Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Unexpected Gratitude

'Tis the season for Gratitude...and I have a LOT to be grateful for!  I am blessed with two wonderful boys, a husband who is a great father and partner, great friends, plus so much more.  This morning while taking a bath and reflecting on what I am thankful for, I found myself appreciative for a few items that I had not expected to EVER be grateful for!  So I thought I would share...

Today, I realized that I am grateful for...

The boys arguments.  Through these arguements, Alex and Owen learn anger and conflict management, negotiation, and relationship skills in the safety of our family.

Yelling at my children.  Sometimes yelling has helped my children understand boundaries.  Other times, after hearing myself, I have realized that my patience was too thin, and then purposely took time to re energize myself.  Still other times, my yelling at my boys, has prompted a good conversation with my husband about how we want to raise our boys.  These conversations, always leads to insights and great ideas of how we both can be better parents.

Alex's Low Apgar Scores and Owen's Emergency Ambulance Ride.  After both of my sons were born, we dealt with medical issues that were scary and no fun.  Alex was a barely whimpering grayish-blue baby at birth, due to the umbilical cord being wrapped tightly around his neck.  And Owen, seven hours after birth, stopped breathing and was rushed to another hospital.  During both of these situations I found a strength that I never knew I had.  Instead of wondering "why me" or "what if..." or having thoughts od doom and gloom, I tuned into my intuition and followed my gut feeling of "everything is going to be fine."  Every time, during those experiences, that I had those dark, unhappy thoughts I would quickly and consciously replaced them with "I am going with my gut...Everything is going to be OK."   By doing that, in those moments, I was able to be clear-headed and there for my babies.  Since those experiences I have continuted to tune into my intuition regularily.  It is an amazing skill that I am EXTREMELY grateful for!

My parenting mistakes.  My mistakes, like when I punished my son for something that I later learned he hadn't done, or when I accidentally shut the rear hatch of my SVU on my other sons' head (OUCH!!!! I felt SO bad!), has given me the opportunity be apologize.  I am grateful that my sons know that I am human and like them, I too make mistakes.

I must admit that feeling grateful for agruing children, me screaming, medical scares, and awful mistakes feels a bit odd.

But through each of these experiences, the lessons I have learned - both big and small - are invaluable! And, I am reminded of the fact that the flaws it life, are often times the most precious.

What are you Unexpectedly Grateful for?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Living in Lack-of-Style Denialville

Is it pathetic that when I put on jeans, I feel like I am getting "dressed up"?

 Yep, I admit is true...most days my wardrobe consists of sweat or yoga pants, and a casual (usually baggy) shirt.  So when I slip on my jeans...look's a red carpet day!

Honestly, it was never my intent, as a stay at home mom, to slum around in my grubbies each and every day.  In fact when my boys were infants, I prided myself in the fact that, daily, I made time to shower and get dressed.  But, at first wearing clothes that were just one step above pajamas was simply pratical.  I mean, seriously, who wants spit up, snot, and other bodily fluids on "good clothes"??!!?  Not me!  But, now my children are 5 and 6 years old and, mostly, keep their excretions to themselves.  Still my apparel has not changed.

In my defense (and why I feel the need to defend myself about this, is beyond me...) while I do spend most days looking, errr, comfortable, this does NOT mean that I am laying around doing nothing.  In fact, my days are filled - spent with children, household chores, writing, and building/starting my business, plus much more.

Curiously, while I have been a mom for just shy of seven years (OMG!  How did that happen?) it is just now that I am feeling that my wardrobe needs a little help! 

But, I am feeling a bit out of my element...  I mean, I am not sure what my style is anymore.  And Lord knows that I don't have hours of free time to go shopping to try and figure that out.

So, I guess for now, I'll just be happy with the fact that I finally found my way out of Lack-of-Style Denialville.

Because acknowledging there is a problem is the first step, RIGHT?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"I am sorry" - a 36 year old apology

Me, circa 1975
In 1975 I was an innocent five-year-old making my way through kindergarten, while our country was navigating through the after effects of the Civil Rights Movement.  Little did I know that a piece of this country’s strife would dramatically play out in my classroom.

It was a typical cold spring day when I arrived at school.  But, this day was different.  Instead of diving into our lessons on colors, or letters, Mrs. Kramer*, instructed us to gather on the rug in our “special groups”. 

“Today, a special new student will join us.” She explained.

As we sat on the rug, Mrs. Kramer implored, “Please be nice to our new friend when she arrives.”  She looked over to my group and said “She will join your group!”  I was elated!  I would surely have a new friend!

