Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Epiphany in a Change Room

I sat on the dressing room bench of the department style clothing store and dubiously surveyed the pile of clothes beside me.  I sighed and began the process of trying on item after item of clothing, avoiding the mirror in between becoming clothed in each piece.

When I heard a teenaged girl's voice in the next stall say the words, "This doesn't fit me..."  shamefully my mood rose.  Someone's else's clothes don't fit - must be too small just like those jeans I tried on...

..."it's way too big.  I need a size zero."

A size ZERO.  Why this size even exists in this world completely baffles my mind.

Zero equals nothing does it not?  So if you're wearing a size zero what exactly does that mean?!  It's bonknuts that's what that is.

A few minutes later she comes out of her dressing room stall as her Mom and sister watched on (I'm assuming this as I stayed in the comfort of my own dressing room since there was a perfectly good mirror in there and I was by myself) and upon seeing herself in the mirror she exclaims, "Oh my GOD.  I look so fat!  I look like a tank!"

Can someone please explain how someone the size of nothing could possibly look like a 100,000 pound tank?!

What was even more disturbing was the fact that her Mother said nothing about her calling herself a fat tank. She murmured a few things but let me tell you, if that was MY daughter saying those things about herself I would shut that down fast and furiously.

I don't have daughters.  But I do have two sons'.  Same thing would go for them if they ever said those words about themselves (unlikely but still possible).

Yes we as women (and men too) have our insecurities.  It's normal and fairly unavoidable as we are flawed beings and I'm not speaking about being physically flawed. Sadly due to the ridonkulousness of society we've come to the very unhealthy thinking that if we have thighs that touch or sticky outty belly or cellulite there is something wrong with us.  There is nothing wrong with us.  Of-course we have our days where we haven't made the greatest food choices or haven't been active or are feeling bloated and not our best. This is all perfectly normal. Sitting in that change room I was hugely guilty of feeling not so good about my body even though there really isn't anything to be ashamed about. If I were 10 lbs thinner I'd still have something that irked me if I'm being honest. So who cares!?  Who.Cares.  Talking about your physical imperfections is pretty damn borrrring.  No one wants to hear about how much you hate your body, how fat you look, feel, are.  Believe me when I say NOBODY.  It's annoying, boring and cringe inducing so quit it.

Instead let's focus about what our bodies can do and have done.  Set some goals for yourself.  I could list mine but how about you start by listing your own?  What have you done with that awesome body of yours lately?  Biked a few miles.  Awesome.  Raced your kids?  Fun times.  Ran a half marathon?  Huge accomplishment.  Sex with your significant other?  Pretty damn fun. Worked out at the gym?  Good for you - how great do you feel now!  Played hopscotch?  A lot harder now than when you were a kid!  Moved some furniture?  Impressive.  Cleaned your house from top to bottom?  Good workout and productive!  Gave your child a piggy back or a horsey ride?  Memories for both of you.  Some gardening?  Surprisingly physical!  Walked your dog?  Exercise and therapy rolled into one.  Birthed children?  Most amazing physical feat EVER.

Next time you feel the need to complain about the beautiful body you have, stop and remember the amazing things it can, has and will do.  

Like I always tell my son when he occasionally complains about having to walk to school, "Why do we have to walk to school today?"

"Because we can.  Because we have two working legs.  Because there are many people in this world that would do anything, anything to be able to walk at all but they can't because they don't have two working legs."  That always keeps him quiet until he says, "And because it's a beautiful morning."

That's when I know that some things I say do sink in.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Let's Talk About Games ... maybe?

Board Games.  More specifically children's board games.  I thought once upon a time that it would be super awesome when my boys became of the age to start playing games that it would be the wonderful beginning of fun quality time together.

Turns out this is all another big fat ugly commercial fallacy.

Shall we discuss a bit more in depth?

Get right down to the nitty freakin' gritty?

Oh what?  You had no idea there was anything nitty or gritty about children's board games?

