Monthly Archives: February 2011

Mirrors

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I’m not sure when I first started avoiding mirrors, but one day, I realized that I was. It’s not that I never look in a mirror – I’m human – I need to see to fix my hair or put on makeup or make sure my clothes aren’t on inside-out or something – which I have failed at twice in the last six months or so (though if it’s dark, I really do avoid them – a leftover fear from my jackhole neighbor boys telling my Mary Worth stories when I was five).

It’s less about avoiding the mirrors, exactly, and more about the way I cringe when I do look in them. I see a face that doesn’t look like me – or like the me I used to be. The me I want to be. I see gray hair and huge pores and bad skin and dark circles. I see tired eyes and sagging boobs. But mostly, I see fat. This isn’t who I want to be – not the fat woman, really (though I don’t want to be her, either), but the woman who hates herself, the woman who hides from mirrors because she hates what she sees.

I try to raise my daughter to never be that person. I never want her to hate herself, hate the way she looks. I never want her to be ashamed of what she looks like instead of proud of who she is. I refrain from talking about how I look in front of her. I teach her about loving yourself and the way you look. I stress to both of my kids that kindness and compassion are important and looks are not. And even though I do all that. I still worry that they will realize how I feel – that I’ll give off some vibe of self-loathing. That’s they’ll be able to read my face; pick up on my looks of disgust in the mirror the way I picked up on the looks of disgust my mom gave me as a teen, even when she wasn’t calling me fat (when I was 104 pounds – a whole other story).

I want to love myself – I really do. Ironically, when I had someone constantly telling me I was fat or trying to force me into unrealistic diets or buying me too-small clothes, I did love myself – it hurt that she said it, but I never believed it. Even after I started gaining weight (and losing and gaining again and again), I still felt strong and confident – I felt better during the “losing” times but during the “gaining” ones, I still had it in my head that I was OK – that I was a good person, that I had something to offer, that I was…well…pretty. But somewhere along the way something changed and I became the tentative, un-confident, self-conscious, self-loathing person that I don’t even recognize anymore – neither by the way I look nor the way I feel. The one who doesn’t show up in photos anymore. The one who wears the same things over and over because she doesn’t feel good in clothes anyway. The one who hides when she sees an old friend – or even worse – an old boyfriend out in public because she is too ashamed (not self-conscious, but ashamed of how she looks. How did I become this person? Where did the real me go?

I took The Girl out for lunch the other day and the wall next to our booth was a mirror and I watched as my beautiful, silly, kind, funny, wonderful daughter spent an hour looking into that mirror. Not looking and sighing in disgust, but looking and loving what she saw. She made silly faces. She posed. She laughed. She waved and kissed and fixed her hair. And she smiled. Something I haven’t done in the mirror in a long time.

I spend a lot of time trying to teach her, but watching her that day made me realize how much she has to teach me.

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Still My Baby

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My children are seven years apart in age. I didn’t really plan it that way, but that’s how it happened. Having them far apart like that has both pros and cons. A few of the pros are: I never had to worry about the sibling jealousy that arises when you bring a new baby home to a two or three year old, it was easier going out – it’s hard to hold on to a toddler and an infant, but a seven year old can generally be trusted to walk alongside you without you needing to keep a death grip on him. And if I’m being totally honest, it was nice to have a child old enough to go get me a diaper/wipes/binky when I needed one for the baby. (One thing I thought would be a pro was that I figured that with the age difference, they wouldn’t fight as much as close-in-age siblings do. OK, you folks with much older/younger siblings, get it out of your system: HAHAHAHAHAHA. But what did I know about siblings fighting – I’m an only child.)

But then you have the cons: while they DO play together, it’s not the same as having them a year or two apart when they have the same interests or abilities. And then there’s the schedules – they aren’t on the same sports teams or school schedules, so I often feel like all I do is run back and forth from one’s practice/game/school event to the other’s. But for me, the biggest con of all is the fact that I sometimes feel like I was cheated out of my second child’s babyhood.

When my son first said “Mama”, I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I couldn’t get enough of being called Mama (although I admit, there were times after I had heard it for the 275,329,842nd time that day when it wasn’t quite so sweet). And he called me Mama for a long time. In fact, when the girl was born, he was still calling me Mama most of the time, though he was heading into the more “big boy” habit of calling me Mom. Not that I don’t like Mom. But it just doesn’t quite tug at the heartstrings the way Mama does. And when she started calling me Mama, I was just as excited as the first time around. But with her, it didn’t last seven years like it did with him. In fact, with her, she started calling me Mom when she was just a toddler. And it broke my heart a teeny tiny bit.

The same goes with a lot of things – the cute mispronunciations, the outgrowing of “baby” shows and games and toys – she just seems to be growing up so much faster than he did (admittedly, some of it may be from my perspective of OMG – my last baby

One of the sweet habits she had started when she was a tiny baby. One day when I was nursing her, she reached up her hand and grabbed my earlobe and hold on. From then on, my ear (or the ear of whichever loved one was holding her) became her version of the security blanket. When she was taking a bottle, when you were snuggling, when you were reading her a story – any time you were close, she would comfort herself by holding on to your ear. Once she was talking, she would even ask for it – her sweet baby voice asking “ear?” almost made my heart explode. But like most childhood habits, she outgrew it.

But last night, we were lying on the couch together and she was reading me a book, and suddenly – without even realizing that she was doing it – she reached up and softly grabbed my ear. And my heart just melted. She may be growing up, but I’m glad she’s still my baby.

