Uncategorized

Being Honest About Life.

HELLO FRIENDS!!

It’s been FOREVER since I’ve last blogged but I have really have been busy writing! Everything lately has gone straight to publication, which is great, but I want to be sure the content is shared here, too.

My latest for Parent.Co !

Years ago, a very wise woman explained to me that within the human experience, while our circumstances may vary, our feelings are universal. Essentially, there is a relatively finite set of emotions that we all feel at some point or another. While we may certainly think that we are alone in our feelings, the truth is, we are mostly likely feeling things that many other people feel as well. It’s not necessarily the feelings that isolate us, it’s that we don’t always talk about the feelings or share our experiences.

One thing that scares me terribly is the thought of my children feeling isolated. I don’t want them to ever feel like they are alone in the world having feelings that no one else has or feels. I know they will experience difficulty and ultimately feel really big, really hard feelings and my goal is to be there to help them through that. But most importantly, they need to know that we all share similar feelings. I’m not sure how else they will know this information, so I’ve decided it’s my job to tell them.

My daughter recently bravely asked me if I had ever felt a certain way. While I welcomed the dialogue, the question hung with me for days. I realized that this was my opportunity to create an honesty with my children that shows them my real experiences and my real feelings. I could choose to parent from a distance, perched high above as a 42-year-old, self-actualized adult, with a PhD and great career. I could.

I could also show them that the path I traveled to get here was full of disappointment, mistakes, fear, and uncertainty. That same path was also filled with joy, laughter, success, and love. I have felt all of the feelings.

Having someone to look up to is a wonderful thing, and they need to know that life is beautiful but also that it can also be messy. More than anything, I want them to know they are not alone in their travels. I don’t want my children to look up to me and think that somehow my life happened overnight.

So, I told my daughter about the time when I was nine and didn’t feel like participating in dance class. I guess I also felt like pushing a few boundaries because not only did I not participate but I also disrespectfully sassed my dance instructor. I told my daughter how I felt emboldened at the time but that quickly turned to shame and guilt, how I later apologized, and spent a week punished in my room. It’s normal to want to see what it feels like to break the rules.

I have also told her about the time when my friend started her period and I was so jealous I could barely talk with her about it. I listened to her story over and over but inside I wanted to punch her in the throat. To ease my jealousy, I took several pantie liners from my mother’s drawer and wore them to school despite not needing them at all. Somehow it made me feel better. Jealousy is real and it happens to all of us. Also, people sometimes do weird things and that’s okay.

I told both of my children about the time I agreed to kiss a boy in the back of the school yard when I was way too young to be doing anything of the sort. How I really, really liked this boy. I told them how mortified I was when some friends gathered around us and agreed to cover their eyes but didn’t. Instead they watched it all and laughed. Love can make you do stupid things.

I will also tell them both how I was the first one to say ‘I love you’ to their father. Love can make you do smart things, too.

I will tell them both about what it felt like to be left to eat lunch alone at school. I will also tell them what it felt like to stay silent in the group that left someone else eat lunch alone at school. Social pressures are very real and can be very powerful.

I will tell them about the things I didn’t do because I was too afraid. I will tell them how I didn’t take the class, didn’t make the call, or didn’t attend the event. I will also tell them about all of the things I did anyway, even though I was afraid. I will tell them how I did make the call, reached out, went on the audition, wrote the story, and submitted the article.

I will tell them how I tried.

I will tell them how fear is an incredibly powerful emotion and every single one of us feels it. Fear can either hold us back or catapult us forward. Feel the fear and do it anyway. (Unless you are about to do something immoral, illegal, or just plain stupid – in those cases listen to the fear and don’t do it.)

I will tell them about heartache and heart break. I will tell them about the times I failed. I will tell them about the times I succeeded. I will tell them about the joy, excitement, and love I have experienced along the way. I will explicitly tell them that love is actually an action, not just a feeling.

If all this talking helps my children feel less alone and less isolated, or if it helps them see that we are all very connected in our humanness, then I will tell them. Every in, every out, every bumble, stumble, or laugh. I will tell them.

Uncategorized

I Let It Go…and Sold It!

In case you missed my hysteria on social media, I recently met a long-term goal of selling an article. I have syndicated a ton of my work, and have had more than one original piece published, but I had not yet actually had a publisher pay me for my words…UNTIL NOW!

The article was purchased and published by Parent.Co. If you don’t already follow them, you definitely should! It is truly an honor to be represented by them.

Finding the Gap Where Disappointment Exists, while I hope you find it funny and truthful; for me, it may be the one I am most proud of. (So far, anyway)

xoxo

Health, Life, Uncategorized

The Other Side.

