Let 2017 Be About Acceptance

Baking cookies.

As I added the Hershey Kiss onto the last warm peanut butter blossom I realized I hadn’t asked my youngest daughter to help me bake them. It was the first time ever I had baked cookies without at least asking if she wanted to help. I realized in that moment I had subconsciously accepted that she probably didn’t want to get out of bed and away from Snapchat. It felt strangely good.

I hear so many people moan about the destruction 2016 has left behind. As if a group of days can be responsible for Prince dying or the election of a president some may deem unfit.  I hear so many blaming others for the unpleasant instances in their life. I see so much criticism, anger and blame that I have found myself over the past few months in a Facebook depression. I’ve watched people criticize others for the way they mourn or don’t mourn a celebrity. I’ve witnessed people judge others for the way they utilize social media, as if there are rules for what it should mean to each of us. We’ve become a society so fixated on others’ “mistakes” because we are trying to justify the way we handle things as individuals or the reasons why our lives differ from the rest when what we really need is to merely accept our own selves.

Newton may have been talking about motion when he declared for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, but it can also be applied to decisions. Decisions are what got you to this very moment in time. Decisions are what make up every moment in our lives. They are what got you to your own piece of this world. I’ve spent 16 years fixated on the fact that my decisions cost my children a traditional family. I focused on the happy families around me and ached as I sent my kids to separate homes every weekend. I’ve broken and rebroken my family and I’ve blamed myself for over a decade. I’ve studied every angle and tried to solve an unsolvable problem because no matter what, I cannot fix this.

Acceptance:

“I cannot fix this.”

I cannot change what has happened. I cannot change their lifestyle. I cannot change that they are slowly morphing into adults. I cannot change that a sixteen-year-old does not want to cuddle with her mother and I cannot change that an eleven-year-old soon wont want to either. I’ve realized that fear of the future has left me discontented with the present. It’s awful.

I can change that.

I can accept.

I can accept that they will be adults soon. Because accepting and liking do not have to be synonymous. I don’t have to like that 2017 will send my oldest daughter acceptance letters into colleges. But I can accept it because she has worked her butt off to get to that moment, and I am proud. I don’t have to like that shortly thereafter my dinner table will be one plate short. But I can accept it because it is the moment I have been preparing her for. And she will be fantastic.

I will accept that my house could be more spacious and there is little room for parking because I worked my butt off to save up for a down payment. I will accept that I have an unconventional family because the one I have loves the heck out of me. I will accept that my writing career hasn’t taken off because the jobs I have chosen allowed me to miss only a few childhood moments. I will accept the mistakes I have made and will stop looking back at them. I will accept that my fiancé came with his own set of flaws that has nothing to do with me. I will accept all of this and more because with acceptance comes contentment and I’ve paid my dues. And in 2017, I’ve decided I deserve contentment.

My children will in fact move out of our home and create their own. It’s what I want for them because the other option denies them growth. Besides,  I look at the present day relationship I have with my mother and my sister and I know I will someday have that new kind of bond with my girls and suddenly them leaving becomes less scary.

We are often taught to accept others, yet rarely are we told to accept ourselves and without the latter the former tends to fail. 2017 will not be scary. I will not let it because this is my goal. I will make a list of things I’d like to change, work on the ones I can and accept the ones I can’t.

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What will you accept in 2017?

 

 

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This Is Where It Starts

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I got into my car and as I was about to close the door I heard a shrieking sound. Always hyper alert to people/animals in distressed I stood silently and listened. After the third shriek I could tell it was a puppy or small dog. I was in a back alley of a nearby town that has been catching a lot of slack for crime lately. I followed the sound and walked to the end of the alley and gazed across the street into the parking lot of a grocery store. I hugged my body and a puff of white air came out of my mouth.

“Don’t you think it’s a little cold to be outside with out a coat?” a man said from behind me. I didn’t turn to look at him, I just stared intensely, listening for the distressing sound.

