I’m becoming an old Southern woman and I have a ton of favorite sayings that now reverberate in my head , and some are becoming reality!! One of them is “This too shall pass- it may feel like a kidney stone, but it will pass” another is from the great Southern woman movie Steal Magnolias “I don’t know why- I’m an old Southern woman and I’m supposed to wear funny cloths, ugly hats and dig in the dirt – I don’t make the rules” but my favorite of all time and the one I try to live by and is by far the hardest is “It’s a whole lot harder to shine, than undermine”
I will admit during this Covid 19 quarantine “living to shine” has become more and more difficult!
We are all stuck in our homes with our family (if you have one or like them), 24 hour news, our Facebook feeds, Instagram, snap chat or whichever social media you choose. It’s easy to react to things you read and disagree. It’s always easy to react instead of scroll right over when your bored.
I have great friends on both extreme sides of the isle! You know what I have learned and understand is that ALL of you are just tying to decide how to help. Do we order take out from our favorite restaurants? Do we give to charities? Do we order from local businesses and not Amazon? What do we do and how do affect the world today? Sitting on our couch working or binge watching Netflix can’t be the right answer……
There has to be someone to blame- it must be someone’s fault! Guess what- there isn’t!! There is no way to undermine a virus!
There are the times I wish I wasn’t a history nut!! This is not the first bug that flies through the human race and sadly it won’t be the last. Quite frankly, we’re lucky it’s not more deadly than it is. Viruses and bacteria don’t care about politics – they do their thing and try to survive just like every other living thing, including humans. Viruses aren’t Republicans, Democrats, Communists, Fascists, or Socialists!! They are a germ pure and simple.
There is nothing political about a Virus! It doesn’t care about your ethnicity, your religion, your culture, or your age (other than your immune system and can it replicate and at what rate). They just want to replicate (think of it as a 17 year old boy with more hormones than brains) – that’s a virus or bacteria
Trust me I understand we’re bored!! I understand we’re isolated, sad and bored and in many other instances extremely financial stained.
I get it, but at some point we just have to look at the reality and do what we can to keep people safe. We all have our own gifts and strengths to use where we can.
Trust me I get the strain. It may not seem like much, but I miss things too…….
It took me years and old age to understand that the gift God gave me was to be an empath and I know that some days the greatest gifts I give to the human race are telling the lady who looks down “those are GREAT shoes” or “your hair looks amazing” or “great outfit” or the guy who looks lost in the store “what are you looking for- let me help” or the person that I don’t know who just needs to talk telling me their life story. (trust me it happens all the time at random)
I miss human interaction!! I miss handshakes and eye contact in order to see who people are at their core, I miss hugging people (that aren’t my family) I care about and love, I miss brightening peoples days with compliments! In a nutshell- I miss Shining in my own little way that makes me feel happy and I’m sure you miss yours also!!
So today, after two weeks, I wore ugly cloths and played in the dirt, hugged my family I could, and remembered this too shall pass- even if it feels like a kidney stone!!
I will have to opportunity to shine again after the danger passes!!
Today I had my coffee and watched the news. A new president was elected last night. This was the 8th one in my lifetime. For those history buffs- hush, Ford doesn’t count he wasn’t elected. Even though my brain refuses to believe it – I woke up this morning with the realization that I am now almost a half a century old. They say with age comes wisdom. After some reflection I’m pretty sure wisdom is just an accumulation of a long life of “Been there, done or seen that, and bought the t-shirt.”
Based on my “accidentally” giving you my almost age, I hope you’ve figured out I’m a child of the 80’s. Ahhhh the 80’s – the age of stirrup pants, over sized tops, shoulder pads, big hair, mullets and scrunchies. That age of Madonna pushing the sexual envelope, the brat pack and Reagan politics.
Wisdom hasn’t taught this child of the 80’s much and mine aren’t very prophetic, but here goes a few of my t-shirt collection:
- If you keep your cloths long enough they will eventually come back in style.
- My daughter left for school today wearing an over sized shirt and skinny jeans. The other day I saw stirrup pants for sale and don’t boot socks look strangely familiar? I’m convinced some day soon one of them is going to ask me for a Members Only jacket- I swear it’s coming. My daughter has actually said “I wish I was a teenager in the 80’s – it looked like so much fun and your cloths were cool” Really?? It’s amazing what a difference 20 years makes.
- There seems to be very few original thoughts left.
