And She Said, “I Refuse to Change”

I typically caution anyone who interacts with me that I am who I am. If that’s an issue, it doesn’t bother me; that’s not my problem. I wish I could say that this was because I’m 34 and I’ve learned who I am. No, I’ve known who I am for a long time. My epiphany came at some point in high school when I just decided, “who really cares?” I said whatever I wanted, and if people didn’t like that they could choose not to hang out with me. I refused to change. Correction: I still refuse to change.

The belief that I have to fit into some ideal norm bothers me. This takes any autonomy away from me. Just assuming that you are one way and I have to be that way too is a terrible assumption. I’m never going to fit in at any office place. I may never fit in outside of the house, working in my own little corner of the world. I’ve always been much more successful at things when people just let me be and do things my own way. More often than not in those cases, I exceed expectations. I don’t fit into any normal box. I can’t manage a store or an office. Hell, half the time I can’t even manage my own household and I’m supposed to be a “supermom/stay-at-home goddess”. My house never looks like a museum. In fact, I can guarantee that even if I do clean it to the best of its ability, it will still just look like a house that has 2 boys and a man-child. Part of being confident is knowing these things and being okay with it. My house isn’t a museum; it’s a home where my boys and dogs run around and play, leaving a trail of Legos, candy wrappers, and chip bags. Yes, my kids eat junk food. I’m a terrible mother.

I’m okay with it. I’m okay that I just turned around to see 100s of Nerf bullets on the floor. I’m okay that my teenage son wasn’t listening to me so I shot him with a Nerf gun to get his attention. I’m okay that I’m 6-year-old spent an hour screaming about how I was the worst mother on the planet because despite my telling him not to do something, he did it 5 more times and he ended up losing his computer time. I’m okay that people lecture my parenting or decide that just because I can’t keep a house clean after the tornado and hurricane known as “my children” come home, I’m somehow less than. I’m okay that people think because I stay home that I’m not actually working. That my streaming video games is just me playing around, not as part of a way to build up my brand because it’s not easy being noticed as a writer and you need every little bit of attention that you can get.

I refuse to change my shortcomings. In most cases, there’s nothing that I can even do about them. They are part of my personality. I’m sarcastic and abrasively rude. I go crazy if I’m not using my mind to create something. These are things that make me who I am. And I’m not that bad. Maybe.

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Did I Do the Best I Could?

“Did I do the best I could?”

That is the first question that I ask myself as I’m pulling back the blankets on my bed to attempt that sleep thing people keep telling me all about. I sit up, then flip on the television to see who’s streaming Overwatch or WoW since I ditched the cable box in the bedroom. I sit on the edge of my bed, watching them play and taking mental notes of “I didn’t think about doing it that way” or “I could never pull that move off”. Then my mind wanders back to the original question: “Did I do the best I could?”

Every day I ask myself this question, and it’s a general question. I want to remember if I drank enough water or if I did enough to exercise that day. Probably not, is the answer. Did I do anything that would help me be more successful as a writer? I didn’t. I probably started 5 mental projects and 2 “Google Drive” projects, maybe notes on NaNoWriMo with it coming up in 2 months. Those are the passing questions, ones that I don’t really bother to reflect on as much as I should.

When I ask myself this question, I have an understanding with myself that I’m talking about my kids. Did I do enough for them today? If you ask me, the answer is usually “no”. Maybe I didn’t feel like cooking them a healthy meal from the heart.. or any meal and I just got them fast food because I was too busy. Then I guilt myself into thinking that I have cheapened their day because I was too lazy. You’re a mom, you’re supposed to do it all right. The sink has dishes that I never washed, pushing it back a day so that I could have a 10 minute breather. Those dishes make me feel guilty. Seeing a mess in the house makes me feel like I’ve failed my family for the day. I think to myself “so what if the laundry stays in the dryer a day or 2, my kid wanted to go to the park so we did that instead.” Did I do enough?

When I’m trying to wrangle my very active son in Target while he races around trying to figure out which toy he wants, I get those looks. You know the, control your child looks. He’s not unattended. He’s not being disrespectful. He says “excuse me” and “sorry”. But he wriggles out of my hand. Did I do the best I could? When they don’t go to sleep when they’re supposed to, I wonder what I could have done differently. The answer usually comes back to: I’ve failed as a mother and people should take my kids because I’m obviously inept. I expect my children to do chores, then get angry comments about how I’m raising my children to be slaves. I failed again. I didn’t notice that my child once again has dirty ears, because for some ungodly reason I could wash them 20 times before we leave the house and it still happens. They don’t know about those 20 times, they just know my kid is dirty and I’m an incapable mother. I didn’t pay close enough attention that my child had a moth hole in his shirt, so I’m obviously neglectful. It doesn’t matter that I was doing what I could to get my child to wash his hands after using the bathroom before putting his hand in the cereal box while picking out his clothes for the day. Maybe I should have inspected the clothes before putting them in the closet.

