Friday, August 29, 2014

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

     This week I'm celebrating my three year blogiversary! There have been so many magical moments since I first started Menopausal Mother on August 27, 2011. Most of the exciting changes have occurred in the past year, and I owe the success of the blog to you, dear readers.

     When I started blogging, I was lucky to receive 25 page views per week. Now I'm averaging 9000-10,000 per week, thanks to you! I've seen my fan base grow through various social media outlets and site subscriptions, and I absolutely LOVE interacting with you on these pages.

     2014 has been an AMAZING year. I set certain goals for the blog that I wanted to accomplish within 12 months. I'm astounded that in the first half of the year, I was able to check off every item on my bucket list.  Again, this NEVER would have happened without your love and support. You have proven to me that dreams really DO come true if we are patient and willing to work hard for what we desire.

     Every time I've been interviewed about Menopausal Mother, the same question pops up: "What inspired you to become a writer?" I can answer this several ways---- the artistic gene runs in my family…..but my hubs will tell you that it comes from my gift of gab. Yes, I'm a chatter box. The truth is, I've wanted to be a writer since I read Island Of The Blue Dolphins in the sixth grade.  From that moment on, I kept journals, worked on school literary magazines and eventually graduated from college with a degree in Creative Writing.

     Unable to find a job in my field of interest, I ended up working as a dental assistant by day and writing fiction at night. Within a year, I met my husband, bought a home and in the blink of an eye, had four children.

     I wrote when I could, filling notebooks with plot outlines, dialogue and character sketches drawn from an overzealous imagination. But over time, the notebooks ended up orphaned and unfinished under my bed, home to breeding dust bunnies and wayward socks.

     My identity as a writer became blurred by the daily demands of raising four, rambunctious children and running a chaotic household. I learned to prioritize the needs of my family, and in the process, lost my ambitions of becoming a writer.

     Twenty years passed before I penned anything other than a grocery list.

     After my father was diagnosed with leukemia, I was motivated to write a humorous story about my family life. I wanted to bring a bit of laughter into my father's world of radiation and chemotherapy. He smiled after reading the first story, and told me that I'd finally found my niche. I made a promise to him that day that I would do whatever it took to ignite my writing career.

     A year later, my father passed away. I pulled out the dusty notebooks and woke my dormant muse.

     I've been hooked on writing ever since.

     The blog has led to numerous online publications, collaborative anthologies, awards and a healthy fan base. This fall,  the promise I made to my father will come to fruition with the publication of my humorous book, "Who Stole My Spandex?"

     Writing has transformed my life in ways I never imagined. Having a creative outlet has eased the depression issues I've struggled with for years and is far cheaper than any therapist. Writing has also been a means to capture in words my family history and the memories that I hold dear.

     It took me many years to pursue my passion and find success, but it was well worth the wait.

     I am a mother. A wife. And now, a writer.



"You'll be on your way up! 
You'll be seeing great sights! 
You'll join the high fliers 
who soar to high heights."

-----Dr. Seuss

Want more Meno Mama? This week you can find me over at The Huffington Post. Read it here:

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wacky Wednesday Writers Guest Post By: Home On Deranged

    My special WWW guest today is the lovely and talented Melissa Swedoski of  Home On Deranged! LOVE her blog name!!! Melissa writes an entertaining family lifestyle blog that has a little bit of everything in the mix. Along with her humorous tales and photos on her site, Melissa also shares family tips, advise, giveaways and reviews. She is a contributing author to the hilarious Mother Of All Meltdowns book and has a featured story in the upcoming Motherhood: May Cause Drowsiness book.

     I met Melissa while working on the MOAM book together and was impressed not only with her talented writing skills, but her sweet nature and support of fellow bloggers. I wish I could bottle the energy of this busy writer and mom of two! I'm honored that she let me feature her here today. Please welcome Melissa to Meno Mama's site with lots of comment love. Enjoy!


Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time considering the state of my marriage, especially as we approach our 10th anniversary this December. I think we’re doing pretty good, even if our bank balance indicates otherwise. But we are for the most part, happy.

