weekend open thread – August 21-22, 2021

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Morningside Heights, by Joshua Henkin. If you’ve learned anything about my taste in books from these weekly recommendations, you might know that I love sweeping family sagas, and this is one. It’s the story of a college professor, his wife, their marriage and children, and how things change as they begin to lose him.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,197 comments… read them below }

  1. the once and future bling*

    Someone in the Friday open thread mentioned they had a houseguest for 2 weeks and couldn’t wait for him to leave. I had a similar experience this month, where a good friend and her husband stayed with us for 10 days and It. Was. Awful. Her husband drank all our alcohol without replacing any of it, including really expensive bottles of wine, left a trail of mess behind him as he moved through the house, hogged the tv to watch documentaries about aliens at full blast (I never knew how many docs on aliens exist), clogged our toilet TWICE without telling us either time and expected to be fed at every meal without pitching in himself, ever. My friend, who I love dearly, saw all this and said nothing. Oh and they had loud sex a few times that they MUST have known we would hear, once was in the morning while my husband and I were eating breakfast. After they left my husband said we are never having overnight guests again and I might agree with him.

    Please share your stories of bad guests to make me feel better. I am still cringing when I think about this visit and I really think I might look at my friend a little differently because of it. (I feel bad saying it!)

    1. SoloKid*

      I would absolutely think less of someone making a choice to pair themselves with such a boor. Did you ever meet the husband before? I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable hosting someone I’ve never met. (Or staying with them for that matter. I met distant relatives that offered to house me for 2 weeks and declined.)

    2. KeinName*

      I would be traumatized in your situation. This sounds like a youth hostel in Australia, what with the sex and alcohol and toilet troubles. I would not be able to speak to my friend ever again. Though it must be said I truely hate communal living and can barely tolerate my own mother when I visit HER home:-)
      I have only had really nice and short houseguests (but did not much enjoy them either). Recently my cousin, his wife and their baby who left the apartment cleaner than it was when they arrived.
      However my partner used to manage an Airbnb property and once had a very rowdy party staying who were here for a Ukulele festival and destroyed the doors, took keys home with them to Italy, and generally left a big mess. So beware of Ukulele playing house guests!

        1. KeinName*

          Yeah, not sure if it is a general rule :-) they were the artists of the festival, maybe Ukulele rockstars are really bad

    3. Pennyworth*

      I only have a second hand house guest story, but it still makes me wince years after I was told about it: Newly married friends had a couple as house guests who knew the husband but had not previously met my friend. All seemed to go well on day one, but on the morning of day two my friend went into the kitchen to find that the wife of the visiting couple had got up extremely early to rearrange the entire kitchen according to her own preferences. Not just the surfaces, but also the contents of every drawer and cupboard.

      1. Llama face!*

        I’m sorry for that THUD. It was my jaw hitting the floor at the utter hubris of that woman rearranging someone else’s entire kitchen to suit her as though that was a reasonable option. Who. Does. That? (Well, her obv. But really??!)

      2. I take tea*

        Laughing and cringing at the same time. Who does that? Maybe a really clueless mother or MIL, I could see that, but not just somebody you’ve never met!

        What did the owner of the kitchen do? Rearrange it immediately? (Picturing a rearranging duel every day here). Just let it go? And never ever invite them again? I would have no idea what to do.

        1. Pennyworth*

          In the moment she was speechless, and she and her husband rearranged it after they left. She angry about it for a long time, and there were no repeat invitations. I’d love to know what an appropriate response would have been, she’s a nice person so it wouldn’t have been in her nature to rip into her guest for totally inappropriate behavior.

          1. ampersand*

            “Put it back the way you found it. Here, I’ll draw you a diagram. Don’t stop until you’re done.”

            Exit the kitchen.

            That’s the appropriate response, I think, but it could also be hard to pull off. Especially if you’re in disbelief, as I would be.

            1. Slinky*

              I’m pretty sure my spontaneous response would be “What the hell are you doing??” Maybe not the best response, but I’m pretty sure it would just fall out of my mouth.

          2. tamarack and fireweed*

            The cases in this thread are situations where I think a cultural norm of “never bring up anything unpleasant – it’s extremely rude” just completely breaks down. The most likely outcome is broken friendships, never being able to see eye-to-eye and eternal embarrassment. I just can’t deal with that!

            But I’m a super nice person too – just a forthright one. What I hope I’d be able to do in this situation is to have a baffled, but big smile and say in an amused tone “I am not exactly sure what you were aiming to do here. Looks like it did some effort. But no, let me just… undo it right away. I can show you where things go in our kitchen if you want.” And then undo it.

          3. Batgirl*

            Honestly I think that response is a grace I would aspire to. That’s a story worth having too. Cheeky so and so!

        2. Retired Prof*

          My grandmother used to do this to her DIL. Rearranged all the furniture as well. Not clueless, just highly honed vindictiveness. Four foot ten and the most terrifying person I ever met.

          1. Who Plays Backgammon?*

            She sounds like what my friend Jane use to call “one of those mean little women.” She also included her roommate Felicity in that. Jane was about 5’9″ and Felicity was maybe 5’2″. My sister, who comes in at just under 5′, once told me short people have to be out of the box or else people think they can walk all over them. But that’s no excuse for being a Tatar.

        3. HoundMom*

          Who does that? My sister in law — we moved and with three young kids we unpacked beds, linens and the kitchen. Literally every other room was filled with boxes. Rather than unpack anything née, she reorganized the kitchen because “she knew better” as she was a trained chef. True, but my 6,8, and 9 year old we’re not being fed gourmet meals — I needed the stuff they ate organized the way I could keep up with their schedules, a part time job and 6 animals.

          She was offended when I told her to touch nothing else while I undid what she did.

          1. SheLooksFamiliar*

            Followed up by, ‘Please put everything back where you found it. I live here, you’re just here on a short visit.’

            Depending on who it was, I might add, ‘By the way, not counting today, how long *have* you been here?’

      3. Generic Name*

        I did something similar when visiting my sister. We’ll, it was just the soap bottle. I noticed that I had moved it a couple of times absentmindedly that it kept getting moved back. Then I realized that they probably kept moving the soap because they like the location, and I was messing it up. Derp.

      4. Don’t rearrange my kitchen*

        OMG. A guest did that to ME! I was going to be out of town the first day she visited so I mailed her my keys. When I asked why she rearranged my kitchen she said her layout was more efficient. She did things like putting the gross pet nail clippers in with the forks.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      Omg, I’m embarrassed just imagining being that rude as a guest, how do people do it? It didn’t end up being a problem but I was super annoyed once when a guest brought their dog without asking. There were people at home to take care of it and it was a multi-day drive to get to us so I’m not sure why they felt the need to bring it!

      1. The Dogman*

        “so I’m not sure why they felt the need to bring it!”

        I would imagine that would be because it was their dog.

        My dogs go more or less everywhere with me, certainly if I am visiting friends or family my dogs all come with me.

        I have 5 dogs… BUT I always let people know that I am bringing the pooches, so your friend is a bit odd to not let you know in advnace for sure.

        To dog owners who care about their pups they are exactly like children, they need to be near us for guidance, protection and comfort. The difference is children grow up and become independent.

        1. ThatGirl*

          I love my dog, he is my furbaby, but I really hope you ask first, my goodness, five dogs. It’s okay to find other care for them sometimes! They are not children and even kids can be left with trusted caregivers while their parents travel.

          1. WellRed*

            Five is certainly a lot! We had a weekend house guest with one dog and I was cleaning dog hair for a month.

          2. The Dogman*

            ” BUT I always let people know that I am bringing the pooches”

            I did put that bit in there… and I am happy to camp in the garden or find a dog friendly BnB, anyone reasonable would have some back up options in case of the hosts being afraid or allergic etc.

            People not being open about their plans regarding pooches (and children!!!) are rude and inconsiderate!

            “They are not children and even kids can be left with trusted caregivers while their parents travel.”

            I train dogs for a living… I know this, but not many people are set to take 5 dogs when I (occasionally) travel, so they come along usually, also kennels are very hit and miss with standards and availability. Plus mine are exceptionally well trained too, so most people I know are fine with them coming along with me.

            1. Dancing Otter*

              “Let people know”? Do you ask or tell them?

              It’s like inviting extra guests. You can ask, but with FIVE, that’s a pretty big ask.

              If someone I invited to visit TOLD me they were going to bring even one dog, I’d be un-inviting them pronto. As politely as I could manage, but unequivocally.

              1. Expiring Cat Memes*

                Uninvited, worm-riddled, Christmas dinner fur guest, who dragged his itchy butt all over the carpet and destroyed one of the kid’s presents: your human is officially disinvited from everything, ever.

            2. ThatGirl*

              I mean, that’s great, but “let people know” vs ask still puts people in an awkward spot. Because….five! Even if they’re the most perfectly behaved dogs in the world that’s a lot of dog!

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Yeah, I’d be wondering why he couldn’t just hire a trusted sitter. I assume he’s only visiting people who like the dogs.

              2. Medusa*

                If someone informed me that they were bringing a dog, their invitation would be rescinded. If they asked, I would tell them that their dog was not welcome.

        2. Generic Name*

          I have one dog, but she is basically always at my side. We bring her everywhere. I’m pretty sure I remember to ask if she’s welcome, though.

        3. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Staying in someone’s home is an ask to bring the dog, not a “let them know.” I have a dog, he is my best bud, but he is not everyone else’s.

          I also expect people to ask if it’s ok to bring the kids, for the record, unless they’re specifically invited. (I am not equating pets with children, just thinking about the times my girlfriends with kids have visited and how odd it would be if they showed up with their kids without telling me.)

          1. The Dogman*

            No not at all, it is a “let them know”. My dogs coming with me is non-negotiable, where I stay is of course negotiable, so I would be happy to camp in the garden, bring a camper, find a dog friendly BnB…

            But if I have to bring my dogs then I have to bring my dogs, in the same way a child owning friend might have to bring the sprog to stay at mine should that be the way the situation falls.

            Asking permission to own my own dogs is a bit much really. If someone loathes dogs to the degree that I cannot bring mine (to stay in the garden etc) with me then they have no business inviting me in the first place, and I would not go, since my dogs are more important to me than someone who has so little care for another humans depedents.

            ” (I am not equating pets with children, just thinking about the times my girlfriends with kids have visited and how odd it would be if they showed up with their kids without telling me.)”

            So jsut trying to be clear… you are ok with a “heads up” for kids, but you want a request for permission for dogs?

            Thats not too fair really. My dogs are just as, if not more, dependent on me than children are on their owners.

            1. Neptune*

              Man, if you have “child owning” friends then you have bigger issues in your life than dog accommodation.

            2. ampersand*

              Hold up. Children have parents or guardians or caretakers, not owners. That language seems a bit problematic when we’re talking about humans.

              1. MissElizaTudor*

                Other animals also have guardians and caretakers imo. The language is problematic when talking about any sentient creature.

                1. Annie Moose*

                  Dogs are not equivalent to children. Language like “owner” is completely normal and socially acceptable when referring to pets; children are not pets, are not treated the same as pets, and it is neither normal nor socially acceptable to refer to children as being “owned” by their parents.

            3. ThatGirl*

              Thing is, you don’t have to bring your dogs, though I’m sure finding a sitter for 5 dogs is difficult…. Gee, wonder why that might be.

            4. RagingADHD*

              If you have friends who own children, you should rethink both your accommodations and your choice of friends.

              And call the police.

            5. ok*

              You can have whatever requirements for yourself you want but you recognize that this is unusual and not how most people operate, yes? The absence of that acknowledgement and the slightly outraged tone that people are surprised by this sure is coming across strangely.

            6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              It doesn’t have anything to do with “loathing” dogs. I love dogs. I have two dogs of my own. And that is exactly WHY other people are not allowed to bring dogs to my house, even to stay outside in the yard – because having other dogs in their space stresses my dogs out. Just because someone doesn’t want your pack up in their business doesn’t mean they hate dogs. If people wanted five extra dogs in their house, they’d bloody well have five dogs.

              1. Deanna Troi*

                Yes, I have 4 dogs, each 60+ pounds. We have enough chaos as it is. I might adore your dogs and enjoy them when I visit you, but you can’t bring your dogs here. Just as I would never inflict my dogs on others in their homes. And I don’t think staying in an Air B&B is a solution, because you really can’t leave them alone there without all day, and if you visit me, we’re going to be going to museums, the beach, the theatre, movies, and dog-free festivals.

              2. Biel*

                I also love dogs. But, I’d be unlikely to let a friend stay (in any part of my property, inside or out) with one dog that I didn’t have an existing close relationship with, let alone five.

                It wouldn’t work for me to have someone storing dog food in my fridge, using my facilities to clean meat from bowls and forks, to have hair to clean up, dog poo in my yard (inevitably some is missed, even if the owner does their best to clean up) and so on, I have had dogs for most of my life and am willing to deal with those elements as part and parcel of the wonderful relationship between dog and human. But not for someone else’s dog.

                I’m really surprised by how indignant the owner of five dogs seems. I would rather not have a friend than have one who suggested I had an issue with dogs or whatever because I didn’t want to be responsible for theirs in any capacity.

            7. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Uh, no, I very clearly said I would expect my friends with kids to ASK the same way I would my friends with dogs. I have a partner and I wouldn’t even assume he’s welcome– if he’s not clearly included, I ask. I don’t just show up with unexpected people or pets. Because I’m not a jerk.

              1. Dark Macadamia*

                Right? I absolutely would not bring my kids to stay in someone else’s home without permission! This isn’t about how important/beloved the uninvited guest is, it’s just basic politeness. The idea of being invited to stay with someone and thinking it’s acceptable to TELL them you’re also bringing your dogs/children/succulents/extensive hat collection is mind-boggling.

            8. Another British poster*

              Dogs are banned from my building. If someone showed up with dogs, they’d not be allowed past the concierge. I love dogs – the rule has nothing to do with me.

              It’s really weird to act as though anyone who’s allergic, has a phobia, lives in a flat, has cats, etc. “loathes” dogs. Plenty of people love dogs but simply can’t accommodate them.

              And no one is telling you to ask permission to own dogs, that’s preposterous. They’re saying you need permission to force your dogs on other people, which of course you do. Nobody has the right to force them on someone non-consensually.

            9. MissElizaTudor*

              I’m not sure why people are interpreting you in such an uncharitable way and being rude, but it sounds like you’re saying you let people know you’re traveling with the dogs, so they can let you know if that means you can’t stay with them. It sounds reasonable to me since it’s a deal breaker for you.

              1. Eirene*

                It’s not rude to point out that he is actually the rude one by being so presumptuous as to believe his five large dogs are welcome absolutely everywhere because it’s his God-given right as a dog owner and that if people find this off-putting, they must “loathe” dogs.

                1. Dream Jobbed*

                  That’s not what was said. I have multiple dogs too, and friends we can, and friends we cannot, stay with. He’s simply chosen not to visit the friends the dogs can’t stay with. And I’m guessing as a dog trainer, he moves in much different circles than you do. The dogs would be welcome at my house as long as they were dog and cat friendly. Chill out people. Some people live in different worlds than you do.

            10. I'm A Little Teapot*

              You need informed, enthusiastic permission to bring 5 dogs with you. And frankly, your attitude of “of course I’m bringing my 5 dogs” tells me that you’re probably not being reasonable here. I don’t care how well behaved they are, dogs leave mess and odors behind.

              Here’s a test for you: next time you’re planning a visit, tell the host that you’ll be getting alternative accommodations for you and the dogs unless they let you know otherwise. If you don’t hear otherwise, then you know that they don’t actually want you and your 5 dogs in their house. Which means that every time you’ve stayed there in the past, you were being a bad guest.

            11. Hannah Lee*

              As others as said, just because people might not welcome 5 dogs as house guest does NOT mean they loathe dogs. They may have allergies themselves or have frequent visitors who are highly allergic and don’t want their home to become off limits for that person.

              Also, for me, since I don’t have pets, my house and yard are not currently pet proof. And if I’m preparing for a houseguest in my limited time off work I don’t want to spend time having to make my home completely pet safe. Also 5 dogs is a lot of dogs to attend to, keep settled, find a place to play, sleep, toilet, etc. That’s a big ask for your hosts, even if the dogs are small.

              Lastly, after welcoming a series of friends, each with 1 supposedly well trained and housebroken dogs, and had the dogs chewing sofa pillows and getting mud (I hope) and hair and claw pulls all over upholstered furniture and pooping, peeing and puking on various rugs, I’ve got firm house rules of “pets stay on the hard surfaces only” and “no pets on furniture” and “ no, not even on your bed”
              The only exceptions are for actual certified trained service dogs. (Who are always actually house trained and never hop on the furniture unless required by their training) I provide a nice water dish, a comfortable soft area rug for
              the pup if tile or hardwood is uncomfortable and as many pats and scritches and “good boy”s as the
              pup wants and as many treats as the owner allows.

              If that doesn’t work for a potential house guest, I’m happy to meet up with
              them outside at a local park as they are
              on their way to wherever they’ll be staying.

              1. Biel*

                It’s also a misconception that small dogs are lower maintenance or need less slave. I’m my experience, they’re more challenging than medium and large dogs and more prone to digestive issues and behavioural problems.

            12. Jackalope*

              I like dogs but we have cats and THEY are decidedly not okay with dogs. Given that our house is their house too, we have a general no-dog rule for our home. Because we want all of the residents to feel safe there.

        4. HBJ*

          I hope it’s just the phrasing you used, but I hope you are ASKING if the dogs can come up front before arrangements are settled and not just telling people you are bringing them. The onus should be on you to ask and say you’ll make other arrangements if it’s not possible rather than them having to back track after things are partially or all the way settled.

        5. Dark Macadamia*

          It was an elderly dog that was more attached to the person who stayed home than the person who came to visit. It would have been better *for the dog* to not take a multi-day car trip away from its favorite person to stay in an unfamiliar place.

        6. tamarack and fireweed*

          Yes, this. I live in an area where it’s normal to ask strangers “What kind of dog do you have?” rather than whether they have one. There are always dogs around. But everyone I know announces it if they want to bring a dog, inquires about containment options or conflicts or constraints, doesn’t assume dogs can come into the house (for starters, there ARE already dogs in the house usually!) and is fully prepared to have self-supported arrangements for dogs.

      2. Bhj*

        This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I don’t want doggie guests. Period. If someone were to show up and assume it’s okay, I’d be upset.

        At a party I recently attended – where the house was overflowing with people – someone who brought their midsize dog, complete with doggie playpen. But it kept escaping and then people would trip over it in the crowd while the owner smiled indulgently. Not my house, so I had no say. But I thought it odd. And ther person was local, not traveling.

    5. AJoftheInternet*

      I have a long-term houseguest right now and he washes all the dishes, plays with the kids, and brings home chocolate when he gets himself food. Not everyone is awful!

      1. Ins mom*

        You are so lucky! I knew this thread would get some wonderful stories and look forward to checking back as the day goes on!

      2. Jane of all Trades*

        Yes! I love houseguests! When I bought my house I bought one with extra bedrooms so I could have house guests, and so far they’ve all been such a treat and a major factor helping me through covid. One friend came three last year, staying about 2 months altogether, and it was such a treat!
        She’s the kind of friend who brings a hostess gift, and helps with the dishes, and covers groceries every so often.
        I kinda wish I had more house guests!

      3. Jackalope*

        We’ve had a long-term house guest – a good friend who moved in a couple of days before quarantine started last year – and it’s gone swimmingly. I’ve loved having more time with her, my husband has gotten to know her too (he and I had been married less than a year when quarantine started so while they’d met they hadn’t gotten to spend much time together), and it was nice to have another human around. She’s away right now and I’m not sure how much longer she’ll stay when she gets back but she’s been lovely as a housemate. Plus it made things so much nicer when my husband went back to work and she & I were both working at home to have someone besides the cats to talk to over lunch.

    6. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I had one who turned a 2 week stay into a 2 month + stay. He took over the house, and it became a pigsty once I refused to continue cleaning up after him. He even managed to walk chewing gum into the knots in the floorboards! I had to throw out the spare bed after he left because he was a sweaty dude who never washed the sheets and ruined the mattress with his stinky body grease.

      Another couple stayed with their nightmare of a toddler and let him run rampant, running through the house yelling, breaking things and hammering on our bedroom door at arse o’clock. After a few days they got upset with us for not having a child friendly home. Wtf? Watch your child or stay somewhere else if you don’t like the free accommodation you’re getting here!

      Also one who helped himself to the car without asking, leaving me stranded and late for work.

      1. Biel*

        Just curious – Where did you find all these people? Were they old friends who’d turned into monsters without you realising, or family you were obliged to help? I’d have been so traumatised after stinky dude.

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Family. Not mine, various partners’ – so weird dynamics and awkward situations where I couldn’t just put my foot down like I would with my own family.

          Stinky dude hated me. I stayed good friends with that boyfriend after we broke up though and saw stinky dude at his wedding. Awkward AF when Stinky drunkenly started going on about how I wasn’t that bad after all, much better suited for his relative than his new wife (?!). I had to fight back the impolite version of a) actually you’d realise she’s awesome if you bothered getting to know his partners before judging them b) we’re much happier as friends c) you’re a jerk for going there at their wedding and d) DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG IT TOOK TO SCRAPE THAT GUM OFF THE FLOOR, ASSHOLE?!

          1. Observer*

            I had to fight back the impolite version of

            Why? This guy was stinky all right, but it was his *behavior* that really stank.

      2. The Dogman*

        “Also one who helped himself to the car without asking, leaving me stranded and late for work.”

        You called the police and reported it stolen yes?

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          No. I called the relative and said “get back here with the car pronto, and next time: ASK.”

    7. allathian*

      Ugh. There’s a reason why there’s no spare room in our 5-bedroom house (2 adults and 1 kid). I hate communal living at the best of times, and only tolerated it when I was interning in Spain because that was the best way to get to know locals my who were my own age.

      I haven’t had any overnight guests for more than 20 years. My worst horror story is a few years after college, when one of my college friends who’d moved elsewhere came for a few days’ visit. I invited some mutual friends over for starters. We were supposed to go out afterwards, but my overnight guest drank too much too quickly and was in no state to go. My apartment had a separate bedroom and a living room with a kitchenette, I slept in my bed and she slept on a mattress in the living room. In the morning when I woke up there was a horrible stench in the apartment, she had thrown up on the living-room carpet… Fortunately it wasn’t fitted so we just rolled it up and put it on my balcony, this was in the middle of winter so it froze pretty quickly and didn’t annoy the neighbors with the smell. When it was frozen, we just carried it to the trash room, luckily it fit in the big dumpster. We spent a lot of time disinfecting my living-room floor, no fun with a hangover, but it just had to be done. She managed to throw up on the mattress as well, and that had to be thrown out. Luckily the sheets could be washed, although I think I had to wash them in three cycles before I got the smell out.

      She was a nice person and I really valued her as a friend, but somehow our friendship was never quite the same again afterwards…

    8. GraceC*

      Not my houseguest, but it was in my house – when I lived in a shared place, all my housemates were great, no horror stories, but…

      One housemate had a friend to stay for a long weekend (sharing her double bed etc – the sorts of things you’re fine doing in your early 20s). She said her friend was a picky eater so bought a lot of new food specifically for this girl, borrowing shelf space and fridge-freezer space from the rest of us and spending a lot of money on it, but when she came she turned up her nose at all of it and insisted on them eating out at restaurants every night, which isn’t something my housemate had in her budget but she did anyway. I wasn’t around for most of the weekend but heard from the others that she basically criticised and critiqued my housemate constantly and compared things to her own place. Which was paid for by wealthy parents, not by a handful of students/recently-ex-students.

      The same two went on holiday together to… let’s call it a coastal Mediterranean city known for its food, its beaches and its culture. This girl refused to go to the beach (it wasn’t an expensive private beach so they were going to be mugged and have everything stolen!), to walk around the city or go sightseeing (pickpockets!) or to eat anywhere besides McDonald’s (she didn’t want weird food) and also threw a fit about my friend going to any of this stuff on her own. By the sounds of it, she wanted to stay in their hotel room or go shopping, but only at shops she recognised from back home.

      For some unknown reason, my friend/former housemate is still friends with her, and did want to invite her to stay at our place a few more times after that (we made excuses about being very busy with work/university and not up to having guests) but has at least opted to never go on holiday with her again.

    9. I take tea*

      I’m so sorry. I have no idea how people can be that inconsiderate. I have only had trouble with the occasional overnight guest that doesn’t understand hints about “time to leave”, but I just had to learn how to say it straight.

      Second hand horror story: A friend had somebody stay that dragged home a one night stand and had sex with him in the same room as my friend slept. Or tried to sleep.

    10. Still*

      I’m sorry, this sounds horrid. I’m impressed you didn’t just kick them out after the first day.

      One thing I want to say is… Well, I’d never invite your friend and her husband to stay at your house again, but if anything, I feel sorry for her. You had to deal with this guy for ten days and hated every second. She likely puts up with the very same behaviour every day of her life.

      I’m still surprised that she didn’t say anything and left you to pick up after him; I just find it difficult to believe that he’s a horrible, inconsiderate slob as a guest, and a helpful, thoughtful husband at home.

      1. KeinName*

        Oh my god yes! Imagine having this husband. But I also question her judgement, since she sees no problem with having loud sex in someone else’s house. Maybe they are very newly wed and in a hormonal haze

    11. Dumblydore*

      Oh man. I can’t blame you for judging your friend. If I knew my husband behaved this way I would never inflict him as a houseguest on anyone else.

      So not my story but have to share. My friend once dated a guy who lived with a married couple and their two teenagers. She later found out he moved in earlier when he was jobless. The couple offered a free room until he found work.

      He got a job but didn’t move out. For years. He did no housework during that time and the wife cooked and cleaned for him EVERY DAY. He contributed nothing financially (the couple worked in non profits and were financially scraping by). The teenagers eventually grew up and moved out. The couple wanted to save on rent and decided to downsize to a smaller, one bedroom home. When they told him of their plans and advised him to get his own place he said no, he had to stay with them because they were “family” and “family live together”.

      The couple ended up getting a two bedroom home just to accommodate this guy. Last I heard he was still living with them. To be honest I judge the couple just as much as this leeching guy.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        UGGGGGHHHHHH.

        There is no way in hell I’d choose another house just so the Man Who Never Left could live there. I suppose at some point they’d now have to go through an eviction process to get rid of him, even though he’s more like a squatter than a tenant.

      2. tamarack and fireweed*

        Goodness.

        And I wouldn’t judge the couple just as much. They’re lacking a backbone but they’re not harming anyone else. He’s the one taking advantage of others. There’s a difference.

        1. allathian*

          Sure there is, but if you lack a backbone to the point that you can’t get rid of an annoying houseguest, then I’m gonna judge you, no question.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Not only can’t get rid of, but actively enable him to not leave. Seriously, once you deliberately buy a house to accommodate him, you don’t get to consider him unwelcome anymore. Bed, made, lie.

