I turned 30 a few days ago.
Where in the actual F did time go? Seriously? Wasn't it like yesterday that I turned 21?
I'm not one of those people that proclaims the entire month as their birthday month & spends their nights in a drunken stupor. I like quiet, uneventful birthdays spent with family & friends. Plus, my birthday falls during the time of the year when most everybody is over celebrating; Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, & in my family a slew of birthdays that fall between November 30th & February 2nd.
I spent the day with my husband & daughter who took me to Sturgeon Point Marina to collect more rocks to paint. The crash of the waves & the solitude of being at this makeshift beach, which was completely deserted, was not only calming, but it led to some much-needed reflection on the significance of the day. As my daughter napped in the car with her father, I thought about all the ways in which I've grown over the last decade.
My 20's were eventful, as I think most peoples are. There were a lot of highs, & a handful of downs, but all those transitions allowed me to become the person I am today. Marrying my husband was one of the happiest days, but losing our first baby was the lowest of all my lows. My 20's were a decade of wonder, self-doubt, self-exploration & figuring out who I wanted to be & what I wanted to do with my life, but they were also filled with a lot of confusion.
The most impactful event of my 20's was the birth of my daughter, Shelby, which subsequently brought about the most significant changes in who I wanted to be & what I wanted to become. Don't get me wrong, becoming a parent was one of the most stressful & anxiety-ridden times of my life, but becoming Shelby's mother brought more clarity to the things I was still questioning about my life than I would have thought. I became more confident as a person, as a woman, and most importantly as an individual. I know some women feel as though they lose a piece of themselves when they have children, but I feel exactly the opposite which is somewhat ironic because until I met my husband, I wasn't even sure I wanted to have children. Funny how life works.
Thirty is not the new twenty. At least, I hope not. While I enjoyed my 20's, I'm looking forward to living life with this new found confidence. I'm looking forward to not feeling as though I'm part of an enormous rat race of individuals looking to be the most popular, or the most successful. I just want to be comfortable & happy. I just want to be myself regardless of what others might think of that person because I know now not everyone is going to like me & that's perfectly okay.
So, bring on the dirty 30...which hopefully means a cleaner house?
Some think everything they see or read on the internet is true, but the reality is the internet is full of craptastic information. There are no internet police, no one monitoring each & every word being published. Just because you find an article explaining how standing on your head for 20 minutes a day can make you lose 20 pounds a week, doesn't mean it's true. And just to be clear, Wikipedia is NOT a real encyclopedia, the information there is crowd-sourced & not verified.
My point; the internet is an amazing tool, but it's a tool that carries a lot of burdens as you have to be smart when using it. Not only when it comes to researching information, but when you share information or pictures, as well.
Shortly after Shelby was born, I remember debating for a few hours whether or not to post a video that showed Massey, our pitbull, licking her. I just imagined all the comments that would come flooding in over two things; having a Pitbull around my newborn (eye-roll), & letting her lick Shelby. Eventually, that give-a-damn meter I posted about in my last blog, won over & the video was uploaded. Surprisingly, I think because most of my Facebook friends know me well enough to know I don't care what "facts" you have to share with me about Pitbulls, you're not going to sway my opinion, which is based on years of rescue work, not hokey articles, but I really didn't get too much backlash.
Of course, I did get one private message warning me of the almost certain death I was exposing my daughter to by letting Massey gently lick her little puffy cheek. They included a link to a story about a homeless elderly woman who contracted a parasitic infection on her face after being licked by a stray dog in some almost unheard of foreign country. I don't remember the details, mostly because I rolled my eyes when I started reading the hokey article from a site I had never heard of, & just dismissed it as hogwash almost as soon as I started reading it.
Sure, it's possible to get an infection from a dog, but it happens rarely & mostly in individuals who have a weakened immune system. Yes, I am aware babies fall into this category of weakened immunity, but this was not a stray dog. This is our family dog who has a clean bill of health & is closely monitored. Capnocytophaga canimorsus infections also generally only occur after a person has been bitten by a dog, not from a lick.
