To say I’m bad in a crisis is an understatement. It’s not like I want to flip out in that critical moment, it’s just that my brain feels like it’s being squeezed like fruit at the supermarket. Yesterday was Lily’s 7th birthday. It was a great birthday. Her father went to school at her lunchtime and I delivered cupcakes to her class. For dinner, we went to her favorite restaurant and came home to open presents. It was a great day for my girl. My Lily Pie likes lip gloss. She will actually use them once in a while, but she likes the bright and shiny packages more than the actual lip gloss. She hoards them in her little purses and her backpack like a little magpie. So I made sure that one of her presents was a package of bright, shiny, sparkly lip glosses. I paid less than $4.00 for all 12 in that package and she clutched them to her chest like I gave her gold. I didn’t open the package because once we got done with presents, it was close to bedtime. I just set them on the table to put away the next day. Lily and her sisters continued to play with the presents she had opened. I’m in my room when I hear a hysterical cry. I start paying attention, but all I hear is the kids laughing again so I continue with what I’m doing. But then I hear the hysterical pain cry again. I rush to the kitchen to find Lily crying in pain, holding her hand up in the air with blood everywhere. She was clutching a package of band-aids in the other hand. She had a deep gash on her hand from a knife. In that second I didn’t stop to process why her first action wasn’t to come get me or her father. I was too busy trying not to pass out. Or vomit. I rush her over to the sink while I’m screaming to Blake that we have to go to the ER. The other two kids rush in a few steps before their father and they start running around and around the kitchen island while they scream bloody murder and cry. Blake gently and calmly takes Lily’s hand and begins to inspect the wound. So then I’m free to join the other two children crying and running around the kitchen island. Which I actually proceeded to do. Yes, I did. I didn’t scream, and I didn’t run but I was circling the island while tears streamed down my face. Not one coherent thought entered my brain. Not one. Blake snaps out, “Everyone get in the car!” The other two kids get into the car still crying and I get in the back seat with Lily so I can hold her. She just keeps crying and telling me she can’t get a shot, she can’t get a shot. Is it going to hurt? At this point, the wound has been covered and wrapped up by my husband so I am able to at least attempt to help with the situation. LiesI just kept telling her over and over they would put a numbing medicine on her hand so nothing would hurt. She keeps crying in terror and pain during the car ride so I’m not paying attention to the fact that her story of how her hand got cut didn’t make sense. I just kept her clutched to me while I told her over and over it was going to be okay. Blake drops us off at the ER entrance while he takes the other kids and goes to park the car. This is where I prove my brain isn’t functioning. I forgot how to spell Lily’s full name Lilianna and I couldn’t remember her birthday. Which is hysterical as it was her birthday. That check-in nurse was not amused. The nurses begin the check in process and ask her how her hand got cut. I’m still trying to calm myself down so I’m still not paying attention to the fact that Lily’s story doesn’t make any sense. But the nurses are paying attention. They keep asking her over and over. She keeps giving me guilty looks that are still not registering. But those guilty looks are registering with the nurses. So now we have a child that is telling an impossible story about a deep knife wound that is shooting guilty looks at her mother, a mother that is not correcting that story as her brain is in stasis, and a room full of suspicious nurses. They wouldn’t allow us all back to be with Lily so Blake stayed out in the ER waiting room with the other two kids. Which is awesome because now the family can finally all get hepatitis. Landry routinely licks random surfaces. An ER waiting room is exactly where you don’t want Landry to be. Blake would have been the logical parent to go back with Lily, but at that point you couldn’t have pried that child out of my hands with a crowbar. My brain might shut down in a crisis, but my mommy instincts kick in like an athlete on roid rage. I’m finally back in a room with Lily and I calm down enough to start paying attention to the endless amount of people coming in to ask Lily how she got hurt over and over. Nurses and people that don’t introduce themselves and are not wearing scrubs. I start noticing the looks they are giving me and the guilty looks Lily shoots my way every single time she tells her story. The story was that she tripped on the stool we have in the kitchen and fell on the knife. I have a decision to make. Now that I’m paying attention (better late than never), I know Lily is lying. Lily normally adds a lot of detail to her story. She is a talker. This had zero details past the vague story. I know she