Tag Archives: motherhood

Time is a four-letter word

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image courtesy of forevergeek.com

I was late to work this morning. It was 7:08 as I started up the onramp. When I pulled up in front of my office ten minutes later, it was 7AM. Evidently I drove through a wormhole on the freeway; either that, or my car is powered by a flux capacitor.

 

 

Sir Isaac Newton told us that time was linear, while Einstein argued that time is relative.

The doctor tells us that, “it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly…time-y wimey..stuff.”

I say tempus fugits. Yes, I am quite aware that I’m saying it wrong. For some reason (the length of time since my last English class, perhaps?) I always say “Tempus Fugits”. I’m sure it irritates people no end. I know it makes me crazy when people abuse the English language (My husband’s insistence on saying  “6am in the morning” makes me cringe every time) – but there you have it. My own personal …what? malapropism? made up word? faux pas? issue? What the heck would it be?

But I digress. I wanted to remind you that Time is an asshole. He speeds up when he should slow down, races when he should crawl and generally doesn’t do what we want him to. Time flies.  Not that we need a reminder. Or I don’t, at least. We’re halfway through November, and I still have a stack of last year’s Christmas cards waiting to be mailed.* They say that time flies when you’re having fun but I disagree. I agree with Mary Engelbreit.

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I spent last weekend with old long time friends. At one point my daughter asked us “How long have you known each other?” As it turns out, we have been friends since before any of the “forever 27” friends were born.

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I didn’t need a visit with friends to remind me that time is flying by. My daughter, who is only 8 years old in Mommy Years, is getting ready to graduate high school. It’s weird. I can clearly remember my senior year of high school (yesterday, on the other hand, is another matter). I remember dances, and high school crushes, being Done With High School (on the first day of my senior year) and fighting with my mother. I don’t know why we fought. I’m sure my friends and family members would tell you it’s because I was a Horrible Teen. I’d like to think I was a Typical Teen, but (seeing that I gave my mother grey hair and shingles) maybe they were right. Or maybe fighting with your mother is a rite of passage. My daughter and I fought last night, because we were ______.

I thought she had lost her mind, and I have no doubt that she thought I was insane. It’s entirely possible that I am, but I wasn’t crazy Before Parenthood (no comments from the peanut gallery). It’s a chicken and the egg thing – which came first, the crazy parent or the crazy-making teen?

She might want to pick up this book:

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Because I’m the mommy, Michael J. Bradley’s other book is at the top of my reading list:

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I’m the mommy. That’s weird.  I don’t think anyone expected to ever hear those words coming from me. I know I didn’t. It’s not that I dislike children, it’s just that I prefer being The Fun Aunt to the Rules and Responsibility of parenthood. Parenting is a four letter word (yes, I’m aware that “parenting” is a nine letter word, but it’s work, which IS a four letter word).  Parenting is not for the weak or faint of heart, trust me on this. And there’s no preparing for it, nobody what anyone tells you. You can read all the Parenting for Dummies books you’d like, and listen to hours of advice from well meaning friends and family members. No matter what anyone says, PARENTING IS LIKE NOTHING YOU’VE EVER EXPERIENCED.

Unless, of course, you’re a rock star:

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I have no doubt that I’ve made mistakes (evidently using sarcasm as a parenting tool is a Bad Thing), but I’ve tried to avoid making the same mistakes my mother made. Not that she was a bad mother (because she was AWESOME, as all my friends would tell you), but I decided to make new mistakes in an effort to raise my daughter to be Different Than Me and an attempt to avoid becoming my mother.

I failed. I have become my mother, despite the best of intentions. The good news is that I’m not alone and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. This paragraph from F Diane Barth LCSW’s post resonated with me:

For example, when I was young and my family teased me about being like my mother (who I did not resemble physically), I felt criticized and resentful. I wanted to be different from her, to have my own personality, separate from hers, and besides, I did not like the things they were commenting on (for example, my bossiness!). But today I am grateful to her for having passed onto me numerous characteristics, including her love of books and her interest in writing, her empathy for others, and her incredible stores of energy.

Of course, there is also plenty to be learned when you don’t become your mother. You can read an excerpt here but don’t come looking to me for tissues. My box is empty.

