Mom “secrets”

I was at the gym this morning when I saw an up-coming Today story – What’s your deepest, darkest secret? Moms confess…  Today.com and Parenting.com surveyed 26,000 moms.  Mental note – go look that up online later…

So I read the article.

Uh…..nothing surprising. Really – any mom out there look at that and feel surprised by anything they said? Shocked at how many admitted to certain actions like medicating a child or using them as an excuse to get out of stuff?  Haven’t done the former, have done the latter. So what? I’ve sent a sick kid to daycare and I often want to be left alone. Are you judging me now? How about that I ponder the “Do Over” question?

So why am I writing about this? Besides shaking my head at the honest reality of it all?  Yes! It is so freeing to be able to say these kinds of things to my closest girlfriends (and I guess now the internets).  Blogs like dooce or All & Sundry have helped in laughing, crying or figuring out tips of my own in the whole parenting scheme. Or the ah yes I remember that moment…  Like at my 2-week post partum sobbing to my doctor that I didn’t want to be a mommy that day.

But those blogs didn’t exist when I was considering pregnancy – OK, they might have, but I wasn’t reading them. There was not a Loud Voice out there of Mommy Bloggers talking about the challenges and joys of parenthood. No one being totally honest and raw about what it meant to be a parent.

I remember coming back from maternity leave, Fall of 2003 and running into a pregnant co-worker in the cafeteria. She was in the happy pregnancy stage, no morning sickness, not physically uncomfortable, she was just joyous and bubbly. I was operating on about 4 hours of sleep.  She asked me how wonderful it was to be a parent and how excited I was to have a daughter. I looked at her straight in the eye and say “No one tells you how hard it is”, she smiles, “No really, there are not words to describe how HARD it is!” She gave a nervous laugh and walked away.  Months later after her maternity leave, she walks up to me with that wild-eyed new parent look, takes my hand and says something to the effect of, “You were SO right and I had no idea…there truly aren’t words…”

If you aren’t a parent – that may not have made sense to you.

I love my child. She is sharp, creative, caring, pretty and cunning. She is a force to be reckoned with now and will be until she leaves the nest for her own place. I love that she takes care of me when I’m ill, brings me art for my office, eager to share a dessert, read a book together and wants to cuddle from time to time. But sometimes….

sometimes….

sometimes….

….sometimes….

I just wish I could do it over.

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Serenity Now!

It was a pretty rough week, things were more stressful at work than they probably needed to be, or maybe I just wasn’t prepared. It doesn’t matter now – that work week is over and I’m resting up for the next one!

By Friday night, I was ready to collapse in a pile and be done with it all. I was so far gone I didn’t even want a drink or dessert – I just wanted to run away.  That is ultimate stress for me – not to sound like I rely on my Friday evening cocktail – but not wanting it is a sign I need some serious re-group time.  So I decided to just let it go, and prepare to take a kick-boxing class Saturday morning at the gym. What better way to get out frustration than punching and kicking?!  Problem was, the studio for class was being refinished so all classes were canceled for the weekend. Frick!  I went for a long run and pushed myself to run most of it. I felt pretty good by the time I got home.

But it still wasn’t enough.

I needed to get out for the day. To go be alone and recharge and I wasn’t sure when I was going to come back. I drove up to the Anacortes Art Festival. I used to go every year, but not so much recently.  It was good, I’m glad I went. Saw some good artisan work and some, well, eh. I ran into a friend of mine that is a jeweler and spent a little bit of time catching up and meeting her daughter. After walking through the whole festival twice, I was ready to go. But it was only 4:30 and I wasn’t ready to head back down to Redmond. Still too much energy inside.

I side tracked to Deception Pass. I used to go up there frequently when I was single. It was an easy hike, and there are beaches to sit and meditate on. I hadn’t planned on hiking so didn’t have the right shoes or even a backpack. Still I walked down to the beach and spent about a hour sitting in the sun, listening to the water break on the rocks. I put together my own spiral, it helped calm my mind.

spiral_1

There is nothing like a beach and water to help calm me. I’m not a mountain person, I don’t like camping, nature and I have a tentative relationship. Except for water. I could never live in the Midwest and be so far from an ocean. When I think about my retirement, I see my house being near the water, close enough that I could walk down to get the kind of recharge I had yesterday.

