I’m gonna show him what little girls are made of

I’m gonna show him what little girls are made of

I’m not sure I know too many people who get to Almost Forty and think “holy shit, this is exactly how I wanted my life to be! all my dreams have come true!” If you’re that person and aren’t an Academy Award winning actor, a self-made millionaire, a politician no one wants to punch in the face, or anything else ridiculously successful and are just bursting with happiness, by all means, explain to me how you got there. Inquiring minds want to know.

The rest of us will be sitting here wondering exactly how many wrong turns we made, whilst also trying to be grateful for where we actually are and all that we do have. And maybe drinking a lot of wine.

I certainly didn’t think I would be 38, single, childless and still not have VP in my title. I was voted most likely to succeed in high school, after all. My parents and all my siblings would probably argue that I am successful. And I am sure many people with whom I’m friends on Facebook would tell me I have a great life. Don’t get me wrong, I do. I love where I live (though I miss LA every single day), I love my pets, I love that I get paid to see movies and work with Real Life Pals each week, I love that I finally got off my figurative ass and started writing again and most of all, I am filthy rich when it comes to friendship, and I love all my people so much it sometimes makes me cry.

But I am not where I thought I would be. Or should be. And I am not alone. I have a lot of single, childless girlfriends. And most of us agree, we are relatively okay with not having kids for a multitude of reasons. But the shitty part is getting to the age range at which that choice is taken away from us all together. Biology can be a real dick.

I have two girlfriends I’ve known since middle school with whom I still talk to quite often. One of them is my sweet friend Cathalee. We were super tight in high school, as we had a lot in common, most notably uncanny abilities to crush on guys we could never date and obsess over professional athletes.

Cathalee is in the top five of Genuinely Good Humans I’ve ever known. I love her dearly, which is why a phone call we had a few months ago broke my heart into a million pieces for her. After battling lady problems that came with excruciating pain and severe anemia for quite some time, not to mention a doctor that failed miserably to diagnose her properly (with whom I would like to have a not so lovely chat), she found out she had a fibroid that had grown to half the size of her uterus and the best option would be a hysterectomy. At 38.

I don’t want to totally speak for her, as it’s her story and feelings to share. She’s written some very personal, very candid blog posts about it herself here, here and here. If you have time to read them, I encourage you to do so. For a very good reason.

There is still spoken and unspoken discrimination against women who do not have children. You can argue with me all you want about it, but it’s there. It exists. We are still considered to be less than. We are still accused of being selfish. We are still told we will regret this and we are failing as women. We are treated as if there is something wrong with us.

First of all, fuck that.

Second of all, not having kids is not always an actual choice we made. And by the way, if it is a choice we have made or decide to make, that is no one else’s goddamn business and it’s perfectly acceptable. It’s 2018. We don’t have to worry about re-populating the species or taking care of farms. I won’t go into the advantages or disadvantages of having kids or not, but can we at long last stop hating on each other for it? This country and this world have lost their collective minds and we, as women, have much bigger issues right now.

Tracee Ellis Ross, who plays Bow Johnson on Black-ish, one of my absolute favorite characters on TV, is 45 and not married and doesn’t have kids. She gave an AMAZING speech about her “situation” at Glamour’s Women of the Year event, which can be found here. This past week, an entertainment trade publication interviewed her and asked about this speech and if if she feels judged for neither being married nor having kids. I leave you with her answer. Because although I can write many poignant, colorful and not always ladylike remarks about this subject, none of them will be better than this:

You know, I don’t know if I feel judged, but that certainly is a paradigm that we’re all still breaking through. Both in how we language it…I mean, even someone today really, truly meant to be supportive in what she was asking, but unconsciously still framed it in a way that was, “I know that you’ve chosen your career over having a family.” And I was like, “No, I haven’t!” I was like, “There was no point in my life where I chose career over a relationship, or over having a child. This just happens to be where I’ve landed.” So I think it’s not the fault of every individual. I think it really is a systemic response to culture’s way of having an expectation of women within patriarchy and all of that. I think we are one of the first generations of women that have a lot more choices and that can actually make some of those choices [carefully]. You know? Which I find both daunting and exciting.

 

 

 

It’s amazing the amount of rejection that I see

It’s amazing the amount of rejection that I see

This isn’t the first time I’ve ever written about this, it certainly won’t be the last. But there’s a new, unfortunate twist to it – so here we go.