            1. traffic_spiral*

              Yeah, this goes beyond “judging” and moves into “I guess they’re all just into that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .” I mean… maybe it helps with the empty nest feelings?

          2. The Other Dawn*

            Absolutely. I judge the couple way more than I judge the guy. He’s a jerk for taking advantage of these people, but they’re enabling him to continue doing it. A friend of mine is like this couple and it just boggles my mind. She has very little backbone.

            1. tamarack and fireweed*

              Well, I guess the world would be boring if everyone had the same moral principles. I’ll stick with mine.

      3. Piano Girl*

        We had one of my husband’s students come live with us for several months (my husband taught high school theatre and the student was a highly-skilled techie) because the kid had nowhere to sleep at his own house. So he would camp out on our couch, using a sheet at night. Our only requests were that he clean up after himself and come to church with us (he attended the same church we did). He kept his area fairly clean albeit the couch started to smell, but refused to come to church with us. When we moved into a house, I insisted he was NOT welcome to move with us. I guess he moved back in with his family, and kept coming to school. We are still friends with him. And we bought a new couch.

        1. allathian*

          I hope he’s doing well. How odd that he didn’t have a place to sleep at his own house, though. Reminds me of a guy in my high school class, who moved into his friend’s house for two years. He was one of the good kids who got great grades (he graduated top of our class, I was 2nd) but for some reason couldn’t get along with his parents. I don’t think he saw his dad at all for two years, and he only saw his mom at school occasionally because she was the student affairs admin!

          1. Piano Girl*

            It was an odd, dysfunctional situation. His family had family members that moved in with his family, and he had to give up his bed. I will admit that I have never been in that situation, so poor you have to move in with family members to survive, but my husband had many, many students who either bounced from residence to residence or faced homelessness.
            I was a good sport for quite awhile, but just didn’t want to continue on after we moved. I feel like we had to share so much (our time, our energy, our earnings) to keep the program going (the school offered NOTHING in the way of a budget) and had to put a stop to it.

    12. The Other Dawn*

      Mine wasn’t a terrible guest. More of an annoyance, but I’ll never have her cat/house sit long term again.

      I had my best friend feed my cats while my husband and I went away for a week. I told her she could either stay over or just stop by each day since she wasn’t far from the house. I wrote out instructions to get the mail everyday so it doesn’t pile up–the box is only so big; scoop the litter and feed the cats everyday; and take out the garbage at the end of the week. And I paid her for it. When we got home, it was clear she’d had her other lifelong friend over. I found cigarette butts all over the patio; a few empty beer cans and Twisted Tea bottles around the patio table; leftover mixers in the fridge (I didn’t care about this one); food and regular trash in my recycling bin; garbage in the house hadn’t been emptied and was full of dirty litter so the house smelled just wonderful; all of the tiki torch fuel was used up–both big bottles; and the mail hadn’t been brought in so the box was jam-packed. Those were just annoyances. The last thing I found was dangerous. When we got home, the whole house smelled like natural gas and obviously we were freaking out thinking we had a gas leak and the house would blow up or something. Since the stove is the only thing that uses gas, my husband went in to check and one of the knobs was turned just enough to release gas. I called to ask her about it and she apparently bumped into my stove at some point, which turned a burner knob just enough to turn the gas on.

      I feel like she treated my house like a teen would treat their parents’ house when the parents are away–and she’s 50 with grown kids of her own.

    13. HannahS*

      Not awful, but one of my cousins (who was newly of drinking age) flew in from out of town visited our aunt and uncle in The Big City, staying in their house alone over a weekend. A week after cousin left, when my family was visiting, my aunt held up a bejeweled hair clip and skimpy tank top that she’d found in the bedroom and asked if they were mine. I was a very awkward bookish 13 year-old girl who was too shy to even so much as LOOK at a boy and was not allowed to wear tank tops, so I mumbled a mortified “no” and that’s how we found out my cousin had been hosting parties that weekend. Hah! They’ve never let him forget it.

      I’ll give him credit, he cleaned up after himself fairly well.

      1. allathian*

        He sure did, if they didn’t suspect him of hosting parties until they found the tank top and hair clip…

    14. Sleepless*

      These houseguests weren’t awful, but it was a story that made my parents cringe for years. I grew up in a 100 year old farmhouse in Georgia. It was a beautiful house that people always oohed and aahed over, but it was…an old house in the country. My parents were just finishing up with some renovations to the back porch and laundry room. The laundry room was temporarily out of commission and the washing machine was sitting in the back yard, and my dad gamely offered to run a water line out the window so Mom could do laundry in the yard! Mom quickly vetoed that. That visual was just more than she could take. She took the clothes to the laundromat until everything was finished.

      Immediately after this, an old friend of hers and her husband came to visit while they were in the South visiting her family. None of us had ever met the husband, and he was…far outside of his element. He was from LA and covered celebrity news for a TV network. He was NOT happy at being stuck in a rural farmhouse, away from the red carpet parties (and, to be fair, the air conditioning). He complained about everything and found an excuse to go to Atlanta every day. My parents were charming hosts and people usually loved spending time with them, but not this guy. The wife was visibly embarrassed, but there was only so much she could do.

      This very uncomfortable visit was finally over, and after they left, Mom said weakly, “Well…that could have been worse.”

      Dad said, “Yeah, we could have still had the washing machine in the back yard.”

    15. BlueWolf*

      My partner and I had one of his friends stay over recently. We know he’s a drinker, but we figured he would still at least listen to us. He managed to break TWO of our practically brand new chairs in our patio dining set by leaning back on the legs. He broke the second one even after my partner explicitly said don’t lean back on the chair because they are not designed to hold weight like that. And both times he laughed and made a comment about his mom told him and his siblings not to do that when they were kids. We also let him bring his dog who is pretty much completely untrained. We specifically said she is not allowed on any furniture and to not let her in the bed. We figured that shouldn’t be a big deal since our guest bed is really tall and she’s a small, fat beagle and there’s no way she could jump up on the bed on her own. Well, after he left we found the freshly washed duvet covered in dog hair and a giant grease spot where the dog had clearly laid on the bed (since he never grooms her either). Needless to say he or his dog will not be coming over again anytime soon. I honestly feel bad for the dog because he spoils her with people food so she’s overweight and he has not trained her at all.

    16. WellRed*

      Did you say anything to this dear friend?? I personally would have spoken directly to the boor but that’s me. What an ass!

      1. the once and future bling*

        She knew I’d never liked the guy before she married him and once they got married I kept my opinion to myself and have always felt that was best for our friendship. While they were here I was worried if I said anything she would think it was personal dislike more than objections to things any host would object to. But I don’t think we will have him here to stay again, which probably means we won’t have her either. Sigh.

    17. Lizy*

      I currently have 3 incredibly rude houseguests. One started making breakfast just this morning and then left it halfway finished – The stove was still on! Another left her half eaten toast just… sitting on the table. The third pooped and tried to roll over in it while I was attempting to clean it up. I had a 4th but he just left for the weekend without even saying “see ya later”.

      Kids are rude, y’all.

    18. fposte*

      I think after a few days of that it’s perfectly legit to say “Come on, Bob, you know you’re like family; give us a hand with chopping the onions and gutting the fish so we can get dinner on the table” and “I don’t think aliens are for everybody, so we’ll change the TV to Caillou for a few hours.”

    19. the cat's ass*

      these stories make mine really sound lame! One was a friend of a friend who turned out to be a dreadful racist, had paralyzing BO and spent a night in jail for trying to pick up a working girl and public drunkenness. Very fast stay-we pitchforked him out to a hotel and have avoided him ever since.

      The other was a couple who more or less foisted themselves on us in the middle of a house remodel and then complained about the air bed in the living room. They accused each other of horrible snoring, but it was my squashed-face little Persian cats, who HAD to sleep on the bed with them (neither likes cats). one night only.

      The last are long-term friends, who visit for 2-3 weeks annually, the husband of whom is VERY set in their ways in terms of meal prep (for example, an hour in the morning making breakfast including fresh guacamole EVERY MORNING) and planning their time off, and we’d have to work around them in order to get ready for work/school, etc. His wife is a star tho and we managed to salvage our visits by them staying down the street at an air B&B!

        1. the cat's ass*

          nah, really weird non traditional ingredients, finely chopping herbs and taking up allllllll the counterspace when i need to get a cuppa and GTFO to work. Love him dearly, but not at breakfast. Inconvienent AND bad guac! Aside from that and the profound rigidity around making plans AND that his wife is the most awesome person i know, all good.

    20. A313*

      Wow! These are all why I don’t want anyone staying at my home!

      I have a friend who dog sits as a side job, and she loves dogs but can’t have one in her apartment (she has several cats), so that’s also nice for her to get her dog-fix. She has a friend who lives out in the burbs who had her dog sit, staying at their house overnight. I don’t know what their discussions were about the arrangement, but she expressed some surprise/disappointment after her friend didn’t pay her anything for the week, only brought her home a vacation trinket (a nice thought, but . . .).

      Her friend told her at some point how dog sitting at their house was like a vacation for my friend, as they have a nice, big house. Ummm, no. My friend had to use her lunch hours caring for her cats, and driving out to the burbs every day after work (gas and tolls and time). This is on my friend, too, as she dog sat for them at least once after this, and I don’t think she ever brought up how it costs her money to dog sit for them. She’s a nice person and doesn’t like to be confrontational, but a simple discussion of “sure, I’m available that week, and I charge x for overnight stays, plus gas and tolls” is beyond her. I kind of hope she leaves their house messy.

      1. Mstr*

        Why would leaving their house messy be appropriate here? Instead of saying in advance “I could use some gas money” … just trash the house? I’m not following.

        1. A313*

          I said “kind of.” I know she didn’t and wouldn’t, and I also know this friend took advantage in other ways, too, of someone who has a long history of doing favors for people that aren’t really recognized. I should have explained that. The whole ” it’s a vacation for you in our nice house” part was funny in the context of all the running around my friend did to care for her own pets too and time driving and money on gas and tolls. Of course she should have spoken up, but the friend was counting on her not speaking up and tried to spin it as a huge benefit for her.

          1. Mstr*

            Okay, I just assumed the home owner was genuinely oblivious to it being an imposition.

            I’d encourage your friend to stop doing favors that she doesn’t want to do or can’t afford to do. I’m a big fan of the “broken record” method of saying no, which is basically to say “I’m sorry I won’t be able to that/that doesn’t work for me/I’m not available for x” & repeat it politely as often as necessary— the point being to say no thanks without giving any reasons that the asker could use to argue with.

      2. Clisby*

        There’s nothing confrontational about saying, “Sure! I dog/house sit as a side gig. It’s $X per night.

        1. Clisby*

          Adding … it would never occur to me to ask someone to look after my house and cat without talking money up front. Some years ago, I had a college-aged niece and nephew who would do this for me – I always talked to them about the pay, and they’re family members.

          1. sunday coffee*

            I hired the college-aged kid of my coworker to live in my apt and pet sit on my last vacation. She took the money I paid and bought herself an electric guitar. I’m not sure my coworker has forgiven me yet … (kidding, mostly).

          2. tamarack and fireweed*

            Where I grew up it was completely normal to do this with neighbors you’re friendly with (we’re talking apartment building, old buildings with flats and businesses mixed … this sort of thing). My parents always looked after then neighbor’s cat during her 2 weeks summer vacation – visiting once a day, feeding, litterbox, a little bit of playing. That and/or watering flowers. (Young people would do it for money of course.)

          3. Jackalope*

            Or at least bartering. I have friends who also have cats and so we trade cat sitting so no one has to pay but everyone gets fair trade offs. I also had a friend who would trade babysitting for cat sitting; I think over the pandemic her kids officially got too old to need a babysitter and this makes me sad (I enjoy hanging out with them), but for years we would make this exchange. It was especially helpful because one of her kids LOVES cats and one of the others is allergic, so this gave the cat lover a chance to come hang out with my cats and get a fix without making the sibling have an allergic reaction. But either way, providing something of value in return for watching pets.

    21. Not playing your game anymore*

      My friend was an Air Force wife. The family moved frequently. Her Mom and Mother-in-Law were both small dynamos of international descent came for visits after every move (at least). One, Greek and the other Italian. Both spoke some English, but you couldn’t really call either one fluent. So Mom or MIL would come for a visit and would seize control of the new house, dusting, scrubbing, arranging, and rearranging. My friend had a couple of kids, and worked full time as well, so she resigned herself to hunting for her bits and pieces after a visit but enjoyed coming home to a spotless house and a great meal every evening during a visit. Except for the one time both Moms came at the same time. Drama, chaos, burnt food and well, disaster. Never again! My word, the stories she told about these two ladies… there was the time she was hospitalized and didn’t recognize the house or the kids by the time she got out. She still swears her MIL traded a nice quiet little boy for a rowdy tween. There was the time Mom went next door (duplex) and tidied the neighbors patio and garden and bathed their dog.

      1. fposte*

        Can you imagine the neighbors trying to figure out this weird benign vandalism? “Honey, somebody’s cleaned up the yard . . . and Tyson smells like shampoo.”

        1. Not playing your game anymore*

          Yes. This. I laugh whenever I think about it. I always thought friend should write a book about “The Moms”

    22. LizB*

      Oh man. My friend’s husband’s mom came to visit them recently, and it was bad. Among the highlights:
      – There was no end date on MIL’s stay. Friend thought it was going to be a few days; it was a few weeks.
      – From the second friend came downstairs in the morning, MIL was in the kitchen with her asking questions and insisting on making conversation. Friend is an introvert and really values her morning quiet time, and had none of it for multiple weeks.
      – MIL tried to be helpful by emptying the clean dishwasher, but didn’t know where anything went (and couldn’t just… open the cabinets and look??) so covered the counters with clean dishes. Then she started the dishwasher using dish soap, not dishwasher detergent, and filled the kitchen with bubbles.

      Friend’s husband has had a Talk with his mom about boundaries now, and I don’t think this scenario will happen again, but it was roooough while it was happening.

    23. jackie*

      OMG the houseguest from hell 25 years ago. This thread made me revisit a long buried memory.

      Background–My sister had traveled from Baltimore to Pittsburgh so we could go to the Rolling Stones concert together. After the concert we ended up at the bar at a nearby hotel. As we sat at a table having drinks a guy approached and started talking to us. Amazingly, he was also in town from Baltimore with friends for the concert because he was a huge Stones fan. So eventually he and my sister traded phone numbers to get together sometime when they were both back in their city.

      Fast forward 3 WEEKS later my sister and I meet up again at my parent’s home for Easter weekend. And she has this guy with her! And they are ENGAGED! She had a sparkly ring on! What the hell, it was the first time I was hearing this news. My parents are naturally quite shocked. I couldn’t stand him, he was “creepy”. As we sat having dinner that evening he started playing “footsies” under the table with me. Total a**hole. Very vague on his line of work etc., but charming in a Jack Nicholson way.

      The next morning my father and I were having breakfast in the kitchen. My sister was asleep upstairs, and the fiancé was sleeping on the living room couch. (open floor plan) He wakes up, stands there in his “tighty-whiteys” and yells “Hey Dad!” We look up, then to each other, with my dad’s confused face staring at me like “did this total stranger just call me Dad? Fiancé then proceeds to say “Hey Dad! Have you seen my pants?!” Are you freaking kidding me? We were flabbergasted. My dad finally answered “No”, but he looked like he was going to cry.

      The rest of weekend did not get better. The relationship ended up being a nightmare, with him isolating my sister from her family. She finally broke it off when she discovered he had failed to disclose to her that he had spent 6 months in a mental institution against his will.

      Worst houseguest ever.

      1. Cute Li'l UFO*

        I am still utterly losing it at the visual of a grown man calling for help in his underwear in an unfamiliar house looking for his pants.

    24. Elizabeth West*

      Oh wow, all these stories make me never want to invite anyone over. Every time I’ve been a houseguest, I’ve tried to make myself useful and keep things tidy.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Same, and I’ve never had any truly bad house guests! But we don’t host people super often.

    25. Rainy*

      I could write a novel about this six days, but a few years ago, my husband’s and my first Christmas as a married couple was ruined by my in-laws, who descended on us without asking and when we tried to get them to move the dates (mostly because the week before Christmas is all hands for Mr Rainy’s work due to just solid deadlines on client materials) they whined that they’d already bought their plane tickets. Many, many awful things happened during this occupation of our guest room, but probably the most disgusting is that my mother-in-law, to teach me a lesson over my refusal to call a plumber out the week before Christmas because you have to hold down the handle on our downstairs toilet while it flushes, stopped flushing her poop. I flushed her poop for six days, and that is why my friends all call her The Mad Pooper and she will never set foot in any residence of mine ever again.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        That is the most egregious passive-aggressive MIL power move I’ve ever heard of. Makes a great story though!
        What else did she do? Someone this petty I want to hear more!

        1. Rainy*

          A lot of it was stuff that you’d need some backstory to understand, unsurprisingly, since the best passive-aggressive BS is micro-passive-aggressions that all build on one another until one day you snap and start screaming and the actual monster gets to say “I just said one little thing and she lost it on me!”

          She terrorized our pets. Our dog is very smol and has An Anxiety (like, he gets drugs and stuff), and our older (and at the time only) cat is one of those very shy cats, so I told her for smoothest integration into our household, here’s how to deal with the pets, and she basically didn’t want to follow my rules either because they were mine and she was asserting dominance or because it took effort and caring about something else’s feelings, so eff that because how dare everything not order itself for her maximum convenience. So she basically broke every guideline I’d given her within 20 minutes. Our cat stopped using her litterbox out of anxiety and it took us six months to correct the behaviour.

          She read my email when I stepped out of the room for a minute with my laptop open. She snooped in our bedroom (I knew she would, so I insisted that we put away various things). I also hid my birth control because better safe than pregnant because my MIL microwaved my pills. She criticized our apartment, our pets, our decor, and my job. She refused to ride in our car because it’s “too small”. (I’m 5’9″ and her son is 6′ or so and we fit–she’s 4’9″ but okay, I guess.) She didn’t have any ideas for entertaining herself and even if she had, she wanted to be chauffeured around (in, presumably, the new car we went and bought?) and we were both working because she wouldn’t ask us about dates before buying her plane tickets.

          My FIL stood in front of a cupboard with one door open refusing to open the other door to find a cereal bowl, instead moan-bleating loudly about having to eat his cereal from a mixing bowl, despite me saying “Just open the other side of the cabinet, FIL. The cereal bowls are in the other side of the cabinet. Open the other door. Your hand. Move it up 24 inches and then 4 inches to the right. Grasp the cabinet door you’ll find there and move it outward in a swinging motion. Open the door. Open the door. Open the door. Open the door.” Moan, bleat, whine, sulk.

          1. Expiring Cat Memes*

            Oh. My. God. You have the parents in law from HELL. It’s all bad, but she MICROWAVES your pills..?
            I hope it dawns on her at some point that you have sex with the man who will choose her nursing home.

            1. Rainy*

              To be clear, I hid my birth control so she wouldn’t tamper with it, because she has a history of snooping and then doing damaging stuff with what she finds. My husband said I was nuts and then I listed three times at random that she did similarly intrusive and damaging stuff to him and his brothers (from the many he’s told me about). After she snooped in my email inbox, he admitted that I had a point.

              She dumped assets left and right about three years ago anticipating that FIL will have to go into a nursing home in a few years, and stuff she and my BILs have said indicate that she thinks she’s going to move in with us after that. I told him immediately that that’s just not happening.

    26. FACS*

      We had a good friend from professional school come for a week with his fiancée to stay a week. We had not met her before. On day two she informed me that she needed a new set of towels (all of them, bath, hand, washcloth) every day and their sheets washed every other day. Being very clear that this was my job. I introduced her to the washing machine and the laundry products.
      For 12 years I listened to him complain about her demanding nature. Finally I could not stand it and told him that she was not going to change, he was not going to do anything, and he needed to stop spending a third of the time we talked grumping. They are still married and we are still in touch.

    27. Blackcat*

      When we first got our house in Boston, every. damn. friend. invited themselves to stay with us since we had an extra room.
      The vast majority were fine. And I get it–we live in a major, expensive city and had A GUEST ROOM. And we were young-ish (mid/late 20s).
      But one set of my husband’s friends were AWFUL. They broke all the blinds in the guest room (3 sets!). They insisted on having my husband go out with them every night but then wouldn’t come home when he asked and absolutely refused to 1) take a cab/uber or 2) actually read bus schedules, so one night I had to drive 30 minutes away at 3am to fetch them because THE BUSES DO NOT RUN THAT LATE. They also got all upset that we didn’t lock the cat away in our room for their visit (they did not warn us she was allergic, though we warned them we have a cat!). They also left major bathroom messes and just left towels on the bathroom floor. Their last day (it was 3 very, very long days), they complained repeatedly that our guest room was much smaller than expected and declared that we should swap rooms when guests come so guests can have the master bedroom.
      Husband never spoke to them again after that visit (I never really did before).
      After that, I think it’s totally fine to cut off a friend based on terrible house guest behavior.

      1. Autumn*

        I haven’t had truly bad luck, but one friend, until I got wise to it, was a serious PITA as a houseguest. It took me a while though. Sleeping in the livingroom until noon. Hogging our only bathroom. Stuff like that. She had a bad habit of being radically late(multiple hours)for plans or arrivals even after the age of cell phones. So when we went to NYC as part of a school trip with our kids we declined to contact her, (she lives there) I did not feel like dealing with her being herself while we waited for her at some attraction or another. She choose to be offended, but I don’t care, she also choose to forgive me. I might contact her if I go to NYC again but there will be terms and conditions.

        She’s still my friend. There are reasons for her ridiculousness, but I won’t allow her to screw up my plans or eat up my time. Or be my houseguest.

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        So sorry you didn’t have *two* cats when they were visiting. Or five. Or six. Or suddenly accept a request to foster a litter of kittens.

        Seriously, re those AWFUL guests, who does that?!! I wish them a long life…filled with aggravation and annoyances! At least they found and married each other, thereby taking their disagreeable selves off the marriage market. Some public service. Grumble grumble. Yes, I’m steamed on behalf of your long-ago selves.

    28. Farm Girl*

      When I lived in a one-bedroom apartment outside of desirable Big City, one of my husband’s fraternity brothers came to visit. (I had never met him – they weren’t that close), and he came and camped out on our couch for two months! We kept on hinting that it was time to go, but he didn’t. Finally flat out told him – he said he didn’t have the money-we told him he would have to call his parents, it wasn’t our problem. My (ex-) husband was non-confrontational. After I left, his biggest leech of a friend lost his job, and that friend repeated the process. That time I told him that it was his own d@mn fault. We were divorced and I wasn’t going to be the bad guy that time.

    29. I'm A Little Teapot*

      My parents have been living with me for almost 4 months. (Dad retired, they sold the house, and moved to my area.) They bought a house that required work, so for almost 2 months now I’ve been working on their house – after working all day at work.

      Mom hasn’t been the easiest to live with. Dad is mostly fine. Mom has digestive issues, but she doesn’t clean the toilet. I’m avoiding that bathroom. Dad has mild dementia, so he does things like leave the front door unlocked overnight, forgets to turn off the coffee maker, basically never washes his hands, etc. All little stuff, so its annoying but not really a problem yet. The biggest issue I have is that mom isn’t necessarily very polite. I’m literally working about 90 hours a week between work and their house, and I don’t get a thank you. Sometimes they’ll make dinner, but about half the time they don’t.

      They also have 2 cats. I have 1 cat. My cat isn’t thrilled with guests. One of their cats is acting out and beating up my cat, and my cat won’t do anything back. Very recently, my cat got slightly more aggressive to parent’s cat, and parent’s cat has backed off some. Luckily, neither cat is any good at fighting, my cat is bigger, and the humans are trying to distract the attacking cat from the bad behavior, so injuries have been minor and frequency is going down. It’s all very out of character, so it’s obviously a stress reaction. I’m just tired though.

      They move in less than 2 weeks. It will be exactly 4 months. Once they’re out, I’ve got a housecleaner coming, and then I need to get the carpets cleaned. Because of course they manage to wear shoes in the house, even though it’s pretty obvious that I don’t.

      Enjoy your peaceful home again. And don’t invite that guy to visit ever again.

      1. Workerbee*

        I am sorry you are going through this, and that your cat has been so uncomfortable. This is a LOT on your shoulders.

        Dementia is a scary thing and a whole additional worry. I hope your parents can thrive in their new place, that they really do move into their place at the time and date set, and that you can take a real restful vacation of some sort.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Oh, they ARE moving. Movers are booked.

          Thank you. I’m tired, spent a bunch of time this weekend painting the kitchen, living room, hall, and part of the bathroom. But we’re getting there. Next weekend I have to clean the bathroom floor. This week I have to figure out HOW to clean the bathroom floor.

    30. Workerbee*

      After reading enough of this thread to set off my stress’n’ire meter vicariously—

      It is appalling how inculcated it is that we have more of a horror of not being considered nice than for actually standing up for ourselves. The assholes of the world have fostered and benefited from that notion. Yes, even the “weird family dynamics mean it isn’t my place to say no.”

      Why IS it okay to keep enabling assholes? Why isn’t THEIR rudeness held to the same standard you’re struggling so hard not to be?? Why, in heaven’s name, are you letting yourself be walked on for a single day, let alone weeks and months? Is it for some fool notion of not lowering yourself to someone else’s level? I’d bet that tenet was put about by the assholes as well. Or because some crone wants to play matriarch forever and allegedly nobody can do a thing about it, or your friend made a horrific choice and would rather drag everyone else into it than do a damned thing to stop it? Arrgh!

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        +1 million.
        Yeah, no kidding about enabling a******s.
        As for the explanation, multiple choice:
        a) Some of us were born or raised “too nice.”
        b) Some of us preserve to save our energy for living well, rather than expend it in a massive heated blowup.
        c) Some of us endure the dished-out grief to a point, then quietly and firmly go our own way without the inconvenience of giving out an explanation that would only be argued. (See babove.)
        There are probably more choices but I’m out of ideas.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        YES! I’m still working on this myself (recovering people pleaser), but I think one of the most useful things we can teach young people, is that you don’t ALWAYS have to be polite — you can call out bad behavior or make a scene if someone is totally trampling your boundaries. And if they don’t like it, tough toenails.

      3. Batgirl*

        I’m pretty good at standing up for myself. But there is sometimes quite a lot of energy attached to taking a stand and you resent having to. Sometimes you just want to fall face down into the carpet and ignore it and sleep while growling about obvious considerations. Perhaps we should make this gesture a legal eviction notice.

    31. June*

      I would have asked them to contribute to the cost of meals and alcohol. Letting someone stay in your home doesn’t mean it’s an all inclusive resort. You have the right to say no. Don’t host them again.

    32. Mimi*

      This is a story, not of terrible houseguests, but a terrible long-term stay:

      My parents had a couple staying with them for several months, can’t recall why (possibly they were posted overseas and back for an extended visit). During this time, the furnace broke. It was an old steam furnace, and the parts were not available, so they needed to get them custom machined. Furthermore, the people who do maintenance on steam furnaces are responsible for furnaces in places like schools and hospitals, so my parents kept getting bumped because they were just a single household. The heat was out for a month. In January. With houseguests. Luckily there was a common wall neighbor so nothing froze, but I shudder to think what the neighbor’s heating bill must have been like that winter.

