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Posts

  • Scratching That Itch Doesn’t Make it Go Away – it Just Moves it

    We’ve all had those moments where you ask someone to scratch your back, and some willing, but slightly irritated victim obeys. No one wants to scratch someone else’s back because as a rational person you know what you’re in for – a journey into the impossibility of satiating an itch. Seconds after the skin scraping ritual begins, the itch moves. “A little to the left,” you say. Once again, it moves. “Now back to the right,” you instruct as their nails skid across your human casing. “Now up… down… over… to the left… no to the right I said… back down again… up… more up… up some more… and…”

    An itch isn’t meant to be relieved; it is designed to torture you with craving. We fool ourselves into thinking that digging your claws into the right spot will make it go away. We forget the unavoidable truth that the very nature of yearning is rooted in the harsh reality that even when you get what you want, it isn’t what you want any more. Our collective story is fraught with examples of this. I want that man, but now that I have him, he bores me. I think that those drugs would feel divine, yet now I am puking into my shirt. I need that job – huh, boy this job is stressful. I need a vacation, and now I need a vacation from my vacation. I’ll go on this dating app to have meaningless sexual encounters, yet at the same time look for a relationship. Even though we can often see the hamster wheel of another person’s life, we put ourselves through the same cycle over and over and over again, running into the oblivion of our ravenousness.

    I think it’s that exactly feeling that our smarty pants phones tap into. This need for an instant hit of something outside of ourselves to distract our minds from the pain of our thoughts. For most of us, our brains have a mind of their own, and we are thinking about things we don’t want to think about, yet can’t stop thinking about. So we want, and want, and want some more. We want more love, more sex, more drugs, more success, more entertainment, more food, more sugar, more adoration, more acknowledgement, more appreciation, more money, more security, more freedom, more stuff… and then we want it all over again, just a better version.

    This constant striving may be the catalyst of the vast majority of our emotional suffering, yet it’s also the drive that pushes towards progress – and maybe even our own survival. The curiosity of humans, this ceaseless thirst that we cannot quench, is unique to our kind. Back in pre-history when Neanderthals reached the shores of an ocean do you know they did? They turned the fuck around because there was a goddamn giant scary body of water in front of them, and they couldn’t see the other side. Do you know what Homo sapiens did? They built a raft to float out into the unknown and see what was beyond the horizon. When the Neanderthals reached a mountain range they would camp at the bottom, but Homo sapiens, even the straight ones, would climb to the other side. Neanderthals lacked the seemingly crucial social construction of craving for more, where we Homo sapiens succumbed to it. And who the are the ones that are extinct now!?

    Even though our wanting is part of our demise, it’s also part of our successes as a species. So how do we as individuals have a more reasonable relationship to the seduction of desire? Is there a way to find balance amidst the chaos of greed?

    If there is anything that being a parent has taught me it’s that looking for someone else’s socks can make you suicidal. The other thing I learned is that children have a much greater capacity than adults to deal with disappointment. It may not seem that way at first. If I tell my kid “No you can’t watch Monster High while eating your leftover chemically ridden Valentine’s candy before bed,” she might scream for a moment in protest. This is where depending on my emotional capacity; I may give in just so she shuts the fuck up. But if I stay strong and deal with her momentary rebellion, she will forget about it, and move on. She doesn’t hold it against me. It’s not like The Munch will even bring it up again like, “remember that time you didn’t let me have that 3rd cookie?” No. She never says that shit. She just keeps living her life, not holding onto the past of her unfulfilled desires.

    Wanting shit is not the problem. It’s how we deal with not getting what we want is.

    The reason why kids move through their feelings with greater ease and grace is because they fundamentally think differently than adults. There is more space between their thoughts, because their egos aren’t as developed. The adult mind is dealing with CONSTANT chatter from the ego. Even right now as you read this very post your ego is still talking to you, judging what I say. Yet with kids, their egos aren’t as loquacious, leaving more room in their minds for observation and imagination.

    The more the mind is engaged with observing the world around us, the less energy is spent judging it. The more the brain is bouncing around creative concepts, the less it’s criticizing. So the solution to our all our problems is right in front of us. Think less by training your mind to observe, and through that you will find the wisdom of contentment in where you are in the moment – knowing it’s all a process and you’ll never truly be satisfied anyway.

