Monday, November 4, 2013

Of Louboutin and Lessons

     Today, I was the haggard mother of 3, usually well-behaved little boys, struggling to get through the grocery store while keeping their tiny hands sanitized and off of any and everything. The baby was in his car seat, in the cart, surrounded by food and medicine crying his heart out from teething pain. You were the younger woman dressed to the 9's with daggers of hate and know-better glances shooting from your painted eyes. You told me to give him a teething ring as if I had no idea what those things were with baby #3. You stomped off in your seething, heels flashing that red I once knew shaking your head at my sweater and flip flops. As fate would have it she got stuck behind me in line and I had grabbed the wrong debit card (yes, we have two accounts). While holding a crying baby, and trying to get the older two to leave the cashier alone, I transferred the funds to the proper account and paid my groceries.  I looked at my hand, realizing that I had failed to put my diamond back on this morning after changing the baby. It sometimes catches his precious body and I hate to scratch him with it.  Yes, she even noticed my naked hands. I wanted to rattle off a snide remark about teething rings or explain that at 3 months he lacks the dexterity to successfully put a teething ring in his mouth but I refrained. Instead I said "Thank you for your suggestion. Have a great day. “Uneducated baby breeders" I heard you whisper under your breath.... 

     And you, the older lady, bent from years of looking down to help those tiny children, unable to straighten to fully look me in the eye said "These days are fleeting. I know you are doing the best you can. You gave that snotty woman kindness instead of the earful most would have...God bless you and I hope your sweet baby gets some relief." Slower now, you learned to yield to the 20 something’s so busy with their IPhones and meetings-too scheduled to bother to stop and make human contact in a way that might be meaningful. You know so much more about living than we could imagine.  You gave me your kindness on a day when I needed it.  You gave me your understanding that all mothers no matter how old know. 

I took a deep breath and attempted to gather all three of my "bred" children and walked to the car.  

     You had no idea that I was a double major in college with a minor and went on to obtain my Juris Doctorate. You have no idea that I am married to a man who loves me unconditionally. You have no idea that not only were these children intentional but prayed for and loved. You have no idea that he is a strong, faithful, loving man who serves our Country and asks for nothing in return.  You have no idea that we have more than one bank account to pay for our groceries and have never taken a dime in government aid even when we could have qualified for it on my husband's military salary years ago. My dirty sweater and snotty children screamed poor and unaccomplished.  

     For one of you, this would have mattered. This would have been information that would have changed how you treated me. You might have been less vocal but I am sure you still wouldn't have offered to help.  For the other, this information didn't matter. You couldn't straighten your body to even look up. You offered kindness not knowing or caring what I looked like. You gave me grace and understanding because you remember how hard it was to juggle children and grocery shop. 

     It made me realize how often I had been the first woman; too busy to give someone grace; too selfish to be kind in my thoughts; too judging of a person in a grocery store.   I have a lot to offer in friendship, talents, and knowledge but the former woman would never be able to share those with me because she assumed I was nothing like I am based on what she witnessed today.  How many people have I passed up in life? How many experiences did I miss out on because I was quick to judge?

     I am on my journey of 100 days of Gratitude and my attempt to reach out to spread kindness. It seems today, the kindness found me. 

    I don't know your name but I hope when I am broken from years of motherhood and living life, I remember to be kind to the young mother in the grocery store. 

Which woman are you?

Saturday, November 2, 2013


     The other morning I was running late.  My hair was a mess and I was pretty sure my shirt was on inside-out, backwards, or both. I couldn’t identify the various stains on my clothing but my children were appliqued, clean, fed, and on time.  I was just thinking to myself how I was such a horrible mother because I was not going to be able to make both boys’ school Halloween programs. I was lamenting that I had to say “No” more times than “Yes” to volunteering events. I was thinking of how I hadn’t called a dear friend in weeks. I was late to my 3 year old’s class party and I felt especially frumpy and fat in what I was wearing.   

    I just felt less than and then an amazing thing happened. A mother, beautifully dressed and put together stopped me as I was struggling to get into the Preschool building and said “I just wanted to tell you how impressed I am with you.” I stood there dumbfounded as she continued “I saw you in church last week and I said to my husband ‘That is the hardest working mother in town!”  With tears in my eyes, I thanked her and we went our separate ways.  

     I cannot tell you how that simple interaction has changed me this week. I was so sure that I was failing at this thing called “Motherhood.” I just didn’t think I was doing the right things. I was tired all the time, I was short tempered, I was out of shape, and not available to my community or friends as much as I wanted to be.  My perception of myself was so different from how others perceived me. 