  2. Little Beans*

    Is having a kid this hard or am I doing it wrong? We have 2 working adults taking care of a 15-month old and he’s in daycare, but it feels like there is never any time. The house is always a mess, we’re late to everything, we eat takeout way too much, I don’t even shower as often as I’d like to. I’m constantly stressed at work because I can’t get everything done. I know millions of people have kids, many have more than one, some are single parents or not lucky enough to have daycare, so I feel like my situation is pretty good overall. Is it just like this?

    1. Anona*

      It gets easier as they get older. My daughter is just under 3, and it’s still hectic, but 15 months is a special kind of hectic. Maybe because they’re still so dependent? My daughter was still waking in the night then, and constantly emptying the cabinets.

      But I totally agree that working and parenting is just busy! Modern life is rough.

      1. Little Beans*

        Yes to emptying the cupboards!! We get him to sleep at night and then I just look around the house and it’s like a tornado went through. His idea of fun is taking anything he can reach and throwing it on the floor. We once counted while picking things up in the kitchen and living room and it was 43 items.

        1. German Girl*

          Make it a game for him to pick up after himself. Doesn’t work all the time, but sometimes is a lot better than never.
          Also we have a rule that he must put away the old toy before he gets a new one out – we’re not super strict with it and we help him do it, but it’s a good habit to have and works surprisingly well.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          My husband would watch oldest toddler at his work while I swam nearby, and she was very entertained by putting bolts into and out of their storage bins. She lost interest on the ‘out’ stage of the cycle, but ordering and rearranging was very occupying to her.

          Second toddler would have spent 0.8 seconds freeing all the bolts and then been on to something new.

          Kids have personalities, and “I like all the nouns out where I can see them” is a trait for some.

        3. ADHD Anon*

          Yes, it is that hard. But it won’t always be. I had a cupboard/drawer emptier too. We childproofed almost all of the kitchen drawers and cabinets – the ones we didn’t had a grownup rule – wash it before use. That way we could just scoop up the evenings pots and pans rubble and put it away for the next day’s mess.

          With my second we only had to childproof a few cabinets for safety.

        4. Observer*

          Lock some of the cupboards. Or rearrange where stuff is, so the ones he can reach have fewer items to put away. So, pots where he can reach and the cans up on top. It’s a lot faster to put 5-6 pots away that 3 dozen cans.

    2. German Girl*

      It is just like that.

      I don’t know whether he still wakes you up at night, what his bedtime routine is like, whether you’re still nursing, and all that. But inconsistent sleep and a baby who just wouldn’t fall asleep unless we were holding his hand really did a number on us. Also, at that age you have to do a lot to take care of them and entertain them.

      The good news is, it gets better. My son is now 27 month old and very self reliant. He can entertain himself quite a bit, can open the drawer with his snacks, but knows to asks first, his eating skills at breakfast/lunch/dinner have progressed a lot, so no more feeding necessary, and his bedtime routine and sleep pattern have gotten so much better.

      I think the biggest jump forward for us was when he was suddenly able to fall asleep by himself at about 23 month. Suddenly his bedtime routine changed from brushing teeth, changing into PJ’s, talking about the day and then singing and holding hands for hours to brushing teeth, changing into PJ’s, talking about the day and then singing one song while still in the room and one song on the way out/finishing the song through the babyphone. And suddenly we had our evenings to ourselves from 8 pm quite reliably and since he can go back to sleep by himself he also does it when he wakes up at night so we have pretty consistent night sleep. Compared with the first two years, this is heaven and having a kid is fun again.

      One thing that was important for us especially in the first two years but still is: Be very clear who is on kid duty when, so that the other partner can fully relax while they’re not on kid duty.

      Also, you can absolutely try to get some household chores done while you’re on kid duty so that you can really take a break when your partner is watching the kid. My little one does laundry with me and takes the trash out with me, and he helps dad unload the dish washer and mow the lawn.

      1. German Girl*

        Ah, and there was another huge amount of progress when the vocabulary explosion hit at around 18 months. Childcare gets so much easier/so much more relaxed when the little ones can just say what they want instead of crying until you figure it out.

        1. German Girl*

          Ah, no, he has his own little toy lawn mower, which he pushes around in the garden while daddy uses the actual lawnmower. It’s super cute.

    3. AJoftheInternet*

      It’s hard. And good. And hard. What I suggest is figuring out which things are your Feel Like a Human priorities, and which you can choose to say, “For the next six months, I’m not going to be upset if ____ doesn’t get done the way I’m used to.” So if you NEED to be on time, talk with your partner and seek out strategies to do that with a little one, and then give yourself grace for all the takeout. For me, I care less if the house is CLEAN and more if it’s UNCLUTTERED, so I put my limited energy into tidiness over cleanliness (cleanliness happens, but it’s more relaxed.)

      Also, do your best to keep work and home in separate boxes in your mind. Leave work worries at work, and home worries at home, and don’t let them overlap.

    4. Double A*

      So, I think the answer to this is that, no, normally it’s not *this* hard because normally there is not a global pandemic going on. I sometimes forget that when I’m like, why do I feel so anxious, or lonely, or bored? Why can I not enjoy my kids more? And it’s like, oh right, a lot of the things I want to do involve other people, and every social interaction is deeply fraught and I’m totally out of practice. And for us right now there’s a huge wildfire in our county so we can’t even go outside, though we’re lucky because we’re not in the line of the fire and thousands of people are evacuated and hundreds have already lost homes. This may be our new normal, but that doesn’t mean we’ve really figured out how to be in this new normal yet, if that’s even possible.

      This is just to say…it’s a hard time, and that’s going to make parenting harder than usual.

      1. Wet Blanket*

        Yes, none of the stuff parents of little kids would normally have — either for them OR for us — has been a safe option for like a year and a half!! No zoo, museums, meetups with our friends who also have kids, time alone for parents to go to the gym/get a haircut/other relaxing self care. This is not a normal time to be a parent of small children.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I keep reading/hearing/seeing this that parenting is rough in pandemic and I can see why!

          But scrolling through social media, it feels like just a different world. The vast majority of the parents on my feed are very much the kind that believe in COVID and social distancing and being vaccinated and wear masks, did the quarantining early on. But now, everyone’s having parties with no distancing, playdates, going on vacation/travelling etc.

          Feels like life’s passing us by and I’m constantly worried about my kid’s development and skills bc everything sucks; isolation is also triggering a lot of other feelings which I’m consciously trying not to project onto kid.

          1. Double A*

            I feel this so hard! Your kid is pretty young right, like around a year and a half? That was how old my daughter was when the pandemic started, and I have to say that socially, I really feel that at that age it’s fine not to have too much interaction with other kids. Would be be good? Sure! Is it crucial? No. Adults are enough for babies. It wasn’t until recently, as she approaches 3, that I’ve started to really feel my kid needs to be around peers. She’s now learning from social interaction in a way that she just can’t learn from adults, so that’s shifted our priorities. So I just want to say, I think with young kids it’s totally fine to let go of guilt or worry about social interaction. If you get them together with another kid they mostly just parallel play.

            In terms of social media, what you don’t see is all the agonizing that (might have) went into the decision to have a social event. We just sent our daughter to preschool and I have spent hours and hours each day worrying about it. The adults in the preschool are all vaxxed but no one is masking. But weighing what’s available vs. risks vs. benefits…well, that’s what those hours went into thinking about. I’m not really ok with the situation, but I wouldn’t be ok with the other choice, either. This mental load is one of the things making parenting in the pandemic so much harder. And the mental load isn’t very Instagramable.

            Last summer my dad asked if I was enjoying being a parent. And I was like, Yes, of course my daughter is amazing and I love watching her grow, but also we’ve had a really weird experience of parenting that no, I have no enjoyed. One of the things I was most looking forward to with having kids was watching them form social bonds and go out more into the world, and that was completely stopped for awhile, and now it is, at best, incredibly fraught. So for me one of the biggest sources of joy in parenting is basically gone, and it casts a pall of unspoken grief over the whole thing.

            1. Potatoes gonna potate*

              oh man I’m so glad someone could relate. Your last 2 sentences are 1000000% how I’m feeling. I wrote down below in another thread that my best friend expressed so much regret at missing the first year of my daughter’s life – she was so excited for me to become a parent

              PS – I hope I wasn’t coming across as judging any parents doing that stuff on social media – I’m totally not judging them. I just wish things weren’t like this.

          2. Meep*

            Yeah, same here. My poor kid and I have been doing all the social distancing and masking and homeschooling, and it kinda does feel like we are the only ones. She has a mild heart defect and I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if she got a serious COVID case, so we are being very careful – but the rest of the world appears to be back in party mode.

            And she’s 5 and needs friends, but none of the kids in our neighborhood ever wear masks and no one is taking COVID seriously enough that I could trust them to make safe choices. And my heart breaks for her and there’s nothing I can do.

    5. Lemonwhirl*

      It’s hard. When my son was that age, I had to massively recalibrate my expectations about everything. Honestly, just getting through each day with all of you alive and on speaking terms is a major accomplishment. If you can care less about the house, care less. If you can afford a cleaner, even once a month, do it. If you feel like the division of labor in your house could use some adjustment, work on that. But really, all you can do is keep putting one foot in front of the other.
      Kids are really hard work until about age 4, when they gradually are less work because they can do more for themselves. But the wobbler/toddler ages are so very hard – they have so much energy and no sense of danger, and just supervising them is a full-time job.
      But the thing about it – this time passes. The hours might be long but the months are short. It’s a relatively brief time in your life, even though it’s hard to see that when you’re in the thick of it.
      Good luck – it gets different and then it gets better.

    6. allathian*

      Ugh, I feel you. That said, I was lucky enough to be at home with my kid until he was about 25 months old. That said, I was happy to go back to work when I did, and I felt that I was a better and more patient mom when I had my job to occupy my time and my thoughts during the day.

      He was a good sleeper almost from the start, but I was still tired. My MIL who took early retirement helped most days when he was very young, and several times a week when he got a bit older, so that I could get my chores done, get a shower, etc. Because I’m an introvert I need a lot of me-time, so without those breaks it would have been even harder for me, and it helps to know that she did it because she genuinely wanted to, not out of a misguided sense of duty. We were pretty adamant with her that she had to tell us if she was occasionally too tired or had something else to do, that we didn’t expect her to be at our beck and call all the time.

    7. Dumblydore*

      Oh yeah. Having a toddler is stressful even in the best of circumstances. I felt like I could breathe properly when both my kids were finally in school. What you’re describing is a totally normal household with a mini human. Good luck.

    8. Hotdog not dog*

      I vividly recall considering whether it would be an option to hire a sitter just so I could clean the cat’s box without destruction happening in the other room! This phase will slowly dwindle, and your time will fill up with different chaos as they grow. Mine is 16 now, and so far every stage has been wonderful and terrible and crazy. I don’t think any parent gets everything done, but as long as you end up raising good humans who cares if the house is a mess?

      1. Golden*

        It’s not a bad idea! When I was about 12-13 I was hired as a “mother’s helper” for neighbors that were moving away, and occupied the kids while the parents packed/cleaned.

        It was cheaper than a full-on babysitter for the parents, and a little pocket money and childcare experience for me. If OP can find a local tween who’s interested and responsible, it might be worth a shot.

        1. Dumblydore*

          Yes! When my kids were little I hired a teenage boy to play with them so I could cook and clean in peace. Such bliss.

    9. Ranon*

      Do you have a routine? At that age we had everything pretty locked down in terms of what happened when, down to which chores got done on which days and by whom. Replacing administrative overhead with routine can take the load off, and if it slips, well, there’s always next week.

      We also childproofed a lot more aggressively than friends with similar aged kiddos – different personalities take very different levels of childproofing, we had friends who could leave things on flat surfaces within reach and expect them to stay there, whereas we just cleared everything because otherwise it would get cleared for us. Lots of cabinet latches, kitchen completely gated off, etc. Made life much easier.

      As for work I found caring less really helped? It’ll be there next week, is the thing, it’s not like being done is a permanent state.

      Oh, and sometimes you just need to do the fun things first or you’ll never have time to do them. But doing the fun things can make it feel like you have more time because you’re doing stuff your brain thinks is memorable (unlike cleaning the bathroom or what have you)

      None of this is easy! You’re supposed to have a lot more help than just daycare, there’s supposed to be babysitters and friends and family and a whole variety of other support that’s hard to come by or otherwise fraught right now. They get more independent pretty quickly from here on out, there’s hope!

      1. Jay*

        Childproofing is totally variable depending on the kid and family. We childproofed for our kid so she could range around the house without having eyes on her 100% of the time, and then my friend came over with her kid who was exactly the same age and he made a beeline for the fireplace tools. My kid never showed any interest in them. He was swinging the poker around before we got it away from him. Mine also never climbed; lots do.

        15 months is hard, hard, hard. It gets much easier when they can talk and have some independence – and the more you can let them do for themselves, the better for you. I cared more about her dressing herself than I did about what she wore, so from age 3 on she picked out her clothes and got herself dressed and there were some FASCINATING outfits – but she was dressed and happy! I made sure she couldn’t get to any totally out-of-season clothes. We were also incredibly lucky with sleep – she went to sleep easily and slept solidly and needed lots of sleep, so she was down by 7:00 PM and we had our evenings to exhale. And still there was never enough time. I was working part-time and had full-time child care and still never had time to do anything else. It was a season – and the pandemic makes it SO MUCH WORSE.

      2. Little Beans*

        Thank you for saying that you’re supposed to have more help! It feels like 2 adults and full time daycare SHOULD be enough, which makes me feel crazy for still needing more.

        1. Batgirl*

          No, daycare is just stand in help for when you’re doing other work and there’s a reason humans are a pair bonding species, it’s so you can shower and go the loo! (single parents are just superhuman; it’s the only explanation). Real help is help where you get real breaks. Kids are also energy vampires. I never yet met the child who said “Now is not the time to interrupt mum, I’ll come back; would you like me to bring a cup of tea with me when I do? I can totally wait to have my tantrum later?” They need constant interaction. If you were on stage entertaining for X hours while also sorting out the catering for the audience you’d expect to be tired.

    10. Sleepless*

      No! 15 months is a really labor intensive age. The pandemic is making every single thing about daily life harder right now too.

    11. The Dogman*

      My advice (from many child owning friends) is to meal prep on a weekend day.

      One of you takes sproggo out for 3/4 hours and the other one makes 7 days worth of main meals (and lunch/dinner if you can). This saves money and time!

      The house will be a total mess, nothing you can do but try to keep on top for now… it gets easier with time and practice!

      Good luck!

        1. Observer*

          And that makes it ok? Sarcasm is generally not intended to be kind and inclusive. It’s generally intended to either jab at someone / something or to make a point. I can’t think of a *LEGITIMATE* point he would be trying to make.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        can you cut that shit out? We do not “own” children, it’s gross and creepy to say it like that.

      2. ADHD Anon*

        Phrasing aside…if you liked making your food for the week on a weekend before kids – go for it. I do have friends who like this.

        I hated it. It was like adding a half day of work to my week. And, on top of that, my son was going through a ‘will eat / won’t eat phase’ after breaking down into tears (mine) over squash I lowered my standards.

    12. Emily*

      I just have to comment in solidarity- I could have written this! My son is about to turn one, and holy moly, Mama is TIIIIIIERRRD. I don’t really have much advice to share, but my family is also two working adults and the best thing that we have implemented is that we each get a morning “off” on the weekends. I get Saturdays, and my spouse gets Sundays. So that means this morning, Spouse woke up with the baby, entertained and fed him until it was time for his morning nap while I went for a run and now get to drink a cup of coffee in semi-peace. I do the same for Spouse on Sundays. While it certainly doesn’t solve all of our problems, it is nice to look forward to a three to four hour break each week. Hang in there, let go of as much expectation as you can, and as my therapist likes to say ,”don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things”.

    13. Lizy*

      Toddler age is the worst. Young enough to get into everything and old enough to get into everything.

    14. fposte*

      I really enjoy the British podcast Lockdown Parenting Hell (now, at least for the moment, just Parenting Hell), by two comedian dads. And one of the thing that’s really clear from it is how excruciatingly hard the early years are, and how even when you have moments of joy there’s going to immediately be a moment of turds on the living room carpet or screaming fits about sock-wearing.

    15. PostalMixup*

      We couldn’t even fathom having kid #2 until my daughter was three, because how do you add a newborn to the chaos we already had??? And she was in many ways an easy toddler – talked early, was danger-averse, and chatted constantly so we could always tell where she was and what she was doing. My son is like, if I put the step stool on top of the sofa, can I reach this shelf with the thing that makes fire? And if he goes quiet, find him quick, because he’s probably found a sharpie. It does get easier, but 1-3 are rough. I feel like I’m always cleaning or straightening or doing laundry, but the house is still always a mess.

      1. Autumn*

        I was one of those parents who child proofed everything and had a big area where a toddler could play without getting into much trouble. But toddlers are HARD! Early on I had a daycare gap where, I was working nights and had nobody to watch my 15 month old daughter so I could sleep. I closed us into a bedroom where I slept (sort of) on a futon on the floor and she could crawl on me, play, wake me if needed. I still woke up to her having pulled all her clothes out of her dresser!

        One trick I learned was to pack all the books on a low shelf of a bookcase so tight that they cannot be pulled out unless you pull out a particular one. It made my life easier with my last baby. I was also in a house where I could gate this baby out of the kitchen. Open concept is hard with toddlers!

    16. Meep*

      The second year of the kid’s life is the hardest, as I’ve found. After that, it gets easier. You’re not on constant “suicide watch” anymore, you can take a shower while the kid is elsewhere, and you can actually talk to the kid and enjoy their company rather than being in constant caretaker mode. Plus, there is no more sleep deprivation.

      When my daughter was at about that age, her favorite entertainment was climbing on a chair and then falling off backwards, like a trust fall. I could not turn away for a second. I could not go to the bathroom alone.

      Really, this experience showed me that there’s a reason why humans are supposed to live in large clans of extended family. You can’t parent alone, or even as a nuclear family. It’s way too hard.

      1. Double A*

        This comment reminds me that with my baby I just keep thinking, “Gosh, babies are just so IMPRACTICAL.” The only thing that makes them at all possible is a ton of social support.

      2. ampersand*

        My husband is trying to get our toddler to nap right now. Kid refuses to nap on weekends. She’s two and a half, requires constant attention, has made an art of having tantrums, and it’s exhausting—I think some of it is her reacting to the weirdness of the pandemic, though she doesn’t know it and is just trying to make sense of her world. She also does the trust fall thing, ha. Hence one of the reasons she needs so much supervision.

        I also often have the thought that people weren’t meant to parent in isolation. Humans would have died out long ago if not for extended family/support.

    17. RagingADHD*

      Yes. Sorry.

      There’s a very good reason that so many parents calculate the value of 2 full-time incomes vs childcare, taxes, etc. Maintaining life is just much, much harder with little kids.

    18. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I want to say it’s really hard, especially with COVID/Delta. My husband and I are both self employed and work from home and set our own hours so it should be easy but I still feel like I’m struggling ALL THE TIME. Cooking and cleaning always take a backseat to work and baby. I don’t shower often as I’d like, and I feel like I’m always failing at work or baby. Asking for advice doesn’t work b/c the 2 most common pieces of advice given to me just won’t work in my situation so ppl are ready to blast and make me feel like a shit mom. The list of things to do is miles long and just increases everyday. I have no idea how ppl are able to manage multiple children.

    19. OyHiOh*

      Yes, it really is this hard. No, you’re not doing something wrong.

      There has always been takeout food, in the entire history of humans living in communities. There’s a weird moralism attached to cooking at home but when you are both working outside the home and caring for a child (or several), you get to decide – as my mother told me when I was struggling with babies the same age as yours – that you get to decide which things are important to you.

      You might be able to solve some problems with money (a house cleaner a couple times a month might be one of those). You might be able to solve some problems with different organization. Some of your problems will resolve as your boy gets older and he’s more able to do more on his own. But first, decide what’s important to you.

    20. Observer*

      Toddlers take a LOT of work, and both of you are out of the house most of the time. It does get better, provided you start teaching your kid to take as much care of himself and his space, and pitching, as soon as he is capable- and allow him to DO IT WRONG. Because that’s how they learn.

      In the mean time give a good hard look at what you are trying to do. One thing I see a lot of is parents whose standards are just way too hard, and that winds up meaning that LESS gets done. So figure out what NEEDS to be done – Everyone needs to eat, you all need clean clothes and you need to shower on x schedule. But, maybe: you don’t need to do the shopping yourself (delivery saves TONS of time!), you could simplify your kid’s wardrobe (easier to put on clothes, fewer pieces to match), simplify meals (take out is going to be a LOT more attractive if the alternative is a 3 course meal that takes an hour of prep vs a one pot meal that takes 15 minutes to prepare.) I don’t mean that these are your specific issues, but I’m just trying illustrate what I mean when I say that you may be able to lower your standards.

      Also, if you can afford it, get household help. You would not believe how much of a difference even one afternoon a week can make.

    21. Salymander*

      I doubt that you are doing parenthood wrong. 15 months is just tough and exhausting. They are able to walk around opening cabinets and dragging stuff all over the house, but they are too young to be trusted to not eat random small objects off the floor or out of the trash. It is like having a very clumsy raccoon wandering the house, frequently screaming and crying loudly enough to cause hearing loss. You can never really relax, can you?

      The mess will get better, but it helps if you just think of it the way you would think of the mess from a home remodel. It sucks for awhile, but it will be over soon. The mess from older kids is considerable, but they can help clean up at least (in theory, anyway). Plus, by that time you will be so used to the mess that you won’t even notice it. At least that is how it worked for me. My mom would show up and gasp at the clutter, and I would look around and just shrug.

      As for eating takeout? Maybe just remember that it it temporary, like if you are having your kitchen remodeled. Eventually you will have more time/energy for cooking. Even then, you can keep it really simple. I used to double all the recipes I made on those (infrequent) occasions that I had the energy to cook. Leftovers are your friend. If I made soup or chili I would freeze 1-2 serving size containers. We had a few easy meals that we could whip up in a few minutes, like frozen chicken tenders that could marinade/defrost in the fridge all day before being tossed in the oven when you get home in the evening, Maybe include some carrots and potatoes if you have time/energy. Steam a big bunch of broccoli so you have veggies for a few days. It is a little monotonous, but better than daily takeout.

      Don’t be too hard on yourself. It is tough for everyone. Even if you do rely on takeout way too much and your house is messy right now, that is not the way it will always be. Cut yourself some slack. Prioritize the chores that really are important, and only do the nonessential ones if you have tons of time and energy (so, maybe never) and remember that a few (or maybe 5?) years from now things will be different. Remember that people tend to clean before guests arrive, so a lot of the homes of those other parents that seem so much tidier than yours are almost certainly hella messy most of the time. Either that or they have family/paid household help/at least one adult with more time to keep things clean. I am a stay at home mom, and my house was still a total disaster for the first few years. I had a lot of health issues and I had to prioritize, so having an Instagram-ready tidy home was not on the agenda. And now my kid is a teenager, and we all are just fine. The only one really bothered by my messy house was my mom, and she would have been judgy no matter how tidy things were. So give yourself a break. Prioritize getting a little more sleep if you can. That will help your outlook more than a perfectly home cooked meal and impeccable house, especially if that tidy house and home cooked meal come at the expense of your sleep. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break.

      1. Little Beans*

        I feel reassured by the uniformity of answers saying this is normal and everyone struggles! And also by the assurances that it gets easier!

        1. Salymander*

          I’m glad you feel reassured! I remember thinking, “This is only temporary,” every time I felt overwhelmed. It helps if you can spend time outdoors with your little one. You have to watch them all the time, but at least they aren’t making a mess of the house. My kid would walk down the sidewalk with me, stopping every few steps to sit down and look at something. Every rolley-polley bug had to be picked up and talked to. She thought they were all the same rolley-polley that was following us around. It’s name was Pipey. Pipey really got around.

          I had all my kitchen cabinets locked up so my kid couldn’t open them, but I had one that was off in a corner and away from the stove that I kept full of old pots and little kitchen toys. We called it the Fun Kitchen. I only opened the Fun Kitchen when I was cooking, so it was suuuuper exciting and bought me at least 15 minutes of time without a small person hanging on my leg. It was a tiny kitchen with hardly and cupboard space, but totally worth it to give up one cabinet if it meant that I could get things done without worrying about dropping things on little heads.

          I had a pack-n-play set up in the living room, and all the toys lived in there. It made a great storage bin, and my kid could clean up her own toys easily by just chucking them in. That is the only thing we ever used the pack-n-play for. I would sing The Clean Up Song (from Barney) and my kid would start tossing all her toys in the pack-n-play. Much easier than having to crawl around on the floor myself.

          Just breathe and relax, try to get enough sleep, maybe try a couple of the suggestions the folks here have made if any of them seem like they might work for you, and remember that it is temporary. In five years it won’t matter whether you had a messy house or are takeout while your kid was small.

  3. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I have a friend, Hermione, who has cancer. It’s now back for more and prognosis is not good. Think the scene from the Chernobyl miniseries “…and we’ll be dead in five years!”

    I guess I’m just having weird feelings about the whole situation, because I have never been friends with someone I knew wasn’t going to make it very long. My jerk brain sometimes tells me to cut her out of my life or distance myself in order to not experience the loss later, then I have meta thoughts and beat myself up. Whatever criticism you all might have, I’ve already thought it myself!

    Despite this, I feel close to Hermione and try not to let my brain get in the way of supporting a friend. Any advice?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Yes, I do. Don’t be so hard on yourself. What matters is how you act, not how you (sometimes) feel. And your feelings reflect a reality – you’re going to lose someone you love, and that’s terrible. OF COURSE you want to protect yourself from that pain. Be gentle with yourself, and recognize that you’re sad and you’re scared.

      But don’t actually do it. The price we pay for human connection is pain when we lose it. You’ll be sadder in the end if you sever that connection now than you will be if you maintain it for as long as you are given. And as someone who has experienced loss, I can tell you that the connection can remain even after the person passes. Cherish your friend now, and carry her with you into your own future.

      My thoughts are with you both.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding that actions count, feelings don’t.

        Support systems are really important to people dealing with cancer–whether the prognosis is pretty good, pretty bad, or no hope–and 2020 really did a number on those systems.

    2. SoloKid*

      No criticism – I once met someone new through a fan club with cancer who I knew for ~16 mos before they passed. I had similar feelings and always changed my perspective to be from their pov and what might make them more comfortable/appreciated.

    3. AJoftheInternet*

      Advice: Have a close friend or two you can “dump out” your grief to. You’re going to experience a share of intense sorrow, and having a friend who can hear you and be understanding.

