It’s A Shame

I always admired your ability to set your mind to something and actually attain it. I’ve never seen someone turn such a low salary into so much. Self control. When it came to money, budgeting, working a job you hated, you were a master. You have this unbelievable ability to say “no” to yourself, especially for an ex-junkie. And I truly admired that, mostly because I’ve never been very good at it. 

You’d get this tunnel vision for what you wanted. Me, then the apartment, the promotion, the Army. Next came the new job, the mortgage, the house. One thing after the next; you set your mind to these things and you got them all. But your superpower had a catch. Among your many other character defects, you were never able to focus on more than one thing at a time. Remember, “tunnel vision”. 

And really, it’s a shame. Because now you have your nice, new job. You’re on your way to being a soldier. You close on your beautiful home tomorrow. You have a pink room for both your daughters, one of them being ours… But in attaining all of these things, you forgot about us. And so you will move to your new house alone. You will learn just how deafening silence can be. You will experience loneliness in all of its unique agony. And really, it’s a shame. Because I would have given you forever. Had you only been kind and respectful. Had you paid us just a little bit more attention. Had you just heard me everytime you asked me what I wanted and my answer was “emotional support”. Had you only noticed that the woman sitting next to you was slowly disappearing, her spirit decaying living a life of cohabitation. Partners aren’t supposed to just coexist; they’re supposed to live life together. And in trying to build that life, you forgot about the people you were doing it for. 

My heart breaks for you. I never would’ve wished this on you. Ever. My heart breaks for me. I never wanted this. I wanted our family. I wanted our life. I wanted the man I fell in love with. But you lost him somewhere. And when you lost him, you lost me. My heart breaks for our daughter; because she deserves so much better than us; and she’s not even getting “us”. I will always give her everything I have to give. But I wanted us to do that, together. 

Really, it’s a shame. 

And forever is a lie. 

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Ask Me Anything Monday

This is a little fun exercise I used to do last year that fell into obscurity between working and being pregnant. Soooo, I’m giving it a shot again. If you’re interested, ask away 🙂 

Submit any questions, queries, or random wonderings you may have! 🙂 As always, it can be a personal question about me or my life or it can be completely random. And I promise to answer it as completely and honestly as I can! There are no rules or limitations. Let’s go! 
Much love,

Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Fuck The Rules

Since having my daughter I have discovered that there are more rules about how to raise your children than I ever thought possible. How to and to not feed them, when and what to feed them, how to “train” them to sleep, how to burp them, when to start the “cry it out” method (that’s if you’re not one of the “momsters” who think this is akin to child abuse). Everything in the world has been regulated, researched, and written within an inch of its life. It’s fucking ridiculous! So… my idea… is to fuck the rules..

Here is a non-comprehensive list of everything I do wrong as a mom; because, fuck the rules.  I mentioned “momsters” above; these are the women who are convinced they know everything about parenting, and have no problem telling you everything you’re doing wrong. They’re the people who deprive their children of syrup on their pancakes because “it’s messy”, the ones who get mad at kids for moving too much or making too much noise or you know, being kids. They are the all-seeing, all-knowing, helicopters moms of the blogosphere and world. They lie in wait, anticipating showering you with shame because you dared to be different or..*dun, dun, dun* an actual parent. Well momsters, this post is for you: take a Valium and a deep breath. I’m about to shit all over your world…

1. NEVER PROP THE BOTTLE

Lady, I can prop a bottle like a motherfuckin’ boss. Wanna know why? Because mama needs two hands and Bebe eats every 3 hours like she’s starving to death. I can hear the momsters now: “But you’ll drown your baby! She’ll die you monster!” Honey, let me tell you, if you’re child isn’t capable of turning her head to the side or spitting out a nipple with the same defiance she spits out her binkie, then that is Darwinism at work. I’m sure somewhere out there there’s some heartbreaking story about a mom who drowned her baby with a bottle but let’s be honest, it would be one of very few (and she probably “propped” with duct tape). I make sure to prop Bebe’s bottle with something soft, like a blanket, so if she turns her head even the slightest bit or tries to spit it out, it comes right out. The worst thing that happens is her shirt gets wet; and guess what? You can wash those. And I get to actually drink cup of coffee while it’s hot (shocker right?!).

