Advice: Having It All vs. Having A Choice

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

Last night, I worked until after midnight, and I did so the night before, and at least two times the week before that. And so on, and so on.

I love my job. I’ve been an entertainment news producer for the last six years and I love the challenges that every day brings. But in two weeks, I am going out on maternity leave, and I’m trying to make sure I have enough of my assignments in the can to keep my name fresh and relevant to my bosses. Things move quick in this industry, and being away from it for twelve weeks means I will be gone for practically a lifetime.

Of course I know there are laws to protect me from losing my job while I am out on leave, but that doesn’t mean I will come back to the plum assignments I’ve earned. And also, of course, I hear the whispers: Will she come back? I realize that’s an option available to me, to stay home with this amazing creature my husband and I have created, but I don’t know if I’m ready to trade my briefcase for some diaper bags.

I’ve grown up believing in things like a “work-life balance” and that women can “have it all”, but I feel like I’ve put a big part of myself and everything I’ve been working toward for the last six years up for grabs to my colleagues with different obligations. I don’t understand how this is “having it all” if my professional advancement has to stall and/or get winnowed away from me. I’m even considering cutting my maternity leave short so I can get back in the saddle and on track ASAP, and my friends with children are “mommy track”, so they’ve cut back their work hours or accepted less taxing assignments at their jobs…or are “taking a few years off”…so they don’t understand my perspective at all. None of those options are acceptable to me. What should I do? How should I look at this? I can’t wait to meet my little girl, but do I have to lose other parts of my life to do it?

Signed, I Want What’s Mine

 

Dear What’s Mine,

Bartender and Priestess: Sigh. Well, we knew this was coming, sooner or later. Let’s see if we can sort out our responses.

P: It’s hard to know where to start with this. Is it the notion that everything you can conceive of can fit in a day (Time), that everything is of equal value (Priorities), that people have ever done this (History), that the physical body is capable of this (Limitations), that you are somehow deserving of having everything you’ve ever wanted (Entitlement), or that this is somehow good for the world (Civilization).

As the Priestess, I’m going to start with your priorities. Being good at either work or raising children requires tremendous discipline and sacrifice. I wish you had thought to ask these questions before you conceived. Children are not something you check off a list. Humans, especially tiny ones, are frail little creatures demanding an enormous amount of time and attention. And in the beginning they’re not only endearing — they are fretful and demanding.  When they don’t sleep, my dear, you don’t sleep. Even if you’ve hired a nanny whose job it is to get up and have those middle of the night screams and snuggles, most babies I know have a voice that rivals a fire bell. Now there’s nothing that says that you have to be the primary parent, your partner can be, but that is a delicate dance you should have worked out before, because a child is going to interrupt your busy lives and require sacrifices.

B: There’s a long-standing joke-y meme that’s been around for decades: imagine a woman, enthusiastically chirping out the message: I CAN have it all! A baby AND a career! Some version of this probably lives in some corner of your head, doesn’t it? Moreover, it sort of informs your opinion on how you should be able to manage your life, right?

I want you to stop that. Why? Because it turns your life into a list. Like Ann said, a baby isn’t something you check off when you accomplish it. Washed the windows, check. Had a baby, double-check. Do you think the best way to judge your life is by the number of tally-marks you’ve scratched on a scorecard? And no matter what structure you try and put into place, a baby will find a way around that and make things unpredictable and messy. In a conversation I had two days ago with a good friend and mom of two adorable munchkins, she said, “The thing about parenting is—and every parent I’ve spoken with has, at some point, reached this conclusion—it is NEVER what you expect it to be.”

Realign your life’s expectations. Checkity-check-check.

P: If you want a happy, healthy child who will eventually grow to become an active and contributing part of society, you’re going to have to contribute to that child. And the needs don’t stop with babydom, they just change. Neither Terri or I chose to have children. My choice centered on the fact that I thought I would be better at what I did, that I didn’t have what it took to be good at both work and raising children. Are there times I regret that? Of course. None more than when my sister’s two children died, and I couldn’t give her mine to love. But it was a decision based on my analysis of my ability to provide a child what was needed. Because child rearing is incredibly important, not just to us, but to our world. I worry about how we build a better world.

When your sentence starts, “I can’t wait to meet my little girl, but…” you’ve already clarified your priorities, and yet, here you are pregnant. Who is going to raise your child?

