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Messy Thoughts

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The other day I went to drop off my daughter at a friend’s house.  The mom, who I am friends with, looked at me and said “are you ok? you look very tired”.  Which, of course is the PC way to say “girl, you look like shit.  What the hell happened to you?” Well, first off, I had no makeup on, so part of it is that’s just my face.  Second, I’m pale, having spent no time in the tiny amount of nice weather we’re having.  Thirdly? My brain is shot.  Oh, and I have kids. And I work full time. And life is full of bullshit.

I realized today when someone told me I should go to yoga because they had gone and had a blissful experience of having a blank canvas for a mind for an hour, that my brain never shuts down unless it’s asleep, and even then it’s still running, full steam ahead.  I just don’t remember half of it.  At any given time, my brain is keeping track of all the tasks that need doing, the world around me, scheduled events, etc. If I sat here and listed off some of the chaos in my brain it would seem like I never ending series of jobs to do peppered with random thoughts.  It’s messy.

In the past 15 minutes alone:

  • I need to pull all of the items out from under the kitchen sink. I have no idea where to put them, but they need to come out for the dishwasher delivery tomorrow.  Speaking of which, how freakin’ happy am I to finally get a new dishwasher? I am not a pioneer woman. I have grown accustomed to that small luxury and I cannot wait to have it back.  Although we need someone to install it, and I have no idea when they can do it.  I cannot wait to run that first load of dishes.
  • My mom’s old car.  I love it and it brings me joy, but again this morning, there is a small issue with it.  Luckily there is a place locally that can resolve it but I need to come up with some extra cash flow to do it.
  • I need to remember my hair appointment. My god I can’t wait.  Nothing better than having your hair done.  I need some fire.
  • The whole house needs cleaning.  This is overwhelming.
  • How many fake fucking accounts can one person have?  At least they are easy to find.  Scumbadee.
  • One phone call.
  • I really need a quiet weekend with nothing to do except jobs that need doing.
  • I need to say “no” more.  The year of “yes” was great, but it’s important to learn both.
  • Passports. When? How much? When we got them last time I barely remember. Have to get those done, I don’t want to run a risk of not getting them in plenty of time.
  • Why does the cat make that little dripping sound when he snores?
  • Glycolic.  Definitely the way to go.
  • I need a better mop.
  • What was that good travel site I read about?
  • I need to read more. I want that Bianca book, but do I get it in paperback, kindle or audiobook for the car?
  • I love holding and reading books but I don’t need any more physical books in the house.
  • My new sweatshirt makes me laugh and brings me joy.
  • I need to weed through all of our clothes and get rid of over half of them.
  • I’d rather be that asshole that tells the unpopular truth every time as opposed to the alternative.
  • The end of the school year is chaos.
  • I need to resynch all my calendars and make sure I have everything on them.
  • I need to get better about putting stuff in my calendar and not saying “I’ll remember…no need to worry” because I sure as hell won’t remember.
  • The laundry room.  Bane of my existence.
  • Dinner.  I need to make it.  Last night’s was so good I feel like I have to stay on par.

That was in 15 minutes.  15 minutes my brain ran through all of that.

That’s all the chaos in my head in 15 minutes. And I read that list again…and I understand why I am tired all the time!  It seems like there are always way more things to do that seconds in a day.  I need to really scale back and start simplifying.  I need to say “no” more.  I need to end a lot of extra nonsense.

The only problem is, to get to the simplified stage takes a lot of work.

No wonder I’m tired.

 

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One Day

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Oneday

One Day.

That’s all it took.  Just one, unimaginable day, and she was gone. I woke up to a call from my father saying I needed to come quickly, as the time had come and she would likely pass away soon.  The problem was, there was no “quickly” about it.  I was a good 5+ hours by car away, and still a good 4 if I tried to take a plane instead.  There was no quick. There was only tears, and fear, and horror as the “should be” 5 hour drive turned into 11 painstakingly slow hours.  I was right near the George Washington Bridge when I got the call.  I was too late. I also had a very long drive ahead.   But I am ahead of myself.

