Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Say Tomato…

This week’s blog is way overdue because I got sidetracked. Three separate and unkind incidents wound up being related and I found myself in a state of pre-Christmas shock. Christmas is a season that fills me with joy. I love the decorations, the gift-giving, and most importantly for me, the true reason behind this most loving of celebrations. I was taught from a young age to put God first, honor my Mother and Father and treat others the way I want to be treated. This brings me to my current soap-box stand.

I was checking out in a large chain store and the cashier wished me “Happy Holidays.” The lady behind me snorted and said clearly so six people deep could hear her, “It’s not Happy Holidays, it’s Merry Christmas.” The cashier was a 20-something full-time student (hey, it’s a small town and we tend to know everyone) working her way through college and it broke my heart to see her face turn pink with embarrassment. I turned to her and said clearly so six people deep could hear me, “Thank you so much for wishing me happiness.”  The lady behind me was not amused, but given the situation, I treated her the way I hoped someone would treat me and smiled and wished her a Merry Christmas.

Later that same blooming evening, Facebook smacked me right in the kisser with one of those e-cards on my news feed. “I won’t wish you Happy Holidays, but I’ll Merry Christmas the crap out of you!” Really? Someone is so obsessed with something being only one way that they’ll put the word crap in the same sentence with Merry Christmas? Pardon me, but whoever thought of that needs an enema for the brain. Crude, I know, but again; really?

The next morning I turned on the radio in my car and found that someone had been messing with my dial. Talk radio was on at its most opinionated. Rush was hollering how the “Left” in our society was trying to rid the world of Merry Christmas. I happen to work at Social Services. I enjoy my job and I have a live and let live mentality. In the eyes of Mr. I-know-everything-and-you-don’t, that would put me so far to the left you couldn’t get directions. Funny, but I believe in Merry Christmas, Happy Easter and the Pledge of Allegiance. 

My point? How can someone wishing me Happy Holidays possibly take away from what I believe? How does it threaten me? If someone says “Have a blessed day,” am I not the recipient of a kindness regardless of my beliefs? I don’t get it. In a Season that is all too short, glossed over with commercialism, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, what has become of us that we can’t recognize kindness? Here’s what I wish. That if you celebrate Christmas, then may God bless us everyone, if you don’t, may your Season be full and may you be surrounded by love. Peace begins with each and every one of us, and it is my wish for all. 

Thank you, stepping off of my soap box, and going to the Christmas Concert with my family, amen.

Friday, November 22, 2013

25 Senseless Sick-abilities

I can’t honestly remember the last time I lost an entire week to being sick. I’ve missed work, missed my children, and missed out on all my household duties…gosh darn. I found that being lost in a fog of fever and rib crushing coughing brings with it some of nuttiest diversions/delusions.

1.   Listening to your children argue while consumed with fever is like watching a Tim Burton movie, it’s all dark and dismal but sounds better if you delude yourself that Johnny Depp is there.

2.   I can fall asleep during all the episodes of Law and Order, wake up five minutes before the end and still tell you the story line.

3.   I have slept through 20 or more episodes of Law and Order this week.

4.   Daytime TV scares me.

5.   Dr. Phil has apparently been on the Rodeo Circuit. He keeps saying this isn’t his first Rodeo.

6.   Dr. Phil scares me. How’s that working for ya?

7.   I don’t understand The View. I can’t hear what the “view” is; they all talk over each other.

8.   Cable rules.

9.   Sense and Sensibility still makes sense when sick. 

10.  Emma Thompson is my hero. 
11.  One should never watch soppy-period-love stories, and cry when they can’t breathe in the first place. But OH! Willoughby! You know what I’m talking about.

