My Prince Charming

Not long ago I read a couple of articles about romance and love. Both articles, set up almost as a letter to younger women stressed that as we get older, romance isn’t always about flowers, candy, or sweet words. Romance is in the little things. It’s the small gestures in our daily life that our partners do to show that we matter and that they want us to be happy. The articles got me thinking, and I thought I’d write a little something myself.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I married an amazing man. Nobody is more surprised than I am that I got so lucky to have found him, because I dated some real jerks before I met him. My husband is one of the most caring, generous and thoughtful people you could ever meet. He’s quick witted, and gleefully pokes fun of me daily in a good natured way. He is a man who stands by his word, even when he’d be perfectly justified in changing his mind. He always goes the extra mile to make sure his wife and kids are looked after. I’m proud to be his wife.

When we first met, my husband used to write me cards all the time. He often brought flowers. We kind of stopped with a lot of that stuff once we got married and had my son. Life got BUSY. His romantic gestures changed over time. Some of them are a little throwback to when we first met, but now romance is me finding my favorite candy bar purchased for me and tucked away in the fridge as a surprise. A hidden card tucked in my suitcase when I had to travel across the Atlantic for a funeral, telling me that he knows I do a ton here and he will do his best to cover for me while I’m gone. Romance is knowing the little things that bring me happiness and doing them without me asking. After my mother died, my artist husband did a beautiful drawing of my mom and framed it for me. It was his way of bringing her closer to me, and that picture now holds a proud place in our living room. Romance is him cooking dinner on his day off because he knows I’ve cooked all week. Romance is him showing up at my job with a coffee just the way I like it on a tough day, or a surprise lunch brought home while I’m working on a project. Romance is coming up behind me to give me a big bear hug and a kiss on the neck. Romance is making sure the car has gas before I leave for a trip. Romance is a surprise text with a meme that only the two of us would find funny that leaves me rolling with laughter.

Sometimes, I am in awe of the little ways my husband finds to spark joy with our kids, too.

His work schedule makes it tough for him to be around a lot. He works from mid day until midnight. It’s a sacrifice, and at times it’s frustrating for all of us. There are some things he simply can’t attend. Yet often, he finds a way to show up, often unexpected, which makes it even more awesome. One day, we knew he would have to miss my daughter’s gymnastic show. She was really upset but kept a brave face. I almost cried when while sitting in the stands, I saw my husband walk in with a bouquet of flowers for her, arriving just in time to see his little girl perform and hand her some beautiful roses. He found time to show up to soccer practices and football practices. One day he knew I was at the school unloading some heavy boxes and he raced over to help me.

I’m shocked on a daily basis that such a nice guy puts up with a pain in the ass like me, and also why I get so enraged when people try to take advantage of his kind and generous nature. It’s one thing to mess with me, but if anyone messes with my 3 it’s a whole other ballgame. This car has no brakes so to speak. Then again, I know he feels the same about me as well.

Marriage is the day to day. It’s the big picture while managing all the little fine details as a pair. It’s not just the happy, floaty times, but the down and dirty times too. Marriage is getting through the times that make you angry or sad. Marriage is joining hands and knowing it’s the two of you against whatever life wants to throw at you, and knowing you’ll come out of it on the other side gripping the other one’s hand, stronger together.

Romance looks different than it did 15 years ago, but I’ve gotta say it looks far better than I could have imagined.

I’m a lucky girl, who finally got her prince charming.

Damn you, picture day.

Tomorrow is picture day at school.

I hate picture day with all I am, and all I will be.

Each year, I spend a ridiculous amount of money for school pictures, of which I give away just a couple. It just never occurs to me to carry around pictures of my kids to give away. It almost seems like a bit of an odd tradition, considering we now have cell phones with amazing cameras where we can take spontaneous, candid, amazing photos. Still, I shell out a stupid amount of money for my children to force a smile and inevitably not look quite like themselves, and me to get documented proof of this. Yet that’s not even why I hate picture day.

Picture day is a day where we break out of school uniform, and somehow that makes it seem a bit more special. On top of that, I have a young daughter who loves clothing and fashion. Her style can best be described as Vegas with a touch of redneck. She loves all things sparkly, bright, and leopard print is an ultimate favorite. She also loves cowboy boots and flannel shirts. Things don’t have to match with her, and growing up if she was allowed free reign on her clothes she would look like she stepped out of a carnival. Add to that the fact she is stubborn and strong willed, we have had our fair share of disagreements when it comes to picture day choices.