So here is a personal reminder to myself – that when it all gets to be too much, I don’t have to drive 90 minutes to Deception Pass (although a good option) – there are many beaches around town that I could escape. Some close enough to take a lunch break, some far enough that no one could just “drop in” on me.

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Change your mind–are rape really “alleged”

This article on MSNBC today really burns me up, Report: Alleged Libya rape victim arrives in US.  Alleged.  ALLEGED?!  That word feels so accusatory to me. Here is what Merriam-Webster says about Alleged:

: asserted to be true or to exist <an alleged miracle>

: questionably true or of a specified kind : supposed1, so-called2 <bought an alleged antique vase>

: accused but not proven or convicted <an alleged burglar>

al·leg·ed·ly\-ˈle-jəd-lē\ adverb

Examples of ALLEGED

  1. The alleged thief was arrested.
  2. He denied the alleged conspiracy.

And what my Thesaurus comes up with:

Alleged

OK….OK….I understand it’s not proven, maybe she’s lying.  But maybe she’s telling the TRUTH!  When it comes to rape, why is the victim painted in such a poor light?  What about the accused?  Yes, yes, headlines often read “accused rape suspect”….but why put the woman (or man for that matter) under scrutiny that they did something wrong?  Who the cares if they were drunk, dressed provocatively or “asking for it”.  If someone says NO, it means fucking NO!!!

Not only did she report being raped, she reported being gang raped.

This world can really SUCK sometimes you know?

I hope she finds solace and reassurance in what must be a very emotionally taxing time for her.  That she has someone to lean on.  That will listen to her.  And truly believe she is telling the truth.

I’m inclined to believe her…

No more “16 & Pregnant”

I love trashy magazines.  I particularly like reading them at the gym because it takes no brain power and helps me pass the time instead of obsessing about how much I dislike stair climbers.  They are also good for pedicures if I’m not absorbed in a book at that moment.  The part(s) I like about the magazines are the pictures, sometimes human-interest stories and absolutely-laughable “truths” the mags come up with (this week’s US proclaims that Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds are an item, read the actual article and it’s all speculation, no hard facts).

The part that bothers me the most is the underage, reality TV stuff.  I’ve gone off before about OctoMom and Kate/Jon/8 and how stupid it all appears to those of us that live in actual reality.  The “16 & Pregnant” show and related attention really bothers me.  I get the promoted intent is showing young teens what it really means to have a kid, give it up for adoption, how it impacts your life, etc.  When I was in high school, it was the Egg Baby assignment.  Some friends at other schools had sacks of flour.  Granted, these inanimate objects are nothing like caring for a real baby.  Not even sure it gives a true picture on how hard it is.  Maybe just a flavor.  Like a mint leaf.

In the same US Weekly that talked about Sandy & Ryan, there were 2 separate references to Season 1 of “16 & Pregnant”.  The first (perhaps most gag-worthy) was a shot of one of those moms in a bikini at the beach.  What does this have to do with anything other than twisted voyeurism?  The other was an article about the one arrest and facing charges of battery (of her ex).  I don’t know the girl’s name, or the kid, or anything about what their specific story is since I never watched the show on TV.  I don’t have any interest in learning more details, I have better gossip to waste my time on.

WHY are these girls being sensationalized by the paparazzi, gossip mongering public (like me)  OK – season’s over – leave the girls alone to live a real life with their choices.  What lesson is it teaching the younger girls that the show is over yet they continue to see these girls and their cute kids in weekly gossip mags and mentioned on the E! network?  Without really showing what is going on in their lives?  Or why we should have intimate details about domestic abuse or neglect?  How does making them reality celebrities really providing the lesson that was originally intended?  Stop them making some chunks of money off of articles and photos across all the varieties of gossip rags, put them back into an anonymous existence.  What’s even scarier – what are these kids going to grow up and learn?  What sort of values are we teaching our kids, their kids, the world?  UGH!  It’s so freaking disgusting!