The point of my rambling; there's a common misconception that if something is shared online the person sharing should be prepared & well equipped to handle the opinions & backlash that may come their way via internet trolls & people who feel their opinion trumps all. Just because your opinions or views may be different doesn't mean you HAVE to share them. If you don't agree, just keep on scrolling, no need to be trolling for an argument.
Also, one article does not constitute concrete information, just saying. Be smart, be mindful, & most importantly be respectful.
When I was in middle school I auditioned for drum major for the marching band. Man did I want that role. I even took it as far as screaming at the top of my lungs for everyone to ‘shut up’ when we were told to quickly & quietly get back into our seats. I'm sure anyone who was in the group could tell you my scream was deafening.
While the volume of my lungs was quite impressive the role of drum major was awarded to a much more musically talented individual. She deserved the role, most definitely, but had you asked me back then I would have told you the whole thing was rigged.
A few months later I proudly got up on stage & belted out the Happy Birthday song in an audition for the middle school's production of Peter Pan. I was sure I would land some kind of role, I had a pretty decent voice. I was right, I did land a role...in the chorus as one of the lost boys. There was nothing wrong with being a lost boy, it was what was said to me by the music teacher before I learned my role that broke me. She mentioned she thought I was a bit chubby & would make a cute lost boy. That's just not something you say to a middle-schooler.
Anyways, I never auditioned for anything again. Those two auditions broke me.
After my freshman year of high school, I walked away from band returning my clarinet to the rental shop & never looking back, but I couldn't give up chorus. I loved singing too much, I still do, but I never auditioned for any of the elite groups. I was too afraid of failing, of receiving another rejection.
As I've gotten older, my give a damn has dropped substantially. I'll try something not caring whether or not I fail, at least I can say I tried. I mean, I'm not going out to any American Idol auditions or sending my painted rocks to the Albright-Knox Art Museum, but I am painting which is something I never saw myself doing, and I sing freely in the car and shower, sometimes so loud my daughter puts her hand over my mouth and tells me to "stop."
I'm sure part of all this is a phase that everyone goes through when they transition from adolescence to adulthood, but I have to say letting my "I do not give a damn" flag fly is really kind of satisfying. It's not to say I don't care at all, I do, my social anxiety definitely kicks in at times, but I'm a lot more willing to put myself out there and try something new or attempt a hobby I otherwise may have avoided. The idea of rejection doesn't petrify me as much as it once did. Does it sting, absolutely, but the next adventure might be a 'yes' & you won't know unless you try
"I don't understand why people get tattoos or piercings. Is it to make themselves appear less approachable because they don't want to talk to people? Especially people with sleeve tattoos, or facial piercings. Like why? Don't you have something better to do with your time & money? Like go to school or get a good job? I don't want to associate with people like that."
"You realize I have a nose piercing and multiple tattoos."
"Oh. I didn't notice."
The truth is appearances are not always what they seem. I have met some pretty incredible, intelligent individuals who are tattoed from head to toe or have multiple facial piercings. I have also met some naive, rude and just downright awful people who claim to be very religious.
I was once berated in Wegmans by another customer. She voiced her displeasure with my tattooed wrists and told me I was too young to have a child and raise her responsibly. She wore a crucifix necklace, and I could see a rosary peeking out at me from her purse. "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" Matthew 7:3
Just sayin, ma'am. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
It's such a cliche to say "don't judge someone based on their appearance." Just like it's cliche to say "don't judge a book by its cover," we all do it. Sight is the very first sense we get to utilize when we meet someone new. It's hard to ignore what our eyes are telling us, but strength comes from setting our perceived notions aside and letting ourselves get to know someone on a deeper level beyond physical appearance.
I have a memorial tattoo on the top of my left foot to remind me of the baby I never got to hold or kiss. Shelby frequently points to my foot and says "baby" while tracing the outline of his body and wings with her finger. My tattoo allows him to live on, not only in my memory but in my daughter's life, even if it's in a very small way.
