Friday, May 17, 2013

Ma'am, Could You Grab My Breast? It's Floating Behind You...


In the 7th grade, I wanted to look just like Phoebe Cates.  Don't worry about the fact that she has olive skin and I'm a light off-white.  Never mind her dark, flowing locks, for I took the road less traveled with an irresponsible, flat-feathered style.  Look away from her flawless physique and rather focus on my rugged, block shape, supported (defying all laws of physics) by my long, twiggy legs.

Those paltry differences aside, we were twins.  TWINS, I tell you.

Like most 7th graders, I was an insecure ball of hormones desperate for people to like me.  Now, when I say "people," I really mean boys.  I was a hot little number with Buster Brown shoes, oily skin, and a double chin.  It was a far stretch to think that anyone the likes of Chris Collins - the cutest boy in school - would ever look my way...

...until one day, he and his crew were walking right toward me.

They'd been making the rounds in school that day, looking at girls and assigning them a number.  Some of the numbers I overheard were 7, 10, 12 & 6.  I had no idea what the numbers signified, but the higher numbers seemed to garner more excitement from the group than the lower numbers did.  As they approached me, I was nervous and excited all at the same time.  What was my number going to be?

I didn't have to wait long - "K," shouted one of the boys.  After a brief pause - as if to compute what "K" meant - the group erupted with laughter.  Hands over mouths, the slapping of knees, one kid fell to the floor in a fit of hysterics, and high fives all around.

Now, I was having a pretty good hair day that day - my Dorothy Hamill was helmet-perfect - so I decided to hold my head high and confidently make my way to Home-Ec.  But I was dying to know what was so funny.  What did "K" mean?

In Home-Ec, an 8th grader took mercy on me and explained that the numbers they were shouting assigned a school grade to my chest size.  For instance, a 10 meant you had boobs the size of a 10th grader, an 8 meant you had the boobs of an 8th grader, and so on.  "Oh, I get it," I said, "so, 'K' means -"

Waitaminute-

K!?  Kindergarten!?  Friends, not even Judy Blume could have prepared me for this...

Who knew that an adorable childhood game like Grade The Rack would spark a 3 year obsession with my non-existent boobage.  How many cars would I have to wash before I could afford a boob job?  How can I make them bigger? When is this elusive puberty going to grace me with unsightly pit hair, body odor and, above all else, breasts? 

I prayed every night for boobs, but God either didn't hear me or was on vacation, because my boobs weren't growing.  It was time to take matters into my own hands.
 
Once the lady at Sears dried her tears and stopped laughing, she was actually quite helpful in finding a AAA padded bra to fit my not-yet blossoming bosom. I couldn't wait to wear my new boobs to school the next day.  That is until Jason Smith questioned my overnight sproutage and poked at my right boob to confirm his suspicions.  Sadly, the bra cup, supported by nothing but air, collapsed against the tremendous pressure of Jason's test poke and remained in the concave position.

Again, I decided to hold my head high - stick out my one, good boob - and proudly make my way down the hall.        

Summers were the worst, though.  At least the winter offered the protection of layers.  Light fabrics that hugged the skin were not forgiving to the underdeveloped.  And the pool?  Well the pool presented challenges of a different kind.

Now that I think about it, I had some mad engineering skills back then.  I just didn't think things through to the end.  I mean, who wouldn't head to the pool after taking the time to strategically place carefully folded (and cut) Kleenex into the triangle lining of their bikini top?  Soft, supple, fool proof, right?  The moment I jumped into the water, the delicate tissue violently ejected from my bikini lining, leaving me shrouded in shredded Kleenex pieces.  I exited the pool looking like an underdeveloped spit ball.   

Humiliating as that was, it didn't stop me from moving forward on my instantaneous puberty project.  That very night I had an ingenious idea - shoulder pads!  I decided shoulder pads would be a better, more structurally sound, choice.  Again, I carefully cut and placed the modified shoulder pads in my bikini top and waited for them to do their magic.

I gotta tell ya, this was working.  They were shapely, they were resilient, they were perky and they were turning heads.  What I hadn't counted on, however, was their tremendous buoyancy.  As my squat body plummeted to the bottom of the pool, those suckers shot to the surface faster than two tiny heat-seeking missiles.  So there I was, flat-chested at the bottom of the pool, just praying for the ability to breathe underwater.  But alas, I had to collect my breasts floating on the surface above.

Boobs...sometimes they just get away from you.

*****************************

Just going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing Phoebe Cates never had to collect her boobs...




Thursday, April 25, 2013

Not Even a Tan Would've Helped

Don't you hate it when you're reading a text or checking Facebook on your phone and just as the back light dims you catch a glimpse of your neck waddle?  That's right, you're looking down, oblivious to the detrimental effect gravity is having on your face and neck, and just when you least expect it, you're staring at an image closely resembling Droopy Dog.



