When You Have A Rough Day, Remember How Awesome You Are

Maybe you are having a rough day and need some encouraging words. Maybe you aren’t, but there was that one day last week you felt like you had a gray cloud over your head. Maybe your no-good, terrible, awful day is still to come. I want to use this post to tell you something…

You are awesome.  I think you are amazing, and you are such a rock star to so many.

You know those days where everything just sucks?  You wish you had someone who would just listen to you vent about anything and everything. Sometimes the problems are big and real. Sometimes the way that other mom gave you an evil eye at last night’s meeting really bothered you and you just need to grumble to someone about it. You wish someone would ask you to lunch or to coffee for some time to talk out all your fears, conflicts, or complaints. You are having a moment where you would love someone to help you figure out what you should do or give you ideas on how to handle it all.

We’ve all been there at one point or another.  Know that if you needed someone to remind you how great you are,  if you needed someone to listen to how ticked off you are after the day you’ve had, I’m here for you. And I bet there are other friends who would be there for you too.

I’ve got your back. I’ll lend an ear. There are many others that I know would too. You just have to ask.

Big or small, there is always someone who will help you through it. Someone who will be able to turn the clouds into sunshine. Someone who will pass you a tissue as you let tears fall. There’s someone who will listen, someone to give you a hug, or someone who will just listen  and refill your wine glass as needed :). Let that friend remind you how awesome you are.

On those rough days, hang in there. Ask me  (or someone) to meet you for a walk or for lunch. Be honest and tell me how things are really going. I won’t judge–I will understand you and be there for you. And I will tell you what a great mom I think you are, that your co-worker was totally wrong to say what she said,  that you totally rocked it when you gave that speech last week, or how great you look today.

Because it’s true–you are amazing, and you will get through those cloudy days. And I (and your other friends) will be here for you.

To Those Who Secretly Don’t Like Me

I know there are people who secretly don’t like me. And, you know what? It doesn’t bother me. I do have some things to say about it, though.

We’ve all been there. In our circles of friends, at work,  at our kids’ schools. I’m sure you’ve run into your share of people who you know don’t like you, but they pretend like they do when you are around. You know the ones, the twenty-question folks who are just fishing for gossip or information….”Hi, Julie! What do you think of the new PTO board at school? Aren’t you good friends with that one new board member? What does she say about what happened last year?” Or the people you run into, kind of look you up and down (more judgmentally than not), and greet you in a sugary-sweet, syrupy (basically fake), “Oh, hi! It’s so GREAT to see you! I’ve missed seeing you!” There’s also the last category, the ones that will not talk to you when they are out on their own, but they will act like buddies with you if they are part of a circle you are hanging out with or meeting with.

It reminds me of high school “mean girls” all over again. Here’s how I feel about it all. I’m in my mid-forties. I got over the secret dislike stuff a long, long time ago. I don’t act like I’m “pretend friends” with people I don’t really like. I’m not mean to them, but I don’t act like I’m interested in everything going on with them. I’m polite and MATURE and I will say hello or respond to any questions or conversations they try to have with me. But that’s where it ends. I don’t talk to them to fish for information. I don’t pretend to like them. I’m over that game.  But I won’t treat them with disrespect.

I saw this quote online the other day, and it prompted me to write this post.

I prefer people who are real about their feelings, their friendships and what they care about.

So, to those who secretly dislike me, you don’t have to pretend. Because, most likely, I’m fully aware of how you feel and I’d rather you be real. I’d respect you much more for that.

I’m Not Ashamed to Admit I’ve Had Plastic Surgery

I’ve had plastic surgery. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

When I was pregnant with my twin girls, I gained a crazy amount of weight. I didn’t overeat, I just had two (large) babies growing inside of me. I went full-term for twins (38 weeks) and had to have a c-section scheduled to deliver. By the end of my pregnancy, I weighed more than my six-foot-five husband. No size pregnancy clothes would fit me, and my husband’s extra-large tall shirts wouldn’t either. I had to wear slippers because my feet were so swollen and I couldn’t get my feet into anything. Baby A weighed six pounds, thirteen ounces; Baby B weighed six pounds, seven ounces. Large, healthy twins! Once the girls were born and I recovered from my c-section, I knew we were done growing our family and decided it was time to get my  body into shape.