This year, I decided to cave a little. I wanted to be the awesome mom. I wanted this year to go smoothly and to make that smile on picture day a bit more genuine.

I decided to step back, and allow my little girl to go pick out an outfit from the store. Her choice. She was beaming as we hopped into the car.

An hour later, I was consoling her and wiping away tears.

What set out to be an awesome bonding experience where I could allow her to express herself (and also I could learn a bit about what her style really is before the holidays roll around) turned out to be rather defeatist and upsetting.

You see, folks, she’s built like I was when I was a kid. As a little kid, I was short, stocky, and I had a little belly. I was solid. I envied those tall, lithe girls who could fit in anything and always looked stylish. I never grew that tall and frankly, I’m still a little stocky. Now, full disclosure….I’m about a size 10-14 depending on the brand and the item. I like to joke I’m a potato body. I suppose they call it an apple body. I have big boobs, a bit of a pooch, and sort of a flat butt. My legs are pretty thin, and I’ve always gotten compliments on them, but if you ask me, they don’t quite match the top of me. Now add to this the fact I barely hit 5’3. For the most part, I’ve come to terms with my body and am actually quite amazed at all it has accomplished and gone through. There are moments, however, when I get frustrated at how difficult it is to DRESS this body, because sometimes what I like is not what this body looks good in.

My daughter is petite, has a little belly and is solid. She has a little round butt I would have loved to have had when I was a kid (and would still love to have as an adult!) and of course, puberty is around the corner. Her body is strong and fierce. It does splits, handsprings, cartwheels, and balances on a beam. It stands tall in the stirrups and holds a sense of confidence on a horse. When she sits in the saddle, the horse relaxes as they feel a tiny, solid and confident little person up there. She has long, curly blond hair with streaks of the summer running through it, greenish blue eyes, and a huge smile. She is all the things I wish I was when I was her age.

Yet when we went from dressing room to dressing room, trying on all types of items and sizes, my girl felt like her body didn’t fit in. The jeans all were too long. The shirts were cropped and boxy, which weren’t flattering. If it fit in one place, it didn’t fit in another. And my sweet girl began to cry.

“Mama, I’m fat” “I’m too short, and too fat”.

And my heart shattered into a million pieces.

I try to be very careful about how I speak about myself to my kids. They often make fun of how short I am, and both have outwardly said they hope they get my husband’s height. I have always been quite unbothered by being short, and tell them so all the time. In fact, for me, I’m happy being short (except for the fact I have to find an evening gown and NONE are cut for short people). I’m usually ok about my body, and I always promote being healthy and strong over being skinny. Of course, I have had my bad moments. I got really hard on myself the other week after gaining some weight, and when I said something my husband jumped on me about it, reminding that she hears me and I shouldn’t say things like that about myself anyway, but certainly not in front of her. I sat down and had a long conversation with her about it. I explained I was upset with myself because I wasn’t treating myself well, and wasn’t being as healthy as I should. I regret my initial failure though, because I’m sure some of it stuck with her.

The girls on tv, in magazines, online and everywhere around her, well they are all sort of typecast as tall, thin, stick straight girls. Everywhere she looks, and even in the stores, the world is telling her that tall and thin is in. It’s no different that being a grown woman. The clothes are all for taller people, skinny people, and really not cut for me. She tried on item after item, and nothing made her feel great. She cried. We talked.

I explained that she is beautiful and strong. I went over all the amazing and difficult things she can do with her body. I explained how I wish I had her butt, her long beautiful hair, and her strength. I also explained how her body is gearing up for changes, and that the next year or so might get a little frustrating clothing wise, but she’ll find her element. We also discussed marketing, and how companies photoshop people.

She thanked me for taking her. She thanked me for the shirt she picked out, and we planned her outfit together. I think she was happy. I’m just sad that what could have been a great experience was frustrating, exhausting, and sad for her, as well as me.

Side note, I’m hardly on Instagram but I did find a cool page called (I believe) @beauty.false. The page shows you the unphotoshopped version and the photoshopped version of people. It’s pretty eye opening that what we see isn’t even what we are really seeing.

Now where can one get short length jeans for a young girl?

In the meantime, I hope that the positives of today outweigh the negatives, and that my girl has a big, real smile on picture day. I think she’s beautiful just the way she is.

