Saturday, February 27, 2010

Laundry is My Life

When I tripped over a pile of dirty laundry yesterday I had an epiphany. I realized that the amount of out of control dirty laundry I have spilling out of baskets and bins and piling up on the floor is beginning to really parallel my life at the moment. Totally out of control. As usual life has hills and valleys and ups and downs and I know that. Right now it is like so many things are getting tossed my way I can't really focus on any of it. Some of it good and some of it bad but all of it stressful. Like the laundry, things are piling up and really starting to stink. Even when I struggle to tackle one pile it doesn't look like a thing has been accomplished. It is like a huge plate of spaghetti, you eat it and eat it but it never looks like any of it is gone. Certainly I want to take control and start sorting the laundry and loading it in to be washed and dried but somehow it is easier to let it pile up in the corner. Easier to turn a blind eye to making decisions and choices that will possibly be wrong. Glossing over the emotions just under the surface and muddling through all the piles trying not to fall. Putting all the energy on keeping the day to day home fires burning and the family calendar obligations filled. No time or desire to focus on the important things like matching socks and clean underwear.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Outside the Box

I am often drawn to differences. I like to make choices that are out of the norm. I find it makes me happy to be who I am even if it might not make others feel that way. It has taken me 38 years to get to the point where I feel this way. Even now making the choices and being looked at as different feels rotten. I read a book (that happened to come from the fifth grade book fair) the other day that made me really start thinking about the way kids view each other around that really awkward few years between being a cute little kid and being a independent almost adult. I guess they call them the tween years these days. The years where the body changes are fervent and the friend selections are brutal. Those are the few years where the differences kids have are spotlighted and put under the microscope. Things as small as wearing glasses or what kind of lunch box you have have make or break you. It is so easy for kids to get lost in the fight to be just like everyone else that they forget what it might be like to be really different. The book, Out Of My Mind by Sharon Draper, really helped to take me inside the mind of difference. The book is told from the mind of an 11 year old that was born with severe cerebral palsy. She is bound to a wheel chair and is unable to talk or communicate in any way except the most primitive. She drools and can't feed herself. Her mind is perfect though. More then perfect as a mater of fact she is brilliant. It details her story from inside her head. The way her differences make the other kids see her. How the hurt spills onto her over and over again. She finds a way to communicate and gets what she thought she wanted but in the end she could not over come the way the others saw her but it did change how she saw herself. I wanted so badly for the end to wrap everything up in a bow and for her to be happy and accepted. Even though that didn't happen I think the book showed some more important things about differences. It showed that by being different you sometimes have to dig deep to find what is truly important. Judging people by who they appear to be is never a good idea because under the surface there is always something deeper and more revealing. Just like when you go to the library and choose a book solely on the cover you might miss a very touching, life affirming story. I highly recommend this book to anyone who works with children and to everyone entering into that stage where you are faced with being judged or judging by first impression. Really I think that reading this book would benefit everyone out there who needs to be reminded of just how important it is to open your mind and your heart to new and different things.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Judge Mommy on the Case

Why is it that when a woman becomes a mom she feels she has earned the right to judge other moms? It seems like moms start making judgements about other moms making "bad" choices from the minute you hit the baby Gymboree class. When I say bad choices I am not talking about dangerous choices but things like whether to breastfeed or whether to let your child watch television before the age of two. Things like whether to put your child in daycare or to sign them up for tons of activities. You name it and there is certainly another mom out there ready to shame you for your choices. The judgement comes in many forms. Sometimes straightforward in a comment or a suggestion. Other times their distaste is easy to see by their frown or narrowed eyes. Often they whisper to a fellow judge as if you aren't even sitting there. If you work you should stay home. If you stay home ..what do you do all day?? why aren't you volunteering or why isn't your house as perfectly manicured as your nails?
I am certainly not an innocent party in all of this. I judge too. I try to contain my judgement but to sometimes it is impossible. I like to think my judgement is directed toward those who complain about situations they have gotten themselves into and that they do nothing to fix. Things like complaining about being dead tired yet doing nothing to lessen the amount of times their co-sleeping toddler wakes at night to nurse. We didn't co-sleep or for that matter nurse at my house but I have nothing against either one if it works. BUT if you are falling down tired and refuse to try some other parenting options I really don't want to hear about you being tired. I end up judging them for their choices.
What I find the most interesting is that the judgement comes from people outside my group of friends who know me best. We are able to share information and swap parenting ideas without feeling judged. Which is why I suppose we became friends in the first place. The real harsh judgement comes from those moms on the outside looking in who don't even know much of anything about me except what they see on the outside. They see what they want to see and form opinions and rock solid judgements in their heads.
Ultimately what is most important is that the kids are happy and healthy and loved. If they eat candy every day or stay up past 8 it won't make a life long dent in their ability to be a good person. What works for one family might not work for another family but that doesn't mean it is a wrong choice just a different one. Being a parent is hard work but judging is the easy way out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