2. NEVER GIVE BABY A BLANKET

Seriously? What is this, Auschwitz? I understand that your child can suffocate in a pile of blankets but it is possible to keep your child warm without that happening. Currently, Bebe sleeps in a rock and play because it’s still relatively flat but it’s angled enough to help her with her reflux and I’ve found a way to let her sleep with a blanket where it doesn’t end up piled on top of her perfect little face (sorry, mini mom gush). Before I put her in the rock and play I lay a small blanket down in the basket with a little bit hanging off the bottom edge. Then I place her in and fold the bit of blanket at the bottom up over her little body. It comes up to her nipples, keeps her warm, and doesn’t suffocate her. And guess what? Warm babies sleep longer bitches! Everybody wins!

3. CLEAN THE PACIFIER WITH…

The sheer amount of things sold for cleaning pacifiers is appalling. Pacifier spray, pacifier soap, pacifier wipes. Seriously? For generation upon generation my family has cleaned their pacifiers with two things: water and mouths. Where my germaphobes at? Are you dying yet? I bet you are you little hand sanitizer toting mother fucker, you. I watched my mom do it so many times… the binkie drops, she picks it up, pops it in her mouth, and then pops it in the baby’s. And you know what? Nothing bad has ever happened. Hell, probably builds up the immune system. Now don’t get me wrong; if i drop the nuk in a rest stop bathroom, I’m using soap. But the parents who go full throttle because it hit the counter in the kitchen or the carpet in the nursery need to fucking relax! I promise, your child will be okay. We ate dirt and drank out of garden hoses and we’re fine. Anymore these days the food we eat is giving us cancer and you’re worried about your baby’s binkie touching a floor that you clean more often than your underwear? Get your shit straight. Plus science says that exposure to the microbial environment benefits children in a multitude of ways including, but not limited to: reduced allergies, heightened immunity, and lowered occurences of eczema and asthma. Science wins. Period.

4. “SHHH… THE BABY’S SLEEPING!!”

NO! That’s a hard no. Do you know what happens when you make everyone tiptoe and whisper every time the baby’s sleeping? You end up with a baby who sleeps like shit. Yeah, good joke universe. I’ll be the first one to request everyone be a little quieter (i.e., not silent, but not screaming) when the baby has just fallen asleep and I’m trying to transfer her from my arms to her rock and play without waking her; but the rest of the time? It’s a normal noise level for my little one. I wanted to be able to do the dishes, listen to music, and walk normally when my child was sleeping so I did all those things while she was sleeping from the very beginning. From the day she came home we made the same amount of noise as we always had. As a result, my girl sleeps like a rock. As I typed that my mom rang the doorbell, causing her two golden retrievers to start barking like maniacs within 7 feet of my sleeping child’s head. She didn’t even flinch; and yes, her hearing is perfect. I’ve met children whose parents kept a silent household while they slept; and to this day, nap time and bedtime rule their households. They can’t have visitors, they can’t get chores done, they can’t talk at a normal level; their lives are controlled by an 8-20 pound tyrant with poor sleeping habits. My child is the light of my life but her sleep time is my free time and I’ll be goddamned if silence is a required part of that.

5. NEVER SAY “NO”!!

I actually read an article that said to never tell your child “no” because it’s “too harsh for your little prince/princess”. Are you fucking kidding me?! Now I can understand using more explanatory sentences such as “Please don’t do that or you may hurt yourself”; BUT sometimes a child needs to hear a quick, concrete “NO”. There seems to be this new-age parenting belief that telling your child “no” will make them lose faith and confidence in you and that it makes them feel as if their lives are limited. This is bullshit! I’m sorry but we were told “no” quite often as children and it made us respect our parents; not to mention, it sometimes when executed in a swift and sudden manner, saved our lives. The parent is the authority figure and no means no; not “I’ll give you ____________ if you do what you should be doing anyway”, and not “No until you whine so much that I cave.” No. There’s no reason you can’t explain the reason for the no after the child has stopped the undesirable behavior; but trying to calmly explain why a child should stop something when they’re neck-deep in it rarely works out. Stop the behavior, then explain.

