When you think about it…

Looking through Pinterest, there are several thousand pins on how to organize and clean your house. How to continuously make sure things are in order. Spic and span. Ugh.

When I was younger I had chores. Lots of them. I was in charge of sweeping, dishes, mopping, picking up leaves, crushing soda cans, picking up dog poop and cleaning the kitty litter. And like most children, I hated doing them. They took up all my time that I wanted to use to read or swim or play softball or hang out with my friends. I hated being told what to do and when to do them. Because I had extracurriculars the majority my chores were on the weekends. I wasn’t really allowed to sleep in. I was woken up to the sound of “Reveille” (played on the mouth bugle, one of the most annoying instruments ever created). Ugh.

Becoming an adult and moving out was my ticket to freedom from chores. But then again, I married a Marine who had regular barracks inspections. Which of course meant that he expected some sort of cleanliness and order to the apartment we shared. Say what? Yet another person expecting me to clean?? How dare he?! I am an adult!

Needless to say, my immaturity among a list of other issues between the two of us helped end that marriage.

After I had my son and I was living on my own I was in hog heaven. Almost literally. I lived in a pigsty. Dirty dishes everywhere, messy floors due to not having a vacuum cleaner, laundry piles a mile high. It was a wonder we survived.

What changed my mind?

I don’t really know, to be honest. I would clean sporadically. I matured over the years and started to take a certain, small pride in how my apartment looked. Plus, scorpions decided to migrate into our apartment. Making sure they weren’t in my son’s play areas became almost an obsession for me.

When we moved from the desert to Sacramento I could breathe again and become a slob again. The thing is, after going back to being a mess, I didn’t like it. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not compelled to clean everything to the point I can see my reflection. I moved to a nicer neighborhood, nicer apartment and I had begun to acquire nicer things. I wanted to make sure they were taken care of.

Then I realized something: those chores I hated so much when I was a kid meant something. It meant I was fortunate enough to have so much stuff that my room needed to be cleaned. It meant I was fortunate enough to have animals that knew I loved them because I took care of them. I was fortunate enough to have a house that I lived in and helped take care of.

For a while there I was interpreting those chores as a punishment. Then it was about “building character.” Then it was about teaching me responsibility. I rebelled against it. Hated it because it was forced on me.

I turned around and did the same thing to my son. I had made him do things because it seemed like the right thing to do. And I wanted him to help me out because I had homework or other obligations. Forcing him only lead him to hate his responsibilities.

And I don’t want him to go down the road I did. It shouldn’t take a broken marriage, a house full of arachnids, several interstate moves and 20-something years to realize what it is he’s got.

I looked around my current apartment and recognized the fact that I am in a cleaning slump. I started in one room and started to pick up. A book Lil Goob was reading during breakfast. He voluntarily read a book. I should care that he was reading and eating but I can’t bring myself to care. He was READING OF HIS OWN VOLITION! Ok.. sorry for the excited capitalization of the previous sentence. What was I saying? Oh, right..

I picked up a book and remembered seeing him enjoy it. I moved onto a pile of receipts. Yes, I realize it’s a waste of paper but it also symbolizes that I was able to afford the things we needed and wanted. Huge, ginormous steps, leaps and bounds forward from where I was just a few short years ago. Sitting on the corner of the table was a Minecraft Lego set along with instructions which was a reward for Lil Goob for receiving an award at school. A bottle of St. Ives lotion. To treat the minor sunburn Lil Goob received after spending a day outside in the unseasonably warm and sunny weather. My running band iPod holder sitting on the table after my walk with Lil Goob.

You know what all these things have in common? They all mean I am alive. I am alive and able to enjoy the small things. The big moments. The sad moments. The joyous celebration of awards. I have changed my perspective on cleaning. It’s not a dubious chore to make sure everything looks like it’s ready to be featured on the front of Better Home and Garden magazine. It’s more like reliving and realizing what I am doing is cleaning up after living. Cleaning up after dinner means we had enough to eat. Picking up dirty socks means we are physically able to run around and sweat and that we have clothes and the means to clean them.

I might forget my epiphany every now and again and get annoyed at cleaning up the same mess again and again. How many times do I really need to put away the cereal box I didn’t eat from? But I know seeing my child grow and thrive will help remind me that there is a reason I do the things I do. It’s because I am a maid. An unpaid maid. Who works odd hours, mainly 9pm to 11 or so and again at roughly 5:30am to about 6:50am. Sigh.

