Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fair's Fair

It’s not fair!

As a parent I’ve heard that phrase countless times.  As a daughter, sibling, friend, and wife I’ve said it just as many times. 

It’s a true statement.  Life isn’t fair.  Nothing is.

Fair is not getting what others get.  Having what others have.  Seeing what others see, having the same benefits that others have, nor even experiencing the same hardships that others experience.

There is no fair.

When my husband and I agreed to hey, why not have some kids, I got pregnant.  It took us a few months of sort of trying and yet not really trying to achieve this.  Just when I started to wonder why am I not pregnant? – I was.  The second time around was even easier.  We knew there were others who desperately wanted children, would sell an arm or a leg for the privilege, and indeed spent their life’s savings on fertility treatments.  We also knew people who had sacrificed just as much time, heartache, and money to adopt a child to raise as their own. Still others gave up trying.  Meanwhile, ours came along as easily as finding a penny in a parking lot. 

It wasn’t fair.

When I stopped working for a salary to support my husband in his career by focusing on managing our home life instead of pursuing my own career, I experienced a period of longing for fairness.  It lasted a long time.  Is it fair that he gets all the glory while advancing ever upward in his line of work while I fritter away my young adult years at home finding piddly little projects with which to fill my time?  Is it fair that he dined out in far-off locales, having adult conversations with other like-minded grownups while I struggled to bed wriggling, nightmare-prone children night after night?

Later I asked another question: Is it fair that I get to live most of my life in the home we built while he spends just a fraction of his waking hours living here?

None of it is fair.

Just as we are unique, so are our experiences. We can spend our lives peering over the fence, yearning for better opportunities that are offered to others.  We can also be smug and insular, cocooning ourselves from the rest of the world to preserve and hide the inequalities that benefit us and that we enjoy every day.

Or we can just live the life that we have been given, share it with others, and accept that life isn’t fair for any of us.

We can accept that someone will always be richer, thinner, smarter, younger, healthier, prettier, more blessed, successful, ambitious, fortunate, confident, have a nicer house, better sense of style, keener memory, sharper discernment, cooler dance moves, tell a funnier joke, write a more relatable blog post, call a more interesting city home, and boast a finely cultivated set of talents.

And we can acknowledge that there will also be someone whose life we can describe by the exact opposite of these things. 

When we think about those opposite things, does fair matter anymore?

Fair is living our lives without labeling others or comparing.  We might not have been given the same chances, but we each have the opportunity to make the best of those chances.  Fair is fair, after all. 

That’s all it ever will be.



*******

This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #4: Write a blog post inspired by the word: fair

Monday, May 18, 2015

I Am. I Pretend. I Understand.

I am restless.
I wonder if I’d be more productive if I had more to do.
I hear my computer humming.  Some day it will stop working and I will lose everything – pictures, drafts, passwords.  I might not care.
I see the dust on the bookshelf.
I want a housekeeper.
I am not getting anything done.

I pretend that I have it all together.
I feel that it’s not really pretending as much as it is a dream I’ve always had.
I touch my hair.  I wish it was curlier.
I worry that I’m shallow.
I cry when things don’t go my way.
I am still such a child.

I understand what most people are like upon first meeting.
I say the wrong thing, invariably.
I dream that I say the right thing every time.
I try not to let it bother me that I don’t.
I hope they don’t hold it against me.
I am in need of grace.

*******

This is an Old School Blogging link-up with Elaine of The Miss Elaine-ous Life 
and Angela of Jumping With My Fingers Crossed.  
Feel free to visit these ladies and link up with your own version of OSB!
On Twitter: @elainea @AngelaYBlood #OSBlog



Thursday, May 14, 2015

Their Love

When they were little, it was easy to tell.

My kids observed me with a focus so intense that it was hard to do much of anything away from their gaze.  Their razor-sharp vision made it difficult to hide.  They saw every frown, noticed every tear, and expressed joy to go with every smile on my face.




Their love was singular.

They grabbed my arms, legs, hair, ears, nose, and eyes.  Little hands went down my shirt and up my skirt in every setting.  They pawed at me as if trying to get inside again.  Their physicality towards me was endless, exhausting.

Their love was almost injurious.