- The best way to know you’re old is to watch movies and TV. Love em or hate em the new women musical artists are still pushing the sexual boundaries and Hollywood keeps re-making all the movies and TV shows of my youth. From Splash to Mcgyver or from Ghostbuster’s to The Muppets- everything is a remake. I can’t wait for my grandchildren to be watching the remake of “Smokey and the Bandit” cause I am really curious what Colorado will be sneaking across the boarder next time. 🙂
- The American political climate swings like a clock pendulum.
- About every 15 to 30 years or so we have what we like to call a political “revolution” where the American people make a “change” Now depending on what side you happen to be on is when you think this magical “revolution” happens. The pendulum will either be on your side or the other. There will always be the staunchest of supporters on both sides, but just like on a pendulum it’s the weight or the undecided in the middle that keep it moving. We seem to enjoy giving Congress and the Presidency to the same party for a few years til it goes a little wacky in one direction or the other and then change it back to middle and a deadlock til we swing back the other way. It’s just what we do and in a sneaky way isn’t that kinda how the founding fathers set it up in the first place. Hmmm- maybe they were smarter than the average bear after all………………..
This morning many American’s woke up either elated or defeated. Many woke up sensing it was “their” revolution or “their” demise. Truth is- it’s probably neither. Simply put- it’s a swing and just like we were taught in physics – what goes up must come down. Like stirrup pants, shoulder pads and big hair- fashionable, even in beliefs, depends on the time. If your gloating or pouting just remember in the immortal words of my mama about everything- “This too shall pass” the only question is when or how long.
As I sat peacefully drinking my coffee, watching the election results and pondering all the intricacies of life and the “been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt” moments my daughter walks in complaining that her jeans wouldn’t stay down in her boots and did they make something to hold them down. Her face contorted with all the innocence of youth at my quick reply “Don’t worry – have I got a deal on a T-shirt for you – bring on the stirrup pants, shoulder pads and Aqua Net cause your hair isn’t big enough yet baby……………………………. 🙂
Many days this adventure of middle age feels more like I’m following something down a rabbit hole. Some days I feel like Alice in Wonderland floating and falling with no real direction- granted a much older and more wrinkled Alice, but a lost Alice just the same.
There are a few differences in my story- Instead of drinking something that makes you larger or smaller it now relates to wrinkle creams and vitamins. Instead of a Cheshire Cat talking to you it’s now your joints which talk to you like the rice crispy boys. Snap crackle and pop is the middle age equivalent of sit your ass down old lady. I also am no longer invited to a tea party by a mad hatter – instead I’m invited over for wine by the crazy friend, who in much the same manner as Alice, the madness keeps me sane.
I had always wondered why everyone was so upset by this journey down the rabbit hole of middle age. I knew the bones creaking was obviously loud and the running to the bathroom was beyond annoying. Yes- we should leave battling the Queen of Hearts to the young folk- now I would have to have a mid fight potty break. Excuse me evil queen- I know you’re trying to cut my head off and all, but I’m almost 50 with three kids and if I don’t run to the potty now I can’t promise it won’t be pretty and even you would be embarrassed. Who knew my frequent potty breaks might save my head one day???
I am starting to understand that middle age is actually not so upsetting as much as disconcerting.
Yes- disconcerting is the perfect word to explain middle age! It means to disturb the composure or confuse. I spend about 1/2 of every day now confused. Where are my car keys? Why did I come into this room? Where did I lose the kids? The questions go on and on, but the most “disconcerting” of all is…. When did everyone in responsible positions become MY age and younger.
I was always taught to be respectful to my elders, but I’m not so sure I was ever taught how to “BE” the elder. Being the elder seems petrifying!!! It makes my poor little brain do somersaults. ME being the elder means I’m the adult.
Yes I am aware that I am what the world calls”responsible” I am raising three parasites (children for those nicer than me) I own a home, I pay my taxes, hold a full time job, and most of the time do what is expecting of me to be a productive citizen. The scary part is “I DON’T LIKE ANY OF IT” I do it every day and I can’t help it, but my brain still wants to be the irresponsible 15 year old and just play.
I look around now and all the people in very important positions seem to be my age or younger. I take the parasites to the doctor and she seems no older than 18. I meet their teachers and I’m confused as to who is the student and who is the teacher. Hell- I flew on a plane recently where I could swear the pilot was no older than 16 years old.
I don’t know about you, but I still feel the need for people who are responsible for my life to at least look the part. The confusing part is NONE of them do- they all look 18. Yes – my brain logically knows they can’t be 18 and must be older to be qualified to hold our lives in their hand, but my brain still see’s them as such.
In my little twisted brain I look at all the people I went to school with and to me they haven’t changed a bit. My brain can still convince myself they look like babies. We can’t be the adults- surely there are older people for that job. This would mean I’m the elder and that just can’t be!!