was using the knife for some reason. Lily knows that she is not allowed to use or touch a knife. Lily also does not like to be in trouble or for anyone to be mad at her. It clicked in my head that this is why she tried to get a band aid for herself and hide the wound instead of coming to me or her father. I can now let the lie stand so I don’t add to the stress of the situation or I can tell her I know she is lying and ask for the real story. I wasn’t overly concerned about the suspicious nurses, I was more concerned for my child that had been in hysterics for the better part of two hours. Every time we discipline Lily we have to keep assuring her that we still love her. She worries that being in trouble means we do not love her. I wasn’t sure I wanted to add that to the already stressful situation. But letting a lie stand just doesn’t sit right. I’m not her friend, I’m her mother. I tell her how much I love her but I know that she lied. What were you doing with the knife Lily? Lily had taken the package of lip glosses and tried to open them with one of our very sharp steak knives out of the butcher block. She wanted the shimmery one with the owl on the outside. redemptionThe moment she told the truth you could actually see her entire body relax. The stress of having to tell that lie over and over was just as stressful as the cut on her hand. She was finally able to take a deep breath, her shoulders stopped being hunched over, she could now make eye contact with me and her eyes stopped tearing up. The next time the hoard of people came in to ask Lily to tell them how she got cut, she did not shoot me any guilty looks. She did not mumble. She was not quiet. Her face was animated, the lip gloss owl was described in detail, they had to clutch her hand as she started waving it around as she spoke, and she had stopped crying. That lie that she had to tell over and over was harder on Lily than a deep slash from a knife that needed 5 stitches. It was harder than her fear of shots. I’m guessing that satisfied the suspicious hoard as they all started nodding, smiling and they immediately kicked us out. No more waiting on ‘paperwork.’ Guess I should have been more concerned about them being concerned. Lily Pie, nothing you confess will ever make us love you any less. But if you don’t confess, Mama may be in trouble with the Po-Po.
It’s a lonely feeling when someone you love becomes a stranger. I’ve heard when you break up with a person it takes half the time of the entire relationship to really get over the loss. I think the same applies to the ending of a true friendship as well. Love is love. I unintentionally ended an entire friendship in the space of 5 minutes. Five stupid, thoughtless minutes. I gave my friend unsolicited advice. Unsolicited advice over a very painful topic. It’s the only true regret in my life that I would go back in time to change. I wish I had just shut my mouth and listened. Listened and supported my friend even when she made a decision that I wouldn’t have made. Why didn’t I listen? But I didn’t. I didn’t and I found myself mourning a friendship. A friendship that went from meaning everything to me to a smoking pile of ashes in the space of 5 damn minutes. It’s not like she died, it is like a part of me died. A part of me that is still quiet and dead. friendAt first I didn’t want to believe that the friendship was over. We were just having a fight. A rough patch. No. It swiftly became obvious to me that I had crossed an unforgivable line and my denial became a crushing pain that would grab me by my windpipe and make it hard to catch my breath. My apologies were acknowledged but I was sloughed off like dead skin. Forgiven but cast out. The death knoll was the fact that I had to move away. If I had been able to stay near my friend, my unflagging persistence may have worn her down. I would have been relentless. I would not have faltered from my goal. I would have groveled over and over and over. But I had to move. Friendships can withstand distance and time, they cannot withstand distance and time when they are already smoldering ashes. friend goneI’m pretty sure she gave a sigh of relief to see the last of me, dusted her hands of her judgmental ex-friend. Meanwhile tears would streak down my face and my entire core would clench for two years after I moved every time I thought of her. I thought about her a lot those first few years. A little less the next few, and so on and so forth until now the hope of resurrecting the friendship is gone and I’m left with bittersweet memories and regret. Painful regret. Facebook just makes it harder. I think she threw me a pity friendship online in memorandum of what we once were. I can see what she ate for lunch and what she did on the weekend, but it’s like eating cardboard. It’s flat and empty. I want to tell her that I miss her. The old her…the one that used to call me friend. Truth without love is judgement. Truth given in love can still be taken as judgment. Just because I don’t talk to you, doesn’t mean I don’t think about you, worry about you, miss you, love you, care for you, wonder how you are doing.