B: I assume you have some kind of child care in mind, though you don’t mention if it will be a nanny or day care or grandma’s house or if your husband is going to be a stay-at-home dad. All of these options are OK. But I want to point out to you that while you may not know how to juggle “having it all” in terms of baby and career, what you DO have are options. A tremendous number of them, and this is my plea to families everywhere: please stop looking at “having it all” as meaning that you can keep everything on the table in front of you and that it will hold equal weight. It won’t happen. It doesn’t happen, even without a kid to consider. Have you ever made a decision? Have you ever chosen to go to your husband’s parents’ home for Thanksgiving instead of your brother’s? Then you’ve been presented with two options on the table, given one more weight than the other, and let the less important one roll off the table. You physically can’t split yourself in two and be at both your in-laws’ and your brother’s homes at the same time on the same day. And, you can’t physically split yourself in two and be a full-time mom with a full-time career, and take care of both things at the same time.

And please, don’t point to people like Marissa Meyer, who’s CEO-ing Yahoo! while taking care of her baby. She’s not. She has a full-time nanny, and a nursery built onto her office. She has no work-life balance. Her office IS her home; she just has another place where she sleeps at night. Usually. Is that what you’re looking for?

P: Historically, we lived in villages. Children ran in packs and grannies and aunties and neighbors all mothered our children. For anyone who’s been part of the Mother Grapevine, you knew you were being watched: it meant you could get a cookie occasionally at someone’s house, it meant you could use the toilet, and it also meant if you misbehaved, you got yelled at by your friend’s mom who then got on the phone and called your mom. And if the behavior was egregious enough, the other moms might chime in. There was a village to raise the children and you played a part in it. Your job was critical to the village as well. Everyone’s was.

We don’t live in villages any more. We don’t live in extended families. And I know a lot of grandparents who, even if they live next door, have active and involved lives and are not available and or interested in raising your child. They’ve raised their own children already—you. They aren’t being selfish if they have their own lives. No one ever promised you that you could have children and not parent them.

B: So, going back to the options before you. I want you to take a moment to consider what a lovely and enviable position you’re in. There are plenty of parents who don’t have the resources available to make these decisions—they have kids, they have to keep them housed and fed. I grew up in a home with two parents who both had to work to support the family. There are lots of families who just have one working parent, which often means more than one job at less pay than she or he deserves. Child care is expensive, summers home from school are a challenge, and the question of whether or not the mother can stay home to be with her baby is often laughable at best.

I’m not asking you to feel bad for the single parent or the working-class struggle. What I am asking you to do is reconsider the idea of “It All”. What you have, which is ironically fueling your dilemma, is the luxury of choice. And you want to keep it all on the table in front of you and make it all equally important. You can’t. Decisions have to be made. You have the ability to decide the what and the who and the how of your daughter’s upbringing in a way that’s unencumbered by dire need. You’re comfortable with your and your husband’s capacity to provide, and you can be discerning about which things fall off the table, in ways that other families simply can’t. You have resources, ability, and the power to use them accordingly. You have “It All”, even if “It” isn’t on the checklist in front of you. You’re just not seeing it.

P: I’m sorry, you were probably coming to the two feminists looking for a different kind of support. I spend a lot of time looking at families. I spend a lot of time looking at society. Both of these need a lot of loving attention. Where are you going to be in creating a family — which is what a child needs to thrive? How will you be contributing to society? Who are you that the world should arrange itself around you?

When having it all isn't all it seems.

When having it all isn’t all it seems.

Ray of Sunshine Mocktail Recipe

  • 2 oz orange juice
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 ½ oz cranberry juice
  • 1 ½ oz sweet & sour

Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing glass; pour into a tall cocktail glass filled with ice and garnish with an orange and a cherry.

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Thank you for reading. Now go tell all your friends about us. {{{heart hug}}}

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Advice: Promposal Problems

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

I am a senior in high school. Since the beginning of this year I’ve held a part-time job, and put most of my money into a savings account. I’m going away to college in the fall on a partial academic scholarship, and my parents and I decided it would make sense for me to work now and save everything so when I go to school I can focus on my studies, and still have some spending money. We don’t have a lot of money, so maintaining my scholarship is really important to me, and to my parents.

My problem is, there’s this girl I’ve been dating, and I really want to ask her to the prom. It’s a big deal in my school to do promposals, and I know some guys are planning big ways to ask girls on dates—taking them to a fancy restaurant for dinner, getting their girls specially embroidered his and hers running shoes (so they can be prom-body-ready). One guy got his girl a charm bracelet that spelled out “P-R-O-M” in the charms. Of course I want to make the girl I ask feel special. I’m already planning on the tux and flowers and prom tickets and dinner beforehand, and the limo. And that’s fine, I’m ready for it, I’ve been planning for it. But this seems like so much more extra money, and I know I can’t ask my parents to pitch in with this. They already do so much for me. How can I compete?

Thanks.

