Holidays, Musing, Rants

Feel The Love

three red heart balloons

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about love. When I was a small child, no older than four or five, I have a clear and vivid memory of standing in line at the pharmacy counter of our local drug store.  I looked to my right expecting to find candy bars and gum but instead, I found small boxes that had silhouetted couples walking hand in hand bearing the slogan “for feeling the love.”  Being the precocious and curious child I was, I asked my mother if we needed those little boxes to feel love. This was one of those rare and wondrous occasions when my smart-mouthed mother had very little response.  As fate would have it, right after I asked my question it was our turn at the cash register.  We moved past the strange love boxes and I was enchanted by other things.  But, I distinctly heard my mother tell the pharmacist, “You really need to put those things behind the counter and away from kids.”

As an adult, the thing that stands out most to me about that memory was not my very valid childlike question or my mother’s dumbfounded response but why we would need anything tangible to feel love.  I think that’s what I was really asking but I had no way to articulate that at the tender age of four or five.  I don’t think I could really wrap my brain around the idea that to feel love I needed to buy something from a store. I mean, didn’t I feel love for my mother and other family members without having to buy anything? Wasn’t it a feeling deep down and not a tangible thing?  As an adult that is easy to answer but as a little kid not so much.

I think that’s one of the reasons why I don’t like or really celebrate Valentine’s Day.  I think it’s silly to say one day out of the year we are going to profess our love.  If you think about it that way it’s a pretty shitty holiday. I mean who only wants to hear I love you or You’re appreciated only once a year?  I sure don’t and a damn $10 box of chocolates once a year is not going to make me like that idea.  A lot of people I know think I’m pretty curmudgeonly for this opinion.  That’s okay.  They are entitled to their opinions.  Personally, I’d much rather have flowers picked from the yard on a random day than a dozen roses delivered to my door on a prescribed day.  I would much rather have a fancy meal or fancy chocolate for no apparent reason than some set aside made-up holiday where everyone is getting something very similar to what I just received.  It doesn’t feel special on Valentines Day. It feels rehearsed and expected. I’d rather have unrehearsed and thoughtful.

This year on Valentines Day I will be carting kids to extracurriculars and eating leftovers. I know I am loved. I don’t need a card or a box with silhouetted couples walking hand and hand to feel that love.

Photo Credit: Free photo lifted off the internet but don’t you like how it’s a picture of balloons and my story was all about condoms?  Sometimes the Universe really smiles on us. 

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Motherhood/Parenting

Too Many Choices

img_2353In August of this year, I will officially have a high schooler. I find this fact very hard to wrap my head around.  Just yesterday I was worried this child would never potty train and would go off to college with a case of diapers under one arm and a case of cheap beer under the other.  Yet, here we are.  He is completely housebroken and in the final months of 8th grade.

As of a couple of weeks ago, I started getting emails about random parent meetings from our school district.  Meetings if you wanted your child to do dual credit college courses. Meetings if you wanted your child to go to the career center.  Tonight it’s a meeting to learn about the registration process, requirements to graduate in our state and district, and information on the various electives, sports, and AP classes. To say that I am overwhelmed is an understatement. When I say this to some friends they look at me like I am crazy.  Apparently, they have either done this before or this was how their high school experience looked.  I do not share their experience.  My grandmother dropped out of school after the 5th grade to help her dirt poor, sharecropping family.  My mother was the first in her family to graduate from high school; not of all of her brothers and sisters did so.  I was the first person in my family to go to college.  Additionally, I went to a very small high school. Our electives were classes like typing, home ec, and Spanish. I had so little choice I wasn’t worried. I just picked whatever fit my schedule and I thought I could pull off a decent grade.  Our State’s requirements to graduate were not that strict. I don’t recall having to have a minimum of two years of foreign language and one year of fine art. Yet now I look at this form my child’s school wants back in a few days and I’m completely baffled.  Electives like Teen Leadership and Intro to Architectural Design sound like college classes, not high school.  The school wants to know what path my kid will be on arts, business, STEM, public service or multidisciplinary.  This kid’s greatest ambition is to beat his current video game.  He doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up.  I’m in a downright breathe into a paper bag panic and this kid doesn’t have two fucks to give.

