Monday, July 25, 2016

Another day, another gray hair

It's late but I promised myself I'd keep up with the blogging, sooo....bear with me.

Do I go dark? Do I go blonde? Do I throw caution to the wind and go bright red? This is a serious #momlife issue for me right now.

I looked in the mirror tonight as I was brushing my teeth and noticed yet another gray hair. Oh, how I hate you gray hair! I don't have the 20-year-old bod to rock the current #grayhair trend, and I don't have that sophisticated Stacy London swishy streak of gray. No. I have little gray spaghetti noodles popping up everywhere, in a much different texture than my wispy brown.

My mama was mostly gray by the time she was 36, which is when she started dying her hair blonde. Let me tell you - my hair is dark brown, and I've had my hair blonde before. Not a great look for me, in my opinion. If I was brave enough I'd dig up photos, but I'm lazy (and/or not willing to shame myself like that, could go either way).

I know it's only hair, but... I admit I have some serious gray hair insecurity! :)

Since discovering the multiplying gray offenders, I try and dye my hair the color it is naturally, which at this point is anyone's guess. I've been dying my hair red or black or brown or ombre or highlights or a myriad of other colors (sans blonde) for as long as I can remember. Dark brown is what the (non-gray) roots are, so we'll go with that. 

But lately, with running kids around and a full-time job and everything else we're working on, I haven't had time. And tonight, peeking in the mirror at myself, the gray hairs stand out. I know, I know, it's so shallow to care about the gray hair but come on, I'm a woman and I'm a little insecure about some things, like getting called "ma'am" at the store or the gray hairs creeping up on my skull.

It probably doesn't help that the last few months I've been going through and organizing old photos in my futile attempt to declutter and de-crap-ify the house. Pictures of childhood and high school and college and even five short years ago when no gray hairs were anywhere to be found. Turning 30 wasn't hard; I don't even think nearing the 40 mark is hard. What IS hard for me is finding those tiny, long and thin gray reminders that another day has passed.

I have two boxes of hair color sitting on the shelf in my bathroom; dark brown and blonde. For three weeks I've been in a wishy-washy battle over which to try. Meanwhile, the world is abuzz with presidential politics and chaos, and I'm over here fretting over which hair color to use. Which, let me tell you, only adds to my wishy-washy-ness on choosing because of the guilt of worrying about such frivolous things as gray hair!


And yes, I'm still undecided. So perhaps the gray will stay for awhile.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Today's World

I read an article yesterday on a mother who took a photo of her child, thinking it was silly. Her cute little girl standing on the toilet seat. What she learned, however, was that her child was doing what they'd learned in school for a drill if there was ever a shooter.

It breaks my heart that kids today have to think about that.

I remember all too well, two years ago, a similar moment with my then five-year-old daughter. We'd had a bat in the house while she was sleeping, and because she had a scratch on her belly that we didn't know if she'd gotten earlier in the day or possibly from the bat, she had to go through rabies shots (that's a story for another day - yowsa! My poor baby girl!) Six shots total over the course of a few weeks. :(

During one of these follow-up sessions, which have to be done at the hospital, she was sitting in the room on the hospital bed with her stuffed animal as we waited the necessary time after the shot to make sure there was no reaction. I'd worked in a hospital for seven years, so when the overhead speaker came on announcing a code on another floor, it didn't even phase me. (Here she is, right before the overhead announcement came on.)

It did, however, phase my baby girl.

I watched as her eyes grew wide and sheer panic set in. I mean, utter and total panic. I have never before (and thankfully, never since) seen that look on her face. She bolted off the bed and behind the nearest, biggest thing she could find, which was a piece of medical equipment in the room. She was screaming at me to hide, and I had no idea what she was talking about. I tried to calm her down and get her to come out, but she just kept begging me to hide. I finally went to where she was and asked why we were hiding. She replied that they had just said a code and that meant there was a shooter there.

I think my heart broke.

It was only a couple years before that when my son, then in kindergarten, heard about the Sandy Hook shootings from some kiddos on the playground at school. He came home and told me not to worry about him, that he'd figured out he could break a window with a chair, jump out, and he knew how to get home from the school if he had to run.


I never had to think about that stuff when I was younger. I never had to formulate a plan in my head to escape anything except maybe a test I hadn't studied for. What happened in that short time between when I was in school and when my babies are that they all of a sudden have to start preparing for things of this nature?