    I think The Munch has tapped into this angst of mankind, and as such told me this glorious nighttime story.

    Munch: “Once upon a time there was a toilet, and this toilet was very sad. It was a sad toilet because no one was peeing in it, so it couldn’t drink pee, and no one was pooping in it, so it couldn’t eat poop. And that is the story of the sad toilet.”

    Am I raising a genius or what?

  • Change Your Loop, Change your Life!

    Do you ever wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “this again?” Don’t get me wrong, life is cool and all – but there is also this mundane aspect of existence that makes me wonder, what is the point? The day ahead of me is filled with so much repetition from the day before. I will wake up, go to the bathroom, drink coffee, go to the bathroom again, work, look in the mirror and contemplate my place in the world, go to the bathroom, then work some more. (You guys, I go to the bathroom a lot. Should I see a doctor?)

    We all have patterns to our days. If you were to track your self over the past couple of years, I’m sure your movements would create some sort of fractal of never ending repetition. Then something happens – you might move, get a new job, break up, get together, something… and that pattern is broken! But then a new configuration is created, and once again stuck in a paradigm of your own creation.

    Question: Are our human lives really that different from the robots of Westworld??! Another question: Do I watch too much TV?

    In Westworld the androids had their loops that they were stuck in, and the only way for them to get out was to have a shift of consciousness. We are JUST like that. The only way to change our loops is to have a moment that rocks our world so deeply, that we see everything slightly different. This will force us to live in a new way, because once you learn something, you can never unlearn it. Trust me… there is so much I wish I didn’t know about the pork industry, because hot dogs are delicious. But even though we escape one loop, that doesn’t mean we don’t enter into another. Maybe the key is not expecting to get out of our loops, but rather keeping evolving in our thinking so our loops end up looking more like spirals? So we don’t live our lives spinning in circles, or orbiting around the same problems, but rather moving up towards something new.

    But what does that mean to shift your consciousness? I don’t want to spurt annoying new age rhetoric. I would rather squirt solutions. (P.S If I die tomorrow; please put that on my gravestone).

    We are always going to have problems with our lives; the key is not having the SAME problems for years on end. Maybe shifting our consciousness means actually dealing with the problems in front of us, and getting a new set of problems? That seems doable right?

    Yet it’s scary to evolve because in order for that to happen, you have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. The problem with that is that we Westerners LOVE being comfortable. We spend most of our time, money, and effort searching for comfort. Yet the irony is that we don’t remember the comfortable times of our lives, we remember the moments where we weren’t.

    I think that’s why I had a kid. Not because I like kids. The only kid I truly enjoy is the ones that remind me of me. I wanted to have a kid because I was curious about the challenge. When I got pregnant, my life felt flat, and I wasn’t sure where I was going with it. I wanted to get out of the loop I was in, because it had no real meaning to it. I was lost and there was something profound about the idea of pregnancy and birth – a right of passage I wanted to go through. Birth is one of the most cosmic acts a person can experience. You create a life inside your body, and then eject it out into the universe. It’s a spiritual activity, like yoga, meditation, talking about different ways to prepare bok choy, or eating a 90% cacao chocolate bar. But after that part was over, I was like, “holy shit, now there’s a human I have to take care of!”

    So then I entered into the loop of parenting, and I was relieved. I had a whole new set of problems that didn’t involve not “making it” in New York. It was so consuming, and my brain chemistry changed so all I cared about was my needy as hell baby. My baby became my life – especially because as a mother that thing was sucking off my fun bags all day. Yet there was something comforting about this phase of life because my world was so small. The only thing that mattered to me was keeping my baby alive, sleeping, and arranging my clothes so the barf wasn’t as noticeable. Then my infant became a toddler, and those things are still pretty high maintenance. Even though I had more time to myself, there was still a lot of work I had to do to socialize my kid not to be an asshole.

    But now that The Munch is 6, I’m kind of done parenting. At least until she starts doing drugs and blowing boys. There are some responsibilities I still have – like being her short order cook and carrying her crap around like a Sherpa – but I no longer have to be this warden of her behavior. She’s basically pretty cool. Her conditioning has mostly been implemented, so we don’t fight about much, nor are there tantrums or emotional conflicts. We’ve come to understand each other’s boundaries. She knows she can eat treats if she eats vegetables first, so we don’t have to have battles about her sugar addiction. She gets that her mom needs things to be compulsively clean and respects that, just as I know that it’s best not to interfere with her wardrobe or laundry and let her wear what she wants – which is the same thing every day. We’re in this sweet spot where she’s kind of like a roommate I have to sometimes insist takes a bath.

