Category: being a girl

say, say, say

So many of them float around these days…

10 Things Not To Say To A…New Mom, Working Mom, Mom of Multiples, Mom of Child with Special Needs, Stay-At-Home Mom, Homeschooling Mom, Mom of Many Children, Mom of Only Child, Single Mom, Mom Wearing a Surgical Mask, Mom Singing Milli Vanilli in The Grocery Line…

You get what I am saying?

I know many of these categories (and especially a few I have not listed), are sensitive areas. Fact is, unless we have walked in certain shoes, we have no idea what another mom is going through. Does that make it wrong to reach out in an attempt to connect?

Not many of my 20-something friends knew how to relate to me when I was a 26 year old, infertile stepmom of teenagers. And not many of my friends related to my experiences with a household of 2 teens, 2 in diapers, business owner, and frequent travel, on a bus. And hardly any of my friends can keep up with the schooling decisions I make and re-make or my seemingly-constantly-changing jobs or projects.

So sometimes, a well-meaning acquaintance, fellow mom, even close friend, might say something that rubs me the wrong way, annoys me, offends, makes me feel stupid, makes me feel inadequate, makes me feel indignant, or makes me cry. It happens.

I could nit-pick. (Hmm. And I could write a list of Things Not To Say To A Mom Whose Home Has Been Infested With Lice and She is FREAKING Out About It, but that’s another blog). I could say, “You know, since you don’t know anything about blended families, maybe you don’t have the wisdom to make an observation about our custody arrangements” or “Why yes, as a work-at-home mom, I do sometimes need a babysitter because whether I take a call in an office building or my dining room, the person on the other end can’t hear when my two toddlers are shouting the lyrics to ‘Elmo’s World.'” And quite honestly, I could have stared daggers through the years through people who made some sort of comment about my bonus daughter, 13 years older than Randa, being their mommy. But you know…

My concern comes in here: How many of these lists needs to be written, read, applauded, and shared, before we just… stop… saying… anything?

sssshIn a quest to be sensitive, I will only draw from my own experience. Probably the hardest thing I’ve had to walk through as a ‘mom-type-person’ is infertility. My journey was relatively short compared to others, and it inevitably had my fairy tale outcome. But in the mean time… there were 2.5 years of longing, of negative tests, of humiliating procedures, of bad news from a specialist, of 20+ women I knew getting pregnant (some multiple times in that period), and lots and lots and LOTS of unsolicited, well-meaning pep talks.

A random internet search brought me to this list of 10 things not to say to “your infertile friend.” At casual glance, at least 7 of those things were said to me multiple times, some even by my parents or my husband, who I know would not have hurt me for the world. Also, at the time I was walking through infertility, I was finishing my degree and student teaching, so I constantly heard, “It will happen when you are done with school,” as if that had anything to do with my adhesions, hormonal imbalances, and non-functioning ovary. And because I was an involved stepmom, I also heard “At least you have J & P,” as if their lives were my consolation prize. (PS: Their mom was absolutely awesome to me during this time and was one of the few people who usually did know what to say :)

I had people give me baby blankets and scripture verses. I had adoption agency referrals. I had several friends tell me only with fear and trembling that they were preggers with their 2nd or 3rd (those were the worst. It sucks to think your friends think you won’t be happy for them!) If I were going to make a top ten list, I suppose those things would be on it. But honestly… who the heck needs it?

Would I rather my friends and family ignore my pain? NO.
Would I rather those who cared about me not care about my feelings or try to console me? NO.
Did some of those difficult comments eventually help me grow stronger, consider other points of view, or even just get over myself for a few minutes? Did some of them even turn out to be, gasp, true? ABSOLUTELY!

I know that sometimes, well-meaning conversationalists end up saying all the wrong things. I am raising my hand here, folks. I was born to connect with everyone I meet, and so there are countless times I have said something and immediately wished that toothpaste could, in fact, be put back in the tube. I also subscribe to that Steel Magnolia theory that no one cries alone in my presence, so it is my tendency to want to comfort another person, whether she is dealing with a scary diagnosis for her child or a big career-and-childcare decision. I am also a Wordy Girl, but mostly as a writer, and that sometimes means that what I’ve concocted to say sounds way more sensible and helpful in my head than it does Out There.

So if I encounter a woman walking through Walmart, on a Myrtle Beach Saturday (tourists’ arrival. Steer clear!), with 5 kids holding the cart and 2 in it, and she isn’t screaming or shoving unpaid-for Goldfish in their mouths or possibility holding a wiffle bat in a threatening position, and I say, “I don’t know how you do it!,” I’m of course trying to say, “You rock, mama!” I certainly don’t mean to be saying The Wrong Thing.

Because really, what is the right thing? It is to be silent? I mean, even after going through infertility, I am usually at a loss for something helpful to say to someone else going through it. Is it better I ignore it? If it is, then forget this whole thing, because if the new cultural paradigm is to avoid eye contact and any hope of encouraging others, I’m just going to have to be a bigger weirdo than I thought I was. I want to connect, and as I grow older, my accrued wisdom is helping me know how to choose words, and on occasion, to swallow the words and just be there. That one is harder to figure out, because if not done well, it comes off like cold, uncaring nothing.

