Category Archives: Parenting

I Totally Get It Rene

Last week I was scrolling through a news site on my computer when a story caught my eye.  It wasn’t news about Ebola or the bombing of ISIS in Iraq.  It was a celebrity story about actress Rene Zellweger.  Rene Zellweger is an academy award-winning actress best known for her work in the films Bridget Jones Diary and Jerry Maguire.  She has always been considered a talented actress and one of Hollywood’s beautiful leading ladies.

For the last few years Rene has not been in the spotlight or in any feature films.  No one knows for sure why, but many suspect she needed a break from the pressure of Hollywood and fame.  Recently, Rene made a rare public appearance during a social event.  At the event she looked different.  She looked so different that some speculated she had plastic surgery to alter her looks.

I came across an article featured on The Atlantic titled, “Questions for Rene Zellweger“, by Megan Garber.   In the article Ms. Garber lists several questions she has for Rene.  She wonders about Rene’s appearance and why she looks different.  The article was supposed to emphasize Ms. Garber’s concern for Rene, as she is obviously a fan of hers, however her personal questions came off intrusive and judgmental.

Years ago I was one of those people who would have judged others for having age reversal procedures done such as Botox and plastic surgery.  I told myself I would only grow old the natural way and would never resort to doing things that would alter my appearance.  However, that was when I was younger.

Aging is not an easy process to go through. We are all grateful for the gift of growing older, but it is still hard to accept how much our bodies change over time.  It must be even more difficult for people who live their lives in the public eye who are expected to look a certain way.  I don’t know Rene Zellweger , nor do I know if she has recently had some sort of plastic surgery to alter her looks, but I would totally get it if she did.

I have heavy-lidded, small almond-shaped eyes like Rene.  I have contemplated many times having surgery to remove some of the skin on my upper lids.  Having surgery would not only make me look younger, but would allow my eyes to seem more open and alert especially in photos.

The reason I will not have the surgery isn’t because I think I should age naturally, but frankly because I don’t think I could go through the public scrutiny of having surgery and dealing with other people’s judgment for doing so.  Changing the shape of my eyes would make me look very different.   Knowing people were analyzing my reasons for the surgery would be too uncomfortable.  So as a result my eyes will stay the same.

Imagine going to a social function and having your face being analyzed by millions of people instead of hearing that people are glad you’re back to making movies.  Plastic surgery has a place in our society and so do all the products designed to make us look more attractive and younger.

I know several women who have had plastic surgery everything from a brow lift, eye lid lift, breast reduction, breast enhancement, chemical peel, nose job, and full face lift.  Do I think less of them for having surgery?  No.  Each person made a decision that felt right for them.  Do I wish we lived in a society that didn’t make women feel the pressure to look different than they already do?  Yes.  Women of all ages feel the pressure to be thin, dress stylishly, and look young and frankly sometimes if would be nice not to worry about how you look all the time.

Why does it matter if Rene has had surgery to make her eyes seem more open?  Why do we care if she had Botox to smooth her forehead?  How does judging a person’s choice for how they want to look make a positive difference in my life?  The answer is simple…it doesn’t.

I must finally be a grown up because now I believe decisions made that have no impact on other people are frankly none of my business.

Leave Rene alone, folks.  Stop talking about her face.  Let her get back to work and doing what she is good at…making movies.

Rene

 

Crazy Sort of Brave

In celebration of my 50th birthday my oldest son and I decided to do something different. Not your ordinary kind of different. But something so unique that most of my friends and family were shocked that we did it.

We jumped out of an airplane. Not alone of course. We were tandem to an instructor and jumped from an airplane at 13,000 square feet. For one minute we were in a free fall and then the parachute sail went up and we glided for 7 minutes to the ground.

When I posted our video adventure on Facebook for friends and family to view I was surprised how everyone response was the same. They all told me how ‘brave’ I was. During the entire experience I never thouht for once how brave I was. In my mind I was crazy for doing such a thing.

Brave is a special word reserved for people who do heroic things. Jumping from an airplane wasn’t really brave. It wasn’t heroic. It was just something most people who never do and a little bit crazy.

After hearing how many people thought I was brave I started to think what the word really meant. Does being brave mean doing something other people would never do? Does it mean doing something that involves a risk? Or does mean doing something that requires courage?

I know some very brave people. They have endured far greater fears and uncertainty than jumping out of a plane.

Here are examples brave people I know.

The people who must continue to live after a child they loved has died.

The spouse who is told they are no longer loved and is being left alone to raise the children.