    I think a lot of people like the parenting loop, which is why they keep having kids. Caring about your children’s well being is a noble way to spend your days! You don’t have to question your value, because there is an indisputable worth of being a good parent. I really enjoyed that phase of life, because it was a loop that was filled with a lot of obvious love and appreciation from my kid. There was much The Munch taught me about the nature of humanity, and the psychological development of people. Also, her presence made me SUPER appreciative of my time in a way that having more freedom never would. I am sooo much more focused than before. I can seriously accomplish more in one hour, then I used to in an entire day when I had nothing but myself to think of.

    Yet I am more terrified now of getting pregnant than I was as a teenager, because now I know what it actually takes. For me, the loop of parenting was also driving me nutty. With this hyper focus my child had given me came with it a driving ambition that has taken over my psyche. Maybe creating a life made me a more creative person, so thanks for that kid, but now I’ve got some work to do! I really like my child, and I’m SUPER glad to know her – but I am ready to do without all this parenting!

    Now The Munch has her own life, her own friends, and doesn’t need me in the same way that she did. She’s good to go. I mean I can’t leave her alone with the oven on or anything, but I’m not worried about her feeling abandoned if I pursue my dreams. You guys… I am officially entering into a new loop! My world has expanded, and it’s a relief, but also terrifying. Hopefully soon I will have a whole new set of problems to complain about!!!

    toni-outside-with-glasses

    December 22, 2016 • 6 years old, ambitions, Musings, Parenting • Views: 403

  • 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: 846

  • 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: 765

  • The Only Advice You Will EVER Need

    Let me give you some advice. Don’t take people’s advice.

    And don’t give advice.

    My problem is that I can’t even take my own advice about not giving people advice. I’m an advice giver! I can’t help it! When someone talks to me about a problem they have, I want to save them from whatever’s tormenting them. I want to solve their crisis because the solution seems so obvious from my outsider’s perspective. Isn’t everyone else’s life so simple compared to our own? We are too clouded with subjectivity and confused emotions to see clearly most of the time – which is why we may think we want advice – but in truth we really only want to hear what we want to hear.

    Most of the time people have no interest in taking your advice, they just want to know you care about them enough to give it. There sometimes may be the illusion that they are following your advice, but that’s usually because your advice happened to coincide with what they were going to do anyway. It’s more likely a coincidence that you thought they should do what they were already thinking of doing.

    I know all this, yet my compulsion to tell you what to do is stronger than my rationality of knowing you don’t want to know what I think. I get this from my mom, as she is the exact same way as me. Ironically every time I’m telling her about something that upsets me and she tries to give me advice… it SUPER annoys me!! Of course she’s just doing what I’m doing to everyone else, but really all I want her to do is listen to me. Yet when she is telling me her problems, all I want to do is give her advice!

    Recently I’ve started a personal habit of asking someone “do you want my advice?” when they are telling me something. At least that way they are welcome to say “not really,” and for us both to save the energy. Because when you give someone advice, isn’t it kind of insulting when they don’t do what you suggest? It’s like “why was I thinking so hard when you were going to just do what you were going to do anyway!? DO WHAT I SAY!!!!”

    I’ve also tried to notice how I feel when someone gives me advice that I don’t want to do. Do I not want to do what they are saying because they are wrong? Or because they are suggesting the RIGHT thing to do, but it’s also the harder choice, so I don’t want to do it. My practice is to force myself to follow the advice I don’t want to, because maybe they are seeing something I can’t? Maybe the advice I give my self is exactly what I shouldn’t be doing, even though the advice I give other people is exactly what they should be doing!?

    Even though advice is mostly useless, our culture is obsessed with giving it out. The problem is that there isn’t a lot of consciousness around what we do with it once we receive it. There is a whole industry around self-help: parenting advice, health advice, relationship advice, even some forms of therapy are basically just getting some therapist’s advice on how we should live our lives. In a way, it’s kind of a total waste. Most of us only truly change because of the results of our actions, not because of someone suggestions.

