Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBT My Friends are Not Similes or Metaphors. I Should Stop Comparing. (Originally Published on on 6/4/11)

What is wrong with us?

Everyone I know does this to each other intentionally or unintentionally, and we know we do it, we hate it about ourselves, every time we do it we tell ourselves to stop, and yet we continue to do it over and over and over again.  Maybe it’s mostly women, but men do it too (mostly with technology, cars, and home projects).

I’m talking about looking at other people’s lives and thinking that they have it better than we do or that they are so much better at it than we are; looking at others and thinking, she has the perfect hair, butt, body, house, kid… Why can’t my hair, butt, body….look like that, act like that, be like that?

The best answer?  Because Emily, you don’t want to spend more than 3 ½ minutes a day on your hair.  Because, Emily, you don’t want to count calories and give up chocolate.  Because, Emily, if you spent the amount of time cleaning your house every day that she does, you would be a very angry and annoyed person, and you’d yell at your kids every time they threw something on the floor (which means you’d be yelling all day every day!). 

It’s amazing to me that we only see other people’s gifts as our own failures, our own faults, our own deficiencies. And then we give out those jealous compliments, “You always look so pretty.” As we snarl under our breath.  Because it’s infuriating that someone can seemingly so effortlessly look so freaking beautiful.  All. The. Time. And have a tight stomach after kids.  And buy clothes that are really cute….. and…

Why can’t I just be happy that I have trained my children to give me some quiet time every day and even if one precious three year old I know doesn’t actually go to sleep during that time, he won’t even fight me if I tell him he needs to play quietly in his room for an hour?  That is an amazing freaking thing!  And instead of celebrating that I have that, I have to beat myself up with my mother’s voice echoing in my head, “Well, Emily, you have all of this free time right now, why are you putsing around on the computer when I would’ve had the laundry started and a load of dishes in the dishwasher and all of these other clothes put away in the time it took you to just think about what you were going to write about in that silly blog.”

Wouldn’t it be better if I let myself do something I enjoy in the quiet time I have?  Wouldn’t it be better if I enjoyed working on my book while the boys were taking a nap instead of stressing that I’m not doing all that other stuff that I’m “supposed” to do in order to measure “success” on the pretend “being a good stay at home mom” scale? 

Wouldn’t that be easier if I looked at my beautiful friend and enjoyed looking at her?  It sounds weird, but isn’t that why we want to be beautiful?  So that others will enjoy looking at us?
Don’t I hope that my friends enjoy my writing?  Don’t I hope that my friends enjoy the dinner I made or the way my kids behave or the words that come out of my mouth?  Don’t I hope that my participants appreciate that I can learn all 32 of their names in the first 10 minutes I’ve met them?  I do!  I want everyone to like the best parts of me.  I want them to value what I have to say and how I say it.  I want people to like me just the way that I am.

And I’m guessing that those friends that I have with the flat tummies and perfect hair hate the way their hair does this or noses do that, and they look at me and think, I wish I had Emily’s cute squishy nose.  I wish I could pull off that muffin top like Em does. Ha.  Just kidding.  No one thinks that.  Besides I don’t have a muffin top.  My broken scale told me that I lost 16 pounds this week.  I am a hot mama.

This week, I will enjoy my own gifts.  I will write.  I will think.  I will make good coffee.  And I will have a great time with my friends… even the beautiful ones with clean homes.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

An Open Letter to Teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week (Yes you can steal it.)

Dear Teacher-

They say that having children is like letting your heart walk around outside your body, and as a mother, I can confirm that this is entirely true when those children are young.  And when those children are still very young, we send them to you… our hearts, beating wildly with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, fear.  You accept our hearts warmly.  Hugging them close to your own.  With your own heart full of the same nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, and fear. 
And you say things like, “I’m nervous too.  Will you hold my hand?”

“I’m excited too.  Sometimes it helps me calm down to take three deep breaths with my hands on my tummy.”

And our hearts calm.

Because you teach in a way that we never could.  You can see that our struggles have flowed out of us and onto our children, and you aim to help walk our children through their pain, difficulties, fears… And you tread lightly on our dreams because you know how powerful you are.  You know that you have the power to either till the soil, water, and shine light on the seeds of dreams in our hearts, or you can dig them up and let them die.  And thankfully, you tediously tend the soil, day after day after day. 

You see the child who loves art doing his best, and you shine the light of your smile on his work.   You see the child who loves division, and you give her more to solve.  You see the child who has a broken heart, and you listen calmly.  You see the child who tries so hard, but can’t quite get it, and you don’t give up.  You never give up.  And you teach him to never give up.  You say things like, “I believe in you.  I know you can do it.”  You say things to all of the children like, “You are important to me.  I’m so glad to see you today.  I was thinking about you yesterday.” 

You spend your own time going to activities in which the children in your class are participating.  (See how I didn’t end that sentence with a preposition?  You teach that too.) You spend your nights planning lessons and grading papers.  You spend your small salary on school supplies and books for our hearts to learn and read and grow and be the best versions of themselves. 
Your ability to build relationships yields respect and honor in our children.  They think the world of you,  because you truly think the world of them.  And you have the ability to see things that we can’t.    
Every day when you till the soil of our hearts’ dreams, sacrifice your time and money, and remain patient while we all learn, we are grateful for you.  We are grateful for your work.  We are grateful for your gentleness.  We are grateful for your words.  We are grateful for your persistence.  We are grateful that you are fun and interesting.  And we are grateful that you make our hearts feel important and empowered. 

Thank you for the gifts you give our hearts.  The work you do is important.  So very very important.  And our hearts are full because of the work you do.

TBT Mother's Day (Original 5/10/09)

When Danny was born, and I had no idea what to do...what songs to sing, how to bounce, how to get him to stop crying, Grammie swooped in, rocked and bounced a certain way, found a song he liked, and he snuggled right into his Grammie's arms happily.
And I thought, 'I'll never be as good at this as my mama. She knows everything. She can fix everything.'
And I probably won't ever be as good as she is, but...
I forgot that she cleaned up vomit, diarrhea, and countless spills.
I forgot that she patiently cured colds, and breathing ailments.
I forgot that she took temperatures and rubbed calamine lotion and held out her hand to catch whatever was coming out of whichever orafice without thinking how disgusting it was until it was all over.
For four kids.
No wonder she's so good.
All she ever got for that was children who ran to her, wrapped their arms around her neck, snuggled into her hug, and waited for her to rock and sing the Frog Song.
And Silly Mama, she thought this was enough.

And I realized yesterday, as Danny started to gag, and I held out my hands to catch his throw up (which by the way, never works... hands do not hold vomit well), I'm doing exactly what my mom always did...
Dad's working.
I'm sick.
Danny's sick.
And he just threw up all over the floor, and all over me, and all he wants to do is wrap his arms around my neck, but we're both covered in vomit.... and there's just no stopping him. He's going to get held one way or another....
And even vomit-covered, that little boy's hug, head on my shoulder, arms wrapped around my neck, was enough.
Silly Mama.

Maybe I will get there... eventually.