Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Moms: The Cockroaches of Emotional Warfare

I know, catchy title.

But when you think of it, aren't we, as women, just about the hardest creatures on Earth to crack? Are we not the human equivalent of cockroaches when it comes to getting back up when there should be no possible way that we could or should?

From the get go, there is drama. I see the difference between my boys and the little girls we are in contact with. With girls, everything is about the drama. I think it is a warm up exercise to what we go through as adults. And while this might sound cynical, I am truly not mocking.

I think that women, particularly mothers, put themselves aside for the well being of others. And often, it is more than any heart should have to bear.

Broken hearts. Everyone has a couple of these lurking around. Whether it is puppy love or a bitter divorce, women converge to help the afflicted along. Armed with Ben and Jerry, a bottle of vodka or both, your girlfriends, sisters, etc. will be there to hold you up, tell you are justified, to you to just F*** Him. Just what we need, in the right dosage.

Friendships betrayed. This drama usually finds its peak in middle school and high school. Intrigue and soap opera antics never fail to deliver the bemoaning and the fledging alliances. But sometimes, these new friendships will pass the test of time, and more often than not, they will be the ones that support you through some of the hardest stuff you will encounter in life.

Messed up families. How do you reconcile relatives that often make you wonder how on God's green Earth you could possibly be related to them? You love them, but can't expose yourself or your kids to their ways, bringing sadness, denial, unwillingness to accept. But the ability to look at a situation truthfully, and be able to walk away without regrets takes some serious gumption.

Work related drama. Both yours and your spouse's. If it is heart-wrenching to experience it first hand, it is even harder to hear about it happening to your spouse. The conniving evil that some people spout off is just unbelievable. I often wonder why some people choose to make so much trouble, cause so much harm. What's wrong with them?

Motherhood. Nothing piles up the emotional arsenal like motherhood. The hormones, the sleep deprivation, the worry. Am I doing it right? Are they okay? Will I mess them up too much? Motherhood breaks your heart like nothing else. After all, these children are a piece of you. Your body grew them and sheltered them for nine months. The first two years of these children's lives are spent assuring their survival, marveling at their growth and newfound skills. Their elementary years are filled with making sure they know right from wrong; their adolescent years spent making sure that they practice it. Then, they leave. As they must. And with them, they take a piece of you. If you've done your job right, you get to enjoy them in a different capacity.

I think that the common thread here is that women have hope. They have hope when the odds are stacked against them. They have hope when everyone else in the world is ready to call the game and head home. That hope is born from love. Love of our families, love of our friends and love for making sure that wrongs are righted, that justice prevails, that the happy ending happens. In spite of the odds, is spite of the difficulties.

Rest assured, when an emotional holocaust is omnipresent, there will be a group of women who lead the way, to help support those who need some wind in their sails, to hold the hand and comfort those who need it, to tell a raunchy joke and alleviate the tension. In spite of a broken heart. Finding the strength where there might be none. Because it is in our nature to be indestructible like no other creature.

We are there.

The cockroaches, and us.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Saying Yes -- To Me

There are many things on this Earth that require an incredible amount of faith, of taking an enormous leap and just jumping into the thick of things. Marriage, parenting, friendship, faith in ourselves. All of them require an affirmative answer to unasked questions: Yes.

When you marry, inevitably, a question gets asked; an answer is given. But before that question and answer, there are many moments that clearly define where you are going, what you are sharing, what you are seeking. And in gestures, in nonverbal acceptance, the yes comes. Yes to creating a life and home with someone. Yes to maybe going to bed angry once in a while, but knowing that the anger will subside, the cheeriness will return and all will be well. Yes to piles of chores and things to do, but always with companionship.

In parenting, the yes begins with the incredible leap from two to the thought of baby makes three (or 4, right Emily?) In the positive pregnancy test. In the delivery and congratulations that new babies bring. Afterwards, we walk around in a cloud of positives and a sleep-deprived state. And many decisions. Yes, we want the best for our offspring, but the no's come in rapid succession. Sometimes, we could have easily said yes, and we wonder why we don't more often...

