Category Archives: MomDay Monday

MomDay Monday – The Face of Failure

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A picture is worth a thousand words, so they say, but this one leaves me with none. It came up on the Facebook memories of a friend yesterday & he posted it because, as he says, “This one never gets old.”

A little back story: This is The Ex & me at a kindergarten open house for The Boy in 2010. I can’t begin to recall what infraction caused this icy show down. Who knows… someone forgot to do something or did something they weren’t supposed to. I don’t remember. But a year after this was taken, we would be well on our way to divorce.

I can see why our friend finds this funny. On a lot of levels, I do, too & in past years (because he posts it Every. Year.) I laughed along with him. But yesterday it hit me a lot differently. Yesterday, I captioned it “The Beginning of the End.”

At first I wanted to lash out at our friend & write something scathing to him about reminding me what a failure I am at relationships. After writing several drafts of my scathing comment (that I’m grateful I never posted) I stepped back. Lashing out would change nothing. I do fail at relationships. And not just the romantic ones.

Because that’s what bothered me about this picture. For some reason this year’s posting made me take a harder look at my part in my failed relationships. All of them.

That little blondish head staring at me in the bottom of the picture is The Boy. He was 6 at the time. And damned if this picture didn’t make me regret every time I’ve failed him & his sister.

And that’s where I had to stop myself. Yes. I have failed my kids on a number of occasions. I have failed my parents & family, my friends, my coworkers, my bosses… There’s probably a few fellow drivers on the roads in my town who qualify, too. But I can’t wallow in it. All I can do is recognize when I’ve failed & take whatever steps I can to correct it.

And that’s huge. No one wants to admit when they’ve failed let alone do the hard work of fixing their mistakes. It’s easier to sweep them under the rug & hope nobody notices. Taking the blinders off & facing that reality sucks – and makes you want to lash out at your friends for posts that are actually pretty funny. I was going to say that in the past, that was difficult, but hell, it STILL is. Always will be.

But it’s worth it.

PS – That 6-year-old blonde kid in the picture? He’s 13 now. He’s taller than me & I just bought him a men’s size 10 pair of sneakers. He made honor roll, is in a band & was one of 20 kids in his school of 500 who was asked to join Art Club. Despite his long hair & propensity for sweatpants, the failure couldn’t have been that bad. 

PPS – At the risk of outing my friend who posts this picture every year, I’m going to direct you to his website. If you want to read an unflinching look at dealing with & overcoming mental illness – the ultimate staring failure in the face & making it blink – read his blog: http://www.theocddiaries.com

 

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MomDay Monday – Wait For It

Today was not a good day.

It was the first day back from school vacation. And the two weeks before that were filled with enough snow days to keep them in school until July (Here’s your red, white & blue outfit, kids. Enjoy your class Fourth of July Party!). Trying to get two teenagers up & out the door on a good day is work enough. Today involved trumpets & a system of weights & pulleys to hoist them out of bed & on their way.

The rest of today’s schedule was:

  • 8:30 am – 5 pm: Woooooooooooooooooork – which was the Monday of all Mondays.
  • 5:30 pm: Get The Boy. Bring him to band practice
  • 6 pm: Get The Girl. Bring her to volunteer program kick off event
  • 6:30 pm: Bring The Boy home
  • 7:15 pm: Bring The Girl home
  • 7:30 pm: Make dinner
  • 8 pm: Ignore laundry
  • 8:05 pm: Open wine
  • 8:06 pm: Ignore world

The Girl’s volunteer kick off event was for a group that run a number of homeless shelters & low-cost housing in our city. She will be working with an after school program for homeless kids. When I went to pick her up from the kick off event, she was nowhere to be found. My heart sank. She has been struggling with anxiety & depression in the past few months & my first thought was that she got overwhelmed by the amount of moms & kids in the room & was hiding somewhere. Instead, I found her crouched on the floor in the back of the room with a little girl about three years old. They were making shapes out of beads & guessing what the other had made. I watched her for a few minutes then looked around the room. It was filled with moms & kids. Moms like me. Kids like mine. Only we were going home to our big house. Our big, not-so-warm-house-but-only-because-I’m-cheap-and-don’t-want-to-turn-up-the-heat house with the cabinets full of food. They… well, they were not. They were going to one of the designated apartments in the building we were in. Or they were going wherever they could. One woman was in her car with her two kids looking for a laundromat. I offered her quarters & we went on our way.

And I was grateful for everything I have. My job. My home. My kids. My crazy life.

And then I came across this on Facebook….

No... Just No.

And I wanted to scream.

Because I didn’t enjoy my life today. Not remotely. Life took me down today. Life showed me moms who just wanted the best for their kids & couldn’t give it to them. Even in those moments I was feeling grateful I was also feeling like life was harsh & it was hurtful & I wanted to punch it in the throat. Because that’s what life does sometimes. “Enjoy my life today?” I don’t think so, Charlie Brown.