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I’m sad that my mother wasn’t here when my daughter was born – I have no doubt that she would have had some great parenting advice (not that I would have listened), as well as tips for my daughter on how to drive her parents crazy (not that she needs any tips). I wish she were here to watch her granddaughter/grandchildren grow into amazing young women and men. I know she’d love the fact that my Saturdays for the past three months were spent on the soccer field, volunteering wherever they have a need, and that she’d been thrilled to know that the granddaughter of one of her best friends was on my daughter’s team. If nothing else, I know she’d get a kick out of the fact that her mother’s curse  worked, and that I have a daughter just like me. I hope that one day, my daughter will be proud when someone tells her that she’s just like me.

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Mostly I am happy that my “forever an 8 year old” still tries to climb into my lap at the end of the day. She’s 4″ taller than I am, and doesn’t fit very well, but she tries.  One day, when/if she becomes a mother, I will give her the advice my mother couldn’t give me

Tempus fugits (sic) – whatever you do, don’t blink

(and not just because there are Weeping Angels)

I think Kenny Chesney says it bests.

*Note to friends and family – the printer gave me a discount on my Holiday Cards when I pointed out that they were dated 2016.

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The P-word

Most-popular-e1449500390948The song Popular has been running non-stop since I saw today’s prompt . Thanks for the earworm Daily Post!

I started writing about the tree, but realized mid-post that the correct spelling is “poplar”  (scientific name populus) not “popUlar”. According to Wikipedia, populus is “a genus of 25-35 speciies of deciduous flowering plants…(which) include poplar, aspen and cottonwood.”

It’s a good thing it’s a poplar tree and NOT a popUlar tree (although it might be popular with certain dendrologists), because I don’t know anything about trees. I mean, I know that I like the sound of the wind whispering through the trees, that willow switches leave welts* and that I am too old to climb them. After all, as my daughter so kindly reminded me, “Old people fall a lot” and I’d rather not fall out of a tree.

I considered writing a review of the TV series “Popular“, but, seeing that the show ended in 2001 and I never watched it (evidently I was not part of it’s demographic, as it never hit my radar as “must see tv”) I decided against it. I turned to Miriam-Webster for help.

Popular

[pop-yuh’ler]

  1. of or relating to the general public
  2. frequently encountered or widely acceptd
  3. commonly liked or approved

Ah. Popular. My earworm has turned the volume up to 10. For those of you not familiar with Wicked (where have you been?) Glinda tells Elphaba (and the audience) that “It’s all about popular! It’s not about aptitude. It’s the way you’re viewed. So it’s very shrewd to be popular.”

We all want to be popular (or at least to fit in). Can anyone forget Sally Fields’ shriek of delight that “You like me! You really, really like me!” when she gave her acceptance speech?

I had a great group of friends in high school – a dozen or so jocks, nerds and thespians with whom I’ve remained friends to this day. I have no doubt that some of them secretly (several of them not so secretly) longed to be part of the Popular Crowd. Every school has them – the group of girls who are stylishly dressed, with perfectly applied makeup and neatly combed hair. The girls that are mocked and tormented in movies like Mean Girls and Heathers (Is it just me, or did you get the feeling that these moves were penned by someone who was snubbed by the popular clique?)

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When the teen started high school, I hoped that she would succeed where I’d failed – that her weekends would be a whirlwind of slumber parties and dances, football games and romances – and maybe, just maybe, an invitation to Homecoming or Prom. Instead, my daughter has a great BFF, and a handful of super close thespian friends. She belongs to several high school clubs, and knows kids from every “clique”.

OMG. My daughter has become me. I suppose that means it’s time for me to become my mother – a woman who never knew how popular she was in high school

The problem, IMHO, is that popularity is a matter of perspective (the most popular chess champion is unknown to the football team) and that fame is fleeting. Some people try to rely on popularity to get through life, never realizing that there are more important things than learning (as Glinda tells us) “The proper poise when you talk to boys, little ways to flirt and flounce…what shoes to wear (and) how to fix your hair.” These, then, are the people who spend their lives in the past, reliving their glory days.

I hope my daughter listens to my favorite bit of advice:

Whatever you do, be true to you.

Which is really just reinterpretation of Shakespeare:

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* Please note – No need to call CPS I was not “switched” by my parents as a child. My friends and I used to whip each other when we were pretending to be horses

The S-Word

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image courtesy of whatsyourgrief.com

 

Today’s post is in response to today’s Daily Prompt

Sympathy, as defined by thefreedictionary.com:

sym·pa·thy

   (sĭm′pə-thē)

pl. sym·pa·this

1. A feeling of pity or sorrow for the distress of another; commiseration. See Synonyms at pity.

2. often sympathies An expression of such feeling: offered her sympathies to the mourning family.