    Yet as I am saying all this, I am rendering myself totally insignificant! If people don’t need my advice then I will have no meaning in this world! Who would read my blog!? Who would care about me!? WAIT! Stop taking my advice about not taking my advice because I know you’re not going to anyway. Instead let me give you some advice about all the things you’d need advice about so you never have to take advice again! Unless it’s mine of course!

    Parenting advice: No matter what you do, you are going to fuck up your kid somehow. It can’t be avoided, so do what feels most right to you in the most conscious way possible, but get ready to cause some primal wounds and traumas. The only thing you can really do is preparing yourself to confront it at one point. Your kid will grow up and realize how their conditioning damaged them and if you can acknowledge their pain that you unintentionally caused, they may change your diapers when you need them to later.

    Relationship Advice: You are either going to be the object of worship, or the one doing the worshipping. Which one do you prefer? If you are being worshiped you will feel more secure but less lusty for your partner. If you are doing the worshipping you are going to feel more lusty but less secure. Pick your poison.

    Health Advice: Eat whole foods that don’t have chemicals. Cook everything you can for yourself. Move your body. Mediate. Get enough sleep. Be experimental. Investigate the emotional messages of your pains. Believe you can heal.

    Sex Advice: Don’t fake orgasms. Be honest about your desires. If you don’t like something, don’t pretend to.

    What you will learn in therapy: Your parents fucked you up and they are the root of all your problems. But they are just people who had fucked up parents who fucked them up – so be forgiving.

    advice-blog-2

    May 12, 2016 • Musings, Parenting, Relationships, Sex Stuff • Views: 768

  • 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: 863

  • I Spend Most of My Time With You Trying To Avoid You

    I realized the other day that most of the time that I am home with my kid; I am trying to avoid her. If The Munch comes into the room I am in I will just stand there perfectly still, hoping she doesn’t notice me. It’s like I’m at Jurassic Park trying to avoid a loose Velociraptor. One slight movement and The Munch will see me with her peripheral vision, then ask me to do something for her.

    Kids can be really fucking high maintenance!

    First she will want me too look for something impossible. Like the red “play mobile” fork she was using for her “My Little Pony Set up.” Keep in mind said fork is literally the size of a ladybug wing. This goddamn utensil is so small you can’t see it with the naked eye, and yet somehow I am supposed to spend 45 minutes of my life searching for it.

    Then she will ask me to make her food. Of course you want your child to be well fed, but every request The Munch has is so complicated I feel like a chef at a 5 star restaurant. She will want a smoothie with peaches, two raspberries, a dash of vanilla, and seasoned with the shavings of a unicorn horn. There is always so much preparation and clean up associated with everything she wants to eat, and then I have to be at peace with the fact that only 1/3 of what I made actually goes it into her mouth hole. The rest she spills all over the table. I swear to god if The Munch had it her way, she would have a soufflé for an afternoon snack and flambé for dinner.

    Of course there is also the request that I play with her. I love my kid, but holy fuck playing can get real boring. It’s okay for 10 minutes – but imagining that we are kitties at the kitty shop that have to take care of the crying babies who need their diapers changed so they can fly is my idea of a nightmare. I love talking to The Munch – hanging out, cuddling, drawing – things of this nature. But when I have to take on the role of a playmate my attention span has an expiration date.

    The Munch is really good about self-entertaining, but I can’t always count on it. Some days all she wants is to get up in my grill, and make demands of me. Yet there are those blissful days when The Munch will keep herself occupied for hours in room. Of course during these serene moments I move like a ninja so as not to bring attention to my presence. If someone were to come into my house and disturb this vibe of her not needing me, I would put them in a sleeper hold. And maybe slit their throat and dispose of the body under my kitchen table. Anything to keep the Zen.

    My favorite time with my kid is when we are both in the house peacefully doing our own thing. She will be playing with her toys pretending that one of her stuff animals is hanging to death, and I will on my phone overwhelmed with feelings of self-doubt and personal loathing. Just like they did in the olden days.

    flower crown munch

    February 2, 2016 • Behavior, Mommy Mind, Mommyhood, Parenting, Playing • Views: 693

  • You’re Better Than Me!

