It seems everyone has a blog these days. Not that I'm giving in to the "norm." I just want to have a place that is mine. These are my thoughts, my opinions, my hopes, my dreams, my fears. I am a Daughter. I am a Wife. I am a Mother. But above all, I am a WOMAN.

I enjoy feedback, so please select a reaction, or a leave a comment. I would love to know what you think about my post and how it affected you.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Late Dad to a Daughter

My husband found out last year that he had a daughter from his previous wife, so he came late to being the dad of a daughter.  He met her shortly before her 11th birthday.  The bonded immediately, as she did with her two brothers her dad had with me.  Instantaneous, right down to the sibling fights, shouts of "Leave Me Alone!" and hugs and kisses.

But as wonderful as it is to get to know her, I can't help but think of all he (and she) missed.  Michael Mitchell has a wonderful blog called Life to Her Yeaars that is letters to his daughter that he started when she was born.  It's pretty awesome.  But he did a guest blog called 50 Rules for Dads of Daughters that just made me cry.  They are wonderful pieces of advice.  What made me cry was how many of these rules my husband can't obey with his daughter because he missed the first decade of her life.

He'll never get play peekaboo with her.  He'll never be able to sit her on his lap and let her drive his car.  He's already missed ten birthdays.  He'll never get to turn her down gently when she asks him as a young girl to marry her .  He's never going to see her get on the school bus.He'll never get to ride her on his shoulders.  These are "rites of passage" with daughters and dads.  And he has missed SO much not knowing about her.  They both have.

It makes me sad.

She lives so far away (about 8 hours) that he misses so much of her life.  Telephone calls, Facebook and texts only do so much.  He can't hug his daughter electronically.  He can't help her with her homework.  He can't tease her until she smiles.  He won't know IF she smiles.  He can't ruffle her hair with his hand.  He can't argue with her over bedtime.  He misses so much of her life.  He misses Her.

When she comes back at Christmas he will marvel over how tall she's gotten.  He'll give her Christmas presents, take her places, tease her, dote on her, and love her.  But all of that he will also do for the boys.  That's right of course, but they are still making up for lost time.  Lost time they will never get back.

All he can do from now on is his best.  We all try not to dwell on "what-if."  It is a senseless question and really does more harm than good when asked.  He forms the bonds of love with her now while he can, and tries to show her that he loves her.  But it's difficult when those years of her innocent, unconditional trust were missed.

That they are together makes me very happy.  That they missed ten years makes me sad.  I'm looking at the relationship from the outside, so how much more do they feel?

Hug your daughter(s).  Hug your son(s).  Love them.  Realize how precious they are.  Think how lucky you are to have had them this long, and remember that they can be taken from you in a blink.  In an instant everything can change.  Don't take this time for granted.  You can be there and still miss it if you aren't careful.

Be careful.

And comment if you have any special remembrances of your kids, of lack of them.  Tell me if this grabs your heart for any reason.  I'd like to know.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How to Read a Man

I know this sounds like an impossibility.  Men are incomprehensible.  Men only understand what women say about 60% of the time and sometimes less than that.  WAY less.  Men don't know how to talk to women without pushing the wrong buttons which then causes a fight or the silent treatment, and then men don't understand what they did to cause it!  But women can understand.

Some men are great at talking about how they feel, what they want.  Some men know how to listen to a woman and understand what she's saying.  But a lot of men don't.  WE are incomprehensible to them.  WE completely misunderstood what they said.  WE get mad or get our feelings hurt over nothing.  Most men will never understand.

Forget Mars and Venus.  Men and Women are not from different planets.  Men and Women aren't different species.  Men are not less -- or more -- evolved than Women.  We're just different.  Here is my theory on why, and what women can do to read men a little better.

Women are "emotional" creatures.  I don't mean we are completely illogical and let our emotions rule our every word and deed.  But you have to admit, a man gets through to us more quickly, more completely when he appeals to our emotions.  Flowers and other gifts appeal to our romantic emotions.  Affection appeals to our comforting emotions.  Listening to our problems (without trying to "fix" them) appeals to our need to rid ourselves of excess emotion.  And saying "I love you" appeals to our loving emotions.  We ARE emotional creatures.