I started going to Weight Watchers, and my sister challenged me to do a half marathon with her which was six months away. I worked on getting healthier nutritionally, and I started getting back into shape at the gym. But not all of my body wanted to bounce back. Having the twins did crazy things to my stomach. Muscles were torn in my abdominal wall, and I had a sagging pouch of skin that hung down and looked like some weird smiley face. I constantly had to “tuck” the extra skin into my workout clothes and pants. It bothered me.

I mentioned to my husband how much I hated how my stomach looked after twins and after weight loss. I told him jokingly I needed one of those Mommy Makeovers. He said he’d support whatever I decided. I thought about our conversation for a couple weeks, and I decided I really should seriously consider surgery.

I made the decision to wait until the twins turned two–I wanted to make sure I could keep the weight off and that I would maintain a fitness routine before I decided to spend a lot of money on surgery that was only cosmetic. I continued my routine, and once their second birthday approached, I scheduled a consult with a highly respected plastic surgeon in town.

I was scheduled for a Mommy Makeover to fix my abdominal area, and enhance some other areas. Recovery was not awful–it was difficult, though, trying to not do too much so everything would heal correctly while caring for twin toddlers and a kindergartener.

Am I embarrassed to tell people I had surgery? No. I don’t go around and tell people I had it, but if they ask me about it, I’m happy to tell them what I had done and why I decided to have it. I think that if someone would feel better about themselves and more confident by having cosmetic surgery, then they should go for it.

Do I feel better about my body? Absolutely! Once everything healed, and once I could get back to working out and living my normal routine, I was so glad I made the decision. I didn’t cringe when I looked in the mirror, and I could wear my pants like normal people (without having to tuck in my flap of skin).

Yep, I’ve had plastic surgery, and I’m happier about my body because of it.

Today’s Inspiration: I’m Glad I Waited Until My 30’s To Get Married

In my younger years, I assumed my life would go something like this: graduate high school, go off to college, meet a great guy, get engaged, get married right after college, have a couple children by my mid to late-twenties.  When I look back, I know that could have been my life, and things could have happened that way. Instead, I followed another path and ended up getting married in my early 30’s..

I’m glad I waiting until my 30’s to get married (and have children). There are many reasons why, but here are my top reasons:

I got to live and work where I wanted to.
After college, I traveled for a year. I got to visit a bunch of different states and see a lot of the U.S. I also got to choose a job in any city or state I wanted. I did not have to choose one based on where my spouse was going to work/live. This offered a lot of freedom in my 20’s.

I learned to be independent.
I lived in my own apartment, paid my own bills, shopped for my own items, and made my own decisions. I didn’t have a significant other to discuss issues with. I learned to budget everything: my time, my money, etc. I had to think things through and make choices on my own. I moved to a few different states independently in my 20’s, and I learned how much I could handle and how strong I was. It definitely helped me become a more confident and assertive woman.

I got to have fun.
In my 20’s, I got to go out to parties, I went on road trips to visit friends, I dated different guys and learned more about what qualities were important to me in a partner. I stayed out late if I wanted to, slept in if I felt like it, and ate whatever I wanted each night. I had fun, and I didn’t have to worry about a husband or kids at home while I was doing it.

I finished an advanced degree.
I’m not sure if I would have completed my MBA or applied to law schools if I had been married or had  family already. After my oldest was born, I decided to work on my teaching certification and an advanced library science degree. I didn’t finish them. After two semesters and having to find baby sitters, trying to spend time with my husband, and working on growing our family, it was a lot of added stress. Many people manage to do this, but it was so much easier for me to finish my degree and work on coursework when it was just me.

I had my own money.
By the time I got married in my 30’s, I was in an upper-level position at work, I had my own decent salary, and I knew I didn’t need anyone to help me pay the bills.  I knew I could manage on my own financially. It felt empowering to know I could take care of myself and live independently financially.

Would my life look different if I had married out of college? Probably. I’m sure it’d be a good life, and I would hope that it would have been a happy one. But God has plans for all of us, and I’m glad the plan for me was to get married and have children later on. I got to have fun and experience things in my 20’s that I never would have had I married early on. For all my experiences in my younger years, I am grateful.

Today’s Inspiration: It’s Ok To Be “Just A Mom”, Right?

I’ve mostly been a stay-at-home mom for the past eleven years. Yes, I’ve worked part-time for the past four years, but my job is one that allows my workday to end when my kids get home from school. Some of my friends don’t consider my work actual “work” since it’s only three days a week, and it involves working with kids (I beg to differ, but that’s for another post). So, basically, I am a stay-at-home mom more than anything.