And then it’s topped off with “tomorrow may never come?” For f**k’s sake, really? There’s already enough pressure to “enjoy life today.” Now I have to be concerned that “tomorrow may never come,” too? I’m a reasonably healthy human being. Frankly, I kind of take it for granted that tomorrow IS going to come. It’s true, though – there are occasions where the dairy free, gluten free, vegan who runs marathons drops dead. But for the most part, we’re all going to see tomorrow. (And since it’s 11:57 pm, I think I have a pretty good shot.)

As the lyric goes in the musical “Hamilton” – “Life doesn’t discriminate between the sinners & the saints – it take & it takes & it takes. And we keep living anyway. We rise & we fall & we break & we make our mistakes.” (This guy could sing the phone book & I’d listen to it.)

Sometimes we just have to wait for it. Some days, we can’t just “enjoy our life today” on cue because Charlie Brown tells us to. Some days we have to wait for it. Wait for the better days. Wait to enjoy the day. And that’s okay. It’s okay to feel bad sometimes. It passes. Wait for it.

Even when someone has it worse than you. It passes & you do whatever you can to help while you wait for it.

Even when you know you have nothing to bitch about. It passes.

Wait for it. It’s on its way.

MomDay Mother’s Day

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It’s Mother’s Day. And this year, I kind of wanted to skip it. It’s been a combination of things lately. A new position at work has my brain on overload as I try to learn the ins & outs of the Insurance industry. (Honestly, if you’d told me five years ago that I would find insurance fascinating, I would have laughed at you.) My mom, The Joan, just got back from a week in Arizona visiting my sister, KK, which left me kind of jealous. And frankly, with KK out in Arizona, I miss the old Mother’s Days where The Joan, KK & I would find the most outrageous cards & exchange them around my dining room table while the men folk tried to find something else to do. (There was a flood one year & I think the guys were thrilled to have an excuse to hang out in the basement pumping water.)

I appreciate every kind gesture this year, from the cookout, to the flowers & the gift basket of bath stuff. (BATH STUFF! Seriously a favorite. I haven’t found a body scrub I don’t love.) It’s all beautiful & it’s all amazing.

But I think what’s getting to me most this year is that…..

I feel like a fraud.

I made the mistake of scanning Facebook today. I even tried to find some great pictures of me & The Kids & The Joan to post like everyone else. And I started reading everyone’s posts about their families making them dinner & their handpicked bouquets & their Pinterest-inspired wreath made by their children from discarded Legos & toilet paper tubes. I looked at my children, nestled deep into their electronics in their favorite chairs. And I looked around at my house… it’s a beautiful house… but it’s not a house owned by a person who values housekeeping as a skill set. And I felt like a fraud. Like this idea of “Motherhood” is so overwrought that I will never get it right.

15 years ago, I was handed a bundle of baby girl. There were no instructions. There were only well-meaning people telling me what they thought I should do whether they be friends, family or doctors. So I did it. I fed her. I played with her. I cleaned her after she spit up for the 1,000th time that day. And all the while I felt like somehow, some way, I was supposed to make this bundle into a functional human being. Three years later, I was handed a bundle of baby boy. And if you think you know what to do after having one, God gives you a completely different child & everything that worked with the first one doesn’t remotely work with the second.

I guess my point is…

I’ve been making this shit up as I go along.

For 15 years.

And nothing makes you feel like more of a fraud than to realize that you’ve been just making it up as you go along.

But… and there’s always a but… as The Kids get older, things change. Some for the worse. There’s a lot of teenage attitude. Both of mine have perfected the eye-roll. And we’ve learned some “salty” language as The Girl would call it. (“Seriously, mom. I’m in public school now.”)

But a lot of it’s for the better. Their world views are changing & they’re learning to express themselves & their opinions. And I’m trying to respect that & give them the space to be who they are. And I like to think that making it up as I go along gives me the opportunity to give them that space. The Girl recently had to pick her “shop” for the remainder of her high school career. She goes to a technical high school where they graduate with a degree that can either go on to college or can start a career in their chosen trade. “Are you going to tell me what shop I have to pick?” she asked. “What?! No!” I replied… realizing that there was probably a time in her life where I would have tried to do exactly that.

As I’ve always told The Kids, my job as a mom it to teach them how to live on their own. If I do everything for them, where does that leave them when they venture out? (Except for folding fitted sheets. Screw that. They’re on their own to learn that.) And then I panic. Maybe I haven’t taught them enough. Maybe I’ve been too lax. Should they be cooking dinner on their own now? I have no idea & that’s what gives me the sneaking suspicion that I’m doing it all wrong.

And then I saw this thing going around on social media – the Motherhood Dare. Women are nominated to post a picture that makes them happy or proud to be a mom.

