Thursday, August 28, 2008

Betchfest, Ho!

I said it before, and I'll say it again: sometimes, you can't vent openly - that is, yell at people to their faces, or, say, rant freely on your blog - without risking big trouble. The Basement is always available for that kind of thing, of course, but it occurred to me that sometimes we need to be invited to spill our guts, to be welcomed to vent and rant and get all messy. So I proposed the following: a Bitchin' Bitchfest Blog Exchange, wherein we arrange some swapping of blog spaces and opening up of blog spaces so that we can all blog openly on a theme that isn't entirely appropriate for our own blogs. Like, say, 'Things (Or People) That Make You Go ARGH' (not that I would know anything about this, but, you know: family members, in-laws, neighbors, et al.) Hence, the Bitchfest/Betchfest/Festival Of Rants.

This weekend, there's a whole lotta people set to rant. They'll be posting all over the Internet, at blogs that have been generously donated or traded for the purpose of said ranting. Links to the host-blogs - where these rants will appear - will be submitted to the comments here; after the weekend, those links will be gathered together and listed in this space for easy reference and inspiration.

You're welcome to participate too, of course. All trading arrangements have already been made (there are still two spots open that I'll assign to the first two commenters who ask for them), but that shouldn't stop you: post your own rant on your own blog or ask around for someone to lend their space (it's a long weekend, and everybody loves a little guest-posting on the holidays.) (Feel free to solicit in comments.) Then just leave your link here.

Grab buttons below. spread the word, and then - BETCH AWAY.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Missing My Mom

Posted by Anonymous

For better or worse, my mother has always been my best friend. She's always that first phone call I want to make when there's something wonderful or something terrible. She is the first shoulder I run to cry on and more often the person who gently - or not so gently - kicks me in the pants and tells me to get over it.

I was never the little girl who dreamed about her wedding day. I always dreamed of the day I would have my first child. I imagined running over to her house and telling her the great news, asking her to come for ultrasounds, exciting shopping trips and nursery decorating sessions, and most of all, having her in the waiting room, third in line to greet the new arrival.

Of course, life never goes as planned. We live a continent apart. I had to deliver the exciting news over the phone and could only hope that the timing would work for her to be here. A few weeks after my announcement my grandmother had her first "incident". You see, my grandmother is an alcoholic. While it was a bit of a shock to find that college keggers smelled just like grandma, my life was pretty untouched by her drinking. Except where it touched my mother. Which was every where and in every way. And while that's not the point of this, it needs to be repeated that this woman made my mother's childhood and quite a bit of her adulthood unbearable. So I found myself pregnant, far away from family, and my mother's distraction was just beginning.

"Mom, I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, I'm freaking out."
-"Your grandmother fell again."
"Mom, I have low-lying placenta, they want to monitor me closely."
-"Your grandmother is calling me 20 times a day."
"Mom, I have gained 75 lbs, I'm miserable."
-"Your grandmother hasn't called me in a week."
"Mom, I have this rash, it's called PUPPS and it's an allergy to being pregnant and I look like a leper."
-"Your grandmother fired the aid."
"Mom, my feet are so swollen I can't walk and they tell me I have this thing called pre-eclampsia."
-"I think we need to put your grandmother in a home."

When I had to go into an emergency induction to have my first son, she did her best to get out here and she arrived a few days after he was born. When she left, I cried. Possibly harder than I ever had in my life. I wanted her to be there with me and guide me through all these new things. I grieved, selfishly, for all that she had missed during my pregnancy. And most of all, I was heartbroken for my son who I knew would miss out on so much with the distance between us. I knew I would lose her to my grandmother again when she got home.

And I did.

By the time I was pregnant with my second son, I again had hope that she would be there. This time home with my older son waiting for the new baby to come home. My pregnancy was far less eventful and she was still just as preoccupied with my grandmother. By this time, grandmother was being moved to an assisted living facility and people were finally listening to my mother about her drinking problems. My grandmother generally hid her drinking well, but it finally caught up with her in the form of "alcohol induced dementia", which means that she now has an excuse when she pretends to forget some of the more awful things she has done. I fully believe that at this point, most people would just walk away. I know I would have. My husband says he would have made me. There is no love lost on either end of the relationship and sometimes I think you need to sever ties with people who are just plain poisonous. But my mother is a God-fearing woman and takes her commandments to heart. She will honor her mother till the end. So she started a regimen of every-other-day visits while spending the off days preparing a long-neglected home for sale.

