Middle School Blues?

6 Jun

                            

 Summer has arrived. Picnics and pool parties have started. Kids are out of school. Kids are driving me nuts out of school. X Girl just completed her second year of middle school and I was a bit shocked to realize that she has one year left of middle school until…high school. I don’t even know how this has happened. It seems like she started middle school yesterday. And man, was I nervous about the whole starting middle school thing.

I hated middle school. Let me say that again. I. HATED. MIDDLE. SCHOOL. The braces. The acne. The hormones. The awkwardness. The classmates. I was a very awkward middle schooler. And unfortunately, there were some that enjoyed picking on my awkwardness. As if gingerly stepping through this uncomfortable time wasn’t bad enough, I had these asshats not only confirming my faults but also making sure that I was continually tortured for said faults for 3 years. To make matters worse, I lived in a more affluent, upper middle class area but was not affluent. You know the story…single, working her ass off mother. Latch key kid, blah, blah, blah. We could not afford all the coolest and best clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t lacking. My mom worked very hard to provide for me. But the extra cool clothes were not in my closet. And I paid for that.

Enter The Mean Girl.

Regina George? Naw. Lauren* was worse. There was no Burn Book. Lauren had no problem pulling me into her little torture chamber of ridicule and letting me know exactly what she thought of me. I was ugly. I was stupid. I was a loser. 3 years of hell. Daily. This girl craved fresh meat and my name was dripping off her teeth. She jollied others to join her. She was the worst of the worst. She was a bully. To this moment, some of her most horrible comments are ringing through my ears. And those comments had a lasting impression on me. And not for the good. I have carried some of these comments as badges of shame and it took a long time to move on from the impression they made on me.

Having grown and moved on from these scars of the past, I have been busy raising children. I have worked so hard for them to see themselves as the beautiful people they are. I have worked hard to raise them up and for their self esteem to rise above any negative comments made by those who try to tear them down. But, just as important, is to treat everyone with respect. To NEVER tear down anyone else. Treat everyone as you wish to be treated. Never judge. No bullying. Not only do I want them to have the self esteem I never had but I also want to make sure they never treat someone as I was treated.

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with X Girl and her BFF. They were sitting at the island watching me make dinner. We started talking about middle school politics. We talked about bullies. I told them a bit about my bully. There was talk about one friend and how she has been different this year. Not as nice. And the girls were bothered by this. I reminded them that this person may be going through her own difficult time that they are not aware of and you can never judge someone until you walk in their shoes. And of course, my statement hit me like a ton of bricks.

Lauren was horrible to me. But, was this a symptom of something greater in her own life? As an adult, should I make concessions for such things? Am I willing to forgive? Can I put the past behind me? Can I move on from something that I have carried for so long? Do I write her a FB message (so maybe I’ve checked out her page once.), reminding her of the hell she put me through at such an impressionable age and demand she own up to what she did to me and apologize? Or, do I accept the fact that we were both kids in an unsure, unstable and unpredictable time of our lives?

X Girl has enjoyed middle school. Aside from a few eye rolls and tears, she has grown into herself with dignity and grace. I’m proud of the young woman she is becoming. She takes most things with a grain of salt and let’s life’s little disputes roll off her back. I have much to learn from my baby girl.

 

*Name has been changed simply because I don’t want to get sued.

 

Home Alone

9 Aug

Image

I am on the cusp of something new. Something different. And frankly, I’m not sure how I feel about it! In just a few days, my children will be going back to school. Now, this is normal. X Girl has been in school since ’06. I am used to back to school day. I make X Girl and X Boy a scrumptious, homemade breakfast (what are you laughing at! I really do!), have their backpacks packed and waiting in the mudroom with care. Lil’ E and I walk them to the bus stop, give hugs, kisses and well wishes for the first day of a new, great school year and wave to them as the bus pulls away and keep waving until it’s a tiny spec of yellow…

And then I dance the jig.

That’s right. I dance the jig. They are gone! I have a whole, glorious day to myself and Lil’ E, five days a week! There is no fighting. There is no, “Mom! X Boy was in my room!” or “Mom! X Girl hit me and told me she’s going to stab me!” or the pushing or yelling or screaming or crying. NOTHING! It’s wonderful!

Of course I love my children. But they just need to be gone for a few hours! I have always enjoyed the extra time with the little one at home. It’s my special time with that little one and each of my children have gotten that special time during the day with Mommy. And that’s how it’s always been.

