Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Life isn't always good in the mother hood

So today is a good day to be a mommy and I am thankful that there are no messes to clean up, boo boos to mend, or tantrums to tune out, and as I relish this moment, I am thinking about my dear friend who rarely has days such as this. My “I love being a mommy” days are pretty few and far between and I am so not afraid to admit it. And so I sit here wondering, “Why do we feel like we’re bad mommies when we so much as hint that we are not enjoying every moment?” Let me lay some groundwork. I am not one of those women whose sole purpose in life is to be a mommy. I wish I could say that I want nothing more and nothing less, but I’m no liar. The truth is that I wanted a family and would never in a million years change my life as it is today or regret my decision to have children in any way, but I have other dreams and aspirations waiting on the horizon for me to wave the burp cloth of surrender and pursue them. I simply do not want to be a mom who has no life outside of her children. Yes, my children are a giant part of my life now, but there are other facets to that life as well, other talents, other gifts, and other desires I’d love to explore someday.

They tell you being a mother is hard. They tell you you’ll spend countless nights without a minute of rest. They tell you you’ll be an emotional wreck from time to time. What they don’t tell you is that you’ll likely feel ashamed if you don’t enjoy every minute of it. Maybe I’m the only one, but as much as I love my babies, I think motherhood is a fairly thankless job, at least in the early years. You exist to meet the needs of another human being and get very little in return. You are stretched to your limits, pushed to your breaking point, and then asked to give just a little more. Yes, it’s difficult, but in ways I never imagined. And I guess I’m just tired of feeling “less than” for not being afraid to admit that.

I watched that movie, Marley and Me a few days ago and in one scene, Jennifer Aniston tearfully relates that she has given up every part of herself that made her who she is for the sake of being a mother. I swear I’ve had that conversation verbatim with my husband. So many of the things he fell in love with disappeared when I became a mommy. They should warn men of that; perhaps the divorce rate would be much lower. Hey guys, your wife will change drastically when she has children. She must be all things to all people and that means, many of the things you adore about her will fall to the wayside for a while. But I have to believe they return as our children grow up. I have to hold out hope that I will one day be that carefree, risk-taking, free-spirited, independent woman I once was.

And in the meantime, I think our society needs to be a bit more forgiving of the moms who don’t constantly boast of the rewards of being a mother. Sometimes those rewards don’t surface until much later. I think we need to temper our stories of success and our moments of joy with the moments that we’d care to forget. Chances are, when you are on your 375th cry of, “I swear, you’re going to be the death of me,” there’s a very good chance thousands of other mothers are mumbling the very same thing at that very same moment. What every mommy needs is a little encouragement, a little understanding, and a whole lot of, “Oh yeah, me too” words of comfort. It’s okay to be less than perfect. It’s ok to have 67 frustrating days for every 3 joyful days. It’s ok to wish you could just sleep when you want to sleep, take a sick day every week, and eat a meal while it’s still hot. What we do is no small feat. Let’s face it; sometimes it’s trying, at best.

Hang in there mommies, you’ll survive the early years. Soak up every fleeting moment of contentment, share the little things that make you smile and the huge things that make you wish there was a vineyard in your back yard. And if you intend to give yourself any chance at all, ask God to be your guide, because Lord knows none of us can do it without Him. And when you feel like the worst mommy ever, give yourself the grace He gives you and know that you are not alone. And with that, this morning I sat down to read my Bible for the first time in like, a hundred years and my darling PJ came running out of the room yelling, “Mama, what doing, mama?” He then proceeded to sit beside me, hold my hand, kiss me and say, “I wuv you Mama.” And that ladies, is why we do it.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Get up and dance, already!

From my all-time fave, Almost Famous: “They don't even know what it is to be a fan, you know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.”

I have recently become a fan of a fairly new band called Jack’s Mannequin. Already a huge fan of The Fray, I had been intermittently checking their website for upcoming concert dates and almost fell out of my chair when I saw that they were finally touring on the west coast AND were playing with Jack’s Mannequin at Irvine Meadows (yes, it will always be Irvine Meadows to me, just like The Big A will always be Angel Stadium). And so, I rallied the troops (Stacey) and we went to see the show two days ago.

