It’s Not Just a Belly

 This post contains bare bellies, women in their skivvies, and partial nudity.  
If you are not a fan of the female form, click elsewhere.

When I met the Captain I was a smoking, bulimic 17 year old working in an ice cream shop.  I had grown up being taunted about my size, height, skin tone and texture, nose… you name it.  My nicknames were ‘chicken skin’ and ‘amazon.’  Being taller than most boys did nothing to make this girl feel feminine, and by the time they were finally taller than me, they had seen me through all the extra awkward stages and had written me off.  And to a developing girl, that was devastating.

Before getting pregnant with Cabin Girl at 19, I had overcome my bulimia and quit smoking thanks to the Captain, but I gained weight.  Once Cabin Girl was born, I was consistently hovering close to 200 pounds and I was ashamed and embarrassed of my post-baby body.  Truth be told, I considered bulimia again.  I researched miracle stretch mark creams.  I mentally beat myself down a path of self destruction that destroyed the tiny bit of self esteem I had gained from the Captain’s steady strength and love.  At a point of rejuvenation I walked into a Victoria’s Secret hoping to get a bit of feel-good back into my everyday life and was turned away, told that “larger women generally have bigger breasts, so we don’t carry anything in your size.”  The wash of high school feelings of insignificance returned.

After a miscarriage, a year of totally messed up hormones, varying levels of depression, and a round of Clomid we conceived Cabin Boy.  Still overweight, I let my body take the lead and gained even more weight, but I didn’t stress too much because that’s what my body was supposed to be doing.

I didn’t take bare belly shots during either of those pregnancies.  I was ashamed of my expanding body.  Disgusted by my purple stretch marks.  Embarrassed that I had to wear XL/XXL sized maternity clothes.  I was the exact opposite of what I had learned to be attractive.

Cabin Boy had serious allergy issues and failed to thrive on breast milk alone.  I changed my diet to see if it would help him and subsequently lost a lot of weight.  I felt good.  I started running.  I felt happy.  I started to enjoy the curves that motherhood had bestowed upon me.  Captain and I enjoyed rediscovering the connection we had without the fog of my insecurities getting in the way.

Once again, we miscarried.  Then, we unexpectedly became pregnant with Mr. Monkey.  We were anticipating more hormonal troubles and weren’t as careful with birth control as we could have been after deciding to wait a few months longer after the miscarriage.  But, we were happy.

During my pregnancy with Mr. Monkey I made a new friend.  A friend that *gasp* took pictures of her BARE BELLY.  While pregnant!  With stretchmarks!  She was PROUD to show the world the amazing feat her body was going through.

She encouraged me to do the same, so I did… and I’ve never looked back.

My very first belly picture (Mr. Monkey) and my most recent belly picture (The Kraken).

This pregnancy, I am OWNING my belly.  Because, you know what?

39 weeks with Mr. Monkey

I’ll be wearing a bikini to the beach and spray grounds.

I talk to Cabin Girl about how awesome I think it is that my body keeps growing as The Kraken is growing.  How proud I am of each and every purple mark that my body made while stretching to fit her, her big healthy brothers, and this baby we’re all eager to meet.  We talk about how strong my body is, being able to make this 4th life while caring for the other three it carried.

Because I don’t want her to be ashamed of what becoming a woman means.  I don’t want her to be devastated by the changes her potential future babies may bring to her body.  I want her to glory in the beauty that is pregnancy, whether it’s hers or the women surrounding her.

Most especially, I don’t want her to think that I blame them for any issues I have with the body that motherhood has bestowed upon me.

And I am not alone.  These moms are also choosing to bare their bellies.  Every one of them has a perfect reason why!

