Today I Am Alone

Standard

One of the things I hate most is being alone.

Maybe it’s because I have never really been alone at all.  I have never, ever lived alone.  I got married young and had kids right away. Even now, I’m technically not alone although I often feel lonely.  I have a house full of kids running in and out at any given time.  There are times that I wish they’d leave me alone, but mostly just so I can get work done.  I never wish for them to leave me alone so that I can be alone.

When I hear people talk about needing time for themselves, I think it sounds dreadful.  I couldn’t begin to imagine what I’d do with myself for any amount of time.  I’d be terribly bored with nobody to talk to. I’d never dream of going out to eat alone and when I see others doing so, I want to rescue them from their solitude. I make up stories in my mind about why they’re alone. Sometimes it’s their fault, sometimes not.  But it’s never just because they want to be there by themselves.

You can see then, why when a friend invited me to use their place out of town to spend some time alone, I was hesitant.

What would I do by myself in a strange city where I knew nobody?  How would I survive without someone to talk to all day?  Where would I eat without feeling like everyone was watching me eat alone and making up stories about me in their own minds? Certainly I’d die being so alone.

So I said yes.

Not because I wanted to be alone but because in my mind this would be a test of my will to survive. It was to prove to myself that I can in fact be alone.  In my disillusioned head, it would be like Man Versus Wild.  I’d deliberately dump myself into a busy city, yet I’d spend my days completely alone foraging for food and fighting the odds to make it out alive at the end of four days.

Yesterday was day one. And it was lovely.  I wandered the streets not knowing a single soul.  I meandered in and out of shops at my leisure.  I ate lunch alone on a park bench while reading a book.  I sat on the edge of the river for at least an hour barely moving, just staring at nothing.  I watched couples walk hand in hand.  I watched business men rushing to meetings where they’d probably never be missed if they didn’t show up.  I watched moms drag their kids across streets yelling at them to hurry up, not realizing that the toddlers tiny legs just can’t keep stride with their own. I watched assumedly homeless people lie down on ragged blankets on the bank of the river and fall asleep with their belongings unprotected beside them.  I stared at the foam that billowed against the edge and marveled at the biggest freighters I’ve ever seen move at a snail’s pace down the mighty Mississippi.  I read every single sign that I passed with a bit of the city history engraved on it.  I didn’t take a picture, start a conversation or check the time at all.  For hours and hours, I was just alone.  And I loved it.

Today is day two and so far I have drank two cups of coffee.  I’ve taken a hot bath in a jetted tub while reading a book.  (It’s the first uninterrupted bath I can recall in 20 years.  There was no sound of children fighting on the other side of the door, no little hands knocking and asking if I was almost done yet, and no tiny fingers sliding underneath the door asking if I’m going potty.) I’m currently sitting on a little enclosed patio listening to the city bustle around me and Ella Fitzgerald sing to me on Spotify.  I might actually get dressed and ready for the day, but right now it’s only 11 a.m. and what’s the rush?  If I decide to go out, there’s a little vegan restaurant that I passed yesterday that I may get lunch at. By myself.  And I overheard some ladies talking about an antique shopping district a little ways away and I may check that out today too.  Or I may not.  I have no plans.  I have no plans.  I have nobody to look after, nobody to take care of, nobody else’s opinion to consider or take into account.

I can do whatever I want.  Because today I am alone.  And it’s not so bad after all.

Advertisements

My Dad

Standard

I had a conversation with my dad tonight that I’ll never forget.

First, a quick recap: June 2, dad was diagnosed with stage 4 throat and neck cancer.  June 9, dad moved in with me and the kids. The rest is sort of a blur, but over the past few months I have learned more than I’d ever want to know about cancer, care giving and I guess just about life in general.

After seven weeks of intense radiation five days a week, and three bouts of an absolutely brutal chemotherapy regimen, dad completed his treatment three weeks ago today.  There have been several visits to the hospital outside of his treatment schedule, quite a few short stays, a couple of longer ones and numerous arguments about him being a less than perfect patient.  This week he had a follow up visit that really wasn’t very encouraging.  He just doesn’t seem to be recovering from the treatment.  We came home Wednesday after having some blood work done, but a phone call from his doctor on Friday about his lab results validated what we both already knew…dad is just really, really sick.  I took him in to the ER and they admitted him into the critical care unit and so here we are again, with dad in his “luxury suite” at Beaumont.