[Latin sympathīa, natural affinity, fellow feeling, from Greek sumpatheia, from sumpathēs, affected by like feelings : sun-, syn- + pathos, emotion; see kwent(h)- in Indo-European roots.]

Sympathy, as defined by my mother:

“If you’re looking for sympathy, you’ll find it in the dictionary between shit and syphilis”

My mother was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known. She had a huge soft heart which was full of love and laughter, so when she told me to “look it up in the dictionary”, I was surprised.

In retrospect, I’m sure I deserved the snarky response. I have no doubt that I tested my mother’s patience on a daily basis, and my brother will be quick to tell you that I managed to give her shingles. I was a bit of a teen age drama queen. Not that I’d ever admit to it. (dammit, I just did, didn’t I?).

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – my mother was an amazing woman. Not perfect (is anyone?) but pretty darn close. She was my hero. She taught me a lot. She taught me that strangers are simply friends you haven’t yet met. She taught me the importance of “please” and “thank you” and the difference between “y’all” and “all y’all”*. Mostly she taught me that kindness costs nothing – that sympathy and compassion are not a sign of weakness.

As strange as it sounds, I’m glad that my mother’s not here. She would be heartbroken by the bigotry and hatred that are so prevalent lately. Other than offering sympathy at a time of loss, we seem to have lost the ability to sympathize for anyone who is different from ourselves. The wealthy have no sympathy for the poor, the homeowners turn away from the homeless, and race relations seem to be a thing of the past (Literally. Race relations seem to have returned to those from the 50’s).

We need to remember that being sympathetic to another’s plight doesn’t mean that you are releasing them from accountability for their situation. I have a friend who is always complaining about her health/weight, yet refuses to change her diet or exercise plan. As someone who used to eat ice cream for breakfast (hey, I was ahead of my time, as this study shows) I sympathize with her, even while I hold her responsible for her actions. I have another friend who is always complaining that she’s overwhelmed and sleep deprived, and yet, she’s the first to raise her hand when they call for volunteers, Oh, wait. That’s me. I’m perfectly aware that I need to learn the “n-word” and yet, I refuse to do so (Will you sympathize with me, or should I pick up my dictionary?)

We need to get off our current path of violence and hatred. To do that, we need to learn to sympathize with people we might not agree with – to communicate compassionately.

In a perfect moment of synchronicity, this article from sonima.com on communication dropped into my newsfeed this morning. In it, Sonima’s psychologist and meditation teacher John Rettger offers a 3-step plan and guided meditation for compassionate communication. He instructs that we should do this from a place of empathy, compassion, and authenticity. You can connect to these qualities by taking space to remember what nearly all humans are seeking: To be loved, held with kindness, and accepted.”

Perhaps then, sympathy is not enough. We need to empathize with one another – to support without judgement.

 

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image courtesy of lifehack.org

Or, as Steve Martin says:

“Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.”

I know we can do this – if we can offer Sympathy for the Devil we can sympathize with ANYONE

*For those of you who are not Southerners, “ya’ll” is singular.  and “all y’all” is plural.

So – tell me – what is your definition of sympathy, and who do you have a hard time sympathizing with?

 

 

 

My Mother, My Hero

18581815_10210594503636521_5233969730884670004_n[1]I’ve been working on this piece for a while. I meant to post this yesterday, because it was  the 43rd anniversary of my mom’s 36th birthday*, but Life had other plans

A while ago  I talked about how I always wanted to be a superhero.

My aunt responded with this:

You are a superhero … Doing the right thing is not easy sometimes. You’re so like your mother. I wish Mom or Dad was here to tell me the specifics of this story because I was a kid and can’t remember the details.  Anyway It involved your Mom and race relations in the 50’s.  The local newspaper was interviewing students to get their opinions and they interviewed Karen.  I remember Mom and Dad being so proud of her, but concerned for her safety.  So you see…you’re a chip off the old block.  I’m enjoying your writing. Keep it up!

Love, Aunt Sally

I remember that story very well, but I’m not sure where I heard it. My mom was not one to brag. I probably heard it from my grandfather, who loved sharing family stories (I wish I’d been willing to listen). Or maybe mom told me the story when we had one of our many discussions about racism (I would say that I was raised to be colorblind, but evidently colorblindness is the new racism). I couldn’t understand why we were still struggling with racial inequality in the 70’s. It pissed me off, and I frequently came home, ranting and raving about something I’d seen/heard/read. My mother, who grew up in the Deep South in the 50’s and 60’s, would laugh.

