The Truth: Be You With BlogU

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The theme of BlogU 2016 was Be You With BlogU, and even though it is a conference for bloggers and freelance writers, the takeaway I had from my weekend in Baltimore with all the people who live in my computer was this:

With the right tribe, with the right goals, with the right motivation, and with sweat-your-ass-off-effort, you can be successful and stay true to yourself. Not just in writing, but in everything.

If you’ve followed me for more than half a minute, you know I don’t fit all the molds. There was a very long time that I lamented this fact. My personal style is random. My music choices are all across the board. On any given day I am a strange blend of Tiger mom and Free Range Parent. I’m not the same as anyone else, and that was hard for me to accept. To revel in.

But now, I do.

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No one has the thoughts or experiences that I do. No one but me can tell my story. And while there are quite a few people who, like me, are good enough at a ridiculous amount of things but not great at any one thing, no one else can integrate my purple-filtered view into those things.

Aside from spending some amazing time with people I admire and fan-girl after, I was able to spend a lot of time reflecting on my role, my skills, and my purpose. Throughout the amazing sessions we were offered, the theme “Be You” ran loud and clear. We were encouraged to think about our skills and our passions. We were encouraged to revisit childhood dreams of what we want to be when we ‘grow up.’ We were asked to take a moment to find that clear voice that said, “I want to do ________ with my life.”

And this year, as I turned 30 years old on a big-ass campus, sweating all the sweats with my tribe, I remembered what I love doing.

I support. For years I was encouraged to be a therapist, because when my friends needed advice, I was there. Before motherhood, I planned events for a large non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers navigate issues with local businesses. I became certified in our state’s Meth prevention program and took trips to help local law enforcement teach kids about the dangers of methamphetamines. As a parent the past 10 years, I get sick of the day-to-day drudgery of motherhood, but when push comes to shove, I am there when my kids need me. When a friend has a baby, I ask when I can bring a meal by. If there is a special occasion for someone coming up, I always offer to help. I plan parties, outings, gatherings, and intimate coffee dates. I see the need for the village where there is one lacking and I amplify the comfort that the village offers where one already exists.

It took getting lost amongst the old brick buildings of a campus on the complete opposite side of the country for me to realize that I was home. Not in a place, but in my mission. My goal for the weekend was to be the helpiest helper who ever helped. I think I did that and I was so. genuinely. joyful. the entire time. Why? Because this is my role.

This is why I want to be a birth doula. I want to lend strength and comfort where ever I can. If it is not in my power to make it better, I want to be a safe-space to turn to during the hard times. I want people to know that if there is a problem they can turn to me.

This is what drives me.

Caregiving. Supporting. Helping. Creating a nurturing space. Being a source of comfort wherever I go.

Thankfully, this is something I can apply to all the other things I love to do.

Writing. I empower. I offer a hand that says, I struggle with this, too, and you are not alone. We will get through this together.

Mothering. The ultimate role of caregiving. It won’t end with diaper changes, it will become different. It will always change and I will always greet new challenges to make sure my kids are given the best chance possible.

Friendship. Marriage. Crafting. Gardening. Cooking.

All these things require an aspect of caregiving that I finally feel, deep down in my heart of hearts, is my purpose.

It took a credit card and a day of flying across the country for me to understand that I have been so entrenched in the actions of my purpose that I couldn’t see I was already living it. This is what they mean when they say you can’t see the forest for the trees.

I see it now.

I spent the entirety of my 20s growing my family. A full 10 years of pregnancies, breastfeeding, diaper changes and sleepless nights. I plan to make my 30s MY decade. Where I tackle my goals and reach for my dreams. Where I become more than mom. Where I learn who take-everything-away-and-what-do-you-have Jessica really is.

She is me. And that is just perfect.blogU 16 Collage

I’m saying, “Fuck You” to my biggest hater: Me.

Their Fucking Red Lipstick

I had an epiphany recently, thanks to my love affair with Project Runway and Project Runway: All Stars: I’m a mega bitch. Not to others, though. Just to myself.

It’s really thanks to Lori Goldstein and a little interview snippet that QVC shared during commercial breaks that I started to realize maybe I needed to rethink the way I talk about myself. In my internal monologue. Okay, I guess I talk to myself outloud sometimes. FINE, all. the. time.