Building your child’s respect in you takes time and it isn’t always easy but this watered down version of parenting that has become the norm today is not making our children better, smarter, or more confident. In fact, research has shown that children now are more cocky but have less actual self-esteem because they’re constantly told how amazing they are when they haven’t actually earned it and they aren’t given enough opportunities to build themselves up. Helicopter parents have stopped their children from trying things (like monkey bars or contact sports) that they could work at and succeed in, thereby creating real confidence in themselves. And momsters everywhere are demanding other parents raise their children how they do, in whatever way the latest fad demands; and more times than not, the only purpose this serves is to create even more entitled, bravado filled, demanding little brats. Sometimes you have to give and take with your child to get them to listen with the least amount of friction, I get that. But if we’re constantly bribing our children do what they should be doing in the first place then all we’re teaching them is that 1. They’re the ones really in control and 2. They deserve rewards for doing what they’re supposed to instead of something that requires an actual effort. And then we wonder why they’re so entitled? Jesus! My generation has traded in good old-fashioned parenting for bartering, bribing, begging, and conceding. So to that, I say FUCK NO. The better way is not always the easiest way; but it is what’s best for our kids and that is our fucking job: to do what’s best for our kids! I choose to parent my child in the way that I see fit, the way that works for us, regardless of what that article on parenting.com says is best. I believe in keeping my child safe, healthy, and loved. I also love her being happy; but it is my job to be her parent, not her friend (at least until she’s adult). And sometimes being a parent means that your child is not always happy. But if you do a good job, at least you won’t raise a raging doucehbag. I leave you with this..

“If you’ve never pissed your child off, you’re probably not doing your job.”

ashley thingy 2

by Ashley King

© All Rights Reserved 2017

Grief is A Cunt

June 24th of 2016 I was sitting on the balcony of my love’s parent’s beach house and I got the call. The call that every person who has ever loved an addict dreads getting. It was my mom and she asked me if I was sitting. I know what that question means. I expected to hear that maybe an aunt I didn’t really know or someone I went to school with had died. That is not what came out of her mouth. When she told me it was you I just sat there for a minute. I asked her if she meant YOU you, praying that she was talking about some other Joey, any other Joey besides my little brother. Anyone but the man who had a one year old at home, who had gotten clean before and was happy, who just one year prior had talked me off a ledge when I was freaking out. But she was talking about you.

You were found dead on your best friend’s couch, overdosed on heroin. My heart broke for him having to find you like that because I know that nothing in the world will ever scrub that image from his mind. My heart broke for your mother who just lost her youngest child, her baby boy. My heart broke for your brother who you idolized, followed, modeled yourself after, because I know that on some level he will always blame himself.  My heart broke for your son. Your beautiful one year old son who’d just been so prematurely robbed of all the amazing qualities you had to teach and pass on to him. Now he will only hear the stories…of how his father was as loyal as they make them and would go to war for any of the people he loved, how you were sometimes impulsive and reckless and would go to jail if it meant defending one of your own. He’ll only get to hear about your laugh that could light up an entire room, your smile that could drag anyone out of a dark place, your wild nature but soft heart. There are so many things that made you who you were, some good, some bad, some in between; but they were you. And I know you would’ve been an amazing force in that little boy’s life.. had you not died. THAT breaks my fucking heart. I’ve cycled between being in denial, devastated, depressed, angry, enraged, accepting, and then devastated all over again.

This month is dedicated to devastation. December 23rd marked the 6 month anniversary of your death and I’m stuck in the dreaded place of “what if?”. I sit in these meetings, the same meetings we went to together, and I feel like someone’s gutted me every time I hear the chairperson ask “Is this anyone’s first time at a meeting?”, “Is this anyone’s first time at this meeting?” I can’t wrap my head around why you can’t magically pop up in the back and say, “My name is Joey and I’m an addict.” I would kill to hear those words coming out of your mouth again. But you just had to have “one more”. And now you’re just fucking gone. No magic, no wishing, and no amount of praying in this world will ever bring you back. Your absence has just left this giant fucking hole in the lives of those who loved you. Your death had me staring at that last sentence trying to figure out if “love” or “loved” was the proper way to write it. “Loved” because you’re gone, “love” because the care people have for you didn’t die with you. I just left it the way it is because I couldn’t decide.