The questions that keep running through my mind is how did this process get so complicated?  Is there such a thing as too many choices?  Is it because my kid goes to a school of thousands of kids and I went to one with just a few hundred?  Is it because it really was 25 years ago and that’s just how things have progressed?  Is it because of our district?  I don’t have any answers because I have no frame of reference for other districts.  As my oldest child, he is my test dummy and this really is our first rodeo.  Then I start to worry about the classes my kid picks.  What if my kid picks the wrong classes could that delay graduation or hurt his chances of getting into a good post-secondary education opportunity? What are the consequences? This is definitely one of those parenting situations where the drama doesn’t go away it just becomes different. Even though potty training was a nightmare, I think I would gladly take a week of nightly pee the bed sheets over trying to make heads or tails of high school registration.

P.S. – At the end of the day I know I’m probably overreacting. Like all parents, I just want to do the very best I can for my kid. I don’t want to let him down or know I didn’t help put him on the path for success. And, I don’t want him living in our spare room until he’s 30.

P.P.S – Yes, that really is a picture of the actual form for my kid’s high school. Those are just some of the electives offered at his school.

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Important Stuff, Motherhood/Parenting, Rants

Just

As some of you know I got a part time job a few months ago.  It’s fun, has great hours and has got me back into the workforce. I’m not paying any bills with my paycheck. It’s more like a vacation fund. But, as someone who had their first regular job at 13 until 30, it fills a void. I missed that validation of a paycheck and stating a profession when asked by strangers.  Whether we want to or not, we tie some of our identity to our jobs. And, I will admit, I felt somehow less of a person when I said I was a stay at home mom. Even though I knew it was a very valid job I looked at other women with jobs outside the home and felt less; like I was a sell out because I didn’t bring in a paycheck. That feeling ended today.

A few hours ago, while at my job,  I listened to a client talk about something that happened to her last night.  She was at a parent meeting at a local school.  She and her husband were chatting with an acquaintance. This acquaintance asked my client, “What do you do again?” She replied, “I’m a stay at home mom.”  She said the acquaintance looked confused and asked, “How many kids do you still have at home?”  She said her youngest is now in the 7th grade.  Then, some guy sitting behind them, a complete stranger who wasn’t even involved in the conversation, piped in with, “Then you’re not a stay at home mom. You just stay at home.”  At that point, a bell rang and the parent meeting was called to order so my client couldn’t say anything in response.   My client described the waves of emotions that hit her after this douchey perfect stranger’s response. She said she felt shocked like she’d been slapped and then ashamed because this jerk basically invalidated her existence which she has tied to her job of homemaker.

Just hearing her recount this story, I became enraged on her behalf. How dare he? He had no right. Then, I realized isn’t this what I’ve been mentally doing for years and what many stay at home mom’s do in general. How many times have I been asked, ‘what do you do’ and I respond with ‘I’m just a stay at home mom.” The key word here being ‘just’.  I’m not ‘just’ anything and neither is my client.  Somehow our society has gotten it into their collective heads that stay at home mothers or homemakers sit around on their ass eating bonbons and aren’t productive members of society.  It wasn’t so long ago that most women were homemakers and those that worked outside the home were an oddity.  Homemaker was a valid career.  And, despite not earning a paycheck, these women ran half the world. They kept the house clean, the laundry done, the items bought and the food prepared. They played taxi and tutor and basically took care of all the family’s needs while the men brought home the paycheck and little else.  How did we as a collective get to a place where those jobs are less valid than the majority of the other jobs out there?

