Monday, February 22, 2016

Not a Model-Mom: Boudoir for Beginners

I've kept this under wraps because it was a surprise. But now that the cat's (no pun intended) out of the bag, I can finally talk about it.

Boob-Drawer pics. Boudoir pics. Basically the same thing. You have to get your knockers out and dust them off. Kind of.

Not me, but dang. Smokin'.

I'm known in certain circles as an "old married lady." Since there are a lot of other "old married ladies" out there who think getting some naughty pics taken for their husband is a stupid idea, I'm here to tell you: You're so right. It's preposterous.

Do it anyway. I did it. It's so dumb in all the best ways. Your mate will be over-the-moon and you'll feel better when it's over, in just 63 simple steps. Always begin step one with a photographer you know and trust. Not like some dude at the mall who says he thinks you could be a model. That's gross. Mine was my amazing lady friend who did our family pictures (everyone totally clothed) and I previously wrote about here. Also, in all NOT do this if you are in a manipulative or emotionally abusive relationship. This will not fix that. This will be another thing your abuser will use to lord over you, to control you, and to shame you into staying in a shitty relationship. While no matchup is perfect, this is for those who are in trusting, happily boring and drama-free situations.


  • Realize your friend/photographer is hosting Valentine's boudoir mini sessions the weekend your husband is out of town with FirstKid for hockey. Your husband? You know. The one who is impossible to surprise. The one who would fancy a texted pic of your boobs and be just as happy. But you're not that chick. You gave him a similar gift about five years ago, but you took those pictures by yourself and it was incredibly difficult and in hindsight you should have just called a friend to help you because you almost broke your neck and you didn't have great editing software and then you got them developed at Costco before they had a data breach and now hackers have your almost-nudie pics. Because of course they do.
  • Message your friend and ask if she has an opening for you. Offer her the use of your oddly slutty-looking-in-an-old-timey-saloon-whore-way computer chair for the weekend. Let her know that it is clean other than the graham cracker residue and applesauce that otherwise riddles the crime scene that is your house. Request that she find a way to incorporate The Beaver and some books (not necessarily together) because you read in bed and you just KNOW that secretly he thinks it is sexy that you are literate. Also, nothing says bow-chicka-wow-wow like seeing your wife with almost nothing on but your Great-Grandmother's fur coat, am I right? Maybe one day it will be a strategically-placed antique turkey roaster or your Mother in Law's Pfaltzgraff Winterberry salt and pepper shakers...but dishware inheritances are a LONG way off.

"How did we get dragged into this?"

  • Fill out the form that she emails you. Respect the fact that even though she is your friend, she is a legit businesswoman and you are supporting her by answering her questions honestly.

Q: "What features do you like about yourself? Is there anything you want me to focus on?"
A: "My eyebrows are on point and I have a bangin' underboob that I never get to show off."

Q: "If you are doing this for your partner, what features would they say they love about you?"
A: "Anything he can see before I say 'quit staring at my tits, you weirdo'."

Q: "Is there anything that you would like me to minimize, conceal, or otherwise de-emphasise?"
A:"Pretty sure you'll figure it out. Everything from my first double chin to my ankles, really."

When she asks if you have questions for her...any question at all, take the opportunity to ask what you really want to know:
"What book are you reading right now?"