     I started thinking of all the people in my life and how many of them I value and admire. I know we aren’t supposed to compare but I am guilty of doing it. I started thinking “what if that mother is just as tired and stressed out as I am?” “What if that friend isn’t as happy on the inside as she/he projects?” “What if that person doesn’t realize how talented they are or lack confidence to go out and achieve their dreams?”  I decided to make an effort starting this November to share my thoughts of gratitude and love to the people in my life. I hope to inspire others to do so as well. I am going to be gentle and patient with myself as I slowly lose this last bit of baby weight. I am going to allow myself some Grace. 

    The journey of life may seem long and hard at times but I know that when mine comes to an end, it will feel short. I will weep when my babies are too big to hold in my lap.  I know I will have wanted to cuddle them more or laughed with that friend one more time. I will have wanted to have been on stage and sung my heart out one more time. I have been given a finite number of days on this earth. I am challenging myself to be “thankful” longer than just the month of November. So, I have started messaging people and sharing with them in an effort to make their days just a little less dark. 

     The stains on my clothes will wash. The boys will one day tie their shoes all by themselves and will not need me to drive them around. The silence I so crave on busy days will one day become a reminder of how short of a time God loaned them to me.  Let’s all try to be a little more forgiving and a little more loving. Let’s all tell each other how we feel NOW so we don’t have to worry and wonder if they knew.  Share your love with each other, you never know how those kind words will change a life.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Always Love

I am in bed anxiously awaiting sleep and trying to properly put into words how I feel. I want to remember how grown up B seemed at 6 today as he helped me around the house and how tiny S looked as he walked hand in hand with Andrea in his PJs and rain boots.  I know it was best for them to spend the night out before this momentous occasion but since E isn't here, the house is eerily lonely and quiet.  I want to go tuck them in and kiss their sweet foreheads one more time. 

I am writing this to remember when it was just my two little men and me against the world. We have faced so much pain and separation together. They are each others best friend and worst enemy.  It is so hard to remember what it was like when it was just B now that we have S.  I don't want to forget how special the two of them are.

B, I know I am hard on you because you are the older of the two. You are so incredibly smart and possess amazing logical reasoning skills that I often find myself forgetting that you just turned 6. I apologize for giving you too much responsibility at such a small age. No matter what, you made me a Mother. You will always have a special place in my heart. My first born, curly headed, angelic baby who never entered the "terrible" anythings. Your love for legos, art, music, your brother, your friends and God make you such a wonderful littler person. I can leave the two of you with relatives knowing you will take care of your brother.  No additional children will ever dampen the love I have for you. Before S was born, I was afraid that I wouldn't have enough love in my heart for two but after S was born, I realized that my heart just grew big enough to hold you both.

S, my little boy how you have grown and improved from such a scary start. Your tiny body still fits so comfortably in my lap even though you will be 3 on Friday.  Your love for singing, dancing, and performing gives us so much joy. You hear a song once and it is yours.  You crack us up with your silliness.  You love so hard and look up to your brother.  You are his shadow and you want so much to follow him everywhere.  It has been sheer joy watching you thrive against odds and grow into a happy child.  You are as stubborn as you are kind.  You have lived but 3 years and so much of that time without your Daddy.  You are so curious about him. "Have you and Daddy been on a boat, on a plane, on a rocket ship?"  I want you to know that you will never get lost in any type of "middle child" syndrome. You are unique and loved. 

To my beloved, I could never have imagined this journey we have been on or that so much of it would be cycles of loss and redemption.  I feel so blessed to be able to live this life with you. My heart is broken for you that you cannot witness this miracle that will take place but know that you are right here with me. I will close my eyes and imagine you standing there, giving me strength.  You have been such a huge support even thousands of miles away. I could not have made up a better spouse. I feel so lucky to have your love. You are an amazing husband and father. So many people seem to be good at one or the other but you have mastered both. 

One day we will look back on this time and it will be a hazy memory. We will have banked more time together than apart and sadness will be a thing of the past.  Wherever you are out there, I pray you are safe. I pray we get to speak tomorrow so I can share with you yet another miracle.

Always love

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tomorrow will be better.

I just sat on a truck and as I got up to figure out what was painfully attacking my bum, I stepped on a Lego. My almost 3 year old is crying because I had to close his door. He was babbling on and keeping the almost 6 year old awake. I made this decision so we all can get sleep. It breaks my heart that he is sad but I know it is in his best interest.