I wish my client had known that asshole’s profession.  I wish she could have said a sneer, “Oh you’re just a insert generic job title here.”  I would have loved to have seen his face fall when he realized that his job isn’t that significant in the grand scheme of things. I would be willing to bet my minuscule paycheck that he’s not out there saving lives, securing world peace or even shaping young minds.  I hope to hell he’s not shaping young minds. He’s probably got some whatever job that pays a decent wage and could be done any number of people with a few working brain cells.  Deep down he probably hates his job and has his own issues.  I feel sorry for the people that live with him.  Can you imagine what this guy is like if he’s willing to say such a shitty thing to a perfect stranger? Bottom line is that guy is ‘just’ an asshole and my client is so much more than ‘just’.

 

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Musing

Joy

person holding round smiling emoji board photoHave y’all heard of Marie Kondo or the KonMari Method of organizing?  I first heard about it a few years ago from my Mother in Law. She is without a doubt the most practical and pragmatic person I have ever known.  Armed with the knowledge that her years are fewer rather than greater, she began the task of asking people what personal effects they wanted after she died or went to a nursing home. She began labeling the back of paintings and heavy pieces of furniture. And, in an effort to pare down, she started doing this KonMari crap.  Basically, the premise of this KonMari Method is you hold the item and ask yourself, “Does this item bring me joy?”  If the answer is yes, you keep the item, use it or give it a place inside your home and go about your business. If the answer is no, you’re supposed to get rid of it, give it to someone else, donate it or trash it but whatever you do don’t keep it if it doesn’t bring you joy.

Apparently, my Mother in Law isn’t the only person doing this and the KonMari Method is a real trend.  According to a Today show segment, donations at thrift stores are on the rise.  I am not a things person.  I don’t have many do-dads or accessories in my home.  I have a Christmas ornament collection.  I pride myself in the knowledge that my level of stuff is nothing compared to some people I know.  Yet, I still have plenty of crapola laying around that I don’t need. However, when I first head about all of these overflowing thrift stores all I could think of was, ‘I bet I could find some awesome crap at Goodwill!” Then I stopped myself because really I have enough stuff.  But, this whole purge thing had me thinking about my own house. So, I just started walking room to room pondering the whole ‘does it give me joy’ thing.  And, I have to say, most of it doesn’t give me joy and if we are all being honest, does any of it give us any joy?

Think about it, walk into any room right now and look at one of your most useful and mundane objects.  I for one am staring at this computer screen.  Does this computer give me joy? Hell no, most of the time I’m cursing it but it is a necessary tool of life. Does that couch over there give me joy? Well, sort of, it’s new and pretty and my butt no longer hits the floor when I sit on it like the old one.  But, I don’t get up in the morning, sigh and think, ‘My goodness that sofa gives me joy.” When I really think about it very few things give me joy.  Certain places and my relationship with certain people give me joy. My dog gives me joy.  Seeing a beautiful sunrise gives me joy. But, there are very few actual things in my life that when I look at it or hold it makes my heart happy.  And, maybe that’s the whole idea.  If we pare down to what truly gives us joy, we won’t have much stuff. I don’t know about you but if I truly did this does it give me joy crap, I’d be living at Disney World with my own mattress, a few boxes of books and Christmas decor, my favorite coffee cups and an endless supply of River Road Coffee. I really don’t think that’s do-able. So, I’ll keep all my useless treasures and I’ll get rid of it when I am good and ready or I won’t and then my kids will have to ask themselves, “Does this give me joy?”

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Musing, Random, Rants

Up to the Challenge

IMG_2311A few years ago it was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, then Tide pods and just last week I heard about a Bird Box challenge.  Now we have the 10 year/how bad have I aged challenge. Not to steal Heather Land’s schtick, but I ain’t doing it.  No, I’m not some conspiracy theorist worried about my facial recognition data harvesting. I just don’t have the time and the wear with all to go hunt down the oldest picture I have on Facebook. Hell, I don’t even know how long I’ve been on Facebook.  I know it was around the time my kids were born.  If I’m being honest the only reason I still get on Facebook is that just about everyone I know is on there and it’s one of the best ways to keep in touch with all the friends and family we have in other places across the country.

