pain, you realize, that it’s not that bad. You will survive, and the satisfaction of getting through it is profound. I think we all can remind ourselves that pain is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Stagnation is. Allowing ourselves to be stifled by the fear of suffering. So go out there, make mistakes, get hurt, have someone destroy your heart. You’re going to be okay! I promise. Live life embracing pain. I know I for one am going to remember this the next time I get pee in my eye from a presidential golden shower, because that shit does sting.

    The tools and splinter

    splinter-blog

  • Do People Really Change?

    I would not describe myself as an emotional person. I’m what you call even-tempered, non-reactionary, or dead inside. I rarely pick fights with people, and the only time you will see me angry is when you’re angry with me – so I mirror that “anger emotion” like a robot from Westworld to make it all stop.

    That isn’t to say I don’t feel feelings. I do. At least I think I do. But I mostly keep them to myself. I tend to internalize my emotions rather than externalize them. That’s not to imply they embarrass me, or I’m afraid someone will judge me for not being happy. Who is happy anyway? I don’t trust anyone who is happy all the time – unless they’re my ecstasy dealer. I will easily admit to my feelings and say that I’m depressed, sad, disappointed, hurt… but I’m not really going to ACT that way around other people. It’s more a descriptor of my energy rather than my behavior.

    I never thought of myself as repressed, but I have to admit the harsh reality that every 4 months my body completely breaks down. I will have crazy back spasms, break out in shingles, hurt myself sneezing – whatever. There will be about a 2- week window where my body will be in complete rebellion and I will have to spend the days healing, reflecting, and “nurturing” myself. BORING!

    My most recent experience was hurting my left butt. I know. Who hurts their left butt? But my left butt was sore all the time, and it made it really hard to move. I had a big dance performance coming up for my belly dance company, and was starting to freak the fuck out. We had been rehearsing and preparing for a YEAR! A year of work!! I really wanted to dance.

    I went to see my healer and she went to town on my butt, but to no avail. It was still gripping. Holding onto something – a real and literal pain in the ass. I went back the day of my performance and again the healer went hard on me until finally – BAM! It was over! She had released my ass!

    I was elated. I went to my studio to help set up, my heart filled with joy. I was so grateful my ass was better and I would be able to dance. Then, as I was sweeping the floor, my knee gave out.

    I WAS SWEEPING THE FLOOR mind you. Not doing a back flip. Just walking slowly pushing a broom.

    I could not accept that I was hurt. I tried to knock my knee back in place. Push my shinbone where I thought it needed to go. Massage the tendons. Loosen the ligaments. But it was not happening. A year of rehearsals, dedication, effort, and I couldn’t perform. My butt felt amazing though.

    I went back to see my healer and asked what she thought the emotional aspect of my pain was. I do believe that our bodies manifest emotional pain that our spirit isn’t processing, so I was curious what she thought was going on with me. My healer said she thought it had to do with childhood issues, the current stress I’m under, my over-critical inner dialogue, blah blah blah why aren’t I a robot from Westworld again?

    I went to my friend’s house and decided to pick a tarot card. I asked the tarot what was the message of my knee and the card I picked was… you guessed it… Childhood.

    Fine tarot. I get it. But what about childhood?! What does that mean? I could be anything!!!!?? Can’t you be a little more specific tarot!?

    Here is where shit gets weird. As I was lying there unable to walk, I check my email. My friend from high school, out of nowhere, sends me pictures of a letter I wrote to her when I was 17.

    As you would have it, the secrets of my pain and the message of me knee were written out for me in plain English… just 20 years ago.

    (FYI The context of the time of this letter was that I was fighting with my parents and staying at my grandmother’s house).

    Here are some excerpts.

    letter-page-1

    “I just finished the ‘Great Gatsby’ and it greatly depressed me. I mean here is a guy whom everyone is using for something, and no one completely understands him. And it’s sad because that’s all he truly wanted, and he never got it.”

    First of all… nice usage of the word “whom” 17-year old Toni. Second of all, I find it both hilarious and tragic that the “Great Gatsby” depressed me. How bourgeoisie! It’s clear that I identified with him, and also felt used and misunderstood. Even though I probably wouldn’t qualify these feelings as my current problems – I also relate to them in a deep way.

    letter-page-2

    “I feel like everyone wants something from us and we never really get anything in return. I mean, it seems all guys really want from us is sex (however that’s all we want too) but still, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone love you even if you didn’t have a hole they could empty themselves into?”

    Wow… okay Teen-Toni. That’s kind of a bleak view, but also one I don’t totally disagree with. I think for many women, we question the motivations of men. Do you they really like me as a friend/ co-worker? Or are they waiting for me to get drunk enough to fuck them one day? But at the same time… “THAT’S ALL WE WANT TOO!” Touché Teen-Toni… tou-motherfucking-ché.