“I just want to know. I can handle it, whatever the outcome, I just want to know. The waiting is the hardest part.”

Over the past few weeks I must have said this a thousand times to various people. I was sure that no matter what the doctor said, I would be totally fine, knowing I finally had an answer. In truth, the wait was brutal. An epic exercise in peace and patience. From 1:09pm on June 9th – 11:43am on June 20th I was like a walking, talking version of Schrödinger’s cat. Might be, might not be. All I desperately wanted was to be on the other side of the phone call.

The call came and while I certainly didn’t like the answer, at least I had one. I knew. My life was now all encompassed by the 99% certainty of eight, pap-stained direct smears interpreted by a pathologist. So why don’t I feel better?

While technically my wait for results is over, I am now faced with an entirely new wait. Here I sit on the other side of the call and I feel less certain, less secure, and less at peace.

I’m waiting to not feel crazy, however, under the current circumstances I don’t think this will get better. I laid in bed Monday night wrestling with my new reality and it hit me like a thunderbolt.

What if he gave me the wrong results??

That’s it! It made sense and seemed perfectly within the range of possibility. What if he was really trying to call Marilyn Lamont but dialed my number by mistake; and in a state of panic I just went with it? That would mean that Marilyn received my results that the biopsy was benign and I received hers! I feel bad for Marilyn. It’s going to suck so bad when she finds out that this was all a big mistake.

I’m waiting to get off this crazy train.

I’m waiting to meet with the surgeon. What if he’s a total goober? What if he doesn’t think I’m a nice person? What if he accidentally damages the nerves in my voice box and I can no longer speak? How can I live not being able to tell my children that I love them? Sure I can write it and learn sign language but they need to hear the sound of my voice! See what I mean?

I’m waiting to no longer feel afraid.

I’m waiting to know if surgery will be enough. I’m waiting to know if I will need additional treatment. I’m waiting to know if it’s in my lymph nodes. I’m waiting to feel secure. I’m waiting to feel like there is solid ground under my feet and I’m no longer tethered to the clouds trying to function like a normal person while I’m dangling from the sky. I’m waiting for certain people to do the right thing. I’m waiting to no longer feel scared.

I’ve read and often heard it said that of all of the worst that cancer is, this is the one that you want. Well, no one wants it of course, but because it is highly curable this would be the lesser of two evils. I get it, I do. But being on the other side of the phone call, I can tell you it’s not the lesser of anything.

I’m finally sitting right where I had longed to be and truth is, it still sucks. The wait is still there; I’m now just waiting for different things. All of this is currently unchangeable so I have to focus on the things that do make me feel secure; the things that do tether me.

My family is amazing. My mom, dad, brother, and sister-in-law have been steadfast. I know that Brian cries a bit every time he hugs me lately and despite his fear and worry he is rock solid, compassionate, and always ready and willing to help slow the crazy train of my endless mind.

My friends have shown the greatest love and support and I am humbled.

My faith. I couldn’t get by without it. None of this makes a lick of sense but I’ll surely go even crazier trying to figure it out. All I can do is place this in God’s hands and pray that He will give me peace, cover my mistakes, and graciously forgive me when I yell, “Slow the fuck down!” to some lady while shopping at Wal Mart. Only He knows how human I am and eventually we all breakdown during a shit show. He also knows it’s OK because the bitch totally had it coming.

xoxo

Family, Health, Life, Uncategorized

When Our Pediatrician Treated Me.

My son is four. He is almost always happy and has the most infectious laugh. He loves to laugh, too. He’s affectionate and easily expresses his feelings; especially his love for me. For the past few nights he has not been himself. It’s like a switch right around bedtime – suddenly out of sorts, cranky, downright confrontational. To call bedtime a struggle would be an understatement. He doesn’t want to sleep because, “sleep is boring!” He won’t stay in his bed or room, engages in a standoff with me in the hallway, crying when I walk away. I know behavior, I know best practice and I applied all strategies. I offered hugs and love neither of which he wanted. I tried to ignore the behavior which only led to him attempting hand stands in the dark almost taking down my table lamp. He wanted mommy, then daddy, then mommy, then daddy, ad nauseam….

This afternoon Brian suggested we bring him to the doctor to maybe check his ears. I’m usually not that quick to make an appointment especially when there is really no sign of anything being wrong with him. But, we have had a long history of ear issues and he is known to have ear infections without typical symptoms. So with no hesitation I opened the app on my phone and took the last available appointment. Who in the world makes and appointment for 4:50pm on a rainy Thursday for a reasonably healthy child? Me.

