The Hardest Job

This is something I've wanted to write for a long time, but events from today finally pushed me into just doing it.
Remember, not very long ago, when a little boy climbed into a gorillas enclosure at the zoo? Remember how the gorilla dragged him around, nearly killing him, and eventually the gorilla was shot to save the boy?
Remember how upset the Internet was over that one? Remember the "hilarious" memes about the so obviously neglectful mother of the boy who "should have been shot instead"?
Those were a riot. That's real comedy.
And remember, a few months ago, when that mom in Arizona accidentally left her baby in a shopping cart at Target? Remember how distraught she was in that video, still beating herself up about a mistake she had made weeks ago, even though everything had worked out ok?
Strangers, safe behind their phone screens, tore her apart. They would never do something like that. They were more responsible parents. This woman clearly deserved to have each of her five children taken from her. 
All of this has been happening with me sort of as a silent spectator, the new mom taking notes, always reminding myself not to pay much attention to internet trolls. 
But what about when it's you? What about when it's real life?
Today, I was babysitting my 9 year old nephew, and he wanted to go for a drive and play Pokemon Go. (Of course.) So, trying to be a fun aunt (and also because I have a major sugar addiction) I stopped at Maverick to get us a treat. My nephew was sitting in the back with Dayen, so I left the car on, parked right by the door, and ran inside. I couldn't have been gone more than a minute.
When I got back to the car, the lady parked next to me was staring me down. I tried to ignore her while I handed out treats, but she wouldn't stop. When I looked up, she mouthed, "wow."
And, just so you get a good idea of the scene here, she was sitting in her car, with her windows rolled up, and smoking. There was a young teenage girl in the back seat. Lucky for her, my mother taught me not to stare. 
Now, had this happened two years ago, I probably would have just driven away, feeling slightly embarrassed. But these dang maternal hormones sure kick in at the worst time, and probably because this blog post has been brewing in my head for awhile now, I was on fire. Livid. Bursting with the poetic energy that I can only ever write, not speak. Dang it.
So, I did the un-Christian thing and rolled down my window. She ignored me at first (still staring, naturally) then finally rolled hers down. Very politely, I asked, "Were you trying to say something to me?" (My mother also taught me to kill people with kindness.) She said, "Did I look like I was trying to talk to you?" I just shrugged, trying to stay happy, and said, "You were just staring so I figured you wanted to talk to me." She rolled her eyes and replied, "Were my lips moving? Then I wasn't trying to talk to you."
After which, I may have said something mean as I rolled up the window and drove away.
Here's the thing: you may fall on either side of this issue. Maybe I was right, maybe I was in the wrong. But if her concern, truly, was the welfare of these children, then she approached it in absolutely the wrong way.
Which is why, in most cases, I don't believe that is everyone's biggest concern. If it was about the kids, if it really concerned her so much, she could have sat by the car to make sure they were safe until I got back, and then kindly told me that she knows a kid who got kidnapped, or a family whose car shifted into gear and drove out onto the highway. She could have reminded me that I could have just brought them in, even if it's a pain, even if I trust my 9 year old nephew to watch my baby for one minute while I'm 10 feet away.
She could have said any of that, but instead she hid behind her screen (ok this would be so much more poetic of cars had screens) and judged me. She judged what kind of person I was, what kind of mother I was, and she decided I was trash. She decided I deserved to be treated that way, even though it couldn't lead anywhere productive. 
If you're a mom, you get it: the most hurtful thing you can do is question the love they have for that child and their wellbeing.
Clearly, that random stranger was not here while I woke up every couple hours all through the night for months to feed him. She doesn't know that we spend our afternoons playing hide and seek and doing crafts, and that I have taught him most of his letters already. She has no clue that I would give my life for this sweet little boy who means the world to me, as well as for my nephew.
One single moment in my life she judged me for. And I could defend my reasonings, but it wouldn't matter to her.
All winter long, I watch my friends post things like "I saw a baby in the store with no shoes. Come on people! If you need shoes, your kids need shoes!" and it just makes me cringe. You can't judge someone off one moment. You just can't! Whether it's what they are wearing or what they say or whether or not their kids have shoes: you don't know them!
Dayen and I were walking through Wal Mart the other day when he kicked off his shoe. I didn't notice at first, and after we retraced our steps and found it, I realized it had probably been gone 10 minutes before I noticed. 
And have you people ever had kids before? They don't keep shoes on!!! Shoes are a joke! Especially if your kid can't even walk yet. Not worth the effort.
Maybe that person you are judging doesn't realize their kids kicked off their shoes 10 aisles back.
Maybe they can't afford shoes!
If you're concerned, get off Facebook and KINDLY help! 
I will gladly spend the rest of my life worried about the safety of my children. But I shouldn't have to worry about what everyone else thinks about me as a mother.
It just drives me crazy, this mom-on-mom bullying. I used to be part of a Facebook group for moms that I LOVED. Then one day a girl was getting attacked for circumcising her son. (HER son!!!) I came to her aid and immediately had moms, who had once been my friends, jumping down my throat. One mom threatened to call CPS on me because she couldn't believe I would mutilate my son like that. 
My son who I take care of every moment of every day!
Can you tell it makes me livid?
I am not just livid for myself, but for everyone who has had this happen to them. And I will admit: yes, there are some crappy moms out there. But I think, for the most part, we are all doing our best. The world is not full of heroes and villains, people who are either good or bad. Like it or not, we've all got a little of both in us.
And we can't please everyone all the time! What one person thinks is ok might be horrible to someone else. Everyday you make the decision how to raise your kids. And you have that right!
Why can't we just have each other's backs? Why can't we support and help each other with this insanely difficult job called parenting? Why can't we put ourselves in their shoes and realize how much it hurts when someone criticizes our parenting?
I don't care if you're just telling me my baby needs a jacket. If he's not wearing one, I've already assessed the situation and decided, as his mother, that he was fine. 
So, as we say in elementary school... Mind your own business. And if you see a kid that is truly in mortal danger, then KINDLY HELP. Don't judge! Judging helps no one.
I have to wonder, as that lady sat staring at my car, waiting for me to come out so she could stare at me and make me feel like dirt... What would have happened if it had been my husband instead? I could be wrong, but I truly believe she wouldn't have done a thing. It's just not the same with dads. We give them a free pass. Good for you for not watching sports tonight. But moms... You're supposed to know better. 
The poor mom who had to watch her son being dragged around by a gorilla because she looked away for a second. The poor mom who had to relive her worst mistake over and over again because strangers who didn't know her couldn't let it go, and wanted to see everything taken away from her. 
Pardon my massive soap box, but not a lot of things make me this upset. 
Mom on mom bullying. It's a thing. And it's something we can, we must stop doing to each other. 

