To be the Queen of Chaos, you have to be a little warped.

Archive for the ‘Personal Stories’ Category

It’s Like Starting Over

Yeah, I kind of crashed and burned for a while on this blogging thing.  I haven’t really known what to say or how to say it without coming off as whiny.

I’m doing my best to juggle everything that is on my agenda these days.  I don’t like to do things half-assed, nor do I like to feel that there are limits to my capabilities, so I can’t say I’m too happy with my efforts.

I’m tired all the time, mostly because I don’t sleep well.  I’m in the worst shape of my life.  I look like I just rolled out of bed most days because I either don’t have time or can’t be bothered to actually get ready fully in attractive, flattering clothing with hair and makeup done.  I’ve been taking more short cuts than I prefer to on things like cooking and cleaning.  Basically, I’ve been trying to use all the energy and enthusiasm I have to meet the kids’ most pressing needs – therapies, homework, health and personal stuff, activities, etc.

Also, my anxiety symptoms have kicked up a bit.  I’m well aware that I may have to do some level of preventative maintenance for the rest of my life where that’s concerned, but it’s been hard for me to refrain from thinking, “Now?  Really?!  Because I don’t have enough to deal with?!”  That’s the devilish truth about anxiety – it loves to creep in and stir up trouble when the boat is already rocking.  Asshole.

So basically, I’ve been kind of vacillating between stressed, anxious, and depressed, all while trying to hide it from my kids and cope in appropriate ways.  Listening to my ipod and knitting a lot again – let me know if you need a hat or some shit.

The biggest struggle I’m dealing with currently, though, is probably the Guilt Monster.  I feel so obligated to make the right choices and do all the thinking, researching, and planning for Jasmine.  There’s just no shutting up that little voice that says, “This is all your fault, so it is your responsibility to make it right.”  That same little fucker also likes to say, “One wrong decision made by their mother – who is always supposed to get it right – could ruin one of these girls forever.  Their future happiness depends on you giving them a perfect childhood.”

Basically, life’s complicated these days.  I wish I could say I have my normal level of enthusiasm for upcoming pleasures, like our vacation or the holidays, but I don’t.  Most of that stuff feels like one big to-do list that’s following me around, poking me in the back of the head, taunting me.

So there it is.  It’s whiny, it’s grouchy, it’s a downer – but at least it’s a frikkin’ post, right?

Cheers, George.

In the chaos of determining our fall schedules, getting sick in the middle of it, and a lovely little hurricane killing our power, I have not only neglected blog posting but become a grouchy, cranky human being as well.  They say one should purge negativity to detoxify the body and mind, so today, I pay homage to comedian and social commentator George Carlin by creating my own list of

People I Can Do Without!

(Disclaimer: I am deliberately not mentioning the obvious people here – abusers, molesters, bigots, and other general scum of the Earth go without saying.)

~ People who can’t frikkin’ drive.  I’m not referring to speed of travel here.  This means anyone who can’t comprehend how big their vehicle is, can’t turn left without have 3 miles of clear road to cross over, doesn’t understand how a four-way-stop is supposed to work, blinds me with their high beams, or generally acts like a space cadet behind the wheel.

 ~ People who declare themselves experts at something they just mastered.  Ok, so you learned Japanese/lost 50 pounds/potty-trained your cat, whatever.  Doesn’t mean you now have a PhD on the subject and owe it to the population to share your discoveries with the rest of us poor saps.  What works for you might not work for the rest of us, and you only sound like an arrogant ass.  Who will probably gain the weight back within five years, statistically.  Ahem.

~ Parents who title themselves after their kids’ activities: Pageant Mom, Dance Mom, Hockey Dad, etc.  Makes it sound as though you are living vicariously through your children (or perhaps you are).  I don’t care about you – I want to know if your kid enjoys the activity.

~ Sheeple.  That is, people who base all their decisions on what is currently popular or being drilled into them by mass media.  Be YOU, not the person a bunch of money-grubbing corporations want you to be.

~ People who don’t smile at kids who are acting cute or friendly in public.  Crab-asses.

~ People who don’t understand the fine line between looking and staring.  If you stare at me, or especially my kids, be forewarned that I am fully prepared for you to be a creeper and to knock your nuts out your eye sockets.