My break is over and I need to go grab the clean clothes out of the dryer and appreciate them as I fold them into piles and remember how lucky we are as I stuff them in drawers. Or drop them on a chair. Whichever is convenient.

Proud Nerd Mom Alert

So, it may not seem much when your 9 year old talks about two movies he’s seen countless times. But when he makes a connection between the two and starts to compare them, it made my little nerd heart proud. He was eating a late lunch (or early dinner, however you want to see it) with his friend when they identified that the movie on the tv was Kung Fu Panda. Little Goob said his favorite part is when Po the panda sits on a chair powered by fireworks and ends up in the arena where the master is about to name the new Dragon Master. Po is a very unlikely choice as he is clumsy, overweight, uncoordinated and untrained in the martial arts. Little Goob recognized that in Kung Fu Panda it seems more likely that Mistress Tigress would have been named Dragon Master. He said it’s just like The Lego Movie where Emmett doesn’t really seem like he should be The Special and it should be Wild Style. His friend agreed that both main characters didn’t start off as the obvious heroes. Little Goob said they grew into being the heroes everyone said they weren’t.

So, what’s the big deal you say? My kid is not one that likes critical thinking outside of schoolwork. Heck, even in school he’s still hesitant or dislikes drawing connections between texts. I’m just elated that on his own he thought up the connection between these two movies. I wouldn’t have come to the conclusion he did unless directed in that way.

I just wanted to share this moment with you all, brag a little and then continue eating my celebratory Chipotle chicken bowl.

Have a great weekend and keep on (critical) thinking!

A tough lesson learned

I read a disturbing fact the other day, “Currently, 80 percent of women in the U.S. are dissatisfied with their appearance” (psychcentral.com). 80% of American women.. My mind cannot wrap around that number. But I guess it shouldn’t be surprising because I took a quick look at my Pinterest and Facebook and what I noticed was also alarming. I had what I thought were positive posts and pins but it was cleverly hidden body shaming tactics. I made sure I never had an unpleasing angle of my body or face for fear of an unflattering photo of me. Most of my health related pins had pictures of very athletic women with bodies that contradicted what the inspirational message might have said, such as:

97e1f97f16bf8686cbce4d9e179ccf90I think this is an impressive feat that no doubt shows this woman’s dedication to bettering her body but it honestly made me question why I needed to see something like that when the whole point of the picture was to say I want MY body to be better and yet here is this woman. I’m not ashamed to say I was jealous of her ability to balance on her hands because I have a hard time balancing on my two feet on level ground. I know I could take this as motivation to improve my body and state of mind. And I know it does involve changes that include food choice, activity level and mentality. Part of my issue is that I see my flaws first when I look in a mirror. I seek out the negative so that way I know what needs to be “fixed” but maybe I should ask why I think it needs to be fixed. Or better yet maybe I should pick one thing I like about what I see in the mirror.

Have you ever looked at a piece of art and saw something beautiful and then someone comes along and says it looks like a pile of crap to them? Or perhaps it was the other way around, where they see something of value and you just don’t see it. I have been told on several occasions that I am skinny for how I eat (I don’t eat very well, can you tell?), or I look younger than what I really am. I don’t see what they are talking about. I try to take the compliment in stride but half the time I try to explain why I don’t think they are right. WHY? Why not just accept that these people see something in me that is positive? I see it two ways: 1. they also have the mentality that someone is always better than themselves or 2. it’s actually true. I can’t seem to accept either of those and so I have come to the conclusion that the dudes in my life are to blame.

I’ve always been a sensitive person and I take any sort of criticism seriously, if not personally. My brother, my ex-husband, guy friends- they all suck. I let the small things they say get in my head and really mess up my perspective of myself. My brother was just being an older brother but I thought what he was saying was true. I was ugly, stupid and fat. When I met my ex-husband I tried my hardest to be something he desired. You know what that was- Anna Kournikova. Yes, I can definitely accomplish turning myself into a Russian tennis star/model. His ideal woman was not me and I was so defeated after the divorce that I literally took 3 years to even contemplate dating again.

Recently I was in a relationship with someone who truly loved me for me. He loved my gray hair, he loved the fact that I wore glasses, he loved my body in all it’s glorious imperfections. It taught me to reexamine how I saw myself. I still struggled with my body image. I had to remind myself that while there are things I can improve it does not mean that I am not worthy of someone’s love and affection. In fact, their love and affection should not be dependent on my appearance!