With my due date at hand, my mother arrived. But again, when does life EVER go as planned? As my due date passed, her departure date arrived. We joked the night before she was to leave that I would have the baby that day. Still, I was surprised to wake up in labor at 3am. At 8am the next morning I was in full swing active labor and my husband and son were in the car taking my mother to the airport. I was fighting contractions, sobbing and making her empty bed. My son was born a few hours later.

I know I'm being selfish. But Goddamnit, having a baby is the time in your life you want your own mommy the most. I feel ripped off. I feel like all the aspects of my pregnancies and births that she missed are somehow less real, the memories less tangible for having not been shared. We'd like more children, and we want to wait a few years, but don't think it's a coincidence if my grandmother dies first. I'd like to say all of this to her, but my mother is a hard woman and would just get defensive and tell me to stop whining. So I'll tell you instead.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Let The Bitching Begin

The Bitchfest (aka BetchFest, aka Festival Of Rants, aka I Has Issues, Let Me Show You Them) is just about ready to roll. If you have already e-mailed me (betchfest at, then you're on the mail-list and are being tallied into the roundtable as we speak. If you want to join in, but have not yet e-mailed me (with your preferences for inclusion - hosting a rant, posting a rant, or both - noted in the subject line), then get on it.

The Bitchfest will take place this weekend. Yes, I know that it's a long weekend, but that means that we have four full days in which to bitch and rant. Also, it means that you can just get it all off your chest before you hit the beach or whatever for the last time this summer and just enjoy yourself, secure in the knowledge that if you have one too many margaritas there will be little risk of you going off on some unsuspecting MIL/DIL/spouse/neighbor/whomever because you already dealt with that shiz, hurrah!

Assignments will be circulated by e-mail by Wednesday. Full details about how it will all work will be posted (here) by then, too.

Any questions, fire away in comments below. I'll try to respond as best I can.


Sunday, August 24, 2008


Posted by Anonymous.

Immediately after it happens, I am surprisingly cool. It's only a few minutes later, when I think of his little face and the fear and confusion written on it that I start to crumble inward. The guilt and disappointment in myself are overwhelming, and there's nobody to blame, no extenuating circumstances to add up and say "This is why it happened." It just comes out of nowhere.

I am surprised because it's not a particularly hard night. I was easy on everyone, letting the children watch a new DVD, skipping bathtime so bedtime could happen punctually. Kyle wasn't even resisting more than usual, and he even cleaned up his cars without being forced. But he peed in his pants and then asked for water. I said no. He cried. I thought about how he gets his way in this manner too often, that it's becoming a pattern and it must be stopped. So I stood firm, and kept saying no. He threw a tantrum. I lost it.

I slammed his closet door and yelled at him as loud as I could: "LISTEN TO ME! WHEN MOMMY SAYS 'NO' YOU SAY 'OKAY, MOMMY!' You do NOT throw a tantrum and scream and cry!" I held him by the shoulders and yelled this into his face, which made him cry harder. His eyes widened and he shrank away from me in fear and despair. He had awakened the hideous impatient unmotherly thing inside me. He knows the deal by now. He's already three. This would end badly, and he was totaled.

It only gets worse. I roughly pulled his Pull Up on and then shoved him into bed, yelling "I'm sick of you! Go to sleep!" and then slamming the door on my way out of his room. And then, as he wailed with rejection and sadness, I calmly took the garbage outside and threw a load of laundry into the washer.

Who is this version of myself that can treat my child this way? Why do I, the nurturing woman who dissolves into tears when I hear of any child being mistreated, mentally stand aside and watch from within as this happens? It's like another person takes over my body and I can only think "you should stop. This is getting worse. You'll regret this later."

And I do. I do, very much. My throat hurts from yelling and from suppressing the sobs that are just below the surface. My heart hurts, and it's making my back hurt and my toes hurt and my head hurt. I have hurt my child with my words and manner, and I can't take it back.

I need a way to handle this when it happens. I need my self to speak up when the angry beast rears her head and takes over. I need to stop this now, before it happens again as the children get over, and these episodes root themselves in their memories and affect the way they are shaped as people. I need help.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Posted by Anonymous.

I want to cheat on my husband.

It all started while we were having problems- major problems, and things have settled down and worked out, for the most part. He's a wonderful man, whom I love dearly and have dedicated 10+ years of my life to. He's attractive, smart, funny, affectionate, thoughtful (sometimes), and a good lover. He'll make a good father someday.

