Me, a Pseudo-Parent, on Being a Parent

I am writing this blog post via talk to text on my cellular device as I walk through the woods. Not that you care. I just wasn’t sure how else to start this out. My mind just went wandering and I realized there is probably nothing more terrifying than becoming a parent, and look at all these people, doing it anyway.

If you can raise a child you can do anything, at all, ever. You can also do anything at all ever even if you haven’t raised a child. It’s just that if you are raising a child, you’ve already done one of the top ten Fucking Things ever to exist so it makes no sense to be afraid of anything ever. Like, a child is the last thing you want to fuck up, but if you had one knowing that you might fuck it up and did it anyway and are doing your best to raise your kid to be a cool, loving, intelligent member of society, then you’re already living in the world of doing whatever the fuck you want. Which is super great. (Also, is there really a list of top ten Fucking Things? No. But now that I wrote that I’m going to make one. It will most likely be useless, as is the rest of our existence, which ironically kind of makes it worth doing because it’s worth just as much as anything else.)

Anyway. I feel like I should first explain that I personally do not want to give birth to a child. That is a choice I made for myself many moons ago. Well, maybe not that many moons. Or possibly a lot. I have no fucking clue how to count moons, really. But I’m pretty old now. I turned thirty a couple months back, so whatever that means, and also, now that I have reached this milestone age symbolizing adulthood, you can rest assured that this post and all future posts will be written with the air of reverence for a life well-lived that comes with the ancient wisdom I now possess here on the other side of my twenties. I have been told by many that this choice to leave my womb barren will change at some point. And now that I have all this wisdom as a real life grown up, I realize that everyone who told me I would change my mind about having a child ARE STILL WRONG. Seriously. Please don’t tell people what they are going to want in the future. Their future isn’t yours to decide.

Also, I can change my mind if I want and have 9 children and name each one after a planet and your opinion still wouldn’t matter.

Also, #Pluto4lyfe.

So, despite not having the desire to give birth to a child, I do have what I refer to as pseudo-children AKA children that I got to hang out with a lot as they were growing up but did not push out of my vagina. Like step-children, except I never legally married their father, but we were together for approximately nine years, so I now refer to them as my pseudo-children.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it feels like to be a pseudo-parent or any kind of parent and if I can even call myself a parent. But what I do know is that my pseudo-children still love me and call me and tell me about their lives. I also know that one of my girls recently slept with someone on the Forbes list, and if there is anything I would like to take responsibility for in their growing up- it’s that. (Way to go, girl. Proud pseudo-mommy moment.)

But I’m going to speak specifically about two of the oldest children- in part because they have given me permission and in part because they are now adults figuring out their own way and that feels really scary because I’ve barely figured out mine.

I didn’t really have any plans for the kind of parent I wanted to be, especially considering I was 17 at the time I met them.

But I know now that even if I had, it wouldn’t have mattered.

We never end up being the kind of parents we thought we would become, largely because our children don’t end up being the kind of kids we thought they’d be. We learn to adjust to their temperaments and their needs and do our best to understand the world from their vantage points. And often times, we come to find we are less patient, less forgiving and way less cool than we thought we were going to be. And that’s okay. The important thing is to stay flexible, to keep learning, and to do the best you can even if sometimes you suck at everything.

I am proud of my girls for being smart, funny and kind when it’s not expected. For being able to remove themselves from unhealthy relationships. For being sexually liberated. For being aware of their strengths, or else just being open to the fact that they are not perfect but good enough at some things and willing to figure it out along the way.