I don’t really know how to interact with him anymore.  This makes him living with me a bit awkward.  But he has lost most of his hearing and pretty much all of his speech and I don’t really know how to do much besides talk, so this makes things pretty uncomfortable. I don’t know what else to do so I just keep talking.  And he just keeps either not hearing me at all or pretending that he doesn’t.  So our actual conversations are rare.  But tonight we had one.

I was telling him that when he gets home we need to be more careful about making sure that he doesn’t get this sick again.  I told him that I’d do a better job of monitoring him and making sure that he’s staying hydrated and nourished.  I talked about how we’d start trying to get him out of bed each day and try to work up to taking a walk down the street.  I reminded him of the cane that I’d just bought him and how he needs to start to use it and get up more often.  “You’re going to get depressed if you just keep staying in bed” I said. He just laid there and closed his eyes.

I looked at him for way too long. I stared hard. I realized that I don’t even recognize him anymore.  He doesn’t look like my dad.  He’s just the skeleton of a man that used to be invincible.  His face is sunken in. I can see every bone in his body.  He’s 5’10” and he weighs 102 lbs. His thighs are about as big around as my wrist. His shoulder blades protrude through the shirts that hang limp on his body.  He turned 60 last month but looks like he’s lived a hundred long years.  This is my dad.  My dad with cancer.

He opened his eyes and with the whisper of a voice that the cancer hasn’t taken yet, he spoke. “I don’t know why you’re so good to me.  I’ve never been a good dad to you.”

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that my family has it’s fair share of dysfunctions.  Many of which stem from addictions that my dad has just never been able to kick.  But “never been a good dad”.  Well, that’s a far cry from the truth. I’m saddened that he thinks that and I’m embarrassed because I’ve actually probably felt that way about him at times too.

photo

My parents were practically kids when they had me.  She was 19, he was 20. They hadn’t known each other long and they’ve never really talked about how or where they met or anything like that.  All I know is that they met, got pregnant, got married and moved to Colorado…in that order…where they had yours truly about seven months later.  My dad could have easily bailed.  But he didn’t.  We stayed in Colorado for years, until (I think) my mom just couldn’t handle being away from family any longer and we made the move to Michigan.

 

My dad was one of the hardest working men I’ve ever known.  He got up early every single morning for as long as I can remember to be to work by 5 or 6 a.m. He was always gone long before I ever woke and came home most evenings with enough time to eat a reheated dinner, since we’d eaten hours before, and then he’d go to bed to do it all again the next day.  He often worked six and sometimes seven days a week like that. He taught me to be a hard and diligent worker.

He made sure that we always had what we needed and that we worked for anything else.  I inherited his love for horses and he made me earn and save my own money to buy a horse for myself.  And then when all of my friend’s parents were buying them their first cars, I was working to save up to purchase a car for myself. He taught me the value of hard work and I learned to appreciate things far more than my friends ever did.

He never did things for me, but taught me how to do everything.  From him, I learned to change a tire, replace a toilet and fix a garbage disposal.  He taught me how to clean a house spotless, cut the grass perfectly and the proper way to change the oil and the brakes on my car. I learned that nothing is impossible and there are very few things that I can’t figure out how to fix on my own with a little hard work and determination.

When my sister Rebecca and I would fight, my dad would make us sit on the couch next to each other holding hands for what seemed like hours.  He told us that “you girls are sisters and you’re all each other will have someday” and that we’d better treat each other right. From him, we learned the importance of family and of course, we eventually grew to love each other. He raised a house full of daughters and I always knew how badly he wanted a son.  When my mom was pregnant with Kari, the youngest, I told my dad that I’d pray for a boy.  After they found out at the ultrasound that it was another girl, I told him I was sorry and he said that it was fine and “who would want a stinky old boy anyway when he could have another pretty little girl”.  photo 1 (3)

My dad used to be a great story teller and loved to tell jokes. So many of his stories ended up with punch lines that when he actually had a one to tell that wasn’t a joke, he’d have to spend an hour convincing us that there was no punch line coming.

Yeah, my dad has issues.  He has fought his demons my whole life, but he’s been as good of a dad as he knew how to and up until a few years ago he was always able to keep those demons at bay.

I don’t know what the outcome will be for my dad right now.  But I do know that he won’t be around forever.  And I think that I have done him, and probably myself and even my kids, a disservice over the years.  I have spent far too much time focusing on what he’s done wrong as a dad and not nearly enough time on what he’s done right.  My character has, in so many ways, been formed by my relationship with my dad.  And honestly, my relationship with him wasn’t all that bad.  I know that he loved me, that he cared for me and that he has always wanted the best for me.