I’ve told myself that you’re not in pain or struggling anymore, I’ve tried to reason with the grief that everything happens for a reason, I’ve written about you, talked to you as I was falling asleep, replayed so many memories through my head in an attempt to celebrate your life instead of mourn your death. But you know what? It doesn’t fucking work. Grief doesn’t give a fuck that you’re not suffering anymore. Talking to you at night doesn’t magically give you the ability to talk back. Looking at your prayer card on my mirror every morning is not the fucking same as you being here. Death is unforgiving. I had only known I was pregnant for a month when you died and I was still in that place of not telling anyone because I was so afraid of losing her and god knows you weren’t always easy to track down. My brother died without ever knowing that I was blessed with the one thing I always wanted. You’ll never meet my baby or get to hold her. You’ll never sit back with me and watch our kids play together. You’ll never hear her laugh or get to make fun of me trying to make costumes for some school play some day. I’ll never get to punch you for busting my balls about being a stay at home mom or a housewife. There’s so much that you’re not going to see, that we’ll never get to share now, and I’m angry. I’m fucking angry because you got so close. You got that time clean two summers ago and you were happy. You had learned enough that you were actually able to help me instead of me helping you. I remember how amazed I was at how much you had grown in the months you’d been clean. You were living your life far away from the world of active addiction and you had this light in you that could actually match all the darkness you always seemed to carry with you. But that darkness won in the end, I guess. We all have it, that darkness; but you were always so sensitive to it. It just dug its way into you on so many different occasions, pushing you over the edge at the worst possible time. You would do good for a short while, but you always were your own worst enemy. You’d get so close to your life getting better and you’d hit the self destruct button because you didn’t know any other way. It was brutal to watch, enraging to try to talk you out of, and heartbreaking to see how badly it hurt you even though you always did it to yourself. You were never perfect but you never pretended to be. You owned your flaws, even if sometimes a little too much.

I never thought you would die.

You were my invincible little brother.

And you fucking died. And I can’t do anything to change it.

I handle hard things well but I can’t seem to find a way to swallow this one.

You’re supposed to fucking be here! To raise your son, to talk shit with me, to meet my beautiful daughter, to go fishing and rafting and swimming. You always had this light inside you and the world just isn’t quite as bright without you in it. I know that’s cliché and you’d kick me in the face if you were here to hear it, but it’s actually true with you. You’re supposed to be here, laughing and learning, loving and living. When people say that life isn’t fair they always forget to mention that sometimes it’s just outright fucking cruel.

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

Afternoon Kicks 

Feeling this life that’s cradled inside me, is the closest to heaven that I’ll ever be. Her squirms and her punches, she kicks and she lunges. I never could’ve imagined being this lucky. This life inside me is nothing short of a blessing. 

I never thought I would get to have kids and then she surprised me, so unexpected. Now I’ve been blessed to feel her movements, and nothing so little has ever felt so big. It’s truly mind blowing that this is my kid. 

I wait for it each day, for her to wake up, and with each little kick, I fall more in love. She’s literally a part of me and part of me can’t grasp that, cause years ago I truly believed, that I would never really have this. 

I remember being bitter, jealous of other moms. It always seemed they took for granted, this gift I prayed to love. But the timing wasn’t right, I took a “not yet” as a “no”, and now my heart bleeds for those who will never get to know. I remember that pain all too well; and on some nights, it creeps in still. It tells me I’ll lose her, that she isn’t mine to keep, so I hold my belly and pray to God, to keep her healthy. However, part of me honestly believes, that this gift wouldn’t be given, to then be retrieved. So I talk to her and sing to her and revel in her kicks, praying every single day, that she survives until she lives. 