If you’ve ever been around a group of girls or women you would know that a popular topic is how fat they feel or how fat they are. It could be a compliment-fishing tactic or they might be feeling like they are bonding with the other women because they know that’s how the other women feel. I know I often have said I’m fat.

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The truth is I am a little overweight. I am not fat. I am out of shape. I, for the life of me, cannot remember what website I looked at that calculated your BMI (body mass index) but when I put in my height and weight, I was completely destroyed to see that I was considered “obese.” If you know me, I am far from obese but for some reason the website didn’t really have an overweight option. It went from healthy to obese. I used to joke around with Sweet Guy saying that today I wasn’t obese but yesterday I was. I know it must have been hard to hear me “joke” around like that because he saw me in his special way and you never want to hear that the person you love hates their body.

You know what’s even worse? Knowing that my little remarks here and there fell upon an impressionable mind and started to fester. I made a comment to Lil Goob about eating more meat and protein in his diet to help support his growing body. He looked at me and said, “But I don’t want to get fat.” I almost hysterically tried to convince him that there was no way he would be fat. I emphatically delivered my monologue about him not needing to worry about his weight because he eats well, he is very active at school and his genetics from both sides of the family show that he has a fast metabolism. While eating disorders for males are not as prevalent as they are for girls, it still is a pandemic issue.

It really puts my negativity into perspective. My son is a very sensitive person. If he hears that his mother thinks she’s fat, he might think the same thing will happen to him. My fear has transmitted to him. I don’t want the self-hate to transmit too. I need to reevaluate my body image. Mainstream media leads us to believe that in order to be cool and beautiful you need to be a size 2. Well, sister-friend (dudes too), you can be beautiful in any size. I had to recognize that I can’t shop in the juniors’ section at Kohl’s. That helped my mindset immensely because I was having to buy an XL in the juniors’ and yet, miraculously, I was a small/medium in the women’s section. I was tiny! My doctor, God bless her, actually told me I was “kinda petite.” Having clothes that fit does wonders on your mentality because you’re not constantly battling the material to hide whatever flaws you may see. Also, and I know this is gonna come as surprise for you dear reader, after you have a child your body changes. I know. Mind. Blown.

I wasn’t exactly a stick figure before I had Lil Goob but after I gained the weight from my pregnancy I ended up with “child bearing hips.” Fitting my tight juniors’ Levi’s was a struggle since my waist and hips widened but the jeans didn’t.

I love all the gifts my son gave me and so I have to learn to love the curves and stretch marks I got when I was pregnant with him. I feel like I am taking baby steps but at least it’s in the right direction. I need to be a positive role model for my little boy. I have to think positively in order to be positive.

What is going on?!

So, I was skimming through my Facebook feed and I noticed an alarming trend going on. No, it’s not twerking, thank God. It’s not Candy Crush either… a bunch of my friends are pregnant or just had a baby. Are we hitting that point in our lives where the majority of our classmates/generation/cohorts (learned that one from all my college schoolin’) are now starting families? I had my son when I was 22. I was a young mom and I really enjoyed it. Some of the situations and circumstances were not what I would call pleasant (separation from husband and moving to a new state with a 2 month old was not fun) but I survived. My son was my salvation at the time. I had something to live for. I am almost 93% positive I would have just curled up into a ball and cried for a few weeks and then emerged from my damaged cocoon a suspicious, man-hating butterfly. I had a son that allowed me to love him unconditionally and I received the same, and I know for a fact that is what helped heal me. Luckily for Sweet Guy enough time had passed where I didn’t completely shoot down the idea of starting a relationship.

I guess the driving point for this post was because most of the women my age (holy cow, I am lumping myself into a group of women. I am not a chick or a girl anymore) are now having babies whereas I thought/think that having a baby now would be too hard and there would be a biiiiiiiiig age difference between Lil Goob and a new baby Goob. I think back to those nights where I woke up crying because the baby was crying. I was crying from lack of sleep, from lack of knowledge, lack of support, lack of pretty much everything at that point in time. I remember the expenses I couldn’t afford and yet somehow always managed. I remember the poopy diapers, rancid throw-up, finding moldy bottles in the backseat, weird illnesses. Teething… oh the teething.. 

