Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Seeing with blinders


This image was shared on a forum I frequently visit and to say the least it made me look twice and (amazingly) speechless.

As a plus size person I have always struggled with self image, confidence and feeling beautiful and graceful, but I have learned to see what is good enough and use that to feed my confidence with a dash of humor to help me through.

As a plus sized mommy I have had to say, even when I don't believe, that "yes I am beautiful even though I am bigger" because it is important to me to show my daughter that her beauty is not defined by a size, number or label. 

Despite my best efforts and my first hand knowledge of the challenges of low self esteem, particularly from being overweight, I slipped up with my daughter BIG TIME. 

See my little girl is a dancer, and a darn awesome one in this slightly biased mother's opinion, and not only does she dance for the love of it, but also with the privilege of competing with her dance company. She works hard and has grown in all areas of her life because of her dance experience. (Thank you teacher Stephanie and teacher Rachel!**) 

However, dance is a tough world and it is highly competitive. Very much like any sport it requires dedication and comes with some fairly standard "type casting" so to speak. If you don't have the right build or skills for a certain position in a sport, no matter how much you want it, you aren't likely to get it. Same goes with dance....or so I believed. 

And here is my "bad mommy" confession. When I looked at my daughter, her size and shape and all things considered....ballerina was NOT what I saw. Amazing dancer? Yes. Strong dancer? Yes. Graceful dancer that can bring me to tears? Yes, but not as a ballerina. Maybe in lyrical and definitely awesome in jazz, but a a ballerina, well I didn't see the typical tall-thin ballerina in my daughter. I wanted to prepare her that she should always continue to work hard, but when it comes to ballet, well ballet and her body just weren't "right." I wanted her to be able to focus on her strengths and not get her hopes up in a style that I didn't "see" her able to succeed at.  

And, yes, I told her this. 

Oh bad mommy. (sigh)

Moving forward.....we recently had a one on one meeting with her ballet teacher, to discuss strengths, areas to work on, etc. It was going really well and I was learning a lot about my daughter and her abilities. Then I expressed my concerns that in time she might struggle with auditions, particularly the ballet parts, because....well....she was not exactly "ballerina sized." In a rush I continued on talking about realizing she would never be an actual ballerina, again because we could all "see" it wasn't her strength, but we knew at some point she should focus on her strengths so she could utilize them best when it was time. 
The teacher looked at me, smiled and politely told me "I think you are wrong." Well those were not her exact words, but in summary she felt my daughter was good in ballet and that even though I may not recognize how far she has come, she was happily impressed with her and in her opinion ballet was one her greatest STRENGTHS in dance. 

I sat, appropriately, stunned into silence. Then admitted I had been "schooled" and I apologized. 

Oh my. Bad mommy. How much damage had I caused by looking through my blinders, seeing only the superficial? Well considering she is young and found great humor in my being "schooled" I think we will recover, however I have no excuse....well other than the fact I am a human who is still learning. 

So when I saw this picture, it again brought home the point....you really can't judge a book by its cover, nor a dancer by her "non-typical" attributes or myself by my my weight. 

Grace, beauty, charm, talent, love, warmth....all these amazing attributes are not bound by a cover or size, but are inside all of us and can only be set free when we choose to see them for what they are....attributes within us, not words that define us and they are there whether we, or anyone else, can "see" them!




**If you are looking for an awesome dance school with amazing teachers check out Vibe Dance Studio in Everett, WA!

Friday, November 29, 2013

What Have We Become?

Tonight my heart is heavy with sadness.

Last night families large and small gathered around tables to feast together celebrating a day of thanks. Then this morning in the wee hours, or perhaps only merely hours after this family meal ended, began the shopping frenzy of Black Friday.

Black Friday in theory is a wonderful thing....special deals for people willing to shop at crazy hours, giving retailers a boost in sales before end of year and buyers a chance to get things they might not otherwise be able to afford and a jump on their holiday shopping. And in the beginning that is what it was. Then slowly but surely it began to evolve, as the hours got earlier, the deals got bigger and the shoppers more aggressive.