All You Need is Love...Love is All You Need

Over Valentines Day I starting thinking about a February 14 years ago when I got engaged. Then I began to think about how young I was when I got married and how sometimes I feel like I want a do over. I was so young when I got married that I really didn't think about any of the specifics of the actual wedding but instead I just wanted to be together and saw that as the most permanent way. At 22 I was hardly old enough to sip champagne or wear high heels let alone make choices that were supposed to create life long memories. Now 15 years wiser I can see some things that really could use a major do over.
-First of all I wish I would have hired a real photographer. I would not have let a teddy bear backpack carrying, propeller hat wearing Aunt of the groom convince us she was a talented picture taker. I would not have accepted her offer to take the pictures for free. Now I have no pictures. Only snapshots from the guests. Maybe I should dig out my wedding dress and get my photographer friend, Liz, to take some pictures. I might still be able to fit in it (with the help of my Spanx) and I know my hair is way better now. Too bad the groom doesn't have any hair at all these days.
-The bridesmaid dresses. We ordered them from a Chadwick's catalog. There was only one color choice so that became the wedding "color" whether I liked it or not. There were also a floral pattern and sort of flowy which didn't exactly work with all the heights of my maids.
-The outside location seemed perfectly picturesque at the time. I hate that they tore down the flower covered gazebo and replaced it with a Kentucky fried Taco Bell. Every time I order my bean burrito and my extra crunchy bucket I think about my vows for lifelong love.
-I would love to be able to have some of the people I have met since my wedding share that day with me. I have met some incredible people that are extremely special to me that I would like to be in those pictures...err ummm wait I don't have those...I would love them to be in the memories.
-My honeymoon. Myrtle Beach. A 12 hour drive to a cheap hotel with paper thin sheets and a broken AC. Big trucks cruising the strip booming with loud music at all hours. Gourmet Godfather's Pizza and sweet iced tea.
In the end I know all these things are material. The most important thing is that I love the person I married and that we have built a life together. Hind sight is 20/20 and once all those incidental memories melt away I remember the really important things that happened that day. I remember driving to the wedding with my dad alone and what we talked about. I remember feeling like a princess as my sister in law applied my makeup and my bridesmaids helped me get into my dress. I remember the moment I walked down the aisle and how I felt like I was sitting above watching the whole thing happen. I remember locking eyes with Chris and I remember realizing that we would be together forever.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Righteous Dude

I am finding myself frustrated in the fact that so many people judge me on my faith. Really that people in general make a decision about a person's goodness based on how much they love God or if they regard the Bible as the holy grail. What I think is the most interesting is that the Bible is packed full of advice and counsel on accepting others, yet those people that hold the book closest to their heart judge those that aren't as outwardly faithful as lesser beings. The fact is that every person has the potential to offer wisdom and strength no matter what their thoughts or beliefs are regarding God. Church and praying do not make one person better or stronger over another. Those things are like accessories to the real faith that is out there. Accessories are important fashion statements that enhance the overall outfit but are not completely necessary. I want people to find what they need to be strong and if that means worshiping a God in a church then perfect for them. But there are other ways to be a good person. There are other ways to have faith in the future and the past. There are other ways to figure out how to make it through the hardships and how to enjoy the goodness life has to offer. Before taking the time and energy to see people in a lesser way because they haven't found faith in the same way you have remember faith is in the eye of the beholder.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Making a Comeback