Like many humans, women specifically, I have struggled with weight my entire life. I was super young – around five – when I became aware I was bigger than the other kids, especially the girls. There didn’t (and still doesn’t) seem to be much of a problem if a boy was a little bit chunky, not saying that discrimination doesn’t exist, but if you’re a girl? Forget about it.

I was in first grade when a boy made fun of my weight for the first time. We had 50s day at school and I was so excited. Although I am a complete 60s girl now, I was absolutely obsessed with the 50s as a kid: the music, the clothes, the cars (even my Barbie had a T-Bird), all of it. So this was My Day. My mom spent a lot of time on my outfit (she was always amazing at costumes) and I won best dressed for girls. As a reward, if you even want to call it that, I got to do the twist with the best dressed boy. As if dancing in front of hundreds of immature little brats wasn’t terrible enough, the little boy told me my tummy was like a bowl full of Jell-o.

That tiny bastard ruined my day. And 32 years later, I still remember it. Because it was just the beginning. I was on Weight Watchers – the first time – before I even hit 10. I can tell you, by name, whom I had a crush on every year of school. And why I remember this is, none of them ever liked me back. And 90% of the time it was because of my weight; they made that clear. Generally speaking, adolescents and teenagers are domestic terrorists and these are things a girl just doesn’t forget. And unfortunately, it all builds up over time and the amount of space and energy it takes up within your head manifests into a beast that is nearly impossible to control. Instead, it totally controls you. I’ve had body dysmorphia for several years, and although terrible on its own, it comes with massive collateral damage.

Here’s what frustrates me the most. The thought that people who are overweight are lazy and just don’t try. That’s some bullshit. Ask any one of my friends how hard I’ve tried to lose weight the past five years and how many different ways. I’ve had two nutritionists, a trainer, countless workout routines, a wide range of weight loss programs, supplements, prescription drugs. Basically, you name it, I’ve tried it. I always joke anorexia wouldn’t even work for me. Ultimately, as mentioned before, I found out I have the metabolism of a post-menopausal woman. So no matter how healthy I am, no matter how hard I try, losing weight (and not gaining at superhuman speed) is genuinely difficult for me.

I won’t go into Hollywood and the beauty industry and all of that. There is already plenty to be read about it, but we all know it will never fully change. Skinny will always sell. I am aware there is an increasing number of body positivism movements, which are fabulous. But none of them have quite done the trick for me yet. Three decades of shame do not disappear with a few ad campaigns. I am not trying to play the victim here or ask for compliments or for you tell me “but Nikki, you look fine!” The logical part of my brain knows this; I know if a person judges someone based on weight, it actually makes them look like a dick.

But now, I have received a truly heartbreaking wake-up call about all of this.

Facebook has a new feature that allows you to set up Messenger for a minor that is controlled by a parent’s account. My sister did this for my niece. And I love it. We video chat and I get random emojis, texts and even voice memos from her, including one while I was in Vegas at 4:45 a.m. local time that said “wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey!” Gotta love her. A few days ago, I asked her when the last day of school was and how she was doing (she transferred schools this year) and she told me “the kids at school make fun of me and call me fat.”

She is only eight and to me, the prettiest, most wonderful little girl I’ve ever known. And I am not just saying this because she will most likely be responsible for my nursing home decisions one day. I say it because I think she’s amazing. So when she told me that, I honestly didn’t know whether or not to cry. Or get angry. Or drive to Denton and beat some kids’ asses (shout out to my friends who offered backup). Or what. I tried to explain to her how growing up can really suck and what insecure means and how it causes other kids to project their feelings and act out, but I know, I know – that’s difficult to comprehend at her age. Hell, it’s still hard to accept at this age. Because all you can concentrate on is how you feel. How hurt you are. How terrible it all is.

I don’t want this for her. I know what this does over time. Maybe that won’t happen, maybe it will all be fine and she’ll learn to give them the finger and walk away. But the last thing I want is for her to still deal with this damage 30 years later. I quickly realized I have a huge responsibility in this situation, as does my sister. We have to learn to love ourselves more, not only for our own well being, but also for my niece. It’s not like I text her pics and ask “do I look like a fat ass” or tell her she shouldn’t be eating pizza (my god, I would never stop anyone from eating pizza). But we carry our energy with us wherever we go. And the last thing I want is for us to be the ones projecting on to her.

