Enough

I’ve said it before, but seriously, you couldn’t pay me enough to re-live high school. Oh, there were great things that happened to me, so many amazing experiences. But holy wow, the stress, the pressure, the hormones, the emotions, the jerks and queen b’s. It was really hard – trying to live up to expectations, real or imagined, while trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be, while trying to  make sure I did what I had to do to get into college, while dealing with friends and classmates going through the exact same process. I remember crying a lot. I remember dealing with ulcers and other stress-induced illness by the time I was fifteen. I remember pushing myself harder than anyone else – the drive to be “perfect”.  And this was all in the time where rumors were spread via those folded up notes a-la 80’s, and during lunch or at post-game dances.

I can’t begin to imagine what it’s like for teenage girls these days. It was hard enough to get through each day before there were phones and cameras around 24/7. Social media has been around most of my kids’ lives. They live their lives on blast. Remember when you had a bad hair day in high school? There weren’t any cameras around to capture it. Or if you fell walking across Senior Court, people would talk about it, but there wouldn’t be video evidence to spread the humiliation even further.  You would likely have to see that boy you really liked walk his newest girlfriend down the hallway, but you didn’t have photos of everything else they did in your face every day. I can’t imagine the pressure girls (and likely boys too) these days have to always look perfect, be perfect, not let things get to them in public. I think they’ve had to grow up much more quickly than we did.

With that all in mind, I want my babies to know they are enough for me. Just them, just as they are.

You are enough…

You are not what you wear. You are not what uniform you might put on for whatever sport you choose. You are not your success on the field. You are not how many honors or AP classes you take. You are not even the grades you get or the test scores you earn. You are not how many friends you have. You are not whether you date anyone before you’re sixteen. You are not whether you ever date. You are not whether you take someone or get asked to Homecoming or the Prom. You are not how many pictures there are of you in the yearbook. You are not what college you might get into. You are not how clean your room is, or if you finish all your chores without being told. You are not whether you finish that half marathon at a faster pace than last year. You are not your golf ranking. You are not whatever role you get for recital or Nutcracker. You are not the IEP meetings we go to annually. You are not the papers you write, the projects you finish, the number of books you read, the car you drive. You are not the money you earn, the house you live in, the career you decide upon. You are not the Facebook posts, the Snapchats, the Instagram photos, the re-tweets.

You, just you, you are enough. You are loved, you are cherished, you are wanted, just as you are. Remember that……There’s going to be so much pressure in your life to do, to be, to look everything “perfect”. But none of that makes you more. They are just what you do, how you look. They are accessories. You – you are enough.

Bombarded

I have been feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted lately. Anyone else? I couldn’t figure out why for awhile, but then realized how frequently the news, posts on Facebook, tweets, and other television shows had me feeling I was on high alert all the time, constantly  reactionary. More than one friend informed me she’d stopped watching tv, listening to the news, and had gone on a Facebook hiatus for the very reason  we are being continually bombarded with news and stories we MUST react to, positively or negatively, and that is draining us.

I refuse to step away. I feel a responsibility to be fully informed, no matter how draining it might be. I’m wary of those stories and sites that are “fake news”, relying strictly on reputable, respectable resources, and always double-checking their value. If we bury our heads in the sand because we are feeling bombarded isn’t going to make it go away, or make it better. But we all must handle it as best we see fit.

I have learned I need to schedule my social media time, and not look at it last thing at night nor first thing in the morning. If I wake to the real world slowly, and walk away from it before going to sleep at night, I feel much more capable of an appropriate response, of not becoming overwhelmed or exhausted. I have enough going on in this household, managing two teens in  high school who are want to drive me around the bend as it is. I have to learn to deal with all the outside stuff at a level that doesn’t interfere with my ability to parent, to wife, to work. I have re-learned the capacity to compartmentalize to a certain extent. It’s made things much easier. I’m also running a lot more, have returned to yoga and Pilates, and make a point of taking care of myself. My kids are wondering why I’m in “real clothes” and heels (boots) instead of being in yoga pants all the time. Being dressed, make-up on, and with hair done makes me feel better, gives me more confidence, somehow makes me feel more capable of handling whatever life is going to throw at me that day.