In the commercial she’s wearing several different funky outfits, all her style. Almost none of the pieces are anything I would ever wear, but I still think, “Damn, she’s rocking it.” Put me in those clothes and people would be all, “Oh, are you letting your toddler dress you for the week?”

The more I saw the commercial though, the harder I thought about it. “I actually like that vest,” I’d say to myself. “I love the color of her pants.”

“But it would never work on me…”

Jumpers. Skinny jeans. Fluorescent colors. Red lipstick. Shin length skirts. None of those things can be incorporated into my wardrobe. As much as I love them, they look too weird on me. Out of place. They work on these people I see on TV, but they’re pioneers. They are leading the charge in what it means to have style and a sense of fashion.

Lori, though. Lori says, “…make these clothes your own. Buy one piece, or 100 pieces; whatever works for you! What is so exciting is that everyone is really making it their own.” And she means it.

This week I’ve been trying something. I’ve been wearing the outfits that I put together in my head when I buy new clothes or shoes. High heeled ankle booties with my skinny jeans. Long maxi dresses and oversized shrugs.

Short skirts, long sleeves, and ankle boots.
Short skirts, long sleeves, and slouchy ankle boots.

It’s not contained to just clothes, however. My writing, for one, always feels out of place. The timing isn’t right. Or the platform is better suited for a different voice. The theme might be right, the subject matter and technical aspects are spot on, but the delivery is off. Like a pair of jeans that’s just an inch too short, if I was a hair different (and by ‘different’ I mean closer to average), we’d go together like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong.

The suckiest part in all of this is that I see others who, like me, don’t fit that average mold and I think they’re amazing. More than that, I cheer them on. Breaking the made-up rules we have for ourselves left and right with their style, their voice, their lifestyles.

Case in point: Women in bikinis. I want to wear a bikini so badly. But I can’t. Because stretchmarks. Because jiggly thighs. Because weird armpit-fat sideboob things. I will rip my physical appearance in a bikini apart up one side and down the other so hard that there are barely shreds of myself left to shove into the control top skirted one piece I always fall back on. I could, however, see a women with a body identical to mine, blemishes and cellulite included, and think, “Whoo, look at her rocking that bikini! Way to go, mama!

WHY?!  Why does this person who I have no freaking knowledge of deserve celebration more than I do? Am I so much better than her that I should be holding myself up to insane standards while cheering her on for just being the way she is? What makes her so much better than me that I can applaud her self confidence but bitch-slap myself for thinking I am vain for feeling good about myself?

I am a troll. I am a hater. I say the worst things about myself, always. ALWAYS. Whatever horrible thing you may think about me, I promise I have thought it 1,000 times and worse.

No more though. Starting now, I am just going for it. I will be one of those women I admire for owning themselves. Their style. Their voice. Their path. Their destiny.

Their Fucking Red Lipstick
Their Fucking Red Lipstick

We are The Village

in our concept of the

It’s 5 a.m. A god-awful time to be sitting at an airport gate. An especially early time if you’ve been there with your 4 children since 11 p.m. the night before. If, by chance, your boarding pass and the flight boards reflect different gate numbers, and you have already walked the significant length between the two, you are exponentially more exhausted.

It was this situation that I became privy to when a fellow would-be passenger informed myself and the aforementioned mother of 4, along with several other confused passengers, that our boarding pass was indeed correct, it was the flight boards that were wrong. We had done as instructed by all important air travel messages and trusted the board.

With heavy sighs, a group of us, who had also already made the long trek between the San Jose terminals, gathered our things and readied to get some extra exercise. Myself, with my purse slung over a shoulder, my coffee in one hand and roller bag handle in the other, a group two silvered ladies and a gentleman with minimal bags, and the mother of 4, eyeing her babes, ages 4-10, wrapped up like burritos, draped over chairs and laid out upon the ground, snoozing on the spot as only children can.

“Here, please let me help you,” I offered, draining the last of my caffeine in a massive gulp to free up a hand, while at the same time the gentleman asked which child he could carry for her.