The person diagnosed with cancer and is told they are terminal with only a few months to live.

A child who is being bullied and has no support from the school or community they live in.

The service men and women who are stationed in hostile environments protecting the freedom of people who don’t ever know who they are.

The child who removes a parent from life support because it’s their parent’s wish, but isn’t ready to let their parent go.

The child who must go home to an abusive household never knowing what may happen on any given day.

Being brave doesn’t always mean risking your life. Often it means continuing to live even when doing so seems difficult or impossible.

Jumping wasn’t the scariest part of the event. It was the fear of the unknown on the plane ride up that made me feel most afraid. The fall itself was thrilling. It’s the thrill of doing something so unusual I will remember most, not the fear.

We are all brave. Not because we risk our lives, but because we continue to live despite its’difficulties.

The Joy

A conversation between a mother and a little boy.

Mother and little boy are walking in a store.

Momma,  I’m tired.  Would you carry me?” – Little Boy

“Aren’t you a little too big to be carried around?  You were fifty pounds the last time we weighed you.” – Mother

“Fifty pounds isn’t that heavy.  You work out. You’re strong.  You’re an ox, Momma.” – Little Boy

“An ox?  Thanks…I think.  I may be strong, but you are a big guy now.  You’re seven years old.” – Mother

“Seven isn’t that old.  I can’t drive a car or watch Harry Potter films.” – Little Boy

“I know you aren’t that old, but still won’t you feel strange having your mom carry you around in the store?” – Mother

“No.” – Little Boy

“No?  Really?” – Mother

“No.  When you carry me around I get to rest for a bit and I am closer to you.  It makes me happy.  What’s more important than making your son happy?” – Little Boy

Mother is silent for a moment.

“Come here.” – Mother

Mother picks up little boy in her arms.

See.  it’s not so bad, right?” – Little Boy

“My arms hurt.  You’re heavy.” – Mother

“The pain won’t last forever, Momma.  Someday you’ll miss being able to carry me around in your arms.” – Little Boy

The joy of a seven-year old boy.

 

 

A Woman’s Choice

Before you read today’s blog post I think I better give you a warning.  Maybe not a warning, but at least a head’s up.  This blog post is a personal one.  It’s about women and women’s health.  It may contain some detailed information that if you’re a bit squeamish may make you feel uncomfortable.  I have several men who read my blog and I hope you will take the time to read it.  If you don’t feel up to it, I will forgive you.

Okay,  on with the show.

A few weeks ago I had surgery.  I had a hysterectomy.  No need to beat around the bush.  The surgery went very well.  As a matter of fact my surgeon said it was perfect.  I am not a fan of the word perfect, but let’s just say it went well.  Other than needing a nap around 3:00 pm I am back into my normal routine.

Hysterectomy surgery is a controversial topic for some people.  One in three women will have hysterectomy in their lifetime.  It’s a staggering statistic.

Prior to having my surgery I didn’t’ tell many people.  The reason I didn’t is because I didn’t want to have to explain my decision.  Woman at a young age have to make decisions about their health.  As much as I love being a women there are times I get tired of justifying my life choices to other women.

When a girl gets her first period she must make the choice of which brand of feminine product to use.  You wouldn’t think making this choice would be a big deal, but it is.  Team Pad and Team tampon begin forming at a young age.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but essentially do the same job.  It’s ridiculous.  Why the hell to people care what other people are using to soak up menstrual fluid?

As a woman ages she must make more personal health choices.  Birth control is one of them.  In college my friends and I all made our birth control choices.  (My mother knows I had sex in college so I can move on with the conversation here.)  Several of my friends were on the Pill.  I never was.  I didn’t want to take hormones that could alter my body’s function.  I didn’t know all the facts about the Pill back then I just knew it wasn’t the right choice for me.

Friends questioned my birth control choice.  I made the guys wear condoms and I used a spermicide.  As a matter of fact I have stuck with that same method of birth control for 30 years.  Yes, my husband and I have used condoms and foam for the last 20 years of our marriage with the exception of when were creating our boys. My birth control choice wasn’t always ideal.. but it did the job.

Using condoms as a form of birth control while you are single seems to be a good choice for most people, but choosing to do so when you are married makes people feel uncomfortable.  I can’t tell you the number of comments I have had to endure over the years about this topic.  I haven’t told many people (until now), but the few I have couldn’t believe my husband used condoms for so many years.  The reason was simple.  I didn’t want to go on hormones and my husband didn’t want to get a vasectomy.  It was our choice and we never had any problem with it.