So I pondered why. And I’ve decided it’s because we laugh at each other. A lot.

Recently, my bestie of many years was staying for the weekend, and at 2 a.m., we three found ourselves on the back porch, indulging in adult beverages. We spied an armadillo on the porch of the shed. And then my husband commenced a 5 minute Keystone Cops routine in attempting to chase it down.

Luckily (!) our daughters’ practice soccer goal was in the yard. So he scooped it up with that. And if you don’t think I was laughing my ass off the entire time, then you’ve clearly never laughed at your sweaty, panting husband who just got his monthly exercise. Like I have.

But never fear, there’s plenty of laughs at my misfortune. Like the time I did something's called skiing. We were on our honeymoon, and went to the Heavenly Ski Resort on the California side of Lake Tahoe.  I did something dumb....I put the skis on.

I couldn't walk quite right, which did not bode well for the future. The skis were a bit unwieldy, since I was wearing a down jacket, ski pants and thermal pants, t-shirt and thermal shirt, hat and gloves. Like the little kid from A Christmas Story.

We went to the learning course, and this is where I knew, I had to turn back. There was a pulley thingie (sorry, don't know technical terms) that is on constant rotation. You grab hold at the appropriate interval and it takes you to the top of the training hill. I had trouble hanging onto the pulley thingie.

I had trouble getting started going downhill because for some reason, I couldn't get the momentum to go quite right. Then I'd have to go through the embarrassment of grabbing the pulley thingie again, as the instructor shot me numerous dirty looks.

But then there was more. I could get on the ski lift, just couldn't get off it. The lift slows down just enough that you just glide off on your skis. Uh-huh. One time I fell down, one time I face planted and the seat went over my body, and one time my husband and the lift worker had to pull me out of harm's way.

Then the bunny course, where, unfortunately, there are other people, kind of like Grand Freakin' Central Station. I kid you not, one of the (many) times that I fell, there was a log jam of people behind me, because they couldn't get around me. My ass hurt from so many falls. I was hoping I had lost some of it.

I decided to head back to the resort. Just for good measure, however, I face planted one more time getting off the lift. With a very angry lift operator to help.  Try to imagine getting up from a seated position from a moving chair, with 6 foot boards strapped to your feet, in less than a second. Kudos if you can.

That's not the stupidest thing I've ever done for love and marriage. But it's the stupidest thing I've ever done to try and look cool. Ah, the power of laughter. 


After a career as a newspaper reporter and editor, Melissa thought she was well-informed on the chaos of everyday life. Then she married a man thirteen years her junior and later became a stay-at-home-mom to two toddler girls. Now she's mumbling through the mayhem of marriage and motherhood in a small Texas town. She's been in a couple of books, and is "Tech Mom" on the Dallas TV show, "The Broadcast." You can keep up with her antics on her blog,Home on Deranged, or find her doing silly stuff on social media at Facebook and Twitter or compiling lists of stuff onPinterest she might one day try.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fly On The Wall In Wackoville

     Welcome to another edition of the Fly On The Wall group posts. Today 12 bloggers are inviting you to catch a glimpse of what you'd see if you were a fly buzzing around their homes.

     The fly got an earful in my home this month. Lots of shenanigans going on around here because I have been mentally "absent." While I've had my nose buried in book edits, my family has taken over all the household duties.  Jealous? Don't be. It was all fun and games until dinners became the mummified remnants unearthed from the bottom of the freezer drawer.

 I'm thinking I might need to call in a HazMat team to give the bathroom a good bleach bath. This is what happens when the cat is away and the mice come out to play. I went from three occupants living at home to five….and one of those is a toddler.  Hello, diapers and sippy cups! Life is hectic around here, but not a day goes by that I don't feel blessed. Once the book is released this fall, everything will return to normal. I hope. But for now, the fly on the wall is liven' large in Wackoville. Here's a few snippets of conversation he overheard this month:

"Why did you just squirt hair conditioner up my nose?"
"I thought your nose hairs needed to be detangled."

