Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Parenting Fact #248 - When you have a kid, everyone has an opinion. It seems like I lived my first 30 years with little to no public interjection whatsoever. I can't recall too many instances where complete strangers ever made a point to remind me of my flaws, weaknesses and/or any other somewhat social infringement that I may have made.

I've never been questioned on my ability to care for myself nor has anyone ever impugned my intelligence or common sense. Wait, I retract that statement... I'm sure there have been some instances of belittlement but for the most part I must have an innate ability to tune people out when it comes to editorial comments regarding myself. Not a bad skill to have in some circumstances.

Then, you become a parent and the friendly, albeit unsolicited, advice begins to roll in like a plague of locust. Well, maybe not locust... but a plague of some epic proportions just the same. This I am sure of.

It seems as though the very moment you brandish your newborn, you've seemingly opened Pandora's Box of Public Parenting. Scrutiny is abundant. Suddenly, everybody has something to say. And when I mean that they have something to say, I mean get your tissues out and refill your Xanax because all censoring of any sorts is out the window. There is no sugar coating. People just start saying exactly what they're thinking. And, they're really owning it!

My first experience was over socks. Yes, socks. While both my mother and mother-in-law may believe that this originated with them, it actually occurred during our first real outing to Target when my son was 8 days old. He was securely fastened in his carrier and snuggled under a temperature appropriate blanket. At some point during our outing, his abnormally long foot slipped from underneath its cover. And just like that, I exposed my newbie parenting flaws to the world. A lady approached me and asked if his sock had fallen off. I replied that he wasn't wearing socks and was quickly informed that he should be wearing socks!!! For goodness sakes, he could catch pneumonia and that would surely set off a series of events that would forever cripple him both physically and emotionally. That was it - because of his lack of socks he was now destine to never spacewalk, become President of the United States or cure a particularly heinous disease - one having to do with feet, I'm sure. 

Now, here's my theory about newborns and socks...

They don't really need them. They fall off within minutes of putting them on their tiny, itty bitty feet and they're a booger to keep up with in the wash.

Now, here's my theory on opinions...

Everyone has one. 

Yup, that's pretty much it on that one. After really thinking about it, I've figured two things out when it comes to people's opinions...

1. People's opinions often (and easily) get the better of them. There's a lot of energetic passion behind how people feel about certain socks, for instance. People just have an impulsive need to share.

2. Most (and I emphasize MOSTopinions come from a good place, regardless of how the message was delivered. 

So the next time you're faced with an opinionated know-it-all, simply smile and say "I did not know that, thank you so very much sharing that information with me." They walk away feeling as though they've made an effort to make the world more of "their kind of place" and you'll probably just get a good laugh. Everybody wins.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The "Kinda" Friends I Have

Thirty Thoughts Posting...

Editorial note - this posting was originally written 2 years ago, around the time of my high school's 10 year reunion. The article remained unfinished until picking it up several days ago and realizing that there was more content to add in hindsight. 

8. Friendships change and evolve just like the people that you have them with.

They don't make friends like they used to...

A decade ago, all my friends were just like me. Just... Like... Me... Not surprising considering the high school I went to was pretty PB&J; totally plain, ordinary and very much lacking any kind of true diversity. Everyone that I spent time with had similar family backgrounds, lived with a mile or so of my own home and had the same interests as I did as far the extra-curriculars went. These were my starter friendships but no less important than any others that I've cultivated along the way. They taught me how to care for someone outside of my self and prepare me for the deeper relationships to follow in time. They mean quite a bit to me to this day although I lost track with many of them shortly after graduating.

Now that we're a mobile society and social networking has been hardwired into our daily life, it became easier than ever to "reach out and touch somebody" and reconnect after all these years. I've found and been found by a slew of classmates in the last year or two. I've wondered what happened after 1999 and figured out that the answer is, a lot. We are all quite different now. Some of us have families and careers, some are still figuring out just who it is that they want to be. But, it's pretty apparent that as a whole, we are far from our "white bread" beginnings. 

With that being said, it's no wonder that after these Facebook reunions we begin to realize that we aren't quite as close as we once were because we're not exactly the same people we were all those years ago. And make no mistake, that's not necessarily a bad thing. I'm very proud to see some of the accomplishments of my fellow alums. There are doctors, lawyers, teachers and musicians who are all masters in their fields. However, it's those who seem genuinely content that I am honestly most happy for. It's been a rough 10 or so years and we've gone from college kids to getting married (a few divorces as well, I might add - well, I guess I did) to raising kids. That's a hefty amount of adjustments in a fairly short amount of time. We've changed and so have our relationships with one another. 