A Challenge To All

There is a lot to love about summer. Snowie shacks are open, the splash pad is running, and we even have a quaint, though slightly ghetto, ice cream truck that brings me back to my childhood every time it goes by.
There isn't a lot not to love about summer. But I think the absolute worst thing is the salesman, those darn traveling salesman that suddenly appear at your door.
You know them: they are always either boys aged 18-27, or foreigners who ask way too many questions about your kids. I know about summer sales, because plenty of my male friends (aged 18-27) have left for the summer for the same jobs. Which begs the question: is it against the rule to get a sales job in your own hometown? I mean, why do all the Utah boys have to leave for the summer, only to be replaced by a bunch of weirdos who always, always, always ask me the population of Tremonton. (Which I always forget, and I can't even make an educated guess because I am phenomenally bad at that, like guessing how many jelly beans are in the jar. I'm usually off by like a thousand.)
I have gotten pretty good at avoiding the salesman. Our kitchen window looks out onto the front porch, so if I do some stealthy ninja moves I can usually avoid answering the door for anyone other than invited guests. I don't mean to be unkind, but they've really brought this upon themselves. There was a salesman last year who, after ten minutes of me telling him I was not interested and then finally shutting the door in his face, proceeded to yell through the door for another five minutes. I'm not kidding.
So, generally, it is not a problem for me because I don't let these strange obnoxious pests into my life. But, as is their mission statement, they can't be avoided forever. Tonight, I went outside for literally ten seconds just to turn the sprinkler off. From down the sidewalk I heard someone shout hello. I turned, said hi back, but realized it was a salesman and booked it for the door.
Too late. Like lightning he was suddenly on my porch, acting like he had made the trip out here just for me. (Side note: one of our friends is out on summer sales right now in Oregon, and he's always posting cool pictures of his after-work excursions, because Oregon is cool. I wonder what this poor sap is writing home about. "Well... Tremonton is small, but rumor has it they're getting a Dollar Tree." Clearly he is here to WORK, not for the free vacation.)
This particular salesman was a pest control guy, the worst of the lot because you can pretend you already have a security system, but everybody has bugs. After asking me a lot of personal questions while I tried to inch my way into the house, he proceeded to show me a laminated picture of all different kinds of spiders and wanted me to point to which ones I usually saw in our house. Like I want to relive that! He then explained how for the low low cost of 150 galleons, he could knock down those pesky spider webs between the shingles, but I'd have to be on my guard because it would, obviously, need to be done quarterly. 
Let's get one thing straight: if you could get rid of every spider in my house and GUARANTEE me that there would never be one again, there would be no price I wouldn't pay for that service. (Caleb may disagree.) But you can't guarantee that, can you, you sly little man who doesn't carry a business card when I offer to give you a call if I'm interested?
My problem is I just can't be mean. I can't! And they know I can't, and they play off of it! However, it was 9:00 at night and I really just wanted to go inside and hang out with my husband and I don't know, do anything but stand here and talk about spiders with this stranger, so I had to at least lie to get myself out of future entanglements.
I just don't lie well. For some reason I lied and said Caleb wasn't home, and then I spent the rest of our encounter in fear that Caleb would show up at the door. That would really test my improv skills. "Oh! Manuel! This is my butler who speaks no English!"
Finally, he realized I wasn't busting out the credit card any time soon, despite his constant references to some neighbor who I must know and trust and strive to emulate, who was getting her webs removed on Saturday. But he had to log me as a maybe-sale anyway.
"Can I get your name?"
As he's typing it on his company iPad. "Is that with an i?"
"Great. And can I get your phone number?" Ah! Now I had him! Since it is beyond my capacity to just make up a 100% fake number when I'm put on the spot like this, I gave him my real number, but one number off. It's a trick I learned at the singles ward, when all the crazies would ask for my number repeatedly, and if I gave them a real one they would call FORTY TIMES in one day. Yes this really happened.
Of course, it wasn't until I came in that I realized I had missed a golden opportunity here. After all, he was a stranger who would soon be gone. As far as he's concerned, I could be anyone I wanted. Why stop at Andi? I could be the crazy cat lady who asks if he'll come back tomorrow to hear more of her stories. I could turn the tables and try to make him as uncomfortable as possible.
And this is where I challenge all of you to really go crazy with these salesman. Think outside the box. Don't hide from the salesman: embrace the experience! Step into the role of the worst person you can imagine encountering. And if you do it, I want to hear about it.
Let's make next years training session for summer sales one they will never forget. (Because, I assume, they prepare them for everything... Just not me. Mwahahaha.)