Like this, sans the cute


I'm telling you, I must have supernatural lighting in my bathroom, because most days I feel like I leave the house looking pretty okay.  But then, as I bound to the car with a (fraudulently) youthful spring in my step...I see my reflection in the car window and think, "Who brought the old chick?"

Friends, lately I just haven't been feeling very foxy.

So what do you do when you start to feel all hausfrau-y?  In my experience, you can go in one of two directions. Option I (which happens to be my favorite) is to simply say, "eff it!"  Throw your hands in the air, tell yourself you had a good run and pass the baton to the younger and hotter 30's crowd.  This scorched earth attitude comes with a license to eat carbs in excess and drink to your heart's content.  It also comes with a ponytail holder, a pair of sweat pants and a holey oversized t-shirt.

Option II would be to embrace your age and start a day-forward approach by taking preventative measures and making healthier choices: Staying out of the sun, drinking more water, working out more, wearing SPF, eating better and cutting out alcohol.  This option comes with a looser fitting and more extensive wardrobe, (you know, the stuff in the back of the closet) but does require an additional hour of primp time each morning.  The bonus, however, is that this option comes with a new, sassy attitude and THAT is something I've been missing.

Now I know I said that I preferred the June Shannon Starter Kit option, wherein I get to eat and drink myself into oblivion.  But I actually ended up doing the responsible thing and going with the health-conscious - albeit joy-deprived - route.  I began applying SPF each and every day, I started drinking more water, I incorporated the Insanity program to my workout regimen and I made better food choices.

I know, I know, I know!  So I didn't cut out the alcohol.  Unless you count the time I used scissors to get the beer out of the case box...

After a week, I started to feel better.  And when you feel better, you look at yourself differently.  So there I was - feelin' a little foxier than the week before, and just in time to attend a friend's birthday celebration.

Because I'm the procrastinator's procrastinator, I decided to get my friend's gift on my way to her birthday dinner.  This particular friend loves her some vodka, which makes gift-giving a cinch and it just so happens there was a liquor store on the way to this birthday shindig.  I pulled up to the liquor store, gave myself one last look in the mirror and entered the store feeling confident.

I scarcely got past the lime display before a smokin' hot guy working the Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey sample table caught my attentionNow I don't do whiskey, but I would've for this guy.  He was cute with a capital H.O.T.  Sadly, as I got closer and did some quick figuring in my head, I determined that he could've been my son had I started in my 20's.

What's this?  Hotty McHot-Hot doesn't seem to care that I'm the December to his May?

Mr. McHot-Hot stared at me as I made my way to the vodka aisle - and I mean stared.  Hey, the heart wants what the heart wants, people.  I might be 43, but I clearly still got it goin' on...  After selecting a bottle of vodka and a gift bag with HAPPY BIRTHDAY plastered on every side, I proceeded to the checkout closest to my whiskey-peddling admirer.

Here was our exchange: 

Hotty McHot-Hot: (Motioning to the birthday gift bag with a chuckle) "Hey, it's my birthday tomorrow." 

Oh, Hotty McHot-Hot, you're embarrassing yourself.  So young, so naive...don't be so obvious.

Me - (in my coolest tone)  Well, then I'll have to come up here tomorrow and get you a bottle of vodka, too.

And with that award-winning line I sauntered out of the store with a confidence no amount of water, exercise or SPF could ever give me.  My foxy was back!  I felt good.

As I bound to my car with a youthful spring back in my step, I caught of glimpse of myself in the reflection of my car window and discovered why Hotty McHot-Hot couldn't take his eyes off of me.  But this time I wasn't so focused on the wrinkles.  No, no.  That day, my wrinkles were taking a backseat to the 3 middle shirt buttons that had come undone, proudly displaying portions of my bra, my boobs and my stomach in all their 43-year-old glory.

Those unbottoned buttons did no one any favors that day.

Hell, it's not even like my bra was clean.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

And It Makes Me Proud

In the wake of tragedy, I inevitably hear about those directly affected with the presence of mind – or selflessness - to take their loss and turn it into a positive: A law that prevents “x” from happening again, the creation of an organization or movement to raise awareness for “x,” or simply the idea that being happy and moving on with their lives is what he or she would’ve wanted.  I’m not sure I’d be able to be that person.  I’m fear I’m too selfish.  I can see myself finding a blanket to crawl under and rocking myself into a catatonic state. 
 
Yet, time after time I hear about people who’ve endured unthinkable circumstances, rising above their own grief, and doing something positive with the hand they’ve been dealt.  I’m sure it helps to pour yourself into something other than grief.  I know it’s necessary.  I know it’s cathartic.  I pray I never have to “know.”
    
