Advice my mother gives me

No beverage: just frustration

Hi friends! So I know you haven’t heard from me in awhile, and honestly, I had a post mostly written and ready to roll out for my big return (stay tuned for that one) but today I feel like I just need to get something off my chest. And this just happens to be my outlet of choice

For those of you who’ve been loyal readers (thank ya kindly) you know that as a runner, and as a woman, I’m no stranger to creepy men doing creepy things. Just as a recap, I’ve been catcalled, followed, spit at, had someone pretend to jerk off at me…the list goes on. I once had someone tell me repeatedly to kill myself and that he hopes I die because I ran into the street while his dog was chasing me.

These experiences don’t make me special, I know. It happens to most, if not all, women. It also happens to men and individuals in general. But let’s not pretend that it’s an equal distribution.

For those of you who follow me on social media, you know that I’ve also been intermittently vocal about my issues with creepy men doing creepy things, in addition to the occasional irresponsible dog owner. But here’s the thing about using a Facebook status as an outlet for a complaint. People don’t always want to hear it. It’s old news. It’s dramatic. It’s just words.

A couple of years ago, I didn’t say good morning to someone on a run. They didn’t say good morning to me either, so I wasn’t aware I had missed the conversation. But anyway, the person proceeded to scream terrible things at me. But when I took issue with this, I was accused of being dramatic, of putting more severity into something that wasn’t that severe.

To that person I say, how do you know? How do you know the intention was just words? How do you know I’m mistaken? Because I don’t. And I was there.

This all brings me to my title and to my rant. Leaving a workout yesterday, I saw a man notice me and cross the street to my side. The man made me uncomfortable before he even crossed. I could see he was having a conversation with someone, and I could see that he was watching me. As he crossed the street he approached me saying, “I am homeless. I need help. Give me money.”

Ok, so if I can interject for a second: any John Mulaney fans get some New In Town vibes from this?? Anyone? Just me?

“Excuse me”
“I am homeless”
“I am gay”
“I have aids”
“I’m new in town”

Just saying.

Anyway, I didn’t answer the man. I was alone. I felt uncomfortable, and I wanted to get to my car. I also don’t carry cash, but that’s not really here nor there. What matters here is that when I failed to answer, he continued to follow me, demanding an answer, calling me a fat bitch, and saying he was going to punch me in the face.

He didn’t. I’m fine. I got in my car, and I drove home. I called my parents. I immediately tried to minimize it. Was I being rude for not answering? Did I manifest the situation by being uncomfortable before he even started speaking? Am I really fat?

He didn’t actually hit me, so was there really a problem?

Like I said, I’m fine.

And yet, none of this is ok.

That brings us to today, and my motivation for this post.

Today I went for a run. One mile in, some guys in a work truck drove by, and one yelled at me and told me to take my shirt off. A half mile further down the road, a car full of teens said something similar. And like I said earlier, none of this is new. And I know the odds that anyone is going to stop is pretty small. But at the same time, I have been followed before.

And it brings me to what my mom said on the phone last night.

“As a woman, you can never just assume you’re safe.”

You see, when I saw the guy yesterday, I immediately got a weird feeling. But no one wants to be that girl who assumes everyone is out to get them. And again, the guy never touched me. But he also didn’t get close enough. So when it comes down to it, who knows?

And are you noticing that even here, in a space that I own, I’m taking care to make a space for this man? Are you seeing how much I feel like I need to clarify that I wasn’t hurt? Can you read into it the insecurity I feel around the possibility that someone may think I’m exaggerating or being dramatic? Can you tell that even now I’m questioning whether I overreacted to the situation.

In the case of the two cars today, I didn’t think that they were going to pull over or anything. Like I said, that type of behavior is pretty common. But it’s all just so exhausting. It’s demoralizing. I’m trying to accomplish something, and instead I’m reduced to an object that is not deemed worthy of even the slightest respect. It makes you question why you’re doing all of this shit in the first place. The repetitive decision making process of determining what’s a threat and what’s just “guys being guys” makes the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the run seem pointless.

