Be Happy or I'll Scream!: My Deranged Quest for the Perfect Husband, Family, and Life

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9780312342340: Be Happy or I'll Scream!: My Deranged Quest for the Perfect Husband, Family, and Life

Be Happy or I'll Scream is for every married woman who has found just the tiniest bit of disconnect between the image of a perfect family in her head-think "The Brady Bunch" or "The Huxtables"-and the evidence in front of her eyes. Instead of darling and compliant rosy-cheeked children and an adorably tolerant husband ready to go along with zany shenanigans, most women are faced with: kids who view family outings with all the enthusiasm of hardened inmates forced to bust rocks in roadside Alabama and a man who would trade every last one of her kooky ideas for a just a teeny little bit more sex and a hot meal on the table at six.

Sheri Lynch, co-cost of radio's syndicated Bob & Sheri, is a superb humorist of modern marriage, mores, and motherhood. Her Hello, My Name Is Mommy decoded the pitfalls of pregnancy and trials of new motherhood. Be Happy or I'll Scream taps into the wackier, even more wonderful world of family and husband management, kid-raising, and sanity maintenance in the face of it all. Her take on what life is really like inside a marriage-as opposed to what it looks like on the holiday card version of same-will ring both wacky and true to any woman who was ever foolish enough to dream of the perfect marriage and family.

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About the Author:

SHERI LYNCH is the co-host of the syndicated morning radio show Bob & Sheri, which originates in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is heard in over sixty markets across the country. She lives with her husband, stepson and two preschool age daughters in Charlotte.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

T.R.A.P.

I knew I was beaten on the day I finally admitted to myself that I was using the dog as a vacuum cleaner. Get on over here, Champ! I’d wearily bellow, hardly pausing to watch as our elderly and almost completely daft French bulldog lapped up whatever rice, peas, Cheerios, or raisins the baby had flung around the kitchen. It was a job that required some supervision, though far less effort than reaching for the Hoover: You missed a spot right here, buddy. Sometimes I’d even help him halfway up onto her seat so that he could pry loose any morsel that might have wedged itself between the bottom of her booster and the chair. It was slovenly and gross, and I knew it. Of course I knew it. I could even feel my clean freak mother’s disapproval clear across two thousand miles and three time zones. But I was tired, so tired, too tired to care, much less worry about some dog saliva and a few stray elbow noodles. Three kids, a husband, and a full-time career had lowered my standards to depths I never thought possible. In the span of a few short years, I’d been transformed from an anal-retentive, obsessive nutcase into a who-cares-as-long-as-we-don’t-have-bugs obsessive nutcase. Which I guess counts as progress, or will have to, since there’s no going back.

I’ve poured my energy&mdash-the energy I might have used for cleaning, serious volunteering, learning a new craft, or at least doing Pilates&mdash-into a crazy experiment. One that I realized probably wasn’t working out all too well on the evening I caught a glimpse of myself looking haggard and crazy-woman sloppy in the sunglasses department at Wal-Mart. While my husband tried on new shades, I stood clutching a package of Dora The Explorer underpants for our three-year-old, and numbly watched as our one-year-old gnawed on the metal arm of a tipsy display rack. Part of my brain screamed, Germs! Oh my God! Germs! Exposed metal! Danger! Danger! Danger! But the rest of that soggy organ slyly whispered, Ah. She’s not crying. Excellent. Why not enjoy a minute here to yourself? ...Which is precisely what I did, staring bug-eyed off into the middle distance, half-listening to the chatter of my family, and the murmurs of my passing fellow Wal-Martians. That’s when my husband’s righteously disbelieving voice sliced into my dazed reverie like a knife. WHAT are you chewing? Mommy! Hello? Hello? Do you see what your baby is doing? THAT’S not too disgusting! Here! Thwomp! He dumped the baby into my arms, her face screwed up in rage and disappointment. I knew that we had only seconds before the now-building scream would tear loose from her throat&mdash-shrill, deafening, insane. Whipping a colorful, trendy, pediatrician-approved teething device from my bag, I waved it at her, a gesture rich in both hope and futility. Furious, she knocked it out of my hand. More screaming.

Sensing an opportunity, our three-year-old sidled up. Mommy, can I please have some Skittles? She nodded her head yes while asking, hoping to hypnotize me into granting her request.

No Skittles, I answered firmly, still convinced that I might yet pull off the whole calm, reasonable, I’m-in-charge-here parenting charade. You’ve already had a treat.

My husband was now swabbing out the baby’s mouth with a Wet One, an indignity that only slightly muffled her roaring.

But I want some Skittles! Olivia barked. You have to give me some Skittles! Furious that her demands were being ignored, Olivia then upped the ante to full-blown hysteria. Inspired, the baby lustily joined in. Stereo shrieking.

Shooting me a look of pure aggravation, Mark hissed, Let’s just pay and get out of here.

