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Parenting
Category

  • The Codependent Gene

    Hi. I’m Toni. I’m codependent. I’m working on it, but only if it’s okay with you? If it makes you upset that I’m becoming less codependent then I will stop – but if you approve – then I will continue. Are we okay? I’m sorry for even bringing this up. 

    Codependence can mean a few things, but one of the main elements is feeling responsible for the feelings of others – at least, that’s how it manifests in me most. Being an empathetic person, I can usually sense the vibes of others. When I intuit someone’s feelings I feel like their feelings are my fault, or my duty to solve.

    That’s the main difference between a compassionate person and a codependent. A compassionate person can say, “Wow, I see that you’re suffering and that you are going through something disturbing. I can hold the space for you and energetically witness you’re processes of processing, but I will not take your problems as my own problem.” Where my tendency is to say, “Wow, you have an issue? Well don’t you worry anymore because now your issue is MY issue and I will take it on fully and solve all your problems for you!!!”

    A drawback from being codependent is that I am an enabler. I facilitate all sorts of negative behavior patterns in others. I can be so desperate for approval that I lay myself down at the altar of their toxicity to sacrifice us both in my unceasing spiral of need to circumvent conflict. I contort my being into the origami expectations of others to fold my identity into a pleasing crane flying into the abyss of needing to be liked. I know. It’s exhausting. 

    Codependence is my instinct! If we were sitting in a field together enjoying the sunshine and you happened to get stung by a bee, my initial reaction would be, “it’s my fault.” If we were at a party together and I was having a great time and you weren’t enjoying yourself I would feel like we had to leave. Your being happy is crucial to my being happy because I can’t be happy if you’re not happy so it really doesn’t even matter at all if what we’re doing is making me happy if you’re not happy so we might as well just do whatever makes you happy so we can both be happy because now you’re happy. Get it!? 

    I always thought my codependent ways of operating in the world came from my conditioning and familial programming. I was the peacemaker in my household, and the youngest child, so it was my role in the dynamic to not cause friction or problems. As such, when I became a parent I wanted to create a different paradigm for The Munch. In fact, the past 9-years of being a mom has been the best training for me to work on these issues. I can’t be a codependent parent because then my kid would be an absolute asshole. If I took on all The Munch’s problems and allowed my codependent reflexes to be my default reaction, then imagine what a dick hole she would be! 

    Creating boundaries with my kid has been my healing because it has taught me the value of boundaries with all people. Kids thrive when they have clear boundaries, and my parenting journey has revealed that true unconditional love actually NEEDS boundaries to make it a sustainable relationship. If I allow a person to treat me as their emotional punching bag eventually I will hit a breaking point and knock them out of my life. But if I have boundaries and express them openly, that’s actually the most loving thing I can do!

    The more I communicate my needs and feelings the greater potential for genuine depth in the relationship. It’s only through my sharing my thoughts that you can realize how your behavior is hurting me and therefor address it. If I keep everything inside and refuse to talk about my actual emotions because I’m too afraid that you will be sad that I am sad, then I’m actually creating distance. The more I fear your feelings about my feelings the greater the chasm, so in order to build the necessary bridge I have to fight my codependence and feel okay if my feeling bad momentarily makes you feel bad.

    In my effort to socialize my kid differently than I was socialized, I have made many attempts to be an example of a compassion, but not codependence. I have tried to model my ideals in my dealings with The Munch. She is having a very different childhood than I had for a variety of reasons, and as such, I made the assumption that codependence would not be her cross to bear. 

    I WAS FUCKING WRONG! 

    The Munch is just like her mom. JUST LIKE ME! She refuses to talk to her friends about ANYTHING that bothers her about them. She will weep to me about how she’s treated, hysterical in her sadness, but will not address it directly with them.

    Toni: Munchee, why don’t you just talk to your little friend and tell her how you feel?

    The Munch: I CAN’T DO THAT MAMA! IT WILL MAKE HER MAD AT ME!

    Toni: Dude, but your feelings are just as important as her feelings. It’s totally okay and reasonable to explain to her that her behavior hurts your feelings when you’re not being treated like a priority. 

    The Munch: BUT I CAN’T TELL HER THAT BECAUSE THEN SHE WILL CRY AND BE UPSET! 

    Toni: That’s fine if she cries and gets upset. That has nothing to do with you. What’s most important is that you practice sharing your feelings and talking openly about how her behavior impacts you. 

    The Munch. I CAN’T DO THAT MAMA! MY BODY WON’T LET ME!               

    My BODY won’t let me! HOLY MOTHER OF GAIA! My BODY won’t let me! Ummmm… did I pass down the co-dependent gene to my kid!? Was co-dependence so melded into my DNA that she has doubled down on this helix of emotional hell? I REALLY TRIED!!! 

    Look at the existential angst on her face!! I GET IT MUNCH!! I GET IT!

  • The Perfect Metaphor For Life


    How do you feel about the day of your birth? Do you enjoy being celebrated? Do you relish in being the hot dog for a day and nestle betwixt the buns of your personhood? Or does the concept of aging cause anxiety? Do you fear your imminent death and want to shove your head into the sands of time in order to avoid thinking about the unforgiving truth that soon you will be consumed by soil as worms slowly engulf your rotting flesh?

    My particular birthday falls in a strange vortex of time – December 29th– this piercing eye amidst a cyclone of holidays, vacations, celebration, and darkness. There is a collective expectation for fun during this season, anticipation hangs in the air, and a mutual yearning coats those winter weeks. This particular year – as the day commemorating the glorious moment where I blasted out of my mom’s sacred internal oven approached – I began to feel an intense pressure. I was stalked by an unrelenting need to do something out of the ordinary. Something spiritual, something mind blowing, something that would shake up my consciousness and dip me into the quantum soup of our so-called reality which is actually just a hologram projected onto a screen of mutual mass illusion.

    My first plan was to drink ayahuasca. I wasn’t particularly in the mood to do so, but there was an opportunity to. I have done ayahuasca before because of course I have I’m a white hippy, and a friend invited me to a ceremony that happened to be taking place on that exact day that I was spewed from my mother’s womb. Yet I had my reservations because I didn’t feel the personal needto look into the black eyes of my demons and crawl into the ceaseless vacuum of inner darkness that layers my soul, but I would have. Sadly, however, that event was cancelled, and I was left with no plans. Then another friend invited me to a Kambo ritual, which in case you’re not familiar, is the psychedelic frog medicine where a shaman burns the amphibian’s venom into your skin and you spend the next half hour or so vomiting and shitting out toxins – which sounded like a real party. But sadly for me, I had just gotten mercury fillings removed from my mouth and had spent the day taking benzos at the dentist the day before the Kambo was going to take place. I guess sedating yourself on medical grade heroine isn’t the best recipe for spiritual enlightenment produced through anal leakage, and I couldn’t participate in that event either. 