She looks in his ears. Fine. She checks his throat. Fine. Tummy is great, too. She asks him some questions about what’s been going on at night and if he’s possibly sad, angry maybe, scared, or even just really, really tired. Of course his answer to all of her questions is ‘no.’ He’s super! I shift uncomfortably in my chair because I’m starting to feel embarrassed for taking up our doctor’s time.

This makes zero sense for me being here.

My throat tightens.My eyes start to burn.

She looks directly at me and asks, “How are you?”

Tears begin to stream down my face. She casually, yet swiftly ushers my son out the door and has him join the nurses to look through stickers and have a sucker.

The truth is I’m not ok. On May 12th during my annual exam my gynecologist found a lump in my neck. On May 18th I had an ultra sound. On May 20th I found out I have a large, dominant, solid mass in my thyroid. On June 1st I had my first appointment with my endocrinologist. On June 9th I will have a biopsy.

My words and tears fell freely as she listened. She offered me tissues and asked good questions. She gave me advice, both as a doctor and a mother. I felt overwhelming guilt; realizing instantly that William was responding to my current state of stress and anxiety. Of course I try to hide it but either I’m a horrible liar or my kid is highly intuitive. I’m fairly sure it’s both. She reminded me not to take on unnecessary guilt. She reassured me that no matter the outcome, I will be ok. William will be ok. We all will be ok. It was like a good, honest conversation with a friend that I desperately needed, only with a $25 co-pay.

It’s no surprise he’s affected. My current state is fragile. Sometimes tense. Often preoccupied. Worry. Lots and lots of worry. I worry for them, though, not really for me. I am perfectly content with the idea of removing any body part that may be plotting harm. If my thyroid is trying to kill me, take the fucker out. Besides, you haven’t been doing a great job of keeping my hair smooth lately so you can suck it on the way out. But for them, for a million different reasons, my heart aches for them.

I’m working on it. I pray often. I try to keep busy. I adopt huge ass pianos. Which, by the way, turned out to be a terrific decision for our family. I stare obsessively at my kids which freaks them out and that make me laugh.

I’m human and far from perfect and admittedly I see that while my kids don’t know any of the specifics, this is all affecting them in unexpected ways. They are resilient and I pray that this time in our lives will soon be a distant memory that only I remember.

For now, I focus on gratitude. I’m thankful for my family, friends, and faith. I’m thankful for my husband. He is more than I could ever ask for or imagine in a partner. Today especially, I’m thankful for being 41 with a really great pediatrician.

xoxo

 

Parenting, Uncategorized

My Answer Will Always Be Yes.

I’m sure, not unlike many new mothers, I was totally unprepared for motherhood. I guess no one can really prepare you for what’s about to happen but I was particularly not at all prepared for the physical and mental exhaustion. There were many days that I was so sleep deprived I could have fallen asleep standing up. Sleep was so very important to me; I’d give up food before sleep. I was also very honest about my position on bed sharing. My position was simply that there would be no bed sharing. I adore my children but I adore them even more when we all can retreat to our own spaces, specially our own beds, at the end of the day.

I was particularly comfortable one night about two years ago, stretched out in my tempur-pedic dream bed with the down comforter covering just about everything except the very top of my head. I was mid-dream when I felt a poke. Startled, I looked up to find my son at my bed side. He leaned in and whispered, “Mommy, can I sleep with you?”

My kids have been historically great sleepers. Truthfully though, early on I had to intervene a bit to get them to become such great sleepers. I read a lot of books, took the parts that worked for us and helped them learn to sleep well. So, I know what the experts have to say about kids getting up in the middle of the night. They are all fairly consistent and give similar guidelines. If your child ever wakes in the middle of the night you should proceed with the following steps:

  1. Under no circumstances do you ever let a child in your bed during the night. If you allow it even once, you might as well hand over the keys to your child and get used to the fact you will now be held under the rule of a toddler. Cheerios and finger paint will dominate your life. (As if it doesn’t already.)
  2. Make no acknowledgement of your child. Do not communicate in any way and especially don’t let them know that you care. Showing concern will only show weakness and they will try to capitalize on that.
  3. Take the child by the hand and walk him or her back to their respective bed. Cover the child and walk quickly back to your own bed.
  4. When the crying child comes running back to you, again, do not communicate in any way with said child, simply carry or drag him or her back to their bed. You might have to throw them in. Now run back to your own bed and cover as quickly as possible in hopes that they will leave you alone and the nightmare has ended.
  5. Repeat steps 2-4 until dawn. Be aware that you will not be able to drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 4-6 weeks.

