Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mommy & Me

To some of you who are reading this, you’re probably thinking this is about the fun play times that you get to spend with your little ones. Or maybe you’re thinking of the special time that you carve out for just you and your son or daughter – that bonding time on a Mommy date. Maybe you are thinking of snuggling with your tyke reading a favorite story……for the 7000th time – you know, the one that you have memorized and simply recite as you turn the pages.

Well… is not.

Before we became mommies, we were very different people. We were independent, active, athletic, stylish, artistic, career driven. We had time to read, time to have fun, time to relax, and time to create. We could focus on ourselves, fulfill ourselves and do self affirming things without guilt. We had a sense of who “Me” was.

But all of that changed when the little ones were born.

In that amazing, wonderful, miraculous moment that we gained the title of “Mommy,” “Me” went right out the window. Suddenly our lives transformed from an inward focus to an outward focus as our love and responsibility grew. Parties and pedicures turned to panic and poopy diapers. Worry and walking the floor replaced running with friends. Happy hour and cocktails were replaced by hiccupping and colicky babies. As the days with our newfound title passed, little by little, “Me” became a distant existence of the past.


There comes a point when “Me” comes around. She begins as a tagalong to “Mommy”. Then she tugs on “Mommy’s” skirt. Next she crawls up and rides piggy-back. Before you know it, she has your face in her hands, staring you in the eyes saying “pay attention to Me!” (Does this sound familiar?)

Do you recognize her? Do you embrace her or dismiss her? Once “Me” is there, what do you do with her?

In order to keep sanity, Mommy & Me have to find a way to successfully co-exist. Now I am not saying I am perfect, but as an AZ Mom of Many Hats – and mommy to three daughters, 12, 14, and 19, I have gone through the process of losing, finding, and incorporating my roles as mom and as myself.

It took a lot of soul searching, evaluating, and dedication (yes, it is OK to be dedicated to yourself when you are a mom…...) to find who “Me” was. I fought a war with guilt in deciding to embrace her. And it took a plan of action to assimilate my two selves.

Yes, I did change when I became “Mommy.” But the truth is, “Me” never disappeared. She was and is in the heart of “Mommy.” And although the roles will continue to shift throughout my lifetime, Mommy & Me will never part

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Backto School I go!

I have a kid in college. It’s hard for me to believe that I could possibly be that old.

At the time my daughter was considering her college options, she was discussing it with me, her mom, who had never set foot in a college classroom.

How could I help her make her decisions when I had no experience in making them myself.? How could she rely on me for sage advice if I had no clue of what she was going through and I had never had to navigate those situations. It would be like an inexperienced driver trying to coach another inexperienced driver through the Indianapolis 500.

So, I decided to change that. I enrolled in my local community college.

Now, I can’t say that I have had the same college experience I would have if I were my daughter’s age. I will never fully understand the whole dorm experience - my husband might take offense to me moving out and into such close quarters to other co-eds.

The experience I can say I have had is that I now have an appreciation for the process. I understand the heavy course load, the working through the red tape and paper work of enrollment and the exposure to ideas, mindsets, and philosophies that are different than my own. I understand the challenges, the triumphs, and the growing she will do in the next few years.

I have since earned my A.A. and transferred to a university speech communications program. In a way, her search for answers set me on a course to have my own questions answered.

I am so proud of my daughter, now a sophomore in college. She is facing the challenges of university life with grace, dignity, success……and the occasional call home to mom.

To my beautiful daughter: Thank you for asking the questions that spurred me into action. I love you very much and I know you will be successful on whatever path life brings you!

Monday, January 19, 2009

When Do You Call a Spade a Spade?

Of course you call a spade a spade when it is a spade.

Why is it then, that I just gave myself permission to officially call myself a runner? Is it because I have three timed races under my belt? Is it because I have reached a certain distance or a certain time in my runs?