The other thing I’ve forced myself to remember is that I don’t HAVE to react to every little thing. I’ve set the bar pretty high, and I don’t engage in debate, most of the time. I love my friends and family, and want to maintain those relationships. A lot of people have yet to learn the skill of scrolling right by a post with an opinion that doesn’t match theirs. Not every article, every post, every personal opinion requires a response. It saves a TON of angst to just keep moving along to those posts of your friend’s kids saying funny things, or what your mom is eating for dinner, or that sunset on the beach in your favorite town in the world. If we focused on how we are the same, instead of how our opinions are different, maybe we’d all be a lot less stressed out. Just my two cents, for whatever their worth.

I’m feeling less bombarded the last few days. I’ve retaken control. It’s refreshing and a relief.

 

Is it over yet?

I know I’m not alone in saying I can’t wait for this election to be over. It’s gotten so ugly out there. I’ve unfollowed so many people in the last few months. I’m now  a pro at hitting that little downward arrow in the upper right corner of posts. Good grief. I haven’t unfollowed just the people supporting the “other” candidate either. It’s been across the board unfollowing. I can’t take it anymore.

There was an interesting segment on 60 Minutes last night with a panel of voters – decided, and undecided, voting for someone, and voting against someone. The person doing the interviewing – a man who’s been doing this a very long time – said he’s never seen anything like this, the way everyone on the panel was talking over each other, getting so angry, not listening to anyone else at all. It was a sad statement on our society.

I’d been blaming it on the 24-hour news cycle. The media has to hype even the smallest scandals or slip-ups, drawing them out, sucking the life out of every little thing, then re-hash it for days. I do think it’s contributed to our elections becoming a three-ring circus, full of mud-slinging, half-truths, insults, and a complete loss of integrity.

What I’ve come to realize in the course of the last year is that social media is just as much, if not more, to blame. First of all, social media is the biggest rumor mill outside of high school. Ever play the telephone game? Multiply that times oh, about 3 billion or so. Everyone  has a platform, a public voice. Too many people choose to exercise that voice without ever fact checking what they’re repeating or re-posting. It’s so easy to sling insults from behind the safety of a keyboard and computer screen – when you never have to see the person you’re sending a bunch of horrible words towards. I’ve watched long-term friendships go down in flames over stupid Facebook posts within the last year.

I have two teenagers and one almost-teenager. They’re very aware what’s going on. We don’t censor much.  I’ve watched the behavior of kids their age spiral back to a place we’ve worked so hard to crawl out of….This election  has led too many kids to believe it’s okay to say horrible things, write horrible things about those who are different in any way. We’ve shut it down with our children – reminding them this is just NOT okay behavior, and won’t be tolerated no matter what they see being accepted as the norm around them. It’s sad, and it’s heartbreaking.

I can’t wait for tomorrow to be over, for this election to be done. I have a bad feeling all the bad feelings aren’t going to end, however, with the end of this election cycle. I pray this isn’t how people are going to be from here on out. I pray we will be able to heal, recover, re-group, and support whomever is elected. Until then, I think I’m going to just hide over here in my little corner of the world, with my family, my friends,  and some chocolate. Tell me when it’s over.

PS…Yes, I did vote.

More than words

I intentionally don’t engage in talking politics on social media. My Gramma always taught me to “keep your politics to yourself if you want to keep friends.” I have anxiety just “liking” things other people have posted. This post isn’t about politics. It isn’t really even about a politician. It’s about a man, his words, his actions, and how painful they are to a person who has been the victim of sexual assault. It is also about the people who have supported him, condoned his words as “just locker room talk.”