The Facebook thing makes me chuckle though. Friends seem to fall into these very specific categories now:

The True Friends - no matter how much time or space separates us, we can pick up right where we left off. Perhaps because there's still such a strong connection after all this time. These friends are the ones from years back and the ones that I've known for a considerably less amount of time. When it comes down to it, it makes no difference how long I've known them... I've just always known them to be there in the best and worst of times. 

The "Kinda-Sorta" Friends - I keep these friends around because they're interesting. They're sort of my trophy-Facebook friends that I can voyeuristicly peek into their lives because, honestly, they're just cooler than I am. They keep me up on what's trending and things I find interesting, yet have no interest in actually doing (shout out to my Yoga peeps!) These friends tell funny stories, even though I usually have no clue as to who they're talking about or what hip references they're making. If I were to reach out to them, I probably wouldn't count on a response but their entertainment value is worth the sting of rejections... or in most Facebook cases, silence.

The "What Was I Thinking" Friends - These are those people that every time I see their posts, I think to myself "I really need to delete them." They are the antithesis of the "Kinda-Sorta" set. They don't bring anything to the table as far as cool and interesting are concerned and they still wouldn't be there for me if I were to actually need them. They just kind of suck. 

I suppose you could compartmentalize them even more, but what's the use? My finding is that we've all changed. Some of us still have what it takes to be the same caring, empathetic friends we once were. Some of us are better off as acquaintances. We've all gone spinning off into a million directions but it's pretty cool to see what we can take from each other's journeys along the way. Like I said before, friendships change and evolve just like the people that you have them with. Live and let live and let's hope we still keep up with each other in the coming years. That is, if you at least have something cool and/or interesting to contribute.

Laugh, because that's what it's really all about!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A "Ward" Free Lifestyle

Note to self - cool your heels a bit after encountering something that you loathe so much that you have an actual physical reaction to.

The Internet is a crazy little piece of work. On the same note, it can also make you crazy. I just typed in a Google search for general parenting articles and came across quite the literary gem that the Google Gods obviously misplaced. At first, the search returned a website named Nope, that's not what I was looking for...continue on. I clicked on the next return where I stumbled across one of the most asinine articles that I've ever read.

The article is, in my opinion, insulting before the actual content even begins. I could write a manifesto on the title alone but I'll try to move straight to the irritating slights that the "author" manages to douse on a (what I see to be) very kid-friendly society. Carolyn Ray wrote a piece (of garbage, I might add) called "The Social Stigma of Leading a Ward-Free Life" I mean seriously, did she just refer to a child...a human being as a "ward?"  Strike one, lady.

She then eludes to a number of observations. Mind you, she never even actually states very many of her own reasons for not wanting kids but rather references  instances where parents are in the wrong for wanting and having them in the first place (over-population, a selfish need to have someone love them...yada, yada, yada.) I try my best to roll with a live-and-let-live lifestyle. However, this lady is so off her rocker it's painstaking for me to advocate tolerance for profound stupidity. Let me acquaint you with a couple of her theories:

  • "People have kids to fulfill something inside of themselves that's missing - primarily insecurity or a lack of happiness."
  • "Judging by the way many parents behave toward children, and by the things they complain about, it seems pretty clear that most people don't like children very much at all."
Let me also explain the semantics of "childless" vs. "childfree" vs. "wardfree" - 

Childless - a person who by circumstance (infertility, timing, financial situations, etc.) does not have a child. Most people fall into this category as they want children but have just yet to have them. I myself was childless for most of my life but most certainly wanted children.

Childfree - a person who chooses  not to have children for personal reasons.

Wardfree - a stupid and offensive way to state that you are proud to be childfree by insulting mainstream society. Let's get on the same page lady, you are the minority, not parents or those that are simply childless.

Now I know that I've ranted pretty hard and busted this chicks chops, but for good reason. As always, my posts try to find joy in very unexpected places. Therefore, what I choose to take away from this lady's waste of Cyberspace is that FACT that she is the minority and not the majority. In my life, majority rules so it's us parents and yet-to-be parents that are the winners here. We're winners because we're selfless and not selfish as she implies. Take stock that we as parents raise our kids for the greater good of our society - not to attribute to its demise. Believe me, we have plenty of other issues that are working to destroy our society.

Kids are our future... If we were to stop having them, civilization would cease to exist. Ummm, duh! This seems to be a no-brainer. So let's raise our kiddos up right and teach them to contribute to the well being of society in their own special, unique, interesting and beautiful ways!

I am a blessed and truly lucky woman because I find joy every time I have the privilege of looking into any child's eyes - not just my own. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Don't Worry 'Til There's Something to Worry About

A Thirty Thoughts Posting...

