Category Archives: laughter

Give up giving yourself up

Parenting is a ritualistic exercise in extreme sacrifice. We awake earlier than we want, watch television programs we don’t want to, make play-dates we could care less about, plan parties, go to parties, make nice with another parent because our kid likes their kid, etc, etc, etc, etc. It goes on forever.

But that’s what parenting is, right? Sacrifice?

Yes.

And yet a resounding no.

Last night, I asked on Twitter if Motherhood should trump Womanhood once it entered the mix. What ensued was an extremely interesting conversation. Answers varied from “If that’s what the woman wants” to “No, it shouldn’t” to “I don’t understand, isn’t Motherhood a facet of Womanhood?” It is, once it enters the mix. But what fascinates me is the way we, as women, and as society, measure a woman’s worth based on her desire to conceive or parent. Someone even pointed out a pet peeve with articles which identify someone as a Grandmother, Mother, etc., even when it’s not relevant.

In the infancy years when our children depend fully upon us, Mother is our defining role. However, we should still make time for ourselves as women as well. We are still us, we have merely added another facet to our skill set. Some of us are woman first, mother second. Some may be Mother and then Woman. That’s okay. It varies from woman to woman and is based on personal experience as well. Go with what works for you and your family.

For those who are woman first, mother second, we know we need to be valued as a woman. But no one will value us as woman if we fail to treat ourselves as woman first. But what is woman once she is a Mother? She is you, as you were before children, with the added responsibility of child-rearing. Woman is beautiful, exhilarating, compassionate, powerful, strong, complex, amazing, and full of heart. She is life, and yet at the same time, she can get so lost in roles demanded by society, she may be her own death. Swallowed whole by Mother, Wife, Employee, Caregiver, Daughter, Sister, Cousin, etc, she finds herself carried away by the powerful current of Life, not realizing until too late she is in dangerous waters.

Today I tweeted, with the intent of being humorous, “For Lent, I’m giving up giving up things.” I also posted it as my Facebook status. The responses surprised me. One of my friends on Facebook included a link to a post written by a friend of hers last year —On Eating Chocolate for Lent— which got me thinking –should we be giving up anything for Lent at all– especially when we already give up so much of ourselves as Mothers? If we continue to sacrifice ourselves at the rate we’re going, we will have nothing left to give our children or loved ones once we finish –if we finish– before we pass out, an exhausted heap in the kitchen floor.

Want to give up something for Lent? Give up throwing yourself under the bus for everyone around you. Give up saying yes to every responsibility you are asked to take on by friends, family, work, etc. Give up judging yourself for not keeping up with the Joneses. Stick with the bare necessities. Give yourself the gift of time to yourself, the gift of time with your children instead of racing around like crazy to keep family, friends, and society happy and smiling. Give yourself happy. Give yourself joy. Give yourself laughter.

Give up giving yourself up for 40 days. Be kind to you. You are worth it.

 

Don’t judge me

Last night, I asked my #PPDChat Mamas to chime in with suggestions for today’s chat. To the left is a suggestion I received this morning from Amber over at Beyond Postpartum. It got my wheels turning. Judgment, to me, is such a dirty dirty word. The following post is what spilled out as I thought more and more about her suggestion. Read. Share. Comment. Love one another, mamas. And daddies. Love. Don’t hate. Don’t judge. Love. It’s why we’re here.

Why do we judge one another, mamas?

Why?

Aren’t we all in this together?

Don’t we all have the same job when it comes down to it?

Do you know why that mama is giving a bottle?

Do you know why she’s chosen not to co-sleep?

Did you ask? Did you ask if she’s doing okay? Or did you glare? Did you judge? Did you sit on your throne and think better of yourself because you nurse your toddler, have your infant strapped to you 24/7, and only shop in the organic section of the grocery store never stepping foot in the formula or diaper aisle?

Shame on you. Shame on you for judging. For not stopping to ask if this mama is okay. If everything in her world is still right side up. Shame on you for tossing guilt onto her already full pile.

We are all parents. Most of us fight the same battles every day. A child who whines when it’s time to sleep. An infant who screams for hours on end because of digestive issues. A house in which laundry and dishes get laid and multiply more often than we do. We fight through this day in and day out through a fog of exhaustion. We make lifestyle choices based on what we can handle… based on what is best for our families.

Just because my infant isn’t super-glued to my boob doesn’t mean I’m less of a mother.

Just because my toddler stopped nursing before 2 doesn’t mean I love her any less. It doesn’t mean she loves me any less.

Two of my kids have had formula. I feared judgment. But I shouldn’t have been forced to worry about that. I fed my children. They thrived. I thrived. We all thrived. The end. The in between doesn’t matter.

My kids eat non-organic bananas too, by the way. And watch TV. Yes, they LOVE chocolate. And candy. And have eaten at McDonald’s.