I love you Bebe. 

by Ashley Hebner 

© All Rights Reserved 2016

The Eptiome of Peace

I’m truly blessed today to be sitting in a lovely rocking chair on the balcony my in-laws beach house. Their property overlooks protected land consisting of acres of green grass and marshland. At night it’s so dark that you can see what seems like every star in the sky. It’s a beautiful sight. The air is that perfect temperature of warm while still being breezy and refreshing. The birds are chirping and singing. My family is inside, all doing their own things. I’ve just realized I forgot my coffee however, and I’m not pleased about that. But I’ve found that perfect spot. I’m right where I want to be in my chair (nothing’s going numb), my laptop is perfectly propped on a pillow in my lap, and I’m comfortable. Fuck it, I’ll have to live without the coffee.

Anyway, we came out to the shore house for Memorial Day weekend. It’s 2 blocks from the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey and it’s quite peaceful. I have really, really, really needed this vacation. Life has become a whirlwind of being overworked, underpaid, and over stressed. I have so many things to be grateful for and I am, but I would kill to be able to sit down and slow down more often. I haven’t been able to write anywhere near as often as I want to and I find myself getting snippy and nasty. It’s not cool. I’m really a bit of twat sometimes. Seriously. Just ask the man who has to live with me. I’m easier than some people though; meaning that if you give me good food, I’m pretty much happy.

Today is a happy day though without frustration or work or stress. We have Ladybug (my stepdaughter) whom I absolutely adore and she’s been a ball of joy all day with her cute little sentences and big curious eyes. She’s the most beautiful and well tempered child I’ve ever known. She’s almost always happy and even when she does get upset it doesn’t last very long. She rarely throws temper tantrums and she’s incredibly loving. I’m blessed to have this little girl in my life. She’s in the other room falling asleep currently while I sit here utterly grateful for how much this place is just the epitome of peace. We spent the morning at the beach playing in the sand since the water is still so cold it’s basically equivalent to the seventh gate of hell. Then we came back for lunch and are now just relaxing. My other half and his father are back at the beach getting all of our stuff, my mother-in-law is somewhere doing her own thing, and I’m writing this to you. Just a short little piece about this place that will hopefully serve the purpose of getting the creative juices flowing…which sounds a bit gross at the moment. But for now, that’s all I have. Enjoy the picture; I think I’m going to go take a nap. The exhaustion is real these days lol. Toddlers have it right man. Eat often, sleep a lot, and have other people wipe your ass. Not a bad way to live if you ask me. 🙂

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016

DO NOT Touch The Belly!

Pregnancy. The gift of life. The duty and honor of raising a child. Something I believe to be one of the purest, most beautiful things that can happen to a woman. Feeling that baby kick inside your belly, knowing that you’re growing a life within you. That’s something that they just don’t make words for. Even the people around pregnant women tend to get smiles on their faces as they imagine beautiful newborns who smell just like “baby” and Johnson & Johnson shampoo. Pregnancy draws people in, making them curious with questions and leaving them wanting to be a part of something magical. Even if it’s just to ask a woman her due date or the gender of her baby, they can’t help but want to know. But why? I’m talking about complete strangers who are in no way effected by the gender of this woman’s baby or when it’s due. What makes them so curious? We are attracted to the beautiful, the innocent, the pure. We see something incredible and we can’t help but want to be a part of it. This is a magical thing.

But, what happens when the line is crossed? There’s really nothing wrong with asking a pregnant woman when she’s due (so long as you’re absolutely sure she’s actually pregnant). There’s nothing wrong with being curious about the gender of the baby. That does not however make it appropriate to reach out and touch that poor pregnant woman’s unsuspecting stomach. Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is the topic of this post. I realize this has been examined and discussed to death but I can’t help wanting to add my two cents. There’s something about a woman being pregnant that seems to make people think they have the right to touch a stranger. I have read multiple articles and discussion forums about this and to be honest, the comments seriously fucking worry me. You would be amazed how many people, even women, told the person complaining about it to “stop being selfish”, “stop being a bitch”, or to “stop robbing people of the joy of experiencing a baby kicking”. I’m sorry… maybe I missed something here, but that baby that’s kicking? IT’S INSIDE OF ANOTHER HUMAN BEING WHO HAS A VOICE TO EXPRESS WHETHER OR NOT SHE WANTS TO BE TOUCHED!!!!

