Monday, January 13, 2014

Wasted Space

I attended a dear friend's baby shower a few years back. One of the things she requested of her guests was to write parenting advice down on a 3x5 index card, for those of us who had children. She handed me the card and said, motioning toward my daughter, "Just write down how to do that. Like, I want to have one of her when it's all said and done."

I without hesitation wrote the following:

"I have learned that no matter where or from whom we come, there are some things best left in the previous generation. We have much to learn and much to unlearn from our predecessors. We decide if and where the cycle stops: good, bad, or indifferent. Just know that you are this precious creatures's first experience and example of God. You will be his or her's first personification of His love."

Because that has been my experience. There are some things I was taught, that while I'm sure was grounded in logic and reasoning, did not serve me well as an emotional being. There are things I was taught that do not serve me as a female in today's society. There are things I was taught that do not serve me well spiritually.

I learned very well to avoid, to apologize for having natural desires, to put a man's needs before my own, to read between the lines, and for the love of all that is holy, to NOT talk about the pink, purple polka-dotted huge elephant in the room. To dismiss and be dismissed. To "never let 'em see you sweat" and to deny my God-given right and privilege to feel. Because at the end of the day, who cares to see and hear all of that? To minimize, conceal, and deny.

Society taught me that love is always enough, to look for the knight on the white horse, that as long as I have a partner to complete me, all would be well. The Cinderella syndrome is a ploy. The knight never existed, and I have kissed enough frogs to know that Prince Charming is a fallacy.

Nature versus nurture, that is the question. Was it my environment or society selling me a fantasy?

In writing, or expressing myself in any form for that matter, I shy away from broad, sweeping generalizations. If my experience differs from yours, if you had a childhood that could be the plot for a warm and fuzzy Hallmark movie, please accept my apologies. And please, forward me your contact info, as I have yet to meet a person who comes from such.

The good news is, as a mother of an infant, there is a clean slate. Unpainted canvas. A brand-spanking new mound of fresh, moldable clay before us. That's the bad news, too. It's exciting, exhilarating, and refreshing. It is also frightening. Very frightening, as the responsibility seems overwhelming and the task insurmountable.

This is what I have learned:

I am enough.
My feelings matter, I cannot control them, but I can absolutely control how I react to them.
Your opinion of me is none of my business.
I teach people how to treat me, by what I allow and what I reinforce.
God's love is not dependent on my self-worth, self-acceptance, or any other conditions.
I am worthy.
To say what I mean and mean what I say-there is a lot of grief born out of not doing so.
To stop apologizing. For the love, stop apologizing.

I used to apologize for taking up space. For asking a question. For not getting it right the first time. For feeling. For not knowing. For being in the way. For you not being in a good space. For sucking air.

I hope and pray I did not pass these tendencies on to my children. I have worked diligently to not pass on the defective means by which I used to navigate through life. I have been purposeful in teaching them that they matter, they are enough, and not to apologize for taking up space. My prayer is they heard me.

If you have churen, daughters in particular, do yourself and them a favor and watch this video. It stepped on my toes. I am not moving my foot, just trying to figure out why it hurts.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


It is a beautiful autumn day. I am walking city streets, the warm sunshine tickling my cheeks. Thoughts of her invade my consciousness like bolts of electricity, without warning. Appropriate, as she was very lively. Kinetic.

I try my damnedest to will them away, just like every other time she decides to invade my thoughts. Especially on a day like today, when I am moaning and groaning to myself. Always just to myself. Aloud is not allowed. For then I may have to admit how selfish and ungrateful I am.

I wonder to myself what she would do in this particular life circumstance which I currently and begrudgingly reside. I don't contemplate it long because I know. She would do anything to be in my situation. Anything at all. She would grab this opportunity up and make the absolute best of it, for it beats the alternative. It is hands-down better than where she lies now. Her grave.

She and I share so many similarities. So much of our lives and stories are the same. Accomplishments, defeats, experiences. She has three beautiful babies, same as me. For all intents and purposes, she is me and I her. Except I am here, trudging the road of my existence and she does not and will not have this "opportunity" with which I have been blessed. This scares me. It also shocks me into some awareness that maybe, just maybe, I can do as she would and Just. Effin'. Do. It.

If for no other reason or motivation, and my life is full of them--people who are more precious to me than they will ever know--today I do it for her. Just for her. Because she would happily do it if she were able, and somehow her lack of choice in the matter is now my passion.

It has been said that some people have to die so that others of us may live. That is less than the salve needed to repair a soul in grief, I think. Though today it may be a fitting life lesson. Taught by her, as only she could. She helps me in death just as she did in life.

Today, I will not complain. Not even to myself. It is a luxury she does not have, so it is one I will not allow.

Just for today.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Skink and I were at a local park recently, playing in the breeze and the sunshine. It was so sunshiny as a matter of fact, I had stripped him of his pants and he toddled around in the warm spring air wearing nothing but a onesie.

As we were about to leave I noticed two little girls playing by the park entrance. They were having a blast, laughing and completely carefree. As we approached them, one of the girls came running up to me:

I'm Kesha and I'm four and I give great hugs.