In the hours following the Boston Marathon bombing I, like most everyone else, was glued to Twitter reading countless tweets under #bostonmarathon, flipping between news stations, checking msn.com, Yahoo.com, CNN – you name it.  Every once in a while, someone would mention how “this could have been so much worse.”  It was never said with malicious intent or meant to be disrespectful – it was simply stated as fact in an effort to make the viewer feel better.  When I’d read or hear a statement with this underlying message, I would cringe and get angry.  I was angry for those who'd lost their 8 year old son, their 29 year old daughter, their leg, their arm, their ability to walk down the street without fear.  This tragic event is as bad as it gets for these people.  To say "this could have been so much worse" seems like a total dismissal to those who were affected.

But I know what they meant.

On Monday, my heart was broken both for the city of Boston and for our country.  Like every parent, I fear this troubled world my son is forced to grow up in.  Between school shootings, bullying, attacks on our freedom – both foreign and domestic – there’s not much recourse short of finding that blanket to crawl under.  But over the last 2 days, the outpouring of kind acts and stories of heroism have flooded the news and social media.  Typically, acts of kindness don’t make headlines.  But I believe we’re so deficient at this point, it’s what we crave.  Humanity has an exceptional gift for restoring balance. 

These acts of benevolence and goodwill are doing exactly what they’re intended to do; they’re making us stronger, more unified.  Each act is a thread of love, inspiration, heart and courage weaving this...blanket of sorts.  Not one to crawl under, but one to envelope and protect us. 
 
One of my favorite “threads” occurred the night following the bombings.  The New York Yankees displayed the Yankees and Red Sox logos flanking the words, “United We Stand” on their video board.  Further, the Yankees played (and most sang along with) the Red Sox mainstay, “Sweet Caroline,” during that game against Arizona.

People, this just doesn't happen.  That's like asking Jillian Michaels to cozy up to a package of pork rinds – and smile about it. And this isn't merely a sports metaphor - this act is symbolic of what is taking place all over our country right now.

While I hate that it takes an act of terror to pull us together and remind us to become the people we should’ve been all along – without losing sight of the pain and grief of those who lost loved ones and were directly affected on that fateful day – I am grateful that our country grows stronger (and kinder) as a result.

This is us - rising above our own grief and doing something positive with the hand we've been dealt. 


    


Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Know Me - And I Wouldn'tve Listened Anyway...

Dear 16 year old me:

Hey youngin’!  What’re you up to?  Let me guess – you’ve got a little Duran Duran blaring on the ghetto blaster and you’re dancing in front of your mirror in white high-top Reeboks, leg warmers and frosted pink lipstick, right?  Yeah, not to alarm you, but you’ll still be doing that in 2013.  You see, I'm writing to you from the future.  I'm you, only 27 years older.  And, no, I'm not living in a retirement community.  (note to self, you might want to start thinking of 43 as young...it'll serve you well in the years to come - maybe) 

Look, I have no idea if this is actually going to get to you or not, but if there’s even the slightest chance that it might, please read what I have to say.  Don’t just read it, read it.  Heed my words of advice.  I really do speak from experience and you know I have your best interest at heart.  After all, I’m you.
  1. Stop wearing frosted blue eye shadow.  No, not even then.  Just stop.
  2. In a few days, you’ll learn to make funnel cakes in Home-Ec.  When you attempt to make them at home that evening, read and then re-read Rule #1 – otherwise you will set the house a’blaze and be sentenced to hear about it at every Thanksgiving and Christmas until you’re at least 43. 
  3. Tell mom no more home perms!  The white-girl-fro is not your friend.
  4. Your parents are not only hilarious and fun, they’re GREAT parents.  Appreciate them more.
  5. For the love of all that’s holy, take a tweezer to those brows.
  6. I know you think you’re fat right now.  That makes me want to punch you.
  7. Everyone in high school is just as insecure as you are.  Just like you, they’re all just trying to find their way.  Be kind; to others and yourself.
  8. You will desperately attempt to become Kelly McGillis after seeing the movie Top Gun.  Save the ink on that deal with the devil - she doesn’t age well.
  9. I can’t tell you how rich we’d be today if you’d just save all the money you're going to spend on Dippity-do.  Seriously, a little goes a long way – tap the brakes, sister.
  10. These really are some of the best years of your life.  Stop trying to grow up quite so fast.
  11. Stop - just stop wasting your time praying for boobs.  They’re never going to come in.  Ever. 
  12. Mom’s job right now is to watch you walk straight into the line of fire while attempting to steer you out of harm’s way.  This is the hardest job in the world as a mother, in that what’s best for you ultimately makes you push away from her.  The love she has for you almost suffocates her.  You will understand this one day.  Go easy on her.
  13. In about two months, you'll be getting ready for your first date with the quarterback of the varsity football team.  You've got a choice to make here - either wear a panty liner or don't wear the yellow pants.  (my God, if you hear nothing else, hear this one!)