    My kid and I don’t really have a lot of the same interests. We have some things in common. We both really enjoy loud music, cookies, and fart jokes. We also both think it’s hilarious when you’re spitting phlegm out the car window, and said phlegm flies right back into your face. But in terms of things we like to do to pass the time, we’re very different.

    The Munch for one loves to play “hide and seek.” Maybe that would be fun if I was on acid, in a mansion, and the walls were made of Playdough. But playing “hide and seek” in my house where I know every possible hiding space isn’t exactly mentally stimulating. Especially because half the time I can obviously see her – because she SUCKS at “hide and seek!” So then I have to walk past her, PRETENDING I can’t find her like a fool. That game is really more of a time for me to look at my phone while crouched in the closet.

    Then there are the “make believe” games The Munch LOVES to play. There is something so inspiring about watching your kid lose themselves in a world of their own creation. I find myself awestruck by her authenticity – as she plays pretend with her toys, and explores her imagination. The Munch gets really into it too. She uses different voices for each of the characters, and develops incredibly intricate plotlines. Nothing is more peaceful than relaxing in the living room while eavesdropping as The Munch plays sweetly. I can just sit back and listen to her deepest thoughts as one of her character says, “my mom killed my sister Becka, but that’s okay because she didn’t even know her letters.”

    Like I would ever name my kid Becka!?

    But I can’t play pretend with The Munch! I don’t have that capacity any more. I am a grown up, and I use my imagination to stress out about my future and have anxiety about my past.

    Finding things to do together that we BOTH enjoy equally isn’t always easy. She is not that interested in talking about Donald Trump’s ties to the lizard Elite, and I don’t give a flying fuck in a rolling doughnut about My Little Pony.

    Munch: I’m bored! I wanna play with you!
    Toni: Do you want to play the Congress is corrupt?
    Munch: NO! Too predictable! Can we play kittens on a pirate ship?
    Toni: How about we draw together instead?

    Now let’s be clear about something. I cannot draw. I cannot create a depth of field. I can’t draw people. I can’t shade. I have no ability to draw anything beyond two-dimensional shapes. So I decided I would just do that – and color them in pretty.

    At first everything was going fine. My friend Natalya came over, and drew with us for a while as well. It was kind of an adorable scene – us all drawing together and drinking tea. After Natalya left The Munch and I continued to draw – sure it had been almost 3 hours at this point, but I was pretty OCD and NEEDED to finish my picture.

    Munch: You’re star is better than mine.
    Toni: Drawing a star is tricky. Do you want me to show you how?
    Munch: Okay.
    Toni: This is how I learned. You draw an upside down “v” like this. Then you bring one line over here, the other over there, and then you connect them!

    The Munch practiced with me, drawing a star with lines that ran through the center.

    Munch: But your star doesn’t have lines through it.
    Toni: That’s true. But it took me a long time to draw a star with no lines through it. I started with the lines until I got better.
    Munch: I wanna draw my star with NO LINES!
    Toni: Okay… give it a try.

    The Munch tried, and was having an increasingly difficult time.

    Munch: AHHHHHHHHHHHH! I CAN’T DRAW A STAR WITH NO LINES!!!!!
    Toni: Munch, you don’t need to get so worked up. The way you get better at something is to practice! You just have to keep trying. You will get it!
    Munch: BUT YOUR STAR IS BETTER THAN MINE!!!!!!!!
    Toni: That is because I have been practicing drawing stars for 30 years.
    Munch: YOU DRAW BETTER THAN ME!!!!
    Toni: Dude, if I didn’t draw better than a five-year old, you should be seriously worried about me.
    Munch: BUT I WANT TO BE ABLE TO DRAW A STAR AND I CAN’T AND YOU DRAW BETTER THAN ME!
    Toni: Munch, Natalya draws better than me.
    Munch: NO she doesn’t! Her “space cat” doesn’t even look like a cat!
    Toni: That’s because it’s a “space cat” with boobs! Not a regular cat! And she is a wayyyyyyyy better at drawing than me. Do you want to know why?
    Munch: Why?
    Toni: Because she practices! She works hard and drawing, and that’s how she got to be so talented.
    Munch: BUT I WANT TO BE ABLE TO DRAW A STAR AS GOOD AS YOU!
    Toni: Dude, this is the thing. How I draw a star has nothing to do with you. We have to be able to happy for other people and their accomplishments, even when we are struggling with our own feelings of insecurity. I can think Natalya is a better drawer than me, feel jealous about her skills, but at the same STILL be happy for her! In fact, my feeling happy for Natalya for working so hard means that I don’t even feel jealous anymore. My feelings of happiness for her are more pronounced than my feelings of jealousy. So I can instead focus on working hard and practicing, while being happy for my friend that I love.
    Munch: BUT I DON’T WANT TO PRACTICE! I WANT TO BE ABLE TO DRAW A STAR JUST LIKE YOU NOW!!!
    Toni: Munch, you can’t be so goal oriented about your art. That’s not the point of creating! You have to enjoy the process.
    Munch: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