Men aren't.  They are logical creatures.  That doesn't mean they are without emotions.  They feel just like we do, just maybe not as strongly in some situations.  But watch a dad at his kid's football game or other athletic event and see how UNemotional he stays!  Or watch his face when you present your child to him for the first time.  My husband, the typical stoic male, was completely overwhelmed at the birth of our sons.  I remember his face was filled with awe.  He actually could not speak.  He took one finger and ran it down our son's chest and you could see the amazement on his face that this little perfect baby had come from US.  He couldn't hide his emotions that day.  And I personally treasure that memory.

But men like logic.  If we tell them a problem, they are designed to want to fix it.  Flowers and other gifts are meaningless to them really.  Men are creatures of "action" so sitting and listening and talking just isn't in their makeup.  They like to DO.  They cut the grass.  They take out the garbage.  They go to work.  They don't do any of those things for themselves.  They do it for US.  They do things for us as their way of taking care of us, and to them, that is showing love.

So the next time you wonder if your husband really loves you, if he even "sees" you, look around.  Stop and think about everything he does.  I bet the list is longer than you think.  Don't think about the last time he "gazed lovingly into your eyes."  Think about when he worked extra hours to bring home a little more money.  Don't try to remember the last time he said, "I love you."  Remember the last time he gathered up the garbage without you asking.

That is how you read a man -- by his Actions.  When it comes to men, Actions really do speak louder than words.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Suicide: The Aftermath

I have lost several people in my life.  Family, friends, acquaintances.....death comes calling for us all.  Old age takes most as our bodies just wear out.  Accidents take some unexpectedly, giving us no chance to say good-bye. A few even have their lives taken deliberately by another, leaving us enraged and grief-stricken. And then there are the rare few who take their own lives, leaving us confused, angry, ashamed, and mourning.

Twice my life has been touched by suicide.  Once when I was in high school, when a dear classmate (DW) decided that his home life was so bad that he could no longer take it.  And once, this week when an old classmate (JH) chose for reasons no one knows to take that same path.  The second has brought back all of the feelings I felt the first time and once again I find myself lost in emotions I can't control.

Confusion.  Why did he do this?  What was SO bad that he felt he couldn't live any longer?  Why didn't he reach out to someone?  He loved and was loved.  He had family and friends.  He had a LIFE, not just an existence.  

Denial.  No, he wasn't the type.  He was happy.  He always had a smile and a laugh for everyone.  He really CARED about everyone.  DW was about to graduate high school and escape his abusive family.  JH just had a grandson that he called, "the light of my life."  With so much going right, he wouldn't possibly have done this.  He loved life too much.

Anger.  I am so angry that you did this to us!  You LEFT us!  You wantonly betrayed our trust.  You deliberately shut us out of what was hurting you and gave us no chance to help.  Did you even think about us?We had to bury you, DW, on your Birthday!  That was NOT a celebration.  JH, your son had to stand at the head of your casket on his 18th birthday!  Definitely not the memory he wanted for that special day.  You are selfish.  No, you WERE selfish when you made that choice.'re just gone.

Ashamed.  Why didn't I see that something was wrong?  Why didn't I talk to you more about what was happening in your life?  Why didn't I visit?  If I had visited you, maybe I would have seen something was wrong.  Why wasn't I a better friend to you?  If I had shown you how much I cared, maybe you would have turned to me and let me help.  This is my fault.  I will carry this guilt for the rest of my life.

Grief.  I lost my friend.  He is gone now, and I will never see him again.  I will never see him smile.  I will never hear him laugh.  I will never feel his hugs.  I will never smell his cologne.  I feel numb, yet I can't stop crying.  I want to scream and cry and throw things, but nothing will ease this pain.  When I wasn't looking, you slipped away.  You left me.  I lost you.  And in losing you, I got a wound on my heart that will never completely heal.

It was 27 years ago last March 21 that I lost my friend, DW.  Earlier this week, my community lost another friend, JH.  Both lost by their own hands.  This hurts more than if I had lost you to old age or disease.  This hurts more than if I had lost you in an accident.  This hurts more than if I had lost you to murder.  This hurts more.......because YOU Chose This.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Memories Are All I Have Left

When I was little, my sister and I spent a LOT of time and my paternal grandparents house.  We only lived 100 yards away, and as they were so much more permissive than our parents, we loved it there.  After all, if they wanted to spoil us, who were we to stop them?  We would get off the school bus there every afternoon.  After my granddad died, we would spend every weekend with Grandmother from Friday night until as late as possible on Sunday.  We stayed there in the summer and other school holidays.  We practically lived there.  It really was a "second home" to us.