    I was starting to panic. I didn’t know what to do to satiate my yearning and had no idea how to spend the day venerating the instant where I disgorged from my mother’s birth canyon. I knew I had a feeling of wanting to connect to something larger than myself but was unclear how to accomplish that. I couldn’t ignore this feeling of restlessness. I yearned to dive into myself, to uncover a new layer. Tormented by this need I smoked a little weed and went for a night walk around the lake by myself with my dog, Luna, hoping I would figure out what to do with myself. The moon was full, it was the winter solstice, and the season had just turned to Capricorn. It was as cold as a witch’s tit, and the wind was unyielding. I walked around thinking about nothing important (myself) and contemplated this and that (me and more me). 

    Eventually I made my way to the graveyard and tromped through the snow to find the familiar place where my best friend Bitty’s grave is. I kneeled down and pressed my forehead against the bird bath which marks her gravestone, allowing the essence of her energy to enter my 3rdeye. I decided to listen to some music and put on my “Bitty playlist” of songs that all reminded me of her. The vibrations reverberated from my headphones and I entered into a trance as our favorite song from childhood, “Like a Prayer,” played. I started singing to Bitty so she could hear it too. The next song was “Tennesse” by Arrested Development, which in case you haven’t heard that one in a while, is worth the listen. I was moved to get up and dance. The song “Scatman” was next – a stupid club song that Bitty and I danced to at the disco in Hungary when we were 15. I closed my eyes and could see perfectly clearly the way she danced in my mind’s eye. How she’d turn her arms into a snake like a Michael Jackson video we loved. How she smiled at me, a drunken sloppy smile as we threw our bodies around to the beat. I could see it effortlessly – a memory come to life. Then the timeless romantic tune “Gimme that Nutt” by Easy-E was blasted through. I still remembered every lyric (Bitty and I memorized the whole song) and again felt compared to share out loud these tender words as I danced.   

    “That dick you know what so roll over girl while I stick it in ya
    But I’ll turn it wild while I’m ridin’ that ass scream and shout
    My name is the same
    Just another pussy that I had tah tame soooooooo…”

    My ego subsided and I lost myself in my own ceremony – a personalized ritual and ecstatic observance of the holy. In that moment I was unwatched by anyone, even myself. The memory of Bitty blended into what it was actually like to be around Bitty – like we were hanging out again. I danced for hours with her that night. Pounding the ground of her grave with the stomping of my feet. I had assumed the cure to my existential angst was some substance-induced experience to catapult me into the space time continuum, but what I really needed was to spend time my best friend again. To allow the connection to feel alive. Letting myself love Bitty is how I unite with the divine. She is my spiritual practice because she is my god source. She’s part of the mystery of death, the unknown of the eternal. Spending time with Bitty’s spirit is like a cleansing of my cells. It shakes me to my core and wakes me up to life. I deeply I miss my best friend, and that’s not something I always let myself feel because it’s so much to carry. I can’t always find the state of mind where it’s possible to truly open up and connect to her. That’s why I seek the guidance of psychedelics to push me over the edge. Yet that night alone with my dog under the full moon, I allowed all the feelings to flow through me again. These emotions I so often contain and repress because to really feel them is almost unbearable – how much love can hurt when you can no longer make new memories with someone. Yet there I was, on December 22nd2018 dancing with the gravestone of my best friend Bitty, making new memories with her spirit.   

    After that night I no longer cared about my birthday. I no longer felt that internal push. I was calm, almost serene. The holidays floated by in a daze and on the day of my birth, the day I was putting so much pressure on, I barely did anything. I made a video about my new bangs and played one continuous game of “Chutes and Ladders” with my kid for 2 hours. It was the most epic game of “Chutes of Ladders” ever played. Neither of us could win. We’d get so close to the final square, but then down a slide we’d go. We’d go from the top of the board to the bottom of the board again and again and again in an incessant feedback loop. After about the 70thtime I realized that “Chutes and Ladders” is the perfect metaphor for life and is preparing kids for their inevitable future. You go up, you go down, you go up, you go down, you go up, you go down. That board game is the most brilliant physical manifestation of existence ever created. Our inability to get to where we wanted to go was pushing us to the limits of sanity. We started screaming at the board. I began to sweat with frustration as my eyes blurred from fatigue. I was unable to comprehend how many times we’d fall down those damn chutes. I may not have had the drug inspired birthday I was seeking, but that game of “Chutes and Ladders” was truly shamanic.

    PS I won. 


    February 28, 2019 • Adventures, Emotions, Family Drama, Musings, Old School Stories, Playing • Views: 440

  • “My Hair Isn’t Perfect!” – A Feminist Nightmare

    I never thought this day would come. I had assumed that my influence would overshadow the toxic messaging of culture. I wanted to believe that my personal jihad against women defining themselves through their attractiveness would seep into the pours of my child. That my daughter would emulate my behavior rather than succumbing to the influence of media manipulation and societal conditioning. I naively thought I was going to be able to shelter her from the storm of female insecurity by turning myself into an umbrella of ambivalence regarding beauty standards. Are all these years of dressing like a 12-year old boy, not caring about make up, and having my hair resemble a nest suitable for a family of opossums worth nothing?

    Toni: Hey Munchie let’s go!
    The Munch: I’m not ready yet!
    Toni: Why what’s going on? Don’t you wanna go swimming?
    The Munch: I do, but I can’t leave yet! I am doing my hair!
    Toni: Munch who cares? We’re going swimming.
    The Munch: MOM! I CAN’T GO SWIMMING UNTIL MY HAIR IS PERFECT!

    Silence.

    I let that one sink in for a minute. Five minutes later she comes downstairs in tears.

    The Munch: My hair is not right!
    Toni: Munch, why is your hair so important to you?
    The Munch: It just is!
    Toni: If something is this important to you that you’re going to cry about it, I think it’s crucial for you to understand why it’s so important.
    The Munch: I don’t know!
    Toni: So… is it possible that maybe your hair isn’t actually that important?
    The Munch: I ONLY LIKE IT WHEN MY HAIR IS PERFECT AND I LOOK PRETTY!

    A Tsunami of rage flooded my being. How could my 8-year old give a flying fuck in a rolling doughnut about looking pretty? How could this country-bred, Waldorf educated, Swiss chard eating child (that spends her days in nature communing with chipmunks) work herself up into such a tizzy that she’s weeping because hair isn’t perfect!? It was a feminist nightmare. The walls started closing in on me. It was hard to breathe. I began to lose consciousness as my mouth lost all moisture and I nearly gagged at the horror of it all.