If I am the person in the room with the most positive and healthy body image in the room then it is a problem. The entire room is dysfunctional and instead of doing what we are doing, then we should probably all go trot down to a health center and get some therapy. Or at least that is my first thought. But then I realize that isn’t quite true. I have come to realize that it is rare to find a woman with an extremely healthy body image. Rare. Not winning the lotto rare, but pretty darn close to that. Which is a shame. If I stop to think about it, I have a fairly healthy body image, it’s just that I have to work on it every day. Every day. But I also have to shower every day so I won’t stink, I work every day to be a better mother, a better wife, I work on my relationship with Christ every day, and I try to write every day to develop my skill. I work every day on the things that are important. One of the big things that helps me keep my body image healthy is going to work out. I like to do it. It makes me strong, healthy and happy. Once I work out, my brain settles down and it actually stops me from obsessing about looks. I check the box taking care of it and then I move on to other things. That’s why I like working out in the morning. I do it. It’s done. I don’t work out because I’m obsessing. I work out so I can STOP obsessing. When I ‘diet’ I can’t ever stop assessing what I’m looking like. When I work out and eat healthy, I am proud of what I see in the mirror. I break free from the Tyranny of Skinniness. (I know exactly why I have these issues and obsessions, I just don’t share them lightly. Or in print.) Food is a different matter. I associate food with love. I always have. When I’m sad I want to eat, when I’m upset I want to eat, when I’m happy I want to eat and when I go out with people I want us all to eat together. I like to eat. I like everything about it. I still associate food with love and therein lies a big problem. I love my children and I want to feed them. I want to feed them all the time. When they are sad, upset, happy and on family outings. Teaching my children to make healthy choices is a lot harder than teaching myself. When I deny them a hostess cupcake in their lunch, I feel like I’m denying them love. It doesn’t matter that I know better. It doesn’t matter because that is the emotion that is pitted deep into my soul. When I deny them food, I am denying them love. A few days ago I took a step back and took a good look at what was happening. I have been making healthy meals for a long time now. Grilled salmon and steamed broccoli is a regular meal on my weekly rotation. They love it. They ask for it. However, healthy meals surrounded by a massive amount of unhealthy snacks isn’t doing anyone any good. My love is driving my children down a path that leads to a lifetime of struggle and health issues. Yesterday I threw out the junk in my pantry. Just the junk. I didn’t go crazy. I’m still going to make the meals they’ve been enjoying. I threw out the junk but I replaced it with enough snack size bags of fruits and vegetables that it filled up the entire bottom portion of my refrigerator. No one is going to go hungry. It took me all day to prepare the snacks in an exciting way that could be presented as fun. I bought the fruit and veggies I knew they liked. I called my pediatrician to verify the portions I was seeing online were correct for my specific children. I agonized over the discussion about eating food to fuel their bodies and brains in a way they could relate to and see in a positive way. I was careful to make sure I stressed that no food was bad but we needed to make sure we had our ‘fuel’ first. I have a fun chart to make sure we are all getting enough water each day. Healthy and Strong. Healthy and Strong. Healthy and Strong are the only words I ever want uttered in their presence. I had such a big emotional build up and they didn’t even pause. Barely even blinked. The only verification they wanted was to make sure we were still having cake next week for Lily’s birthday. Lainey asked for more cucumbers and Lily asked for more raspberries for the options in the fridge. That was it. Meanwhile, I feel like someone kicked me in the gut. I feel like I’ve just told them I don’t love them as much today as I loved them yesterday. I feel like I’ve pulled a dirty, rotten, low down scummy trick on them. Like I said, I have to work on this every day. Every. Day.