    The male-female dynamic (for heterosexuals) is often fraught with confused sexual emotions. It is hard to cultivate dynamics that are tainted with an underpinning of desire. It’s a challenging context of which to find purity of intention. Yet even if women feel they are also using men for sex, there is something still inherently shitty about feeling used for sex when you’re a woman. Probably because anatomically speaking as a woman you have a hole in your body and are inviting someone else inside. That’s a vulnerable place to be. I mean, how many people would you put your finger in their mouth? Probably a lot. You wouldn’t even have to think too much about it. But how many people would you let but THEIR finger in YOUR mouth? NOT AS MANY!! It would take wayyy more trust no? Hence the sexual double standards we all struggle with.

    letter-page-2-copy

    “The more I think about it the more I know that all I really want is for someone to understand me and wants me to be happy. That’s kind of why I left home for a while because I figured if I wanted that, I should figure out what it is I want myself.”

    Okay… again, I wouldn’t say I felt this way out loud, but I also deep down totally get it. Probably why my life’s work is creating content in a desperate attempt to express myself and be understood. And “I should figure out what it is I want myself” – ummmm why didn’t I have a teen self-help advice column??

    letter-page-3

    “Sometimes I feel there are too many people in my life, and sometimes I feel there are not enough. But through it all, I always seem to feel alone.”

    Okay, these are some amazing lyrics for an angsty 90’s rock ballade, and holy shit I was deep. I totally agree with you Teen-Toni!!! Who doesn’t feel this way!!?

    “I crave to be with someone, although I don’t know who it is. I can’t really deal with my parents anymore because I think they are having problems with each other. At this point I don’t really care because I can’t relate to either of them because they can’t relate to me.”

    Oooooo snap! I was pissed!!! But I find it interesting that I couldn’t relate to them, because I felt they couldn’t relate to me. Being a teenager is a such an isolating time, and it feels as if parents are fundamentally unable to get you. Is that because of the generational divide? Or is there an inevitable cultural clash that comes with the search to find one’s own identity? Does any teen feel like their parents relate to them?

    “Sometimes I feel like I am being selfish, and other times I don’t. I can’t tell anymore.”

    Totally Teen-Toni. Still can’t.

    “I am not in love with any boy anymore and I don’t know what to think about that either because it will probably change. My grandmother says pimply teenage boys are a waste of time and all they want to do is empty themselves inside of you…”

    Hmmmm I guess I was kind of a romantic… but my CATHOLIC GRANDMOTHER was none too impressed by my sexing up teen boys. Maybe she had some influence on my cynicism…. Both then and now!!!

    letter-page-4

    “It is kind of a harsh outlook, but it seems pretty accurate. Every where you go people want something from you, and I know there is no avoiding that.”

    Damn Teen-Toni… that is so fatalistic, and yet… yes. I hear you. I grapple with the concept of unconditional love. I want to believe in it, but it feels that much like communism, it’s impossible in practice.

    After reading all this – it’s kind of shocking how little I’ve changed in 20 years.

    I’m also so taken aback with how deeply I seemed to have felt my feelings. They were so raw then. Even though I essentially feel the same ways as Teen-Toni, for Adult-Toni these feelings are no longer on the surface. I’ve come to accept so much of this as part of life, or at least part of my life. I don’t let it get to me anymore – at least not on a conscious level. It’s as if at 17 I was walking around like a giant open wound, and now, almost 37, I’m just a big scab.

    So get this!

    I went home that night, still unable to walk because my knee was so enflamed. Sad and frustrated, I sat down at the kitchen table while the Munch had her dinner. Then, out of nowhere, The Munch grabs a pad of paper and asks me to write down all that I was feeling. I complied, and then she asked me to write down all my needs.

    CAN YOU FUCKING BELIEVE THAT??

    She then drew pictures representing my feelings and my needs and gave it to me to remember.

    Now that is some profound ass shit. What an amazing exorcise to do when trying to heal. DON’T YOU THINK YOU SHOULD DO THAT YOURSELF RIGHT GODDAMN NOW!? I don’t know where The Munch came up with that … but the next day I could walk again.

    I can’t wait to read what kind of letters that kid will be writing to her friends bitching about me when she’s 17.

    Below is the picture Munch drew for me. Notice the “emotional ambulance” between our names. Then you see the faces of my feelings… frustrated, anxious, and later loved (with my nose looking surprisingly like a set of cock and balls). Then below the faces are my needs, which seemingly include meds, a tower of penises surrounding a bong, more meds, a happy heart, and back to the meds.

    toni-feelings

    December 15, 2016 • Family Drama, Health, Mommyhood, Musings, Old School Stories • Views: 760

  • Raising a Little Conformist

    When you have a baby, and that baby cries, it’s not trying to manipulate you. An infant cries because it has a genuine need, and that’s its only mode of communication. The first year of parenting is simple in that way. Your baby cries, so you address their relatively basic problems. (I’m hungry, I’m tired, I have to fart, I have a shit in my pants). But as soon as your kid becomes a toddler and understands that it’s screaming can make you do things you don’t want to do – but will do anyway just to shut them up – you bet your sweet ass that kid is going to exploit the shit out of your weaknesses.