Prom-Plexed

Dear Prom-Plexed

BnP: First, kudos for the great signature! And your question succinctly nails an issue — a trend; perhaps even an obscene trend — that makes us ca-razy. Is it about the money? Or is it the fact that our young vibrant women feel like they need to be Disney princesses? They need public displays of desirability (and thus, validation)? And how romantic is it that boys are increasingly expected to be nothing but cash cows? (Can we even say how much we hate these two things?) Is it that nothing can simply be what it is? We’ve maxed out the stuff we can add onto the prom (What??? You’re not spending the week at the shore???), so we’ll invent this idea called “Promposal”. Let’s see if we can help. Prom-body ready, where’s the fainting couch.

B: Give me a minute to congratulate you on earning a scholarship! That’s no small feat. And, congratulations to you and your parents for taking your academic achievement and growth seriously, and making plans to preserve your scholarship eligibility. You’re just in high school, but you’re looking ahead and weighing the variables of your life with a maturity I don’t always see in adults three times your age.

As for your question…

I haaaaaaaaaaate promposals. It probably borders on the irrational, and if I were a judge I would in all likelihood have to recuse myself from this case if it came to my courtroom. Luckily, this is an advice column and I can rattle on at will.

I can just hear parents now: oh, come on, party pooper, they’re cute! They’re harmless! And who doesn’t want to see “PROM?” spelled out on their front lawn in sparklers? But negotiating the social strata of high school is tough enough without having to add in an extra layer of manufactured courtship. I *swear* this is an idea devised and perpetuated by the wedding industrial complex to train future brides and grooms to go big or not leave the yard.

P: Just thinking about this brings back the high school trauma. Yuck. And back then, there wasn’t dinner beforehand, or breakfast afterwards, let alone promposals. Yes Priestess is Ancient. There was just the wondering whether you’d be asked, the fumbling conversation in the hall by your locker and then the agonizing what-will-I-wear. Thank goodness my mother sewed! But a promposal? This is the wedding industry going amok, an extravagant marketing ploy. This is, how to say this delicately… hogwash.

That said, here you are. Living in this world.

You want to go to the prom. You want to have a good time. You want to go with someone interesting. You don’t want to break the bank. That pretty much it?

B: Going to prom can be fun. You get to wear fancy clothes, ride around in a nice car, sit at a big round table with all your friends and eat banquet food, do a little dancing. It’s a way to practice a ritual of adulthood, and fills the niche created by the (now largely abandoned except in certain circles) debutante ball. Prom-goers put themselves out there, displaying themselves as they get ready for adulthood.

Practicing at adulthood should also (theoretically, at least) contain an element of practicing what to look for in a desirable partner. Promposals can skew that. Yes, some promposals can be cute. It’s like a storybook, right? Awww. But what they tend to do is put a glossy sheen over the meaningful work of dating, which involves determining someone’s personality. It establishes an expectation that girls should expect to get treated like fairy princesses, and if Prince Charming isn’t riding in and saying he wants to take Terri to the prom with artfully strewn rose petals, then either the boy who’s simply asking (“Terri, would you go to the prom with me?”) isn’t worth Terri’s time, or Terri doesn’t merit a proper asking. Do we really need to reinforce the idea that our sense of self depends on the value placed on how much of a public spectacle we are made by other people?

P: Hopefully the girl your dating will be able to appreciate your opinion, if not have the same abhorrence that you do for the crass commercialism. The prom is really about having a fun evening, or should be, and not an opportunity to worry first if your promposal is sufficient and then if your prom-date is sufficient. 

I hope she’s a wonderful, independent, non-drama princess kinda young woman. I’m sure she’s someone interesting that you’d like to spend a fun evening with, someone you’d like to know for a long time, whether it’s as a girlfriend or as a great friend.

B: You said the girl you want to ask is someone you’ve been had some dates with. More than one date. There’s some reason to believe you’re at the very least compatible and share some of the same values. So it seems like you’re looking in the right direction.

P: It’s important for you to remember that you have great values. You’re working hard for your future. You’re considerate of your parents. You’ve thought about making it a fun date. Someone’s really going to want to go to the prom with you. Let’s not think about this as a lack in you but rather a positive. You’ve got goals. You’ve got principles. And you’re trying to figure something out. You’re interesting! If your date, who knows you, tells you she don’t want to go to the prom with you because you’re falling down on the promposing, it’s going to be hard on the ego but really, this is likely not someone you want to know really well.

If you have to, go ahead and think about this invitation as a promposal, but why not just think about it’s being asking the girl you’re dating to the prom? Let it be about the two of you. Why not make your invitation one more opportunity to get to know one another better? You’re going to have to talk to one another a long time at the prom. It’s a good idea to keep building common ground. You can be very romantic without spending beaucoup bucks.