"Dare me to take a bite of this dog food?"
"If you do, I will never kiss you again."

"Our kids are like livestock…..they graze on food all day and they're full of bull."

"Please watch the dog when you take him out, or else he'll eat his poop."
"Don't worry---he doesn't eat the fresh ones. He only likes the day-old poops that have some crunch to them."

"They're talking about you on the news again."
"Huh? You mean the 100 pounds of marijuana they confiscated today?"
"Yeah---they said it was a 'big bust'."

"Mom, can I borrow twenty bucks?"
"I don't have it. I just donated all my money to the alpaca rescue fund."

"If you eat too much couscous, the grains become time bombs. Once they hit the bottom of your gut, they detonate."

"Why is there a two hour special on TV about A.D.D.? People with the disorder can't sit that long to watch it. They'll lose focus after the first five minutes."

"If you continue to annoy me, I'm going to turn you into a human bird feeder. I'll strap your butt to a chair and slather you in molasses and sunflower seeds."

"I hope you're not wearing that dirty shirt to the pet store. It looks like you've been rolling in grass and mud."
"Would you prefer that I wear my 'Cat, The Other White Meat' t-shirt wen I go to pick up the dog food?"

"When did I become the official pooper scooper in the family?"
"The same day you became the official toilet plunger."

"One of the things on my bucket list is to do the running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain."
"At your age, it will be more like running with the mules."

     Last but not least, the fly got a real kick out of watching me make a fool of myself this week. Yes, I participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge and I'm sharing the video here so that you can laugh at my expense. Baby, that ice bath was COLD!!!!!

     I lost both my aunt and my grandmother to ALS, so it's important to me to spread the word about this debilitating disease. If you can't handle having an ice bucket dumped on your head, please consider donating to the ALS fund. Better yet, be brave and do both! Here's where you can donate: Or here: http://www.ALS.NET

     WANT MORE MENO MAMA? This week you can find my featured post on Humor Outcasts. Read it here:

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:                          Baking In A Tornado                                  The Rowdy Baker                                Just A Little Nutty                                          The Momisodes                          Spatulas on Parade                                   The Sadder But Wiser Girl                            Follow me home . . .                   Stacy Sews and Schools                                Menopausal Mother                                         Kim Ulmanis                          Someone Else’s Genius                                          Go Mamma O

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wacky Wednesday Writers Guest Post By: Indian American Mom

    My fabulous WWW guest today is one of the sweetest bloggers I know. Please welcome Roshni AaMom from  Indian American Mom! What I love about Roshni's blog is its uniqueness among most of the blogs that I read. Her posts offer a glimpse into the Indian culture when it comes to traditions, holidays, parenting and more. She weaves beautiful, poignant stories about her family, but also throws in quite a bit of humor with her funny musings on life. Every time I read her posts, I learn something new and fascinating about her heritage.
     Roshni is a talented writer with a kind heart, and someone I am honored to call my friend. Please welcome her to Meno Mama's site today with lots of comment love. Enjoy!

Ode to my toilet

(paraphrased from a poem titled ‘To a skylark‘ by some random guy named P.B. Shelley :P)

Hail to thee, porcelain throne!
Shiny thou never wert—
Even though gallons of bleach, or near it,
Have I Poured into thy open mouth
In profuse quantities to curb the smell of urine and fart!
Stinky still; no, stinkier!
From hell thou springest
Like a cloud of ammonia
The piss deep thou bringest,
Dribbling from the side thou dost stay, until I alone wipest.
What can be done, I know not;
Which way to teach my boys is most likely?
Sweet reminders or open threats work not,
For drops are still bright to see,
As from looking at thy presence, I emit a shower of blasphemy.
Teach us (my boys and husband)
What basic hygiene are thine
they have (apparently) never heard!
For the love of God, or wine,
I plead for a clean rim; ah! that would be divine!
One day, I looked before and after
And, I had to rub my eyes and blink!
Oh, happy day with joyous laughter;
The pot was stained not a chink!
And, then my happiness was curbed, for they had used the sink…..