This mother graciously accepted our help, watching as one son roughly roused another, and, with the extra hands being offered by the older group, we managed to collect the 9 bags and one too-sleepy-to-walk 4 year old that made up our motley crew’s possessions, and began our journey back down the terminal, to the gate we had all already walked to and turned away from, screens blank and seats empty.

I learned on our long walk that the older group was heading north for a train trip to a fishing destination in Canada. The mother was on a long multi-flight journey from taking her children to visit her native home and family in Hawaii, to their current home in Alaska. Myself, heading back to my own family after a whirlwind weekend long conference for bloggers.

What did we have in common aside from our temporarily similar travel path? Maybe not much, probably more than one would think at first glance, but definitely one incredible thing:

We were the village.

So many times we see, again and again, a lamentation of the loss of “the village.” “It takes a village,” everyone says, and in the next breath we curse the privatization, the exclusivity of our lives as parents, childcare givers, and neighbors. “Not my monkeys, not my circus” has been making the rounds as a prominent quote, meaning to say that we shouldn’t entangle ourselves in other people’s crazy, but being implemented on a broader scope.

Why is it then, that, in our society where oversharing is a normal occurrence, we do not share in the joy, and yes, the burden of being a village when so many are seeking one?

Our insistence on independence, ridding our lives of the need to rely on others, to be seen as strong rather than weak, to “have it all together” instead of admitting that sometimes we are all just a hot mess, is taking the village out of the communities we build. We are taking an essential part of humanity out of the human experience.

And for what?

Maybe it was empathy that caused me to help her. Having 4 kids myself, I understand the work it is to move them from Point A to Point B without losing one of them (or my mind). Maybe it was the leftover sense of community that I had been basking in for a full weekend with my blogging peers that made me reach out, eager for a continuance of the human connection. Whatever the reason, would my day have been better had I decided to enjoy my mocha, sip by drawn out sip, on a lonely stroll down the terminal? No. Quite the opposite. I would have missed out on a conversation that gave me a glimpse of the fun these people were coming from or heading towards. Snippets of their lives bringing back fond recollections of my own visits to family and my own fishing trip on the Pacific with my husband. It sparked a connection, formed a new tie-in to humanity, and, if only for that long walk down the bustling airport hall, we were a village. And when you are part of a village, it becomes easier for you to spread the village boundaries.

As our flight began boarding, comfortable from my place in this amiable, temporary village, I noticed a man being continually brushed off by the gate clerk. ‘Your row is not boarding yet, you will have to wait.’ ‘Your seat is in row 7, we are boarding rows 20 and up, please wait over there.’ Cozy in my supportive space, I watched in mild interest, a bit frustrated on his behalf due to the language barrier that was obviously hindering his ability to effectively communicate and understand. When he turned to speak to his traveling companion waiting behind all of us, I followed his gaze to his petite wife, wrapped in her hijab, holding their dimple-faced baby girl. She replied to him, unaware of my attention, and he shrugged.

I found myself drawn to them, thoughts turning to my own 10 month old daughter, her blooming curiosity echoed in the dark chocolate eyes of this baby from the other side of the world.

“Are you trying to board early?” I asked the woman, who looked to her husband.

He looked at me, clearly frustrated, “No English. Simple. Please.”

So, I made an ass of myself, pointing to the plane, pantomiming, and using the sign for one of the only sign language words I am confident of: baby.

“You… want to get on the plane… now… because of your baby?”

Relief washed over his face, “Yes.”

A quick explanation to the attendant and they were ushered to the front of the line. A furtive wave from him in thanks and they disappeared down the ramp.

Now, when I wrote this piece, I was on a 2 hour flight, seated half a plane length away from that little family. The words practically put themselves into the notebook in front of me until, finally spent, I placed what I thought was a completed piece into my bag, ready to be edited, typed, and submitted.

But the village wasn’t done with me yet.

I saw nothing of this tiny, middle eastern family when I departed the aircraft. I sent a silent prayer into the world that they would find a kind soul to help them, wherever their path led. I made friends with a candy-kid hippy and we talked tattoos while navigating the various escalators leading to the rail that would swiftly deposit us at the next gate. The train pulled up, I stepped through the doors and when I turned around, there they were. The husband fumbled for his pass, and thrust it towards me.