One Day.

That day I got married, and she couldn’t be there because cancer made her so weak she couldn’t travel up.  It was a Justice of the Peace wedding, not at all as I had planned in my youth.  But if my mom couldn’t be there, I didn’t want the big wedding.  I married the love of my life without either of my parents able to be there.  That’s a hard pill to swallow.

One Day.

The day my son was born.  The day I truly believe she fought and battled that cancer to be able to be there for.  She couldn’t get there until well after he was born, but she was there.  I remember her telling the nurses to be extra kind to me, because her mum was dying and there was all just so much STRESS when there should have been only happiness.

One Day,

That day my daughter was brought into this world, without her Grandmother there to wonder out loud if she had a curly haired grandchild, and to marvel how pretty and delicate she was.  I remember telling the nurse that I had held it together all day in front of visitors that I was just so heartbroken that my mom wasn’t there to meet this beautiful baby, but I couldn’t hold it any longer.  That nurse called the station to say she would be a while, sat down and let me cry while she held my hand.

One Day.

The day my father finally remarried, and I wrote a lovely speech that thrilled him, smiled for pictures, and made peace with the idea of him making that next step, all while hurting that the change had to take place because she was gone.

One Day.

The day I had my uterus taken out and knew I’d never have another baby for my mom to meet, but that same nurse was working, so I asked for her and thanked her so profusely for what she had done for me to get me through the happiest day that was still tainted with a touch of sadness.

One Day.

That day every year when mothers, including myself, are celebrated and revered, but the day is so bittersweet.  The card displays I walk past, the gift ideas I scroll past online, and the thought of “oooh, she’d love that!” only to know I won’t be buying it because she’s not there to give it to. The day when my husband and kids take me out, and I feel so special, but also a little tinged with the reminder of the loss.

One Day.

That day that I remember how she trusted me to get on my bike and ride to my friend’s, and my son asks me to do the very same thing.  Only this time, I say yes.

A lot can happen in One Day.

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It’s been a busy couple of weeks.  In my last post, I revealed I need to start working out.  It hasn’t been an easy process.  I HAVE been going to the gym and pool.  So there’s that.  However, after I am done, I want ALL the calories.  ALL the calories in the world! In.My.Belly.   I’m thinking that’s not going to work in my favor as far as losing weight, so I need to make some changes there as well.  Right now, the goal is just to move more than before, and take things step by step.  More changes will come, but for now, I’m starting with making moving around a new habit.

Look, I am a firm believer that most people don’t really change all that much.  People are who they are, and that’s that.  People don’t magically become a totally different person, and if they tell you they are, they are full of shit.  People’s edges wear off a little, they get new habits, but the core of who they are is what it is.  For example, I have a temper.  I have a batshit crazy, will rip your face off temper.  I also am a grown woman who knows it’s not cute to be losing her temper and doing the crazy stuff I used to do when I was younger, so I work hard at trying to maintain my temper.  Don’t be mistake, I can snap back to the rage of my youth in a New York second, but for the most part, I keep it on the level.  I am a woman who loves ice cream and chocolate.  That’s not gonna change.  I just know that I’m at an age where I need to eat more salads these days.  So I will give it a go….

….after I take the kids for ice cream tonight, that is.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.

In other news, I had a great trip visiting my dad and stepmother this weekend.  The kids and I drove down to his house, about a 5 1/2 hour drive.  They watched the kids for me the first night so I could make a few stops to see friends.  The first stop was my good friend’s grandmother’s 90th birthday.  Yes, my vacation started off with a 90th birthday party, and it was amazing.  We didn’t tell her I was coming, and surprised her.  I spent a lot of time at her house in my early 20’s, and she was like another grandmother to me.  I walked in and she looked absolutely delighted to see me, giving me hug after hug after hug.  She hadn’t aged a bit since I had met her, even though decades had passed.  We were so happy to see each other (it had been about 5 years) and it was an utter joy and honor to be there for her birthday.  My friend’s family and other friends were there and I hadn’t seen many of them in years.  People were coming up to give me big hugs and ask about my husband and kids, asking how we all were.  Some of the folks there were kids when they first met me, but they remembered me and ran up to give me a hug.  I was so touched by all the love and friendship.