It’s amazing how none of these failures are really failures. These are failures that other people have put in our heads. Our messy home means that we were too busy playing toys with our kids or engaging in conversation with them. Maybe we don’t have the time to clean, then chasing around our children to clean after their every move. Try that, it doesn’t work unless you have a nanny or maid helping you out. I try my best every day and I still come short of these goals, most of which have been placed on me by society and other people. I’m not perfect. I yell at my kids. I hide in a room in the house, wondering what horrible act I have committed for a day to be this horrible. I don’t sleep at night because sometimes I think about all of the ways I failed as a parent that day, then I think about past failures as a parent. Some nights I even fall asleep resigning myself to the fact that maybe I shouldn’t even be allowed to raise my kids because I’m obviously not cut out for it. That’s reality. That’s the reality that you don’t see on TV.

I’m not a perfect parent. Can anyone truly say that they are? All you can do is try. Guess what? You are going to fail sometimes; it’s what you do next that matters. You will lose your collective poop. There will be tears, most of which will be your own. That’s why you need to ask yourself “Did I do the best that I could?” If you did, that’s all that matters. Your kids don’t remember those little screw ups of having their hair not combed before getting on the bus or that time you accidentally zippered their face while walking to school because you were in a rush and they were still throwing a tantrum. They will remember that time they had stitches and you held their hand the entire time. They will remember that time you were the most “embarrassing” cheerleader. They remember the trips to the museum or the random walks to the park. They don’t remember the time you didn’t do the dishes because your child wanted to do an art project. They remember doing the art project and having that special moment with you. Stop worrying about what other people think, because they’re clueless. They don’t know your struggles that day to even get your kid to school. They don’t know you. What matters is your child giving you a hug and kiss, smiling as they say “I love you, good night.”

But Boy, Am I Tired

I’m tired. I am tired that we live in the world we live in right now. My latest release, a short story, was supposed to make me feel better about the social climate of the world right now. “How Not to Be a Bully: The Guide to Being Kind That We Shouldn’t Need” was inspired by this hatred we seem to have towards each other. It needs to stop. It has to stop. Our future generations are depending on this to stop now. They are going to be poisoned and the future will be full of people who think that a reasonable conversation is one where people hurl insults because the other doesn’t agree. What happened to that time when people could sit down across from each other and say “Well I believe this and this is why” and the other would say “Well, I don’t and this is why”? Is that really so hard?

Over the weekend, my family (I include my husband’s family as my own) took the annual trip up to this gorgeous orchard in the mountainside for apple picking. After having a great time enjoying the Pats game on my phone while picking apples, we went to the car to drop off the apples to sit around the stunning view and enjoy ourselves. (Even living in Massachusetts, the views here never get old.) As we were walking back, we heard screaming then saw a truck angrily pull over and everyone started piling out of the vehicle. I didn’t know what was going on until I noticed the signature red hat that we are all familiar with. That’s right, two grown men got in a fight about politics in a place where families are trying to enjoy their Sunday afternoon. Apparently the anti-Trump person said something to the Trump truck group and the Trump truck group felt the need to pull over, pile out of the truck, and get aggressive back. I told them to please not swear in front of my child and the Trump person turned on me. “It’s that f_ing snowflake’s fault. He disrespected me.” “When you got out of the car instead of ignoring it, you became just as guilty. Grow the hell up.” The very kind woman at the orchard apologized and asked the group to get back in their truck and to leave. The other guy, just as guilty in this for starting it and continuing it, should have also left for being a nuisance. He said it started over the other guy insulting his wife. My opinion: Ignoring people is a lot better for everyone. I again ask “Is being kind really so hard?”

Instead, we live in a world where people are constantly putting each other down. It is easier, I suppose, to lump everyone in with hateful words rather than being open-minded. We all are entitled to having a specific set of beliefs. I really like to hope that people can sit down with each other and have a reasonable conversation without the terms “racist Republicans”, “snowflakes”, or “libtard” ever being mentioned. It’s a foolish dream, but one that I have no less.

The thing is… this is not something that we can’t achieve. It can happen if people learn to put their pride aside, stop thinking that they are smarter or better than anyone out there, and just listen to another perspective. As the expression goes: “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak.”

