Behind the Scenes: Lessons Learned from Neha

Guest Post! This is from Sarah. Let me tell you all something about Sarah. She could run a small country if she wanted to, that’s how smart she is. I’m not sure what serendipity led her to the same company as me, but I am forever grateful. During my first few weeks at this job, I felt like an alien. I was “one of these things does not belong with the other” material. Then I found Sarah. And Jeanette (another lucky strike). I don’t know why I trusted them both immediately – but I did. And it made everything ok. These are the people I hope will start their own blogs, because people need to have them in their lives, like I’ve been lucky to have them in mine.

Guest blogger here – I’m Neha’s friend, Sarah. She assigned me to write a blog post “by Friday. Not draft. Final copy.” I asked her for a topic or a word count and she said “no rules.” So I decided that to share the lessons I have learned from her over the past 5+ years with you, dear readers.


“No Rules” I brought my two and a half year old to her house with one request — please tell him that to hang at your house that you have to use the potty. We arrived, I tried to start the show with her about the potty… and she blatantly ignored me. “Um, there are no rules at my house” and then proceeded to feed my son chocolate, French fries, cake, flavored seltzer, and any TV show he asked for in a reoccurring loop. I secretly hoped he would pee his pants on her couch while he was under her spell. Another time she whipped out a big toy truck on a random Saturday to buy his affection. It worked. Lesson learned, visits to her house may only be about indulgence.

Earlier this week, I asked my little guy what is his favorite thing. He answered “Tia Neha” and then “cocktails.” 🤦🏻‍♀️ He is two and a half.

Friendship with Neha means telling her everything big and small In jlooking at the history of our texts, it’s everything from “please help me, I’m in a bind” to “Is this crazy or normal?” to “are you aware of how many orange cars there are in PA?” I feel like I must tell her all of my big and small thoughts. After her blog post last week about the Revlon hair dryer, I had to confess and apologize to her that I’ve had that for two years and never told her about it. Then to atone for my sin of omission, I sent her approximately 17 texts, including links, of my most important hair products, tools, and why. Yesterday I texted her a play by play about how I got and now have pink eye.

Don’t Only Drop the Ball, Through It Out the WindowAnd Neha has become the place I bring my confessions and guilt… and most of the time, she tells me that I am too uptight and let it (whatever “it” is) go. After hearing this for five years, during which time I became a parent, I have fully embraced not only dropping the ball, but throwing it out the window.
A few months ago, my husband asked me if we have a nice Easter outfit for our son the day before. Nope! Can you try and get one today? Probably not because it’s second on my list after my top priority of taking a nap. Little guy wore his “fanciest” sweatshirt. While playing in his sandbox today, our little guy decided to take off his shorts and underwear. Sure dude, now we have a “nudie beach.” Sand got in every possible crevice. I sprayed him down with the hose afterward like a dog.
Let’s forgot the “should haves” or niceties. Friendship with Neha is getting permission to tell someone who is being crazy that they are crazy, or declining an invitation no reason given.
So I leave you with that — don’t just drop the ball, throw it out the window. It feels great. And if you need permission…email Neha, send her your confession, and she will tell you to stop being so uptight.

Pardon the interruption…

But had to share this. I love my husband. I’ve loved him on and off for 23 years of marriage and 27 years together. He’s a creature of habit. Once he likes something he sticks with it.

Can you guess what he likes currently?

Rao’s, we have a problem.

I think I’ve told you all before that growing up we only had Ragu Traditional. I had Saturday morning spaghetti while watching cartoons – The Smurf’s usually. Why breakfast? I dunno. My Indian mother didn’t know too much about pasta hours I guess.

But this is where we are now. Rao’s for the whole town. You want to try another type of sauce? Too bad. This is what you’re having at our house.

Also – I didn’t line them up like little soldiers for this photo. This is how I found the cabinet.

Send help, or maybe a nice pesto we can have for a change.

Mother Mercy

A letter to all those I love,

Thanks to dear friends for understanding when I missed your birthday and forgot about your dinner party. Thanks to my kids when they were younger for letting me take calls while you watched TV in the other room on a sick day. To my husband, thanks for letting me be distracted during date night, movie night, any night. To my mother, I know I’ve been away for every Mother’s Day in the last few years, but I love you and we’ll do something together when I get back.

Thanks to the stay-at-home moms who always picked up my kids and chaperoned a field trip. I’m so grateful that you didn’t judge me, or if you did – that you still helped me.

To my hardcore friends who never make me feel bad for falling out of touch. I know I missed your call and just sent a quick text, but I miss you and I’ll call you back when I stop traveling so much….soon….maybe.

Love, your barely-keeping-it-together-mother-daughter-wife-friend

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Today was May 12, 2019, Mother’s Day and my 23rd wedding anniversary. I’m not with my children, my mother, or my husband. I’m onsite working an event as I’ve been doing the last few years. And it’s ok. I’m spending it with other people who are also not with the ones they love. It’s not awesome, but we do it. We do it because we love our job. This job makes us happy. And our families get it….they may not be happy about it, but they get it. I hope. We hope.

