Girls just wanna have fu-un

By Lisa Sugarman

I’m somebody’s mom. Two somebodys, actually. So by simple definition, that means I have almost no time for myself.

And being someone’s mom often means you’re also somebody’s wife. So that takes the thin sliver of free time most of us have and reduces it down to absolutely no time for ourselves whatsoever. The unfortunate thing about that being that under all the other layers of who we are, we’re also just girls—girls who cherish the rare opportunity to take off all our other hats and just go play with our friends. Something I actually got the chance to do last weekend for the first time in an embarrassingly long time.

And what I learned from my 48 hours away with my girlfriends is that as much as we love and adore our families, we need regular infusions of time with our girlfriends doing silly, mindless things like sitting around a fire in our pajamas, eating shrimp cocktail, and letting our souls hang out.10955519_10205945423984989_2210871974664960705_n

Because the truth is, there’s no relationship quite like the relationship we have with our sister friends. That’s because your girl friends are the ones who really get you, because they’re feeling all the same things you feel.

Any girl who’s ever gone away with her friends understands the chemical reaction that happens when women go away together. When it’s just you and your besties alone, in your favorite yoga pants, with an outlet mall nearby, and a fully-stocked fridge, everything else ceases to exist. And when you get the right mix of people together and the chemistry is clicking for everyone, it’s almost like a drug. That’s how euphoric it can be.

I mean, let’s face it, no one really truly understands what it’s like to be a woman better than a woman. Sorry guys, but until men start ovulating, cramping, and bloating, you’re out of the club. No offense, but in the same way that we can’t relate to peeing standing up or shoulder bumping as a way to say hello, you can’t relate to wetting your pants just because you sneezed.

The reality is, guys and girls are just apples and oranges in some pretty clear-cut ways, and sometimes you just need to spend time in a basket with other apples or other oranges. Whether you’re a guy or a girl, sometimes you just need to commiserate with people who get where you’re at.

Speaking now from the girl’s side, whether you’re someone’s wife or girlfriend or mom, as a girl, you instinctively appreciate what it’s like to put yourself last and keep your crosshairs focused squarely on everyone else around you. It’s just what most of us do. It’s how we’re programmed. It also means that you appreciate the need, every once in a while, to shut down and reboot. It’s just critical to system maintenance.

Ask any woman with a career or a family or a relationship, or all of the above, what she values most outside of those things, and she’ll probably say down time. The funny thing is, though, the older we get and the more layers we add onto our life, the less we care about the quantity of that kind of time. It becomes way more about the quality of the time we have to ourselves.photo

Take something as simple as going to the bathroom, especially if you’re a mom. You’re lucky if you even have time to pee during the day, let alone the ability to close the bathroom door. That’s how scarce privacy and alone time is when you’ve got a family. For most of us, solitude often means grabbing a handful of recyclable grocery bags and heading to the organic foods section at the supermarket. What can I say, it’s my Zen place.images

Truth is, when you’ve got a family or a significant other to consider in everything you do, there’s not a lot of time leftover to spend on yourself. And that kind of time is a white-hot commodity. That’s why it becomes so important to capitalize on the rare chances we get to break away from the day to day and focus only on ourselves.

Now granted, if you’re anything like me, then it probably takes you at least half of your time away just to decompress and not flinch whenever you hear the word Mom. But I’m getting better. Honestly, most of us just need a little time to take a breath, drink some wine, giggle with our homies, and not have to be somewhere.

My point in telling you all this is simple… even the president has Camp David, which is a pretty credible sign that we’re all expected to break away every once in a while and have a little fun. So take those moments to break away whenever you can, girlies. And enjoy them. Even if it means just getting to lock the bathroom door.

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com.

The Novels Alive TV book review of LIFE: It Is What It Is is out… and it’s a thumbs up!

LIFE: IT IS WHAT IT IS, a fun, entertaining, and thoughtful read. It’s a keeper that fits perfectly on the shelf with Erma, Lewis, and Celia.”–Ivy Truitt, Novels Alive TV reviewer.