    Once your child is no longer a baby, you have to start considering a discipline strategy, and how you are going to condition them. You’re not just raising a kid, but a future adult you’re going to have to deal with for the rest of your life. There is a major shift of consciousness that has to place for the parent making this transition. Figuring out how and when to say “no” to your child is more complex than you’d think. You don’t want to give into all your kid’s demands because then your kid will be an asshole when they grown up. But when you push back and deny your kid of what they want… they turn into a serious fucking asshole right in front of your goddamn face.

    Modern parents are all products of the baby boomer generation and I love you guys, but you were kind of neglectful parents in a lot of ways. LOVELY people those baby boomers… but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person in my 30’s who was raised by a Television. Probably why the Bill Cosby story was such a hard roofie-cocktail to swallow – it was like finding out your Dad was a rapist. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US DADDY!!!!

    So a lot of us who are parenting now are doing so in direct reaction to feeling slightly abandoned as children. Yet with every pendulum swing, a lot of times things go wayyy too far in the other direction. As children we may have been latchkey kids, but we also had independence, which was crucial. Today’s kids can hardly even pick their noses without parental supervision. We’re so afraid that our kids won’t feel cared for, that we don’t give them any space to figure out the world on their own.

    The same thing goes for discipline. There has been a major shift of thinking regarding how to deal with a kid’s emotional outbursts. Spanking is now ONLY appropriate between two consenting adults in the bedroom. Most of us can agree that yelling at a child is ineffective and cruel. Ignoring your kid only makes them create more havoc to get your attention. Yet rationalizing with a young child is bit like talking to Donald Trump. There are moments when they speak complete sentences and seem to understand you, but then they just say random words and make funny faces.

    In my personal parenting journey I have been working with two concepts. One idea is that I want The Munch to know she is allowed to have emotions, and doesn’t have to not feel the pressure to “always be happy” or “suck it up.” I am a new age hippy who drinks water filtered by moon beams, so of course I my want my kid to be connected to her emotional self and explore the entirety of her emotional spectrum. At no point do I want to be a force that enforces emotional repression. But… I also don’t want to create a goddamn monster that allows herself to express every feeling like an emotional terrorist!!!

    So my strategy has been trying to find a balance between these extremes. When she is upset I ask if there is a solution to her problem. If she is too pissed to think of solutions I suggest she go into her room where she can feel all she wants, but I don’t have to be a witness to her outburst. Then when she is ready to talk, we can talk about solutions and move forward with our lives.

    It took time to get this to work, but now that she is 6, we are in a pretty good place. Not just because of my parenting of course, it’s not like I’m some kid whisperer. Her personality was easy to work with because The Munch’s natural disposition is pretty mellow. She has her moments of expected child rage, but her core essence isn’t very confrontational. She is mostly a “well behaved” kid, and when she is feeling really upset and doesn’t want to be reasonable, she goes into her room and then comes out when she is ready to discuss things more rationally.

    All great right??

    NOT SO SURE!!!

    This is the NEW problem that I’m seeing. The Munch is REALLY RESPECTFUL OF AUTHORITY!

    The Munch listens to her teachers at school, and takes instruction very seriously. When she recently had to deal with the hospital and all her surgery she did everything the doctor said, and was very compliant. The doctor said on multiple occasions “what a good girl she is.” The Munch went to the dentist for the first time yesterday and came home wanting to brush her teeth 3 times a day and floss every morning and night. She listened to her dentist because she is a “good little girl” who does what she is told.

    HOLY SHIT I HAVE CREATED A MONSTER!!!

    Have I raised a little conformist!!!??

    As a parent yes I want my daughter to listen to me… but as a woman I want my daughter to LISTEN TO NO ONE!!!!!!!!!

    As a parent it is really amazing that she is so easy tempered, empathetic, thoughtful, nice, caring, but as a feminist I want her TO SHAKE SHIT THE FUCK UP AND CHALLENGE ALL STEROTYPES AND NEVER MAKE IT EASY FOR MEN TO TAKE ADVTAGE OF HER!

    As a parent it is so nice that my kid takes direction well, shows adults respect, isn’t a problem at school, is easy to teach… but as a wannabe revolutionary… FUCK AUTHORITY! FUCK THE POLICE! FUCK THE SYSTEM!!! FUCK GOVERNMENT!!

    Do you see my problem!!

    So here is my plan for the next 6 years… slowly undo every thing I have done and recondition her. This way by the time she is 12, she will be a fucking nightmare – just in time for her teen years. She can rebel against everything and everyone, have ton of fun, and become a total bad ass. Then from 18-24 we find the balance between the two.

    conformist-blog

    October 5, 2016 • Disciplining, Education, Family Drama, Mommyhood, Parenting • Views: 885

  • Unleashing Your Inner Teen Girl

    I have a very mutable personality. It’s like my identity waxes and wanes depending on my audience. I can be the serious intellectual type, the conspiracy theorist nut job, the hard working artist, the responsible business owner, the esoteric psychic explorer, or that chick that makes a lot of pussy jokes. I wake up every morning wondering, “who the fuck am I going to be today?”