    The munch has never seen me stress about my looks, and if she had observed my hair closer she would’ve noticed that the back section was in fact a giant knot that housed 9 different forms of bacterial microbes. Where was this beauty anxiety coming from? TV? Movies? Other girls? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?

    Toni: Do you know what this kind of thinking is? This idea that you’re not pretty enough, or that you need your hair to be perfect? It’s a disease of the mind.
    The Munch: What do you mean?
    Toni: Munch like a cold, or the flu that is spread through germs, there are also contagious diseases of thought that culture spreads to make girls think that they aren’t perfect enough or pretty enough. This idea that girls have to be pretty and perfect all the time gets ingrained in your mind. You then think you’re good if you’re pretty or that being pretty is the value you have to the world. Girls then start to believe that being pretty matters more than anything else – more important than being funny, smart, creative, artistic, interesting, or kind. When all you care about is being pretty, then you can no longer see yourself truthfully. When girls obsess about beauty they often will only see their faults – and how they are not beautiful enough – and this disease makes them mutilate themselves with plastic surgery.
    The Munch: Is that where you change your face with doctors?
    Toni: Yes. These women become so insecure that they change their face with surgery because their minds have the disease of believing that they are not good enough. I’ll show you.

    We got on my phone and spent about 20 minutes looking at before and after pictures of women with plastic surgery. In every photo the before was the better photo – the actual faces of these women, smiling and yet to be ravaged by the Hollywood machine. We looked at what they did to themselves, what society did to them, what doctors allowed to happen. These human faces transformed into plastic masks.

    When we were done The Munch stopped talking about her hair. She hasn’t really talked about her hair since. I know the road is still long for us to go down, and this will most likely be the first of many conversations about this. I wanted to at least plant a seed in her consciousness because it breaks my feminist heart to think of The Munch plagued by insecurity around her beauty. Any woman who has gone through this knows what a waste of time it is. How when you are worrying about how pretty you are, you aren’t fighting against the patriarchy that made you feel inferior to begin with. Our daughters don’t have time to worry about this bullshit. Insecure women are controlled by the paradigm of male dominance and are trapped in a compact lacking the foundation they need to break free. Insecure women will waste their money, resources, time, and energy on the impossible task of seeking perfection.

    As humans we all deal with insecurity because it is genuinely hard not to compare yourself to the other. Yet if The Munch is going to feel insecure I’d so much rather it be because her friend Becky is better at science and not about who has the cuter pigtails.

    I mean its not every day that I can do a “Game of Thrones” style hair on an 8 year old.

  • Did I Fuck Myself By Making You a Better Person Than Me?

    Before having a kid, I had all sorts of ideas and goals about how I was going to indoctrinate a human. I felt very confident in my ability to socialize a person, and believed my influence could guide my child’s essence to develop into my ultimate Nietzschean ubermensch. In my fantasy she was going to be a counter-culture anti-corporate non-conforming anarchist revolutionary that would be really into Avant-garde art, only listen to obscure neurofunk tracks, watch exclusively Dutch films part of the digressionism cannon, and of course be an intellectual prodigy. So far things haven’t worked out exactly as planned. The Munch did in fact go through a 3 year My Little Pony phase, is not as interested as I would have thought in my anti-capitalist rants about the Amero or the federal reserve, and genuinely enjoys such TV programs as Full House – but at least she likes Pink Floyd so, that’s something.

    I guess another aim I had was to install a deep sense of empathy in my kid – especially if she’s not going to shave fractals into her hair and write gnomic poetry about the absurdity of existence – sigh. It’s hard to say if The Munch’s empathetic nature is a result of my flawless parenting or more an innate impulse that would have existed regardless, but she is one of the most moral and thoughtful people I know. She is genuinely happy for her friends when good things happen to them, she feels authentic sadness if she causes someone distress, and she’s hyper-aware of how others are feeling. It’s almost uncanny at times how compassionate she can be, and for a while I thought this was a good thing.

    But is it?

    The other day we were driving to my dance studio in Vermont and there was a homeless lady on the corner. We were stopped at a red light so The Munch had time to read her sign asking for money saying “any help is appreciated.”

    The Munch: Mom, the lady’s sign says she needs some money.
    Toni: Ummm… here is $2 – roll down your window and hand it to her.

    The Munch complied and the lady said thank you and we drove into the parking lot to go grocery shopping before I had to teach my class.

    The Munch: Why did that lady need money?
    Toni: Because she’s homeless.
    The Munch: How do people become homeless?
    Toni: There are so many reasons. Sometimes they have mental illness. Sometimes they have addiction problems. Sometimes they lost their jobs and can’t find another one and don’t have friends or family to help. Sometimes they are coming out of prison and can’t find work and have nowhere to go. I mean in truth it’s is a crime against humanity that there is homelessness, especially here where there is the national income to support homeless people – we just make the choice not to. There are solutions, but it’s just not the priority of the government or I guess any of us.
    The Munch: So, they need other people to help them and give them money to survive?
    Toni: Yeah.
    The Munch: So why did you only give her $2?
    Toni: Huh?
    The Munch: Why did you only give her 2$?
    Toni: Well, it’s more than $1…
    The Munch: But you have a $20 bill in your wallet. I saw it.
    Toni: Oh. Well… ummm…uhhhhh… you don’t really give homeless people $20???
    The Munch: WHY NOT!? THEY ARE HOMELESS!? MOM SHE DOESN’T HAVE A HOME AND YOU’RE NOT GOING TO GIVE HER $20?!
    Toni: Well, it’s complicated. I don’t know what she’s going to spend it on….
    The Munch: MOM WHY DOES THAT MATTER!? DID YOU NOT HEAR THE PART ABOUT HER BEING HOMELESS!?
    Toni: Touché.

    Munch took my wallet, grabbed my last $20, and went to find the woman to give it to her. And that’s how I began a relationship with a homeless woman where every time The Munch and I see her Munch gives her all the money in my wallet.

    Here she is making sure that I’m giving all my cash away.

  • Sea Glass Insomnia and Obliterating Borders

    There is nothing quite like crawling into bed, closing your tired eyes, allowing your breath to deepen, and then just as you’re about to drift off into a sweet slumber snuggled inside the encompassing embrace of Morpheus… you instead start thinking about everything you’ve ever regretted about your life coupled with enervating anxiety about your future. I love when that happens!!! As a life-long insomniac this is often my process in going to sleep, and it’s EXACTLY as fun as it sounds. Something about trying to lose consciousness makes me instead consciously obsess about all that’s wrong with me which then transmutes to all that’s wrong with the world. So relaxing!

