Why I Hate Christmas Trees | Guest Post by Gina Fenton of Extreme Mom

nutcracker

Having sex with a hostile, sticky porcupine (also known as a live Christmas tree) is número six on my “Things That Make the Season JOYFUL” list.

NOT! I hate live Christmas trees. They are sap-regurgitating pines that contain eleventy gazillion pine needles that end up in my underwear—and other dark recesses.

For the record, it’s not just the sap and needles that make my hair stand straight up like Marge Simpson’s; it’s a combination of that and the ceremonial wrapping and unwrapping of the Screw-You Lights, which are inevitably tangled, dead, or both, EVERY—SINGLE —TIME.

I absolutely despise dancing the tango with lights. The end of that chapter almost always involves scissors, alcohol, and singing the annual holiday overture called Screw This and Screw That.

I especially hate said sap-bleeding monstrosities if one is acquired when it’s 10 degrees outside and the snow is blowing.

Jack Frost definitely blows.

Heck NO, I won’t cut a tree down like a pioneer woman. Leaving my warm castle and driving to the farm stand  in frigid conditions is already  extra credit in my Mom-Call-of-Duty book.

This Christmas it went something like this: “That one looks good.” A new Christmas-tree-picking-out record of less than five minutes was made; and my eeny-meeny-miney-mo blind selection wasn’t half bad. I won at Christmas tree roulette.

Technically, she’s not fully decorated yet, but that’s all I’m going to do for tonight. If my minion-elf family would like the remaining dozen or so bulbs and tinsel hung up around the house, they can do it themselves.

My family still uses tinsel. No kidding. What a shiny disaster it has become. The only real perk is glittery cat turds.

Really.

Yes, even our pets help decorate: We end up with a yard and a litter box that are beauteous.

Live trees for Christmas are lovely and they smell amazing, but after 20-something years of pine needle enemas, I’ve finally had enough. Who needs the extra work and aggravation during this joyful season of stress, exhaustion, and pulling the last hair out of my head?

“Why not use a fake pine?” you ask.

A couple of years ago, and against my family’s wishes, I bought an artificial tree. I figured it would grow on them. I presented my fake tree as now-we’re-one-of-those-hip-families-with-two-trees kinda thing, hoping sooner or later they’d accept it and I’d be free from tree muckery forever.

Technically, I lost by a vote of five to one in favor of a real, muthermucking mess of a tree.

So, for the next few months, I will be dissecting pine needles out of my unmentionables and chanting The Muck It overture.

Next year, count me out. No more Christmas trees, dead or alive (or fake).

 

END

 

“Why I Hate Christmas Trees” is an excerpt from the new anthology Mom for the Holidays: Stories of Love, Laughter, and Tantrums at Christmas and Hanukkah. Visit them at momfortheholidays.com! You couldn’t ask for a better gift to a fellow mom! (Want the UNCENSORED VERSION? It’s available on Kindle here!)

 

Gina Fenton of Extreme Mom: There’s the painfully boring PERFECT mom, and then there’s . . . Extreme Mom. Gina’s blog is the uncut and uncensored thoughts bouncing around in her head, except on speakerphone. Matriarch extraordinaire of four teens including an extra credit bundle called ADHD, OCD, Aspergers, Bipolar, and every other quirk not yet recognized in the DSM Proud member of the Parental Special Forces. That’s like a Green Beret, but with more practical skills. She’d like to advise a rating of M for mature, but mature is not exactly a word she’d use to describe herself. She is more like a fun grown-up. (extrememom.net)

 

Photo credit: Romain Brami via Foter.com / CC BY

 

The Parenting Moment: A Lesson In Discipline

Isla and Mom

I have the most beautiful nine-year-old girl in the world: a delightful compilation of everything simple and pure. For the most part, my daughter is a brilliant, charming, funny and thoughtful human being, but last night she wasn’t herself. Last night, she chose to raise hell (and my blood pressure) by transforming herself into a little smartass and forcing me to choose my weapon of discipline.

 

Truth be told, the incident didn’t happen at night; it occurred during the wee hours of early morning. I was nearly unconscious from a recent Lunesta party when I heard the first scream… “MOMMY, get in here!” My first thought was, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Why can’t she just handle shit without waking me up?”

 

I stared at the clock in a fog of confusion and noted the time. It was 1:27 am exactly. That’s when the footsteps commenced and thumped their way into the Jack and Jill bathroom we grudgingly share.

 

“I can’t sleep!” She cried from the porcelain throne.

 

“Well, what do you want ME to do about it?”

 

With a hint of perplexity and just enough attitude to warrant a bare-ass spanking, she pointed toward a glowing light on her bed and advised me of her intentions. “I can’t sleep, so I am watching Bewitched.”

 

“Yeah, I don’t think so.” I scoffed, snatching the DVD player from the mattress and stomping out of the room. “Go back to bed.”