    I believe in flexible identities, and think we all should try on a variety of masks daily. The more open minded we can be for ourselves, that will translate into how we feel about others. Ultimately life is all about acceptance, so why not practice accepting every single facet of who you are?

    Maybe that sounds nutty to you, but if you think about it on a macro and micro level, everyone would benefit if we accepted each other fully. Families would get along better, marriages would last longer, and maybe there would be less mass murder… I mean religious war.

    I recognize that I may approach the world in a way not everyone can relate to – BUT YOU CAN BLAME MY PARENTS FOR THAT OKAY!? The way I was raised was much different than today’s standards where a kid has to be monitored while farting because god forbid their flatulence has too much velocity and they are blown out into the highway by their anal airstream. When I was 6- years old my family moved into a Harvard dormitory because my parents were the “house masters,” and that was pretty much the end of my being parented. My mom and dad were like “You’re grown right? Well we’re going to be busy running shit so good luck to you! The oven is over there.”

    Having a lot of independence at such a young age meant that I had to learn how to navigate the social stratosphere of Harvard college life. A lot of the kids missed their family, and I figured out how to fit in as de-facto kid sister. I would hang out in the girl’s rooms and keep them company while they stressed out over their love lives or getting an A-. (The kiss of death at Harvard). I would go through their stuff, find their diaphragms, and try to blow them up like balloons. I would eat dinner with the football team and tell them shit jokes to make them laugh. My childhood may have been unconventional, but it did teach me what beer tasted like at 11.

    Trying to understand social nuances at such a young age shaped me deeply. I realized that different people bring out different parts of myself, and part of the fun of being around a variety of humans is exploring the variety within me. I like losing myself in people, and allowing my identity to meld into their perception of me. When I’m with someone, I unconsciously figure out who they want me to be, and then become that part of myself. I am not committed to a one size fits all version of myself, because like wine, I am an acquired taste. Not everybody likes what I am throwing down, and there are going to be a LOT of moments where I should self-censor so as to not alienate myself… yet making people uncomfortable is also thrilling – so fuck it.

    As a grown up, I am constantly expected to conform to social norms of acceptable and responsible conduct. I know some people thrive under the pressure of adulthood, and enjoy the convention laid out before them. You know these types right? They don’t have any interest in pushing boundaries, or testing the waters of inflammatory behavior. They take life and themselves very seriously. I respect these archetypes because they are crucial to society functioning properly, yet like a teen girl, I want to rebel completely from those expectations.

    And that’s it you guys… My spirit will forever be a teen girl!

    We all have an age of our spirit – don’t you feel that? Some people are 3-years old forever, and others are 67. It just is!

    Because I am perpetually 16, my favorite people to be around are those that bring out my psyche’s true essence. At my dance studio I teach teen girls hip hop. Spending my afternoons twerking with them, talking about boys, and then more twerking is seriously the highlight of my day. The energy, enthusiasm, and sass of a bunch of teen girls is probably the most powerful force on the planet. If we could figure out how to channel that shit, it would solve the world’s energy crisis.

    I also have friends who bring out my inner teen. When we get together a manic giddiness takes over, and all we want to do is cause trouble. I love when I get into this headspace with someone because there is a specific intimacy that happens when you both are on the same page of “if it’s inappropriate, let’s do it.” I was just on vacation with my one friend, and got my period early. You’re welcome. We were at the beach and wanted to go swimming, but I hadn’t used a tampon in over 15 years.

    My friend: That’s so crazy to me that you don’t use tampons – you’re so vagina centric.
    Toni: I just don’t like plugging up my poon.
    My friend: Understandable.
    Toni: I seriously don’t know if I can do this.
    My friend: I’ll come with you in the bathroom and talk you through it.

    So there were, in a public bathroom stall, my friend looking at me like this was the most normal thing in the world.

    Toni: So I just shove it in there?
    My friend: More like press.
    Toni: Uhhhh okay… like this??
    My friend: GO SLOWER!!!

    Who the hell needs a tampon coach but a teen girl!!!???

    I get that it’s not legal or logical for everyone to hang out with teen girls for inspiration, but I highly suggest you finding your own inner teen girl. I’m talking about that part of you that doesn’t give a fuck about the future because you just KNOW everything is going to be amazing. That piece of you that is willing and unashamed to talk about everything and anything – whispering long into the night about nothing. The side of you that is bold and courageous because no one has told you to be otherwise. It is in there… I know it… and she will surprise you in the best way if you get in touch with her – BUT ONLY IF SHE IS 18!

    Then of course there is the depressed, moody, self-conscious, PMSy side of the teen girl that may not be as fun, but she also needs to be unleashed out into the world to show people what’s up.