This is the way she told the story –

I went to school at the height of the fight for integration. My father  (who was superintendent for the Oklahoma City school district) met with President Kennedy regarding the issue (I wish I had that picture/newspaper clipping, because it was REALLY cool), but I can’t say for certain that that’s why they chose to interview me. They asked me “What do you think of busing/integration?”. I told them “People should be allowed to attend whatever school they’d like to. They should be allowed to come here or stay at their old school, if that’s what they prefer.”

Needless to say, the newspaper quote did not go over well with some (most) of her neighbors in Tecumseh. My mom never knew about the backlash. My grandmother and grandfather handled the calls calmly, responding to suggestions that they “beat some sense into (her)” with “Thank you. We’re taking care of it.” I love this example of “creative truth telling”. They didn’t LIE, exactly. They just never said how they were “taking care of it”.

This, then, was the woman who raised me. My mother. My hero. Don’t get me wrong – my mother wasn’t perfect. She battled inner demons, she smoked and drank too much, she talked too loudly and snorted when she laughed. She didn’t fit in with the Perfect PTA Parents and Suburban Soccer Moms**.  She may not have been perfect, but she taught me many things. My mother taught me:

  • to be kind to everyone you meet.  (well, she tried to, at least. There are some days when the best I can manage is “not hateful”).
  • that there is no such thing as a stranger. She believed that strangers are just friends you haven’t yet met.
  • the importance of family, and showed me that “family” includes both family by blood and family of heart.
  • the value of shared grief (I used to mock her for crying when a friend suffered a loss because I was a lousy know-it-all teen, but I get it now).
  • and the value of shared joy.
  • the importance of keeping a secret
  • and the destructive power of gossip
  • when to speak up when necessary
  • and when to keep quiet
  • to respect others – that I didn’t have to agree with them, but that everyone is entitled to their own opinion (and that yes, opinions are like assholes)

Most importantly, she taught me that (almost) everything about anyone else is “Noneya”. Race, religious belief, sexual orientation – it really is “noneya business” – as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else (An it harm none. I never realized that my mom was a Wiccan).

In a world that’s becoming increasingly divisive, with hate crimes on the rise and people attacking each other for differing opinions, we need more people like her. She may have been “just” a housewife, but she was as much a superhero as any caped crusader.

*While most women remain 27, my mother was eternally 36. “I can’t be 37 yet, because I swore I would get my ears pierced when I turned 37.”

**Holy crap. I AM my mother’s daughter. <shrug> There are worse things I could be.

My other hero was my grandfather, who always reminded me of Atticus Finch

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I’m curious – who is YOUR hero?

Fork, yeah!

thvtmdn5vdI swear. A lot. I didn’t always have a filthy mouth, but, once I started, I swore loudly and often (my parents were so proud). My favorite word started with an f and ended in a k. It wasn’t “fork”, but that’s the word I will use in this post, because I am trying to beat my addiction. I’ve even started a 12 step program. Hello, my name is Tracey, and I’m addicted to four letter words. Like most 12 step programs, the first step is admitting you have a problem and that you’re powerless to stop. The second step is to believe that a power greater than yourself can help you stop (Yeah, right. Even the power of parenthood couldn’t stop me. My daughter’s first sentence was “Bite me jackass”). The third step is…ummm..fuck if I know. Dammit. Back to day one. Hello, my name is Tracey, and I’m addicted to four letter words….

My husband hoped that becoming an accidental mother would change me. After all, mothers are sweet and kind, loving and gentle. Evidently I didn’t get the memo, because the only thing that changed was that I went from being a wife that swore to a mother with a dirty mouth. The good news is that, when people would “slip” and swear in front of my tweenager, she would just shrug and roll her eyes when they apologized (“I’ve heard worse”).

I know, I know, women shouldn’t swear/it’s not ladylike. TBH I don’t know what the big deal is. Studies have shown that swearing is good for you and reduces pain. Just recently I posted a popular FB meme as my status. I’ll share it here, ICYMI

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image courtesy of imgarcade.com

There are issues when you’re a woman who loves to swear. Nineteen of them have been identified by the awesome Erin La Rosa from Buzzfeed. Being far from “normal” (FYI normal is just a setting on the dryer), my issue wasn’t one of them. Using the “f-word” was cathartic at first, but, like most gateway drugs, one day it stopped giving me the rush I craved. I tried using other words, but they didn’t have the punch I needed. The logical next step in my progression (regression?) was to link them together in strange and unusual ways, but”I’ll see you next Tuesday you cat-faced mother forking son of a female dog” took too damn long. In searching for a new/better four letter word (one that will express my frustration with my current situation and the increasingly dark and dismaying world climate) I found the perfect word.