Your Funny Misunderstanding Can Win Big

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We’ve all had one of those moments when we said one thing, but the person we said it to heard (or understood) something else entirely. It can be funny, frustrating and embarrassing. But usually, it’s pretty funny.

Regional dialect or slang can play a part in it – I know a lot of folks in the Pittsburgh area who have had a similar experience as mr b, when his friend from North Carolina came to visit. My MIL was making them sandwiches for lunch and asked if he wanted a jumbo sandwich & he replied, “No thank you, ma’am, a regular-sized one will be fine.”

Song lyrics often cause confusion, too. I remember riding on the bus to a football game, and my friend and fellow majorette had her walkman on and was singing along to REO Speedwagon’s Take it on the Run (I told you I was old). We all cracked up when we heard her sing (at full volume), “But I’m telling you, babe, that I don’t think it’s true, babe. And even if it is, keep kissin my hind.” (the real lyrics being “keep this in mind”). Of course, now “my hind” is forever burned into my brain and that’s how I sing it now, making me look stupid in front of anyone who is around.

Alka Seltzer is currently looking for the best or funniest story of just such a misunderstanding. If yours gets picked you can win a trip to NYC to star in an Alka-Seltzer online video featuring your miscommunication. Plus, you’ll receive $5,000 to spend towards whatever you wish. Sounds like a good deal, right?

All you have to do is leave me a comment with your miscommunication and then head over to the facebook page for the contest and enter it there as well (limit 1,000 characters). The contest runs through February 25, after which the winner will be picked by Alka Seltzer based on Creativity/Originality (25%), Writing Quality (25%), Humor (25%), and How well the Submission translates to a Video Vignette (25%).

Come one, funny people –I want one of my readers to win!

Go Now!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.), 18 years or older. Contest ends 2/25/11. To enter and for Official Rules, including prize description, visit http://www.facebook.com/AlkaSeltzerOriginal?v=app_7146470109&ref=sgm. Void where prohibited.

And now the fine print: I am being compensated by Alka Seltzer and The Motherhood for posting this. All that means is that I can’t win. But one of you can. So once again: Go Now!

Defending Bieber

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I found myself in a very strange position this past weekend – defending Justin Bieber. I KNOW! But the point of this post really isn’t about Justin Bieber and how much he sucks or doesn’t suck. It’s really about teenagers and how much they suck.

Now, I’d like to claim that I was never like that as a teen, but I have to be honest – I was. I can clearly remember what a big asshole I was. And all my friends were. We were the good kids – we got good grades, and were kind to people, and didn’t cause trouble. But we were still assholes.

I remember the days of thinking my parents were old-fashioned idiots who didn’t know anything about the world and wouldn’t know good music if they heard it. I remember thinking how unfair everything was. I remember always having to get the last word. I remember swearing to God and Buddha and Magnum PI that I would never be like my parents.
Hello? Gina, meet karma.

The boy is a teenager now and he’s pretty much killing me. He is all those things I remember being: stubborn, a know-it-all, contrary, lazy, smartass, OMG SO SLOW, and a general pain in the ass. And yet, he’s still a pretty damned good kid.

That said, his anti-Bieber campaign is really getting on my nerves. Now don’t get me wrong – the mere thought of Justin Bieber makes me gag. But the girl loves him, so he’s in my life – in my ears, hanging on my walls, in my laundry (on her shirts and jammies – obviously, he’s not actually in my laundry – that would be weird), so I deal with it.

I don’t recall my parents being big Shaun Cassidy fans, but they still bought me the albums and clothes and posters and jewelry (which I still wear), and my dad (bless his heart) even took me to his concert. And my aunt didn’t swoon over Andy Gibb, but she still sat in the second row at the Syria Mosque and happily(ish) got trampled on my a bunch of screaming girls and (her least favorite part) hit by flying Gibb sweat, because I did swoon over him.

Anyway, the girl has Bieber Fever. And the boy has IHateBieber Fever. And being a smartass, know it all, stubborn, contrary teen, feels the need to express his anti-Bieber feelings every time he sees, hears, or even thinks about anything remotely related to Justin Bieber. Which triggers the screamy, Bieber-Fever, 7 year old crazy. Which in turn triggers my nervous breakdown.

I finally told him, “Enough! Enough with all the bad-mouthing and mocking and negativity!”
His response – of course (being a self-righteous, know it all teen), was “Jeez, mom, I’m entitled to my opinion!” He was feeling very proud of himself for that response until I told him that while he is entitled to his opinion, if that opinion is the opposite of the opinion of someone he cares about, and if that opinion is hurtful to someone he cares about, then perhaps he should keep it to himself, and that if he thinks I am stupid enough to think that he really cares all that much about Justin Bieber in one way or another, rather than expressing his goddamned opinion for the sake of making his sister scream, the he is sadly mistaken. And the next time he thinks about trying to stir up shit and ruin my peaceful evening/dinner/car ride by making the screamer who screams scream even more, he better think twice, because I WILL KILL HIM.

And then, because there is obviously still a teensy-weensy touch of stubborn, oppositional, know-it-all, smart ass, contrary teenager in me, I followed up with, “JUSTIN BIEBER IS AWESOME AND YOU’RE JUST JEALOUS!”

Sigh. I’ve turned into my parents and my kids.

Also? Bieber sucks.

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