We moved into town after my parents divorce.  Instead of being just up the hill, we were now a half hour away, but that still remained home in my heart, especially since six months after the move, our house burned to the ground from an electrical fire.  But then, that house wasn't home.  The house where I grew up was filled with memories of my parents fighting -- heated voices and cold silences; tense meals where bedtime was an escape and not something to be fought by us kids.  Grandmother's house was home.

Laughter reigned supreme there.  Grandmother had one of those faces that always smiled.  She was an old-fashioned "lady" from the top of her silver hair to the nail of her pinky toe, which only made it funnier when she  would say something completely outrageous.

She never said a bad word about anyone (even when I thought they richly deserved it).  She always spoke well of everyone or said nothing at all.  Even when someone needed to be warned against another person, she managed to convey the warning without once speaking ill of the person.

She never raised a hand to us kids -- well, once, but that was only because I told her she wouldn't and she could NOT let me get away with that.  She shamed us into behaving, and let me tell you THAT is a lost art.  She could look so disappointed in us and say, "Now aren't you ashamed" and I swear I had to look UP to see the dirt.  I just felt that low.

There was a tree in her front yard that all of us grandkids climbed.  "You kids get out of that tree!  That limb is gonna break with you!" is a admonition we all heard for years.  It never did, but that comment gave all of us kids laughs over the years.  It seems that our parents had heard the same admonition.  And so did our kids.

Grandmother showed me how I should act. By her actions, she was an example.  She was a rare lady who lived what she preached....except she never preached, she just DID.  Of course, not all of her lessons took.  I still lick my fingers when eating fried chicken.  My elbows sometimes find there way onto the table.  And I still don't always remain quiet when I should.  In fact, that lesson never really took at all.

She'll be gone 13 years this Thanksgiving.  It seems like forever.  And yet it seems like I just talked to her this morning.  I saw her face flush with laughter, eyes crinkled shut, belly just a jiggling (she really looked like a Mrs. Clause when she laughed!).

And now I find out that some family members are tearing down the house.  I know, I know.  It's just a house. She's been gone almost 13 years.  It's in bad shape.  It has mold and termites.  It can't be saved.  But none of that is true to me.  It's NOT just a house.  It's my home and it always will be.  It may be in bad shape, but if it had been taken care of over the last years, it wouldn't be this bad and it might not have mold or termites.  It might could have been saved.

It feels like I am being cut into little pieces, that part of my heart is being carved out of my body.  This was my HOME.  No longer can I go sit on the porch and pretend she's still there.  No longer can I go inside and pretend she's still cooking some homemade apple tarts.  No longer can I deny for a time that she is gone.  It's like I'm losing her all over again.  I want to crawl into a hole somewhere and sob for hours.  I want to go to sleep and wake up pretending this was all a nightmare.  But I  can't.

I miss Grandmother like I would miss my own mother.  She was a gentle, compassionate lady that I have always wanted to emulate (but fail at miserably).  She helped raise me.  She gave me warmth when I felt the cold silences at my house.  She gave me peace when all I had was chaos in my mind.  She gave me some of my best childhood memories.  And now, after her house is gone...

                    .........Memories are all I will have left.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Escape into Books

When I was little, my greatest accomplishment was learning to read.  Nobody ever really knew just how much that ability really means to me.  I didn't have any friends really, just a cousin that I got to see at school, and maybe on the weekends if we went to visit.  During summer, I didn't get to see anyone other than family, so my life was a little lonely.  But learning to read......that changed EVERYTHING.

Suddenly, there were new worlds open to me, new languages to learn, new lands to explore, new people to meet.  I could go anywhere, see anything, be anybody.  I could solve mysteries.  I could work on a farm.  I could travel to Europe.  I could be a doctor.  I could BE.  But this is only a small part.  This was girlish adventures into Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Amelia Earhart.

Then I grew up.  And I found out what else I could be.  Books still take me different places.  They are still an escape into other lands, but now I get to BE those people.  The hunky guys in the love stories are not the important part.  Neither are the locales where these stories take place.  What is important are the women.  I get to be those women.  Not their careers or "getting the hunky guy," but The Woman.

I get to be strong and confident and not seem to be cold or unfeeling.  I get to be vulnerable and fragile and not appear weak.  I get to be passionate and uninhibited without being ashamed.  I get to be smart and knowledgeable without being perceived as a know-it-all.  I get to inspire passion and possessiveness in just the right amounts. I get to be perfectly imperfect.  I get to be all the things I WANT to be and aren't.