“Cherishing my belly because this is our 4th pregnancy, and we finally made it to the second trimester!”
“I chose to bare my belly because I was proud of what my body was doing. I was growing another human being in my belly! It still blows my mind a little. I’ve never felt more beautiful than when I was pregnant. I don’t ever want to forget my big, gorgeous, belly-button-stretched-flat belly, because it gave me the greatest gift in the world – it started my family.” Sara blogs over at You Are A Good Mama. Check her out!
“I’m a photographer and get a lot of women wanting maternity pictures, but they don’t want their bare bellies to show. It’s as if they are embarrassed of them. I hate it! I think every pregnant belly is perfect and wonderful, no matter how small, big, hairy, lumpy or if they have stretchmarks.  Now that I’m pregnant, I love lifting my shirt and showing family and friends my awesome, amazing miracle. I am so blessed to be 18 lbs heavier and covered in dark hair, and I am not afraid to show it.”
“I wanted my baby to have the photos later in life… However, on a deeper level, the strength and capability of the female body is absolutely amazing. We are vessels of life, there is no job more important. So why not be proud and show it off?!”
“Being pregnant has been a very humbling experience for me. The body I used to have, and had all sorts of body image issues with, is gone, and it’s not coming back. Which is freeing, as all those issues are now a moot point. I have a new body now, and after I have this baby, I’ll have other issues to contend with. It’s like getting a fresh start, and I’m taking advantage of it by getting used to my new skin and celebrating it.” Chae is the burlesque performer “Kitty van Tassle” and blogs over at Bird Hearts Bear.  See some awesome pictures of her pregnant burlesque show (bra and undies) here.
“I want every woman to know that being pregnant is the most beautiful and amazing thing our bodies are capable of and I am not ashamed of how I look. I’m proud to say I’m over 200lbs and am growing these babies as best as I can! We as women have a tendency to compare ourselves in every arena and I want you all to know that I love and support every one of my beautiful and pregnant friends no matter their size. This is me being brave and showing you all of me…I love every inch and pound as should you.”
“I think it’s beautiful when women bare their bellies during their pregnancies. It is something to embrace and share with the world, and it doesn’t matter what size, shape, or condition your belly is in. I chose to bear my belly because I want everyone to feel like it’s a beautiful thing, a beautiful step in our lives as women, and it should not be hidden!”
“I wanted to take this pic because I have always been ashamed of my body. This pregnancy I realized how beautiful the process of creating life truly is, and wanted to remember how gorgeous my body was, full with child.”  Aubrey blogs, too!

And last, but not least, my belly-love ‘coach’:

“I am a belly bearing mama because I feel that the female form is beautiful in all shapes, sizes, and stages of life. To me, my baby belly is beautiful and perfect and something to savor.” Cynthia is a doula in Eastern Washington, providing pre and post-natal, breastfeeding, and birth support for new and expecting mothers.

Teaching our kids to love themselves starts with loving ourselves.  What better time to accomplish both than during the beautiful miracle that is pregnancy?

I forgive you.

You.  Yes, you.  The Holier-than-Thou, mom of the year runner up.  I forgive you.  For throwing stones at me from your glass house.

I don’t pretend to be perfect.  Ever.  I’m actually pretty blunt about my follies as a parent, wife, and housekeeper.  There are things that work for me and mine that you may never consider to try for you and yours.  And that’s ok.  It’s more than ok.  It’s perfect, because it’s natural.

I don’t know what you’re trying to compensate for by attacking my choices.  Sneering at the way I spend my free time.  Pitying my children, because what you see of me is via social media.

Assuming that, because I blog and use several social media outlets simultaneously, my children are neglected or less loved than yours.

What you don’t see between my internet activities is…

the food made from scratch,
the kisses on every toe during diaper changes,
the time I take to fix my daughter’s hair in that day’s requested style,
the stuffing of toys in shirts so we’re all wearing ‘babies,’
the load of cloth diapers just put in the wash,
the spills that are cleaned,
the scrapes that are bandaged,
the fights that are separated,
the little bodies crammed onto my every shrinking lap to watch silly things on the computer,
the talks about animals,
the pages that are colored,
the gentle games of indoor toss,
the nails that are painted,
the backs that are rubbed,
the books that are read,
the airplanes that are watched,
the bugs that are discovered,
the dishes that are washed and promptly dirtied again with more of that food made from scratch,
the flowers that are smelled,
the hiding places that are discovered,
the new words that are learned,
the songs that are sung,
that made from scratch food that is swept off the floor,
the pullups we practice,
the make believe meals that are brought to me,
the tantrums,
the budget balancing,
the puppet shows,
the stuff purging,
the failed attempts at taking a shower because I choose to spend time with my kids instead,
the walking 6 blocks to pick up my daughter from school and let my boys play,
the visits with our neighbors,
the jump roping,
the late nights I spent reading and gathering blogging material after all my household obligations are done,
the ball pit wars,
the piles of laundry folded,
the dance parties we have,
the fashion shows we’re given,
the school functions we attend,
the naps we take,
the wet beds changed,
the innumerable bathroom breaks,
the movies that are watched together,
the play dates that are planned,
the games of pretend that are played,
the discussions I’ve had with my husband about choosing a day of the week for me to focus on the things that I enjoy doing besides mothering.