Well, that’s it – that’s all I got.  I’m sure you’re wondering why I didn’t tell you to avoid "that guy," give you the answers to Mr. Overeem's English final, or give you the Lottery numbers for some huge jackpot drawing.  Oh, that’s right.  You don’t even know what the Lottery is yet.  Regardless, I wouldn’t give you that kind of information.  There are lessons you need to learn.  I don’t want to alter your path in life for fear that I might end up someplace other than right where I am.

Your (our) life is full of all of the beautiful things that make a life complete: Love, heartache, life, death, success, failure (lots of failure), embarrassment, laughter, frustration, peace, anxiety, calm… We're one of the lucky ones.

*********************** 

Pssst - Invest in “Orange” (think fruit, not color) when you get your first job.

Eh, don’t worry, I wasn't bright enough to pick up on the not-so subtleties of even that hint at the age of 16.  Ya can't blame me for trying.


Wanna join in the Theme Thursday mayhem or read some more Letters to 16 Year Old Selves?  Head on over to Something Clever 2.0 and check it out.  Just click the picture below.

 




 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Think I Could Get An Endorsement Deal?

Kids, nothing good happens after midnight.  In fact, most of the stupidest decisions I’ve made in life happened between 1 and 3 am.  One such decision was the purchase of a little workout program called Insanity from a 2am infomercial.  Today is Day 45 of this ridiculous death sentence.  Forty five days of hearing Shaun T yell at me to “Dig deeper!”  Forty five days of screaming “JEZEBEL” and “HOOKER” at the hard-bodied females performing effortless full body drills on the screen in front of me. (Hey, you do what motivates you, I’ll do what motivates me.)  I’m also fairly certain one girl in the back has a kickin’ case of sour cream and chive breath, but I don’t yell at her. 
 
Last we spoke about Insanity, I was on Day 5.  Ah, Day 5.  I was so innocent and naive back then.  Remember?  The DVD’s were unscratched, Shaun T’s jokes were still funny and I was ready to take on the Insanity world one globe-jump at a time.  But about the time Day 12 rolled around, I was pretty bored with the monotony of the program and finding the time was becoming a challenge.  Mornings are out because I have to walk the dogs.  Nights are busy with dinner, homework, drums and soccer practice, so unless I do it right when I walk the door at night, I run out of time.  And let me tell you, the last thing I want to do when I get home from work is hammer out 40 minutes of scream-inducing calisthenics in my bedroom. 
 
uncomfortable silence...
  
Let alone the fact that I’ve actually GAINED 2 pounds since I started this program.  Do you know how hard it is to lose 2 pounds?  Hell, do you know how hard it is to GAIN 2 pounds when you're doing 40 minutes of high interval training each night?  And some of you - my sweet, sweet friends -  are actually kind enough to offer, “It’s muscle weight.”  God love ya…  No it’s not.

But you know what?  I kept lacing up my shoes.  I kept pressing play.  I “X”’d off each day and I clawed my way through the completion of Month 1!!  I felt like a bad ass, proud, accomplished - chest thumpy, even.  The accomplishment of completing Month 1 renewed my motivation.  Plus, I got to start a rotation of 3 new workout DVD's with Month 2.   I was back, I was stronger than ever, I felt great, I. was. ready.
 
BRING ON MONTH 2!

**innocently presses play on the DVD player**

putMonth2back, PutMonth2Back, PUTMONTH2BACK! 

**************************

How the hell the people at Beach Body thought Month 2 was a logical successor to Month 1 is beyond me.  The differences in the physical exertion between the two is so...how can I put this so that you'll understand?

How about this: 
 
Month 1 is like a stroll through a flowery meadow on a warm spring day with the sun shining warmly upon your face. 
 
Month 2 is like an anaconda wrapped around a chupacabra dipped in gasoline and lit on fire death.  Month 2 is death.

**************************

In case you're wondering, I'm still doing the program - but I'm not at all happy about it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Learning to Say Goodbye

I heard Ryan crying softly through the door.  It broke my heart to hear the sharp staccatoed intakes of breath as he attempted to calm himself.  As a mother I would've done anything to take that hurt away.  But this was a life lesson we couldn't avoid.  He'd never dealt with death before, and he shouldn't have - he was only 6 at the time.  I turned and tiptoed away from the door.  I thought I would give him some time to collect his thoughts and he could come to me with any questions when he was ready.

With red puffy eyes and tear-stained cheeks, he emerged from his room and told me he was ready to get dressed. We retrieved his navy blue button down from the closet and clipped on his yellow tie; I thought the yellow might lighten the mood a little.  It didn't seem to.

With tissues in one hand and his tiny hand in the other, it was time to make our way to Ryan's first funeral.

The venue was small and musty, but that was to be expected.  We all crowded in to pay our final respects and waited for the funeral to begin.  Selfishly, I hoped it would be a short service.  Don't get me wrong, I like a good funeral as much as the next guy, but let's get to the part where we can memorialize with a drink in our hand, shall we?

