Chicken Coop Time

Published January 7, 2017 by katiethemomlady

I haven’t written my own blog entry in  a while but have used my wordpress account to publish a few items that my older son has written. Stellan, who I could describe in many ways, is also the least academically motivated; which isn’t to say less capable in any way. For him, school is a means to an end, unless of course he’s trying to convince his father and I of something that triggers a new obsession, passion or idea. After we picked up his brother from a sleepover this morning- a home that has an amazing, well crafted chicken coop, Stellan immediately came home and started researching. He wrote the below paper to try and convince us too.

 

*Side note- It’s very, very unlikely to happen but his efforts, nonetheless, are noble.

 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1xmD1jUZ2ZY8He0KQDtc2xX_kk4iFIKTxM4awR6mYW3M/edit

Revelation

Published October 16, 2016 by katiethemomlady

483115_10200284455103506_1538040036_nI read a personal memoir recently and the truths spoken were so bare, intimate, inspiring. So truth-y, it breathed a kind of fire that could only scorch because it touched the seams of my soul. The memoir was called “Love Warrior: A Memoir” by Glennon Doyle Melton and it was primarily about the authors own self discovery with her eating disorder , alcoholism– and her marriage. I have never backed away from sharing my own struggles with my personal body image “issues.” I cannot fathom a woman on this Earth who doesn’t dip their toe into that lie of self loathing and hate we all tell ourselves because being curvy, or plus size in a world that wants us to be hungry is the norm.

So a few weeks ago, my mother and I were driving to a grocery store and she remarked about how much she loved my hair when it was a shorter. For naturally curly-haired people like me, shorter hairs means a daily tug-o-war with hair that has it’s own separate personality… and landing space when the the humidity spikes north of 50%. But shorter hair also means a rounder face and I told my mom so. We had a rather open dialogue that went like this:

Mom: So you’re letting your weight dictate your hairstyle?

Me: No. Not really at all, I just like it longer right now.

Mom: (More rhetorically, than actually) Why don’t people like you and I want to do something about it?

**meaning, women like her and I who love food more than we love exercise on stationary equipment.

Me: Because I’m tired of believing this world doesn’t or won’t accept me for who I am and quite frankly what my jeans size or scale says shouldn’t dictate that either.

As someone who has literally been all over the place body size-wise, where am I today might and likely won’t always be where I am. But in the times where I’m not hungry, I want to feel just as beautiful, worthy and confident as the times I am. I know that getting to a different shape, doesn’t necessarily mean “you’re hungry,” but I also know it means you can’t eat a full on Chinese buffet two times in one week.

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High school

In the size I am, which I have been for a little over a year, I  have actually started to truly like some things about it. #1) I like having an actual ass. Like a real booty that’s more wide than bodacious, but nevertheless, it’s there. #2) I have bought some super cute clothes that are flattering and make me feel good. When I used to gain weight, I never would buy myself anything new- and by new, I mean from Goodwill, because thick or thin, that is my game. But I buy just as many clothes for myself now and I don’t care what # is on the tag. The size does not tell me I’m a good person or a bad person or a good mother, employee, wife, friend. #3) I have more insulation to keep me warm, because Michigan; we need it. #4) I literally feel like my lap can hold more children. Who can complain about that, especially since all 3 of my now humongous BOYS still like to pile drive the cuddle time. #5- and maybe the most important of all) I just DGAF…Like literally I- don’t. give. a. f%^k. Maybe that’s more the blessing of being 36 and happily married. I keep wondering if I should get on an anti-depressant because maybe then I would GAF. But, naw.

So yesterday, I did get my haircut. I walked in to a very swanky salon with stunning women waiting for the feeling of unworthiness to wash over me as I looked at thin, fashionable stylists and guests go about their daily beautifying rituals with ease. But it never came. I looked straight in the mirror, smiled, and said, “Take about 6 inches off please.”

