Tuesday, February 10, 2015

the scale of suck

Suckage is relative. I've talked about this before. I even drew a nifty little graphic. (See Fig. 2, below.)

The take-home lesson is = Life is hard and good, but it's way harder for some and way good-er for others.

I don't mean to sound like some sanctimonious schmuck. I'll be the first one to bake cupcakes for your pity party. One of my biggest pet peeves is when you're having a rough day and someone points out that it could be a lot worse. I just think that is extremely unhelpful. So. I'm not ever going to say that to your face. But. Maybe, sometimes, we could stand to say it to our own faces.

Case in point. This weekend I took Miss Colby Jean to a classmate's 3rd birthday party, which is basically my own personal definition of hell. While attempting, and failing, to make small talk with the other moms, I totally stuck my foot in it, as I am wont to do.

Me: Do you just love having short hair?
Other Mom: Well, it wasn't exactly a choice. It all fell out during my chemo.
I am such an idiot.

The moral of the story is this: Don't ever ask anyone about their short hair. Or if they're pregnant. Or if they have a good relationship with their parents. Or if they do Crossfit or eat Paleo.

I, for one, give you free license to bitch and feel sorry for yourself whenever you damn well please. I find that being honest about my struggles as a mom and a human being is cathartic, and also, makes me feel less shitty and less alone. I love that there are places on the internet that you can go (Pinterest is not one of them) when you are having a bad day and you can be grumpy and real and people - sometimes people you don't even know - respond with "Amen!" and "That fucking sucks!" and "You got this!" and "Preachin to the choir!" Probably this is just because I'm not popular enough to have haters, but nobody ever rains on my pity parade, and I really appreciate that. But. A little perspective can be good, too.

So anyway. Here I am, thinking, "Awkward socializing at a toddler birthday party is THE WORST THING EVER!" And I will continue to ferociously sympathize with anyone who has to undergo similar instruments of torture. Yet, I was painfully, gratefully aware on this perfect, sunny, Sunday afternoon, of this ridiculously positive and kick ass mom kindly reminding me, in so many words, that my life is not that effing bad. "Actually, no, you asshole. THE WORST THING EVER is being diagnosed with CANCER when you have a 2 year old and a THREE MONTH OLD, and having to undergo surgery that prohibits you from picking up your newborn baby (and your big-little-boy) for six weeks, and undergoing months of chemo and radiation, and continuing to receive twice-monthly infusions, with another surgery scheduled soon, and feeling cautiously optimistic, but not knowing for sure whether you are going to live long enough to throw a three-year-old birthday party of your own."

I think my eloquent response was something along the lines of, "Holy shit."

I quickly followed that up with a nonsensical monologue of things I could do to help:

Child care: Absolutely! My children subsist mainly on things that are orange. Is that okay?
Home cooked meals: Technically possible, but if you're already nauseous you might not want to hitch your horse to this wagon.
Cupcakes from a boxed mix?
Legal advice on corporate fraud?
I can give you the number for a mediocre housekeeper...
And provide... ummmm..... non-denominational prayer-like-thoughts? Knock-knock jokes? Dude. I don't even know what to say.

My next thought was, "Wait! Why on earth are you the class mom?!? Can I help take any of that responsibility off your plate? We have that gift basket thing. I can do that! Gift baskets are right in my wheel house!" Her response? Oh you guys, her response. She said she decided to take that on because (a) She "wanted to have something to do besides feeling sorry for herself" (and, you know, her part time job as a therapist, and two small children, and FUCKING CANCER). And (b) because she might not have another chance. Waaaaaaaaaaaaah.

SO. Yeah. Sometimes, terrible toddler birthday parties can serve as wonderful reminders of the fact that you made some tiny humans and they are incredibly amazing and beautiful (and quirkily psychotic) little creatures, and you are ALIVE and you are here to watch them grow. And those are not small things.


"Jennifer Green-cheese, or whatever your name is" (< courtesy of one of my many hilarious cousins-in-law)

to see the scale of suck in its original incarnation, click here


  1. Oh my god I love you. But don't feel like you're any more awkward about this stuff than anyone else--seriously, we cancer peeps bring the awkward to every situation. Everything about us is like a mine field of little awkwardness bombs just scattered all around us. Everyone steps on one at least once.

    1. Well you are amazing! And entitled to your awkward bombs! I also scatter awkward bombs wherever I go, but I do not have a valid excuse ;) Again - cancer patient taking time out of her day to make socially awkward mom feel better! You "cancer peeps" are an inspiration :)