Mommy, what are you doing?  I NEED IN!  their little voices would cry from outside the bathroom door.  Mommy, I had a bad dream.  I need to sleep with you.  Covers would be flung open to make room for little bodies pressed uncomfortably against mine for the rest of the night.  Wails came at the end of every nap when they realized they were all alone, fifty feet away from their mother, the source of their comfort, nurturing, peace, and safety.

Their love was urgent.

Their lives expanded.  They went to school and learned concrete things about the world outside our family.  They read and understood and made friends. They brought home gifts framed in construction paper, lists of things they loved about me.  I love my mom because she makes me soup when I’m sick.  I love my mom because she lets me watch TV with her.  I love mom because she is funny.


"Dear Mom, You are so nice to me.  I'm happy."
"You're as sweet as candy"
"My mom likes to laugh.  She makes me laugh when she says ROAR!!! [Roar!!!!]"

Their love was tangible.

They grew, and so did I.  Their other interests became more important than me, and they learned to love other people and activities.  At the same time, I explored new relationships, interests, jobs, and activities.  They noticed.  No longer was I just their mother.

Their love was admiring.

These days, I know my kids love me because they listen to my stories.  They want to understand.  They speak intelligently.  They ask questions without reservation.  They learn my lessons.  They respect boundaries and expectations.  They’re not perfect.  They don’t try to be.  They fall down and get up again.  They learn from mistakes and trust me to be there to watch them succeed.  They accept my forgiveness when they admit wrongdoing.  They forgive me when I step over the line. 

Their love is certain.

My kids love me because love is a part of who they are.  They have a capacity for love that sometimes I don’t understand.  They are gentle on their own.  They hold us each to standards they have learned, even when I have forgotten them. 

Their love is inspiring.




*******

This post inspired by:


Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #4: I know my kids really love me because…

*******

Monday, May 4, 2015

Don’t You (Underestimate the Power of 1985)

Scene: A family room.  A 40-something woman is curled up at one end of the sofa, flipping through the TV channels.  Her teenage son is lying down at the other end, watching videos on his cell phone, earbuds in.  She chooses a show to watch, and settles in.

Son (peering up from his phone):  What is this movie?

Mom: It’s called The Breakfast Club.

Son: What’s it about?

Mom:  They’re in detention all day on a Saturday.  You’ve never seen it?

Son:  No.  Do they know each other?

Mom:  Not really.  I mean, they’re not friends.  They are in different groups.  See?  The one guy’s a sports guy, and the other guy’s nerdy, and she is popular, and she is not, and he is bad to the bone.

Son (laughing): Whoa, what was that?  Did his voice change?

Mom: Well, yeah.  This is on basic cable.  They cut out the swear words and some of the content to make it appropriate for TV.  The voiceover quality isn’t very good.

Son: (quietly watching)

Mom (observing her son instantly loving this monumental piece of her adolescence): It’s a good movie, right?

Son (distractedly): Yeah.

(Some time later)

Mom:  Isn’t it time for you to go to bed?  You have school tomorrow.  You know we can DVR it.

Son:  I will.  At the next commercial.

Mom:  Okay.

(They continue to watch the movie.  He is being sucked in for the first time, and she’s being sucked in for what may very well be the thousandth time.)

Mom:  He says gutless turd there.  Not worm.

Son:  How do you know?

Mom:  I’ve seen this countless times.  It came out when I was twelve.

Son (peering at his mother, possibly wondering why she held out on him until he was fourteen to mention that this movie exists):  Huh.

Mom (twenty minutes later):  Okay.  You have to go to bed now.  Hit the record button.

Son:  Aw, okay.  I’m watching the rest of this tomorrow, though.

Mom:  Consider it your after-school assignment.

(He turns off the TV, and goes to bed.  The mom straightens up and follows him a few minutes later.  As she does, she pumps her fist in the air, a show of victory to no one in particular.)

END SCENE

via



*******

Thursday, April 23, 2015

10 Must-Haves for Spring (not a fashion post)

Spring is the best season in all the land.  Why, you ask?

photo courtesy of Death To The Stock Photo

Because I said so, that’s why.

There’s something about the end of cold and the beginning of warmth.  It’s the new life that awakens literally overnight – the grass was slumbering just yesterday, a frozen and brown winter blanket.  Then today, it’s tinged with green.  In a week, the grass is ankle-deep.  Buds sprout on tree branches and flowers emerge from the ground, promising color and scents that were missing in the winter.  The world gets more vibrant every day; you can watch it unfold.  I can’t find enough words to describe the beauty and the feeling of awakening, stretching and growing that is spring.

