“Don’t You Regret It?”

This one here needs a little introduction. My good friend from high school wrote the following words. I have known her for well over a decade and remember watching her have her baby girl, marry her high school sweetheart, and have a few of her ups and downs – y’all… Liz is one of the strongest people I know. If you ever get the chance, have a conversation with this woman. I have always valued my time with her. That being said:: I think this is such an important post right here. There are so many expectations society puts on a woman, and we can use all the encouragement we can take. Get some encouragement from my dear friend, here. There is so much value in these words.

“Are you having any more kids?”
“No, my husband got a vasectomy.”
“Oh my gosh y’all are so young aren’t you afraid you will regret it?”
“Im good either way, he really didn’t want kids so I respected his wishes.”
“But what about you? Didn’t you want more kids?”
“I’m okay either way.”
“I think you will regret it when you’re older, maybe you can talk him into reversing it.”

Fast forward 7 years later….
Do we regret it?
No. We. Do. Not.
Do I regret it?
NO!

Having a kid is hard but I am constantly pressured about having another one. How could I not want another one, they say. Aside from the whole other issue I would have to write about on respecting my husband’s wishes, this one is for mom’s who only have one kid and are okay with it. Even when we are constantly made to feel guilty about it, even if it’s unintentional. You are not weird for only wanting one. When people asked me in the beginning if I was upset he got a vasectomy the only reason I ever said yes was because that is what I felt I had to say. From the way I was asked, I felt like if I said no I would be a bad person or judged. Internally I was okay with not having another baby, and now that my daughter is older and I have had motherhood experience, I am so happy I don’t
have another kiddo. I am not a kid person. I have never really been a kid person.

I am constantly fighting an internal battle about how I am not a good mom because I don’t like to play with my kid, or how I don’t do enough stuff with her, or how she is late to bed again because I am just not paying attention.

We recently found out that she has ADD and to be honest I was so relieved I wasn’t crazy! I thought I was doing something wrong because she couldn’t focus, she couldn’t sit still, and she could never finish anything. She literally has 6 alarms in the morning to keep her on task and 4 in the evening. Not being a kid person, this is very hard on me. I lose patience fast, I get annoyed fast, I can’t understand why she can’t just put her dang shoes on the first time I ask, or brush her teeth the fifth time I ask.

I am an okay mom.

The question is, am I okay with this? Yes and no. Do I want to just be an okay mom? Actually, no. I want to be an amazing mom. I want to constantly work on the habits I have towards my kid, such as not snapping at her and having more patience. But in the mean time I am an okay mom. The fact that I WANT to improve myself for her is great, and I give myself credit for that. I want to raise an amazing human being.

The deal is, my mom feels like she was an okay mom. She was overworked and stressed.
Constantly under financial pressure as a single parent. She had two kids, my brother and me, and yet I feel like she was amazing. I could not have a more amazing mom in my opinion. I feel like she did a great job. I am a good and kind person. I have a career, dreams, goals, and an amazing kid. I have to remember that as long as I’m present and doing the best I can, my kid will feel the same way about me.

With all that said, did you just read what I wrote?

OMG I could not imagine all these thoughts, insecurities, and pep talks with more than one child! It’s hard enough going through all of this with one kid. I applaud all moms who have more than one. You are freaking amazing and I honestly don’t know how you do it. Just thinking about raising two decent human beings stresses me out. I only have one kid and I am at peace with that. No regrets here. I love being able to give all of my focus to my daughter and honestly she needs it.

Never let anyones opinion affect your peace.

Written by our fellow Okay Mom – Liz Edmond

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Life Lessons in Social Etiquette (…for boys)

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(All antics have been honey badger tested)

Life Lessons in Social Etiquette 1-10

1. Laying across the entrance to the school will not stop school.
2. Biting your classmates’ hand when they try to help you at the computer because your hands are busy “typing” is wrong on all fronts.
3. Leaving your superhero underpants on the floor of the little boys’ room is not sharing.
4. Believing your classmates are “Stormtroopers” and you’re the only “good guy” is not fair.
5. “Pew-pewing” the “Stormtroopers” won’t make you any friends.
6. Throwing chairs when asked to do your writing work is not a bargaining tactic.
7. Stuffing your cheeks with wadded up balls of pink construction paper does not make you “Murl the Squirrel.”
8. Your game “Dangerous Windmill” which entails spinning in circles with your arms wide out and hitting classmates is not a team sport.
9. Your mouth is not a rock tumbler.
10. “Saving the World” by moving all the earthworms onto the grass is a pretty cool thing.