HOPE

(hōp)

v. hoped, hop·ing, hopes
v.intr.

1. To wish for a particular event that one considers possible: We are hoping for more financial support.
2. Archaic To have confidence; trust.
v.tr.

To desire and consider possible: I hope that you will join us for dinner. We hope to buy a house in the spring. See Synonyms at expect.

I’ve spoken about hope before. One of my first posts talked about losing and finding hope. the other one talked about fear and the power of Hope. When I picture Hope, I see a rare and delicate flower. It’s a fragile thing, easily lost and hard to find when life gets rough. The good news is that Hope is bioluminescent, allowing you to find it even on the darkest of nights. With a little love and a lot of TLC it will blossom, bloom and grow. I believe the best way to feed Hope is by sharing and spreading love, which is how I came up with an acronym –

Help

One

Person

Every

Day**

Look, it’s getting scary out there. It’s too much. Too much anger. Too much hate. Let’s see if there’s such a thing as too much love**. Hold the door for someone, share a smile, compliment a stranger. Be kind to each other. Play nicely in the sandbox.

And on those days where life beats you down and everyone is being an asshat, swear like a sailor like a woman who loves to curse. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

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image courtesy of gurl.com

 

I have a couple of questions (take out your #2 pencils):

  1. Do you swear, and (if so) what’s your favorite four letter word?
  2. What is your favorite story of hope?
  3. How do you “pay it forward“?

*Oops, that’s “HOPED” not “HOPE”. Dammit, I was hoping that this post would be perfect 😉

**there is, and it causes chafing, but that’s a topic for a different post

To Twist or not to Twist, that is the question…

I am several days behind on the Blogging101 “Blogging: Learning the Fundamentals” course. I thought about hitting more than one lesson a day until I’m current. I am tired, fighting a cold and have writer’s block, so it sounds like too much work for today. For now, I will work one lesson at a time. It’s nice back here. I’m so far behind I think I’m first!

Day Two: Make Sure You Love Your Title

I thought about changing my blog’s title when I realized that my blog needed a reboot. I considered it for a nanosecond (not to be confused with nana second, the length of time it takes your grandmother to realize that you are Up To Something).

images7My instincts whispered that I should keep my title, and I ALWAYS listen to my instincts.*

In truth, I could have used a guide to suburbia when I first moved here. There are books about what to expect your first year of marriage, what to do when you’re expecting, how to handle the toddler years, but I couldn’t find one on how to survive suburban soccer moms in minivans or how to avoid joining the PTA PTSA.

The suburbs are scary, even if you have some sort of experience with them. I grew up in a small town (the same small town we live in now), but after a few years in the city I was afraid to buy a house in the suburbs, and not just because the houses all looked alike. 

There were too many perfect parents with perfect children living in perfect houses with perfect yards. TBH I spent the first month looking in the closets and under the bed for my Stepford duplicate.

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The good news is that, with a little bit of detective work, I was able to find my tribe – the suburbanites who don’t quite fit, the parents with a slightly skewed sense of humor, the PTA moms who wear black to back to school night, the parents who go Drink or Treating on Halloween and the suburban soccer moms who drive jeeps instead of minivans.

Suburbia isn’t quite as scary when you twist it to suit you. Trust me.

I like my blog title and tagline, but I am open to suggestions. Let me know if you think of something that would be better suited.

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*I almost said that with a straight face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Accidental Mother – Redux

thutbowvp4I am trying to get into the habit of writing on a regular basis. It’s so hot that my brain has melted and I can’t think of anything new to say –  but I HAVE managed a revision of one of my first posts. I also came up with a word other than “revised” for the title (guess the heat hasn’t completely melted my brain).

re·dux

[rēˈdəks, ˈrēˈdəks]

ADJECTIVE

  1. brought back; revived:
    “the 1980s were far more than just the ’50s redux”
 ORIGIN
late 19th cent.: from Latin, from reducere ‘bring back.’
 THE ACCIDENTAL MOTHER -REDUX

Some women are born to be mothers. You see them at the park. They lounge on benches or under a tree, talking and laughing with the other perfect parents. They are seemingly oblivious to the activity in the sandbox, but at the smallest cry, their heads whip toward the playground. They can tell at a glance whether the cry requires attention or pretended indifference. Their hair is perfectly coiffed** and colored, their nails manicured and painted, their clothing stylish and unstained. Their bags are stuffed with small Tupperware containers (carefully color coded for each child) filled with vegetables, cheese and fruit. These are the women who spent their childhood playing with dolls, parading up and down the street in their mothers’ high heels, pushing their “babies” through the neighborhood in a pink or blue stroller.

