I recently threw out the white plastic Pampers wipe box that I’ve had for the 4 ½ years I’ve been a mother. I had my last laugh about that stupid thing. See, when I was pregnant and getting Helena’s nursery together, I searched far and wide for the least visibly offensive wipe box. After all, the changing station – atop a midcentury birch Heywood-Wakefield dresser – was visible from our apartment’s front door. It was important that the view upon entering was stylish.
Today? I could give a shit.
That dresser is in the same spot, and as I type it is covered with a mess of once-worn and mismatched pajamas, that weird turtle nightlight that casts stars on the ceiling, Baby Vicks VapoRub and an array of sippy cups half-full of stale water. Letting go of the notion of a décor-correct home has made the difference between neurosis and sanity. This is just one item on a growing list of things that makes me so much happier now that I no longer care about them.
Here is my list of seven things I no longer give a shit about since becoming a single mom:
- What my husband does for a living. I used to love bragging about my now ex’s job. It was a really, really cool job, and he was really, really good at it. But he doesn’t have that job any more. And he isn’t my husband any more. Plus, I have a pretty cool job myself.
- Where I vacationed. Before I had kids–and even after my daughter was born–I used to travel all over, all the time. Europe, Cuba, Brazil, Laos – not to mention sundry domestic locales. Now, I feel fortunate that I can fly to see my family in Illinois a couple of times a year, and that a friend and I rented a lake house a couple hours away last summer.
- How my kids are dressed (This is true only most of the time. Let’s get real. The holidays are school pictures are coming up!). Good mothers pick their battles. Even though the dress code at preschool is rather strict – standard-issue plaid jumper and white blouse, black tights and shoes – Helena and her strong fashion opinions often go to class wearing a getup like the above. Which I think is awesome.
Here my friend Free-Range Kids’ Lenore Skenazy and I talk about why parenting today is so whack:
- Planning every detail of my future. Until my life unraveled a few years ago, I loved to plan and scheme. I think it gave me some sense of control to map out my life. Plus, it’s just fun to brainstorm where we might live, the kind of house we would buy (and decorate!), the career feats I could accomplish. Today I find more meaning in working hard, enjoying everyday things as they come, and being open to surprises.
- That people don’t get what I do. When I first started telling people that I was a freelance writer, friends and strangers would often say rude things like, “Oh! It must be so HARD to make a living!” And I would get defensive and think of nasty things to say while I stewed. Then I stopped giving a shit. And you know what happened? At the exact same time I let that go, people stopped saying snotty things on the subject. Life lesson learned.
- That you like my shoes. Or my haircut, or my couch. Because really (and I’m talking to women only here – you know how we are with complimenting each other!), if the only opener you can muster is about my belt or my eyeliner, we have nothing in common. Say all the nice things you want, but I really don’t give a shit about you.
- What people think. Now, if you tell me you don’t care what anyone thinks, I’d say you’re a sociopath. There are a handful of people whose opinion I hold highly – and if they call me out on stuff, I listen. But the rest of the time I don’t give a shit what you think. Really, I don’t. Because I’m old and wise enough to believe that I’m really doing my best to be a decent person. Maybe you should stop giving a shit, too.
Emma Johnson is a veteran money writer, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, REAL SIMPLE, Parenting, USA Today and others.
The Kickass Single Mom: Be Financially Independent, Discover Your Sexiest Self, and Raise Fabulous, Happy Children (Penguin, 2017), was a #1 bestseller and was featured in hundreds of media, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, Oprah.com and the New York Post, which named it to its ‘Must Read” list.
Her popular blog Wealthysinglemommy.com, and podcast Like a Mother, explore issues facing professional single moms: business and career, money, sex, relationships and parenting. Emma regularly comments on these topics for outlets such as CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine, Woman’s Day, The Doctors, and many more. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” one of “20 Personal Finance Influencers to Follow on Twitter” by AOL DailyFinance, “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and “Most Eligible New Yorkers” by New York Observer.
A popular speaker on gender equality, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality.
Emma grew up in Sycamore, Ill., and lives in New York City with her children.