 

Hello, Good-Bye

Published May 25, 2016 by katiethemomlady

I have written you a thousand letters in my head, Peter since the day  you were born. Sometimes I actually put them to paper. Sometimes I say them out loud to you. Sometimes I keep them close just for me, because parenting is so impossibly and wonderfully hard and you are my first. My parental insecurities do not need to become your childhood insecurities. The tides of change are coming again, not just because you have light facial hair, grew another 3 inches and wear men’s shoes. Not because deodorant is not just a ‘maybe if you remember’ but a ‘must so we can breathe without a gas mask’. You are leaving the comfort and familiarity of a school you’ve known since you were 5, a place I thought you would surely know until you were 15, until this wonderful opportunity came your way to learn in a place I know you’ll learn best and find your wings. This is my letter to you.

Dear Peter,

I found Cross Creek through a co-worker and friend. You were only 2 when she told me how much she loved it for her second grader and how when you became school age, I should pursue it for you. I kept that information in my back pocket and when you turned the golden age I went on a tour and fell in love with it just as she had promised. The teachers were so kind, and the walls were full of vibrant artwork. The Young 5’s teacher you would have was energetic, renowned for her teaching habits, beyond experienced and passionate. Everything you want in a person who will spend 35 hours a week with your baby. Every teacher you have had has been equally wonderful to you. Your 5th grade teacher called you her bright star. Your third grade teacher cried when she told me how well you did on your essay about perseverance. This is where you went. This is where you have been. This has where you lost all your baby teeth, had your first crush, ran your first race, played your first instrument. This is where I have met half of my friends. This has been your learning home away from home. A place I knew you’d never be bullied or unsafe.

There is no real exception to this except that as time has gone by my sweet boy, you grew to be a solemn person who thought deeply and on a different level and didn’t understand when others didn’t process those same feelings. You’ve always been happiest in your own world, on your own terms and with the comfort of your own thoughts but it’s been hard to find the safety net of acceptance among your peers in that.  Not everyone, especially 12 year olds, like to lay down in the snow and look up at the clouds and wonder about life’s existentialism.  You ask thorough questions about how meth is manufactured, how babies are actually born and the area of a prism… You ask these things on a level I can barely answer yet understand without my best friend Google. Peter, you always want to know more.

I have found a school where your big questions, thoughts and dreams will likely come true. You may never want a gaggle of friends around you to discuss the land features of Egypt or the political unrest in Iraq, but if you do want that you’ll find them in this new place. A place that won’t just answer your questions, but understand why they’re asked to begin with because 99% of the kids that go this school are just like you. This school is big, intimidating and with the brightest minds in West Michigan, but you will thrive there because you’ll be challenged to always do your best and lifted up when you feel like you can’t. These next years may be hard but they will build upon the wonderful years you’ve had.

I want you to always know that watching you grow up has been one of my life’s absolute joys. You are not just special because you’re my son but because this world is better for having people like you in it who want to contribute and discovers life’s mysteries. I will not hold you by two hands anymore but always in my heart. Don’t look back on leaving your school with sadness but with fond eyes and a grateful heart that it has brought you to a place where you can confidently springboard to your next chapter. I love you more than words could ever describe and I will always find and look for what is best for you. I’m more than your mom, I’m your biggest fan and I can’t wait to see what you do next.

xo,

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Mental Health Day

Published February 9, 2016 by katiethemomlady

Back in the day, as in 20 years ago, I was a self proclaimed extrovert. I needed people around me all the time helping me process my emotions and affirming my existence. True story. Apart from using the bathroom, I did not seek or care for “alone” time. Not only would I talk endlessly to my friends at school all day, but I’d come home and talk to friends and boyfriends all hours of the night; literally sometimes until 1 A.M and about everything, nothing, love, hate and all emotions in between. I needed to be plugged in, hashtag #allthetime. My mother, on the other hand, is private and reserved and I believe often took my openness to her quieter stance on life, personally.