12.  I am losing weight.

13.  I will gain it all back as soon as I am well.

14.  I want to keep losing weight but I want to be well.

15.  Reading Stephen King cured my fever. I broke out in a major sweat.

16.  You discover that your body can do more than one thing at a time when you have violent coughing spasms.

17.  I scared my family while coughing.

18.  Watching Comedy Central is great, until you laugh, which leads to coughing, which scares the family.

19.  Showers are seriously underrated.

20.  Dexter and I have become close friends.

21.  NetFlix is dangerous. 

22.  The Walking Dead is suddenly so cliché. I have a fever right?

23.  The couch looks pretty good as a place to spend days on end.

24.  We may need to burn the couch.

25. "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

These sick abilities are truly senseless!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mea Culpa Motherhood

When a woman makes negative comments about the big “M” known as Motherhood, there are those who act as if a major sin has been committed. There is nothing, NOTHING, more challenging, exhausting, frustrating and sleep deprived as being a parent. You don’t get breaks, you don’t get vacations, you give of yourself in ways you never thought possible, and the thanks you get is like a drop of water in the middle of a thirty day march in the desert. Not enough to relieve the thirst, but delicious just the same.

I was taking a day off from work to take care of my six-year-old son who had come down with his second ear infection of the season (How on earth is this a day off from work?), and The Talk was on TV. It’s one of those women-gathered-around-the-table-talking-about-women-related- subjects, shows. A viewer sounded off on motherhood and some of its downfalls. The audience gasped. I was thinking “you’re preaching to the choir sista,” but according to the audience response, I must have been in the minority
It cracks me up that every time a woman complains about parenting, the battle cry of “Enjoy your children, it goes by so fast,” or “But the rewards are well worth the work,” rears its off key warble. Complaining does not mean I would trade one second of life with my children for something else, it means that I have a need to vent, and dismissing that need as if it were trivial negates just how challenging being a Mom can be. A Fortune 500 CEO can vent and complain about the downside of a company, and no one blinks an eye, but let a woman complain about the loss of interesting conversation because she’s too busy changing diapers or burping babies, and the judging begins.

Our second child came a full nine years after our first. We were truly under the delusion that we were a complete size as a family. The changes that came prior to and upon our son’s arrival made my head spin. I had to trade in the VW Bug I always wanted and was enjoying, for the big honking mini-van. I love my son, but I still miss my Bug. I left a job that I enjoyed to be home with a newborn. I gave up traveling with fellow musicians, learning and sharing our craft, to change diapers and sing lullabies. No guitar or piano could ever hug me or smile at me and send me to the moon the way my daughter and son do, but I still miss crafting a melody with those who understand the intricacies of note upon note. The choices I made were mine to make, but even the right choices can be hard.

My husband and I attended a long anticipated wedding when our son was two. Shortly after eating a splendorous buffet, but well before the festivities truly began at the reception, our baby-sitter called. My then 11 year-old- daughter was distraught beyond belief at how her baby brother was still crying for Mama and Daddy. My son was a sobbing, heart-broken mess, and the baby-sitter was stressed to the point of hysteria. We did what we had to do and left the wedding. My husband was put out beyond all measure. He complained about missing a good time and how he couldn’t believe we had to leave to take care of the children. Understand that my husband is the biggest of teddy bears. There is nothing this man would not do for his children, but this was the first time he ever had to give up his plans to attend to his children. It’s not the T-Ball, Band, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, planned activities that knock the air out of you, it’s the unexpected that can throw you off kilter, and it hit my husband smack in the kisser. Welcome to my world, I thought, but didn’t say. He was disappointed enough without me showing my, uh, hind end.

It’s hard being a Mom. Go ahead, say it. There is no mea culpa in venting. There is nothing wrong with stating your case. Not if it’s fact. We’re allowed to vent, really. In the mean-time, I need to go pick up my daughter from band, instead of planning the next blog. Life goes on, we vent, we juggle, we give to others as we give of ourselves. I am the CEO of my children’s well-being and I love them, no matter what I’ve given up for them. Like any company, sometimes mine doesn’t go the way I planned and I'm allowed to complain about it.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Book of the Turned Down Pages

Normally a book review would go on the Book Review page - the one that's been even more neglected then the blog itself. But this time, this one time, the book review has as much to do with life as it does with the book. 

I'm not sure how to attend the book club gathering on Friday night. I just joined it, and the second book assigned has turned me into a quivering, sobbing mess. How do you approach a group of women you barely know to discuss something you lived through, that maybe they didn't? Especially when you are still hesitant at any social gathering involving women - because you lived through what the book is about. That's a recommendation for a book, ain't it?