      And… remember that Joy and Sorrow aren’t opposites, they’re sisters. They come together. So your share of deep sorrow will bring with it a share of deep joy. This friendship will be something really special for the time it is given.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        This is excellent advice. I was a support person for someone with cancer. We met at work, connected quickly as good friends, he was soon diagnosed with cancer, and he died two years later. I ended up being a support person for him and his wife through that journey. What got me through that pain was asking two other friends, who didn’t know the couple, if they would be the support person for me so I could be present for my friend and his wife. They agreed that I could call or visit with them and talk anytime, and it was so helpful to have a place to share my fears, anxiety, and grief, especially when it was clear that my friend would only continue to decline and not get better.

        When you are a caring person as you are, this stuff just hurts. AJoftheInternet is spot on about the joy that accompanies the sorrow. There is a sweetness that comes with the intimacy of accompanying someone on their final journey and at least in my case, I found it opened my heart further and brightened my friend’s last days.

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          You totally rock, and I love that you set up your own support network! I’m not going to remember the right cite for this, but there’s that idea I’ve seen mentioned in several comment sections that you throw your support in towards the person suffering and then get your own support from people who are farther out from that suffering. Sounds like you nailed it.

          1. Squirrel Nutkin*

            Oh, sorry — just saw that AJoftheInternet had that idea above! That’s what I get for skimming . . . . But anyway, it’s a wonderful idea so that you don’t process your own stress with the person who’s actually in the terrible situation but with people who are better able to deal with it.

    4. Asenath*

      Just keep in touch, but low-key – be available, listen or help in other ways as needed, but follow her lead as needed. The first close friend I had who died, so young from cancer, leaving behind her husband and the toddler whose birth and raising she had looked forward to so much, still lives in my memory, and now I remember mostly her and not the cancer – although I treasure the story she told me about her reaction to an offer to push her baby for her “I’m not dead yet!” She wanted to be treated as a normal person, although she was not in denial about her illness – it had spread too much for any treatment to work before it was diagnosed, and took all the treatments she could so she could have a little longer with her child. But she remained an individual and a mother during it all.

    5. Retired Prof*

      When my very close friend – like a little sister – died of cancer, my biggest regret was not being there more for her. There’s something very pragmatic about being close to a dying person. While it seems in advance like it will be big and dramatic, for them it’s just every day life. They need rides to chemo, and someone to bring them food they feel like eating. They need someone to sit and talk about the past with them. Mostly they need people who will treat the whole dying process as a normal thing without drama. I helped my mom write her autobiography when she was dying, and recorded the stories of all her long-ago photos. With my friend, we went through old pictures and reminded ourselves of the adventures of those college kids. We went to low key events together, walked in gardens when she was up to it, and just sat sometimes. It is a tremendous privilege to share someone’s last months, when a lot of the triviality and little social fictions are set aside. You might be surprised at how good it can actually feel – painful sometimes, but also hyper real in a way that normal life often isn’t.

    6. Misquoted*

      No judgement here — everyone deals with these things differently, and nobody knows how they will react until they are faced with the situation. I lost my partner to cancer almost four years ago, so here is some practical advice from my own experience.

      1. Comfort in, dump out. Think of concentric circles with Hermione in the center, her family in the closest ring around the center, close friends in the next closest ring, and so on. This means that when you are communicating with Hermione or anyone closer to her than you are (her parents, partner, siblings), communicate comfort. Allow them to vent or cry or complain, but don’t vent or complain back. They are closer to the situation and probably feeling it even more acutely than you are. If you need to vent or complain or dump, “dump out” — meaning communicate your negative feelings (and you will have them, it’s normal!) to people less close to Hermione than you are, or even people who don’t know her, or even us! And remember that getting some professional help is absolutely okay!
      2. Be specific with offers of help, rather than saying “let me know if you need anything”. Saying that is great, and she may take you up on it, but some people dealing with this sort of thing just can’t really even figure out what WOULD help. So saying “I’ll bring food over this week, Tuesday or Wednesday?” can be more helpful.
      3. Others may disagree with this one, but I found it helpful to know what to expect. Dr. Google is not always the most reliable source of information, but it was helpful for me to know what chemo side effects might look like, and even what the end might look like.
      4. If Hermione is up for it, ask questions. Ask what she needs, ask how you can help. And even ask if she wants to talk about it. One thing I struggled with was figuring out when to bring it up, if at all (I mean, I was his caregiver so his cancer was the center of our lives much of the time, but not always). Hermione may want to talk about it some days and may want to be distracted from it and not have to think about it (if possible) some days (or hours). I think it’s okay to ask at the beginning of a visit or day together.
      5. Be gentle with yourself. This is hard for everyone, especially when it’s new and unfamiliar (and I hope it never becomes familiar!). Be there for her, but don’t stress too much about saying or doing exactly the right thing.
      6. This is my opinion, but I think you might regret cutting her out of your life. You say you feel close to her, so I can’t imagine you regretting spending time with her now, even if it might make the loss hurt more later. It will hurt either way. Much love and strength to you both.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        As someone who has had cancers, and also lost people close to me, I’d like to mention that a lot of Google information is out of date and a some of it is outright inaccurate. There are good places on the internet that include forums for patients and care-givers. Stick with the ones like American Cancer Society or others that are affiliated with major hospitals and research centers.

    7. fueled by coffee*

      I’m so sorry about your friend. Sending hugs.

      You might want to look into local grief support groups – they’ve helped people in my circle immensely when dealing with losses of family and friends.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I am sorry you and your friend had such bad news.

      It’s okay to have jerk brain and then go meta. It’s a sorting process and we have to sort our way through. Expect more of this type of processing.

      As you walk along with her a helpful thing you will see is that there is still a person underneath the illness and all that medical stuff. This can be very helpful with your sorting process.

      So I sound like I am a big advocate for staying with the person. Actually, I favor following their lead and abiding by their wishes. Additionally, there have been some folks I have lost contact with as their situation progressed. Like you infer here, I never felt it was a shining moment in my life (tips head downward in pain). It took me a bit to realize that not everyone is supposed to walk with people through the final day of their lives. I am not sure I really understand this- but I do see that a good number of people end up with the right people beside them in their final months/days. And that group may or may not have included ME. And, of course, it’s not all about how *I* feel. It’s about them.

      It’s good to remember that a large crowd of “helpers” is not always helpful. It’s also helpful to remember that stepping back and letting others take a turn helping your friend allows others to process their own grief/pain.
      Your friend will need to hear different perspectives sometimes so this is something you bring to the table – your own unique perspective.

      If you are not used to being candid, try to get a little more candid so you can ask questions such as, “Is today a good day for a visit?” OR “You got that okay or do you want help?” Those “blatant” questions will help carry the two of you through things. Encourage her to just say what is on her mind, too.

      Some days are better than others. Or a morning can be a good morning and the rest of the week can suck. This is where asking candid questions comes in handy. You don’t have to guess, you can just let her tell you what’s up.

      Cry when you need to cry. Take extra self-care steps. And take what you see going on and ask yourself how you can apply it to your own life. Let her circumstances change some things you are doing- in good ways.

    9. Girasol*

      When Grandma lived in assisted living with hundreds of interesting people around her, she said, “I don’t make friends. They’re all going to die.” That sounds horrible. But it’s normal for our survival instinct to say, “If I invest in friendship with this person who hasn’t long to live, there will be no return for my effort.” It’s not jerk behavior, just normal human wiring. We’re built that way. Perhaps if you accept it that way instead of beating yourself up over it, you’d have an easier time of moving on to, “But I’m strong and I can afford to give to my friend even if there’s no return,” because we’re made for that too.

    10. Snips Ahoy*

      There is so much beautiful support here — it’s truly moving. I might suggest Emily McDowell’s “There is No Good Card for This.” It’s wonderful and helpful and all of the good -fuls. Hugs to you and Hermione.

  4. MissGirl*

    I’m starting to dream of traveling. I’ve only been out of the country once but I’ve caught the bug. I don’t have anyone to travel with and little experience. What travel groups have people used and liked? I don’t like cruises but love adventure travel.

    1. Pamela Adams*

      I like traveling alone when possible. I love London as a place to visit- books to read, plays to watch, streets to wander through.

    2. Biel*

      Also agree with the greatness of solo travel.

      When I first travelled, I thought solo travel would be miserable and even somehow shameful, so I took my fairly unwilling ex and we argued our way through much of continental Europe. It was horrible.

      Subsequently, I’ve done it alone and had the best time. My favourites have been Italy and Vietnam. I do what I want, when I want and how I want. Tend to try to pick a few special hotels here and there and make sure I go to very good restaurants (lunch service is best for tables, places where I can eat at the bar in the night). I feel awesome when I travel alone, not lonely, sad or embarrassed like I thought I might.

      I know people who like tours. I guess it depends how structured you want your trip to be. I prefer as much freedom as possible and tend to stay in cities and areas for longer periods, so they’re not for me. I can’t recall the names of the good ones, but can recall that it’s best to avoid contiki (not sure if contiki is a thing outside of AU NZ?) unless you are actually 19 and your main goal is to drink and meet people from your own country.

    3. Skeeder Jones*

      Enjoying solo travel brings such freedom! I go on so many more trips since I realized I enjoyed solo travel. Like other posters, I love that I can do whatever I want, and I have! I’ve decided to bypass a potential destination and I’ve decided to stay extra days at other destinations. I’ve done mostly road trips, or plane trips to destinations where I have family and/or friends and then take small road trips around the area. I can decide to take a trip at the last minute if I want. It’s great and has added so much joy to my life.

    4. Asenath*

      I don’t generally use travel groups; I like solo travel. I do sometimes take short tours at my destination, especially since I don’t drive and if I want to get to a great spot outside a city, or a few of them, that’s the best way to do it. Mostly I pick them up locally, after I arrive. When I went to Australia, I did get the advice of a local travel agent (who had actually been to Australia not long before) and used their advice for some of the really major, must see tours, like a multi-day one through Kakadu National Park, booking them through the agent, while leaving a good chunk of my time free in the bigger cities, which I toured on my own, sometimes with advice from local tourist advice offices (I got some of the greatest leads for unusual sights from them); sometimes with info from my online researches. The agent also booked my hotels and travel. For simpler trips, I almost always booked flights and hotels on my own. I had a bad experience with one of the online booking sites – they’d advertised one cancellation policy, the hotel turned out to have another, and I needed to cancel my booking with far more than the notice I thought I needed to give. I don’t tend to use them.

    5. StellaBella*

      Look up Jessica Nabongo. She is a woman of colour, been to all 196 countries. Nat Geo explorer and role model.
      I love Solo traveling, only been to 45 countries so far but love doing what I want, when and how. I am a single woman too.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      You’re local adult education may offer trips. Mine does. I think it leans older (retirement age folks) but you would be with people from your same town.

      If you are in your 20s/30s, Appalachian Mountain Club puts on a lot of trips though they focus on hiking/skiing etc not cities.

      1. MissGirl*

        Thanks for the Appalachian tip. That’s right up my alley and an area I’m unfamiliar with.

    7. MissGirl*

      While I appreciate the tips about solo travel, I have no desire for that at this point. I work alone; I live alone; I’m alone all of the time. I want very much to travel with people. I had a great experience with a group called Flashpack but unfortunately they went bankrupt during COVID. I’m hoping to broaden my knowledge of groups to go with.

      I also love having an itinerary planned out. I’m super type A and for some reason having everything planned out for me for two weeks shut off my anxiety ridden brain. Knowing everything was planned and under control and I just had to sign up was super relaxing.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        My mom joined a few trips put together by a social group my aunt belonged to. I’ll echo Cheesecake re trying to find a local group who does things–then you know you’re reasonably in tune with them.

        Have heard good things about National Geographic trips, which is the sort of nerdy I could get into.

      2. Jay*

        Some colleges have travel programs – looking forward to doing some of ours when I retire. Affinity groups like the Audobon Society put together trips so if you have an interest like birding or canoeing or something, take a look at those. The Sierra Club used to do trips in the US – not sure if they ever did anything outside the US or not. National Geographic also used to do some trips.

      3. ArchAnon*

        If you’re in the states, REI organizes trips. They usually have a focus on a different type of activity, either hiking, kayaking, climbing, yoga etc of varying “difficulty” ratings.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          They are my suggestion too! I have only gone on one organized trip, and it was one of theirs. It was a variety of people (different ages, from different continents) and well done. Highly recommended!

          Although it was also nearly 20 years ago, when they were known as GAP (Great Adventure People).

      4. Llellayena*

        Flashpack went bankrupt! Oh crap! There goes the most awesome Japan trip I was hoping to take. I’ve had luck with Exodus Travels. They have a good range of trips with varying levels of “active.” The trick is to find tour companies that don’t have a single supplement (or a very minor one).

      5. MissGirl*

        Thanks for everyone’s tips. I don’t have time to respond them all but I’m making a note of them.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I will echo those saying that solo travel can be great.

      For out of the country I recommend Costa Rica. Beaches, mountains, lovely people, lots of adventure options.

    9. peasblossom*

      Depending on what age range you’re in, have you looked at Contiki? They do a ton of global tours (a huge range and not just the western europe greatest hits) for people 18-35. They’re based in Australia so there’s a lot of Australian folks doing their world tour, but that partially means that it really does cover that full age range (you’re not just stuck with a punch of 18 year olds). Worth checking in on at least!

      Beyond that, though, the best group tours I’ve ever done are locally based; in Ecuador I had a great mountaineering company tour and in Scotland a local highland tour covered many of the major sites but also some real hidden gems. If you’ve got a couple of places you know you want to go in mind, I’d recommend starting with location and then looking at locally based tour companies.

      1. Ann Non*

        Seconding Contiki: a friend of mine went to China with them (or possibly with one of their sister companies? I think she said there were three tiers with different price points and possibly different names, and she picked the most expensive one to get the nicer hotels). She really liked it and said she would not have been adventurous enough to do that trip by herself.

    10. Undine*

      There’s a number of small group travel companies. I’ve been on two trips with Intrepid travel. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and when Things Happen, it’s great to have someone else in charge. They know special restaurants and the good local tour operators.

      Also in this day and age, a good tour operator should have a good cancellation policy and know about local restrictions. I personally would want a company with vaccination requirements.

    11. MCL*

      We did a canoe trip though the Scottish Highlands a few years ago! It was guided and we met some great folks. We found it through Much Better Adventures, which is a clearing house of sorts for different companies that do adventure tourism globally.

      1. MCL*

        Also I have friends who used Rick Steves’ travel agency for a group trip to Austria, and Rick himself guided their trip!

        I actually organize a specialized group trip to Scotland (not during the pandemic of course). If you do a group trip I encourage you to really think about what your preferences are about room sharing, if that’s offered on your trip. I sometimes have a person who opts to be roommates with a fellow group member, but they have very specific sleep needs (like lights out at a specific time or can’t tolerate others’ sleep noises) and it would have been a much better trip for them if they had spend a few hundred extra bucks for their own room. Sleep is so important!

    12. Cookie D'oh*

      My parents have traveled a lot with Gate 1. I been with them on a couple of those trip, but it is mostly older people. I think G Adventures skews younger, bit I’ve never been on a trip with them.

    13. GoryDetails*

      I’ve enjoyed a mix of planned travel and on-my-own time; themed tours worked for me when I wasn’t going on my own (which I also liked but I know it’s not for everyone). This was long ago so I don’t know what’s currently available, but I went on a “historic coaching inns” tour in England that included stops at amazing centuries-old inns, plenty of time to visit local museums and other historic spots, and some marvelous meals and teas. If you have favorite themes – gardens, history, literary tours, etc. – you might use that to search for available tours.

      As for more complete all-in-the-package tour providers, the only one I have any experience with is Abercrombie and Kent, which does luxury tours to a variety of places and for groups large or small; they are pricey (I was only able to go because friends gifted the trip), but if you’d be more comfortable on a tour where everything’s managed for you it might be worth looking into.

      There’s also the option of the more local vacation – find a spot in your country or a neighboring one that features whatever you’re interested in, and plan a stay there. I did a multi-day trip to Quebec City once, a long drive up and back but quite doable, and definitely got the “traveling to a very different place” vibe!

    14. Let me be dark and twisty*

      One thing to watch out for if you’re traveling on a tour or with a group is the single supplement. Most travel companies charge a single supplement since all the rates are based on double-occupancy rooms or activities. I use a site called “Solo Traveler World” that has a lot of information about travel deals and companies that don’t have (or waive or reduce) the single supplement fees. The site does a weekly newsletter so the info comes to you. I haven’t actually used their resources or deals to travel (found the company just as the pandemic hit) so I can’t vouch for them but they were suggested by the Washington Post travel team.

      I’ve traveled with Odysseys Unlimited, EF, and Insights Vacations, then a lot of solo travel on my own. Of the organized tours, Odysseys is my favorite. They do smaller groups and I felt like I could actually get to know the people I was traveling with. The itineraries are packed but super flexible (like if I wanted to explore the local area instead of taking a 2-hour bus ride to visit the botanical gardens, then I could and the tour guide would connect me with local experts to show me around). EF just wasn’t for me, a lot of focus on parties, social events, and nightclubs. Insights was wonderful but skewed more towards the older retiree crowd (Insights is also the international travel arm of AAA so if you have AAA membership, this might be a great place to start).

      I’ve also traveled with my college alumni’s travel program. It was a great way for me to start traveling overseas solo because I was with a small group of people I had a loose connection to so it wasn’t terribly awkward at dinners or going out on free time. The “regular” alumni travel program is geared more towards sightseeing and cultural experiences but the young alumni travel is adventure-focused with activities like kayaking, zip-lining, cave-diving, etc.

    15. Skeeder Jones*

      You might have some success in checking our Meetup groups. I’ve found some that were travel focused so you may find some in your area as well.

    16. Bluebell*

      No first hand advice for you, but I’ve been reading descriptions of some Atlas Obscura trips, and they sound fascinating. Seems like they focus on a certain topic and go way beyond the usual tourist highlights.
      I usually like traveling independently but did go on a group tour with a sibling to see Cuba. It went well, but I think if they had given us a little more free time, I would have gotten more out of it.

    17. If you like active vacations*

      My sister and I took a trip with Backroads Travel, and it was awesome! It is active touring with hiking, biking, canoeing during the day (with routes geared for any activity level from “I’m a couch potato in real life” to “I run marathons weekly for fun”), with a chef planned outdoor lunch and support staff during the day, and usually includes stops at cool places in the area (like, we toured a small family owned olive tree farm/ olive oil company one day, and the taste of fresh olive oil will blow you away!!). Then there are really nice hotel accommodations at the end of each day’s route, a fancy dinner most evenings plus time planned for visits to local wineries, spa time, shopping, or free time, etc. I felt like they were pretty pricey, but I don’t know how they compare with other tour companies.

    18. LucySnowe*

      I did a hiking trip through Collett’s Mountain Holidays in the Dolomites and it was excellent. They have a variety of types of trips and you can choose how independent you want to be. I was traveling with friends, so Collett’s did the refugio arrangements for us and then we hiked on our own, but we stayed at a Collett’s B and B before we left and after we returned. The B and B had communal dinners and breakfasts and we met people from all over the place. Collett’s had day hikes scheduled that you could join, or their guides would recommend hikes if you wanted to go independently. I believe they had a couple of different levels of day hikes. There were quite a few solo travelers who were able to opt in and out of what they were interested in. A friend who was on the first trip went through them for a solo trip to Spain and really enjoyed it. I’d definitely use the company again.

  5. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going? As usual this is not limited to fiction writing.
    Not too much for me other than working out some kinks in my plotting. I’ve been surprisingly busy.

    1. Magda*

      I think we’re going to get a pretty darn good blurb for my second book coming out in December – yay! I’m especially proud of myself because I got this one, while with book 1 the editor got them all because I didn’t know anyone in the biz.

    2. Callisto*

      I have a ton of freelance work to do, several short stories and poems that refuse to work, and yet fanfic keeps pouring out of me. I hate my shitty useless brain.

      1. Fleabait*

        Heheh I think fanfic is my brain’s respite from trying to write serious fiction – it’s low-stakes, fun, quick return on investment, and best of all, when I’m writing it I’m not *trying* to be original (although there certainly is original ff, just – not when I’m writing it). It’s fine to do tropes, it’s fine to take familiar scenes with familiar characters, it’s fine to play up familiar emotions and have that be the whole point. Honestly, such a relief! I don’t discourage my brain from using it to take breaks anymore.

    3. Girasol*

      Wrapped up another short story for the collection and I have a plot for the next. It’s a shaky start but I might be building up the sort of writing habit that does not stop at writer’s block.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I FINALLY have my book trailer almost the way I want it. I had some 720 clips and some 1080 clips and they need to be all the same, apparently. I may have to either slow it down or redo it one last time so the voiceover isn’t rushed. It’s taken forever since I have to google everything in this new-to-me software. At this point, it’s easier (and faster) just to do it over.

      Re the book: I changed a new scene to fix something that was bugging me, which ties it better to later events. A couple more pass-throughs, including hard copy, and I may be ready to go.

      I’ve considered putting off Book 3 to write something else I’m really excited about. Not sure yet, though. I may actually try to work on two things at once, although that’s not usually how I roll.

  6. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week? As usual this is not limited to video games so feel free to talk about any kind of game you want including phone games and board games. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely remembered game.
    All this Sims talk this past few weeks has had me going back to the Sims 3 for a bit, so I will probably be bringing that the next week or so and then not play it for months, as I usually do.

    1. AJoftheInternet*

      I am playing Ye Olde n64 Super Mario, and, boy, let me tell you, I am BAD.

      Like, my brother watches because the train wreck is hilarious bad.
      Like, “How did you even screw that up that way?” bad.
      It’s awesome. I’m up to 67 stars!

    2. lady gamer or something*

      I started going through my DRM-free games (all obtained legally) to see if there were any I could delete after playing to free up space on my C drive. I did ditch a few after playing them (some were cute, short indie games without replayability and some were ones I have access to on other platforms), but I started playing Blackguards and I think I’ll keep it. It’s basically like playing a tabletop RPG with a hex map. Unfortunately, the difficulty meanders from medium to nigh impossible. Thank goodness for console commands…

    3. Dr.KMnO4*

      Destiny 2 and Monster Hunter Stories 2.

      D2 has finally figured out how to tell a compelling story in a live service game. They have seasons that last ~3 months, and each season has a new story arc. Until very recently, the story arcs were lackluster at best. But last season and this season have had amazing stories. They’re structured like weekly episodes, but if you miss a couple of weeks you can still see everything. Last season had an antagonist who wasn’t a villain, and was actually quite sympathetic. This season we accept a group of alien refugees who are fleeing an evil leader. This time the seasonal villain was not a member of an alien race, but a human who wanted to kill the refugees. The gameplay is as good as ever, maybe even better. I love this game.

      MHS2 is like a cross between Monster Hunter and Pokemon. You aren’t a hunter, you’re a rider. There is turn-based combat, with an “X beats Y, Y beats Z, Z beats X” system. You hunt for eggs, hatch them, and raise new “monsties” (yes, they are actually called that) to ride. There’s some complicated gene stuff that I don’t understand yet. It’s a fun game, especially if you like both Monster Hunter and Pokemon.

      1. twocents*

        Nice! I’m hoping to try out MHS2 after I finish LoZ. I’ve never tried a MH game so this helps!

    4. heckofabecca*

      Still chugging along with preparing for a D&D5e homebrew campaign! I put together three hooks in the starting town, including a BLATANT Sweeney Todd reference, and I’ve got a plan for session 0 (probably first of 2) next weekend!!!

      1. Sharing a Cube*

        Oh, I would be all over that Sweeney Todd hook! Mystery around missing cats, perhaps? Or bad smelling smoke?

    5. Nicki Name*

      Trying out more games on Board Game Arena. I took the recommendation of Draftosaurus last week and it turns out I’m okay at it– it’s the first one where I’ve gotten to an ELO score of over 200. After that BGA recommended 7 Wonders so that’s the main thing I’ve been playing there the last couple days.

      I had a couple days off this week and used that to play some extra Pathfinder Society 2e. I have a character up to level 9 now. Woohoo! Except now there isn’t any more content at that level for me to play them in.

    6. The Dude Abides*

      Jammed the free Arena flashback drafts, which re-affirmed my general loathing of the format.

      On the positive side, I made it to mythic in constructed! Built a historic Bo1 Obosh burn deck, and kept picking off elves decks in Diamond 1-2.

      1. David*

        Loathing, you say… Which format(s)? I actually really liked the Kaladesh drafts; it was one of my favorite formats the first time around and being able to play it again just reaffirmed that. The others I’m not so attached to, but I’m thoroughly fed up with AFR so it’s nice to have something different.

        And congrats on mythic :) I’ve been trying to get there myself the last couple months but I always get stuck around diamond 2.

        1. The Dude Abides*

          Limited and standard in general. In paper, modern, legacy and EDH are how I prefer to play. Historic kinda scratches that itch, but I am miffed that black gets thoughtseize and push, blue gets memory lapse, and somehow bolt is too good.

          I got stuck in Platinum with Incinerator burn ft Jegantha, but switched to the Obosh version with 16 lands and a lower curve. The deck pivots to control/board police much better.

    7. LimeRoos*

      Beginning the terraforming of my new ACNH Island :-D So excited. I didn’t remember the sequence of getting things, so was hoping I could start by this weekend, and I can. I already have some nice paths down, plus a gorgeous one from MA-2568-9914-4979. Frambois is really shaping up. I only wanna switch out half my villagers, so that’s nice lol. My friend has visited a couple times, and it’s been nice getting back into it together. And they have special Super Mario items in the Nook Stop for purchase so there’s a lot of new things to play with.

      1. Laura Petrie*

        I got shade from one of my villagers yesterday for wearing a Wario outfit! I was not impressed.

        I still need a couple of fruit trees, I’ve got oranges, cherries, pears and coconuts. I’ve also just got the upstairs extension. I’m pretty sure Tom is running the island as some kind of front for smuggling or some other dodgy activity

        1. LimeRoos*

          Lol that’s hilarious!! And so not surprising. I always get shade for not visiting them enough when I’m trying to get one to leave. And inevitably the next one who wants to leave isn’t the one I’ve been working on.

          Oh.. I have peaches, if we’re on here around the same time sometime, we can try and sync up. I just got my second room, forgot how huge these loans are. I’ve been focusing on terraforming this time around, and so excited for fall & Halloween!! So many great items and recipes.

    8. twocents*

      After a busy couple of weeks, I’ve gotten back into Skyward Sword again — running around gathering the goodies and about to start on Eldin Volcano.

  7. Frally*

    Warning: TMI question about menstruation and menopause.
    I’m almost 53 years old. When will I stop getting my period? A few months ago there was hardly anything, and no cramps, so I thought yay, this is the beginning of the end. But then the next month, and every month since, everything is back in full force. I’ve had enough. When will I be done with this?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      I did a quick check of the numbers, and the average age of menopause (which is defined as 1 year with no periods) is 51 in the US, with a standard deviation of 4.4. So roughly 50% of women will have reached menopause by age 51 (assuming a normal distribution), and ~85% by 54.5 years. So you’re longer than average, but not unusually so. By 59 years, though, almost all women have reached menopause, so it will end.