But I also remember the first time I held him. I remember his first smile, whether it was from gas or a genuine smile, it didn’t matter. Toothless grins make my day. I remember when the babbling started. I remember the first time he held his arms up so he could be picked up. I remember all the bonding moments only I remember during breastfeeding. Chubby hands. The sweet smell of baby breath. The sweet smell of baby hair. The way he would grab onto my finger tightly. How easily he fell asleep in my arms. The first word. The first time he said mama. Lil Goob was the best baby God could have ever blessed me with. Any time he could move, he would move towards me. I always got a smile first thing when he saw me. Even covered in horrible, itchy, unbearable eczema he had the biggest grin on his face.  

And it makes me think I could do it again. I am not in that same position I was in 8 years ago. I have a really good job. I feel better prepared for the pregnancy, childbirth and everything else that comes with it. All I need is time. But that is exactly what I am battling against.

I feel like it would be better to have another baby soon because of my age- I know I say that like I am 45 or something. But I did the math. Let’s say I have a baby within the next year. I will be 31 when the baby is born- when I turn 40 I will have a 9 year old and an 18 year old. Maybe because I came from a family of really young mothers I feel like I should be done having children at this age. When my mom turned 40 she had a 21 yr old and an 18 yr old. So then I try to convince myself that I am ok with having my son be an only child. He won’t have to deal with sibling rivalry. I won’t have the guilt of only being able to do one thing for one person at a time. I loved giving Lil Goob my undivided attention for 8 years. But then he also won’t know the pride and loyalty of defending his brother or sister, helping them learn something. 

I don’t know where I stand. I see the pictures on Facebook of chubby cheeks and cute little stories about what the babies have done. But I am enjoying my life as it is. But I also know that I can adapt if there is another little one. My baby fever is strong and overwhelming at one point and pretty much non-existent the next. 

I am in a bit of a quandary… I guess only time will tell.

A little thing called procrastination.

I may have mentioned that I am taking a few online courses this semester. It’s only to get my foot in the door priority registration-wise so I can finally take my math course (online of course) and until my son is old enough for me to take some night courses and feel comfortable enough to leave him home alone. So, basically when he’s in college with me.

Midterms have come and gone. I would love to say I studied my butt off and did really well. But I can’t. It would make more sense, in my situation, to say I didn’t study really and barely passed or didn’t pass. I didn’t study much and passed with 95% or higher in both my Business course and my Child Psych course. All because of procrastination. I do know that I am pretty smart and that I catch on relatively quickly, especially in subjects that interest me. Political Science on the other hand.. Harrrumph. I just feel like there should be a “moral of the story” moment here but there isn’t.

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In spite of/because of me achieving high marks with little effort and lots of procrastination, it is only reinforcing my bad habit. I think I would put more effort in to studying and staying on task if I did poorly. I learn from my mistakes, while the direction I take in these online courses is not technically correct, I don’t see it as wrong so I don’t see any reason to change my behavior. I am pretty sure all of my professors would cringe if they knew what my studying practices entailed. I also believe if the circumstances were different, such as if I physically attended class instead of online, I might be more challenged and try harder. Online classes offer online exams and only one course I have taken in the past 4 years has required no notes or open books during the exam. Open book exams! Are you kidding me? You are just asking for your class to not study. And believe me, after the first few weeks of class when I realized the little amount of effort needed to pass these classes, I have barely cracked open my $200 textbooks. I don’t want to crease the spine so I can sell them in “Like New” condition and get most of my money back.

In fact, right now, right this very second… I am supposed to be reading some articles and preparing for my chapter quiz or reading and answering chapter questions… and instead I am blogging. Only because I know I have time to do these things. Ask me what I was feeling like and how much hair I lost due to procrastination and impending deadlines 2 weeks ago and it would have been a completely different story. And the entire time I pulled a few all-nighters I promised myself this second half of the semester I would try to be on time and on task… and I blew off that promise the minute I saw my scores on the mid-terms… *sigh* 

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Luckily, I tend to suffer in silence around my son so I hope he doesn’t pick up on the procrastination panic. And if he does, he’s incredibly bright so I know he’ll make it through. I should probably talk to him about that… maybe later…

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The duality of my kid

So, I know I have praised and bragged and boasted about my kid… seriously, if you have talked with him lately he will definitely get you to chuckle a few times. I don’t know where he gets these things that just pop out of his mouth. I would love to claim credit for these little nuggets but I cannot.