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They spent hours bathing, feeding, changing and burping their dolls, treating their “offspring” with the utmost care and respect. These girls grew up to become perfect older siblings. They were excited by the idea of being a big sister and wanted nothing more than to help feed/bathe/change/burp the baby. They paraded up and down the street, pushing “their” baby in a pink or blue stroller, their mothers’ heels left at home for fear they would trip and hurt their baby brother or sister.

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I am not one of them. I decided at an early age that dolls are creepy and weird. The dolls that well-meaning friends and family members gave me were re-gifted or donated to Goodwill. Dolls that were “too nice to donate” were relegated to a special shelf or corner of the closet, where they were left to gather dust and cobwebs. The ones that I found especially creepy (i.e. my mother’s Raggedy Anne doll) were stuffed into the bottom of my toy box and buried beneath blocks, balls and mismatched socks.  I joined the other girls in their neighborhood parade, but my stroller was filled with stuffed animal “babies”, and my feet were clad in tennis shoes or cowboy boots. I grew up to become an indifferent big sister. Actually, I was an angry big sister. I wanted a puppy or a pony, but my parents brought home a brother. It made me mad. If I had to have a sibling, I wanted a sister. I refused to let his sex keep me from playing dress up and having tea parties with him, but my favorite game to play with my brother was Hide and DON’T Seek.

I went into marriage knowing that I didn’t want to have children. It’s not that I hated children, per se. I liked children. I liked cats and dogs too. They were fun to pet and snuggle with, but they were so much more enjoyable when they belong to someone else.

My husband went into our marriage thinking that he would like to have kids “someday”, but (by plying him with romantic vacations and football-filled Sundays) I managed to convince him that being an uncle was a better choice. We loved being DINKS*, and laughed when our friends told us that we were “missing out.”

Then I had an accident. No, not an “oops, it broke” accident, an I-turned-my-sedan-into-a-compact car accident. I was taken to the hospital in a neck brace, and my car was taken to the scrapyard…along with my birth control pills. I didn’t worry. I remembered my friend’s fertility struggles and her doctor’s explanation that “If you’ve been on birth control for years, it’s hard to get pregnant.”

She needs a new doctor.

My friends assured me that pregnancy would be easy, and that parenthood was the most amazing thing they’d ever done.

I need new friends.

Pregnancy was rough, and not just physically (the smell of meat cooking could chase me from the house), and emotionally (FYI, Budweiser commercials can bring a pregnant woman to tears, especially when she’s craving a beer).

There were just too many damn choices to be made. Who do you tell first? (side note to newly pregnant women – men get pissy when they find out via social media)  What do you name the baby? (I wanted to name my boy either Justin Case or Justin Time. My friends were relieved when I had a girl) How do you decorate the nursery? What type of crib/carseat/stroller/diapers should you buy? How do you want have the baby? Yes, you have a choice. You can have a doctor and a C-section, or a midwife and a birthing room – you can even have a baby in a bathtub! After hearing labor horror stories from (I assume) well-meaning friends, family and strangers, I decided not to have the baby. At nine months, it wasn’t really an option, but that’s what I decided (side note to mathematicians – in what type of math does forty weeks equal nine months?).

In spite of my decision, at one week past my due date, I showed up at the hospital to have my labor induced – my OB was going on vacation the following week and he “wanted to have (your) baby”. My husband and I were ready to Become Parents – or so we thought.  We were turned away by the triage nurse.

“We’re really busy right now, I’m so sorry. Could you come back in a couple of hours?”

It was a perfect Southern California evening – 76 degrees with a light breeze off the ocean – so we spent some time walking (or, in my case, waddling) down Main Street looking in shop windows. Every display seemed to feature products meant for our baby (“OMG look at those shoes! They’re so tiny!”).  The people we passed nodded and smiled at my swollen belly.

“When is your baby due?”

“Last week. I’m being induced tonight. We were supposed to be admitted at 3:00, but they were too busy. We’re headed back at five.” I’m sure that this was more information than anyone wanted, but evidently the hormones surging through my bloodstream thought that strangers needed to know ALL THE DETAILS.

We returned to the hospital at 5:00, as requested.

“We’re really busy right now.” This time the nurse was not apologetic. Apparently the fact that my doctor wanted to induce me irritated her. “Come back at 7:00.”

