Little things matter. Along the way you discover they weren't so little after all.

Category Archives: Women

I am that mom.

I am the one who emailed the teacher to verify the start time of the event at school…and still showed up thirty minutes late.

I am that mom — the one who didn’t RSVP to the classmate’s birthday party until the morning it was scheduled to happen.

I am the mom who went to register  my child for the enrichment class two days after the deadline because I didn’t take time to read the informational letter. I’m also the one who apologized my way in.

I’m that mom, the one who got the phone call from the kindergarten teacher asking if I’d be there soon. It was Mom’s Day, and my daughter was waiting for me. I walked in and all the moms were sitting on the floor, each one with a child next to them or on a lap. All except for my daughter who sat at the foot of the teacher while she read a book to the class. My daughter. Alone.

I’m the mom whose kid had toothpaste down the front of his shirt, the one whose kid wore boots at school all day long because he forgot shoes and I didn’t think to check his backpack. When he got home, his socks were soggy.

I’m that mom — the one who thought she had enough time to get milk and bread from Target. I was still a few minutes from home when I watched my child’s bus come towards me on the road. Again, my daughter. Again, alone.

I’m the mom who had to air out the house because the stove burner was left on for hours. The flame had gone out, but the knob was still set on simmer, natural gas seeping into the kitchen, out to the dining room and down the hallway.

This all happened last week.

I’m that mom, and I know it.

/////

Have you seen me? You know you have. You know there’s someone like me, someone who is that mom to you.

That one mom who always seems to come charging in late, disheveled, discombobulated.

The one who makes you feel think, ‘Well, I may not have it all together, but at least I’m not like her.’

Do you know how much it sucks to be that mom?

A lot. It sucks a lot.

Contrary to how it might appear, I’m not a total flake. I’m not checked out, I’m not “smoking too much weed”, I’m not a train wreck, not a disaster. And I’m not a bad mom.

I’m just in a rough patch.

I have enough personal family gunk going on that I have to prioritize what can receive my attention. Some things have to go.

Having never been a detail-lover, I now find they are the first things to escape me. They are de-prioritized without me even trying. And those are just the details I know I forgot — how many have passed me by without me even feeling the breeze they made? I’ll probably find out later that I only knew the half of how badly I was screwing up.

In the midst of this, I am trying to take care of myself as well, trying to make good choices and gauge what ways I can be kind to myself each day. I’m exercising, I’m brushing my teeth, I’m even laughing sometimes. Maybe I’m laughing too loudly, maybe it sounds a tiny bit hysterical, but it still counts.

I don’t need help feeling guilty about how I’m falling short of where I want to be. I can administer enough guilt on my own.

I have to extend grace to myself, the grace I would want to show someone else, but it’s hard. It’s hard to be nice to myself, because I see the ways I can’t do it all, the way I want to manage it alone but can’t. I know what I can usually take care of, and I see all the ways I can’t do it now.

I feel weak, and I hate feeling weak.

I feel looked down on, but as far as I know, the only one looking down on me is ME.

/////

Today I’m trying to give myself enough space to move around my life without knocking things over.

I’m going to give myself extra time to get done the things that usually take me less time but now seem to require more effort.

I’ll feed myself well.

I’ll let myself make mistakes and I’ll see them as mistakes, not as failings.

I’ll ask for help.

I’ll be to myself the person I’d want to be for someone else.

I’ll try to look for glory, for as my friend Kelly wrote, “Glory is most at home in the common, if you have eyes to see.” (You can read her post here: http://bit.ly/1j6DhxJ )

When I come out of this rough patch, as I know I will eventually, I will work to remember what it was like to be that mom. And when I see her, the one for whom the burden of everyday seems almost to much to handle, I’ll pray that she can be gentle and patient with herself, that she’ll see how she can be good to herself in the midst of struggle. And if I can, I will let her know that she’s not the only one.

Eventually, there comes a time when we all are that mom.