    2. Going through it too*

      Highly recommend the book The Menopause Manifesto by Dr Jen Gunter.

      But the answer really is that no one knows exactly when. There’s such variability.

      I’m 49 and haven’t had a period since March, but it’s still too early to know if this is really “it” for me.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Editorializing here – and the reason we don’t know much about menopause (or women’s health issues in general) is because we don’t do the research.

        But – there’s this (from a piece in The Guardian): “There is five times more research into erectile dysfunction, which affects 19% of men, than into premenstrual syndrome, which affects 90% of women.”

        1. Observer*

          “There is five times more research into erectile dysfunction, which affects 19% of men, than into premenstrual syndrome, which affects 90% of women.”

          Well, you apparently don’t UNDERSTAND. ED is REAL while PMS is just women being overly-emotional. Who needs to research that, anyway. /SARC

          Non-sarcastic question – what is that 90% based on?

    3. Really?*

      I was 57 or 58 before I was completely done. And had about 2-3 years of longer and longer times between periods.

    4. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      It varies widely! I had a hysterectomy at 58 for endometrial cancer, but my hormones were still going full blast and tests showed I was nowhere near menopause. A friend went through menopause in her late 30s. It’s a question for your gynecologist, who can run hormone tests and any other necessary ones.

    5. Workerbee*

      This may not give you a personal answer, but r/menopause on reddit seems like a thriving, supportive community.

    6. Anon From Here*

      Somewhat related, I think: TheVerge published a piece in April noting that some people were getting their next periods a little earlier and a little heavier than expected after COVID vaccination. Anecdotally, I didn’t notice a change after my first dose (Pfizer). After my second dose (Moderna; I’m in a place where mix-and-match is approved), my period came about a week early and was a little more painful than usual. I also had a harsher immune response to my second dose than to the first, which may be correlated.

      Link in comment.

      1. Anon From Here*

        Huh, I’m not getting even a “your comment is awaiting moderation,” so use search terms:

        One side effect of the COVID-19 vaccine could be a heavier period theverge.com

        Should get you there.

      2. allathian*

        I can corroborate, when I got my first dose, my period was just due and unaffected. After my second dose, my period came a few days early and was heavier than it’s been for the past ten years.

      3. Observer*

        Talk about infuriating.

        When the original studies were done all the participants had to report symptoms, as usual. And there was a list of categories and “other”. Well, guess what went under “others”? Will you be shocked to hear that all menstruation related issues went under “other”.

        And do you know why no needs to do further research*? For one thing, it’s just hard to design these studies. And menstruation is complex and oddities can be caused by a lot of things, so why would we seriously consider that there is a good chance that there is a link? (I’m not making this up!)

        *Fortunately, there is actually some movement on the research front. Although to read SOME of what’s being said, it almost sounds like “well, we need to calm down all these hysterical women”. The good news is that the people actually working on this stuff seem to mostly get this is a legitimate and potentially significant issue.

        There is a lot of information out there, not just The Verge.

    7. Sleepless*

      I had my last regular period last September right after I turned 53, but I’ve had a couple of “mini” periods since then. So not technically in full menopause yet, but obviously headed in that direction. It’s kind of annoying too…picture me rummaging around in my teenage daughter’ bathroom for tampons because silly me thought I was done buying them.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Not to be a downer, but no one told me this: About 50 I started having near-constant bleeding, usually light but occasionally heavier. Every medical person I told was like “Oh, yeah, a lot of women get that as a peri-menopause thing.”

      1. I take tea*

        You can get short rounds of hormones for that. I was going mental with the constant bleeding, and got some tablets. Ate them a couple of times for a couple of months and now (knock wood) it seems to have calmed down.

        1. Admiral Thrown Rocks the Blue*

          Same here. Three months of constant, couldn’t take anymore, Dr gave me pills to make it stop. It did and now it’s been more or less normal. However, my older sister had same, was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. So, definitely be careful.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            Yeah, I took progesterone pills for several months, worked great, but then was diagnosed with cancer and so stopped all hormones.

            Figured the constant bleeding was enough downer.

    9. Retired Prof*

      My period got way worse before it ended. And I had plenty of warning that things were changing because perimenopause was like living in an altered state. My poor husband had both angry teenagers and sobbing menopausal wife for two years – hormones ruled emotions in our house. So glad to have it all over by about age 54. YMMV.

    10. Bon voyage*

      No personal insights, but I recommend the book What Fresh Hell Is This by Heather Corinna on just this topic!

    11. OtterB*

      This is only tangentially related to the question, but it seems like a good place to drop this.

      If you have gone through menopause and then start getting spotting again, get it checked out. I went through menopause uneventfully in my mid-50s. Periods spaced out gradually, then stopped. After they’d stopped for a while, I started getting some light spotting and thought maybe I just wasn’t through after all. Mentioned it to my primary care doc at a routine visit, she sent me to a gynecologist, turns out it was very early stage endometrial cancer.

    12. Sparkles McFadden*

      For me it was a pretty gradual process that started in my early 50s and took a few years. I missed a period every four months, then every three. Then it was every other month. Then I got a period about four times a year before it stopped entirely. I got some spotting after a year, but that turned out to be nothing.

    13. in the same boat*

      Oh, I am there with you! Also almost 53. I went off birth control a year ago and periods started up soon after. Every 22 to 32 days! But then all of a sudden it’s been 9 weeks without. I’m afraid to believe this might be done, but oh do I hope so. Hang in there!

    14. Girasol*

      I stopped at 53, went 11 months without periods, and then restarted the clock. (Officially you have to go a year without to declare menopause.) But that was the last time. They promised us in “You’re Going to Be a Woman” class in fifth grade that it would all be over at age 45. I felt like my body was cheating abominably on the official rules of menopause.

    15. RagingADHD*

      Do you know when your mom and grandmas did? It’s not an absolute correlation by any means because it’s so complex, but there is some “family resemblance” involved in the general trend of age of menarche, tendency to strong or mild PMS, early or later menopause, etc.

      1. allathian*

        My maternal grandma had 10 full-term pregnancies (one of my uncles died when he was a few days old). She had her youngest kid when she was 45. I have no idea when she hit menopause. My mom was regular as clockwork at 50 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to go on estrogen blockers.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Fertility tends to drop off sharply before perimenopause, so if grandma was still fully fertile at 45, you may have a longer-than-average run.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, we’ll see. I was a few days shy of 14 when I had my first period, although I started wearing trainer bras when I was 11 because my growing boobs hurt and I was otherwise developmentally pretty average, neither late nor early. I also started using deodorant when I was 12 years old, although that’s partly because we lived in the UK at the time and rayon school uniform shirts will make anyone smell bad because they don’t breathe at all. According to some studies, late menarche correlates fairly strongly with early menopause. I’ll be 50 next year, so this coming change has been on my mind.

            That said, my mom’s said that she had maybe one or two hot flashes when she started taking the estrogen blockers, and no other problems. Menopause, whether natural or medically induced, isn’t hormonal hell for everyone.

            1. allathian*

              Perimenopause seems to be delayed by regular pregnancies. Fertility seems to drop sharply for most women about 10 years before they hit menopause, I had a first-trimester miscarriage when I was 43, after which we decided to stop trying.

              Like I said, my grandma had 10 full-term pregnancies, but especially as she got older, the intervals between pregnancies became longer. There’s a 4-year interval between the two youngest, whereas there’s only 11 months between my mom, who was the oldest, and the next sibling. I suspect there were a few miscarriages in the longer intervals, but it’s not something even my mom would necessarily know about, because parents didn’t tell their kids a sibling was on the way until the pregnancy bump was visible, if then. Some only found out when the baby was born. There’s also 20 years between my mom and her youngest sibling, so she’d already gone to college by the time he was born (my grandma was conservative in many things, but when her husband proposed, she accepted on the condition that their kids would be educated as far as their talents would take them regardless of gender, my mom was the first woman of her family tree on either the maternal or paternal side to get a college education).

        2. Deanna Troi*

          allathian, you just described my grandma! Perhaps we’re cousins – there are certainly enough of them!

          1. allathian*

            I’m the oldest of 11 first cousins, the youngest ones are 25 years or so younger than I am, and could easily be my kids.

    16. Empress Ki*

      It will come when it will come. My periods stopped when I was 46. I wish it lasted longer.

    17. Rainy*

      Mother’s side is typically at least a rough predictor from what I’ve been told. 62 on my mother’s side. :/ Nothing like knowing you probably have more than 15 years to go.

  8. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Who else had a honeymoon that was not typically romantic?

    We ditched our honeymoon plans and instead jumped on the opportunity to help crew a sailing vessel on an ocean crossing. Unfortunately it turned out to be more of a bad ‘will we make it?’ experience than the exciting adventure we’d hoped for. (Bad enough that I’m still working through some related PTSD issues).

    We’re still able to speak of the experience with a degree of fondness though because of what it helped us discover about our relationship: how well we work together in a crisis, how well we look after each other, and how much we trust and respect each other’s judgement and fortitude. So I guess, even though it wasn’t enjoyable or romantic, there was still something very newlywed appropriate about our “honeymoon”.

    We were talking about it last night, wondering if other couples have similar stories?

    1. AJoftheInternet*

      Honeymoons are like… you take a vacation so you’re distracted from how horribly difficult becoming a spouse is, maybe. We had either no honeymoon at all (because he had to be back at military training first thing Monday) or a year-long honeymoon (because we were stationed in an upscale Californian town by the sea, but I spent most of the year miserable, and wish I could do it over, and he remembers the town with no fondness and wouldn’t do it over with me. :/

      1. Girasol*

        We married Saturday and our honeymoon was the rest of a three day weekend before I had to return lest I be fired. We went camping at a state park in the tall trees and then did a night at a delightful gold rush town BnB. But we’ve had some wonderful anniversaries to make up for it, also involving camping trips but longer and nicer ones full of unexpected surprises.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Ours was atypical in that we did it before the wedding, and it was also a regular vacation that just happened to be adjacent to our wedding weekend, not anything particularly romantic or out of the ordinary. We went to Disneyworld for a week, which we had done together a few times, and the most memorably distinctive part was that at the end we got out of the Orlando airport about 40 minutes before Hurricane Irma shut down the airport and also Disneyworld for two days. So our family and friends, who were meeting us in Vegas for the wedding part, were a little concerned for a few hours as to whether we had made it out. But it all went fine. (And now I can never remember when my exact anniversary is without looking because it was a weekday and in the middle of a two week vacation, so for some reason the date never sticks.)

    3. Loopy*

      I basically just used the honeymoon card to get some extra time off work and taker a better than normal vacation. It a whole was 10 months after the wedding (which was actually great financially), so really just a splurge-y vacation. At that point and I put my foot down on doing it within the year because I wanted it to still maybe feel a little special. But…it was a vacation! Framing it as a honeymoon somehow gave me permission to treat myself to a bigger trip (kind of silly) .

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I think this is dead on, actually–we were young and poor but the honeymoon was an excuse to go somewhere we’d never been and do a few nice things, like a pleasant hotel. Outside of not bringing our friends with us, it wasn’t overtly “romantic” as compared to any other vacation for an established couple.

        Now we are in our 50s, with more money and grown children, and have embraced the “we’ll remember the experience, so that’s worth spending on” philosophy.

      2. Valancy Snaith*

        We’ve been married seven years and still haven’t gone on a honeymoon (thanks to work, mostly), but we’re planning one for next summer. You’re exactly right in that framing it as our honeymoon makes it feel more permissible to have a more lavish experience. Since we’re no longer as strapped for cash as we were when we got married, we feel better about taking more time, spending more on experiences, and so on!

    4. Anona*

      I was sick for pretty much our entire honeymoon. I coughed so much on the first day, during our drive down to a cabin, that I had to stop and go to urgent care to get some medicated cough syrup!
      We look back and laugh, but it’s definitely not exactly what we had in mind for a honeymoon.

    5. allathian*

      We didn’t have a honeymoon as such, I was 8 months pregnant when we got married, and when I wasn’t working, I was either sleeping or wanting to sleep, and if I’m honest, I often felt like sleeping on the job, too. On our first wedding anniversary, our 11-month-old had his first sleepover at my MIL’s house, I had a facial and a pedicure, my husband bought a small bottle of bubbly, and that anniversary date felt like all the honeymoon I ever wanted. It was great to just focus on us as a couple.

    6. AY*

      COVID wedding (over FaceTime in our living room) so no honeymoon…YET. I’m determined to do it sometime even if it’s years after the fact!

    7. HannahS*

      Well, I had a if-we-don’t-get-married-THIS-WEEK-who-knows-how-long-we’ll-have-to-wait wedding in April 2020….so we canceled our June wedding, got married without any family present, spent one night in my tiny old apartment, and moved in with my parents. A few weeks ago, we spent the weekend in a (supposedly) fancy hotel in a nearby city, which we both agreed was a colossal waste of money–like, the room wasn’t clean and the amenities didn’t work type of waste. I was already too pregnant to hike much–it’s sort of canyon-y and I’ve been having trouble with inclines and stairs.

      Happily, I adore the man. Our original plan had been to spend a night in a hotel on a beautiful nearby university campus, then honeymoon in Ottawa for a low-pressure week. We’re still hoping to do that, but it’ll likely wait until spring…and we’ll have a baby with us. *shrug*

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        One of the keys of this sort of vacation is that you are not surrounded by all the household projects you should really get to when you have some spare time.

    8. MissGirl*

      Not me but my roommate in college didn’t take a honeymoon but instead they worked a multi-day wagon train adventure in Jackson for the summer. They were together almost every second. It was definitely tough on them but it forced them to grow.

    9. Honeymoon?*

      My husband and I took a weekend at a nearby resort focused on gambling, and we don’t gamble, so we just lounged on some rocking chairs. It was a beautiful place but not at all what either of us would choose as a dream trip or super romantic. We then spent the following week separately on vacations with our families! This sounds totally ridiculous, but our families are from multiple continents and many had to get visas to come for our wedding. We took the chance to hang out with people we rarely get to see who had made a big effort to come. No regrets, and we’ve now been married 9 years.

    10. Jay*

      Ours was a week in Florida (we were married in December) which included visiting with family who hadn’t been able to come to the wedding. We were living 3,000 miles apart when we were married so just spending a week together was a novelty, and it was fun to actually cook together and go grocery shopping and do normal everyday things we didn’t usually get to do with each other. Not splurgy, not typically romantic, and just what we needed. We got back to my home on Sunday and he left the following Thursday. We didn’t see each other again for almost three months. That week kept us going.

    11. Texan In Exile*

      We spent our wedding night on the sofabed in the basement because Mr Texan’s parents (Sly and Doris, for those who know me) were sleeping in our bedroom and my mom was in the guest room.

      (Do not do this. Do not let people stay at your house when you get married.)(Even your mom, who is a wonderful houseguest, but definitely not your in-laws, who are horrible horrible guests.)

      We were awakened at the crack of dawn when Sly got up and loudly made coffee and did every other thing he wanted to do without making any attempt to be quiet because why should he?

    12. the cat's ass*

      Oh yeah. I got married the day of the Loma Prieta Earthquake. In San Francisco. We both swing into action filling the sinks up with water and turning off the kitchen’s gas in the B&B we were staying in. One of our groomsmen went out and directed traffic as the power was out. We then went downtown to the makeshift triage area and helped out there. Next day we went to Napa for a few days but weren’t really feeling it and drove home. But it was memorable!

    13. PostalMixup*

      I know a couple who hiked the Camino De Santiago for their honeymoon. Spending several weeks hiking sounds terrible to me, but they found it very meaningful.

    14. HBJ*

      We went someplace that isn’t really considered that romantic because we couldn’t afford what we would have really liked to do. It was fun and we did some fun things, but it wasn’t our ideal. And it was actually stressful because after everything was booked and just weeks before our wedding, he was laid off. He found another job very quickly (within days) but of course he had no PTO yet, and we were pretty broke. In hindsight, we wished we’d just canceled stuff and had a week or a few days for a honeymoon instead.

    15. Chaordic One*

      I’ve heard from friends that they seem to have experiences and sentiments similar to your own. “Will we make it?” is a certain kind of excitement, but not really the kind that most of us want to experience.

      They often say things like, that after all of the stress involved in having the wedding, the reception and all of the preparations for them, afterwards, instead of a romantic honeymoon, they were both physically and mentally exhausted and they ended up using their honeymoons to rest and recover. They holed up in their honeymoon suite and didn’t go out very much. When I hear of such things, I immediately think that they must be spending the time making wild passionate whoopie. But the truth was more along the lines of they just slept a lot. Although not terribly passionate, their honeymoons sound kind of sweet and romantic in that the parties involved had a chance to pamper each other and care for each other. If they can do that through the subsequent years of their marriage, I think they have a good chance of the marriage being successful.

    16. Callisto*

      We are outdoorsy types who drove cross-country on a tight budget, so there was a lot of hiking, camping, and sleeping in the car. We bonded incredibly deeply, but people had a LOT of opinions because everyone expects you to hole up in a fancy metropolitan hotel room and bang nonstop for a week. People were like “Ew, so you weren’t able to shower and be in a real bed every night? What’s the point?”

    17. Ellie*

      We went to a small tourist/resort town that we really loved for a few nights after our wedding. I wanted to spend my honeymoon not traveling and sightseeing, but sleeping in, playing tennis, and getting day drunk at our favorite breweries. The come down after the craziness of a wedding is so real; I felt like I had been hit by a truck! I’m glad there was no pressure to leave bed some days. Now with two kids under 3, I’d give anything to lay/play in bed all day!

    18. Jacob*

      We took our honeymoon about a week after our wedding, so that we could end it in California … at another family wedding. My aunts got married two weeks after we did.

    19. Bibliovore*

      I wanted to get married in September.
      Mr. Bibliovore said no, September is bad.
      I was aware (I was a book store manager, he was a publishing sales rep, September and October were regional trade shows every weekend)
      I said, you can’t give me one Sunday to get married?
      He said, sure but I won’t be around before or after.
      So, we got married on a Sunday.
      Took a few days in Cape May, New Jersey.
      Then went to work the MidAtlantic Booksellers Association meeting at Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City.

      Years later I had just started a new job with a publisher. It was Monday.
      The boss said, I know we didn’t talk about travel but I need you to go to Eugene, Oregon this weekend.
      I said great! It’s my 4th wedding anniversary on Saturday and that’s where my husband will be.

    20. Retired Prof*

      I took my new husband to meet my grandmother who could not come to the wedding. Supposed to be just a day, then on to other adventures, but our broke down there, so we got to spend a few days with her – she robbed us blind at cards! It was the last time I saw her in person, so I was so glad we went.

      1. Retired Prof*

        And I almost forgot – my husband got an abscess and had to have a tooth pulled in Jasper, B.C.

  9. Pennyworth*

    Does anyone have any experience with a whispering child? I met one last week, she is 5 years old and her main method of communication is to whisper to a sibling or an adult who then reports what she says. Apparently she occasionally speaks in a very quiet voice, but prefers whispering and her family enables it and has asked her teacher to act as her whisper interpreter in class . I assume she won’t be able to whisper her way through life but I am curious how she will start talking when everyone makes it so easy for her to keep on whispering.

    1. tiasp*

      About 20 years ago there was a girl like that in a group that I was involved in. I don’t know how things turned out for her, but I was told that it was because she had severe anxiety issues.

    2. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      I’d assume that there is a good reason why the parents respond that way and that there are things you do not know – like severe anxiety like tiasp mentions.Your choice of words indicates that you assume that you know better.

      1. Asenath*

        Or that she is concerned about whether or how children like that learn to speak directly. I don’t know the answer myself, having never encountered a child like that, but I’ve often been interested in how other people handle challenges.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Most kids who do stuff like this just adjust on their own, the same way they learn to walk, to hold their pee, and to control the impulse to bite people. Little kids are *weird.* Really weird. Every weird thing they do is not a condition, it’s just childhood.

          If the child turned out to have a real developmental or mental health issue, the family would work with therapists on a plan, the nature of which would entirely depend on the specific child’s actual needs.

          OP is not privy to whether the child even has a need for therapy, so there is no generalized answer to how people handle it.

          The most common successful answer would be that they are gentle with the child and let her handle herself.

          Unfortunately, the most common tragic answer is when families judge, shame, punish, or focus on “fixing” a child and thereby create lasting trauma.

      2. HannahS*

        I honestly didn’t read judgement in the question. I think asking internet strangers instead of asking the parents and making them or the child uncomfortable is the right choice, and Pennyworth framed their question as a curiosity.

        The parents may or may not be responding appropriately to the child’s behaviour and the reason behind it, and neither we nor Pennyworth are going to know. Sometimes, what appears to be enabling is actually necessary. Sometimes, it’s actually reinforcing and a really bad idea. It’s not judgmental to wonder and ask.

      3. D3*

        I noted that too. So much judgement with the “how will they ever learn if you do that?”
        Not your kid. There’s probably more that you don’t know. After all you *just met her last week* so you’re definitely not privy to what’s behind this.
        Back off with the judgement of how they’re handling it, Pennyworth. Not even under the guise of being curious about how this might play out.
        Parents get *enough* second guessing and judgement even if all is well. Add in a kid struggling to communicate and they definitely don’t need this.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. The parents may be rejoicing in the fact that she is saying anything at all. Hard to tell, but I am sure there is background here.

        1. The Time Being*

          This!

          Remember that you’re seeing a snapshot in time, having only just met this child. Where is she on her developmental journey? You don’t know! From the sound of it, Pennyworth, you’re assuming that she’s been like this all her speaking life, and that no forward progress is being made. This is an entirely baseless assumption. Maybe she only just recently gained the courage to speak at all! Maybe she’s in the process of learning that she won’t get mocked or hurt for her words, and when her faithfully repeated words get neutral or positive feedback, she’ll gain more courage to speak for herself. Maybe she’s recently had an experience that caused her to regress to speaking this way instead of speaking for herself, and she’s being helped through a recovery process. You don’t know.

          She’s a child. Growing and changing is what they do. It’s a lot less sensible to assume that what you see on a single day is how they’ll be forever than it is to assume that of course they’re going to change as they grow, because that’s what growing up is.

    3. Dumblydore*

      Speaking as a parent of a child with special needs and mental health issues. It is just not realistic to address everything at once. There are things I let pass because we have bigger issues to resolve. I’ve found it pretty exasperating when people advise me to “fix” X problem my son is having when that’s relatively lower on the priority list and we are in therapy trying to address something more urgent. I suspect those people will judge me similarly and wonder why I’m “enabling” certain behaviors when they think they can do better to help him….when in reality they don’t know even half the story.

    4. Claire*

      My brother (3 years younger than me) did this when we were small – he’d whisper to me and I’d report it to our parents. They’d reply directly to him. He grew out of it easily enough once he went to school, but no one ever made a big deal out of it or tried to force him to talk. He was able to communicate what he needed to, and that was what mattered.

      I wouldn’t worry at this stage about a five year old doing this – it’s likely there’s a good reason such as anxiety and this helps them, or they’ll grow out of it soon enough.

    5. Haven’t picked a user name yet*

      I feel like my kids had short bursts of this when they were young – like around 5 maybe. It didn’t last long, I am thinking days/weeks intermittently and, like many things at that age they got over it. It was shyness for my kids. I have known other kids to do it at similar developmental ages in certain situations, all seems normal to me- unless you were told it was something more serious.

      And they were both just fine, and even during those periods with strangers they still talked a blue streak at home or school. My daughter who particularly liked to do this just graduated high school and is off to university where she (currently) hopes to become a physician. So no harm there.

      1. allathian*

        My son went through a period of this when he was about the same age, but it was just around strangers. He was fine in daycare/kindergarten (kids here go to school the year they have their 7th birthday) and he was fine at home, but he refused to talk when he saw his pediatrician, for example.

        1. Clisby*

          My husband showed me one of his first-grade report cards maybe from halfway through the school year, and the teacher had written: “X still won’t talk to me.” I promise, eventually he talked to his teachers.

          1. RagingADHD*

            My brother in law didn’t speak his first real word in front of another person until he was three, at which point he started talking in complete sentences.

            He was an excellent and popular student, a fine classical musician, and is now a very successful realtor who could talk the ears off a donkey.

            Nothing wrong with him at all. He just didn’t want to. That whole family is stubborn.

    6. JustEm*

      My niece had selective mutism (which is an anxiety disorder) as a young child and is now 16 and very social and bright, and has been speaking normally for years. It sounds like the child you are discussing could have something like this.

      1. Double A*

        Yes, my cousin has this but did not grow out of it. She just didn’t speak to most people. It’s an anxiety disorder, and she’s also quite possibly on the spectrum.

        I mean, there are things that would have helped her and she’s not living a totally independent life, but forcing her to talk when she was 5 (or at any point really) isn’t one of them.

      2. Imtheone*

        Yes, I was thinking selective mutism. There was a character in the old Lizzie McGuire tv show with this. He was best buds with Lizzie’s little brother.

        1. curly sue*

          My youngest has it. For years he would only speak with immediate family and his friends from day care. It’s deeply intertwined with his anxiety, he’s on the spectrum, and it’s taken a lot of gentle coaching and time for him to be able to engage with anyone older than he is.

          The kid we see at home talks a mile a minute, is exuberant and happy. Sometimes he’s in a chill enough mood that the rest of the world gets to see that too. More often than not, they’ll see a quiet, fairly serious little guy who communicates through gestures or non-verbal vocalizations. And some days he’s overloaded enough even at home that all we get is “hmmm” or “muh.” It’s fine. It’s who he is, it’s how he copes, and he’s getting more comfortable speaking to non-intimates all the time.

          (His regular hairdresser still only merits a shrug and a muttered ‘mm-hmm’ to everything, but kiddo was chatting up a storm with another kid he’d never met before at the pool the same afternoon as his last haircut. So it goes.)

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      If you’re looking for behavior someone may just age out of by plowing through a little more time, anything being done by a five year old would fit the bill.

      There’s no reason not to think that what the parents are doing is the best thing at coaxing her a little out of her shyness. She’s in school meeting new people, for example, rather than home.

    8. fposte*

      My thought is that it can be more important sometimes to allow a kid to communicate than to discourage them by correcting how they do it.

    9. Sparkles McFadden*

      I’ve seen plenty of kids do this. They talk to people when they’re comfortable with them.

      (Kind of wish I could get away with doing this sometimes.)

    10. J.B.*

      Both my kids have challenging brain wiring, and I would assume that if a child is receiving services at school there is a diagnosis or other documented reason. My kids will not JUST “learn” it takes a lot of therapy and medication to build those skills.

    11. RagingADHD*

      Kids do all kinds of things when they’re 5 — wetting the bed, whispering, lisping, having imaginary friends–and making a big deal about it or trying to force them to stop is totally counterproductive and damaging.

      If the teacher doesn’t have a problem with it, that’s a pretty good sign that it isn’t a problem. Every kindergarten teacher I’ve ever known had a pretty darn good sense of what was or wasn’t an issue in little kids.