Tattoos can be beautiful or gruesome, but their significance to the person they adorn is most important. The outward appearance may not be aesthetically pleasing to others, but tattoos generally have a much more meaningful purpose than just body beautification(argumentatively). They tell a story and are inked after some serious thought about design, location and the message the person is trying to convey. Of course, some people get tattoos after a few too many shots of tequila, but even those tattoos have a story, one their recipients are bound to never forget!
While I understand its hard sometimes to not run with first impressions, I think it's important to give everyone a chance. I hope to raise my daughter with that very mentality. If she remains even half as open and accepting as she is now, she will have some very beautiful relationships with people of all walks of life.
I was having a typical mom conversation with one of my mommy friends, you know, how our kids used swear words in the right context. Swear words that we have no idea where they heard let alone learned how to use them correctly. (ʘ_ʘ) But it got me thinking.
Parents brag on Facebook when their toddlers have gone to the doctor and not only received a clean bill of health but excelled on the intellectual growth chart, as well. There's so much pressure on kids to be smart, to exceed what's considered "normal." There's nothing wrong with being proud of your kids, heck, I've been that parent posting on Facebook but when does it stop? When is enough, enough?
From the moment an infant takes their first breath outside of mommies uterus, the rat race begins. Literally, everything they do is analyzed. Are they eating enough, pooping enough, stretching enough, responding to sites and sounds, the list goes on and on. From the moment they leave that warm, cozy place where nothing else matters besides nourishment and growth, we're nagging them to absorb copious amounts of information, to be the smartest, to excel in every area. The slightest deviation from "normal" and we're encouraged to find solutions to close the gap. Speech therapy, physical therapy, socialization groups, tummy time, etc. We're constantly striving for this idealistic and impossible to obtain, idea of perfection. When are kids allowed to just be kids? When should we just step back and let nature take its course, let then grow and develop at their own speed rather than a speed we set for them?
I remember when Shelby was smaller and the doctor pointed out a head-tilt to my husband and I, at one of her wellness visits. Of course, all the what-ifs started running through my head like a heard of scared antelope, but rather than starting physical therapy, which was suggested, we decided to let Shelby sort her head-tilt out on her own. We followed instructions provided by her physician for ways we could help her at home; stretches we could do and activities that would strengthen her neck muscles. Within a few weeks, Shelby's head-tilt was nearly gone.
Every child is not going to fit into the same box. We all learn differently and at different speeds. I learn best by doing, a hands-on kind of absorption. My co-workers are visual learners. The point is that while I am no expert, I do think we need to take a step back and stop trying to make our kids fit into this idealistic box. This applies to school testing, too. (Oh I know, I just opened Pandora's box). For another post, at a later date...
What do you guys think? Am I way off?
I think its fair to say all women have or do struggle with body confidence. We're surrounded by magazines, the boob-tube, & social media outlets that are constantly flooding our mind with the image of society thinks is beautiful, we end up comparing ourselves to other women EVERY SINGLE DAY. It's hard to feel good about ourselves when we can easily and quickly find a source showing us that we don't fit the ideal mold of what others think is beautiful.
Looking back I can’t really put my finger on a specific day that I started to feel self-conscious about my body, but I can tell you the constant pressure to look a certain way started to feel really strong when I was in high school. However, at that point, I was such an introvert that I knew regardless of what I wore or how I looked I would never fit in with the kids my age, but I also didn’t want to stand out. I didn’t want to make myself a target. I flew under the radar; I was invisible and being invisible in high school can be a blessing and a curse.
How we carry ourselves not only impacts how others see us, but how we see ourselves. I envy the girls that can slink into a two-piece bikini and head to the beach without a care in the world. I cram my mom-bod into a one piece and still feel self-conscious about swimming in my own pool...in my backyard...that's surrounded by trees with little vantage points for neighborhood stalkers to get a peek. I know these views of my body will need to change soon, or at least appear to change because my daughter is going to take note of her mother's insecurities and could turn my issues into her own.