    The Munch stormed off and left me to my coloring. Which I of course continued because I was ALMOST DONE! I had to finish it okay!?

    Since then we’ve had a few meltdowns about drawing – always the same theme. The Munch eventually gets upset because she can’t do something perfectly – then traveling down a rage spiral while comparing herself to me and feeling inadequate. But that doesn’t mean I am going to not draw my best because I have coloring to accomplish okay!!?

    But I realized that everything I said to The Munch about her drawing, I could apply to myself. I am SUPER goal oriented when it comes to my art. I have expectations of how I want things to be received, or turn out – and when they don’t I feel just like her. I get disappointed, frustrated, insecure, and yell belligerently at the wall.

    It made me think that maybe The Munch’s angst about her art is merely a reflection of my own. That she is just picking up on my vibes, and reflecting them back to me. It made me wonder how much of my energy is unconsciously infiltrating her consciousness, and perhaps most of her psychosis is really just my own stress being mirrored back to me.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some coloring to get back to.

    The famous “star picture”

    toni star drawing

    Natalya’s “space cat”

    space cat

    This only took me 5 hours

    toni drawing

  • I Don’t Love You Anymore!

    The Munch is still in a state of healing from her eye surgery. It is for sure WAAAYYY more complex than I imagined, and as it stands right now the doctor is thinking that we may have to do another operation. I of course REALY don’t want to put Munch through that, so have been going hard on the holistic healing front.

    In these past few weeks I’ve taken her to a variety hippy doctors, and they all say her body is still processing the trauma of the experience. Because I want to be as proactive as possible, there are a bunch of things I am trying in order to address both the emotional and physical distress. This is the short list:

    1) Eye patch glasses: Munch didn’t want to wear an eye patch because she didn’t think patches were “fashionable,” and the adhesive gave her cheek a rash. So I made her some super sweet Hello Kitty glasses with a ballerina patch over the good eye. Now she looks like a punk rock pirate, and will wear them around her friends.
    2) Pills for her blood/liver: My acupuncture lady said we needed to support her liver/blood to keep tendons and eyes healthy. I brewed Chinese herbs for 2 days in hopes that Munch would drink it, but she refused because it tasted like “monkey poop and pee.” But she did learn to swallow pills so at least that is happening – but she is also now irrationally excited about swallowing pills… which makes me somewhat concerned for her future and doing ecstasy. PS I am also now drinking the “monkey poo and pee” drink because I don’t want it to go to waste, and it tastes more like giraffe semen.
    3) Eye Games: We play games with flash cards where I make her move her eye around. This game has now evolved to me also playing, and working out my eye, which can now bench press 250 lbs.
    4) Massages: I massage her leg to stimulate blood production, her feet to lower stress, her head to relax the brain, and her eye to bring awareness of healing. This is a 30 min process where I have to keep her relaxed and entertained so she doesn’t squirm around. This means I tell stories the entire time, which I make up from the top of my head. I now have carpel tunnel syndrome in my hands from all these damn massages, and probably should enter an improv group for my amazing off the cuff story telling abilities – although many of them end with someone farting really loud.
    5) Singing: Now I have to make her sing as much as possible because the vibration in her head is healing, but she HATES it when I sing because The Munch is a musical snob… sooooo this one isn’t going so well.

    I have also been taking her to healers who do cranial sacral work and trauma release. I have noticed that when we get home from these visits, she has total meltdowns that night. The Munch isn’t really one to have tantrums, so I figure she is getting out these buried emotions that she kept in while trying to be cooperative during the surgery. She was excessively stoic, and maybe needs to get some of the fear and rage out?