Women make more decisions about health and lifestyle choices than men.  We must decide when or if to have children.  Will we use fertility drugs or adopt if we are unable to conceive children?  Will we nurse or bottle feed the baby?  Cloth or disposable diapers?  Will we work or stay home with the newborn?  You can see where this is going.  The list goes on and on for women and the choices they must make about the life they want to have.

Women are more compassionate then men (at least in my experience), but they are also much more judgmental.  I don’t think we mean to make other women uncomfortable when we share our options.  I think most women feel they know better and hope if we share our information the other person will know better too.

The problem is no should have to justify why they make a personal choice.  I guess that’s why I didn’t tell many people about my surgery.  I had a difficult time making my choice.  I’d been suffering with perimenopausal  symptoms for over three years.  I never had any issue with my period until perimenopause began.  But three years ago everything changed.

I developed fibroid in my uterus and cysts on my ovaries.  The fibroid caused me to have excessive bleeding each month during my period.  It was awful.  I can’t tell you how often I would have to leave a situation running to the bathroom for fear of bleeding all over myself.  I wore overnight pads on my period days and still they couldn’t  contain all the fluid.

Each month when my period arrived I was filled with dread.   I wore red pants to save me if an accident occurred.  In my brief case I carried a change of underwear and extra pads with me.  My life was stressful and unpredictable.

After a bad episode one month I decided to talk to my doctor about options.  She scheduled me for an ultra sound, MRI, had blood work, and a biopsy.  I was then sent to a specialist.  The recommendation was a full hysterectomy.  This means uterus, ovaries and fallopian tubes to be removed.  I didn’t like the recommendation.   It seemed too drastic.  There was no cancer involved.  I got another opinion and discussed my situation with trusted friends and family who had similar issues or who  only had my best interest in mind.

I spent hours doing research.  Searching every possible answer to each of my questions.  In the end I made my choice.  I could have tried several other options before having my hysterectomy.  I decided not to.  Removing my ovaries would mean I would to be on an estrogen patch for a while (another controversial woman’s choice).  The one thing I had avoided all of my young life was using hormones and now I would have to use them or go into full menopause.

Making my decision to have my surgery was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  Some women welcomed having their hysterectomy and others wish they could have one.  But for me I feared I would lose some of my femininess.  I worried what would happen if the surgery was unsuccessful.  I was concerned about the effects of the hormones and the risks they would have on my future health.  My uterus and ovaries had brought me great joy in my life.  How would I function without them?

Women make many choices over a lifetime.  Many of them are difficult and personal.  All choices have positive and negative consequences.  The key is to look at each choice and do what feels best for you. Because in the end you are the one who has to live with the choice.  As for giving advice to other women making a difficult life choice keep in mind what you would want to hear if you were in their situation.

I’m doing well.  Coping with my loss and working through hormone issues.  No choice is perfect, but at least I can say I made it on my own.

By the way, an interesting side effect of my surgery is no need for birth control.  If you see my husband smiling you’ll know why.

 

 

 

 

 

No Glamour

The other day I had a conversation with a friend of mine.  She asked if I was going to return to my job in the fall.   I told her I planned to return.  Her response to my decision was not exactly what I expected.

“I can’t believe you are going return to that job.  I could never do it.  Working outdoors in all sorts of weather, dealing with demanding parents, horrible hours, and the pay is awful.  I don’t know why you are going back?”

My friend’s comment made me wonder, “Does everyone think the way she does?  Do people think I’m nut to return to a job that seems to offer so little?”  I responded to my friend saying the job did have challenges and my decision to return wasn’t easy, but despite the hard work I felt the work I did was important.  For now, the job was what I was looking for professionally and personally.

Making a decision to stay at a challenging  job isn’t easy.  When you have a family it can make the decision more difficult.  I think what makes my job unappealing to some is there is no glamor involved with it.  Most of what I do isn’t visible to the public.  It’s behind the scenes.  And when people do see me they often see me dealing with difficult situations.

Not having a glamorous job reminded me of a poster I saw once.  It was a poster that featured from TV star Mike Rowe.  Years ago Mike was sitting with his high school guidance counselor discussing his future after high school.  During the conversation Mike mentioned he thought going to a two-year college, instead of a four-year one would be a good choice for him.  His guidance counselor told him that going to community college was beneath his potential.  Mike’s guidance counselor pointed to a poster on the wall.  On one side of the poster was a blue-collar worker; on the other side was a college graduate. Underneath, the text read: Work Smart NOT Hard.