Grief and ramblings

I’ve sat down many a day and mulled over what to write. I feel a sense of writer’s block and nothing seems to flow as it usually does. I’ve been out of sorts the past few weeks. Death will do that to you. It brings on a flurry of emotions, and I’ll be honest in saying that I usually prefer to keep the physical part of grief to myself. That being said, sometimes when you don’t know what to write, you just have to start someplace, be honest, and see where the old brain takes you.

I realized the other day how grief when you’re a parent is a different ballgame. At least for me it is. I have so many responsibilities that there simply isn’t time for me to have a meltdown, or a big deep cry. I’ve also become fairly distrusting of people’s motivations over the past few years and prefer not to let people see me sad. I don’t need to give people fodder for gossip. I think it’s important for my kids to see my grieve, but sometimes when I am in the thick of it, I know that my tears will bring questions, and sometimes I’m not always ready for those questions. Sometimes I need to just process my own feelings before I am ready to handle my feelings with everyone else’s feelings layered on top, if that makes sense.

The day my grandfather died was a weird mix of emotions. The usual grief of losing someone was there. The grief of losing my last grandparent, and knowing that it was sort of an end to an era. The knowledge that with his death would eventually mean the sale of his house, which made me sad too, since I had a lifetime of memories within those walls. I felt sadness for my dad too. He lost my mom and now both of his parents. There was some relief on his behalf, as I know he wouldn’t have appreciated how that last month went for him. Death often feels rather undignified, and my grandfather was a very dignified person. It was a veritable onion of emotions, and I wasn’t quite ready to start peeling the layers. I knew I wanted to go to the funeral, so I allowed myself an hour or so to try to get composed and set off to work, since I didn’t have much vacation time left. I arrived, started to cry, caught myself, and headed home. I stayed pretty stoic and held it together quite well through telling the kids, and navigating arrangements.

Each time I started to get upset, I’d rein it in. I had a job to do, kids to look after, a husband. I had friends going through their own troubles. And through all of it, I held it together. Life is just to busy and I have too many people to be responsible for than to fall apart.

I started to crack when the hearse pulled up outside my grandfather’s house. I pulled it together quickly. I decided I would try to grab a few moments with his casket after the church service. I made it through the service quite well. I held it together even when I learned I wouldn’t get the chance to have a few moments alone with my grandfather to say goodbye due to a lack of communication on my behalf with the FD. I held it together at the gathering after. I allowed myself a quick few minutes to cry when I stepped out of his house for the very last time.

There really hasn’t been any proper grief that I’ve allowed myself.

I remember that when my mom died, I went into a type of shock and into survival mode. I was a new mom, with a new husband, a new home, and I went back to work. My world crashed down and I had to stay strong to keep everyone else ok, and keep myself above water. I allowed myself just a few minutes to privately grieve here and there. I managed. That being said, I felt like the grieving process dragged out for ages, where perhaps if I had allowed myself to really feel it in it’s entirety up front, I’d have processed it better.

I need to have a good, old fashioned, soul cleansing, ugly, red faced, boo hoo sobbing cry.

Sometimes a good old cry can work wonders.

On the brighter side, my trip had some really lovely moments. I spent time with family. I learned that certain people in my family will always show for me, and I felt really loved. I stayed with my cousin and the two of us had loads of laughs. I got to hold baby puppies and pet older dogs. (If you’re having a bad day, go look at some baby German Shepherds and listen to them grunt, it’s adorable and will brighten you right up.) I got to see and bring home my great grandparents’ marriage license, as well as numerous other pictures and documents. I brought home a suitcase from WW2 that belonged to a little Jewish boy my great grandparents took in during the war. I learned to cook some new dishes. I walked outside in the freshest of country air. I had people come up to tell me they went to school with my mom, and how amazing they always thought she was. I had folks come up to tell me what a fantastic person my dad is. I worked on our family tree. I got to call my husband and kids and hear that they were doing ok, but that I was missed a lot. I got to meet family at the pubs for pints of well poured Guinness and old stories. I got to go to my mom’s grave, and catch out of the corner of my eye a beautiful sunflower growing out of the top of a building, making me feel comforted and happy. I had late night chats and hot cups of perfectly brewed tea to combat the chill.

In other words, I felt at home, surrounded by family who have known me my whole life and love me, plus I found a lot of happy, joy filled moments during a sad time.

Having family on two continents means that my heart is always split between the two. I always feel like something is slightly missing, but also feel that regardless of which place I land in, I am at home. I feel at home walking the streets of my town here in the US, but also feel perfectly at home walking the fields of a village 3000+ miles away.