~ People who spend tons of money on frivolous things and then bitch that they’re broke.  Hi, welcome to adulthood – create a budget and live within your means.  It’s time to be a big boy/girl.

~ People who think you can’t be smart or successful without a college education.  Hey, I never went and I’ll bet you I can spell better than most grads.  Besides, how smart is it to incur thousands of dollars of debt to earn a degree and then spend most of your adult life as a full-time parent?  It would be like buying a new car and locking it in the garage while you make your payments and take the bus.  Trust me, to raise three kids responsibly, you can’t be an idiot.

There are more, of course, but that’s enough for today as my bed is calling to me and reminding me of tomorrow’s crazy agenda of playgroup, therapy, more therapy, and house cleaning.  I leave you with a clip from the master, may he rest in peace.

One Is Silver And The Other’s Gold

A year ago, my best friend since childhood and I had a falling out.  We haven’t spoken since, and have cut off all other lines of communication (Facebook, etc.).  Do I believe I had a valid complaint and every reason to call her out?  Yes.  I do wish it had been dealt with differently in some ways (more talking, less emailing, for example) and I do believe that neither of us was in our best emotional/mental place when it happened.

I have to remind myself, however, that none of those factors invalidate my feelings.  I am not good at dealing with change, nor am I someone who is very socially confident, so I don’t seamlessly replace old friends with new ones.  That leaves me vulnerable to feelings of guilt, and ultimately, grief, at losing the longest lasting friendship I have ever had – the one I thought would be intact forever.

When that happens, I try to force myself to see our former relationship as impartially and completely as possible.  It’s easy for me to look at situations through rose-colored glasses when I’m feeling guilty or lonely.  The truth is, our relationship was far from perfect.  As much as I wish things were different, I can certainly say that I have learned a lot about myself as a friend, and what I need from a friendship.

I’ve learned that I need equality in my friendships.  It takes me a while to place an acquaintance into the category of “friend”, but when I do, I am loyal and devoted.  I will help and support that person as much as is physically possible.  I will make sacrifices for that person’s benefit.  I will keep my word.  I will allow myself to be emotionally invested in their well-being.  I now realize that I must receive the same in return.  For a long time I didn’t feel deserving of such attention – I thought it meant I was overly needy.  Now I am willing to accept that it is my right to ask that my friends give me the same respect and dedication that I give to them, because I don’t deserve to waste my time investing that deeply in someone who is not equally invested in me.

I’ve also learned that I need friends who accept me at face value.  I am a sensitive person, so anyone who wants to be my friend will have to be accepting of that.  I don’t deserve to have to alter my personality to suit others.  My friends shouldn’t pressure me to be something I’m not, whether it’s trying to convince me not to vaccinate my kids or asking me to try a new diet with them.  My friends shouldn’t talk me into doing things that make me uncomfortable.

I need to be enough for my friends.  I want my friends to appreciate me enough to want to spend time with me one-on-one.  My friends shouldn’t have to bring supplemental people along to enjoy themselves with me.  I shouldn’t have to befriend THEIR friends in order to be included in their social plans.  I deserve to have the full attention of my friends sometimes, and I deserve the freedom t0 choose the people I want to get close to.  I shouldn’t have to feel that my friendship with one person will be compromised if I don’t connect with other members of their social circle as much as they do.

I want a friendship, not a competition.  I don’t want to be friends with someone who measures their success or self-worth by comparing their life to mine.  I don’t want to feel guilty about sharing an accomplishment or bit of good fortune with my friends, for fear they will be depressed or jealous.  I don’t want to question my instincts because they differ from my friends’.  I want to be able to respect each others’ choices, support each others’ achievements, and enjoy the fact that we are not carbon copies of one another.

I realize this is an intensive list, and I accept that the result might be my having fewer real friends than I wish I did.  What I have learned, however, is that friends become such an integral part of who I am that a superficial, toxic friendship is far worse than no friendships at all.

Sunny Days, Sweeping the Clouds Away…

For the past 6 months or so, parenting Jasmine has been like living on Sesame Street.  Everywhere I turn, I’m surrounded by letters.  EI (Early Intervention), OT (occupational therapy), SLP (speech language pathologist), and so on.  Next on the list will be ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), which I’m still learning to fully understand.