  • Find a babysitter who will keep track of two-thirds of your heathens for a couple hours, keep them from killing each other, AND keep her mouth shut about babysitting at all.
  • Text that one friend who knows all your secrets and bully her into going with you. It will be good for her. It will be good for you.
  • Decide that you need to lose 37 pounds in the next 6 days.
  • Pick out something to wear. Hope you already have something suitable. Realize that your bras fall into two categories: nursing and sports. Do the math and realize you have not had a kid on your boob in like...three years. Do more math and realize you have not worked out in like...ten years. Begrudgingly go buy something new. But not "lingerie" because you have a weird body shape. And because realistically it would be the only time you would wear it. Decide that the underwear industry is significantly underestimating how big normal women's asses are. Decide one of the outfits is just going to have to be that old gray t-shirt you wear around the house all the time because it's comfy and he still thinks it's hot.
  • Realize that here in the middle of winter, your feet are disgusting. Begin grinding six pounds of dead skin off your heels. Gag at how utterly deplorable this is. I mean,'s absurd. Paint your toenails. Preferably right before bed so your sheets can smash a pattern into the polish that you believed (erroneously) was dry.
  • The day of your appointment realize you have gained two pounds instead of losing the 37.
  • Shave your legs. Note that this is the second time this winter you've had to shed your fur leg-pants (last time was your annual gyno appointment that screwed up no-shave November). Realize that you can't let your husband anywhere near your smooth legs when he gets home or he will assume you've been having an affair while he was gone.
  • Slather your body from head to toe with exotic oils and fragranced lotions your proprietary blend of vitamin E cream (for your stretch marks), olive oil (for all the dry patches), hydrocortisone (for your perpetual itchiness), oatmeal (same), and preparation H (in hopes that your entire body will shrink into oblivion).  Notice that it didn't work and you are still fat.
  • Slip into something that won't leave marks on your skin. Like the sweatpants with graphics he gave you for Christmas that you wouldn't be caught dead in public in. Those are good. And a sweatshirt. With no bra. This is basically the best outfit you will wear today. Wonder if she could just do all the pictures in this outfit.
  • Notice that the lightbulbs above the mirror are cranking out 900 million BTUs, and that you are sweaty. Run the fan to cool things down.
  • Now is definitely the best time to try "contouring" your face for the first time ever. Any color of makeup is fine. Except the one you have. Shit. It's completely orange. Your friend has some great YouTube tutorials and it just cannot be that complicated. Until she gets to the part where she says "If you're going to be photographed, make sure your powder isn't reflective." Or something. Decide that if all else fails, the photog can just default everything to black and white. Black and white is sexy. Decide the only people who contour in real life have names that rhyme with "Slim BarTrashyCan". Oh, and your friend. But she is a cosmetologist, so she knows WTF she's doing. But you? Today you feel like you are in the 5th grade and you're putting makeup on for the very first time without guidance, supervision, or permission. And you suck at it.
  • Rummage around for false eyelashes. These are recommended to really make your eyes "pop". Locate the only pair you own and attach them with glue. Blob the glue directly into your eyeball. Remember why you only wear them on Halloween. Which is also stupid because you only ever answer your own door, and the people on the other side are three feet tall and are only interested in your candy, not your eyes.
  • Regard your one beet-red eyeball. Wonder if your husband would be into a sexy pirate theme. Begin to question your friendship with the photographer. Begin to question your marriage with your husband. Shake it off and proceed with your hair.
  • Realize that although you have finally embraced your hair in its straight-ness (albeit a touch frizzy from all the work it's had done), your husband prefers curls. Do not curl your hair in the "new, trendy, healthier for the ends with a wand" manner which you have learned this year, but rather the clampy manner which fries your ends but which your husband recently pointed out in an old home video that he "loved" and that although you can't understand exactly what he's talking about, that he refers to as "woo-fy curls". This is about him. Know that the curls will fall out. Do it anyway.
  • Put on more makeup. More. More than that.
  • You look like a clown. A clown prostitute. Your friend shows up. She tells you that you look amazing. Your friend who knows all your secrets and your husband are the two people that will tell you you're pretty no matter what. Unless you look really shitty. Only the friend will tell you that.
  • Get in the car. Guesstimate where the hell your friend/photographer lives and realize you've never been to her house. Wing it. Second guess yourself when you do not see her truck in the driveway. Decide she either lives there or you're about to make a new friend who will immediately peg you for a clown prostitute who's lazy and wears sweatpants.
  • Spend what feels like the next 72 hours practicing a contortionist act for a circus that nobody wants to watch. Dutifully attempt what can only be achieved by an 11 year old Romanian Olympic gymnast or an 83 year old yoga master. Get 94 charlie horses. Decide you should probably go to the gym. Change your mind. Feel your brain turn to jello as simple instructions don't register. When your friend says things like, "Breathe out your mouth," be sure to confuse your mouth and your nose and keep your mouth shut like an idiot.
  • Stick your butt out. More. Further.
  • Stick your hip out. More. Further. Dislocate it altogether. You will need a new one in less than five years anyway.
  • Decide modeling is hard. Decide that Gigi Hadid really does have a real job.
  • Be thankful for those poses that just require you to lay there. Just laying there is your area of expertise. You just lay there like a professional. You can just lay there all day.
  • Return home to find the children unscathed. Drive the babysitter to her house but do not talk to her parents (who are your friends) because it is Noon on a Sunday and your face looks like an eight-dollar hooker for no apparent reason.
  • Go home and wash your face. Put your hair in a messy bun. Lounge around in your sweats and bingewatch Netflix until your husband gets home. Pretend you have had a boring day.
  • Keep up your ruse until you are delivered one little black book filled with glorious photos that you're convinced are just your head on someone else's body. Marvel at the editing skills that this woman possesses. Know that they make you want to take the photos you took yourself and torch them in the backyard firepit with the nine jugs of gasoline your husband stores in the shop. Decide against it because the jugs are heavy.
  • Gift your husband the book on a random Monday, like a week after Presidents' Day. Because you've been married for a hundred years and if you give it to him for Valentine's Day he will feel like an asshole because he got you nothing, because that's generally the type of relationship you have (which is just fine with you...really. No...really...Valentine's Day is a stupid, made up, commercialized holiday filled with pressure and candy). Wait for the look on his face when you give him the box. See that he is super excited to open a present and that he remarks, "A present? For me? I sure hope it's vodka." See his face change to slightly less smiling when he notices it is a book. Remember that he does not share your love of literature. See his face change again when he opens the book. That alone makes all the sweat, all the charlie horses, all the sneaking-around-shenanigans worth while. Notice that it is the same look he gives you when you have bed head and you need coffee badly. He loves you. He thinks you are beautiful. He is so proud that you are his. He shows you this by saying, "Holy shit. JACKPOT. Who took these? I know for sure it wasn't you this time. These are good."
  • Tell him he better find a SAFE place for that book because if anyone ever sees it you will murder him.
  • Let your lady friends know if they're on the fence about it, they definitely should take this leap. Do it once. Do it for you. It's too wonderfully ridiculous not to.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Newsflash: Your Kid is an Asshole