As soon as I heard his question, all of this ran through my mind. Is this when I need to walk him back to his bed? Am I opening myself up for trouble if I let him in? We’ve all been sleeping so well! Ordinarily, unless my bed is on fire, I see absolutely no reason to get out of it, especially in the middle of the night. I looked at the clock and it was 1:18am. “Yes,” and I pulled him into my bed where he settled in between my husband and me. After that, we all slept through the night.

It’s been about 600+ nights now and each and every night he comes to my bedside and asks, “Mommy can I sleep with you?” I think it’s so incredibly sweet that he continues to ask. I wonder sometimes if he’s just really polite or understands already that you should take nothing for granted and things can change at any moment. For now, my answer will always be yes. It’s actually sweeter than I could have ever imagined. He snuggles and I snuggle back. I often feel his small hand grab mine during the early morning hours when no one is really awake. Weekend mornings are a dream. Don’t even get me started on holidays. There is something very special about the time we can share like this. I am all too aware that it will end soon. There will eventually be one night where no one will be at my bedside asking if they can sleep with me. My answer will always be yes.

So, I say to my sweet prince, ask me, ask me every night if you need to. Come to my bedside when you are lonely, scared, or simply just miss your mommy. Come to me and ask your question, knowing that no matter what, my answer will always, undoubtedly, be yes.

Uncategorized

#LTYM

It seems like a lifetime ago when I walked into an audition room, wearing hot pink leg warmers and began to read the absolutely wrong piece. As soon as I opened my mouth I knew everything about it was wrong. Wrong but not lost.

I must have made some sort of impression because while the piece was not right, apparently I was. My audition experience is documented in Listen To Your Other. After resubmitting another piece I was accepted to the 2016 cast of Listen To Your Mother.

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I was humbled, excited, and honestly the entire concept scared the life out of me! Needless to say my emotions were sent into overdrive when I found out that I was set to be the closing act of the show. At first, I reasonably assumed this was some sort of mistake, and for several days waited for the email from the director that, in fact, things were going to change and I was no longer the closing act. Of course.

That email never came. My piece, I No Want It was the closing piece for the show.

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The experience itself was life affirming. I did something that scared me and lived to tell about it. I now have a life long connection to these other women. Our stories came together to create an experience for all of us as well as all of those that came to the show.

Here is the closing piece for the 2016 Listen To Your Mother Baton Rouge Show:

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I No Want It.

My daughter was about two and a half when I first heard her utter the words, “I no want it.” I was getting her ready for Grandparent’s Day at school and pulled out a precious dress for her to wear. The conversation went something like this:

Audrey, grabbing the hem of the dress and shaking her head, “I no want it.”

Understandably shocked, I questioned, “What do you mean you don’t want it? Of course you want this! This is adorable!” In my defense, it was adorable. Fine wale corduroy animal print dress with a bishop collar and hot pink trim, what’s not to love?

“I no want it.”

I took a deep breath, a mental step back, and let her choose. She selected a drop waist stripped number with cap sleeves. For me, the dress fell into the ‘play clothes’ category and not really the ‘Grandparent’s Day’ category but she looked adorable and most importantly, she was satisfied with the opportunity to choose and was happy with her selection.

Audrey has taken me down a very different path when it comes to defining herself through her clothes. I was not at all prepared, considering, I really, really liked smocking. Instead of forcing my preferences, I have allowed her to make choices. Within a few limitations, I have given her a wide opportunity to exercise choice, thereby defining herself for who she is. We have long since abandoned the idea of smocking, monograms, or dresses. Our preferences now include leggings, pants that don’t get ‘wiggly,’ tunics, and layers. We love crazy socks too, especially when they are mismatched.

Whether we like it or not, at the earliest age, our children have a sense of self. They have preferences. These may not be our preferences, of course, but who am I to stifle my child?

I think as parents we can get caught up in the fear of what other people will think. Not only about what others will think of us as parents, but what other kids will think of our kids. As an adult, I know that what other people think of me is none of my business. For kids, however it may not always be that easy; there may be struggle. Like it or not, we are hardwired as humans to struggle. The important thing is to give our children the opportunity to cope with the struggle instead of rushing in to save them from ever having to struggle.

A family member shared an instance when her young son wanted to go to preschool wearing his sister’s pink barrette in his hair. She asked him if he might want to just carry the barrette with

him instead of wearing it. His choice was to wear it pinned into his beautiful blonde hair. She hugged him tight and wished him to have the best, most fun day. My son recently asked me to paint his fingernails yellow…and wear it to school. I offered the option of wearing the nail polish only for the weekend but he chose to try it out at school. I too, sent him on his way wishing him the happiest of days.

By supporting their choices, we instantly communicate how much they are loved no matter what. We are telling them that their choices matter and that they are good, valued, and loved even with pink barrettes, yellow nail polish, and mismatched socks.