I have learned valuable lessons from him and I’ve also learned a lot of “what not to do” things.  But that’s alright.  I haven’t been a perfect parent either.  I plan to start giving my dad a lot more grace in the parenting department because after all, I hope my kids do the same for me.

10450421_10204628073007627_4655385664564714187_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Was Spanked As a Child…And I Really Am Fine

Standard

I have a lot of kids.  Because of this, naturally,  people tend to ask me for parenting advice.  This is a riot, because I’ll be the first to admit that I have no clue what I’m doing and never have.  Any success I’ve had in parenting is by the grace of God, and any failures…well, they make thankful for God’s grace.

One of the topics that seems to come up fairly often lately is that of “spanking”.  Now, I actually don’t have a strong opinion either way about spanking.  I know, weird.  I tend to be pretty opinionated about almost everything.  But not on this.  And the small opinion that I do have on it, I’m going to keep to myself.  But I wanted to share an article that I read yesterday about the topic that I found simply absurd.

This article, “5 Reasons You Aren’t Fine if You Were Spanked As a Child” might be one of the most ludicrous pieces of parenting “wisdom” that I’ve ever come across.

I would definitely fall into the camp of parents who would make the claim that “Yes, I was spanked as a kid and I’ve turned out just fine.”  Did I enjoy being spanked? No, of course not.  But come on.  These claims?  Am I the only one that thinks they’re ridiculous?

“1. Spanking makes kids more aggressive. Like I said, this is what the latest findings on spanking conclude. According to Elizabeth Gershoff, who studies parental discipline and its effects at the University of Texas at Austin: “Kids who were spanked as 5-year-olds were slightly more likely to be aggressive and break rules later in elementary school. Spanking models aggression as a way of solving problems, that you can hit people and get what you want.””

Ok. In all fairness, I guess this one makes sense.  Kind of.  I can see how kids that are spanked would possibly mimic that behavior towards other children.  But to use this as an argument that I’m not fine as an adult?  I personally don’t recall ever hitting other kids.  And I certainly don’t walk around hitting people now because I was spanked as a kid.  As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that I am one of the least aggressive people that I know.

“2. Spanking leads to language problems. The same study that found that children who were spanked at least twice a week by their fathers at the age of 5 were more likely to score lower on vocabulary and language-comprehension tests.”

You see, this is where it just gets silly.  Hmm.  My father was the sole spanker in my house.  And most weeks, I probably got spanked at least twice a week.  I’ll count it then as a miracle that I repeatedly won spelling bees, have always enjoyed vocabulary and have excelled at language and reading comprehension.  I bet those kids that scored lower had way bigger issues than being spanked a couple times a week by daddy.

“3. Spanking leads to cognitive impairment and long-term developmental difficulties.According to a 2012 study conducted at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa,spanking “may reduce the brain’s grey matter, the connective tissue between brain cells. Grey matter is an integral part of the central nervous system and influences intelligence testing and learning abilities. It includes areas of the brain involved in sensory perception, speech, muscular control, emotions, and memory.”

Wait.  What?  Cognitive impairment?  From spanking?  Clearly, we have different understandings of what a spanking is.  I can assure you that the spankings that I’m thinking of don’t “reduce the brain’s grey matter”.  I think that the author is mistaking “spanking” with “child abuse”.

“4. Spanking may lead to depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. Another 2012 study concluded that “being slapped, pushed, or hit as a child leads to an increased risk of mental illness.” The study, which was published in Pediatrics, claims that “adults who reported such treatment as children were reported as 6 percent of respondents who had higher risk of mood disorders, anxiety, and alcohol or drug abuse.”

Again.  Come on.  I feel so bad for new parents who read this kind of thing.  Now, I have no research to back this up, but in my (not so) professional but very much experienced opinion, I’d say that the increase in depression, anxiety and alcoholism in our nation has little to do with getting your butt swatted as a toddler.  (It’s much more likely that people are anxious and depressed because they stumble across articles online that tell them how badly they’ve screwed up and ruined their kids lives by spanking them)  And again, I have clearly defied the odds and survived spankings without any permanent psychological disorders and have never used or abused alcohol or drugs.  On the other hand, my younger sisters (who were NOT spanked), regularly use drugs and alcohol, and without an official diagnosis, I would place money on the fact that they suffer from any number of mood disorders.  I’ll bet you my parents just wish they’d have spanked those two girls way more often!

