Friday, August 8, 2014
For all her loveliness my Mom could not be more down to earth. In fact, if my Husband is going to make a fart joke he'll wait until he can tell my Mom. She'll laugh and I'll be like really? "Do I look like your Brother?" Side note, I despise bathroom humor. My Mom doesn't have a superficial bone in her body. She doesn't care about status or any of that crap. As we discussed recently, my Mom is the shit.
So you would think my Mom is all "everyone is beautiful." However, she is not that girl. I think it is because she doesn't even see it in herself. In fact, I don't think I have ever heard my Mom pay herself a compliment. I think she would say she is not unattractive, but if you called my Mom up today and asked her if she was pretty, I think she would say something like "I do ok."
Growing up I don't remember my Mom telling my Sister and I that we were pretty or to be proud of our bodies or anything that. She also didn't tell us anything mean like that we were unattractive. It just wasn't something that was discussed in our house. I think my Mom was just too busy like working, and trying to survive as a single Mom. My Mom did teach us that how you look makes a first impression and all that. I do know that to be true. Until you can show someone who you are by your actions and your words, all they have to go on is how you look. I mean this in a professional sense. It might be "wrong or unfair," but it is the world we live in. It is possible that my Mom did say things to us about how we looked and body image, but maybe I was too self conscious to internalize it.
The days of my childhood are much different from today. My Mom and I have a much different relationship now than we did when I was a teenager. If I send her a selfie of me and my daughter, she calls us pretty girls. If I send her an outfit from a dressing room, she'll tell me if something looks great on me. I'm not entirely sure how or why this all changed.
I know that I have been undergoing huge changes. I've always believed in being kind and treating others with love, but I've spent the last 8 months learning about why I should be more proactive and complimentary. I'd like to think that baby girl is learning this from me, because she tells people she thinks they look "so pretty" all the time; even Daddy. Perhaps, I am rubbing off on my Momma too.
I suppose if I had to say I wish my Mom would have told me XYZ about body image it would just be about her journey. I would love to know how my Mom grew up feeling, and how she feels about her looks/body today. I only recall hearing my Mom discuss her weight negatively, and she would ignore all the other pieces of herself. I would like to know how she has become so sure of herself.
I would like her to tell me how I can ensure that baby girl will grow up feeling secure in herself. I don't know how to teach her that. I only started feeling comfortable in my own skin when I met her Dad. I am one of the lucky girls. I have a great Husband. A Husband who makes me feel loved, and who has never ever once made me feel self conscious about my body; or the way I look. I learned to be ok with the way I looked because of how he sees me. I want more for C. I want her to find the place inside of her where she knows she is beautiful regardless of what happens in her world; but more importantly, I want her to feel strong, brave, smart, and confident. I'll do what I can to teach her these things, but something tells me I will have to feel all of those things first.
I am working on it. I am well on my way. Maybe Mom and I can learn to love ourselves together; maybe she already does. I think it is high time that I ask her.
This post is brought to you because of the lovely Brittany, at brittanyherself.com, and her August writing challenge. Welcome to day 8.
Thursday, August 7, 2014
I have always been a big reader. I have been told since the age of three. I would read anything I could get my hands on; including the back of cleaning bottles and my Grandma's Danielle Steele when she put it down.
I have a very distinct memory of my Bio Dad finding me reading my Grandma B's Danielle Steele and him being all "seriously Mom?" and then him throwing it behind the TV cabinet. The funny this is that my Grandma was like what? she wanted to read. We didn't see my Bio Dad's parents all that often, because my Bio Dad wasn't always in the picture and when he wasn't, well they weren't either. They were an interesting couple, both much older than my friends Grandparents. They watched the news all the time, or golf, and that was pretty much it. I've been told that my Grandpa B taught me to read at the age of 3. I do remember sitting with him and reading Tommy's Tricycle. He had a very distinct smell, and when I even try to explain it I can't. He always wore these long sleeve soft flannel shirts, but anyway, I digress. So I remember reading him Tommy's Tricycle one day and he was like "Erica you aren't reading! You memorized this book." I believe this is one of my earliest memories.