Well I have video. And I like to think that these videos prove that making it up as I go is actually working & gives me the sneaking suspicion that I’m getting something right. These videos show two kids whose eye-rolling & salty language are overshadowed by the ability to persevere.

This is The Girl swimming a 100 freestyle race in her District Championships. And while she didn’t make it to the next round, she worked really hard this year on her sport & that makes me proud.

 

And this is The Boy. He started on drums 8 months ago & was asked to join a band as part of his music school. This is him rocking the drum kit to No Doubt’s “Spiderwebs”. He’s had eight weeks to learn 10 songs before their first public performance. And he’s crushing it. And that makes me proud.

 

Maybe… just maybe… this making it up as I go along thing IS actually working.

I’ll keep you posted.

MomDay Monday – So Pissed

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I’m angry.

So angry.

Pissed off, actually.

Every now & then I get in a mood where every wrong that was ever done surfaces. Whether it’s to me, to my kids, by me, or to humanity in general. And it just spirals until I’m in such an angry, pissed off mood that no one is safe.

I usually decompress with jumping jacks until my legs give out. Or by drinking too much wine (as if there is such a thing).Or by just yelling at every living thing that crosses my path (my apologies to the cat & the chinchilla).

Because I don’t want to write about it. Writing about it means you’ll know I’m not perfect (because I’m sure I’ve had you all fooled up til now). And writing about it means I have to admit that I’m not perfect (because sometimes I have myself fooled).

But here goes…

I’m angry…

at your betrayal
at your criticism
that I believed your criticism all these years
that Donald Trump is actually winning this thing
that a boy tried to make my daughter feel less than
that my son doesn’t realize how amazing he is
that sometimes I’m the reason my son doesn’t realize how amazing he is
that I’ve passed on some horrible thinking to my children
about my budget
at the extra 20 pounds my medication put on
that I’m blaming the medication for the extra 20 pounds
that you’re 15 minutes early
that you’re 15 minutes late
that I can’t find a fireplace grate to fit my teeny tiny fireplace
that my fireplace is so teeny tiny
I don’t have your life although I know your struggles & if I had to choose, I would choose my struggles over yours
David Bowie died
it’s snowing… again
that you only get in touch when you want something
that you want me to be something I’m not
that I thought you were something you’re not
I will never succeed at anything on Pinterest
I let myself be swayed
you live so far away
that big boobs get you special treatment
you gave up
I gave up

Now… where’s that wine?

Pissed Off 2

 

MomDay Monday – I’ve Been Called Worse

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“Merry Christmas, Mr. White. And to you Mrs. White.”

A simple greeting from someone we’ve known a long time. But as she said, “Mrs. White” her face dropped & she stammered for a moment, apologizing as she leaned in to give me a hug. As if she had said something wrong. It’s a common reaction. People just don’t know what to call me sometimes. In her defense, we were standing in a Catholic church. The Kids had just served Christmas mass & The Ex & I were waiting for them to change out of their robes. Let’s face it… it’s not exactly the place to go when you want to be around people who are comfortable with your divorce.

I specifically kept my married name after the divorce. I did ask The Ex if it was okay. I mean, it was his name first & I guess I thought that maybe he wouldn’t want me to use it anymore. But it’s my kids’ name. And they were young enough at the time that I didn’t want to deal with schools & clubs & teams trying to sort out different last names.

I suppose it’s not the name so much as the “Mrs.” that throws people off. Whereas a man will always be called “Mr.” regardless of his marital status, a woman gains the title of “Mrs.” only when she’s married. So when she’s no longer married….? What then?

I can’t speak for every divorced woman. I’m sure there are those out there who would keep their married name then get offended at being called “Mrs.” – as if the most important thing for everyone on earth is to know what title they prefer. As for me, I feel like my last name came with the “Mrs.” so if that’s what you want to call me, feel free – especially if you met me when I was actually a Mrs.

Somehow, in my little mind, the title goes with the parenting of these two kids. “Mrs.” equates to “Mom.” I was Mrs. when these two cherubs came into being. It took Mr. & Mrs. to create them. It’s still a perfectly acceptable thing to call me.

If you feel more comfortable with “Ms.” that’s fine too. Want to go with a straight up “Miss”? Do it. (Although “Miss” implies youth & I actually get pissed when I’m asked for an ID. I mean, do a lot of 19-year-olds struggle with crows feet?) Or just use my first name. Or “Hey… The Girl’s Mom”! or “Yo – Boy’s Mom!” Whatever works.

So as she leaned in for the hug, apologizing for calling me “Mrs.” I said, “Lots of people still call me Mrs. White. Please don’t feel bad.”

Because believe me – whatever you call me… I’ve been called worse.

