Frankie Say Relax

There are very few things that annoy me more than people telling me to relax. If you have to tell me to relax, the chance of me relaxing will no doubt plummet immediately. The same goes for smiling. Telling someone to smile will invariably have the opposite effect. And if you ever use a phrase like “turn that frown upside down” you are liable to get punched. I used to get told to smile all the time by all different kinds of people; teachers, my grandfather, mailmen even homeless people. Of course, when homeless people are telling you to cheer up – that’s not a good sign. But I naturally have a somewhat dour expression when I’m thinking or just plain old not smiling, so I guess I can see where people might think I’m unhappy when I’m not. But telling me to try to force an expression of happiness in not the right direction to go. Try giving me money.

Today, Sadie had a developmental specialist come and check on her progress. As I’ve written here countless times, I have let my worry about Sadie’s past feeding and growing problems lead me down a few bad paths (thanks Google) and I’ve had to be talked off of a few ledges regarding various syndromes, the latest being Russell Silver syndrome that I half convinced myself she had. I’ve since ruled it out. But mostly I’ve accepted that she’s doing things at her own pace and all I can do is make sure she has all the proper medical intervention in place to monitor her. Although I’ve accepted that, I’m still hyper vigilant and a natural worrier and I tend to ask a lot of “what if” questions. The development specialist checked out my petite baby, put her through the paces and announced that I needed to relax and stop looking for problems. Oh, okay, thanks. I hadn’t thought of that.

To tell a high strung, neurotic Jew who’s already had a lifetime of therapy; is already on a daily regimen of Zoloft, Xanax, and a few medicinal beers, is late on a deadline, and has gained an extra two children and ten pounds in the past nine months to relax is almost comical. Almost. But not.

I’ve been this way for 42 years and I kind of know how to deal with myself at this point. I know that cocaine is not a good drug for me. Neither is coffee, tea or almost anything you can buy at Starbucks. I know to stay off of Google (when possible), to avoid Scientologists, grape Kool-Aid and overly simplified answers like “The Secret.” If the Secret really worked my house would be built out of yummy yummy gumdrops and I would be soaking in a hot tub of hundred dollar bills right now. And please don’t tell me to get a massage, try Yoga, take a bubble bath or sip some herbal tea. If that worked I wouldn’t be still be paying off old shrink bills.

The good news is that things are where they would be expected for Sadie taking into account her IUGR, preemie status, fungal infections and possible reflux. She’s connecting, engaging, rolling, tracking, grabbing toys with two hands and doing well on her stomach. Now if I could just teach her to fetch me a Red Hook…we’d both be doing great!

I will do another installment of my book deal series tomorrow – we’ll talk more about finding your voice and whether or not you need a platform.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on September 10, 2008 10:23 pmUncategorized47 comments  


  1. Cheryl Lage said,

    Bwahahahahaa! Well that post sure turned my frown upside down ;).

    Do feel a bit guilty in retrospect as I know I’ve encouraged you to try to relax…if in the future I misstep and repeat my admonition, know that in my world relax = a glass of wine and no Google.

    Glad to hear Super Sadie is rockin’–Ms. Maddie better mind her Ps and Qs…Sadie will be a force to be reckoned with. No laurel resting for Divine Ms. M.

    | September 10, 2008 @ 11:27 pm

  2. Marinka said,

    I also, hate “relax” and “smile” and the “smile, it can’t be that bad,” makes me want to keep a criminal defense lawyer on retainer.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 12:37 am

  3. Backpacking Dad said,

    I’ve seen you smile. It didn’t look like you had to dust it off for company or anything. I think you smile a lot.

    A fat Texan once told my wife, while trying to pick her up at a bar in downtown San Diego: “You’re too pretty to be so mean.” That made her smile, at least.