My 21 year old pseudo-daughter once told me that she had never really been out in nature until her dad and I started dating. Which was surprising because here in the Black Hills I’ve been made fun of for being a city girl, but back home I’m basically a goddamn mountaineer. I suppose if the only thing I have taught them is that it is important to be connected to the world around you, I’ve done whatever I though my job was as a pseudo-mom. And by world I don’t mean the buildings or the nearest Starbucks- I mean touching the ground beneath your feet, knowing how cold Lake Michigan is even in the dog days of summer, to be able to fall asleep in a crappy tent from K-Mart with nothing to lull you into dreamland but the wind and the excitement of waking up in the morning to catch fish. (Which I never participated in because I hate fishing. But children love it. Damn’t those little bastards just couldn’t get enough of it.)

Maybe I didn’t teach them anything at all. I don’t know. Maybe I just opened the door for them to figure it out themselves. Which is really the goal, right? To give them the space and confidence to go out into the world and figure the fuck out who they are before other people have the opportunity to tell them.

Maybe I have no business calling myself any kind of a parent.

Certainly their mother wouldn’t appreciate it.

There’s some bad blood there.

Although, in retrospect, there shouldn’t have been. Between her and I anyway. It was just pride, insecurity and a plethora of other character defects that so often blind us to what’s really happening, in any relationship. Because in truth, while she is a person I would probably never hang out with even under different circumstances, what I can say about her is that we left the same man for the same reasons and did our fucking best to pick up the pieces afterward.  And the difference in the decisions we made are scathing reminders of how humans deal with trauma so differently even when given similar experiences. And no one is right. And no one is wrong. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying that it’s really hard to be a human and even harder to be a human when you’re trying to raise other humans. And we need to be conscious of the judgment we place on others.

I worked for Child Protection for a few years and I have seen a lot of shit go down that many would classify as prime examples of “bad parenting”. And I have learned to really, really dislike that term. It implies that someone out there is actually doing a good job at raising other humans. That there is some kind of rightness we are to be aspiring to as parents. But here’s the fucking thing about parenting you guys:

We are all doing it wrong. We are all failing miserably. And lucky for us, kids are stupid enough to love us anyway.

What a beautiful, beautiful gift.

As for me, well, like I said, I’m not sure that I can call myself a parent. But I do know that they still call. Which is enough for me.

“If you don’t do it, it will get done later…”

…and usually by somebody else. This is a follow up post from last week about why it’s okay to take your fucking time sometimes. I did not write this last week because I was sick of writing back then. So I decided to take my own advice and do it later. Please keep in mind that 93% of every point made in this post is a contradiction of what I said last week. But, need I remind you, last week I addressed this issue of contradictory information when I said something super profound that you should have taken to heart back then but I’ll give you another opportunity to do so now by pretentiously quoting myself:

“The cool thing about being a human is that we get to contradict ourselves. We get to change our minds depending on the moment or the facts at hand. And we get to be right, or not, and fix it later. That’s what’s cool about doing things. It’s also what’s cool about doing things later.”

I’m so glad I wrote that shit last week because now I don’t have to explain it again. Here are some good reasons for doing things later:

1. If what you want to do is important to you, you’ll do it and you’ll have time to do it later.

Life is short and, as discussed in great detail last week, you are going to die. (If you did not read last week’s post, let me fill you in by telling you this: You are going to die. That sums it up. Moving on.) But the thing about Death is that it’s going to come whether you decide to do whatever you want to do right now or wait. Don’t let Death be your only motivator. I mean, you can do whatever the fuck you want. But I’ve never liked the notion that we need to move quickly at all times because Death is grasping at our heels every moment we’re breathing. What message does that send to Life? Like, hey, Life, I’m going to live you but ONLY BECAUSE I’M AFRAID OF DEATH. And what a shitty life it would be to feel afraid all the fucking time. It’s okay to be afraid sometimes. Fear can be a great motivator. Just don’t let it become your life. Life doesn’t want that for you. Life wants you to live. Life wants you to live it as deeply joyful as possible. I know because I asked her. Or him. (By the way, Life is non-binary. I have personified it to illustrate my point. It is a proper noun now. I don’t feel like elaborating on the spiritual implications I have created with these statements. Let’s not fight about it now. We can do it later.) Life is okay with you living it at whatever pace your heart and mind and body and soul are needing. Move as slowly as you want.