However, this year will be different. In GA, where I live, the state has a wonderful Pre-K program for 4 yr. olds. For free. Universal Pre-K. Every 4 yr old is eligible. And it is all day, six and a half hours a day, five days a week. So let’s do the math, shall we? X Girl will be gone all day at middle school. X Boy will be gone all day at elementary school. Lil’ E will be gone all day at Pre-K. I will be left home with…no one. That’s right. For the first time since I became a mother, I will not have a child at home for most of the day to care for. 12 years. That’s how long I have been a mother with a baby at home. When X Girl started Kindergarten, I had X Boy at home. When X Boy started Kindergarten, I had Lil’ E at home. Now I have no one.

I know what you guys are thinking…”And this is bad…why?”

I’m not sure how to feel about this. On one had, I am excited. For three years, I have been taking classes on a part-time basis. I can throw my whole weight into it now, really buckle down and finish this blessed degree sometime before my death. I can have lunch with a friend without taking crackers, crayons and books with me. I can go grocery shopping without hearing 50,000 times “Mommy can I get this?”. I can turn Pandora up as loud as I want while picking up without worrying if the music will wake the napping babe upstairs. I can go to the mall stroller free. I can take a shower without an audience. I can go all day without hearing that mouse say “Wanna come inside my clubhouse?”. I can go for a walk with friends. I can wander around a bookstore for as long as I want. I can wander around IKEA as long as I want. The possibilities are endless! But even now, as I sit here writing this list of all I will be free to do, it is done with a heavy heart.

I feel like the job I have held for 12 years is over. Of course, I am still a mother. Of course I still have years of values and virtues to entrust to these little souls. But, one of the biggest parts of my job is over. I have been a full-time stay at home mommy for years. I even had initials; SAHM. But when you don’t have children at home to take care of, where does that leave you? Where does it leave me?

I am in mourning. As crazy as my children have made me, I have loved every second with them. Each one of them. And now, as I sit here writing this, I am filled with regrets. Did I spend enough time with each of them? Did we play enough? Did I take advantage of every innocent moment I could? I know I have done a fine job, but the “Did I’s” and “What if’s” always seem to creep up.

This obviously is a testament to life. How we are constantly changing, growing, evolving. When one door closes, another opens. A huge part of my life, of who I am, is over. I am left with trying to figure out the next step.

Will I dance the jig at the bus stop this year? I doubt it. I think I will be a bit too emotional as I walk into an empty house. But I’m not too worried. I’ll get my dancing shoes back on in no time.

How Do You Make A House A Home?

22 Aug

How do you make a house a home? I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately. My own family is still adjusting to our new house. Unpacking boxes, trying to figure out where to put the possessions we brought from our last home, placing furniture in just the right areas, painting, hanging pictures, etc. Trying to make ourselves feel like this new building is comfortable and a home. It takes time. Putting the pieces of your life that have been in boxes in just the right places can be hard, especially when you want to put them in the places they were before.

Growing up, there were five different homes that I lived in, that I can remember. The earliest memory of a home was when I was 4. I know there were several before that, but for the time being, let’s stick with five. I envied the people who were born and raised in one house. I thought that was the coolest thing. For the parents and their kids. I always said to myself I would love to do that when I grow up. My future husband and I would buy a house on a quiet, tree-lined street with sidewalks. We would raise our children in that house. Watch their first steps in one living room, celebrate holidays and special occasions in one dining room and toast our Golden Anniversary in the same house, surrounded by our grown children and grandchildren. Grow old and die in that house.

For the record, The Dude and I are now living in our fourth house. So much for that fantasy.

Because I had such a warped sense of adulthood as a child, I have grown emotionally attached with each home we have lived in. With the exception of our current house, we brought a baby home to each house (THIS house has a strict no new babies rule). I watched in blissful happiness X Girl and X Boy take their first steps in the living room of our second house and Lil’ E take his first steps in the living room of our third house. Each house was filled with happy memories and it was painful to leave them. If you know anything about me from the blog, I can be quite sentimental.

This past weekend, my father and stepmother moved out of the house they had owned for 25 years. It was bittersweet for my stepmother. All their children and most of their grandchildren are grown. It was just the two of them. There was too much maintenance for them to deal with. The house was too big for them and they were needing something smaller with less upkeep for the two of them. My stepmother and I talked about the upcoming move during a recent visit. We were talking about all the happy memories that those walls held (I am assuming that she was not counting the time her then 18 yr old stepdaughter got arrested for trying to get a fake ID as a happy memory. But I have no idea who that is.) and all the important people in her life that the roof had sheltered. As I hugged her, I told her that no matter where you are, as long as you are surrounded by the people who you love, you are home. A house is four walls and a roof. A HOME is what you put in those four walls and roof. There will be many new memories to make. There are still good times to be had (according to Shelby from Steele Magnolias). Home truly is where the heart is.