A Disney Princess

Guys, I've finally figured it out. After all these years of complaining, all this time spent trying to accomplish things and become someone I finally realized I am already right where I need to be. I am- are you ready for this?- a Disney Princess.
Now hear me out.
Like Ariel, I have a strange collection of things that seemingly have no purpose, but that I can't seem to get rid of. My basement bears a scary resemblance to her underwater trove of nonsense. (And ironically, our basement frequently floods, making the comparison even more real.) You want thingamabobs? I've got twenty. But who cares? NBD. I want more.
Also like Ariel, I frequently forget the names for common human things like feet and fire.
The most obvious resemblance is between Cinderella and I. We both live to clean and wait for the day a slipper made out of glass is actually comfortable. Glass? Come on.
Although with the cleaning thing I may be more like Snow White. I lived at home with my mother and never cleaned a day in my life, but the minute she chased me from the castle I had to find a shack to live in and clean up and hope that would be enough for the true owners to let me stay.
Like Merida, I have a sweet Scottish accent and killer aim with a bow and arrow. Ok, you caught me. I've never used a bow and arrow that wasn't Nerf brand. But I so wish.
Like Mulan, all it takes is one bad haircut with a blunt sword, a top bun, and a day with no makeup and the entire Chinese army doesn't question that I am a Man.
Belle and I obviously share the whole love of books thing, although I would never go so far as to marry a wolf-bear-mammoth hybrid just for his library.
Tiana and I have both had nasty bouts with salmonella. Mine came from cookie dough. Way more worth it.
When the wind blows, it's scary how close my long, ebony hair resembles that of Pocahontas. Seriously, pay attention next time we're in a hurricane or a topless car together. It's glorious.
Like Sleeping Beauty, I need my beauty sleep. I mean, this was kind of the most boring Disney movie ever, so forgive me if I know nothing about the plot.

As was my Princess duty, I of course married the Handsome Prince and am currently in the midst of the Happily Ever After.

And I spend a disproportionate amount of time cleaning up after my little dwarf, Happy.
And there is this wild animal that for some reason I let live in my house, and some days I have more conversations with him than any human.

And, like every good Disney Princess, I frequently break into song when you least expect it. All I need is for my tea pot to come to life and harmonize with me.

You have no idea how badly I wish I was kidding about any of these.