    I just got back from vacation, and during that time I was sharing a room with The Munch. Her method for settling down into slumber was to toss and turn in bed as if she were training for a breakdancing marathon. Go figure, but it’s really hard to sleep when someone next to you is engaged in a head-spin. The sounds of sheets rustling against her flailing body eroded my psyche and disturbed any chance I had in settling my soul. With every grand gesture she made, I fell further into the abyss of my own self-loathing. I began stressing about my career and overall lack of financial success. I then started feeling inadequate for all my political impotency. This lead to my being consumed by a deep sensation of dread for everything that was to come in not only my life, but in the future of humanity as well. Stories of the horrific news swirled through my synapses. It was a Kafkaesque nightmare of my own making, and my daughter’s thrashing punctuated my every concern as if she were mocking my anguish with rustling fabric.

    Toni: Munch, I’m having a really hard time trying to fall asleep and it doesn’t help with all that wiggling you’re doing! It’s actually really loud. Can you stop moving around so much?
    Munch: I just can’t stop thinking about sea glass?
    Toni: What?
    Munch: I just keep imagining giant pieces of sea glass. In my imagination, I go to pick up a piece of sea glass and just the small corner is poking out, but when I pull it, I realize it’s actually a GIANT piece of sea glass. I just can’t stop imagining that. That’s why I’m wiggling.

    AHHHH TO BE A CHILD!!!!

    The beauty of her thoughts compared to mine.

    Sigh.

    As an adult it’s impossible for me not to envy the purity of a child’s imagination. A brain that hasn’t been burdened by social programming and conditioning… YET. This still malleable mind of the innocent that thinks beyond the confines of civilization. I was inspired by The Munch’s mental meandering about sea glass and equally lost in self-pity. To live in my mind feels like being trapped in Dostoevsky novel while also inside a Russian prison. Yet to live in The Munch’s mind is like experiencing a perpetual episode of Pee Wee’s Playhouse on acid. Her perception of existence feels unattainable for me to achieve because the corruption of culture has infiltrated my sense of reality. I can’t fathom the relief of a mind that focuses so deeply on the joy of finding GIANT pieces of sea glass that it kept me up at night.

    Yet this lack of imagination, of creativity, of seeing how the world could be different, is exactly why we are watching the demise of this country. As annoying as it is to have my kid keep me up at night, at least my kid is fucking with me and not being ripped from my arms by the US government!

    If you have my mental sensibility, chances are the world depresses the fuck out of you. The news overwhelms you. You fear for the future of not only your own life, but what is going to happen to mankind and the animals we are forcing into extinction. Sure, the planet will continue, yet I can’t help but want life to as well. Call me a romantic, but I like life. I think it’s nifty. It would be a real bummer if human beings annihilated it with their selfish greed. I don’t think this is the way things have to be. I think we are stuck in our programming and need a major reboot of how we configure everything. We need a lot more imagination when it comes to solving our political troubles. For example, the solution to this so-called immigration “problem” is not baby prisons. Let’s actually re-imagine how we structure society and get rid of borders.

    I don’t understand why this is such an outlandish proposition. We already live in a global society. Our media is global. Our communication is global. Our trade is global. Why are we holding onto borders? What do they accomplish? Having borders means we have war. Having borders means we have EVIL anti-immigration tactics. Having borders means we have nationalism that promotes racist ideologies. What do borders accomplish that are good for humanity as a whole? Borders don’t even reflect the truth of how we interact. Borders are a colonialist structure that benefits those in power. Borders are a way to perpetuate capitalist corruption. Borders serve zero purpose to the suffering, and clearly only have value for those in power. Why can’t we instead develop a system that supports and admits our interconnectedness? What are we holding onto by maintaining this antiquated arrangement?

    I want to see a political platform that is thinking on these levels. That wants to truly eradicate the infrastructure that’s designed for the rich to oppress the poor. Only then will I have a night where I can maybe think about sea glass instead of traumatized children.

    To be fair munch is right, sea glass is pretty epic.

  • I Just Feel Like Being Upset

    I have no heart.

    Well according to the zodiac I have no heart. I am a heartless Capricorn.

    Yet anyone that knows me know this isn’t true. My friends would say that unlike the Tin Man, I do in fact have a beating ball of tissue lodged in my chest, and it’s actually a pronounced part of my personality. This impression I make on others is most likely because of my Pisces rising, where as you can see, my skin is crawling with hearts like some venereal disease gone awry, infesting my body with pulsing crimson organs oozing with emotion. Exhausting!

    As you can see by the below note, written when I was 17, I have a deep compassion and love for my friends. I care profoundly about their well-being and the important things in life, such as what they are going to wear, if they are hungry, and of course, how soft their lips are. Please also notice how I signed off this note… not with as you may assume a pot of steaming spaghetti, but rather a bowl of burning weed.

    SOME THINGS NEVER CHANGE!

    My emotional self is much more tied to the needs and feelings of others than to my own. My personal needs and feelings are a bit of a mystery to me, on the back burner of my consciousness, lodged in folds of my temporal lobe, twisted by my brain’s pleats and creases. As such I’m not the most externally emotional person. I can trace this back to my socialization, conditioning, and programming done within my familial structure, drawing a picture of my identity that has become the current shape of “adult Toni.” Yet despite why I am the way I am, there is also an equal truth that I know no other way. Regardless of whatever personal self-reflection I engage in, or how I deconstruct my psychic constructing out of colored construction paper, this is still who I am, and there for a way of being I am passing on to my child.

    The Munch, who is almost 8, hardly ever cries. Like her mother, months and months will go by without a single salty tear. She rarely has emotional outburst and is mostly an even-tempered child who’s easy to get along with. She is quick to prioritize the needs and wants of others, which is a trait I both respect and fear. I think it’s necessary to be empathetic, but that can also leave you vulnerable and lacking boundaries. Yet I am the one socializing her and have to accept that it’s my doing of creating a mini version of myself to look into.

    Yet every so often The Munch will be excessively tired, burnt out, hungry, whatever, and she will throw a fucking fit. There are many ways I could handle her intense display of feeling, and the way I do is most often through calm rational conversation which as you can see above, is probably because I have no heart. But her emotional displays are insightful lessons for me about the nature of humanity, which I guess because of my android temperament I often forget I am apart of! Even though I bury my feelings deep in my colon, they are still creating a mountain of shit inside of me that I can’t deny!