So Stacey, I am so sorry your little girl has to learn how to stand on a toilet. I'll be thinking about you, and hoping for a future for our kiddos that doesn't involve escape plans and codes.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Three Tacos and Guacamole

After a tough 4-1 loss at little league baseball tonight, we were all pretty hungry. We'd rushed right from work and the sitter to the game, and 8 p.m. loomed on the horizon. We pulled up to one of our favorite taco places and got in line to place our order. The line was seriously long, and we would normally have jetted off to some other quick place, but for some reason we stayed.

Not more than a minute later, an older gentleman was at my husband's car window. He said he was down on his luck and I looked at the kiddos in the back. They were watching intently everything that was said and I knew that what my husband said and did was going to resonate with them and impact how they handled these situations moving forward.

When the gentlemen, who was quite dirty and had calloused hands, finished up his introduction, he ended it with "I'm just really hungry and I don't know what else to do at this point but to just ask someone for help."

Without skipping a beat, the hubs asked him what he'd like to eat and offered to buy him some dinner. The gentlemen went back to his truck and waited while we ordered and got the food. I packaged up his meal in the extra bag they gave us and walked it over to his truck. He said thank you and immediately opened it up to begin eating. I wished him well and said I hoped things got better for him soon.

We headed home in relative silence, which is how we also ate our dinner. My son, always inquisitive, asked me why the man had asked for food.

"Sometimes," I explained, "we all get a little down on our luck. Daddy is a good man and he knew that the man needed something to eat, so he wanted to help him out."

"So it was the right thing to do?" he asked.

"Yeah baby," I replied. "That could be anyone. What if that was us? Sometimes things happen in life and times get tough. It's important to be there for people when they need it, and you hope that others will be there for you too if you ever need help."

"So do you think his tacos and guac made a difference to him tonight?"

Well, I don't know if it did for the man, but I know it did for us. In a week where there is so much horror on the news, where there is blame and shame galore, I hope we can all take a moment to remember that life can change in an instant and we need more kindness in the world. And kindness starts with each of us, one small moment at a time. Together, all those small things will make big changes. To anyone who is down on their luck, hang in there. We're rooting for you.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

New topics needed!

I need some new topics to write about! I'm suffering from a terrible case of writers block. Any suggestions?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Let Me Tell You A Story...

Today, I read a news story about a convicted rapist who received six months of jail time and three years probation. For rape.

Then I read the victim's poignant remarks.

Then I read his father's letter to the judge; how 20 minutes of the boys life shouldn't override the rest of the 20 years that he's behaved.

And it all makes me want to cry. Why?

Because it makes me cringe that this young man takes no responsibility for his actions. It makes me sick that the judge has essentially sent the message that if you have enough money, the courts will be lenient. It devastates me that victims of rape everywhere will have yet one more reason to hesitate coming forward, and will therefore miss out on some of the closure they need from such a traumatic event. And ultimately, more rapists will be free from responsibility and will go on to harm person after person after person because the courts make it easier for them to do so.

What or how much a person drinks does not matter. What they're wearing does not matter. His or her sexual history does not matter. NOTHING gives someone the right to violate someone the way this girl was violated.

How, in America, is a person considered old enough and mature enough to join the military, but considered immature and not developed enough to make the right decision about sexual conduct? If a woman (or man, for that matter) is unconscious, IT IS NOT OKAY. Never. This isn't a decision that should have to be contemplated - it should be common human intelligence.

This woman will go on and, judging by her letter to her rapist, will overcome this. But for the rest of her life, I have no doubt that what happened will always linger in the back of her mind. Her sentence, as the victim, is a life sentence. She didn't have a choice; she was violated in the most intimate of ways. And there are some moments in our lives that live forever, no matter how much closure comes from them.

When I was in my very early twenties, I briefly dated someone who was a wonderful friend, brother, son, and boyfriend. But somewhere, at some point, after so many arguments and trials in our relationship, something changed. We got to a point where staying together was based upon his stipulation that I couldn't argue. What he said, goes.

