The things you don’t say out loud

1. that you’re a teensy bit resentful about having to be the organizer of the girls’ night/birthday party/Memorial Day Weekend barbecue/anniversary party/shiva/cocktail party/fifth grade moms’ night. Again. But it’s fine. Really. Because you’re blessed to have friends.

2. that you’d really rather be at home in your pajamas. Really. Rather. Be.

3. that you’re not fond of Brussels sprouts or octopus when asked to share appetizers at a restaurant with another couple. Especially when they and your husband are all agog about ordering such dishes, because they read in the Yelp review that they’re the best dishes on the menu. You eat the parsley garnish and sip wine instead.

4. that there are nights when you lie awake at 3 am and hear him snoring beside you, and berate yourself for never having driven that banged-up Subaru with a three-cylinder engine out to Second City in Chicago right after college to try out for the famed comedy troupe. Because maybe — just maybe — you could have had Cheri Oteri’s arc of a comedy career by now. Maybe.

5. that you have no idea what the fuck you’re doing as a parent, an investor, a wife, a person with iShit and multiple online security passwords, a daughter, a writer, an American, a class mom, a homeowner, a cook, a faux-Buddhist, or as a woman. Seriously. Actually no clue whatsoever.

6. that a friend has bad breath. That she’s had breath since college. That she should really see a dentist, because it might be an indicator of gum disease, poor hygiene, or a digestive illness. That you occasionally wonder how her husband kisses her with that mouth.

7. that you sort of wish your family would leave. Just for, like, a weekend. Just. Go. Away. So. I. Can. Miss. You.

8. that your right knee hurts a tad too much when you walk up the stairs at night, and that you think you might need surgery on your meniscus. Shhhh. Better to wait until something pops so you can be sure.

9. that you’re afraid of dying. That clean kitchen cabinets and folded wash and properly fluffed pillows are all some sort of secret covenant with God to ward off your demise. That you imagine St. Peter to have conversations like — “Hey, listen, Angel of Death? Oh, sorry, I forgot that you like to be called Phil when it’s just us in the office. Force of habit. My bad! Anyway, listen — don’t take that one down there. The one with the bad highlights in New Jersey. She’s a good housekeeper. You should see her linen closet. And her pantry. My God. She uses those clear bins to hold dry cereal and pasta — just like you see in Real Simple! And then she labels them with that thingie. Spectacular. She’s got shoes all lined up under the bed and sorted by color, too. It’s impressive. So let’s give her a few more years, shall we? The label thingie alone should guarantee her ten more years. Am I right? Although if she doesn’t get those highlights fixed — make it seven.”

10. that you wanted the dressing on the side. It’ll take too long to have them bring you another one, and everyone else at the table will wait until you’re served, and the waiter will spit in the food anyway. So you say nothing, sigh and dig in.

11. that you don’t think feminism is a bullshit concept thought up by angry, hormonal women; that we should still be giving Trump a chance; or that Obama was a terrible president — no matter what your Uncle Tommy insists. But it’s Christmas. You don’t want to argue. So you sip a candy cane cocktail and say nothing.

12. that someone has used the wrong form of “your/you’re,” “they’re/there/their,” “woman/woman,” “should of/should’ve,” or that they’ve committed some other grammatical faux-pas in their correspondence. And that I’m secretly judging them as a result.

13. that you miss your twentysomething ass, boobs, hair, legs and skin. Yes, it’s vain and shallow. So be it. You should have seen my twentysomething ass, boobs, hair, legs and skin. You’d miss them, too.

14. that she’s wrong. You just nod.

15. that yoga isn’t for everyone. Nor are skinny jeans.

16. that the dish needed more seasoning.

17. that she really needs to tweeze more often.

18. that she’s had far too many Botox and Restylane treatments.

19. that you’ve already heard that joke.

20. that you’re sure that everyone is having a better life than you are. Absolutely everyone. Even the woman crying in the Target parking lot with a dent in her car’s passenger door, and Saran wrap and duct tape serving as a makeshift side window. Definitely having a better life than you are. You’re sure of it.

21.  that you know that he farted. Right next to you. In the couch cushions. Where it’s trapped for all time in the washable microfiber fabric.

22. that they can’t sing. Or dance. That their kid didn’t inherit such talents from them. That they’re not naturals.

23. that you think he’s cheating on her. That you think you’re cheating on yourself.

24. that you’re wrong. About everything. All the time.

25. that you haven’t heard a word he’s said for at least thirteen miles.

26. that when you post it on Facebook, it’s funny. That when he posts it, it’s not funny.

27. that you deserve happiness/peace/love/success/a long and healthy life. Because Irish. Shhhh.

28. that this adult stuff is bullshit. That this motherhood stuff is even more bullshit to the tenth power. Seriously. Bullshit-O-Rama.

29. that he could rub your shoulders for another five minutes. Ten, actually. Because they’re still sore. But you hear him sighing behind you and feel his hands do that thing where they’re sort of miming the massaging and no longer actually massaging with any effort, so you say, “Thanks. That feels much better.” And take two Advil.

30. that Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the worst-written books ever. And then dutifully go out to see the movie on Girls’ Night instead.

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  1. Hi Kathleen,

    I tried to email this to you but it was returned to me, so I figured I’d just leave it here…I just read your piece “What We Write About When We’re Not Writing” and I felt compelled to write to you to say how much I loved it. I literally had just finished writing a little blurb in my journal next to my bed about how I am feeling today, what my mood is like and how the weather is in order to see if can chart a pattern—basically, do I always feel this shitty right before I get my period? These are pointless but also deeply necessary for me.

    I couldn’t help but cry as I read through your words. They describe me right now. I have three youngish kids (8,6, 3) and I’m not really doing anything but mothering. My fear is I’ll turn into my mother, who had seven of us and is now in her mid 60′s and feels completely lost.

    The crying helped me to feel less shitty. So thank you. It was beautiful.

    Cat Watson

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