    The Munch: Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
    Toni: Munch, what is the problem?
    The Munch: Well, I didn’t want Jennifer to wear my clothes!
    Toni: But hers got wet when you were playing in the rain. Do you want your friend to wear wet clothes?
    The Munch: No. But I didn’t want her to wear my favorite shirt!
    Toni: Munch, you picked out the shirt, why didn’t you just give her a different shirt?
    The Munch: Well, because it’s all my fault that she fell in the rain in the first place. I was the one who said that we should jump rope, and if we never jumped rope, she never would have fell.
    Toni: So, you feel guilty your friend fell?
    The Munch: Yes!
    Toni: Do you think your friend is blaming you for falling?
    The Munch: No!
    Toni: So, is there really a problem right now?
    The Munch: I DON’T KNOW!
    Toni: Do you think that maybe you’re upset because you were gone for a few days staying with your grandmother and when you stay with other people you feel like you have to act with your best behavior? So now that your home with mom, you are tired of acting with your best behavior?
    The Munch: Yes.
    Toni: Sometimes acting with your best behavior is really exhausting. I know that when I visit someone I really try to be a thoughtful guest, and then when I get home, I can feel cranky. So, if you were working hard being a good guest at Grandmas, now that you’re home it’s easier to have a meltdown.
    The Munch: Yes! It’s hard to always be on my best behavior.
    Toni: So, do you think you’re really upset about the clothes or feeling guilty about your friend falling?
    The Munch: No.
    Toni: So, what are you really upset about?
    The Munch: Sometimes I just feel like being upset!!!!!
    Toni: That’s okay. Sometimes I just feel like being upset too. But it’s important to realize that. Don’t get caught up in the details, and just let yourself feel upset. In order to know happiness, we have to know sadness. So why don’t you let yourself feel upset until you don’t feel like being upset anymore.

    SOMETIMES I JUST FEEL LIKE BEING UPSET!

    That’s just it isn’t it!!

    We need to remind ourselves of this constantly. Unless something HORRIBLE is happening to you at the moment, such as being consumed alive by flesh eating parasites, usually our sadness and pain is about our perspective. It’s never about what’s in front of you, but rather your emotional disposition. Sometimes you just FEEL like being upset, and you can cherry pick from a variety of problems in your life to justify that feeling. For example, I get upset because I am a financial failure and I feel like I work desperately for goals I will never achieve, and sometimes I FEEL like being upset about that, and sometimes I don’t. It’s always there, yet I don’t always direct my attention in that… uhhh… direction.

    I also have a cluster of mosquito bites on my ass at the moment and I go back and forth about my feelings about those. At the moment I feel like being upset enough to scratch them until they bleed, but an hour ago I was leaving them alone. What’s with that?

    Maybe we should put less meaning to WHAT we are upset about and embrace the ebb and flow of life. Sad feelings are inevitable. What you are sad about isn’t something to avoid, but rather a little warning sign on your road through life. You are going to pass through sad corners on the highway of your existence and when you look out the window whatever your attention turns to is guide post to address that part of your existence.

    “Here I am, driving through the interstate of my reality and whoops, I’m heading into a sad section of the ride. Okay, well what’s the scenery here? Oh, there is some self-doubt up on the hill over there, and wow look at that field of fear! Lovely. Oh my, coming across a sunset of need to get better at my craft! Just around that bend I see a hint of delusion!”

    That scenery of our sadness is crucial to look at, but we don’t have to take it too seriously either. Be open to the fact that what we think causes us pain also can cause us joy pending on what glasses we are looking out of. My creative pursuits bring me the most intense happiness even though it’s also why I scream into that mirror I’ve written “loser” on with my blood. We will never truly eradicate all the unsightly landscape of our psyches, but we don’t always have to feel burdened by the panorama either.

  • Pulsing Ego Walks Through Fire and Falls into Darkness and Depression

    I don’t know about you, but I spend a pretty good portion of my life doubting myself. My pulsing ego beating against the soft membranes that barely contain it, writhing in agony as I try to understand my place in the world. Intellectually I know filling my days abusing myself is probably not the best choice of my energy, so I do my best to talk myself out of my negative feelings about me. I say things like, “come on Toni, you may be financial failure and unable to commodify yourself or your art thus indicating that perhaps what you’re creating has zero value to society, buuuuuut you are a good listener and make delicious quinoa!”

    It only sort of works.

    Yet sometimes I find myself tumbling into a darkness of my own making, drowning in a cavernous abyss of insecurity where I question every decision I’ve made in the last 20 years and wonder if I’ll ever accomplish my dreams or if I’m destined for a bleak future where my ambitious aspirations will forever haunt my ego in an enteral feedback loop of failure.

    It just depends on the day!

    Recently my kid had school vacation, and she went away for 7 days to Washington DC to spend time with her two grandmothers. My mom had planned this trip months ago, yet despite my knowledge that I would be kid-free for a week, I didn’t create any grand plans for myself during this time. Usually when The Munch goes away without me, I go away as well. Almost all of our family vacations are spent apart.

    Once The Munch left, I suddenly started thinking that I should do something more exciting than spending the week at home working like I do every other week. Yet none of my attempts of finding fun or making meaning out of my life were panning out. There were no performance opportunities, no creative projects, no people dying to see me, no one wanting to work with me… nothing.

    By not having my kid at home to distract me, this extra time to myself opened up the door to the dungeon of my psyche. It’s not like I don’t get depressed about my life when The Munch is home, because I do – yet it’s hard to go really deep with it when this bright ball of light keeps bouncing around asking me to feel how smooth hot wax is that had dried to her fingers. YEAH I GET IT! I’VE LIVED ON EARTH BEFORE! The diversion of caring for another human that’s so outwardly boisterous and content keeps my disdain about my superficial existence, superficial. I more skate on the surface of my self-loathing, gliding above the ice of my anxieties, and avoid falling into the fishing holes of flagellation when The Munch is with me. Her innocence and wonder at life is contagious, and makes it harder to take my pain as seriously.

    But with the Munch not around for me to deal with her needs, my needs became like a putrid rotting open wound I couldn’t stop picking at. Once the scab of my sense of self started bleeding, I decided it was probably best to peel off all my skin and turn inside out in the process.

    Needless to say I was a lot of fun to be around!

    On Wednesday I went on a walk with my friend and told her about my spiral of self –questioning, yet rather than allowing me to stew in self pity, she reminded me that I am making a choice to pursue an artistic career. I am not a victim and my goals are lofty. There are millions of talented people who work just as hard, and there is no guarantee for any of them. I knew she was right. I know she is right. Logically yes! YES TO ALL. Yet emotionally my struggle of accepting what I know to be true was torturous. That’s the crazy thing about self-inflected pain – it’s just as painful as the pain you didn’t cause yourself.

    I then talked to another friend who reminded me of how many hundreds of auditions she does – the amount of effort she labors out into the ether, putting herself out there time and time again. Reminding me that there is a futility in trying, but it’s also only in trying that anything ever happens – so even in perceived pointlessness there is a point!