And though I knew it was a stupid decision, I said yes. The key words there are I knew. I ignored that nagging feeling in my gut that said it was a stupid thing to agree to, but I wanted so badly for someone to want me that at that time in my life. I would have been anything to anyone. It wasn't long before that "whatever he said" was sex. I should have yelled no and walked away; I wanted nothing more than for it NOT to happen. But I had agreed, I told myself, and he would leave me if I didn't. I didn't want to be alone. There were no words, no intimacy; no I love yous, and certainly no other sweet words. It wasn't violent, it wasn't forced. I didn't move; I just stayed still and hoped the tears would refrain from falling so he wouldn't see me cry.

My self worth, back then, was based on if someone of the opposite sex loved me. (It was sad and desperate, and I am so grateful my self-worth has come a long way since then.) I made a conscious choice to let what happened, happen.

I can still remember when it was over and he had walked into the next room to watch television, I began crying to myself, angry about the person I'd become. I felt more worthless than words can describe. I tell you this because to this day, and I'm fairly certain that until my last day on earth, I will never experience a more humiliating and degrading moment in my entire life. In that moment, I was nothing more than an object to pass the time until one of us gave up and moved on. And no matter how wonderful my life has turned out, a part of me will always remember that situation. I look at my daughter and hope that she is stronger than I was when she gets to be that age. I think about that day often. A situation that I agreed to, that I put myself into.

So I cannot imagine that the poor girl whose story just played out in court will ever find herself fully free from the degradation she felt in a situation where her choice was removed; where she suffered irreparable trauma at the hands of her rapist, a man who will only serve six months for his crime. She had no choice. She had no say in what happened to her, because she was unconscious - and he didn't stop. Yes, she drank, but that does not give anyone the right to violate another person. This is not a stolen credit card, where damages can be recouped. And I'm pretty sure that if he spent 20 minutes of his life murdering someone, it would be considered 20 minutes worth judging.

I'm glad that the jury was able to see the seriousness of his crime, and my hope is that the woman finds some strength in that. She is a hero for coming forward, and she is a voice of hope for those that still haven't.

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Year 2000

My son asked me the other day what I was doing in the year 2000, after a documentary we came across on television about Y2K. Sometimes, I look at the current year as I write a check or update the calendar and can hardly believe it’s already 2016.

What was I doing in 2000, I thought? I had just turned 21. I was a pretty lost soul, trying to figure out just who I was. I was in college, deciding if I wanted my major to change. I took classes like International Marketing as an elective instead of something easy, to graduate sooner and get work towards my future Master’s Degree done. I was in a terrible relationship that I had a large part in making worse, in part because my heart was still in love with someone else who didn’t love me back. I was excitingly cast in my first and only play – a very small role but fun to be a part of. I was working two jobs, one of which I absolutely loved. My nights began at 10 p.m. instead of wrapping up then. And oh, I made plenty of lesson-learning mistakes.

I can remember wishing that I would just figure out where I belonged in the world. I’d always been timid and shy but tried to hide it behind a goofy personality. I’d stopped talking to many of my high school friends because they all seemed so sure of their futures and their paths in life, and it intimidated me. It scared me that they knew exactly what they wanted to be when they graduated. They had plans and significant others and I still had no idea where I was going. And while I had some really great friends during college, I also had surrounded myself with some people who were as lost and unhappy as I was – and that just made me feel even more confused. I was great at hiding it. Though I always had people around me, I felt pretty alone.

I happened to watch my favorite movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, during this time. One part always stood out in particular to me - where Idgie goes to pick up Ruth and bring her home with them to live. Ruth had demanded Idgie leave when she’d arrived on a visit years prior, and they hadn’t spoken since. But when that letter came from Ruth, along with the Bible verse of Ruth 1:16 highlighted, Idgie went back to get her friend, no questions asked.

But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God."

I loved the sentiment of that verse. I loved what it meant for the characters. And I loved the idea that despite the distance life can sometimes put between people, those who love us will always be there when we need them.

I did manage to mend some of the friendships I’d drifted from, but some I was too timid to reach out about. I eventually found my path in life and a career I enjoy. I found a great man who loves me as much as I love him, and have two beautiful babies that I’d dreamed about for as long as I could remember.

“Mom,” he asked again, surely noticing my mind had drifted off (as it often does). “What were you doing in 2000?”

“I was in college,” I replied.

“What was the best thing you learned in college?” Oh, smart kid - using the same question on me that I use on him daily when he gets home from school.

“That no matter where life takes you,” I replied, “the people who love you will always be there for you, and you should do the same for them.”