As fate would have it, we were heading to the same gate.

I beckoned them on, the man offered me a smile, and they stepped in next to me, their daughter, now in his arms, still bright-eyed with wonder. In a fit of spontaneity, I showed them a picture of my daughter that my husband had send to me, the blue of her eyes such a contrast to the 3 sets of eyes looking at her, but in an instant I felt a new connection being made. We needed no common tongue to have a common cause.

I resolved to help them. I had an hour until my flight boarded, and I was no longer willing to leave this family to the chance that maybe someone else would be there for them. It wasn’t hard to remember the man’s frustrations trying to board the previous flight. I tapped my wrist and said that I had time, I would settle them at their gate.

The man nodded, “Moscow.”

“Idaho?” I replied.

It is possible that I imagined the eager question in the woman’s voice when she uttered her first words to me, “Moscow, Idaho?”

I would have given quite a lot to have been able to tell her that it was my destination as well.

We were making our way towards more escalators when their daughter reached for me.

Instinctively, my hand reached up to hers, but I pulled back at the last moment, placing my hand over my heart, “May I?”

The man smiled for the second time and nodded.

His daughter’s fingers were so warm as they curled around mine. Her tan skin soft, as only a baby’s can be. Her grip was strong. She was so sure of herself in that action that she took my breath away. in our concept of the

This is what the village is. Sharing these moments, so seemingly small and insignificant, yet so pivotal.

How in the world could I ever have expected that a family who did not speak my language, share any of my physical traits, and worshiped in a completely different manner than me, would need me in their village?

It seems to me that, in our concept of the village, we have degraded it to a mere shadow of what it could be. We have turned it from a web, ever reaching, ever growing, ever reinforced, into a circle, stagnant and never changing, of people just like us. We hope to find those we have commonalities with, not because we are racist or prejudiced, per se, but because we are most comfortable with what we know, with what we are familiar with. It is in this practice that we are doing ourselves, our communities, and, most importantly, our species a disservice.

We need to take the village back. We have seen enough casting about, attempts at pinpointing the problem, speculating the hows, whos, whens, wheres, and whys. Instead of asking where my village went or how to find my village, I am making a call to action.

I am the village, and I am taking it with me, expanding its population wherever I go.

Will you join me?

Accept that aging doesn’t diminish spousal attraction

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Does age change the attraction you feel for your spouse?  Do you worry about your spouse wishing you looked different?

Even though I’m not yet out of my twenties, being a mother of 4 is taking its toll on me.  Mentally, emotionally, and, most notably, physically.  Captain will be 30 this year, and the tolls of hard work and stress are showing on him, too.

Tell-tale signs of self-neglect lay the foundation for insecurities that I’d hoped to be past by this point of my life; Dry skin, yesterday’s makeup still smeared beneath my eyes, crows feet, frown lines, and frizzy hair, to name a few.  Add onto those the major changes having babies puts you through; Wider hips, stretch marks, extra weight, and changed breasts.

So many things that I look at and think: Ugh.

Enough things to make me wonder why Captain still takes an interest in me, as I’m clearly not the 17 year old girl he encountered when we first met anymore.

Things that make me consider expensive treatments to fix.

Until the other night, when I was cutting Captain’s hair and noticed that his hair is thinning.  If, as they say, men should look to their mother’s side of the family to find out what their predispositions for hairloss will be are true, then he’s on the road to becoming completely bald before he’s 40.

I looked at him, really looked, later that night, and saw what I’ve always known was there: stretchmarks over his muscular thighs, laugh lines and crows feet of his own, moles, and his receding hairline.  Things that really aren’t attractive at all. spousalattract

I really absorbed the way Captain has started to age, and you know what?

It didn’t change the way I feel about him one bit.

His extra weight doesn’t make me want him less.  His complexion doesn’t make me less attracted to him.  His silvering, thinning hair doesn’t make me want to go out and find a younger man to romp around with.

Why would I assume that the faults I see in myself would make him love or desire me less?

So, the next time he calls me beautiful, I’ll accept it with a smile.

When he says he finds me sexy, I’ll put my self-depreciating doubt behind me.

Because I love more than his body.