I groaned. My feet hurt, my back hurt, and I was tired of being pregnant. Waddling down Main Street for a second time was out of the question. My husband smiled apologetically at Grumpy Triage Nurse and steered me out to the car. He drove down to the beach, thinking the waves would relax me. The only thing they relaxed was my bladder.

“I need to pee!”

We headed back to the hospital so I could relieve my bladder and wait. Fortunately, Grumpy was gone. The triage nurse took pity on the pregnant girl and started the admitting process.

They say that you forget the pain of childbirth, and it must be true, because I don’t remember much. I remember being uncomfortable, and feeling better when I walked the halls or stood in the shower. I remember my husband falling asleep during Jay Leno’s monologue, as I squirmed and panted beside him (for some odd reason, people have decided that breathing can replace medication in controlling pain. Trust me, it can’t). I remember the doctor coming into the room around 2:00 AM. His smile didn’t reach his eyes.

“Your baby is in distress. We need to do a Caesarian section immediately.”

The rest is a blur, memories distorted by time, pain and panic. I remember seeing my dad and stepmother as I was being wheeled to the operating room. I remember gripping my husband’s hand so tightly his fingers turned white. I remember waiting a lifetime before we heard our daughter’s first cry. I also remember the way my heart expanded to ten times its normal size when they laid her in my arms. Mostly I remember the feeling of panic that arose when I signed my discharge paperwork and realized that I was going to have to take this tiny baby home, even though I wasn’t a natural born mother.

I needn’t have panicked. The many choices and sleep deprivation that come with pregnancy helped prepare me for motherhood. My friends may have lied about pregnancy being easy, but they were right about parenthood being amazing. As strange as it sounds, my husband and I will be eternally grateful for my car accident, and for the little girl who stole our hearts and changed our lives when I became an accidental mother.

meandlna

*DINKS – Dual Income, No Kids

** Special shout-out to Rachel, who reminded me that the word is not “quaffed”

 

I’m Batman*

wp-1456365441728.jpegOk, I’m not REALLY Batman. For one, I drive a Volvo, which is a Good Car, but it is nowhere close to being as cool as the Batmobile. Secondly, I tried saying “I’m Batman” in a gravely voice, but it sounded silly and made me cough. Lastly,  I don’t have a mask or any cool toys. Well, that’s not exactly true. In the spirit of full disclosure (and if I can’t tell strangers all my secrets, who can I tell?) I have toys, but I can’t talk about them on a family friendly blog 😉

I would like to be a superhero, but I am too old and broken to wear the costumes that female superheroes wear. Even if I were younger and in better shape, I find it highly unlikely that I would be able to run, jump, and battle bad guys without having some sort of costume issue (BTW, one of my favorite scenes in Deadpool was Colossus’ reaction to  Angel Dust’s costume malfunction during their battle).

When I was younger, I wanted to be Catwoman. More precisely, I wanted to be Earth Kitt as Catwoman.

 

My dream ended when my mother pointed out that, as a pasty pale blue eyed brunette, my chances of growing up to be a stunning African American woman were slim to none. I have, however, grown up to be a pasty pale redhead, which is almost as good.

Until recently, I thought I was Wonder Woman. I attempted to juggle work, marriage, motherhood,  and social obligations while working 1 1/2 jobs and volunteering as a soccer referee and at school functions. When I wasn’t able to get everything done the way my Inner Perfectionist wanted it done, she told me I’d failed as a human being.  I believed her for a while, but eventually I came to my senses, and decided that Wonder Woman needed a break, or a raise. I also realized that Cosmo magazine has it wrong. You may be able to do/have/be it all, but you can’t do it all at the same time, without giving up sleep, hiring support staff, cloning yourself  or being able to travel through space and time (preferably in the Tardis).

I thought my days of playing superhero were over – and they were, until two weeks ago, when I decided that Enough Was Enough, that ignoring the situation wasn’t making things any better, and that it was time for Someone to speak up. Evidently I am Someone.**

It backfired, of course. It always does. I should have remembered that the person who stands up against evildoers is often misidentified as a criminal (i.e.  Batman, Green Hornet,  or Spiderman). The good news is that, other than for me personally, things have changed for the better. The better news is that I was able to use the situation as a teachable moment for my daughter. I told her that it is important to speak up when injustice is being done, no matter what the repercussions – or that, as Spock told us, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

I would like to think that my daughter will learn that you don’t have to be bitten by a spider or doused in radioactive waste to be someone’s superhero. Or maybe she’ll be an antihero instead – they have better costumes and a more interesting backstory 😉

*I’d like to send a very special shout out to Suzie Speaks – she really IS Batman.

