Tuesday, August 18, 2015
Today my youngest leaves the nest during the day and begins his journey through kindergarten. It is one of the many "firsts" we parents experience. Every fall you will see your social media feeds over taken with obligatory first day of school pics and throw back posts and the "time flies" quotes all over your pages. You may feel the need to click "like" and scroll past or you may simply avoid your pages all together at this time of year as you will be bombarded by 'Mom Posts.' You will drive to work in the mornings and see moms weeping at bus stops as they bid farewell to their little people. We will have tears on our cheeks and sadness in our eyes. You may wonder, why such a fuss? So why do we do it? Why do we post pics and share these moments? And maybe most importantly, why do we cry over back to school? Why do we get all emotional over what seems as simple as hopping on a bus and taking off to school as we all did? I do not speak for all mom's with sobbing wet cheeks at the bus stop and in the class room, but I know I speak for myself and perhaps a few other moms out there when I answer this. My baby is leaving the house. My youngest child. My last child. That is the obvious part. The not so obvious part is the part that is happening in my brain. The questions the thoughts the racing psychosis that is motherhood. 11 years ago I made the announcement I was pregnant. Like so many new moms I spent endless hours reading books, articles, blogs, news, everything about parenting I could get my hands on. I made plans. I new how it would be. I new I would raise my children right! I knew how I would do it and that I would stay home with them and teach them to read. That my children would learn the piano by age 5 and dance and speak five languages. I planned that they would be the best. I knew that no matter what people said, I would be the best mom I could be. Because in the beginning, we ALL have a plan. Then, your baby goes to Kindergarten. For years you have spent every waking moment doing what you could, the best you could to be the best mom you could be. Then your baby steps into that school. Gone. Then you cry. Just like I am crying while I type these words. You cry because that plan you had, never existed after you delivered your baby. You cry because suddenly you question everything. "Did I do it right? Was I the best mom I could be? Where did time go? Did I play enough? Did I do enough?" And then as if we want to punish ourselves, we answer our questions, "I didn't do it right. I wasn't the best mom I could have been. Time has gotten away from me. I should have played more. I didn't do enough." Yes. We torture ourselves. That plan we had in the beginning was a great idea, but life happens. Our kids are born with personalities and traits that we can shape and we can influence but they still grow and change and adapt into the young people they will become. The stay at home mom I wanted to be was not the working mom I became. The always patient and calm, rational and sane mother I pictured in my head was a far cry from the ever so emotional and at times irrational and impatient mother I in fact became! But I am their mother. We mothers do the best we can. The life we envision is rarely the life that is in front of us. The first day of school every fall is a moment for us to ponder our choices, look back on our triumphs and failures. It is a time to try to accept that we truly have done the best we can. The best we could. Whether we work or stay home; we struggle every day. Our Facebook and Instagram posts rarely show the truth of the emotions mothers experience every day, every minute. We are women. We rise and we fall like the tides. We hold our children as close as we can for as long as we can and we never feel like we did all we could. We always feel like we can do better. Mom's, I implore you to accept yourselves. You must know that we all have days, weeks, even months where we feel like we could have, should have done more and done it better. But please know, I believe you have all done wonderfully. If your child cries or clings to you when you leave him at school, don't feel like you failed him. Know that you raised a child who loves you and appreciates you. If your child doesn't cry, but instead rushes to leave you behind as mine did, know you raised a child who is independent and brave. If your child doesn't run ahead or cry but is hesitant, know you raised a child that is cautious and thoughtful. None are failures. All are truly successes. So we must let go. Continue to do the best we can knowing we are not the only ones doubting it all. We will post our pics on Facebook. we will talk it out with our friends. Cry it out moms. Let it flow! Lets drink our coffee this morning then raise a glass (or a whole bottle) of wine to ourselves this evening. Because we did the best damn job we could. Then we will hug our kids when they get home tonight and do it all again tomorrow. Because that's who we are. We love them endlessly.