    Now, just imagine that there’s always a fat Texan trying to pick you up at a bar with “You’re too pretty to be so mean” and see if you end up smiling more often :}

    | September 11, 2008 @ 12:54 am

  4. Giovanna Diaries said,

    Oh! I find the “relax” so darn obnoxious.
    The downside of being a blogger….constantly on the computer which sooner or later always brings you to google searches.
    I’m with you. A few weeks ago I was convinced I had a broken foot or torn tendon or something of the like…ended up being a sprained ankle.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 1:03 am

  5. Erin said,

    Wtf is relaxing? I haven’t relaxed since my first kid came screaming out of me 12 years ago. She still hasn’t stopped…. People who tell me to smile, relax, chill out, etc. are bound to see a well polished middle finger.

    And my little one is being slow to crawl while everyone else’s is just a movin’ along. Next I’ll be bitching about how she doesn’t sit still. Never happy I tell ya…

    | September 11, 2008 @ 1:31 am

  6. Aunt Becky said,

    Well, you know Stef, when life gives you lemons, make some lemonade. Or something.

    Okay, I’m punching myself in the nuts for saying that.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 2:14 am

  7. Lisa said,

    Google can be a dangerous thing for your mental health. Back when I was a student taking my first pathology course, the instructor made a point of telling all of us that there was nothing wrong with us. It seems that it’s very common for that sort of reading to get everyone convinced that there is something horrible wrong with them.

    I have no suggestions for how to relax. I also live in a house with children. I just WISH I had some Xanax. Or tequila, whatever.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 2:31 am

  8. zellmer said,

    You’re awesome.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 2:33 am

  9. Y said,

    I feel the exact same way about people telling me to smile.

    But, I can’t lie, I totally LOVE IT when they tell me to “let go and let God!”

    (I love you and miss you, man.)

    | September 11, 2008 @ 5:21 am

  10. Willow said,

    being told to relax is right up there with being ordered to ‘cheer up’. It sucks. Relaxing is overrated anyway, it just lulls you into a false sense of security…

    Really glad to hear Sadie is doing so well.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 6:19 am

  11. Rhea said,

    I want to know the story behind grape coolaid. lol Sounds interesting.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 11:34 am

  12. Aubrey Anne said,

    If only you knew how much I relate! What a fantastic post. I want to print it and frame it and put it on my wall so I can point at it every time my husband says, “Just relax,” or, “chill out,” or, “why can’t you just go with the flow of things?” It can just speak for me, so I won’t have to keep abusing him.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 12:01 pm

  13. Becky said,

    ha! I SO get it! I’ve had a stutter since as long as I can remember talking and I LOVE it when I’m trying to say something and people say to me “oh slow down, honey, just relax.”

    Well DUH! I wasted ALL that time in speech therapy and fancy programs. If only I had known that all I had to do was slow down and relax – gee, thanks.

    It seems like people just don’t think before they hand out useless “advice”.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 12:10 pm

  14. daddy dan said,

    “Turn that frown upside down” is just cause for a smackdown.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

  15. daddy dan said,

    And I forgot to add thank you for the book deal series. Very interesting and informative stuff!

    | September 11, 2008 @ 2:20 pm

  16. WA said,

    You are hilarious.
    And I’m right with you–I’ve actually had masseuses yell at me to relax while I’m on the massage table.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 3:46 pm

  17. PAPATV said,

    There’s a guy at my work who keeps a mirror directly in front of him. He says it’s to keep him from getting mad. It’s a Japanese trick or something. He also has long, flowing hair. He’s not fooling me.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 4:28 pm

  18. Threeundertwo said,

    Your feelings are real. Bottom line, they’re your feelings. If you didn’t worry about her, you wouldn’t be a good mother.

    I’m so glad she’s on track.