Friday, Jasmine got the letters I was expecting, and yet dreading, to hear.  PDD – Pervasive Developmental Disorder.  It’s basically an umbrella term under which a variety of social/communication problems are grouped.  Autism, Asperger’s, Rett Syndrome; they are all part of the group.  Then there is the nebulous PDD-NOS.  The last bit stands for Not Otherwise Specified.  I can’t help but think of that as, “Your child doesn’t fit these other conditions perfectly, but she still ain’t quite right.”

The PDD diagnosis isn’t always a bad thing.  It qualifies Jazzy for more therapies and services (our insurance company is going to hate us) and should smooth her transition out of EI and into the school system when that time comes.  But… fuck, you know?  No matter how perfect she is to me, to the rest of the world she’ll be imperfect as long as this diagnosis and its symptoms stand.

She may always have to work harder to do things I take for granted.  She may struggle to form friendships, whereas my older two girls have always socialized with ease.  She may not be able to realistically “be anything she wants to be”, like we all tell our kids.  I hate that possibility.

I’m trying hard to stay in the present, but once in a while the future pounces on me when I’m vulnerable and leaves me clenching my fists and frustrated that I am powerless against this diagnosis.  Actually, it’s not the diagnosis I want to protect her from, it’s the ignorant, inflexible world she’ll have to live in.

There is so much to say about going through this process with her, but it is overwhelming for me to try and articulate it all at once.  My emotions are all over the place.  My one consistent thought is, “I just want her to feel as blessed to be her as I am to be her Mama.”

Maybe it would soften the blow if I had a neighborhood full of Muppets to sing to me.  “One of these kids is not like the others…”

Fat Women Are Like Mermaids – A Post About Myths

Beautiful, individual, and human, just like you. (From V Magazine)

I know, I’ve been getting all fat up in your face recently – but it’s been on my mind a lot, and it’s my blog, so nyah!  In all seriousness, I’ve been exposed to a number of troubling situations lately regarding body acceptance and the treatment of plus-size people in general, so I feel a certain social obligation as a fat chick to throw some truth out there to counterbalance all the bullshit.  Here’s a small list of myths perpetuated about fat women (because that is my personal experience and what I feel most comfortable speaking of, but that is not to suggest all genders aren’t subject to similar falsities) :

Myth #1 : Fat women never exercise and always overeat.  All fat women could be thin if they only “behaved”.

Speaking from my own and others’ experiences, this is not a universal truth.  Fat women engage in all manner of lifestyles – assuming they all act the same is no different than assuming that all thin women eat only high-nutrition, low-calorie foods and exercise regularly in an aggressive manner.  Puh-lease.  We all know women who can eat anything and never work out (as is their right to do) and stay as slender as ever.  There’s something to be said for biology, folks.  Just as no two humans are exactly alike, no two lifestyles will produce the exact same results in different people.

Myth #2 : Fat women have given up on their appearances – they are slovenly and unclean and don’t care.

While I still believe that people are free to treat and present their bodies any way they choose, I don’t know any women of any size who deliberately choose to be dirty or unkempt.  All women are at some point forced to brave the public eye with minimal preparation – think running out for infant fever meds in your pajamas or popping into the grocery store on the way home from the gym, still in your sweaty sweats – but that’s different than saying, I’m just not going to care for myself or my garments regularly.  I think fat women are subject to more intolerance by society when they dare to venture out without being carefully styled and coiffed.  I also think that fat women wear what is available and affordable to them, which can be VASTLY different than similar clothing options for straight-sized women.  For example, as of today there are 59 skirts pictured on Old Navy’s website in the Women’s section.  In the Women’s Plus section, 21.  Now think about this – numerous statistics have show that 50% or more of American women wear a size 14 or larger.  So a major retailer’s response is to provide less than 1/3 the number of buying options for half their potential shoppers?  Huh?

Myth #3 : Fat women are always on a diet/hate their bodies/are pleased to engage in conversation that centers on weight loss, body shaming, or food policing.

