Thursday, September 18, 2014

30 Things Series #27: My Favorite Part of My Body

Some of these 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me topics are rough. Some are a cinch. This one is the latter.

Which of my body parts is my favorite? Easy. My boobs.

shirt by Made By Momma
owned and proudly worn by me
This was not always the case. My boobs used to be the bane of my existence. I went from wearing no bra to wearing a large bra that just kept getting larger every year in no time. My boobs were always bigger than all the other girls'. My nipples are flat and used to make me very self-conscious, because they didn't look "normal" when compared to the other girls in the locker room. Changing into a sports bra for volleyball was uncomfortable, to say the least. Shopping for prom dresses sucked, because nothing fit - I was so much bigger at the top than at the bottom. Everything had to be altered. I busted out of everything in which the other girls looked so cute. Boobs sucked.

The comments were never-ending. They didn't come from my peers, as one would imagine, though. The boys at school didn't gawk or say anything, at least not that I knew of. The girls weren't ever outwardly jealous or mean. No, the comments came from my family members. And they were frequent. My step-sister is 12 years older than me. She never stopped commenting. Ever. Ev-er. At my great-grandmother's funeral, a cousin of my mom's came up and out of the blue started talking about my boobs to my mom as if I wasn't standing right there beside them. My step-uncle made his fair share of inappropriate comments regarding my chest. Once, when I was visiting my grandparents for the summer, I went to a friend's house for church. Before we left, I was called home by my grandmother who just couldn't bear the thought of me being out in public with my boobs "out" the way they were. The body-shaming was ceaseless and it got inside my head big time. My mom was the only one who never shamed me for my breasts. I always say she's the only "little boob" who understands the plight of the "big boob." It's one of the things I've most appreciated in her over the years. Thank goodness for her, because mostly boobs sucked.

I went through many years wanting a breast reduction. I stopped short of heading to the plastic surgeon's office every time, because I knew I wanted to breastfeed and I didn't want anything to potentially prevent that. (Yes, I know some can breastfeed post-reduction, but some can't and I wasn't willing to take that chance.) Making such a drastic change to my body in my teens and 20s seemed, well, drastic, so I put it off and put it off. I still thought, though, that boobs sucked.

Ultimately, I'm glad I did, because my boobs have turned out to be my favorite body part. Yes, I like the way they look, the softness they add to my body (which didn't used to be as soft as it is now), but mostly, I like what they can do. These mondus things on my chest have the ability to nourish and strengthen, comfort and coddle, care for and protect another human being. That's some amazing stuff! For nearly four years, I've been able to soothe hurt feelings, relieve broken skin, and shoo away boogeymen of all sorts just with my boobs. Those are some powerful things. Boobs are rad!

I have never felt more womanly and strong as I have since I've become a breastfeeding mother. My body is incredible. I love my boobs. I'm grateful for my boobs. Got a negative comment about them? Ain't nobody got time for you. Luckily, the person whose opinion truly matters, you, my sweet boy, thinks my boobs are pretty special, too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

30 Things Series #26: What Popular Notion Do I Think the World Has Most Wrong?

Now, here's a post from the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series that I could write on all day, but I'll try to keep it as brief as I can.

I was going to pick circumcision, but since the question was what the world had wrong and 91% of the world's men are intact, I had to go global, thus had to go with another incorrect notion. For the record, I think this "popular" (it's not even that popular, since 65% of the boys now born in the U.S. are being left intact) notion in the U.S. is what we have most wrong.

Worldwide, I think the notions that fear equals respect, that you have to hurt in order to get that mistaken respect, and that spanking (one of the things that garners said mistaken respect) is not the same as hitting are those the world has most backwards.

Want to know what being slapped, spanked, screamed at, intimidated, threatened, roughly grabbed and pushed, and otherwise treated unkindly did to me? It gave me a fear of being caught, of getting in trouble, of those in positions of authority. It didn't teach me a damn thing other than that I couldn't trust the person doing those things. I didn't learn to make good decisions. I learned to get sneakier and more manipulative. I recall once when I was an older teen, this person came at me with the clear intent to hit me. I fell back onto my bed and began wildly kicking. There was no way in hell I was going to be hit again. No way. This was the first time I had ever defended myself, though, and it resulted in two things: a major grounding (what was new?) and never being hit again. The rest still occurred, but I was never again struck. There is so much left to be said here, but I'll let you work it out on your own.

