Mom Wars?

30 Mar

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I grew up with a working mom. She was a great mom who worked hard as a social worker in Detroit. I have lots of great memories as a kid and never felt deprived of mom time. I didn’t grow up with alot and both my parents had to work but one thing I knew without a doubt is that I could depend on my mom (and dad), even to this day. They made sure to never miss a concert, a play, a teacher conference, a field trip, etc, they were and have been consistently there for me and now their grandkids. A few days ago a friend of mine posted something on social media which made me sad. She was at a sporting event far away from home supporting her child but sitting in the stands she felt ignored, irrelevant, and judged as a mom.

When I was a young mom I remember the mom battle was between working mom and stay at home mom(SAHM) and there seemed to be lots of articles and commentaries on the subject. I would drop my kids off at preschool while dressed in a suit and remember feeling judged by some of the SAHM’s. Whether it was in my head because of guilt (mommy guilt is a whole different topic to discuss!) or whether it was because I wasn’t invited to some of the play dates/coffee dates so I didn’t know them as well, it was hard to ‘rise above’. Now (and maybe this is more relevant because of my kids’ age), it seems we are judged, compared to, or criticized by how much we do for our kids; lessons, private coaching, travel sports, $$$$$, etc. Here’s one thing I do know, we are all doing the best we can and we really just need to support each other. No one knows the depths of our circumstances or what happens in our homes. We are a bunch of imperfect people trying to raise perfect kids…ha, no such thing, don’t you remember your teen/young adult years? We cannot control who they like, what their interests are, and for the most part we have no control over the decisions they make after a certain point(trust me, I have a son who is almost 20 in college and I would LOVE to control some of his decisions). Go ahead and be alpha, tiger, or helicopter mom but don’t look down at the ones who choose not to or who simply don’t want to mother any of those ways or simply those who don’t have the energy.

Being a mom is one of the if not THE hardest job in the world. I would venture to say that when we hold that baby in our arms for the first time we are not looking at them with tears in our eyes saying, ‘I hope you rebel one day’ or ‘I hope you do drugs’. No, we want our kids to succeed and be kind and conscientious adults, we want them to love others and to be confident in who they are, and as a parent I think we ultimately want them to know that no matter what, we love and support them, and that we are their biggest fans. This mom says it best, ‘Let’s make a deal. Stop the mom-judging. It’s tiring. … My soul needs rest and sometimes a friendly glance from another mom in the trenches who can totally relate on any other given day. Knowing you are not alone is such a gift to a mother’s spirit. Our choices may look different on how we feed, clothe and discipline our children, but our love for them and for others should outshine all of it. At the end of the day, all kids really need is love. Let’s focus on that.’~Laura Coffey.  So to the moms who have felt ignored or who may have felt judged by me, I apologize. I’m still an introvert so sometimes all I can manage is eye to eye contact and a smile and generally introverts are not going to be the first to start conversation. Feel free though to engage me in conversation and I will of course talk! Moms, let’s hold each other up and give each other encouragement. We don’t need to all be best friends but let’s make sure we don’t judge each other because we’re all doing our best. ‘If you judge people, you have no time to love them.’~Mother Teresa.

Today I wear Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment with Sunscreen in Berry. I have this tinted balm in a couple different colors. They are super buttery and loaded with color. I chose this color because it gives a serious pop of berry and I am so ready for spring!! Cheers!

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Joy and Imperfection

25 Mar

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I read this quote the other day which said ‘No one gets to joy by trying to make everything perfect. One only arrives at joy by seeing in every imperfection all that is joy.’~Ann Voskamp. I really had to let that soak in. 2017 has been interesting so far and I feel like joy has been a constant thread which I am incredibly grateful for; and that’s joy without perfection because believe me, life is never perfect. The thing about joy is that people tend to interchange it with being happy and those are two very different things. Happiness comes and goes but joy runs far deeper and I think it is more related to a deeply contented soul which then brings more peace in every situation.

The whole concept of trying to make everything perfect is exhausting and definitely not joyful, instead it is joy stealing. After cancer, divorce, and now as I edge closer to 50, the concept of perfect life, perfect kids, perfect job, being a perfect parent, etc. has settled into the knowledge that there is no such thing no matter what someone else’s posts and pictures look like on Facebook. I am also settling into a place that all that doesn’t really matter and is truly unachievable, but there is perfect peace in knowing that no matter what, God is in control and not me. Ahhhh…sweet relief. It’s really exhausting trying to control our circumstances, our jobs, our kids, our life and futile to think what we manufacture can actually bring us joy. I heard a Ted Talk where the speaker said that because of social media we have manufactured a caricature of our true selves; our focus has now become how to make our character on social media perfect and it has come to a point that we try to live our real lives based on who we portray on social media. Whoa and how sad for our children who’s identity is so wrapped up in how many ‘likes’ they get.Statistics (NACMS) show that the number of people diagnosed with depression has increased 450% since 1987 and I have to think social media and comparison has a little to do with that.