As I sit here reflecting on the advice I gave my stepmother just a few weeks ago, I find it ironic that I can dish out the advice (quite well, I might add!), but had not thought to take it. We live in a house. It has four walls and a roof. But what is important is what is inside of the house. My family. That is why each house we have owned has had such sentimental value to me. We moved into each house and made it our home. The place we know we can always go for love, comfort, security and support. This house is becoming our home. It is filled with love, laughter, happiness and the occasional “I hate it here! I want to move back to NY!”. It is already chock full of smiles, jokes, kisses and hugs. We DID bring a new baby into this house, our puppy, X Dog. Life is good. Life is full. Life is what you make of it. And that, is how you make a house a home.

RUN FORREST! RUUUUUUNNN!

19 Aug

Shirt (Front and back design)

So, in 8 days I will participate in my first 5k. I’ll be honest, I am not that optimistic about it. I know I am not going to be able to run the entire 3.1 miles. HOWEVER, I have great confidence that I will finish it. I know I will be running at the starting line and I know I will be running when I cross the finish line. What happens in-between is not a big deal. I am totally fine with that. I am just proud of myself for getting my ass off the couch and doing something!

A friend of mine who is a runner was in town last week. We were talking about my upcoming race and she was telling me about shirts with funny quotes she had seen in races. Last night she sent me a few emails with some good quote suggestions for me to make my own shirt. They were awesome! Here are just a few:

~Why are you all chasing me?

~Will run for cookies.

~Are we there yet?

~Running: Cheaper than therapy.

~If found on ground, please drag to finish line.

She’s quite fabulous, isn’t she? Well, of course it got me thinking…what would be some good Gen X Mama running phrases? So, I compiled a list and here they are, in no particular order:

~I’m running…AWAY!

~Will run for wine.

~Does my ass look jiggly in these shorts?

~I’m running away from my kids.

~Yes, I am slow. I am a Mom and this is my quiet time.

~If found passed out, please give wine intravenously.

~I’m running slow so my mascara won’t run.

~The Dude is so proud of me for running this race! He’ll probably want sex afterwards. I should stop now.

~Don’t pay attention to the woman getting into the car.

~When I am finished, I prefer drinking my wine with a crazy straw in the bottle.

I’m ready for this!

 

When Life Hands You Lemons…Add Vodka

17 Aug

Last week I had an interesting conversation with a close friend. I was discussing (oh, all right, I was whining) about some of the hiccups that have occurred in the past 10 weeks since our family had uprooted our lives and moved 1000 miles away. Some little, some big. All just different from our life before. Most I was prepared for, some I was not. She asked me an interesting question. She asked if I thought that moving had been a mistake. Well, of course in true Gen X Mama fashion, I was immediately annoyed by this question. Even if I did think it was a mistake, there is nothing I can do about it now! I mean, c’mon! We moved. We can’t just up and leave again two months into this gig.

But, over the past few days, I have given her question more thought. Did we make a mistake? This move was not mandatory for The Dude’s job. His company did not require us to transfer here. This was a decision we made of our own free will. The opportunities here are much better for the advancement of his career, but overall, this was a voluntary decision. We had a very good life in NY. We were surrounded by family. Most of the time that was good, other times, not so much (but that is a whole other discussion!). The kids were in a great school. I was active in our temple. We had an amazing circle of friends. Life was good. We were happy.

It took The Dude and I two years of endless research and discussions to make this decision. Back and forth debates. Several ups and many downs. Would we find a town that we like as much as the one we lived in? Another house where we could make a home in? Friendships and kindred spirits that could relate to all of our quirkiness? And what about the kids? Lil’ E was young enough to adjust fairly quickly, but what about X Girl and X Boy? Were we going to ruin their lives? Was a move going to send them over the therapists couch edge (I mean more than we already have.)? There were thousands of questions but not many answers. But, we decided to go ahead and take the plunge.

So, here we are, 10 weeks later and I am pondering this question. Did we make a mistake? For the sake of my kids, I can’t doubt or question this move. It absolutely was the right decision. But, there are times, when I am alone, that I do question this decision. Like when I am having a hard time finding a pediatrician that was as amazing as Dr. Green was. Or when I am searching for a preschool that will offer everything that I am looking for, for Lil’ E. The rare nights when The Dude is actually not falling asleep on the couch and we could actually go out and spend some time together, but we left the best babysitter in the world in NY. Or the evenings when I could really, REALLY use a girls night out with nosh, wine and my gals but there’s no one to call. Will everything in our new life fall into place? And if so, when, because I am very impatient.