Do you two share an interest? (hint: it’ll be more fun at the prom if you have things in common).  A little research and you can figure something out. This is getting to know someone. This is effort that will not be wasted and will stand you in good stead your entire life. Truth to tell, I find someone’s interest in me far more romantic than someone who throws cash because it’s the thing to do — something that has noting to do with me.

B: Again, being willing and able to talk to someone you’re interested in—making the effort to get to know your future date, and not just want someone who looks good on your arm—is a sign of maturity. Of *course* we all want to be attracted, and attractive, to the person we date, but a date can go sideways pretty quickly if all you have is the pleasure of looking at one another. If you wanted that, you could take a picture of that person and put it in your wallet. But your date moves and breathes and talks, so find out what interests her and go from there.

P: Looking for ideas? Do you hike? Go some place special, take a picnic. Look for a heart shaped rock. There are loads. Start collecting them. When you’ve got enough hand them to her and say, be my prom date! Take car drives, go see something special. Find two animals in the field together. Ask her to go with you to the prom. Live in a city near a favorite museum? Go see a painting, ask her to the prom. Use your bus passes and spend the day hopping on and off the bus. Go on a picnic. Play a game. Learn to make an origami flower, get really good at it. Do it in front of her, ask her to the prom.

Be creative, interested and hopeful. And the origami thing? You’ll always be able to use that!

B: I want to take a moment to beg the parents who encourage these sorts of displays, or smile benignly upon them as they’re happening…please stop. Your son is not a gesture-generating ATM, your daughter is not a princess, and we should be working toward raising young adults who are independent, not codependent. There are so many wrong messages attached to the idea of a promposal.

As for you, Promplexed, remember, when you go forward into your life, that relationships do not thrive on flashy gestures alone. Be true to yourself, your goals, and your personal value system, and don’t EVER feel like you’ve got less to offer than anyone else because you don’t put bling before substance. Have fun at the prom, and best of luck to you in your future.

NAPKIN TEMPLATE-006

Prom objective: Don’t get too stressed. Have fun. That is all.

Ombré Grapefruit Cocktail
Ingredients 
  • 1/2 c. grapefruit juice, chilled
  • 1/4 can Sprite or 7Up, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp simple syrup
  • 1 tsp grenadine
  • sugar to rim the glass
  • Use champagne flutes for a pretty presentation
Instructions
  1. Pour a very small amount of grapefruit juice/grenadine/simple syrup onto one plate, and a layer of garnishing sugar on another 
  2. Dip the rim of the glass in grapefruit juice, and then into the sugar so it coats the rim of the glass
  3. Carefully pour grapefruit juice into glass
  4. Add simple syrup
  5. Top off the glass with soda and drop in the grenadine
  6. You can add a stir stick or straw, but don’t stir it until after it’s served or else it will no longer be ombré

Got a problem? Email us at bartender priestess (at) gmail (dot) com. Human non-spambots, remove spaces, insert proper punctuation. All questions will remain confidential.

Want to know more about The Bartender and The Priestess? Go here!

Thank you for reading. Now go tell all your friends about us. {{{heart hug}}}

Advice: Partisan Politics at Home

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

I am a second-semester sophomore at college. To save money and make life easier for my parents, I am attending the college in our town and living at home. It’s been a lot of fun and with one exception has worked very well.

My parents are Democrats. They’re not just great-hearted policy liberals they are staunch, wild, my way or the highway kind of Democrats. My older brothers, who all live in the area, are exactly the same. Nothing’s more fun than casting stones at the opposition! So what’s the problem, you ask?

Well, my boyfriend is a Republican. They “tease” me unmercifully and call him names when he’s not there. If I have him over for dinner, they mock him to his face. It hurts him, and it certainly doesn’t give him a great opinion of Democrats. “See,” he says, “See, that’s what they’re all like.”

The other thing? I’ve been taking nothing but finance and poli-sci courses since I got to campus. I’m a Republican too. And now I have this amazing opportunity this summer to work for a state senator. It’s a dream job. My parents would think it’s a dream job too, except that it’s for a Republican. He’s a good man! But that won’t matter to them.

I’ve avoided bringing up my newly-embraced party affiliation to them. I know it’s cowardly, but I have to live here. I can’t afford to go to school if I don’t live at home. I don’t like living with all the shouting and ugliness. So…Help! Where do I go from here?

Signed,

Stealth Republican

Dear Stealth,

P: Oh, dear… This is going to be a challenge, isn’t it? First and foremost, and easiest, I think you should stop asking your BF to dinner. Although you should be able to invite your friends over and have them be welcomed, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Make clear to him that you’re doing this because you care for him and not because you’re giving up on the relationship.