So what is our message when we tell them no?

I can’t say with absolute certainty what this means for our children. I’m sure that the little boy who wore the barrette may have gotten some giggles or even a few high-fives. It’s possible that my daughter may have received a strange look or comment about her socks. I would bet at least one child asked my son why his nails were yellow.

I would argue, though, that whatever they experienced, they all learned something. He possibly learned what it means to be courageous. She may have learned what it’s like to feel different and whether or not that is okay with her. He may have learned how to deal with embarrassment or even how to handle loads of positive attention.

I know for sure they learned that within the space of life, they can make choices and no matter the outcome, they will always have a soft place to fall – into the loving and accepting arms of their mother.

Letting them be who they are. Enjoying them through every questionable ensemble, mismatched socks, yellow nail polish, and pink barrettes…reminding them of their awesomeness each and every step of the way. That my friends, that is mothering.

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For more information about the Baton Rouge and other LTYM national shows, visit Listen To Your Mother.

Uncategorized

Maybe He’s Born With It.

I just read an article by Harmony Hobbs on Scary Mommy about self confidence, and I wasn’t at all surprised at the complexity of body confidence in women. There is a ton of shame, we have to be careful not to shame, confidence is good but it can also be tricky, God help you if you are not fat and attractive then you have zero space within the conversation to have any doubt or insecurities. It’s tricky and truthfully it sucks.

As pointed out in the article, men, in general, don’t seem to be having the same conversation. Hmmm…..

I speak to both my son and my daughter, when asked, about their bodies and my body in the same way. The conversation often goes something like this:

“Mommy, why does your _(insert your favorite ridiculously inappropriate question here)?”

My answer to either child is basically the same: “Well, that’s because…and hey, Mommy looks great! I’m 41 years old and my body housed and fed two beautiful babies!”

Both kids see me half dressed regularly, I express no body shame, and I tell them both the same body messages:

  • Our bodies are beautiful things
  • Not all bodies look the same and that’s okay
  • The important thing is that we are healthy and strong
  • Yes, it’s okay to touch your own body
  • Yes, some parts tickle and that’s totally fine, too

Despite my best efforts, a huge disparity exists. Boys and girls don’t see their bodies in the same way.

This weekend after I bathed my son I left him in his room to get dressed. He’s 4, well old enough to dress himself but I can’t leave him to the task for too long. If I don’t follow-up he will ultimately remain naked for longer than humanly necessary. I checked in on him to find that he had dug out a plastic baton from his toy chest. It’s a clear baton, filled with sparkly green streamers and had long, multi-colored streamers dangling from each end. Either he or his sister had caught it from a parade and I should have thrown it out weeks ago. He was slamming the baton down on his bed as if he was chopping wood. Naked chopping, of course.

I gently reminded him, “Come on, Boogie, it’s time to get dressed.”

I could hear more chopping. Then it stopped. Then he yelled for me, “Mommy! Mooom-may! Come see!”

I walked into his room to find him on the floor with the baton across his naked lap. Streamers draped all across his nether region. I’ve never seen him look quite so proud.

Holy shit. My son just decorated his penis.

Yep. That’s exactly what he did and he was very happy about. How, in that moment I wondered, how is it that he is expressing such pelvic pride, yet I have a hard time getting my daughter to utter the word v-a-g-i-n-a? Where does this male genital entitlement come from?

It’s never crossed to my mind to decorate my vagina. I doubt most women I know consider it either. Sure, several years ago there was that weirdo fad where women were bedazzling it with gems and glitter but let’s be honest, no one really was happy about that. There was zero empowerment, it was just plain stupid.

I have realized, raising both a son and daughter, that it’s probably genetic. I think men, in general are born with a sense of body confidence that is embedded in their DNA. I’m sure there is an anthropologist out there who can tell me the historical significance of why men have been decorating their dicks since the dawn of time.

Frankly, I don’t care.

So men may be born with it, but ladies, it doesn’t mean that we can’t claim it. Just because they have it, doesn’t mean that we can’t. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. The truth is, when I tell my children that their mommy looks great, I actually mean it. Look, nothing is perfect, no body is perfect, and I have zero expectation to be perfect but, I wake up every day, healthy and strong. I have two legs that are strong enough to walk to the ends of the earth if my children needed me to. I have two arms that can wrap around my family and show love and strength like nobody’s business. I have a brain that (usually) works and I’m smart enough to know when I should apologize to my children.

So, would it be nice if my breasts looked at 41 like they did when I was 21? Sure. Would it be nice if I didn’t have weird stretch marks on my upper inner thighs? Frankly, it would be nice just have an understanding as to why I have them there in the first place. Whatever! It doesn’t matter because this is the body I have. Nothing is changing. So instead of staring at the problem I claim my confidence.