And my favorite…

“5. Spanking children may lead to adult obesity and a host of other diseases. If mental effects aren’t enough to sway parents away from spanking their children, perhaps physical ones will. According to a Canadian study done earlier this year, childhood spanking “can put children at higher risk of suffering cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and adult obesity.”

What a relief to know that I can now blame my weight issues on my parents and not on my love for Reese’s peanut butter cups.  And it’s good to know that I don’t need to bother changing my diet and exercise habits because I will inevitably end up with a myriad of diseases due to those spankings that I endured 30 years ago.

I don’t want to debate the rights or wrongs of spanking.  Like I said, I don’t actually have a strong opinion either way.  But am I the only one that feels like I was spanked as a kid and I turned out just fine.  No, really.  I am just fine.

 

 

It’s Been A Good Year

Standard

I had the best conversation today.

It was with a young girl, 19 years old.  Beautiful as can be with one of the most radiant smiles I’ve ever seen.

As we chatted and shared stories, I knew I was going to love this girl. We talked about family, faith and friends.  We laughed about how we are both the only “normal” ones in our own families.  Her eyes looked sad when I talked about divorce and then mine returned that sadness as she shared about her own broken background.

It was a great reminder to me that we are all broken people.  I would have never guessed in a million years the things that this pretty little thing has been through in her short lifetime.  I’m embarrassed to admit that sometimes I get so caught up in my own circumstances that I forget that other people are hurting too.

Although we shared a lot of crazy, sad and terrible stories, it wasn’t like a pity party at all.  It was more like a celebration.  It was an “oh my gosh, your life sucks sometimes too!” party. It was fun and refreshing and I am thankful for this new friendship since I’ll be spending lots of time with her during her internship at Kensington.

During our talk, she made a comment about what a rough year this has been for me.  And without even thinking about it, I replied that this has been one of the best years of my life.

I COULD NOT BELIEVE THOSE WORDS CAME OUT OF MY MOUTH.

But in the silent seconds that followed, I realized that I meant it.  I mean it now.

This has been a year of struggle and discipline for me.  I have, at times, felt like I would drown.  But instead, I learned to be a better swimmer.  I’ve felt desperate and afraid.  But each time, God has revealed himself to me through things that are nothing short of miraculous.  Things that I may have missed if I’d have been able to do things on my own.  I’ve felt alone and abandoned, but God sent people to me.  Over and over again, phone calls, texts, offers of help, words of encouragement.  New friends and rekindled friendships.  I’ve been literally surrounded by people this year who have shown my family love and grace that could only have come from God.  The kids and I might have missed these things had it not been for our struggles…so they were worth it.  I mean that.

It has been worth every single struggle this year to see God at work in our lives.

Last year in July, I wrote this in my journal (disclaimer: yes, I tend to be a bit dramatic in my journal…but hey, it wasn’t intended to be shared, so give me a break:)

I don’t ever remember being so scared.  I’ve never been a worrier.  Now I can’t make myself stop. I feel constantly sick with worry and fear.  I dread what is to come.  I worry about money, my job, my kids, my sister, my nephew.  How will I ever be able to take care of things on my own?  How can I help my sister when my own life is falling apart?  I’m afraid that I am going to fail my kids and that I am going to lose everything. I have no control over anything.  God.  Where are you in this?  The Bible says that “The righteous cry out and the Lord delivers them from all their troubles.”  I am crying out. Am I not righteous enough?  Why am I not being delivered?

I have clung to that scripture all year. Psalm 34:17.  And then today, that very same verse was the scripture of the day in my Bible app.  Only this time, I read the entire thing:

17″The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all”

It’s taken me some time to see it. A year to be exact.  But he has been true to his word.  He has heard me.  He has been close to me while my heart was breaking.  He saved me when my spirit was crushed.  And yeah, I have had many troubles, but I believe that He is delivering me from them all.

 

You’re Quiet…What’s Wrong?

Standard

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’ve written lots in the down time, but nothing post worthy.  Mostly pretty down, depressing, not-upward-at-all kind of stuff.

I continue to be shocked at how many people read my blog.  And humbled.  Really, really humbled actually.  And I am encouraged by how many of you contact me to let me know that you’re reading and that you miss it when I’m not writing. That baffles my mind.  But hey, whatever, I’m glad for it even if you are a little crazy.