Black Friday has gotten beyond out of hand and from what I can see it points to a much, much bigger problem.....a change in behavior and attitude as humans that is so much less than we can be.

All day today I was inundated with Black Friday news, from emails about deals, to news reports, to videos from within the stores themselves. Those videos c-r-u-s-h-e-d me. Do a quick google or YouTube search and you will see what I mean. People pushing fighting, grabbing, getting hurt, hurting others, disrespecting employees and police officers (police officers needed for shopping? apparently so...) all in the name of....stuff. Sure these were great deals and maybe they will be gifts, but ultimately it is about....getting stuff.

Is getting stuff bad? No.
Is getting stuff for a good deal bad? No.
Is liking having, giving and receiving stuff bad? No, no and no.

But at some point a line was crossed where we as people have justified the negative of greed with the warm fuzzy of giving. Is it really ok to knock someone down or mouth off to a hard working employee because that DVD player will perfect for Grandpa Joe? In my opinion, no. And I would like to think Grandpa Joe would be appalled to know what you did that to get that special gift, but we have also become a people who live off the high of drama and more than likely it is a great gift with the bonus of an awesome story..."You should of seen how I dove in and got that for you! It was crazy! But I wasn't gonna let anyone get it before ME!"

What have we done? What have we let ourselves become? What have we let this beautiful season turn into?

Now please DO NOT get me wrong. I love presents. I love shopping. I love a good deal. I love a good drama filled story and even experience...sheesh I am human after all, but there is a point where too much is too much.

Maybe I am taking this all too a much deeper level than I need to worry about, but it seems to me that more and more as I look around what I see is negative. Is it because there is a way to see so much more thanks to the Internet? Perhaps. But then again perhaps there has been a change, or lots of little changes over time...till we are here; where people hurt one another for a television or video game.

Either way tonight I have decided enough is enough for me.

I took a moment to show my children a few of the clips of the Black Friday chaos and I told them we are NOT allowing this to happen to our family. not just at Christmas, but in general. I want us to remember how blessed we are and that it is ok to like things and presents, but not to the point of letting them be the source of our happiness. Our happiness is bigger than stuff because it comes from God who loves and blesses our lives daily.

Love, Fear and Internet

I HATE SPIDERS! HATE......spiders. Not dislike, not think ick or ew...i absolutely HATE spiders. One Halloween someone thought it would be funny to sneak up behind me and put a fake one on my shoulder...yeah they found my crying, curled up in a ball on the kitchen floor. And once one of those big, black ones ran under the couch I was sitting on (mind you this was an older couch with some busted springs, the kind where once you are in you are in for the long haul till someone pulls you out.) I could have been an Olympic sprint, hurdler jumping racer with how fast I was out of that couch and in another room. Hubby had to virtually take the couch apart in search of the stupid spider and I wouldn't sit on that couch for weeks! They freak me out ((shudder)) a LOT. Now I have made some peace with those daddy long legs, although if they are hanging in the same room I will on a bizarrely frequent time frame check to be sure they haven't moved anywhere in my direction, because if they have I am gone! But the rest of those creepy buggers....I KNOW they are out to get me and will eat me alive if they get near me! I HATE SPIDERS.

So why this big long and embarrassing confession of what many would call an irrational fear? Hang on...I'm getting to that, but first let me share a little about my son, the 10 year old, would be genius if he actually knew everything he claims to know.

When I was pregnant with my son I prayed for him regularly. I asked God to make him strong, smart, brave, passionate and devoted- all the things I imagined for a warrior for heaven. If I had had ANY idea what it meant to be a mother raising a warrior for heaven with all those qualities trapped inside a hormonal, strong willed, tween I would have prayed a whole lot differently. Now he believes he knows a LOT, especially if he has read the book on the topic and if he doesn't he just makes up "facts" that could be right and pitches them as logically as possible hoping you don't know enough to say otherwise. And let me admit here he is an amazing pitch man and actually is pretty smart so there have been a few occasions where I really have no idea if I been snowed till I hit google. (Talk about awkward parenting moment.) He believes he is wise and impressive till someone, usually mom, tells him he isn't quite so smart and impressive and questions his facts. Now mind you I also prayed for passionate and devoted which at the moment come out more like stubborn and strong willed. So I challenge this child's facts and if I can bring enough evidence to the table to satisfy this; logical thinking, stubborn, doesn't want to be wrong child, he will begrudgingly call truce. And believe it or not this can be some pretty gruelling battles so sometimes I simply leave it at "You are wrong on this son. I love you, but you are not correct."