Here are few of his quotables:

 

I was trying on some new work clothes and I asked him how I looked. His response was, “You look good but what would make it better would be a hug.” Seriously, child?!

But he is an 8 year old boy and so this was said maybe an hour later: after he lets a little fart out, waving his hand emphatically in front of his face, “Wow! That was a tearjerker! Look at my eyes! They’re watering!” (It truly was a smelly one.)

We were listening to a song and the lyrics say, “I’ve got a skeleton in me,” to which Lil Goob scoffs, “Everyone has a skeleton in them, otherwise they would be jellyfish.” Touché, Lil Goob. Touché.

There is a Contemporary Christian rock band called Downhere and one of their songs, “How many kings,” is very emotional. The lyrics at one point say, “How many fathers gave up their sons for me?” Lil Goob was quiet for a while (he normally sings along) and then said, “That’s really sad, giving up your son.” It was hard to explain what it meant by giving up the Son and not giving up a son.

Lil Goob kind of teeters on the edge of being too literal sometimes. We were listening to a radio station when an ad for a pest control company plays. He then announces that he wants to call the company and direct them to Bikini Bottom (yes, where a yellow sponge lives in a pineapple under the sea) and have them take care of Plankton. Plankton is a plankton, but an evil one. Lil Goob felt the need to rationalize his decision with, “If Plankton weren’t there everybody would be happy.”

Evidently we listen to a lot of music and all types. I don’t know how or where I got music from Disney’s Camp Rock, but Lil Goob loves the Jonas Brothers’ song “Play my music.” It’s really up-beat and kind of catchy, I’ll admit. Well, there is a part in the lyrics where one of the brothers (you know, the one with the hair) says, “Good music is hard to find.” Lil Goob always, always, ALWAYS says, “Yes it is!”

Lil Goob has really taken a liking to Disney’s Mulan because of the karate and the songs that feature guys. I have subjected him to Tangled probably one too many times. One of the popular Mulan songs is “I’ll make a man out of you.” We looked it up on YouTube and there are so many parodies. So, now Lil Goob comes up with his own versions and there was one that was quite ingenious. He tied together Flo from Progressive and “I’ll make a man out of you,” to come up with “Let’s get down to business, before we run out of funds. When you need some service, you just gotta call or ruuunnnnnn.” It’s not perfect but it was funny and showed quick thinking! I’m impressed.

He entertains me to no end and he knows he does. He finds himself just as hilarious as I do, if not even more so. I will continue to keep a log of his best lines and will be sure to share them with you all!

An Ode to My Son on His Birthday

So, I was sitting in traffic this morning thinking about how the years have flown by- I know, how cliche of me- and I also thought of my little song and dance I did for Lil Goob this morning before I dropped him off. I basically tried to rhyme every word with “eight.” If you couldn’t tell, it’s my son’s 8th birthday today. I wanted to do something for him I haven’t done nor would it cost me anything. Frugality at its best right there!

So I came up with the idea of writing something for him. But my history with writing is very limited to school essays and romantic short stories. I highly doubt he would appreciate either of those. In my head I saw the montage from “8 Mile” where Eminem is scribbling away in a notebook on a bus, at the table in his double wide, bouncing his head to the beat only he can hear. Naturally, I wanted to write a rap song for my kiddo. Nothing says I love you more than words that rhyme, right? 🙂 Well, I didn’t really get to find a beat nor did I realize how hard it is to rhyme. It turned out to be more of a lyrical poem of sorts.

Here it is, in all its glory.. Be gentle. It was my first time and created out of love for my son!

Yo yo yo!

This one’s for my little goob. And a shout out to all those 8 year olds, working hard in school trying to earn those A’s. I got mad respect for ya, little dudes!

He was born twelve minutes past eight

Which was perfect

It’s not too early, not too late

Expected on the 20th

But he made me wait

It’s kind of hard to believe

Today my little man is 8

I love this kid like fat kids love cake

And according to the Count

“Eight is great!” (Ah! Ah! Ah!)

I’ll tell it to him straight

He’s not allowed to date

Until he’s ten plus eight

And even then there will be girls I hate

But I’ll have to remind myself

He’s not a little boy anymore

But until then

I’ll make sure he cleans his plate

And that he doesn’t run late

And that he knows he’ll always be

My baby boy.

I tried. Happy Birthday Stinky Pants!