These are the hard times. The times when I think to myself “What the fuck have we done?”. It’s those times that bring a few tears to my eyes. Where I feel lonely, helpless and confused. When I sit and mourn the life I once had and feel daunted and overwhelmed at the thought of starting a new life here. Having to gingerly put myself out there again. Slowly having to expose myself and hoping beyond hope to make a connection with someone who I can be me with. I swear making new friends is more brutal than dating.

It’s all these things that bring me back to my friends question “Do you think you made a mistake moving?”.  And I doubt myself. I worry about the decision that I played a part in making. I worry about my children. I fret. I’m scared. I know MANY people who have started over in a new place, and they all seem to adjust very well. They all made a new life for themselves. I worry often if my family can do this also. However, when your almost 11-year-old daughter bounces into the house as you are blogging about your worries and announces that she was invited over to a new friends house and rushes on to talk about her day at school and mentioning all these new names of friends at school, I can’t help but smile and know in my heart that we are all going to be ok. And when life does hand you lemons, add some vodka to the lemonade. That always helps.

Wordless Wednesday

3 Aug

DING! DING! DING! DING! WE HAVE A WINNER!

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

1 Aug

Let me tell you a bit about the people I choose to surround myself with. They are the definition of awesomeness. Each in their own way. Paul Childs, husband to the iconic Julia Childs, once said that his wife was “The butter to my bread” (OK, not sure if this is 100% accurate, but he said it in the movie Julie and Julia. You check out the historical accuracy and get back to me. I’m busy writing here!). Aside from the fact that I wonder if The Dude has ever used such an endearing phrase to describe me, this is how I think of my circle of friends. They are the butter to my bread. The glue that holds me together.

In my new quest to run a 5K and to achieve my ultimate goal of becoming a runner, they have all once again showed me their love and support. But what many of them do not realize is that, aside from their encouraging words, their actions and how they live their lives, is an inspiration to me. Let me tell you a bit about some of them:

Jaime –  Jaime took up running several years ago. She went from jogging a little bit to running 5K’s and then less than a year ago, she completed her first half marathon. She sent out an email several weeks before her race and asked people to send back inspirational and encouraging words for her to carry with her during her race. She got by with a little help from her friends.

Aunt Sue – Sue is my mothers younger sister. I will not divulge her age on this public forum for fear of a beating, but let’s just say she has two children, one out of college for a year (who also has started a kick ass career in the fashion industry) and another about to enter his junior year in college. Again, you do the math.  Sue and her husband have always stayed active and fit. Well, less than two years ago, Sue decided to do a little race. THE NEW YORK CITY MARATHON! Yes, that’s right. My ??something aunt ran one of if not the most famous marathons. 26.2 miles. I look at her and think “If she can do it, so can I!”  We have the same DNA for goodness sakes! Now granted, that is something that is YEARS away.  But she has truly been an inspiration to me and I aspire to accomplish what she has.

Jennifer – A couple of years ago, I had this great idea to get up before the kids and exercise. Yeah…that lasted for about a week. If that. But I shared this idea with Jennifer, who thought it was a great idea, and proceeded to do the same thing. And of course, she rock starred it! Jennifer got up religiously 5 mornings a week to exercise. She has a determination and willpower that amazes me over and over again. I marvel at her accomplishment.

Erin – Erin has only recently come into my life. Realtor guru by day. Cyclist and runner extraordinaire by night. Erin and her husband travel all over with their racing team competing in different races. Erin is currently training for a half marathon. Together, we are taking a 5K training clinic. I know Erin’s speed and endurance surpasses mine, yet sweet Erin stays by my side when we train together. What makes Erin even more stunning to me is what you don’t see. In 2003, at the age of 27, Erin was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Less than a year later, she started her own charity, where every cent raised goes to MS research. Her racing team has grown and Erin’s Fight has raised over $150,000. She is a stunning woman in every capacity and I am honored to call her my friend. *To learn more about Erin’s Fight or to make a donation, please go to http://erinsfight.org/ *

The Dude – My backbone. My rock. Every time I fall down, he lifts me back up, dusts me off and encourages me to keep going. He supports me, encourages me, loves me and puts up with me. That in itself is a noble quality. ‘Nuff said.

These women are just a very small sprinkling of the people in my life that I treasure. Their strength, determination and perseverance give me that extra bit of will power that I need. They believe in me even when I may not. They give words of encouragement and support. I would be lost without them. When I lace up my sneakers and face that long, tiring road, I know I am being carried by the thoughts and strength of  my circle of friends.

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