So disgusting indeed…

Let’s all just take a deep breath….

This post has been on my “To Do” list for 2 weeks now.  It should not take this long to sit for 15 minutes and write up an entry.  Perhaps it’s facing down another year, wanting to renew commitment, or leftover Catholic guilt….once again I’ll say I want to write here more.  I got Soul Pancake for Christmas and spent the last bit reading through the first few chapters.  Some interesting questions in there that may lead to post topics.  Anyway….the topic at hand.

Patience.  Waiting in lines.  We all have bad days.

Two weeks ago I decided to go to Starbucks in the morning after my gym visit and before my first meeting.  I knew I would be cutting it close, but there was something about the desire to go to My Starbucks, get a coffee and earn more gold credits that was calling me.  My first indicator was the line reaching the door as I approached.  Oh well I thought I’m here so let’s commit to this, I’ll be cutting it extra close.

I waited patiently.  Focused on not allowing the line get to me, since history would say I would be the impatient one.  I could tell by looking at the people behind the counter it was Just A Bad Day.  Twice I saw the manager come out to hand deliver a coffee to someone with an apology and free drink coupon.  I mean, come on!  Where does that happen?  Free drinks?

I really felt for them, which made my commitment to give them my business that day even more solid.  We all have Bad Days. 

Just as I had ordered and moved over to wait at the bar, a couple ahead of me was growing increasingly impatient.  The first drink was one of those hand deliveries with an apology and a coupon.  The guy just brushed off the personal effort made.  Then he asked in a very annoyed, condescending manner where their breakfast sandwiches were. The barista directed him to the other side of the store, which of course I knew being a regular.  So he huffed over there to get the sandwiches.  By the time he got back the woman  had her drink.  It was obvious they messed up the order somehow, she was inspecting the cup, sniffing it, moving a straw around to see what’s inside.  The guy asked if they should have it remade (which they will do without question) and the woman says, very loudly “No, this is ridiculous, we are already incredibly late”.

I thought, how sad, so much negative energy coursing through those 2 right now.  We all have those Bad Days and it really impacted me to take my deep breaths and not be upset about it and just go with the flow of the universe.  I felt pretty good about it.

The funny part, by the time I got my drink, added cinnamon, made it out to my car and pulled away… that couple was still getting settled in their car. 

Television and (my) Kids

Recently someone at work on a parenting list posted this article done by Canadian researchers that Toddler TV Linked to Low Math Scores.  There was a variety of responses from the parents.  Mostly along the lines of – OMG is this really news?!  As I’ve often said before on the more inane “scientific” research reports that are announced.  Granted, this is Microsoft so many parents often have a sense of superiority and snobbery to the rest of the planet of parents.  What?!  It’s true – so don’t you dare flame me! (and I didn’t say ALL parents)

One of the parents did an informal poll asking – how old are your kids, how much time do they watch TV, what shows do they watch.  OK – I’ll bite, I responded.  In case you all are curious – mine is 7, 1-2 hours a day.  I replied that she watches – Cyberchase, Fetch with/ Ruff Ruffman, Phineas & Ferb, Bindi the Jungle Girl, Fraggle Rock, How It’s Made, Food Network.  This doesn’t account for the time she watches movies (mostly on the weekend) and any iTouch/computer screen time.

I got the results this morning.

I had the oldest kids of the respondents.  People actually said their kids watches 10 minutes a day.  Or that they never watch shows, but the TV is on in the background all the time (um…that counts!)  I guess what surprises me is how defensive people are.  How quickly parents flip into this I Do The Right Thing Mode and truth or not, tell the answer they think people want to hear.  How the world will be SO much better for their kid because of how much and what they watch.