As we grew older and our parents split up (I was 7 when that happened) my Sister and I would go to Grandpa and Grandma B's house to visit. On these visits Grandpa would take us to the Manchester Mall to go to the book store. I don't even remember what it was called. There was also a carousel in that mall, and he would let us ride it every time. Other than go to the grocery store once a week, this was like the only time my Grandparents ever left the house! I am telling you they were interesting people. Anyway, I would always get a new Babysitter's Club book. My gosh I love those books; especially the vacation specials. It always made being a babysitter sound so amazing; I soon discovered that much of babysitting sucked. Unfortunately, I had to sell all of them when we moved once. It was a bummer, I had like well over 100 and I re-read them all the time.
Fast forward a few years to my awakening with grown up books. When I was a tween (oh my gawd did I even say tween? forgive me) we spent most of our weekends at my Great Grandma's house. She had an unfortunate stroke before I was even born and was confined to a wheel chair. My Grandma and her siblings paid for a week nurse, but my Mom, Sister, and I were her weekend nurses. Their house seemed so big to me. It was one of those old houses that has like random rooms tacked on to the house here and there. I always felt like like I was going to discover a new room. Well suffice to say, caring for Great Grandma Ruth was not always fun. I was 10, and if my friend wasn't home over the fence my Sister and I were pretty bored. I read a lot, like I always did. My Sister was always trying to get me to go outside, like she always did.
One Saturday my Mom gave me a book to read called Loves Music Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark. I don't even know how long it took me to read it, but I remember it looked giant. This book sent me on a completely different path of reading, and sent me elbows deep into the world of grown up mystery novels. Up until around the time I graduated from high school, I had read every novel that Mary Higgins Clark had published. I believe I have missed several since then, as life took me into a world of complicated relationship novels. I get so excited when I am able to pick up an old MHC novel. It feels like sitting down with an old friend. If I had to pick one, I would say that Loves Music Loves to Dance is still my favorite of her books. However the honorable mention would go to Weep No More My Lady, and Pretend You Don't See Her.
There have been many other authors who have put a book in my hands that has altered the very state of my being. There have been many books that made me happy, and gave me a few days of escape. These days I am finishing up the works of Kristin Hannah, and Diane Chamberlain (but so many of the old books are out of print!). I've already read everything Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner have published. I could write for days about the books I love, why I love them, and what they have done for me. I could say the same things about songs. The written word is such a powerful force, and one I am so in love with!
This post is brought to you through another August prompt challenge via the lovely Brittany Gibbons at brittanyherself.com
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
It has been really hard, the last two months. I have a hard (ugh that word again) time not qualifying the hard. I mean yes, June and July were tough for me, but I feel like I need to say but not as hard as cancer or hey there was no tragedy here. So instead I will do my best to channel Ash Beckham and say it's been hard, for me.
In a nutshell, the very first week of June I get the dreaded mid-morning call from the daycare saying your daughter threw up. This sends me into a whirring panic, because I am an emetophobic. I leave work, get baby girl go home, take care of her and do some major praying no one else gets it. Fast forward 6 days, baby boy wakes up at 11 pm and starts vomiting. Fast forward 5 days and the Husband wakes up with the stomach flu. So over three weeks now I've been taking care of 3 sick people. Oh and this is also the week of my birthday, yay.
Then the day the Husband returns to work he is notified that they are cutting him down to part time, and cutting his accrual rates and everything because of the budget issues that they created. It is widely known that they have mismanaged some pretty serious fiscal situations. Oh, and he works for a Christian university. There were no "we are sorry's" no "we thought long and hard about who to cut." Nothing. Just hey guess what we decided to take half your income, oh and btw we want you to work 10-2 every day, rendering any reduction in daycare expenses completely impossible. My birthday trip to the coast for the next day gets cancelled, and we all sit at home and try to get better. The following week the Husband meets with HR, finds out he is getting laid off instead, with one month severance, and the kids start running fevers.
