Wednesday, May 30, 2012

These Lizards are Assholes and Other Random Thoughts

Okay, so a few weeks ago I was on the phone with a girlfriend explaining how my garage door kept opening itself after I had closed it.  I assumed, erroneously, that it was a lizard or something triggering the sensor.  There are crazy huge lizards all over this place (Texas) so I said to her, "these lizards are assholes."  Because clearly if they're opening my garage, they want my belongings stolen by neighborhood teens.  That's an asshole move if I've ever seen one.  She told me to make it the title of my next post.  Well, Michelle, here you go.

Here are a few random/ranty thoughts I've had lately that I wanted to share.

1.  The ability to deposit waste into a toilet of any size is not a mark of intelligence or lack thereof.

I don't know how many times I've heard parents brag on how early their kid was potty trained.  Just shut up.  They weren't trained, you were.  Plus, let me just share a bit of wisdom with you:  every asshole I know is toilet trained.  Seriously, every single one.  All the jerks that I went to school with, the pretentious waiter at the too expensive restaurant, nearly every politician, and every braggy mom...all use the potty and probably without a sticker chart.  So stop.  Please. 

2. Bow size is apparently now a mark of wealth?

Please tell me this isn't actually true.  I've started making a few bows for Claire because I refuse to pay $10 for something I can make for $3 in about two minutes.  That being said, I understand how they end up so big.  They get out of hand really quickly.  I've had to reign myself in a few times.  I don't understand parents who post pictures of their children's bow collections with a caption that says something about their kid being spoiled, etc.  Unless the kid purchased them on their own, you, parent, are to blame for their spoiledness.  My only assumption is that what you really mean is, "look how much money I've spent on this kid.  It's impressive, right?  There's more where that came from.  Just click around in my albums, I'm sure I've posted pictures of my house and cars, too." 

3.  Are you planning to have kids is the most inappropriate, prying question in the world.

I'm guilty, I have asked this question at least twice in the last two weeks.  Here's what you're really asking, "hey, so are you planning to stop taking your birth control any time soon?  Because it's my business.  I mean are you taking birth control now?  How often do you have sex with your husband?  When?  Because I'd like to know if you're ovulating."  Michelle and I discussed this recently, too.  There are a series of questions that people seem to ask when you hit certain stages in life.  First, it's the when are you getting married?  Then it's when are you having kids?  Then it's when are you having more kids?  I'm guessing it all ends with when are planning on dying?  How awkward are we as a society that we discuss these things with strangers in grocery stores, etc?  But, sadly, I can't help it.  I want to know the answers...

4.  When did everyone start running marathons?

I feel like this is a recent trend.  I, myself, have started running.  Which is crazy because there was a point when I would've only run if chased and even then I might have tried fighting back before fleeing.  I'm not built for speed, people.  Almost every person I know is training for some 5K.  It makes me want to run, too.  But sadly, I hate running.  So, my other option is Zumba which is equally popular.  It may have something to do with the age of my friends and the fact that most are experiencing that post-30 metabolic slowdown.

Well, I haven't talked about it in awhile, but it is in the title of the blog...TV.  I can say now that we hardly watch TV.  It's nice.  I feel like my girls are just as happy though even if I switch on some MMC so I can cook dinner.  The great thing is that Claire no longer brings me the remote like she did when we were in the Sprout stage. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Discovering My Pride

I'm probably going to sound like a jerk for a minute, but bear with me and I'll stop sounding like a jerk by the end.

I was born and raised in a small town in southwest Missouri.  I attended school in an even smaller town about 12 miles from my house.

Because we lived in one city but attended school in another I never really identified with either.  Seneca, where I attended school, was a town of less than 2,000 people.  It consisted of one main street with a flashing red light, two groceries stores that were inexplicably placed almost right next to each other, a beauty shop or two, a bank, and a few restaurants that came and went. 

The people who live(d) in Seneca are/were close-knit and relatively simple.  I'm pretty sure people didn't lock their doors or worry about anything more criminal than the occasional speeding ticket on the road to the baseball fields. 

While my mom taught in the school district, I never really felt like we fit in there.  We actually lived 5 miles outside of the sprawling metropolis of Joplin.  Our address was Joplin and we did most of our shopping there.  But, because we didn't attend the schools in Joplin, I didn't feel like I fit in there either. 

For years this didn't matter.  I thought to myself, who wants to be from Joplin, Missouri?  It's nothing more than a dot on the map, a stop on the interstate, a blackhole that sucks in its residents tricking them into staying and never reaching their potential or pursuing their dreams.  (see I told you I'd sound like a jerk, stick around)

When I was picking out colleges I wanted to get out of Joplin and never look back.  In fact, my parents wouldn't even let me consider Missouri Southern State College, the Joplin school. 

I scoffed at all things Joplin as being uncultured, quaint, and too boring for my tastes.  So I headed off to Springfield, met great people, got a degree, headed off to Columbia, got a doctorate, and settled down to start my family.