So, everybody’s asking me why I’m quiet lately.  No joke, not a single day goes by that I don’t hear something like “You’re so quiet, what’s wrong? It’s not like you.”  Which makes me laugh because it’s confirmation that I do indeed have a big mouth.  Turns out that every teacher I’ve ever had was right and I don’t know how to shut up.  Oh well.

This blog was started for a few reasons.  First, I love to write.  I have a dozen or so journals going at any given time and I thought it would be cool to have a new kind of space.  I wanted to document the last year of my 30’s in a really fun, lighthearted way.  Partly because I’m a little nervous about turning 40, partly because I think it’s hilarious that I’m going to be 40 (I seriously feel like I just finished high school yesterday), and mostly because I had just come through kind of a crappy time and had determined that this year was going to be amazing and I wanted to share it with some of my favorite people (I didn’t realize that people I’ve never met would be even remotely interested in my rambling).  I was hoping that it would be an encouragement to others and that it would even, on occasion, give folks a little laugh.

So, what happened?  That crappy time that I thought I’d come through…turns out it wasn’t really over. Yep. I jumped the gun and made the mistake of thinking “Well, at least it can’t get any worse.”  Yeah, that’s the wrong attitude to have…because it can.

I’ve got to say, I hate it when people are cryptic about their problems.  And I hate it when people share their woes for attention.  So, I’m kinda stuck in that I don’t really know how to share this without doing either. Forgive me if you’re like me and hate this kind of thing.

So just as I was settling in to being divorced and raising my kids on my own…and then taking in my two year old nephew…my dad got sick.  Like, really sick. Stage 4 cancer kind of sick.  And he doesn’t really have anybody since he and my mom got divorced a few years ago.  So, he has moved up from Columbus, OH to stay with me during the next couple of months while he goes through radiation/chemotherapy treatments.

Yuck.  I hate putting that out there.  But lots of you are asking, and so there…that’s what’s wrong.  That’s why I’ve been quiet.  I just don’t have much to say at this point.  At least not much positive which is really all that I’d love to share.  Because one thing I know is that we all have our own junk to deal with, and you don’t need mine too!  I’m also learning that no matter how bad I think I have it, it could always be worse.

This past week, my dad was in the hospital and while he slept most of the time, his roommate was always awake and willing to chat.  So I got to know Rob pretty well.  What a cool guy and a great story teller.  He just turned 53 and has a very aggressive bone cancer.  He was diagnosed in January, two weeks after his wife had returned home from the hospital after having a brain aneurysm.  But he had the best attitude and the most amazing outlook on life.  Here’s this guy that has no idea if he’ll survive this, and he’s in the hospital for four days to go through a brutal chemo regimen…and he spent his time encouraging me to stay positive?

Last year, the first time I had to go to the court house for my divorce, as I walked away from the metal detector area, an attorney that was walking in behind me stopped me, handed me a business card and said “Here sweetie, in case you need anything.” It had a Bible verse on the back of it.  I was surprised by the sentiment because it was the same verse I had just written out THAT DAY on a white board at my desk at work.  And then, before he was released on Sunday, Rob wrote this down on a napkin for me “Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit”. The same verse. I don’t know why I’m always surprised by God’s reminders to me, but I am.

So, I’m going to try a little harder to continue to be positive. How could I not, when I get such clear reminders that I’m not alone in this. And honestly, aside from being quiet, I’m doing alright most of the time.  The kids and I are adjusting…again.  And I have no doubt that we’ll get through this.  We always do.

 

 

The Measure of a Mom

Standard

I wonder if there is any greater pressure in life than to be a good mother.  As a mom, it can feel like pretty much everything you do is measured by how good, or bad, you are at this job.  And the standard of how good or bad you are…well that changes constantly and there are a million variables that go in to figuring that out.  But the measure seems to be mostly dependent on who is administering the test (aka judging you).  When you think about how many interactions you have in a single day, week, month…that’s a whole lotta judging going on.  And that means a whole lotta pressure to be good at, well, everything.

If that’s not enough,  you’re also judged on the behavior of your kids and how good they are at everything.  If your child has a tantrum at the grocery store, that’s a forgivable offense for them, but you’re docked double points in the mom category, because first of all why is your child such a little monster? And second, why can’t you control them when they decide to have a melt down in aisle five?

As a pretty imperfect mom myself, I’d love to say that I’m not guilty of this unfair judging.  But that would be a lie.  When I see a child misbehaving, I have perfected “the look” that I give to my own kids as we walk past the uncontrollable brat.  And after many years of this look, I don’t even need to say a word, the kids say it for  me. “I know, you would kill us if we ever did that.” Yep.  I sure would.  Because I have enough trouble earning good mom points on my own, I don’t need you lowering my score.