Mr Mrs

MomDay Monday – As I See…

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Just days after Veterans Day, my friend Shannon sent her husband John off into the great unknown that is military deployment. A mom of three, this military life has taken her family around the country to their current life in Virginia. I am beyond grateful that their nationwide tour brought them to my city & into my life. I am beyond sad that their time here ended & they moved on to greater things (MomDay Monday – Goodbye Friends).

We no longer talk every day – a fact made inevitable by life & kids & jobs & homes – although we’re still in touch when we need to be. But through the magic of social media, we still get to see a piece of each other’s lives. Usually it’s the sunny & the shiny things we post. This morning I woke up to this post from Shannon:

“Social media is remarkable:
As I see posts of children and families smiling, playing and enjoying life I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to protect that.
As I see posts of attacks in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to defend that.
As I see posts about gun control and our government I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to protect that.
As I see posts of the American flag waving proudly through the sky I think to myself: I just sent my husband off to defend that.
Here I sit, with my stomache in knots, struggling to catch my breath at times, and my heart in pieces, I am emotional and powerless because I just sent my husband, an active duty service member of the United States of America off into a troubled world of uncertainty and unpredictability and I wonder do others ever sit back and think what THAT feels like? God bless America and the Sailors who possess the strength to walk across that ships brow into the unknown world to defend and protect Americans, or the Soldiers who stand on the enemies soil prepared to fight in hopes of returning home soon. I could not be more proud of my husband and my family for all the things we muscle through, and I hope that others take a moment and reflect on just a few of the sacrifices made from the military and their families so you can enjoy your freedom and democracy: because I just sent my husband off to defend and protect that.”

I’ve written about my nephew, Dan & his time in the Marines (MomDay Monday – God Speed). But that knot in my stomach that I talked about is from an aunt’s perspective – not from someone who lived with him daily. How much bigger must that knot be when it’s the person you most rely on?

As John deployed last night, Shannon posted this picture with the caption “Goodbyes are not beautiful, but true love certainly is. Stay safe lover!!

John & Shannon

I’m sure she’ll forgive me for stealing her picture.

I couldn’t comment. Couldn’t even “like” it. Once again I watch this family go through a deployment. And this time, it’s from too far away to do anything but pray. Especially in light of everything that’s happened in the world in the past week, I hate that my friend has to go through this.

Like Shannon, I could not be more proud of John. And I could not be more proud of Shannon & her children as they endure yet another round of uncertainty. So as we pray for Paris & Beirut & refugees who have no home, please… add a prayer not only for our military, but for those who just sent their husband off to defend & protect.

MomDay Monday – Pretty in Pink

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It’s over.

It’s finally November & October can go away now. Because as we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Believe me. We’re all aware.

Now before I start my rant, I need to preface this by saying that I am absolutely in love with the absolute love & support I get from my family & friends. I love that my coworker thinks of me when she sees a beautiful pink ribbon pin & gives me one. I love that my favorite Girl Scout Troop Leader writes on my Facebook wall “Happy Support Your Boobs Month!” Or when a former coworker texts me “…shit, I just realized I have to buy a pink shirt and go do a walk or something this month because I know you…”

I love that.

What I don’t love is the hype. Because it’s hype focused on the wrong thing.

I think my final straw was this:

Stupid Pink SwiffersWhat the fuck, Swiffer?

Is this doing anyone any good? Are women getting the diagnostic services they need because Swiffer decided to make money from my disease? Are any of these companies that throw a pretty pink ribbon on their product truly donating the proceeds to breast cancer research?

October won’t let me forget. It was the month I was diagnosed. It was the month I had surgery to remove my tumor. It was the month I spent wishing this nightmare would go away. It’s now the month that I start my annual round of follow ups. Scans, mammograms & oncologists (oh my!).

Yet somehow, October always leaves me feeling like I’m not enough of a survivor. Like I’m a fraud. There are women out there who are still fighting this battle – who will be fighting it for life. Metastatic Breast Cancer is rediagnosed in 30% of the women who had my type of cancer. These women are Lifers. They will fight this cancer that has spread from their breasts to their bones & their lungs & their blood until their battle on this earth is over.

This is the breast cancer we don’t hear about. This is the breast cancer that kills 40,000 women every year. And no amount of pink Swiffers will give these women extra days.

So far, I’m in the 70% who haven’t had their cancer return somewhere else. There are times when I downright forget that I ever had cancer. And then that same useless pink Swiffer in the middle of Wal-Mart reminds me.

I went through my battle. I won’t diminish that. I felt the exhaustion of treatments. I went through days where I wanted to pull the covers up over my head & tell the world to fuck off. And I am a survivor. I always have been.

But there are women who won’t survive. What we need is more education. Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t even know that metastatic breast cancer existed. Next October, let’s use the month to educate people about this cancer that will absolutely kill. Let’s put away the pink ribbons & the hanging bras from bridges & find a way to support the women out there who are facing this disease head on. Every day. For the rest of their lives.