The really disconcerting part is, regardless of my brain and it’s defense mechanisms, they are now preachers, doctors, lawyers, sheriff’s, congressmen, pilots and all sorts of important positions that in my brain should be held by people who should be A LOT older than me. The confusing part is nope- here we are all being the elders. It really must be our turn.
I often wonder if it’s just me or are they as scared as I am about this thing called “adulthood” Am I the only one that looks around and wonders if people see through the veil I carry as responsibility and know I’m just posing? Am I the only one who is playing the role of adult with NO IDEA of what I’m doing? Surely someone will realize I am just making this up as I go along and the elder police are coming any minute to take my drivers license and house because I’m not old or responsible enough yet?
Maybe this whole adulthood thing, like Alice in Wonderland, is just one really messed up long dream. Like Alice, maybe we are supposed to put on the armor and hold the shield and fight the evil queen, between potty breaks, regardless of the self doubts. Maybe the self doubts are just part of the journey through the looking glass of life. Like Alice, maybe any day now the cards will start flying and I’ll wake up sitting in the sun with no responsibility and feel the grass between my toes.
Oh wait – maybe that’s retirement……………. 🙂
I come from a long line of head strong, persistent, unbending, determined, unshakable and even sometimes stubborn, vain and obstinate women. These traits are as cultivated and propagated in Southern women as energetically as our “famous” manners. We grow up being taught that saying pretty please, thank you and I’ll pray for you is of the same importance as lip gloss and mascara.
We are coached early in our little lives how and when we pray for the neighbors, when saying bless their hearts is appropriate (nicely or not so nicely), you don’t leave the house without makeup and most importantly when and where to wear waterproof mascara. There isn’t southern woman alive that doesn’t have the “special” tube of mascara for funerals and maybe a wedding. You can bet your bottom dollar if you see a Southern woman crying that wasn’t prepared with waterproof mascara someone has messed up really bad and there will be HELL to pay. I would suggest to run…..
Southern women are reared knowing there are only a few acceptable reasons to show weakness and cry and even then you best not be sobbing in public. That’s reserved solely for those closest to you who can’t run away. This is typically our poor husbands who is completely screwed regardless of what direction he chooses. This poor testosterone filled man who typically is married to the Rock of Gibraltar now finds himself in an non win situation. He really has no good options. If he tries to fix it he is condescending and if he comforts he is babying (and you DON’T baby tenacious) The smart ones just quietly help around the house, hug us tight and send us to the friends for a good cry until it’s out of system.
We need a good cry as much as the next girl – we just DON’T like it!! Somehow we think it’s disrespectful to all those strong women who we come from to fall apart. It’s like we’re disappointing them or we will make them roll over in their graves. The most scary option is they’ll come haunt me. I can’t have that – if my granny came visiting and saw how messy my house is she wouldn’t just role over in her grave she would do somersaults and never leave. I already hear my momma in my head all day- I really don’t know if I could take her too…….
So after telling you all this – you can imagine my surprise the other day as I was driving alone to pick up a parasite (children for those nicer than me) when I found black mascara tears rolling down my cheeks. I have always prided myself on being a “tough ole broad” I don’t cry often and hate it sincerely. If I cry it’s usually a built up explode. Either my feeling are really hurt or I’m mad and trying NOT to kill you, but this was different.
These tears didn’t come from anger or my feelings being hurt, they came from a different place. My first thought was “damn menopause hormones”, but the honest truth is I think they came from a different place. These tears were coming from the sadness of the “light at the end of the tunnel”
I remember when I had three parasites, all in diapers, and I would speak to people who had teenagers and be jealous. I felt like my life was crazy and I saw no end in site. It was a constant life of “diapers, dinners, momma and honey” I remember saying “you have light at then end of tunnel and I’m not so sure I’ll survive til I get there” I never understood their looks of longing at my jealously.
As I sit here today with that light getting so bright in my eyes I need sunglasses I understand. I look up at all my parasites (they’re all taller than me now) and realize I have so little time with them left. I keep thinking it went too fast! Did I do a good enough job? Will they be a good citizen? Will they be good to their fellow humans? Will they be good parents some day? Did they hear me and will they pass on at least a little of what I taught them?
What I realized is the tears came from the realization that my “job” as a parent is almost over. It’s the understanding that this is the most significant job and role I’ll ever play and the only one that may have an impact in 100 years. The tears were rolling down my cheeks because they’re typical teenagers and sometimes I’m so proud my chest may bust and sometimes I’m so scared I can’t breathe. (if you haven’t ever had the experience of teaching a teenager to drive or gotten the call “mom I had a wreck” yet- my advice is your best bet is to keep them in diapers)
The tears were rolling because I’m at the point where I can only maneuver the people I’ve helped develop – good or bad. The heavy lifting of right and wrong and good and evil are past. Their basic emotional and ethic makeup is set. Now I can only pray they heard and choose to live the lessons I tried to teach.