I felt the man get closer. I wasn’t frightened even though it was getting dark and I was  alone in an alley with a stranger. Much to my mother’s dismay, I lose the ability to be afraid when an animal is in peril. It’s how I ended up carrying a rabid raccoon out of the woods. It’s as  compassionate as it is stupid.

“I keep hearing a noise,” I said. “It sounds like a dog crying. It’s upsetting and I can’t leave until I find it.”

“He’s in a car over there,” the man stretched his arm out in front of me and pointed to a car across the way. “He’s in a car crying for his owner. I’ve been listening to him too, he’s okay.”

I smiled and turned to the man.  He was a skinny man probably in his forties and wore a hat and winter gloves. He smiled back at me. “Thank you,” I said. “You made me feel much better. I can go home now.”

I turned to walk back through the alley to get to my car. As I walked away I could see him return to a bench where he sat next to a garbage bag filled with clothes, a blanket and a few other belongings. He caught me looking at him and again he smiled. His words, “it’s too cold to be out here without a coat,” ran through my head. The dog sitting in a car waiting to go home ran through my head. Me telling him “I can go home now,” ran through my head. From my car I watched him until I felt awkward. I wondered if he had somewhere to go for the night that was “too cold to be outside without a coat.” On my way home it dawned on me that I would know exactly what to do to help the dog had he been homeless, but not a clue what to do for the man. I wished I would have went to the store and bought him food. I wished I would have asked him if he needed anything. I wished I would have done something. But I didn’t.

That day I had ironically just come from working at a clothing drive. It’s the same clothing drive I worked at last year. It’s the same clothing drive that two years in a row has caused me to duck into the bathroom and cry without anyone seeing. Watching people sort humbly through mounds of unwanted clothes is fairly life altering. I can’t understand the rationale that results in some of us getting to enjoy life while others can’t. I don’t understand why some children get to thrive while others don’t. I’ve always told my daughters to never be the cause of someone’s bad day because it is not their right. It’s just not.

I see the world getting uglier by the day. I see people fighting over stupidity while others are fighting to stay warm. I see people shaming one another on social media over differences in opinion when others are wondering if they will eat today. I see one child demand all things name brand while another child squeals at the site of the pretty pink hand-me-down sun dress she dug out of a pile.

“Put it back, you need clothes that will keep you warm,” her mother said.

We all live in America but we live in an America that is far more divided than we realize. We’re divided by those who throw away food and those who eat scraps or not at all; we’re divided by those who are bullied and those who are not. We’re divided by those who are abused and those who are not, and those who are drug addicts and those who are not. We understand those who are like us and often dismiss those who are not. Society is declining and the only way to change it is vicariously through our children. If you are not actively teaching your child how to make the world a better place for everyone there’s a great possibility they may only make it a better place for themselves.

I’m no parenting expert but I do know that everyday we need to outwardly teach our children to not only respect themselves and their teachers but to respect all living beings. Being respectful and kind is not being weak. It’s being heroic and useful and we are desperately in need of more heroes. We can no longer walk past certain people as if they do not count. We cannot teach our children to follow the footsteps of indifference. If being kind is the only difference your child can make they are still making a difference to every person they are kind to.

I’m challenging my daughters to, in the next ten days, make at least someone’s life better. And I am challenging all of you to do the same. Have them pay if forward in the most uplifting way possible and be the cause for someone’s good day because everyone deserves one. The man on the bench deserves one. The child being bullied deserves one. The puppy in the car deserves one.

This is where it starts. Kindness is the simple beginning to solving a complex problem. I may be naive but I firmly believe that lack of compassion is at the root of most problems. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be kind.

This is where it starts.

 

 

 

 

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Dance Mom Failure

If you’re a dance mom you will understand when I say that picture weekend is the cluster-f@#k of the dance world. If you’re a naturally unorganized, last minute, forgetful dance mom like me, picture weekend becomes the cluster f@#kiest of the dance world.