Yesterday, I was at the Gyno (don't worry, I won't get too specific from here on...) and was told that I needed yet another surgery. I need to have some sort of "something-or-other" removed. While I'm pretty sure the doctor was more specific with his diagnosis, all I could hear was "bak, bak, bak"...just like the teacher on Charlie Brown. At that point, my brain shut off momentarily. Now, I'm pretty good at selective hearing and an expert on choosing what information I care to retain and what to trash but this was total system failure. A brain fart of epic proportions. 

When my brain came back online I had the following thoughts:

"Um, 'kay? Another surgery...perfect! Wait, you want to do this in 2 weeks?! How do I have an abdominal surgery when I have an 8 month old that has to be carried everywhere?"

A few years ago (possibly, even a few months ago if I'm going to be really honest) I would have flipped my crazy, self-centered lid. But, as luck would have it, I don't have that luxury anymore. I'm a mom and that means business.

After processing the information for the better part of an afternoon I realized that I needed to listen to my own advise - Don't worry 'til there's something to worry about!

Worry breeds a bevy of other negative thoughts. It sets your (negative) creative wheels turning and only churns out a bunch of stuff that you can't do anything about. What good comes from worry? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It doesn't change a thing. It's gonna be whatever it already is so why bother with the details until I'm told otherwise?

Once again, I think that's a lesson that you can only learn in time. Man, if I'd of applied this way of thinking a long time ago, I would have avoided a few ulcers, saved a load of cash on my Tums purchases and probably lived just a bit more of stress free life. Oh well. Lesson learned but more importantly...lesson applied!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thoughts on 30, Part 1

The Dirty on Thirty is an idea that I came up with last year as my time in my twenties were coming to a rapid close. As I clung to what was left of my "me" decade, I wanted to chronicle my lessons learned and... my lessons not learned very well.

It became evident that this could take a while and that perhaps this endeavor may be better suited as a feature of this blog rather than one wham-bam post. I'm thinking about this purely logically - NOT because I'm a deep or philosophical thinker. I'm writing it as a featured series because, well honestly, things pop in and out of my head so sporadically that I could never get all my points across in a single post. I'm pretty sure that has something to do with ADD. Let me take my meds and I'll get back to you on that... (Insert uncontrollable laugh here)

Again, as I often do, I digress...

I really wanted to separate my stories, experiences, laughable screw-ups and lessons so that I can give them each the proper attention they deserve and hopefully give you, my followers, something to take from each post. If you're interested, I'm keeping a running list under the Thirty Thoughts tab of this page. Check in often to see what somewhat practical situations I've run into that I've been able to learn from. So here it is y'all. The first installment of many more to come. Laugh at it, take it or leave it but most of all, enjoy it - 

Thoughts on 30, Lesson 1

This is a quicky but a goodie. It's a quicky because it takes no brain power whatsoever to comprehend...

The Golden Rule is a good rule. Use it! 

'Nough said on that one. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'll Find Joy In This, Too

Moments ago, Casey Anthony was acquitted on all counts of murder. My heart is full and my stomach is ill. 

I've followed this case for nearly 2 years. At the time the story first broke, I wasn't a mother but my heart ached for the poor child that was taken, and I mean TAKEN far too soon. Now that I am a mother this case took an extraordinary toll on my endeavor to live peacefully and with joy.

But, I managed to do just that in a seemingly no-joy situation. I know that she will face the ultimate sentencing when she meets her Maker. I fully believe that there is no earthly punishment that can begin to measure up to what the Lord has in store for her. If I were to think of the most horrid, painful, vindictive and brutal of punishments, I wholeheartedly believe that it would be nothing more than a speck in comparison to what God's plan is for this. I find GREAT joy and comfort in that. 

Don't quote me on this, but I don't believe that acquittals by Man's laws mean much at the pearly gates. Much joy found in that...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Open to Editorializing

So, if you caught my previous post, Writer Blocked, you'll recall that my frustration with a certain author got the better of me and that I lowered myself to calling her a less than flattering name. While I'm still of the opinion that said author more than lives up to a variety of colorful descriptions, calling her a name wasn't necessary. Accurate? Perhaps, but not necessary. 

It took my mother reminding me what the purpose of this venue was created for... Celebrating the joy in the most ordinary of circumstances. While the word "joy" is a small word, it's definition is broad. One example of joy might be finding happiness in humility and in the fact that I can admit when I'm wrong about a poor decision (or, choice of words, in this case.)

So here goes it... my first editorial retraction.

I apologize to said author for calling you what I did (even though in the grand scheme of things, it was pretty mild.) That was wrong of me on many, many parts. Primarily, because I believe that I'm slightly more creative than to settle for ordinary, run of the mill foulness. If I were to think about it long and hard enough, I have more than enough faith in my vocabulary that I could unleash a virtual word-storm to accurately convey my point.    

I digress.