Um – NO!  We don’t all want to engage with the society-driven bullshit that says we’re supposed to loathe our “problem areas” while in search of a “lifestyle change” that will help us resist “bad foods”.  Naturally, many fat women do participate in these activities – mostly because they have been brainwashed into believing that they are unworthy and subhuman because they are fat – but at the end of the day it makes for really superficial and boring conversation to rattle on about Weight Watchers points, the horrors of back fat, and the self-flagellation you have planned for later because you dared to eat a fucking corn dog.

In fact, you may well be hurting people you care about by engaging in that behavior while in company.  Raging about the size of your ass when it’s equal to one of my cheeks?  Yeah, that is insulting ME too.  Do whatever you want with your body – feel free to look however you want to and hold yourself to no one’s standards but your own.  Just leave me the hell out of it.  You’re so disgusting because you gained 10 pounds over the holidays, huh?  AHEM… I weigh 100 pounds more than you!  Am I somehow NOT supposed to feel offended by your commentary?  Would you rant about how horrible your blonde hair is, and how you can’t wait to dye it red because blonde is just gross, in my (blonde) presence?  I rest my case.

Myth #4 : Fat women are bad mothers.

This one really chaps my fat ass, ya’ll.  There are numerous versions of this myth – fat women have disastrous pregnancies and/or deliveries, fat mothers don’t play with their children, fat mothers don’t provide good nutrition for their kids, fat women are bad role models, fat women are destined to raise fat (and therefore unhealthy and unhappy) children, and fat women are embarrassments to their kids are just a few.

Fuck. That.  I don’t have access to every living room and backyard in America, of course, but the world is full of fat mothers (and mothers of all races and ability levels, btw) who do right by their children.  Fat women play soccer in the backyard and board games on the floor.  We provide balanced food choices for our kids (and some of us work extremely hard to avoid passing food and body related prejudices to our impressionable little ones) and encourage them to listen to their body’s cues for hunger, thirst, and activity.  Fat women engage in numerous pursuits that positively influence their kids, from enjoying active lifestyles, to being creative and learned, to demonstrating good citizenship and community involvement; you name it.  Fat women have loving relationships with their children.  In special, precious moments, fat women can even influence the next generation to be tolerant and embrace diversity despite society telling them otherwise.  And this fat woman had three physically healthy pregnancies and three natural deliveries of beautiful, thriving babies.  Go on with my bad self, I know.

These myths are only the tip of the iceberg, but I don’t want your eyeballs to fall out from reading, so I’ll reign myself in for now.  Let me just say this: be nice to a fat woman today.  You’ll probably surprise the shit out of her.

Mother and Child 1995 by Fernando Botero

K.I.S.S.

Last summer sucked.  I was embroiled in anxiety, overwhelmed by life in general, and so unable to enjoy most of the things we all think of a summer pleasures.  I have the good fortune now to be much happier and more comfortable in my skin, and hence have promised myself that this will be the Summer of Reclamation.

I have always been a summer person – born in July and raised on summers of drippy popsicles, backyard barbeques, and swimming until my eyes were red and my lips were blue.  It genuinely irks me to think of last year as a summer wasted, so here are my goals to ensure that this summer makes up for the last.

1. When in doubt, do it.  When you’re trying to avoid stress, it is easy to think that staying in a predictable comfort zone all the time is the safest option.  It is also the most boring and least enlightening choice, and it’s not even foolproof.  Just as much stress can be had at home with three kids as anywhere else.  So when I have the chance to go somewhere or participate in something this summer, I plan to do it if at all possible.

2. The caveat to number one – don’t do anything you don’t WANT to do.  This is different than avoiding possibilities based on fear; this is taking ownership of the fact that my life is mine to do with as I wish.  Which means I have no obligation to participate in something that I know full well will make me miserable or be an utter waste of my time and energy.

3. Get one productive thing done each day, then go play.  As long as my house is sanitary and our basic household management needs are met, I’m not sweating the Martha Stewart routine this summer.  If, at the end of the day, I can say I did a load of laundry or picked up a birthday gift, that’s good enough for me.