Roshni was born and brought up in India. She met her husband while they were doing their PhDs and the two set off for the sunny shores of California soon after. She has two rambunctious, mouthy boys who fight during the day, but then whisper and giggle with each other at night long after she's told them to "go to sleep already!!" She blogs about her Indian American life, and pretty much any other topic, at Indian American Mom. Even though she keeps swearing off social media, you can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Face Of Depression

While the country is reeling from the loss of Robin Williams, we find ourselves asking the same question over and over---what would drive one of America's most beloved comedians to end his life? On the surface he had everything: a unique brand of humor that brought him fame, a loving family and a multitude of adoring fans. How could he have been so unhappy?
Only those who have a personal experience with depression can understand the scope of pain from this form of mental illness. It is a debilitating disease that robs a person of the simplest joys in life. It carves a hole too deep to fill in the hearts of those who wrestle with the inner demons of this acute, medical condition.
Depression is a nondiscriminatory disease that strikes every age, race, gender and class. It manifests itself in the form of physical pain, lack of self-worth, shame, helplessness and hopelessness. It is an invisible wound that is often misdiagnosed and in some cases, difficult to treat.
Those afflicted with the disease view the world through a warped lens where everything is distorted and emotions are muted. Even when surrounded by a loving family, they feel utterly alone. And while others marvel at the sun's glorious rays as it rises over the ocean, they can only feel the weight of their emptiness. It's not as simple as choosing to be happy. Depression traps people under a numbing layer of ice and leaves them gasping for air.
How do I know this? Depression has shadowed me since childhood. I never felt comfortable in my own skin, but I was too young to understand what caused me to feel that way. I only knew that I was different. No one ever said that it was unhealthy for a six-year-old to wake each day with a sense of dread, because they never had the chance. I was too ashamed to tell anyone how I felt.
There was a negative stigma attached to depression when I was growing up, and I learned to mask what I considered my "abnormality" with humor. It went beyond hiding what was tearing me up inside.  The shame I felt was carefully concealed under the long-sleeved shirts I wore to cover the self-inflicted wounds on my arms. Cutting was the coping mechanism of choice for the unexplainable, inner turmoil that plagued my life.
It took decades of battling depression before I realized I needed help in waging the war against losing my sanity. The onset of menopause only intensified the depressive symptoms I felt, stranding me  in a bleak landscape of hopelessness. Thankfully, I was able to find a treatment that worked for me, but not everyone is as fortunate.
There is no quick fix for depression, as each case is unique. It is a dark and frightening disease that cannot be cured with alcohol, drug abuse, or sex. In some cases, intense therapy and even love can't save a patient from the inner demons that haunt them. Antidepressants work successfully for some, while for others, it functions as a temporary patch over a leaky valve that threatens to burst. Once the seal is broken, a storm of uncontrollable emotions is unleashed, driving many to the brink of desperation.
In the aftermath of Robin Williams' apparent suicide, there will be critics who view his death as a selfish act of cowardice that has inflicted unimaginable pain on his family. This is an unfair assessment of a disease that society still knows so little of.  Depression is not a choice. It's a mental illness associated with an immeasurable depth of despair that leads far too many people down the dark path to suicide. From their perspective, it's the last option left after trying all other forms of treatment to escape the intolerable pain of living. They mistakenly believe they're a burden to their loved ones and view the finality of suicide as an answer to end all suffering.
The irony of William's death is that it took the loss of a comedic genius to shed light on our inability to recognize the difference between sadness and major depression. Society as a whole needs to be educated on these differences and set aside any preconceived notions of depression.
Our job is not to judge or blame. It's time we promote awareness and help those suffering from depression find the inner peace they deserve. Compassion and understanding are the gateway to hope and finding the courage to change. Only then can the people we love begin to heal.

***Please share this post and this number if you know someone battling depression : National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255   SAVE A LIFE!