I once wrote a blog post called "Hitting is Hitting is Hitting." (Click HERE to see it.) I wrote it because a great many in our world seem to be of the mistaken belief that there is a difference between different kinds of hitting, that some hitting is OK, while others cross some imaginary line they've made up in their heads and that differs for every person, thus nullifying the notion of the line in the first place. I wrote it because a great many in our world seem to be of the mistaken belief that because they were mistreated and they didn't, I don't know, die or end up in foster care as a result, they're fine and should then give their own kids the "fine" upbringing they were given. I wrote it because it needed to be written. People need to be shaken out of their own comfort zones every once in a while. People need to have a mirror held up to them sometimes. People need to be given food for thought. More than anything, though, I wrote it because I believe in standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. I guess it was my adult version of kicking wildly at those who needed to know that the pain they inflict on others would no longer be tolerated.

I hear a few things about this all the time:
- "I got spanked and I'm glad. I'm now in college and I credit the discipline my parents gave me for that. I'll spank my kids for sure."
- "My nephew isn't spanked and he's a menace. He could use a good pop."
- "You're what's wrong with the world. If more parents spanked their kids, we wouldn't have the disrespectful, criminal delinquents running around that we have nowadays."
- "My kids don't listen when I yell, so I have to spank them."
- "Well, what if your kid is going to run out into traffic? Wouldn't you spank them then? It's for their own good."
- and so much more...

What crap. I know, I know, I could be more tactful, but sometimes I just don't want to. It's crap. It just is. All of it. Study after study after study tells us that it's crap. Cognitive dissonance allows people to shut out the information presented, though, same as it will here, but their disbelief of the cold, hard facts doesn't make their beliefs on this topic less crappy. And sure, they can find others who will back them up. In fact, sadly, they can find a majority to back them up. Doesn't mean it's not crap. Following along in the path of the majority doesn't mean you're a critical thinker - generally, it means quite the opposite.

Let me tell you about a former student of mine, Kevin. Kevin was a pain in my butt. Seriously. Pain. Yes. Mmm hmmm. He was. Dude. I cannot even tell you. Anyway, I treated him with respect regardless of his behavior, because that's what's right. Every once in a while, I'd see a flicker of something amazing in him. Just a flicker, but it was enough to keep me going with him. I saw something. We once had a parent-teacher conference with all his teachers, his counselor, his mother, and himself. He was failing nearly everything and almost all of us had the same thing to say about his behavior. Kevin had been quiet through the whole conference, which was unusual for him. At one point, his mom turned to him to ask him to explain himself. He continued in his silence. All of a sudden, she hit him. She spanked him a few times, yelling for him to talk. My heart raced. I looked to the more senior members of the faculty to say something. No one did. (My guilt for not standing up to her then is for another blog.) The conference ended and I went back to my room to consider what I had just experienced and what I would do from there. While I always treated Kevin with a distant respect, from that point forward, I treated him with more warmth in addition to respect. That was all it took. From then on, Kevin and I got on great. I mean great. I would've left him in charge of the classroom if I had to step out. That's how much things changed. I understood him, I felt. And I feel like he knew that. I couldn't change what was happening to him at home, but I was able to change my behavior and it was a lesson to me that just a little love and understanding had the power to garner a greater respect than could any violence or ugliness.

I could cite studies and list facts here. If I were writing this for the masses, I would. I'm writing this for you, though, sweetheart, and I if I've done my job properly, I don't need to tell you even as much as I have here. If I've done my job well, you'll continue to find yourself questioning why the kid in the grocery store is getting hit for touching the candy at the check-out stand and maybe you'll even stand up and say, "No more." I have full faith in your ability to think critically. I have full faith in your ability to not only recognize right from wrong, but then do the right and stand up for it, too. If I'm not mistaken, by just being the amazing person you are and continue to become, you are changing the world. Keep it up. I love you.



Monday, September 15, 2014

30 Things Series #25: With Whom from History Would I Eat Dinner?

I got this. This post in the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series is a cinch. With whom from history would I want to eat dinner and what would we eat?

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Oh, how I wanted to be Laura Ingalls when I was a kid. I don't mean the TV version of Laura. I don't want to eat with Melissa Gilbert. I mean the real Laura.

I read, no consumed all the books as a young girl. I was convinced I had been born in the wrong time. I should've lived in Laura's time. I was tough enough, I had what it took. I romanticized it all. For a kid who wasn't living the easiest of lives at the time, Laura's world was exactly what the doctor ordered.

I couldn't care less what we eat. I do have it in mind that we'd have a cold beer together, though. Bottled. This part of my fantasy is very clear. I'm not questioning it.