Even after the past eleven years, why do I still struggle with telling people I’m just a stay-at-home mom when they ask me what I do for a living? Why do some people look at stay-at-home moms as nothings?

It’s OK to be “just a mom” as a job title, isn’t it? Isn’t parenting the most important job ever? Shouldn’t it be OK to put our kids first, and running our household ahead of a career? So, why do I feel guilty about it? Why do I feel like I don’t have an important “title”?

I’m not knocking working moms. They are amazing. They work full-time jobs and deal with stress at work only to come home in the evening so they can make dinner, help with homework, manage household chores, and take kids to and from activities. They are super heroes.

But aren’t stay-at-home moms just as amazing? They often are the ones that volunteer at schools and help run the PTO. They are able to help neighbors with their kids during the day. Husbands don’t have to take days off of work to handle any maintenance issues and daytime appointments because stay-at-home moms can do it. These moms are super heroes too, right?

Yes, the guilt comes sometimes, I am embarrassed to state that I’m just a mom, and I feel like I need some other important title. But, you know what? I love being a mom. I love being able to stay home with my girls and help at their schools when I can. My mom job is tougher than any job I’ve ever held in the corporate world. I know not everyone can afford to stay home, and I’m grateful that I can choose to.

You know what? It is OK to be “just a mom”. In fact, most days it rocks.

Today’s Inspiration: The Day We (Sadly) Realized We Needed a Minivan

I never had any desire to be a minivan-driving mom. Never. As a young adult, I thought minivans were not very cool at all. They were ugly. I would never be caught dead driving one. No way. Nada.

Eric and I had our first daughter, Avery, and all was good. I drove a pickup truck (I had always dreamed of owning one as a teen and twenty-something) when she was born, and I quickly realized it wasn’t the most ideal vehicle for a mom and a baby. So Eric traded cars with me. I took his Jeep Cherokee and he drove the bright blue truck around.

Everything was great for a few years, the truck got traded in for a more family-friendly SUV. We were happy with our cars and toting Avery around. Then, we found out we were having twins.

I will never forget the day I admitted we really needed to get a minivan. Eric and I were sitting at a local bar and grill. I was six months pregnant with our twin girls, and pretty huge already. I was driving Avery, still in a car seat, around in a vehicle that I knew would never hold her seat along with two infant seats. I remember watching Eric drinking his beer while we were waiting for our food and saying, almost in tears, “You know, these twins will be here soon, and we need to talk about something. I think we need to get a minivan.”

I think Eric was in denial at first. He shook his head no, laughed and responded with, “No, we will be fine. We don’t need a minivan.” He looked at me like I was crazy. Sadly, I shrugged my shoulders and told him I disagreed.

As the weeks went by, the minivan idea reappeared in our conversations, and we agreed that yes, with twins arriving soon, we definitely needed a minivan.It was like a cruel joke. I never in my dreams wanted to be a minivan-driving mom. But, given our situation with three small children and lots of car seats to deal with, I realized I would have to become a minivan mom. I am not kidding when I thought I would cry.

However, the minivan, even though not very cool or stylish, was a lifesaver those next few years. Captain chairs meant being able to hook the infant seats in easily. Doors that opened on their own meant getting toddlers and young preschoolers into the car easily during afternoon car lines at school. Three rows meant space for little ones to sit keep their hands off of each other during vacations and road trips. And the DVD player might have just been a gift from God, keeping everyone entertained and calm while we focused on getting to our next destination.

A couple of weeks ago, we gave up that minivan. As much as I disliked that vehicle, I have to admit it was the perfect car  for our family while we were raising young girls. A little part of me was sad to see the minivan go. I am glad we have moved past the minivan stage, but I have to say….thank you, minivan, for being there when our family was growing fast and we desperately needed you.  You were actually a great car.

Today’s Inspiration: Why I’ve Decided to Stop Weighing Myself

A couple weeks ago, I made a decision that has eliminated some unneeded stress from my life.  I made the decision to stop weighing myself.