      We asked our first kid’s kindy teacher if she needed speech therapy because she said her Fs as S. Teacher said, “This is really common at her age. If she’s still doing it in a year, we’ll give you a recommendation.” And indeed, it worked itself out in about six more months.

      A lot of things are better left to work themselves out, and it’s extremely rare for typical 5 year old behaviors to persist into adulthood, so your concern about the child “whispering her way through life” is rather an overreaction to a very minor thing.

      1. WS*

        Yep, either it isn’t a problem or it is a problem that’s not worth the time and energy and stress to fix right now (usually because other things are going on). My brother went through a stage of only whispering to me or our mum and he grew out of it during his first year of school.

        1. RagingADHD*

          And you’re more likely to get an accurate read on whether it’s an issue or a random temporary thing by leaving it alone.

          If you jump all over kids for not acting like miniature grownups, you will create issues out of thin air.

    12. OyHiOh*

      The child I know who has a similar speech pattern has a selective mutism diagnosis, which – as is frequently the case – is a secondary diagnosis to an autism spectrum diagnosis.

      I would hope that the child you met has been evaluated by a speech/language pathologist because, in addition to mutism and autism related behaviors, I would be concerned about actual physical issues with her vocal chords and mechanics.

      People are not making it easy for this child to whisper. People are meeting this child at her current ability to communicate. It is quite possible that whispering alone represents an enormous step in her ability to communicate verbally. The child I know with selective mutism whispers to siblings who speak for her, and uses sign language and PECS (picture cards, essentially) to communicate at school. The child I know sees a speech/language pathologist regularly, has speech therapy sessions at school and is encouraged to try her voice in her general classroom, with the understanding that she will rely on non verbal means as much as she needs to

      Taking away a communication tool – whispering in this case – is more likely to cause anxiety and silence than encourage the child to use a “grown up voice.”

    13. tamarack and fireweed*

      If everything was ok with this child, then talking herself would be a lot easier than asking for someone to be her whisper interpreter. So I’m not sure what making it harder to communicate that way is supposed to achieve. Especially if you are only casually meeting her and have no responsibility for her care and development. I would assume that she is encountering difficulties that you or I haven’t encountered, and as a random stranger I have no business artificially making communicating harder for her. At most I would observe whether people around her seem to know what they’re doing – and then assume they have more insight into her needs and stepping stones than I have.

    14. Observer*

      I am curious how she will start talking when everyone makes it so easy for her to keep on whispering.

      You don’t have any idea of “how easy” this has been made for her, or not. And you have no idea why they are handling the situation this way.

      Which is to say that your framing is incorrect. How or if she learns to communicate directly is a good question. But the fact that right now her parents are “interpreting” for her doesn’t even begin to provide any insight into the answer.

    15. Salymander*

      My kid had a child like that in her kindergarten, first grade and second grade classes. The child eventually just started talking and is now super outgoing. She would whisper or refuse to talk while she was learning English (moved here from Russia) and once she felt comfortable with English she started talking out loud to people. All the time. She later said that she didn’t want to talk to adults until she could say what she wanted without anyone correcting her. We all just went along with it (I volunteered at the school every day all day, so I saw it all). Honestly, I think I can understand. I wouldn’t want people nitpicking everything I say either.

    16. Retired Prof*

      My youngest child was an elective mute. He refused to speak to anyone outside the family until first grade. He continued to be mute whenever he was under stress through sixth grade. Drove teachers crazy. He had a verbal processing deficit and simply could not put words together under stress. He is a perfectly normal adult, largely because we defended him from untrained people who thought they knew how to fix him. What did fix him was intensive language therapy in seventh grade, and having parents who took his side against the school system.

      My oldest child would not speak to an adult outside his family until second grade. His fine motor skills were terrible when he entered school because in preschool, if you went to the arts table, an adult asked you questions. So he spent all his time outside where none of the teachers quizzed him. By middle school he was a talkative popular kid and as an adult he never shuts up. He just outgrew his shyness.

      That child you met will talk when she is ready if she thinks the world is a safe place to speak in. Her parents are providing that safe place for her.

    17. Whisperer's Mom*

      I had a child that did this. When she was 3 or 4 years old, for about a year, she whispered everything.

      We worried we were “enabling” her and would say we couldn’t hear her. She would come closer and whisper again.

      We took her to a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, and an ENT. Nothing physical to work on.

      She had whispered temper tantrums when it was normal for a 3 year old to have a temper tantrum.

      Then, one day, she just started talking at a normal volume again.

      She’s 19 now and we still have no idea why she whispered for a year. She is on the autism spectrum, which we did not know at that age.

  10. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    I got my nails done and my toes are my favorite color!

    Please share your joys!

    1. AJoftheInternet*

      I had several big joys this week, but for little ones…. I’ve made it to the library for the third week in a row! And I have my favorite ice cream.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Last summer I went by my library to drop off books (they were doing contactless pick up/ drop off) and discovered that they were doing a pop-up library in one corner of the parking lot that day. Several tables with the new or staff picks selections. I almost wept.

        This summer, being able to walk into a library again is such a joy.

    2. lady gamer or something*

      We found some butterfly caterpillars around the neighborhood! They’ve grown extremely quickly and they’ll surely become chrysalises in the next week (one of them may change tomorrow).

    3. StellaBella*

      Thursday a close friend texted me, we made plans to pick up a pizza and we drove to the top of a local mountain to eat it and watch the sun set with the local cows. It was fun, and we saw a deer too!

    4. I take tea*

      I’m having a weekend to myself at home for the first time in forever. We have a small apartment and it’s really hard to ignore the other person for personal time and we’ve been working from home for ages. Now I can blast my own music from the speakers and just do whatever I like, not just for an hour when the other is out for a walk. I’m an extrovert person and I love my partner, but it does feel good to be alone for a little while.

    5. Lifelong student*

      The WSJ crossword puzzle is working again online! A month or so ago, it would not accept entries in many squares- but now no problem. Back to my daily addiction!

    6. Blarg*

      I moved to a new city about two years ago. And then you know … things happened in the world not long after. Yesterday I met up with an old friend/work colleague who lives in new(ish) city for lunch. In person. First time I’d seen her since I moved here, shared a meal with someone in … forever. We parted ways at 7pm. So much for lunch! It was so weird to be with another human person, one I knew “before.” I’m pretty tired today but had a glimmer of normal.

    7. AGD*

      I found my favorite pasta at the supermarket for the first time in several months and bought 3 bags of it.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Friends offered to come walk our dogs with their dogs. Husband usually does this but is off with child today; I am recovering from surgery and can’t handle the walks. Dogs were just ecstatic. “Look, it’s Spot’s people! I bet Spot is somewhere around! SPOT!!!!”

    9. Dwight Schrute*

      I tried out my new paddle board for the first time and it was great! I also got to see my parents who I don’t get to see often

    10. Voluptuousfire*

      I bought a digital oven (essentially fancy toaster oven) and am going to try to make a chicken in it tonight. I hope it works!

    11. the cat's ass*

      Library run for some great books, new housemate is great, and the kid had a good first week of school.

    12. SomethingClever*

      I have decided I am a HUGE fan of Lin Manuel Miranda and decided to watch Mary Poppins Returns and aside from that movie being way better than I was expecting, I took so much joy in every scene he was in! Currently listening to Hamilton for the tenth time this week.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        He’s in His Dark Materials on HBO Max as Lee Scoresby. Just finished the first season and highly recommend.

    13. Might Be Spam*

      My daughter set me up on a “play date” with her ex-mother-in-law. We had just started to get to know each other on a friend basis when our kids announced their divorce, last year. So we both stepped back. We’re going to a festival tomorrow.

    14. Elizabeth West*

      Watching the Geldingadalur volcano feed. Every cycle is different and today it was especially splashy, which was very cool. I really wish I could go see it in person!

      I’ll post a good feed to follow in a reply. If you look right now as of this comment, it’s very foggy, but scroll back and you can see all the lovely lava sloshing from earlier today.

    15. Potatoes gonna Potate*

      Ed sheeran announced his new album release

      Not so joyful is the single he just released right after the announcement. Too. Many. Feels.

      1. NeonDreams*

        That song made me cry- I thought think about my aunt and grandad who are no longer alive. Still beautiful, though.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I cried so hard too, the first 3 lines where he says she’s growing older – reminds me of how my dad isn’t here to meet my daughter. shit that hurts.

    16. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      My crush came up to me in shul and said “It’s good to see you. I mean, it’s REALLY good to see you!”

    17. FACS*

      Both young adult children are back to school and settled in. My office manager had a lovely birthday lunch. And the tomatoes are awesome.

    18. Filosofickle*

      I went to a vintage pop up with a friend, and bought an 80s silk floral bomber jacket that is amazing! Then we had the best pizza.

    19. Laura Petrie*

      Surprise last minute adoption of a lovely old lady rat.

      Cinnamon bun delivery yesterday.

      I ordered some guinea pig pattern leggings

    20. WellRed*

      Not necessarily joy but: I had a credit card two years ago maxed out at $5700. I made my most recent payment and it’s now just under $4k. Baby steps but baby steps in the right direction (don’t worry, the account is closed).

    21. Double A*

      Even though music was long central in both my husband and my lives, we for some reason rarely have it playing these days unless it’s the toddler’s playlist. So this weekend I’ve put our music on all weekend and it’s really improved our moods. It makes hanging out inside at home feel a bit more like a choice rather than the only safe thing we can do.

  11. Princess Deviant*

    I’m loving watching Ted Lasso – it’s just so wholesome, funny, and life-affirming.
    Anyone else watched it? I’ve just started the second season.

    Had anyone got any other recommendations with a similar comic but sweet mood? Don’t mind films or series.

        1. the cat's ass*

          he’s here, he’s there, he’s every f*cking where, Roy Kent, Roy Kent! This last was a great episode. Such fun picking out all the rom-com references!

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      I haven’t seen it. (I had a year of free Apple TV I never touched… Now that it’s cancelled I am suddenly encountering things I might like to check out.)

      For sweetness with humor I really liked Pushing Daisies, about a piemaker who can raise the dead and teams up with a detective to solve mysteries. Also there are reclusive synchronized swimmer aunts.

    2. Best behavior*

      For me, THE GOOD PLACE is probably the closest. It’s hard to find warm and sweet that don’t veer into twee.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The thing about Pushing Daisies for me was that it went through twee and hit the accelerator. Like, there’s “kinda saccharine” and then way beyond that “magical kingdom composed of exquisitely spun sugar” and PD kept going until it landed in the latter.

        I also loved the Good Place.

    3. It's Quarantime!*

      There’s a show on Netflix called “The Repair Shop”. It’s not a competition show, but it reminds me of the Great British Bakeoff.
      It’s about craftspeople who repair and restore family heirlooms and it’s very mellow, wholesome, and comfortable.
      It’s the TV equivalent of Nilla Wafers. :)

      1. TPS reporter*

        Making It on Peacock is similar, with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. Parks and Rec sequel of sorts but reality?

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      Have you tried Still Standing? It’s a Canadian series where this comedian visits small Canadian towns – most of which have fallen on difficult times- and then develops a stand up routine about the quirks and history and people that he meets. Having come from a small Canandian town, I find the series really sweet and life-affirming and quite funny.

      1. NopityNope*

        I really enjoyed Still Standing, too. (Johnny Harris is one of the actors from Murdoch Mysteries.) I found it laugh-out-loud funny in places, but it was NEVER mean-spirited. I thought he displayed a genuine love for the people/places. You nailed it with “quirks.”

    5. Nicole76*

      Ted Lasso is such a great show! I look forward to it every Friday, although I keep having trouble with the episodes on the day they come out. They start messing up halfway through and the sound/picture get out of sync. I thought it was my connection, but my other streaming services were working flawlessly.

      Anyway, I always recommend Kim’s Convenience (Netflix) when someone is looking for wholesome humor.

    6. EBennett*

      I loved most of the first season of “Rutherford Falls” on Peacock. The first 3 episodes are free. IMHO the best segments are not the ones centered around Ed Helms’ overly white and overly privileged character. Some deep thoughts about monuments and who writes history mixed with lots of laughs.

      1. TPS reporter*

        So true, what an excellent show. You feel good after watching but you also really get some insightful deep themes.

  12. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Which actor/s do you dislike so much that you refuse to watch any movie with them in it, even if it has outstanding reviews or is one you’d be otherwise keen to see?

    Mine are Eddie Redmayne and Nicole Kidman. I don’t know why! They’re both talented and have been in films I *should* like – but they irritate me to distraction and I just can’t!

    1. Granny Smith Apple*

      I’m with you on Eddie Redmayne. In every role I’ve seen him in, he always looks to be sorry for the inconvenience his presence is causing. There were a lot of things I didn’t enjoy about Fantastic Beasts when it first came out but he irritated me the most. And I know he’s talented! I just can’t stand him.

      And don’t get me started on Will Ferrell. I enjoyed the Eurovision film but it would have been a 100 times better with someone else.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I don’t understand Will Ferrell humour. A mediocre punchline isn’t funnier if you yell it slowly. But I’m not really into his style of movie anyway so at least it’s easy for me to avoid him – unlike Fantastic Beasts, which left me irrationally angry.

          1. Nessun*

            I avoid Will Farrell, but I did make an exception for Stranger Than Fiction, which I rewatch now and then because it’s amazing. Anything else he’s ever done – no thanks.

      2. Chaordic One*

        There are a whole bunch of SNL alumni that I don’t really get either. Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Tracy Morgan, Maya Rudolph. They’re not terrible, they’re like “ha ha, meh.”

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Omg all of these. People will talk about how they’re soooo funny and I’m like “they’re okay? sometimes?” Kristin Wiig, too. She has her moments but all her characters are the same.

        2. RussianInTexas*

          I agree on Tracy Morgan and Maya Rudolph, but I will forever love Tina Fey for Mean Girls, and Amy Piehler is forever Leslie Knoppe.

    2. I take tea*

      I used to dislike Tom Hanks a lot, because I really hated Forrest Gump, it made me so annoyed. Very immature of me, I know. But my partner loves Tom Hanks and made me watch Cast Away and The Terminal, and the dislike went away.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        He does overly rely on that facial expression of his that somehow simultaneously conveys confusion and constipation.

        1. Blue Eagle*

          Anytime I see him I think of him from his bosom buddies days and it screws up my head thinking about why they would cast such a doofus in movies.

        2. I take tea*

          The sad basset face, yes. But on the other hand he seems to be a really nice person, which is nice.

    3. Janet Pinkerton*

      For me, any movie that would cast Armie Hammer is not a movie I’m interested in seeing.

      1. Voluptuousfire*

        That stinks. The only movie I ever saw him in is Call Me By Your Name, which is an excellent film. I don’t think he’s a good actor, he’s very plastic and perfect looking, a Patrick Bateman clone, like he skips into the bodies of others for a living.

        Considering all the grossness of his most recent news, I’ll still watch CMBYN and enjoy it because Oliver (character he plays) is Oliver, not Armie Hammer.

        1. Janet Pinkerton*

          Honestly for me it goes beyond his gross personal news. (Which on its own would be enough.) But if a movie is casting him they’re purposefully choosing to cast a tall white guy from old money who is actually not a good actor. And I don’t really want to see stories told by people who make that choice.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        He was so so terrible in the Netflix’s Rebecca. The whole movie was bad, to be fair, they completely missed the mark on the Gothic horror story and tried to make it a love story.

      3. fluffy*

        The Lone Ranger features both Armie and Johnny Depp which should have been enough to keep me away. But, no, I’ve watched it at least 3 times.

    4. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      Nicholas Cage, Tom Cruise, Clint Eastwood for starters. Going back ages ago, there was an actor named Robert Ryan who I loathed, because he’d played a detestable character in the movie Billy Budd (I think named Claggart?) so well that I couldn’t separate the actor from the character for several decades. I still instinctively want to shun any of his movies when they’re on television, but I’ve gradually forced myself to watch some of them, and he was quite a good actor, even in sympathetic roles.

    5. Brent*

      Angelina Jolie for me. Couldn’t remove from my mind that she’s angelina jolie whenever I tried to watch one of her movies, and I really hated her during the whole brad-jen-angie thing. Stopped trying a decade ago.

      1. ampersand*

        She’s on my list, too, but it’s because the first movie I saw her in was Girl, Interrupted and I didn’t like the character she played. Totally unfair, and also I haven’t ever gotten past it.

    6. FD*

      Bill Murray. I have no idea if he’s a perfectly nice person or a complete jerk but he’s way too good at having a smug, punchable face and I can’t stand watching a movie if he’s in it.

      1. Kuododi*

        Bill Murray’s facial expressions always reminded me of an adolescent male plotting the perfect venue for his latest in fart humor!!!

        Kuododi

      2. Blarg*

        Matt Nathanson has a song called Bill Murray that isn’t really about him but … it’s such a beautiful song that I developed an affection for Bill. Even though I can’t think of anything he’s been in that I enjoyed.

    7. Lcsa99*

      Totally agree with the people who said Will Farrell and adding Ben Stiller. I stopped trying after Zoolander.

        1. Nessun*

          I can’t stand Ben Stiller! He and Owen Wilson both…they drive me nuts and I can’t sit through their movies. (I made an exception for Loki because there’s no way I’ll pass up any Tom Hiddleston. )

    8. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson, both for their horrible, hateful, bigoted statements in real life. I love actors who can portray villains well, but now every time I see those two on a screen I think about what a**holes they are in real life.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, these two definitely. I used to quite enjoy Gibson’s acting until about Maverick, but after that, I haven’t been able to watch anything with him in it. Shia LaBeouf and Johnny Depp are also on my don’t watch list because of the horrible way they’ve behaved in their personal lives.

        I also have a hard time enjoying Jared Leto’s acting. He’s a creepy dude. I think he did a great job as the creep in Blade Runner 2049, but I fear he was a bit too true to life in that role. Ryan Gosling seems too wooden to be true, perfect for playing a robot but not much else.

        The only actress I have no time for is Noomi Rapace. She’s so one-dimensional, her characters are either scared shitless or in a rage. That might’ve worked somewhat for Alien: Covenant, but I have zero interest in seeing her in anything else.

    9. L6orac6*

      I’m with you on Nicole Kidman, can’t stand her and don’t watch her movies or TV series that she’s in. Adam Sandler is another one.

    10. CTT*

      Mine are Emma Stone (I think a lot of the complaints people have about Jennifer Lawrence can be applied to Stone, and at least Lawrence never played someone who was supposed to be Asian and native Hawaiian) and Ryan Gosling (he is SO WOODEN! The only thing I have liked him in was Blade Runner 2049, because “robot” is the extent of his range)

      So obviously the La La Land Oscar year was hard for me.

    11. allathian*

      I’m not arguing with you, but I just have to say that I thought Eddie Redmayne was absolutely brilliant in The Theory of Everything as a young Stephen Hawking. The way he portrayed Hawking’s deteriorating state of health, and his scientific genius, was nothing short of awesome. That said, I do think that they should’ve cast a trans actress to play the role he played in The Danish Girl… But that’s not his fault.

    12. Dr.KMnO4*

      Ben Stiller. I guess the Night at the Museum movies are well-liked, but I can’t watch them because he’s the star.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        They’re actually the exception to my “I can’t watch Ben Stiller trying to be funny” hangup :)

    13. Hornets*

      Tom Cruise, for reasons other people have already said, and Ben Affleck. I don’t know why I won’t watch anything with Ben Affleck. I can’t explain it.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        His face is too big and also expressionless. It’s a very creepy combination.

      1. KittyCardigans*

        Benedict Cumberbatch is mine, too! I just find his face pretentious and I can’t get over my irrational dislike of him to get to whatever character he’s playing.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah. But more because he seems to be typecast into playing really weird people. I’ve actually quite liked some of the movies he’s been in, but Doctor Strange and Dominic Cummings seem to have a lot more in common than just being played by the same actor. Brexit – The Unciwil War was actually pretty decent. He seems to specialize in playing quirky/weird scientist types like Edison (The Current War) and Alan Turing (The Imitation Game), and their fictional equivalents Doctor Strange, and Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek: Into Darkness). Yeah, I have issues with Khan, it was bad enough that they in the original cast a Mexican (Ricardo Montalban) as a Sikh, but to cast a Caucasian in the same role, words fail me.

      1. allathian*

        Agreed. I forgot about Jim Carrey when I posted. I can’t stand the faces he keeps pulling after I saw an interview with him and it looked like it was a habit of his in general, not just something he did to be funny.

    14. RussianInTexas*

      Seth Rogan and Will Ferrell. It’s not just them but also the types of movies they usually are in.

      1. Sleeping Late Every Day*

        I usually don’t like Will Ferrell because of his immature humor, but then I saw him in Stranger Than Fiction and realized he can act and be a sympathetic character. So now I just hate him selectively!

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I found him SO creepy when I was a kid (in his peak “haha weird face funny” phase) and never watched any of his comedies, but his dramatic work is great! I watched both Eternal Sunshine and Truman Show in spite of him because the premises were interesting and they’re fantastic movies.

        1. Lotus*

          Jim Carrey is actually better in his serious roles than his “funny” roles, which is ironic since he branded himself as a comedic actor. I don’t like any of his funny roles though.

          1. Mimmy*

            I don’t like his comedic work either but I LOVE The Grinch! My husband and I watch it every Christmas.

    15. Texan In Exile*

      Woody Allen. I never thought he was funny and I never understood why he thought his usual plot of “annoying, whiny, unattractive older man gets Beautiful Woman Decades Younger Than He Is” was at all believable.

      Then the whole Soon-Yi thing and I thought, “Now I’m really done.”

      I’ve also never watched a Roman Polanski movie.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        I grew up loving Woody Allen movies but after “the whole Soon-Yi thing” I was also Done.

      2. The Dude Abides*

        Re: Polanski, I had to watch his version of MacBeth back in high school.

        Haven’t seen it since, but wouldn’t turn it down. Other than that, I’ll pass.

    16. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Sally Hawkins and Cillian Murphy. I think she’s one-note and annoying. Him, I want to smack and I just don’t get the appeal. In anything.

      I used to think I hated Michael Douglas but I don’t, I just dislike most of his work after Jewel of the Nile.

    17. Teapot Translator*

      Woody Allen, Adam Sandler, Mark Wahlberg. Probably others that I can’t think of right now, but it’s mostly men for a strange reason.

    18. Dwight Schrute*

      Sylvester Stallone and Angelina Jolie for me. I irrationally dislike them so much I can’t watch anything they’re in

    19. Chaordic One*

      I can’t stand Meryl Streep. She’s just so predictably wonderful in everything and anything she does and everything and anything she ever did. I’m tired of her.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        Try the Ladykillers, the Coen Brothers version, he totally does not channel Jimmy Stewart like he usually does

    20. Double A*

      So it’s hard for me to watch anything with known abusers in it, but as for just plain old irrational dislike: Naomi Watts

      I don’t know why. I’m sure she’s a lovely person. She’s been in good movies, and is good in them. She just annoys me. I won’t totally reject a movie if she’s in it, but it definitely discourages me.

      1. Scarlet Magnolias*

        Gwyneth Paltrow I loathe. The only movies I enjoyed of hers were where her head ends up in a box and she gets an autopsy

    21. Grand Admiral Thrawn Rocks Blue*

      Tom Cruise. After what he did to Katie….. Also Juliette Lewis, she just drips sleaze.

    22. Golden*

      Michael Cera for me. I can’t name a reason for it, he’s just off-putting.

      Andrew Garfield is another – it’s totally not fair but all I can think of when I see him is “oily”. I think because he used a lot of hair product in the Spiderman movie, and I feel like if he came over to your house it would leave stains everywhere.

    23. Callisto*

      Mindy Kaling. Hate her voice, her laugh, her facial expressions, and her writing. I despise The Office, and I was so damned mad that she infiltrated Always Sunny.

    24. Cat Mom*

      I absolutely agree with the person who said Ben Stiller, with the one exception of his role in Mystery Men. Maybe because it’s a parody what is usually so aggravating about him.

    25. GoryDetails*

      This one’s wildly subjective of course, but I do have actors that affect me that way – even when I know there are exceptions to my own rules. The first one that came to mind was Matthew McConaughey, who has a kind of resting smug face that rankles with me. And Julia Roberts, who has done some excellent film work but whose screen presence usually irks me.

      Side note re Nicole Kidman – I don’t have strong feelings about her movie roles one way or another, as in I’ve liked some, disliked others, and wouldn’t choose or reject a film based on her presence in it. But I did really love To Die For, which she starred in as a manipulative but not that bright wannabe-TV-star; a gawky-teen Joaquin Phoenix was in it as well, and I enjoyed it as a dark-comedy look at the cult of celebrity. FWIW. (If it helps, she gets her comeuppance!)

      1. ampersand*

        I feel like Julia Roberts is always just being herself/not acting. It could be that she’s been typecast in all the movies I’ve seen her in. I also can’t remember the last movie of hers I watched—it’s been years. Maybe I missed the good ones!

    26. No Tribble At All*

      Steve Carrell. I hate the Office so much that it bleeds over into anything else he’s in.

    27. RagingADHD*

      Sacha Baron Cohen. I don’t have any rational reason for it, and his stuff is supposed to be so funny, but I just can’t imagine watching him for a while movie, it irks me to look at him.

      Vince Vaughn, same.

    28. Lotus*

      I’m the opposite – I love Eddie Redmayne. He’s the entire reason I like Fantastic Beasts even though the movies themselves are meh.

    29. Elizabeth West*

      I used to like Tom Cruise but all he does now are the kind of one-note action blockbusters I’m not really into, I guess to prove to himself that he’s not actually aging.

      Besides, when I look at him, all I can think is “Where is Shelly Miscavige?” You know, Tom. You absolutely know.

    30. Piggly Biggly*

      Albert Finney, Forest Whitaker, and sometimes Anthony Hopkins. Like whiney fingernails on a chalkboard.

    31. Mimmy*

      Mine off the top of my head are Woody Allen and Steve Martin. I’m also not too crazy about many of the SNL alums others already mentioned, particularly Kristen Wiig.

    32. Ariadne Oliver*

      Gwyneth Paltrow and Adam Sandler. For the life of me I can’t understand why anyone watches their movies.

  13. Quoth the Raven*

    So… my partner of 14 years just broke up with me. Apparently there’s someone else in the picture he started seeing a couple of weeks ago (we were long distance atm; I genuinely had no idea). I was going to see him in October once I had my second Covid shot (the rollout has been pathetically slow where I live) and earlier this week we were actually talking about it and making plans. He was apparently afraid we were not going to be compatible intimately anymore, (something about him being curious about certain things) and rather than spelling things out to me and like talking about it, decided that going behind my back was a better option. He also said that since we’re in our early 30s, he’s “getting old” and didn’t want to lose time with me anymore when all this time I thought from his behaviour and our conversations we were moving to the same path of building a life together in short order.

    Needless to say, I was blindsided. I’m still in shock, going from absolute all consuming pain to absolute anger. I can’t help but feel the love I gave these last 14 years was nothing if it was so easily replaced. I feel pretty dumb I wasn’t able to tell whatever problems we might have had (compounded by the distance, yes) were THIS bad when we’ve always figured things out. I’m looking at a life without him and I don’t even know where to begin picking the pieces up.