Stay tuned for lessons 11-20 next month!

 

This month’s life lessons are brought to you by our fellow Okay mom Jennifer Holston

How To Be Happy (Really)

There is a common misconception in the world, that if a person is sad, they have no happiness, and vice versa. If a person is happy, then they are never sad. I think for moms this misconception is even more prevalent than for most others. If a mom is struggling, having a bad day, or even if her house has one iota of dust lying around, she must be unhappy. She isn’t doing her job, she may even be -dare we utter the word- *depressed*…. Or if a mom has everything in order, her kids perfectly match, her own clothes are immaculate, and her hair and makeup are done beautifully, she is obviously the picture of what it means to be happy. The truth is most of us have our good days and our bad. Some days we are happy, and some days we are sad. Sometimes we have depression, or anxiety, or are just so exhausted we can’t even identify what we are feeling. Sometimes that exhaustion is how we know that everything we go through, everything we do, is worth it.

Moms have so much going on. Other people, even other moms, may not understand what you, specifically, are going through. You have hormones, and lord knows every kid is different, not to mention differences in circumstances, and husbands, and personalities, and even the way you yourself were parented. I need you to know that you are not alone. There are other moms out there, who although they may not be going through exactly the same thing as you, they do understand. Somewhere out there, someone understands. And really, chances are, somewhere out there, someone really has been there too.

Now being happy, and I mean really, truly happy, is a hard thing. It is difficult to even know exactly what “happy” is, or what it feels like. Personally, I think happiness is different for everyone. There are so many versions of happiness. You have to figure out which one is your real, true happiness, and then figure out how to keep making it happen. Is your happiness a euphoric feeling, is it pure joy, or maybe bliss? Is it the feeling you get when you look at a beautiful sunset, or when you drink a glass of your favorite wine? Or maybe it is that feeling of holding your baby for the very first time?

Whatever it is, find it, remember it, and hold on. For me happiness is a little of all of those things. It’s nostalgia, and remembering how things used to be. It’s letting the sadness in just enough. It is also remembering to put away my selfishness (because I am a very selfish person, who likes things my way), and remember how good it feels to just be nice to other people. It is looking in my husband’s eyes and knowing how much he loves me, or spending the day wrapped in the embraces of my kids. It’s even letting go of my frustration, and letting my kids get away with something that would normally make me mad, just because (like them playing soccer with our Christmas ornaments, don’t worry, they are plastic).

I have to give a little nod to the Disney Pixar movie Inside Out. They really hit the nail on the head with that one. If you haven’t seen it, I strongly encourage you to make it a family night. It is well worth it. The thing is, all of our emotions are important, and the only way to be really, truly happy, is to find the balance. Let your anger out and feel the sad with the happy. One of my favorite, and completely hormonally controlled, feelings, is when I nurse my son. I don’t feel a rush of euphoria, like some people. I also don’t experience a deep sadness like some others. I am filled with an overwhelming love for my son and that makes me laugh and cry all at the same time. Yes, my husband looks at me like I’m crazy… however, it is one of the happiest times of my day. I get the same feeling every time one of my older boys tells me “I love you mom”, or when my husband looks at me and tells me even after giving birth 3 times, and even weighing drastically more than when we got married, he still thinks I’m beautiful.

I guess what I am trying to say, is that to be happy, and again I mean really, truly happy, you have to take it all. Find your balance. Figure out the calm inside the storm. To paraphrase one Charles Xavier in X-Men First Class, true focus lies between rage and serenity (yes, I’m a nerd, I know). I believe true happiness lies somewhere in there also. It is a fine balance, but without the sadness and the anger and the gloppity gloop of hormones and other emotions, true happiness wouldn’t be attainable. You may suffer from depression, or anger, or anxiety, or maybe even something like chronic joy. Just remember that real, true happiness is out there, and it may look a little different than you expected.