After the party, I headed the half hour back to where my dad lives to have a late dinner with another one of my good friends.  It’s funny, my friends down there are all parents, and we don’t talk much on the phone.  We’ll send the occasional facebook message, or touch base a few times a year, but as soon as we get together you can’t shut us up.  We fall right back into our friendships like not even a day has passed us by.  We’re all the same kids who were running amuck back in the day, creating chaos and hanging out for days on end.  These are some of the people who know me the best.  They know who I’ve always been, where I come from, and they know that I’m still that same girl, if not a little older, wiser, and ok, calmer. We’re all very different from each other, and there’s a lot we probably disagree on.  But what we do have is a history of good and bad times, a solid knowledge of each other, and we agree to disagree. It’s times when I go down there to visit that I am always touched by how long we’ve been friends and how lucky I am to have had friends that long.  While she doesn’t live down south, I am still friends with my first best friend from school.  If something happens, she knows me through and through. When I do a facebook post about my mom, she and my friends from down south always comment.  They knew her well and loved her too.

Sunday and Monday I hung out with my dad and step mom.  We went boating, went out to eat, fished, and sat around talking with my step brother and his family.  I wish I could have stayed a few extra days.  There never seems to be enough time with my dad.  He’s the quiet sort.  He has a lifetime of amazing stories that he never thinks to tell anyone, until he suddenly will mention something off hand and I have to say “wait…what?”  I’m fascinated by all the things he knows and has done, but I know he’ll never tell me it all.  Not because he doesn’t want to, he just doesn’t think to.  I don’t think he realizes how interesting he is.

The drive home with the kids was actually one of the best long road trips in a while.  The three of us laughed and laughed, told stories, listened to comedy shows on netflix, and it was a nice no-pressure time.  I didn’t have to be mom, which can sometimes be exhausting.  Momming is hard, man.  I’m a mom first, their friend second.  With the husband working, I have to be the bad guy more than I’d like….having them pick up after themselves, reminding about homework, saying no to stuff.  Sometimes it’s nice to just be another person in the car.  My daughter asked why I call my dad’s house home as well as our house.  “Wherever your parents are is home” was my response.  “When you grow up, and have a family of your own, or a career of your own, wherever Daddy and I are will be your home too.  You’re always welcome there, you’ll always be loved there, and home is where the love is.”  I’m glad I got to tell the kids that.  They both seemed to like that answer, and I saw them both settle into a little smile.

Well, life is short, and ice cream is yummy, so I’m off to treat the kiddos (and myself).  Tomorrow, I’ll try and eat a salad.  Everything in moderation.

Chubby Girl Seeks Mediocre Body

I saw a sweatshirt the other day that had “Chubby Girl Fitness Mediocre Body Program” written on the front.  I saw it, laughed heartily, and then promptly bought it.

How could I NOT buy it?

I’ve been on the heavy side since I was a kid.  At least, that’s what I tell myself.  I look back at how fat I was then and totally wish I was that thin now.  Effectively, I was way too hard on myself and not fat at all.  I just wasn’t as stick thin as some of the kids I went to school with.  I shunned my curves, just as some of them shunned their lack of curves.  Seems like nobody is ever really happy as they are.  As an adult, I’m considered probably the on the heavier side of average.  I rock about a size 12-14.  I’ve got a lot of jiggle though. I can pinch considerably more than an inch. I can grab some handfuls.  I’ve lingered around the same size for years, aside from my first pregnancy when I ballooned up about 70 lbs from where I started, and right before I met my husband, when I was just a size 4 (sorry hubby!).  I know I wavered enough at some stages of my life that one young guy once told me I was “too fat to date” but saw me at the gym after a large weight loss, didn’t recognize me, and asked me out.  He had no idea who I was.  I declined, and told him to go screw himself.  People treat you differently depending on your weight. It’s sad, but true.  I noticed people treated me with a bit more respect when I was thinner.  They dismissed me less.  Now I know that people may say “it wasn’t your weight, but how you felt about yourself at that weight” and maybe that’s true.  Maybe my inward view of myself caused other’s perceptions of me to vary.