If one of your brothers is an easier touch for you, you might be able to say to him, not when you’re being what they probably think of as “teased,” but when you’re alone, “I don’t know whether you understand exactly how much it hurts me when you name call and humiliate this guy I care about. I don’t feel safe and I don’t feel that my friends are welcome in my home.”

Maybe he can hear the pain and stop because he loves you. He might then be able to de-escalate what goes on with other brothers.

B: You’re nicer than me. I really want her to confront her parents. I get that it’s a difficult thing to do, but they—and the messages they’ve sent to their other children—are causing our letter writer pain. I don’t think she will make any progress trying to back-door-wrangle this situation. Her entire family is causing her anguish and behaving in an insulting and derogatory manner towards someone she brought to them. Someone has to start acting like an adult here and instill manners. I’m afraid that’s up to the letter writer.

P: I want her to confront her parents; I just want her to develop an ally at home FIRST, if possible. If you can talk to either or both of your parents, you might mention in a non-confrontational way, that you’re confused. Supposedly, they taught you to be open and welcoming of everyone. What does it mean that they’re willing to accept immigrants but not their neighbors? You might lay it on heavily and say that you’re sorry, but you hadn’t realized that you wouldn’t be able to bring people to the house who were different from the family. And say something along the lines, “I’ve told him, that it’s not fair to him to ask him to come to a home where people are mean and hostile towards him.” Tell them the truth, that you respect this guy too much to allow anyone to bully him and that it hurts too much to see the parents who talked to you about inclusivity be so mean.

B: Where does the letter writer say that her parents talked to her about inclusivity, or taught her to be open and accepting? She doesn’t say that anywhere. In fact, she said they’re “My way or the highway” as far as politics are concerned. Which is inherently exclusive. And damaging. As we have proof, written above.

P: I’m holding fast there, Terri. I’m sure they talk easily about accepting all sorts of people. It’s part of the party platform. My guess is if she came home and said she were gay, they’d be all, oh, wow, look now you can get married. They’re not willing to accept anyone outside their norms — but things are hard because they probably actually think the ARE inclusive.

Now you knew that we would get to this — the boyfriend, while his presence in your life exposes uncomfortable truths about people you love, is really only a sign of what the deeper problem is. It seems that you don’t live in a house that accepts you. That’s a crying shame.

B: Much of the time—not all, but much—children continue the affiliations they were raised with. They keep the same religion, the same political ideology, the same diet, even. It’s what people know, and it’s an easy way to define one’s world. The problem comes in when a kid rejects an affiliation. Think about what the gay kid coming out to her or his parents goes through. I mean…I’ve seen fights break out over an adult child’s decision to embrace vegetarianism (Parents: But what will you EAT?  Kid: My vegetables.) I had my own moment with my family when they realized I had given up the religion I was born into. And for you, your decision to switch political parties—it feels right to you, doesn’t it? For you, it makes sense. But for your parents…if it’s how they define their world then it’s also partly how they define themselves. Your defection to the other side is also a rejection of them and who they are. I’m not saying this perspective is the correct one to have, because you’re not rejecting them. But a lot of people take this sort of thing incredibly personally, which is why I think they’re so hostile towards your beau from the very beginning.

P: Presumably you’ve tried the yelling back thing and that hasn’t worked too well. It never does. It just gets everyone all roiled up. If you want change, you’re going to have to be the one who changes. You’ve got things you want to do; you don’t want to spend college simply reacting to their judgmentalism. And you don’t want to become judgmental from the other side. Nothing good comes of that.

However, now you’re going to have to make some hard decisions. Are you willing to live in a house where you’re not accepted? Your quick response might be, “but they’re paying for my school and I can’t afford it any other way.” That translates to “Yes, I’m willing to live with this.”

B: And in your case, that’s a bitter pill and hard to not take personally. Because being made fun of, and having your boyfriend mocked, around the dinner table? That IS personal. Sometimes, people see things upside down. They think if you reject a value system that they believe in, you’re issuing a personal attack. But if they behave antagonistically toward you and someone you love, and make you want to leave the house, somehow, you’re not supposed to take that personally?

P: Some people aren’t willing to put up with this, and they will find a way to pay their own way through school. Sometimes they quit and find a full time job, and live incredibly frugally and skimp and save and get it done. How much do both your education and your self respect mean to you? You can’t have a conversation with your parents, if you don’t know what you’re willing to put on the line. Well, you can, but they don’t usually go well.

B: To be fair, and practical, the idea of the self-supporting college student is increasingly a myth. And even if she strikes out on her own and is fully independent, the way the student loan laws are written, she still needs to access her parents’ income tax records in order to get federal funding, until she is 24 or married.

