Peanuts.

I recently had an article published about my personal struggle between balancing the need to be assertive, with the unnecessary need to always be polite. I blame this on my southern roots. No matter the cause I want my children to have a different internal narrative – if it’s important to you, say what you need say. Period.

I thought about several interactions throughout my life and I easily saw a pattern. Clearly it resonated with other women, too because the article has reached thousands of readers, all with a resounding agreement that we often times put too much focus on being polite, instead of what we need to say. You can read the article here, published by Scary Mommy.

Hhhooowwweeevvveeerrrr, apparently when I’m traveling and tired my worry about politeness goes right out the plane window. Literally. On my completely full return flight home last week from Dallas, I was making my way to the very back of the plane, realizing quickly that there was no more overhead room for my carry-on bag. A flight attendant quickly intercepted me and started looking for space.

One thing about me: I’m a rule follower. People don’t typically make up rules for shits and giggles. There is usually a reason for rules and most likely a good one. Another thing about me: I listen. When people talk on a microphone or speaker-thing, something sort of important sounding, I listen. Most of the time they are not engaging in unimportant talky-talky. Especially when I’m about to board an aircraft, an object I still don’t fully comprehend how it remains in flight, I am going to listen.

The accommodating attendant popped open an overhead bin and found a soft, squishy, rather small backpack. I was one misplaced backpack away from getting my overhead bin space. I had her back; I knew exactly what she was thinking, “Who the ever loving hell put a backpack in the fucking overhead bin?!?” Instead she politely asked around for the owner of the backpack.

There he was. As soon as I laid eyes on grandpa I was ready to take care of business. Ain’t nobody screwing up our system! Not today, gramps, not today. As she was leaning in to talk with him, for some very impolitely assertive reason, I leaned over her shoulder and firmly informed him, “Bags like that are supposed to go under the seat in front of you, not the overhead bin!” I may have even pointed a finger for emphasis.

It was like an alien had taken over my body. I quickly pulled my lips inward as the attendant stared into the soul of my forefathers. She gently directed me to take a seat. Again, I knew exactly what she was thinking, “No peanuts for crazy in the back.”

xoxo

You can also read the complete article here:

As a southern woman, I have found that we are too often taught through our experiences that, above everything else, we should be polite. At some point throughout our life, in often compounding ways, we are shown that under most circumstances, we should always err on the side of politeness. No matter what we want to say, or what we are feeling, the appropriate response is to smile and nod.

Instead of telling the truth, we bless people’s hearts. Instead of saying what we want to say, we hug graciously. My experiences don’t necessarily need to be the same as my daughter’s, which is why I want to raise her to explicitly understand that being polite is not necessarily a requirement in this life.

I was recently at a lunch event with friends and relatives when two women started a conversation with me and then, rather stunningly, said disparaging things about a close family member of mine. Instead of responding the way my inner voice wanted me to, engaging in a verbal street fight, I was polite.

Later that same year my family and I were having lunch at a local restaurant and were seated across from a chatty, elderly couple. I’m certainly accustomed to people interacting with us as a family when we are out with our children, as nothing gets grandpa up and chatting like cute kids. The problem wasn’t anything he said, it was merely his insertion into our family lunch. I was more uncomfortable with his level of comfort, his assumptions that he could barge right into our meal. I didn’t put an end to the conversation or ask for the privacy I wanted. Instead, I was polite.

Having sat there, silent, I hated the way I felt and wanted to share those feelings with my daughter. I wanted her to know that if she was ever in a situation like that, in which someone was making her uncomfortable, she didn’t have to put up with it. I pulled her aside, got eye-to-eye with her, and told her my lie. “I want you to know that it’s always okay for you to not interact in situations like that. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, it would be totally fine for you to say that you are not interested in engaging with him.”

She stared blankly at me, and asked, “Well, why didn’t you?”

Her question has stuck with me for months. Time after time, I have allowed things to be said or done and instead of standing up for myself, I’ve opted to be polite. I have sacrificed my own feelings for someone else’s comfort. The old man’s feelings shouldn’t have been put ahead of my desire for privacy. Those women didn’t deserve to be protected for being hurtful. My feelings within the space of these events matter, and I want my children to feel the same way.