We-he-helll.  Have I got some shocking news for y'all.

Let me begin now...

Perhaps I'll start with the ones that are tolerable then I'll move onto the games that are terrible and then I'll end with the games that are so excruciatingly frustrating to play with your children that one could possibly blow an artery out.  I don't actually even know if that's medically possible or even what that means but believe me when I say that there are such games out there.

I will start with the tolerable ones and work toward the ones that are so horribly infuriating that stabbing yourself with a sharp object would be less painful.

Cariboo Island:  This was the first game I bought for my children and I really don't have anything heinous to say about it.  It's  actually a great learning game that has two levels - Beginner and Advanced.  You can start your child on it before age 3 which is the recommended age (but what parent actually goes by those recommendations anyway?)  It teaches your child letters, counting and colours.  And if they aren't into that yet it's fun for them to just insert the brightly coloured coins into the treasure box (warning:  if you don't keep close tabs on  those coins they could end up in obscure places like your utensil or underwear drawer...not that that ever happens in this house) and then they can try to find them behind each tab with the purple key.  Definitely our favourite game here at the Soden residence.

But trust me when I say shit goes downhill fast from here on in.

Candy Land:  If you haven't ever heard or played Candy Land then you probably have lived under a rock your entire life and for that I'm terribly sorry.  Pretty self explanatory game.  Child learns colours, it's bright and yummy to look at, game goes by fairly quickly (that's the biggest bonus).  The only downfall is that your child may demand candy due to looking at all the delectable pictures and could very well end up having a full blown tantrum because you don't actually have licorice or peanut brittle in the house. And for that I can't really blame them.

Not so bad.  Looks idyllic enough.  Only a glass or two of wine are
 required to make it through this one.

Perfection:  Seems pretty harmless right?  You turn on a timer and have to get those tiny little yellow shapes into the correct tiny little same shaped spaces.  You probably played it as a kid so how bad can it be?  That timer is basically  the devil in disguise counting down the seconds before you have a heart attack because you've entirely forgotten how damn terrifyingly LOUD it is when it goes off so every other time you play with your kid you're basically shoving your poor child out of the way to make sure those damn ridiculously small shapes get into those stupid matching holes before you actually do have a heart attack.  Like we, as parents, don't have enough anxiety in our lives...we certainly do NOT need a brightly coloured square piece of plastic counting down the demise of our hearts and minds.  But hey, if you like living on the edge of life like that by all means.  Have at it but don't say I didn't warn you.

Chutes and Ladders:  Good God give me strength.  I have no idea why I thought this was going to be a fun game to play with my children.  I'm 100 percent to blame because I was the one that purchased it thinking it would be along the same lines as Candy Land...but oh no.  NonononoNO.  Do NOT mistake this game for being remotely anything like the delicious quick fun of Candy Land.  It is basically the never ending game of hell.  Oh you think you're going to win?  You think this godforsaken game will finally be over?   You're at square 97, only 3 squares away from the end? THINK AGAIN!!!  You will roll a 1 and your stupid Sesame Street character must slide down another flippin' chute to square 14.  It's basically designed to make parents insane in the membrane.  Harsh?  Possibly.  Truth?  Definitely.

Hungry Hungry Hippos:  I have such fond memories of playing this game as a little girl.  Which is the reason why I bought it for my boys for Christmas 2 years ago.  Worst. Purchase. Of. My. Life.  If you wish for a splitting head ache from listening to your children pound on a plastic toy for hours on end (because for some reason they do not get sick of this game) then this game is for you.  Also?  If you think it's awesome getting your fingers practically cut off every time you disassemble this stupid.ass.game...go for it my friends.  I have scars to prove my pain.

Mousetrap: I have my Mother to blame for bringing this game into our home this past Christmas.  The instructions and set up are about 20 pages too long.  I would like to think I'm a fairly intelligent person but even after reading the instructions on how to play this game I still have no idea what the point of those tiny cardboard triangle pieces of cheese are.  The whole idea of having to construct this entire 'mouse trap' while attempting to figure out how to play the game with children just about put me over the edge...so, sorry Mum, Mousetrap is heading where Hungry Hungry Hippos went.  Down, down deep into the abyss of our scary storage room.