-Written for you by Okay Mom Brittany Rice

When You Finally Grow the F Up

Another post written for you by one of our Okay Moms ::

KT Kinsey

I have never been the socially acceptable “normal” person I was intended to be by the people in charge of my education and upbringing. I’ve always taken the road less traveled, and that was usually the more difficult path. Baby was never meant to be put in a corner and was never meant to be told what to do! Painfully awkward, filled with incredible amounts of pent up rage from tragic events of my childhood, and lost in a big world with no real role model, I spent the first almost 30 years of my existence, well, lost.

My life never had a clear path. I didn’t have much in the way of future goals, I couldn’t see past the end of my nose and the borders of my small hometown. You know the type of place, small town, booming in population growth, where everyone either works for a plant or teaches school and everyone knows everyone else’s business.  I knew I wasn’t meant to be there, but I had no clue how to get out unless prison was involved, and I’m too in to my self-preservation for that shit. The opportunities for me weren’t plentiful and I had no idea how to get out there and make things happen myself. I was usually shut down before I could even try.

I was forced to attend college even though deep down I knew I wasn’t ready. I was too naive of the real world and had absolutely no clue what college involved or what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Seven years, three majors, three minors, and three institutions of higher learning later and I finally trucked out a half decent degree with a $40,000 price tag in student loans. I was finally done with the monotony of “formal education”, married and on my way to the state of New York for my husband’s first duty station with the Army.

The first tastes of real freedom, and what did I do with it? Immediately had a baby. Don’t get me wrong, I was so ready to have a child and I love my little boy more than anything else in the world, but I never gave myself time to consider options for just what exactly I would want out of life. By the time my husbands first contract with the Army was complete we had spent three years in the frozen tundra of upstate New York, racking up credit card debt, and doing nothing but hiding at home with my baby and eating. I was “that” military spouse. I made a couple of friends and tried a few new activities but my only true solace was junk food and fighting with imaginary people on the Internet. I was just a miserable person living a closeted miserable life.

All of the education and training and experience I had built up in the first 25 years of my life were going to absolute waste. This impasse basically slapped me in the face in 2013 when I decided to compete for the last time in an International pageant system I had been involved in for almost 10 years. I was aging out and decided to give the International competition one more go of it. I prepared my vocal selection for talent, shopped for the clothes, got in shape, had professional headshots made. I was ready! Or so I thought. I was 27 and aging out of the system and the part of the process that I hadn’t given much thought to was also the part that always came so easy to me, the Interview competition. About a month before the pageant I started thinking about things I could potentially be asked in Interview. It didn’t take me long to realize I had messed up. Questions that came to mind were things like “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” “What is your greatest accomplishment” or “How do you plan to make an impact on the world”.

That’s it, time to call the whole thing off, I’m doomed. I can belt out a song and glide across the stage in a gown all day but I had absolutely no real substance to back it up. I am not a person who cries easily. I am also that solid rock in a rocky storm type of gal. I went into sheer panic mode. I ended up in tears during a conversation with my mother, whom I was living with at the time while my husband was deployed. I realized that while I had gone through the “expected” steps of graduating high school, graduating college, marrying a respectable man, and having a beautiful child, I had absolutely nothing to really show for myself that was any indication of who I was as a person and absolutely no future path in sight other than to raise my child.

Now, before anyone wants to rake me over the coals for my last statement, I’m not saying raising my child isn’t respectable. I consider it the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever had and will ever have. This is merely my way of saying that I had never given any thought to being capable of anything other than being a wife and mom. I love those parts of my life, but in this epiphany mess of tears I realized that I was a capable human being who really did want more than what I had settled myself to.

My mom talked me off the ledge, we managed to collaborate on some believable bullshit to put on my introduction card for the pageant, and off we went to spend a week in Vegas full of hairspray, rhinestones, and memories. I ended up pulling off my second trip to the Top 10 for my age group, and while I didn’t return home with a crown I did come home with a new found thought: I am not done living my life yet.

Fast forward four years and we now live in Tennessee where we own a home, send our son to a nice private school, I have an incredible job, and now know what I want to be when I grow up. In those four years I took a long look at where I came from and decided to embrace what I was capable of rather than wallowing in my pathetic past. I cut myself off from a lot of Internet connection, a lot of toxic “friendships”, even more toxic family relations, and decided to be who I really am.