I suppose that the joy-based reason for my apology is that it's just not nice. As simple as it sounds, it's the truth. The entire purpose of my reaching out to her was because I wanted her help and acceptance. Silly me for assuming that most people live by The Golden Rule. I supposed that she would "do for me" as I would "do to others." My mistake. But, by me being testy and saying what I said, I became no better than her. 

Perhaps the lesson here is that snarky is as snarky does. So, I'll try to live less snarky in the future.

Thanks Mom!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Mommy needs a what???

I fully admit that I have learned a LOT since becoming a full-time mommy. There was no book to prepare me for life after baby. No one calls from the hospital to ask how things are going - they really do let you just walk out of the place with no questions asked whatsoever. I still maintain there should have been some type of quiz involved prior to our seemingly rushed but otherwise uneventful departure. The first few weeks home are a baptism-by-fire kind of situation. You're in survival mode and you do what you have to do in order to get by. "Keep on keepin' on" as I say. You learn quickly and what you still don't know, you Google!

Even 8 months out, I am still more than eager to find answers to the unknowns by using my crazy-mad Internet search skills for the things I'm still unfamiliar with. There are the very philosophical things like "How am I ever going to teach this child everything he needs to know to become a decent and caring person?" You know... the deep stuff. Alternatively, there are the very practical everyday questions like "Should I use OxyClean or Dreft to get this particular kind of poop out of these (meaning the baby's, not mine) pants?" And when it comes right down to it, the two questions are pretty much tied for my brain-space most of the time. This triggered some sort of inner alarm and I felt the need to Google something brilliant.

After trying to cut and paste my thoughts together long enough to make a coherent query, the light bulb above my head went off and I thought of the perfect search phrase: "Coping skill for stay at home mothers." Peace settled within me as my inquisitive thought/question was thrown out into Cyberland. Within the milliseconds Google takes to return my search, my browser was full of answers to my predicament. I quickly clicked on the first result and was astonished by the site's answer for mothers in a rut...

Their response was: Drink up!

I guess if you anaesthetise any situation enough, you're bound to get the answer, or in this case peace, that you're looking for. Really people? Yes, yes they did! There is in fact a site that advocates mommies getting back their sanity by throwing back the booze. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for a good time and I love my cocktails  - when the time is right. I'm no hater when it comes to a good time. But, I think I'm going to have to stick with separating parenting from partying - at least 'til he's 21. (Just kidding!)


Friday, July 1, 2011

Writer Blocked...

I've been batting the idea around to write a novel for a month or so. The content is there, believe me, as it's about just one generation of crazy that runs in my family. When I say crazy here, I'm meaning it makes a Lifetime movie look like an episode of Barney and Friends. When you have material this good, writer's block is not my issue.

My issue that I've been trying to muddle through is how to get it published. Yeah, yeah, I know... I should probably write the thing before I work out such minor details as this. Cart. Horse. I get it. But still, wanting to know where to go after my masterpiece is complete is just a step towards being prepared, right? I mean, why bother with the whole thing at all if there's not a clear plan to execute at the end?

Then I remembered my mother-in-law telling me about a book that a local woman wrote about the trials and tribulations of being a wife and mother. Well, hot damn - I can relate to that! I open up my little Nookie and have that darling piece of literature in my hands in less than 18 seconds. The book was pretty good as far as mommy-logs are concerned. The main thing I found so intriguing about this book was that the author lived in my town. If I lived in New York or LA this wouldn't be so titillating. But, hello... I live in Little Rock, Arkansas. This is not exactly a place where literary masterminds hale from. It was more than amazing to me to think that a published author lived in my very own town. Heck, I've probably been stuck with her at the same stoplight. I've most likely shopped for my groceries at the very same Kroger. Our dogs may even go to the same vet clinic for all I know. I mean, we've got to have so much in common, right?

Enthusiasm was flowing through my body and my energy to meet this woman was consuming me. I had to make contact right away. I fully believed that if this lady knew me, knew how much we had in common (we live in the same town AND we're both writers...well, one of us anyway) that we were bound to be besties from here to eternity. Last night a sent her a delightfully upbeat "howdy-do" and explained myself in a short and sweet manner - I live in Little Rock, I want to write and I'd love to grab a Starbucks with her... my treat, of course!

This morning I awoke to this message:

"Being that I'm a published author, wife and mother, I don't have a lot of spare time. The spare time that I do have, I'd rather not spend mentoring unknowns. I believe my time can be spent in more useful endeavors. There are plenty of resources that can be found on the web. Best of luck."

Well lady... if that's how you really feel don't sugar coat it for me! I'll take solace in the fact that I'll learn my lessons and take my lumps from this. But, I'm pretty sure that you'll continue to "show your spots" to those who try to support you... No loss here.