Never. EVER. Play this game.  Though could be possible after a bottle of wine because
by then who really give a flying *&^% about the damn mouse anyway.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Few Important Thank You's

As much as I'd like to make a list of what I want for Mother's Day this year...I'm pretty sure my dear husband already knows what that would be since I wrote specific details about it 2 years ago.  My wishes haven't really changed.  This year, as did last, work in Germany has stolen my husband from me and I refuse to be bitter about it one bit.

Truth be told...I already went there when I found out a couple of weeks ago that he wasn't going to be here.  I ran that through my system pretty quickly much to the chagrin of my husband.  The only injury he suffered from was only slight whiplash from my violent mood swing upon realizing he would be away on Mother's Day for the 3rd Mother's Day out of 6 years of my Motherhood career.  Not that I'm counting or anything...he always makes up for it.

This year I will spending the day with my Mum and that is certainly special since we don't get to see one another nearly as often as we would like being that we live in different cities.  So instead I shall focus on giving thanks to all the Mothers that I adore, that inspire me and that I wish I saw more often as well.

First and most importantly...

Thank you Mother for your strength and courage and fierce independance.  And thank you for passing those qualities down to me.  Thank you for your strong hugs when I needed them most and when I didn't need them at all but just because.  Thank you for your straight up no bullshit advice.  Thank you for teaching me to take responsibility for my actions and for never allowing me to delve into the abyss of self pity for more than 5 minutes when things didn't go my way.  Thank you for never talking down to me and always treating me like an equal.  Thank you for making mistakes for without them I wouldn't be the person I am today, and today I really kinda like her. Thank you for being real and authentically you...I am the same and I couldn't be any other way.  Thank you for being an incredibly loving Mother for there is nothing better than that.  Thank you for teaching me that patience is a virtue...I hear you in my head every time I begin to lose a grip on it.  It comes in quite handy now that I'm a Mother of 2 wonderfully busy boys.  Thank you for always loving me, supporting me and forever showing me that if you can't laugh at yourself and the crazy that life throws at you than just what the hell can you laugh at?

Gaga with Adrian - 3 months

Gaga with Finley - mere weeks old

Thank you Nancy for raising a man who knows how to treat a woman.  For teaching him not only how to treat his wife but who is also consistently willing to help his fellow neighbour, who will always be there for a friend in need, who is sensitive and genuine to everyone he meets.   Thank you for allowing me to gripe about your son to you when I feel the (rare) need to...I don't know too many women that could (or would ever) do that to their Mother-In-Law.  Even though he is your son you also always seem to have my back...I hope I can be the same kind of Mother-In-Law someday.  Your gentle and subtle reminders about what marriage entails even now mean the world to me.  I'm one lucky daughter-in-law.  Thank you for being the clearly awesome Mother you were (and continue to be) to my husband.  It's not just luck of the draw that makes a good man.  And your son, my husband, is a great one.

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Thank you to my amazing and beautiful friends.  Those that I've known for decades, those that I've known for a only a few years, those that I've reconnected with over facebook, those that I've met and connected with online and through blogging.  All of you wonderful women.   I hope that you know you are all an inspiration to me.  You push me to be a better person, a better Mother.  When I'm having a terrible day or week or (few weeks) you've always made me feel like I'm more than good enough. You are my tribe, my ladies, my dear, dear friends and you all know who you are.