Want More Meno Mama? "The Face Of Depression" is also featured on The Huffington Post here: If you want something funny to read, check out my featured post this week on Midlife Boulevard here:


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wacky Wednesday Writers Guest Post By: Slu's World

      I'm so happy to introduce you today to one of my dear blogging buddies as part of my WWW series. Please welcome Stephen Sluder of  Slu's World! I discovered Slu's site shortly after I started blogging and loved his mix of humorous posts and snippets of family life. I've always said this man knows how to have a good time, as evident in the stories he shares on his travels, family gatherings and the fun restaurants he frequents. His blog always leaves me with a smile, and I think it will do the same for you. Please welcome Slu to Meno Mama's site today with lots of shares and comment love!

                                    A LITTLE POTTY HUMOR

So, this week, I thought I would have a little fun at my own expense again.  You know, you gotta be able to poke fun at yourself every now and then, right???  And besides, I have a feeling that at some point in time, most, if not all, of you can probably relate to my story of a little potty humor.  Or is it just TMI???  Ha...

All throughout the Houston and surrounding areas, there are Whataburger "Burger Joints" everywhere you look (or drive by).  But, there is just one that brings back a certain memory for me and my Little Bride.  And recently, I just happened to pass by that one and, well, I just had to laugh...

Back when my youngest Son, Shane, was a lot younger and living with his Mother on the complete opposite end of the world from where Donna and I lived, like an HOUR away, every other weekend was spent driving out to pick him up on Friday's, and on Sunday's, taking him back home.  

One particular Sunday afternoon, Donna and I had dropped Shane off at his home and were driving back to our side of town.  About half way there, through Downtown Houston, I noticed a certain "feeling" in my stomach.  I know that feeling!!!  Although I seldom get it, it's not a feeling I like to get, certainly not in the car, at least 30 minutes from the house.  With each mile, that feeling was getting worse.  I knew that there was a Whataburger up ahead and my condition was quickly reaching what I'll refer to as the critical stage!!!  As much as I hated to, I told Donna that I had to pull off the freeway and stop at Whataburger to use the restroom.  She was all like, "Are you serious?"  (Not the best part of town, mind you)  I'm like, "I'm dead serious!"  Like, EMERGENCY serious!!!

As I entered the Men's restroom, there was one urinal and one cubical.  There was a Whataburger employee in there as well.  He was cleaning the restroom.  He had a mop and mop-bucket and he was inside the cubical.  He looked at me and said, "I'll be just a few minutes."  And my answer right back to him was very blunt...  "Dude, I don't have a few minutes.  I've got a major situation going on."  You know, I'll never forget the look of disgust on his face.  He just wanted to get that restroom clean and I was interfering with that.  But, he rolled his mop-bucket out of the cubical and let me get in there.  And, I will emphasize:  None Too Soon!!!

Well, you would think that Mr. Employee Dude would take a break.  You would think that he would have gone out and taken care of some other business.  Nope!!!  He continued cleaning in the urinal and sink area.  Just him and me.  For the most part, it was very quiet in there.  For the most part, if you feel me here.  I was doing my thing and he was doing his.  And then... I heard the door open.  I heard my man, Mr. Employee Dude, exchange greetings with someone that had just entered.  Then, there was silence for a bit.  At that point, the new guest in the room must have made some type of facial gesture, or maybe even mouthed a "What the Heck???"  Because my man, Mr. Employee Dude, blatantly blurted out, "Oh no man, HIS stomach is TORE UP!!!"  Well now, I guess my man had me figured out completely.  Ha!!!  And yes, that was just a little awkward moment there.  So, I actually did finally finish my business.  My stomach did once again feel better, and yes, I had to walk the 'Walk of Shame' out to the car, head down, no eye contact.  Ha...

Now, I must say that Donna and I had a pretty good laugh, tears involved, as I retold that story to her as we left Whataburger.  Like I said, you have to be able to laugh at yourself every now and then, right???  And that's my Potty Humor for this Happy Friday.  Now, about that time I was in Key West on vacation...  Just kidding, I won't even go there!!!