He deserves me to be accepting of his loving more than mine.

Will YOU Be My Galentine?

happygalday

Yes, YOU.

With all the hype about Valentine’s Day, many women are listing why they don’t care about it, they hate it, or they could do without it.

Myself included.

Is it a defense mechanism?

Maybe.  It’s one of those ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ type things.  I know my husband won’t do anything nearly as romantic as Suzy Q’s husband, so I’ll just tell myself that I don’t need it/want it/care about it.

I know some of you out there really, truly don’t care.  Massive kudos to you!

Others, well… others just want to feel a little special.  A little appreciated.  Just a bit.

That’s why stumbling upon Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Galentine’s Day event on G+ has me SO excited. (Yeah, yeah… Jessica, they did that on Parks and Rec, like, forever ago! Well, I don’t watch Parks and Rec, sassy pants.)

Because, we DON’T need to rely on the lovers in our lives to make us feel special.  We have whole communities of people who love each other just because they’re people, and worth loving.

People just like you.

YOU, who works 60 hours a week.

YOU, who works part time while going to school.

YOU, who is laid off and taking time to rediscover your hobbies.

YOU, who stays home with your kids.

YOU, who serves in our nation’s military.

YOU, who jetsets and explores this huge, amazing world we live in.

You.  Yes, you.

I want YOU to be my Galentine.  I want to celebrate the awesomeness that is you.  Not because I want to get laid, or because I’m socially obligated to make you feel special.

But because you deserve it, Galentine.  For being awesomely, perfectly, unapologetically you.

Call me sometime, and we’ll go do Gal-Pal stuff.  I’ll listen to you rant about the new guy at work, I’ll spare you the details of the latest poop catastrophe my 2 year old created, and we’ll laugh over mimosas and pedicures.

gal1platonic gal2crazy gal3pedisI put stuff in my hair and did my makeup for these, you guys.
You’re welcome.

I don’t love my body, and that’s okay.

nolove

noloveIt’s hard to keep up with all the health and fitness movements that are constantly cycling in and out of popularity.  Yo-yo diets, Thinspo sites, conflicting reports on which foods burn the most fat where.  Diet groups, fitness clubs, television shows… Coupled with media sensationalized images and stories of extreme weight losses/gains, it’s nearly impossible to navigate the path to health without stumbling across something that makes you feel like you aren’t doing it ‘right.’

My favorite thing right now is the Body Image Movement.  Loving your body, despite its flaws.  Seeing your shape/weight, not as something to be changed, but something to be proud of at every stage.  The message is a wonderful one: You are worth loving.

And yes, we are.  Every single one of us.  Because we are a person, not because of our body, or our acceptance of it.

For those of us on a path to getting healthier, it can feel like no matter how hard we try, we’re doing it wrong.  Because if I’m still unsatisfied with that 5 sticky pounds, I’m not loving myself enough, and that’s bad.  If I’m struggling to accept and love the stretchmarks my kids gave me, I have to change the way I think.  If you think your body isn’t good enough, you’re wrong. It’s your thinking that’s not good enough.

And having that burden placed on you by someone that isn’t you?  Is bullshit.

YES, there is a ton of ridiculous propaganda out there to make people feel like if they don’t look a certain way, they’re less than worthy.

YES, there is a lot to be said about self respect.

NO, you shouldn’t base your self worth on how others perceive you.

But in all of these DOs and DONTs, the implied message that If you don’t love yourself, you’re doing it wrong, honestly just makes me feel worse.

When I was 35+ pounds overweight and trying to get pregnant with our 2nd child, the words “If you can’t love yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?” were devastating.  I was head over heels in love with my husband and my life revolved around our daughter.  Was my love for them not good enough, because I didn’t love myself, too?  Was I undeserving of their love because I just. couldn’t. find a way to love my self as a whole?  And that made me feel worse.  How can you get on the train to loving yourself if everything said to motivate you makes you feel like you can’t do anything right?  I can’t even love myself properly…

Properly.  That word means different things to everyone.