My daughter may only be 20-months-old, but she is a sponge when it comes to speech patterns and body language. She used the word “b*tch” in the right context, twice. No, I have no idea where she learned the word, but I was pretty impressed that she used it properly. I know she is watching me and though I may not be conscious of how my insecurities are presented outwardly, I need to learn and correct those behaviors before my daughter learns to be self-conscious of her body in the same way her mommy is self-conscious of hers.
There was a meme I saw floating around Facebook a few weeks ago, something like “do you ever look back at old photos remembering how you thought you were fat, but really weren’t, and now you actually are fat and wish you were fat like the first time you thought you were?” I laughed when I read it, and I still think it’s pretty funny...and accurate. I think we’re so fixated on the things we dislike about our bodies that we fail to notice the things that are actually pretty awesome about it.
I know this is a subject that’s talked about frequently, and maybe there needs to be less talking and more action. The point is you will never make everyone happy so the only person you should worry about pleasing is yourself. If you want to lose ten pounds to make yourself feel better about your appearance, go for it! If you want to gain 10 pounds so you can stop altering your already size zero pants, power to ya sister! If blue hair and a nose piercing bring you happiness, rock on you beautiful unicorn.
Beauty is subjective, and we are all beautiful in our own ways.
When you think about being a mom, you picture all the cute moments you'll have with your child(ren). The cute clothes you'll dress them in, and the cuddle sessions you'll receive on cold winter nights. No one ever dreams of the nightmares that motherhood also entails, like having to help your daughter birth a turd the size of a small orange. ಠ_ಠ
The past few days Shelby hasn't quite been herself. She's been quiet, kind of mopey and asking to watch a lot of the boob-tube which isn't at all like her. There were a few periods yesterday where she didn't want to bend her legs or sit on her bottom. My mom mentioned to me that she thought Shelby might be the big C; constipated.
I dread that word because I had a lot of moon-pie issues when I was younger & I was hoping we would skip that phase with Shelby. Well, luck wasn't on our side because baby beau is, or rather was, most-definitely constipated.
Shortly after we got home from MeMaw's house, Shelby burst into big-ole-crocodile tears in the middle of the living room. She was looking up at me, her wittle face turning fire-engine red while her cheeks shook from the effort of pushing so hard. This went on for a few minutes before I just couldn't watch her struggle anymore. I took her in her bedroom, grabbed a q-tip & some coconut oil, there was going to be an epic battle...
At first, she didn't want to cooperate. She laid like a stiff board on the changing table. Eventually, she let me bend her knees. The alien I saw trying to crawl out such a teeny tiny whole was every bit as ugly as the alien from the movie "The Predator." I won't go into detail, just picture a delivery room in a hospital and you'll have a pretty close representation of what took place; lots of pep-talking & some crying.
I don't know how such big turds could manifest themselves in such a tiny person. I think I may have been more traumatized than Shelby."Tank you, mommy," as she got off the changing table and ran to the living room to find Skye & Marshall as if nothing had happened. I, on the other hand, stood in her bedroom trying to recover from the nightmare that just took place.
Of course, I sent MeMaw a picture of the moon-pie because there was blood in it. MeMaw is an RN, and this mommy needed to hear that it was likely just from pushing & nothing to run to the emergency room with.
Needless to say, she was the recipient of extra snuggles last night, as well as a half a cap-full of Miralax per the Peds and a close friend who, sadly, has experience with a little who constantly fights with Mr. Cornholio (reference from my high-school years, look it up if you need to) I'll be starting her on probiotics ASAP, and monitoring her diet a little bit more closely.
These are the things no one talks about when you get pregnant or talk about the possibility of getting pregnant. Motherhood is glorious, I love every second, but there are definitely a few moments that I would gladly do with out. I'll just add last nights adventure to the list of things I never thought I'd do. ツ
So, I had a bit of a rough weekend with my babe. She seems to turn into a post-nap monster lately. Before naps shes her sweet, happy-go-lucky self. We went to a few local parks, played on the playgrounds and hunted for painted rocks. We watched Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, played with her dollies and visited with MeMaw & Papa. After naps, that was a different story. The whiney, attached to mommy's hip monster was born.