If you’ve been the victim of sexual assault, those words, yes, even words spoken eleven years ago, are painful. They are wrought with fear, guilt, mortification. They are objectifying. Even worse than those words spoken eleven years ago is the downplaying of that conversation to “just the way men talk.” That’s NOT the way real men talk. That’s not the way my husband talks. That had better not be the way my sons EVER talk. That’s not the way my male friends talk. That’s not the way my brothers, nephews, uncles, or father talks. That’s the way men who don’t respect women talk. That’s the way men who think it’s okay to use their position of power over women talk. That’s the way men talk who put rapists in jail for just six months while the rapist’s victim’s life is destroyed.

I have been heartbroken, and wanting to throw up, over so many of the comments on social media and in the news since Friday night. I can’t believe anyone would excuse his actions in any way, shape, or form. I’m incensed at anyone trying to deflect the conversation towards anyone or anything else, try to point the finger any other direction. I cried listening to that tape, reading the transcript of that conversation. I’ve been made to feel all over again the way I felt that day, and the weeks and months that followed.

I’ve grown up around athletes. I’ve heard some pretty crude conversations. But not once did they ever talk about sexually assaulting women and have everyone around them say it was okay. Because that’s exactly what this conversation admitted to – sexual assault. SEXUAL ASSAULT. Let’s not call it anything but what it was. As a victim of sexual assault, calling it anything else victimizes me all over again. It takes me back to that day when my choice was taken away, and then I was made to feel like the guilty, responsible party.

The lack of a sincere apology makes it that much worse. The refusal to call it what it was makes it that much worse. Pointing the finger at someone else as being just as bad, rather than taking ownership of his own actions makes it that much worse. My God – my kids did that when they were toddlers – pointed their fingers at another guilty party rather than just saying they were sorry for their own actions. They’ve learned better since then. They know it doesn’t take away from their own guilt to deflect to someone else.

Don’t downplay what he said. Don’t make it anything less than what it was, because that victimizes every victim of sexual assault all over again. That tells young men it’s okay to touch women who’ve said no, that it’s okay to make women less than men, that it’s okay to use your position of power and fame to take women’s choice away, that it’s okay to sexually assault and harass women. It’s NOT okay. It’s contributing to the rape culture. They are more than words. And it’s not okay.

Another New Season

Something happened yesterday that normally I would have been here, writing away, within the hour. But as I started towards my computer, I realized I couldn’t do it, even if I’d written it from my perspective. Do you know how hard it is for a writer to process something when she can’t write about it, at least not the way she used to write about stuff like that? Sigh….this mothering of teenagers is hard!

We’ve been facing a few new challenges/adventures/experiences this school year. But as my blog is connected to my social media accounts, and as the older two herdies have their own social media accounts (with which I am “friends”), I’ve realized I can’t blab the way I used to. I’ve been a blogger for eleven years. It’s always been from my perspective, and I’ve never set out to embarrass or humiliate them. They have now reached a certain age, a certain presence in the world I don’t feel right sharing even my experience of all their experiences. Does that make sense?

Maybe someday they’ll choose to become bloggers, and will write about it themselves. And maybe someday we will reach yet another new stage I’ll feel free to hammer away at these keys. Oh, don’t get your hopes up I’m done writing about my herd. You may just be hearing it differently for awhile. I don’t feel I can share everything the way I’ve shared it before, unless they give me explicit permission.

I will tell you this…Yesterday was a rough one for the Princess. There was a tearful phone call, some ice cream, some french bread (cuz that’s how she rolls), her bestie and bestie’s mom over in the afternoon with candy and lots of laughter. She knows we have her back, and she had a better outlook today.

Don’t worry  – The Herd isn’t going anywhere. It’s just going to maybe sound a little bit different.

The Hardest Thing

Our kids have various social media accounts. We have rules – they have to let us be “friends”/follow them; we keep their passwords; if we tell them to take something down, they must comply (they’ve always been conservative); they can’t “friend” anyone unless we know who it is. We collect their phones every night. But all this isn’t really the point of my post today. Because I am “friends” with them, I do see what they post. I find it an interesting look into their days, their thoughts, in addition to a layer of protection over my babies.