When I was at my healthiest just before my last pregnancy, properly meant taking time to eat right, dressing in a way that made me feel good, exercising in a form that I felt confident doing.  When I was in that dark place before our 2nd baby, taking care of myself properly was just making sure I ate something everyday.  Sometimes, that something was cookie dough.  I can look back now and see exactly what my problem was then.  But back then?  I didn’t see a body worth caring for.  I saw a young woman marked by pregnancy, unable to control her horrible eating habits, dealing with secondary infertility, and incapable of loving herself enough to get on the right track.  Yes, I knew what I should do to get healthier, but untreated depression trumps know-how.

Now, as I’m sitting here 3 months post partum, 20 of my 50 pregnancy pounds still sitting around my midsection and thighs, all I can think of is getting back into shape.  Because, while I love what my body did on the inside, I DON’T LOVE the outside anymore.  I loved my body and my self most when I was pregnant, each and every time.  Because when we’re pregnant, we get a pass.  We can eat what we like, dress however is comfortable, and laze around without much judgement (until Kim Kardashian came along, apparently).

Comparison is the thief of joy, as the saying goes.  Comparing myself now, 3 months post partum after my 4th baby, to when I was at my peak of health just a short year ago, isn’t fair.  But it’s what we’ve been trained to do.  Even when we are barely treading the murky waters that are new or renewed parenthood, we are held, not only in the shadow of our pre-pregnant selves, but in the shadows of all the pregnancy weight loss stories that came before us.

Among those shadows are the tales of women who get help in achieving their goals.  Surgeries to limit eating, to get rid of fat, to tuck away stretch marks, to enhance breasts.  There was a time, when I was my least self assured, that those practices upset me.  I was self righteous to the nth degree, declaring that if my body couldn’t do it naturally, then it wasn’t meant to be and SHAME on those women for thinking so little of themselves that they need surgery.  I hated my body, so every other woman who hated hers just had to wallow in the misery of it with me.  And guess what?  I felt no better.

On the flip side are the women who scream that we shouldn’t feel the need to have these surgeries to feel good about ourselves.  And there was a while, when I was healthy, but not necessarily fit, that I was in that camp as well.  If your body isn’t that way naturally, it wasn’t mean to be.  And I still do feel that way, to an extent.  Barring extensive reconstructive surgeries, I will never look like a runway model.  Not from lack of drive or trying, but because GENETICS.  My genes come from workmen.  The women in my family are broad, tall, and strong.  Petite and fae-like though I’d love to be, it will just never happen, and I’ve accepted that.

Now that I’ve been on both sides, hating myself throughout and totally loving myself as a whole, I find myself in a new camp: The ‘Do Whatever Makes You Feel Good’ camp.  We surround ourselves daily with the things that attract us: aesthetically and emotionally.  I am attracted to things that I find appealing.  I can say with confidence that I am not attracted to my body.  I do not find it appealing.  So why begrudge myself being attracted to the one thing that will be with me always: my body?  Why is it WRONG to desire having a body that I myself find attractive?

Because “society”?  Because “self esteem”?  Because “the man”?

Everyone finds different things appealing.  Where there are people who love full figured, curvy women, there are others who prefer slim, willowy women.  If my desire to replace my flat, post-nursing breasts with full perky ones puts you in a rage, that’s your problem, not mine.  If I’d like to get a tummy tuck to get rid of the shelf of skin left behind by 4 full term pregnancies and you just can’t understand why I can’t accept and love what my kids did to my body, that’s your issue.

If you’re happy being a size 24, OWN IT.

If you’re satisfied with A cups on your broad figure, CONGRATS.

If you can look past stretchmarks and still find yourself attractive, YOU ARE AWESOME.

But I’m here to tell you that I am OK with not attracted to my body and I look forward to changing it.

I owe it to my self, my husband, and my kids to be confident in myself.  If I am constantly waging a war with my body and skin, how can I be the wife and mother they need me to be?  If my nonacceptance of my body the way it is makes others insist that I need to adjust my thinking, that’s one more thing on the plate of issues I have to work through.

YOU are the person on this journey.  Not the diet gurus.  Not your Dr.  Not your mother, your sister, your best friend.  Not the motivational speakers.  Not the fitness bloggers.  YOU.  So OWN it.

Own it.  Go work out.  Find a relationship with food that works for you.  Talk to a Dr. about getting a lift, or a tuck.  But do it for YOU.

