Saturday, May 11, 2019

Mother's Day for the Motherless

'Tis the season to celebrate mothers. It is a time that I choose to honor and think about some of the strong women in my life who filled a void in my life that felt unfillable. I try to take a day that is so deeply rooted in pain and heartache for me and focus on the positive: God didn't give me a mother but he did give me some amazing women to look up to. He gave me a guidance counselor who wasn't afraid to tell me that hard truth: "Not all women are meant to be mothers." He gave me a friend who loved her children so fiercely that I knew what I wanted when I had my own children. She showed me what it really meant to love a child and be a mother. He gave me a mother-in-law who showed up, who took me prom dress shopping, who had expectations for me, who told me I could be somebody, who believed in me so much that I began to believe in myself. He gave me women who have equally struggled with the relationships with their mothers so I could have someone to talk to. And yet, it still stings a little not to have had an actual mother on a day when everyone celebrates how wonderful theirs is. It takes a lot of effort to keep the jealousy out of my heart.

The world we live in is constantly trying to reevaluate the stereotypes we place on gender roles but it doesn't feel like the stereotypes surrounding bad parenting have changed at all. Did you ever notice that we live in a world where phrases like this exist unquestioned: "She'll always be your mother" and "Having a child doesn't make you a father." Have you ever heard anyone say, "He'll always be your father" or "Having a child doesn't make you a mother"? It is such an extreme contradiction that we hear the first two phrases all the time, but I'd be hard pressed to find a single person who has heard the reverse. Why do we pretend that the mother-child relationship is the one that really matters-cannot be severed-because a woman physically brought you into the world? The truth of the matter-you equally could not exist without your father. No one should suffer because of biology because the truth of the matter is that my "mother" was never really a mother. If she was, those years existed in a time before my mind was old enough to remember them which of course contributes to a great sense of doubt as to whether they ever existed at all. The memories that I have from the time that I was young center almost entirely around my father: time in his workshop, picking fruit, tending to the garden, following him around on the farm, being rescued from the angry geese, feeding and rescuing goats, and working on forts, tree houses, and rope swings.

We need to stop pretending that the woman who gave birth to you is automatically a mother.

Mothers don't:
  • Call you fat when you are underweight
  • Tell catastrophic lies to manipulate you 
  • Try to get you to hate the parent who has never shown you anything but love
  • Use you to hurt others
  • Tell you how magical their life would be without you
  • Try to have serious conversations only when completely intoxicated
  • Rip you away from family to "win"
  • Feed an addiction over feeding a child 
  • Encourage activities like drinking, smoking, and drugs
  • Only show up intoxicated
As a mother for fourteen years now myself, I know that being a mother isn't all about fun and being a friend. I know that it is about showing love, creating a relationship based on truth and trust, and setting boundaries. It's about doing things together to share experiences and bond. It's about consequences and follow through. It's about fighting for what you know is right. It's about creating a balance in life between self, wife, and mother. 

I don't say-or rather write-all this because I want someone to look my life and feel sorry for me. That's not what I want at all, especially because I have a wonderful, beautiful life filled with so many people who love me. I have created a life for myself (with the help of some amazing women) that is light years better than anything I imagined for myself growing up and dreaming of starting my own family. I say all this to say, don't let society guilt your into thinking that you have to honor, cherish, worship someone for giving birth to you. Reserve those feelings for the real women in your life who were there and deserve the honor. Also, I say this to explain why Mother's day is also a day of mourning for me (and plenty of other people out there) for the mother I never had.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Quiet Moments