    I suppose I just wanted it to get it all off my chest and try to process it in words. If anyone’s got a word of encouragement, or some advise, or some recommendation of something cute I can watch in the background trying to get these images off my head, I’d really, really appreciate it.

    1. StellaBella*

      First, I am really sorry this happened. Having never had that long a relationship, nor a long distance one, all I can offer is sympathy and hope that over time you will be better off and will have healed your heart.

    2. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I’m so sorry. Wow, you were together a long time, I guess from a young age. I don’t have advice except to let yourself grieve and feel anger. And indulge yourself while doing so, even if it’s chocolate cake for breakfast. And maybe a video game with lots of loud explosives. I’ve never done skeet shooting, but I’ve always thought it must be wonderfully cathartic without hurting anyone or any living being.

    3. I take tea*

      I’m so sorry. I’ve had this happen to me, around the same age, and it bloody hurts.

      Do you have any possibility of going away for a while? I know the pandemic makes it extra hard, but if you can change the environment for a while, it helps. Maybe a hotel night, if nothing else? I stayed with friends and we sat up late drinking and talking and it was so much help. (They also made sure that I ate regularly and got some water in me.) I got a CD with revenge songs, Cry Me a River in different versions (my ex kept yanking my chain) and I Will Survive. Played that again and again while rage-crying.

      It gets better, but right now it hurts. It sucks. Later I’ve realized that we grew in different directions and wanted different things and it’s better this way, but that took quite a while. Now I can remember the good things without bitterness.

      I don’t know, but you might like Legally Blonde as a distraction. Elle gets dumped and goes to Harvard to get her guy back, but ends up outgrowing him. Either the book or the film, the musical has a new relationship in the mix, and you don’t need that. (It’s in the others as well, but not as prominent.)

      Sending good vibes your way.

    4. Aza*

      I’m so sorry!
      And he may have been cheating longer than a couple of weeks. There’s really no way to know.
      This isn’t because of you. People break up, but when someone cheats, instead of doing the normal thing of talking together, addressing their problems, and staying together or breaking up, it’s very much because there’s something wrong with them.
      Counseling has helped me immensely, as has an anti anxiety prescription that I got from my obgyn to help me sleep.
      My partner cheated on me. We’re still together, but the feeling of being blindsided is one I really relate to.
      And you are not dumb. Trusting someone isn’t a bad thing- even though this person chose to betray your trust.
      This wasn’t about something you lack. It’s about him not communicating and choosing to be selfish and shit**y. It doesn’t take away the pain, but I hope you can know that you are enough, and this is not your fault.

      Morgan Harper Nichols on Instagram (and elsewhere) has such beautifully illustrated affirmations for people going through hell. I have resonated so much with them, and she posts daily.

      I’m so sorry you have to go through this.

    5. Being dumped sucks*

      I’m sorry to hear that :( being broken up with absolutely sucks. Having been through it twice (relationships ~3 years rather than ~14!!) and had a pretty crap time of it, my advice is:
      – You *will* come out of the other side. It totally sucks and you’re allowed to wallow, but you will not feel this way forever
      – if you can cut him out of your life, at least for say 4-6 months, things will be easier. The second time I got dumped, he was a bit ‘not sure’ about it and he was intermittently messaging me on social media, including *telling* me he wasn’t sure. I wasted 4 months of my life feeling utterly shit (I think I cried every day) and hoping we’d get back together, until I eventually forced the point and he said that no actually he had no intention of getting back together. I blocked him on everything and didn’t even really start getting over it until then, so I 100% do not recommend following my example :p
      – related to the above – 14 years is a long ol’ time. He may find in a month or so (or less!) that he’s not sure and wants to get back together. Do not do this unless you have talked through what caused the break up and are VERY sure – honestly I would advise letting yourself have the 4-6 months I recommended above where you do not talk to him at all. Having time to get your own head straight and not feel the emotions of the break up is the best thing IMO and the best place to make any further decisions from.
      – I very much doubt you have in any way ‘been replaced’ – thought I know it feels like that (again, been there :(). A 2 week fling does not replace a 14 year relationship. What it might do though is be the catalyst for someone to realise they’re not happy in the relationship (Eg if they’re prepared to be unfaithful then they’re clearly not as invested in it as they should be).
      – I know it’s hard and you want reasons but honestly I’m not sure I’d recommend pushing for them. In my last break up I did push and what I got back was so ridiculous and trivial that a) it made me angrier, b) it totally spoilt any chance of ever being friends with him again, and c) it spoilt all my happy memories of the relationship, because some of his ‘reasons’ had been there from the start. And to be fair people don’t always have ‘good’ reasons for a break up, if a friend was telling you their relationship felt wrong and they didn’t really know why, you wouldn’t be like ‘well you need a totally logical and well formed argument before you’re allowed to break up with them’.
      – Be good to yourself, make time for friends and make time for hobbies that you enjoy and don’t associate with the relationship. For me that was cycling (you can cry or shout at the wind and no-ones there to hear you :p plus exercise endorphins make it difficult to be REALLY upset for too long).

      Best of luck.

    6. Expiring Cat Memes*

      I’m so sorry. It sucks that after 14 years he couldn’t show you the respect of being open and honest with you.

      This is a time to lean on your friends and/or family. Everyone deals with heartbreak differently, and your loved ones might not intuitively know what you need or how to best support you through this. So don’t be afraid to ask for what you need: is it ok to come over for dinner, will they come for a walk with you after work, can you come help with Mundane Task on the weekend?

      Don’t let yourself fall into self-pity thinking no one cares. They do and will be happy to help, but they also have their own lives, and after 14 years they’ll be used to you having your own too. So know it’s absolutely ok to ask for what you need if it’s not forthcoming.

      (Also recommend the Ozzy Man channel on YouTube anytime you want to fall into a rabbit hole of ridiculous distraction.)

    7. AY*

      I’m so sorry! Alert your people that you need a lot of help. And don’t feel bad about leaning on them!

      This is cold comfort right now but maybe this thing my brother told me will help you. He said that there’s never a right way to get dumped. It sucks, it hurts, and the only way out is through it.

      Good luck!

    8. Shipmate*

      Oh, how terrible, I’m so sorry. It won’t be this way forever, and your life will change and improve, though it won’t be the same. I’d say focus on getting through the acute shock first before thinking too much of the future, just take it one day at a time by whatever means necessary including endless internet videos. Esther Perel (in The Atlantic and elsewhere) has the perspective that most people cheat not to replace their partner with something better, but to explore a specific feeling or idea related to themselves that the never had a chance to see. It sounds like that may be related to what you’re going through, and maybe could help to separate the cheating from the breakup. For some reason he decided to cheat and not talk to you, which is shitty, but that decision doesn’t mean the love you gave was nothing to him and easily replaced. If he had come and said “Our relationship isn’t working for me anymore, now that I get older; I just want different things than I did before,” the breakup would still be terrible and painful but definitely would not mean that your 14 years together, or the love you gave him, wasn’t valuable or wasn’t enough, or was unappreciated. Same here, except his exit strategy was so much more hurtful.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      He’s getting OLD?
      Hmm. I don’t think his thoughts are in a good place.

      Anyway. I read down through this advice here and people blow me away with the brilliant things they think of to say. I hope you print this out and put it on your fridge. There is so much here to think about, that it won’t go stale for a looong time.

      You might find it helpful to learn about grief. Grief is not just for funerals, it’s also for broken dreams and broken hearts and broken promises. Learn the stages of grief and why we have these stages. (Anger then tears is totally normal and actually it’s healthy processing.) Learn the symptoms of grief- ex: Sleeping too much or not sleeping much at all; eating too much or not feeling hungry at all. Grief is very strange this way. But if you know where this stuff is coming from you can be better able to work through the symptoms that come up.

      How to pick up the pieces? Just go one day at a time. What do you think you’d like to do today? Is there anything in particular that you need to do today? Worry about tomorrow when it gets here. Definitely call friends and/or close family members. Walking is excellent- even short walks done routinely can have a cumulative effect of helping. Is there someone around you who would be up for taking short walks with you?

      I am so sorry. I hope that time is extra kind to you.

    10. More Coffee Please*

      Just wanted to say I’m so sorry as well :( That really sucks. I got out of a 4-year relationship earlier this year, but the relationship clearly wasn’t going well so it wasn’t a surprise. I don’t have too much advice except that things really do get easier with time. I tried to visualize it in my mind – day 2 will be easier than day 1, week 2 will be easier than week 1, month 2 will be easier than month 1… etc. Of course there will be days where things feel extra crappy, but get through this initial time (when things are still fresh) however you can. Sorry again <3

      1. Filosofickle*

        I found my grief to be spectacularly non-linear! Good days / weeks come and go in waves. And the first few weeks were actually the easiest because I was still in shock. As the denial faded away it got much worse. I bottomed out at the end of the 2nd month.

    11. Filosofickle*

      Oh I feel that. My partner abruptly walked out in May, after 4 years. It was shocking and devastating. I especially the part about feeling dumb and being angry that he didn’t bring anything to me to talk about or work on. He just decided and walked away. The anger will be helpful for a while. It will blunt the grief until you are ready to deal with it.

      I’ve had a radical self-care summer and it has helped. The first thing I did was put my Inner Child in charge of all food and entertainment decisions. Which means lots of tots and PB&Js, no cooking, no judgment about food choices. Subscribed to Disney+ for a big source of gentle animated movies (things like Brave, Incredibles, Madagascar) and superhero mindlessness (rewatching all the Marvels). I have let myself off the hook for literally everything non-essential, from picking up the house to worrying about the state of the world. Mornings in bed with books has been great recently, but I didn’t get to a place where I could settle in silence like that for a couple of months. I continue to ask for help very openly, and let people care for me. I hate crying but did (finally) learn that really letting it out without judgement helps.

      I created a little mantra for myself to remind me to accept it — I don’t have to understand what happened to accept it and find peace — and believe that there is still more for me out there. I breathe in Accept, breathe out Believe. When I can’t afford to fall apart (say, at work) this can help. Sometimes I tack on a second piece, Detach and Release.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I don’t know if this will help, but this is the longer version I wrote to center me when I start spiraling. I’m still working on believing that last bit…

        I accept I can’t know what is in his heart and mind.
        I believe I don’t need to understand to find peace and move on.
        I accept this relationship didn’t become all I hoped for.
        I believe I deserved more than how this went down.
        I accept he was worth loving and crying over.
        I believe I was loved and the end does not erase that.
        I accept he needs something else (without judging what I gave or am)
        I believe there is nothing I could have done to change this outcome.
        I accept I need something else, too.
        I believe the end of a good thing makes room for a better one.

      2. Used To Be HR Red*

        “I don’t have to understand what happened to accept it and find peace – and believe that there is still more for me out there.” WOW. That is life-changing. I thought I had to understand it (for me, it was job loss). Thank you!

        1. Filosofickle*

          Glad it resonates! It’s a radically new POV for me, too. I was trying so hard understand and make sense of it, but I literally can’t know everything that happened. And even if I did, it wouldn’t make me feel any better. Hence the mantra :)

    12. The Dogman*

      ” If anyone’s got a word of encouragement, or some advise, or some recommendation of something cute I can watch in the background trying to get these images off my head, I’d really, really appreciate it.”

      I recommend going for some walks each day, break up the space for too much thinking, and if you can take a week or two to get away a nice break in the hills or at the beach can work wonders for giving new perspective on sad events.

      Long distance dating is really hard, and sadly for most of the people I know who tried it it didn’t work out, but going forwards you can learn a lot about what you need emotionally and how you get that in future from this, so don’t think about it as a waste, try to pitch it as “practice” in your mind and then do what you can to move on.

      Sorry, it’s no fun breaking up for sure, good luck!

    13. Happy*

      I’m sorry… it hurts. My daughter just went through a rough patch with her boyfriend. She went out and bought herself some flowers and jewelry. She told me “I’m worth it!”
      You are too!

    14. Effie*

      I’m so, so sorry. Please check out Chump Lady for moral support and to get yourself past the pain and fog you’re feeling right now. His choices are not a reflection on your relationship; they are a reflection of him and his character. Take care of yourself.

    15. Garlic Knot*

      He doesn’t deserve you, and I can tell you with certainty that you will get your life back together just fine!

    16. Squirrel Nutkin*

      So sorry this happened to you.

      Something that helped me find some inner peace after a huge romantic disappointment was the book called *It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken* by Greg Behrendt and Amiira Ruotola-Behrendt. It echoes a lot of the advice given here, and it has lots of real-life case stories of people going a bit round the bend after breaking up that will probably make you feel like actually, you are handling this way better than you thought in comparison.

      Best of luck to you as you heal, and be gentle with and kind to yourself during this difficult time!

  14. Richard Hershberger*

    Not official until the paperwork is completed, but I have a verbal acceptance from University of Missouri Press of my book proposal, or a history of baseball from 1744-1871. Now I know what I will be doing for the next year. Then comes the editing. It is likely that actual publication won’t be until Spring of 2024. The timing would work for the previous Fall, but as the editor points out, publishing a baseball book in the Fall is just silly.

    1. heckofabecca*

      Oh my god MAZAL TOV!!!! That’s incredible!!!

      I work as an editorial assistant at a quarterly journal that runs out of my uni, and I’ve been curious what it’s like for book publishing given all of the book reviews we do. So this is super cool to hear!!

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I had a long chat with the editor in chief. He was concerned that I understand academic presses and that this is really how I want to go. The book I am writing isn’t one that a trade press would likely to interested in. It is all about baseball as a cultural phenomenon, with discussions of Muscular Christianity and the like. So yeah, this is definitely appropriate for an academic press. I think he was also concerned that I myself was not an academic, so what was in this for me? Yes, I will earn royalties, but they will be beer money, not serious income. An academic does this sort of thing for prestige within the field, or even more for the quest for tenure. I explained that while I am not an academic, I am the black sheep in a family full of them. I have the academic itch, and early baseball history is how I scratch it. Publishing is part and parcel of this.

        1. heckofabecca*

          This is SO delightful and wonderful!!! For a class this spring, I read part of Indian Spectacle: College Mascots and the Anxiety of Modern America by Jennifer Guiliano, which reminds me of your book very much! The introduction is a good encapsulation of upwardly mobile white men’s anxiety related to sedentary work… What’s your main argument, if you don’t mind sharing?

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            The arc is the rise and fall of the fraternal baseball club: a group of about twenty to forty guys gathering to take their exercise together by playing baseball, in a socially congenial setting. This format arose in the 1810s (earlier than is generally understood), in response to rising urbanism resulting in young men in sedentary occupations. It had a marginal existence into the 1850s, sailing into the cultural headwind of suitable activities for grown men. The strongest form of this headwind was that a man should earn money and worship God and that is about it. This extreme form never had universal acceptance, but it kept ideas like baseball clubs not entirely reputable, and even faintly ridiculous. This changed in the 1850s with the rise of Muscular Christianity, which in its simplest form argued that Christians need to be physical strong so as to better propagate the Gospel. The vast majority of ball players didn’t care a whit about spreading the Gospel, but the mere idea of Muscular Christianity removed that cultural headwind, resulting in a vast expansion of sports in general and (in America) baseball in particular. The same thing was going on in Britain, where football was the big winner.

            That is the first half: the rise. The decline was due to competition between clubs, which was an inevitable result of all those clubs. Earlier on the vast majority of play was within a club, dividing the members up into two sides for the afternoon. But boys will be boys, so if you have two clubs, they will occasionally arrange a match game, each picking their best nine players and going at it. As density rises, competitive matches come to dominate. This in turn changes how clubs recruit members, emphasizing playing ability rather than social compatibility. Then they start bringing in ringers, poaching good players from other clubs, and so forth. Professionalism is the inevitable outcome, initially covert then open. The 1871 endpoint is when the first professional league formed. At that point the fraternal baseball club had only a vestigial existence. The vast majority of clubs, either professional or amateur, existed to field the best nine players they could, those nine players often being the entire membership. This is not a club in the normal sense of the word. That we still talk about baseball clubs today is a linguistic holdover.

            Got it down to two paragraphs! A bit much for an elevator pitch, but I’m working on it.

            1. Annie Moose*

              This is a topic I knew nothing about, but I love learning bits and pieces of cultural/social history—so thank you for sharing this! I enjoyed reading it!

    2. fposte*

      Oh, congratulations! As an academic myself, I think that sounds like a really good fit for your approach, judging by what you’ve contributed here, and there will likely be some escape into the wild from academic baseball nerds who share on popular media. Good luck on the work!

    3. Callisto*

      Interesting, I would have thought a fall release would be good for Christmas gifts! Your book sounds like something I would buy for a relative I don’t know well, and thus latch on to a known interest of theirs.

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      To echo other comments: Cool! Mazel tov!
      My own comment: I’ll keep an eye on the Mizzou Press website on behalf of the baseball fans in my life.
      May the editing go smoothly and may this speed your next writing project!

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        The next one will be 1871-1891, if all goes well. Then 1891-1903. But these are purely speculative at this point: airy fantasy.

    5. Fran Fine*

      That is so amazing! You’ve been writing about this for years here and I always wondered if you’d publish, so this is very cool. Good luck to you :)

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        I do have one book out already on the historical development of the rules, “Strike Four: The Evolution of Baseball” available at an online bookseller near you! That topic is pretty specific. Either you instantly know you must have the book or you instantly know you wouldn’t read it for love or money.

  15. AY*

    Narrative nonfiction friends! What are you loving these days?

    Empire of Pain about the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma was infuriating, incredible, and fascinating. This year, I also loved Midnight in Chernobyl. Unputdownable!

    1. Blarg*

      Loved Midnight in Chernobyl. Opioids are too close to home.

      Some others I’ve read recently in similar veins:
      The Woman Who Smashed Codes (WW2 code breaking genius)
      Billion Dollar Whale (craziest massive fraud you’ve prob barely heard of)
      Say Nothing (Irish Troubles)
      Bag Man (Rachel Maddow’s take on Spiro Agnew)

      Following to learn more!!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I finished Midnight in Chernobyl last year and almost immediately read it a second time.

      I’ve been reading a lot of David McCullough lately – The Great Bridge (about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge) and The Path Between the Seas (about the building of the Panama Canal) were both excellent.

    3. Jay*

      The Library Book by Susan Orleans. Absolutely loved it. Not sure it qualifies as narrative non-fiction, but Evil Geniuses by Kurt Andersen was excellent – also infuriating, incredible, and fascinating. Currently listening to The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson about Winston Churchill and the beginning of the Blitz.

    4. Jay*

      Repeating this due to nesting fail: The Library Book by Susan Orleans. Absolutely loved it. Not sure it qualifies as narrative non-fiction, but Evil Geniuses by Kurt Andersen was excellent – also infuriating, incredible, and fascinating. Currently listening to The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson about Winston Churchill and the beginning of the Blitz.

    5. Msnotmrs*

      I’m reading “Bagman” by Rachel Maddow. It’s the book version of her podcast about the downfall of Spiro Agnew. SO interesting–it was such a low-tech scandal. He started taking cash bribes on infrastructure projects when he was the county executive of Baltimore Co, and then when he became governor and VP he just… never stopped. He was receiving envelopes of cash in the White House!

    6. Buni*

      ‘Germania’ by Simon Winder – a history of Germany from…the Romans, really, up until 1933. It’s dense and informative and also very, very funny in places – it would be beyond anyone to approach the Hapsburg’s dynastic foibles without a bit of histrionics.

    7. overeducated*

      Slowly reading “How the Word is Passed” by Clint Smith. It’s very good and each chapter can also stand alone.

      1. league**

        Leaving Breezy Street was fun and eye-opening. I’m about halfway through I Left My Homework in the Hamptons, which I’m loving as well. My favorite narrative nonfic of all time, though, has got to be The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.

  16. HannahS*

    HannahS is having a baby: post-partum recommendations, please! I’d love to hear what made your life easier and more comfortable (physically, emotionally or logistically) in the first few weeks. Specific products, general recommendations, perspectives you wish you’d held at the time, all welcome.

    Please feel free to get graphic, and if anyone doesn’t want to read that, skip this thread!

    1. Babies*

      Congratulations! Get help somehow (meals delivered, grocery delivery, someone else to throw in some laundry), and get a long cord for your phone. If you have a vaginal delivery with tearing or an episiotomy, soak with warm water and maybe witch hazel, and dry with a hairdryer (seems weird but you can Google a study on it and I figured it wouldn’t hurt, and it was great). If breastfeeding, seek support from multiple people as needed. Hospital grade pumps are better.

      1. HannahS*

        Hm, yes, witch hazel comes up a lot in recommendations. I bought a peri bottle, which I hope will be helpful.

    2. sagewhiz*

      The BEST advice our LaMaze teacher gave us was two-part: 1) ignore the housework, 2) leave the vacuum out in plain view so if anyone drops by you can say “oh, I was just getting to the housework!” ;-)))

      1. have we met?*

        Recommend revising to, “Oh, I was just getting to the housework! Could you maybe run the vacuum for me?” :)

        Seriously, have in mind things people can do to help. Wipe out the microwave, throw in a load of towels, get the mail, etc. Just a few little things can help you keep your sanity when you are exhausted. Let people hold the baby so you can shower or nap.

        Congratulations!

      2. HannahS*

        Hah! That’s too funny. Our apartment is so small that our vacuum lives by the bookshelf anyway, so it’s always out.

    3. Emily*

      Congrats! Obviously this advice really depends on the type of delivery you are having, and if you and Baby are both healthy. But assuming that you are feeling pretty good and Baby is doing well when you are discharged from the hospital, here’s some recommendations:

      -Specific products that were super useful: Witch hazel pads, comfortable nursing bras, a portable sound machine (for Baby, but also for when you need to drown out the sound of crying), an insulated coffee mug (because you will drink the same cup of coffee all day long).

      – Be specific about the kind of help you want from family/friends. When people do the vague “Let us know how we can help!” say back “I’d love a salad from Panera with a chocolate chip cookie for lunch, thanks!”. Seriously, I know it feels weird, but lean in to asking for specific help or you will be stuck with a lot of stuff that isn’t helpful (like a MIL who brings over a meat lasagna when you have been a vegetarian for 15+ years….).

      – Let go of any and all expectations. For real! I know the baby books and the websites and the baby class all say, “Baby should sleep X hours and eat X times and poop X times, you should feel like a blissful goddess of a woman who magically loves this tiny sack of bones that you just produced, yada yada yada”…but that’s just not real life. And it’s okay. You are still a good parent if you don’t know what your baby needs when they are crying. You are still a good parent if you put their diaper on backwards. You are still a good parent if you need to hand Baby off to your partner and say “I need a break”. You are still a good parent if you have no idea how a swaddle works. You are made for raising this tiny human. You got this!

      – Google is NOT YOUR FRIEND. But your pediatricians nurse phone line is! Do NOT be the new parent up at 2 AM Googling “Is this sound my baby is making weird?”. If you are concerned, call your pediatrician. Most have a 24 hour nursing “hot line” and they can answer these types of new-parent questions without sending you down the Internet rabbit hole of “Dear God, something is horribly wrong with Baby”.

      -It’s okay to kinda hate your partner during this time period. It will get better. Make sure you are both communicating openly and are in agreement of who is on “baby duty” and who is taking a break. We found that creating a schedule on a white board on our fridge was really helpful for this- we could plan each day for who would be responsible for Baby and who would be taking a break. This trick saved our sanity (and probably our marriage).

      -And now for the cliche: Enjoy it. Hold that baby every chance you get (unless you’re taking a break, then take the dang break and remind yourself that you’re still human!). Marvel in their smallness, their newness, every little squeak. Enjoy it. Enjoy it. Enjoy it.

      Signed,
      A new Mom who has ALL the feelings about her baby turning 1 in a few weeks.

      1. Lizy*

        Yep to all of this.

        Also, it’s ok to not like your baby when they’re screaming and you can’t figure out why. Trust your intuition, though – if you think something is not right, ask ask ask. Postpartum blues are a thing. Every time (3) I have had random sobbing episodes during the week after. It will get better. If it doesn’t – GET HELP.

        Make sure you have stool softener and plenty of time to take the first poop. It SUCKS. I’m sorry.

        If you plan on breastfeeding, get medicated nipple ointment. Talk to your midwife or OB now. Even if you think you won’t need it, get it anyhow. It. Is. Golden. Also know it takes AT LEAST 4 weeks to get it all figured out. Give yourself and Baby grace. Also, get a thing of formula. I’m not saying use it, I’m saying if your nipples are on fire and you’re in incredible pain, the last thing you want is to try and feed your baby like that. Giving them formula doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It just means your nipples hurt and your baby needs food.

        Enjoy it. And congrats.

        1. Observer*

          get medicated nipple ointment. Talk to your midwife or OB now. Even if you think you won’t need it, get it anyhow. It. Is. Golden

          Actually, a lot of women don’t need it. Also, which ones are helpful depends on the problem. The only thing that’s going to help something like thrush (much more common than most people realize) is an anti-fungal, and the baby will probably need it as well.

      2. HannahS*

        Golden comment! Oh my gosh, nursing bras. So expensive, so ugly, so uncomfortable…this week is project GET SOME NURSING BRAS because we’re quickly approaching “any minute now.”

        1. German Girl*

          It’s summer and covid. I never used my nursing bras and tank tops at home because they weren’t comfortable. I’d just stick reusable pads into my regular bras and hoped they wouldn’t fall out – they didn’t, not even when I went back to work or even ballet class with this setup.

          The only time I ever wore nursing bras/tops etc was when I went out with baby in tow so I wouldn’t have to undress too much to nurse him.

        2. ten four*

          Ooh ooh! Get the crossover sports-bra-esque kind, not the kind with the weird-ass complicated straps and trapdoors. And get three or four so you can just wear them all the time – sleeping or waking – and then trade off into the laundry.

        3. Wilde*

          Maternity bras – they definitely are important. But for the first four weeks with both my babes, I didn’t wear a bra at all. Much easier to learn how to feed without an extra thing in the way. Plus my boobs were HUGE at the beginning and wearing my nursing bras was so uncomfortable. That tightness can also put you at risk of mastitis. I’m now 8mo post partum and the bras that were too small in week two are too big.

          Just buy the cheap, stretchy ugly ones from Target or Walmart to begin with. Then after a couple of months you’ll have a much better idea of your bra needs. Lots of friends have bought cute ones with underwire only to wear them once and realise how uncomfortable they are.

        4. Blackcat*

          No, don’t do it!
          WAAAIIIIITTTTT.
          You have no idea what size your boobs will be once your milk comes in. Buy a comfy robe. You will want to let your boobs air out a lot to help with any cracking or stuff like that. After 10 days or so, measure yourself and get some nursing bras. But don’t do it now!

          1. Cambridge Comma*

            This this this. Bookmark the place to order them and get them after your milk comes in. Get soft sleeping bras now for the first few days as they aren’t sized. (they make sleeping more comfortable when you are full). Find some kind of solution for leaving the hospital if you need it (I used a sports bra but the sleeping bras might work for that too).