Have you ever watched a child tie their own shoes when they’ve just learned this skill and haven’t mastered it yet and they are taking forever and you are about to be late for work but they won’t let you help them because they want to do it themselves and you wish they would hurry the fuck up? Well, I’m here to tell you that kids already know all this shit about moving slowly and doing things in our own time and then we grow up and forget and think everything has to happen so quickly. But the thing is- Life will move quickly on its own. I promise you that. Don’t rush it.

If something is truly important to you, if it makes your heart feel like a tiny earthquake and your eyes widen and your hands flicker- you will do it when you’re ready. And Life will wait for you to be ready. Tell Death to fuck off. Tell Death to wait. We’re out here trying to live, man. We got all kinds of time.

2. You should do things later because sometimes there’s too many things to do right now.

I think the best way to approach this point is to consider a hypothetical tale of self-destruction that just so happens to not be a hypothetical tale at all because it is a summary of my life over the last four months and also a lovely illustration of what happens when we try to do all the fucking things right now even though we’re not ready and refuse to ask for help:

If you decide to sell your house and move somewhere else and get a new job and drink copious amounts of wine and go on a juice cleanse and your relationship fails and you decide to stop eating and you’re applying for grad school and you want to travel to foreign countries and you’re doing all these things at the SAME TIME, you might cave in on yourself like a dying star.

You might show up on the doorsteps of everyone you know, for weeks on end, and get drunk in their homes and talk about all your hopes and dreams and fears and then cry yourself to sleep on their couches. You might think sex with  strangers will make you feel better, and it might. But probably not if you are too drunk to process your emotions. You might, somehow, in the process of all this, realize you have been living out of your car even though you have a house and a mortgage and a yard you haven’t mowed in so long that the mailman thinks you don’t live there anymore and sends all your mail back to the post office (true story). And it’s okay and it will get better and I know this because I definitely did do all of these things. And it was very terrible because it was too many things.

Anyway. What I’m getting at is that you should do the following things because they are very simple:

Break shit down.

Walk slowly.

One thing at a time.

Save things for later.

My therapist eventually strongly suggested that I bring my clothes inside somewhere instead of hoarding my entire wardrobe in the backseat of my car, and stay in one place, and think about my life, like, really think about it and not just get wine-drunk and cry. She said to try it for one week, just to see what would happen, to see if a little stability would help clear my mind. And it did. And then I gave birth to this blog (instead of a baby because thank you sweet baby Jesus in a manger for the Plan B pill, truly the most wonderful modern medical miracle of my generation) and new routines, and the ability to think coherent thoughts and create meaningful, linear timelines for how to accomplish all the things I want to do. And then I started to get some shit done. But I sure as fuck didn’t do it alone.

3. It’s okay to have other people do some fucking things for you.

If there’s something I do well, it’s doing everything at once, panicking, and subsequently spiraling downward into a vortex equally comprised of self-doubt and self-pity wherein I cave in on myself and become immobilized by sadness and fear.

It’s not as bad as it sounds, you guys.

I’m just a very dramatic person.

So, actually, yes, it is as bad as it sounds.

But lucky for me, my friends are hyper aware of my endearing tendency for self-destructive behavior, and are always there to straighten me the fuck out. Usually by telling me to straighten the fuck out but also by offering to help in some manner. And if they offer, I take them up on it. And if they don’t, I ask.

These are not things I am very good it.

I tend to think I’m totally fine until I’m totally not fine and even then I typically don’t accept help on the first go-around. But I eventually come to my senses. And it really does make life so much better. Also, and I know this sounds really fucking lame, but this lil’ practice of receiving help and/or asking for others to do some fucking things for you really helps ya weed out the people who maybe kind of suck and/or suck the life out of you, because they aren’t willing to do shit for other people.