I never feel more intimidated than when I am in a room full of mothers armed with garment steamers and flat irons while their perfectly pony-tailed children in their perfectly tailored costumes silently practice picture poses.  And here I am with Little Sister’s tutu looking as if it was just pulled out of the Flying Dutchmen’s buried treasure chest and Big Sister’s seventeen safety pin alteration job. And never mind the runs on her ballet tights because those tights cost $23 and she will wear them until the runs on her tights turn into tights on her runs!

Sigh.

Nineteen hours and an empty bottle of Xanax later and the other mothers are neatly collapsing their stow-a-way garment racks and organizing their makeup Caboodles. My children and I grab our grocery bag of drugstore makeup and wheel our dilapidated aluminum clothing rack out of the room while trying to keep all its pieces together. And I say the same thing I say every year, “next year’s gonna be different.”

I break apart my fourteen dollar clothing wrack, which is now down to three wheels, and shove the pieces into the trunk of my car on top of last years recital costumes. Although things didn’t go off without a hitch I still get into my car with a smile because…it’s over. I smile like a fool and turn the key when the most dreaded words come out of Little Sister’s mouth…

“I wanna join team.”

What?! No! Why? What is happening?

The competitive dance team falls below child abduction but above Mama grizzly bear encounter  on my greatest fears list. Even after watching The Revenant, I’d still rather be in Leo’s shoes than to live up to the expectations of a competitive dance mom. Because, spoiler alert, at least he survived.

Instantly, the words of last year skipped tauntingly through my brain because 365 days ago I told Little Sister if she made an improvement and really showed me she was dedicated I’d let her do it. I’d let her audition to join team. But Little Sister’s a mini me and therefore a mini mess. She has the attention span of a gold fish cracker. Seriously, her Barbie dolls are all three quarters of the way dressed because she moves onto Legos before she can finish making a modest woman out of them. Surely she wouldn’t still want to do team a year later.

WRONG!

“My teachers all tell me how much better I’ve gotten.”

Dammit!

One of my rules to myself as a mother is that I do not break promises to my children. Not because I want them to feel entitled to everything but because I want them to understand the importance of your word. Ugh, why do I have to be such a good mom?!

That was Sunday. Come Wednesday Little Sister’s mouth had grown attached to my ear whispering pros and cons about joining the dance team. And by cons I mean more pros because as far as Little Sister is concerned the dance team recently started pooping Minecraft diamonds.

Wednesday evening I walk the girls into dance and I bite the bullet. I pay my tuition (late) and tell the office manager that Little Sister is interested in joining team.

There is an awkward pause accompanied by a look that says:

YOU?…HER?

I smile as I push Little Sister, who is still fixing her ballet bun for a thirty minute class that started seven minutes ago, out of view. By this point the woman realizes I’m not punking her and begins to express the importance of commitment and dedication.

Seriously, I could be offended but I’m realistic so I get it. Little Sister’s lack of an attention span and my lack of…well an attention span, isn’t a secret in the studio. We forget things, we show up late, we have stir-up tights when they should be full footed, pink when they should be tan, and I’m pretty certain Little Sister has been showing up for a dance class that she’s not even enrolled in. So what do I do?

Little Sister is currently hard at work writing a report on why she wants to join the competitive dance team and I’m sitting here wishing  we lived in Bomont, pre Ren McCormack.

Help.

DISCLAIMER: Our makeup is not drugstore. If anyone believed Big Sister to have anything besides Kat Von D she would just die. Everything else is true.

To be continued…

 

 

 

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Ten Things Little Sister Wants for Xmas and Why She’s Not Getting Them

As sweet and considerate as Little Sister is 364 days a year, once a year she throws reason out the window and creates her Christmas list. Here is this year’s:

  1. Apple Mac Book.

First off, Little sister has a laptop already. But just for shits and giggles I looked it up. The one she wants is $1,899…on sale.

$1,899!!!! ON SALE!? does Steve Jobs hand deliver his Mac Books? Because otherwise…no. And even if he does…still no. And mainly because of it’s price and not because he is dead and it would be scary as shit.