Let's start at the beginning.

I got an email from Esten's teacher that something had come up that she needed to talk to me about and asked when would be a good time to call. I immediately assumed the worst, just as I do every time the school's number flashes on my caller ID, every time I answer and I hear, "Mrs. Lee? This is the librarian, the counselor, the intervention room teacher, etc....calling about Esten, calling about Clayton...." I assume something awful. Every single time instead it's been, "he's being recognized as Character Kid this month, can you be here on Friday for the assembly?"

(Except for two "he's barfing" and one "he broke his arm".)

Sometimes my kids will tell me they went to the Principal's office that day and I panic. Then I start lecturing them about what imaginary rules they must have broken, like the time they wore the Volbeat t-shirts to school that their father bought them that I felt might violate the school's dress code.

"I got to read him my writing project and he gave me this cool pencil."

Gah. I never give them the benefit of the doubt.

But this had never happened, and parent-teacher conferences were two days away. What was so important that she couldn't wait to talk to me until then?

It turned out that Esten had talked to her about a bullying situation that had been brewing with a couple kids, one in his class and one who attends another school but who rides the same bus. We all live in the same small neighborhood. Esten had been documenting incidents in an impressively organized and objective manner, and had presented them to her in a mature and non-hysterical way and offered up solutions that she hadn't seen of a fifth grader. We talked about whether I wanted her to talk to the kid's mom at parent-teacher night. I asked her not to, that while I thought absolutely she had the ability to steer her classroom ship, that talking to the mom would cause a rift outside of school because of the proximity in our living arrangements. As it turned out, that student developed a conscience about his actions and ratted himself out thinking the topic would come up between teacher and mom, and he apologized and adjusted his actions accordingly.

The other kid though.

The other kid is like....if Scut Farkus and Eddie Haskell had a baby.

And I'm over his bullshit.

The first worst time was when Esten came home crying after being at his house (I thought he was at a different friend's house and to be honest I would not have said OK to a playdate there to begin with). He wouldn't even tell me why. I had to pry it out of him. He couldn't say the word. He thought he'd be in trouble with me. They'd been playing a game he hadn't played before and because he didn't know how to play, the kid called him a retard.

A retard.

This is 2016 and kids are still flinging this word around. My kids call it "the R-word" because, like me, it's so incredibly despicable that they know better that to push all the other letters out behind it. I wasn't so much flabbergasted that little Farkus Haskell said RETARD as an elementary school aged kid as I was that little Farkus Haskell said RETARD and his mom is an elementary school teacher.