I want my daughter to find the balance that I didn’t necessarily grow up having. I want her to understand the importance of being respectful and polite, but also understand the importance of being brave and saying what she needs to say — even if it’s scary. I don’t want her to sacrifice her own feelings for the comfort of those around her.

So, is it ever okay to ruin the lunch?

As a mother raising a daughter, I have found that in order to combat this pressure to be polite, it’s my responsibility to teach my daughter explicitly and directly that politeness is not a requirement in this life. My words sometimes will not be enough. I have to show her that I am strong enough to do the things I am telling her to do.

So, to all the women out there struggling with this idea that in order to have a happy life, we must be polite; to my dear daughter and all the girls who are growing up with her, I say an emphatic, Yes! It is completely and totally okay to ruin the lunch. Say what you have to say. Even if your voice shakes and it’s really scary, say the words and express your feelings. Take up space in this world without apology, and remember that being polite is not a requirement.

Cry Me a River…

I’m not a crier…but that doesn’t mean I’m not an emotional person. I’m not overly sentimental, but that doesn’t mean I’m shallow. Someone recently called me ‘cold,’ and I had the need to write about it…it’s a good thing I did because so far it’s been published by BLUNTMoms and most recently picked up by Sammiches & Psych Meds.

I’m really proud of this piece because I think it speaks to many women; as if there is some unspoken rule that as women and mothers were are supposed to cry all the time or worse, smile more. (Insert major eye roll, here) Well, I for one, am not having any part of that kind of bullshit and neither will my daughter.

xoxo

 

Journeys & Destinations

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about journeys and destinations. If we focus too much on the end result, where or what we think we should be, we could easily lose sight of the beauty around us. The opportunity around us. The connections around us.

I was recently asked to give a commencement address to the graduating class of 2018! It was a real honor because it was the school where my son attended and graduated from…his preschool. When I told people about it, the reaction was always excitement, followed by the sentiment of, “Who knows where it will lead!”

Truthfully, I’m not thinking about where it will lead, because this event alone was a huge milestone for me; for everyone involved. This event was scary, fun, and exciting for me. I took a tremendous amount of pride in this event. This event is part of my journey. I’m not looking too far ahead because what’s right here in front of me is pretty spectacular.

In an effort to connect both the graduates (4 and 5 year-olds) and their families, I spoke about the top 3 three things that kids this age generally do, and what, as adults, we can learn from them. The top three things are:

  1. Do Something Scary
  2. Ask a Lot of Questions
  3. Be YOU

Thankfully, due to a minor technical difficulty, the video starts when I am telling the story of when I did something really scary – when I auditioned for Listen To Your Mother. It’s a good thing because for the first 2 minutes I was nervous and fumbled over my words. Just take my word for it…you’re seeing the better half!

I am reminding myself each day to enjoy every step for what it is and not worry so much about the final destination. I’ll get there – wherever and whatever I’m supposed to be – I have faith in that. So, until then, I will continue to challenge myself by doing something scary, I’ll keep asking a ton of questions, and I’ll stand firm in being my best self, and enjoy each step in this beautiful journey of life.

XOXO

Resiliency.

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This journey as a writer has been nothing short of fascinating. I have learned so much about the business, the process, and what it takes to be successful. I’ve learned even more about myself and what I am I made of.  Sure, submitting a piece and never hearing a response can be depressing; knowing that it either wasn’t good enough, wasn’t a good fit, the list goes on. But getting a piece accepted and then having it torn apart by the public is a totally different story.

Last week I had a piece published by Scary Mommy that I was pretty proud of. To even get accepted by Scary Mommy is a huge deal – their Facebook page alone garners over 3 million followers. Exposure like that is a new writer’s dream come true! I’ve published several things for them and I am honestly humbled every time they email me saying “book it.” It truly never gets old!

But that’s just it – exposure. You have to be willing to take on that level of exposure – your words in front of an audience of over 3 million people. In the past, the exposure was validating, as comment after comment people connected to my words and thanked me for having the courage to say them. In some cases, people contacted me personally to discuss the topic further or ask for advice. (PSA: I don’t make any habit of giving strangers advice! I’m happy to listen, though) Not this time. This time was different; probably the first time I’ve been filleted so publicly.

I saw there were over 70 comments after the article was published so I wanted to see what people were saying. “Stop reading the comments.” My husband would say from over my shoulder. But I couldn’t stop. Once I saw how bad they were, it was like I couldn’t walk away – I was watching a train wreck happen before my eyes and I was dead center.