I realize how excited people (even strangers) get when they see a woman carrying another life inside her. Especially other women who may have children of their own or perhaps aren’t able to have children at all. However, at the bare minimum, you should at least ask. Not only are you touching a complete stranger’s body, you are touching her child. Her literal flesh and blood. How would you feel if someone walked up to your child in the mall and just started rubbing his/her head? Probably a little freaked out, maybe enraged, or perhaps mama/papa bear protective? That’s because we are protective of our offspring. A pregnant woman (especially one who’s close to giving birth) is obviously more vulnerable than she normally would be. She can’t move as fast, fight as hard, or be as aggressive as she normally would be if she felt threatened. So when you touch her (which by the way, is threatening) you are showing aggressive behavior (whether innocent or not) to a person who is already in a vulnerable position. So, should she reach out and smack your hand or start rubbing your belly in return, you had it coming! People do this without even thinking twice and that is the problem, they don’t think! Or worse yet, they see nothing wrong with it. Judging by the number of uncomfortable reactions pregnant women say they’ve gotten when they rubbed a stranger’s stomach in return, I’m going to guess this isn’t too hard of a concept to understand. Pregnant or not, it is not okay to touch a woman anywhere that she didn’t give you direct permission to. It is in no way different from walking up to any woman in a shopping mall and rubbing her very not pregnant belly. A baby makes no difference to the level of inappropriateness. Sure the baby makes you want to touch the woman more, but it doesn’t give you any right to.

The fact that we live in a society that thinks pregnant women are being bitchy or too sensitive because they don’t want a stranger to touch their stomach, a body part that’s very close to their genitals and is inherently a sensitive region, is disgusting. The idea that pregnancy makes a woman public property literally makes me nauseous. The fact that men take part in this uninvited rubbing as well as women is a bit frightening. Even in my wildest imagination I can’t comprehend what it’s like to walk up to a complete stranger and touch not only their belly, but their baby, without any invitation or forewarning. I would simply never, ever do that. It’s just completely inappropriate, wildly disrespectful, and obviously invasive. Have some respect people. Smile sweetly, don’t reach your hand out, engage in a conversation that doesn’t involve questions like “Do internal ultrasounds hurt?”, and MAYBE that woman won’t become immediately defensive just because you walked within 3 feet of her. You never know someone’s history. Even if you completely ignore the fact that its inappropriate to start with you still have to consider that this woman may be a sexual abuse or rape survivor. For all you know that baby exists because she was raped and you just walked up and touched her without her permission. I realize that may be a harsh example but the sad truth is that it has absolutely happened to multiple people.

Think before you act. A pregnant belly is not a “Touch Me” sign. A woman’s body is not your playground. If you’re one of the people who thinks this isn’t a big deal then I challenge you to think about how you would feel if I walked up to you in front of a bunch of strangers and started rubbing your belly whilst smiling at you or maybe talking to your stomach, not your face. Some people would say “It’s different, I’m not pregnant”; to which I would reply “So it’s not okay for me to touch your stomach, a part of you that’s not exactly sexual but you can touch someone else’s child?” A stomach is hardly as grave a faux pas as a child, a human being, right? If you wouldn’t walk up and touch a woman who isn’t pregnant and you wouldn’t touch someone else’s child then don’t touch the belly!

I apologize for the rant but this really disturbs me. It’s not okay and the fact that women are attacked for saying what they are and are not okay with happening to their own bodies just shows another one of the big problems in our society today. It’s just another example of how women are expected to smile sweetly and not object to something that makes them feel violated and uncomfortable. It’s another way that our wants, our needs, and our rights (like to personal space), are not respected. Well, let me be the first to say, should a stranger ever touch my stomach without asking or after I’ve already asked them not to, I can and will punch them directly in the face, promptly.

by Ashley Hebner

© All Rights Reserved 2016