In summation, my grandfather, who had admittedly and vocally grown rather tired of this life, has passed. Perhaps he is back with my grandmother, perhaps death is all there is. Regardless, he is not suffering, and for that I am thankful. A trip caused by a sad loss was also filled with joy and laughter, because life is always a balance of the two. If we do not experience sadness, how do we truly appreciate joy? And lastly, I need a good cry once in a while. Grieve the loss, but celebrate the life.

Body Says No.

It’s been a busy…well, lifetime, really. I know, I jest (sort of) but the past several months have really kicked into full gear. I won’t bore you all with the details, as I have been honest about my chaotic, messy life in many posts, but there are days when I miss simply plopping on the couch to watch TV that isn’t Disney related. Other days, I miss feeling like I had all the time in the world to get chores done.

The reality is that I am constantly running from task to task, which seems odd because my very goal was to never be one of those moms. I never wanted to be that mom who scheduled her kids for tons of activities. I never wanted to be super scheduled. I swore I wouldn’t overschedule myself or race from place to place. I wanted to be the calm, laid back mom. The very concept of racing from sport to sport, activity to activity looked exhausting. I have friends that do it, and as they list off their schedules I cringe. While I have limited the kids’ activities to usually one thing a season (which still took up crazy amounts of time…football I’m talking to you!) which suited them perfectly, I still feel like I am always on the go. The little does gymnastics and horseback riding, and has done so for some time. Those take up relatively little amount of time, but she does really well at both and loves both as well. The boy child has taken time off from sports, and is practicing the whole teenager goal of hanging with friends, riding his bike, or skateboarding. This means that much of my time is spent driving kids places on the weekends, or working on the closet donations at night. The fact is, I’ve done well at not overscheduling the kids. The problem is that it’s me who feels overscheduled.

The other day someone asked me a question, and I pulled out my phone to check my calendar. Trying to coordinate things is becoming more and more difficult. I’m a full time working mom, working on a big project doing most of the physical work myself, and also trying to mom up. It’s a lot. Add on those unforseen life moments that are hard and stressful in and of themselves, and I wore myself too thin. When I refused to acknowledge that I was overextending myself, and that I had to pause to do right by myself, my body stepped in and brought things to a halt.

It was quite funny and quite disturbing, all at once.

I awoke Friday feeling stuffy and out of sorts. By Friday night, I had pins and needles throughout my left hand. Numbness set in. I believe it was last year (time just rolls on these days and I have to constantly check dates) I started losing feeling in my ring and pinkie finger on my left hand. I would awaken with numb fingers a few times a week. Then one day, the numbness didn’t go away. Several dr visits later, I was told my nerve was getting pinched in my elbow. The Dr’s recommendation? Keep my arm straight. Do you have any idea how awkward and unnatural it is to keep your arm straight all the time? I wore a brace to keep it straight, and we hoped the nerve would repair itself. Fortunately it did. Then last week is started creeping up again, only then the whole hand went numb. This unnerved me, but I assumed it may be combination of carpal tunnel plus the elbow issue. In other words, I am a hot boo boo mess.

Saturday, my bestie, who knows all of what’s going on in my life, invited me over to test out her new hot tub. I settled in and we talked for ages. I hadn’t paused myself like that to do something so luxurious in quite some time. All the jobs at home went undone, because I felt like perhaps I needed to pause life a bit and just try to relax. By Saturday night, my son arrived home and I mentioned how tired I felt, but I had to wait for my daughter to get home. He looked me in the eye and said “mom, I love you but you look like garbage. Go lay down and I’ll wait up for her”. I was so grateful. Just then my husband came home, and I was sent to rest.

Sunday, I was still stuffy and numb, but felt more rested. My knees decided they’d had enough as well, and both started to ache. Ahh the joys of getting older, eh? Today I worked, but tonight I’m resting again. To hell with the jobs around the house. I’m stuffy, numb, and limping. I’m afraid if I don’t listen to what my body is saying it’s going to take me out completely.

I knew I was struggling to quiet my mind when I was kept up the other night by the random thought of “what is the etymology of Orange?” “Who came up with the word orange, both as a color and as a fruit? Who said it first?”

When the brain is overworked, the body will crap out and put a stop to things. Mine has decided it needs an episode of Love Island Uk, some family chats with my cousins and an early night. I’m renaming myself BitchyMcNumbFingers for the time being.