Over the decade that all of this took place I visited Joplin frequently and even Seneca from time to time.  I kept in touch with many friends and eventually reconnected with others.  All the while, when people would ask where I was from I would reluctantly offer up Joplin with the explanation that my school years were spent in Seneca.

May 22, 2011, I was enjoying a quiet evening with my husband and daughter.  We had dinner, washed the kid and put her to bed around 6 something.  As I always do, I grabbed my phone to check out Facebook after Claire was in bed.  I started reading these posts from friends talking about some tornado that had hit Joplin.  I immediately turned on the Weather Channel and called my parents to make sure they were safe.

My dad answered, yes he knew there was a tornado, no they weren't hurt.  My mom was actually napping through all of it.  Relieved that my family was safe I turned my attention to the broadcast.

The next few hours were like a movie.  It couldn't be real life.  The reporter was standing in the parking lot of the pharmacy I worked at during high school.  Except there was no pharmacy.  There wasn't anything, anywhere.  My mind couldn't wrap itself around what I was see.  It was so incredibly disturbing.  The destruction was incomprehensible.

I wanted to do something, anything to help.  I wanted to drive down and start dragging debris around.  I was 7 months pregnant, so it wasn't really an option.  So I sat, feeling helpless and so very sad for my hometown.  That's right, my hometown.  In an instant I felt protective of all things Joplin; the people, the places, the culture.

In the days that followed the people of Joplin showed the world, and this former resident, what they were made of.  They showed what real human compassion looks like and they did it with such grace.  They didn't let the storm victimize them.  They stood facing down the challenge of rebuilding a city and said, when can we start?

In the times that I have traveled back to Joplin to visit my parents and friends I have many times driven down Main Street and been shocked by what I see.  Before 5/22, between 26th and 20th  streets you couldn't see very far to your east and west because of the buildings and beautiful mature trees.  If you traveled to your east you would find neighborhoods made up of lovely ranch style-houses.  If you traveled to your west you would find older homes that might resemble more of a Cape Cod style.  Those are all gone now. 

In their place new homes are springing up as fast as builders can build them.  Families are once again celebrating milestones like graduations and birthdays.

If Joplin was a chalkboard, it was wiped clean when the tornado came through.  But it couldn't erase the spirit of the people in its path.

I am proud to say I am from Joplin, Missouri.  Not because I want you to ask me about the tornado, but because I want to tell you about the amazing community that I was lucky enough to be a part of for my first 18 years.  The place that my family has called home for generations. 

I think the tornado restored a sense of community that may have been waning in this world of email and social networking where you never actually have to talk to another live person. 

Joplin is more than a dot on a map.  Its residents are more than a number on a population sign.  They are strong, resilient, beautiful people.

I would also like to say that out of the tornado several of my classmates have shown like the stars that they are.  The Rhatigan Brothers wrote an amazing song and you can listen to it here.  Erica Tremblay has made an amazing documentary and you can view the trailer here.  Danny Craven and his Joplin High School students made this video.  These people make me proud to say that I grew up in a little town in southwest Missouri.  When I listen and watch these things, I can't help but cry.  I am ashamed that it took such loss and suffering for me to feel pride in where I came from.  I am proud, though.


Friday, May 18, 2012

Love Thyself

I was talking to my sister last night about raising daughters.  After some reflection, I've decided to share a bit of this with you so that maybe a daughter or two won't have to go through what I put myself through.

First, let's be clear, no one did this to me.  I did this to myself.  I'm talking about bulimia.  Oh, and a side of anorexia.  I literally tortured myself for a decade.  Every day I woke up hating myself.  I hated what I looked like, I hated how I acted, all of it.  I hated feeling bad all of the time.

See, if I wasn't binging and purging and hating myself for that, I was starving and generally angry.  Every single bite that crossed my lips caused some sort of self-loathing.  I hated food.  I hated my body.  I hated my family because they didn't understand me.  I was the worst person on earth for several years. 

I just wasn't a nice person.  My diseases made me that way.  Now, as an adult, and as a survivor of these ugly diseases, I can see what I had become.  Anyone that knows me now knows I love my family more than anything.  My mom and sister are my best friends.  I have probably the world's best in-laws and I love them like we were related by more than vows.  My father and I have a better relationship today than we have ever in my life and I'm glad of that.  I can't even describe the love I feel for my husband and daughters. 

It's because of this love that I will not let them do to themselves what I did. 

Every day I woke up hating how I looked and to compensate I was a raging bitch.  I have no idea how I had friends.  My body was the grossest thing I had ever seen.  There were times I wanted to claw it off of me.  I envied everyone else.  I envied the confidence of my friends.  I envied how they would just eat lunch and not worry if they would be able to puke it all back up.  I envied their relationships and their attitudes.  Why did everyone else get to be in such a good mood?  They had dinner parties and I was generally busy.  I feared eating in front of people.  What if I got all binge-y in front of people.  They would see how gross I was.