And by Erma, Lewis and Celia, she means acclaimed humor columnists Erma Bombeck, Lewis Grizzard, and Celia Rivenbark. I’ll take that! (I would’ve been happy just to be in the same sentence with any of them…let alone on the same shelf.)

To read the full four-star review, click on the Novels Alive.TV logo below.

natvlogo2012

My name is Lisa, and I’m a Short Sleeper

By Lisa Sugarman

When you really dissect mankind, there are a few things that we all, as people, have in common that transcend race and ethnicity and religion—we all eat; we all drink; and we all sleep.

Regardless of what language we speak or what region of the world we’re from, whether we have kids or not, whether we work fifteen hours a week or sixty, the one thing we can all relate to is our need for good, solid, rejuvenating sleep. For some of us, though, the challenge is how to get it.c0697a64673b1885b6b1c358d095c20b

Now there are the people who have their sleep issues on the front end, and can’t manage to fall asleep. And then there are the people, like me, who have no trouble whatsoever falling asleep, we just can’t stay asleep. Either way, we’re always in what’s called sleep debt. That’s because it’s impossible to bank sleep. Once you lose it, it’s gone. And the thing is, those of us who are practically bankrupt because of how deep we are in debt, still have to keep moving forward, regardless of how empty our tank is.

Me, I’ve had sleep issues for a good chunk of my adult life. At least for almost the last eighteen years, which suspiciously coincides with the birth of my oldest daughter. Not that I’m pointing fingers, but…

I mean, I’m not an insomniac or a sleep walker or a sleep eBayer, like some people. My problem, like millions of others, is staying asleep. Regardless of what time I shut my eyes, I’m up four hours later, all business and ready to go. It’s pretty annoying, to be honest. Because once my body clock reaches the four-hour mark, whatever time I nod off, it’s had enough. No matter how badly my head wants to stay squished into my pillow, I physically can’t sleep any more. Because once I’m up, I’m up.

For me, a typical night involves playing little mind games inside the black labyrinth of my head, trying to drift back into some stage of REM sleep. I’ve done the sheep-counting thing which, quite frankly, is ridiculous. They always end up running around in like fifty different directions and they’re impossible to count. It’s too chaotic.b4ohtzibjdhjkxpwt1yq

And I’ve tried everything you could think of to break the cycle. I’ve popped Benadryl; I’ve tried herbal tea; I’ve done warm milk, which, for the record, is nauseating. I’ve tried music; I’ve tried Melatonin; I’ve tried reading. Short of cracking myself over the head with an aluminum bat, nothing works. (I’m saving that option, though, for an emergency situation.)

But the interesting and slightly kooky thing is that I very rarely, if ever, get out of bed or turn on the TV or pick up a book. (I know, it sounds ridiculous.) But the thing is—and my mother-in-law gets it because she does the exact same thing—just in case I end up falling back asleep, I wanna be ready for it.

Now since this has been such an ongoing issue for me for so much of my life, I’ve done some pretty extensive research on sleep over the years and learned more than a few fun facts. Like, for instance, according to Scientific American, I happen to be one of the chosen few born with a rare genetic mutation on my DEC2 transcription facilitator. In English, that means I’m what’s called a Short Sleeper. Yup, it’s true. I have an extra chromosome that somehow allows me to function normally on four hours of sleep a night. See honey, I told you I wasn’t like all the other girls.

Clinically speaking, most people need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night. Only about five percent of the population can get by on six hours. Then there are the short sleepers, like me, who get an average of four. But I like to try and focus on the upside of things whenever I can, so the way I figure it, when you tally up the amount of our life that we spend asleep, which is roughly a third, I’m actually ok with the fact that I sleep less than the average person. It tacks a little extra time onto the backend of my life, so I consider it a fair tradeoff.

So while an eight-hour night’s sleep will probably always elude me, at least I’ve got that special chromosome going for me which makes the sleep I do get very efficient. And no one loves being efficient more than me. Least I’ve got that going for me.

As far as the rest of you with sleep issues are concerned—whether it be from insomnia, parenthood, or any of the other seventy-eight types of sleep disorders—at the very least now you can take comfort in knowing that as bad as you might have it, there are millions of people right there with you. And, at least you’re probably not a short sleeper. So you’ve got that going for you. And that’s something, right?