Yesterday, Big Man posted a photo on Instagram of his Rock n Roll Half Marathon medal. He’s understandably proud of his accomplishment, and acknowledged the challenge of the race. He said it was the hardest and most rewarding thing he’s  done in his life. I’m so glad he sees it that way. I am thankful he doesn’t remember the truly most difficult thing he’s done in his life….that of surviving a birth 3.5 months too soon. He doesn’t remember having to learn to remember to breath. He doesn’t remember all the times he forgot to breath and his heart-rate would plummet. He doesn’t remember the blood transfusions. He doesn’t remember the eye tests for retinopathy of prematurity (I’m scarred for life by that one), the hearing tests, the ultrasounds on his head to watch for and then keep an eye on brain bleeds, the tape being ripped off his face by an insensitive night nurse, the daily weigh-ins, the numerous lines running to all parts of his body, the days he spent under the bili lights, the way the CPAP would push up his tiny nose; the various antibiotics he had, the tests too numerous to count, the times I would sit there by his isolette crying my eyes out, the day I fled the NICU when he had to have another transfusion and my heart couldn’t take sitting there and watching. He doesn’t remember me begging God for my son’s life. He doesn’t remember me begging God to block all those days from my son’s memories. He doesn’t remember.

That tiny boy was the bravest person I’d ever met in my entire life. He fought so hard, every day, for his life. He did everything on his terms, much to our frequent frustration. He obviously loved openly, so happy when any of his nurses talked to him or held him. He defied odds on a daily basis. He still defies those odds. But he won’t ever remember the truly hardest thing he’s ever done in his life. When I saw his post yesterday and read his words, I was so relieved that in his mind, that race was the hardest thing he’s ever done, and the most rewarding. For me, he is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. And I hold enough memories in my heart for the both of us.

Why I posted that picture

As I’ve shared before, I’ve been struggling mightily with negative self-talk, self-image, and self-esteem probably more than any time since I was just out of college. There’s something about this 40+ age that throws the body into chaos. In spite of a regular, strenuous workout routine, and watching (most of the time) what I eat, not only is weight not coming off, it’s moved around, and keeps creeping up. It’s frustrating, defeating, intimidating. I’ve been working hard to a) overcome the negative thought process, reminding myself daily that I’m healthy and b) do what I can to maintain rather than focus on losing or gaining and c) keep a good attitude towards it all, especially when the Princess is around.

Yes, I ran a half marathon on Sunday. Do you know I still “felt fat” when I was done? I mentally chastised myself for my post-race lunch, once I’d eaten it, in spite of the fact I’d just burned about 1100 calories.

I’m particular about the pictures I post on social media of myself, and those others may post of me. Like most people,  I want the most flattering pictures posted. But Sunday, I posted a photo of me and Big Man following our finish. I didn’t like the photo. I didn’t look my best – all sweaty and gross from just running 13.1 miles – and the angle wasn’t all that great. My hair was pulled back in a pony, with a headband. I’m not pretty or cute when I run – it’s all about function (although I did make sure to match my headband to my shirt and shoes). I looked at the photo before I put it up, and cringed. But I posted it anyways. I needed to post it, for myself, and because that moment was bigger than how I feel about myself.

I’d done something not everyone does – I’d trained for, and run, a half marathon. And I’d run it with my 15-year-old former 26-weeker. And I am a healthy person, darn it. I posted it to remind myself healthy doesn’t equal rail-thin or skinny. Healthy equals me taking care of me. Healthy is mental as well as physical.

I still fight the battles, almost every day. I try to push back against the thoughts of “If you eat this, then you have to do that,” or buying into extreme diets and exercise plans that focus on numbers rather than the whole person. I posted that photo to remind me I am okay. I don’t have to see a certain number on a scale to be a healthy mom/wife/woman. The moment that photo was taken wasn’t about me fighting an internal battle, it was about sharing something incredible with my son. Finishers