The room filled with chatter and much anticipation.  As I waited, I noticed that something was different.  When I was the “new girl”, just two months earlier, the other kids were not eagerly awaiting my arrival.  Instead, I remembered entering the classroom while Mrs. Kramer was teaching, being greeted kindly, given my seat, and promptly the lesson continued.  I wondered why today it was different. 

We heard the door open, as she and her mother entered.  Mrs. Kramer greeted them, helped the little girl hang her coat and then turned her toward us and said “Class, this is Sylvia.” 

To this day, I clearly remember smiling at her and admiring her beautiful red and blue plaid jumper.  She looked so pretty.

Meanwhile, my classmates were talking amongst themselves.  Abruptly, Brian*, another kindergartener, pointed at my group and loudly exclaimed, “You’ve got a blacky!”  Before long, other children began repeating his words, and steadily, the entire room became filled with five and six year old voices chanting “You’ve got a blacky!  You’ve got a blacky!”

Immediately, I knew that something was wrong, but couldn’t make sense of it.  I looked at Sylvia, and took inventory.  Her dress was not black, nor were her shoes.  Her hair was black, but determined that couldn’t be what they were talking about since many others’ in my class also had dark hair.  I wondered, “Could they be talking about her skin?”  Immediately, I thought “But, her skin is brown, not black.”

I was uneasy and confused!  “What was going on?”

All my classmates surrounding me were chanting.  I felt as if I were the only one who remained silent.  I did not know what to do. 

But, I did do. 

And, (to this day) I am ashamed to say, that I joined in on the hatred and added my five year old voice to that chant.

Tears roll down Sylvia’s face as her mother hurriedly helped her put on her coat and quickly steered her out the door. 

Afterwards, the students quieted.  Soon Mrs. Kramer began to teach and we returned to familiar routines of our school day.  The sense of normalcy calmed me.

I never saw Sylvia again.

I didn't speak about that moment, to anyone, until many, many years later.

As I grew and matured, I realized how ghastly that experience was.  I was mortified for Mrs. Kramer, angry at whoever taught such hatred to my classmates, and shameful of myself. 

I have often wondered about Sylvia and how that afternoon affected her life.  How could that moment have been different?  What I could have done to prevent such horribleness?

I wish that it hadn’t happened.  I wish that Mrs. Kramer would have done something.  I wish that I would have remained silent.  And, I wish that I could have been brave enough to do something - anything. 

But now, mostly, I wish that I could tell Sylvia, “I am sorry”.

*names have been changed.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No. 52 - Doodle Yourself Happy!

I am continuing to add to my 50 Ways for a Mom to Connect with her Authentic Self.  Number 52 is all about the magic of doodling!

Want to get the first 50 ways?...just subscribe and get it for free (and I promise not to share your information)!!!!
Right over here :) ------>

As I mentioned last in a previous post, I signed up for a 30-day Do the Doodle Challenge at melissaAnne Colors.

I signed up thinking that I would have fun coloring, scribbling and, of course doodling with my kids crayons, paints, and colored pencils.  And I did have fun!  But it was way more than just fun...  I learned so much about myself when I took a few moments every day to put color to paper (or in some cases, color to computer).

Who knew (other than the brilliant MelissaAnne) that simple little doodles could be so powerful?!!?? 

Let me explain...

This past Sunday afternoon, I was G.R.U.M.P.Y.!

Everything and everybody was getting on my last nerve.  Even I, was annoyed to be around myself!  I tried to get rid of the grumps.  Ignoring didn't work.  Yelling was not helpful (and made it worse).  Forcing a fake smile failed.  Even my husband's long hug and kisses from my boys did nothing to banish the monster grumpinator that had seemingly taken over my entire being.

So I sequestered myself in my home office, put on my ear buds, and doodled.

First, I doodled GRUMPY.

I still felt grumpy...but it felt more lowercase-ish. 

Then, I said to myself, "I need to turn this around."  So I doodled more.

Was I magically, instantly happy?  Nope.  But I could feel the tide turning...

I took a break from the doodles and went on with my day.

My was mood lifting.  By evening, I was smiling and feeling much better!

After the boys went to bed, I decided to doodle a little bit more...
And, I am pleased to report that I went to bed feeling uber happy and full of positive energy!

Was is the doodles that made the difference? 

I don't know...
But, it sure feels like I Doodled Myself Happy!

BIG NEWS!!!!! (Updated 11/4/2011)
Hey wonderful ISOMIM folks...I have good news for you! Melissa at melissaAnne Colors, kindly offered a special discount for you!!  So, I hope that you take advantage of her kindness.  If you sign up by November 7 for the next 30-day Do the Doodle Challenge you get
$5 off! 
 Just use coupon code "MOMMY" when you sign up!