Don't mess with the bull; you'll get the horns

Vernon GIF

I re-watched The Breakfast Club a few weeks ago. It does not hold up. I remember when I first saw it, I most identified with misunderstood and beautiful (until her makeover) outcast Ally Sheedy, and yearned to be/fix hot troublemaker Judd Nelson. In reality, I probably was most like Anthony Michael Hall, a naïve uptight judgmental nerd.

Do you know who I most identify with now? The principal. Like him, all I want to do is enjoy my weekend, have my lunch and my hot black coffee but these kids will not stop being a pain in my ass. They don’t listen, they touch everything, they’re noisy, they go where they’re not supposed to go, they don’t take me seriously, they don’t sit still, and they are terribly dramatic.

The Breakfast Club 80S GIF

I also of course identify with the janitor as well, from a custodial standpoint.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading Witches.

Also, I just want to let you know, the second long piece in today’s issue addresses miscarriage and stillbirth, in case that is not a topic you care to read about right now.


Y R Spouses •  Summer baking edition

House and home • What we talk about when we talk about laundry

Before I had kids I was so committed to the idea of Laundry Inbox Zero that sometimes I would strip out the clothes I was wearing  and put them in the washer. Then I had kids, and I was lowkey traumatized by the very sudden discovery that I would be doing laundry every day for the next 18 years, more or less. I really couldn’t believe it. 

I now have a system--don’t we all? For some, the system is no system. I can’t deal with letting it pile up too much so I do, roughly, a load in, a load out every day and try to wash by person so that there is one stop per load.

What kills me are the magazine articles out there (especially in Real Simple) that try to tell you you could be doing laundry so much better. If only you had a nicely organized laundry room. If only you had a dedicated place for steaming. If only all your detergents and whatnot were Mrs. Meyers, or came from France and smelled like lavender. If only you had nice wicker baskets lined with burlap with handwritten labels on them and if only you had beautiful writing or could get your printer to work. If only you were doing laundry beautifully you would fucking love it you dumb sloppy b. 

For a future issue, I am modern home ec curriculum (suggestions welcome!) and you better believe I would have a section on laundry. Laundry 101 would be on laundry: best practices. Laundry 201 will be on how much laundry you do once you have a kid and how not to let it overwhelm you (with a special section on getting barf out of sheets.) Laundry 301 is about how laundry can come close to ruining your marriage:

For several years I just washed my husband’s clothes along with the other three people’s in the house because it seemed easier than observing his laundry piles wax and wane like the tide. He will let it sit for days. I don’t count but I’d say four days to a week. I put laundry away immediately, usually listening to a podcast or music in my earbuds.

This winter, when he came home from a business trip to Northern California where the return trip was delayed because of the polar vortex in Chicago, where school was closed and our pipes were frozen, de-activating our washer, dryer and dishwasher, I told him I was no longer washing his clothes. “Are you made at me??” was the response. 

Yes, I am mad at you. I realized that if I can take care of these kids and a semi-functioning house all by myself you should do your laundry all by yourself.

Anyway now I just choose to deal with the waxing and waning piles and don’t count the days.

I asked other ladies I know how they tolerate laundry + kids + marriage.

  •  I typically work from home twice a week. On those days, I wash all the laundry and then that evening, my husband and I fold it together while watching Netflix.

  • I throw away clothes that are stained after washing twice. Don’t waste your time on something that is not going to change. Move on.

  • My husband does the laundry. I fold and put away. I like to do it in my bedroom with a shitty TV show on and a cocktail.

  • I had a laundry meltdown last year and got each kid their own laundry basket. One laundry lesson later and they have done their own laundry since. 

  • Cleaning lady. Best money I spend each week. She washes, dries and folds laundry. We put it away. No one would have clean underwear otherwise.

  •  Laundry is my secret way of avoiding my family. I will happily announce that I need my husband to take the kids somewhere so I can fold and put away several loads of laundry on Saturday or Sunday. Then I fold laundry on my bed while catching up on my recorded shows. I love it. Laundry is the new breastfeeding. 

  •  I just own like 80 pairs of underwear. Works pretty well.

  • We outsource one load per week to a service that picks it up and drops off with 24 hour turnaround, washed and folded. $15 per week / load which is like a full container box. And that leaves me with one load that's more time sensitive like camp / school stuff or nicer clothes that I don't want to dry clean but also not outsource.

  • We do laundry every day. But we barely sort anything. The kids are responsible for getting it from the dryer to the sorting station (my bed) sorting, and putting their own stuff away. Having kids old enough to do laundry has been fantastic.

  • I had one of the most profound epiphanies of my life when I realized that my 5 year old and 1 year old daughters can share socks because who gives a fuck if kid socks are a little too big or too small? We now have the same small, attractive basket where all the kid socks go and if they want socks on their feet, they can take it from there. Taking down Big Sock. Ironically by giving all my money to Big Cute Basket, so Target is still gonna be fine.

  •  I’m the laundry queen in our parts. I start it on Saturday, finish on Sunday, put away air-dried stuff on Monday. I hate the folding/putting-away part very, very much, but a drink and some background music help a lot. So does not giving much of a shit about how neatly I fold.