I just decided to run a bath because it is one of the "Calgon Take Me Away" kinda days. However, there is a wedding veil in my sink. Yes, a wedding veil. Not the one I walked down the aisle in but the one I wore as I danced the night away. Why is it in my sink? Said 2 year old got it out earlier this week to play with it and then promptly found a way to dump a chocolate milkshake on it. Tonight, I spent 30 minutes precariously balancing on a stool with a broom in my hand in an attempt to retrieve a Beanie Baby puppy from the top of a bookshelf. This puppy was replaced just a day ago and the little one already had a mishap but wouldn't go to bed without him!

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

All this nonsense, this minutiae of life is the starch and fat that holds this family body together. When we look back, the meat of the body is what we remember births, graduations, proud days...I know these are there but I am choosing to revel in the not so perfect days of summer this year.

In less than a week, I will have another new life added to this family. With all the stubbing of toes and dirty laundry, you probably think I am crazy...and you are probably right. My life is about to get infinitely more complicated and for some reason I am so excited I can barely sit still.

These little men remind me daily of my worth. When my presence is the only one required for a date to watch Bubble Guppies or my comforting touch soothes one of them back to sleep after a nightmare, I have instant gratification that this mother thing is working. They know they are loved and they can count on me.

A few months back, I was having a really hard time parenting. I was frustrated and annoyed all the time and thought I didn't like my boys anymore.  Now looking back I realize that I was just in the throws of a pregnancy and I was doing it alone. My husband has been deployed this entire pregnancy and I have been the sole care giver of our two special boys. How I thought things were supposed to be sunshine and lollipops is beyond me. Of course I was tired, I was directly responsible for growing a human and keeping 3 others alive all while making it on time to school, finishing homework art projects, directing children's choir, and running a business.  Now it seems so clear but sometimes when you are in it, it is murky and you fee like a failure. 

Sure, there is laundry EVERYWHERE..I think I found one of Tiny Tot's "panties' ahem underwear by the fridge today..who knows why? Yes, I need to run the dishwasher and take the trash out.  I have Scentsy bars all over my living room floor because I got a new shipment of Bring Back My Bars in and the boys wanted to have their own party tonight.  But, there are Popsicles in the freezer and two little ones snug in their beds. There will be music lessons tomorrow and play dates with their favorite sitter. I will attack the house and get it spotless just in time for them to destroy it again. This cycle is my life. I chose it. I shall be happy in it

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

Image Courtesy of
The past few years I have experienced a transformation reminiscent of my childhood belief that positivity outweighs the darkness of the world.  This Pollyanna attitude enabled me to process multiple emotional abusive situations that were horrific enough to break an older person.  It was this belief, however, that set me up for hurt feelings and disappointment time and time again. I had this innate belief deep down that if you diligently searched, you would find the good in even the most darkened heart. I know now that sometimes this search will take you down a Rabbit Hole and lead to an epic journey of Homeric proportions.  At quarter life, I lost that sense of lightness and fell deep into a chasm of pain that I had compartmentalized away during my youth. These tiny doors in my soul kept opening up and revealing more forgotten birthdays, angry speech, blows to my tiny ego.  I was never enough and just shy of invisible to those whom I placed all levels of importance. 

Through a lot of self-study, professional listeners, and artistic endeavors, I was able to process a lot of these demons and use them to become more passionate on stage and in life.  My adult hood brought on yet another change in which I once again wanted to believe in positivity and the good in people. I made goals to speak kind words and lessen the impact of negative thoughts. I stumbled, gossiped, and found myself trapped in situations where I was less than proud but not as often as others who seemed to revel in the “woe is me” pity party of life.  I knew I would always be flawed and no amount of self-actualization would keep me from slipping up from time to time, however in the dawn of Social media I recommitted to sharing happiness and praise. I wanted my words to lighten the mood, encourage,  inspire or make people feel loved. I wanted to leave a legacy of moments in which I made people feel wanted, enough, and appreciated. 

There are days when I catch myself falling into that Rabbit Hole. A hurt word or action still has the power to send me spiraling down into that well known land of Mad Hatters. The difference is, I know my way around the kingdom and I am no longer perplexed by the inconsistencies that live there. I attend the Tea Party knowing that no matter how many Unbirthday celebrations occur, I don’t need even a sip of their tea to feel special. My heart is guarded now and I don’t get lost following the illusive rabbit…I refuse to engage in the anxiety inducing attempt to be ever present and ‘enough’ when I know, like he, I will always be late in the Queen’s eyes. 