As an aside, I’m quite positive that people find their favorite season to be the one in which their birthday falls.  It’s a little ongoing research project of mine.  Ask anyone their favorite season – quick, without thinking – and it will most likely be the one they were born into.  Mine is spring, my husband’s fall.  Both our birthday seasons.  My kids – both spring chicks – love summer, but they don’t count because they are weirdos, and plus they are kids and everyone knows that kids are dumb.

Sigh.  Just joking.  Calm down.

I do like change.  Any change, really.  I’m open to it, and although I can wear a routine down the nub, I don’t balk at change.  In our house in spring, we change our clothes, our eating habits, even the type of sheets on our bed.  We change our clocks to shift the daylight hours so we can capture one more hour of sunlight.  Spring is a fresh start to a new life, not just new fashion choices.

Even an old life can use a good sprucing up in spring.  Why not?

Here are my top non-fashion must-haves for the season:

1. Less fat.  I mean on my body.  OMG YOU GUYS I ATE SO MUCH OVER THE WINTER.  I am a slave to carbohydrates.  In the form of red wine.  And creamy chowders and breads and cookies.  In spring I don’t feel like I’m dying if I have a salad for lunch, because it’s not freezing outside and my body isn’t screaming WARM ME WITH FOOD.  I always stop eating like a hog in spring, and it shows on my butt waistline.

2. More exposed skin.  I’m not quite shorts-ready in spring, but my ankles are.  And so are my neck and elbows.  In winter I wear knee socks like a Catholic schoolgirl every single day and wear layers upon layers of sweater material from hip to chin.  I know why old ladies wear pantyhose under their slacks and decorative sweatshirts every day.  It’s warmth, people.  Last year the winter was so cold for so long that my skin began to break out from being covered for too long.  Ankles and shoulders need to breathe by springtime.  NEED.

Not me.  But thank you for considering it.
photo courtesy of Death To The Stock Photo

3.  New hair.  I always feel better after a good spring cut.  Now you’re thinking, pssht.  This list is lame.  But a new spring haircut is a must.  As soon as it gets warm outside, I’m in the salon wondering if I should splurge on that $28 can of hairspray.  I fall for it every time like the sucker that I am.

4. Lady medicine.  In the winter I want to die.  At least, I’d not be too sad if I did.  So I rarely go to the regular doc in winter – I take chances with my health that way.  But when it starts getting warmer, I’m in the stirrups like Roy Rogers on Trigger.  Throw in a mammogram and it’s a party.  My birthday’s in the spring, therefore so are my doctor appointments.  I admit – it sort of ruins spring a little.  And maybe this list is a little lame.

5. Pedicures.  Self-inflicted or not, my toes need serious attention in the spring.  I usually get a good one right about now and try to keep up through summer so I can wear sandals without scaring off small children and adults with weak stomachs.

6. Get rid of all the baggage.  Seriously.  Our house collects bags like you wouldn’t believe over the winter.  I think we have 60 bags lying around.  So we get rid of the excess. That and clothing and household items we don’t use anymore.  I always get a rush of spring cleaning right about now and go around the house with a garbage bag and throw stuff in randomly – art right off the walls, knickknacks, half of everything my husband keeps in all of his drawers.  We never miss any of it, ever.

7. A shopping spree.  To replace all the stuff we just got rid of, silly.  Everyone needs at least one new pair of shoes or a new umbrella or something in spring.  Especially me.

8. Schedule for the summer.  Look.  If I didn’t schedule things for the summer starting in the springtime, we would end up at every single existing outside sporting event or suffer campfires every weekend even when it’s 95 degrees.  It’s the man of the house’s way.  It’s much easier to feign disappointment that we can’t go to yet another minor league baseball game because the kids have camp and I was planning on visiting my parents that day.

There you have it – my list of erm… must-haves for spring.  I stopped at eight because most of my other must-haves are fashion-related, and I didn’t want to ruin the integrity of my no-fashion list.  At least two of the things on my list are fashion-related anyway.  Let’s be real here – I was tired of trying to come up with things that I feel like I have to do in springtime.  Honestly, I just really love spring for all of the things that it promises.  Mostly that school will be ending soon and the sun will be shining more and I can go outside and soak it in for a minute or two before the bugs start buzzing me and I’m inside again. 