Which is why I’m sitting on my porch right now instead of finishing the last two miles of my run.

So I guess that’s really all I have to say on the matter. There’s nothing really to do about it, and I’m sure I’ll be back out for a run tomorrow. But sometimes it feels nice to just remind people that this is the shit that women get to deal with.

Thanks friends, and I promise you’ll get a new post this week! A fun one!

Look Ma, nice words!

Today’s beverage: I mean I did have a mimosa after my workout this morning. That counts, right?

It’s Mother’s Day, y’all! So why not write some nice things about the lady who made me!

I’ve been wildly fortunate to have the mom that I have. She’s more than just a mom to me; she’s also my best friend. It’s a real Hallmark movie up in here, minus the part of the movie where someone gets murdered.

To be cliche as fuck, it’s impossible to pinpoint the specific reasons that my mom is the amazing human that she is. She’s just always been there to be supportive, to set an example, to be a shoulder to cry on (literally- she’s pretty short), and to be a source of inappropriate humor.

When my brothers and I were little, my mom was a NICU nurse, and my dad was a police officer. This meant alternating day and night shifts, getting home from a long day of work and seeing that we were all taken care of for the next parental shift. It is here that I learned that if I want to be a working mom, I can make it work.

When my mom had to leave her job for medical reasons, she jumped into the role as room mother at school. She was there year after year, helping with projects. It’s here I learned that a working mom is not necessarily someone with a paycheck. Being a mom is a job in so many ways. It is also here that I learned that I did not inherit my mom’s skill for arts and crafts.

In these years, my mom showed me that her capacity for being a mom was far-reaching beyond just her DNA. She was able to find the kids that needed support, kids that lacked the stable home life that I was fortunate to have, and she brought them right into our family. While at times I was not on board with sharing, I know now that her example is something I will always strive to live up to.

Ok, this paragraph shows I was hella spoiled, so buckle up. I’d like to think I wasn’t a brat, but it probably depends who you ask. Every morning I woke up, and part of my breakfast would be made for me. And it’s not like she wasn’t busy! I left for school every day with a packed lunch and snack money (I was an athlete, get at me). I never even spent the snack money. At the end of each month I’d dump out a backpack full of dollar bills like some sort of unsuccessful stripper. I mean $60 a month? Clearly I wouldn’t have been doing something right.

As I aged into the years where popular television told me I was supposed to be angsty and rebel, my mom and I stayed inseparable. We didn’t fight. Ironically, this made the times when we did have disagreements more difficult because we didn’t know how to handle it. I can’t remember a time when I ever felt embarrassed of her, of a time when I didn’t want her around. I mean, she’s a badass, why wouldn’t I want her around? Her humor and sarcasm is rivaled by none, though her ability to cuss like a sailor is a trait that I think my dad wishes I hadn’t inherited.

She taught me to be a strong woman, to push back against the concept of conceding just to be ladylike. She taught me to fight for the things I want. She taught me that as a woman, there is no shame in taking pride in your work and capabilities. She taught me that I have a voice, and that voice can be used to challenge others. She taught me to stand up for myself, to be an advocate for myself and those who can’t advocate for themselves.

My mom was (and is) unstoppable. She hand-made Halloween costumes, she attended concerts, she was at track meets and soccer games. She curled my hair for dance competitions. Neither of us did my makeup because we had no idea what to do.

Once I hit college, our relationship remained strong, despite the distance. She is the mom I want to be for my kids. I was able to seek her advice on drinking, on boys, on sex; there were no limits. And her advice was never “don’t do it.” Instead, she was able to teach me how to take risks safely. She was the safety net for when I tested my limits. She was my sounding board when I was unsure of what I wanted in life.

My mom took me to get my first two tattoos. When I got my second one, she even got one with me! If I remember correctly, she actually paid for my first one.

