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Rage Fest

Everyone loves a good festival. There's no better way to excessively celebrate a theme than bringing a group of like-minded individuals together in observance, over a period of time- be it a day, week or even a month. Most of us have been to some sort of festival or carnival of one type or another: religious, harvest, music, movies, food, beer, wine, dance, art, fairies, comic books, etc. If there's something to celebrate, there's likely a festival for it.

I'd say my first festivals were musically focused and I recall being angry that I was a bit too young to go to the revival of the ultimate music festival, Woodstock. In my younger days there was nothing better than an all day and all night celebration of music accompanied by dancing and a massive hang over. Over time I have expanded my festival attendance which is now much broader in nature. As a family, we have enjoyed art festivals in a variety of settings- art by the lake, art in the hills, art in the city. We've felt hungover after kid-centric festivals that include hundreds of screaming children in a gymnasium, bounce houses, cake walks, and cotton candy. We've actually been hungover after the multitude of beer festivals (also known as the bearded men wearing pretzel necklaces festivals) that take place in our cold and dark upstate area every year. We've never missed the annual harvest festival and it's unlikely we are ever going to miss the local fairy festival after participating for the very first time this past summer. And whether or not you call it a nerd convention or festival, Andy relishes attending NYC's ComiCon convention, which I hope to attend one day, as well.

Now, there's one type of festival, or fest, as I like to call it, that I relish over all others. It certainly takes place over a period of time, sometimes a Sunday afternoon, sometimes mornings before school starts, or 7:45 on a Tuesday night, sometimes it lasts for weeks on end, or sometimes as long as it takes to get from point A to point B on a road trip. It can occur in a group setting, like with a bottle of wine being shared by a group of moms or it can be shared by a small group of individuals, for example a family. This fest is different in nature from all others. It's excessive for sure. It's cathartic (to some involved) but it's not what I'd call celebratory in nature. This festival is known as Rage Fest.

Don't confuse this Rage Fest with one I may have attended in my younger years- a music event in Waterloo, which is known for being, "a great community that provides an escape from the drudgery of daily existence and memories for a lifetime."* The Rage Fest of which I speak is brought on by the drudgery of daily existence and unfortunately, for any of us who have had a mom, or been a mom, it does make memories for a lifetime. You have all been to your mom's Rage Fest. For my mom, Rage Fest looked a little like this: she cleaned for 6 hours on a Saturday while we moaned about being bored. Dad watched bowling and moved his body only to lift his legs for her to vacuum under his recliner. Just as she was putting away the vacuum and cleaning supplies into the closet, my brother picked little pieces of brownie, that she'd somehow made that day, and tossed them at her. She picked up the plate and threw all of the brownies at him. He ducked, they hit the wall. She yelled. She screamed. She swore. We laughed. Dad sat. She cried and then we got the silent treatment. Rage Fest.

Andy's mom, bless her heart and soul, being the only woman in her household, had her own way of participating in the mother of all festivals. I understand, from those lifetime of memories Andy has shared, that theirs looked something like this: his mom would clean the house, go grocery shopping, cook all day and then allow the boys to invite friends over. The boys thought it was a good idea to make a ball out of silly string, cover it in "vampire blood" and throw it down the stairs onto the carpet. Who would have thought Rage Fest would ensue when his mom asked them to clean up the mess and Andy sprayed Tilex on the carpet, leaving a big bleach stain for eternity. She yelled, she screamed and then she took to the typewriter and, on formal resume paper, she declared that she was on strike: she was no longer their servant, their maid, their personal chef and laundress. Rage Fest.

My family attends my Rage Fest weekly, or as Andy suggests, daily. I do the laundry, fold it, stack it and place it on the dryer to be put away. Kids pull a pair of pants from the bottom of the stack and leave the clothes in an un-folded pile on the floor. Rage Fest. I get up at 5:30 and feed the pets, get snacks ready, get school folders packed and ask the kids to get up over and over and over and over. Andy checks his email and hides in the bathroom. I give a 15 minute, 10 minute, 5 minute and 1 minute warning for the bus. The bus rolls up. My family stands in the living room, still putting on coats, hats, mittens, etc. The bus rolls away. Rage Fest. I work all day and don't take my coat off before starting to cook dinner. I help kids with homework and baths, wash dishes and read them stories. Andy walks in at 8 pm and insists I come smell the dog who he thinks has been sprayed by a skunk. He urges me to step outside and then come in to smell the "foul odor" that is the skunk spray. I walk outside. I walk back in. I tell him it's the fish I made for dinner. Rage Fest.

This is the tough side of Rage Fest that nobody enjoys. No mom wants to go on strike. No mom wants to fold laundry to see it fall on the floor. No mom wants to bake brownies to then throw them at the wall. No mom wants to protest for their rights to be treated as a human being and not a human vacuum. But rage is a fury. Rage is a frenzy. Rage is an emotional response to fight or flight and how many moms have been standing in the grocery store and, in what seems like slow-motion, watch their children knock over a display of cans and want to either scream and yell or run far, far, away? As moms, we have all come face-to-face with rage.

Remember, a festival is a happy coming together of like minded people to mark a special occasion or celebrate a mutual interest. There is another type of Rage Fest for moms and it's better than any other festival I have ever attended. The very best rage fest does not occur when I am in fight or flight mode with my family. The very best of all Rage Fests occurs with a group of other moms, preferably with wine in hand. During this Rage Fest, we collectively take stock, bear witness, give an amen, and exchange battle stories. Like the art festival, Rage Fests are geographically diverse. We can rage by the lake or rage in the hills. We rage in the city. It only takes two to organize the festival and it can go on for minutes, hours, or days thanks to instant messenger and texting. To outsiders, it may seem scary, dangerous, dark and mysterious. (a la Burning Man) At the end of the day, Rage Fest is a coming together to mark the season of motherhood, a time that is as rewarding as it is challenging, as fleeting as it laggard. For moms, it is a festival not to be missed and for families, a festival that can't be avoided.

* (Learn about the music Rage Fest here.)


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