For only being roughly 20 months old, she has pretty good dictation and is easy to understand when she asks for something but if you can't figure out what she's asking for you can tell her to show you and she will. This weekend, if I didn't get it right on the first attempt at translation, she LOST HER FREAKIN MIND. The boogers would flood out, as the crocodile tears covered the floor.
"NO, MOMMY!" enter the floor stomping and flailing of the arms, "NO CHEESE!"
"Do you want white Cheese, but not orange?"
"O-TAY!!!!!!" Sniffle, sniffle.
I felt like a big-ole-mommy-failure.
I felt even worse Saturday night when the husband ended up staying overnight at a friends trailer at Lancaster Speedway. I'm having a flare in pain (happens almost routinely with the change of season) so I had taken a muscle relaxer thinking all was going to go smoothly and I'd be able to get some restful sleep. Boy, was I wrong!
Shelby was up at midnight with zero interest in going back to sleep. Our lab, Milo, started singing me the song of his people, asking to go out shortly after Shelby got up. He had stolen a saran wrapped chocolate chip cookie off the kitchen counter earlier in the day. He has Exocrine Pancreatic insufficiency so he can't digest food if we don't first put a digestive enzyme on it. Needless to say, the cookie monster came to visit him in the middle of the night, he wanted his cookie back.
Between trying to get Shelby to go back to "night-night," and getting up several times to let the dog in and back out, again, sleep wasn't on the agenda. Patience was also not easily found that night.
"YES! Shelby, mommy ty-ty, go back to sleep!!!!
"NO! GO TO SLEEP!"
I didn't yell per say, but it wasn't said sweetly either. My patience had run dry probably around the second time I had to get up to let the dog out to visit with the cookie monster.
I try not to lose my patience with Shelby because I know she will only be this little once and one day, probably sooner than I would like, I will crave the days when all she wanted was her mommy. Hence the guilt train that rolled in on Sunday morning.
I was reminded, via a fellow insta-mommy, that we are allowed to feel frustrated. We all have our good days & our bad days, but the goal is to have far more good days than bad. I love my Shell Bell, and she knows it because I show her every day (and tell her probably too many times a day) but thankfully she won't remember the snippiness I spat at her on Saturday night.
Anyways, mom guilt is definitely a thing so I took her to the playground to make for my lack of patience Saturday night.
I can count on one hand the number of close girlfriends I've had in my twenty-nine years. In fact, in my adult years, I've had only one. Most times the friendship ends in a catastrophic disagreement about something trivial or otherwise petty in the grand scheme of things, but it's prevented me from jumping into other deep friendships with women.
I'm the chick that passes the booth collecting donations for those affected by the most recent hurricane and tosses in a twenty dollar bill even though it's excessive. Then I spend the duration of my visit to the store thinking about what the families are going through, and how measly my twenty-dollars seems. I'll buy two bags of dog food and a gift card to a restaurant for the homeless man with two dogs in Williamsville, and I'll fill your gas tank when you approach me in Southgate Plaza in tears because you don't have the money to get yourself home. The point I'm trying to make is that when I befriend someone, I love with my whole heart. I'll drive six hours by myself to help you if you ask me too. I'll come to your house in the wee hours of the morning to take you to school only to turn around and go home because I'm sick. I'll write a letter to your landlord begging them to allow you to have a cat even though your lease says 'no animals' because I know how much you wanted a furry friend. I am by no means perfect, not even close, but I do the best I can.
I'm not bitter. I'm not. I'm just excessively cautious now-and-days. I don't let many people in, not like I used to. I have friends, but I don't have a "person" (Grays Anatomy reference for those that don't understand), and I'm okay with that.
The point of all this rambling: I have an ex-friend who lives in North Carolina. I haven't talked to her in close to a year, but I couldn't help but wonder how she and her husband were fairing with hurricane Florence. I finally gave in and sent a message on Facebook. She replied letting me know they now live in Connecticut and asked how I was doing. My reply was brief, a picture of Shelby and a few words letting her know we're all doing great and I finally got out of the office that was causing me such misery. She informed me that both she and her husband received promotions and that's why they relocated to Connecticut. All I could think was, "here we go with the pissing contest, again." I ended the conversation right there by saying I was happy they were doing well, that I would always care about her but that as friends we are too toxic for each other. No response, which is aye-okay-with me.