    I don’t know what the hell is going on in this picture… but I do know that it’s so right.

    toni teenage bizba

    August 24, 2016 • Birth • Views: 906

  • In Your Mother’s Arms

    The first home you ever had was inside your mother. Of course, she eventually evicted you, but her uterus was your apartment – complete with psychedelic posters and tapestries.

    After you were birthed into to this cold dark world, her arms then became your home (assuming your mom stayed in your life). It was there that you felt safest. As a child we run into our mother’s arms for comfort, we collapse inside her hug for security. To experience this kind of embrace with your child is profound. It makes up for all the complexity of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and the unique pressure women face of living up to the role as “MOTHER.” That moment when your kid melts into for solace is truly priceless.

    Yet eventually your child gets to know you more, and realizes how you damaged them in one way or another. Then the arms of the mother are no longer their salvation. There is this thing between you – the mistakes, arguments, resentment, and annoyance that your Mom is always yelling at you about using the last of the toilet paper. The purity you once felt for your mom eventually gets clouded. She is not the goddess you once perceived her to be that was the answer to all your problems, but a flawed person who is doing her best… most of the time.

    As a child you want your mom to be a function of you. You assume that she was born onto this planet solely to be there for you. But as an adult understanding motherhood I have to admit that even though The Munch is a priority – she’s not my ONLY priority. Sometimes other things are more important than her. Like wanting to dance, or be with my friends, or work, or be creative, or eating the last cookie I know she was saving.

    The relationship we have to the MOTHER is as much personal as much as it is societal. There is an image of THE MOTHER that we are all conditioned to expect from media/stories. We have a tendency to compare our mothers to the narratives we are given. When I was a kid, all I wanted was a suburban stay at home mom. They kind who knitted, did crafts, and baked cupcakes. Instead, the mother I got was ambitious, anti-conventional, and would threaten to pick me up at school wearing her Magnum Condom T-shirt.

    Even though my mom wasn’t my ideal, as a grown up I very much like her as a human. She is way more fun than the Joan Cleaver of my childhood fantasies.

    Last night my mom came to New Hampshire because her mom has been really sick. There was a scare, and we all thought that this could be the end… but as soon as my grandmother heard everyone was coming, she perked right up and went downstairs to have a roast beef sandwich. My mom and I got into bed with my grandmother that night to keep her company as she slept.

    So there we were, 3 generations of mothers all entangled in each other’s arms as my mom and whispered to each other about mothering while my grandmother snored.

    My Mom: I know I wasn’t the mother that you wanted, but I was exactly the mother that I wanted!

    Toni: Well even though there were these ways you parented that felt traumatizing in the moment, I also think those very same things I wished were different made me a stronger person. I felt abandoned as a kid because you gave me so much independence, but now I’m a really emotionally independent person – and I like that about myself. Even though I may have wished that I were coddled more, I am glad I wasn’t.

    We all tend to parent in reaction to our parenting. We become the parents we wish we had rather than the parent our kid necessarily wants.

    There are a lot of similarities in the way I parent Munch and the way I was parented by my mom, and there is a lot I do that’s in direct reaction against the way I was parented. I have to constantly remind myself that Munch is not my inner child wanting to be healed, but her own person. I have to constantly observe and adjust my approach to her, and not get lost in trying to re-imagine my past.

    I will never the exact parent Munch wants me to be, but I can at least be open to her feedback. I want to build the kind of trust where she always feels at home in my arms, and comforted by my embrace. That way I can be sure that when I am super old she will jump into my bed with her daughter and talk about me behind my back while I sleep.

    toni munch painting

    May 19, 2016 • Family Drama, Mommyhood, Parenting, Relationships • Views: 805

  • Just Because I Love You, Doesn’t Mean I Care About You

    I think we waste a lot of our life force bickering with the people we love the most. You know those stupid cyclical fights that you’ve had over and over and over again that never seem to get resolved because in your heart you know they are going to leave their fucking dirty socks on the shower bathmat again? Most of the disagreements we have with people are just repeat conversations of the past, and each time we go down that yellow brick road, we will eventually end up in a poppy field passing out from emotional exhaustion.

    When you’re really close to someone, you have to deal with their eccentricities, annoying habits, compulsive behaviors, and shitty moods. The more comfortable someone is around you, the more they let they guard down, and reveal the underbelly of their darkest selves. Sometimes I want to say, “hey, do you mind putting a shirt over your vulnerability right now, because I’ve seen a little too much of you today.”

    The times I get most upset with people are when I feel like someone has disappointed me. I had some expectation they didn’t live up to, and then felt let down. I justify my rage by feeling like I was just caring about them – but is my caring a prison? If I never had that expectation to begin with, then I would never have gone through that psychic journey of disappointment.

    Do you think it’s possible to love someone deeply, but not really care about them?