And, because there’s no way you could have known any of that unless I post about it on social media, I forgive you.

I hope that next time, instead of attempting to shame me for the outlets I choose to use on my me day and in my frequent and short spare moments, you choose to be kind and applaud me for having a passion other than my children.

There is no parenting contest.  If there was, I can assure you

there would be no winner.

I was selected for VOTY/PhOTY 2015

UPDATE:  Shortly after posting this, a fellow blogger brought this amazing piece by The Hands Free Mama to my attention.  Here is an excerpt, but I encourage you to go read her full post.  It. Is. Beautiful.

“We need this validation. We need to know we’re doing something right. We need to know our children are going to turn out okay despite it all. We need to know love prevails over failures, flaws, and imperfect days.Because sometimes the “experts,” the psychologists, the well-meaning friends, the sweet ladies in line behind us at Starbucks, and the critics inside our head suggest otherwise … making us feel like there is more to it than just loving them.”


Your Place at Equis Place

Just Be – About Me, the Color Purple, and Why I Won’t Tone It Down Anymore

I will be 27 in a few weeks. I know it’s just a drop in the bucket compared to some, and to others it seems like the best years of my life have passed me by.  But there is just one thing that is becoming ever-more clear to me as I get older, experience new things, and raise my children: People never expect you to show your true colors right off the bat. When we, as adults, meet other adults, we tread lightly, carefully, taking pains not to say or share something about ourselves that might scare this potential new addition to our lives away.
I’m not interested in playing that game anymore.

Ideally, my introduction would go like this:

“Hi, my name is Jessica.  I believe in reproductive rights, gender equality, better gun control, and freedom from religious persecution.  I should also mention that I’m Pagan and feel that our actions here on Earth should speak for themselves, not for a promise of fulfillment in an afterlife.  I am pro-birthing education, support public breastfeeding, I teach my kids the proper names for their penises and vaginas, and I let them climb, scream, and make their own mistakes, as kids are wont to do.  You should also know that I used to be fiercely opposed to GMOs and biotech in our food and beauty products, and while scientific evidence and reason has prevailed, I still plan on creating a homestead where I will grow my own produce, raise my own chickens, and milk my own goats.  Oh, and I am very much into having a healthy, active lifestyle.  I prefer Crossfit and running to most other forms of exercise.  Can we be friends now?”

I will not hide the parts that make me unique just to be shunned once they come to light.
I will not apologize for my beliefs, nor will I expect anyone I meet to apologize for theirs, just because they aren’t the same.
Why the heck is she going on this defensive rant?! you may find yourself asking (if you weren’t, I’m going to tell you anyway).
Memories, for one.  I remember how hard I used to try to fit in, even though there will never be a better mold to fit into than my own.  There will never be a color to match me better than the one I radiate.  I wish I had known quite some time ago how true it is that attempting to be like anyone or everyone else is just a horrible, painful waste of time.
Recent happenings, for another.  As my kids get older I’m meeting more people.  As my interests expand, I am encountering others that have similar ideas to mine.  But, once the other shades of who I am are introduced to these people, I am cast aside.  I don’t have time for people who are only interested in me if my shade matches theirs.
I’ve started thinking of myself along the same lines as the color purple.  Made up of blue and red, but with touches of yellows, blacks, and whites to get the various shades.  Sometimes, colors like orange and green clash with it, because they’re on opposite sides of the wheel from purple.  But, other times, the colors that they share, blue in the greens, and red in the oranges, allow them all to compliment each other very, very nicely.
I will never stop encountering oranges and greens.  In truth, I would never want to stop.  I will never stop looking for the similarities that make us compliment one another, so that we can enjoy each others’ proximity and what each shade brings to the table of our relationship.  But, I will stop expecting others to look past the spaces between us on the wheel to see that we share a base color in common, and I will stop hiding the colors that make up who I am. (And I’ll continue to be fascinated by yellow.  Seriously, what planet did it even come from?  How can it even exist on THAT side of the wheel?!  I must know everything about it!!!)
There are no lines that define when blue becomes purple.  Why should we draw those lines between ourselves as people?