 

This, of course, was the beginning of World War III between a tired mother and her strong-willed child. There were outcries, wall kicks, death threats and door-slamming fits of rage that lasted well over an hour—until she finally crossed a line and crushed my soul.

 

“I hate you!”

 

And there it was: the three words that every parent knows they will hear at some point but never expects. I sat on my bed for a moment to collect thoughts and suck the tears back in. By now, my body was full of so much rage and sadness that I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I put the pillow back over my head or split that DVD player in half?

 

When the door opened again that one last time and our eyes met, it was evident that she felt remorse. “I’m sorry, mom. I didn’t mean that.” But as a mother, I felt it was time to step up my game and teach her a lesson that she would never forget.

 

“Mom… NOOOO! I can’t believe you just broke my DVD player!”

 

“I can’t believe you just broke my heart.”

 

End of story.

Hello, I’m Brock Turner And I Rape Unconscious Women

Hello, I am Brock Turner and I Rape Unconscious Women

I could write a lot of things about Brock Turner. I could tell you what an asshole he is for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, but you already know that. What you may not know is that, aside from evading a suitable sentence for a heinous rape crime, he is getting released early today for “good behavior.” He spent 90 days of a six-month sentence in the Santa Clara County Jail for an offense that should have put him behind bars a lot longer. So basically, instead of getting punished; he’s getting praised for destroying the life of an innocent girl. Way to protect a victim, California.

This whole “it’s okay to rape someone if she’s drunk” thing needs to end, and parents need to hold their sons accountable instead of justifying their behavior with drastic pleadings. There is a first time for everything, but rape? There is nothing naive about that. My guess is that he’s done this before, and will no doubt do it again. But even if it were a first-time offense, why would that matter? Why would a person be awarded for only doing it once?

Sexual assault on any level is maddening. The devastation it causes to the victim is intense and permanent. They cannot *blink* it away or pretend it never happened because the darkness is a now part of them; traveling deep into their souls and burning the ability to trust.

There are some who continue to blame victims of abuse. For whatever reason, they assume these girls are either lying or deserving of what they got, but I disagree. I don’t believe anyone, man or woman, should ever be violated in a way that humiliates and scars them for life. And, I don’t agree that a short skirt or too much alcohol gives anyone the right to harm me, but what do I know? I’m just a 49-year-old woman who was abused as a child before I ever knew what alcohol was.

In the past few years, I have met more (rape) victims than I care to discuss. Some, like me, were too young to do anything about it, but others were no different from this girl in California. They were just girls being girls; hoping to meet a nice guy. The ironic thing about our culture is the image it has shaped for women. We are expected to look and dress a certain way if we ever want to meet Mr. Right, yet held responsible whenever his friend turns out to be a rapist. Who knew?

I am supporting my friend Audrey Hayworth at Sassmouth in a nationwide challenge to bring attention to the outrage that IS rape culture. Please join us today—the day of Brock Turner’s release—by sharing a related post, Facebook status or tweet using #TwentyMinutesOfAction #CanHeEatSteakNow.

The Boogeyman And Other Failed Mysteries

boogeyman

Children are often afraid of the dark, but where does it stem from? Every night for the past two weeks, my daughter wakes up screaming. She hears things: a creak, a footstep, a partial sneeze and it is all coming from her closet. I am a newly single mother and, frankly, a bit leery about opening a door where someone may or may not be wielding a knife on the other side, but I do it—for her—while secretly cursing those obnoxious cries for help. Still, I could not understand why, at age nine, she was suddenly afraid of the boogeyman.

My mother suggested she might be suffering emotional trauma: a symptom of divorce, but I didn’t want to hear this because that would make it MY fault and, well… fuck that. I have enough on my plate already without the added pressure of feeling guilty. Even so, I could not stop thinking about what she said. What if it WAS my fault and, instead of doing something to help, I was looking for an excuse to be right? Downplaying my daughter’s anxiety was not okay with me, and I knew I had to do something. I decided to speak with her one afternoon while driving home from school.

Me: Honey, I want to talk about what’s been going on lately.

Her: *Stares blankly into space* Can I have a snack?

Me: *Tosses a bag of grapes into the backseat* I know you’ve been having trouble sleeping, and I think maybe something is bothering you. I have a feeling I know what it is.

Her: *Rolls eyes* Grapes? Got anything better?

Me: No, just eat the grapes.

Her: *Eats grapes* What do YOU think is bothering me?

Me: Wait—so something IS bothering you then?

Her: What do YOU think?

Me: Come on. Be serious.

Her: Nothing, mom. Nothing is bothering me.

Me: You can tell me.

Her: Why do YOU think it is?

Me: Well, you mentioned your friends were talking about getting robbed at school the other day. And now, all of the sudden, you are concerned about burglars.