    I don’t mean caring about their wellbeing, but caring about them in the sense that you don’t care or anticipate how they will behave.

    When we fall in love with someone – a lover, friend, or even our own children – we have LIMITLESS expectations of them. When you first meet a person they are perfect in our eyes, because they haven’t yet revealed themselves otherwise. It’s so easy to think that this dude will never put the silverware facing down in the dishwasher, or this friend will totally steam her vagina with me, or my baby will never boss me around like the evil step sisters in Cinderella and then yell in my face that she hates me because I said it was time for bed.

    The more you get to know someone, they will eventually fail you in one way or another… but is that their fault, or yours?

    It’s a lot easier to see YOU as the cause of MY misery. When something doesn’t go my way, that’s not my fault, it’s YOURS for making me do it in the first place! Although it may feel momentarily better to blame other people for my emotions and say, “you made me feel bad about myself!” In reality, I made ME feel bad about myself. Even though it may feel like a lot of responsibility to see things that way, it is also empowering. I am the architect of my responses to the world, and can choose how I internalize my feelings.

    If every time I get upset with someone I see it as my own doing, then I am no longer at the mercy of the world around me. I can’t control how you treat me, but I can control how hard I cunt punt you… I mean how I react to you.

    So now when anything happens to me where I want to choke someone, I instead try and see my part in the situation, and instead focus on that. No matter what shitty thing happens, there is always a lesson I can learn. Even if sometimes that lesson is dipping your toothbrush in my pee toilet.

    I have been trying to teach The Munch to not blame other people for her emotional wellbeing, but instead recognizing that she is the dictator of her internal world. So far this strategy is being met with mixed results. Sometimes it only inflames her:

    Toni: Okay, that’s enough screens for tonight.
    The Munch: Can I just watch one more “My Little Pony?”
    Toni: No. We had a deal, and it’s time for a bath.
    The Munch: I WANNA WATCH ONE MORE “MY LITTLE PONY!!!”
    Toni: Dude. You and I had an agreement, and you have to honor it.
    The Munch: YOU’RE THE WORST MOMMY IN THE WHOLE WORLD!
    Toni: Munch, I know it’s disappointing, and you want to watch your show, but that doesn’t mean you have to deflect your anger onto me. You have to look inside yourself and realize that you made a promise, and it’s not my fault I am making you keep it. Instead of caring about me, and how I’m not letting you do what you want, you should instead care about you, and learning how to keep your word.
    The Munch: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

    But other times, it actually has been making an impact.

    The Munch: Mommy, did you remember to pack my stuffed animal?
    Toni: Oh no. I forgot. I’m sorry.
    The Munch: That’s okay. I should have reminded you.

    See how much easier it is to get along when we all just take responsibility for ourselves!!!

    (Ps she totally did remind me…)

    munch in van

    March 30, 2016 • 5 years old, Behavior, Mommyhood, Parenting, Relationships • Views: 915

  • Chemical Candy Chaos!

    I am the type of person that would rather go hungry than to eat food that I don’t like, or is bad quality. Eating is such a pleasurable experience for me, and goes way beyond the basic need to fill my stomach. I want to have a tantric experience with my meals. I don’t want to eat just because I am hungry – I want my wet mouth to orgasm while I fill it with delicious sausages.

    Local and organic of course.

    Maybe this can be annoying for others – especially for those who want to just eat and move on with the day but have to instead wait for me to find the perfect artisanal pizza place specializing in hand foraged pixy farts.

    For example: There was this one time when I went hiking in the Swiss Alps with my boyfriend and friend, and we got really lost. We finally came across a sign that read “Wanderweg” and decided we would go there, and take the train home. We followed the path for a few miles, then came across another sign that said “Wanderweg.” This sign, however, pointed in another direction. We were confused, but followed that path for another few miles. We then came across two signs, that pointed in opposite directions, and they BOTH read “Wanderweg.”

    Toni: Where the fuck is Wanderweg!!!??

    Finally we passed some other hikers who explained that “wanderweg” means “path.”

    We didn’t get off the mountain until 10 at night, and had been hiking for 12 hours with no food or water. When we finally got to the small town, everything was closed except for one restaurant. Inside there was an old man smoking cigarettes and chewing on his hands. He showed us the menu, which consisted of a variety of canned meat.

    Toni: Ummm I don’t think I’m gonna eat here.
    My Boyfriend: What??! DUDE I am starving! Lets just eat! There is nowhere else?
    Toni: It just doesn’t look very good. And the smoke is bothering me. I won’t even be able to taste anything. Maybe we can take the train to the next town? Or walk there?

    And that was the day my boyfriend strangled me.

    And here is a story where my 5-year old almost choked the fuck out of me. The Munch and I were coming back from a road trip, and had been in the car for a few hours. She told me she needed to go to the bathroom, so I pulled over at a gas station. Once we were inside, she wanted a treat.