If I let myself do everything that I wanted to do, watching my life would be like watching a dumpster fire. I usually choose the right path, but it takes me a moment. One really long moment. I use that moment to think about consequences. My first instinct may not always be the right one, but I’ve always had a firm grasp on consequences. Well, maybe not always, but I learned quickly. If I tear my friends fort down, he is going to punch me in the nose and it will forever be bent slightly to the right side. (Thank you Michael Calvin) If I don’t stop talking in class I won’t see recess for my entire 1st and 2nd grade. If I talked sass at Babysittin’ Granny’s house she would make me go pick out a switch off the bush out front. The problem is that sometimes I’m willing to put up with serious consequences. You know what I like? I like being tan. When I was little, all the moms would put Sun-In in everyones hair so we would get blond streaks. Then they would break out the bottle of baby oil and slather it all over themselves when we would be at the lake or the pool. We went to the lake a lot. I have quite a few memories of burning to a crisp. Many memories of my mom rubbing in aloe vera on my burnt skin. In high school I tanned out on my trampoline. I fell asleep and my entire back got so burnt my teachers at school let me lay down on the floor during class for two entire days. Two days. No one said that tanning was bad. Not then. Not with any real voice. That came later. ‘Tan fat is muscle!’ was my mantra while I lived in California. Right before I had my first child, my grandfather was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of skin cancer. It’s fatal in less than a year. His surgeon told us my grandfather is the only person to have survived this cancer. The only one. That was 11 years ago and it’s still true today. They had to take off half of his face and neck to get it. I stopped tanning. I was the whitest white girl you ever did see. But it wasn’t that much of a sacrifice as I was in the midst of having three children and my bathing suit moments were few and far between. When I was forced to be in a bathing suit, I’d rush from my cover up to the cover of the water. Being the whitest white girl was the least of my concerns. A few years ago, I joined Weight Watchers and lost my weight I had gained on my baby making journey. Then I joined the gym so I could be strong. The result was being able to fit into a bathing suit I hadn’t worn since my honeymoon. Time to tan. The knowledge of the destruction skin cancer causes didn’t go away, it was just overshadowed by the overwhelming urge to prance around in a bikini. A bikini! Judge all you like, but if you had gone from obesity and tent swimsuits to being able to fit into your honeymoon bikini and weren’t I-Won-The-Lotto excited, then you are a better person than me. I went from telling my husband that we should go on an Alaskan cruise where I could be covered from head to toe our entire trip to envisioning myself climbing out of the surf sporting the dark sheen of an island native while people gasped in awe of my marvelous tanned, bikini body. I’ve never lacked in the imagination department. I realize no amount of tanning is going to make that happen. But tan fat is muscle. So I tanned. I tanned and when I tan, I look acceptable (if not island goddess) in a bikini when I look in the mirror. At the end of last summer my 10 year old asked if she could lay on the lounge chair next to me and tan with me. My response was somewhere in the vicinity of, “H*#$ no you can’t tan with me. You look perfect exactly how you are and it’s bad for you. You will ruin your skin and it causes cancer.” She justifiably looked horrified. Her eyes got big on her face and she asked me why I was doing it. It’s amazing how the consequences get much bigger, much faster when you are trotting out examples for your children. Time to stop tanning. But you know what I still like? I like being tan. Today I got a spray tan. I got a spray tan in a machine that looks like a spaceship emergency escape capsule while I wore a hair net and prayed I didn’t come out looking like a nacho dorito. It was cheap, it was clean, it was fast, it didn’t make me smell or look like a dorito. They have 4 levels and I just picked level 2 out of thin air. Let’s roll the dice and see what this gets me. It’s January in Missouri. I was a very white, white girl this morning. Tomorrow I am going to go to church looking very ethnic. Very ethnic. I accomplished in 5 minutes what I couldn’t get after an entire summer in the sun. My husband saw me and rattled off some Spanish to me. I’m pretty sure he said, “Island Goddess, I will love your tanned bikini clad body forever.”