    I then had to ask myself why? Why do I try? What drives me? What pushes me forward? Why do I spend my days writing gentalia infused social commentary? What is the point?

    I kept coming back to the same answer. It’s my pain about society. I want to be a part of changing the way people think. I have a deep desire to make an impact on culture and challenge the status quo. I want to shake shit up. Maybe I’m going about it in a weird way by making videos with penis costumes and having friends seduce life-sized dolls to comment about the patriarchy – but it’s not my fault my muse is obsessed with dick jokes and comedy! I’m inspired to make art because I’m inspired to inspire others to question. For the love of Gaia I was a philosophy major at Sarah Lawrence… what do you want from me?

    So that night I spend about 8 hours on my computer trying to find every writing contest, comedy festival, short film contest I could find and started submitting my work. I use to do this all the time, but the problem with applying to things is that every time I open my email, I’d get another rejection. I’d get rejected from things I didn’t every remember applying to. It got a bit demoralizing, so I stopped trying. Yet even if there is a .00001% chance of getting accepted to things that I apply to, that’s still better than the 0% chance I have when not even applying. So to deal with the pain of rejection, I had to open my heart up to more rejection. I have to just keep working and get better at what I do until I don’t get rejected.

    Isn’t that the hilarity of life?

    I tried to re-commit to myself and my process – which is something I think we all have to do. We have to re-commit to relationships, dreams, visions, goals, because they all will disappoint you. Yet even though my brain said “re-commit to your art Toni,” my heart said, “no matter what you’ll never be satisfied so you might as well take all that eternal angst and commit your organs to science.” The days went on, and I tried to talk myself out my sadness, but couldn’t.

    The Munch returned, yet my emptiness remained. We had our friends over to make chocolate chip banana bread, and my friend told me I was putting in too many chocolate chips which I didn’t even think was possible. We sat down to do a tarot reading and I picked a card on my career and suddenly my stomach hurt more than it ever had in my life. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I went to the bathroom and tried to evacuate the demon clawing its way out my colon, but nothing came out of me. I couldn’t puke, I couldn’t poop, nothing.

    I told my friend I was really hurting and felt like a creature was gnawing its way through my intestines – she suggested maybe I had ecoli. I went back to the bathroom and the pain was so intense it was blinding. Now I am NEVER one to go the hospital, yet I started to think maybe that’s where I needed to go. I felt like I was dying. I didn’t have the energy to go to the hospital, so I decided I just had to relax. I had to relax into dying because fighting it seemed like the wrong vibe. I tried to breathe into my dying and I went and laid in bed under 3 blankets, shivering to the point of frenzy.

    The pain wouldn’t release me from its clutch, so again I slinked to the bathroom, barely able to hold up my body. I exhaled and felt a cramping so severe I honestly almost passed out. And then I took the most excruciating but also shamanic shit of my life. As soon is it was over, the pain was gone. Just as fast as it came.

    I laid on the couch for the rest of the night and had some chocolate chip banana bread – and yes there were too many chocolate chips.

    The next day I saw my healer, hoping for answers about my stomach pain, my back pain, and my emotional pain.

    Toni: I had taken some expired Advil. Do you think that could have been the reason my stomach hurt so much?
    Healer: No, I don’t think so. Get on the table and let’s check you out.
    Toni: Okay.
    Healer: Well, your first chakra is split, your 5th chakra is split, and your 3rd chakra is not only split, but it has an entity attached to it.
    Toni: Oh dear!
    Healer: Let me just remove the entity… AHHH it jumped on me!
    Toni: Goodness! Did you catch it?
    Healer: Give me a moment.

    (Pause for dramatic exorcism of entity)

    Healer: Okay. It’s gone.
    Toni: Wow. Do you think that’s why my stomach hurt so much yesterday?

    My healer looked at me with an expression of genuine bewilderment.

    Healer: I don’t know? How could I know that?

    Let’s not forget that my healer DID know that I had an inter-dimensional being lodged in my 3rd charka that she had to physically remove – yet what she did NOT know was if that galactic creature was the cause of my stomachache… which is actually totally fair when you think about it rationally.

    I left my healer’s house feeling better. You could attribute it to a thousand things… pending your belief system and how open your mind is. All I can say for sure is that I feel a lot lighter… that could have been the epic shit too? Who knows?

    I mean… this IS how I choose to spend my days after all…

    May 9, 2018 • Emotions, Mommy Mind, Mommyhood, Musings, Problems, Responsibilities • Views: 1112

  • Emotional Hand Jobs

    I have a lot of social anxiety around people. Wait, let me rephrase that – I have a lot of social anxiety around people that don’t know me and I have to prove my worth through some sort of pithy conversational cue that indicates my humanity and suggests there’s more to me than a woman who has dirt under her fingernails from some unknown source. Considering my personal preference to eliminate all superficial banter that Homo Sapiens are seemingly comforted by, I usually start off with such talking points as, “tell me your primal wound,” when meeting a stranger. My interest is in wanting desperately to know who someone truly is, and not hiding behind the conventions that masquerade us as the happy, perfect, success we all want to be perceived as. I want to know your darkest parts, your deepest shame, your emotional-self, the piece of you that scares you the most – and wouldn’t you know it, not everybody is down for that journey?

    Living in the woods for the past 9 years has insulated me from the societal pressures of impressing humanoids. In my community of cuntree living I’m mostly accepted as my authentic self. The chipmunks understand my crude nature, the trees don’t judge my incessant yammering about capitalism fueling the psychological raping of the patriarchy, and the grass is accustomed to my endless well of genitalia infused humor. Yet when I leave my population of moss-covered rocks and venture into the big world of urban existence where I’m exposed to a plethora of people to connect with, I tend to constantly question who the hell I’m supposed to be in order to be liked.

    Of course there the simple answer is, “yourself”- be yourself Toni!

    Or another answer is, “who cares what people think?”

    Both of these I agree with and try and implement, yet who is “myself” around those I don’t know? How can I not be aware of how others perceive me when I can’t help but notice as their brow furrows at my comment about “butt-fucking corporate greed” and how soon we will be a population of genetically modified humans where only the wealthy will be able to afford designer, Nietzschean, Uber-babies while the poor will lack the resources of genetic perfection thus igniting a cultural war between the immortal demi-god elite and the deformed, polluted, regular humans? I see how their eyes glaze over as they slowly excuse themselves from talking to me, and move stealthily away to have more comfortable conversations with someone else – avoiding eye contact should I return with more polemic antidotes.

    I’m a lot like cilantro in that way. To some, I taste very soapy.