He lost his job, and with it, himself. You can't love someone when you don't love yourself, and I dare say that for some months he didn't love me. It surely didn't feel like it. I was cold, I was hungry, and I was alone. I'm not exaggerating, either. The pantry was empty and it was 46 degrees in my house and he didn't care. Did. not. care. I was so entirely alone. I never understood loneliness until then. It's a whole new kind of lonely, and trust me- I know lonely.

This man, this incredibly attractive, charming man, who fortunately (unfortunately?) I work with, started paying me the kind of attention I so desperately craved. He is also married, and his wife is a crazy, crazy woman (which, I suppose I might be too, in her situation). I'm not naive, I figured I'm one of who-knows-how-many, and I don't envision a relationship resulting from anything that might transpire.

So, at this point, while you're thinking I'm a total whore, let me tell you something. I'm not a whore. I can count on one hand the number of men I've slept with and still have fingers left. I have never, ever been tempted or considered cheating on my husband in eight years of marriage or at any point during our courtship.

Things heated up to a rolling boil, and he laid his cards on the table. I begged him not to give me a chance to think about it, to consider the consequences and the morality of it and the weight and the depth. "Don't give me time to think about it". Well, he did give me time to think about it. I made the right decision.

He left for an extended vacation not long after. He came back recommitted to working on his marriage, and I had a long talk with myself while he was gone and had resolved to put this silly, dangerous game behind me and concentrate on my marriage. I thought that when things got better with my husband, this burning desire would fade. He and I remained friendly. Platonic. Even business-like.

Until the past week or two, when the compliments and the comments and the emails that teeter on inappropriate began again. We take the banter right to the edge and then back off. Which I know is for the best. And the right thing to do. Yet, I want this man more than I've ever wanted anything in my life. I can't sleep some nights, I'm so consumed with him. Would it just be a one time thing? I don't know how, unless it went really poorly. We work together. Our attraction isn't going to die when it's finally fulfilled. Or would it?

We recently had a conversation about the end sum of our situation. He contends that I won't be able to live with the guilt, that I am better than this, that I'm not this type of person. By all reasonable measures, he's absolutely right. I'm not a good liar, I'm not good at hiding things, and my husband and I are close. We always said that we would "just know" if one of us cheated on the other- that kind of betrayal, that level of betrayal couldn't be hidden by one from the other.

So why am I still considering this? Why am I still consumed by this man? When I think about putting a rubber band around my wrist and snapping it every time I think about him, two thoughts immediately come to mind. The first is that I would have bloody wounds in a few hours. The second is "opportunity lost". The idea of giving up on this completely, of never having this fantasy fulfilled just kills me. At some point, our lives will go down separate paths and we won't see each other at all anymore. Will I regret giving up this opportunity for the rest of my life? Is the consequence of getting caught worth the experience?

My husband would be heartbroken to read any of this. It would shatter his world. Again, I'm not some kind of whore. I'm doggedly loyal. I'm jealous and possessive, and all of the other things that should keep me safely on the side of not doing this. So why does this little voice inside my head keep telling me that he would never know?

I don't even know myself anymore. I worry that I've married too young- at twenty- and that this is a product of that. I can't leave my job. He isn't leaving his anytime soon. Worse yet, my husband has taken up a hobby that this man, and no one else in our current social circle, can help immensely with. I can't push back when he brings up calling the guy to help him without raising suspicion. The idea of them working on a project together makes me puke. The idea of getting to see more of him, to have him around my house, of him earning enough trust with the husband to be alone with me, on the other hand, well, it makes me want to insist again that I am not a whore.

Or am I?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Am I Normal?

Posted by Anonymous.

After my husband told me he was going to go on antidepressants, I ate a bag of cheezies and drank almost one entire bottle of (good) wine.

Am I normal?

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm Angry

Posted by Marti.

I’ve been carrying this around for six years and two months. No one knows. And now it’s getting heavy; as my son grows older, it’s getting unbelievably burdensome and awkward to hold within.

I’m angry. I’m bitter.

You would never guess that from looking at me. I have myself together. I’m an independent single mother. I provide nicely for my son. He attends a private school. I have my nursing degree, and I have a stable, dependable job with excellent benefits. I am incredibly laid back. I don’t yell, I’m not excitable, I don’t have mood swings.

Except that my insides are teeming with anger. Seething. I grind my teeth and don’t even realize it. I clench my jaw until it aches. Because I am angry.