Not our yard yet, my pretties.  But soon.  Soon!


*******

This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #1: Write a list of your top Spring must-haves.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Old School Blogging – The 12 Questions of My Soul

I added that last bit to the title of Old School Blogging this month because I felt like it needed a little pizzazz.  It wasn’t what Elaine from The Miss Elaine-ous Life or Emmy of EmmyMom, partners this month, had in mind when hosting #OSB but I added it anyway.  I mean, I’m assuming they didn’t think they needed to play up the drama of Old School Blogging.  That’s just me.

Let’s talk about drama some.

I’m not much for drama in real life, choosing t-shirts over feathers any day, and peaceful interactions over crying jags and rage raves in general.  If you have real life drama to shill, peddle it somewhere else, please.  I am not interested and have no capacity for it.  I simply cannot join in playing circus of insanity with you.  Why am I saying all this?

Oh, yes.  To expose my soul.

I do like to write in exaggerated tones to catch your attention because generally I’m really pretty average and I sometimes feel as if my life is one big beige blahfest.

Let’s get cracking, then.  Pizzazz!



1. Are you young at heart or an old soul?  Definitely an old soul.  I’ve been an old lady since I was small, and I think about things very deeply, like I am the key that unlocks the universe.  Nothing surprises me.  If I were an animal I would be one of those huge tortoises that look like they’re dead or made of cement.  I move slowly and tire easily. 

2. Tell me about a movie/book that has changed your life.  When I was a small child I watched all manner of films strange and trippy.  Through my life I saw every movie that dealt with heavy themes.  I filled my brain with off-the-wall foreign and indie films, bizarre animated features, and violence-heavy blockbusters.  Then I watched Requiem for a Dream.  Oh my stars, that movie.  You can Google it if you don’t know it.  I watched it once, a year or two after it came out.  It made me realize that I need to protect my mind from things that aren’t good for it, and if something stays with me for a couple of days (or ten years) after viewing, that I probably shouldn’t have watched it in the first place.  Now I am more intentional about what I watch and even what I read.  If it makes me uneasy, I turn away.  I enjoy entertainment so much more now, and it has taken a suitable role in my life on the edges, where it belongs.



via IMDb
3. Would you like to reconnect with any friends you’ve lost contact with?  There are several people who I clicked with through my life that I wish I still knew well.  There’s nothing like old friends.  A shared history is so comforting, and although you can never go back, you can look back with fondness.  Nostalgia is my go-to feeling these days.

4. Where was your favorite place to go when you were a little kid?  Probably Disney World.  I was a kid, after all.  We went every couple of years, like every other middle-class rural Pennsylvanian family.  I also liked to go to my grandparents’ house.  They lived in the country and we were like children of the corn when we visited there, except for the murdering all the adults part.



5. Do you enjoy being with only one or two friends, or with a large group of people?  Just a few friends.  Many people equals many personalities, and that equals me becoming annoyed very quickly.   When there are a lot of people, everyone’s jousting for attention, and I end up looking for the nearest exit.

6. What’s your “quirkiest” habit?  I straighten things.  It’s a preventative strategy to free up my mind so I can get things done.  Like, I can’t do anything in a room until it’s straightened up.  Is that quirky?  To me it’s normal.  How do people do anything in a messy space?


7. What part of the past year sticks out in your mind?  My Grandma died in January.  When I think about her, I still think she’s at home, heating up fried chicken strips or shopping for Alfred Dunner or going to get her hair done or something.  Then I think about my kids and how much they’ve grown since last year.  And how I’ve reached the age where I forget exactly how old I am.  I need a calculator.



8. What do you use more often: your intuition or logical reasoning?  Intuition, completely.  I have all but abandoned my logical reasoning skills.  If I really focused on developing them I could get them back, but intuition has always served me well.  I am a master at feeling my feelings.

9. Where is your favorite place to go out and eat?  Anywhere.  Did you hear me?  ANYWHERE.  Did you know that at a restaurant, you pick what you want to eat, someone else makes it for you, brings it to you, and cleans up your dishes for you?  All you have to do is pay.  And if you’re really good you don’t even have to do that.  Contact me for tips and tricks on eating out for free.