I think most people missed the point of the article. I think some throw around mean comments because they think they can. Hiding behind a keyboard escalate people’s bravado. Most don’t realize the process of writing and submitting. Either way, the personal attacks hurt. I would be a big fat liar if I said they didn’t. But, (there’s always a but) they won’t stop me; in some ways it’s a motivator. I also find this experience to be a great lesson in life for my kids.

They are both still pretty young so some of this (social media shaming) will be over their heads. They aren’t, however, too young to understand what it feels like for someone to say mean things about them. They know how it feels when someone doesn’t like them or something about them.

So the lesson for them is that it happens to Mommy, too. I had a lot (the comment count continues to rise) of bad things said about me and my work AND I LIVED THROUGH IT. I took the hits and survived. I realized that not everyone is going to like me – I may be too much or not enough for some people – and that’s ok. The world will not always think our work is terrific. When we put ourselves out there, not all responses will be what we hope for, but that doesn’t mean we stop doing it. Not all feedback will be positive. They need to know that people can and will say all sorts of things about me but it’s my own feelings that matter. 

Lastly, it’s also a great lesson to learn that sometimes, people are just simply assholes.

Resilience matters…take the hits and keep on moving along.

xoxo

 

 

 

 

Lessons in Humility.

Audrey recently had a sleepover leaving us temporarily a family a three. I enjoy the few times when we have just one child with us, giving them extra special one-on-one time. We decided to drop Audrey off, then take William out to dinner and dessert. After saying our goodbyes to Audrey and visiting with the family, we decided on a French cafe that was nearby.

We got to our table which was tucked way in the back and right away ordered drinks. Both kids always order for themselves, something Brian and I have encouraged from when they were really little. William placed his order, “May I please have a Dr. Pepper?” At home we have milk, water, or juice but it’s really anything goes when we are out. We were so excited to be out, even had the server take our picture!

William’s food arrived, and Brian and I chatted away while he ate. We had the day’s news to catch up on and just tried to enjoy a few moments of adult talk while William was eating. Things took a weird turn when we looked at William and he was no longer eating. His eyes looked glassy and he was white as a ghost. He kept blinking. “William are you ok?” I implored and he shook his head yes. I could tell something was not right and I started to slightly panic. I was honestly worried he was about to throw up and this chic bistro was not the place for that to happen. We were so far in the back I had no idea how to make an exit. He kept blinking and I could tell he was scared. He was still drained of all color.

My first instinct was to check his drink. We always check the kids’ drinks but this time I didn’t. I can’t say for certain why, I just know this time I did not check his drink. It was basically empty so there was not much to check; whatever was left was watered down with melted ice. If there happened to be a mistake, and there was booze in his drink, certainly that would explain his quick demise.

“I feel dizzy.” His quiet voice whispered, “My heart is beating really fast.”

Brian scooped him up and walked him outside. I asked to see the manager and for our bill. My mind was racing: do I take him to an after hours clinic for a blood test? Do I run him by our friend’s house to examine him? Do I need to go to the ER? Should I be physically panicking now?

The manager runs over and offers to call an ambulance if I need one. I know he was trying to be reassuring but it only made me feel more sure that my son was accidentally given alcohol. He then went on to explain that those who bus the tables and take drink orders do not have access to the bar at all; there is zero chance that he was accidentally given the wrong drink. I still wasn’t sure.

In the meantime, Brian had gotten some crackers and William ate a few bites of them. For the first time in, what seemed like an eternity, I was no longer sure my son was about to either vomit or die. He was improving.

The manager returned to my table with our food wrapped up to go. He leaned over and politely said, “Ma’am, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but, when was the last time he ate anything? You know, all that soda on an empty stomach can be problematic.”

You know, folks, there are times in our lives when we need to take life’s lessons of humility and learn from them. Listen to what the universe is telling you! When he first asked the question, my initial (internal) response was to roll my eyes right out of my head and get all parent-y and righteous, declaring how I am a 43-year-old mother of two with a PhD and need not get child rearing lessons from the concerned manager of this restaurant. I had already cocked my head, ready to momsplain to Mr. Manager the err of his ways, then…it hit me.