I can think of a couple such assholes right off the top of my head. And I’m not even referring to ex-lovers. I am talking about people who used to be just my regular ol’ pals. People I allowed into my life because I didn’t have expectations for the way other people should treat me, and because of this, it took me an embarrassingly lengthy amount of time to realize how much they suck.

Expectations are important. You should expect the people who love you to do some fucking things for you if they can. This is called loving yourself enough to expect other people to love you the way you deserve. That’s all.

Now go forth and do your Fucking Thing.

Or have someone help you do it.

Either way, it’ll get done.

Sooner or later.

Love always,

and especially right now,

Saint Margaret

You are Going to Die and Living is Scary

Yes. You heard it here first. Death is imminent and life is terrifying.

Which is why you should do the things you want to do right now.

Contrary to what you may be thinking given the title of this post, the following paragraphs amount to what is in fact a pep talk to myself, and maybe it can be one for you as well.

For me personally, things are going okay but also some things are not going okay at all.

I had an anxiety attack at the dentist the other day and during hot yoga and while sitting in my cube having a light-hearted conversation about local strip clubs with my co-workers. And this is happening because I’m really, really scared because I’m doing a lot of things that scare me, so I must constantly remind myself that it’s way better to do things than not do them even if sometimes I’d rather crawl in a hole than make one more fucking life choice, ya know?

Here is a quick list of things that are currently stressing me out:

I sold my house and it will officially no longer be my house on September 6th.

I have another dentist appointment next week.

I’m moving to Australia in January.

There’s only one strip club in Rapid City, South Dakota and it sucks.

Hot yoga is too fucking hot, sometimes.

A former beau (synonymous with the millennial term bae, that I feel I am too old to utilize now that Time has officially kicked me out of my twenties) really loves repeating the axiom, “If you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done,” at least 23 times a day. To which I invented an alternate saying: If you don’t do it, it gets done later and usually by somebody else.

And the cool thing about being human is that we get to contradict ourselves and each other as much as we want.

We get to change our minds depending on the moment or the facts at hand. And we get to be right, or not, and fix it later. That’s what’s cool about doing things. It’s also what’s cool about doing things later. Let me explain.

1. You should just do the fucking thing now because if you don’t, who the fuck is gonna do it for you?

This is the number one reason for doing the fucking thing. You want to move to Tokyo or get a divorce or dye your hair red? Now is the perfect time. No one else can make those decisions for you. You want to start a blog but are not entirely certain of the purpose or intended outcome? Well, here I am, doing it anyway. Because it makes me feel better and no one else can write it for me and I figure eventually I’ll be able to give a clear answer as to why I’m doing it. Or not. Maybe I’ll just keep writing and writing into the void until one day I get sick of writing or die. Who cares. At least I did it. Not everything in life must be wrought with meaning and not every decision is as important as you might make it out to be- even, and especially, the important ones. There may be more work involved in the process of moving your entire life to Tokyo but the decision itself can be made as easily as whether or not you want to dye your hair red.

Just because some decisions come with more difficult elements does not mean the decision itself is more difficult. Maybe you move to Tokyo and you hate it. So what. Then go back home. Or move somewhere else. The choice is as simple as dying your hair.

Also, on your deathbed, you’re not going to say, “Damn’t- I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have been so brave as to restructure my entire existence in an attempt to ensure my own happiness. What a loser.”

Or maybe you WILL say that. In which case, you are kind of a loser because you spent your whole life regretting every decision you ever made. Which amounts to living as if you’re already dead. And you’re not dead. You are here reading this shit and you are very much alive. And you can do whatever you want. And that is life. And it’s great. Which brings me to my next point.