Everyone is having a different kind of day. Doing a different thing. And we all make it work.

I know a strong woman who gave birth this year but never got a chance to take the baby home – but she’s still a proud mama and refuses to hide that she had a tiny soul for too short a time.

I know other people who spent the day with no mom this year – or last year or the year before. It hurts their heart to see all the posts and think about what they don’t have anymore. This is a pic of my husband, his sister and their lovely mother Terry. She will forever be missed.

You make it work. Even when your adorable twin boys send you photos counting down the days till you come back like my friend Patty.

Or how about my friend Ev, the life of the party, especially for her kids. She’s not a regular mom, she’s a cool mom (name that movie).

Sometimes you don’t make it work – like when you’ve been married 23 years and you completely and utterly forget about it.

I missed something else today, I missed my little baby girl moving to NYC to start a summer internship. I couldn’t be there to help pack or get her ready. I couldn’t get her first Metro card, or help her figure out how to get to her new job. I missed it.

And I missed this guy too. Sometimes I feel like the Grubhub delivery man sees him more than I do…

It’s ok. It’s all ok. I read something first thing this morning that stayed with me all day and made me feel better from Elizabeth Gilbert….

Dear Ones:

Recently I was at a conference where the question was asked, “HOW MANY OF YOU ARE AFRAID OF TURNING INTO YOUR MOTHER?” Nearly everyone in the room stood up.

This made my heart ache.

My heart ached not only for the people in the room—who were all beautiful, creative, imaginative, and wonderful human beings. It made my heart hurt for their mothers—who will never stop being judged as failures.

Because, my God, we never stop blaming the mothers, do we? How many years, how many dollars, how much energy have we all spent as a culture, talking about how mothers have failed us?

What I want to say today is: Can we take a break—just for one day —and show some mercy to the mothers? Because being a mother is impossible. I don’t mean that it’s difficult. I mean: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE.

What we, as a culture, expect from our mothers is merely that they not be human. Mothers are meant to be some combination of Mother Mary, Mother Theresa, Superwoman, and Gaia. It’s a merciless standard of perfection. Merciless!

God help your mother, if she ever fell short. God help your mother, if she was exhausted & overwhelmed. God help her if she didn’t understand her kids. God help her if she no gift for raising children. God help her if she had desires and longings. God help her if she was ever terrified, suicidal, hopeless, bored, confused, furious. God help her if life had disappointed her. God help her if she had an addiction, or a mental illness. God help her if she ever broke down. God help her, if couldn’t control her rage. God help her, because if she fucked up in any way, she will be forever branded: BAD MOTHER. And we will never forgive her for this.

So this is my question: Can we take a break today from judging the mothers, and show them mercy, instead?

This doesn’t mean that what happened to you at the hands of your mother was OK. This doesn’t mean that your pain is not real…it just means that maybe her pain was real, too.

And if you are yourself a mother, and you never stop judging yourself for how you are failing…can you let it go for one day? Just for one day, can you drop the knife that you are holding to your own throat? Mercy. Just for one day. Let us find mercy.

Mercy on you.
Mercy on everyone. 
Mercy on the mothers.

LG

So with that, I want to wish my strong, loving, dedicated mother a very Happy Mother’s Day. I hope I turn into to you and I hope we all show each other some mercy.

Who moved my happiness??

I feel like I can be personal with you. I feel I should be honest when big, monumental changes happen in my life. Marriage. Divorce. Death. Birth. Etc.

This is none of those. But it’s important.

I’ve already shared this news with some loved ones, whether they wanted the info or not. Family, friends, co-workers that I eat the majority of my meals with and Uber drivers have all heard my tale of woe. You should know too.

About a month ago, I joined the ranks of millions of people, sad people, who are lactose intolerant. Yep. That’s right. Even though for most of my very happy life I have had zero issues with dairy – my body has turned on me.

I noticed it happening before the holidays but I blamed other things. Bad food. Too much wine. My kids. But then, one night, after a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (white bread, grape jelly, smooth pb) I had a big glass of milk. That was a night to remember, if you know what I mean.

The morning after it all clicked. Dairy. Milk. Cheese. CHEESE. That was the problem. I mean being wine intolerant would have been worse, but this is pretty bad. Anyone that knows me, even for a hot second, knows how much I love cheese. All cheese. My go-to hotel meal after a hard event was also a grilled cheese. Goat cheese….remember all my good times with goat cheese? And Brie! Brie holds as big a place in my heart as my husband. Just kidding. I would never compare my love for my husband with my love for Brie. A good Comté maybe…

Yogurt! Why didn’t I appreciate you when I had the chance? And ice cream. Will there even be a summer without ice cream?

I’m disgusted with myself. And yes, I know I can take those lactose pills but that’s not living man. I already color my hair, wear reading glasses and avoid acidic food at night….how much more can I take?

I guess it’s just me and hummus now.

Thanks for listening.

Two plates, one marriage

Nothing will give you a better sense of how different my husband and I really are better than a look at our dinner plates.

His plate.

My plate.

His plate.

My plate.

Carnivore and carbivore. Living in perfect harmony. Kind of.