Thursday, May 7, 2015
Dear husbands and boyfriends of Mom's on Mother's Day: Mother's Day is upon us. The shelves at the stores are filled with chocolates, flowers, and stuffed teddy bears holding hearts that read "Happy Mother's Day." Restaurants are offering free decadent chocolate cakes for mothers with an entree purchase. Radio stations are spewing out jewelry ads every 2 minutes insisting this is what mom really wants. Husbands, boyfriends, Step dads, Dads, you are under the gun to get it right. Everywhere you turn someone or something is telling you what she really wants. At least according to market research. Right? The only person NOT telling you what she really wants is her. So what does mom really want? It is true, we love to be spoiled. We want spa days and we love surprises, chocolate, flowers and jewelry. We want lots of wine and hugs and breakfast in bed. We love all of those things. We know the world is telling you to get us those things and by all means go for it. Please! We will love it and we might even brag about it on all of our Facebook and Instagram accounts. But I have a different idea, a challenge for you. I ask you to add something to those gifts this year, something small and a little more personal. I challenge you to write your wife or girlfriend, the mother of your children a letter. Not just a "thanks for all you do" summary on the inside of a pre-written card. Write a full page or more in your own words. Don't type it, but hand write it and hand deliver it. Tell her more than what a heart shaped candy, a personalized M&M, or a Taco Bell hot sauce packet can say. Tell her it all. Why? Because so often she forgets. She forgets why she is working so hard. She won't get a yearly review praising her for her improvements. She won't receive a pay raise with a bonus because she made it to all the birthday parties and soccer practices on time. She forgets why she is exhausted and tired. She wonders if she is seen during her days enveloped in laundry baskets and dish soap. She questions her relevance and questions if she is making a difference. She spends so much of her time worrying about others. Striving to make her children, her spouse, her friends, coworkers, and bosses happy, while forgetting that her own happiness matters. She cares relentlessly. She cries when she is alone so she can be stable when she is surrounded. She hides her needs so she can fill the needs of those around her. She is a rock, standing strong when strength is asked of her. She is also a ship; rocking, waning, at times sinking in a sea of self doubt. She is trying and failing and trying and succeeding. No day passes where she doesn't question herself. What the mom in your life needs to hear, needs desperately to know is that she is seen and heard and appreciated for all the things that she feels so often go unnoticed. She needs you to put into words why she matters in your life. Ask yourself; What would my days look like without her in it? Then tell her why you need her there. Not everyone has the opportunity to tell someone how they truly feel. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. So do it this year. Do it now. Make her know she is truly appreciated by telling her what it is you appreciate. Tell her how she makes your life better. Your words, the things that you rarely say, those words are what will make her melt. The words that you pull from the back of your mind and the deepest parts of your heart are what will make her day. Write to her. Tell her she is beautiful and why she still matters. Remind her why you love her. Remind her that she is still the same person she was before children and that she is only more beautiful to you now. Write to her. If you speak truthfully, If you put on paper all the good she does and even remind yourself of all the reasons you love her, you will share in a moment that can not easily be forgotten. A letter you both can bring out and read when that ship starts to flood again. She can read it when she is low. She can smile thinking of your words when she is happy. She will love it. And she will love you even more for it. Now go make a memory and again I say, write to her. Happy Mother's Day.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
I am a hairstylist. I am a mother and a wife first, but also a hair stylist. I have noticed a growing trend among my friends, colleagues and clients. A very troubling trend. I will first begin by telling you the story of me, in a break room not long ago among friends and colleagues whom I greatly respect and admire for their many talents. I sat in the break room enjoying my afternoon coffee (Afternoon coffee i.e. that which so many mothers, non mothers, or individuals who are multitasking their lives away require to function on any level of success require) when a very young and thin, and oh so cute twenty something coworker of mine whom I shall not name entered the room. I will call her Suzie Q. I sat, one of only 2 mothers in a room full of young individuals who without children, freely spend their weekends soaking up social lives in the hip and trendy places I pretend to be familiar with while being secretly totally satisfied with my not so hip and trendy weekends binge watching shows on Netflix with my best friend/husband while sipping my ever so soothing wine on my ever so comfy couch. Suzie Q came into the room flawless and adorable as she so often does, and went directly to the mirror. She had just cut her hair into what appeared to be a very cute, very hip and trendy bob. Her blonde hair and small features took to the cut perfectly and every one began smothering her with the compliments myself included. I love a cute short cut. Then the words that slip off the tongue of so many slipped through her lips. It made me cringe, made me feel sad for a