I now rock purple hair, I got my first tattoo recently, I embrace my full on love of Harry Potter and all things nerdy, and decided to stop letting everyone else tell me who I am supposed to be. I saw a picture on Instagram recently with a quote on it that I have really fallen in love with. It said, “Teach your daughters to worry less about fitting into glass slippers and more about shattering glass ceilings.” I’m done trying to fit myself into the molds I was never meant to fit into. I may not cure cancer, save Social Security, or win Miss America but for my child I’m going to be the best example of living my one and only life exactly the way I want to with absolutely no shame or doubt involved. If I can encourage one other person to be who they are without apology, then my work here is done.

Why Okay Mom’s Don’t Volunteer…

Monday is unique in the world of moms. It’s the day little zombies are pulled out of their beds after two days of a low demand schedules and whine their way through the morning routine; add in a school field trip and it results in deaf, screaming creatures with amnesia running in circles. They have little ability to function, but somehow mom pulls things together enough so that everyone is semi-groomed, dressed, and crammed into a car on their merry-ish way to school. I forgot to mention, in a moment of insanity, I volunteered to be a parent driver for said field trip.

The morning was further complicated by a rebellious stomach, starring a gaseous repeat of last nights chicken dinner and it was too late to find a replacement. 9:15amwas the hour of departure. Kids were due at a theater tour at 10am. I had one hour to prepare after the initial creature drop. Gas filled,  GPS programmed, grocery store trip for a variety pack of cereals (frosted mini-wheats were the only thing I could tolerate), child-friendly movie, garbage and clothing collected and ejected. I even removed the goo that lined the bottom of the rear cup holder! We were totally prepared for a smooth drive.

At 9:15 I lead a line of four vibrating 7-year-olds to the car while toting two booster seats, water bottles, and simultaneously unlocking and opening the doors. I felt like a sour-stomached super hero. They funneled in.

The normal whining that inflicts my daughter every Monday morning continued, except at a volume several decibels higher than normal. Having to use her brother’s 5-point harness booster ruined her day. I wrestled with seatbelts while the creatures hooted, hollered, and bounced. Even with each one safely buckled in, they still managed to make the van sway. I slid into my seat, flipped down the tv screen and started “Robin Hood” in one swoop. Cheers ensued as they rooted about their snack bags. The rocking motion of the van stopped, and I put the car in reverse.

“Wait! I brought the wrong bag. This is my lunch.” exclaimed one creature.

I put the car back in park, the glowing 9:35am caught my eye as I looked back. The theater was a 30-minute ride. “Isn’t there something in your lunch bag you could eat as snack?”

“Nope,” he said self-assuredly.

I remembered the boxes of cereal in the back of the car and ran to grab them. I held them up like a victory beacon for all the creatures to see. “What would you like?”

“Ummm…,” he contemplates.

A couple minutes go by and the whistling number starts on “Robin Hood.” I start making cereal suggestions. He finally settles on Rice Crispies.

I put the car in reverse.

“My snack is old,” piped another creature.

I put the car in park and held up the cereal. “Anyone else want a box?”

Prospects of sugared cereal caused a frenzy amongst the creatures. Songs were sung, gleeful shrieks rattled the windows, and once again the car shook.  One of them escaped the seatbelt to examine the cereal choices and the others followed.

After a bit, the creatures settled, were reseated, and buckled up. A murmur settled over the car, with only an occasional spastic shout. I looked back to see feet swinging in tune with the movie and looks of contentment.

I put the car in reverse.

The sound of pressurized plastic forcefully torn open, followed by a shower of crispy rice hitting the seats and windows made me freeze.

I heard “OH SNAP!” from the back seat and then complete silence.

I put the car in park and slowly turned around.

Everything, including the creatures, were covered in a fine sheet of Rice Crispies. They were even heaped along the window like winter snow. One creature stared in horror at the empty Rice Krispies box in his lap. The rest were like statues. I brushed the crispies off my shoulder and laughed.

One of the creatures shouted “It snowed in Texas today!” and they all laughed. After we cleaned up a bit, I put the car in reverse and had all the kids roll down their windows to hear the “Snap, Crackle, Pop” of our 10am departure.