    I struggle with accepting the fact that I turn a lot of people off because I realize I’m making a choice to approach people in the way that I do. I know I could be more likable if I was socially lubricated enough to give out emotional hand jobs. Deep down I know I am capable of deep throating their desire to stay on the surface and discuss things that aren’t as emotionally loaded as, “does your dad actually love you?” Yet instead I feel this need to avoid jerking someone off even if I know they’d enjoy my company more and instead end up furiously metaphorically masturbating while staring them in the face hoping they eventually drop their trousers and do the same.

    I feel torn about wanting to be liked and wanting to be real because those things don’t always go together.

    When I was a young kid I didn’t have any friends. SURPRISE! I had my older brother and he was the only playmate I needed. When I started the 1st grade I made one friend named Trudy who didn’t wear underwear, so I knew she understood a lot more about life than I did. She was also great at cartwheels despite the provocative consequences of the afore mentioned fashion choice. Trudy moved away for the 2nd grade, so I made one more friend to replace her. She was a very shy girl with ringlets named Ashley and we spent most of our time not talking and jumping rope. In the 3rd grade I was separated from Ashley so I became friends with a girl Lizzie, who had an exceptionally impressive blond ponytail that swung when she walked. Lizzie was popular because she was the new pretty girl with the hot hair and the popular boy had a crush on her – and as we all know – a women’s value is often defined by the caliber of boy that likes her because… the patriarchy. Yet sadly Lizzie and her luscious mane moved away after one year, leaving a black hole of the “popular girl” vacuum to be filled. I figured I would go back to my life of obscurity and singing songs about frogs and pigs with Ashley, yet because I had been Lizzie’s best friend, I inadvertently inherited her crown.

    I found being popular to be very stressful. Having many friends is theoretically nice, but when you’re a co-dependent, people-pleasing, 9- year old that feels responsible for the emotional happiness of others and has been socialized by Catholic guilt to prioritize everyone but yourself because love is conditional and only given when behaving in the manner adults want – it can be a bit overwhelming. I always wanted my friends to be happy and this created a dynamic where I was more concerned about being who THEY wanted me to be rather than who I actually was. I was intuitive enough to understand the parts of me each friend preferred, but then my personality became a performance art of negotiating the traits each audience member was most likely to enjoy.

    I lived like this for ummmm… 30 years? There was this hyper concern about the needs of others that made it impossible to prioritize the needs of myself or truly settle into the relationships that made the most sense for me. I was so desperate for love that I’d take it from anyone, even if it meant folding myself into an origami shape of their liking – “oh you’re not into me, well how about you try Toni as crane.” It wasn’t until I birthed a human that I started to address shedding this strategy of manipulating others by manipulating myself into the manipulated figure they most fancied. Not only because of my child’s all-consuming unconditional love that accepted all, didn’t judge, and whose only expectation was my utter devotion – but also because taking care of a kid is very time sucking and forced me to prioritize what was actually important.

    I think we all change, mold, and develop as we grow, but for me personally becoming someone’s mother shook me out of a coma of my own making. I started to genuinely feel like, “who gives a shit what anyone thinks but her?” My kid’s opinion of me is truly the only one that matters and she thinks I’m the fucking shit. The Munch loves my videos, she thinks I have a beautiful voice (I don’t), and she’s convinced I’m an accomplished artist purely because my hearts aren’t crooked and I can draw a descent star shape. Not that I’m basing my sense of self purely on my daughter’s perception of me because I’m aware there will come a time when she’s resentful, rebellious, or questions why she can’t smoke pot in the house when mommy does – but what I have learned from raising The Munch is that I will never be able to be who someone wants me to be because they will ALWAYS want more. They will endlessly suck from my teat, ingesting the milk of my efforts to please them and then digest my excretions while expecting me to change the diarrhea in their diapers.

    So I’ve gone the other direction. I’ve come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to like me, and maybe I even speed that process along by being so unapologetically myself right out the gate. If you’re not interested in discussing the future of A.I. and how maybe hating yourself is what you love about yourself most, then we probably aren’t going to have a lot in common anyway. I’m not perfect at this practice of course. I can get intimated by strong personalities that think they’re better than me because hey – you probably are better than me. I can allow myself to feel bullied in conversations if the person I’m engaging with resists my efforts because they are stuck in their own ideology and too closed-minded to be willing to explore. I can find myself back in old patterns of wanting to please and allowing comments I think are dumb, offensive, annoyingly sexual towards me, or purely shallow. When I’m at my strongest I challenge, and when I’m at my weakest I acquiesce and let things slide I later wish I didn’t. Yet life is a work in progress and I guess the best I can do is keep forcing myself on people and hoping I run into those that are interested in investigating their darkness with me.

    April 18, 2018 • Change, Children, Emotions, Mommyhood, Musings, Parenting, Political Banter • Views: 1339

  • No Seriously My Child, You have NO CHOICE but to be Strong

    When I was a kid snow days were a gift from the heavens – an unexpected present from the Goddess herself, gloriously saving me from yet another mundane day of pretending to understand fractions. I’d wake up and see the world draped with that distinct frosty substance, and my heart would fill with relief as I wriggled back into the womb of my bed ready to spend my day playing “Super Mario Brothers.” Yet now that I’m a parent, a snow day instead fills me with that feeling of, “Awww fuck.”

    When you’re an obsessive workaholic that finds your sense of personal value exclusively through what you produce each day and your self-esteem is predicated on what you’re able to accomplish to the point where you fall into a deep state of anxiety if you’re not able to achieve all you expected from your waking hours – a day off can actually be kind of stressful.

    As such, I had to make a plan with The Munch about our day so we could both get what we wanted – my needing to fulfill my self-imposed compulsive demands of productivity, and her wanting to quite reasonably play with me outside. Now of course The Munch’s request for me to join her frolicking in the open tundra was appealing, yet only after I was able to feel some output out of my day. Our compromise was that she would entertain herself for 2 ½ hours, and then we’d play.

    Part of me wanted to just let The Munch do what she wanted to do (in order to extend my work time) and let her watch some bullshit show on her screen. But fuck that! No memories are made when watching some slutty monsters go to high school (this is a REAL show called “Monster High” – and I’m not slut shaming them, because I believe monsters should be as sexually adventurous as they please, just commenting on the unnecessary attire and body types they are drawn with). I didn’t want to let my kid’s imagination rot by letting her passively fill the hours with media, as tempting as that can be because are imaginations really that important?

    Since The Munch is an only child, expecting her to play by herself for a few hours is reasonable. The Munch set a timer for exactly 3 hours (the extra half hour was her gift to me) and off we went to our perspective rooms – her to play make-believe, and me to write make-believe, but in a very serious way.