Some things that make a comeback should really stay in the past. Things like leg warmers and neon pink mini skirts should just stay in the back of the closet. Big hair and Pac Man should be put in a locked box and the key should be tossed out to sea. One thing I think really needs to make a smashing comeback though is me. When I was a little kid I always felt like I was climbing a mountain inside. Struggling up each rock scraping my knees on the way. I was shy. Terrifyingly so. I worked hard to have friends and even harder to build some self confidence. Although I slowly gained some leverage and slowly kept climbing I never really felt comfortable in my own skin. When I hit college I began to real figure out who I was. My grades soared and I felt independent and like I could make a difference. I graduated and found a job doing work that was important both to me and to the children I was teaching. I got married and we bought a house and it was all new and the beginning. It was like I was on stage singing a hit single. When I had kids that was wonderful and also a beginning. What I didn't realize was that when I had my kids I would put myself backstage. I would willingly give them my best parts and in the process come to a stand still on my own climb. The past 12 years have been about them. I have poured everything I could into them and I see it every day. I am proud of what they are becoming and I love each of them for who they are because of me. Yet I am beginning to feel uncertain in my skin again and feel like I need to make a comeback. I want to start where I left off and begin that up hill battle again. Not to say I am done being a parent to my children but in fact exactly the opposite. I feel like it is time for them to see me in a new light. Someone who has confidence and isn't scared to be in the spotlight in the middle of the stage.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

All Views Accepted Here

I am at a loss for words (but I'm NOT) over the lack of diversity in people. I am probably a little naive in the respect that I thought it was good to surround yourself with people that are different then yourself. To gather different perspectives and reflect on unique and varying views on topics. To teach our children that differences make the world go around. Differences of opinion are a part of life and everyone is entitled to their own. The hard part is finding it in yourself to respect other people regardless of varied viewpoints.

I myself would never drop anyone as a friend on Facebook because they are a fan of Sarah Palin even though I think she is an imbecile. Instead I like to hear why people are attracted to her and what they see in her. I embrace the opportunity to listen to different sides of every story. Disagree and dislike are certainly two different words and concepts. Just because I disagree with someone does not automatically mean I dislike them. So what that I 100% support the fact that two consenting adults should be allowed to legally marry regardless of their sexual orientation...that doesn't make me want to shelter myself from others who might think differently. It also doesn't make me want to censor my own views and opinions just to avoid discussion.

I actually enjoy having friends who have different beliefs then I do. Variety is the spice of life. How boring it would be if we all wore the same color clothes or if we only ate one food day in and day out?? Really boring. It is so sad that people like to put themselves in a tiny box and refuse to, even for a minute, think of what could be waiting for them outside those four brown cardboard walls. If everyone wasn't so interested in following the herd think of all the diversity we could expose ourselves and our children to. Think of all the things we might have a chance to learn.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Colander Effect

Through the years we all come into contact with hundreds of people. We meet new people through all sorts of daily activities. We casually interact with people at work, during church and at our kid's schools. We move to neighborhoods and immerse ourselves in an environment with people in our own general place in life. Most of those people end up being casual acquaintances or one time hellos. As all these people are sifted through the colander a few are too important to fall through the holes. These people are the ones that for some important reason end up being more then just passers by. They are the people that we are drawn to and end up finding a connection to. The people we want to keep close to us and feel an intense need to integrate them into our lives. The people who you want to dance with at your wedding and hope will speak at your funeral. The reasons behind why these people are the ones we are drawn to over the others is unclear. There is a sort of unspoken mystery that connects us with those certain people. The kind of connection that can't be broken.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Top Ten Reasons I Hate Snow

Top Ten Reasons I Hate Snow

10) Snow is bitter, cold and wet. Even if you have to go out in it for a minute or two your eyes water and your nose runs. It is miserable and annoying. Not to mention the whole process to get dressed appropriately and you have to actually wear a coat, hat and gloves. A snowball in the face? Worse then a punch as far as I am concerned.

9) Snow is hard to drive on. Driving is dangerous enough when you have the best weather conditions. Now you have to drive on a slippery white substance spread across the road. No one can drive on the snow either. A few flakes drop and everyone turns into an idiot. They either turn into old lady drivers and drive 20 on the freeway or continue their normal speed of 80 in the 60 mile an hour speed zone. Either way the snow creates anxiety and frustration on the roads.

8) Playing in the snow. The kids think they want to go outside and play in it for hours. First I have to locate the snow clothes that are packed away. Then I bundle them up in layer after layer and head outside only to be back inside before 10 minutes are up. They are all wet and whiney. They want hot chocolate and dry gloves to go back out for another 10 minutes. They drag wet snow in and it melts everywhere. I walk in it in my socks and get mad.

7) Snow makes you gain weight. Not the snow exactly but a side effect of the white fluffy crap. When it snows a lot you can't get out of your house. It is bitter cold. You basically sit in your house bundled up in a Snuggie, craving warm savory meals dripping in butter and sauces. Yummy freshly baked cookies and bread. Heck since you can't go anywhere in the snow you might as well try some new recipes. The snow forces you to pack on at least 10 pounds every winter.