“I meant in school,” he replied, clearly unsatisfied with my (oh-so thoughtful) answer.

“Well then,” I said, “I learned that year that my international marketing plan to bring Krispie Kreme donuts to Switzerland would have landed me in bankruptcy.”

“You’re so weird, Mom.”

Weird, yes, but lost? Not anymore.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tuck That Memory Away...

Today is one of those days I'm going to tuck away in my memory and pull out during those awkward teenage years.

Today, my daughter and I had a completely argument-free day. It gets better, I promise.

Sometimes, during the hurried rush of getting off to school, rushing home after work and school to head to activities, rushing home again to eat, do homework, shower and go to bed, I don't always have the time (or make the time) to really look at my kids; to really observe the people they are becoming. Then I get blindsided by a moment where I am overwhelmed by something: amazement, pride, sometimes shock, and sometimes even disappointment. It is in these times I am reminded of how much I miss by not being present when I'm present (and I'm working on that).

I am beyond grateful for today and the opportunity to be present. Sometimes in the midst of the arguing and the tears, I worry about how she is going to get through life if we're melting down about the softness of socks in the morning.

Then we have a day like today where I'm reminded that her stubbornness and independence are not as much of a detriment as I sometimes worry they are. Perhaps those will be the things that keep her from making some of the very mistakes I did growing up. Perhaps those will be the qualities that make her an exceptional boss or entrepreneur. Or perhaps those are the qualities that are just going to make her the unique, interesting, and fun little girl I know and love.

You see, she and I butt heads on quite a bit.

Her: "I don't want to wear this, it itches!"
Me: "It's a uniform. School rule. I don't make those rules. Put it on, we're going to be late."
Her: "I don't want to eat this. It's gross."
Me: "You picked it out at the grocery store!"
Her: "These socks make my shoes shrink."
Me: "Your socks and your shoes are the exact same size as last night, sweetie."

And this is all within 20 minutes of waking up. Every. Single. Day. (No, I'm not kidding. EVERY SINGLE DAY.) It gets frustrating. I try and remind myself that she is looking for things to control in her life and try and cut her some slack, but many times I fall short and we both end up near tears as we struggle to be the victor in this chaotic battle of which pair of shoes she picked out, tried on, wore all over the store and out to play and now refuses to wear to school because they feel funny, will be the ones she dons that day for school.

I love her to the moon and back but some days make me question how we're going to survive the teenage years.

Last week, she brought home a note saying I'd been chosen as a field trip chaperon. Odd, I thought, since I hadn't volunteered. But somehow, that little box got checked and I was picked.

Sometimes the greatest blessings are total happenstance.

Over the last week, I kept thinking back to her face when she told me I'd been picked. She was so very excited, smiling ear to ear. She talked about it non-stop for days, and I was excited, too. Then this morning, we were completely argument free. She got up, got dressed, ate, and hopped in the car. It was awesome.

When I walked into her classroom to get on the bus, her grin was even bigger. I felt like the Grinch on Christmas -- my heart grew three sizes in that moment. She took my hand and walked out to the bus and wanted to sit next to me (very untypical of her). While my son is a laid back type of dude, my daughter is definitely the more independent of the two (need proof? See here).

I'm not going to lie: her excitement over spending the day with me had me feeling like a million bucks. She's always excited when mom or dad is going to do something special with her and every time, it melts my heart all over again to know how important these special times are to her.

"Mom, this is going to be the best day ever," she whispered.

And it was. We saw the animals, ate some junk food, played with her friends. We survived the nearly 90 degree weather and the sweat drenching all of us. I watched her lead the way down the path, and settle into following when someone else wanted to lead. We bought cheap plastic toys and got on a stinky bus for the ride home. And for one whole day, I had the opportunity to catch glimpses of my baby girl being the feisty, independent, sweet little girl she is. For one whole day, we didn't fight. And for one whole day, we got to walk hand-in-hand around a zoo in front of her friends -- and boy, I know those days are numbered. Pretty soon they'll be too cool for showing affection ;)

Today, we had a day where I was reminded that her strong will is not as much of a detriment as I sometimes worry it is.

And that's what I'm going to tuck away in my memory for those awkward teenage years. Because let's be honest - when the eye-rolling and sarcasm debuts it's ugly head, it's going to take a lot of convincing that despite the attitude, she's going to be one amazing woman someday.


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