When I found out I was going to have my son, I was twenty-one years old. I was living with the “father”, who was already a father to a one year old girl. The daughter’s mother did not know that he and I were “together” like that. He told her I was a lesbian and that we were just “roommates”. So imagine her shock when she walked into the apartment one afternoon and found us taking a nap together. She freaked. He freaked, thinking she would take the daughter away from him. She ran out. He ran after. And left me alone, where I remained until he came back in and furiously declared, “You can’t be pregnant and live here”. So I left. Alone. And alone is where I am now, six years and two months later.

I love my son. He is the sole purpose for my existence. He is everything I never thought I wanted. The moment he was born, I realized – this is it. This is why I am alive. For him, and him only.

But still, I was alone.

Yes, there were friends and the occasional family member and heaven-sent home daycare workers, but at the end of the day, after going to school from eight in the morning until noon, then working from 4pm until midnight, I was alone. Me and my baby.

I put myself through school. Twice. I received food stamps, Medicaid. I still remember the hot sting of the flood of tears I had to hold back until I could make it out of the government building and to my car. My pride was crushed. My spirit was broken. And out of those ruins, I created this – our life.

My family told me I couldn’t do it. My mother gave me money for an abortion. I sent it back. I am pro-choice, but my gut told me to hunker down, pull myself up from my bootstraps, and plow through. My relationship with my mother was forever damaged from the moment I marked “Return to sender” on her $400 check. My son is half-black, and my mother’s second husband is incredibly racist. We’re not welcome in her home; therefore my son has no real “grandparents”.

I’m angry.

But for all those people who told me “You can’t do it”, I proved them wrong a thousand times over. I turned myself into a one-woman operation. Cleaning, laundry, cooking, shopping, lunch-making, kid-bathing, lawn mowing, rent-paying, ...I could go on but you name it, I do it. Alone.

The “father” has since gotten back together with the daughter’s mother. They had a son, and now they’re married. My son is no more than an after thought to the “father”. A distant memory, a living walking talking piece of proof that he once lied and got caught lying.

All of my friends are married, most of them have kids. And supportive families, and in-laws. It’s hard to be around them sometimes. The husbands and the grandparents and the idea of “family” seems to point to all I don’t have, and all I ache to be able to provide for my child.

Because it’s just me, me and my baby, and I am angry about that.

I am grateful for all that I have. I’m not so incredibly bitter that I am unable to be grateful. We have our health; we have a roof over our heads. My son is beautiful and articulate and imaginative. I no longer have to rely on government assistance. I was able to go to school and rise above the statistics of single motherhood. I also know that I chose this; I knew (to a certain extent) what I was getting into. But really, who truly knows the full repercussions of “what they’re getting into” when entering parenthood for the first time?

Every night I crawl into my son’s twin bed, squeeze myself between him and the wall, fold him into my arms and sing what he refers to as “The Sunshine Song”. And most nights I fight not to cry, even as one or two tears escape, because the words tear me apart. He is my sunshine, he does make me happy, and I would die if ever someone tried to take him away. After the song is over, I kiss him, and I hug him. I tell him I love him, make sure he has his blankets the way he likes them, and his blankies are within reach. I scratch his back, adjust his nightlight, and then I shut his door, and I am alone. My baby is sleeping, and I am alone.

My anger has been shoved down deep inside me for a long time. It festers in the dark, mostly because I won’t allow it in the light, where it could begin to air out, scab over, and eventually heal. I can’t keep shoving it down any longer. It’s eating me from the inside out. I need to allow it to heal, I need to allow it to the surface. This is my attempt. This is me saying, “I am angry”, bringing it into the light, allowing it to the surface, not letting it fester anymore.

I’m angry. But I don’t want to be anymore.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Living In Pain

Posted By Anonymous

My husband is in constant physical pain. We don’t even really know what’s wrong with him (one doctor said RA, another said Neuropathy), but the pain is so bad that he can barely walk some days. Other days he gets fed up and just yells at anyone who crosses his path. On those days our kids are afraid of him. He’s not physically abusive, but the yelling bothers them a great deal. This morning my 2 year old son was sitting on the couch and when my husband came in and sat next to him, my son cried and reached up for me to pick him up. I’m afraid he will never remember his father any other way.

A couple of weeks ago we all went out to a community fair and had to walk a little ways from where we parked. My husband started yelling at me that I didn’t understand what he was going through (even though I had offered to drop him off right at the gate and then go park and walk back). There was such a hateful sound in his voice and I was so ashamed that he was acting that way out in public, in front of our children and total strangers, that I found myself wishing he would die and leave me in peace.

I know how horrible that is. And I feel guilty for it the most when my husband has calmer moments and sits with me and talks with me and really listens.