Here’s the deal: I have dealt with weight issues for decades. I was bulimic in high school, dealt with anorexia in my early twenties and then again in my early thirties. It wasn’t the “my boyfriend broke up with me, I’m sad and don’t feel like eating for a few days” stuff, but an eating disorder that required group and individual counseling, the threat of not returning to college if I didn’t work on getting better, and the loss of a boyfriend and some friendships because of my relationship with food. I would count calories and make sure I didn’t eat more than 600 a day, and then I’d head to the gym and make sure I burned off the 600 I ate. I’d become obsessed with certain foods. I loved eating a bowl of plain rice, measured out, most meals because it didn’t have many calories. Steamed veggie plates and salads without dressing were my go-to’s when I went out to eat. Now that I’ve been in a good relationship with food for a while, I can see how stressful my life had become because everything revolved around food and calorie-counting.

Growing up, my family was a weight-conscious one. Members constantly pointed out who gained weight, who lost weight, who looked  good, who should watch what they eat, etc. Being thin was and is an important value to many of them. Growing up with this around me and worrying about food, for me, was exhausting and emotional.

As a parent, I have made a huge effort to not talk about diets in front of my girls. I get angry if people make comments about my daughters’ body shapes. I’m probably overly-protective about this because I don’t want them to feel bad about their bodies like I did. I want them to have a healthy relationship with food.  We talk a lot about making healthy choices, eating from the food groups, eating when we are truly hungry, and enjoying dessert (just not with every meal of the day).We talk about the importance of doing something active to keep muscles, hearts, and minds strong. Although I’ve slipped a few times, I try not to complain about parts of my body–but we all have days where nothing seems to fit or look right, or we overdid it at dinner and complain we feel completely bloated and stuffed.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw this quote:

How true this quote is! It took me a very long time to figure out that the number on the scale had nothing to do with how much others cared about me or how beautiful I was. It was just a number. My friends and husband didn’t chose me because of that number. They chose me for me. They valued me because of who I was on the inside, not if I could fit into a size zero or not.

Instead of getting on the scale each week and watching it go up and down the same four or five pounds, and instead of having my girls see me check my weight on the scale constantly, I’ve made the decision to stop weighing myself.

I don’t want them to see me jumping on the scale each morning and grumbling about the two pounds I gained from last night’s dinner. I personally don’t want to be in a great mood for a few pounds to magically disappear by mid-afternoon, only to have my good mood drop because I see it reappear a couple days later. It’s just adding extra stress to my days.

Instead, I’m going to keep continuing what I do. I eat healthy, and I head to the gym four or five times a week. I limit desserts, but I enjoy them when I want to.  I’m going to continue to make good choices and make healthy decisions that are good for my body.

Yes, I live in a community where size seems to matter. Lots of moms around me are always dieting, doing different cleanses, and really restricting what they eat. It can be difficult and it can start to make me feel insecure around them. None of us have the same metabolism, the same body shape, or the same height. We are all built differently by God. So another reason I am eliminating the scale is because I’m done competing with them. Our numbers are never going to be the same, and I have learned to be OK with that. It’s my job to take care of my body and keep it healthy, whether that means I take care of a size extra-small body or a size medium body.

After all, the number on the scale is not important to my kids or my husband. It doesn’t tell anyone anything about who I am, what I’m interested in, or how I feel. It’s just a number. What’s most important is how I feel about me and that I am taking care of myself.

 

Today’s Inspiration: For The Preschool Mom Regarding Wardrobe Wars

Dear Preschooler Mom,

I know that things can be stressful in the mornings and that getting your child ready for preschool can be challenging some (or all) days. There’s something I want you to know–I don’t care what your child wears to preschool.

I know that you might have other children whose school day starts earlier and it’s easiest for you to put your preschooler in the car in his pajamas rather than wake him up at the crack of dawn. I also know that sometimes your child wants to wear pajamas to school.

I know that your daughter might put 10 brightly-colored bows in her hair and want to wear her new hairdo to preschool to show her friends and teachers..

I know that your child might want to dress himself and prefers his red-checkered shirt with his purple shorts and cowboy boots.

I know that your son might have a favorite dinosaur shirt and want to wear it to school. Every single day.

As your child’s teacher, I want you to know that I don’t care what your child wears to school. I want your child to come to school happy, comfortable, and feeling good. My classroom is not a fashion show. My classroom is a place to learn through play, make friends, practice social skills, and have fun.

Please let your child wear his pajamas to school if he wants to. Let your daughter wear all those bows in her hair because she’s so proud of her work.Let your child show off his unique and creative style. Let your child wear the same shirt if it helps him feel more comfortable coming to school.  I want your child to know that my classroom is a place he can come to and feel loved, valued, and secure.

Love,

Your Preschool Teacher