The kids have fevers for three days, don't eat, and sleep a lot. Then baby girl is fine and baby boy starts throwing up again. Baby boy then starts waking up almost every night to vomit once and go back to sleep. We see doctor, we get referred to specialist. He continues to vomit. Then July 3rd we are supposed to be leaving to go see my parents, at long last something fun! We get in the car and within 10 minutes my baby boy who has no motion sickness problems is throwing up, again. After one hysterical call to my Mother, baby boy and I head off to the local children's hospital. Long story short, after many questions, and a CT scan, the docs discover a raging sinus infection up in baby boy's head. It was causing him some nasty nasal drip, which turned into reflux, and is causing the vomiting. Luckily, baby boy responded to all of the meds super quickly and stop vomiting that very day. Yay! Unfortunately, they found something else abnormal on his CT scan, which resulted in an MRI the following week and days of waiting and literally wringing my hands to get results. The end result, baby boy is fine. He has this thing, it is an incidental finding. He has a repeat MRI in a year, and he'll be fine. Whew. That week I could literally sit at my desk and feel my blood pressure rise. I imagine it looked like the outdoor thermometer my in-laws have by the pool. I was a zombie.
Meanwhile, Husband is waiting on news for a job he applied for the day before we found out the job at the university was getting cut. He was supposed to hear from a recruiter, and we waited, and waited. Then they called and say hey we are moving recruiters around so you just get an interview! Yay for us! He interviewed, then we waited, he got background checked, and we waited. Then we find out he GOT THE JOB. The job he really wanted, the job he applied for before he knew he was losing the old one. The high that gave us both, so awesome.
Fast forward a week or two, and guess what? We find out we do in fact need to move. Preferably by the end of the month. I scramble for about 10 days, making calls, doing drive bys for new rentals. I go see like 10 houses before I find one that will work for us. Luckily, the Husband can help me pick a house because he isn't working yet. We have like 10 days to pack and move, oh wait silly, the first is during the week. Ok, we have one week; and this is the week Husband starts the new job; shit. Then we move. We get a giant ass truck, my parents and Father in Law, and we work our little hearts out in 106 degree heat until we are all getting sick and we call it a day.
That was less than two weeks ago. My kitchen is functional, and the kids rooms have been assembled. Other than that, I live in a house surrounded by boxes, black trash bags, and overwhelming clutter. To say I feel unsettled is the understatement of the year. The week days only provide enough hours in the day to get normal shit done. Plus, baby boy had several follow up appointments last week and I had to leave early 4 days in a row. Thank goodness my boss is understanding, but it is still super stressful to be taking so much time off. I look forward to the day when vacation time is used for vacation, and not "dealing with shit situations" and taking care of sick kids.
I tell you all of this only to explain why the idea of self care sends me into a fit of hysterical laughter that ends with my crying on the floor of my closet. I have spent the last 8 weeks against the wall, just fighting to get through each and every day. I think this Monday when my Sister asked during our morning IM conversation how I was, I responded with "you know I am ok today" (and meant it) for the first time in at least 8 weeks.
To be honest, self care is something I always struggle with, even when life isn't so freaking stressful and full of hullabaloo. I grew up as the oldest child of a single mother. I was taking care of my Sister after school when I was 9 and she was 6. I heledp cooked dinner, or cooked dinner, at 10. My Mom taught me a lot of self-sufficiency so there is no dig there. It is just programmed in me to take care of others. I am always last. I feed everyone else, I make sure every one else's needs are met before mine. It is second nature to me. Most of the time, I don't even notice.
Lucky for me (or not luck I chose him) my Husband is supportive of self care, most of the time. I think in the day to day neither of us realizes when I put myself aside to make sure everyone else's needs are met. However, when I tell him dude I am going to lose it I need some alone time tonight, he will send me out for a pedicure. I have dinner once a month with a group of friends. He lovingly smacks my ass on the way out the door, and tells me not to rush home, because he's got the this. I get the "hey babe why don't you go take a bath" at least once a week. But the kids have been giving us such a hard time at bedtime the past few weeks, that by the time they are down I would drown if I got in the tub. Also, although I am totally looking forward to trying out the new tub, I feel terribly guilty about even considering using it. I mean holy California water shortage batman. I feel like I may as well be bathing in Cristal - hey wait a minute that's an idea.