Claim it ladies! Confidence is yours to claim. Remember, what other people think of you is none of your business, anyway. And look, if you feel like you need a few sparkly streamers to give your confidence a boost, I have a baton you can borrow. Apparently it works wonders.

Happy Mothering!

Melanie

Don’t forget about Listen To Your Mother! The show is filled with a terrific cast of amazing women. Hope to see you there!

 

 

Uncategorized

Listen To Your Other.

A few weeks ago I was flipping through my evening dose of Facebook when I stumbled across an advertisement to audition for the Baton Rouge performance of Listen To Your Mother! The ad was seeking people willing to share their story and to give motherhood a microphone.

I could maybe do that. Maybe. I sort of know a thing or two about being a mother. Maybe.

I looked again at the ad and quickly put my phone away. Then picked it up again.

No. No, no, no. This is not for you. You are not a professional, nor an expert, nor anyone who should be speaking about anything on stage. 

I explored a bit more only to see that I had already missed the audition. Aw shucks!

Wait, there is one more day of auditions! Of course, the last and final date of auditions was the same day as Audrey’s 8th birthday party. Available times were from 9am – 2pm and Audrey’s party was from 10am – 12pm. As if I could even make it there in time! I put the phone away and was suddenly conflicted between the thought of requesting an audition and driving back and forth over my phone as to never see the ad for this audition again. The thought of even requesting an audition scared the life out of me.

I finally put the phone away and went to sleep; waking up still unable to shake the idea of requesting an audition.

What’s the harm in asking? I would only be available after 1pm because of the party so the chances of them even being able to squeeze me in is so slim! I probably won’t even get an audition.

I stood in my kitchen, trembling with fear and excitement and drafted an email to the show requesting an audition. Drafted. I wasn’t totally committed yet to actually sending it. It was a draft! A possibility. A maybe!  I was merely testing the waters, feeling out the possibility of sending this….swoosh! Holy shit. I about died when I realized my shaky finger hit send. There was no going back.

That afternoon I received an acceptance to audition on Saturday afternoon at 1:10pm.

What the hell have i just done? 

I broke the news to my family that I have have totally lost my shit. They were actually very supportive and excited for me. I guess they are nuts, too. I prepped and planned all afternoon getting my piece ready. I spent about two hours locked in my bedroom closet reading out loud, editing, timing, editing, and more reading. By that evening I felt a true sense of peace and realized that I was about to do something pretty cool. I was doing something that scared me and that was a good thing. Deep down, I knew this was something I really needed to do. Win or loose, this, this is a story I can share with my kids. Whether I am accepted to participate in the show really wasn’t my focus. Getting through the audition and not dying was.

With audition out of my mind, I woke up Saturday morning focused only on one thing – Audrey’s 8th birthday party! It was such an exciting morning. She had been asking for a neon-fun roller skating party. When celebrating the life of my children I try, to the greatest extent possible, to oblige their every desire. We had fruit kabobs, yogurt dip, pink donuts, chicken nuggets, chocolate and strawberry milk, and lots, and lots of neon! I shamelessly fully commit to my children’s party theme, too. That’s right, hot pink polka-dot shirt, hot pink scarf, neon pink fish-net finger less gloves, and yes, hot pink leg warmers under my Frye boots. Yes, you heard me – HOT PINK LEG WARMERS. We celebrated Audrey and it couldn’t have been better.

I was fully aware that whatever I wore to her party I would have to wear to the audition. I didn’t have the time to make a wardrobe change and I really didn’t want to edit myself for her party. I found it somewhat fitting considering I was about to talk about motherhood and as far as I’m concerned noting yells motherhood more than leg warmers. I considered taking off the gloves for the audition, but that was it.

I arrived at the audition, surprisingly calm. I sat across the table from three amazingly beautiful women and began to read my piece. As soon as I opened my mouth I instantly knew the content was wrong. I began a series of on-the-spot edits and tried my best to be engaging and not fall apart realizing at the worst possible moment that I chose the wrong piece.

The truth is, we all have experiences like this where we interpret them as a failure or mistake. So I won’t make the show and THAT IS OK. The world will not self destruct just because I tried something and it wasn’t a defined success. I will not die. I can still share this story with my kids and show them that I put myself out there and I’m still whole. I’m still the same person with a new experience behind me. I thanked everyone, left and proceeded with life as I knew it.

On our way home from church that evening I saw I had an email from the show.

Wow, they are sure fast with the rejections!

They all loved my neon pink!