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Today’s post was brought to you by fellow World’s Okayest Mom::

Jennifer Holston at dirtybadgerpaws.com  

Avid gardener, mommy of two, cook, crafter, writer, wife, nurse and improv tradeswoman aimlessly roaming the ranges of Texas.

Momming is lonely AF

IMG_9067Hi. I am a stay at home mom and I am lonely.

 

I also live with anxiety. Momming with anxiety is more than just hearing phantom cries while you’re trying to get in your weekly shower. It’s hearing the phantom cries and in a matter of seconds going through the entire process from running out and finding your baby pinned between the crib and the mattress and it’s too late just because you wanted to selfishly wash your hair for the first time this month while she was napping… all in your head. Before you even have the chance to make a decision if you want to jump out of the shower and check or not.

It’s more than just worry. It’s more than just concerns. It’s crippling and consuming.

A quick escape form these daily anxieties and worries is my phone. My phone is just a thumb print away from anyone and everything outside of my home filled with kids. Two minutes sitting down with the kids quickly turns into an hour of mind-numbing scrolling. It feels like a connection to the busy world around me. It feels like everyone is here to listen to my update and crack up at my wittiness. It feels like my world might not be so lonely after all. But in reality, I was addicted and it was making me even more alienated, and never present.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been experimenting with different lifestyle changes that I can make to possibly ease the anxiety and pressure I put on myself.

I’ve tried certain diets, drinking more water, exercising more, waking up earlier… but you want to know what has been the most freeing? Unplugging.

I made my “Hey I’m leaving social media so you should worship me…” post and I haven’t looked back. It’s been only a week now but man do I feel an instant change in my daily life.

I’m playing with my kids more, I have more energy, I’m actually reaching out to people I haven’t talked to in a while because I have to intentionally text them to see how they’re doing instead of “liking” their latest update… it’s amazing. I had no idea how much I was missing out on by staying plugged in. Facebook was a complete escape for me – somewhere to receive false validation from old friends and complete strangers. The higher the numbers on my Instagram the more empowered I feel. The absolute definition of a band-aid for my loneliness. 

Since unplugging – suddenly I’m not bombarded with news articles about kids being abused by their meth-head parents, or how the country is falling to shit. I don’t care that my family occasionally posts racists articles… because I don’t see em! It’s riveting!

Are you addicted? As a mom it’s so easy. Staying at home with small children is the loneliest thing I have ever experienced. I am an extrovert to the MAX and people fuel me. Missing out makes me feel unwanted, unloved, and invisible – which is all the kiss of death for an extrovert like me. I lived on my phone. Scrolling through people’s posts feeling like I was a part of some big conversation that was happening outside my tiny world consumed with diapers and Cheerios. But in reality, it was only filling me with anxiety, FOMO ((fear of missing out)), and whenever my kids needed me, I felt interrupted from my much deserved “me time” on my phone with my freakin thumbs. Even in my marriage – my husband and I were the couple laying down next to each other with our glowing screens. Sometimes we would show each other the funny cat video but was that really where our relationship had resorted too? We’re funny people! We don’t need cat videos – we need each other!

I had prioritized my Mom Group over my friends, my Instagram likes over living in the moment, my shares over my self love, and my screen friendships over my relationship with my husband and kids.

Would you try something with me?

Maybe you’re not ready to go rogue like I did but what if you deleted the app from your phone and only checked Facebook when you’re sitting in front of a computer? Just for a while. My plan is to go to the end of this year. Maybe I’ll reinstall the apps after the New Year but it will mostly be for my mom group that I run and keeping up with this lovely page. Just see what happens. Watch your mood, watch your sleep patterns… I think it’ll surprise you.

Either way… momming is stressful and lonely AF. Making little decisions like spending less time on social media or taking daily walks can make it easier – which ends up being healing.

Let me know how it’s going for you if you take this on. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

We all kinda suck

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My bad.

I am totally the worst.

 

A hypocrite to the MAX.

I spend my entire time worrying about how moms are being judged or shamed – trying to give okay moms a voice. Trying my hardest to tell moms from every walk of life that it’s okay to be okay – to ignore the perfect instagram mommies because there’s a lot we don’t see behind their perfectly filtered pictures.