  • Now that I have a functional laundry room and my triplets no longer share one too-small closet and dresser, I am much happier to do laundry. Everyone has their own basket to sort the clean into. I arrived at hanging all tops, a few years back and I find it most efficient in storage space: it allows for shirts to be seen before selecting, saves time and wasted effort of folding, and frees up dresser drawer space for organization. Right now I help my 9 year olds put their laundry away bc it’s better than yelling at them for 3 days to do it and it actually is a little 1:1 moment where they have to do some of the work, I teach skills, and they sometimes open up. My rule is they must actively help or I walk and they do all the work. The other night one of my boys, unprompted, made his bed with clean sheets when it was clear I didn’t have time to get to it. He said “Hey mom, I did it myself! It was so easy!” I told him I started teaching him and his brothers that skill at 4 years old and it only took 5 years for him to do it himself. This is a great accomplishment, but also a reality check on slow-rolling expectations of independence.

  •  I made it my husband’s job. Does that count? 😂

Parenting • Useful tip for using loving empathy to engage with a child in an educational supportive manner

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A word with • Women who experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth, on what helped 

A woman I know posed a question online asking for ideas on ways to support a friend who had just endured a late term miscarriage. I asked women who had been through a similar situation what really did help versus what people often might help:

A friend gave me flowers with a note that says miscarriage is the only death where we don’t send flowers. I felt very seen and supported.
⁠—Rachel Zients Schinderman 

Someone sent me a bouquet of flowers that also had succulents in them that could be transplanted. The symbolism of flowers that were brief and beautiful combined with a small part of them that could live on was so, so meaningful.
⁠—Kelly A. Burch

I had a 2nd-trimester miscarriage (about 15 weeks), and the most meaningful things people did came down to tangible recognition of the baby we'd lost. One friend gave me an angel ornament (she'd also had miscarriages) that I hang on my tree every year, and another gave me a necklace with a white bead and a rainbow bead when I was pregnant the next time, which I wear in family photos. I have another friend who participates in the March of Dimes every year in honor of her preemie, and one year when I'd donated, when I got the thank-you postcard from her, I realized she'd included our miscarried baby among the purple butterflies they'd carried to recognize other children. I hadn't asked for that, but I was incredibly touched.

Send a card, pick up the phone, send flowers - just reach out in some way. It’s a very isolating experience (I lost mine at 20 weeks). Avoid platitudes and don’t ask about the gory details. If the baby had a name, say the name to the parent when you are talking about the loss. Later on, reach out on the anniversary of when the baby was lost.
⁠—Erica Houskeeper 

If you have small children, especially babies, leave them at home if you are visiting. It was too painful for me to be around other people’s babies for awhile. 

I found it hard to be around pregnant women. My sister was pregnant at the time, due within two weeks of me, so I didn't see her for months. She called and chatted online a lot.
⁠—Lisa Corriveau 

I had a 13 week miscarriage: if family wants to help, they should just help and not expect you to tell them what you need or how you're feeling. Just put food in front of me. Just clean. Just take the kid to the park. The only thing that helped me feel better at any point was when the on-duty OB got close to my face and said, "One in four pregnancies this happens. You aren't alone and you're going to come back from this." I needed to hear that.
⁠— Halina Newberry Grant

I have had a miscarriage at 15 weeks and a stillbirth at 32 weeks, 5 days. My friends were my saviors. After my miscarriage, which happened on Christmas Eve, one friend came over to my house and drank a bottle of wine with me while I cried on my floor, even though it was Christmas. When I found out my son died and would be stillborn, my best friend flew cross country to be by my side. The friend who had been there for my miscarriage left work immediately and came to the hospital. She also painted my toenails for me while I was in the hospital because I was pregnant with twins and still had one living son in utero and couldn’t reach my feet. Another friend organized a meal train. All my friends helped with our daughter. My friends from high school planned and paid for his funeral. Friends flooded my mailbox with cards and one sent us a gift certificate for a butterfly bush since we learned purple butterflies are the symbol for twin loss. 

When we lost our baby (5 months preterm labor, died within hours), the things that helped me most were simply seeing which friends showed up to the service we had, and the ones who kept checking in on me regardless of how often I actually answered my phone or replied back. Also, my mom came to stay with us for a few weeks and literally did everything for us (cleaned, cooked, and had endless patience, never judging).
⁠— Priscilla Blossom ( Instagram)

I lost my first daughter at 23 weeks. My immediate friends said/did mostly nothing. I remember being disappointed with their responses and my mom encouraging me to be understanding because most people simply don’t know what to say or do. But my MIL sends me an email or text every single year on the day she died. I love that she does this. This year, as expected, she sent me a quick note on April 14th - just to tell me she was thinking of Zoey (my daughter’s name), wondered how I was doing and told me she loved me. And, every year, I read her message, cry a little and move on with my day. My daughter would have been 15 had she lived.
⁠— Shelley Sandiford 

I lost a baby at 37 weeks. Every year my mother donates a book to our local library (or the school library) in his name on his birthday, and I consider it the perfect gift.

Beauty (and a purposefully silly palate cleanser •  Cool for the summer

Bald George Costanza GIF by HULU

End credits

Thanks for reading Evil Witches, a newsletter for people who happen to be mothers (but welcome and thanks and hello to the non-mothers reading too—I see you. ) This is a project that I am making up as I go along but if people seem into it then let’s keep going. If you have input you can follow us and chat us up here. If you know someone who'd like this sort of thing in their inbox about once a week, please spread the word and encourage your pals to subscribe. If you're interested in possibly submitting, have suggestions for topics or want to shoot any general questions you can reply right to this newsletter. We also have an Instagram account!

This issue is brought to you by the good intentions of bringing your kids to the farmer’s market, as if this time it won’t be annoying and expensive and not worth it.

One witchy thing

Bless Up Kimmy Schmidt GIF by Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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