That’s so sweet. They are trying to soften the blow…

They liked me and my stage presence but didn’t think the content was right for the show.

SEE! I TOLD YOU SO!!

However…

Wait, what?

They would like for me to make some changes and resubmit my work for consideration. If interested, I would need to submit the piece by Monday.

Holy shit. Shit. Holy shit.

There is a real problem here. See, the thing is, I’m not really a writer. I mean, yes, as a verb, as an action I write. But I’m not like a writer, writer. I mean this blog, this little dog and pony show I have here is mainly for my own entertainment! Yes, I have followers (and I LOVE all 600+ of you) but this isn’t really real. I am much more comfortable talking and being engaging. Can’t I please talk some more? Engage with someone? Let’s talk about leg warmers! This takes things to an entirely new level of fear. Now I have to let my work, my writing speak for itself.

So, going back to that night when I first saw the ad to audition for the show. The dominate voice was telling me not to do it, not to take the chance, and not to risk it. But there was this other voice, whose whisper certainly turned into a yell, that said the risk is worth it. The other voice said the experience is good. The other voice focused on the journey and not the destination.

I listened to my other. Thankfully because I’m in the show! WAHOO! I am in the tremendous company of smart, beautiful women and together we are going to give motherhood a microphone!

Listen to your other. You never know where it will take you.

Happy Mothering,

Melanie

More info including cast bios and ticket information can be found below:

http://listentoyourmothershow.com/batonrouge/about/bios/

Hope to see you there! xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

Uncategorized

Call Me Maybe?

This is currently my favorite commercial on the air. I see myself, each time, as this exact mother. Well, I don’t see myself living in Boca Raton sitting on bad Golden Girls’ wicker, but I will be a mom that calls. My kids and I laugh together each time we see it but they don’t have an honest clue why I’m laughing…

I will call you. I will call you when it’s not a good time to talk. I will disrupt something very important and you may be aggravated, but I will call you anyway. When you are 27 and feeling all adulty, I will call you to check in. You both will always be my Valentine and I will forever get you something on that day. Even when you think and say it’s unnecessary, I will call you. When you tell me you are too busy, I will remind you that I carried you for 40 long weeks, half of which I peed my own pants daily. I will call you, so you better come get your gift. I will call you.

I will show you that love is a verb.

I will call you to ask the questions you may not want to be asked. I will tell you things you may not want to hear. I may say something that upsets you resulting in unanswered phone calls. No matter, I will still call you to remind you how much I love you. I peed my pants for you, so pick up.

If I do my job well, I will burrow into your subconsciousness and be that flicker of light that whispers ‘This may not be a good idea’ when you are considering leaving your job and moving to Toledo to be with that pig farmer you met on Instagram. If I’ve really done my job well, you will listen to it. When you casually tell me that you plan to drop out of school because life calls for more ‘street smarts than book smarts’ I will bird dog your every waking move until you finally come to your senses and realize you don’t know what the hell you are talking about.

I will call you.

I will call to see how your day was. I will call to see how the interview went. I will call on the first day. I will call you after the disappointment. Each day, for as long as you need me to.  I will call you every day through all 40 weeks. I will call to check on the sleepless nights. Every day, for as long as you need me to. I will call to remind you how smart you are and how hard you have worked. I will remind you that life is not always fair but it is still overwhelmingly good. I will call just to say how much I love you.

I will call you.

Then of course, one day, a long way down the road I will call just to tell you about Pierre the French Bulldog and how he and your dad fight for the best spot on the sofa. I hope you remember with fondness the time, and time, and time that I called you.

Now, about that commercial. I think lovingly about both of my children when I see it, but of course William relates to it a bit more because it it’s a mother and son duo. He delights to tell me how when he gets bigger he, too will be able to fight off bad guys and jump out of a helicopter. He’s only 4 so the humor in the commercial is a bit light on him…as he declares so proudly, “Mommy, when I get bigger I’ll be in a zumma class, too!”

Be. Still. My. Heart.

Happy Mothering!

Melanie

 

 

Uncategorized

Stop It.

My brother and I have often discussed the way our mom sleeps. She mainly sleeps on her back, often with her arms folded gently across her chest. Face up, hair is typically in place. She literally sleeps beautifully. Who sleeps like that? She and Sleeping Beauty, and that’s it. I know exactly how she looks when she sleeps because I have spent so many, many nights going to her bedside to wake her up. Whether I wet the bed as a child or was having one of those “Mom I’m so awake I could run a marathon” nights which, happened often. As I got older, I’d wake her up for varied, relatively unnecessary reasons but no matter. Night, after night, founded reason or not, my mom simply opened her eyes, raised slightly off the bed and asked, “What’s wrong?” No grumble, no fuss. She simply rose to meet my needs.