So, I do have therapy today, and when I sit there and cry (because I can already tell today will be a crying appointment) and I tell her how hard it has been and how overwhelmed I feel she will ask me what I have been doing for self care, I will tell her the truth. Nothing. I have done nothing to take care of myself in two months, which is resulting in exhaustion, fear, discontentment, anger, frustration, and LOTS of yelling. Momma has been yelling.
I will also tell her I have a plan. I am supposed to leave Sunday for a two day work trip. Initially once I realized it was quickly approaching, I was like ahhh two evenings to myself. Then I started thinking, hey I bet my Sister would love to go. We would have so much fun! I have agonized for about 6 days going back and forth in my head about whether or not to invite her to go with me. In light of this post, I think it is rather clear that I better take this time for myself. I will eat good food alone (whatever I want). I will watch copious amounts of Grey's Anatomy, and I will finish the book I started 3 months ago. I will just be, and hopefully I will return home less apt to bite someone's head off. Writing it out makes me feel bad too though, my Sister is having a lot of the same struggle. Maybe she needs to the time away too, see it never stops. Choose you Erica! I will also follow through with taking the kids to the in-laws Friday night and have an evening with the Husband free of fighting with baby girl over bedtime. Although to be honest, there is a good chance I'll break that one.
Self care is important. Self care is putting on your oxygen mask so you can help someone else with theirs. Self care is essential, and spawns other areas of difficulty when not properly utilized. Don't be like me. Don't "help" yourself into a corner that you can't get out of.
I've been a long time fan of Kate Voegle. However, I heard one song of hers last week and it was like it was brand new. If you know me online, or through CGG, you know how deeply music affects my soul. Well this song was sent to me like a life preserver. It highlighted all of the feelings of my heart I wasn't able to put into words yet. So I share the lyrics with you here below from AZlyrics.com:
"Sweet Silver Lining"
Well I'm going home
Downhearted and hoping
I'm close to some new beginning
I know there's a reason for everything
That comes and goes
But so many people are looking to me
To be strong and to fight
But I'm just surviving
And I may be weak but I'm never defeated
And I'll keep believing
In clouds with that sweet silver lining
Most days I try
My best to put on a brave face
My bones are cold and my heart breaks
But all the while
Something's keeping me safe and alive
But so many people are looking to me
To be strong and to fight
But I'm just surviving
And I may be weak but I'm never defeated
And I'll keep believing
In clouds with that sweet silver lining
And I won't give up like this
I will be given strength
Now that I've found it
Nothing can take that away
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
I read once that when you tell people what you intend to do that it takes some of the excitement out of actually accomplishing something and the best way to buckle down and achieve your goals is to just keep your mouth shut and do it. However, in this situation I don’t think that is going to work for me. I need people to hold me accountable and encourage me. I have always been more a village person; and that isn’t to say that I don’t do anything on my own or that I don’t have any inner strength. I have always just more lived out there for people to see; good or bad. I have been blessed with good friendships and I don’t embarrass easily. This leads to my being asked for advice or to people unloading on me because they think I can take it or that I have been through something similar. I am sure a therapist could gleefully explain to you that when people ask me for help it brings me joy; and obviously sadness depending on the situation. Basically, I like to be needed.
Anyhow so I have been doing a lot of reflection about myself: where I am at, who I am, and who I want to be. I really haven’t thought of any of this as any sort of resolution type thing but more like just a general life goal. I, of course, want to look thinner and feel healthier. I’d like to get healthy and start exercising but that really isn’t what this is about.