The book is "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio. It tells the story of a fifth grader who has been home schooled, and is attending middle school with other kids for the first time in his life. Sounds like a simple premise until you realize that the book is an elegant rendition of what it is like to be bullied. It starts with the viewpoint of August Pullman, a child with severe facial anomalies. Through the book, it switches to other kids so we get multiple viewpoints of kids.

By page 79, I started turning down pages where I had a story to share. There are a lot of pages turned down. While I didn't have the extremity of issues which August (Auggie) had to deal with, I was bullied pretty much from the time my grown up teeth started coming in. See my grown up teeth acted like children. They went everywhere they could get away with. I had teeth come in where teeth already were, and teeth show up where they weren't supposed to be. My upper jaw grew too much, and my lower jaw not enough. Nothing screams 'make fun of me' better than a ten year old wearing orthodontic head gear to school. Yep, fun times. Even after braces (five years of braces - at a time where very few kids had braces), I had a mile of gum exposed every time I smiled. Any wonder there are very few pictures of me? I ducked, and hid, and often still do. Old habits really can be hard to break. After I was married, my husband was so very supportive of me as I had maxillofacial surgery - in other words, both jaws broken to fix them. Yep - it was that bad.

And this book is the most true depiction of what it is like to be different - the glances, the cruelty, the hurt, the courage it can take to show up somewhere, anywhere. The book amazed me as it so perfectly captured the reactions, and the reality. From the people who are kind to you, just because they think it gives them points, to the ones who are nice to you, and enjoy spending time with you - unless their "cool" group is around...and most importantly it shows the effect true kindness can have.

So I'm recommending this book. Maybe you'll turn down a page and share a story with your kids. Maybe, just maybe it will help.

Evelyn's Precepts - Kindness is a quiet illustration of strength of character.

"You are perfect to me." - Pink

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Mama Stomped First.

I’m stuck on birthdays. My daughter just had her Sweet Sixteen. Wasn’t it yesterday we brought her home and I slept on a pallet in her room, afraid the monitor wouldn’t work, that I wouldn’t hear her if she needed me? Heck, wasn’t it just yesterday that I had my own 16th birthday? 

My memory is strong and serves me, sometimes, too well. I don’t live in the past, but I do cherish it. My daughter’s milestone birthday called up memories of all my Mama did to make that day special for me and I think I reacted much in the same way my own daughter did. I enjoyed the day in the company of friends and family, but did not recognize all the planning and work that went into the preparations for my special day. I know now that my Mama was exhausted even though it was a simple affair. I asked for dinner in our dining room with three of my friends and my family. My Mama cleaned all day, cooked a meal that a five star restaurant would be in awe of, and then served all with the knowledge that it was a job well done.

As good as my memory is I can’t recall if I ever really thanked my parents. It’s what I call an “Aha” moment.  Everything is a cycle. The crazy circle of life. When my teen rolls her eyes at me, I can see myself stomping up the stairs to my room and slamming the bedroom door. The apple doesn’t fall far from the Mama who stomped before. The comfort is in knowing that realization eventually hits home. One day, you look at your parents and think “Holy gratitude Batman! They love me; they really, really love me.” And so it goes, because I am able to look back and whisper a prayer of gratitude that my parents did so much for me, even when the angst of teen years, the indestructible not me attitude, and the heavy sighs of discontent must have frustrated them to no end.

My daughter had her day, full of band friends eating pizza, cutting up and ending the afternoon with a paint ball party. When they sang Happy Birthday to her, it sounded like a choir. That same evening we had dinner with family, and I reveled in how incredibly blessed I am to have this woman-child as my daughter. 

I’m one of a billion parents on the planet going through the same thing. I carry with me the lessons of someone who gave before. I hope I’m around long enough to see my daughter’s eyes widen with new recognition that this was all done before, for her. Most of all, I hope she realizes that all the eye-rolling, sighing, and stomping, is worth every moment because, ya know, I really, really love her.