2. You should just do the fucking thing now because you are going to die.

Really, you are going to die. Maybe within the next 11 minutes or maybe within the next 11 years or maybe you’re super rich and have already decided to jump on the cryogenics bandwagon and plan on being brought back to life in the year 3012. Whatever the case may be- you will be dead at some point. And then after that, like a hundred years after your death, no one will even care that much that you lived or died. I know that sounds harsh but seriously you guys, regardless of your religious or spiritual ideologies, it is a fact that our lives our infinitesimal, fleeting little things juxtaposed next to or outside of or near the Universe. So just do the Fucking Thing now. No one cares. And those that do care do so because they love you and want you to be happy anyway and aren’t going to care whether or not you’re successful.

So, unless you have dreams of being the next Mahatma Gandhi or Jesus Christ of Nazareth or something, I can pretty much guarantee that any mistakes you make along the way of doing your Fucking Thing will go almost entirely unnoticed by the majority of the entire Universe.

However, if your dreams do include being the next Mahatma Gandhi or Jesus Christ of Nazareth, then a vast population of our entire earthly world will care deeply that you lived and died. So, watch yourself and live with intention. Which you should be doing anyway. But also, if your plan entails becoming the world’s next spiritual leader, you probably shouldn’t be sitting around reading this fucking blog. Or maybe that’s exactly what you should be doing. Maybe it will inspire you to finally go feed the hungry instead of just posting daily rants on social media about how half the world is starving and no one cares. I like to think that this blog has the potential to be the seed that grows the world’s next spiritual leader. I like to set my sights impossibly high. And you should too. Now. Before you die.

3. You should just do the fucking thing now even if you’re scared because that means you are a human.

I’m not a scientist but I’m fairly certain that fear is an evolutionary trait given to us by our ancestors to keep us alive in dangerous situations like, “I feel fear when I see a giant animal in the woods, such as a bear, so I shouldn’t pet it.” That is a very base line fear. (Disclaimer: You should always be afraid to pet a bear, and if you don’t believe me, you should watch the documentary Grizzly Man to become fully informed on the dangers of bear-petting.)

These base line fears are important because they keep humans alive; these are the fears that ensure you are not a victim of Darwinism and confronting them unnecessarily can get you murdered and, most days, I don’t particularly like the thought of being murdered. But most life decisions will not kill you, such as moving to Tokyo or dying your hair red or quitting your job and starting your own company. Not that doing those things aren’t scary, because they can be and often are; however, any negative consequences that result are most likely not going to kill you, which means you get to live and try again.

What I’m trying to say is- when you really think about it, the worst thing that could logically happen from starting your own company isn’t immediate death and the best thing that could logically happen is that you get to experience your truest, deepest joy whilst running a woman-owned and operated LGBTQ friendly strip club in an old mining town in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

What I’m trying to say is- not petting a bear might improve your chance for survival, but it is not going to bring you profound joy or a sense of purpose.

What I’m trying to say is- being afraid is great. It means you are challenging yourself. It means you possess the intrinsic motivation and internal trust in yourself that allows you to grow and change and fuck up and succeed.

Don’t be afraid to be afraid, you guys. Fear is a necessary component to doing your Fucking Thing.

Shit, this post got too long and too weirdly motivational and cheesy. I’m done writing for now. I’ll write about all the great reasons for why you should just do the Fucking Thing later, later. For now, just do the Fucking Thing now, because no one else is going to do it for you, you are going to die, and you are going to be afraid. And if you do your Fucking Thing now and fuck up your entire life, tune in next week for why you should have done it later.

Love always,

and especially right now,

Saint Margaret


Life Will Teach You

My grandma used to say that. And like all grandmas who have seen some shit- she was right. Although, I would like to mention up front that I’m not always particularly invested in the learning process. Because it’s hard. And scary. And I’m definitely a pussy. Actually, I’m particularly qualified to engage in pussy-like tendencies, for two reasons:

Firstly, I have one.

And I say that with the understanding that this statement could be construed as self-defeating. But here are some of my credentials as a strong, independent woman who don’t need no man but also really, really enjoys bizarre sexual encounters with them and also relationships and also their facial hair, but we’ll get to all that later. (Spoiler alert: Things have not been going well.)