We'd talk, laugh, learn, open ourselves, sit in quiet happiness. It would be like sitting down to a meal with a best friend. She has no way of knowing, of course, but she was one of my best friends when I was a child. I'd like to thank her for that.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

30 Things Series #24: My Favorite and Least Favorite Things About Parenting

I'm nearing the end of the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series. Today's topic is "my favorite and least favorite things about being a parent." There is an easy part and a tough part to this post and they may not be what you're thinking.

I'll start with the easy part first: my least favorite thing about being your parent. No, it's not wiping buns, finding boogers on my boob after a breastfeeding session turned nap, or the moodiness and sleep deprivation during a growth spurt. Shoot, there was a time I never thought we'd have any of those experiences, so I'm just grateful. No, my least favorite thing about being your parent is knowing that someday, and it'll happen slowly over time almost imperceptibly, I won't be needed as your full-time parent anymore. Yes, I'll always be your mama, but there will come a time when I won't be a part of your every moment and that chokes me up. I'll miss you.

My favorite thing about parenting is so much harder to pin down. How do I choose? Being your mama has been very healing for me. What I experienced in my own childhood, I'm almost able to make up for by giving you better. That's pretty amazing. The bond we have where we don't even have to speak aloud to know what the other is speaking is incredible. Our shared sense of humor amuses me so. I think, though, the ultimate for me is when you tell me you know how much I love you - a million times infinity. I logically know you cannot possibly know the depth and breadth of my love for you, but emotionally knowing that you know you're loved unconditionally is the most important thing in the world to me. My wish for you has always been for you to be safe, happy, and healthy. I think knowing you're loved so overwhelmingly is part of that - it keeps you safe, happy, and healthy. Ya, knowing and feeling that you know and feel that is my favorite part of parenting.

There aren't words enough, but "a million times infinity" will have to suffice...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On Friendship

I don't have many friends. I rather like it this way. I had friends as a kid, as a teen, and in my careers, but now, as a mom who works from home and has only one car that goes to work with her husband, I don't have many friends.

I have friends from my past with whom I keep in touch. I have friends I've never met, though, I try to keep those to a minimum. I have a couple family members who also fall into the "friend" category. They all have their own special place in my heart, but they're not like friendships of old - they're not the best friend in high school who knows all about my past, has seen it first-hand; they're not the friend with whom I can be my worst and they'll either grant me a by or side-eye me and tell me to get over myself; they're not the friend who will help me do dishes or come over to help me paint without the promise of pizza. No, I don't have any of those friends anymore and I've been reflecting on why that is.

I struggle with being/remaining friends with those who cannot be open and honest. I struggle to form a bond with those who won't allow themselves to be vulnerable. I struggle to feel close to those who talk about nothing but that which is on the surface, only relate by joking, and constantly feel the need to put on a happy face.

Perhaps conversely, I also struggle with those who are high-maintenance, needy, in constant need of reassurance due to their ever-increasing list of insecurities, or spend more time throwing themselves pity-parties than making the changes over which they have control.

No, this doesn't mean I struggle with those who occasionally struggle with these issues or find themselves with any faults at all. Of course it doesn't mean that. These are just the chronic issues with which I have issues.

A family member of mine once taught a lesson in her Sunday School class in which she talked about a friend of hers who always put on a happy face. Every day, she walked by her friend and asked how he was, to which he replied with a smile and a "I'm great!" This happened every day without fail. One day, though, she walked by her friend and asked how he was, to which he replied with a smile that he was having an awful day, because hid car had been broken into. Her lesson to us was that we should all just "put on a happy face." You have NO idea how long that drivel stuck with me and how many years of therapy it took me to realize it was, indeed, drivel.

I have a friend whose sister considers her her best friend. My friend cannot understand this at all, as she has never felt particularly close to her sister. Her sister is closed off and dishonest about who she is and what she feels - even to the point of being dishonest with herself. My friend wonders how she is supposed to feel close to a person like that. When confronted with the fact that my friend doesn't feel close to her, has never felt close to her, the sister was in a state of complete bafflement. How utterly frustrating for both of them.

I screw around. I joke. I play. And want that in my friends, too. I also have real feelings about real issues and I need my friends to allow that in me and express that with me, as well.

At a certain point, I let go. When it becomes crystalline that the friendships I once had are no longer two-sided, honest, and true, I let go. It generally takes me a while to get to that point, but once I'm there, I'm fairly firmly there. A couple times when I've let go, the friend of whom I let go was seemingly torn up. That has caused me to ponder what makes a friend a friend to others. Obviously, what I saw as surface-level was more than enough for them, was what they wanted and needed. I wonder why. I wonder what that must feel like to have to stuff their feelings, never let anyone see the real them, even with the people they consider friends. I imagine that must feel lonely and unfulfilling, but, then, I can't ever know, because that kind of conversation isn't allowed in those types of relationships.