So yesterday my son found a spider that he tried to bring in the house because he wanted to "check it out more." (Of course my son is FASCINATED by bugs and spiders even though I have tried to deter him.) Yeah, he lost that battle and 'Fred' had to stay outside in his 'special bow.' Well apparently he was dead or stayed there because this morning I wake to find my son has drawn a detailed picture of 'Fred' and the empty bowl is in the house. Once I have confirmed there is NO spider in the bowl or been let loose in my house through various parental fact extraction method and my heart rate has returned to normal I let my son share his picture with me. As he describes his spider he begins to wander into the territory of "questionable facts," and I express to him that I am not sure he is telling all truth. Uh-oh. It is on. On comes the stubborn expression and a whole lot of spider info (I could have done without) and he knows it because he read the books about it. I am just not believing it.....but I should have....because foolishly I said "if that is true I will be able to find it on the internet, do you want me to search or do you want to just tell me you made it up?" He looks at me and says, "Go ahead. It's true." No, no, no, no, no! This is my mommy bluff. You can't call my mommy bluff. My mind is racing over what spider info I know trying to find a way to prove he is wrong...I don't want to actually google this stuff. So I try again. "Really? You want me to check? And if you are wrong and caught in a lie to me, there are consequences, right? Are you sure these are true facts?" He looks at me, not smug, not scared, just straight at, "I know it's right mom, I read it and you should believe me. Look it up." NOOOOO! The gauntlet is laid....I have to look now.

So I begrudgingly type in the spider "fact" and poof up pops all kinds of info......and........pictures.  Eww. Why? Now the small search engine sized pics next to the links, ok I can handle those, nonetheless I click on one with NO picture. Phew, no pic on the page either, but paragraphs about how he WAS right. Dang it. "Do you see it mommy? See I was right!" But that is not all, I challenged other facts so the search is not done. I type in the next one, click the link and BAM.....big 'ol spider picture all over my screen. NOOO! Oh no. Oh no. I can't read it. I can't type. I can't touch my computer...it is infected with spider! And it is a real pic, not a drawing and I am so, so , so not liking this. Before I know it I am hiding my face behind my daughter who has climbed on my lap to 'protect' me from the 'scary spider picture,' virtually in tears, begging them to 'make it go away!' While making comforting noises she quickly turns my page to facebook (smart girl ha ha) and tells me it is ok. Oh what a wonderful mommy moment (sigh.) Outwitted by my son and coddled by daughter. Awesome.

However, I am still going to chalk this up in my mommy points bank because.....well because I can dang it! I may have lost the battle of wits with my son and had to be saved by my daughter from the evil picture in my screen, but at the end of the day I was willing to face one of biggest fears to help my son....and if that isn't worth mommy points I don't know what is.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

SUV 2x4s

As September rolls  into October I subconsciously brace myself for the incoming "holiday season" - (my personal nickname for the months of October/ November through...oh February or March...you know HalloThanksChristmaNewYearValenEaster!) I confess...I actually LOVE the holiday season- the family, chaos, dinners, lists written and forgotten, decorations,etc but it  really is kind of a love hate relationship. I find myself hopping from joy to loathing to contentedness to frustration back to joy to regret then to anticipation as one holiday snowballs into another. Most years I simply battle with my expectations lofted way up in the realm of nostalgia, trying desperately to recreate those warm fuzzy feelings and memories I remember from childhood within the reality of adulthood and a budget, but this year has been a bit different.