**I am intentionally being vague, to protect the other people involved in the situation. Names have been changed removed to protect the innocent (and the guilty)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness, Part Duh!

self-forgiveness[1]Last week I talked about the importance of forgiveness. I was hoping that admitting that I am a work in process/learning to listen to Life the first (ok, third) time she whispers would help me get past this life lesson. Re-runs are annoying (although I never get tired of Young Frankenstein). Repeating life lessons are even worse.

This week my daughter took part in the 79th Annual Student Speakers Contest. The Lion’s Club gives high school students the chance to compete for cash prizes and scholarship money while working on their public speaking skills. I cannot say enough about the program, or the group of women who make up the Amber’s Light Lions Club.

We are not supposed to post any information about the contest results until the statewide completion is over, so I can’t tell you how my daughter did. I CAN tell you (at least I think I can) that I made a mistake.

I hate making mistakes.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a perfectionist, or because I have made mistakes that led to serious consequences, but I beat myself up every time. It’s what I’ve always done, and I am very good at it. One could say that when it comes to self-flagellation, I’m a professional.*#

The worst part about Miss Take? She brings along her friends Guilt and Remorse. They are not good houseguests. They come in, make themselves at home, and make a mess of everything. Their negativity chases Self-Confidence away, and she takes Happiness and Joy with her.

I learned this week that the only way to kick the Terrible Trio out of the house is by practicing self-forgiveness. After a lifetime of holding myself to the highest standard, I am learning that it’s important to give myself a break before I break something.

I am learning that Life’s  lessons can be hard, and that the lesson will repeat until I pass the test. Life is a journey, and it’s okay if I make mistakes along the way.  The good news is that, if you listen, you can learn from Miss Take.

I’m trying to listen. I hope you do too.

*One could it, but (since nobody has paid me, yet) it would be a lie

# I am always looking for ways to bring in money that don’t involve MLM. If you know of a way for me to turn pro, let me know (jk)

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P.S. I came across an excellent post on self-forgiveness. Destiny at Practise makes Permanent has a great post on the importance of Self-Compassion. You should take a look.

 

 

 

The Other F-word

Confession[1]I have a confession to make. Seeing that I’m not Catholic and am extremely adverse to sitting in small rooms talking to strange men, I will make my public confession here. As soon as I can work up the nerve. Ok here goes –

I swear. A lot.*

This should come as no surprise to those of you who read my blog. Just last week, I admitted to swearing like a fleet of sailors. It certainly comes as no surprise to my friends and family. I have been swearing since I discovered the power of four letter words while I was in high school. My family and neighbors were regularly…..entertained (for want of a better word) by slamming doors and foul language screamed at the top of my lungs. I am (slightly) embarrassed to admit that my language hasn’t improved much since high school.  I will say, however, that I no longer slam my bedroom door (but only because my door is hollow and refuses to slam in a satisfying manner).

I use the F-word more often than any Responsible Adult should (which is not really a problem, since I admit to being neither), especially now that I am a suburban soccer mom who is raising an impressionable young teen. It is what it is. I find satisfaction in using the word, whether because it still holds shock value, or because I can’t find another word that expresses my feelings of impotency and frustration when dealing with the struggles that come along with this crazy rollercoaster we call life.

I think that I am finally giving it up for another F-word. It’s not a four letter word, but it does share similar qualities. People talk about it all the time, usually in hushed tones. Like my favorite F word, it makes people uncomfortable. Unlike my favorite word, this one’s power comes from something more than shock value.

I’m talking about forgiveness

From Miriam Wesbter:

forgiveness

noun for·give·ness \-ˈgiv-nəs\

Simple Definition of forgiveness

Popularity: Bottom 50% of words
  • : the act of forgiving someone or something

  • : the attitude of someone who is willing to forgive other people

I was amused but not surprised to find that the popularity of forgiveness is less than 50%. It’s a rough one. I would like to be able to say that, as an enlightened and loving being, I am quick to forgive and forget. I would like to be able to say it, but I can’t (well, I CAN, but I would be lying). I have been reminded, repeatedly, that forgiveness is powerful, life-changing, and very important to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

I have learned that, if you refuse to listen, Life will knock you down until you do – so this time, I am listening. I hope you do, too. Don’t forget the most important part of the lesson – forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting, it means remembering and letting go

forgiveness[1]

 

*I was overjoyed to find out that Classysassycrazy shares my fondness for four letter words