    I’m still laughing at Backpacking Dad’s comment – just visualize that fat Texan. . .

    | September 11, 2008 @ 4:52 pm

  19. LD said,

    I hear you.
    I’ve been dealing with behaviour stuff with my son (think ADHD type stuff) and trying to diagnose it.
    I know people are being helpful, but if one more person tells me it’s “just a stage” or warns me about the dangers of medication (which I’m not even at the point of considering) or tells me not to worry about it – I’m going to scream.
    I hate people who tell me to relax. I don’t relax.
    Anyway, good for you for doing your best

    | September 11, 2008 @ 5:47 pm

  20. Hot Mamma said,

    Ok so some people are just the way they are. Worrying about your kids and Sadie makes you a great mom. I worry like crazy, over everything and tend to over-react on things and I myself, find myself annoying but it’s me. You’re a great mom and if someone wants you to take a bubble bath, feel free to shove the bubbles up their a**!

    | September 11, 2008 @ 6:30 pm

  21. Kristin.... said,

    I don’t relax easily either and my husband just can’t understand. I guess it’s in my nature.
    I’m glad to hear Sadie is on track!

    | September 11, 2008 @ 6:32 pm

  22. Lil Mouse said,

    i’m a ‘perma’ frowner too. people take it personally and then comment on it, but really its just deep thinking..

    | September 11, 2008 @ 6:55 pm

  23. Jeanna said,

    I can relate. I now sport that little wrinkle between my eyes like Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally.” Unfortunately, it’s not as cute.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 7:47 pm

  24. StephanieG said,

    It’s official. I think your my first girlblogger crush.

    I love the way you write! You’ve certainly found your voice, and praise the lord and pass the prozac that you’re sharing that voice with the rest of us.

    Don’t worry, be happy. Ha! Couldn’t resist.

    | September 11, 2008 @ 8:19 pm

  25. Rhea said,

    I’m still trying to find my voice. That’s for sure. It’s kind of fun exploring.

    Not, turn that frown upside down and RELAX!!! hehe

    Just kiddin.

    | September 12, 2008 @ 12:26 am

  26. Jennifer said,

    I HATE grape Kool-Aid!

    | September 12, 2008 @ 1:34 am

  27. pixiemama said,

    There is nothing more infuriating (and less relaxing) for an anxiety ridden person to hear than “relax” or “calm down.” If I could calm the f*ck down, don’t you think I would? Anxiety is a DISEASE just like diabetes, heart disease, etc. Let’s stop pretending it’s my fault that I’m a f*cking wreck.

    | September 12, 2008 @ 2:14 pm

  28. Laggin said,

    People tell me to smile too. And I hate it. I genuinely smile, when I genuinely feel like it. And if I fake smile at you, it’s because … well, watch the hell out. Only my inner bitch fake smiles.

    Glad to hear Sadie’s moving along. My LD kid didn’t manifest anything…or at least anything normal people would recognize as an issue…until she was about 6. Who knew early speech can be a bad thing?

    | September 12, 2008 @ 3:21 pm

  29. Andréa said,

    First time reader, and (just having a baby 4 months ago) I seriously almost peed my pants. I am so high strung people always tell me to do yoga and relax. I’m, thinking… look I can’t even keep my leg still in church let alone when something is really bothering me. UGH! I love this blog. So funny!

    | September 12, 2008 @ 3:53 pm

  30. Ms. Bar B: said,

    Lol, well put. The first thing that pops into your head ISN’T always the best thing to say to someone, because… well, they just might ALREADY KNOW. Its easy to do though I guess.

    Glad to hear that things are going well for the little one.

    | September 12, 2008 @ 6:23 pm

  31. heather... said,

    People always walk by my desk and say, “It’s not that bad Heather.” Usually I let it go, but sometimes I snap and say, “how the fuck do YOU know it’s not that bad! My baby is in the hospital/not eating/getting a breathing evaluation!”

    Don’t presume anything, ass holes.