This year I am fighting....the blues and a touch of pity party central. Things just are NOT lining up at all the way I had imagined and logically I understand the why, but my heart just says "ppphhhhbbbtttt!!!" Money has been tight, time has been scarce and life has been overwhelming and petulant in its daily demands.It is one of those "I just don't want to be an adult anymore" kinds of period of time....and it sucks. I guess I have kind of been looking at my "holiday season" through Charlie Brown glasses.."oh bother."  

Fortunately I had a bizarre "knock you to your senses" kind of moment and it happened while standing in my flip flops in freezing weather at the gas station. As I stood there shivering in my flip flops, frump outfit and messy bun waiting for my gas to pump the "meager" half tank I could afford...I was feeling sorry for myself and I wondered "gee I wonder if anyone else sees how sad I am, with my stupid half a tank of gas and tight frickin' budget?" And then I turned and looked at my car and laughed at myself. No really I did. See, I own a Lincoln Navigator and I don't say that to brag, but because it is relevant to the fact that it was my two by four to the head. So here I am shivering, because I am the dork who wore flip flops in 30 something degree weather, sulking because I can't fill up my nice frickin' car, feeling sorry because things are so tight and not how I want them and in reality and then WHAM two by four in the shape of and SUV. 

In that moment I realized two things. One, I have much to be grateful for and that counting ones blessings really does help you to feel better. Right then and there I began counting my blessings and to some my list would seem trivial in part and perhaps arrogant in others, but God has blessed my family in such amazing ways- it was good to be reminded. And I have had to revisit that list a few times as my pity party keeps trying to blow up balloons and bring in a d.j. Just this evening two wonderful blessings came through for us, the first being we managed to get some money to buy a Thanksgiving dinner that wasn't spaghetti and the second that our fresh turkey, normally a dollar something or more a pound and kind of our only option so late in the game, was tagged at a discount price by a kind lady in the meat department so that not only was it less per pound, but would qualify for an additional discount making it possible for me to buy a few more things! Yes, I did cry in the supermarket much to my children's embarrassment, but I just couldn't help it. 

And two, I realized you can't "judge a a book by its cover." Hard times come to everyone even if it doesn't seem like that person could actually have a hard time in life. And although I may not think what one person is dealing with is really "all that tough" I can't actually know how tough it is for them. As I stood by my car only able to fill it up part way and looked over my budget and tried to find ways to pinch and save- I felt sad, frustrated and disappointed because it is a tough place to be. Looking at me with my "fancy car" it would be easy to say "Hmph, really? Spoiled much?" And in comparison to some perhaps I am "spoiled," however at the end of the day I was a mom trying to stretch a tight budget with as minimal affect to my home and children as possible, and fancy car or not, that makes me just like so many others in the same boat. 

So here it is, early Thanksgiving morning, because I should be sleeping but can't, and I am....thankful. Thankful for the big things and the small things, grateful for discounted turkeys and last minute funds and grateful for the struggles and awkward moments that have helped me grow as a person and see life slightly different....slightly better....with a gratitude attitude!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Part of the mother-hood

Motherhood.

Many things come to mind when you hear that word. Quirky comments like "the toughest 'hood' around...," sweet sayings, "there is no greater gift than motherhood." or even sarcastic quips, "mother- noun- one person who does the work of twenty. For free."

When one tries to define motherhood, many things come to mind.
Caregiver
Cook, chauffeur and maid
Unconditional love
Comforter
A person who sacrifices for another
A parent

And the list really can go on and on and go in so many directions depending on whom you are talking.

Recently I discovered, or perhaps was reminded, that motherhood is also a special type of mentality that once you are within it is also part of a "greater good" so to speak.

In my last post I openly shared my struggle with being a mother right now. I shared this post to heal, but I was terrified of the judgement that I assumed would come down on me. Like I had said, "what mother feels like this?"

What happened instead warmed my soul and gave me much comfort. The fellow mothers in my life came to me and said "it's okay" and offered all the advice and words of comfort they had. They reached out in concern and used those same tools instilled inside them to help "mother" a fellow mother in need.