So what do we do? How do we get closer to joy despite our circumstances? First, release control. Control stems from fear; fear of failure, fear that your kids may make the wrong decision, fear you may make the wrong decision. A wise person said,’Fear puts a boundary on what your love will cover’~S. Unger. Let go of trying to control, trust God, trust yourself, trust your parenting and your kids. Yes there will be mistakes but don’t put boundaries on your or God’s love. Second (and I admit I have to work on this), spend more time looking at the flowers or the sunrise, your spouse, your kids’ eyes or even a book than social media. That way you’d be less likely to be able to compare yourself to someone else whose life appears more perfect than yours. Third, be grateful and try to find pieces of good even in the bad. This one is hard but if you can sit in quiet and dig deep there’s always something good, even if it may be a lesson learned or just becoming closer and more dependent on God, trials are where your faith gets to sharpen…seeing joy in every imperfection.

Today I wear Thrive Causemetics Glossy Lip Mark in JoAnn which is a plum/mauve. This lip gloss has lots of color and is super moisturizing. I’m pretty much in love with it because it’s so easy to wear. They say that it’s a longwear liquid lipstick/stain but it’s not. It’s really a lipgloss with lots of color that you’ll have to reapply often but I still love it. I love this company because the founder designed it to give back hence the name ’causemetics.’ For every product purchased she donates one to empower women thriving through cancer or domestic abuse. The products are free of some of the harsh chemicals used in products today. What’s not to love about that? Cheers! (photo cred: Leanna Vite photography)

India

4 Mar

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India. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but what I found was love and joy. The universal language of love, touch, of being held, and the simple pleasures like skipping rope, playing catch, and red nail polish kept smiles on all the beautiful faces. How do you reconcile your life when you come back? The simplicity of living with only your basic needs being met and of a life trusting God to provide. What is this kind of trust; a faith that releases you from fear and brings you freedom to live with joy in the simple?

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How do you process a return to your ‘normal’? A life made complicated by financial responsibility, being over scheduled, mortgage. How do you return to simplicity? We all have the same basic needs right? Food, shelter, and also the need to feel like we matter, the need to feel loved unconditionally, to be touched and held; add the very human longing for a life of joy and peace. The conflict in today’s ‘first world’ society tosses between wanting to save the world by service and agenda and also trying to ‘have it your way.’ It can’t be both. We must first lose ourselves before giving ourselves away. Serving others, meaning even just the basics of loving them, hugging them, looking in their eyes, washing their feet…their joy and gratefulness, brings you joy and gratefulness and hope. It’s a start. india-feet

 

Adult Identity Problems?

12 Feb

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I’ve been feeling kinda blah lately and I was mostly attributing that to the lack of sun during this long gray Michigan winter, which still may be part of it. The other part is what I’ve been writing about recently regarding teens…the search for identity. Without clear ‘identity’ we lack direction and purpose to our days. I was getting overly annoyed at my teens for their struggle to figure out who they are and where they belong yet lo and behold, most of us struggle with this our whole lives. I started getting jealous of my daughter and her passion and fire, of some of the other women on Facebook that seemed ‘all together’ and doing what they loved, I was getting upset about getting older, having fewer choices in life, having overwhelming responsibilities, etc. Me Me Meeee. Then I had my ‘aha’ moment. I let life and my daily and never ending to-do’s take over and make me forget what was already done, my striving to be everything to everyone, keeping track of everyone’s to-dos, making sure all was set was drowning me. You guessed it, I’m a people-pleaser and beyond that, I was (am) trying to control the circumstances and outcome for everyone to make sure they’re ok and happy. How overwhelming and exhausting is that? I would venture to say that women more than men tend to lose who we are while making sure everyone else is good. Through all this stuff I was not sleeping that well and grinding my teeth in my sleep to the point that I was leaving tooth marks in my nightime mouth guard.

Well, this is where I was and I finally took a deep breath and prayed. I prayed for peace and clarity . I prayed for focus and to rest in the knowledge that my identity was in Christ. For the past month I was part of a launch team for a book called I Am by Michele Cushatt which speaks exactly of this and the timing couldn’t be better! It is such a great book. In one of the chapters titled ‘I Am Valuable‘ she lists out things like ‘You are worth more than the rejection that split you on two, you are worth more than the sum of your contributions to church and school and community, you are worth more than your best outfit, you are worth more than a week of sleepless nights and crazy days trying to cross items off your to do list‘, and so on. She ends this list with Jesus’ words ‘So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.’