Lastly, the biggest of all thank you's to my little boys whom without them I would never have found out my true calling in life. Thank you for giving me comfort in the deliciousness of your hugs, kisses and cuddles.  Thank you for believing in me even though you have no idea what that even means...I just know you do.  Thank you for taking me for who I am and never doubting for a moment how much I adore every little bit about you.  Thank you for stretching me, molding me, challenging me, questioning me and loving me endlessly even when I'm being or acting not all that lovable.  Thank you for simply being who you are because to me you could not be more perfect.  Thank you for making me who I am today.  Know that you are loved to eternity and beyond a trillion times over. Seeing your smiles, hearing your laughter, listening to your conversations, feeling your heads nestled in the crook of my arms, your arms around my neck and your sweet lips kiss mine make me the feel like the most incredible Mother in the world.  You both make me unbelievably proud.  Every single day.  I thank you both Adrian and Finley for making me the Mother that I am today.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

At the end of the day

I lay between my two sleeping sons listening to their soft, shallow breathing and looking up at my bedroom ceiling.  There is the still fan over the bed with an empty light socket.  I see something familiar there not because I'd seen it a thousand and one times before...but something that I could relate to at that moment.  I wasn't comfortable with what I saw and what I was currently feeling and how the two somehow intertwined within me.

The past 2 days had me grading myself a D - at parenting.  Do you do that too sometimes?  Grade yourself as a parent?  I remember as a little girl with a diary writing my entries and then grading my days.  The best day ever A++++.  The worst day ever... F - like there is such a thing.

Or epic fail as my five year old would say.

Over the past couple of days I've shouted and hollered and lost patience with sharp tones and a sharp tongue.  And though I am certainly no perfect Mother this is also not how I usually roll as a parent.  If I were an outsider listening in...I wouldn't like what I was hearing.  I'm feeling burnt out as a Mother...is that a thing?  Upon closer internal questioning about why, I think I've figured out out my limit.  We're coming to the end of the major travel period for my husband's work and I've worked out that about 3 months away in 8 is about that limit.  It doesn't even seem that bad written down...but clearly...it's too much for me.  I'm about ready to jump in my truck and drive to the farthest hotel with the most comfortable beds and sleep for 3 days straight.  Just to have time alone...ALONE for more than two hours that only occur bed time when you're already so tired you probably should just be sleeping anyway.  What a Mother would do?!  Anyway.  Obviously I've met my breaking point but then...

After bath time the boys laid beside me slightly restless but clearly exhausted.  I wanted to start my day over again more than anything.

"I yelled too much today guys..."  I began softly, "I'm really sorry.  I'll have to remember to take deep breaths when I feel like that.  Do you forgive me?"

There were tired groans as they rolled in closer to me and laid their heads on my shoulders.  I took that as an affirmative.  Of-course they forgive me.  Aren't children the most forgiving people on the planet?  Heartbreakingly so.

"Hey Fin.  What are you grateful for today?"  He tilted his head up from my left shoulder with a question in his eyes and I realized this was something we hadn't done before but only something I had done with Adrian.  "Do you know what grateful means?  It means thankful...thankful for something that makes you feel good, that makes you happy."

"Ketchup."  Ah yes.  Well why not?

Adrian spoke up quietly with a serious face his cheeks still flushed pink from the warm bath, "I know what I'm thankful for too."

I was ready for a bathroom humour reply that involved stinky butt farts or poop. But no.

Instead he said, "I'm thankful for you."

The thin callous that seemed to have developed around my heart these past two days instantly vanished and I almost began to cry.

"Really baby?  That is so sweet.  I'm thankful for you too.  Both of you.  I love you guys so much..." I began to get all mushy, overly talkative and emotional-like kissing the tops of their damp heads over and over again.

Finley spoke up, "But I like you but you got angry."

"I know baby doll but it's not because I don't love you.  Mommy's just tired and low on patience.  Never ever think that I don't love you."

He leaned in and gave me a good smooch on the lips, "I like you Mommy.  I love you."

But if that isn't the best compliment that I didn't deserve.

Adrian turned over with his usual request for a back tickle while Finley pulled a pillow over his body and promptly fell asleep.

I think I got a good start on tomorrow.

And for that I am thankful.

It may be about that time to put a light bulb in that void socket tomorrow too.