What color do you identify with?

Learning to let go

The Kraken is at 19 weeks gestation this week.  We’re almost halfway.  Time has been flying and there are so many things I had hoped to have done at this point.  There are still so many plans up in the air.

I’m trying to focus on my family.  The kids, Captain, and The Kraken.  I’m trying to keep up with everything.  But this 2nd trimester isn’t feel-good anymore.  I have more bad days than good now.  More limitations than strengths.

This isn’t what I expected.

My body was becoming so strong.  My endurance was climbing.  My outside was finally starting to reflect my inside, and I was happy.

I had expected to continue down this path of fitness through my pregnancy.  Maintain a higher level of endurance.  Keep seeing progress in strengthening myself, even if only in tiny increments.

But my body, instead of concurring, is revolting.  Braxton Hicks is upon me already; I sleep, but restlessly and uncomfortably; my sciatic bring me to tears while doing basic housework.

This isn’t what I wanted.

I had hopes to be like other Crossfitting women, who worked out up until their due date.  I had hopes to be exclaimed over, like many other pregnant women who refuse to let pregnancy get in the way of their goals.  I so wanted to impress Captain with my ability to grow a child and show the world that I could move mountains at the same time.  He had expressed the same hope; that it would be HIS wife our fellow box members would be in awe of.

Disappointment is a bitter friend, and it is becoming my constant companion.  With every morning that I wake up and feel lightheaded from just walking to the bathroom.  With every muscle twinge I feel when lifting Mr. Monkey.  Each time I get a blinding headache.  Or wake up exhausted.

I’m trying to keep in mind that this is our 4th baby.  That my body has never gone through a fit pregnancy like this.  It is both old and new territory.

The point isn’t to reflect those around you, but to be the best you that you can be.  I’m having a hard time reminding myself of this.  I am not those women who work out until their tanks are empty.  I am not those women who can bust through a WOD without taking a break to catch their breath.  I am not those women that can do anything and everything they want through their pregnancy.

But I want to be.  And I have to let that go.

Dear mom on your iPhone: Seriously, how dare you?

I saw you sigh as you sat down on that bench after your kids went screaming onto the jungle gym, like you actually need a minute of peace to think.  How dare you have your own train of thought.

I watched you hand your kid a Happy Meal  instead of bust out a tupperware full of nutritious fruits and vegetables that were cleaned, cut, and packed with love.  How dare you think you deserve an easy day every now and then.

I heard your minimal reaction to your preschooler hitting the ground too hard at the bottom of the slide.  How dare you teach your kids to brush it off and move on.

Why can’t you be like the mom over there, that’s reading a book? At least she’s engaging her mind.

Why can’t you be like the nanny over there, who’s knitting a shawl?  At least she’s being productive.

Why can’t you be like that group of women, who chose to meet here to let their kids play and socialize?  At least they’re socializing, too.

Why can’t you be like the helicopter mom, judging every other person on this playground because NONE OF THEM are 100% focused on their children?

How dare you be a realistic representation of us all?  How dare you.

SURPRISE! Women like sex, too.

I’m going to talk about some pretty adult stuff right now.  If you aren’t interested in hearing that women have sexual desires, too, then go read something else.

Brutal, open honesty here.  It may be rambling, as I have so many things clamoring to be voiced that I can’t really keep track of them, so I hope you bear with me.

You see, women have this thing called a clitoris.  And it makes sex pleasurable.  Some women have high amounts of hormones that make them want sex more often.  Some have low levels of hormones, which equates to a low sex drive.  Regardless of how much sex we crave, we still crave it.  I am speaking to you as a woman with a pretty high sex drive, who gets turned down by her husband often enough for it to matter.

But you know what?  No one talks about a woman’s needs.  The phrase that ‘a man has needs’ gets thrown around so often, as an excuse for sleeping around, excessive masturbation, and porn addictions.  Within the rape culture we’re currently faced with, this is the premise for so many violations of too many victims.  How many times have we heard about a woman claiming that her primal needs were the cause of her inappropriate actions?  Every once in a while we hear of a teacher having inappropriate relationships with her students and I can only recall 1 violent woman-on-woman rape being discussed on the news in my adult life.