I’m so grateful for our relationship because I know many people don’t have that. Sometimes I take that for granted.

Case and point: my first foray into birth control when I was in college.

I remember going to the college health center for birth control. I guess they’re used to students paying out of pocket so their parents don’t find out. But my mom already knew. I told the staff I could just go through my insurance. Well, I’m not sure if they didn’t believe me or if they thought I was out of my mind, but the nurse handed me a piece of paper and told me if I filled it out, I get my prescription for free. College students are hard-wired to accept free things. It’s science. So anyway, I fill out the form and off I go. Fast forward to my next trip home when I discover that I’m now receiving food stamps. The school signed me up for welfare! They did me a bamboozle! And my parents are sitting there like, you know we don’t care, right?!

Side note: it was very difficult to remedy this mistake. Not wanting to use resources I didn’t need, I tried to remove myself from the program. No one on the phone seemed to understand why I’d want out. I eventually just gave up and mailed the card back to them with a note that said “no thanks.”

One of the best things about my mom is that her unending support is paired with a non-judgmental wit and sarcasm that makes life fun. I remember pointing out a wedding dress I liked on TV one day while she was cleaning, and without breaking stride she just said, “too bad you can’t wear white anymore.” Some of you may think that’s inappropriate. And to that I say, calm da fuck down. Because remember, this is the same woman who helped me to be safe when navigating the world of dating and boys. The only reason she could even make that joke is because we had already built the foundation in our relationship that allowed us to share those details.

A few years ago, when my mental health truly bottomed out, she dropped everything and drove 2.5 hours to pick me up from CPEP (psychiatric ER). When I laughed at the fact that a visitor asked me if I worked there despite the fact that I was wearing running clothes and a blanket and my shoes had been confiscated, she laughed along with me while others responded with concerned stares. When I referred (privately and never to another patient) to the partial inpatient program that was a condition of my release as “The Island of Misfit Toys,” she accepted the name.

While some people may have treated me like glass in this situation, she understood that I needed to find humor in my situation to cope, because it’s a strategy I learned from her. I mean, when my mom had cancer, she renamed the oncologist “the cancer palace.”

She taught me that when life gives you lemons, you don’t have to make lemonade. You can actually tell those lemons to fuck right off.

Looking back at all of our years together, I can only think of one time that we struggled to see eye to eye. After living on my own through grad school, I moved home. I had just gotten out of a very controlling relationship, and I was trying to make up for lost time. At this point in time, my parents were living at our camp, and I had my childhood home to myself. When they were home, I’d stay out all night and not say anything. This is super fun for parents that spent their lives as first responders. I was working three jobs, one of which was at a bar, and I lived my life like I was some sort of alcoholic raccoon. I was never home unless I was sleeping and to scrounge through the house for whatever food I could eat, and then I’d leave to repeat the process. Dark under eye circles included, I probably even looked like a trash panda at times.

And we fought. And it was totally my fault. I barely took care of myself, so that’s a good indication of what I did to their house. At that time, I lived selfishly, and I will always feel bad about that.

But I eventually pulled my head out of my butt, and now we are back better than ever. It’s a good thing too, because being friends with your mom as a kid is great, but being friends with your mom as an adult? That’s the dream.

So in summary, Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. You are my best friend, my hero, my compass, my momma bear.

And Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.

To the biological moms, the adoptive moms, the foster moms, the women taking care of siblings/grandchildren/nieces&nephews, to the guardians, to the dads pulling double duty as dad and mom, to the moms who’ve lost their children and the moms who’ve lost their babies before they even got to meet them, to the women who’ve had to move heaven and earth to become mothers, to the women seen as mother figures by people in their lives, to the stepmoms, and to any other mothers I’ve missed, Happy Mother’s Day.

And instead of my usual catchphrase, I will end on this:

To people who think it’s funny to say they’re pregnant as a prank…be better.