How does this happen?

Because conversations don't happen at home like the one Esten had to have with me through his tears after being called a retard. The one where I said I was so so sorry that someone didn't have the respect for him or themselves or for mentally challenged people enough to not use that word, but that if so-help-me I EVER heard of him using that word I would pull down his pants in public and beat his fanny.

"Why would I ever call someone the R-word, mom?" he sniffled.

"I know, honey. I'm just making sure you know that is a dealbreaker. An absolutely never ever ever. You would completely get sent to the Principal's office for saying that and I wouldn't defend you. You got it?"

"Yeah. I know."

The chill of winter set in, and I dug out last year's coats, thankful that they still fit, unlike the now high-water jeans that had to be shuffled down to the next shortest kid.

And soon Clayton was heading to the bus stop in a hoodie instead. I stopped him. We argued. Esten explained the reason for Clayton's stubborn refusal to wear a warm coat:

"Because yesterday when we were walking up to the bus stop he yelled 'look at these pussies all bundled up', and he was wearing shorts and a hoodie."

Clayton apparently got so used to hearing this tossed around that while he and the Hubs were throwing the pigskin in the backyard once he put a little too much pepper on it and his dad told him to relax.

"Quit being a pussy, Dad."

After we picked our jaws up off the ground and asked him what he said, he repeated himself, slowly, clearly, loudly. Two more times. "Quit.Being.A.Pussy." Times two. Then we got to have a bigtime chitchat about where he heard that and how inappropriate it is and how if it ever comes out of his mouth again I will sew his lips shut.

The next day I drove them to the bus stop and made them sit in my car until the bus arrived, and I considered him there, standing on the corner, with his pink backpack.

Pink. Backpack.

This tough kid with his pink backpack that my kids (and obviously other kids) wouldn't even think about being the level of assholes to give him shit about.

Oh, the irony.

I told my kids they had to sit together in the front of the bus so the bus driver could see what was going on. I was basically punishing my kids for what this kid was doing. I still didn't understand why he couldn't just ride to school with his mommy. I imagined she probably just didn't want to put up with his shit in the car. I would want the time away from him, too.

When other parents heard about the incidents without naming names, some knew exactly who it was. They were not surprised. Some encouraged me to go to the Principal. I thought it was resolved. It had worked itself out.

Until Monday.

I picked Esten and his BFF up from Knowledge Bowl practice and as they chittered away in the back with an iPod I asked my every day questions: What was the best/worst part of your day?

They agreed that the best part was that they got to play hockey in P.E.

When it came to the worst, they answered in unison: "Farkus, on the bus."

What? I thought things were better.

Turns out that no, they're not better. He calls Clayton "gay" on the daily. He will let them get on the bus first just so he can walk by and smack them with his backpack. He launches his barrage of putdowns and fowl language that was described as "so bad I don't even know what some of them mean".


I went to the Principal. I told him about the new stuff. I told him the teacher had the report on the old stuff. I acknowledged that he can't control what happens on the weekends, but that the bus is his turf and I was giving him the chance to address it.

And he did. Swiftly. The way the system is set up to handle it. He went to the kid's Principal, who went to the kid, and to the kid's mother (a teacher at his school, remember?)

And apparently the mom is disappointed. In me.

For not telling her directly that her kid is an asshole.


And our mutual friends agree, I guess...that I should have gone to her directly to tell her what she already knows. Everyone is sick of Farkus and his bullshit on the bus.

They posted this Scary Mommy article.

The real disappointment lies in the number of professionals involved, the mom, the friends, everyone who should know better. The ones who are tasked with helping guide others through this process when their children are being bullied. No legitimate resource suggests that you seek out the parent of the bully to talk things out. In fact, the prospect of you approaching either the bully or their parent is a potential roadblock to your kid opening up to you about the bullying in the first place. You should leave the reporting avenues to professionals who are trained to address bullying behaviors when they are occurring in places they have authority the bus and the bus stop and school.

If your kid is being bullied, find help at The Bully Project. If your kid is a bully find help there, too. If your kid is a bully and your friends haven't told you yet, maybe your friends are assholes, because trust me, they know your kid is an asshole and deep down you know it too.