When you’re hungry, does your body involuntarily find and consume food?  When you have to pee, does your body get up on its own to find an appropriate facility?  Your body gives you signals for what it needs and you make a conscious decision to fulfill those needs.

Making a conscious decision to use another person, against their will, for your sexual urges is inexcusable.

But, “Men get turned on easier than women.”  Puh-leeze.  You know what feels good for women?  Vibrations.  You know what vibrates?  A car engine.  Sit in the car with your jeans hiked up against your crotch and see how long it takes before you’re ready to go home and take care of that urge.  Multiply that by however many times a day you’re driving somewhere, and you’ve got a primal need to be fulfilled.  Bicycles?  Same problem.  Accidentally bumping into something at crotch height, or having something brush your nipples while wearing a thin, or no, bra.  The sight of a man (or woman, if that’s your preference) in shape, or with specific features that we find attractive.  A man who smells nice.  A man who gives us just enough attention to make us feel special.  All things that turn the key to get that motor running.

You know what we do though?  We make a conscious decision whether to act on those desires or not, Just. Like. Men.  But we don’t get credit for it, because we don’t have a penis.  That second ‘brain’ men are endowed with that somehow allows their actions to become excusable?  We don’t get that.  If a woman chooses to go home and masturbate instead of having an affair with that co-worker that’s making passes at her, well, it’s easy for her, she’s a woman.  If a woman’s partner isn’t interested in having sex and she decides to just wait until they are, well, that’s just fine for her, she’s not a man.

Having an extra appendage does not impair judgement.  That is proven by the many good men who do respect boundaries.  Being turned on makes decision making different, to be sure, but not difficult.  

The differences in our sexes don’t make any of us less human.  We all deserve respect as a people, not a gender.

But, I don’t have a penis, so what do I know?

In defense of being self-centered.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about adult relationships. 

We went to a birthday party the other night and I realized that I. Am. So. Boring.  And can be perceived as very self-centered.  

Several years ago someone told me that I wasn’t the type of person she was interested in being friends with.  There were a lot of other things said in and around it, but that was the gist, and it hit me HARD.  It plucked at my insecurities and made me question the person I was.  It still makes me question the person I’m becoming.  A blessing in disguise, for sure, but blessings like those are painful.

It made me realize that I AM self centered. 

Because I don’t have anything to talk about other than the small circle of a world that makes up who I am.  Stuff about MY kids.  Stuff about MY husband.  Stuff about MY crafts.  MY workouts.  MY feelings, thoughts, opinions…  I don’t have a sports team that I know the statistics of and can discuss for hours.  I don’t have a job that broadens my perspective of the world at large.  I don’t have an education that affords me high class discussions with worldly people.

I’ve been struggling with being more inviting.  Asking people how they are doing instead of just responding to their questions about me.  Swallowing my fears of being rejected and asking new people in my life to do things with the familiar ones.  Taking chances and going to new things.  Admitting that I’m not familiar with certain territory and am totally out of my element.

One of these things is not like the other…

I’m TRYING.  And it’s HARD. 

But, it’s what I have.  I hope along the road I find more people that enjoy listening to random stories about my kids, pregnancies, and marriage.  Because I AM a mother and a wife.  I pray that those more in the know than I can offer advice regarding the current craft pattern I can’t wrap my head around.  Because I AM a crafter (albeit a novice at everything).  I dream of a time when I can be an inspiration to women on the road to a healthier lifestyle.  Because I AM on that road.  I ask that the people I meet be accepting of the fact that I don’t have more to offer.

Because this is my life now.  It is small.  There’s not a lot of variety.  

I am greater than the sum of my parts.  And if you can’t accept that my focus is on the things that are important to me, then maybe you aren’t the kind of person I’m interested in being friends with anyway.

Reflection: When molehills become mountains and learning to be grateful.

We’ve all heard it.  “Don’t make mountains out of molehills.”  It’s a great idea, in theory.  But when you’re in a moment of frustration and there are nothing but molehills in your path, it becomes almost impossible to see how you will get around the next one.

Last night was, possibly, my worst night ever as a parent.  And it’s all thanks to too many molehills.