I can start by making this very simple for you. No, not all Republicans are racist, uneducated, misogynistic white men. There are some but that does not mean all of them are. Not all Democrats are “snowflakes”, whiny liberals who are offended by everything. There are many people who are offended by everything, on both sides of the aisle and many “whiny” liberals but not all Democrats are any of those things. Independents are not wishy-washy people that can’t choose a side. These are people who realize that both sides have their flaws and would rather vote on political stances rather than a political party. I am a proud Independent and I know exactly how I feel on every political topic and that is what decides my vote. Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Catholics are pedophiles. Not all Puerto Ricans and minorities want to live off of welfare rather than work. Not all cops are corrupt murderers. However, all politicians lie. That is a fact that we can agree with. (Just kidding… there may be one or two out there that don’t.)

The point is that this is getting out of hand. We’re Americans, dammit. We have the right to an opinion without getting insulted for it. If someone is telling you something, you can fact check them. However, that doesn’t mean a person is insulting rather they are just trying to point out that you may be missing some information that can be helpful for making an informed decision on any topic. If you don’t want to listen, that’s your right but in neither case should anyone spend any effort insulting each other. What does that even prove? That the other person is right about their preconceived notion of who you are? We’re better than that. We have to be better than that. (Shameless promotion incoming) This is the whole point of my short story, which is now available in eBook format on Amazon.

Why This Keeps Happening

This post isn’t meant to offer any answers. Why? Because with acts like this most recent one in Nice, there really are no answers. There are speculations and theories, but rarely any actual answers. What does it matter anyways?  There are no answers that could make things like this suck less.

I hope that society is just in the teenage years of existence. Anyone with a teenager knows that they just want the world to burn. Then they eventually grow up and they get out of the stage. I hope this is a temporary thing because this state of affairs is becoming too much. So much so that at this point far too many people are desensitized to these things. People have become too used to the hate and anger that causes these events that they seem to just accept this as the new normal. We can sit our children down to tell them about these events and instead of questions, it was just like you were telling them something insignificant. There is no shock anymore and that in itself should be shocking.

Why this keeps happening is a mystery. If it weren’t a mystery, we could do something to stop it. But we can’t. These people who are out to make the world burn always seem to be one step ahead of us. But we get stuck because we know that if we give up our celebrations and events, that they win. And they can never win. The minute that they win, it’s all over. We will never let them win.

Transitions

I have contemplated whether I wanted to weigh in on this big topic of Caitlyn Jenner and her big reveal. After much thought, I decided that I wanted to share my potentially controversial thoughts on this topic. Before you are quick to hate me based on this introduction, I suggest a careful reading of my actual thoughts.

I truly applaud her for taking this journey. Struggling with such an unimaginable feeling of not feeling like yourself in your own skin is bad enough;  doing it in front of the whole world for this judgment is 1000x worse. People are blaming him for being part of a trend that is ruining America, helping break down the moral fiber of a great country and being a part of some fallacy set to further an agenda. Obviously a person is born as they were intended by God, and God makes no mistakes… right?

The true ruin of the moral fiber of America is this spread of hate and nonacceptance of people for who they truly are. Beliefs are no excuse for hate. The KKK is a group that believed they were being great Christians and promoting how white people are superior and everyone else should be enslaved or killed. Does that make them not hateful people because they use religion as a defense for their ignorance? People are born gay, not turned that way because they saw a gay couple kiss and somehow caught a disease that makes them gay and needs to be cured of it. Sometimes God does make mistakes, and modern science can help fix them, like putting people in the wrong body that doesn’t match who they are. People should do whatever it takes in order to feel better about themselves. A transgendered person transitioning into the person they feel the need to be should be encouraged to do what they feel they need to. Who are we to judge? Their decisions do not affect my life, why should it affect yours?

My problem isn’t in what she did. I think it requires a great amount of bravery to come forward, especially in the hateful world we are unfortunately living in. My issue is in the how. Everyone knew what was going on, yet she chose to sell it to the highest bidder. She discussed about how she wasn’t going to publicly identify as a woman yet in said interview. Great, she should move at her own pace. Except a couple months later, she then sells her new look and big reveal to the highest bidder. Do I have a problem with someone doing something publicly flaunting this? No. Anything to raise awareness for such an important topic is a positive. Should she be laughing to the bank, adding to her millions for it? That I take issue with. If you are going to thrust yourself out there and make yourself the face of a cause, you should step up and be more than just a glorified spokesperson and do something to help the cause.

I would have less of an issue if that money, even part of it was put into or started a fund to help the transgendered youth that are disowned and tossed out on the streets because they aren’t as fortunate to have a loving and supportive family by giving them a safe place to live. If the money was used for a fund for people who can’t afford to have such a life altering ability to transition, to have the luxury to do so. Instead, it was used to make a rich person richer.