P: There’s all of that, so if you can’t get an education appropriate for what you want to do without them, can you get some counseling for coping strategies? Because this isn’t going to work forever. Consider your options. Think about coping strategies; think about an exit strategy. Then talk to your parents, who actually may just be clueless about how hurtful they’re being with the boyfriend and with you. It’s not good to live where you’re completely disregarded.

Be prepared. They’ll tell you it’s your boyfriend. They’ll tell you it’s a phase. Even if those things were true, you don’t feel welcome or safe to explore who you can become. My guess is they told you, you can be anything you want to be, and guess what, you want to be a Republican. So did they mean it?

Here’s the thing. Conversations like the one I’m suggesting take a lot of preparation and an absolute dedication to being calm and deliberate. This may be a series of conversations. It’s going to be a lot for them. I just Googled: How to tell your parents you’re a Republican! Of course there was stuff. If you let them see how you feel, let it be the pain, not the anger. Give them space to maneuver a bit. In your home, the anger is a tried and true tool for getting away from the point. Clarify what you want. Practice what you want to say. Start little. Don’t close any doors. But hold fast to your vision for yourself and what you’re willing to do to make your dreams come true. Don’t threaten them; just focus on your dreams.

B: And write a list of topics to cover. Don’t let the anger or pain or arguments or tears or name-calling get in the way of you making your point. If you’re going to intern for a politician, you may as well get acquainted with the idea of sticking to the determined talking points. This? Is what they are. Stay on point. Make your case.

P: You want your parents to support and love you. Even more than that, you need to love and respect yourself first.

Oh I hope this goes well, however rockily. Families are meant to keep growing. The chances are pretty good that they love you and want the best from you. It’s just that your best and theirs are a bit different. And good luck with the internship.

Prepare carefully. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Prepare carefully. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.

Elephant Cocktail

  • 1  Ounce pomegranate liqeur
  • 1  Ounce  black cherry rum
  • 1 1/2  Ounce pomegranate juice
  • 1 1/2  Ounce  fresh sour mix (2 parts simple syrup, 2 parts lemon juice, 1 part lime juice)
  • Blueberries as garnish

Combine all ingredients (except blueberries) in a cocktail shaker, shake, and strain into a rocks glass. Add garnish.

Got a problem? Email us at bartender priestess (at) gmail (dot) com. Human non-spambots, remove spaces, insert proper punctuation. All questions will remain confidential.

Want to know more about The Bartender and The Priestess? Go here!

Thank you for reading. Now go tell all your friends about us. {{{heart hug}}}

Advice: The Real Work of Parenting

Dear Bartender and Priestess,

I am struggling to manage my household, and feel like I am failing miserably.

Recently, I lost my job, so the all the financial burdens of our home are falling on my husband’s shoulders. I am looking, but haven’t found anything yet, since I’m a little older and it’s harder for me to find work. My husband is a nose-to-the-grindstone kind of guy and he hasn’t so much as said one angry thing to me, but I know the bills are piling up and he’s under a lot of stress. I hate it.

We have three kids living with us, and two of them are adults. One of the older kids is in college but the oldest one works. We also have one son’s girlfriend living with us, and two of their friends. They’re all employed but it’s part-time and they don’t make much money. Nobody contributes to the household.

I want to be a good mom, but I also feel like maybe these kids are taking advantage of me and my husband. What should I do? I’m really worried about how the financial stresses we’re under will affect my husband.

Signed, Worried about the Future

 

Dear Worried,

P: Oh, we are so sorry you lost your job. It is hard to find work as you age. There’s no question but that the market place isn’t forgiving of age. Check with all the local help sites and see if there’s support in getting a job. Don’t hesitate to call every single friend you have. You need every piece of help you can get.

However — about your home life! I worry that in your worry, you’ve lost your balance as well as your job. You’re allowing people to leech off you. Young adults whose parents don’t choose to do the same are living with you. Why would you allow them to drive you into poverty or bankruptcy? It’s not smart. It’s not kind. To you or them. Do not allow them to make your life more difficult. Your relationship with your husband is precious, you need to protect that.

B: Way back in the dawn of time, as human civilization developed and we gathered in communal caves and humans developed the traits associated with our sort of community-mindedness, rituals emerged that helped members of a family/clan/unit cross from youthful dependency to adulthood. These coming-of-age rituals were often dangerous (or at the very least emotionally trying) tests of strength or quests for survival. The participant had to manage on their own in the wild, or fight a bear, or walk through fire. And so on, and so on. The rituals served an important purpose, though, and they marked an important, life-affirming transition. The child left the hut, but then returned as a man.