    I have been trying to give The Munch space to have these outrageous moments of outburst, and not take them personally or get angry with her for acting out. I know her well enough to know this isn’t her normal behavior, so there is no point in punishing her for needing to release. But this is what it looked like last night.

    The Munch: Mamma, can I have a candy cane?
    Toni: There is no way! It is bedtime, and you can’t eat a candy cane right before bed.
    The Munch: But I WANT ONE!
    Toni: That is understandable because candy canes are delicious. But you have to wait until tomorrow. You can have one then.
    The Munch: Well I can eat it anyway, and you can’t stop me.
    Toni: Of course I can. I am way bigger than you and can take it from you. I would rather you just put it away and have it tomorrow.
    The Munch: Try and take it from me.
    Toni: I am not going to do that.
    The Munch: Just try and take it from me.

    Okay fine… I am the grown up and could have refused. But she was TAUNTING ME OKAY!

    I grabbed the candy cane and it she held onto the hook, and now the other half was in my hand.

    The Munch: AHHHHHHHHHHHHH YOU BROKE IT!!!! WAAAAHHHHHHAAA
    Toni: Dude I am sorry. I didn’t mean to break it. It was an accident!
    The Munch: WELL YOU DID BREAK IT!! WAHHHHHAAAA
    Toni: You told me to try and take it!
    The Munch: WAAAAAHHHHHHHHAAAAAHHHHHAAA!!! YOU BROKE IT!
    Toni: I didn’t mean to break it, but you did tell me to try and take it. Besides, you can have the pieces in the tomorrow. It gets all broken up in your tummy anyway. I will save them for you.
    The Munch: I DON’T WANT IT TO BE BROKEN! I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE! AND I AM TAKING MOLLY FROM YOU AND YOU WILL NEVER SEE MOLLY AGAIN. EVEN THOUGH SHE IS YOUR FAVORITE STUFFY.

    The Munch then went into my room, and got my stuffed animal dog named Molly, and hid her. Okay fine a grown up isn’t supposed to sleep with stuffed animals. But I have had molly for 25 years! I always sleep with Molly!

    The Munch: There! Now Molly is hidden and you will never find her!
    Toni: Munch I hear that you are angry, but I think you maybe need some time to think and calm down and then we can talk.
    The Munch: NO! I am locking you in my room and YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE!
    Toni: Never? What if I get hungry?
    The Munch: You will get nothing to eat!!!
    Toni: So I would just starve to death in your room?
    The Munch: YES!!!
    Toni: So when people ask you “what happened to your mom?” you would just say “oh I got super mad because she broke my candy cane so I locked her in my room. She eventually starved to death and died.”
    The Munch: Yes!
    Toni: Don’t you think you would maybe miss me?
    The Munch: YES I WOULD!
    Toni: Okay well can we think of a solution for you to feel better so you are not yelling or trying to starve me to death?
    The Munch: NOTHING WILL MAKE ME FEEL BETTER EXCEPT FOR WATCHING MY LITTLE PONY OR EATING A NON BROKEN CANDY CANE.
    Toni: Well, neither of those things are going to happen.
    The Munch: WELL THEN YOU CAN’T MAKE ME HAPPY!
    Toni: Of course I can’t make you happy! You have to make your elf happy! Can you think of something that might make you happy? Like maybe you could jump on the bed and then into my arms.
    The Munch: Ummm okay.

    Then she was totally fine and we did our 45-minute healing routine and I got early onset arthritis. This morning we talked about it…

    The Munch: I love you. You’re the best mommy in the whole universe.
    Toni: Remember when you told me last night that you didn’t me any more? Did you mean that?
    The Munch: No… I was just angry.
    Toni: I know. But when you say harsh things, even when you are angry, it can really hurt someone’s feelings. You have to always be careful with your words, because you can never take them back.
    The Munch: Well you didn’t seem like your feelings were hurt last night.
    Toni: That is because I’m your mom, and moms are always more forgiving towards their children. Not everyone will be that way. I knew you didn’t mean those words, but I also know you have been going through a lot, so have a lot of emotions you are working through.
    The Munch: Maybe you also knew you shouldn’t have broken my candy cane.

    She does look pretty bad ass right?

    don't-love-you-(i)