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Monday, February 25, 2013

And the award goes to.....

I have a confession. I really thought I was going to win an Oscar.  When I was little I would watch the speeches just like every other little aspiring actress and would dream of the day that I would be on that stage holding the Academy Award.
I was going to thank my parents, my dog, cat and my friends.  I was going to mention the bully in my class so I could show her that being weird got me somewhere.
The thing that is weird about the Academy Awards is that most actors and actresses are shy and only want to be in the spotlight when they are playing someone other than themselves.  I am terribly shy until I get to know someone. Once that happens, it is hard to keep me quiet.   A friend of mine once compared me to a campfire. I was hard to start, but once I was lit I was on fire.
When I moved to Los Angeles I continued my acceptance speech writing. It changed as I grew older, but I always started with thanking my parents.  The problem was, I didn't know how I was going to win the award when I didn't have any job offers. I started to wonder if I was more intrigued with being recognized as a person, than any acting performance.
My speech writing came to an abrupt halt when an agent who was ready to sign me told me that he would be happy to work with me, but on one condition. That condition was that I needed to lose around 20 lbs.   He told me I was too "thick" for television and film.  I understand that sometimes ugly people look great on camera, and sometimes beautiful people look hideous.   He wanted me to take up less space to make a bigger impact. You would think it would be the other way around.
I could not have lost 20 lbs without starving myself, and the sad thing was, I considered doing it.  For perspective I was a hefty size 4. Years of a childhood dream were easily put to rest by an off handed comment that an agent said.  For as thick as I was, it broke me in two.  In retrospect, this was a perfect test.  There are several funny and talented women who come in all sizes. In fact, the actresses that are the best at their craft are the ones that transcend beyond their physical appearance.  Can anyone tell me what Maggie Smith's body type is? No, because it doesn't matter. She is brilliant, wrinkled and has so much beautifully raw talent, it is hard to keep your eyes off of her.
If I was really driven to act, then his opinion wouldn't have bothered me as much. But the truth was, I must have been looking for an excuse to get out and he gave me the perfect opportunity.  I didn't see this at the time, but shortly after that, I met Don.
My visions of an Oscar seemed to fade and the only thing I was interested in was winning Don's attention.  If he thought I was thick, it certainly didn't bother him.  He came into my life just at the right time.   By all appearances, I was doing fine, but that is where my acting ability came in handy.  I was in a very dark place and he came in and opened the blinds.   I wanted to be the girl that he saw when he looked at me.
The recognition I so desperately needed came from him and for the first time while living there, I actually felt seen. And it wasn't for doing anything. I was a cocktail waitress in college who ate cereal for dinner, but he didn't care about that.
He was the foundation I needed to build my self worth back up.
It is no coincidence that the second song we danced to at our wedding was "Brick house".  The lady's stacked and that's a fact, ain't holding nothing back.
Thirteen years later and a lot has changed. I do have an Oscar, but I had to give birth to him and he is more valuable to me than any statue could be.
Sure, I watched the red carpet arrivals, and I do have a little bit of regret for tossing in the towel so easily. Unlike most of those people, I was able to walk down my own red carpet, but it was in a church. I hope I only walk down it once too.  And if there was an academy of motherhood, I hope I would at least be nominated.  Especially after this morning when I learned that scrabbled eggs were offensive to my eight year old and my prized Oscar through a tantrum larger than any screen could capture about getting in his car seat (which he does every day).
If the Academy of Motherhood saw the hard work and dedication I put into developing this role, they certainly would be impressed. But not as impressed as I am.   This is certainly the role of a lifetime, one that requires more of me than less.  So for fun sake, here is my revamped acceptance speech.

I am thrilled  to receive this award, but honored to be nominated with all most of the other hard working mothers in this category. I wouldn't have been able to do it, if it weren't for a great supporting cast and the best supporting actor. It takes a lot of patience and it would not be possible without the help of my parents.  Nobody can prepare you for a role like this, it is the hardest thing I have ever done and there have been many times I thought about quitting. And to that bully in grade school, guess what? I handed down my weird gene, and birthed some of the most absurdly weird talented characters I know.  I'm glad you were normal, normalcy is overrated.
If my kids knew I had a blog, they would read this, but they don't because I don't want them to know just yet, that my world revolves around them.  And although this award is great, it means more to me that my husband sees me as myself first, wife second, friend third and mom last. "Mother" is a role, that would not have been possible had I not discovered who I was as a person first.
But I win this fictional award on behalf of every hard working mother who is the invisible backbone of her family.  Your work may not get you a statue to put on your mantle, but you don't need it. It would block your family pictures, which are all the recognition you need to know that you have already been rewarded.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Can I bum a cigarette?