I don’t know how to live this life. I hate my job and have hated it for years, but I can’t quit and risk a pay cut and loss of health coverage for my family. One of the few comforts I find (other than my children) is in food, especially sweets, and my weight is out of control.

Obviously I feel for him, being in pain all the time is terrible. But his health and behavior is affecting all of us, and it seems like something has to give.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

They Say It's Your Birthday

Posted By Anonymous.

Dear Mother-in-law,

Damn! Already off to a bad start. Because technically, you are not my in-law. You’re the woman who birthed that guy I live with. Your son. As far as you know, your son and I have not had a stranger declare us Husband and Wife. We haven’t handed money over to The Government in exchange for a piece of paper that makes our relationship legitimate. And we haven’t held a big party so that relatives can grumble later that the food was too spicy.

I’ve been with your son for eight years, and for seven of those we’ve been living outside the law. Except we haven’t, not really. We pay taxes together and get invited places together and he was on my group health plan at work. We’re boring outlaws, really.

I’m writing to you because once again, you haven’t bothered to acknowledge my birthday. And I want you to know that it really hurts.

I know, crazy, right? I’m a grown woman, with 34 birthdays behind me; I should be beyond such petty things as acknowledgement of the day I was born. But here’s the thing:

You send your grown son, the son in his mid-thirties, the son who has not lived with you or been financially dependent on you for 15 years – you send him cards all the time. Valentine cards. Easter cards. Halloween cards. You sewed a giant advent calendar one year. You sent stuffed bunny rabbits at Easter the following year. You address these cards and age-inappropriate gifts to him, and you’ve kept them coming steadily over the years.

But there is no birthday card for the woman who lives with him. You know, the person he shares his life with? The gal he loves?

Your daughter told me that her boyfriend, whose birthday is three days after mine, received a birthday card AND a gift card from you this year. Which of course was very nice of you. Very thoughtful.

But nothing for me. Okay: it’s petty time.

As stated above, and as you are well aware, we have been together for eight years. Your daughter and her boyfriend have been together half that time. I have a friend who has gone through two divorces in the past eight years. It is not an insignificant amount of time, and it has not always been easy. YOU KNOW THAT.

I’ve sent you birthday cards and pestered your son to make sure we get a present off to you on time.

I’ve wracked my brain to come up with interesting birthday gifts for you. I’ve written thank-you notes for the Christmas presents you sent.

Boyfriend tells me that you’ve never even asked when my birthday is. Whoa – here’s some more pettiness: my mother has his birthday marked on her calendar and she always sends him a gift. Always always always.
She’s not too happy about us not being married either, but her marriage is a pit of misery and despair, and I think she’s pretty happy to see me happy. I shouldn’t compare you to my mom, but I can’t help it.

One year you happened to call on my birthday, and when Boyfriend told you we were about to go out to celebrate – you asked to speak to me. You wished me a happy birthday. It was very nice.
That’s when I thought “Aha! Now she knows when my birthday is! I’m gonna get a card next year! Or a phone call! Or an email!” Problem solved. I did a happy dance. Acknowledgement from the family of the man I love!

But that was….five? years ago. No birthday card from you, ever. But those weird valentines and stuffed animals keep on arriving.

I married your son one spring day seven years ago. I don’t remember the date. But I remember how I felt that day, when we made the overwhelmingly adult decision to move in together. I remember my tummy fluttering with the realization that I wanted to be with this man through everything. EVERYTHING. We didn’t want a wedding, we didn’t want a party, we didn’t want someone else to declare us married. I know this is not within your realm of reality, but couldn’t you just pretend?

Mother-in-law, I don’t want to send you any more birthday cards. I don’t want to pay for super expensive shipping costs to make sure a birthday gift arrives on time. But then I have a problem, because of that good ol’ credo: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I think those are fairly wise words to live by.

See? There’s the problem. Because I love getting things in the mail, and I love it when people remember my birthday, I know that you must like it too. To know that someone spent time choosing or making a card, addressing an envelope, looking for a stamp? Or a phone call. An email. It’s nice to be thought of.

But I think I’m being a bit of a chump here. What would Miss Manners tell me to do? She would tell me to suck it up and just get married already. And to handwrite the marriage announcements. But that advice messes with MY belief system, which is often contrary to the beliefs of Society At Large. But my belief system is important to me.

Your birthday is coming up, so I have to make a decision soon about whether to throw something in the damn mail for you. But whatever I decide, PLEASE stop sending your son valentine cards meant for a 10 year old. It was kind of funny at first, but now it’s just….creepy.

Fake Daughter-in-law