Today, I think I finally have concluded that sometimes no matter how hard you look, the good just isn’t there. I don’t have to spend any more time investigating the “whys” or engaging on an empathetic driven quest to know what made a person cold.  It isn’t a reflection on my diligence or dedication to believing in the positive. It is just a fact a lesson in reality. Some can’t love. Some always leave. Some never value. My next chapter in life will be an attempt to temper this reality with my old childlike optimism in order to properly love and prepare my children for life.  I hope they never feel alone or uncomfortable in their own skin. I hope they never silence their laughter in order to be smaller and unseen.  I hope that once that hole is filled in and the land is finally unreachable, my heart will no longer hear reverberations of the screaming and the “Off with Their head” speech will be silenced both in memory and in impact. I hope I can look at my accomplishments and see a strong woman who walked a lonely journey yet thrived. I can look, without fear, intensely into that looking glass and be proud of what I see. I have value. I am enough. I am seen.

(Listen to Indigo Girls cover of Elton John's Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters) I tried to embed it but it didn't work. It is on youtube if you can't find it anywhere else. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane

When I was a child, the Peter, Paul, and Mary version of this song would induce a very cathartic cry.  Dealing with the divorce and remarriage of my parents created a bit of grief that went unchecked for sometime. This song, among others, enabled me to reach parts of my sadness that I was unable to pin point or verbalize.  I used to imagine this song was about my mother leaving. Now, as an adult who has watched her husband fly away for long periods of separation more times that I can count, this song has become a theme of sorts during the beginning of deployments.

Now that I think about it, I have been on a plane with him once. Once, in the 8 years we have been together, we have flown together once. Our honeymoon. I vow to change this upon his return. I pray the next time his suitcase is in the hall mine will right next to it.

The biggest adjustment for me is the lack of communication. We are so used to being able to email, text, call, chat, or skype. The instant gratification of all of these modes of communication isn't appreciated fully until you no longer have the ability to reach your loved one. Yesterday, my cell phone notified me that I had a new text. It was a message from our provider stating that his phone number was not deactivated per our request. Although, I had spoken to him hours before and he told me after he hung up he was calling to deactivate the phone, that message was like a swift kick in the throat. There are umpteen times a day that I reach for my phone to text or call him or think "I need to tell him this." Mundane things about my day, random musings and observations about life, silly things our children did flow through my brain and stop because I can't share them with him.  No one else on this planet cares that Tiny Tot is eating carrots or that the Boy Wonder is growing up so fast I sometimes think I can actually SEE his pants getting shorter. I start Facebook statuses and erase them so many times because I realize I have become "that" mom. The oversharer. I have a twitter account for my Scentsy business but I often think "Thank goodness I don't use this for personal updates. I would tweet the most boring and obnoxious things."  He gets me. He gets my sense of humor. In his world, I am funny, witty, smart, and the most important phone call or text of the day. Without him, I'm the person that does the laundry, trains small ones to pee on the potty, chauffeur, and cook. Of course there is so much more to mothering than that but in the first few days, this is what it feels like.

As I write this I am acutely aware that deployment is different than death.  Please don't ever misread my sadness and think I am not insanely grateful that my husband is alive. I know there are people out there missing loved ones who will never reactivate their phones.  When I experience a loss of any kind, and I try to write about it, I always feel that I don't allow myself the ability to feel what I am feeling without somehow experiencing guilt. I get it. There will always be people out there with a crappier situation. I am going to truly try to just be honest with how I am feeling as I travel down this road.  I have two small children both of which adore their Daddy. They haven't lived with him for the entire year since 2010. It sucks. There isn't a way to sugar coat it. All the "just be thankful he is coming home" and "try to have fun and the time will pass" statements in the world won't change the fact that my 2 year old goes to the front door and calls out "Daddy!" It won't change the fact that I have an amazing marriage yet I have felt like I have been in prison for the past two years because the longest visit we have had has been 3 weeks.

I am going to be honest because I am tired of putting on the happy face. It is day 2 of official deployment and it sucks. Until you have walked a houses and all that jazz.

"Now the time has come to leave you
One more time let me kiss you
Then close your eyes, and I'll be on my way.
Dream about the days to come
When I won't have to leave alone
About the times, I won't have to say..."

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sidewalk Chalk

I have been considering writing a post for quite some time now but keep stopping myself. Why? Well, honestly, perhaps a bit of ego. I go through periods of time when I read random blogs. These are people I do not know in real life but have followed on and off for years for various reasons.  Most of them have amazing stories of love and loss or great adventure.  I stopped myself from writing because I felt as if my story wasn't yet interesting enough to put into cyberspace.  Today, in a funk, I found myself scrolling through some of my favorite blogs.   Most of these are centered around very sad situations. It isn't as if I am fascinated by morbidity, it is quite the opposite. There are many things that draw me to these people's lives. First, many of them blogged before their life changing event. The mid 2000s sparked a new way to chronicle every day life: births of children, their upcoming wedding, holidays, and recipes.  What is fascinating to me is how normal their lives appeared and how clueless most of them were, as we all would be, before tragedy struck.  No, this alone does not give me any satisfaction.  After following their grief posts, you learn so much about the human condition. It is endearing to me to see these people pull out of grief and find happiness again.