I found it intriguing that me, a girl with quite possibly the least amount of rhythm in all of Orange County could barely contain my excitement and so, I was forced to tap my feet and even sway a bit from time to time. I said I lacked rhythm; did you think I’d actually even attempt to launch into full dance mode? And then I saw them, two rows in front of us and just a few seats down, two of the most excitable, young, teenage girls I had ever seen at a concert. They were dancing and singing and screaming in their shrill, girlie voices at the top of their lungs, every word to every song. And I, as I had done many times before at many different concerts, should have launched into attack mode immediately, verbally, and even physically mocking their every move. But something was different this time. I started thinking about those girls who broke into hysterics at the mere mention of The Beatles. And then it occurred to me. I think I secretly am one of those girls. I mean, in all fairness, it was never really just a band that got me choked up so much as my intense love for their music, and I could easily see why these girls were so excited. I suddenly realized that all my previous mocking was most likely pointed at myself, at my own inability to just let go and let myself celebrate something that moved me.

I’ve always been so acutely aware of everyone around me, and so terribly concerned of what they will think if I look silly that I fail to allow myself to fully enjoy even the best of shows. Well, short of the Go-Go’s concert before I became so completely self-aware. I’m one of those girls who has to have a fair amount of liquid courage before I hit the dance floor, and by fair amount I mean depleting the bar of its entire stock of Vodka, sprite and sweet-and-sour mix. I refuse to leave the house without a shower. And forget about public speaking, even if I could claim the title of Nobel Prize winner on a particular subject. Let’s face it, I don’t even like opening gifts at my own parties because I can’t stand the thought of all eyes on me. Those things are neither here nor there I suppose, but when it comes to dancing, I don’t think it’s a confidence issue so much as I have no delusions about my inability to move with even a trace of fluidity. Seriously, even that old guy on the Magic Mountain commercials puts me to shame. Now I know some of you could actually bring back the cabbage patch and be labeled “innovative.” I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to my people now. I’m talking to the Ronald Millers of the world, the ones who believe strategically waving both arms above your head for an entire set makes you a pretty good dancer. It doesn’t. And just so you know, mocking famous dances of the past is pretty transparent too. Come on people, you know who you are. You’re the wedding guest who revives the running man and the kid-n-play under the guise of a joke, hoping to fill time on the dance floor until others figure out that you simply can’t dance to save your life.

And so I wonder, how much joy have I missed out on by not allowing myself to get caught up in the moment and just let go? How many times have I restrained my enthusiasm to remain cool and collected? I mean, doesn’t the same principle of, “’Tis better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak up and remove all doubt,” apply here? And the conclusion I’ve arrived at is this, yes, it is better to remain a wallflower than to be a laughing stock and the subject of many future jokes. It is better to keep some shred of dignity than to deem yourself “that girl.” Don’t get your panties in a bunch, kids, I’m just kidding. No, I don’t believe it is ever a better decision to censor yourself when it comes to passion and your love of basically anything (well, anything pure and honest and legal anyway). Think about it. God does not want us to hide our passion for Him, does He? Doesn’t He desire that we let our light, our love for Him, shine? Does He not ask that I be a city on a hill? And if, in fact, He wants me to express my enthusiasm for Him, His word, His grace, etc. in that manner, why not my love and passion for the simple things in life that He has so graciously surrounded me with as well? Why not stand up and sing or even dance when you hear a song that makes you smile from ear to ear. You know, the songs that remind us of a particular time in our lives, the songs that flood us with sweet memories and choke us up so fervently that we can barely manage to continue to sing along? Seriously, next time you feel the urge to stand up and act a fool at a concert, allow yourself to forget that you are surrounded by thousands of others who will likely point fingers and laugh at your antics and imitate your less-than-smooth moves. Chances are those people are wishing they had the guts to do the same.

Oh, and on a side note to Jack’s Mannequin, now that I know you are originally from Dana Point, I fully intend to stalk you (in a very non-threatening, legal manner, of course) every free minute I get. Your music seriously makes this self-professed Ronald Miller want to stand up and dance.