Captain spent the evening in Urgent Care Thursday night for headache/jaw pain.  It was frustrating, but we got through it fine.  The kids were fed, bathed, and into bed by the time he got home with a diagnosis of tic douloureux (pronounced tick doo-la-roo, which we’ve been saying a lot because it’s kind of fun) and some hefty pain meds.  Friday morning I made a to-do list for myself (I had plans to be productive) and he decided to take a half day so he could manage the pain better without being medicated at work (electricity and sleepy pills?  Not a good combo).  Upon hearing his plans I decided to surprise Cabin Girl with an early day out of school and a movie date.  Then, he mentioned that some work friends were having a ping pong and beer gathering after work and he wanted to go.  Uhm… okay, I guess.  He never does stuff like that so I couldn’t say No.

Fast-forward to coming home after the movie and the t.v. was on, the living room had exploded, Cabin Boy was naked because he’d apparently wet his pants, though Captain wasn’t sure where or when, Mr. Monkey hadn’t been fed or changed in ‘a while,’ and Captain was looking at me through bleary, not-quite-teary eyes.  Despite him not feeling well enough to completely take care of the kids, he was still planning on going to the pong party.  “I won’t be gone too long.”  Oohhkay.

Things pretty much went to hell immediately.

While I went to the laundry room to get CB clean undies, someone went into their room and tore apart a book.  I went up to clean up the book and, upon taking it to the bathroom trash, discovered pee ALL OVER the toilet and surrounding area.  As I was cleaning up the goodness-knows-how-long-it’s-been-there pee, MM brought me the cold, soaked pair of undies CB had stashed somewhere from earlier.  Cue beginning of shit-losing.  I charged CB with putting the dirty undies in the laundry room where dirty clothes go.  After I finished cleaning the bathroom I came downstairs to find Cabin Girl dancing around the dining table, the cloth stripped and laying on the floor with numerous scattered dirty dishes. “[MM] did it.”  Cue mommy tears.  I instruct CG to grab the table cloth and follow me to the laundry room.  On the way, I discover CB’s wet undies on. my. craft chair.  Cue beginning of anxiety attack.  I switched out the laundry and went into my room to scream into my pillows and hyperventilate a few minutes.  Add ‘change sheets’ to the to-do list, since now I’ve gotten mascara all over everything (why do I even bother wearing makeup?!).  I text Captain and my best friend, one to inform that it was in everyone’s best interest that he come home, and the other just to vent.  Captain informs me that he’s in the middle of a “little” tournament, but will be home as soon as it’s done and hopes ‘things improve’ for me.  I head downstairs to finally figure out dinner (which is now an hour later than the kids are used to) and discover all the couch cushions and blankets have been thrown amidst the dirty dishes that still haven’t been picked up, except a precious few that were relocated to the shoe closet in the entry.

It’s like Scary Mommy was in my house last night.

This is the point where I decided I couldn’t leave any child alone in any room for any amount of time for the rest of the evening.  So instead of making gluten free pizza, which we had all the ingredients for, I ordered from our favorite, local pizza place (while MM followed me SCREAMING) and turned on a movie.  While we waited the precious 30 minutes for our very late dinner to arrive, I grabbed a tote and started throwing toys in until I could fit all the living room toys into 1 big basket and 3 small ones (during which MM kept snagging toys from the tote and throwing them into the fireplace).  Instead of bathing the boys, I wiped them off with a washcloth.  MM went to bed just fine, but there was no getting the big kids to cooperate without daddy there to tuck in/snuggle/say goodnight (which I informed Captain of, but he never responded), so we watched the movie until CB passed out.  I let CG sleep with me until Captain came home (2 hours after he had informed me of the “little” tournament he was in) smelling like beer and fun.

At least he had the sense not to try to touch me once he got into bed.

So here we are this morning.  Captain is gone, working a scheduled overtime shift.  We need the money if we’re ever going to have enough for a big down payment come the time we decide to move.  The kids are in the same fantastic mood they were in last night, so we’re all gathered in the living room where I can keep an eye on the destruction they’re causing.  I just want to shower, or go read a book somewhere quiet, or go make something wholesome for breakfast without fear of something being broken.

I can see these molehills.  I know they are trivial in the scheme of things.  First-world problems, if you will.  We will be getting out of the house in a little while.  They boys will get to play under someone else’s supervision while CG dances with her ballet troupe for 2 hours.  I will shower at the park facility, knit, and hopefully get some socialization with other parents.  We’ll probably get sandwiches from the Subway that’s in the building, so I can avoiding a screaming fit of hunger from one or all of the kids.  We may go to a park to run out as much energy as possible afterwards.  We’ll come home and I will lament at the amount of things I didn’t get done yesterday, because I was focused on cleaning the path of destruction my kids made.  I will take a deep breath and get done what I can.