Welcome to Slu's World. I am Stephen "slu" Sluder. I am 58 years old, married (to Donna), and live just South of Houston, in League City, Texas. In 2007, I retired from the Houston Fire Department after nearly 33 years, the last 16 spent as an Arson Investigator. I am currently working part-time with an ISD in the Front Office of the Transportation Department. Life has its ups & downs. Along the way, I like to have fun. That always starts with a smile...

Friday, August 8, 2014

Welcome To The Zoo

     The editing process of my book is coming along nicely. We've been making some major changes to the manuscript, so it's taking a tad bit longer to than expected.  I want this book to be perfect for my readers, so I'm going over every word with a fine tooth comb. It will be worth the wait, I promise.  We're finishing up on the feedback from our beta readers, and then the manuscript will go through one more round of edits before going to print. We should be done (hopefully) within 3-4 weeks. I'll probably be completely gray by then or even bald, and I'm pretty sure none of my clothes will fit since I've been living on a diet of Nutella and popcorn (too busy to eat right). I'm going to need to double up on Zumba classes before I start my book tour---otherwise, I'll be wearing muumuus to the signing events.

     While you're waiting for all this fun stuff to happen, I'm sharing one of my favorite posts that was featured at In The Powder Room last year.  Those of you who have been reading my blog from the beginning know what an animal hoarder I am, so I think you'll enjoy this post!


I was raised in a zoo-like atmosphere that could rival Dr. Doolittle's home. Once my sister started working at a wild bird care center, we ended up housing a menagerie of exotic animals. It wasn't unusual to find a pelican in the shower, a vulture on the desk, hawks in the kitchen or baby bats on the sofa. We dined with a toucan and cradled Burrowing Owls in our hands.

After I married years later, my husband and I adopted our share of cats and dogs to round out our family of six.

By the time our kids hit elementary school age, they wanted pets of their own. We started with goldfish and ended up with more floating at the top of the bowl than swimming at the bottom. The turtles came next, their mossy tank stinking up my son's room like a sewage dump. We gave them away after my husband threatened to make turtle soup. Soon after, my daughters adopted a long-haired guinea pig that resembled a stoner from Woodstock. We learned quickly not to be fooled by his calm demeanor. Apparently tickling guinea pigs under the chin is a big no-no.

We tried our hand at raising hamsters and it was all fun and games until mama hamster gave birth to nine babies and decided to eat three for lunch. Not the best way for my girls to learn how stressed-out mothers feel while raising their young.

Our home earned a reputation for being an orphanage for exotic animals, and pretty soon we were inundated with nocturnal pets. My husband suggested I tattoo the word “SUCKER” across my forehead due to my inability to say “no” to every animal that crossed our threshold.

At one point, we owned a sampler platter of animals that included a sugar glider, two albino rats, a pigmy hedgehog, a stray rabbit and seven chinchillas. My food budget for the critters equaled the national debt of a small, third world country.

It didn't stop there. I began feeding the outdoor birds and squirrels, which earned our home certification as a wildlife sanctuary. In short, permission to own a smaller version of Noah's Ark and my reputation as an animal hoarder.

Nowadays my husband gets nervous every time I visit a zoo and has banned me from watching Animal Planet for fear I will bring home a family of penguins or lemurs. He's convinced that whenever a child leaves our nest, I replace him or her with a new pet. This would explain the three rescue dogs I now own. One pug in particular cannot be potty trained and wears a doggy diaper made out of feminine hygiene pads. His digestive system is like a Tampax factory---he eats the Kotex pads lining his diaper and poops out tampons on the lawn.

My husband is waiting for the day I stop hoarding animals and start collecting yard gnomes or AARP discounts for travel, but.....oh look! Teacup pigs are on sale!