As I’ve gotten older, I’m a little less focused on my weight.  I just have so many other things to concern myself with.  Then at times I wonder why I am not taking better care of myself.  Some of it is lack of time, some is lack of energy.  I know my energy level would probably be higher if I was getting more exercise.  It’s a vicious little circle, that’s for sure.  I know I was feeling really great when I was doing my aqua zumba class, and getting outside more to exercise. The class got cancelled (I am SO mad about that!) and my friend let her membership expire. I stopped going.  The pounds are creeping on, and I know from a bit of research (aka, perusing online) that weight gain can be common after a hysterectomy.  I need to get myself back in gear.

suit

UPDATE: Ok, so I started this post a few days ago….and then I bailed.  Then I thought about how my hips and back is hurting every day, and how they hurt less when I was in a bit better shape.  I also realized I have been paying a hefty YMCA membership fee and not even going.  Monday I took the kids and the dog for a long walk down to the library and back.  We all commented how fun it was and how good it felt to be moving in the fresh air (we are on day 199 of the endless winter that won’t quit this year, I swear).  Tuesday, I was still on a high from the fresh air and exercise, so I crammed myself into my new swimsuit (my god I hate swimsuits.  I feel like a sausage in a casing when I put one on), got the kids in the car, and we headed to the Y.  I joined in on a deep water fit class with an instructor I hadn’t had before.  Oof.  Muscles were burning, my body was in a bit of shock.  Water classes are weird.  You’re basically weightless, doing fairly simple maneuvers, but the resistance caused by the water and the equipment used give you quite a good full body workout. I felt like jello when I left the pool.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling good.  I wasn’t as sore as expected, and I hauled my ass out of bed feeling….pretty decent, all things considered.  After I work, my husband was home with the kids, so I took, get this, not one, but TWO classes at the pool.  One deep water fit and one shallow water fit.  The shallow water class had the same instructor from the day before, and worked us fairly hard.  The other class had an instructor that looked like she might fall asleep.  I adapted the moves into what I had done the day before with the harder instructor.  I left feeling like jello again.

Now, the fact I took both of these classes with a group of people who were all about 20 years my senior? Maybe that’s a sign, considering how much of a burn I had after class, that my level of physical fitness has dropped more than I thought.  Then again, I have no shame in my game. I will rock out with the older set any time.  They are a fun group.  An elderly couple stopped me at the end of class to ask about my tattoos and tell me they thought they were SO pretty and fabulous.

Last night I slipped into a DEEP sleep and woke up feeling still tired, but refreshed at the same time.  I didn’t wake up through the night like I have been doing.  It was glorious.

Today, may be a day of rest, but then I think that if I stop, I will make an excuse the next time.  perhaps I will take the dog on an extra long walk if mother nature stops being an utter asshole.  Tomorrow, I am headed back to the pool.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, because I’m not a girl who exercises.  I’m also not very fit.  I am, however, tired of feeling the way I do.  So for the few folks who read this, I am putting this out there so perhaps I’ll be a little accountable. It’s easier to bail if you don’t tell anyone, right?

Wish this chubby girl luck on her way to that mediocre body!