I don’t always take selfies, but when I do it takes 50 tries to get a semi decent one and the people around me think I’m a narcissistic idiot. When I was younger, I remember my entire family giving my aunt grief for always wanting to take a picture. In retrospect, they should have been thanking her for being the Pictorial Family Historian. In no way did she take the amount of pictures that are snapped, edited, posted, tweeted, texted, snap chatted, bought and framed by everyone these days. She didn’t even have a real camera. She aways had one of those cheap disposable cameras that would only take 24 pictures and then it was done. If it was a holiday event she would bring two of them. She was really good about getting one group picture at each activity and then during the entire moment or activity she would be grabbing quick snaps along the way. She would buy doubles of those pictures, she would get a set and the rest of us would grab the few that we liked out of the bunch. She had (and still has) pictures all over her office, her house, her car, on her keychain, and her bathroom is an aquatic theme with our lifetime of lake and ocean vacations on display. While you poop, you can enjoy photos of us holding up fish throughout the years. She has a lifetime of pictures shoved into all the drawers, nooks, crannies of her house. Do you know the one thing that most people take with them when they have to move into a nursing home? Pictures. Pictures to remind them. Pictures to refresh them. Pictures to comfort them. Any pictures taken before I left to go to college are still at my moms house. My hoard of pictures began the moment I stepped out the door to go to college. Admittedly my one album of college pictures for my entire 4 years of college is much less than the 5 albums that college kids now take of their first day of school. I have a lot less pictures, but the pictures that I do have are meaningful and they are physically in my possession as opposed to cyberspace. We have maybe 3 pictures where we are all just standing trying to look as fabulous as possible. Three. Three pictures in four years of college where we cared if we looked amazing. The rest are proof that our time in college was epic. Epic before epic was even a word. Sometimes we looked unintentionally fabulous and sometimes it was the picture where you see nose hair and crossed eyes. We were disheveled, we were real, we were having a lifetime of fun in those brief four years. After college, I moved to California and during that part of my life, pictures became a little more important. We were all a little older, we had a little money, and the San Diego nightlife is a world away from college town West Texas. We still had disposable cameras but we would be taking 20 min worth of pictures before we left the house to make sure we all had that one perfect photo. Perfect from a 20 year olds perspective, not perfect in the sense you could show them to your mom or your children. We took pictures in the car, in the club, and of course the pictures of at least one of us making a fool out of ourselves that night. During that point in my life I actually knew which way to stand, angle my head, smile just right and hold my body to get the best picture. Even with all the deliberate posing and picture taking in California, I still only have about 10 really amazing pictures that are framable keepers. With disposable cameras you get what you get. No one gets a do-over. Good or bad they all tell a story about my life. Once I was married, it’s no longer endless pictures of me going out with my girlfriends, it’s pictures of the two of us. Which is great and horrible at the same time. It’s great because you are taking a picture with someone you love. It’s horrible as my husband is willing to take ONE picture on the way out of the door. If I hear, “You need to enjoy the moment, not ruin the moment with pictures” one more darn time I might take a hostage. A big, burly man hostage that is also the father of my children. That one picture is in front of a door, most of the time he is still griping about taking the picture as it is being snapped and if the picture is blurry or unflattering that is too bad because you had that one chance. No more posing, switching sides, adjusting clothing for a good picture. I have a 9 year time span where I zero amazing pictures. Zero. Zero amazing pictures, but they still hold the memories. They still show the love. They still tell our story. I spent the last week organizing my lifetime of photos. I gathered them all up from the nooks, crannies, boxes and closets I had shoved them into and spilled them all out over my living room floor. They are now all in albums, frames, one bookshelf and then a huge box with the remaining organized by periods in our life. It took me most of the week, but it was a worthwhile journey down memory lane. I will admit, I still love my amazing pictures. The ones that are framable and the ones that you can never let your children look at. They make me happy. But the ones that hit me in my heart, punched me in the gut, took me back in time were not the amazing pictures. The pictures that took me on a journey through time and made my memories vivid again are the pictures that would never make it into a frame. Would have never even made it to the printer by todays standards. And that is a darn shame. The pictures with the dirty house in the background, the action moments where everyone looks stupid but happy, the ones where you look fat but have love in your eyes, the pictures where the background was the most interesting part of the picture. It’s the background that tells most of the story and holds most of the memories. These days you can read countless eloquent quotes about taking pictures when you don’t look wonderful. Blogs written about and for moms struggling with their new physical image and being present in their family pictures instead of the background. I fully support that but we need to go a few steps further. Stop editing the horrible pictures. The pictures that are random, but have a critical moment captured or the realness of your situation. The pictures with no actual focus, but have a ton of people not looking at the camera. Stop editing and deleting those pictures and print them out. Print them out because 20 years from now you won’t give a hoot about those pictures you look fabulous in. You will use those once thought lame background pictures and it will bring that moment back with crystal clear clarity. Clarity you won’t get with a selfie. You won’t be able to tell when or where you are in those selfies because you are zoomed in on your face. Your perfect face that doesn’t tell a story. You will care about those pictures that actually tell the story. Print those selfies but also print your story. The amazing story of your life. It’s the details that matter. The messy, unframable details. Let’s not be the nursing home generation that only has a box full of selfies.