My grandma sends money for Christmas, not just to me but to my husband and kids as well. It is ridiculously kind. My little chunk usually goes to holiday season activities—those extra evenings out that add up. No one makes me spend my money on my family, just to be clear. But when I’m feeling a bit flush, I usually peel off bills dramatically for something like a movie after the matinee price has ended—big-spendy stuff.
My spouse, dear sweet man, made his own financial decision this year. He made a purchase he’d been dreaming of for ages. A purchase that only a middle-class white male would have the audacity of buying. A purchase that, simply put, exemplifies privilege.
Generally, you see people wearing such things on airplanes to tune out ambient noise and be in their own little world. Fantastic. Or perhaps they’re great for working in a busy newsroom with dozens of cubicles of diligent employees all around—a simple invention to make the rest of the world disappear.
My husband did not buy the headphones for any of those reasonable scenarios. He bought them to wear around the house.
This man was unable to keep a straight face when confronted with the supremely callous, asinine nature of this idea. Why? Because there is no way to tell your devoted family that you have spent not a little bit of money on a product designed to block them out.
To make it so you can be with them and pretend you are not.
To literally cancel out the existence of the people around you.
In 10 years of parenting, I have come to understand that my mom-self is wired differently than my husband’s dad-self. I can hear, still, the stirring in the bed of a child right before they wake up with a nightmare. I always have a small piece of my brain on mom mode, no matter what else is happening. I have no problem with this, since that is how humanity has survived.
But if you are looking to send a passive-aggressive signal to your peeps, get some noise-canceling headphones and wear them while sitting in the same room with them. No words can be as strong as the message this gets across without your mouth even opening.
Life is loud, especially when you have kids. We all want a little peace and quiet. I get it. But there are better ways to handle your stress than pretend it doesn’t exist. And if your kids are in the other room and die while you’re lying there blocking them out? I’m gonna be pretty pissed off.
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