6) Walking outside to get the paper or mail. It is like an ice rink out there. I slip and slide and eventually fall on my butt. My clothes get wet and I have a bruised butt and worse yet a bruised ego especially if a neighbor happened to be driving by.

5) Hat head and a red nose. I look more like a clown then usual.

4) Snow Blower Envy. I live on a corner and have more sidewalk to shovel then anybody else. All of my neighbors have snow blowers and I have envy every time it snow. Shoveling snow just sucks but so does paying several hundred dollars for a piece of equipment I (or more accurately my husband) only use two or three times a year.

3) Dirty Snow. For the first few minutes after it stops snowing it looks beautiful, then a car drives by and you have dirty snow. Dirty snow is just ugly.

2) Power outages, high gas bills and potholes OH MY.

And my number ONE reason I HATE snow!

1) Snow days. School gets cancelled and the kids wake up earlier then they would normally. They sit around the house and tell me how bored they are. If they miss more then 3 days for snow then they have to make them up at the end of the school year when the grades are already turned in and the summer has already started in their minds. I bet if I piled my kids on a sled, put on my snow shoes and bundled up I could get them the mile and a half to school in a jiffy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Experience is Key

It always amazes me how history tends to repeat itself. Sometimes in different forms but always with the same message. The girls have had chores for years. Simple stuff like feeding the cats or unloading the dishwasher. In the last few months we have given them some more complex things to do. For some reason I caught myself redoing the things that they had done because they weren't done right all the while grumbling about having to do everything myself. By right I mean the way I do them. That realization made me cringe. It made me remember another time when I felt my way was the right way. When we had our first baby eleven and a half years ago I used to literally walk behind Chris and redo everything he tried to do. I would re-wash, re-diaper and re-feed Caroline. He could do nothing right no matter how hard he tried. I dismissed him and his efforts outwardly while inwardly tearing my hair out over all my responsibility. The closer I got to having a complete mental breakdown the harder my grip became on the control of how things had to be. After I got some sleep and Caroline got a little older I did loosen my hold a little and with each baby after that I let Chris do more. I remember having to consciously remove myself from the room and let him take some of the control. He might not have done things the way I would have done them. He might not have done them the right way. The kids were always happy and warm and safe. They had the love and attention of their Daddy. He had the time to gain experience and learn. I had time to sleep or read or bathe. It really was a win-win situation. Back to now and the chores. The memory of me back then was like a slap in the face. I know that the girls are doing the work. They are being responsible and doing it without being asked. They might not be doing it exactly right but it is getting done and I don't have to do it, again a win-win situation. Experience is the best teacher. They are learning and so am I.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weighing In.

I realized this morning that I have been having a fight with someone who lives in my bathroom for as long as I can remember. Someone who taunts me with his cold metal and flashing digital lights. No matter what numbers pop up on Mr. Scale, I want to pick him up claw off the numbers and toss him out the window. The fact that I am 25 lbs lighter this year then I was last really doesn't seem to matter. The numbers are never small enough. As women we see thinness as a badge that signifies something better then what we are. When we see someone thin we see that as a sign that they are happy and that their life is easy. The ability to be skinny signifies to us or maybe just to me that a person is able to have self control and therefore every aspect in their lives is under control. When I sit and think about this I realize that it is bizarre and ignorant. The size that you are has no bearing on what kind of life you lead. As a matter of fact people who look like they have it all together are very likely the one with things spinning out of control. Somehow society has managed to blind us to logic though and judging a person by their physical appearance happens. The story about 23 year old actress Heidi Montag that has been in the news due to the many plastic surgeries she has had over the last year is a great example. She had 10 0r 11 different procedures done all at the same time. All to change things about herself that she didn't like. Her chin and her nose and her boobs. She pinned her ears back so she could look good with her hair up when she walks on the red carpet. She even said something to the effect of she is just starting out and no where near done with the cosmetic work she wants to have done. She has control over all these alterations. She can create whatever face she can afford. She was a pretty, young, thin girl before any of the surgeries but she obviously could not see that when she looked in the mirror. I just wonder if what is going on inside that she can't control will ever be addressed. The things that make her want to change herself into someone that her old self wouldn't even recognize. Come to think of it why would any of us want to do that?