2. A pug

We have two 80 pound dogs. So, technically we already have 16 pugs.

3. A hoverboard

What? Do these actually exist or have I opened her Christmas list from the future?

4. Gymnastics bar and horse

Little Sister mastered a front flip for the first time on the school’s playground like three minutes ago and now she thinks she’s Mary Lou Retton (or some current gymnast- I’m about as into gymnastics as Little Sister was four minutes ago) and as random as Little Sister is she may very well mean a real horse.

5. Gymnastic chalk

Ok…I’d actually buy her this but without gift number four it would kinda seem mean.

7. One Direction

I’m kinda unclear as to what this means. Does she want tickets to a One Direction concert? Does she want the actual band members themselves? Or is this philosophical and she’s wishing for better focus in life? Knowing Little Sister she wants the actual real life boys. Even though I really wouldn’t mind having them around the house the cheapest one is worth like 30 million and I just spent my last 30 mil on Gerard Butler. So. Sorry.

8. Polaroid Camera

What? Where is she getting this stuff from? She has an Iphone, IPod Touch and a digital camera. All of which I am certain take pictures. So, no.

9. Gum

Provided this isn’t an acronym for something absurd I can probably swing this.

10. Snoopy Snow Cone Machine

Ok…now I am certain the Ghost of Christmas Past is visiting my child. Or maybe it is Steve Jobs. Either way this will come out of the box once and get sold at next year’s yard sale for 10 cents.

Good luck middle class parents….good luck :/

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The Seven Super Hero Parents Responsible For My Guilty Conscience

This week alone I counted ninety-seven times that I felt bad about my parenting and you might be why. If you fall into any of the following superhero parenting categories, you are responsible for the declination of my mental health.

In no particular order:

1. The Earlier-Than-Thou Bus Stop Parent

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This parent gets to the bus stop thirty minutes early just in case. The bus stop is my driveway and we still can’t get there on time. These parents have formed bus stop relationships. I hear them sharing recipes as I’m running toward them with Little Sister’s forgotten lunchbox. They are still standing around talking when I’m leaving for work. I know the names of none of them. Well, other than Kyle. Kyle’s the preschooler whose mom is always saying, “wave bye bye to big brother, Kyle. Wave bye bye.”

2. The FAN-tastic Parent

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This parent knows the name of every player on the team. She yells, cheers and berates the ump and no one better mess with her kid, although she’ll call him out for running too slow or missing a fly ball. She knows every rule and is in charge of the raffle. And I’m like, “am I at the right field?”

3. So and So’s Mom

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(I’m not exactly sure what’s going on in this picture but just so we’re clear, I do not support the serving of alcohol to children…Unless it’s whiskey and you’re trying to get them to sleep…I’m almost definitely kidding)

So and So’s mom is the mom your kid is always comparing you to.

“Well So and So’s mom allows friends to stay til midnight.”

“So and So’s mom always allows parties.”

“So and So’s mom doesn’t care what we do.”

Her house is the social gathering after Friday night football games and she knows all the hot gossip. Clearly, So and So’s mom is a drug dealer. No wonder So and So’s mom has a Mercedes and an indoor pool. I’d have parties too but my house meets maximum capacity when both of my kids have one friend over. Maybe I’ll become a drug dealer too; I’ve watched Weeds.

4. The Momnipresent

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She’s everywhere. Football game…she’s there. PTA meeting…she’s there. Class party….she’s there. She is the center of the elementary school and in charge of every committee and sub committee. She speaks at the PTA meetings and prolongs the school board meetings with her questions.  She’s responsible for chocolate milk no longer being served in the cafeteria and the other mom’s secretly hate her. She wears mom jeans and has no idea her husband left her six months ago. If you ever need to get in touch with her, her contact information is somehow attached to every email sent by the school. If you need to get in touch with me….I’m not really sure what my email address is. Or my phone number…I think it ends with a 4.