Want more Meno Mama?  This week I was featured on the Erma Bombeck Writer's Workshop. Find out how I keep my man happy right here:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wacky Wednesday Writers Guest Post By: Outmanned Mommy

     I have another award winning blogger on my site today! Please welcome Mary Widdicks of! I discovered her humorous blog last winter and have been hooked ever since. I can relate to much of what she writes, since she deals with high levels of testosterone in her home (husband, two sons and even male dogs!). Having two sons of my own and a husband with an unusual sense of humor, I totally get where Mary is coming from when it comes to dirty underwear, fart jokes and loud belching. When you have that many males in your house, you MUST have a sense of humor!

     Mary is a BlogHer Voice Of The Year 2014 winner as well as a recent recipient of the Badass Blogger Of The Year Award. I think you're going to LOVE this funny lady as much as I do, so please welcome her to my site today with lots of comment love!


The table is set: dinner plates, salad plates, knives, forks, spoon, and two wine glasses. It’s been a long week so we decide to make dinner a special occasion. I am standing in the kitchen waiting to take the lasagna I made from scratch out of the oven. My husband is sitting at the table talking to the three-year-old about his day. The baby is at the head of the table in his highchair picking at some cheerios. The dogs are sleeping under the table, dreaming that someone might drop a scrap of food. The boys laugh. The timer on the oven starts to beep. I place the bubbling lasagna in the center of the table and take my seat.

“That looks yummy, Mommy.”

“Thank you for cooking dinner, Darling.”

“Ma ma ma ma.”

I serve everyone a heaping slice of lasagna and some garlic bread and we dig in. The three-year-old talks animatedly in between bites about a game he wants to play after dinner: something about a train. His daddy smiles at him and then at me. The baby plays with a lasagna noodle and then crams the whole thing in his mouth. He’s messy, but happy.

We all eat our meals at a comfortable speed. No one is yelling. Everyone is happy. It is the perfect family dinner that we’ve always imagined. We toast to our beautiful family. Aren’t we great parents?

Cue reality.

Actually, I haven’t had time to cook dinner this evening because the baby has been teething and refused to be put down all day. He is currently yelling at the top of his lungs in his walker, snot pouring out of his nose and down his face. When I try to wipe it with a tissue he bites me. The three-year-old is still wearing yesterday’s pajamas and is standing on the train table refusing to come to the table to eat.

My husband and I are having left over Chinese food, burritos, and macaroni. It was grocery day and we needed to make some space. The three-year-old is insisting that he will only eat oranges for dinner, and only if I feed them to him one slice at a time as he runs past the table without stopping. I do this without arguing, because at least he’s eating.

The baby slams into my foot with his walker and raises his sticky, snot-covered arms, indicating that he would like to be held. Again. I place him in my lap and he immediately grabs my fork off my plate and hurls it to the ground. I push the plate to the center of the table where he can’t reach it, but now I have to eat from a distance. The dogs move in, knowing I don’t stand a chance of coming out of this without wearing half my fried rice. They’re not wrong.

I finish my food at lightning speed and hand the baby off to my husband so I can chase the three-year-old with some orange slices. Daddy puts the baby in his highchair to feed him some sweet potatoes. The moment his diaper-clad bottom touches the seat he cries.

Out he comes.

Daddy tries again. Same response. It’s back into the walker then. So now, Daddy is chasing the baby around with a spoonful of sweet potato and I am chasing the three-year-old with an orange slice. We cross paths and roll our eyes at one another.

One of the dogs is licking the baby’s face while the other has stealthily climbed onto the three-year-old’s booster chair and is now standing on the table eating the rest of my dinner. At least someone is enjoying it.

Three oranges later, the three-year-old says he’s full. I give him a multivitamin and call it quits. The baby eats five bites of sweet potato before spraying the last bite in Daddy’s face. Guess we’re having family bath time again tonight.

We drag our exhausted, defeated bodies up the stairs to start the bedtime routines. The children are perky again. The baby is smearing his sweet potato and snot-covered hands along the wall on the way up the stairs. The three-year-old is no longer wearing pants. I’m not sure when that happened. My husband’s hair is sticking up in several places, held there by sweet potato. He looks like he’s seen a ghost.