I spent the next day or so thinking about our short conversation, and I got to feeling a bit guilty. Whether or not she was trying to make me feel like I was failing at life, or not, I was the one who interpreted her comment as a means to start an "I'm better than you war," and that's on me. She genuinely could have been trying to start fresh, but I'm not at a point where I think that's a good idea. We've had an on-again, off-again friendship since we graduated high school and I'm over the drama. But looking back on our conversation got me thinking about where I am in my life and where she is in hers. We've both reached a point where our goals are more attainable than they were just a few short years ago. She loves the fast-paced, business world whereas I preferred a career that's more relaxed, laid-back and allows me to spend as much time as possible with my daughter. We crave two very different worlds, and that's perfectly okay.
Our interpretation of others success is based, in part, on what our views of success are. Sure, someone who's a CEO of a fortune 500 company is likely considered successful by the majority of people, but that can't be everyone's definition of success. I for sure would not enjoy that life. I envy the well published, well-read author who lives a quiet life working when they please and riding horses whenever they want.
My short, two-minute conversation with an ex-best friend led me to the "ah-ha" moment that I may not be everyone's version of a success story, but I am MY version of success. Do I still have work to do, absolutely, but I'm okay with where I am right now and I feel good about the decision to reach out and make sure she was okay.
So I got a bit annoyed last night putting my daughter to bed. I had just washed her bedding & was changing the case on her pillow. MeMaw had made her a few pillowcases, Paw Patrol themed, but I noticed that Everest & Skye were on one pillowcase & Marshall, Rubble, Chase, Zuma, & Tracker were on the other.
I called my mom, “Hey how come you just didn’t make one pillowcase with material with all the Paw Patrol characters on it?”
“Because I couldn’t find one with all the characters on it. They’re all Skye & Everest, or the boys.”
I did a quick Google search & sure as shit there wasn’t a single fabric choice that had all the characters EXCEPT one that had the whole team in the center with a solid color for the background.
Why? Why does everything have to be segregated boys & girls? Why can’t we just let our kids be kids, like what they like, & let life sort out the rest?
I think it was a “What Would You Do” episode where they put a little girl in a toy store with her mother. The young girl gravitated towards a toy truck which sent her mother into a frenzy. She began trying to persuade her daughter that trucks were boy toys, that she should want a doll or something pink & frilly.
As a parent, I believe it’s my job to encourage my daughter to be herself, whoever that may be, regardless of others opinions. If she wants to play with toy trucks so be it. If she wants to wear camo, go for it girlie! I would never dream of telling her to avoid playing with certain toys or wearing something for fear of what others may think. They can go fly a kite.
In a society where we are fighting for equality for all regardless of gender, race or ethnic diversity I don't understand why we would teach our youngsters that some toys are only for certain people. Nope, just not going to do it.
Being the true nerd that I am, I started doing a little research on kids toys and how they differ between boys and girls. I found this article by Natasha Daly who’s an editor at National Geographic, it's an interesting read for sure.
A 2015 study found that boys are more likely to play with toys that develop spatial (the ability to comprehend three-dimensional images and shapes) intelligence such as K’nex, puzzles, Lego bricks, etc. which build skills that are later utilized in fields like design & engineering. Girls toys were noted to be geared towards playacting (pretending) rather than building. This could help to explain the under-representation of women in fields such as the sciences and technology.
I mean, you walk into a toy store, and it’s blatantly obvious where the “girl” toys are versus the “boys.” There are labels on Legos to make sure you know which are for which gender. They’re Legos for crying out loud, why can’t they just be for everyone!
If Shelby naturally gravitates towards dolls & pink with frills than fine, but if she wants to play with Tonka trucks & action figures, I'm perfectly content to let her. If she wants to go to bed wearing Cinderall pajamas with a Thomas the Train sheets, girls gonna be a princess dreaming of trains. Just sayin.