But I get that part of her now in a way I never could and I place that change squarely on the shoulders of motherhood. Living out loud takes on a whole need meaning when babies/toddlers/children place new things in your life like the Disney Channel, Caillou, temper tantrums that have literally pierced my eardrums, wrestling tournaments that include so much screaming (mine included) Madden games and a real life drum set. As in, inside my house. (Side eyeing my husband so hard). I  have to take  10 deep breaths when my kids are all screaming over each other in a fight for the TV remote, or all simultaneously requesting ketchup with their fish sticks or calling each other penis heads because so and so kicked my seat. Lord help me- THE NOISE.

If mothering is not a verb, it should be, because it’s a constant stream of motion either in the literal sense or the figurative band-aiding of children’s (e)motions. Adulting should be a verb second to that. In my job, I spend a good deal of my day putting out other people’s fires; fires they sometimes create themselves, sometimes not, but I have to show up with a professional face and demeanor and be polite, courteous and understanding all at once. Basically, what I am telling you dear friends, is that sometimes when the shit storm of life that comes by way of #1 -my kids never ending demands and keeping three small humans alive, and #2- a job with never ending demands and #3- trying to fit the husband, pets, running a household, keeping groceries in the fridge, and my very own teeth brushed every.single.day- it is wise and safe to take a mental health day. A day whre you can literally do nothing but eat 15 leftover chicken wings doused in hot sauce and not have to feel guilty and piggish in front of anyone, or more importantly share. A day when you can go the store without children begging for sour cream Pringles and Mamba candies at the check out lane. A day where you can spend 1 hour in the shower and not worry that someone else needs that hot water.

I am not ungrateful for the beautiful noisiness of my life. There is nothing or no one in or out of my life I would change or take away. I know, I KNOW, somewhere, someone is praying for the very things I have and take for granted daily. But I also know we all need a break from the things we have and the things we love and the things we wouldn’t trade for the world, to take care of ourselves. If that means hiding from the world, taking one mental health day on occasion to regroup and hear nothing but the sounds of own brains coming back to peace, I promise on my death bed I won’t regret it. And neither will you.2:9

Kids These Days

Published January 27, 2016 by katiethemomlady
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Courtesy of Megan Cash photography

I had been crafting this blog in my mind before Sunday. I had been sitting on a mountain of self righteous indignation because in the tide pool of parenting I was riding the high. This is how it happens: You have multiple children and it’s a promise that one of them is the lone sheep found deep and wandering needing extra looking after, patience and guidance. Sometimes you hit the sweet spot and everyone stays together. THOSE days are the ones you live for. And I was there for like ten minutes, 9 days ago.

Then a full moon – side note: I’m a big believer that full moons really do re-wire children’s brains and make them level 10 psycho’s, came round.’ (TMI), my lady time coincided with that planetary disaster and Corey was basically begging me to stay in my room where he would just throw Cheeto’s and chocolate from a safe distance while the kids killed each other with Nerf guns and called each other penis heads.

I’m building up reality before I did deep into what I am seeing among ‘kids these days.’ I’m not from the generation that walked to school 5 miles one way with a mink muffler covering my pocketed hands. But I did use Wonder Bread plastic bags as boot liners and I lived off bologna and Miracle Whip for lunch 99% of the time. My brother, sister and I didn’t have endless access to electronics and my parents expected we spend pretty much every waking hour not in school or sleeping, outside: like literally making forts, playing basketball or not getting under their feet. I knew they loved us. I also knew our lives were on the line if we sassed them, our teachers or anyone 5 years north of us age-wise. If my parents spanked me or took away a privilege it never once crossed my mind they didn’t love me. I might have thought they were unfair assholes, but every nine year old thinks their parents are unfair assholes from time to time.