Before the half-marathon that I ran earlier this month, Mr. Mom of Many Hats and I attended an expo put on by the sponsors of the race. While we were there, we picked up our race packets with our bibs, chips, hydration tips, rout maps - all the race "stuff" we would need for the race the following day. We also had the chance to peruse vendors of sports gear, health and nutrition supplies, sunglasses, filtered water, watches - you name it, if it was health or fitness related, it was there. (Not sure where the beer vendors fit it, but to each his own.)

As we were leaving the event, I turned to Mr. Mom of Many Hats and said "I guess after tomorrow, I can officially call myself a runner!"

He looked at me with a bit of puzzlement.

You see, for the last 18 months, we have spent most Saturday mornings running the same trails. For many of those months, he far outran me in distance and speed. But, while training for this event, we have run the trails and the miles together, side by side.

But still, I didn't FEEL like a runner. I didn't believe I was fast enough, elite enough, or conditioned enough to give myself that status. I didn't measure up. How could I claim that title?

He, on the other hand, has considered me a runner from the day I ran my first 30 minute session on the treadmill. He has seen me work, train, ache, blister, wear out shoes and fight the elements just like other "runners" do. He saw in me the qualities and characteristics of a runner, even though I didn't recognize them.

I learned a valuable lesson from him. Although I shouldn't rely on others to tell me who I am, it is important for me to try and look at myself through other's eyes. I can gain perspective, focus, and an appreciation for who I am and what I have accomplished.

I now know that you call a runner a runner when she is a runner!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Kids -You've Gotta Love 'Em

Seriously, we’ve got to love them. It must be in our DNA.

How else can you explain the fact that when your 3 year old sees you in the shower and exclaims “Mommy, your butt is big!” , you look at them with almost more love than you had before they reminded you of the girth you still carried behind you as a result of giving birth to them!

I think one of the most amazing memories of having small children was their inhibition. They would do things that as an adult, I would never consider doing. They faced most challenges without fear and without over-analyzing the potential effects of their actions. They took things at face value. Most of all, the things they said came of a place of curiosity, honesty, and a perspective untainted by life.

I wish sometimes that I could strip my brain of everything that I have witnessed in life and start with a fresh set of eyes.

Now I am not saying that I am unhappy, overly cynical, pessimistic, and untrusting of the world around me. What I am saying is that I would love to go back and experience life with that same curiosity and unobstructed view that my kids had when they were little. I wish that I could speak my mind and observations without the complex processing of considering if it is socially acceptable or whether or not it is going to hurt someone’s feelings. I wish I could face life with the same fearlessness that my children had.

I assure you that as my children grew, we did teach them what was appropriate and respectful. My teenage kids do not tell me my butt is big anymore. Hopefully they don’t think it is. If they do, they have learned that opinion is one best kept to themselves. But, I am grateful that I had the privilege to watch them become who they are through their wearing of the uncolored, untainted and un-obstructed lenses of a child.

By the way, my daughter’s follow-up statement to “Mommy, your butt is big!” was “But, Daddy’s is huge!” Not gonna lie….that made me feel better!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tongue Tied Tuesday

The Gnomes always know......
The key to happiness is just putting on a smile!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Put One Foot In Front Of the Other

As I have mentioned before in previous posts, I am a runner. In fact, next week I am running a 1/2 marathon with my husband on our 17th anniversary.

I am not a fast runner nor the most graceful runner. I don't live to run. I don't get that runner's "high" that people talk about. I don't read books about running. I don't do the special runner's diets before running events. I simply run to be healthy and to spend time with my husband.

This morning my husband and I did our last long run before the 1/2 marathon. We got up before dawn, charged up our i-pods, dressed in our warm running gear, laced our shoes, filled our water bottles, and were out the door while a gorgeous full moon still hung in the sky. We were off to spend some time in a mutual quest for the victorious completion of the race next week.

Sounds kind of romantic, doesn't it?

We ran 9 miles. We ran 9 long, hard, cold, painful miles. (Did I mention I don't get the runner's "high?)