Today I need a cigarette, and that is saying a lot since I have never smoked.  I'm just tired and anxious. Obviously tired because of lack of sleep, but mostly tired of our generation and some of the people that we cohabit with in this great nation of ours.
We have aggressively begun potty training. By all accounts this is going really well.  I choose to do it old school. Strait up underwear.  This morning, while waiting for the child in front of my car in line at preschool drop off decided to crawl in the back and play hide n seek with his mom.  I had timed it so well, but how could I account for this? Oscar had announced he had an accident. Although, I wasn't sure if he was giving me a warning shot, or if he released his full ammo.  Rather than chance it I rushed into the first public establishment I could park in front of and rushed him in.   Sure enough, it wasn't a warning shot.
I almost felt obligated to purchase a coffee because we had used the restroom.   I had mentioned when I rushed in that we were potty training.  Before I left the woman asked me if he made it, and I sadly (and I mean that, I was sad) said no. She then decided to give me some advice. "Next time he should wear pull ups."  It was then that I decided I was NOT going to buy anything from her, and if it weren't so cheesy I would have asked her if she wanted a tip. That tip would have been. " shut the F up!"  Maybe it was the way I sprinted into the coffee shop holding a toddler like a football, or the  emergency blinkers on my van because I parked illegally that made her think I wanted her advice.  She was mistaken.  Here is the deal.  Pull ups just add an extra step to the process.  Its just a diaper without sticky tabs. If he doesn't feel wet, then how is he going to learn?
This is following a rough morning when I discovered the reason Don has been sleeping so well is because he has been bed swapping with the Oscar.  Oscar comes in to our room and Don makes his sneaky exit stage right.  That leaves me with a 40 pound toddler on my head. I kind of wondered why in the middle of the night, Don never answers me when I ask him to get Oscar a drink.  Now it all makes sense.  When I discovered this,  you can imagine I was not happy and I probably set the tone for the morning.
I have been watching Downton Abbey and I'm wondering when men stopped being gentleman.  I'm not saying Don isn't a gentleman ( most of the time).  But one of the reasons I like this turn of the century show, is because there is formality and dignity in everyday activities.  It also made me wonder what ever happened to women acting like ladies?  How can we go from Lady Grantham to Snookie?  Of course, they are both fictional characters, but if the decline in the etiquette of women is a metaphor for the direction of our society, than we are already in the sewer. 
I have watched almost the first two seasons in the span of 5 days, so as you can imagine, my brain is on Downton overload.
Maybe I just long for respect.  Not between just men and women, but women and women. Not to mention, respect for oneself. Young girls feel that they need to wear booty shorts and sheer tops to get a guys attention, which takes away from the one thing they should be paying attention to, their mind.  Which leads me to the other thing that pushed me over the threshold of annoyance this morning.    I caught a glimpse of a "news" story about a woman who had lost over 150 lbs.  Her family was there, she got a make over, she had a photo shoot and was given an exotic trip to celebrate her new body.
Do we forget that she got herself there in the first place and the family that was cheering her on, is probably the same family that put the food in front of her? Yet, she is getting rewarded for her hard work in taking the weight off. Trust me, I know that is not an easy feat. But do you know what else takes a lot of hard work? NOT gaining weight in the first place.
I have struggled my entire life to remain healthy and fit.  Yes, I say struggle. No I have not been obese. But I have gained 40 lbs 4 different times with each pregnancy.  Some may say, that isn't a lot of weight to gain during pregnancy, and you know why? Because I didn't let pregnancy become an excuse to eat a bucket of fried chicken every night.  Did I want to? Of course I did, but I struggled to maintain a degree of health that would give the baby growing inside of me the best possible start. It takes determination and willpower to avoid temptations that present themselves in the form of cookies and sleep.
That isn't exciting enough though, , and I won't see a camera crew surprising me and giving me a make over for not gaining 150 pounds. But damn it, its just as hard to prevent the weight gain as it is to take it off.