 

My Wonder Girl

This morning, my daughter marched proudly out of the house wearing a Wonder Woman shirt, Minnie Mouse Leggings, and….a cape. A Wonder Woman cape, to be exact.  Off to second grade she went, proud as punch of her outfit choice.  As a kid who wears a school uniform each day, the chance to wear a cape for “Fun Friday” dress down was just PERFECT.  I cringed a bit, wondering if the school might give her a hard time, but I reminded myself to live and let live. When it comes to my daughter, I do a lot of that.

rsz_wonder

My son was and still is, as easy of a child as one could ask for.  He was an easy pregnancy, an easy baby, easy toddler, and at 12, he’s still a laid back, easy child to raise. Things come easy to him, for the most part.  He’s smart as a whip, mature far beyond his years, calm natured, and extremely even keel.  A gentle soul, with a soft heart, I do worry a bit about him getting hurt by girls as he gets older, but otherwise, I rarely if ever need to fret about him. I know he has things handled.   He was such an easy child that having our daughter appeared like it would be easy peasy.  After all, he was such an easy child to raise, she would be too, right?

Not so much.

From the get-go, things weren’t easy.  I spotted throughout much of the pregnancy, and we didn’t settle comfortably that she’d make it until I was quite far along.  She came into this world at 6lbs, 7 oz.  She was a bit of a cranky baby, cried far more than my son did.    She also had an eye issue called alternating amblyopia, and strabismus, meaning she suffered from lazy eye, however it would switch from eye to eye. That appeared before she was 9 months old, and a week before her birthday, she had surgery to try to correct this issue.  Watching a baby go through this broke my heart, but it didn’t seem to phase her.  She was a tough cookie.  As a toddler, she was a force to be reckoned with.  People worry their sons will get rough with the little ones, I had to worry she would roughhouse her brother too much.  To my horror she once punched him when she was two, and when I asked why she responded “he too close”.

While I was trying to reign her in, we still battled over certain things.  I can’t explain to you how defeating it is to find yourself in a full blown battle over a piece of clothing, but trust, it’s no fun.  One day we were meeting with family out of town.  I had picked out clothing for my daughter, and it included a big pink tutu skirt.  Now, she loved this skirt. But not that day.  That day, she hated that skirt.  (Welcome to toddlerdom!) and she refused to wear it.  The problem wasn’t the fact she didn’t WANT to wear it, it was the tantrum that occurred because of it.  It was a full blow, kicking, screaming, meltdown of a tantrum that was so over the top I stood in awe. Like I said, I didn’t care about the tutu, except now, I had to stand ground about it.  If I let her bail on the tutu, I would be giving an approval on the tantrum.  I was now forced to stand ground on something I didn’t care about at all, in order to teach a valuable lesson that I did care about….Bad behavior will NOT get you out of doing something.   Neither one of us backed down for about an hour. She wore the tattoo in the end, however family members still joked we walked in like a true war had taken place, with me looking like I had some PTSD.  I still remember that day as a day I won a battle, but it was a hell of a fight.

The day she turned 5 was a turning point.  My fiery little beastie suddenly calmed. It was as if she had nothing more to have to prove.  She had pushed all the buttons, and knew which buttons did what. She grew into herself.  I now had a super helpful, motherly, sweet girl.  She had always been a cuddler, and I was thrilled that despite the sudden grown up attitude, she kept that love of curling up in my lap to cuddle and get hugs. Nothing makes her happier than helping me cook, having a similar outfit to me, or looking after her little cousins.  We now entered the stage of a girl who knows who she is, with a side of chaos.

5-7 has been an interesting stage.  My son and I often comment that she’s a tough cookie. The child who needed tonsils out? Her.  The child who is accident prone? Her.  The child who gets nosebleeds?  Her.  The child who struggles a bit more in school?  Her. Most things just don’t come easy to her in life.  She has to work at things, be more careful. I tell her she’s my warrior girl, and that I know she’ll be ok because she knows how to handle tough times.