I also imagine that the things I struggle with also make others struggle to be friends with me.

And so I write. I have no greater message here. I have no answers. I don't know that I even have a point. It's more like verbal vomit, er, in written form.

What makes a good friendship in your opinion?



Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sing for SUDC

I have been challenged in the #UseYourVoiceChallenge to #SingForSUDC. And I'm scared to death. This tells me it's probably something I should be doing. So, here we are, because as Simon Holt once wrote, "If you don't know learn how to be scared, you'll never really learn how to be brave.”

Before I get to that, though, let me tell you a little about Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood (SUDC).
I had never heard of SUDC until about a year and a half ago - 81 Fridays ago, to be exact, when my friend Julie of The Progressive Parent lost her 14 month old son, Patrick, to its vile clutches. Along with many of you, I was crushed when I read the news. The Progressive Parent always felt to me like Zen Parenting's little sister. I felt protective of her, loving toward her. And she lost one of hers. As I'm sure it did with many of you, a little part of me changed forever as I felt so deeply Julie's pain, the pain of PatPat's siblings. As I write this, my heart is pounding, my limbs feel heavy, I'm reliving how it felt to imagine Julie's experience. For those who say, "I can't imagine," I call b.s. I think we can imagine and it's just too damn painful to do so. It hurts just thinking about it, so to imagine living it is unbearable for many of us. Julie doesn't have the luxury of shutting off those feelings, though, so here we are. Here we are talking about SUDC and the nearly same number of innocent children snatched from the bosoms of their parents so very long before their time as are snatched from the families who love someone with ALS. Yes, nearly the same number. And yet, the funding for SUDC research is negligible. It certainly doesn't have a high profile celebrity or 80 championing the cause. So, here we are.

HERE Julie is doing her best to raise awareness and funds for research for SUDC. Here I am doing the same while also supporting my friend and her family. It took me more than 24 hours to get this squared away, so I'm choosing to donate $25 to redeem myself. I don't think anyone will mind my tardiness now.

Now, let me tell you a bit about how this song came about for me. I know that it's a love song, but aren't too all songs mothers sing to their babes? My son, as some of you will recall, did not come to us easily. We had to struggle for him, fight for him, dang-near lose ourselves for him. We waited for a long time. We didn't think it was going to happen. He's here, though. He'll be four next month. Not once have I forgotten how truly fortunate we are to have him in our lives. Never once have I stopped being absolutely enamored with this person who I so often find beside me. He is my best teacher, friend, and love.

This song means something to me. It means something to my husband. It doesn't mean a thing to our son right now. Eh, what are you going to do, right? He's so miffed that I'm doing a song that isn't his favorite song (some Ice Age song, at the moment) that he's busy trying to sabotage my efforts. Did I mention he's turning four next month? He is nothing if not amusing.

I wanted to find the music to Bonnie Raitt's version of Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home" so that I wouldn't have to sing it a cappella. I couldn't. I searched high and low. I had friends far more brilliant than I search. Nada. Then, a generous and brilliant person stepped forward and offered up his services gratis, because the cause matters, Julie matters, Patrick matters. Color me verklempt. Not only did he do it free, he did it WELL. He played all the instruments and he played them beautifully. Oh, and he did it in no time flat. His cousin, who "introduced" us, said he was a wizard and she wasn't kidding! I am grateful and humbled. I don't think I'm speaking out of turn to say that Julie feels the same. Thank you, Stephanie and Cyntrix.

Ok, I've put it off long enough. I just have to do this. I have to sing in front of people. I have to be the center of attention. I have to be vulnerable. SCARY. Totally worth it. The scary stuff almost always is. Julie and PatPat make it worth it. So, here goes nothin':



I challenge YOU. I challenge YOU to sing for SUDC. You don't have to have Julie's voice to do this. Heck, you don't have to have Tiny Tim's voice to do this. (See my husband's challenge video below.) You just have to screw your courage to the sticking point and do it. Sing "You Are My Sunshine" or "The Itsy-Bitsy Spider" or a full-blown opera number. I don't care. I just ask that you do it. Do it for Julie. Do it for Patrick. Do it for all the other Patricks out there who don't get the recognition or championing that they should. Do it so someday we won't hear any more stories about the Patricks leaving our world at such tender ages.


(My husband and his quick-vid.)

I challenge you to sing for SUDC and give $10 by clicking HERE OR don't sing and donate $100 instead. You reading this? Then yes, I'm challenging you. Don't bother looking away now. I know you saw it. Do eet! You can. If I can, you can. The Patricks of our world matter more than our fears and our discomfort. If I can, you can. You can. (Bonus: afterward, you get to make three of your friends uncomfortable by making them do the same - sweet!)