10. What was the last song that was stuck in your head?  Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars, and also this guy called Mark Ronson, but honestly I’m not sure what he does in this song, if anything.  Do you love this song?  I love this song.  It’s so annoying how much I love it so much.  Bruno Mars, are you kidding?  I love him.  Let’s hear it again, shall we?



11. What is your ethnic heritage?  German.  Both sides.  Big healthy people, German women.  Birth-ready, deep-voiced, hearty, well-muscled, tree-trunk legged women.  Okay, just me. I even like sauerkraut.  I went to Bavaria once and really felt like I had come home to the motherland.

12. Give me the story of your life in six words.  I’m slightly weird but not exhausting.
Six words, man.  It’s not a lot.

*******

Want to join in with Old School Blogging?  It's stupid easy.

Write a post with your own answers to these questions, link up with Elaine or Emmy
and tweet at your convenience using #OSBlog to connect to others! 

I don't do this.  I know I should, but I don't.  

It's because I don't get Twitter.

Who wants to give me a Twitter lesson?  I can't pay you.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Nuts

A few years ago my husband and I were on a health kick, opting to starve, condition, and sculpt our bodies for the sake of weight loss, system reboot, and general bandwagon jumping.

At our healthiest, my husband and I ate only these items for ten days.
During that time, our children completed an exhaustive study
of the best gypsy communities nearby that take walk-ins.

We each lost a sizable percentage of our girth and volume, and basically became movie stars.

Unfortunately for our son, he turned 11 in the middle of our radical lifestyle change, and his birthday dinner consisted of little more than a spoonful of grains, a plate of steamed vegetables, and tepid water.

It was inhumane what we did to him in the name of good health, and he has not forgiven us.  On the bright side, we awarded him a life-long aversion to quinoa.  If you've ever tasted quinoa, you'll know it's a good gift.

Since that time, we have come to our senses and have gone back to a normal life filled with weekend meals of little other than burgers and bottomless baskets of French fries and regret over saying yes to a fourth cocktail.

What I’m trying to say is that my husband and I have become depraved gluttons.   

Life changed aggressively in a short amount of time, and we found it difficult to sustain a healthy lifestyle.  Instead of mornings at the gym, I started to spend hours of my day sitting in front of a computer reading and writing for personal gain, but more for personal entertainment.  He eschewed sensible meals for the consumption of portion sizes better fitting a much larger man, an elephant, or even a brontosaurus.  As a result of these changes, we are both less fit than we were those few years ago.

I have narrowed the reasons for our spiral into poor health down to three: age, laziness, and comfort foods.  The first, age, is cruel, raining on everyone's parade, especially those who still consider themselves young and vital to society's advancement and positive evolution.  The second is a character flaw that most people choose to hide, but only the brave display in the hope that they can someday be saved and magically set free from its clutches.  But let's talk about the third.  As the cook in our household, it used to be that I’d save the seldom-prepared meatloaves and cream soups to the winter months, when our bodies crave more hearty fare that ensures a layer of fat for protection against the harsh elements.

But the pendulum has stopped its swing, and the balance of hearty and light is gone.  We now enjoy lasagnas and pot roasts in the heat of July and the chill of January.  Cold salads no longer grace our summer table, unless they are accompanied by Crock-Pot chicken and noodles, a dish best served from a crash cart with a side of nitroglycerin tablets.

Now, it's almost as if I purposefully create unhealthy meals to create a deliciousness contest that nobody wins. Fish and rice and veggies sound okay, until you see how much butter goes into the preparation of these foods.  More butter is better than less butter, and exponentially better than no butter.

It comes down to general indifference about eating more arugula and less alfredo.  As the main meal maker in our house, I have lost interest in making food seem appetizing in favor of making food that is appetizing.  Plus, with long hours and work travel and kid activities every night, it’s hard to expect everyone to eat grilled chicken and salad when no one’s at home to prepare or eat it, and you’re drive-thru dining again.


Like this evening, for example.  Will it be pizza, burgers or hoagies?  The choices are abundant.  At least I know dinner won’t be ruining anyone’s life tonight.

*******

This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #3: What’s for dinner?