          2. Salymander*

            Yes so much!!! My breasts went from a B to a D overnight. I had to buy all new bras and money was already tight so that was a big deal.

            I used a lot of those pads in my bras to absorb milk. I had a bunch of washable ones because they had to be changed frequently. I spent months with milk spots on my shirts. I was like a fountain. It did eventually get better, and I breast fed my kid for 2 years so I did figure things out eventually, but those first couple of months were especially trying.

        5. Observer*

          A good nursing bra should NOT be uncomfortable. If it is, you were not properly measured. Consider getting a regular bra that fits and has support, and have it modified.

    4. allathian*

      I’m so grateful that I’m in a country where bidet showers are a thing. They’re small showers that are connected to the bathroom faucet and using one is much easier than dealing with sitz baths or an ordinary bidet.

      But if you don’t have a bidet shower or a bidet, some kind of spray bottle that you can put tepid water in may be helpful in preventing infections, especially if you have an episitomy scar or tearing, and aren’t limber enough to just wash yourself on the sink. Rinsing every time you go is crucial early on, because you don’t want to rub with toilet paper. Showering and patting down worked for me.

      The most important thing to remember is that every baby is an invididual and every family is unique. What worked for your mom may not work for you, and may even be against current recommendations. What works for your friend who’s also recently had a baby may not work for you or your family, and that’s okay too. Parenting is a 20+ year journey, where your ultimate goal is to make yourself unnecessary by raising independent children. All good and decent parents feel like they’ve failed at some point, only the truly egotistical ones who IMO shouldn’t have had kids in the first place never question their decisions. You’ll mess up in lots of small ways, but that’s okay. Unless it’s something truly horrible, it’s rarely irreversible or irrecoverable.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I STILL remember the meals friends brought in–simple healthy casseroles we could prepare and eat with one hand. My oldest is in graduate school.

      The sheet of paper where you keep track of wet/dirty diapers for the first few weeks–it seems silly right up until you are worried about some other symptom, and the doctor asks about diapers, and you’re like “Uh… there were lots of diapers, I have a memory of diapers. I changed a wet diaper… this morning? Or am I remembering yesterday?”

      If you are breast feeding: lactation consultants can really help. With the first I had trouble but all the general advice sounded like “Well, just bear down and endure because it’s good for the baby” so I didn’t ask for help. A friend had twins and was really helped by consultants who would say things like “shift your hand slightly and lift your elbow”–stuff you wouldn’t get from a diagram, or from describing it to your doctor on a regular visit. So with my second, when nursing started hurting several months in I called the lactation service from my ob/gyn, and they recommended wiggly star (he was teething), which we soon had in multiple copies.

      Also: My first was perplexed by the logistics of nursing; the second was like “aha food.” Babies have personalities and part of parenting is learning how to work with the tiny personality assigned to you by an arbitrary system. If something works for you two roll with it.

      Book recommendation: Magic Trees of the Mind by Diamond and Hopson. About brain development. Really helpful to look at my frustrated toddler and think “Ah, her synapses are wildly over-connected and firing like mad–sweetie that’s gotta be rough.”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I saw a commercial for the Facebook video chat device this past spring, and it was a new mom who was having breastfeeding troubles. HER mom was using the video chat thing to demonstrate, using a pillow as a model, different ways she could try positioning the baby. I don’t know that that’s at all relevant to the question, but your comment about “stuff you wouldn’t get from a diagram” made me think of it, and I remember thinking it was a really sweet wholesome commercial at the time.

        Maybe my advice is try to remember, there’s no one true way to do most things, and if it works for you and the baby, then it’s probably okay even if that’s not what worked for other people. :) Also, in that advice, “other people” includes husband – even if he’s not doing something exactly the way you would, or vice versa, if the end result works out, the way you get there isn’t necessarily worth fussing about.

      2. Observer*

        lactation consultants can really help.

        True. But make sure you get a good one. The good ones are worth their weight in gold. The not so good ones? Run. Far and fast.

        With one of my kids I was having significant nursing problems. Had I listened to the lactation consultant I had originally called, my baby would have either wound up in the hospital or I would have had to stop nursing. On the other hand, my doctor was amazing and really helped me.

        The problem is that most pediatricians STILL don’t know enough about nursing. When I was nuring, my doctor was pretty much a unicorn.) So, find a GOOD LC if you have any issues. You and your baby will thank you!

    6. Not A Manager*

      My best advice is, if you have to choose between help during the day or help at night, take the night help. It was a Godsend to me whenever someone would sleep over in the baby’s room and do all the baby care when they woke up, so that all I had to do was nurse and doze.

      My next best advice is, consult with experts so long as they are helpful to you, but if their advice isn’t working and they’re sticking to it, move on. Just because they are experts does not mean they are experts in your baby. Another expert might have a different perspective that works for your child. (This happened to us with nursing issues and with sleep issues.)

      I don’t know how long you’re planning to nurse for or what your schedule will be, but be prepared for times when you think, and others will tell you, that you don’t have enough milk and your baby is starving. If your milk has come in and your baby has been nursing well, this is unlikely to be true. More likely is that your baby is planning a growth spurt and is stimulating more milk production in advance. But I had several days with each child where I just gave up on even getting out of bed, and just sat up and read a book while pretty much nursing every half hour or so. It would have been very easy to get panicked that something was very wrong, especially if I’d had older friends or relatives telling me that.

      1. ADHD Anon*

        Some physical things – some period underwear like Thinx (I think event Target has a version now) so you don’t have to wear pads all the time.

        Also, (I’m the US) I’ve been buying the Mom Frida postpartum box for friends lately as and have heard good things. It’s got crotch ice packs, mesh undies, a perinatal wash bottle, etc.

    7. Boppy*

      Postpartum doula! Someone to specifically care for YOU. All energy will go towards caring for the baby, even with a well meaning and supportive partner. You can have all the postpartum supplies in the world, but if it’s still on you to do everything AND physically tend to your own healing, you’re going to get pushed to the back burner. There’s a saying that a pregnant woman is like a candy bar, and in American culture once you’ve had the baby you’re the empty wrapper and you’re thrown away. Our whole medical and cultural system is set up on this expectation, sadly, so be prepared to have to advocate for your own well being.

    8. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I was so happy to have my mom come for a week (I love my mom but when I was younger we could have had a better relationship); she cooked dinner every night and took care of me when I wasn’t feeling well (I thought I had something terribly wrong inside and was in a lot of pain) and went to the doctor…and it was gas. I was so embarrassed. The nurse reassured me by saying that a) it was not uncommon and b) it can indeed be REALLY BAD. Anyway, having the right person there to do the right things (however you define them) is great. In retrospect, my MIL would have been fine, too, but I didn’t know her as well then as I do now.

    9. Fellow Traveller*

      Some thoughts- If you are breastfeeding- A really good nursing bra/ tank- go to a proper store and get fit. And nice nursing clothes. I think there is this mindset that one shouldn’t spend money on nursing clothes because one doesn’t wear them for very long, but for me having cute and functional nursing clothes was such a great pick me up , especially for those days when i just felt schlumpy and like I was a mess. Also having well designed nursing clothes made me more comfortable and confident nursing in public.
      A good pillow for nursing in bed- one of those pillows that provide back support.
      A separate bassinet for the living room, so i could set the baby down without having to go upstairs.

      1. Observer*

        I think there is this mindset that one shouldn’t spend money on nursing clothes because one doesn’t wear them for very long, but for me having cute and functional nursing clothes was such a great pick me up , especially for those days when i just felt schlumpy and like I was a mess.

        Yes! This is true, to be honest, whether or not you nurse. Put some effort in how you look. Not in a “I need to present a perfect fact to everyone else”. But in a “I want to want to like what I see in the mirror” sense. So much energy goes into the baby, that it’s easy to lose yourself. The best way to remind yourself that you are actually a person in your own right, and it’s ok for you to look and feel good is to actually do things that make you look and feel good.

    10. Pop*

      Four weeks postpartum here! Things I really enjoyed and am glad I had on hand for the first few days:
      – nipple cream if you’re breast/chest feeding – days 3-5 my nipples were in SO much pain, I was bleeding and at one point her touching me literally made me start crying.
      – Velcro swaddles – so much easier than one million muslin blankets
      – Boppy – I am pretty minimalist and never would have bought this but I actually love it. My hands are in a lot of pain from supporting her constantly and the boppy helps.

    11. sunday coffee*

      If you don’t have the exact birth/nursing/baby experience you were hoping for: forgive yourself. I remember many women beating themselves up in the post-partum period because they had drugs or needed an episiotomy or couldn’t nurse (10-15% of women can’t!). Just: forgive yourself. You did/are doing the best you could/can, and everything will turn out alright.

      1. Observer*

        Even better – let go of the expectations. None of the things you mention should require “forgiveness”. Seriously. Do we tell people to “forgive themselves” for stubbing their toe? For getting a cold? Why, then, should we need to “forgive ourselves” for need an episiotomy?

        The whole framing is so wrong. The healthiest thing is really to understand that even a normal and healthy labor and delivery has a wide range. And if for someone reason your delivery is not so normal and healthy, that is NOT a failing. And it has absolutely no moral implications. Sure, it can be upsetting and pose problems. But that doesn’t make you / your birthing experience a “failure”, “wrong” or in some way “morally compromised.”

    12. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I had a C section.

      Best item I could have bought and used was a post partum belt. Expensive one was from Belly Bandit ($85-100) and inexpensive one was a 3-piece from Amazon ($20). Before I got pregnant I was surprised at how anyone could be comfortable enough using it esp right after having a baby but turns out it was fairly easy!

      I may be unusual but I really liked the disposable mesh underwear, it actually felt more comfortable than regular underwear.

      And TMI – I was fully prepared for the post-surgical constipation but my nurse gave me a bottle of water mixed with a packet of miralax and I ended up having the opposite issue.

      Finally (for now lol) – the amount of hours I spent trying to get baby to sleep and just staying awake looking at her or her pictures.

      I’ll add more as I think of them!

      1. Janet Pinkerton*

        Oh man I had a surgery this spring (tube removal) and I’d heard so many good things from new moms about the mesh underwear that I asked for several pairs. And you’re right, they’re AMAZING.

        1. Potatoes gonna potate*

          I think they are so much better than regular underwear, biggest reason is that there’s enough room in the crotch for pads. TMI but I’ve struggled so much to find underwear that hits my waist above the belly button, doesn’t roll down and doesn’t have a huge gaps at the thighs. For some reason even most maternity/plus underwear the fabric in the crotch area is so tiny.

    13. Double A*

      Lots of great advice here!

      I’m less than 3 months out from my second post partum period so I have some fresh memories! At least, as fresh as can be; sleep is required for memory creation, and you won’t get a lot of that, so it will truly be a blur.

      With that in mind, it really does go fast. I feel like I was just in the thick of it, but my little guy is almost done with the 4th trimester and is no longer a newborn blob (thank goodness). Take a lot of pictures! Like, a lot. Because you won’t remember.

      One thing that it’s hard to understand before you go through it is just how sleep deprived you are when you get home from the hospital. You might have been getting bad sleep for weeks, then labor can keep you up for 24-72 hours during which your body is working physically very hard, and then in recovery they come and bug you at least every 3 hours so by the time to get home, you might have had 6-12 hours of disrupted sleep over the course of 5 days. Even without delivering a baby I’d probably need a month to recover from that. So in recovery, don’t hesitate to have them take the baby to the nursery so you can actually sleep. Then when you get home, for the first week your only priorities should be nursing the baby and getting as much sleep as possible. Week 2 you can start putting together a routine, but week 1 is just about sleep.

      Hanging out at home with a baby all day can be both stressful and boring. I highly recommend watch as much TV as you want. It’s fine. Comfortable sitcoms are great. I’ve been watching the Golden Girls because I never really have, and it’s perfect.

      It helped me to find little things that if I did them, I felt more okay. I may not brush my teeth every morning, but gosh darn it I needed 30 minutes each night to shower and get my little night set-up ready (water, Haaka, nursing pads).

      Don’t hesitate to sleep separately from your partner if you have the set up. There’s no point in you both being exhausted; you can trade off getting decent sleep. I also personally find it easier to deal with baby stuff at night by myself because I’m not halfway thinking about how my husband is also not getting any sleep. (He has some mental health stuff that means disrupted sleep is real bad, so we’ve had to divide the labor around that).

      It’s okay not to enjoy it. I really don’t like the newborn phase and I’m not that into babies in general. But it truly goes fast, so I’ve been able to enjoy some things about my second that I was too stressed to enjoy much about my first. Here are some great things about newborns that fade quickly:
      -their stretches. So cute!
      -their yawns. Kid yawns remain cute, but newborn yawns are the best.
      -if you’re nursing, the way they chomp onto your boob and nurse like they’re mad.
      -the weird gunk that collects in their hands and toes.

      The first 6-8 weeks are the hardest. The random crying, which is extremely stressful, truly is likely to peak at 6ish weeks. After that it starts to be more legible and they start crying for more of a reason. Before that I’m convinced most of the crying means, “Making poop feels weird!” Which like…fair enough, it IS weird. I found that laying my baby on his back and pressing his legs up into his belly helped with some of the random crying because that kind of relieves gas and various other weirdness he’s feeling in his guts.

      Also I didn’t use the yoga ball much during pregnancy like I thought I would but we use it a ton to sit on and bounce the baby.

      1. Double A*

        A few more tips:

        Baby wearing! You have to hold a newborn with both hands which, if I’m doing my math correctly, leaves you with no hands to indulge in such luxuries as drinking water and eating (your baby may be quite offended when you try to do these things). I have bought approximately ten millions baby carriers so if you’d like thoughts on them, I am happy to share (spoiler: there is no perfect solution, hence why I have bought so many.)

        Second tip, have some saline nasal drops or a spray on hand. I used it for myself during pregnancy, but my second baby has been super congested and those helped make him more comfortable.

        Third tip, have earplugs on hand. I used these with my first because sleeping babies make a lot of noise and you will wake up at all of them so earplugs can help dull some of the less important noises. A white noise machine also helps with this. I didn’t use earplugs with my second much because of aforementioned congestion made me nervous and I wanted to be able to hear him. But they’re nice to have available.

        I had one more but I forgot… The sleep deprivation is better but still real lol.

        1. allathian*

          It was never a problem for me, but one of my friends who had a really fussy baby used a biker’s drinking bottle that she carried over one shoulder and under her arm. She mounted the suction tube on her shoulder so that all she had to do was to turn her head to get a drink of water. She also breastfed her baby exclusively for 6 months. It got easier eventually when the baby got big enough to carry on only one arm, but she said that without the bottle she’d never been able to keep hydrated enough to make all the milk her baby needed.

      2. allathian*

        The sleep is so important.

        My son was born with hypoglycemia and he was underweight, under 3 kilos, which meant that he wasn’t allowed to lose any of his birth weight. He spent 2 days in NICU, and I was wheeled there a few times a day to try and breastfeed him, while he had a glucose drip and was fed some donated mother’s milk through a stomach tube. This meant supplemental feeding from the start, and I’m eternally grateful to the mothers who donated breast milk. It also meant that he was never really very motivated to nurse, although I’m really glad he got some colostrum before they rushed him to NICU. I stayed in hospital for five days, and my husband joined me for the last two in a family room, when he had arranged for paternity leave.

        Anyway, when we got home, I breastfed him some, but for the rest he got formula milk. This meant that because I was sleeping really badly and woke up at the least sound he made, my husband moved in with him to the nursery and stayed there for months. He woke up at night and either brought the baby to me, or else fed him formula. My son weaned himself at about 4 months when he decided getting milk from me was no longer worth the effort. When he started solid foods, his first solid meal was at night, and then he started sleeping through the night pretty well instantly (5 am for me was the morning, even if I went back to bed afterwards, rather than middle of the night).

    14. RagingADHD*

      Freezer meals!

      For my first baby, I did one of those batch-cooking plans and stocked 6 weeks of balanced dinners in the freezer that could just be dumped one-handed in a crockpot or baking dish and ignored until the timer went off.

      Saved us a lot of unhealthy takeout.

    15. J.B.*

      Easier said than done, but once the baby arrives do whatever you can trading off with partner to get an unbroken 5 hour stretch of sleep. Congratulations!

      1. ten four*

        YES this is the best possible advice. You gotta pretend you’re on a spaceship where day and night have no meaning. You and your partner are the crew, and each of you need at least one 5 hour block of uninterrupted sleep in any given 24 hour period, along with whatever other naps you can manage.

        In practical terms this means one of you goes to bed at 9pm and wakes up for the 2am feeding, and the other takes the 11pm feeding and then the 5am feeding. If you can pump enough breast milk to make a bottle, do it. If not, go to formula and don’t think twice about it. You each need actual sleep.

    16. Babies are strange*

      Most babies will do something strange that’s not in any books. That’s ok. My baby didn’t sit up on time. She didn’t roll over. She ate WAY more frequently than most babies. She’s just fine & in college.

    17. Legalchef*

      Assume you plan to breastfeed and have a pump – Get a pumping bra – Simple Wishes seemed to be the best one. Order extra parts for the pump you have so you aren’t washing them 100x a day. Try and get a comfy spot to set up to pump. Also get a breastfeeding pillow.

      Keep way more burp cloths than you think you’ll need stashed away in various places in easy reach. Cloth diapers work well for this, since they are indented to be super absorbent. The last thing you want is to have to run around to grab one for a spit up, etc.

      Don’t be shy about asking for things from anyone who asks, and also even from people who don’t specifically ask!

      Make or get some things that are easy to have on hand in the freezer. If you can afford it, things like chopped onions or other prepped veggies from your grocery store make putting a meal together much easier (though is more expensive).

      Put together a grocery list of the foods you might want to eat after you come home – lots of fresh cut up fruit, sandwich fixings, whatever – and have someone in charge of stocking your fridge (I was induced a week and a half early and had an empty fridge. I gave my mom a list of groceries while I was in the hospital and it was a godsend).

      1. Legalchef*

        My husband and I also took shifts overnight for the first month or so. I would breastfeed around 10 or whatever, then go to sleep and my husband would be on duty until 3 or so (giving bottles of pumped milk when the baby woke up). Then we’d swap. The baby would sleep in a cradle in the living room and whom ever was on duty would sleep on the couch. Not perfect by any means but it kind of worked.

        Also if you have the space for an extra freezer, get one. If you are pumping this way you can potentially build a milk stash (depending on your supply), and when the baby starts solids if you want to make your own purées you can freeze them in ice cube trays.

    18. Observer*

      If you’re planning to nurse, a good pillow can be great.

      I loved my recliner. You might want to get one that also can rock (when the foot rest is not up).

      Frozen food that you can pull out, heat up and eat in short order.

      Accept all help that is offered if it makes sense.

      Shower on a regular schedule. And get dressed. Not in “dress up” or “going out” clothes. But out of your night stuff. Even if just into a robe (that actually closes all the way). You’re going to find that a lot goes by the wayside, but you tend to feel a lot better when you are reasonably clean and you have been able to get out of your pajamas. And even if your kid winds up being a crier, it’s ok to put said child down a let them cry for a bit in order to get that shower. (Before anyone jumps down my throat, I’m assuming that baby is fed, in a clean diaper and neither overheated or too cold, and that Baby is not be left for long stretches of time to cry.)

      1. Legalchef*

        Yes! After my husband went back to work, there were some days that I just desperately needed a shower. I’d put the baby in his crib and let him cry for 10 mins so I could hop in the shower. It’s HARD to feel ok doing that but trust me, it is.

    19. Melon*

      If your bedroom isn’t on the main level, a bassinet and changing station on the main level. I couldn’t even get up the stairs the first week and set up camp in the living room. The first few months though, baby naps were in the bassinet or a boppy pillow on the couch. Diaper changes were always on the main level during daylight hours. I had a pack and play with a bassinet and changing insert overnighted the first night when it became clear this would all be way harder (physically) than expected, and even after healing it was just so much more convenient to have everything on hand without having to move things around every day.

    20. Rachel*

      Parent of an 18 month old here. Best piece of advice I can give – I highly recommend Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans if Baby Sleep Science as a sleep consultant. We used her repeatedly for advice. Her advice is science based and reliable because she has a PhD in the field and runs a sleep lab for adults as her day job. Soooo many sleep consultants out there mean well but are not well qualified (like, did one online course). Her website has bunches of free advice and explanations too. We still rely on her advice.

  17. Abigail Chase*

    Hi folks! question for anyone from DC- I’m hoping to move there this fall and I was wondering if I could get a gut check on my expectations! I’m hoping to find an apartment that I’ll share with one roommate (but willing to go up to two if necessary) and hoping to spend between 900-1,300 max on my share of the rent. I’m looking in the Shaw, Adams Morgan, NoMa, Woolley park, and Mt Pleasant areas. Is this realistic? I’ve tried to do some research on Facebook and Reddit and apartment websites but it honestly looks like most of the apartment buildings that people recommend for my budget are filled!

    1. Let me be dark and twisty*

      No, this isn’t realistic. You’re looking in areas that are in DC proper, which are some of the most expensive and higher cost-of-living neighborhoods. If you’re truly adamant about staying in those areas, then you need to double your budget or look for a house-share, which will most likely mean several more roommates.

      If that’s your price range and you only want one roommate, then you really should consider looking at other areas and possibly areas outside of DC proper. Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Rosslyn, Montgomery County, etc. All these places are accessible by the metro (our public transportation network) and are going to be more affordable per your budget.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        I agree with all of this. This is more of a group house budget; it’s pretty unlikely for your share of a two bedroom apartment.

        1. Washi*

          I agree. Well, I don’t know NoMa very well – there’s always tons of new construction there so it’s possible there are some $2600 2brs. But unless it’s a basement (and English basements are a big thing! I lived in two!) I think $2600 would be the absolute least rather than the most I would expect to spend for a 2 bedroom in those areas. If the budget is firm, areas like Petworth/Brightview and Glover Park have a similar feel but are slightly more affordable because there is no metro station, and there you might stumble across a good deal (which would probably still be at the very top of this budget.) Even in the burbs I would mentally budget at least $2000 if not more for a 2br.

    2. Coenobita*

      It’ll take some looking, but I don’t think that’s super unreasonable, especially at the upper end of your range and/or if you’re a little generous in defining those neighborhoods. :) I’m sure you know that you don’t have a luxury building budget, but I’ve seen 2-bedroom English basement units right by Woodley Park for around $2500, for example. If you go up Connecticut Ave a bit further toward Cleveland Park/UDC/etc., you might even find a studio for $1300.

    3. AcademiaNut*

      One thing to keep in mind is that seeing postings for apartments in your price range, and actually managing to rent one, can be quite far apart if the rental market is really tight. I had a friend who moved to Tokyo in a state of wild optimism based on seeing some ads for nice apartments at good prices (in spite of what anyone familiar with the area said about cost vs location vs size), and took a couple months to finally resign himself to a place that was decent sized, but more expensive and an hour further out of the city than he wanted.

      If you’re moving long distance, short term accommodation (a month or two), can be really useful if you need time to look for something.

    4. DCgirl*

      I live more or less in one of the neighborhoods you mention and pay at the low end of your range for a two bedroom two bath apartment I share with one roommate, BUT my location is a rent-controlled steal that I am very very very lucky to have had for the past three years (and for a variety of reasons I strongly suspect my rent will go up substantially in the next six months). I also sacrificed some things that matter to some people – I live about a 20min walk from the nearest metro for example. If you are willing to look at townhomes with 2-3 roommates your price range is absolutely doable, and as another commenter said if your definition of those neighborhoods is loose your chances improve. Overall though what you’re looking for is a bit of a stretch but not impossible if you’re willing to look intensively. I would focus on older apartment buildings if you’re not willing to split a townhome between 3-4 people!

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It’s not quite realistic if you’re looking at buildings. English basements maaaaybe, but you’re definitely looking at private apartments in houses or small buildings. In the big buildings, that price range for two people will get you a one bed or a studio, and unless you’re willing to share your personal space, that’s a no go. Check out Craigslist or Popville dot org– the latter features rentals a few times a week but also gives you some specific neighborhood info and news.

    6. Dwight Schrute*

      No I don’t think this is realistic. When I lived in DC I shared a home with 4 other people and paid about $900 a month. I then moved to another place that I shared with two other people for also about $900 a month. The second place was barely livable. Water came in through the walls and ceiling when it rained (we weren’t the top floor), we had a horrendous mouse infestation, and the plumbing was not up to code. It turned out our garbage disposal emptied into the apartment across the hall. It was nothing short of a nightmare. To get a decent place in DC that you’ll be sharing with only one other person you’re looking at spending upwards of 1200 I think not including utilities

    7. AK*

      Agree with the recs to look farther up Connecticut Ave in the Cleveland Park/ Van Ness neighborhoods. When I moved to DC I shared a 3 bedroom in that area and rent was ~$900. My guess is that even with inflation you could find something, although it won’t have an in unit washer dryer and the AC might be a window box.

    8. Purple Penguin*

      This isn’t super realistic, although your price point is doable with group housing in NW DC (although maybe not in the neighborhoods you mention). I’ve several friends who live in beautiful group houses with responsible and friendly housemates for 800-1000 a month for a room in places like Petworth, Bloomingdale or Columbia Heights. Craigslist is still a thing for DC housing and FB marketplace is also good, so check out listings there. Happy house hunting!

    9. Grits McGee*

      Unfortunately, I have to add my voice to the chorus- $1300 for half of a 2 bedroom in those neighborhoods is going to be the bare minimum, and you’ll have to add on another $100-$200 a month for utilities/wifi/fees/parking/etc. Pretty much all of the apartments in those neighborhoods are either old fancy buildings, or new luxury buildings. You might have better luck with Columbia Heights, which has more older buildings, or out in the suburbs of MD near a metro stop. (I personally have found MD cheaper than VA, and easier to commute into DC {no river crossings})

  18. Anona*

    Premade meals, either store bought, delivered from friends, or premade my ourselves or family and frozen. The first month is so labor intensive in terms of feeding and changing, that it’s really hard to make any kind of food. I remember once tracking that we changed like 18 diapers, and I fed her 12 times in a day, a process that typically took an hour. It’s just constant!
    Big bonus if the premade stuff can be eaten one handed (if we have another kid, we’ll make a big thing of runzas, which are little bread pockets stuffed with a meat filling- Costco at the time had a slightly spicy meat patty version that we ate!).
    Having one handed food on hand (protein granola bars from Costco for me) is key too. I ate those things around the clock.

    1. overeducated*

      This is a good idea (in response to Hannah I think?) but I’d like to add that I found the stockpile of meals MUCH more critical when we both went back to work. My husband was able to do more cooking immediately postpartum, and then it was a nice break for me when he came home from work but I was still on leave (and gave him some one on one baby time), but it got more hectic after that.

      1. Anona*

        Yeah, it’s a mis-nested reply to Hannah. We were both such zombies at the beginning that meals were crucial, but agreed that they’re clutch for going to work too!