No, I don’t love my body.  You may not love yours, either.  And that’s okay**.  It’s inherent in our nature to be dissatisfied.  But just because you don’t love something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be kind to it.

**I am in no-way saying that you should be living with untreated depression or body dysmorphia.  If your problems are more than skin deep, and you’ll know if they are, please seek help.  Just as not loving your body is OK, absolutely hating yourself is not OK.  Call someone, send a message, reach out, and ask for help.

Religion Free Mealtime Prayer

mealprayer

Raising my kids religion free does not mean we don’t crave ritual and prayer.  After staying with my parents for 7 weeks, the Cabin Kids got used to saying Grace at mealtimes, so I came up with an alternative that I am comfortable saying along with them, that doesn’t bring up questions of a faith we don’t embrace.

mealprayer

Does your family say Grace or a prayer of thanks during mealtime?

Stop With Your Memes: I’m the One Who Cares

noonecares

I’m going to start this with a vent: I can’t stand those “No one cares” memes.  You know, the ones that say “No one cares what you did at the gym today” or “No one cares about what you made for dinner.”  Kids, pets, food, workouts… everyone seems to have something they don’t want to see people posting about.

someecards.com - No one cares what you think no one cares about.See what I did there?

Maybe it’s because I am one of those people that posts about my workouts, my kids, the chores I do, the meals I make that I hate them.

The things is, I LIKE seeing other peoples’ posts.  That’s why I like social media.  I like seeing what other people are doing.  I like supporting my friends in their every day endeavors.

If we were hanging out in person and you proudly told me about the workout you did yesterday, or the meal you cooked for your family, how big of a douchewaffle would I be if I flat out said, “No one cares about that crap, let’s talk about something else.”  That’s a happy side effect of a healthy friendship; you support each other.  And even if I can’t do it in person, I still want to support my friends in their every day triumphs.

Is your baby another month older?  Hell yeah, look how cute he/she is! 

Did you make a freaking awesome meal for your family out of scratch?  Share the freaking recipe!

Have you and your partner lost 50 pounds together?  Tell me how you did it!

Get your whole house clean and still pick up your oldest from school on time?  You’re a beast!  Good job!

The next time someone proudly posts their workouts every day for a month, don’t get pissy because it’s not something you’re interested in.  Give them a virtual pat on the back, or hell, give them a phone call and congratulate them on their consistency.

Quit being a Negative Nancy trying to shame people into not sharing what’s important to them.

Or, if it’s honestly a problem for you, stop following them.  If you don’t care about their every day happenings, what’s the point of being in touch with them anyway?

A Life Challenge

The domestic pirate

I wrote this post about 2 years ago after our experience circumcising Mr. Monkey.  This isn’t meant to be a pro/anti-circumcision post, but our experience with feeling helpless in a situation, and a request for people to support, not degrade, each other.

Captain is circumcised.  I suppose starting there is best, since that’s why I’m in this whole tangle of emotions.  Since he is circumcised he wants our sons to be circumcised.  Okay.  I don’t have a penis, I’m not one to really make a decision about it.  However, I still played devil’s advocate, researching the pros and cons of circumcision, telling him all my findings.  Nothing changed his mind, and I’m okay with that.  At least he’s informed.  So, after our first son, Cabin Boy, was born, I grudgingly made the appointment.  I cried the morning leading up to it.  I cried in the waiting room.  I cried when I took him in, full of guilt that I was leaving him and his little manhood in the hands of someone I didn’t know from Adam, terrified that something would go wrong.  The procedure took all of 5 minutes, went totally fine, and CB only showed discomfort the first night.  A week went by, the plastibell fell off, and VIOLA.  All done.  Happy, healthy penis.