So,  I was reading through some of the blogs when it occurred to me. They have a story because they all had a beginning. Back when their posts were about potty training or problems with their teen at school, it all was a beginning. It gave their later experiences context.  I am not blogging in anticipation of tragedy but I do feel that there is healing in writing. We have had a tumultuous couple years and now we are once again separated due to a deployment.

I won't be posting specific information about his deployment but mainly how the three of us left behind are coping.  Many days, I feel like it is a struggle just to go through the normal motions of daily activity. Sometimes, this alarms me. Am I depressed? Is this normal? Do other mothers feel this way ever?  I convinced myself a while back that I was just not doing this right and that all the other mothers I ran into had some secret that I didn't know.  They were always smiling, their kids perfectly coiffed, and I was still in my yoga pants (not used for yoga, I assure you).  Then it dawned on me, all mothers feel this way sometime. The difference? We have been trained, especially in the South, not to talk about it.  We don't admit when we feel less than or when little Johnny is driving us crazy. We were taught at a young age to be presentable in public (a lesson I started abandoning when my Crohn's came back with a vengeance and he was deployed the last time) and keep our skeletons in the closet with our spare hand bags.  Seriously, I decided to break this Southern Mama's code and just be honest.

There are days I dread going to pick up the kids from carpool because I haven't had a chance to put on makeup and I look like death. There are days when I have no idea what is for dinner and figure it out 5 minutes before I serve it.  There are days when watching TV on the couch is more appealing than cleaning or running errands while they are at school.  There are days when I want to throw something at the screen and make Jake or Mickey shut up and solve the problem already!!! There are days when I wonder why is this so hard? 

People have said to me over the past few months "Oh, you are Wonder Woman" or "Super Mom."  I have heard this many times in the last year. So much that it started to bother me. I recently had a relaxing debriefing, cause seriously I was doing all the talking and she was helping me process, in one of my dear friend's childhood bedroom.  I told her that I was disturbed by this label because I felt so far from a Super Mom. It made me wonder what type of false self was I advertising to the world via Facebook or other online outlets.  "How in the world do they think that when there are days I don't get dressed?"  She was wonderful and said that the fact that I parent two small boys and have been doing this on my own for more than a year already due to my husband's deployments in addition to having a debilitating disease AND my own business was enough, but that my children seem well adjusted, fed, and clean.  Hmm. I thought about this and it started to make sense.

I was suffering from Mommy Guilt. If you aren't a mother, you haven't experienced it. The closest thing I can compare it to is the neighbor lust some people experience called "Keeping up with the Joneses'"  Yeah, you read these mommy blogs of people who are absolutely in love with their angelic perfect children. They are always going on Nature walks to gather materials for the arts and crafts they are going to do to complete their section on nature. They are home schooled or either do extra school together after school. They love to cook together, they sew, their children look like they came out of a magazine. Then it dawns on me-they look that way because their mothers retouch the photos to give them the perfection we all see. They also present themselves as if we are watching them through a snow globe. Their world is filtered and idyllic. Forget the time Sally was helping in the kitchen and splattered batter all over the ceiling while William turned the stove on and melted the Tupperware all over the burner. That. Didn't. Happen. Because, they don't want you to think it happened.

Yes, those blogs can serve to inspire us to be better or give us great ideas for art projects to try with our children but most of the time they do the opposite to me. They make me feel like I am harming my children because we haven't recorded our first family album and we don't have 7 trips to Disney under our belt.

My friend made me think that sometimes getting them fed, bathed, read to, and put to bed IS enough. They have stability. It might not be a glamorous life. We might not do super duper exciting things but they are happy. As both came traipsing in the house covered head to toe in the sidewalk chalk, toy trucks and strewn through out the yard, I thought to myself,

"Today, was a good day."

Things I learned:

1. Planning out a week's worth of meals and attempting to stick to a schedule DOES cut down on chaos at meal times.

2. Bento Box lunches make my children happy.

3. "I want BEER" means "I want my BEAR" in 2 year old speech.

4. A shower does make you feel like a brand new person.

5. Our 5 year old thinks 100% in absolutes. He makes me laugh, daily.