As we hustled our little treasures out the door, both grimy faced and wailing, it hit me: What I wanted was a family just like the families on television. What we actually became, however, was Those People. The family no one wants to be anywhere near on an airplane, or in a restaurant. We were loud, we were grubby, we were bickering&mdash-and we were at Wal-Mart on a Friday night. How on earth had we gotten so far off-course?

It began as a New Year’s resolution. After a frantic holiday season of too much shopping and too many toys, of juggled schedules and events, of expectations reaching too high and energy levels hovering too low, I wanted a break. No, that’s not quite strong enough. I wanted a different life&mdash-for all of us. I couldn’t understand why everything always felt so rushed and crazy. Everyone was healthy. We weren’t starving or cold. Nothing was on fire, leaking, or ready to explode. So why did we exist in a state of constant, chronic chaos? I flirted briefly with the idea of quitting everything and moving the whole family to a modest cabin out west, but my parents did that and believe me, it created far more problems than it solved. Our approach to making a new life in rural Wyoming was so half-assed that compared to us, the Unabomber in his ratty shed looked like a responsible guy with a bright future. When it comes to experiencing the raw thrill of an isolated, poverty-stricken, sub-zero winter or two, I’ve been there and done it, thank you. You can keep it. I like my creature comforts, i.e., electricity, flush toilets, and central heating, way too much to willingly surrender them.

Besides, what I wanted wasn’t exactly a simpler life; I wanted a television life. A fantasy, in other words, made up of rollicking, wholesome, happy, zany fun. I knew such a thing was an unattainable goal of course, in much the same way that I knew getting a body like a swimsuit model’s was an unattainable goal. But that didn’t stop me from hitting the gym every February. All that was needed was a plan and a bit of willpower. Compared to the impossible task of morphing my five-foot, six-inch dependably sturdy frame into that of a willowy bikini mannequin, transforming my beautiful family into an idealized little band of adventurers seemed just about ridiculously easy. We’d simply have to commit to living our lives to the absolute fullest, seizing every moment, instead of just schlepping from place to place, mess to mess.

Phase One of my plan consisted of getting every member of the family to buy into the whole notion. The baby, Caramia, and the three-year-old, Olivia, were easy. Not only were they both already my loyal followers; they were easily bribed with balloons, key rings, or a fistful of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. The eleven-year-old, Eric, was easy, too&mdash-I just didn’t mention it to him, knowing that he’d go along with pretty much anything that didn’t conflict with PlayStation, Gameboy, or whatever he was watching on TV at the moment. My husband Mark was another story altogether. It was a classic case of differing priorities. My idea of the perfect day included a family outing, a shopping trip, and a fabulous meal. His perfect day began with sex, followed by a dangerous and dirty ride on his mountain bike, followed by even more sex, and finished off with a gigantic bag of something really sugary and gross, like Mike & Ikes or cheap jelly beans. Suffice it to say, neither one of us was living our idea of perfect. Mark’s initial response to my suggestion that we conquer the stresses of daily life by thinking and acting like a sitcom family was a disbelieving, What is wrong with you? That’s nuts. It took some serious persuasion to bring him around. I designed my argument around four key points.

Think Yourself Happy

Research shows that perception is a powerful factor in determining state of mind. Of course, research can be made to show a lot of things. In this case, I counted on my husband being too busy and too distracted to try to prove me wrong. This approach, being very similar to count your blessings, was designed to emphasize all of the many fabulous aspects of our busy life, and to stress the importance of being grateful for each and every last one. Especially those aspects that were very soon to be inflicted in large numbers on us, by me.

Remember: They’re Growing Up So Fast

What parent, gazing into the sullen adolescent face of their once-adorable spawn, hasn’t felt the mortal sucker punch of time? Babies turn into kids, then teens, then adults, in the blink of an eye. Better get in all the balloon animals and beach trips you can while the kids are still cute and enamored of you. Someday you’ll be scrounging together their bail money and wondering if maybe you should have taken them to play mini-golf more often. Why not do it now, while you still can?

Adapt to the Challenges

Argue with Darwin all you want, but there’s a lot of truth in that whole survival-of-the-fittest business. With kids, someone or something will always be broken, off-schedule, or horribly expensive. Only those parental organisms that can adapt to hardship and somehow manage to thrive despite deprivation of sleep, privacy, and cash will survive. And don’t think you can save yourself from any of it. Cowering in the house in front of the television offers no protection from the aggravation, expense, and sheer fatigue of having a family. Accept that you’re probably going to wind up old, broke, and exhausted, and just fling yourself into it with everything you’ve got. Then, when you’re old, broke, and exhausted, at least you’ll have some good stories to tell.

Plan for Adventure

If you just sit around waiting for something amazing to happen, chances are excellent that absolutely nothing will ever come your way. Fun is something you generally have to seek out. Fun that finds you is usually someone else’s fun. That’s not always a bad thing, but after a while it feels unsatisfying at best, downright abusive at worst. Remember all those great ideas you had about what your life would be like one of these days? The scary truth is, these days are here&mdash-and not only here but flying by and gone. It’s past time to get busy. Think basic physics: A body at rest tends to re...