Now if you ask my husband, I'm sure he would used different adjectives to describe the 9 miles. He would probably use words like easy, exhilarating, refreshing - nice words. To him running is easy. He has been pretty much a lifetime runner. He can run, and run, and run, and run- stamina never gives out. He can run until his body gives up. For him, running is all of those words that he would use to describe it. He does get that runner's "high". Whether it is cold or hot, terrain hilly or flat, he is hitting the pavement and loving every minute of it.

I, on the other hand, am relatively new to running. Besides getting to spend time with my husband, the part I love about running is being finished. To me, every step is work. This morning every step was work AND uncomfortable. My body ached, my hands were cold, the glare of the sun hurt my eyes. I felt like I trudged my way through the entire run.

But, as the old saying goes, no pain, no gain. I know that it takes hard work to get results. I know that if I follow through, I will not only feel great in body, but also in mind and spirit. Knowing the reward that awaits gives me the will to keep going. It gives me the will to just put one foot in front of the other until I have finished the race.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

You've Got to Accetuate the Positive!

When January 1st rolled around, many of the women’s magazines touted headlines with diet plans promising quick, easy and significant weight loss. From accai berry to cleansing, carb-counting to food combining, volume eating to soup diets, all claimed that by using their strategies, women could melt the fat and shed the pounds quick!

Like many other women, I have had to manage my weight throughout my lifetime. I was not a small and thin child - in fact I was the one that got teased about my weight in school. In my preteen awkward years, I still struggled with fluctuating weight, battled eating disorders, and was obsessed and consumed by the number on the scale and the number of calories on my plate. And even though my weight regulated some as I became and adult, after three pregnancies, I again had the same struggles with weight.

Up until I hit my 30's, most of my life had been consumed with food. If I wasn’t thinking about what I shouldn’t eat, I was thinking about what I could eat for my next meal. From the moment I woke up in the morning to the time I went to bed, I was in a constant battle with myself over what I did or didn’t, and should or shouldn’t have put in my mouth. During this time of my life….those diet fads were pretty appealing to me.

But, sometime in the last 10 years or so, something in my mindset shifted. Instead of looking at all of the things I was doing wrong with my nutrition and weight, I started looking at all of the things I was doing right. I realized that I had always been active, and if I got tired or didn't like a particular physical activity, I found a new one. I realized that even though I had obsessed about food for years, I did know what good nutrition and sensible eating was for me - limiting fatty and fried foods, limiting packaged or prepared foods, watching sugar, eating lots of fruits and vegies in lots of different colors. Shifting to the positive thought process instead of the negative one actually motivated me to push my health goals farther.

Now as I am about to reach my 40's I am in the best shape of my life. I am healthy and active - running my first 1/2 marathon soon - and have stayed at a healthy weight. By accentuating the positive, I'm benefiting my health, my body and my future.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

She's a Knitter, I'm a Twitterer

The other day I was sitting in Starbucks with my beautiful daughter. We were sharing some mother daughter time, enjoying coffee and chit-chatting, all the while each mindlessly engaged in our preferred hobbies.

I noticed that we were getting some pretty strange stares from the other coffee connoisseurs. As people would pass us, they would stop, look and move on. At first I thought they were admiring a mom and teenage daughter sitting together on a Saturday morning. But when a fellow patron stopped and asked me about my hobby, then I realized what everyone was looking at.

In front of my daughter was her yarn, needle and a partially knitted hat. In front of me was my new netbook with the twitter update page open.

I am sure it looked like a generational mix-up. My tech savvy, i-pod wearing, facebook socializing, computer generation daughter was engaged in a timeless and traditional hobby. And there was me, the close-to (but not accepting of) middle aged, hair-band era, learned to type on a typewriter, "how the heck do you text" mom, typing out 140 character updates faster than my brain could think.

I know this isn't some freaky-Friday kind of body switch or a case of each of us trying to be and age that we are not. When I think about it, this is a perfect example of cross generational learning. We have each been taught a skill from each other's generations. From mine, she learned to craft pieces of yarn into beautiful hats and scarves. From hers, I have learned to appreciate technology and cyberspace. We are both more understanding and well rounded people because of the knowledge we have shared.

So I say to all of those that stared - it's OK if She's a Knitter and I'm a twitterer.