With this resilience comes chaos as well.  My daughter?  She’s a SLOB.  She leaves things everywhere, and I spend my days reminding her to clean up after herself, and walking behind her picking up things.  It’s exhausting.  She’s just always on the the next big thing.  I remind myself that one day she will grow up and move out, and I will be left with a quiet, clean house, and the thought makes me sad.  Her chaos drives me nuts, but at the same time, it is her, who I love, so I am trying to find a balance. I have to send her into the world as a functioning adult who is in a bit less chaos.   Even her clothing choices are choas.  Her aunt and I named her Vegas Judy. She loves all things leopard, colorful, glittery, rhinestoned, and “extra”.  If she chooses her outfits without input, she looks like a walking carnival.  My husband lets her wear whatever she wants.  I try to tame it a bit, but sometimes, like today, I let her just go with her own clothing flow.  When I had a beautiful fancy dress for her to wear on Easter but she came to me with Puss in Boots eyes asking if she would wear a leopard dress?  “Do you love it? Will you be comfortable? Will you be happy in it and wear it all day?”  The answer was yes.  I caved.  She thanked me for allowing it, and I spent the day being looked at as a hero by her. What made me happy was seeing her happy and confident in her choice.  I try very hard to remember that it doesn’t matter what people think, what matters is that she is figuring out who SHE is.

There are times I see her outfit choices and get a bit cringey.  There are times, like when she was adamant she wanted to cut her long hair short, that I waffled and wanted to tell her no.  I then reminded myself that hair grows back, clothing can be changed in a heartbeat.  I have a daughter who knows who she is, and firmly knows what she likes.  I want to celebrate that, because in life she will be surrounded by a world that will try to make her question her choices. She doesn’t need to me to always do it too. Her short hair that she was confident she would love? I loved it too. Her outfits? ok, well, I don’t always love them, but I love her confidence in them.

My chaotic, not always easy child is just as perfect for me as my laid back, easy child. Two sides of the same coin.  Similar in so many ways, yet so totally different.  Each teach me different lessons.  My relationship with each is so different, yet so amazing. Watching them work together, and balancing each other fills me with wonder.  I spend a lot of time thinking about how, in the same house, with the same parents, and same experiences, two people could have such vastly different nuances to their personalities.  My daily challenge is to figure out how to successfully balance parenting two completely different people.

When I started this blog, I referred to my kids as the Tiny Diva and the Laid Back Kid. The definition of Diva:  a self-important person who is temperamental and difficult to please (typically used of a woman).  I no longer consider her my Tiny Diva.  She’s my Wonder Girl.

I wonder where she gets her strong sense of self from, yet I am SO happy she has it.  I wonder how to help her succeed when she falters, yet how to let her find her way on her own as much as possible.  I wonder how she believes some of her outfit choices might even begin to match.  I wonder why she doesn’t put her stuff away without me having to follow up and ask her. I wonder how she does the amazing bendy stuff in gymnastics.  I wonder why her feet smell like dirty fritos and vinegar sometimes when she wears certain shoes.  I wonder how she isn’t aware her feet smell like that.    I wonder how I can make sure she keeps her sense of self throughout her life.  Mostly, I wonder how I can be the best mom to her and her brother, getting them through their strengths and weaknesses when they are so very different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ovary Aftermath

Well, it’s been a while since my hysterectomy, and so far, it’s a been a great decision.  The only downside I can see so far is that I am so damned TIRED.  Literally I have been struggling to stay awake past 10 PM or so.  I have zero energy during the day.  It’s starting to be concerning this long after surgery.  A look online confirmed my suspicions that fatigue is common after this surgery for some patients, but I think at my next Dr appointment, I will bring it up.  In the meantime, I am upping my vitamin B and D levels in hopes of seeing some improvements.  I also need to start exercising, but therein lies the catch.  I know if I exercise I will likely get more energy eventually but the very prospect feels overwhelming. Time to suck it up and deal, I suppose.