I don’t really want to measured by whether or not I attend every baseball game or PTO meeting.  I don’t want to be scored by how well behaved my children are, how smart they are or how old they are when they started walking/talking/potty training…etc.  What level they read at when they’re 6 years old shouldn’t be a factor and it shouldn’t matter how many activities or sports they participate in.

I can’t imagine any other area in life where we are judged almost solely based on someone else’s performance.  Besides, I know some really great moms whose kids just aren’t there yet and may never be. What I’ve realized as my kids have grown into adulthood is that I can only do what I can do,  but ultimately their choices are up to them. And truly,  their behavior isn’t necessarily a reflection of how well I’ve done as a mom.

So what is the measure of a mom? How do I know if I’ve done my job and done it well?  I’ve decided on these few things as a measuring stick for myself.  This list might change or be added to over the years, and it might not be a standard for anyone else, but this is how I’ll be measuring myself.

  • Do my kids know that I love them? Now, I’ve learned that just loving a kid doesn’t necessarily make you a good mom, even really bad moms often love their kids.  I want my kids to know that I love them with the kind of unconditional,  selfless, I’d do anything for you…but your “happiness” is not my main concern…kind of love.
  • Do my kids know that God loves them even more than I do?  For me this is a big one.  Because I will fail my kids.  Often.  And I want them to know and to understand that I am not their ultimate authority.  Only by understanding the depth of God’s love, will they be able to extend the same kind of love to others.  And for me, that’ll be a big win.
  • Do my kids know that there are consequences to their actions?  As a mom, our natural response to our kids getting in trouble is to bail them out.  This often means that when our kids do something really stupid that deserves to be punished, we rush to their defense and don’t let them face the consequences that they’ve got coming to them.  If my kids realize that good choices equal good consequences and bad choices equal bad consequences, and that sometimes those bad consequences really hurt, I’ll be doing alright.
  • Do my kids understand the value of working hard?  My kids don’t own their own computer or ipad, they were never given a car and I’ve never paid for a spring break trip.  Why?  Because that stuff is expensive and they can’t afford it.  I supply my kids with their basic necessities.  If they want the extras, they have to work for it.  Giving them a handout now does not teach them the importance of hard work, which they will eventually have to learn. ( Unless of course, you plan to allow them to live in your basement and play video games their whole life, in which case, better you than me.)  I want my kids to know the value of a dollar and to realize that dollars don’t grow on trees.  I also want them to experience the satisfaction that comes with working for something and then obtaining it.  They will never get the same sense of satisfaction from a handout.  

And maybe most importantly,

  • Do my kids know the importance of character?  I’m a huge fan of good old honest Abe, who once said “Reputation is the shadow, character is the tree”.  I want my kids to know that their character will reflect who they are.  And that who they are, especially when nobody’s looking, is really important.  And I want them to know that things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are always admirable traits to have. 

 

 

 

 

 

Doughnut Bottoms and Muffin Tops

Standard

I had the rare opportunity this morning to stop at the mall with no children in tow.  I could barely contain my excitement as I was walking in.  Actually, I might have frightened the little old lady walking out who decided to hold the door for me.  “OH MY GOSH!!! Door service, THANK YOU SO MUCH!  WOW, THIS DAY JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER.  That was so nice of you to hold the door for me, really, you didn’t need to do that, but thank you!  You have a great day now!”  I probably should’ve just said thanks, she looked pretty confused and a little afraid.

I wanted to wander the store aimlessly, possibly trying on one of everything in my size.  But I was on a mission and since I’m pretty much broke, I decided that I’d better get in and get out.  I needed to pick up a new pair of shoes for Little B who has decided that his tennis shoes make a great set of brakes while he’s riding his scooter.  I got the shoes and headed out…well, started to head out at least. But I decided that I’d better check out the new styles for summer before I left.

Now, admittedly, it’s been a while since I’ve shopped.  But I did not realize how out of the loop I am on today’s fashion.

What the heck are these?

doughnut pants

They look to be pants covered in doughnuts, right?  (For those of you that don’t have a sweet tooth, they also have cheeseburgers and pizza print available.)

Please tell me I’m missing something and that these pants are not really trending.  Or better yet, if you see someone wearing these…please send me a picture, it would really make my day.

Guess I no longer need to be embarrassed about being a child of the 80’s.  Our style’s got nothing on doughnut print leggings.