I will let my kids see me cry, if it comes to that again, because they need to know that sometimes Mommy gets upset and frustrated, too.  I will show them how they can help me, and pray that they enjoy the feeling of accomplishment more than they like the atmosphere of destruction.  We will get ready for CG to have a sleepover tonight and hope against hope that Captain comes home at a decent hour.  We will show him how much we enjoy his company and how much we appreciate what he does for us.

Because the lesson I’ve taken from this is that it’s Captain that keeps my molehills from becoming mountains; Sometimes with his help, but mostly with his presence.  It’s days like yesterday that remind me that, though it’s easy to be bitter, everything is better when we decide to be grateful instead.

The Popularity Virus

It’s happened. 

Cabin Girl told me this morning that one of her ‘friends’ at school (N) has been telling their classmates that she thinks CG is ugly.

Put her in front of a camera and there will be no shortage of ham.

People… well, people are mean.  Everyone has unkind thoughts, whether they’re bidden or not.  But little girls?  I’m relearning that little girls are CRUEL. 

I’d finally forgotten that in the 2nd grade there were countless nights that I cried to my mom about not having any friends.  I’d forgotten that because of my super rosy cheeks people made fun of my red face.  I’d forgotten that I was one of the chubby girls.  That my rough skin denoted the nickname ‘Chicken Skin.’  ‘Amazon.’  The weird girl.  The goober. 

But CG, she’s none of those.  She’s rail thin (seriously, some days it worries me), her hair is gorgeous, her eyes are Captain’s beautiful hazel eyes, her nose is perfect.  But she’s also hilarious.  She’s smart, sharp as a tack.  A ballerina to her little 6 year old soul.  Energetic, ready for anything, creative, and she CARES, you guys.  She cares so much it’s annoying!  She loves fashion, music, and dancing.  Butterflies, ponies, and rainbows.  She’s my firstborn; a leader.  She is the epitome of all that is girly but loves parking it on the couch to watch football and each chips with her daddy.

So what is it then?  Does N have someone at home teaching her that people like CG are not to be loved, but hated?  Envied?  Where else does this need to put others down come from? 

This morning brought us a new thing to worry about.  How do I keep my daughter from becoming Miss Popularity?  When she is surrounded by peers who insist that what she looks like and behaving daringly is what’s important, how can I keep her sweet, and honest, and kind?  How can I keep that taint from seeping into her?

After her statement this morning we sat on her bed.  I brushed her hair and we talked about the things we love about each other and ourselves, inside and out.  And I explained to her that what her peers think don’t matter; not in the end.  The people who made fun of me or didn’t like me?  I’m not friends with them anymore, if I ever was, so what they think doesn’t matter.  What this N girl thinks, it doesn’t matter.  Because every day, when she gets out of school, she has two brothers and a mommy who love every part of her just the way she is waiting for her.  Her daddy will come home from work and give her a kiss because he loves her just the way she is, too.  She does and will have true friends that like her for the person she is, not the person she looks like.  And she has family, so much family, that wouldn’t want her to change for the world.

But I’m afraid now.

There’s no room for innocence anymore guys, and it terrifies me.

Resolution Schmezolution

It’s almost that time again and I’m ready to field the ‘What’s your resolution’ question:

I’m not making any.

Oh, I have goals, to be sure.  But I’m not going to limit those goals to 2013.  I will keep on keeping on.  A few years ago I made the resolution to stop sacrificing my happiness and sanity for the sake of others, and it’s mostly working.  We’ll be staying the course there, attempting to make it easier to get past the knot in my stomach when confronted with people I don’t want to spend time with, or doing things that I know won’t be appreciated.  

There are things I’d like to see happen, like get my blog going a bit more, teach Cabin Girl some sort of string or cloth crafting skill, start cloth diapering again, get pregnant with our last Cobb baby, and finish up some house projects, but those aren’t things I can do by myself

THOSE are things we will be doing as a family.  Family projects are definitely something we’re missing.  Definitely something I think we would all benefit from. 

So, an early Happy New Year to you and yours my friends. 

What are you hoping to see happen in 2013?

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