Another interesting result is that I still appear to get PMS.  Before surgery, I noticed my PMS was getting out of control.  I was raging, crampy, suffering from back pain, and general discomfort.  I joked that after the surgery hopefully those symptoms would be gone and we’d all know once and for all if the bitchiness was from PMS or if that’s just who I am now.  (I can confirm, it’s just who I am, although the rage subsided when I stopped allowing certain behaviors around me). During the surgery, they took my uterus but left my ovaries.  This was a best case scenario, as the ovaries provide hormonal benefits and also help protect against things like dementia.  I considered it a win.  One thing I hadn’t considered is that I might still get some hormonal symptoms, such as  the back pain, extra swoosh of bitchy, and a heaping slice of fatigue.  Yesterday I felt horrendous by bedtime. Today I feel so sleepy I could cry.

Otherwise, I feel pretty aces on the day to day.  Not having periods, for a girl who had HORRENDOUS periods, is pretty much the best thing EVER.  I still find myself expecting one on occasion, or the brief “is it coming soon” panic appear, but I quickly remind myself there is nothing to fear.

So for now, I am left with a day or two of PMS type stuff, and a desire for my pillow, but hopefully the fatigue will sort itself out.

Still a great decision to have it done.

Girl Power

Ok, I am a little bit proud of myself.  You might think I’m completely bonkers, but hey, life is way too short not to enjoy small successes, right?

So, we’ve had some stuff breaking around the house.  And of course, it can’t be one thing, it has to be everything, right? Why? Because that’s how life goes. The dishwasher, the vacuum, the bathroom light blew.  The dishwasher is above my paygrade, and I certainly can’t pull it out and flip it to fix it.  The bathroom and vacuum, however, I could manage.  The bathroom was tricky because someone had painted over the screw I needed to access to get the cover off.  (WHY do people paint over stuff they shouldn’t?)  No worries though, it was a simple fix.

My daughter came in as I was dismantling my vacuum cleaner and sat down to watch me.  She watched me take it apart, and commented how cool it was that I was able to do it.  She watched me replace a belt, clean filters, and clean/adjust the brush.  I explained the parts, what they do, and how I was going to fix it.  She sat carefully paying attention.  She helped me clean the parts.  We laughed together, and both yelled with glee when the test run of the repaired vacuum confirmed it ran better than it had in YEARS.  She beamed at me, so proud of what we had done.  We then moved into the bathroom.  I got on the ladder, and she held parts and passed me what I needed.  Once done, she cheered and high fived me.  She then commented “look mom, the girls fixed it!  We didn’t have to wait for boys to do it!”.

I am very lucky to be the mom of a boy and a girl.  This means that I have to raise two well rounded children who will grow into self sufficient, independent adults with great self esteem.  Easy peasy, right? Not so much.  I’m not a man basher.  I’m not a bra-less ranting feminist.  I’m just a gal who believes in equal rights for all but admittedly is flattered when my husband opens a door for me.  I believe women should make the same as men for doing the same job.  I feel men get skewered way too often.  Has anyone noticed how television makes men seem like dolts? It’s unfortunate. My son already sees this bias on Tv and has commented on it.  My daughter is already seeing the pressure of being “picture perfect” on TV, and also seeing certain gender stereotypes.  I had a reminder today that I need to show her that women can do things that often stereotypically fall under “men’s” jobs.  I try to do the same for my son.  For this blog, I’ll focus on my daughter.

My husband does do a lot of the fixing of things.  That’s mostly because he has the patience to do it.  I often don’t.  Sometimes things need strength, and that’s his forte, rather than mine.  I am seeing more and more though that I need to take the time and gather the patience to do more of these little jobs because I want my daughter to see I can do it.  If I can do it, she’ll know she can too.

I’ve been a working mom for pretty much her whole life.  I balance a full time job, two kids, and I do it working an opposite schedule to my husband.  I am proud of the fact she sees her mom having a career.  I’m proud that she sees her mom contributing to the household, managing the family, and making sure everyone is taken care of.  Ok, so she doesn’t see a perfectly clean house, or a mom who is perfect.  And you know what? Maybe that’s a good thing.  She sees me flawed, she sees I can’t do it all, but that I do my best.  She sees that it’s ok not to have everything together all the time.  That’s an important lesson in and of itself.  I am happy, even if things aren’t always perfect.