Thank you! Thank you to you friends, family and fellow moms that have reached out to me. Please know that EVERY word, suggestion and hug has helped and continues to help. So quickly I have already begun to feel more healed...and it came from receiving the "mothering," in a way, that I have been struggling to give. I still have my "hurts," but now I also know that I can work through them, I am not alone in feeling them and that I am not an evil villain for having them.

What an amazing thing to know that motherhood is more than a title or a job, but is also a community of strength! I encourage you mamas out there to share if you feel you have a weakness, a doubt or a fear because when we moms come together to help one another there is an AMAZING strength in that unity!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Seeking Healing From Motherhood Failure


This image, or ones similar, have been frequenting my Facebook page recently and although the sentiment is sweet I often find myself feeling more nauseated than twitterpated. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids- no really I do, and hugs and kisses are great, but sometimes they just aren't enough. 

Motherhood very rarely falls into the picture perfect image I have in my head. When I was little it was all I wanted to be and now that I am, sometimes I wonder "what on earth was I thinking?" Perhaps I missed the line for  the awesome mother genes, but I feel I often struggle more than succeed with being a mom. And the game is always changing. What was effective yesterday is useless today. What was an argument two minutes ago is now the perfect solution. Really??? For the most you just roll with the punches and each day ends well enough.


But what about the challenges and the days where kisses, hugs and sweet words aren't enough? What about the days where you just aren't sure you can wake up and do it one more day? Then what?

Lately it seems my mommy tank is simply.......empty. I know I love my kids, and I am willing to do my mommy job, but if you were to ask me.....I just don' wanna....and I honestly wonder some days if I'll even be able to. I feel defeated and drained. My energy is sapped dry. My heart is drained. My mind is scattered like ashes to the wind. 

I have found myself looking at my child in need of a hug and I actually hear the thoughts "I just can't do it" in my head. I can already feel the energy in my being drain as I look at this child knowing they need from me and I hesitate to reach out, battling the knowledge that I should with my fear of the emptiness I will experience. And then I feel guilt. What mother hesitates to hug her child? So I reach out and hold this child, fighting the feeling to push them away as I feel myself being wrung dry. I pat their back, trying to offer comfort and hide my tears while in my mind desperately praying for strength for me and love for them. The hug ends and they go on their way feeling better and I smile at them through gritted teeth, trying to force lightheartedness into my eyes and smile while my nails are digging into the palms of my closed fist trying to hide my pain and release it at the same time. Once they are out of sight and contentedly doing their thing I sit and try to gather myself, wanting to scream, but only able to cry. 

What kind of mother am I? An awful one. A selfish one. A failing one. 

No.

I am a human one. Even in the shadow of my faults I have to acknowledge my weakness is my humanness, and give my self that small bit of allowance. No person, no matter how strong, valiant, determined, selfless, loving- can give forever without end. 

So what do I do? How do I heal me? 

I do not really know. 

I do know this. 
In those moments with people who love me- there is healing. 
In those hugs, although they take- there is healing. 
In the quiet moments- there is healing.
In the praise song- there is healing.
In my prayers- there is healing.

Right now the healing does not seem to fill me up as fast as it is being taken, but I think....I think, if I give it time and seek out those things that heal me, I will be rejuvenated. And I need to rejuvenate me because I need to heal me so I can be a better mom. I want to hold my children without ire or hurt. I want to hear their stories in detail and not dread the sound of their voices. I want to hug them and be hugged and share a mutual love, joy and bonding of spirits. I want to be the mommy I know I am again. 

So my friends who may be reading this- if I don't seem like myself, or I am a bit extra clingy and drain your spirit- I am sorry- my soul is seeking healing and my love tanks are seeking to be filled. If I don't seem to understand your sorrows or help you as well as I could- I am sorry- I am struggling to help me, but know I love you and I will help as best I can. If I am withdrawn, know it isn't you, but rather me protecting my wounds. And if you have read all of this please know that I know I am struggling and I know these words are harsh to read- imagine how it must be for me to actually feel them. I share them not to beg for pity, but because there is also healing in the sharing and the understanding. 