I suppose we both have: the ghost of the family dinner ideal that we once thought possible. Maybe when the children are older? For now we have lowered our expectations considerably. Dinner is about keeping the troops alive. Don’t talk, just shovel. If we have accomplished that, it’s been a good night.

We save the wine for after they go to bed.


Mary Widdicks is a 31-year-old mom to two boys and two male dogs. Once a cognitive psychologist, she now spends the majority of her time trying to outsmart her kids (and failing!). Being the only girl in the family means that sometimes her voice gets drowned out by fart jokes and belching contests. She started Outmanned so she’d have a place to escape the testosterone and share her hilarious life with the rest of the world. Mary’s writing has been featured on parenting sites such as Mamapedia, Mamalode, In the Powder Room and Scary Mommy. She is a regular contributor on BLUNTmoms and has been honored as a 2014 Voice of the Year by BlogHer, and Badass Blogger of the Year by The Indie Chicks.

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Friday, August 1, 2014

When The Trolls Come Out To Play

     Most writers dream of having an article become viral on the internet. It has been on my bucket list for a long time. I've submitted humorous posts to dozens of websites, and although they were shared on social media, none ever made it to viral status.

     On a hunch, I submitted an older, poignant piece I'd written about my son to The Huffington Post (you can read it here). Within 24 hours, the post went viral. Was I elated? Yes. But I was also naive about the backlash it would create.

     At first, the support I received on the article was encouraging and compassionate. Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the internet trolls to come out to play. They circled like hungry sharks, and when the meat of my post was dropped into their tank, they went into a feeding frenzy.  My stomach was soon in knots--- I had to close my laptop and walk away. There were hundreds of comments on the site, but I stopped reading them after the first handful of cruel remarks were posted.

     This experience, on many levels, has been successful…. but it has also baffled me. Who are these trolls and why do they feel the need to bash writers? I was accused of being a horrid mother raising a demon seed, and told that I deserve what I get with my teenage son. I had to assume these remarks came from Stepford parents who had perfect children.  I was also labeled as a "whiner" (surely they meant "winer" since I have a fondness for pinot grigio) and a person lacking any skills in writing  (check back with me on that one after my book is published in a few months). The overwhelming, snarky responses had me wondering if there was a full moon out or the possibility that somewhere in the world, a group of people on a compound drank too much grape-flavored Kool-Aid.

     I fully support freedom of speech, but I was also raised with the old adage, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." Have I read material that I thought was garbage? Of course. But I never felt the need to attack the writer by challenging his or her position. What these trolls fail to understand is that there are ways to debate issues and share personal opinions without sinking to belittling and name calling. Spewing venomous remarks on a writer's post tells me that this person has yet to outgrow the bullying tactics they learned from their days on the elementary school playground.

     I've come to the conclusion that this brand of nastiness is derived from insecurities and unhappiness, driving these people to spread their misery to others. They're well aware of their insufficiencies and are transferring their frustrations onto everyone else in order to build themselves up. The same can be said about trolls in the workplace and in extended families. Rather than feed into their anger by becoming defensive, I've learned to shrug them off. I pity them more than anything; they have yet to grasp the concept of confidence and true happiness.

     Ironically, the people who attack writers are actually helping them to succeed. The drama and controversy they create drives more traffic to the writer's site, enabling it to become viral. For that, I am grateful….but don't expect a thank you note from me anytime soon.

     Here's my suggestion to all the internet trolls who thrive on tearing others down: If you have time to write long, sarcastic diatribes on an author's article, then you have far too much time on your hands. I suggest that you put that extra time and energy into something more productive, such as volunteer work in your community. Perhaps THEN you'll discover manners, humility and grace.

Have you been attacked by internet trolls? Let's hear it!  

***Want more Menopausal Mother? I've been hopping around a lot this week! You can read my featured posts on Huffington Post, Midlife Boulevard and In The Powder Room. Read them here:


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