I don’t have kids, so I try not to judge anyone’s parenting skills. Cause I know from watching my siblings, cousins, and my friends that it’s the hardest job ever. However, kids don’t come out of the womb a bunch of jerks. Our society does enough to screw them up and they’re clearly going to pick up bad habits from other children. But so much of what the little sponges absorb comes from home and family, you know? As adults, we shouldn’t let kids hear us call anyone fat or talk about looks or weight loss or anything of the sort. Especially us women. We still have a great responsibility to each other and the younger generations when it comes to this subject, even with the advances that have been made. I don’t have the answers; I certainly wish I did. But I do know we each have a role to play.

But don’t get me wrong, I will still track those kids down if I need to.

I can hear her now sayin’ she ain’t gonna have it

I can hear her now sayin’ she ain’t gonna have it

When I think of my mom, many different things come to mind. Her pigs in the blanket on Christmas morning. How she always used Clinique makeup. And Youth Dew perfume. Her love of horses (and cowboys). When she would make breakfast for dinner and how it was my absolute favorite. Our trip to San Antonio with my great-grandmother and my sister, who was still in a stroller at the time. But most of all, I know how proud she is of me these days. Which means a lot, as I am not always proud of myself.

You’ll hear (read?) me say, “I didn’t imagine I would be single and childless at 38” or 39 or 40 (um, if this blog still exists then: high five, Nikki) many, many times. That’s the whole point of this thing. Dealing with the fact that, if you had told me how my life would be now when I got a divorce 10 years ago, I would not have believed you. And probably would have said well fuck this shit and moved to France.

But hey, at least I have good skin.

So having said all that, a little real talk for Mother’s Day: I get somewhat mixed emotional on this day. I go through the motions of wishing a happy day and showing gratitude for my mom, sisters, sister-in-law, and all my beautiful friends who are wonderful mothers. But there’s a part of me, somewhere deep down inside, that gets sideways.

I posted about this in a group of which I am member on Facebook, Forever 35 Listeners with No Kids. (Forever 35 is a kick ass podcast you’re fidna here me talk about a LOT). I know I am not alone on this and wondered exactly how others deal with it. All of us in that group don’t have kids for various reasons, whether by choice or nature or why ever. If it’s by choice, it doesn’t mean we don’t get to be upset about it on occasion. That’s not how it works. For the most part, I am now fine with never having my own biological children. When I take 2.5 seconds to stop mentally berating the shit out of myself, I can see my life is pretty great. I have a job I figgin’ love and my career is back on track after years of derailment; I’ve had the chance to visit three different countries and countless cities over the past couple of years; I am finally paying off quite a bit of debt; and as always, I have more friends than anyone I know. And I only have THE BEST FRIENDS.

In short, this road I am on doesn’t suck as bad as I sometimes think it does. But every once in awhile, something will happen that will trigger a minor meltdown. Like yesterday. A memory popped in my On this Day section of Facebook (that page is both a blessing and a curse), from five years ago when my lovely paternal grandmother was dying. I ended the post by saying, “I hope when I’m a mom I’ll be as strong of a woman as she was.” And oh boy. That did not sit well.

I don’t want anyone’s sympathy. Or judgement. Or advice. This is just one of those things a girl has to deal with herself (but it helps to know you’re not alone, nonetheless). Cause as of today, I am back to normal and looking forward to mimosas with some of my besties in an hour. But I had a moment there for a bit; I was down a rabbit hole of “gosh, where did I go wrong?”

The truth is, I did not go wrong. I’ve had many nights and many boys with which I’ve gone terribly wrong (I won’t list names), but overall, this is my journey and I don’t need to wish any of it different. And you, my friend, who is reading this and relating to it: you did not go wrong, either. The universe knows what each of us has to offer in this lifetime, and the next, and we are here for it.

Besides, after those mimosas? I get to come home, lay on the couch, get the shit scared out of me by the new episode of Handmaid’s Tale and actually take a nap. All interrupted.

So shout out to all my friends and loved ones for whom this day is a little strange, maybe a little sad. For whatever reason, it matters not. Your story and your feelings are yours; you get to have them. And Happy Mother’s Day to those of us who are woke up every day with a good cat pat in the face because there’s only a quarter cup of food left or a 13 year-old dog who has to go outside at 1 a.m. Our struggle may not be the same, but it’s super real, too.

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This is the first post I’ve shared publicly, for many reasons. Mostly fear. So if you found yourself here and want to read more, there’s already plenty – my trip to Austin, my family reunion, drinking (shocking, I know), St. Paddy’s day and more. Hit HOME in the menu. Let me know what you think. Xo.