I feel like I have spent the past few years just standing by watching my life happen by just doing my best to get through the day to day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Well when the babies are older” or “Maybe when I am not nursing anymore.” I got married while I was in college is 2005 (after dating for 3 years) and had my first baby in 2009. The Husband and I had a few years to ourselves being selfish and doing things that we wanted to do whenever. We had dates, stayed up late, I read several books a week, we went to Europe…. We were more than ready to have babies and settle down when we got pregnant with C and honestly the timing was perfect for us. I would be lying if I said I never cried about wanting 5 minutes to myself or to use the bathroom without a toddler banging on the door. However, I jumped into parenthood and never looked back and I really am happy with having this super domestic life right now. The problem isn’t that we had babies or that we even had them 21 months apart; the problem is that I don’t think I am fully living this life.
If any of you have a 2 year old, an 8 month old, and a job outside the home (or inside the home for that matter) then you know how much time it takes to take care of all of that. I think I have got lost in the shuffle; although, to be perfectly honest, this aspect of me has always been there. For example, recently I attended a birthday party for my niece. Eventually my Sister broke out her xbox Kinect thing and some dancing game. Per my usual I politely declined playing several times. It wasn’t until my Sister looked pretty bummed (as an older Sister I can’t stand putting that look on her face) that I agreed to do it. I felt like a total idiot dancing in front of her Husband’s whole family; but I did it, and you know what, it was fun.
My Sister has always been very aware of who she is and really has never cared what people think about her; whereas I have always been a talker and a joker (I can make people laugh) but other than that I would rather fade into the background. I am more of a Chandler I guess you can say. Well a Chandler seasons 1-4 pre Monica; except that as an adult I’ve always had my Husband.
In a nutshell I feel like I need to start being more of a DO-er. Instead of wishing I could be more crafty I want to just sit down and learn to crochet. Instead of lamenting how behind I am in scrapbooking I want to get up early, clean off my desk, and just DO it. Instead of thinking about taking C to the park on Saturday and then instead spend the time cleaning I want to leave the stupid laundry and take her. I want to get out there and try out a few churches and find a new home church.
I spend way too much time mired in the things I HAVE to do that I never get to the things I WANT to do. I need to start redefining the things I set as priorities and make time to do more things for fun. Who cares if I am dirt tired on Monday if I spent the weekend well?
I know sounds easy right; just do it and all that. Well it isn’t. It is February 14, 2012 and I haven’t yet done any of those things. I am not accomplishing these goals on my own. SO I guess I am putting it out there. I am officially on a quest to find a balance between the things I have to do and the things I want to do. I want to take more risks and try more things. I want to find that balance between being a good Mom, a good wife, and good to myself. Is that possible? Does it exist? I guess I’ll find out.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Have you ever worked with turkeys? No, I don’t mean the lame people you work with. I mean turkeys…the birds that you eat at Thanksgiving. Well if you have not let me tell you that Turkeys are pretty unintelligent animals. You see, there are cool animals like monkeys that can get a beer for you and watch your kids and then... there are turkeys. Turkeys easily get lost, can drown in a puddle (or from rain), and think black garbage bags are predators. I had the wonderful privilege of helping to move turkeys one time. This involves moving turkeys that are bred for eating from one barn to another as they outgrew the size of the first barn. Turkeys that are bred for meat are big, like really big. So big that the thought of walking into a barn full of them makes me want to pee myself. I don’t much care for birds and the idea of being pecked freaks me out; even more than raw poultry blech.
So moving turkeys involves herding like maneuvers with big black trash bags attached to things like PVC pipe to scare the turkeys into moving the direction you want them to move in. Sounds easy right? Yeah…umm no, it is not. First of all, your arms will scream out in pain from waving big giant bags on poles that don’t really resemble anything like a hawk or some other bird of prey. At least I am assuming that is what I imagine they are supposed to be emulating. Would it be cooler if they thought they were running from bears? I would run from a bear; no wait I think you are supposed to roll into a ball right? Shit, I better not camp until I figure that out. Secondly, turkeys are dumb. They will run in every direction you can imagine (including into each other), I swear they are suicidal and will run to water, and the best one they sit down. They just sit down like right in front of you so you trip on them and other turkeys trip on them. They become stubborn as an ass. You can gently kick them with your foot and they will just look at you with a, “kiss my ass” look on their face. Lastly, turkeys smell terribly but that isn’t really the point.