I’m made my peace with lamb shank bones and rare beef. He’s made his peace with how many pasta/cheese/crushed red pepper combos I can come up with. At least I’m a cheap date.

We’ve been at this since 1991. The ying to my yang. The mustard to his hot dog. The chutney to my samosa. I think we’ll be like this for the rest of our lives, or until we see a cardiologist.

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This post is dedicated to Howard. Who loves when I write about literally nothing. That’s his favorite. In opposite world.

What’s wrong?

I met my husband when I was 19. I’m not 19 anymore. Which means I’ve been with him for a very very very long time. We’ve grown-up together. Built a life together. He likes to say that he knows me better than anyone (mostly true except when it comes to my coffee order, food order,  etc). In all seriousness he does know me well. He knows I don’t like restaurants with too many TVs, it gives me heart palpitations. He knows I prefer to end all good times by midnight or earlier. He knows I don’t like to PET animals. I like animals. I wish them well in the world. But I don’t like to touch them. He loves a good dog/cat rub. He’s saved me from appearing cold and heartless many times by blocking an oncoming pet. He loves me like that.

I think I know him really well too. For instance, I know that potholes bother him like inequality bothered Martin Luther King. I know that sounds like a massive exaggeration, but really it’s mostly true. Actually I’m not sure anything in the world bothers him like bad infrastructure. He’s fallen in love with dumpy towns simply based on clean, well-paved roads. The other love of his life – besides his wife, kids and good roads – is grass. No. Not weed. Actual grass. He loves a good bed of grass. Or yard of grass. Or whatever it’s called. Nothing makes him happier than new grass sprouts. He’s like a proud father.

But for all our mind-reading of each other’s habits, wants, like/dislikes, etc, he still insists on asking what I consider the worst question known to man-kind, “What’s Wrong?”.  I know that sounds like an exaggeration too. But it drives me bananas. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve asked that question to him….our entire marriage. I don’t have to ask. I know. I know because I listen. I see. I remember. That’s how I know.  I don’t know with everyone. I have to ask friends. I sometimes have to ask my kids. I also ask my co-workers. “What’s wrong?”. Fill me in. What have you been up to? What’s keeping you up at night? But usually, like 99.999% of the time, I know what’s wrong with my husband. It’s a work thing. Or a health thing. Or a schedule thing. I ask questions like, “does your knee still hurt?” or “What happened today with that _____?” filling in the blank of whatever work issue he’s told me about. You get it. And some of the time… wait for it….I don’t even ask! That’s right. You wanna know how to have a long marriage? If you sense your spouse is upset in any way, ignore it. Let him/her talk about it or let it blow over. I know this goes against most marriage advice you get from say…experts…but letting it blow over is a very powerful marriage tool, in my opinion.  Not good for all occasions, but it comes in handy sometimes. Your mate seems frustrated, irritated or moody? Go for a walk without them. Leave them alone for a bit. Works like a charm. Except when it doesn’t. In which case I go back to my earlier point, I’m no expert. You’re on your own.

If there is something wrong with me, there are only a handful of reasons for my salty mood. 1) Him. 2) Work. 3) He ordered my Chinese food incorrectly.  That’s about it folks. It really doesn’t get more interesting than that. Why doesn’t he know that? Him asking a broad, open-ended question like, “what’s wrong?” just makes me angrier, and I probably wasn’t even angry in the first place, just distracted or annoyed. Maybe I watched a commercial and now I’m sad thinking about how I never packed my kids a healthy bento box lunch. Maybe I heard the news and realized it was the end of the world. Or maybe I just ate tomato sauce too late in the day and now I’m paying for it. There’s too many ways to answer that question!  If he just narrowed it down a bit, it would be better. Or, even better, let it go. Let it blow over. The old blow-over technique that I’ve been trying to teach him for two decades. You see what I’m saying here?

What am I saying here? I don’t even know.  I think I’m just complaining. Or whining. See how easy it is to get me to open up? You didn’t even ask me anything.

 

 

 

 

Make-up or no make-up?

This is what I asked my husband last night. I’ve been with him for a long time. I’ve asked this question many times. The answer used to be,” whatever you think” or ” no make-up”.

Last night the answer was a strong and decisive,”make-up”.

Damn.

I didn’t say a word. I was going to put make-up on anyway. But damn.

To his defense, this is a guy I haunt daily about clothing choices. T-shirt’s with words people… an entire wardrobe full of t-shirts with words. Do you feel my pain? So I’m not exactly innocent. I let my true thoughts fly all the time. We’ve been married over 20 years – we have tenure now. I can say a lot of things without penalty, right? Maybe not.

This post was supposed to be about our 2018. Out good times, our bad times. The ups, the downs, etc. But instead I’m hyper focused on the fact that I’ll probably need to wear make-up to bed now. Like that wife in Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that goes to bed looking perfect so her husband is none the wiser. Jk. I don’t care that much. I care just enough to bitch about it and publicly shame him.

I hope you all had a great holiday. Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful New Year full of joy, laughter and love. Now go put on your face and get to it!

Ps – don’t bother telling me he’s wrong and I look better au natural. I’ve seen the pictures. The gig is up.

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