Fast-forward to mid-August, when I had our second son, Mr. Monkey’s, circumcision appointment.  Same Dr. and all.  We’ve been through this before, it should be easy, right?  Nope.  Same guilt.  More tears.  I made the mistake of seeking comfort through my social network friends.  Most of them are moms I met through local play groups and even most of those that aren’t from the groups are parents; They’ll have words of comfort for me, right?  Even if they don’t feel that circumcision is necessary for their sons, they’ll at least have a ‘Good luck’ for us, right?  Nope.  Apparently, when it comes to the topic of circumcision, despite it being an intensely difficult and personal decision for each family, people feel the need to say something that digs the knife of guilt a little deeper in my gut.  Thankfully a few close friends had the words I needed to dry my tears and make the drive to the clinic.  Again, I cried as I left the room and sat in the lobby, once again terrified that we could be in the percentage of ‘procedures that went wrong’.   Lucky me, there was a wonderful display of teenage angst to keep me preoccupied (really, if any of my kids call me a ‘f*&^ing idiot’ in public, I will backhand them and I don’t care who’s watching- but I digress) and before I knew it the Dr. was there telling me everything went fine.  **Breath sigh of relief**  Now I felt bad that I had kind of hoped MM had peed on the Dr. like CB did. Mr. Monkey was a bit fussy but nursing and some good cuddle time calmed him down enough to help him sleep for the drive home.  Once we got home he worked on filling his diaper so, of course, I changed him… and there was blood.  Everywhere.  A lot of it.  He started screaming.  I started crying and yelling for my sister to bring my phone and the paperwork from the Dr. so I could call the ‘if a problem occurs’ number.  The nurse told me to take him to Urgent Care immediately, so Captain and I took him in.

Not to include all the gory details but several attempts at cauterization (O.M.-effing-G!!! You want to do WHAT to him now?!), using pressure, different wraps and clotting products, a discussion of plan B to remove the PlastiBell and convert to a Mogen Clamp method, and FOUR HOURS later, the bleeding finally stopped.  We’re lucky he’s such a mild mannered baby; he laid in my lap and slept for most of it (thank goodness- I can’t imagine trying to maintain pressure on his little parts had he been squirming and kicking), we managed to maneuver enough so that he could nurse while laying in my lap and not disrupt the process we were going through.  Maybe I’m trying to assuage my guilt a bit by telling myself he couldn’t have been in much discomfort since he slept nearly the entire time and barely squeaked through all the gauze changes and various pressure holds we used.

The follow up appointment went well and he’s healed perfectly.

So, what’s the point of me telling you this?  I guess I felt the need to put a reminder out there.  A plea, if you will.  As parents we’re faced with difficult decisions every day.  Not that someone’s going over our every move as a parent with a fine-toothed comb, but we’re under a lot of scrutiny and the pressure to ‘do it right’ is overwhelming at the best of times.  We all feel it… I’d love to shake the hand of a parent that was exempt from receiving unwanted advice or scrutiny from someone that feels they know better.  So why on earth do we insist on putting more pressure on one another?  Why couldn’t someone have just said, I hope it goes well, instead of telling me what they think I should or shouldn’t be doing?  I have enough guilt and have avoided telling people of our experience because the LAST thing I need right now is someone saying ‘I told you so’ or ‘I never would have done that to MY son’ like it makes them a better mother than I am.  I don’t want apologies or backpedaling on things that have been said.  I just want to ask everyone to give each other a break.  We’re all doing what we feel is best for our families, wading through the myriad of choices and circumstances life throws at us.  For whatever reason though, it doesn’t make us sympathetic, it makes us more self righteous.  My boys may hate the decision we’ve made for them down the road but, you know what?  That’s something Captain and I are prepared to deal with.  We should be supporting one another in this hectic phase of our lives, not sowing seeds of doubt and guilt.

So, in conclusion, I would like to issue a challenge.  And this goes to everyone, not just parents.  The next time someone is discussing a life-choice that you don’t agree with, stay away from the soap box and just wish them good luck.  It may not be what’s right for you or your family, it may not fall in with your beliefs, but isn’t that the beauty of everyone being individual?

Being Inked is My Superpower

geminitatt

I’m guest posting over on The Wild and Wonderful World of Gingersnaps today!  She is celebrating her 10,000th blog view with a week of guest posts from some pretty fun-tastic bloggers, and I am so lucky to be included!

The Wild and Wonderful World of Gingerssnaps



On to the goods!

Tattoos.  Do you have them?  Love them?  Hate them?  Judge them?

See what I’ve got to say about them and why I feel that:


Have you been ever judged because of your choices of self expression?

 

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