Sometimes, I think it’s too bad we’ve gotten away from this sort of traditional journey into adulthood. Because your son and his friends and girlfriend could really use a “kick ‘em out the door and let ‘em fight the bear” kind of moment. It’s time they all grew up.

P: If there are people in your house who are earning but not contributing, they need either to pay or leave. If they’re making enough to buy gas to get to work and have clothes, then they can contribute from what’s left over. No one owes them beers, vids or tats. Especially people with money problems.

You’re not really being generous, you’re being taken advantage of.

B: By my count, there are eight people living in your house, including you and your husband, and only one person supports the entire lot of you. That, Momma, ain’t right. We will give a pass to the youngest child, who I assume is still somewhere in the K-12 range, and the older son who’s in college; for all intents and purposes, their schoolwork is their job right now, so we will leave them alone so they can focus.

Now. As for the rest of them…

Your son, his girlfriend, and two other friends all live under your roof—eat your food, make use of your facilities (shower, laundry, etc)—and don’t contribute a thing? Oh, Momma, you are being taken for a ride. With adulthood comes responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is participating in the upkeep of the roof over one’s own head. There is nothing about adulthood that entails living off the sweat of your parents while you behave like a high schooler who works at the mall for mad money.

P: Figure out what base costs are for you and your younger child to live there. Is your college kid working? Is his/her grade average high? Have you always paid for a child in school?

I know I’m old fashioned. I was brought up to participate. Are you doing laundry? Supplying food? Electricity? Sheets? Living space? All of these cost money. Put a price on it. And then set a date.

B: I’m not necessarily advocating that you throw your brood out into the street. I don’t know where you live, housing may be difficult to come by or prohibitively expensive to rent if you don’t have any savings for security deposits, etc.  But allowing them to live responsibility-free in your home does no one any favors. You and your husband are stressed out. Your youngest and the one in college are getting the message (loud and clear!) that in a few years they can live off your largesse, no matter what. And the oldest son and his crew are living an extended adolescence, which doesn’t help anyone. It’s time they take on the mantle of adulthood.

P: Set a schedule: As of a certain date, each of them will owe you $X per month (or week). Establish chores, as well… You might allow those who refuse to pay to sleep there an two extra weeks while they make arrangements, but there will be no food, no laundry, no wifi, no tv. If you have to, take those things out of their rooms. You take that tv out of their room, they’ll move really quickly. Or their devices, or, or, or.  Changing passwords is not all that difficult.

You do these young adults a disservice when you make them believe the world owes them a living. When will they be responsible? I’d want to be darned sure that son and girlfriend were using birth control as well. (when did I get this suspicious?) Because wouldn’t it be lovely for them, now when they have no responsibilities to have a baby you can support and babysit. Yikes. I mean really: Holy Moley!

B: Parents are afraid to seem “mean”. But do you know what’s more cruel than forcing your kids to grow up? Not preparing them for the realities of how the world works, so when they go out into it they can’t function. You can’t coddle them forever. You may think you’re showing love, but you’re emotionally crippling them all.

P: You need to protect your husband. You also need not to be so busy taking care of the house and the freeloaders that you can’t get a job or can’t find the energy to look for one. You also need to be a good role model for your kids and the neighbor kids.. And you owe your youngest a safe place to grow up. The older ones had it; if you can, you want to give the same stability to him/her. What you don’t want is a child that is seeing other people take advantage of you and then beginning to think that she/he can take advantage of you and of people in the future.

B: Long ago, living in the caves or the huts, once people crossed into what was determined to be “adulthood” for their era, they were expected to behave accordingly. Imagine an able-bodied young caveman saying, “I’m hungry…Dad, go out and bag us another caribou, will you? Me and Becky will be snuggling under our fur blanket while you and Mom kill and clean it. K? Thanks.” It sounds ridiculous, right? That’s because it IS ridiculous. Of course you’re worried, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. There’s no better time than the present to take control of this situation.

Taking care of someone doesn't necessarily mean coddling them. Remember that.

Taking care of someone doesn’t necessarily mean coddling them. Remember that.

The Stiff Upper Lip:

  • 3oz Gin
  • 3oz Apple Cider
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • Lemon Slices
  • Sliced Apples
    Preparation: 
  • Combine all ingredients into a shaker glass and shake well. Pour into a highball glass and garnish with apple slices and a lemon.

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Advice: Your Father Is Not Your Fiancé

Dear Bartender and Priestess: When I was in medical school I fell in love with one of my classmates, a great guy, I’ll call him “Bob”. We’ve been together for four years, but for the better part of a year it’s been long distance; my residency is in our home town, but he is doing his residency in another state. We see each other every month and are completely solid as a couple, deeply in love.