While thinking about this post, I realized that I don’t have many working memories of my mother ever responding to me in a negative way. Sure, she was highly pissed when I intentionally broke curfew, or when she busted me for drinking in high school. That time when I snuck a boy into my room well after curfew wasn’t pleasant either. Clearly she was stern and parented me when I needed it. She was going to ensure I was a tall, straight but flexible limb no matter what. But in the day-to-day, I don’t ever remember her being exasperated with me. Despite the fact that my brother and I put a rubber band on the kitchen sink sprayer handle which sprayed her in the face when she turned on the sink. More than once. No yelling, no fuss. Laughter, yes, but no fuss. The multiple times I woke her up needlessly during the night. No fuss. Despite the fact that I crashed my father’s Audi into a neighbor’s garage door. She wasn’t happy of course but she didn’t make it worse by making me feel worse. So what’s with me lately?

I have tragically made a realization that my response to my children lately has been one of exasperation. Spilled milk has gotten a response equivalent to a house fire. A stained shirt has received a lecture of epic proportions. I can’t even comprehend my response to the toothpaste cap that fell down a sink drain. I don’t yell, but I’m not exactly kind or loving. Come to me at night and see what happens. Of course, my answer will always be yes, but don’t expect it to be pretty. What the hell is up with this?

This is not the line of parenting that I stem from. I stem from laughter and flexibility. I stem from supportive and nurturing. Not exasperation. The most important component to all of this is that my kids are not exasperating! Hardly the case. The laughter alone that comes from my kids when they are together is infectious. It can fill my house. It should fill my heart, too if I had one lately. They get along, they are kind to each other, and they genuinely love being together. So why the hell am I being so jerky when one of them lines my window sill with chia seeds? As my patient and kind husband reminds me, “If chia seeds are our biggest problem, we are good.”

The other day, Audrey accidentally spilled her milk at the breakfast table. I had just sat down to eat my breakfast. “Seriously?” (with major inflection of exasperation), was my response to my precious 7-year-old daughter. Now, I usually wake up hungry so breakfast is really important to me, but seriously? Was that even anywhere nearly close to an appropriate response? Come on Melanie, the child reached for her napkin and knocked over her cup but you are acting as though she stabbed her bother with a fork! I took some time that day to reflect on my current parenting behavior and I had a major revelation. Hold tight, I’m going to share all of this with you!

I thought about my mom and the way she responded to me in day-to-day life. I know I spilled milk. I know I stained clothes. I know I broke the rules but never did my mom ever make me feel like an inconvenience. I never felt like I burdened her even though, looking back at the countless nights that I woke her up, I did. To this very day, at 41 years old I can call on my mother for anything at any time and she’s there. Not a inkling that I’m bothering her.

I want my kids to feel the same way. I think the biggest parenting regret I could ever have would be to make my kids feel like they were inconveniencing me. Sure, life gets in the way. My personal business of my life and work gets crazy sometimes and it spills over in to my life as a parent and wife. Kids are clumsy, messy, and make mistakes. I happen to have kids that are loving, caring, and filled with joy. I always pray for the guidance to help me illuminate their sparks and never dull them. After all, it’s just sleep. It’s just clothes. It’s just All Bran. My kids are worth more than all of that.

So it came to me. I realized that I do have everything within me to change the way I had been operating lately. I had it all of the time I just needed some time to find the answer. I was exhibiting a behavior I was not happy about. I was making choices to parent in a way that was not healthy for me or my children. I realized exactly what it would take to make this very important change. My realization can be applied to just about any part of life that needs an adjustment. Are you ready? Are you ready for my huge, life-altering realization? Hold on…it’s a big one…

I was unhappy with the way I was responding to my children….

so….I realized….

that I should….

simply…..

STOP DOING IT.

That’s right folks. Stop that shit. Don’t do it anymore! Whatever it is that’s not working. Stop it. The next time one of my children accidentally holds the cereal box upside down and spills rice crispies on the floor, I will stop, take a breath, and show him the importance of the open top. After all, we’re not born knowing that bit of information. Have him help me clean up the mess, being loving and reassuring along the way. Instead of an absurdly exasperated “seriously?” remark, I will respond like a caring mother and not a total a**hole. Stop it.

I was unhappy in the direction I was going but realized I have the power to change that. I have the power to make things positive or not. It is within me to ensure that my kids never feel like they are burdening me. I can stop it. I can do better! Now, I may never sleep as beautifully as my mother but there is always hope! And the good news is that it’s never too late. I can make tomorrow better by stopping that stupid shit today.

Happy Mothering,

Melanie