I’ve ordered pizza because I didn’t want to cook. Popped open Chef Boyardee for the same reason.

Thank GOD.

Because frankly?

I’m not the kind of mom who can throw myself under the bus on purpose.

No, I’m the kind of mom who’s accidentally stepped in FRONT of the bus and been run over a couple of times.

There’s no full body cast for me but my brain’s a bit loopy still so excuse me if I’m not the Stepford parent I’m supposed to be at the moment. Excuse me if I look a bit more like Roseanne instead of June Cleaver. You see, I’ve been run over by Postpartum Mood Disorders and need to take care of myself in addition to my children because if I don’t, it can get fatal. Seriously. FATAL. As in I might lose my life FATAL. So excuse me while I indulge my child in some Enfamil and pop culture in order to maintain my sanity.

It’s OKAY.

My kids know they’re loved. They’re thriving. They’re using three and four syllable words by the time they hit three.

More importantly?

They already understand mental illness. They know it’s not anyone’s fault. That it just happens. And that it’s okay. Sure, right now they think tickling is an appropriate therapy (it really was in our house, by the way). My kids don’t jump to conclusions. They show compassion. They help. They offer support when someone is sad. They are empathic. They already know the importance of self-care. Our oldest is seven.

The next time you jump to conclusions about another parent in public, remember your children. They are watching you. They are learning from you. Before you even inhale sharply and bite that bottom lip because some mom whips out a bottle to feed her newborn, ask yourself why you’re judging. Ask yourself if it’s your place to judge. Instead of inhaling and glaring, go say hi. Ask that mom how she’s doing. Refrain from judging. Understand we’re all struggling on the same road but need different tools for our own journey.

If we could just show a bit more compassion to each other, the world would be a much better place. Don’t you want to be a part of that world? I know I do.

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Whatever Wednesday: The Case of the Shanghai’d Shrimp

Since a few days before New Years, I have been working very hard at losing weight and getting into shape. I’m happy to report I have lost 20 pounds and am still going strong. I have a long road ahead of me but I have no doubt that I will get to my goal one day. Going back to where I was is simply not an option.

As part of this venture to get healthy, we have been eating a lot of Lean Cuisine meals. They’re affordable, quick, and easy. With three kids around, it’s very important to keep things affordable, quick, and easy. They’re all absolutely delicious too. Lean Cuisine has a new product line out called “Market Creations.” These steam right in the bag and up until Sunday, they have been hands down my favorite meals from Lean Cuisine. (FYI, no, there is no give-away and no, I’ve not been compensated. But you’ll figure that out in a minute.)

Sunday night I sat down to chow down on a new Market Creation, Shanghai Shrimp. Luscious Shrimp, udon noodles, spices, green and yellow pepper strips and we’re talking heaven. Things went horribly wrong with this one though. Horribly & wickedly wrong. And then Arcade Fire blinded me.

The following is the actual letter I whipped up and sent off to Lean Cuisine via their Customer Contact page at their website.

Enjoy!

Thrilled to finally see Shanghai Shrimp Market Creations at my local Kroger, I snagged it and brought it home with me along with a surprise picnic meal for my kids.

My kids had a blast, I let them run, play, scream, go crazy. They did so to the fullest. I rested easy in knowing I had my yummy Shanghai Shrimp waiting for me.

Finally, the kids went to bed once Daddy got home with our eldest after their night out. Bedtime was tougher than usual. But I rested easy. Shanghai Shrimp would save me.

I popped the bag in the microwave, punched in the required 5:30 and began the wait. I cracked open a beer. A delicious waft of Asian flavors soared through the air, both tempting and soothing me. Finally. BEEEEEEP.

Ahhhhh.

I grabbed a bowl, poured the heavenly Shangai Shrimp in and headed to the living room with my dinner and beer, sitting down to watch the Grammys.

But wait … what is this? It’s gummy. Gritty. Fleshy… Oh no.. it can’t be… an uncooked shrimp! Are there more? Has my Shrimp been Shanghai’d?

Alas, there were more. Two at least for a total of three uncooked shrimp.

What had gone wrong? I followed the instructions. I laid the bag down ever so carefully with the proper side facing up.. left it in the microwave for the recommended amount of time.

Sadly, I made the decision to share my Shanghai Shrimp with our trash can, wailing and gnashing my teeth the whole way.

I snatched my Thai Chicken Lean Cuisine from the freezer, the one that was to be my lunch tomorrow. It now awaits me in the microwave.

My beer is warmer.

And I am sadder, left with a stomach and tongue craving Shanghai Shrimp.

I do not know if I will ever recover. I know one thing for sure. I will never buy Shanghai Shrimp again, no matter how much my poor tongue and stomach beg me to do so.