The black mascara tears rolling down my cheeks, which were against every thing I had ever been taught, came from that blinding light or maybe it was only the menopausal hormones . Yep- I think my southern stubborn and unshakable self is going with menopause so the parasites don’t have hell to pay or need to run away any faster than they already are……………..: 😦
Recently I made a huge life changing decision. I don’t mean one of those life changing decisions that are an echo of New Years resolutions. You all know those declarations you make while you’re drunk at about midnight that last about- oh maybe 2 weeks. Those so called promises you make to yourself that you will work out everyday, lose 20 pounds or even that classic hungover New Years morning pledge that you will “Never drink AGAIN”
For starters, I’ve always refused to make a New Years resolution. Well other than the obligatory morning I’ll never drink again, but even that only lasts about twenty four hours. For all the women out there- have you ever noticed how a hangover and childbirth resemble each other. Once the initial agony and pain are over your brain seems to have memory blockers that obliterate the misery and cause you to forget. How else do you explain that we think it’s a great idea to have the second or third parasite (children for those nicer than me) or that we ever pick up the next drink?
Wow- it seems I just can’t keep myself from rambling so back to my big ole life changing decision.
I was raised by a southern woman who is what I refer to as the eternal optimist. She has always seen the best in people, even when I was young and thought she had completely lost her mind on occasion. She forgives easily, even when she shouldn’t. She has a strong mind, but has always refused to argue or convince others she is right. She smiles through pain and most importantly even when many in the past have judged she typically says – yes, but there but by the grace of God go I. Her favorite saying has always been “This too shall pass”. That statement rings in my ears even before she says it to me now.
When I was younger I always believed it was because she was just naive. She must of been raised under a rock. Obviously she really did fall off the back of a turnip truck yesterday. No one could possibly be this optimistic.
As I age though I am learning it’s not any of those things. The truth of the matter is she makes a choice everyday. She chooses to see the best in people and forgive easily- even if she doesn’t forget. She chooses to believe that even if today is a struggle tomorrow will be better. You know that Scarlett O’Hara phrase “Tomorrow is another day” She truly lives it and believes. She chooses to smile through pain. She didn’t fall of the turnip truck yesterday- she choose to stay on the truck and figure out how to cook them for dinner.
So today I made a decision to do the same. I deleted myself from as many negative things in my life as possible. The laundry and teenagers I have to keep- it’s some law of nature or something, but everything else had to go.
First thing I did was take myself off my neighborhood and all my local communities social media sites. Who knew it was that easy- you just go in and hit un-join. I made the decision that living with all my community neighbors would be a lot less unpleasant for me if I didn’t know for sure that so many were, what I lovingly call, bat shit crazy. It’s easier for me if I can still believe in a world where when people have a problem or concern they will get their lazy rear end from behind their computer and instead of condemning their neighbor or call the cops due to something silly they might actually be understanding or God forbid have an actual conversation with a human.
Second thing I did was understand that I am myself bat shit crazy. I just made the decision that I no longer feel any need to convince any one else that my brand of crazy is correct or honorable. I no longer feel the need to teach a class on how to do crazy, by what I believe is, appropriately. Trust me- I’ve thought about it a lot and it falls under the category of life I’ve titled-“teaching a pig to dance”. It just frustrates you and aggravates the pig – and fyi – pigs can’t dance- pigs just role in mud til their slaughtered. I don’t like laundry enough to stay that dirty and slaughtered just sounds bad.
I’m choosing to embrace my crazy and live in my own little dream world where people are nice and honorable. Yes- I’m not stupid and know that’s not always the case, but I’m “choosing” to believe it’s possible. I’m choosing to believe that people are by nature good. I’m choosing to believe the world can come back from the condescending and judgmental world that age has taught me it can be.
Maybe that’s what the true wisdom of age really is…… it’s the freedom to choose your reality and what you choose to pass on to the next generation. I’m choosing to pass on the recipes for the turnips- thanks mom………………………………
I was recently asked a question by a dear friend’s daughter, who is expecting her first child, which gave me pause to think. Her question went something like this “So far your children don’t seem to be complete assholes- How did you do it and do you have any advice?”