I don’t really have the same outlook.  Yes, I monitor how much A watches.  Yes, I have say in what she watches.  I don’t think TV is rotting her brain.  One of her top faves right now is Cyberchase.  She got a Cyberchase computer game for her birthday (which she loves).  If you don’t know Cyberchase – it’s a very logic/math based mystery solving show.  On the other side of television, once in a while she will watch The Fairly Odd Parents which I don’t think has much value at all.  Sure, it has a veiled message of values – but never my first choice.  I’d rather she watch Phineas & Ferb – those boys come up with the craziest creative ideas of “what to do today”, it’s funny and I enjoy watching it with her.

Guess what people!  My kid LOVES math! She excels at math! It’s easy for her (yes, tooting my own math-degreed horn)

I think about the shows my brother and I watched.  Sure, we had a lot of exposure to PBS and Nickelodeon.  Then there were the Smurfs, Care Bears, Speed Racer, Krofft Brothers, Animaniacs, etc etc etc!  We also were plastered in front of the TV every Saturday watching 3 hours of Bug Bunny.  If anything is going to rot your brain, it’s Bugs Bunny.  Apply today’s logic and the two of us should be insane, cross-dressing, carrot chomping, hot head deviants pushing people off of cliffs and carrying guns around shooting at anything that moves.

I turned out OK.

We cannot blame how our kids turn out based on television, xBox, iPad, computer time they have.  As parents, I feel we have a duty to monitor, make choices, and (probably most important) set boundaries on anything our kids are exposed to as they grow up.  Actually, most important is to engage with them and talk about “smart” viewing choices.  Explain why I won’t let her watch Hannah Montana because I don’t think Miley Cyrus is a good role model or the Little Mermaid because she gives up who she is for a man.  Sometimes I get that confused look, but A doesn’t push back on me.

I’m not even going to talk about the days the TV isn’t on at all, that’s another story for another time.  This one is about taking control of the television, engage with the kid, and remember that we turned out OK. 

Make smart choices, that’s all I ask.

Thoughts on Glee

If you all aren’t watching Glee now – you should catch up soon because it is so fucking good!!

Anyhoo – today I’m watching, what I will call, The Body Image show (or Home as the writer’s termed it).  Mercedes is grappling with peer pressure and unrealistic expectations on image and acceptance.  Then you see Quinn, the bitch of all bitches early in the season, be the one reaching out to tell Mercedes one of the biggest lessons she’s had since she got pregnant – if she can adjust to do the right things to take care of her baby, why wouldn’t she do it for herself as well?

So what I wonder – who is getting these messages?  I honestly, truly hope that there are teens out there watching this and taking it in.  That maybe they will show up at school tomorrow and tell that bully to kiss off.  And I mean the girl bullies, the ones that cut you with their words not physical acts.  Perhaps watching the characters like Quinn transform and learn lessons in high school that some of us didn’t even figure out until after college?!  One of the things I love about this show are those stories, the examples of real-life lessons that most of us may not learn until later.  Can you imagine if an army of teens got it 15 years earlier than most?  Although it may be a detriment to the mental health community – the rewards far outweigh those risks.  How fucking powerful would the future turn out to be? 

I may not allow A to read the Twilight series – but I sure will sit her down to watch Glee when it’s time.  I don’t want to control my daughter.  I want to help her avoid those extra stupid mistakes I made along the way.  How much time, energy and money have I wasted on body image and all that’s wrapped up in those two little words.  It scares me, it really does.  Because a few weeks ago, she started asking me how much “fat” was in the food she was about to eat and how she doesn’t want to eat any “fat” and that’s not good for you and she likes that she’s thin.  She’s 7!!  I cannot tell her enough times it’s about smart choices and moderation and getting exercise – that a human body does need fat to survive and isn’t it so much better to eat olives or nuts or regular yogurt than some crap off the supermarket shelf that has multiples-more chemicals listed than actual food product?  I should have known this was coming early. I still want to cling onto the innocence of being 7 and in 1st grade and enjoying her life – not have to reeducate and battle on the “fat” or body image with her. 

Please just give me some more time with the innocence.  Please…