If one of my sons felt they wanted to wear nail polish or a “girlie” outfit to school, would I consider it? Why not? If it’s just a phase, then what’s the harm. If it’s more than that and it’s truly who they are, then they’ll know that I love and support them no matter what. Because I choose to teach my children acceptance and love and not hate.

I Have No Thigh Gap, and I’m Okay

I keep seeing this talk about thigh gaps. I looked down, and I saw nothing but curvy thighs, and then I shrugged it off and had some pizza. I gained a few pounds on account of new medication, and now sit on the scale around 130lbs, up about 10lbs from before I was switched to this medicine. Still, 130lbs around my 5’3″ frame is actually still within the healthy range. Plus, I consider that an incredible feat considering I popped out 2 children and have a seemingly unbeatable pooch, as well as weighing around just over 200lbs when I was pregnant with my most recent bundle of joy.

Still, I see people talk about their gap like it’s a bragging right over people without one. As if they are part of an exclusive club that makes them better than me. News flash: it doesn’t. Would I rather a thigh gap or the ability to enjoy that bowl of ice cream that I want, or that heavily greasy and cheesy pepperoni pizza that makes me drool just thinking about it? I choose to enjoy my greasy and sugary indulgence, and I am quite okay with my choice. As long as I work out daily, as I do, and keep my weight at a reasonable and achievable but healthy goal, I don’t care that I have wide hips and thicker thighs. Because I’ve had them my entire life. I can thank genetics for them, and I refuse to stress out about something that I may not be able to change. Because I like me. And my husband doesn’t complain, and quite frankly that’s the only opinion that moderately matters to me.

So you can enjoy your thigh gap, because the trend will die out, and you will realize that you were just genetically blessed or you missed out on enjoying simple things in life. I will wear my big thighs, my 2 baby pooch, and my stretch marks with pride, because I’m 31 years old and I left high school long ago. Not that I cared too much what people thought of me then, either. Until my doctor, who I pay to make sure that I stay healthy, tells me to fix something, I’m going to keep doing what I do. I’m going to make sure that I’m healthy, because that’s what matters. Not how I look. Not anything but staying long enough to raise my family and be there for their kids, and if I’m lucky, their kids’ kids.

Next time someone tries to shame you for what you eat or how you look, remember that. Your parents were right when they told you that people who pick on you for things like that is really  just over-compensating for some deficiency in their life. Don’t compare yourself to supermodels or celebrities: they have personal trainers and nannies and personal chefs/dietitians to keep them looking that good. You’re setting yourself up for failure, that will eventually lead you to give up on meeting whatever fitness goals you may have. My goal? I just want to get back down to where I was before the medicine. Which is still a healthy and achievable weight, just one that I feel more comfortable with. No man wants a stick figure.

We Need Choices!

We are fortunate enough to live in a place where we have choices. We can wear what we want. We have the choice to work our dream jobs. We can eat whatever we want. We have the right to choose in America, which is also a curse because half the time we aren’t even really given options to actually make choices when it comes to the important things in life.

The problem is simple: we live in a democratic nation, which gives us the power to elect the people who govern over us. Well, at least some make shift form of democracy that attempts to give us piece of mind that our vote matters. But what real choices are we given? Although we live in a place where we can choose our governing body, we are really in a two-party system, which really does not give us any actual options. This gives us sheep (the politicians, if you will), and we have to choose which herder (democrat or republican) leads them. These sheep just follow their herder blindly, uncaring what it means for the big picture.

We are in the beginning of the fight for the 2016 fight for president. I say fight, rather than election, because the process seems more vicious than civil. There is rarely a factual ad that discusses actual political ideals, but there are plenty of ads where we watch someone kicking an old person in a wheelchair off a cliff to give an attempt at wit. We don’t know what it means, but we were either outraged that a poor old person was kicked off a cliff, or amused because we thought it was satire that was meant to be laughed at, not poignant.

With the people now throwing their hats in the race, I feel annoyed at my choices. I actually almost feel betrayed by my choices. I don’t like the idea of Hillary becoming president, but at this point in time I feel the Republican Party is just handing her the election. The choices on the republican side are: someone who read a children’s book to block a bill and no one takes seriously, a doctor who’s only claim to fame is berating Obamacare while 2 ft. from the president and being launched in the spotlight for it and is now an expert on politics as according to Fox News, and Rand Paul, which I feel does not need an explanation. We need real choices guys, this is almost becoming more comical than it should be.

This is becoming more of a case of why we should eliminate a 2 party system. Hell, we should just eliminate a party system period because you are just inviting those who don’t care enough to research the candidates a reason to just blindly vote for the letter next to their name, rather than voting for an ideal that you can stand behind.