This past week has been hard. There is no other possible way to describe it. It was hard. It is hard. It will be hard for a while. Losing former students is hard. If it is this hard for me, I cannot imagine the pain and anguish of these families. Unfortunately, this is not my first losing a former student, but this is the first time that those students sat in a desk in my classroom just a few short years ago.
Every day things continue much like they did in the days before these lives were cut short except in those quiet moments. The minute in the hall when all of the students are in their classrooms and my mind drifts there just long enough for tears to well up in my eyes before I push it all back down and walk into my classroom with 20 fresh new students. The quiet time in the car between leaving work and picking up kids. Those 4 minutes between work and daycare are just enough time for my mind to drift and my heart to ache. The time after everyone else is in bed, the TV is off, and I am just alone with my thoughts. That's when the tears fall. My heart is broken for these kids and their families.
My heart hurts to think of the world without these wonderful souls.
I think about how much Brooklyn made me laugh. I think of her smile. I think of her sass any time someone tried to call her Brooke. I think of the life that was ahead of such a wonderful young lady and it hurts. So much. I am so sad for her family and for the pain that they feel. I am also so grateful for their decision to donate her organs in the face of such a terrible loss. I have friends who are alive and healthy because they were the recipients of an organ donation. It truly is the gift of life. Her spirit will live on through the people that were saved by her organs.
I think about Izzy. I think about her wild hair and how it fit her personality to a T. I think about her grin-it wasn't a smile-it was a grin, and it made you want to smile. I think of her love for animals. I think of her fresh and unique perspectives in class discussions. I think about her senior project and her choice to study happiness. She researched about happiness. She wanted to know more about what makes people happy, and I highly suspect that she did it to infuse more happiness into the world. Take good care of your animals, give them a good snuggle, it's what Izzy would want you to do.
I think about this, I think about all of this and I try to think about Morrie (Tuesdays with Morrie) and his perspective on death. No one knows how much time they will have on this earth so please make the most of every moment. Don't live life with regrets, spend time with people not with things. Right now the number one quote that comes to mind is: "Death ends a life, not a relationship."
To the families of the kind souls gone too soon, I pray for you every day. I pray for peace in your heart and I pray for strength for you to make it through life without one that you loved so dearly. Your loss is immeasurable. They were so loved and cherished. They will never be forgotten.
Finally, to anyone reading this: drive carefully, keep your phone out of your hand, and buckle your seat belt because someone cares about you, and they will miss you terribly if you are gone.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Inked

Wednesday it finally happened! After deciding three years ago that I wanted a semicolon tattoo, I actually did it! How did I finally make it happen? Well, it started with our annual bowling ladies night out on Wednesday March 28th. Three ladies who had had a few drinks made a pact to get tattoos together in the summer. Two of us (Regan and myself) did not have a single tattoo but our friend Jordan had some experience getting inked. We decided that we were going to go together and get a tattoo. We kept talking about it throughout the rest of the bowling season and finally, through a little group text this summer, figured out a date that worked for all of us.
Fast forward to Wednesday when we had some plans to eat lunch, shop a little, and get tattoos. I would be lying if I said I wasn't a bit nervous. I think I was more nervous-excited than anything else. I wasn't really worried about the pain, but I was incredibly curious about how it would feel. I sent the artist my design and Jordan sent her design and Regan's. He got our images ready to go and I, the newbie, got to go first. I was incredibly excited...it was FINALLY going to happen! I was getting my semicolon tattoo. From the moment he transferred the image onto my wrist, I knew that it was exactly what I wanted.
Tattoo all fresh and new

The whole process start to finish was much quicker than I expected. I am totally in love with the finished product! Here is a little explanation of the whole tattoo. First, the semicolon-it's yellow because yellow is my favorite color and has been since I was old enough to have a favorite color. It has never changed! The punctuation, for those of you who may not have read my original blog post on the topic, is not because I am an English teacher, but rather because I suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts for years, silently, and I survived. I could have ended my life, but I chose not to. Because of that choice, that semicolon, I am living the wonderful and beautiful life that I have today. Just typing and rereading that line brought tears to my eyes. I wish more people could see this happiness that's waiting on the other side. Moving on before I get too emotional and can't finish this post...The daisy is my favorite flower, I love it for its simplistic beauty. It's a flower of possibilities. Each color in the petals represents the people that I love-blue for Matt, green for Cohan, red for Camden, and orange for Cyver. Together, the five of us, make a pretty damn beautiful rainbow. There is nothing more magical than that.
I also made myself a matching car decal
Pretty Pink holographic car decal

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Riding, Crafting, Girl's Day

It's time for another Amerithon update! Camden and I have been working on this challenge for just over one month and we have hit two more milestones since my last post. Our total mileage so far is just over 450. Individually, I have traveled 250 since July 4th. Camden does a good job of helping me push myself (like making me go up to the top of the bridge instead of just sticking to the bottom). It is exciting to see all our miles add up. I have been averaging hitting one individual milestone every other week which is pretty good progress. I am going to miss my bike rides in the morning with Camden but I hope I can keep getting miles in until it gets too cold.