I know that there are moms in situations in which truly craptastic comments have been made to or around them by strangers. There are always rude, small-minded people to go around, and chances are, they are not going to be reading parenting articles on their best day. I suppose my hope is that when another mom, especially in a friendly tone, comments on our children or our circumstances with any modicum of sympathy or kindness, can’t we just accept it and move on?

I mean, if I had a dollar for every person who calls my KK a tomboy, or remarks that my girls are opposites – one girly, one not, I’d be buying both our dinners… in Greece (an eating fantasy). My daughters cannot be captured in a snapshot of what they happen to be wearing to church or the store or out to dinner. But at least if someone notices Randa’s princess dress or KK’s Buzz Lightyear shirt, they are paying attention to their fellow human beings. At least they are making human contact. Even if they say the wrong thing, at least they are reaching out.

Maybe some of this is pronounced for me because, even after almost 2 years, I often still feel like The New Girl. It is hard to make new friends as an adult in a smallish town, filled with people who have lived here forever and have all the friends they need or others who have just moved in from someplace else and are also unsure of how to do it. Sometimes I have found myself reaching out with no one to reach back (Currently, kids’ birthday parties are my 30-something equivalent of Prom Night With No Date). If I did not happen to have little children, I know it would be a lot harder. Kids are a common ground, a way to connect; that’s why so many of us know the parents of our kids’ friends as “Emmie’s mom” or “Aiden’s dad.”

The conclusion here, or the point that maybe I should have had you skip to at the beginning: Stop with the lists. Carry on the conversation. Presumptions and assumptions can be insensitive and rude, but someone not knowing you is not a crime, and someone trying to know you should be seen as a gift. Because, at least I believe with all my heart, as moms we are in this together, and I would rather be surrounded by caring voices than cold silence any day.

catch-up

This week is full. But it’s the good kind.

It’s full with work stuff… new things to promote, develop, figure out. Most of that feels good. It also just feels rushed and crazy, but I have a great team of people above and beside me to help me with that.

{especially when I nearly ugly-cry at staff meetings… ah, life as a girl… }

It’s also been full of Mommy-stuff, and this makes me happy, because even though two full plates is too much to fit on one plate, it means that life is resembling some balance. And the Mommy part looks like this:

A New Monday Routine
Sweet Randa finally has a new dance class… and it didn’t matter so much to her that her new leotard was backordered and I packed a wintery one that was a little small and forgot a tutu and so her blue underwear was showing. She was just darn happy to be dancing again. Little Sister, in the mean time, was happy to hang out in the lobby, play with some toys, flip through some books, have me to herself for an hour, and peek through to watch about 5 times…

My initial plan for balance included bringing the girls home for a snack and a breath before the 5:30 class, but since that did not happen, we had to make do:

I think I’m going to like Monday afternoons a whole lot more than Monday mornings!

Another First
There have been so many new things these past few months and weeks, and today was no exception. The girls had their first trip to the dentist. The place we chose (based on recommendations from friends) was great… sunny, cheerful, non-intimidating. And while KK does need a little extra work on the front teeth she bruised in December, both of them received smile-worthy reports.

And they loved the waiting room amenities:

Settling Back Down
After two weeks of wonderful, warm visitors to spoil us, and plenty of excitement, it seems to be time to accept that the season is shifting, and even though the AC is still on, we will embrace chili, pumpkin muffins, spiced candles, and the occasional wearing of sweaters… and new, balanced, Routines.

…well, as routine as this family gets, anyway…

When Harry Met…My Girls

Yesterday, as a special treat, we bought ice cream and baked brownies and planned sundaes.

Disclaimer: my girls do not yet know the genius that is When Harry Met Sally, or how much their mother resembles the high maintenance/on the side-ness of one fictional Sally Albright.

I, too, just want it the way I want it.

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Turns out, so do they: brownie sundaes…brownies…on the side!

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What food do you prefer on the side? And is there anyone in the world who doesn’t love this movie and cackle during the ‘Win, Lose, or Draw’/’baby fishmouth’ scene?

Happy Weekend!

The answered prayer of a hugging person

I actually prayed for a hug yesterday, a specific one, from a woman around my age, one that might feel like a hug from my friend.

I mean, it wasn’t a speak-in-tongues or quote-the-scripture kind of prayer. I just said in my mind, ‘I could use one of those…’ I was watching five vibrant women singing and smiling and emoting while leading worship, and it made me ache for all the awesome women in my life, who have been among my greatest assets, who are now so far away.

I have cried through every church service since we moved here. Part of it is because Sunday service provides such a sweet time to focus on God, His provision, His goodness. Part of it is because I miss my church so much. Part of it is because I feel ridiculous about feeling so ‘lonely’ when I have my husband, my three girls, extremely friendly associates, and pretty much everyone I know at my fingertips via Facebook or texting or gasp, the phone.

And yet, God cares about my petty comforts, apparently. As soon as this particular worship service was over, the pastor introduced the quintessential greeting time of the service by instructing his congregants to find someone to hug..not shake hands, not make introductions, not give ’em a good God-bless-you and a piece of humble pie, but hug. No sooner did I turn around and wipe the smears&tears from my face, then did a woman around my age, also a little glassy eyed, smiling reservedly, was there.

And she hugged me tight.

Like, she held on for a minute, so I could too, without feeling like a weirdo.

I didn’t cry, nor did I make plans to etch her in as my local BFF. We didn’t even exchange names. It was a moment…an answered little prayer, a glimmer of hope, a promise that He’s got my back, just like always.