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It has been so fun to connect through Lisa-jo Baker’s linkup, Five Minute Friday. The attempt is to quiet our inner critic and allow ourselves to write for the fun of it. Five minutes, no editing, no censoring, just do it. It’s open to anyone, and you can find other posts and details at Lisa-jo’s blog, http://lisa-jobaker.com Here’s my contribution this week.

Prompt: Visit

Three, two, one, go.

A Visit to My Youth

The snow begins falling as we pull into town. The limestone cliffs along the western edge of the road, the river on our right, these indicate our entrance into a portal back in time, back to my youth.

This is a time before marriage, before children and before the surety of routine and day to day, a time before we thought we knew it all. We didn’t know what we didn’t know…and so we asked stupid questions that, looking back, were the wrong questions but they were all we had at the time. Details about a tree falling in the woods and who would hear it, an appreciation for our hands we couldn’t articulate and it came out tinny and small in our ears.

I visit my youth and I laugh too loudly with little care for disturbing, free abandon leaking all over the room and exuberance splashing onto the people around me. You are the best, you are the funniest, you are the wittiest, most interesting person I’ve ever met and I only have attention for you…until someone else draws me into their conversation and then it begins afresh.

Here children have no trouble in math, they have no bad dreams at night, they don’t ask questions I can’t answer.

Here husbands don’t need their needs accounted for, their relationship attended to, their vibes unpacked.

There is only freedom, warmth, expansive inclusion to the whole restaurant, and this witching hour only lasts until the stroke of midnight. Then my nearly 40-year-old head is on the pillow, my visit over and I return to reality.

There you have it. A hacky five minute post, but it is something rather than nothing. Do you have locations or people that launch you back in time? Situations when you find yourself acting as a younger version of yourself? Tell us about it in the comments below, we’d love to hear about YOU.


Someone close to me brought me a meal.

I hadn’t had a baby, broken a leg or been in a car accident.

But she brought me a meal.

So did another friend, and she was the one who had just delivered. I was supposed to bring her a meal.

Words sent to someone else and passed on to me — kind, affirming, validating.

These things breathed air into my floppy balloon, the one that was in danger of settling on the floor, a puckered, withered, sandy shadow of the party favor it had once been. Their words, their phone calls, their messages, buoyed me up and let me float in a more proper balloon-y place.

Maybe I’m not floating on an airstream across the world with a special note hanging from my string, but

I’m more in that middle air of the hallway, at the level that makes you think there’s a person walking towards you,

the kind that makes you jump and if someone’s watching they laugh to see your surprise. That moment that gives freedom from worry and concern, hope that there will be laughter again.

The encouragement of friends who hold you up when it is hard to get off the floor — this is a precious thing indeed.

*****

Join a great group of people for Five Minute Friday to write without editing for the sheer joy of it. Find out more at http://lisa-jobaker.com.

Are you facing challenges or a hard time? This is a safe place to share about it. I genuinely hope you have people in your life who can help breath air into your life. Maybe in the comments we should name names. Who is an encourager in your life?


It’s Five Minute Friday and the word prompt is “together” but what came out spun off in it’s own directions. I don’t know how to explain this except to say when I saw the prompt I immediately thought about how lately I’ve been thinking about starting a “small group” through my church. The only thing is, the more I think about it, the more confined I feel by that definition — that a small group needs be organized under the umbrella of a church. I didn’t used to function that way. Maybe that was because I had the luxury of overlap between the people who were in the small group, people who were my friends, and people with whom I attended church.

Things now don’t have the same overlap.

Enough with the preamble. I’ll be interested in your reactions, so please feel free to chime in in the comments. As always, I am very grateful that you’ve taken time out from your day to read my scattered thoughts.

Deep breath.

Ready.

Set.

GO.

*****

I don’t know when I became so rigid.

Maybe it was bit by bit,

as frost settling onto the top of water

into a crust of ice

into a brittle sheet

into a thickness you drive a car across and need an auger to drill through.

Definitions matter, but not if you use the wrong ones.

A place that preaches a doctrine of small groups in the midst of being a swarm,

very little is intimate about the great multiple-gather,

multiple-site,

multiple satellite venue,

People punch tickets, hand out gold stars for attendance but gloss over how hard it is

to force foot in front of foot  as that doorway approaches.