After a moment or two and some shuffling about, the speaker was ready to offer words of farewell. 

Ryan - "You were the best fish and the best swimmer in the whole wide world and I'm going to miss you.  I love you, Ryan Jr."

**flush**

Ryan Jr.

Ryan Jr. - beloved fish and gilled friend. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you make a donation to the "Help with Creative Pet Names" foundation.

 ******

Wanna join in the Theme Thursday mayhem or read some more posts on funerals?  Head on over to Something Clever 2.0 and check it out.  Just click the link below. 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Learn Your Cheeses - One Less Worry

Why is it that stresses and worries are notorious for making an appearance somewhere between 2 and 3 am?  Most nights I'm a great sleeper. Some nights, though, I'm just not on my A-game and wake for no good reason; my eyes pop open and immediately my heart starts beating with such force it actually moves the sheets with each beat.  When that happens, I know I'm done for because the microscopic review of my life is about to begin...

Up last night (see what I did there?) were the following concerns: Am I spending enough time with my son?  Am I present when it counts?  Is my son's college savings on track?  How am I going to pay for the new roof and windows? Are the dogs getting enough exercise?  Have I researched GMO's enough?  Should I move my underwear drawer to the right side of my dresser or keep it on the left?  Was that goat cheese or Feta on my pizza last night?  Note to self: learn the difference between goat cheese and Feta.  Am I happy with the that new Glade Plug-In scent?

As you can see, I start out with very real concerns - weighty issues that deserve attention and can certainly cause a spike in blood pressure.  But quickly, my thoughts deteriorate into mind-numbing drivel that, in the still of 2 am, seem equally insurmountable and urgent in nature.  What is that?  I promise you I worry enough during my waking hours - there's no need to parlay this worry-fest into a full calendar day.  And anyway, isn't there some law of averages that states if I'm stressed enough for 3 people during my waking hours, then someone else should take the night shift so I can get some reprieve?

Well, can there be!?

All fringe concerns aside, my constant source of worry is always my son.  It's no secret that I'm a single mom.  And even though I have the full support of my ex husband and the best boyfriend this side of "The Notebook," there are times when I lose sight of my "village" and feel fully responsible making or breaking my son's life.  This is one of those times. 

*Gasp alert*  I've worked out of the home full-time since Ryan was 12 weeks old.  (I know, I know - just finish reading, you can call CPS after.)  And because I worked full time, I wasn't the one to discover his first tooth, I wasn't the lucky recipient of every post-nap grin, I didn't get to take him to the park at noon on a Tuesday "just because."  I missed out on so much.  Once he was in school, I missed out on most school parties, I never got to be room mom, I didn't get to go on school field trips, and I never got to sit in the pickup line and watch him bound to the car proudly waving his latest art project.

The amount of guilt I feel about all I missed is immeasurable.  But working wasn't my choice, it was necessary.  Look, I'm not climbing the rungs of some corporate ladder in an attempt to bust my way through some proverbial glass ceiling.  While I'm lucky enough to love my job, its primary purpose is to pay the bills.  I'm home for dinner every night and home every weekend.  It's stress free and it affords me peace of mind.

Because being solely responsible for the roof over our heads, a car to drive, heat in the winter, cool in the Texas summer, putting food on our table and money in our savings, braces and clothes, shoes and summer camp, extracurricular activities, vacations and - well, everything - is terrifying. (the paralyzing variety)

He's pushing 13 and he's pushing limits.  Where do I find the ratio between letting go, but keeping hold of the reins?  What if I don't teach the right lessons?  What if he just stops listening to me?  What if he realizes that I'm winging this whole Mom gig and calls my bluff?  What if, what if, what if?    

So much uncertainty - I just need some absolutes...

Seriously - what IS the difference between goat cheese and feta?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Out of the Mouths of Babes

**Originally posted October, 2012

Because The Voice is getting ready to ramp back up and I can finally get my weekly fix of Adam Levine again, I thought I would re-post in his honor.  Plus, I've got some new readers, so, welcome to the damaged goods that is me.

***********************

My morning routine consists of waking up at 5:00, making my coffee and walking entirely too many dogs (3) on a mile and a half trek, praying we don’t run across an errant squirrel or rabbit.  (There’s not enough Cesar Millan in the world to keep my 3 dogs from taking me out for critter in our path.  Pack Leader, my ass.)  To reward myself for participating in such a Fear Factor-esque stunt each morning, I take refuge on my couch and enjoy the commercial-less shows I DVR’d the night before.  On my lineup this morning - The Voice. 

The show started off like any other; entirely too much build up for 2 minutes of singing - albeit very good singing – and because it’s the “Battle Rounds” each song completion resulted in one of the coaches selecting a winner from the competing duo.
 