I get to tell people off and stand my ground (which I'm too afraid to do in real life). I get to be woman enough to push my man to the edges of his control and yet control that same passion in him (have you seen me lately?  Not an inspiration to unbridled passion).  I get to be soft and vulnerable without being walked on (too scared to cry in front of anyone).  I get to have all of my feelings -- even the unreasonable ones -- completely and instantly understood.  I always know exactly what to say, and exactly what to hear.  In Books.

In books I am someone else.  I don't have whiny children.  I don't have children getting in trouble at school.  I don't have a husband that sometimes doesn't know how to react to me.  I don't have a job working with people I don't always understand.  I don't have to cook or clean or balance the checkbook.  I look fabulous in anything.  Or nothing.  I don't lose my temper.  I never run out of patience.

But I also don't get hugs and kisses from MY boys.  I also don't get to be held at night by MY husband who knows me and understands me (most of the time) and loves me anyway.  I don't cook and clean in MY home (not just a house).  So even though I love my books, and love getting to be someone else (and even someone I like better than myself); my books don't have what I love most about MY life.

I don't mind visiting someone else's world for a little while, and being someone else.  Sometimes their adventures put my life into perspective.  They get shot at while I get hugs from my children.  They run from danger while I run from a spider.

So even if I lose my temper, run out of patience, never know what to say, and don't always know how to interact with people, I will keep my life, my kids, my husband.  I'll keep my hugs even with the spiders. That is MY world. THEY are my world.  And I love them most of all.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Event

It's been 10 years since The Event.  It's been 10 years since 9/11.  Ten years.  We say it affected us all.  We say it left scars on the soul of humanity. We say it destroyed innocence.  It did.  It changed everything.  And nothing.

I don't have to explain "It changed everything."  But I do feel like I should explain "And nothing" just in case you think me unfeeling and cold.  After everything calmed down, life got back to normal.  We all at three meals a day.  We go to sleep at night.  We clean our houses.  We bathe our children.  We buy cars, change jobs, make new friends.  It changed nothing.  

But it did change everything.  None of us take for granted some things anymore.  We don't think that we are invincible anymore.  We know now that we CAN be hurt.  We know now that some WILL attack us.  We realize that we ARE just as vulnerable as everyone else.  It changed everything.

The Event.  At least of my generation.  For my parents' generation it was Kennedy's assassination.  For my grandparents', it was World War II.  Every generation has an Event.  Think about that for a minute.  Every generation has an Event.  Every Generation.  Now think about the future.  What will be The Event for our kids?  Our Grandkids?  Does that scare the hell out of you like it does me?

M is 4.  Z is 7.  H is 12.  How do I protect their innocence?  I can't.  How do I prevent their scars.  I can't.  How do I stand by and let them be hurt?  I can't stop it.  How do I prepare myself to watch them be hurt?  I can't.

All I CAN do is try to teach them right from wrong; good from evil.  All I can do is teach them sympathy and empathy; how to help others; how to support others.  All I can do is teach them how to handle adversity, to stay calm in the face of chaos, how to be strong.  It's not enough.  I want to do more.

I want to PREVENT their Event.  But I can't.  I can try to show them how I handled mine.  And I can try to show them how to handle theirs better than I did.

I pray God protects us all, but even more, I pray God protects our children.  Especially when we can't.

Tell me what you think.  Tell me what you think about our Event.  About our childrens' Event.  Tell me whatever you want.  Please

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Body Images

I have been hanging out at a new website lately.  For you ladies that haven't visited, you should really check out Scary Mommy.  Not only are her blogs hilarious, she has an anonymous confession board where you can say ANYTHING (and I really do mean "Any Thing!), and message boards where you and other women (and a couple men) can discuss other subjects, solicit advice, cry on virtual shoulders, or laugh until you hurt!  It is really a great site.

One of the topics on the message boards is about body image.  How we women feel about our bodies, how they have changed since we got older, since we got married, since we had get the picture.  So, of course, I got to thinking about my body (AAAARRRRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!  Noooooooooooo!).  How I see it, how my husband sees it, how other women see it.

Now personally, I'm not really happy with my body.  But if I've learned nothing else on Scary Mommy (SM), I have learned that most women aren't.  I've put on quite a few pounds since I had kids.  I've gotten a few gray hairs (for which I blame the kids AND the husband).  I've gotten a couple of chin hairs (definitely the kids).  And my skin certainly doesn't have the "dewy glow" it had when I was 16 and we won't even discuss the stretchmarks.