I have no doubt Patrick is somewhere listening. Do it for him.

I'd like to take a short moment to thank Monica Duran, one of my former students, for offering up her gentle and constructive criticism of my video so that I could feel as confident as possible posting it. She was also a major confidence booster when she knew that's what I needed most. Everyone should be so lucky. Thank you, sweetheart.

I am publicly challenging friends Jessica Quintanilla (see more about her and her beloved Rissa HERE), Krysten Kline, Orlando Pelagio of OP Photography, Quanta Crews, Sydney Venable, Christine Murphy, Angie Lewis, Jamie Grumet of I Am Not the Babysitter, Tracy Cassels of Evolutionary Parenting, and Jen Pritchett of Attached Parents at Work and Gentle Hearts Parenting. You have 24 hours. Ready? Set. Go!

Christine Murphy did it. So can you!


Jessica Quintanilla did it. So can you!


Hollidy Magadan did it. So can you!


Orlando Pelagio did it. So can you!


Tracy Cassels did it. So can you!
(Uh unh...you have to go to her blog post to see hers. Click HERE.)

I even got my first second generation challenger in Moon Johnson who was challenged by my husband. You can do it, too!


For those who are hesitating to complete this task, please watch:



Go see Cyntrix:
Richard Stottman aka Cyntrix
Artist, producer, and engineer
Louisville, KY.
soundcloud.com/cyntrix
facebook.com/cyntrix32
twitter.com/itscyntrix
youtube.com/cyntrixfilms
email:cyntrixfilms@gmail.com

Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Inconvenient Tooth

I am near tears. I'm near tears, I need catharsis, and so I write.

I just got off the phone with the oral surgeon's office.

Ok, wait, let me back up. Sorry.

We finally decided our son was ready for his first dentist appointment. We went yesterday. Read about it HERE. The update at the bottom reads:

"This kid is a flingin'-flangin' ROCK STAR! X-rays - no sweat. Polishing and exam - check. A little tartar scrapage - like water off a duck's back. It was a fantastic first experience for him and we couldn't have been more thrilled.

"The dentist slathered his teeth with fluoride without asking or telling me what they were about to do. My son didn't like the way it tasted, so when I went to wipe it off, the doctor said, "Oh, that's fluoride. It's designed not to come off." Nice of her to give me the option. I was pissed. No, I don't think that amount is going to harm him, but we don't do fluoride in our home and I will know for next time to tell them not to do it at the dentist's office, either.

"The scary news is that he has a mesiodens (extra tooth) growing upside down between his two front upper adult teeth. We have to schedule a consultation with the oral surgeon next. Unless there is some sort of pressing reason to really move on this, we'll be putting off the actual surgery until the last possible moment. Thinking of our son being afraid and in pain has our stomachs in knots.

"Overall, this kid is rad. That is all."


Yes, he has an inverted extra tooth growing up into his palate. Without extraction, it'll cause orthodontic problems and continue moving upward. When it comes to the body of my son, I don't mess with things unless there is cause. There is cause. I feel sick.

My son is going to be afraid and in pain and there's not a thing I can do about it. My job is to protect him from pain and fear. I can't do my job and it's killing me. Helplessness when it comes to my son (really, any helplessness, if I'm being honest), is not the business.

So, I just got off the phone with the oral surgeon's office. We were referred to them, because our son's dentist only does "easy" mesiodens extractions and this is a complicated case based on its placement. The surgeon's receptionist said we'll likely have to get a CT scan pre-surgery. Even the thought of the CT freaks me out. He's going to be afraid. He's going to be scared and alone, the alone will exacerbate the fear, and there's not a damn thing I'll be able to do to assuage my little boy.

We were so excited when he had such a great experience at the dentist, because that's the precedent we wanted to set for him. We didn't want to set him up for a lifetime of fear and avoidance, especially where his health is concerned. Now, it's all down the tubes. Now, one of his first experiences is going to be one of intense fear, confusion, and pain. The thought of him feeling these things is enough to break me down.

The plan is to wait. We'll wait as long as possible before putting him through this ugliness. We'll go to the consultation in a couple weeks and ask for a timeline of when the doctor thinks we need this done and then we'll put it off until the far end of that timeline. This will be done when it is necessary, not optional. The longer we can wait, the older he can be, the more he can understand, the better for him. Of course, that means we have longer to fret, but I'll take fret over the other any day. If only I could take away the impending trauma. It's my job to prevent the trauma.

Have you been through this with one of your babes? Soothe me.