    When my time was up, it was time for us to go outside. The Munch and I decided that sledding was a good plan, yet there aren’t really any good hills near my house. The closest one is about a 2 mile walk away. Of course I could have drove through the blizzard to get us there, but like most moms, I needed my car to get covered in snow so I could dig it out on film the next day pretending to be a sexy snow bunny for a video idea I had about New England girls being just as hot as California girls. Every kid has to deal with that right??

    Since we couldn’t drive, we decided that we’d hike through the snowy terrain to the sledding hill. The Munch and I packed some snacks and water, tied the sled to a string so she could pull it behind her, and off we went out into the nor’easter.

    We first had to hike up a hill about a ¼ mile long that’s as steep as a mountain. We were still optimistic at this point, despite the snow propelling with alarming speed into our faces causing an inability to see. Once we almost traversed to the top of the crest, The Munch accidently let go of the string pulling the sled, and had to run full speed and dive to catch it, otherwise the sled would have slid the entire way back down the hill. I have to say I was pretty impressed by The Munch’s instincts, because she plunged headfirst and slid about 8 feet to grab the string just in time.

    Watching my daughter throw her body down a hill and glide on her stomach like a seal version of Neo from the Matrix to retrieve this sled got me thinking. I know it’s common rhetoric to talk about the need of raising your daughter to be a strong woman. You hear that a lot right? Yet I started to think about the harsh reality that I may have to raise my daughter to be strong in a different way than what I’ve been assuming. Not just strong in the sense that she’s strong enough to say “no” to a man whose advances she doesn’t consent to, or strong enough to become a leader in whatever occupation she chooses. There is the emotional strength I’m familiar with of being a woman within the patriarchy and trying to find my place of significance despite the insidious sexism that still permeates most of modern culture. Yet with my quest of challenging social paradigms I’m still physically comfortable and live in a western world that provides me with the illusion of personal safety. Despite my being sexually harassed and Weinsteined every so often, I do take for granted my access to the basic luxuries of life – like having electricity and easy access to food.

    Yet suddenly it dawned on me that I may have to empower my daughter in an entirely other way as well. The Munch may have to be strong in ways I never had to be considering the future I’m handing her. There is a pretty good chance that my daughter has to be strong enough to survive THE MOTHER FUCKING APOCALYPSE!!!!!!!!

    Was I being alarmist? Maybe? Was I perhaps a little stoned/paranoid, thus envisioning the potential future we are racing towards that’s laden with biblical style horrors led by the insanity of our current administration? Possibly? Yet it’s also naïve to assume that The Munch is going to experience the same lifestyle I am currently enjoying considering there is major probability of MASSIVE GLOBAL CATASTROHPE.

    I started to get so despondent realizing the very REAL potential that shit could seriously hit the fan, and how my daughter’s main concerns in life won’t be comparable to mine – like how many “likes” her videos get – but rather her troubles will be whether or not she’ll endure the pending ice age caused by all the cataclysmic erratic weather patterns. Or if she’ll be able to live through the violence that will ensue as resources diminish and water is the most valuable commodity.

    As we continued to hike through this mammoth tempest towards our sledding hill, my mind was filled with prophecies of this tragic future and how my child might one day be desperately searching for animal carcasses to feast on the raw carrion, as fire would be a luxury only the 1% could enjoy. I started to realize that maybe I haven’t been doing my daughter any justice by keeping her warm, and cozy, and fed, and instead I needed to teach her to survive in the wild!

    The Munch: Mama, I’m hungry. Let’s take a break.
    Toni: We have to keep going! You have to be strong!
    The Munch: But I’m tired! It’s harder for me to walk than you! The snow is deeper for me! It’s only up to your knees, but it’s up higher on me! It’s past my thighs!
    Toni: Munch, what if there’s a war? Like world war 3? And we have to hike out of here to survive? How would we hide from the enemy if you had to rest because your legs were tired?
    The Munch: Easy. I’d just do this.

    The Munch proceeds to curl up in a ball to “hide.”

    Toni: Dude, I can still see you even though you can’t see me!
    The Munch: I’d just bury deeper in the snow and camouflage.

    The Munch snuggles in, and brushes some snow on her back to “camouflage.”

    Toni: I can still see you! We have to keep going!
    The Munch: My legs hurt, and my feet are cold. I should have worn wool socks.
    Toni: Dude, you have to push through the pain! Your body is capable of so much if you’re determined. You have to persevere, and train yourself to face suffering – not run from it. And who knows, you may not even have access to wool socks in the future? You have to get used to freezing toes. We have to keep going… Now what are you doing?
    The Munch: I’m drawing a picture of summer in the snow. See, here’s the sun – and the sun’s smiling because it’s warm out – and here are some flowers, and that’s me swimming.
    Toni: Munch, there is no time for drawing pictures in the snow! If we were running from the enemy we’d have to be efficient. Do you know if you can eat this kind of bark? What about this moss? Have you ever tried moss? Wait… now what are you drawing?
    Munch: It’s us sledding. See, that’s you, that’s me, that’s the sled, and that’s the sun smiling.
    Toni: No more drawing smiling suns! You have to get up and walk!
    The Munch: But I’m hungry.
    Toni: Fine, if you make it up this next hill, then you can stop and eat.
    The Munch: That hill is like a mile long!
    Toni: It’s the only way! You have to be strong!!!! We can play “I spy” while we hike.
    The Munch: We can’t play “I spy,” because everything is white and brown?
    Toni: MUNCH, YOU HAVE TO JUST KEEP GOING! YOU HAVE TO BE STRONG!

    We finally made it up the next hill, having negotiated through the snow for over a mile. I then let The Munch stop to eat, but there was no shelter for us, so we just had to sit in the snow as the wind blew more snow in our faces while even more snow fell from the sky. I took off my backpack that was… you guessed it… covered in snow, and then took off my gloves to fish out her snacks that were also… covered in snow because the snow had snowed inside my bag somehow? Those two minutes with my gloves off were excruciatingly cold, and I wasn’t sure how The Munch was going to eat her cut up apples and cheese with her gloves on? Yet The Munch took off her mittens and proceeded to enjoy her snack for the next ten minutes – not a care in the world, not complaining about her blue fingers, not saying much really. She just hummed to herself as snow collected on her eyelashes while she ate her food.

    We then slid down the hill we had just climbed and eventually hiked home. Once we were finally inside after 3 hours of outdoor training, as we peeled off our sopping wet gear The Munch turned to me, ice crusted in her hair, and said:

    Munch: That was really fun Mama! I like playing I the snow with you!

    It was then I realized that maybe The Munch will make it after all – especially because I then made her stand outside barefoot for a bit to toughen up her feet.