  1. I have read the Vagina Monologues, at minimum, 1700 times.
  2. Marilyn French was my favorite contemporary philosopher from ages 20-23. I know she is considered a novelist. But her words helped me shape my own philosophy of what it means and feels like to be a woman, so whatever. I don’t think she would be mad about it.
  3. I have read Margaret Atwood’s The Edible Woman almost every year since I was fourteen years old, before I even knew what it felt like to be metaphorically swallowed whole by the patriarchy. Which does, in fact, exist. In case you were wondering.
  4. I am able to recognize my own cognitive dissonance when it comes to issues about gender and equality and gender equality and rape and culture and rape culture, which I think is really the only credential needed.

Here’s the fucking thing about all that, though. I say I am a pussy because it is connotated with softness, which some people mistake as weakness, which makes them assholes and also wrong. The world is at times suffocating and also too big and also sharp and confusing but I like my softness and I am going to stay that way, even if it makes some life lessons harder to swallow. And if you have a fluffy, sensitive, kitten soul like myself, you should consider staying that way, too. It’s okay to be a pussy, colloquially known otherwise as being afraid sometimes. Being afraid just means you’re doing something and you might fuck it up but you’re doing it anyway. And that, my friends, is called doing the damn thing. Which is the only way to live.

So I guess at this point my point is that the world needs more of us soft ones. It just doesn’t like to admit it. Because it’s a dick. And I’m going to stop now before this turns into a metaphor about the world being a giant penis and how I am a super hero and will defeat it with my, well, softness. I would really, truly love to embark down that rabbit hole with whoever is reading this, but I have many more important things to say. (If you so choose, and I strongly encourage you to make this choice, please ponder the above story-line in your own time and let me know your thoughts.)

Secondly, the, at times, abrasive word choices I use to describe my experiences are just a cover for the tiny kitten soul inside my sort-of-hot but definitely end-of-my-twenties body. I am a pussy in the truest sense of the word. Although I think I made that pretty clear in the previous paragraphs and probably could have just done away with this second point all together, but structure and consistency are not in my immediate skill-set, neither in my writing nor life in general, so I’m leaving it the way it is. Because it’s easier. And unlike all the stupid things you may have heard throughout your life about the “road less traveled” and how hardship builds character and blah blah blah, I am here to say that sometimes the easy way is the best way because life is hard enough and sometimes I just want to ride my bike on a goddamn gravel path instead of army crawl through the fucking thicket. And that’s okay.

So that’s what I think about some things.

Now, back to my grandma’s words of wisdom. Life will teach you. That it will.

And I guess that is what this blog is about.

Now, typically, I would just leave it at that and jump down the rabbit hole and see if I come out the other side. But I’m getting too old for that shit.

I want purpose.

I need direction.

So I’m going to use the next few paragraphs to figure out why I feel compelled to write this all down.

Let’s give it a go.

This is a blog about standing on the cusp of things, like turning thirty or forty or fifty or twenty, moving away, running away, getting a new job, quitting your job, selling your house, leaving relationships with people you still love, leaving relationships with people you stopped loving, trying to quit smoking, going dry from consuming copious amounts of wine so you can think more clearly about what it feels like to be standing on the cusp of everything life has taught you thus far (maybe that one’s just me), dying, getting sick, putting your dog down, deciding what to wear, whatever and so on and so forth.

It’s about walking through fire and figuring out how the fuck you are going to get to the other side. It’s about creating what is on the other side and how to recognize and utilize all the things you already have that will help you get there. It’s about how to not die on your way.

That still isn’t very clear, but I think we’re getting closer and hopefully eventually everything will be a little clearer. The one thing I’m sure about though is that life will teach us one way or the other, even if we’re total pussies about it.

Love Always,

Saint Margaret