moment, and then completely annoyed me so I left the room. Yet her words still resonated within me. The words she spoke were innocent enough, she meant no harm, but harm it caused none the less. My once not so fragile feelings were hurt. I was annoyed. She looked at her coworkers and asked, "do you like my cut? I mean really like it?" The compliments continued to pour over her like rain in April. And then as if it mattered not that two moms sat in the room she uttered the words, a question I have learned to despise, a phrase I wish to abolish from all females who speak: "Are you sure I don't look like a mom?" Cringe, Puke, UGH, Why?? Why has this become OK? What the F*#k does this mean? What does a mom look like? Do I look like this 'mom' she speaks of? Probably. I likely do some days. If by "look like a mom" she meant, Looks tired, exhausted, uncoordinated, likely unfashionable, or not well put together, then OK, I can give her that. I have those days. We all have those days. In that moment, the worst thing to her that could happen was to look like a, well, ME! again I say, Puke, Cringe, Ugh, Why. Thanks, I thought. I now feel like shit. Before I pretend this is the first time I have heard this said, I will tell you truthfully and sadly, it is not. I hear mothers themselves, sitting in my stylist seat, begging me to make them look less like a mom. Several times a month I hear it said. Several times a month I hear other stylists say, "that's better, now you don't look so much like a mom." GRRRRRR!!! It makes me angry. Truth be told even I have drudged up those words when getting my own haircut, "please make me look less like a mom." It has become ingrained in our minds to try hard to avoid this motherly appearance at all cost. I myself have referred to my personal favorite haircut on me as my 'mombob.' But I own that 'mombob' and I love it! I beg of you mothers out there to love your momness as well. If you get a 'mombob' then you rock that bob like no other. I will never say these words again if I can help it. I ask, what does it mean when you say to me, "I don't want to look like a mom" Or when individuals say that in front of mothers though they are not a mom themselves? What are you saying? Do you not know how that can hurt someone? In my mind I truly wanted to look at her and say, "really? WTF? I am sitting right here! Can you not see me? Are mom's also invisibl? Thank you. I now feel like shit" But I gracefuly bit my tongue and pouted silently like my 5 year old when I take his candy. I wanted to say: STOP. Do you realize you are creating a society that inadvertently tells mothers they are not attractive and that mothers should strive inwardly to be the best mothers they can be while externally presenting themselves as something they are not? Is this OK? I think not. I don't know about you, but the younger me has done the party scene. I have clubbed and danced until my body collapsed at 5 am only to go to work 2 hours later at 7. I have binge drank and vomited outside the window of a moving truck. I have lived a professional life without children. I have lived responsibly and traveled. I have lived irresponsibly and stayed home. There is nothing yet I haven't done that those younger are currently doing. And I dread, for those who find motherhood so unattractive, the day that they will wake- possibly as mothers themselves and question and doubt themselves in every way. So much so that sometimes all you can do is cry because it hurts and because the pressure to be something you aren't hurts. The same way I and so many others have questioned ourselves. It does hurt, It is difficult, I feel unattractive on some days. I feel lonely some days. I miss my younger childless self some days and would be lying if I said I did not. However, most days I feel rewarded. Most days I am so busy I don't have time to miss the old me. I am more tired than I ever imagined I would be, I am busier and exhausted at times, but I wanted this. I love this. I am good at this. I love the little people in my life more than my own breath. I love them and my life with them more than any life I had with out them. And when I want, I still look and feel pretty damn amazing. Being a mother is a huge part of who I am and damnit I want to look like a mom and I want to look like this because it IS me. I want to tell you mothers that you are beautiful. You are succeeding everyday even when you feel you are not and you probably look damn good doing it. Do not go to your hairstylist and ask them to make you look like you are not a mom when you are a mom. Do not put on a shirt and ask your friend if it makes you look like a mom. Did you hear that? Don't do it. YOU ARE A MOM. Own it. Work it. Know it. Your body and your face and your heart tell a story that your younger body could not tell. Your younger self had no idea how much you were truly capable of. Your story is amazing. You are experiences. You are life and you have created life and you nurture life. You are sexy when you want to be and casual when you want to be. Find your confidence. Ask for great hair, ask for a new look. Change is great. Great hair is great for the soul. I do not deny that. But do not think that your motherhood is not an acceptable or beautiful thing. No one is walking through Target playing 'Spot The Mom.' So chin up. Stay strong and when you hear mothers apologizing for their appearance, or for their disheveled hair, or the yoga pants and pony tails they conveniently had to wear because they are a mom; give them a big hug, give them a genuine compliment, a pat on the back, or a high five. Tell them you understand, tell them they are unsung heroes, tell them they are f*#king beautiful because they are mothers. Love them then strive to be as beautiful and as strong and as amazing as they are everyday.