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com.

I give the News AND the Weather

By Lisa Sugarman

I’m a talker. Always have been. And a big-time storyteller. Not that anyone around my house is ever clamoring to hear any. But I do love telling them. Especially stories of things I did when I was a kid.

My father-in-law says that I like to give the News AND the Weather. And he’s absolutely right. God bless his little heart. It’s just part of my charm, I guess. At least that’s what I tell myself.unnamed

The truth is, I think it’s because I see things so vividly in my own mind that I have such a compulsion to share every detail.

Thankfully for me, my friends accept me for the detail-oriented pain that I am. Thankfully. Dave and my relatives, on the other hand, don’t have much choice. They have to love me by default no matter what. My kids, though, well, they’re a different story altogether. Whenever I make the mistake of retelling a story they’ve heard before I might as well be talking to an empty room because they shut down almost immediately. Eyes start rolling; yawns start escaping.kids-bored-at-a-wedding

Now it’s because I have so many happy memories of being a kid that I love to relive the moments. And who better to retell them to than my own kids? Problem is, my kids would rather scoop out their eyeballs with a grapefruit spoon than listen to me tell them about all the stuff I did when I was their age. And frankly, I’d love to know why that is.

Ok, so I wasn’t Miss America and don’t have extravagant pageant stories. And I wasn’t a coke dealer in Miami, so I don’t have any Medellin Cartel stories to make me look like a badass. Although my friends and I once brought home a “perfect stranger” as part of a scavenger hunt back in high school. But that was a one-off. And I think the guy was actually my friend’s third cousin.

I mean, it’s not like I’ve lived my life as a recluse, in a cave, in the Himalayas, with no human contact. Ever. I’ve done stuff. Plenty of stuff. Stuff that would curl their little toes if they ever knew. (Actually, I only said that for dramatic effect. I’ve really got nothing.)

My stories are about Powderpuff games and being one of only two girls to play Little League in my town in the mid-80s. They’re pretty cookie cutter as far as stories go. But I always thought they’d be enough to keep my kids at least mildly entertained and wanting more. Let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t bet real money on it.back-to-school-reminiscing-the-90s

I think, ultimately, my mistake was that I didn’t make stuff up. That would’ve made the difference. That would’ve left them drooling. But these are things that a parent can only see in hindsight.

I’ve tried to convince myself that all kids feel this way about their parents’ stories. But I wasn’t like that as a kid. On the complete contrary. I remember actually asking my mom to tell me stories. Even the ones I’d heard twenty-seven times before. I wanted to get to know who she was before she was my mom. And when I really think about it, I think I did it because I always wished that I’d had the chance to know her the same way her friends knew her—a way no kid can ever know their parents. I also think I had way too much time on my hands because I was an only child. Either way, I hung on every word.

That’s the thing about being a parent; we all have this whole other side to us that our kids will never know. Sure, they’ll see pictures and leaf through yearbooks and maybe watch some old videos, but they’ll never really know the people we were when we were their age. That’s why our stories are so valuable. 100_20571-1024x768

Like, my daughters will never get to experience the boy-crazy me or the prom-dress-shopping me or the student-driver me or the camp-counselor me. And I wish they could. Not because I was this amazing rock-star-type kid, but because I think they’d have a different appreciation for me and for the stories I love to tell.

I’m sorry, but you can’t tell me that when my girls are pushing 50 someday they’re not going to want to share their memories with their kids. Because they absolutely most definitely will. Even though, at the seasoned ages of fourteen and seventeen they swear they won’t. What the hell do they know?

So to all you new parents out there, take my advice now while you still have time. Make some stuff up to keep your kids on the edge of their seats. Mix a little fantasy with reality to keep them coming back for more. Consider it historical fiction. You can tell them the truth when they’re grown up. No harm, no foul, right?

Lisa Sugarman lives in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Read and discuss all her columns at facebook.com/ItIsWhatItIsColumn. She is also the author of LIFE: It Is What It Is available on Amazon.com.