    PS Elby can totally fetch you a Red Hook. Just put them on the bottom shelf in the fridge.

    | September 12, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

  32. TGsacks,Think Global,Shop Beautiful said,

    I am loving this, a mom of 8 delightful chidren has put new meaning to the word relax…yeah right!! I enjoyed reading this blog thanks anything that makes me feel in good company is a good thing we take what we can get right !!!!!

    | September 13, 2008 @ 3:35 am

  33. RhoRho said,

    Gotta say i am totally with you- nobody tell me to RELAX or SMILE. Does anyone ever tell boys to smile? Nah, it’s just us girls that have to fake it. Also, so glad i caught up on your posts tonight – the stuff about writing -truly helpful and appreciated; thanks so much for being generous with your knowledge.

    | September 15, 2008 @ 1:53 am

  34. Anonymous said,

    Amen! Telling someone to smile, while good intentioned, is insensitive. Just a few weeks ago, I was waiting in line for a stall in a restroom and my thoughts drifted to my dad who had passed not long ago after a horrific cancer battle. I am sure I looked miserable. (Duh.) I was snapped back to reality by some perky idiot saying, “Smile! It’s all good!” I wanted to slap the shit out of her.

    | September 15, 2008 @ 5:34 pm

  35. Wicked Step Mom said,

    I hate being told to relax. It does have the opposite effect on me for sure! But I am glad that Sadie is doing so well that the specialist said to relax.

    | September 15, 2008 @ 10:49 pm

  36. How to Party with an Infant said,

    I hate “relax” and “smile”
    When someone tells me to do either of these I do the exact opposite.

    | September 16, 2008 @ 12:46 am

  37. bejewell said,

    Ummm… sounds like you’ve got it… all under control?

    | September 16, 2008 @ 1:31 am

  38. MereCat said,

    I know it’s aggravating that she told you to relax, but the good news is that she didn’t tell you to be alarmed. That’s a good thing. But I still hate it when people say ” Smile!” or “Relax” because it makes me want to sock’em. Why don’t people get that?

    | September 16, 2008 @ 2:42 am

  39. DivaDunn said,

    As long as you weren’t hitting those homeless people up for a swig of their vodka, I think you’re handling your anxiety just fine.

    Of course, maybe in LA the homeless drink Grey Goose…

    | September 16, 2008 @ 3:22 pm

  40. Laura said,

    You got me peeing with “the secret”.

    | September 17, 2008 @ 7:10 pm

  41. seran said,

    Ooohh, I get so furious when my family tell me to relax. If that worked, would I have an effing zoloft prescription? Clearly I’m aware I have a problem, so if awareness and trying to relax solved it, we wouldn’t be having the conversation in the first place.

    I was once sitting in a living room full of people and someone told a story about how their friend forgot his dog was in the car and it died from the heat. Although I was definitively sure I had not brought my dog with me, I got up and went outside and checked my car to be sure.

    Cuz simply put I am bat shit crazy.

    That’s just not the kind of anxiety a nice bath or a little exercise will make go away.:-)

    | September 18, 2008 @ 10:42 pm

  42. Mama Cass said,

    Oh, come on…you just have to envision the yummy gumdrop house as if it is already yours…and it will be. ;-). The “relax” thing bothers me, too. And the “don’t worry, kids are resilient” thing.

    | September 21, 2008 @ 2:35 am

  43. Ms Picket To You said,

    i used to fine my husband a dollar every time he told me to relax. i bought a new pair of pretty nice boots before he finally deleted the word from his vocab.

    grumpy and freaked out are rights of personality we must never give up!

    | September 22, 2008 @ 8:43 pm

  44. Dairy Queen Fairy Spleen said,

    >previous post deleted because I have not yet learned to preview before publishing and damnitall, if I didn't type out "your's" instead of "yours" and that, well that might just topple me over the edge<

    Don't you just want to counter those slap-happy carebears with:

    How bout I shove my effin foot up your arse and see how YOU relax and smile???"

    So yeah, I feel your pain.

    Yours Truly,
    another one persecuted for her "tone of voice," "looks that kill," and "V.B.A."

    | September 27, 2008 @ 10:10 am

  45. bsouth said,

    Hmmm, I think what you need to relax is to turn that frown upsi….. oh no, wait, I meant – pour yourself a bloody large glass of wine (I find a pint glass useful.

    | September 30, 2008 @ 8:05 pm

  46. adsiza said,


    | December 22, 2008 @ 7:56 am

  47. alperen said,


    | January 14, 2009 @ 11:50 am

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