Two years ago, Bob and I visited my father and stepmother. Bob likes to discuss politics and history and can hold his own in a discussion; my father has decided Bob has anger(Control) issues. Dad told me Bob isn’t affectionate enough with me because he and I didn’t have PDAs at Dad’s house. The fact is, I asked him not to mug me up too much in front of my dad. Then my stepmother said, “just so I was aware”, that my entire family hates Bob. I found out later this was a total lie, though not until after I (tearfully) confronted my mother and sister about this.

Dad refuses to give Bob a second chance. He won’t invite Bob back to the house no matter how much I try to reason with him. My mother says Dad secretly hopes our current long-distance status will dribe Bob and I apart. But that’s not going to happen. We got engaged in April. Since we’re bogged down with student loans and still finishing our schooling, we don’t have a ring yet or anything like an anticipated wedding date. The only people who know are his family and our closest friends.

We mean business.

We mean business.

I am terrified to break this news to my father and stepmother. My father is no stranger to cutting people out of his life if he feels it suits him. He didn’t speak to his own mother for five years. When I was 13, my father left my mother, abandoning the family to marry my stepmother. Since then I’ve bent over backward to be the perfect daughter. The tension that I feel about how he treats Bob completely stresses me out, but I don’t want my relationship with Dad to crumble. What can I do?

The Bartender and the Priestess Respond:

B: Ai yi yi.  What an emotional quagmire. Pull up a stool, this is going to take a while. Why did you bury a critical piece of information—that your dad left you—in the bottom of your letter, almost like it’s an aside? Oh, by the way, he abandoned us. Why is the relationship with your father so important? He’s the one who left you in the past, you didn’t leave him. And the fact that you’re bending over backward to be “the perfect daughter”—which is something that doesn’t exist—props the door open for him to leave you again. You’re an adult. Don’t be terrified that this mean, selfish person is possibly going to leave. Ask yourself why you want him in your life in the first place.

P: Let’s be clear, now he’s threatening to leave you again and he’s making the conditions for his love completely impossible. He’s working to cut you off from love so that he can tell you whether or not you’re lovable — as opposed to accepting the good opinion of the man who loves you. That’s scary. And it raises the odor of abuse. And what’s up with the family dynamic? You introduced your beloved to your dad and step-mom, and she then got in touch  — or said she did — with the rest of the family? Let’s take a wild flyer here. Your dad was having an affair with this woman when he left your Mother? Right? And you believed what she told you rather than knowing that she’d be trying to ruffle the waters.

And it doesn’t seem like you trust your Mom a lot — that would be your Mom who stood by you when your father waltzed — so that when she says, honey I never said that, why wouldn’t you accept that? What’s with the big fights? Is that common? It seems there’s miscommunication everywhere. I’m not sure why your your mom is being a conduit for your dad either. he said/she said is a lousy way to communicate.

B: Seriously. You believed your stepmom over your own mother? I’m curious as to why. Has she been a source of comfort in your life, or something divisive? Because in my admittedly limited experience, she’s pretty divisive. You seem to have learned to turn your back on things on a regular basis, my dear. You’ve abandoned responsibility for your own well-being in favor of an abusive relationship. You void positive interactions with her mother—who, we assume, at the very least didn’t abandon you too—after your father left. Do you think your mother’s worth is diminished because your father left her, too? Or does her feeding and clothing you in the time after he left generate any sort of present-day loyalty?

P: So how do you want to live your life? Do you want to be a happy, well-adjusted adult? Being a whole person, and present, as a doctor. Do you want a healthy relationship with your partner?  Stifling him isn’t going to bring that about.

B: Or do you want to live your emotional life as an abandoned 14-year-old girl who’s chasing her father’s affection? Because a pretty significant part of you is still rooted in that girl who got left behind.

P: Fear, which is what your dad raises in you, shuts you down. Love, which is what you have with your partner, softens your edges and opens you to the world.

B: Because really, if you’ve found The One, the person you think will make you happiest above all others, then you should be only too happy to shout it from the rooftops. There’s no nobility in staying in a relationship that makes you suffer. There’s only suffering. You need to figure out how to allow yourself to go out in search of joy.

P: If you’re worried about honoring your father, you have to honor the man he is rather than the man you’d like him to be. He’s never been particularly fatherly, is borderline abusive, and unlikely to change. On the other hand, Bob seems like a keeper, a man willing to work toward a life utterly unlike the one your father offers. I say what I always say… choose Love

Prescription.

Prescription.

Have a burning question you need an answer to? Write us at bartenderpriestess@gmail.com — Smart Women: Here to Help!

Phabulous Photography by Deb Slade. Many thanks to the Lewisburg Hotel and, of course, thanks to our glorious Model Marjorie.

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