So there I sat, in the dark, sipping my coffee and watching these amazingly talented people sing for their lives when all of a sudden, I’m bawling like a baby.  I don’t mean I got teary.  I mean doubled over, head in hands, mouth open, drool descending, audible gasps, ugly crying.  I even did the breath thing your 3 year old does when he’s worked himself into a tantrum frenzy.  You know, the one that when they attempt to speak it comes out like they’re being punched in the stomach with each syllable – why-y a-am I-I cry-y, i-ing (yes, I actually said these words aloud with only me in the room.)  What the hell, drama?  Even my dogs were profoundly confused. 
I mean, sure, I get teary when I witness an amazing voice or hear a song sung better than the original - especially when it comes out of an unsuspecting subject - but this was just a run-of-the-mill duo singing a song, doing what they were born to do.  And that’s when it hit me.  They were BORN to do this.  They have their childhood idols extolling their greatness on national TV, validating their very existence on this earth, confirming everything they had been working for and sacrificing for all their lives.  The coaches utter phrases such as, “You were born to do this,”  “You belong on my team,” and my very favorite line from the smokin’ hot Adam Levine, “You are very, very special.”  

Just once…  But I digress.


So why get all weepy about some strangers on TV receiving validation for something they were born to do?  Because they knew what they were born to do.  They knew what they wanted to be when they grew up.  They had it figured out and had people who saw the potential in them to grow them into accomplished "whatevers" – to help them achieve their dreams.
What was I born to do?  Who is extolling my greatness?  Who is validating me?

On some level I’ve always known that I didn’t have the drive to do any one thing.  And I think that’s because I realized I’m not particularly good at anything.  That’s a harsh reality and one I’ve never really taken the time to say out loud.  Karen, you are not exceptional - you have no discernible talent that will catapult you into fame.  There, I said it, and it sucks.  I guess I will never know what it feels like to be the best at something or hear Adam Levine say to me, “You are very, very special.”

And that’s when my son came out from his bedroom with his bed-head hair, rubbed his sleepy eyes and - without even asking me why I was crying - slowly turned to the TV and said, “Oh, The Voice is on!  Mom, I wish you were famous.  That would be so cool.” 

What a little bastard.




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Well When You Say it Like "That"

So, today is my birthday.  And every year for the past 5 years, my son and I have the same conversation on this day: 


         Ryan - Happy Birthday, Mom!

         Me - Thanks, Buddy.

         Ryan - Will you wear the birthday necklace I made for for you when I was 7?


When my son gave me the necklace 5 years ago, he told me it was to remind me of my 2 favorite things; one of those "things" is him.  The other...




         My boyfriend - You must be very proud.






Tuesday, March 12, 2013

You're Doing it Wrong

Well I'll say this about him: My son?  He's an adapter.  He's been grounded in his room for the past 72 hours and is handling like a champ.  His mood is upbeat, he's conceded to the punishment and agrees it's just, and he's genuinely pleasant to be around.  If I didn't know any better, I'd say he's almost enjoying his punishment.  What kind of sick trick is this?  Every time I go back to check on him, he's lying on his bed contently reading a book.  Did you hear me?  He's reading.  And he's happy about it. I have a good mind to go back there and take away all of his books and force him to watch TV and play X-Box all. day. long.

Waitaminute - 

Damn that boy is smart.  Or I'm stupid.  I'm not sure which is winning out here, but the thought of forcing him to watch TV actually did fly through what's left of my addled brain.  I'm using this punishment as an electronic detox of sorts - so Ryan can finally get his face out of every screen known to man and begin to replace the binary-brained Ryan with one who has actual conversations with real live people.  What I couldn't have possibly prepared for, however, were the books making him smarter than I, as he's already begun the out-witting process.

In a very uncharacteristic move, my son decided - on his own - he needed to shower today.  He then casually asked if he could take his phone into the bathroom so he could listen to music while he showered.  Innocuous request, right?  (stop shaking your heads - I know I should've caught on!)  Upon further investigation, however, that little shyster turned on the shower, sat his butt on the counter and proceeded to watch a good 10 minutes of YouTube before I busted him.

Is it wrong that I was actually shocked by this?  Am I kidding myself that he should've known better?  I always think I'm teaching, but I fear most of what I say falls on deaf ears.

My most notorious example:  

When Ryan was 5 years old, he was all snuggled up in bed.  I went in for our nightly ritual of bedtime prayers.  We have a scripted prayer that we say every night, and the fact that he knew it by heart reassured me I was doing something right.  This particular night, after we wrapped up with “Amen”, I said to him, “Promise me that even when you’re grown and out of the house, you’ll take the time every day to thank God for everything he has blessed you with.”  Ryan kind of pushed me away, and with all the confusion his tiny face could muster, asked, “Who’s God?”