Good thing my internal response wasn’t my external response, because the ugly truth is, he was right. My kid hadn’t eaten since noon. It was an oddly busy day…Brian was in and out…I had a meeting…then we went to soccer…I was preoccupied and never offered anyone snacks…oddly, no one was asking for snacks! We were also eating later than normal because of the sleep over drop off. We normally eat around 5:00 and it was after 7pm! My kids rarely drink soda…my son hadn’t eaten in, oh, say close to 6 hours and filled his stomach with Dr. Pepper.

I GUESS HE DID FEEL DIZZY.

File this under ‘mamma needs to check herself.’ If there is one thing I want to teach my children, it is to be humble. I still have a lot to learn – we all do. We can all learn from each other. Mr. Manager was right and for that I am thankful. Can you imagine the humble pie I’d have to eat if my kid was diagnosed in the ER with nothing more than a sugar and caffine high? I’ll take my lessons in small bites and be sure to learn from them.

xoxo

Santa? Oh, Baby it Happened.

I have strong feelings about Santa. Thankfully, Parent.Co supported these feelings and published my article on Santa, his magic, and how that shit will be alive and well in my home for as long as I’m alive and well. You can read the full article below or via the link here.

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Santa and His Magic – In Full Effect for as Long as Possible.

The magic of Christmas is always alive for those who believe. While this may be my life’s eternal motto, I’m certainly not a crazy Christmas lady.

I do know that, for every Christmas light lit before Thanksgiving, one of Santa’s baby reindeer die, so I would never take that risk. But once the official Christmas season begins, I am all in, and dragging my entire family along with me. Santa and all of his magic is in full effect.

Before you roll your eyes right out of your head, hear me out.

I heard an interview recently in which someone described Christmas as a dream – the one time in our lives when we suspend reality in exchange for fantasy. It’s the one day of the year when dreams come true, the one time when magic is real. Really real, not just sleight of hand.

It’s also the one time of year when I have the opportunity to make this magic happen for my family.

I’m 43, and while I acknowledge how beautiful and wonderful life can be, I also know that it can be cold, hard, and relentless. There are times when people don’t care. There are times when your dreams truly don’t matter at all. There are times when you are alone, or worse, lonely. The realization that life isn’t always fair or pleasant comes quickly – far too quickly, in my opinion.

We spend the vast majority of our adult lives, well…being adults, which is exactly why I choose to give my children the chance to experience pure, dream-making magic. While they’re children, I feel that they deserve it.

I get it. Maintaining the Santa illusion hard. But for me, hard isn’t a reason to abandon ship. Last year, we pulled off a live animal Christmas, and it required more logistical arrangements than when I gave birth to my second child. It was also, hands down, the most stressful Christmas Eve on record.

My husband and I fought and bickered while trying to establish the best plan for Santa’s gifts to spend the night. I forgot to remove several labels and tags – clearly, a rookie mistake induced by an adrenaline-fueled combination of stress and excitement.

Boy, was I excited. I was so incredibly excited. I knew how much they wanted this. It never crossed my mind that Santa couldn’t make their Christmas dreams come true. No matter how many favors I had to call in or arrangements I had to make with neighbors, their dreams were coming true.

On that moderately cool, rather balmy southern morning, when my kids saw their dreams materialized at the foot of the Christmas tree, adorned with a freezing cold letter from the North Pole, every minute, every argument, every request, every switch, every exchange was totally and completely worth it. I watched magic happen right before my eyes, and it was worth it.

I admit I’m selfish. I love every minute of watching the holidays through the eyes of my children. In some ways, it’s even better now than when I was a kid. I wish this time of our life would last forever. The magic of Christmas experienced by my children directly improves my holidays, too. Their excitement, joy, and awe make it exponentially better.

While I may be selfish, I’m also a realist. I remember vividly when I found out that my reality wasn’t exactly reality. It was a pretty difficult blow. I remember feeling a palpable sense of loss. Over time, however, I was able to channel the energy and excitement of receiving into the joy of giving.

I’m prepared for my children to experience this loss. I am aware of the sadness that will likely affect them – hopefully, not any time soon. (Truthfully, I’m more prepared for the sex talk than the Santa talk.) But I believe that my kids’ excitement and energy will grow from the magic and joy of receiving into the magic and joy of giving.

When it’s all said and done, if my children have joyful memories – feelings they can return to when the world is not such a friendly place – then I have given them a great gift. So, for now, the magic remains real, and I am forever joyful and grateful for it.