Inside you see the round table (why a round table – you can’t hear the person across from you, you’re stuck with two options of conversation and one of them is inevitably busy talking to the person on the far side of them), purses already stake out territorial plastic claims

And no one stops their sentence to greet you.

No one looks up,

No one seems to realize you’re even there.

****

STOP


Do you have a hobby? Maybe you like to scrapbook or maybe you’re a duck hunter? Maybe you collect vintage cigar boxes or propagate orchids.

I have varied interests but there is one thing that seems to have risen to the top of my list:

The quest for the perfect lipstick.

I realize that by admitting this I may have immediately lost some of the points on my feminist leaderboard,

And it gets worse.

What started off as a quest for the perfect lipstick has expanded.

It has grown in size and scope.

Now rather than simply looking for a nice, longwearing, subtle shade that compliments my skin tone,

I’ve started looking for other makeup products that can give me the same buzz as finding a candidate for the perfect lipstick.

This isn't all of it.

This isn’t all of it.

I know. It’s a problem.

In my defense, the photo you’ll see below represents ALL the makeup I own. Can you wear the same stuff in the dead of a Minnesota winter that you wear in the middle of a humid, sunny summer? I think not. Therefore, in my defense, it looks worse than it really is. I think.

My sister was so flabbergasted to discover the depths of my storehouses that she insisted we go through it together and clean out what I didn’t use anymore.

“What?” I said.

“Let’s get rid of the stuff you don’t need,” she suggested.

“What?” I said.

“Come on, bring it out here,” she bullied.

And that’s when I discovered that perhaps I have a little more than is reasonable to hang on to. Observe:

She's sad and amazed...so is my niece.

She’s sad and amazed…so is my niece.

Yes, a couple of those bags are empty, but at least one of them is filled to the gills.

In sorting through it all, we discovered that I had 16 eyeliners. 16. Some were worn down to the nub and needed to go. A couple of them were extremely similar in color…like almost exactly alike. So she made me get rid of those.

She’s bossy like that.

While we went through it I came to the conclusion that I like concealer and blush, a lot. In my defense, I have chronic dark undereye circles (and apparently I have bags too although I did not know about this problem until a peppy, unrepentant girl at a sales counter informed me of this ailment. ‘Come out from behind the safety of that counter and tell me that,’ I thought.) that take some attention and sometimes multiple products are the only way to make a dent.

That still doesn’t justify how many concealers I had.

There was some negotiating, some finagling on my part to make my sister see the merits of certain products.

You see, Rae is a minimalist.

Seriously.

She hardly bothers with makeup at all, and when she does she’s got five things to choose from in her tiny makeup bag.

I think I gave her four of those five items.

Therefore, Rae cannot grasp the necessity of two different types of bronzers.

“All you need is one,” she claims, as if she’d know.

And when I explain what a primer is, she has a look on her face that is both confused and longsuffering.

“How many mascaras does one person need?” She shifts subjects to keep me off balance, thinking I won’t notice that she just threw away the primer we were discussing.  I’m wise to her tactics and while she’s helping my niece put on a string of pop-beads I fish out the primer from her “throw away” bag.

In the end, we got rid of a lot. It may not look like it in the picture, but this is now my entire arsenal of makeup, all seasons of the year represented:

She got rid of a couple more things after we took this picture (but I snuck them back into my bag when she wasn't looking).

She got rid of a couple more things after we took this picture (but I snuck them back into my bag when she wasn’t looking).

Rae asked me how I felt once we had completed the job. And I have to admit, it did feel good to clear out all the broken, worn out, bad color pieces from the collection. I gave my niece a couple things to play with, thus securing my spot as Best Auntie for the day. I felt lighter, more in control of my stuff rather than the other way around.

In truth, it bothered me to see how much money I had invested over time.

Maybe that was what made it hard to get rid of any of it — I knew I had paid money for it so I needed to justify it by keeping it…

Kindof backwards logic when you spell it out, huh?