As I sat there with a look of what can best be described as astonishment my first smartass reply was “Oh they can be assholes- they seem to hide it well and usually reserve that “special” part of themselves just for me and I’m not done yet – they’re just teenagers so they still have time to turn”
I have always gotten compliments on their manners in public, their ability to be funny without being rude, and there in general ability to not be complete pains in the ass for strangers. I had just never been really sure they were talking about “MY” children. I somehow thought they were talking about something similar to “invasion of the body snatchers”
Spending most days trying to survive swimming through three teenagers and menopause I don’t have time to ponder the- what advice do I have to give? As a matter of fact, since I don’t believe I’m finished yet I do not believe I have the right to give advice, but here was someone who was earnestly asking me. She was asking “Me” of all people who honestly feels most days I am failing or at least winning the “worst mother of the year” award.
Since the question was asked I decided to let my brain wonder back through time and really take a gander at what the hubby and I had survived and actually accomplished to see if there was any words of wisdom I had to pass on.
Here is what I discovered:
We didn’t really have a plan…
I remember vividly sitting in the “childbirth and after” class after our first bundle of joy was conceived. FYI- the conceiving part is by far the most fun part of motherhood!! The first part was pretty standard- There really is only two ways this thing is coming out of me and neither of em look real fun. The first one came out the way nature intended with drugs and wasn’t fun. The second one came with no complications and NO drugs- even less fun. When the third one came with a C-section it still wasn’t fun, but I figured- hey, I’ve accomplished the trifecta of childbirth.
During the class I remember a woman who asked “I’ve read all these books and they seem to all contradict each other- what do you suggest?” I remember the hubby and I looking at each other and thinking – are we doing this wrong? We didn’t read the books. We seemed to be going with the “wing it method” We both believed this was just a baby human not science so I didn’t really think “studying up” would help. There really isn’t a test at the end.
During the infant stage we didn’t try to control or schedule. I was out of work so I decided to roll with this little human who had their own ideas of when sleep and eating was acceptable. Eventually I learned that crying is a language and if you just listen they’ll tell you what they need and when. Once I learned each of these little bundles of joys basic nature I could maneuver their schedules slowly to MY will. In the end I knew they were always going to bend to MY will – I just believe in the path of least resistance method. The youngest was a struggle and took much longer, but even his stubborn ass could eventually be maneuvered. I still am locked in a battle of wills with this little human after 13 years, but I have age and treachery on my side and I’m sticking with it- it’s worked so far.
The toddler years were fun with all three running around saying “NO” in delightful unison. I learned that age old trick, when all else fails, I’m bigger and it’s perfectly acceptable to get up and move you. I also learned that “mommy doesn’t talk to or deal with children throwing temper tantrums” is an acceptable way to deal with the inevitable realization of –“no- you are not getting your way” I call these years – establish a healthy fear of consequences – because some day they will be bigger than you and you will no longer be able to just move them and they better have a motivation to move themselves.
The years of 3 to 13 I called the “negotiation” years. I began the infant years as the mom who was going to be that mom who would intelligently explain to my children life and my reasons for when I said NO. It was a lofty idea until I began the “why” stage and found myself explaining a bug’s circulatory system twelve “whys” after the initial “why does that man have a chain saw?’ and later when I learned my 10 year old could get a job in any courtroom in the land because he had out negotiated me. I then quickly reverted back to the tried and true statement of “because I said so and I’m your mother” It’s not a pretty statement, but I’ve found it works every time and leaves no room for negotiations.
This leads me to today as I sit here right smack in the middle of the teen years with three hormone ridden kids stuck in the difficult period of “I want to be an adult and I’m not quite there yet” trying to decide what I’ve really learned and the phase not being over so I’m not sure – ask me in another 7 years after they all hit their 20’s and maybe I’ll have a clue.
This brings me back the initial question that started this trip down memory lane. How did you do it and what advice to do you have to give?
Well here you go……..
Don’t read the books, don’t take advice, and in general don’t listen to anyone other than your significant other- if you have one- and that little human or humans you have been blessed with raising. No one else matters- do what works for you and your family. The true reality is they joined your life – not the other way around. They are more durable than you ever imagined. If you love them and believe you are always “the worst mother ever” and striving to be better most days you are probably doing it right. I say most, because some days will require everything you’ve got just to survive – trust me- it’ll be ok -you can strive again tomorrow.
So there ya have it- my advice or lack thereof to those of you just beginning the wild roller-coaster ride called motherhood. Basically there are no hard and fast rules. The ride and rules are as diverse as each family and each individual child. You get to build and design your own ride with its straight sections and bends because believe you me the kids will design all the giant upside down loops that put your stomach in your throat you can handle. The ride will be fast and furious, it will thrill and scare you, but just like any amusement park ride it’ll be over before you’re ready or had time to blink.