Within my joy, though, a slight sadness tugs at my heart because I know this time is fleeting. Only for a very short time can we capture this excitement. Letters to Santa and personalized cards for our elf, Cookie, will make way for doubt and questions.

I am ready, though. I am ready to block doubt and reassure fears by holding on to my life motto. I am ready to remind my children that, as long as you hold on to the spirit in your heart, the magic will always follow.

xoxo

Dear Period, Sayonara Sister.

I am beyond excited to report that an article I wrote was published by Blunt Moms ! You can read the published piece here and the full body is below. Enjoy!

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I recently read an article in which a mother threw a celebration honoring her daughter’s first period. I truly get it. It’s a transition for young women that should be celebrated and as her mother, it’s my job to show my daughter the beauty that does exist within her menstrual cycle. While there were many, many years that my period served me well, played a vital role in my health, and supported two healthy pregnancies, after 30 years together, I’m making the decision to end it.

Now, before a group of anthropologists get their Patagonias in a bunch, hear me out. At 41 years-old I was very randomly diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It was during an annual exam with a new gynecologist – I had been on a six-month long quest to find a new doctor to provide more personalized, hands-on care – and I had finally found her. Thankfully. Up until this point, not a single OBGyn had ever touched me above the shoulders, but she did and found a large mass hiding in my neck.

Since then, things have begun to unravel and become completely out of sync. I’m bleeding more often than not, and based on uterine biopsy results, my estrogen will not calm the fuck down. There could be several reasons to possibly explain these changes. Most obvious, I no longer own the gland that controls my heart rate, metabolism, body temperature, and a host of other systems. Instead, I take a synthetic version of thyroid hormone. Sure, so far, so-so good but I’d be lying if I wasn’t waiting for the rest of my organs to figure it all out and stage a full-scale rebellion. I’m sure the invasive radiation treatment, had its affects, too. I’m also sure the fact that I am knocking on the door of 43 years-old may have something to do with it. No matter the reason, 30 years is plenty long enough and I am counting down the days to formally bid Flo a final farewell.

Our periods do serve us very well and I recognize the vital role it plays in our reproductive health. However, as I sit here today, that part of my life is very much over. I’m long past the days of planning for pregnancies. Now, since things are so out of sorts, and despite my best efforts, I think it’s time to end the misery. I have zero time for this shit in my life. I’m living in a constant state of premenstrual misery. With an average of two periods a month, every week is pretty much occupied with something period related. I find zero delight when my favorite jeans feel they belong to my 9 year-old-daughter. I always focus on the positive, though, and tell myself I’m getting a warm denim and spandex hug.

Just consider the logistics that are necessary for managing a period. I can only surmise that pads are designed by men. I either use a thin liner and end up bleeding all over my panties because it’s too short, or I unwrap something large enough to be used as a parasail. I find myself either patching together liners, single file across the crotch of my underwear or walking around like a diaper-clad toddler. I’ve given my period 30 solid years of existence, which in my mind, is a long and prosperous life. Therefore, bye, Felicia.

I may be almost 43 with two kids, a busy life and a host of craziness happening within my body, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t want to have sex with my husband. There is truly nothing more romantic than having my hubby nuzzle up to me and whisper a playful suggestion to meet him in the bedroom only for me to snuggle back and respond, “You mean so I can change my tampon?” I laugh and he – well, he doesn’t laugh. There is nothing really funny about my period cock blocking him for almost the entire month.

After much thought and discussion, it’s clearly time for me to permanently say sayonara to my cycle. While I am counting the days and so very much looking forward to a period free life, I do think about how I will adjust to the changes. What will I do with all of my free time? I’m a pretty resourceful gal and am certain I will figure out a way to spend my time and the money I won’t be spending on individually wrapped flotation devices. Maybe I will have more sex and buy more shoes? Maybe. If so, I cannot think of a better way to spend my time and money.

I will certainly look forward to the day when my daughter starts her own period, and will celebrate her life’s milestone with all the pride and fanfare it deserves. I will be there along the way, helping her navigate her own path. I will answer questions and give her advice. I will listen. Of course, I’ll wait until she’s much older and able to fully appreciate my decision to end my crazy period in exchange for an improved quality of life. (An improved quality of life with more sex and shoes. )