Who we are sometimes gets blurred when we lose self esteem or confidence and we start listening to words of others. ‘Sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never harm me,’ WRONG. Many times, if we are unsure of ourselves, we let the words and actions of others define us. What does that feel like? When your once confident self gets belittled, to feel like your voice doesn’t matter, to constantly adjust to ‘fit’ another’s wants, needs, and expectations yet never quite getting there? What if the person doubting yourself is you?  In the Bible God says ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Did you catch that? If you don’t love yourself how can you love your neighbor? Without the confidence in who you are, plenty of people will dictate who they think you should be. Stand strong. I am not my job, my circumstances, or my past, and if we can get past all the noise maybe that is the beginning of truth and authenticity with each other.

Today I wear Tom Ford lipstick in Misbehaved which is a pinky coral (probably a smidge too light for me).I admit, this is my most expensive lipstick purchase and I don’t use it too often but I do like it. These lipsticks are highly pigmented and fairly moisturizing. I chose this color because it reminds me of summer and I am so ready for that! Cheers!

This Is Us

26 Jan

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I love this show and clearly millions of Americans love this show as well. I admit that I shed a tear or two or a hundred with every single episode. Why is this series so popular? I have my guesses; people have called it ‘real’,’emotional’,’accurate to life’. All those things are true but I think the main reason it’s popular is it validates us as imperfect human beings; it shows us that we are all human and our choices, good and bad, are a product of the experiences of our past and our current environment. Every person is wired differently and experiences things a little differently; three kids (triplets), raised by the same parents in the same home become three very different adults. Every single person on this show has a story, a ‘why’ they are the way they are and it opens ours eyes and makes us emotional because we can relate. We make mistakes, we make good and bad choices but it all comes from our story and just adds to our journey.

Anyway, I’ve been a little uninspired lately, partly being too busy partly emotionally drained from navigating teen parenting. Like my last blog said, parenting teens is soooo hard. I decided to look back at my story because sometimes we forget. The benefit of being fullsizerendera lifetime diary/journal keeper is that you can go back in time and discover what you were like. I recently pulled out and read my journals from age 16-19 and it was great because it really helped me understand where my daughter was coming from and allowed me to give her more grace and not take things personally. Reading my thoughts made me laugh, made me angry, and made me reflective of my life since then and I learned a couple things. Reading it brought me back and stirred up those same old feelings. I thought I was so smart and ‘adult’ and an expert at life (at 18) yet made some immature comments and decisions. I struggled with identity, wanting to be liked, be part of the ‘in’ crowd, and thinking no one understood me. Yup, confirmation I was in fact a teenager! Decades later reading my journals gave me clarity about who I was and why I made different decisions and mistakes and some of what I wrote made me want to shake the young me and scream at her but I guess that’s all part of our story right? It’s what makes living a life. There was also something I found beautiful, hope. I was so hopeful back then. I looked forward to the future with excitement and I believed the best of so many people. I was more carefree and surprisingly I was grateful. At the end of my entries I would write what I was thankful for, some of them dumb like ‘did 100 sit ups today’ or ‘took a long walk.’I take it back, those are not dumb because many days now I don’t have time for a long walk and I probably would throw up if I did 100 sit ups…or can I even do 100 sit ups?

Here are my lessons from me:

  • Stand back a little and let teens go through things as they transform into adults (a little more grace)
  • Be grateful even for the minutia of life because you may not be able to experience the same in the future
  • Be hopeful and look to the future with excitement (this perspective always makes the days better)
  •  Don’t forget other people have a story too

The show This Is Us is great but no show is as good and as complex as real life and no writer is better at writing your story than you. Today I wear Julie Hewitt lipstick in Jules. I was introduced to this lipstick by another blogger and it’s great. It feels like a balm and has ‘more than sheer’ color…not too heavy but just enough. I chose this color because it’s an easy everyday red/berry and because the owner made it for herself and pretty much named it after herself too. Her story. We have one life, one story to create, this is us. Cheers!

Teenagers…

12 Jan

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I have a question, what is the age when kids finally realize their parents are actual people who have had some of the same shared experiences they have had and lots of times they really do know what they’re talking about? I am waiting for that transition. I get it, I’m 40++ and I can acknowledge my parents were once young, that their decisions are/were based on upbringing, values, experiences, etc, but I’d like to think that I learned this a long long time ago. Ok, maybe not when I was a teen but definitely by the time I was a working adult…or maybe later…I don’t know. Sometimes I just get sick of the phrase ‘I knoooooooow’ with that long drawn out ‘oooooooooo’ or even hearing them talk to friends and their friends saying ‘my parents are sooooo annooooying’ because of course if their friends are saying it they are too.