 

 

Excuse me ma’am…but those shorts don’t fit you

Standard

I try pretty hard not to complain. But some things just irk me and today I was feeling especially irritable.  I would usually just vent about this to a select few people, certainly not in a public space…but I can’t help it today, so here it goes.

In Michigan, I get that it feels like summer is here when the sun comes out for a few days in a row.  Or when the temperatures hit a certain high…like 50 degrees or so. But you can always tell that summer is really near when all of the moms start trying to squeeze their 40 year old rear ends into their 12 year old daughters size 2 booty shorts. As I sat at my son’s little league baseball game today I saw more than my share of these moms and it got me thinking that there are some things that us moms  just shouldn’t wear.  I think most of these could be for any time, but we’ll just call this little league etiquette.  I compiled a list in my head at the game…as I sat there wearing my winter coat and wrapped in a wool blanket watching those other moms pretend that they weren’t freezing.

The first and most obvious one based on my observations today is booty shorts.  I know you must’ve been roasting in that 52 degree weather, but come on ladies, there is no need to show the world your cheeks.  I don’t care if you’re a size 2 or size 22, there is no need for all of us other parents to have to look at your ass hanging out all over the place…we just want to watch our kids play ball.

Shorts/Pants with words on the butt.  You are not a “cutie” or “sweet” and it’s just plain stupid for your butt to say “pink”.  I’m a firm believer that a woman’s butt is not meant to be a surface for reading material.  (I especially think this is true for your daughters…there is no reason in the world to draw attention to your child’s behind…but that’s for another time.)

Pajamas.  Nothing says “I don’t give a crap about my appearance” like wearing your pjs out in public.  My son’s game was at 1:00 this afternoon.  Why in the world are you in your pajamas?  You’re a freaking grown up!  Didn’t you have any responsibilities to fulfill today before the game that required you to get dressed?  Grocery shopping, yard work, anything?  Maybe you should’ve gotten dressed to go into 7-11 and get that Big Gulp of Mountain Dew that you’re letting your toddler drink.

Yoga pants/leggings.  Call them what you want, they’re tights. And they’re not appropriate outerwear attire, ever.  Not for you.  Not for your daughter.  Not for anyone.  Unless of course they are worn underneath something, then they’re acceptable.  But not alone…do you not look in a mirror?  Do you not see what we see, which is basically everything?

Tiny Tees.  Are you trying to cut costs by buying children’s size clothing?  Listen, I am one of you.  I know firsthand that my belly just isn’t as flat as it used to be pre-little darlings.  But why accentuate it by wearing a shirt that clings to every roll?

Tanks with built-in-bras.  It may not say it on the tag, but these are not meant for us moms.  We all know that the girls lose their perkiness once we’re graced with a little one.  They’ve had their time to shine, and it was years ago. There is no amount of building-in that will help us.  You need a bra, a bra is your friend.

Hey, I’m not being judgmental.  I’m really not.  I couldn’t care less how you dress most of the time.  But spare your child the embarrassment on the field. And for the sake of all of us other parents who really just want to watch our kids play ball, it would just be really nice if you could wear clothes…that actually fit you…for the remainder of the season.

 

 

 

Broken Parts

Standard

Several years ago I took up running for the first time.  I’ve given it up and taken it up again three times since then.  But my first attempt at running was thwarted by a pretty serious injury, a stress fracture of my knee.  And even though I’ve had surgery to repair it, it still gives me trouble to this day.

The other day, (that one day of spring that we had here in Michigan), when the sun came out,  I was so anxious to get outside and run.  I can’t even believe I’m saying that because most days I hate running.  But anyhow, I couldn’t wait to get out and so off I went.  Now, mind you, I haven’t really ran much at all since my marathon last October.   Six full months ago.  But being that the last time I ran I finished 26.2 miles, I was feeling pretty ambitious. So I got out my earbuds, put on my (now too tight) running clothes and took off.  I was feeling pretty good for a mile and even the second mile wasn’t awful.  But my knee started bugging me and I was smart enough to turn around then.  Mile three was tolerable but that fourth mile, well that one was no fun at all.  My knee was killing me.  That injury from almost twelve stupid years ago showed up to haunt me, and I hate it.

As I hobbled my way homeward, cursing my knee and the stupid reminder of something broken so long ago, I had this weird thought.  (Ok, it’s a stretch but just track with me for a minute, I think this might make sense in the end.)