    The Munch: I want a treat.
    Toni: No. Not here. I can’t.
    The Munch: But MOM I AM REALLY HUNGRY! YOU DIDN’T GIVE ME DINNER AND I WANT A TREAT.
    Toni: I can’t buy you chemical candy.
    The Munch: PLEASE!? What about these?
    Toni: Sour Patch kids? No way dude! Those are chemical kids coated with sugar flavored chemicals.
    The Munch: What about these??
    Toni: Reece’s? Those are just partially hydrogenated oil patties. I can’t. I can’t support those companies. I can’t get you these natural nuts? Or GMO free chips if you are hungry.
    The Munch: BUT I WANT A TREAT!
    Toni: It’s not going to happen.
    The Munch: FINE!!!

    The Munch STORMED back into the car. She was PISSED! When we finally got home a few hours later, she was STILL mad! She went to bed furious at me.

    The Munch: I REALLY WANTED A TREAT!

    The next morning when she woke up, she still had the idea of treats on her mind.

    The Munch: Can I have a treat?
    Toni: Yes you can… but we have to go to the Green Grocer to buy one, because we have nothing here.
    The Munch: That’s too far! I don’t want to get back in the car!
    Toni: Neither do I!
    The Munch: Let’s go to the General Store.
    Toni: I can’t do that. All they have is chemical treats. If you want a treat we have to go to the Green Grocer.
    The Munch: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

    It’s not like she doesn’t KNOW I only buy organic food. The Munch is FULLY AWARE that I am never happy when someone gives her chemical candy to eat. Halloween was a big challenge for me! We had agreed that was the only chemical candy she would eat. But for whatever reason, she was NOT feeling my commitment to quality food this day.

    Toni: Dude I am not saying you can’t have a treat. I am saying you can’t have a chemical treat. The Green Grocer is five minutes farther than the General Store. Let’s just go there.
    The Munch: BUT I DON’T WANT TO WAIT THAT LONG!
    Toni: Can I tell you why I don’t want you to eat chemical candy?
    The Munch: FINE!
    Toni: Do you remember what war is?
    The Munch: When people kill each other for power?
    Toni: Yes… and back during World War 2, the Americans developed a chemical called “agent orange” to kill people. But when the war was over, they started using those chemicals on the food as pesticides – to kill the bugs. But pesticides kill all life – including butterflies, bees, and even birds!
    The Munch: BIRDS TOO?
    Toni: YES! And then we eat those pesticides! And these same companies have also have genetically modified plants, created a monopoly on seeds, and are arguably destroying the farming community. Plus… we don’t know the long-term impact of eating GMO tomatoes with fish genes in them.
    The Munch: I don’t want fishy tomatoes!
    Toni: And you know cancer? Since we have been doing this to our food, more and more people have been getting cancer. It’s hard to say it’s not related. So I don’t want to support these companies, because when I give them my money, I am saying that it’s okay to poison food, poison people, and poison the land.
    The Munch: Fine we can go to the Green Grocer. But I am getting TWO treats.

    “Seriously Mom, can you just shut your mouth hole?”

    munch shutting up toni

  • Health and Healing Hypocrisy

    I see all physical ailments as metaphysical messages. I believe our souls communicate to our egos through the language of the body. Every time I am sick, hurt, or in pain – I see it as an opportunity to dig deep in the bowels of my inner being, and extract a warm brown piece of who I really am.

    Because of this belief system, I never take western medicine. The medical establishment may lesson your symptoms, but it drives your sickness deeper inside. When you take pills for momentary relief, you are denying yourself the opportunity of self-reflection. Rather than trying to mask my pain, I will willingly sit in it so as to discover what it is I need to learn.

    Yet when my kid is suffering, I just want her to stop complaining – I mean I just want her to get better fast.

    The Munch was really miserable the other day. Usually when she is sick, she takes it as an opportunity to watch TV all day. Yet this time, she was in such a state of distress, that she wouldn’t even watch “My Little Pony!” She said that her eyes hurt too much to open them, and was writhing around in my bed in a state of physical crisis. The only thing I could do was to tickle her back to relax her.

    I felt so helpless. It’s traumatizing to see your child in anguish. But she was also being really dramatic and annoying about it. Sorry that was my auto correct. I meant to write; she was being SUPER dramatic and annoying about it.

    At first I tried to examine the mystical meaning of what was going on with her.

    Munch: MOMMY! It hurts! Wahhhahhhhaaa!
    Toni: I know it does sweetie. Can you tell me what it feels like?
    Munch: My eyes are pushing into my mouth.
    Toni: What do you think that means? What is it you don’t want to see? Or don’t want to say?
    Munch: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? My eyes and mouth just hurt! Wahhhaaahha!
    Toni: I hear you – but what do you think is the significance of your eyes hurting? Do you feel like there is some hidden question you could be asking yourself? What are your eyes and mouth trying to teach you?
    Munch: MY FACE HURTS! WAHAHHHHAHH
    Toni: Is there something about yourself that you have to face, and that’s why your face hurts?
    Munch: I DON’T KNOW! I JUST KNOW IT HURTS!!!