5. The Gummy Bear Mom

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She’s a gummy bear because she’s as cute and as sweet as the red ones. She has blonde hair that’s always in a ponytail and wears cute little American Eagle T Shirts. She is the ray of light at every PTA meeting and I can’t tell if the other moms love or hate her for it. She’s never mad, like…ever, and your kid always runs to hug her. She’s the go-to-mom when you need an ear and she gives you her undivided attention.  I can only assume she has a machete stashed somewhere because according to the laws of probability, no one is this perfect.

I have one American Eagle T-shirt. It was a hand-me-down from Big Sister before she stumbled into a Hot Topic store. Now she just wears black.

6. Mother Theresa

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This mom has been blessed with the patience of a saint. She has, like, nine kids and doesn’t bat an eye at chaos and disorder. She has the ‘more the merrier’ mindset and her kids usually have ice cream stains on their shirts. She is easily confused with the Gummy Bear Mom but doesn’t have her shit quite as together. She always has a child hanging from her, and her husband conveniently works really late hours.

My kids, on the other hand, are currently tied together by their ponytails in a closet somewhere.

7. The Dommy

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This is the Daddy/Mommy tag team parenting combo. They are sooo in this together that it’s hard to tell where he ends and she begins. I’m a single mom so I hate these guys as much as I love them. They do everything together and he’s the only dad the teachers know by name. Between the two, they’re a mixture of all of the above. They go kayaking and hiking and travel around the world as a family. He was in the Peace Corps and she was a Catholic school teacher before becoming a stay at home mom. I’m trying desperately to get them to adopt me.

8. The TransPARENT

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Okay this one isn’t a super hero parent, but I’m including her because she makes me feel better about myself. She is the center of negativity and focuses her attention on the male teachers and…your husband. She may or may not be married…no one really knows. She wears a wedding band but no one has actually seen him. She doesn’t say much but when she speaks up it’s usually a really strong opinion about something insignificant. She thrives off of attention and thinks you don’t like her because you are jealous. I always find myself friends with her because we are both always late to assemblies.

So there you have it. The seven super hero parents who make me feel like crap. I give you guys credit. You make it look so easy while I’m over here like, WTF?!

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Turtle Piss

This may be THE worst day EVER! If you think your day is going as bad as mine than clearly you too were pissed on by a snapping turtle!

Yes. That’s right.

My day had already started out shitty and the last words out of my supervisor’s mouth was, “it’ll get better.” Little did she know that eleven minutes later I would  be knocking on my client’s door, drenched in turtle piss.

I have the inability to not help an animal in crisis. So when I saw this jackass in the middle of the road trying to cross the last two lanes of a busy four-way highway, I didn’t think twice. I jumped out of the car, picked him up and ran him across the last two lanes all while the bastard tried DESPERATELY to bite me. I’m yelling at him and people are staring. “Don’t you dare bite me you sonofabitch!” and than WOOOOOSH!!! this thing unloads like it was holding it in since March.

“NOOOOOO!”

I’m screaming, he’s pissing, cars are honking and the woman behind me is laughing.

I have to be somewhere in five minutes!

And so I show up at my client’s house with soaking wet pants that smell like old aquarium water. And she’s staring at me like, “and I’m the one who needs a caseworker.”

Help me.

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Pink Underwear

My girls and I went to a wedding yesterday. At the church a woman I don’t know pulled me aside and told me she could see my pink underwear through my tan dress.

“I’d want to know if I were you.”

Flippin’ perfect

I had no other choice but to grab Little Sister and tie her around my waist and drag her to the bathroom.

I turned around and examined my butt in the mirror. Yep! Pink!

I had to do it. What choice did I have? So now I’m standing in the bathroom with a ball of pink panties in my hand and no purse to stash them in. I tried stuffing them in my cleavage…but then I remembered I don’t have a cleavage.  Little Sister was holding a wedding program. That’d have to do. I scrunched them up and wrapped them inside .

“Let’s go.”

Little Sister is mortified.

Sometimes you have to be resourceful.

And I was worried I’d have nothing to blog about.

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