Me: I'll take a hug. ::she wraps her little arms around my legs:: You do give great hugs!

How come your baby don't have no draws (drawers) on?

I was amused and refreshed at the end of our all-too-brief encounter. With her honest introduction and polite yet assertive extroversion, I found her delightful.

I wonder how my own life might be enriched if I tried doing things Kesha's way for even a day. Honest, politely assertive extroversion. A challenge to remove myself from my own world and electronic devices long enough to get to know and try to understand those around me. I realize she has age on her side. She is free of the scars of fear and disappointment. I hope she stays that way.

I am continually amazed how much I take for granted the relationships in my life in which exists the comfort of understanding. You know, that silent empathy and deep knowledge of one another.

This one ingredient I so highly value seems to be my motive for taking liberties that I should not. Knowing someway somehow our friendship can will withstand almost anything. Making the kinship life-proof, it is that intimate connection with one another that endures lapses in time, events, and circumstances. That we-seem-to-pick-up-right-where-we-left-off feeling.

I value these people in my life immensely, and the very quality that sustains these relationships seems to be the paradoxical reason I do not relentlessly express my gratitude for them.

I find that oddly reassuring.

I hope that I am able to increase my understanding of others in my life rather than taking advantage of theirs'. I'll just add it to the ever-growing list of things I need to work on.

You understand, of course.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Ghost of Teenagers Past

I have learned a lot during my journey as a mother. I got a crash-course in parenting when Morgan became a teenager. Oh.My. She was a tricky one, but for the most part was way more saintly than me in my teenage years. She was still abducted by aliens and replaced by a sarcastic, "it's not my fault!" procrastinating clone. They brought her back, eventually. Damn aliens.

There is one thing that sticks out when I reflect back on her early teens: giving her keys to a car changed her personality.

I don't know when this tendency starts in parenting, but I am guilty of it. The tendency to assume one child is going to follow in the other's footsteps exactly. Particularly where there is a sense of freedom involved.

I have written before about my mom's strategy by the time I hit my eye-rollin', talkin'-back, rebellious phase. Her strategy didn't work. At all. So my approach with my two teens has been different. They have my trust until they give me a reason not to trust them. I at least give them the opportunity to meet my reasonable expectations. In general, it has worked out. There are mistakes made, by them and by me, but we all learn from them.

So, Chucker got his license about a month ago, and after a cluster of car issues, he now has some wheels. And I have been assuming the worst of him ever since. Strictly based on my experience with his sister. John is equally as guilty. I cannot tell you how many times he has let "You just got Morganed" fall out of his mouth in the last couple of weeks. That's right, Morgan's legacy is such that she has become a verb in our household. When there is manipulation of people, time, money, "well, see what had happened was", etc. that's when you've been "Morganed".

My mother assumed that I would do everything that my older two siblings tried as teenagers. I get it. We recognize our shortcomings as parents and we learn from them. And that's fine, but my experience with "cookie-cutter" parenting has never been positive. Don't get me wrong, I believe there are some developmental phases which few humans can escape. There are going to be similarities in certain aspects, but what works for one isn't necessarily going to work for another. Just because Morgan was a logistical nightmare doesn't necessarily mean that Chucker's fate has already been written in that area. Matter of fact, his pendulum swings in the opposite direction. He's punctual to a fault. Morgan hasn't seen punctual in almost a decade. Maybe ever. I dunno.

Maybe I'm giving us (parents) a bad rap here. Maybe it's human nature. John had zero experience as a parent when we got married. He automatically assumed the worst of Beba because of his teenage experience. Mind you when he was 16 Reagan was president, gas was 89 cents a gallon, and Teddy Ruxpin was the best-selling toy. Yet somehow Morgan was supposed to be held to the same standards he was charged with living up to.  As I type this, I can see how senseless that sounds. In the moment, though, all of that escapes me as my anxiety level increases exponentially knowing that I am getting "Morganed" by either of my churen.

Becoming aware of this tendency has given me pause to stop and breathe. Both of my teenagers are good kids. They're different as night and day, though. So for now I'm strappin' myself in for this roller coaster ride that is gonna be Chucker with a car. That's inevitable. He's a teenager with a sense of freedom and independence. Whether it's the "Afterburn" or the "Kiddie Coaster" is yet to be determined.

Have I mentioned how much I love roller coasters?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wonders Never Cease

My son, the middle one, that is, got a new toy today. He's been wanting one for months and his wait is now over. He bought a banjo. Because the guitar "just isn't challenging enough for me anymore". Twerp.

This is verbatim a snippet of a phone conversation between me and a friend of mine a couple weeks ago:


What you doing?

Listening to Chuck pick out a James Taylor song on the guitar that he's heard all of about two times.

@#$%!! (expletive). Tell him I said I hate him.

I know that all mothers are amazed by their children's abilities. I get it.

I am truly baffled by mine.