Is it that we are afraid that they will become accustomed to having their way? Or are we afraid that they will not know how to handle when things don't go their way?

In friendship, we say yes to helping, supporting, enjoying each other's company. We lean on one another when situations call for it, hold hands when things are difficult, share in celebrating the joyous occasions that life brings.

But how many of us say yes to ourselves?

How many of us do for ourselves like we do for our spouses, our children, our friends? How often do we drop everything when we feel sick? How many of us call in sick to work when our child is running the slightest temperature, but will drag ourselves, half dead to work, on an ongoing basis?

We often short change ourselves with respects to parenting skills, too. We sometimes falter in the day to day stuff of parenting and worry that we are screwing up our kids. But, aren't we doing the best we know how, with our hearts in the wrong place? Don't we provide them with a clearly defined support system? Don't we encourage them from the very start? Don't we soothe them when they are upset?

Why don't we do it for ourselves?

It has taken me a long time to realize that yes to me means not being too hard on myself when I goof up, giving myself a little more credit than I usually do, and not feeling guilty when I do something that is just for me. Because, when I say yes to myself, I am happier. I am a better partner to my husband. I am more likely to say yes to my kid's non life-threatening request to doing something that will bring them happiness. I am a better friend to those who bring me happiness. I am a better me.

Saying yes to my needs and wants is just as important as saying yes to my husband, my kids, my friends. Saying yes to me helps me renew me, makes me someone others want to be around.

As I see it, there are enough martyrs in the world. I am not cut out to be something that I am not. However, I do believe in improving myself.

And really, who could say no to being better company for others, and more importantly, yourself?

Monday, December 6, 2010

We Don't Live in a Pig Sty!!!

For the last few weeks, it feels as though that phrase is all that comes out of my mouth when I look around my home. There is clutter, of course, because we have three children. But apparently, the clutter, much like it's amorous neighbor, laundry baskets, likes to get frisky and multiply.

I am sick of picking up after people. I realize that I have a long way to go in this never-ending race; but seriously, I feel as though I am living in a frat house. No one cares if things are growing on the bathroom floor, the garbage is overflowing or whether or not you can walk on the floor. And it would be really cool to make a wall entirely of empty milk jugs...All we need is a toga party to be right up there with Animal House...

I get it. Boys are messy. They smell if not reminded to bathe and practice personal hygiene. They like to grow hair and nails (on both their hands and feet). But what about having some dignity? And the whole messy house thing? I cannot deal with it. I work a full day. I come home to homework and making dinner. Sometimes, I would like to go for a walk or read a book. But, I ignore the clutter like I ignore the laundry and it debilitates me.

I glance from corner to corner, wondering why people send my children gifts, wondering if they will ever understand that I cannot (and will not) jump over book bags, lunch boxes, binders and other junk in order to walk from one end of the house to the other.This evening, when I walked into one of the boys room to put away some of their stuff, I found clothes on the bed, hangers on the floor, shoes everywhere, and the drawers in the dresser bulging open. When I opened said drawers (or tried to) I couldn't. The shirts and whatnot were so crammed in there, I had to take everything out and re-fold them. And I was angry.

Because I think a little neatness can go a long way. Because a little neatness can make my life a lot easier. Because there are children that are old enough to go through their things, get rid of the stuff that they no longer use or need. They can use things, and then put them back where they belong after they no longer need or want them.

But they are not entirely to blame. Perhaps it is my own fault. In an effort to be efficient, I have always gotten restless waiting for the kids to finish picking up. And I jump in to do it. Or, I tell them that the way they were doing it was not the "right" way. And so I would show them, and end up doing it myself. So, I guess that the saying , "You reap what you sow" is really true.

So now, it's time for this little piggy to pick up his towel. And this little piggy to pick up his shoes. And this other little piggy to pick up toys and put them in right place. So that we don't live in a pig sty.

Easy Ways To Be Happy

In the monotony of daily life, chasing after happiness can seem like an endless, really big project. And sometimes, it is. But sometime...