In the future, I plan to keep better track of what I have, in order to spare myself the trouble of storing things I hardly even use, along with freeing up space in my mind and budget. And if I need to get rid of a couple things, I’ll probably pass them on to Rae. Lawd knows she has room in her makeup bag.

Do you have a quest for a perfect item, be it jeans, jacket, haircut or lipstick? How do you keep it in check? What do you stockpile that you could do without (or do with less)?


Photo from Morguefiles

Photo from Morguefiles

“I don’t know what to do,” she said.

She’d only been home five minutes before the inner tension was too much and she had to talk to Mom about it.

“What do you want to do?” Mom asked.

“Everything,” she answered. “I want to leave, I want to stay, I want to scream, cry, break stuff and roll into a ball.”

“Which of those sound best right now?”

“Break stuff,” she grinned through her tears. “I won’t though. I have too much self-restraint.”

“Yes, that’s what you’re known for, self-restraint,” Mom said.

“Actually, the only thing that sounds good right now is something to eat. Do you have anything?”

Mom scoffed. “Do I have anything? Baby, sit down. I’ll take care of you.”

“Thanks.”

She pulled out a stool and sat while Mom rummaged through the fridge, proclaiming all her finds as she pulled them out.

She felt her eyes well up with tears, and she tried to sniff them back.

“Mom,” she began.

Mom kept her head in the fridge but said, “Hmm?”

“How can I feel strong and weak, confident and scared, bitter and generous all at the same time? I think I might be losing it.”

Mom emerged with a container of Cool-Whip in one hand and a container of strawberries in the other.

“No honey, you’re just being you. We’re all that way.”

****

This is my attempt at a fiction version of Five Minute Friday, though I definitely didn’t get many words down in that amount of time. *sigh* That’s okay. For those who don’t know, Five Minute Friday is a linkup with Lisa-jo Baker and it is lots of fun. Check out all the details on her site: http://lisa-jobaker.com I’d love to find your contribution (if you’re here with FMF), so please leave a link in the comment section below! And as always, thank you sincerely for visiting today.


This is after it's been tidied. Scary.

This is after it’s been tidied. Scary.

There are tumbleweeds of dog fur in the corner next to the buffet, the surface of which is covered in papers, pencil boxes and mail, rendering the buffet virtually undetectable.

There is an un-emptied suitcase at the foot of our bed from a trip taken three weeks ago. It’s not that I don’t need the clothes that might be in the suitcase, it’s that I’ve worn the same jeans every day this week, and that makes for a much lighter laundry load.

The children are required to make a path through their rooms from the door to their beds so I don’t trip on stuff, should they need me in the middle of the night. But as for putting away these items, it hasn’t happened lately.

My oldest son was supposed to have a friend over but I forgot to call the parent and solidify details. The gift we bought for our favorite teacher is still sitting on my kitchen counter — school was done last week.

If you wash the rugs in the bathroom, it makes it look like you have probably washed the actual floor.

Why do I get bothered by these and other things I see as indicators of my own shortcomings?

Why do I expect certain things from myself that I wouldn’t expect from any one else?

In reverse, I make excuses for the things I have done. I made scones for a friend’s visit this week. She complimented them and I downplayed it. Even though it has been raining and generally icky outside, I have managed to split hostas, remove grass and replant or pot up at least 20 plants. But it doesn’t seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the other things on my list, so I decide that effort doesn’t count.What if we all, specifically all of us women and/or mothers, decided to cut ourselves some slack? What if we admitted that we don’t have to have it all figured out every moment of every day? What if we stopped expecting perfection from ourselves?

If that happened, I think we would start to realize no one expected it from us, that it was self-imposed.

And besides, no one was buying the image of perfection we thought we projected.

Let’s allow the façade to fall away and reveal the real imperfect us – quirky, overwhelmed, loving, strong, flawed, fully-human us. And we are amazing. We are beautiful.

This post is part of a link up with Lisa-jo Baker and Five Minute Friday. Check out all the details here: http://lisajobaker.com/ It is open to anyone. Come shake yourself out of the shackles of self-critique and write for the sheer pleasure of it. Today’s word prompt was Fall.

Flower alone



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