Mike Rowe

Mike decided he didn’t like the message his guidance counselor’s poster said, so he created one that seemed to make more sense.  There are many jobs that most of us wouldn’t want to do, but what would happen if we didn’t have people to do them?

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After 15 years of being home caring for my boys I returned to the workforce.  If I waited until I found a glamorous, dream job I doubt I would be employed right now.  There is no shame in doing a job most others wouldn’t do.  Doing a job well is what matter’s most, no matter what the job is.

For now, the glamour in my life will have to be done with an updated wardrobe.  Sure hope my husband agrees.

 

 

 

 

Eww

 

 

A conversation between a mother, a father, two teenage boys, and a little boy.

Mother walks in to kitchen and sees teenage boy looking for food in pantry and little boy at kitchen table.  Little boy is pouring water into several containers.

“What are you doing?” – Mother

“Getting something to eat.”- Tall Boy

“Not you.  Your little brother.  What is going on with all the water containers?  What are you doing?” – Mother

“I’m being a scientist.  I am seeing what kinds of things can freeze in water.” – Little Boy

“Oh.  Being a scientist is good, but it sure is messy.  Here’s a towel to wipe up some of the water.” – Mother

Mother hands towel to little boy.

“It would be really cool is if we could freeze different types of liquid.  I bet we could freeze pee.” – Little Boy

“Eww.” – Tall Boy

“Why would you want to freeze pee?” – Mother

“Because it’s a liquid, Mom.  We have to see if all liquids freeze.” – Little Boy

Old Boy walks into the kitchen.

What are you guys talking about?” – Old Boy

“Freezing pee.” – Tall Boy

“Ha, ha.  You guys are weird.  If you freeze pee you could make ice cubes and serve them in drinks when friends come over to visit.” – Old Boy

“Yeah.  You could tell everyone it’s lemonade, if you add a little sugar.” – Tall Boy

“Ha, ha.” – Old Boy, Little Boy and Tall Boy

Father walks into the kitchen.

What is so funny?’ – Father

“The Y chromosome you added to our children is acting up again.” – Mother

A Year in the Life

It’s been a full year since I transitioned back to work from a full-time home parent to a working parent.  Many things have changed in the last year, including blogging taking a back seat to new demands.

My life has changed dramatically over the course of the last 12 months.  Some things for the better, some for the worse, and some things are still the same.

I loved being a full-time home parent.  As a matter of fact, I am not working right now because I work for a school and we are out for summer break.  I am extremely happy.  The boys and I have planned things for this summer, but our schedule is determined by what we would like to do rather than what we have to do.  Being a full-time home parent is kind of like being self-employed.  You can turn down jobs you don’t want and choose the one you do.

My transition to a working parent wasn’t easy.  It’s hard to know if the transition was hard because I had been out of work for so long or because the job I transitioned with was so challenging.  I think it was a little of both.  Being a perfectionist by nature I found the ‘learning curve’ for the new job very hard.  As much as I prepared I was never really ready for how stressful it would be.  Because my job is management, I had to quickly come up to speed skills used over 15 years ago.  Many skills were rusty and some forgotten.  Managing a program and other people while trying to play catch up wasn’t fun.  I felt overwhelmed all the time.

My family seemed to adjust quicker than I.  My oldest son enjoyed his role as driver to pick up his two brothers from school each day.  My husband planned and cooked meals, helped with homework, and managed to pick up the house a bit.  It was painful to come home stressed out each day from work and find the family happy and functioning without me.  I had always prided my work as a home parent and was surprised how quickly I was replaced.

For the first few months at work I made mistakes.  My expectations for myself and others were often too high.  I didn’t have a coping system for all the new emotions I was experiencing.  I did a lot of yelling, crying and complaining.  Most of which was done at home with my family.  My husband and kids had to endure a woman was wasn’t at home as often and when home she was an emotional mess.  I doubted my decision every single day and longed for my former life being home.

However, like most new experiences I became more familiar and things got better.  I started to experience success.  People made comments how I was making a positive difference.  My staff responded well to my direction.  I found I was more capable than I thought I was.  I developed friendships related to me and to my work, not things related to my kids.  I began becoming a separate person away from being a mother and wife. I could relate to why so many women wanted to return to work, so they could have accomplishments that were solely their own.

A year in the life of a working mom I have survived.  It hasn’t been all good, but there has been good in it.  The boys proved they were capable to doing more to care for themselves.  My husband proved he is able to be as nurturing as I am.  But most of all, I proved to myself that  I can work, being a wife, be a mom, not perfectly, but in a way that makes me and my family happy.

I made it through the first year.  That makes me pretty darn proud.