My husband says I'm still beautiful to him.  He swears when he looks at me he sees the 19 yr old beautiful, skinny, sexy, fiery girl he fell in love with.  He doesn't see what I see when I look in the mirror.  He doesn't see the older, pudgy, tired woman who stares back from the mirror after working all day, helping with homework, cooking supper, cleaning up that still tries to dig deep enough into reserves to find a little energy to show her husband she does still care.  Do I believe him?  Honestly?  Sometimes.

How other people see me is another perspective.  I really don't care how other men see me.  I don't want them to run screaming in horror, mind you, and I do get a secret thrill when I get a second glance and smile from a man; but I am WAY past the days of wanting to be the center of men's attention.  I have my man.  And he's not going anywhere (even if I have to chain him up in the basement).  It's the women that get to me.  And let's be honest here.  We never dressed for the men anyway.  Not primarily.  We wanted them to notice us, of course; but what we REALLY wanted was to be prettier, sexier, than the other women we were around.  We HAD to be able to compete.  Seriously, if we weren't in the top 10 best looking women in the room, we might as well go home.  Now it's just easier for me to STAY home.  Why risk it?

I use to look at older women walking around with too much make up on, wearing short skirts that would have looked great on a teenager, and hairstyles that just didn't suit their faces all in an attempt to look younger.  I would snort derisively and think, "Lady, just give up!  Grow old gracefully. It's a natural part of life!"  Now that the "bloom of youth," so to speak, has left me, I'm rethinking those harsh, selfish words.  No, I don't think anyone should attempt to look SO much younger than they obviously are.....but I don't see any harm in trying to deny a decade few years.  Really, what is a little hair color and new make up between friends?

I'm working on my self-image.  I'm dieting to lose the extra pounds.  I colored my hair (for the very first time).  I shave the chin hairs.  And I use moisturizer religiously.  I will never be what I was.....but I'm beginning to think that is okay.  I'm working on believing my husband when he tells me I'm still beautiful to him, because he doesn't lie.  I'm working on my self-confidence, because self-confidence is really what makes a woman sexy.  So maybe I'm not the most beautiful woman in the world (Miss Universe certainly doesn't have to worry about me giving her any competition), but I'm working on it.

I'm working on.....Me.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Love & Romance: For Women

A few weeks ago, my friend Rosie blogged about the 5 Love Languages and this got me thinking (dangerous, I know).  For those of you that don't know, I will list the 5 Languages here, and I've embedded the link if you want more information.  Basically, it says that people don't always communicate the same, and to minimize misunderstandings, it helps if people can recognize the other languages in case that is what their partner is speaking.  The 5 Languages are:

1.  Words of Affirmation
2.  Quality Time
3.  Receiving Gifts
4.  Acts of Service
5.  Physical Touch

This really does help.  For instance, my languages are more 1, 2, and 5.  I need words of affirmation, encouragement, love.  Most women do.  We are vulnerable creatures and we need that positive reinforcement.  I need quality time.  My husband has an irregular work schedule, so quality time is important when he can't always devote the time.  And physical touch?  I love to hold hands.  I love for my husband to put his arm around me in public.  Just the little touches that can say to me, "You're special.  I want the world to know you belong to me."

Men (or at least MY husband - yours may be different) tend to speak more 3 and 4.  I get little cards, flowers for no reason, and sometimes maybe he'll buy me that book I've been wanting.  These are all special and the definitely make me smile.  This is the language that is easy to interpret, assuming the gifts are given with the appropriate attitude.  Throwing a jewelry box on the vanity as a man walks by a woman will not earn him very many brownie points.

But 4 is the language my husband really speaks.  And I have to constantly remind myself of that.  He cuts the grass, takes out the garbage, gets the boys ready for school in the morning, and a myriad of other little things. To him these are Acts of Service he does out of love for me and our family.  To me, these things are chores.  To him, they are the deepest expression of how important he thinks we are.

So this weekend, I think I'll try to speak HIS language.  I'll clean the house, wash the laundry, and I'll even dust (which is a chore I detest above all others).  I will scrub the bathroom fixtures and bleach the kitchen counter.  I will perform Acts of Service to show HIM that I love him.

And then, I will look out the window and see him cutting grass (with a sinus infection), and it will warm my heart that he is doing that just for me.

Remember, we not only have to speak the Language of Love, but we have to hear it when it is spoken to us.  Sometimes you hear the most in the silence.