Now, I’m not sure how familiar you are with Christianity, but God - kind of a big player…

Surely Ryan wouldn't have come up with the YouTube in the bathroom thing on his own.  That had to come from a book, or a nefarious friend, right?  The pushing of the boundaries - it's upon us.  And I'm not a fan.  Because more often than not, I find myself stooping to his level and fighting with him like a 12 year old myself.  Rarely do I find myself in the level-headed mom role that offers sound advice and rational punishment.  No, no, I'm the one screaming out warnings that I pray don't come to fruition because they end up punishing me more than they do my son.

Like this punishment, for example.  Why couldn't I have said, "If you don't bring your grade up, you'll lose X-Box for a month"?  That wouldn't have affected our Spring Break plans in the least.  But instead, in a moment of scorched earth fury I threatened, "If you don't bring that grade up to a B, you will lose everything - TV, X-Box, cell phone and computer - plus you'll be sitting in your room doing NOTHING until that grade comes up." 

**please bring the grade up, please bring the grade up, please bring the grade up** 

He didn't bring the grade up.

So here I sit, day two of Spring Break, without an ace in the hole.  No go-to punishment to squelch any future wrong-doing.  He could literally drink a 5th of whiskey, start a 1-900-HOT-BABE hotline and tattoo "Boats 'n Ho's" across his chest, and there's very little I could do about it. (Well, this side of the law, anyway.)

Let's hope he's not smart enough to figure that out...

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm Not a Fan of Follow-Through


Dear Ryan,

I'm sitting here at the kitchen table, heartbroken that you’re grounded over Spring Break.  I’m not just being mean.  It’s called a consequence.  We discussed earlier in the semester that you were dangerously close to receiving a C in Science.  Buddy, if you had worked your hardest, studied tirelessly for tests, brought homework home and made a C in Science, I’d say, “Good for you!”, “ You worked really hard and earned that C!”  But you didn’t.   You chose to come home, go straight to your room, flip on the TV and play Minecraft with your friends.  Any time I asked about homework or if you needed help with homework, you replied, “No.”

Ryan, there is only so much hand holding I can do for you.  You’re 12.  At some point, you have to learn to take responsibility; responsibility for your school work, and responsibility for your actions.  Your only job right now is school.  That’s your only job!   That means, doing your homework, studying for tests and asking for help when you don’t understand something.   This is all part of that elusive “growing up” thing we keep talking about.  You can’t see it, but it’s happening so fast, it’s making my head spin.

As much as I want to suspend your grounding for a few days so we can do all of the fun things I planned for us over Spring Break, I'm not going to.  I’m not going to back down off of the consequence I warned you about due to your choice of actions. (Or in this case, inaction.)

When I saw you were close to receiving a C, I warned you that if you didn’t get your grade up to a B, you would lose everything you hold near and dear to you (read: anything electronic).  No TV, no X-Box, no cell phone, no computer – nothing - until that grade comes up.  Lucky for you, you live in a very forgiving time, academically.  You have the option to go in and make up any low grade for 50% credit.  You also have the option to go in to any class during the designated tutoring time and receive extra help.  Back in my day of going to school, we didn’t have those options.  We might have had a couple of teachers who offered tutoring, but it certainly wasn’t mandatory for them to do so.  And if we got a 42% on a test, that 42% held down our overall average like a boat anchor.  It was almost impossible to recover from such a low grade.

Take advantage of the help that’s offered to you now, while it’s still available!  Because, re-dos and do-overs aren’t always possible in school – and certainly not in life.

Speaking of help, I know it feels like this grounding is the furthest thing from help.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s killing me that you’re sitting in your room listening to the other kids play ball outside.  This is a learning week for the both of us, kiddo.  You're learning that if you would have just put in the 15 or 20 minutes of school work each day, that this week might not be so miserable.  I'm learning that sticking to my parental guns is one of the hardest things to do.  Sometimes "help" comes disguised as a lesson.

But maybe, just maybe, this is just the lesson you need to learn that I'm not always going to be there to rescue you.  You're going to have to put in some hard work on your end, and learn to be your own safety net.  It's not always going to be fun, but I promise you it will be worth it.  And maybe, just maybe you’ll learn that your mom’s word is something that can be trusted - for better or for worse.   

If those two lessons can be learned from this week, then I give us both an A+.

I promise you this discipline and subsequent lesson come from a place of love.  One day, you'll understand what that seemingly impossible sentence means.

One lesson at a time,

Mom

Saturday, March 2, 2013

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know - Liebster Edition

My ghost-writer must be doing a bang-up job because Marissa, over at Confessions of a Failing Domestic Goddess has awarded me a Liebster Award!  And, yes, I’m aware that I was awarded back in January, but the award show had to be postponed until today. You people know I buy my formal wear at Target and they just haven’t had anything appropriate to wear until now. 


Okay, so I’m supposed to post 11 random facts about myself, answer the questions they have posted for me, list my nominees, and create 11 new questions for the bloggers I pass the award onto.  Then I go and let each blogger know about the award by posting on their page.  Man I love wielding this much power! 
 