I was wondering how an injury from practically ages ago, that I thought had been dealt with, could still show up in my life now and then.  Unwelcome, uninvited…but it shows up nonetheless.  And that led me to wonder if the same thing isn’t true about broken relationships.  Are all of the things that hurt me, all the broken parts, going to show up for my whole life?  Following me around and haunting me at inopportune moments?  Am I gonna be constantly limping my way through every relationship in my future?  Because I can’t even imagine how terrible that would be.

I sometimes use my old injury as an excuse to not run.  “Hey do you wanna meet up and do three miles?” “Oh, I’d love to, but ya know…my knee.  I just can’t.” And I can totally see myself using old injuries in my relationships to keep people away if I’m not careful. I’ve never really been one to be guarded. I’ve always been open about pretty much everything with just about everyone. But I’ve noticed changes in myself recently that I don’t like, I’ve been a little more reserved with people.  Giving short answers and not sharing things that I normally would.  I have not isolated myself at all, but I’ve certainly disengaged a little bit with some people that I love.  I don’t want to live my life like that. I’ll have to figure out how to fix that broken part.

One thing that I really hate is when people excuse away their own bad behavior.  “I can’t help it that I’m always accusing you of doing things…but you know I have trust issues from my last boyfriend.” Or “You know I get defensive easily, I can’t help it. My ex-husband was always pointing out my flaws.” Whatever.  If I become like that, somebody please punch me.  I don’t EVER want to use my past hurts to excuse my future bad behavior.  I’ll have to figure out how to fix that broken part too.

It’s frustrating to think that a bad relationship can have such an effect on future relationships.  How can I expect to ever have a healthy relationship if I have all of these broken parts that are likely to start hurting if they get triggered by the slightest thing?

My hope is that this early self-diagnosis is going to be healthy for me.  My doctor gave me a bunch of exercises and stretches to do to help out with my knee.  He told me that it would never be 100% but that if I really work on it, it could be close.  I’m hoping that a knee and a heart aren’t really all that different.

 

 

 

Thirsty for Change

Standard

Growing up,  my only real life reference of global problems was my mom telling me to finish my food because “there are children starving in Africa”.  And that sentiment never once kept me from throwing food away.

Then for a very long time, I lived my life kinda knowing but not knowing that there were some really big problems in the world.  I’d see things on the news that would make me shake my head and think “oh, that’s too bad”.  I was thankful to have been born in America, but didn’t really have any idea what it meant to be truly thankful for that.

And then I went to Africa.  And my heart was broken and filled.

??????????

I want to write about Africa but I don’t have the words for it.  There are not enough and there are none that can do it justice.  Maybe someday, not today.

But today is World Water Day.  You’ve probably never even heard of it although it’s been observed on 3/22 for more than 10 years. It’s a day to bring awareness to the global water crisis.  And since I’ve experienced this crisis firsthand, I wanted to weigh in.  So here’s my two cents worth. The crisis isn’t a crisis because there is a lack of water.  It’s a crisis because there is water that the people can’t access.

But the people have to have to water, and so they walk to find it.  Miles and miles and hours and hours they walk to find water.  And when they get to it, it’s dirty but they don’t care.  They don’t care because they are thirsty and their children are thirsty and they are going to die without water so they drink it. They let their children drink it. And the water that they drink sustains them while slowly killing them.

dirty water

They are killing themselves and their children by drinking dirty water.  Not because there isn’t clean water around them…but because they can’t get to it.  The ground is too dry and too hard, they have no equipment and the water is too far down for them to dig to it with their handmade shovels.

So it’s easy to look at this as a crisis and think “oh that’s too bad”.  But what we should be doing is looking at this and asking how we can help them.  These are not “problems” for us in America.  We have the resources, equipment and finances to gain access  to clean water pretty much anywhere in the world.  We are rich with resources.  But we can be really bad at sharing.

The water crisis isn’t a crisis of water at all, it’s a crisis of ignorance and greed.  It’s a crisis that is at worst, manageable and at best solvable  with a little education and generosity.

pumping water

So in honor of World Water Day,  I would encourage you to do something, it doesn’t matter what, to bring awareness to this crisis.  Maybe for you it’s just not wasting the water in your house, turn off the faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, don’t let the shower “warm up” for 10 minutes.  Maybe it’s just having a conversation with your kids about what a privilege it is to be able to turn on a faucet inside your home to get water.  Or maybe it’s making a donation to an organization that is doing the hard work of getting to clean water somewhere else in the world.  Whatever it is, I completely believe that together our small things can bring great change.

at the well