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Book Description GRIFFIN, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. Be Happy or I ll Scream is for every married woman who has found just the tiniest bit of disconnect between the image of a perfect family in her head-think The Brady Bunch or The Huxtables -and the evidence in front of her eyes. Instead of darling and compliant rosy-cheeked children and an adorably tolerant husband ready to go along with zany shenanigans, most women are faced with: kids who view family outings with all the enthusiasm of hardened inmates forced to bust rocks in roadside Alabama and a man who would trade every last one of her kooky ideas for a just a teeny little bit more sex and a hot meal on the table at six. Sheri Lynch, co-cost of radio s syndicated Bob Sheri, is a superb humorist of modern marriage, mores, and motherhood. Her Hello, My Name Is Mommy decoded the pitfalls of pregnancy and trials of new motherhood. Be Happy or I ll Scream taps into the wackier, even more wonderful world of family and husband management, kid-raising, and sanity maintenance in the face of it all. Her take on what life is really like inside a marriage-as opposed to what it looks like on the holiday card version of same-will ring both wacky and true to any woman who was ever foolish enough to dream of the perfect marriage and family. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780312342340

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Book Description GRIFFIN, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Be Happy or I ll Scream is for every married woman who has found just the tiniest bit of disconnect between the image of a perfect family in her head-think The Brady Bunch or The Huxtables -and the evidence in front of her eyes. Instead of darling and compliant rosy-cheeked children and an adorably tolerant husband ready to go along with zany shenanigans, most women are faced with: kids who view family outings with all the enthusiasm of hardened inmates forced to bust rocks in roadside Alabama and a man who would trade every last one of her kooky ideas for a just a teeny little bit more sex and a hot meal on the table at six. Sheri Lynch, co-cost of radio s syndicated Bob Sheri, is a superb humorist of modern marriage, mores, and motherhood. Her Hello, My Name Is Mommy decoded the pitfalls of pregnancy and trials of new motherhood. Be Happy or I ll Scream taps into the wackier, even more wonderful world of family and husband management, kid-raising, and sanity maintenance in the face of it all. Her take on what life is really like inside a marriage-as opposed to what it looks like on the holiday card version of same-will ring both wacky and true to any woman who was ever foolish enough to dream of the perfect marriage and family. Bookseller Inventory # AAV9780312342340

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Book Description GRIFFIN, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Be Happy or I ll Scream is for every married woman who has found just the tiniest bit of disconnect between the image of a perfect family in her head-think The Brady Bunch or The Huxtables -and the evidence in front of her eyes. Instead of darling and compliant rosy-cheeked children and an adorably tolerant husband ready to go along with zany shenanigans, most women are faced with: kids who view family outings with all the enthusiasm of hardened inmates forced to bust rocks in roadside Alabama and a man who would trade every last one of her kooky ideas for a just a teeny little bit more sex and a hot meal on the table at six. Sheri Lynch, co-cost of radio s syndicated Bob Sheri, is a superb humorist of modern marriage, mores, and motherhood. Her Hello, My Name Is Mommy decoded the pitfalls of pregnancy and trials of new motherhood. Be Happy or I ll Scream taps into the wackier, even more wonderful world of family and husband management, kid-raising, and sanity maintenance in the face of it all. Her take on what life is really like inside a marriage-as opposed to what it looks like on the holiday card version of same-will ring both wacky and true to any woman who was ever foolish enough to dream of the perfect marriage and family. Bookseller Inventory # BZE9780312342340

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Book Description Griffin. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 240 pages. Dimensions: 8.2in. x 5.5in. x 0.8in.Be Happy or Ill Scream is for every married woman who has found just the tiniest bit of disconnect between the image of a perfect family in her headthink The Brady Bunch or The Huxtablesand the evidence in front of her eyes. Instead of darling and compliant rosy-cheeked children and an adorably tolerant husband ready to go along with zany shenanigans, most women are faced with: kids who view family outings with all the enthusiasm of hardened inmates forced to bust rocks in roadside Alabama and a man who would trade every last one of her kooky ideas for a just a teeny little bit more sex and a hot meal on the table at six. Sheri Lynch, co-cost of radios syndicated Bob and Sheri, is a superb humorist of modern marriage, mores, and motherhood. Her Hello, My Name Is Mommy decoded the pitfalls of pregnancy and trials of new motherhood. Be Happy or Ill Scream taps into the wackier, even more wonderful world of family and husband management, kid-raising, and sanity maintenance in the face of it all. Her take on what life is really like inside a marriageas opposed to what it looks like on the holiday card version of samewill ring both wacky and true to any woman who was ever foolish enough to dream of the perfect marriage and family. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780312342340

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