I mean, does anyone really care how many crows feet and grey hairs we’ve accumulated? I sure as hell don’t. And, let’s face it, every single one of us has that one friend that looks better than they did 10 years ago and it makes even the least vain person jealous as hell. You start questioning everything. Did that person make a deal with the devil or do they just have fabulous genes or maybe they had a little work done by a REALLY good doctor.  Everyone bitches about how Facebook paints an overly competitive picture and pits us against one another in an effort to show our less than authentic social media selves.  Well, this stupid challenge is the height of overly competitive less than authentic selves.

I’ll be honest, I’m not one for any of these challenges.  I’ve never participated in any of them. I’m not really a joiner.  I loathe the bandwagon and I’m a later adopter to pretty much everything. I’m one of these weirdos that finds virtue in doing exactly the opposite to what everyone else is doing. So to that end, I give you the above picture. It’s WAY over 10 years old.  In fact, it’s more like 40 years ago. I’m not really sure how old I am – two, maybe three, but I am large and in charge with my sunglasses. Suck it Edna Mode. I wore it first.

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Irony, Musing

January Sucks

appointment black calendar countdownSo, this article about why next Monday, January 21st will be the worst, popped up in my news feed today.  Hand to heaven, I rolled my eyes and screamed at my screen, “I talked about this last year people!” The proof is here.  I’m over here like ‘where were you last year and why did you pay this clown to write this article when I practically said the same thing for free. You coulda paid me instead, idiots.

But seriously, isn’t January the worst? Ugh.  And, is it just me or does this whole government shut down and recent mega snowstorm that did not come near me only make it all worse? Forget free government provided birth control pills can we all just get some mood enhancement pills and maybe something that will help us shed that holiday 15?  Am I truly asking for too much?  I don’t think so. Remember back in the 80s, Equal sent those little gumballs made out of Equal to every address in America?  The feds could do the same thing. Just send a few happy pills to every address and boom maybe people wouldn’t be a bunch of miserable cows.

P.S.  If you’re thinking ‘damn, she phoned this post in’ you aren’t wrong.  January sucks and I’m trying really hard but damn if it doesn’t still suck. This opportunity sort of presented itself and I latched on.

 

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Books, Favorites, Important Stuff, Random

Podcast Rec

believed

Y’all know I occasional do favorite things and recommendations – usually for books and movies.  Today, I’m doing something new. I’m recommending a podcast. I love podcasts. They are great for long commutes and when slugging away on the treadmill or trails.  I wish I could take credit and say I discovered this one on my own.  It was actually rec’ed to me by a dear friend. The podcast is called Believed. You can find it at  michiganradio.org/believed and on the NPR One app, Pocket Casts, Apple Podcasts, and wherever podcasts are available.

I feel I should give you a warning. This is not a feel-good podcast. It’s about the Olympic Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar and the sexual assault cases brought against him nearly a year ago.  I know many of you will shake your head ‘no’ at this discovery and say “no way” but please hear me out. I know many of us are weary about the whole sexual assault ‘Me Too’ movement.  I don’t think this podcast is riding the movements’ coattails. as this case exploded before that movement. For me, the take away for this podcast is to remember sexual assault/harassment can happen anywhere and to anyone and in situations where trust is just a given.

This podcast was a real wake up for me. Even with the “Me Too” movement, we as women tend to forget or bury things even though we’ve all endured something. It might have been something as benign as a creepy teacher that liked to leer at girls with large chests (Yep, that was my school.). Or, it could be something more serious like a hansy boss or a date that ended in rape. We need podcasts like this one to remind us these predatory people will stop at nothing to get what they want.  There are many clowns out there, like Larry Nassar, that have been pulling crap for years and never get caught. They have perfected the cover-up.  They are super slick and hard to catch.  As a parent to a young girl, it was a reminder that even the most trusted adults can be wolves sheep’s clothing. Just because someone holds a position of trust does not mean they are trustworthy.  I urge any parent to listen to this, especially parents of young girls who have close relationships with other adults.

 

 

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