    My philosophical inquiry wasn’t exactly getting to the bottom of things. The Munch didn’t seem too interested interested in delving into the spiritual significance of what was going on with her health.

    Then my mom called.

    My Mom: I think she has allergies.
    Toni: How do you know?
    My Mom: Because she is experiencing the same symptoms I used to have. Stuffy nose, itchy eyes, irritability… That’s why I take Benadryl every day.
    Toni: But what do you think that your runny nose and itchy eyes are trying to tell you mom? Is your nose running perhaps a metaphor for something else you are running from?
    My Mom: Jesus Toni, it’s just seasonal allergies from pollen. Stop being such a hippy freak and go get your daughter some over the counter allergy medicine like Zyrtec.

    So I did.

    The Munch ended up sleeping the entire day, and I kind of felt like I drugged my kid. Which I guess I did. But then she woke up the next day, and was perfectly fine.

    hiding under the pillow munch

    munch sick sleeping

  • My 5-Year Old Does Not Support the Rockefeller Drug Laws

    Every parent has a nighttime ritual with their child to put them to bed. Sometimes that includes a bath, a warm glass of milk, and reading a story. Other times putting your child to sleep involves a discussion about the Police state and Rockefeller drug laws – but to each his own.

    There is a heroin epidemic where I live in New Hampshire, and it is basically impossible not to know someone who is personally effected by this crisis. The Munch and I were talking about someone we love, and how they are dealing with a family member in jail because of heroine. The Munch had a lot of questions about what all this meant, and the complexity of trying to clarify the details to her made something very clear to me.

    The way we treat drug addicts in this country is criminal.

    I think the best way to tell if a system is flawed, is if it’s hard to explain it to a child. If you can’t easily articulate an issue, then something is wrong.

    When the Munch asks about what laws were, I didn’t find it challenging to express why we needed laws. When she asked me some examples of laws, it was perfectly logical to her why it was illegal to steal, or kill someone. There wasn’t a lot of confusion. But when trying to unpack why drugs were illegal and why people go to prison for drugs – that was actually really hard.

    The Munch: What do drugs do to people?
    Toni: They make you feel different – inside your body and your mind.
    The Munch: What do you mean feel different?
    Toni: You know how if you eat a bunch of sugar, and your body feels kind of funny after? Like it’s buzzing?
    The Munch: Yeah… and you have all this energy and want to run around?
    Toni: Well drugs make you feel different sensations in your body and in your brain.
    The Munch: Is sugar a drug?
    Toni: Well it affects your brain like drugs, but it’s not considered a drug.
    The Munch: Is wine drugs? Like how grow-ups drink wine and stuff?
    Toni: Kind of – but wine beer is considered alcohol. Not a drug.
    The Munch: Do people go to prison for wine?
    Toni: No… only drugs.
    The Munch: Why are drugs bad?
    Toni: Because you can get addicted to them.
    The Munch: Like how you say I can get addicted to sugar, or watching too much “My Little Pony.”
    Toni: Yes. Addiction is when you make a decision to do something you know is bad for you, but it’s too hard to make the decision to stay away.
    The Munch: And you go to prison because you have addiction and it’s too hard to stay away?
    Toni: Sort of. But also when you take drugs, you probably aren’t making the best decisions in general because you’re also on drugs. So you aren’t thinking clearly.
    The Munch: But don’t you take drugs when you are sick? Or have surgery? Like how you gave me drugs when I had my eye surgery so the pain would go away?
    Toni: Yes. Doctors give drugs when people are in pain, but those drugs don’t put you in jail.
    The Munch: What are the drugs that put you in jail?
    Toni: Illegal drugs.
    The Munch: But do people take illegal drugs because they are in pain?
    Toni: Yes. Emotional pain. And sometimes physical pain too.
    The Munch: So shouldn’t those people see a doctor for their pain and not go to jail?
    Toni: Yes they should.

    Since the Rockefeller drug laws were introduced, the prison population in the US has skyrocketed! We now hold the honor of being the number 1 country in the world with the most people incarcerated. Maybe the original intention was to make our neighborhoods safer, but sending millions of non-violent offenders to jail for exorbitant sentences has had a detrimental impact on communities. The Rockefeller drug laws are the most significant legal foundation of the war on drugs over the last 40 years. And despite the draconian mandatory minimums being removed 7 years ago, 48% of the people in our federal prisons are there for non-violent drug related crimes. But what if we started regarding drug abuse as a social issue to contend with and not a criminal one?

    These mandatory sentences haven’t addressed why people turn to drugs, but only built the foundation of our current penal system. These drug laws paved the path for the prison industrial complex that we see today – ironically with prisoners as the ones laying the concrete. When prisons become profitable businesses, then filling them up with people is simply free labor for Wall Street.

    So I agree with The Munch – maybe we should be sending addicts to hospitals and not prisons.