He had that  damn banjo home for all of a couple of hours and had already learned a song. By ear, of course. BY EAR. Looks like the banjo won't be as much of a challenge as he originally thought.

As I am lying on the couch fllipin' through pages on Pinterest, I hear the chords to a very familiar song. I smiled to myself. That is effin' amazing. My next thought was, That is effin' disgusting. 

Try as I might, I will never possess his ear for music. Or my daughter's artistic ability and eye for fashion. Ever. I should be happy for them, right? Proud even. Well screw that. I am proud of them and I do admire them for their abilities. I am also envious.

Okay, okay, I'm outright jealous. There. I said it.

My susta and I have names for people who possess things we want. We call them "whores" (lovingly, of course). Seein' as how that's not really appropriate when referring to my churen, I am open to suggestions.

p.s. It is impossible to play the banjo quietly, turns out. There is no escaping the TWANG of that thing anywhere in the house. Even if I shut him up in a room with all doors closed and retreat to my bedroom with the noise machine on, for instance. Nu-uh. Still.Doesn't.Work.

So, did you get a text from your susta tonight?

'Bout what?

Your diddy?

Um, no. What's up?

He took a Zumba class tonight.


::hysterical laughter::

On the topic of wonders never ceasing, any of you who know my father will automatically see the wonder humor in this. Yeah, you're welcome. I kindly thanked my sister for the material and got off the phone. I could not wait to tell John.

And all of y'all.


Monday, September 24, 2012

The Consumption

Okay, so the "consumption" is a very old-fashioned term for tuberculosis. Given the content of this post, I found it more than appropriate.

I have issues. If you have followed this blog for anytime at all, this is far from a newsflash.

It was suggested to me a long time ago that I seek therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder. I always took it sort of light-heartedly, thinkin' that my "isms" were normal for women, particularly moms. Since I have been a mother for more of my life than I haven't, I can't really remember not being this way.

It was more recently brought to my attention that I really might need to get it checked out. For realz.

For as long as I can remember, I have had two speeds: high and off. There is no middle-ground there. I am either barreling through life like a bull in a china shop or I am asleep. Rest is a four-letter word. I honestly don't think I know how. My husband has brought this up many times over the years. I didn't pay it much attention, because after all, it wasn't his life that got out of control if my chores weren't done, it was mine.

I was talking with a friend whose spouse has OCD. She was in tears expressing her frustration in living with him. By the end of the conversation, I was in tears because I finally saw our home life through John's eyes. It was not pretty.

I have been feeling overwhelmed as of late and have tried to delegate some household chores to Chuck and John. I asked Chuck to pack his lunch for school and John to set the coffee maker for the next morning. They both did as they were asked. When I walked back in the kitchen, there were coffee grounds on the counter, bread crumbs and lettuce strewn all about. Ignore it Wendy. It is okay. Just go on doing what you're doing. So, I sit down at my computer to calmly finish the task at hand. I cannot concentrate because the bread crumbs and coffee grounds on the counter are creating noise in my head. That's the only way I know how to describe it. The noise is so loud I am unable to focus on anything else but THE BREAD CRUMBS AND THE COFFEE GROUNDS ON THE COUNTER! I could not stop myself from getting up out of my chair to clean the kitchen. Again. For at least the tenth time that day.

This is how I live my life on a daily basis. It is exhausting.

In doing research on the subject, I came across a quiz, so I took it and then had those closest to me take it too, just to compare. I am too embarrassed to tell you all my score, let's just say that when my total came up there was stuff highlighted and flashing in red 'bout how I needed "to seek professional help immediately".


So I did. I start behavioral therapy next week and I am scared to death. Yes, I want to learn how to relax and yes, I think it will benefit my family tremendously. But quite honestly, I don't know that I'm ready to be that "well".  My OCD has benefited me in many areas of my life. I have a work ethic like nobody's bidness and when it comes to gettin' some stuff done, and done well, I am the woman. I rock in situations like that. Multi-taskin'? Child please. My OCD is why I can beat the pants off anyone at Tetris. Little puzzle looking pieces that when fit perfectly together disappear? That's an OCD's dream.

All the women in my life have told me they can relate, but they know how to chill out, too. That's what I want. There has to be a gray area in there somewhere and I am hoping to find it.

p.s. If anyone wants to take the quiz and e-mail me their results or comment below, feel free. I'd love to get some input from other women.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Football Food

Anyone who knows me knows I enjoy bein' in the kitchen.

Football is sort of a big deal at my house. Okay, okay, so football is a huge deal at my house. Which gives me the perfect opportunity to combine two of my favorite things: football and food.

In the past twenty-four hours I have made two loaves of pumpkin bread, chicken salad, chili, sausage dip, and these cream cheese pepperoni puff thingys. And chocolate chip cookies. Oh wait, I always have chocolate chip cookies. Football or not.

Fall is my favorite time of the year. Football is my favorite sport. And cooking for me is always in season, especially baking.

My family and I have done nothing but watch football and eat. All.Day.

Football season is indeed the most wonderful time of the year.

Even if my team sucks.

Again. This year.