Her: I’ve always been worried about that.

Me: True, but lately, it seems to have gotten a lot worse. Can you tell me what’s REALLY on your mind?

Her: *Gazes out window* What do YOU think?

Me: *Takes a deep breath* *Imagines mom’s face when I tell her she’s right* I know it’s been hard since your father and I s—

Her: Goosebumps.

Me: What?

Her: Goosebumps.

Me: Goosebumps? You mean the show you’ve been watching on Netflix?

Her: Yeah, it’s pretty scary. The one about the zombies freaked me out.

Me: Wait, I’m confused. You mean to tell me that the last two weeks, where I’ve had to get up in the middle of the night and check behind beds, doorways and shower curtains was because of a TV show?

Her: Yep, Goosebumps; spooky stuff.

And there you have it: for once I was right, and my mother was wrong. Imagine my short-lived joy when she picked up that phone and pretended not to care.

When Living In The Past Keeps You From Building A Future

Castle In The Air

All I ever wanted was a castle in the air: a place to stretch my legs as far as they would go, and beyond, but my parents could not see that vision through their murky breakup. Living in the past can ruin your life if you let it, especially when you are too young to comprehend its magnitude. I was eight-years-old the first time my parents split up. They separated for what seemed like an eternity but in all actuality, it was only a couple of months. I remember sliding across the kitchen floor one day; examining the faded pattern that splashed against the linoleum while pretending not to listen to my mother. It was obvious—as she spun the yellow phone cord around her fingertip and let it bounce and twirl to the ground—that she was speaking with my father. Her tone, though knotted and strained, oozed a quiet calm that piqued my big-eyed curiosity, but the nervous energy of her body exuded a language I did not understand. Still, I knew this was an important conversation and did not want to miss a word. As I inched my way closer, she announced that she had found a new place for him to live. This was it, I thought; he was never coming back. My heart turned to stone as I scooted in closer to hear and just then, she looked down to me, smiled and finished her sentence, “…with us.” It was the happiest three seconds of my life.

 

The next time dad left would be his last. He moved out a few years later and never returned. It was, according to him, easier to walk away and start over than to keep coming back to face us. Whenever we did see one another, I was reminded that he was only a phone call away, but as I learned much later in life, actions speak louder than words. My only regret is that I allowed his leaving to affect my desire to stay. By the time senior year rolled around, my grades were at an all-time low and any hopes of graduating had been replaced by an overwhelming fear of repeating the twelfth grade. Thankfully, the school administrators gave me a reason to start over by handing me a diploma and sending me on my way.

 

For the next twenty years, I focused on becoming a workhorse; hurdling obstacles and climbing corporate ladders for minimal pay, but never quite reaching the top. It would have been easy for me to stop there and never dig deep enough to discover my purpose in life, but everything changed on the morning of September 11, 2001. As I sat on the couch watching people jump to their deaths from twin tower windows, I realized how quickly life could end. “What have I got to lose?” I wondered. “Tomorrow may never come.” The next day, I threw together a poorly executed business plan and started a company, but despite how fast it grew, I still felt like a teenage dropout. In 2007, the year my daughter was born—just as everything seemed to be falling into place—the company my husband worked for filed for bankruptcy and we lost everything. Once again, everything I had worked so hard to create had been taken away and we were forced to start over.

 

I am firm believer that every decision you make leads you to where you need to be, even when it doesn’t feel right. When I told friends and family of my decision to become a writer, there was quite a bit of pushback. They could not understand why anyone facing financial hardship would choose a career as uncertain as freelance writing, and their questions traveled like weighted bullets. “How are you going to pay the bills? Why can’t you get a real job? Do you even know what you’re doing?” The answer was no. No, I did not. But somehow, I knew I would survive.

“We blame past circumstances for our failures and keep our fingers crossed that society will throw us a lucky bone.”

To this day, when people ask where I went to college, I typically respond with my go-to method for handling uncomfortable situations: diversion and sarcasm. I tell them that there was never any time for school because I was too busy having fun, but that is far from the truth. What I should say is that I did not attend college because I stopped believing in myself, that I turned abandonment into something personal and forfeited my academic achievements for a lengthy walk down a spiritual path. What I have learned over the past few years is that the only voices worth listening to are those that believe in your ability to conquer fear because life is hard and will knock you down—repeatedly. It takes every ounce of spirit and restraint to look adversity in the eye and keep walking, but we must if we wish to survive. There are a lot of people, myself included, who have made a career out of feeling sorry for themselves. We blame past circumstances for our failures and keep our fingers crossed that society will throw us a lucky bone. The truth is that there is no bone; there are only cards and we are each dealt a different hand, but is up to each individual how he or she will choose to play. The only way to truly fail in life is to throw down your hand and give up, which is something I will never do. Perhaps I should stop playing solitaire.

 

Anyone up for some crazy eights?