Another lesson I have been working on teaching her is to not stand for nonsense.  I keep my circle pretty small.  It’s gotten smaller over the past year, and she has even commented about the fact that I don’t keep people around who don’t treat me well or who aren’t nice to me.  Kids are super perceptive.  I explain that I have plenty of people to love, who love me as well, and those are the people I keep in my life.  People who aren’t nice or who treat me badly are quickly shown the door.  I have no time for nonsense or wasting time on people who don’t like me. I want her to see that she doesn’t have to keep mean or nasty people around.  It’s ok to say no, it’s ok to stand up for herself, and that she doesn’t have to hang out with people who are bad to her. I know we have a big push in this country to teach kids to be kind.  I teach my kids that too.  (For anyone interested, look up the children’s book about filling buckets, it’s fabulous). They came with me on my treck to look after cats, to provide Christmas for a family, etc.  We talk regularly about ways to be kind, and how to act if people aren’t.  That being said, I think women are often all too accepting of bad behavior.  We think it must be us, or we can fix the person, or we feel like we deserve less than.  I don’t want that for her.  I want her to feel confident in her choices of the people around her.  I want her to keep people who make her smile, and to move away from those who make her feel even an ounce of bad.

As a woman, we are taught to apologize a lot.  Ever notice that?  Someone will bump into you and women will often reply “I’m sorry”, as if our very presence was something to apologize for.  We sometimes even apologize without even meaning to.  Why? We are taught to be pleasant at all costs.  We are taught, unfortunately, to often make excuses for bad behavior.  I’m trying to teach her the opposite of that.  I am working hard on saying “sorry” when it’s truly warranted, and not just on impulse when nothing is to be sorry for.  I am teaching her that someone treating her unkindly is NOT ok, and she shouldn’t just tolerate it.  We talk about decisions and choices, and how to handle situations.  It’s a learning curve, but I think it’s working well.

I have always believed that almost all bad decisions are caused in some way by low self esteem and insecurity.  It’s hard raising a girl in a world that markets to her by telling her she is too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, not pretty enough, not ok enough.  That’s how companies often market to women.  They play on our insecurities to make us but things to “fix ourselves”.  Look at the beauty industry.  It’s mostly based on fixing our “flaws”.  How do I, as a mom, compete with that?  How do I tell her she is beautiful inside and out, exactly as she is, when the rest of the world is all too prepared to pick her apart?  Growing up, I dated boys who were bad for me.  I was an easy target because I was often insecure.  It took many years, and a big change in attitude before I met the right man for me and settled down.  I had to learn to be ok with myself.  Love myself.  As Rupaul says “if you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”  And it is TRUE.   How do I teach a little girl to love herself more than the world can make her believe differently?  It’s a daily struggle.

I often write her notes on her board.  One recently mentioned that she was kind, smart, and strong.  I noticed a few days later that a school project had her creating a character and describing them.  Her character had the same characteristics I had listed in my note about her.  It hit me that she is listening.  She is looking to me and her father to help her realized what’s good about herself.  I will be working every day to make her see how great she is. Trust me, I’ll still tell her when she’s being a slob, but I want her to feel confident.  Some days, she’ll choose her outfit and leave the house looking like a walking carnival, but if she feels confident and happy, I’m ok with it.

Raising kids is hard.  I joke that my job is to make sure I don’t raise little assholes.  The fact is, it’s pretty true. I have to raise kind, respectful, independent, loving people so that they can hopefully find happiness as they grow up.  That’s a lot of pressure!  I have to raise a daughter to know she is smart enough, strong enough, and wise enough to handle what life will throw at her.  Even if it’s a broken vacuum or a difficult light fixture.  If you can handle the little things, it’s sets the tone for the bigger things.

Looks like I better start learning how to fix stuff, eh?