I do think I could easily be putting in more miles if I spent a little less time in my craft room, but I have been having fun prepping signs for my classroom walls. I have been enjoying my new Cricut-making shirts, signs, car decals...I can do a lot!

I am VERY excited to announce that I will finally be getting my semicolon tattoo! Three years ago I wrote a blog post about mental fitness. In it I mentioned that I found something that I actually wanted to get a tattoo of. TOMORROW is the day! A couple of friends from my bowling team and I are having a girl's day in Sioux Falls with lunch and TATTOOS! Two of us will be getting our very first tattoo and I think it is safe to say we are both excited and nervous. I have my design planned out although it did take me most of these past three years to nail down exactly what I wanted. I am excited to share the final product with you all.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Kicking Butt and Feeling Sore!

Camden and I have officially been on our Amerithon journey for three weeks now and we are going strong!
Our team stats-the blue markers on the map show our team progress as well as out individual progress.
We have traveled just over 300 miles so far and we are only 12 miles from our next landmark. I will say that it isn't always easy. I am not a huge fan of hill that I have to conquer every morning right at the start of my ride, but I am sticking with it! Camden helps push me to try to keep up with him but I also know that without me he'd cover twice the distance on his new bike. The kid is seriously fast even going up hills!
On Monday his baseball coaches arranged a mixed game of kids and parents because their last game was rained out. Cohan and I both joined in on the fun and I was a little overly competitive. I was able to score 2 runs and beat them both at second base-Cohan blamed Camden and Camden blamed Cohan for not getting me out. Overall, it was a blast followed by pizza and time to play at the park. Then I sat down when we got home which was apparently my worst idea ever. My legs, hips, shoulders, and knees ACHED! I didn't want to get up to go to bed. Waking up the next morning was no picnic either, but I did hobble over to my bike and force myself to go up the hill and put in over 5 miles. I also pushed myself to walk a mile and a half while Cyver had swimming lessons. Pushing through the pain wasn't easy but it is worth it! I'm feeling a bit less stiff today but still struggled with the hill a bit. Seeing my miles add up in the tracker sure makes me feel like I can do anything. 

Monday, July 16, 2018

Almost Two Weeks Done!

On Wednesday, Camden and I will have been working on our Amerithon Challenge for two full weeks. So far we have hit two milestones and are about halfway to our third. We are having a lot of fun and staying motivated! We have made it 162 miles so far.
Camden and I like watching the fly over videos that show us the virtual journey that we are taking. He also likes reading about the landmarks that we hit along the way. He is really looking forward to earning the first piece of our medal but that is still quite a few miles away. Last week's heat slowed us down a bit so we are hoping the cooler weather this week will motivate us to pack in some more miles!
If you are interested in giving the challenge a try, I'd highly recommend it. The facebook group is really inspirational, and it is fun to read about people finishing their Amerithons that they started in 2016 and 2017.
I can't wait to see how far we go by the end of the summer!
My Shirt
Camden's Shirt


Shirt Backs


Thursday, July 5, 2018

AMERITHON!

July 4th my middle son Camden and I embarked on a super cool journey together-we started the 2018 Amerithon Challenge. I came across the facebook page for Run the Edge and started reading about their challenges. Camden is a super active kid and I am someone who needs a little extra motivation! I thought that this would be a fun thing for the two of us to do together. I registered us for the challenge and got our individual accounts up and running last night. We are using walking, running (Camden not me!), swimming, and biking miles to complete the challenge. In all we will need to get 3,521 miles together which equals the total distance from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Washington Monument. Our team name is Pizza Party! If I have any friends that want to follow along on the journey, I will be blogging about it here and you can follow us if you are also doing the Amerithon Challenge. We ordered one basic kit and one kit that comes with the cool swag to help us track our journey. Out next milestone is 25 miles which we hope to hit today! We didn't order an Amerithon shirt as they don't have kid sizes and I figured I could just make us some on our own. I anticipate that this will be fun and challenging...and motivating! Wish us luck!