I have teens and they’re awesome; great grades, great friends, and kind to everyone (except each other sometimes).I have to say that this may be the most difficult age of parenting or at least the most challenging. Something about having them look more adult-ish, being able to drive and work, and shoot, my oldest can already vote so I guess he is an adult but I use that term loosely. Being an older teen/young adult/college age simply means something like this, ‘ I got it mom, I know what I’m doing but can you transfer $100 for food/toiletries/whatever else I need right now for college)? Teens ask for your opinion then roll their eyes, they ask for your permission but look at you like you’re an alien when you say ‘no’—‘no’ still is still part of the English language right? Me:No…((long pause))…Teen:But whyyyyy? The teen years is that span of time that lies between tucking them in and waving goodbye as they drive off to college or whatever path they’ve chosen and sometimes it just stinks for the parent. If only they could see that I was once young and my advice comes from a place of experience. Many of their struggles are not new, hormones, friends, school stress, boyfriend/girlfriend, being popular, smoking, etc…they act like we would never understand. I want to tell them my annoooooying self is just worried and trying to process and navigate my feelings about them growing up. I want to say that I repeat things because half the time they act like they’re not listening. I’ve told them that I’ve experienced pain, heartache, first love, first break up, challenges to fit in, longing to be popular, etc but again I get that glazed look in their eyes like somehow there would be no way I was their age. Ever.teen2

What to do? The gray hairs are compounding. There is an Italian Proverb I read that says ‘Little children, headache; big children, heartache.’ Kinda true; heartache when they defy you, heartache when they say something hurtful without knowing the context of why it hurts you, heartache when they say goodbye. Oy, parenting, how it expands your heart. There’s no perfect formula and no perfect family no matter how they look on Facebook. I read that children are the greatest gift and their souls are our heaviest responsibility. Don’t be afraid to say no, but don’t be afraid to say yes too.Teach, they see what you do. If you never say sorry neither will they, if you are fearful they will be too, and so on. Be present. Pray. Love. Open door. Open arms. Trust God. Trust yourself. Listen. Love them. Let them go.

Today I wear LipSense lipstick in Bella. It’s the perfect pink/brown for me and I chose it because it’s my favorite color right now. Cheers!

Goodbye 2016

31 Dec
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Me and my cousin Michael

It is the last day of 2016 and there are so many things swirling in my head I’m not sure what to write. It’s been a year of deaths of so many icons from my youth; David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, Mrs. Brady~Florence Henderson, and more recently Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher. I don’t idolize them but holy cow, the memories of the music and shows they bring up. It’s sad and nostalgic but it’s also a reminder for me of aging and mortality…I’m getting older. A little over a week ago my cousin passed away after having a heart attack, he was 46. He was mostly raised by my grandma in the Philippines but came to the US as a teen. He stayed with us through his Junior High years then ended up moving to California to be closer to his mom. Michael struggled with depression and we kept in contact on and off through the years. His adult life was a struggle but I think he finally felt complete when his daughter was born; his was a struggle of identity and belonging, and depression and maybe his heart attack was really a broken heart. Over the past week my cousins and I have been in more contact with each other than I can ever remember thanks to technology and Facebook messenger. We didn’t all grow up together because we are all over the place; Philippines, Australia, California, Minnesota, Kentucky and me in Michigan. We along with our parents (the aunts and uncles) and Michael’s best friend have united in this tragedy and are helping cover expenses and arrangements for my aunt. Holidays are generally a time of family gatherings and I don’t really know what that’s like strangely until now. Outside of the friends that have surrounded my family I did not grow up with my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc so this connection of us around the globe has been kind of bittersweet for me.

I read a quote today ‘It takes the darkness to see the stars.’ Reflecting on 2016 and in my life so far it’s been so true for me. I’m so grateful for my friends and family who always shine in my dark times and during this dark time of Michael’s death I see our family as the stars in the darkness coming together to help in however way we can. There are always stars, sometimes we just can’t see them. A good blogger friend of mine, Elizabeth, wrote a piece about New Year and not having resolutions but instead having a word/thememyintent/mantra…choosing a path. We must’ve been on the same wavelength because for Christmas I bought a little bracelet for myself with a word on it as a reminder; I chose STRONG. I chose strong instead of strength because strength feels like something I hope to have whereas I wanted that reminder to myself that shoot, after all I’ve been through, I’m already strong. What is your word? What will be your theme? What is your hope for 2017?

Today I wear Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick in Mercy which is a deep berry. I chose it because Kat is pretty strong and bad ass and also for the name (the color si pretty kickin too). We all could probably exercise a little more kindness, grace and mercy in 2017. HAPPY NEW YEAR!! CHEERS!!

 

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