I don’t know what happened to parents, many if not most, who grew up in similar childhoods like mine becoming afraid to confront their children when they misbehave. Are the pressures so much greater between our professional and personal lives that parenting is the proverbial leftover that we’re just too tired to handle? Divorce rates are at an all time high. Is the hidden cost of that, guilt that transcends down to tip toeing around kids we treat like emotional China boxes? We all carry a little brokenness inside us, but when did we think our own children couldn’t handle a few cracks of their own? Trust me, my husband and I are still happily married after almost 18 years together, but occasionally we slip into the TEMPORARY mental abyss of stepping away from overly demanding children by giving in. When this becomes the rule rather than the exception we hinder our children in a way they’ll find out sooner than later. As in adulthood when they leave the nest and the world doesn’t treat them like the precious pearl who can demand extra TV time and brownies 3 meals a day. Or when they roll their eyes at the boss the first day and wonder why they’re unemployable. I don’t know a single parent alive that wants their 30 year old kids’ living in their basement.

I don’t know about y’ all, but MY #1 PARENTING GOAL above all else, is to raise thoughtful, independent children who know the value of respect over a dollar. People who know integrity means doing the right thing when no one is looking and that respect starts with their Dad and I and lands at the feet of people who can do nothing for them in return. People that accept their share of blame, even sometimes when it’s not theirs, not because life is fair but because it often isn’t and being kind is more important than being right. My kids are not perfect- even during the short period where they came together in the pasture and were uber well behaved and didn’t fight, backtalk or leave their messes for others (me) to tend. I don’t expect them to be perfect…but they will know perfectly well the expectation that if they misbehave we will guide them back. We will always guide them back. If that’s being mean, than I’m the meanest Mom alive.

Season

Published January 20, 2016 by katiethemomlady

Twenty five years ago, a portion of my life that seems now more fiction than fact, I was a halfway decent tennis player. Tennis was one of my father’s passions and he passed this love down to me. We played virtually every night when he came home from work and when unforgiving Michigan winters started we were members at an inside university club down yonder. I joined the USTA (United States Tennis Association) and for a short period of my young life, was actually ranked #1 in Northern Michigan.  No matter there were only 10 of us girls in that category, I was still at the top and going to tournaments was an almost every weekend highlight during the fall and spring season.

I took private lessons and went to summer camps and played with any opponent I could. We lived next door to the library/municipal building with a convenient wall I could smash the ball against for hours and hours every night, practicing my forehand. It was a love that never disappointed. It was something I could share with my father, whom I adored. It also ended when he died and not only because he died, but because like almost all loves that burn too bright, they fizzle and someone falls out. We didn’t have a local high school tennis team and I knew it became hard to expect my mom, now single, to drive me to lessons a town over. I soon chose boys, cigarettes, Wayne’s World, other things. This season in my life had passed and oddly I wasn’t sad.

My second child Stellan, is a lot like me. When he finds something he loves he holds on with two hands and can’t see anything beyond it. Unlike his brothers who want to try many things while loving them all a little, Stellan is almost always two feet in. Last year he liked football but fell hard for wrestling. This year he fell hard for football, as in sleeps wrapped in a 49’s blanket every night and asked if I would invite Golden Tate to his birthday party, and just likes wrestling. I can tell in the way he competes and then runs back to the table to stare at his Cam Newton card while trying to come up with his Fantasy Football draft (whatever that is). His light still shines when he wins a match, but shines brighter when you mention the Super Bowl. Moments before he had to step on the mat a few weeks ago, he asked myself and a friend of ours, “since I love football so much, shouldn’t I just focus on that?” We both acknowledged that playing multiple sports would ultimately make him a better athlete when he found the one he chose to focus on later. So now wrestling meets the end of him going to the NFL.  But is that enough?

Has the season passed? I don’t know. What I know about seasons is that they come and go and you cannot force them. People, especially children, are allowed to let their metaphorical summers and falls and winters and springs pass in their own time and if we let them grow, reach, root down, choose to hold on or let go, we give them the gift of paving their own way and finding what is right for them.  I know better than to interfere with the weather. I know when a season passes, in good time, other things will be revealed. I know that giving up something you’re good at, even when you’re good AT12019757_10207670397067439_6872295827556404897_n it doesn’t make you unwise, it makes you strong to know the scent of something better around the corner whether on the mat or crossing an end zone.

Just know wherever the next season takes you, Stellan, I will follow and bring my umbrella if needed.