Random Facts About Damn!

  1. I smell my floss after flossing each tooth. I don’t know why I do this, I’ve tried to stop, but it appears to be some pre-programmed arm movement.  And I’m gonna be honest with you, it doesn’t always smell good. 
  2. I’ve never knowingly farted in front of another person… EVER.  Keep in mind that I’m 42 years old, was married for 12 years and have had a child.  Pret-ty impressive.
  3. I LOVE undercooked pancakes.  Like reeeeaaaallllyyyy undercooked.  I’ve been known to take a pancake and dip it into the batter.
  4. I’ve got the kind of road rage that could propel me to shoot people.  Actually shoot people.
  5. I can’t eat popsicles or watch anyone else eat them because the stick in the middle makes me all bajigity.  And when other people are finishing their popsicles and put the stick in their mouth to lick it clean…seriously, you should see the look on my face as I type this.  I guess it’s the equivalent of others hearing fingernails on the chalkboard – which, by the way, doesn’t bother me at all.
  6. I can recite the quadratic formula.  This was my go-to party trick when I wanted to impress a guy.  Probably explains more than I’d care to look into…
  7. My ex-husband and I are the closest of friends.  This works for us and for our son.
  8. When I was 40 I went on a cruise with a bunch of my friends and a very hot 25 year old hit on me… we continued to see each other for about 3 months after that cruise.  HIGHLY recommend this for any of my single friends…HIGHLY recommend.
  9. I’ve never understood the fascination with Starbucks.  I have been there twice in my life and that’s only because I was in the car with friends who were going there.
  10. I’ve never broken a bone in my body.  Not even a finger or a toe.
  11. My life is exactly like the tv show, “The New Adventures of the Old Christine.”  Not even kidding.
My Questions from Marissa

  1. Can you name three blogs that you read regularly?  I have four blogs that I read every time they post – Confessions of a Failing Domestic Goddess, The Girl Next Door Drinks and Swears, Four Eyed Momster and Bad Word Mama - you should read them, too!
  2. Are you brand-loyal to any product? Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Burt’s Bees lip balm (I think I have 12 in my purse at any given time) 
  3. Do you think of yourself as a leader or a follower?  I don’t know, what do you guys think?  Follower – all. the. way.  Being a leader gives me anxiety.  Unless we’re talking about my household.  I’m General of that bitch.
  4. Given the chance, what would you go back and change in your past?  I would’ve told a certain boyfriend to kiss my ass after our first fight and not wasted 4 years of my life in nowhereville.
  5. If you had one last meal, what would it be?  Sancho Enchilada Style, sweet sauce and chips from Mexican Villa in Springfield, MO; New China’s Crab Rangoon in Lewisville, TX; and the Asahi Tower from Asahi in Flower Mound, TX.  I’d die a very happy girl.
  6. Are you a side sleeper, back sleeper or tummy sleeper?  Tummy, but with my right leg pulled up to my side and a pillow under my right arm. 
  7. What was the reason for the last time you cried?  Let's see...I think it was when the waffles popped out of the toaster.  People, I cry at everything.  But the last thing that truly made me break down was a conversation with my mom.
  8. Favorite Movie – Whoa!  Tough one – I like different movies for different reasons.  But if I had to choose the one I can watch over and over again, it would be The Hangover – I own 2 copies in case one gets broken.
  9. If the summary of your life had a theme song, what would it be?  Who are you When I’m Not Looking by Blake Shelton.  I appear to have it all together on the surface, but when no one’s looking, I’m a hot mess who eats undercooked pancakes. 
  10. What are you wearing right now?  I’m wearing a holey t-shirt and jammie pants with little yellow ducks on them.  And I'm wearing them well.
  11. Favorite TV series?  Ooo….it’s a tie between Homeland, News Desk and Shameless (all Showtime series – all fantastic!)  If you’re looking for network shows, then Parenthood or Southland.

Now for my nominees!  I’m only nominating 5, because 11 is hard work.  You’re cool with this, yes? (click on them, go read - you won't be sorry!)

Happy Mommy of 4 Babies  
Raising Wild Things

Questions for my nominees
  1. When was the last time you were truly embarrassed?  I want the story.
  2. Have you ever had a Brazilian wax?
  3. Let’s say you’re passive aggressive, like I am.  Pretend I’m the person you’d love to tell off, but never would to his/her face.  Let me have it.
  4. Have you ever looked through someone’s phone without them knowing?
  5. Toilet paper – over or under?
  6. What is your guilty pleasure?
  7. Name 3 blogs that you regularly read.
  8. The stupidest thing you did to impress a guy.
  9. If you were a superhero, what would your super power be?
  10. What would your superhero name be?
  11. Manscaping – Preferred?  Or not so much?

Marissa, thank you so much for this award!  And thank you for being a great support!