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Whatever Wednesday: Top 10 Veg-out movies

When I’m sick, stressed, or just plain need to veg out, I have certain go to movies. Everyone does, right? In no particular order are my top 5 10 12 go to flicks for vegging out when my brain just can’t take any more reality:

1) Pretty Woman – C’mon. Did you really expect this to NOT be on the list? It’s Richard Gere.

2) Nothing to Lose – Martin Lawrence and Tim Robbins crack me up. My favorite scene? “There’s a spider on your head, man.” Or maybe it’s “Please don’t kill me freaky Jason. I said PLEASE don’t kill me freaky Jason!”

3) Star Trek 2009 – I’m a huge Star Trek fan. No, I don’t dress up and go to conventions. I watch the shows from the safety of my couch. Away from the Klingons and Romulans. Plus, how can you NOT love a movie that opens after the title scene with a car chase scene like this one?A Badass little kid, a vintage corvette, Sabatoge by the Beastie Boys and a tough ass RoboCop? C’mon. What’s NOT to love?

4) The Italian Job – Robbery, Mark Wahlberg, boat chases, Mark Wahlberg, gold, Mark Wahlberg, Austin Mini Coopers, Mark Wahlberg, Ed Norton, Mark Wahlberg, oh, and Charlize Theron. And Mark Wahlberg. Not to mention the kick arse opening of the movie – the opening robbery and subsequent boat race make me drool.

5) PCUIt’s Jeremy friggin Piven. Need I say more? I think not.

6) Funny Farm – Yellow Dog. Ducks. Snakes. Payphone in the house. Bones in the garden. Drunk mailman. Lamb Fries. I think we can stop at Lamb Fries.

7) Blazing Saddles – Farting Cowboys. Yes, Farting Cowboys.

8) Robin Hood Men in Tights – Cary Elwes & Dave Chappelle rock it in this flick. Plus Men in Tights + Mel Brooks? Instantly funny. Plus there’s the bonus of rapping men in tights.

9) Hitch – Quite possibly one of the best romantic comedies I’ve ever seen. I love Will Smith. I love Kevin James. His dancing cracks me up. CLASSIC. Making the Pizza. Q-tip. Moving the feet. Working it.

10) Dirty Dancing – Did you really think I’d not put this on the list? One of the BEST veg out movies of all time. ALL TIME. I miss Patrick Swayze. My favorite scene by far is when Jennifer & Patrick head to the woods & the lake to practice lifts and balance.

11) The Princess Bride – Filled with highly inconceivable ROUS’s, dedicated to the soon to come mawwiage of a Man and Wife not in the grips of “True Love” as well as to the noble profession of revenge, this movie is worth repeating as much as the name of Inigo Montoya. Beware if you killed his father. You will die. It was VERY difficult to pick a clip for this one. However, the clip I chose is one that is not often cited yet hilarious nonetheless. Anybody want a peanut?

12) Spaceballs – If you’ve not seen this movie, go watch it now. Seriously. Why the hell are you still here? Combing the desert, reading scripts on camera, spoofs on the Alien movie, Star Wars, Darth Vader, Pizza the Hut, Jamming the Radar, Going plaid, grown men playing with dolls, Joan Rivers as a virginity alerting robot, this movie has it all. It’s enough to make your head spin. When will when then be now? We’re at now now. Make your now now watching this movie.

Just Talkin’ Tuesday 11.17.09: When did your fog lift?

base photo credit "water droplet with fall reflection" by mahalie @ flickr

All the cliches you hear about not being happy are profoundly true. The grass is a dull shade of green – khaki almost, for me at least. The trees filled with sorrow, the birds didn’t chirp as cheerily, the leaves waved as if mourning, the air filled with the weight of the entire world as the clouds swooped down and swarmed around my mind, fogging my vision of anything in front of me. My grandfather called those infamous fogs “pea souppers.”

I remember the day my Pea Soupper existance finally lifted. It was a bright spring day. The trees stood ready to burst forth brand new leaves still wrapped tightly in buds, rain had rushed through – not drenched us but rather left just enough behind for everything to sparkle a bit. I can still smell the rain of that day if I close my eyes and think long enough. THIS is the day I want to hold close to my heart forever when I think of my PPD.

Sure, I remember the bad stuff. I remember the cold sleep room where I first checked out. I remember all too well the smell of the soap from the NICU. I remember the cold hard plastic and mechanical whirring of my breast pump, the flat pillow at the psych ward. But when I think of my PPD, I want to remember that spring day. The day that not only Mother Nature birthed yet another child of spring but I found myself reborn as a complete person – myself and motherhood all rolled into one – ready to take on the very world which waited at my feet. Had it still been raining I may have pulled over and danced a little jig.

So tell us – when did your fog lift?

Let’s get to just talkin’.