4. Detoxify my relationships.  This one is already in motion, with at least two “friends” who are no longer good for me psychologically put out to pasture.  That’s hard for me to do, since I don’t like confrontation and I am hopelessly sappy, but it has become a matter of good self-care.  Hurtful words, thoughtless actions, and incompatible priorities create stress for me, and stress can lead me down a path I don’t ever want to travel again if I can help it.  If minor issues come up in otherwise healthy relationships, I am determined to advocate calmly for myself.

5. Unapologetically be myself and like myself.  That means going about my day with a confident attitude, not caring about the opinions of others.  I’m going to do what I feel like doing, without worrying about looking foolish or ugly or censoring my actions for the benefit of others.  In other words, I don’t care if you don’t want to see my fat body in a bathing suit – it’s a free country and I’m going swimming, asshat!  I’m going to try and avoid self-deprecation as well, and talk and think about myself the way I’d talk about my best friend or my daughter.

The title of this post is in reference to the popular corporate saying, “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”  This probably doesn’t sound like a very simple plan of action, but it really boils down to the sole concept of increasing fun and decreasing stress.

In the spirit of my fifth goal, however, I think I shall change the acronym’s meaning to, “Keep It Simple, Superstar!”  If anyone doesn’t like it – well, you know what they can K.I.S.S.  *wink*

How Did You Spend Your Last Day?

SO much going on in the past couple of weeks that I’ve had little time to sit down and type out my thoughts.  Not until I became a parent did I appreciate how completely insane the month of June can be!

Today was my older girls’ Last Day Of School.  (Capitalized because it might as well be a national holiday, judging by the number of times I’ve been asked, “When is it?” over the past two months.)  They had a great year with fabulous teachers, so we decided to join a group of parents who were picking up their kids and meeting downtown to get sugared up at a cupcake shop and an ice cream place.

Part of the fun was decorating our cars with window markers, streamers, and such so the kids could drive past the waiting school staff, parade style, hollering and waving and starting off the summer with a bang.  The girls loved driving past their teachers and into town in our SUV emblazoned with “Have A Great Summer!”, “Thanks Mrs. H!” etc.  We were certainly a spectacle as we drove through the main streets, one car behind the other, all decorated and beeping our horns, blasting tunes like “What Time Is It” from High School Musical 2.

If I had to guess, I’d say about 75% of the people we passed (whose reactions were visible to me) looked indifferent, sometimes irritated or scornful, and occasionally confused.  (Odd, considering that our purpose was basically written all over our cars…)

The other 25% smiled, laughed, waved, honked their horns – we even had a traffic cop do a little dance as we passed.  I couldn’t help but find that kind of disillusioning.  To think that the majority of people would react to a bunch of children and families sharing a joyful moment with apathy, even disdain… well, that’s just kind of sad to me.  What the hell is happening to us?

As someone who has been through depression and anxiety – had my body and brain create lousy feelings and reactions against my will – I cannot begin to understand why the average healthy person would choose negativity.  I would have given anything for the ability to turn off my blah switch and embrace all the good things in life when I was in my darkest days.  To think that there are people out there who have that amazing power and don’t use it… it boggles my mind.

Yes, life and the people in it suck sometimes.  A lot.  But there is so much beauty if you allow it to be your primary focus instead of the bullshit.  There is gorgeous weather and the natural wonders of the outdoors – birds, animals, flowers, water.  There are hobbies and interests that can bring fun, learning, and accomplishment.  There are amazing moments with the people we love; snuggling with our partners, laughing with friends, playing with our children, even cuddling with a pet.  There are new adventures to be had at the first opportunity, however simple or inexpensive they may have to be.  There is the incredible freedom you’ve been blessed with if your daily responsibilities still allow you the time and resources to enjoy anything I’ve just mentioned, or anything else that brings you happiness.

Choose joy.  Embrace it and savor it in each moment.  Honor your blessings by enjoying them, making them a priority.  Laugh at other people’s kids acting goofy on the last day of school.

If you can’t, try as you might, look within.  If changes need to be made, start making them.  If you need help, ask for it.  I know what it’s like to look back and realize that a chunk of my life was stolen from me, and that I can never get it back.  I am thankful that it only took me a couple of years to get to a place where I feel like the master of my life again.  Take back control as soon as you can.  You won’t regret it.

I used to listen to this a lot, and sing along good and loud.  Now I mean it.  I won’t worry my life away.