My disease was contagious.  I had a partner in crime during my teen years.  We would skip meals together, we would skip entire days.  I'm pretty sure she knew at the time what I was doing when we did let ourselves eat but I wasn't going to share my darkest secret.  I feel so incredibly guilty now for dragging someone else down with me.  The solace that I have comes from the knowledge that she, too, recovered from my sweeping sickness.

I destroyed the trust in my relationships.  Bulimia and anorexia are such deceitful diseases.  No one ever comes out and says, "yeah, I'm going to go throw this stuff up.  Be right back." Every bite taken is a lie.  I had a handful of serious relationships that suffered.  I mean honestly, what do you do when someone you care about is slowly killing themself?  I think you probably get mad, then shut down, then not care and then say hurtful things.  I had a few friends that went through this cycle.  I am sorry for what I put them through. 

A good thing came out of all of it though.  I can spot these monsters from a mile away.  Claire and Zora would have a hard time sneaking them past me.

Parents, you don't have to be a recovering eating disorder sufferer to catch the signs.  Do your research.  Ask questions.  Be present in your children's lives.  I will do every thing in my power to keep my girls from going through what I went through.  I want them to know that they are beautiful no matter what.  I want them to know that regardless of their beauty they are more than meets the eye.  I want them to find self-worth in their accomplishments, friendships, and goals.  Sadly, I want them to be nothing like 17 year old me.   

Thanks for letting me get these things off my chest, blogosphere.  Today I can say that I love the way I look.  I strive to be in better shape, but I won't apologize anymore for my size and shape.  I came by these things honestly for the first time in a long time. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thanks Tripp and Courtney for continuing to teach me life's lessons

Okay, I'm going to break your heart for a minute or two here...

A few months ago I blogged about a wonderful little angel named Tripp Roth.  He valiantly fought EB for 2 years and 8 months before finally taking his eternal rest.

I still follow his mother Courtney's blog.  I have been avoiding reading it lately even though she's been understandably absent, only posting a few times since her son's passing.

Today, I took a deep breath and clicked...I'm not even sure why because I knew it was going to be sad.  I knew I was going to cry my eyes out and ache for this mother and her son.

I'm so glad I did.  You see, I've been having a bit of a pity party for myself lately.  When we moved to Texas we had some very intensive family time.  It was me, Claire and Zora all day every day.  Claire spent 2 days a week at an in-home daycare in Columbia, but in Texas, we hadn't found anyone yet.

Since I work from home I technically don't need childcare, but I think Claire does.  I don't stimulate her enough during the day and I have to care for Miss Baby so at times, she's not center stage and she lets you know that this does not please her.

This made me a crazy person.  Claire was bored, so she was acting out.  The baby is now mobile and, like her sister, a bottomless pit, so I am constantly trying to keep her full.

I couldn't take it.  This myth of stay-at-home-mommyhood.  I didn't feel fulfilled, I felt drained and at my wit's end.  I wasn't cherishing every moment, I was counting the seconds until Rob got home and I could do something like shower or pee by myself. 

Then we found our balance.  Claire goes to Montessori school every day in the morning.  Miss B and I spend a glorious few hours together and bond like I did with Claire when she was a baby.  I feel peaceful again.  I feel like a sane person.

So why do I feel like an a-hole?  It's because I feel guilty not feeling gloriously fulfilled by staying home with my children.  This is not my calling.  I am as good of a mother as you'll find, I'm certain. (yeah, I'm tooting my own horn)  But I'm not a kindergarten teacher and never wanted to be one.  I want to play an active role in my children's learning and education.  I want to help them learn to read and do math and become world citizens, but I don't want that responsibility to rest solely on my shoulders.  It's too much.  I'm not cut-out for this gig. 

All of that being said, there are people in this world that put me to shame.  They are strong and patient and put on this earth to do something special.  Courtney Roth is one of them.  She spent every moment of her son's short life caring for him.  She gave up anything that resembled "her" life and lived for him.  This is something I hope that if necessary, I could do.  I also hope I'll never have to test that theory.

Now she is without her baby.  She has to figure out how to go on without him.  It makes me realize that I wouldn't trade a single tantrum or tear, any of those drops of spilled juice or cereal messes, any of those "one more story, please Mommy" moments if it were my last with my babies.  They are precious to me.  I take the ease of my life for granted.  I sweat the small stuff.  I cry over spilled milk, literally.

I don't want to anymore.  I want to savor each second.  I'm going to try my best to take a deep breath and enjoy my babies like they deserve to be enjoyed.  They are miracles and they are my angels.  Tripp Roth continues to teach me things.  Wise beyond his years.  Thanks Tripp and thanks Courtney for continuing to be strong and honest for those of us who are neither at times.