(deep cleansing breath)

I already for a warm glow of hope radiating warmth. I can do this. There will be joy again.....soon. 




Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Job of Love

As a mom it is easy to justify myself when I fall behind in my chores around the house. I didn't fold and put away laundry, but I washed it. That counts for something, right? Dinner was drive through. Ok, yes....again, but at least the family ate, right? 
I meant to mop, but....
Things are picked up and put.....somewhere....
I'm still sorting that.
I can't organize that till I buy a organizer thingy.
I was sick.
A kid was sick.
We are recovering from being sick.
I'm tired today.
The kids were tired.
It is still mostly clean. 
It is a frumpy day.
The kids were difficult.
I work 24/7- 365 I deserve one day off!
The house looks "lived in" and it should, right? We are a family and we do live here after all. 

Besides I am a MOM and I do so much more than you can even see; working out fights, life lessons, battling child meltdowns and hormones. I mean if a person had to deal with their job back-talking and giving it a life lesson each time the opportune moment presented itself, well I am sure no business would promise to have it delivered in 30 minutes or it's free and you would definitely kiss "guaranteed to be delivered by" goodbye! 

Lots of valid reasons to be behind in my jobs and I have used them all more than once, including tonight. 

Tonight my husband woke up to kids fighting, came out to a mildly messy (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being worst disaster ever, 1 being "like how grandma kept her pristine home," about a 6- "lived in right after small child hurricanes came through"), had to find clean clothes in the "washed, but not yet folded" pile and ate cold fast food for dinner. Needless to say he was not happy and he unleashed the grump beast on me. 
"Is it so much to ask that you do your job?" he asked, frowning at his cold tacos. 
The excuses came rolling into my head fast and furious and my back stiffened indignantly.
 "What I ask for isn't much, but I guess it is too much to hope for. You know what I want, but I guess it's never gonna happen." 
Too irritated to hear anymore I left and went to "take care" of these super important things that I should have done, but didn't for a very good reason and was now too pissed to do, but was going to do anyway since it is "what he wanted" and heaven forbid he be inconvenienced. Harumph!!!

Not too long after, but long enough that I had battled between anger and self pity, he came down to find me "enduring my martyrdom" of midnight laundry folding. He apologized. I released the floodgate and cried....I was sorry too. 

Hubby and I have battled this struggle before. He wants a clean home, cared for children and food to eat- preferably home cooked and not "uh well this is what I came up with at the top of my head because I didn't plan" surprise casserole. I know this. I also know that when I actually TRY I can do it and do it well and it makes everything run smoothly and feel peaceful. So why doesn't it happen? Well.....you read my reasons......uh justifications........ok my excuses why earlier. Bottom line, laziness and procrastination were my frien-emies long before he was ever my beloved husband and they are terribly persuasive.

Right before my husband left we briefly discussed bills and upcoming expenses. He kissed me good bye, told me he loved me and sighed. 
"Why the sigh?"
"It is nothing."
"Really? Are you ok? What is wrong?"
"Nothing. Really. I just have to go work so I can provide for the happiness of the household. It's my job. It's what I do. Love you."
He gave me one more kiss and left, but I could sense the burden of his responsibility on his shoulders.

"It is my job. It is what I do." My heart ached and my shoulders slumped. A feeling of melancholy settled as I contemplated how I could help him. Could I help bring in money? What could I do? The desire to help him  ached inside. How can I help his burden?

"It's my job. It's what I do."

Lightening struck and it definitely stung a little. The answer was, quite literally, in front of me. I could do my job. I could do my job! When the home is clean and he has good food to eat and is a place of peace, he can escape to it and be rejuvenated. He can feel at ease knowing this part of his world is taken care of and he does not need to worry about it because I have it covered. So simple and so important. 

Yes. I have many justifications to not do my chores, but I have a really important reason to do them.....because they are my job and because I love my family. My husband works to provide because he loves us. So do I and I had forgotten that. There is joy loving my family through the work I do and I need to love them the best I can.