I tell you all of this because it has recently come to my attention that 2 year olds are just-like-turkeys. I know this because C is all into tantrums right now. When she gets told no, gets in trouble, or plain just doesn’t want to do something she flops onto the floor in a heap and will not freaking move. This generally prompts me to ask her if she wants a time out. She of course always responds with “noooo.” So I tell her to get up off the floor. Sometimes this works and sometimes it fails miserably. Yesterday morning I actually pushed her across our laminate floors with my foot towards her brother’s room so I could change her diaper. Toddlers are will run away from you at opportune time and are attracted to dangerous water. See? Todders = turkeys. That sounds like pretty solid math to me. I think I just did a proof right?
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Unfortunately, this has turned into me being a crappy holiday parent. C is about 2 ¼ years old and well it never occurred to me until a month or so ago that I needed to teach her what Christmas is; and that she was old enough to understand the concept. Another major parenting fail is that we haven’t had her going to Sunday School- that right there would have solved my problem. So when this finally occurred to me I went home that night and found all of her books about Christmas and we started reading them repeatedly. I really do want her to understand Christmas as the religious holiday before we move onto the secular parts of the season. So we have been reading a book about baby Jesus’ birth. She can now identify the most important of the people involved (Mary, Joseph, Jesus, etc) and she keeps dragging the birthday hats out of the decorations box in the office and asking for birthday cake so something tells me I’ve got her on the right track.
We finally put up the Christmas tree on Sunday night and it has pretty twinkling lights but no ornaments. However, C hasn’t even seen the lights because we haven’t turned them on for her. You see what I am saying? I am totally sucking at holiday season parenting right now. I did get her something cool for Christmas and I sure she will enjoy the day but I can’t help but feel that I failed her in some way. This is her first Christmas that she can sort of understand and Mom dropped the ball.
I think I need to go to Zoolights tonight, watch Elf tomorrow, do some major baking on Friday, and maybe, just maybe, I will be more prepared for Christmas come Sunday. I haven’t even watched my requisite Christmas movies whilst wrapping presents yet. Every year I watch Love, Actually and The Notebook- which is not a Christmas movie at all but I watch it now once a year. Last year the Husband and I watched Saving Private Ryan while wrapping presents and even that felt more like Christmas.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
I am not sure when but many months ago whenever we would give her a treat we would put it in the smallest little Tupperware bowl that came with our current set. C, calls these "cups." My kitchen is arranged so that C has access to all my Tupperware and all non-glass mixing bowls. She often pulls them all out and stacks them while I am cooking dinner. When she asks for raisins, cheerios, and even M-n-M’s I tell her to go get her cup.
I say all of that so you can understand how heart stopping sweet and adorable this child can be. Last night the Husband and I are watching a few minutes of Jeopardy after we finished dinner. Jeopardy is a family favorite in our house. C loves the show and gets very excited when it comes on and has since she was an infant; but I’ll write about that another day. So we are sitting there watching the show and C goes running out of the living room with purpose. I didn’t see she what she was doing but I don’t follow her around 24/7; she is a pretty independent child. I hear her open the Tupperware cabinet and then shut the doors. Then the adorable slap slap slap of toddler feet comes bounding into the living room. I assumed she was getting a “cup” to make her M-n-M request.
She walks into the living room and hands her Dad a cup with a mint in it and then she walks over to me and hands me one with a mint in it. I guess she thought since we ate all our dinner that we needed a treat. It was such a sweet moment and I was fighting back tears. I told her “Thank you baby that was so nice.” She responded “Welcome Mommy,” and then took off like she didn’t feel the ground shift beneath her feet like I did. I was so tired from my 10 hour day and I have been under so much stress; and that moment made it all worth it.