From the Blog

Mary Fricken Sunshine

I had been contemplating writing about parenting and judgy-ness. I have been thinking about “judgement” for a while, and the sport we make of it. It’s a national past time. Someone, somewhere, is doing something wrong. And boy, someone, somewhere else, is pissed about it.

I’m no different. I have opinions. The other day, I casually mentioned to Dave, “I’m not trying to be judgmental or anything,” I said, “But every one of our neighbors’ cars has duct tape on them somewhere. Three different cars.” I don’t have an inherent problem with duct tape. It’s the great solutionizer. But if you’ve got three cars that all need duct tape, you’ve got some kind of talent for creating problems for yourself.

“Yeah, that’s judgey.” Dave said.

I thought about this. “I prefer to think of it as observational.”

See, I can relate this type of thing to my husband. He is required to listen to my opinions. I can relate this type of thing on my blog. You are welcome to read it. I observed the trashy upkeep of my neighbors’ cars. Because our neighbors are loud and inconsiderate, I was looking for more reasons to be irritated with them. Duct tape. Perfect.

So I have opinions. I’m fairly certain other people do too. Occasionally, I disagree with other peoples’ opinions. I’m fairly certain other people disagree with mine. Except those people are wrong. They just might not know it.

And that is where I choose to stop. I was realizing, during the months I was staying home with the boys, that my world was shrinking. It was shrinking down to the size of my house. It was shrinking down to the size of my computer connected to the internet.

Too often, I found myself getting irritated at someone or something, just for the sake of getting irritated. I found myself seeking out things that would probably annoy me. I would read headlines, or follow links to stories, just to be able to roll my eyes and smugly ask “What are those idiots up to?”

I’ve never been passionate enough to engage in discussions. It’s clearly a fruitless endeavor to tell someone on the internet that they are wrong. And ultimately, I really didn’t care that deeply. I floated around, reading what interested me, and stoked a low grade smolder over all the stupid people in the world.

All the spent I time indulging this nasty habit, I should have just punched myself in the face. Why is being irritated a form of entertainment?

I had an epiphany on the bus ride home about a week ago. On an otherwise quiet bus, a woman was complaining about someone stealing rocks from her yard. Evidently a neighbor had entered her yard and stole her rocks. She went on and on about it. On and on. Who does he think he is? How would he like it if I went into his yard and stole something? I can’t believe he just came and took my rocks…On and on. I felt bad for whomever this woman was talking to. I heard murmurs of sympathy and support.

So this lady was super pissed about the rocks in her yard. But I can tell you she was fricken thrilled to be so outraged. Oh! The injury! The insult! The wrath! The gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes! This woman could not be happier to be so angry.

I had a few thoughts on this, as I listened to her. Primarily, I wanted her to shut up, which is the most polite thing you can do on the goddamned bus. But with the same disdain I have for dumdums on the internet, I wondered how she has so much time and energy to work herself into such a froth. This is it for her. This is what is important.

I resolved right then to be extra careful about getting worked up. About everything. I’ve had some lovely reminders from some positive people in my life. It’s so easy not to bitch. Really, it is. It’s so, so easy not to pass it along. Sure, there’s some outrageous shit going on in the world. I’ve had annoying shit happen to me personally. Instead of seeking out reasons to be irritated, I am redoubling my efforts to remember how goddamned lucky I am. I’m going to be a beaming ray of sunshine.

And if my neighbors continue to wake us up with loud parties in the middle of the night, on a Wednesday (a Wednesday!) perhaps I’ll wrap their entire car with duct tape.



  1. For some people, it’s easier to be pissed off. And it’s contagious, the negativity. My old boss was a professional at this.

  2. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE take a picture if you decide to ‘wrap’ their car!

  3. As my kids grow older I’m finding myself really conscious that if I let myself sigh when they annoy me the first time my annoyance grows and grows. But if I can push a smile onto my face and think, ‘oh well!’ the whole situation can turn around. That’s my big epiphany at 47 years old. Just smile and remember love. Look at me all grown up now. And oh my dear, just add some duct tape right to their muffler…you’ve seen 48 hours right? ;)

  4. Aunty Laurie says

    We Humans really are an amazing group! The only species to get conscious thought and we waste it on the negative. Just listen to Fox News!!!

  5. don’t beat yurself up too much. i think it is a think that we do, as humans, as we age. I’m driving down the street, see a pod of young men slouching along, in their baggy pants and sideways ball caps, with the horrendous rap music blaring out of compact speakers clutched in their hands, and I judge them. i think “thugs. losers.” and then I think “wait…” and i imagine ward cleaver, or my grandma, driving thru their neighborhood, seeing a group of young men, leaning against a car, with the AM radio cranked up, listening to Elvis or the Beatles, with their long hair and peace signs and beads. And I imagine them (mr cleaver) judging those young men. its the same stuff just a generation down the road. you recognize it in yourself and you are taking steps to not judge. its all good.

  6. Heather,

    When you decide that your judgements, er, “observations” become too much to internalize and you begin to realize that Dave really isn’t listening, he’s just nodding his head, let me know – this is a sign that you need to make your own podcast.

    Trust me, I’ve been there.


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