 

But at the end of the day – I took that voice away from the okay moms and used it for harm.

I digress.

My eyes were opened to my hypocrisy because of a peanut butter sandwich.

Not just any peanut butter sandwich… but a peanut butter sandwich made from a professional. It was for a peanut butter ad and it was targeting moms who pack their kid’s school lunches. The ad showed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with perfect tiny star shapes cut out of the top of the bread so you can see the perfectly smeared thin layer of (I’m sure) organic jelly and the thick layer of the protein packed peanut butter. No mess. Crust not even cut off – because of course this kid eats crusts. Perfect little lunch packed for a perfect little kid by a perfect mom. Every time this ad popped up on my Facebook feed, I wanted to throw my middle finger up. OVER IT. STAHP. No one is that perfect. No one takes the time to do this. And if they do take the time to do this – it is for a filtered instagram pic and not for their kid. Right??

 

Well I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

 

For nearly a year I have ran a mommy support group on Facebook called the World’s Okayest Moms and it’s pretty freakin perfect. We’re coming up on almost 2,000 members and it is a well oiled machine – so far there has been very little drama (WHICH IS IMPOSSIBLE HELLO) and a huge support from all over the world… literally the world. It’s amazing and encouraging and I couldn’t be more proud of it.

A few weeks back, one of the world’s okayest moms took a screenshot of said peanut butter ad and posted it in the group with a caption along the lines of – who actually does this. The comments were hilarious. A bunch of woman, including myself, got on the thread and bashed the ad for being so fucking perfect and not messy. It was exactly what I thought would happen. Until a mom commented something I hadn’t thought of :

 

I won’t quote her directly but basically she was hurt. She said that her child had the hardest time eating and would go through bouts of refusing food for days on end (who doesn’t have that every once in a while). So in a desperate attempt to get her child to eat some protein, she made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Perfectly, no mess, cute shaped cut out of the center of the bread, and it was beautiful. The kid ate the sandwich and she finally found something that worked. It became a ritual for her to make these special sandwiches for her kid who she was worried wasn’t getting enough nutrients. She said that the comments on the post hurt her directly and she was debating leaving the group over it – she thought this group was a place without judgement and here she was, feeling completely judged. She was hurt. We hurt her. Suddenly a memory hit me that four years ago I had an extremely stubborn two year old refuse to eat for days on end with the exception of cheerios. So I did this! I used cookie cutters and cut her sandwiches into shapes for months. It was the only thing she ate and I was relived she was getting some protein so it didn’t matter to me that I had to go the extra mile for my typical two-year-old.

 

I wrote her back an apology and validated her hurt. I thanked her for not leaving the group but I think my apology was too late. I never got a reply back.

I felt terrible.

I had set out to create this environment for mommies who felt like they didn’t belong and here I am shaming mommies.

Is it possible that we are so worried about not judging and shaming okay moms that we end up shaming and judging the instagram moms?

We hate their perfect yoga pants and their skinny bodies and their avocado toast. But aren’t they doing what they need? They need the marathons, they need the cookie cutter sandwiches, they need their protein shakes in the morning. Some of them even need the likes. They need to post their filtered devotional and coffee pic in the morning so that they feel validated and noticed. It’s their way to feel creative and appreciated. Who doesn’t want that?

 

I am a creative but not with my instagram pics… I am not a photographer and I don’t spend 15 minutes working on the perfect placement of my latte on the cafe table for the perfect picture. But these women who do are only expressing their creativity in a different way than I would.

Point is – we don’t know. There is no way we could ever possibly know their life. We don’t know why they feel the need to post Breast is Best or Fed is Best posts. We don’t know why their house is pristine and their coffee always hot. We don’t know why their kids wear name brands and eat their perfect organic sandwiches every day. Just like they don’t know us.

Isn’t it time we push through that divide? Can’t a mom just be a mom? At the end of the day – we all have the same end goal…

 

don’t raise an asshole.

Right??

Let’s chill out, mommas. It’s okay to be okay and it’s also okay to be sub par and it’s also okay to be spectacular. You do you. That’s the best we can do, right? We all kinda suck – there’s some common ground!