All of these things were building inside me and the crescendo happened just as the woman told me that my toddler, who is the 4th child I have potty trained should be wearing a pull up.
I really really wanted to quietly drop the f bomb and get in her face and explain that she was a dumb ass.  But instead I stepped back and did what a respectful women from Downton would have done.  I smiled, thanked her for letting us use the bathroom and left. But instead of disgracing her name over tea, I'm taking to the modern day version of that which is my blog. If I had her name I would certainly have used it, but we weren't properly introduced.   And as for the cigarette I so desperately needed, I am once again, taking the less traveled road known as self restraint, and I'm sure I won't get a congratulations for NOT smoking party either.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A four muffin day

Lately I have been measuring my moods in muffins.  A good day would be a zero muffin day, a semi stressful day would be a one muffin day, but anything above two, be warned.  This would be considered a code orange. High terrorism alert, but its not terrorists that are a threat, its baked goods.
Muffins are my weakness. There is just something about cake for breakfast.  When I worked at a trendy coffee shop we sold the mega fat free muffins which were the size of a cantaloupe and I would have one or two in the course of my shift.  Back then I thought they were a green light food, but since then I have become wise of their evil ways.
One delicious crumbly muffin is like, 1500 calories or something ridunkulous like that. The reason I didn't see the effects of it back then was because that was all I was eating. I was poor.
Somehow the nutrition or diet industry has turned against all baked goods.  Especially muffins.
My best friend has sworn off dairy because she is certain it causes her skin to break out.  The great folks that I work out with only eat what cavemen ate, and a girl in my book club is a vegan.  A guy I work with is a vegetarian. I won't name any names but a certain woman who gave birth to me tried Sensa; I should link that just so you can read how farcical that concept is. A fellow mom- friend swore off caffeine and said she has never felt better. BTW- I'm not her friend anymore.
What my friends eating habits all have in common is they don't eat muffins, at least not in public. If I listened to everyone I wouldn't be able to eat anything but kale and although I like kale, its not something I turn to when I have a bad day. In fact up until recently I thought Kale was a fish.

Somehow muffins have become the objects of my affection. I miss the days when I could eat one without feeling the guilt, but I'm too far gone now.
Life is too short,  my inner voice tells me, but my mind knows my life will be even shorter if I gave into every craving I had. (Nachos, ice cream sandwiches, big huge burritos, stout beer) just to name a few.
Today I woke up at 2:30, 3:10, 4, and 5 a.m..  Not because I have insomnia but because my son has serious issues staying in his room.   We put an air mattress next to our bed but when he comes in he does a belly flop and it sounds like a seal flopping down on a giant balloon. 
Every time I wake up I look at the clock and think, "ok one more hour, think of it as a nap, an hour nap is pretty good"  I spend 10 minutes trying to convince myself of this and before I know the alarm is going off or the seal is jumping again.
I recognize that my exhaustion increases the stress I feel and more then likely my tolerance to resist muffins. But it is not just that.
I allow things to really get to me.  For example, when I dropped off my son and his childcare his teacher seemed a bit...distant.  I immediately start to wonder if I said something wrong. I have a tendency to offend people inadvertently. In fact I almost lost a friendship over a comment I made about plaid and a biscotti.  Anyway, I started to wonder if that comment I made about the snowman looking like Oprah, rubbed her the wrong way. In my defense, it did. It had a necklace, and its eyes were spaced far apart.  It is no secret I love Oprah. If that wasn't it, maybe it is my son? Is he the only one in the 2's classroom that still isn't potty trained? Do they think I'm a bad mom? Do they make him sit in a corner soon as I leave???
Following this inner dialogue I realize that I can't find a decent parking spot and its freezing outside.  As I start the mile walk from my car to my office I notice that my bra strap hurts and wonder if its because my boobs are getting bigger, or I'm getting fluffy. If my boobs are getting bigger I must be pregnant, (but that is impossible) or so I think.
I then start to wonder if it IS possible and I'm secretly happy that maybe I will get that little girl after all.  By the time I reach the half way point of my journey, I have convinced myself that I will never have a little girl and I am super depressed about it because it was all my fault to stop having children after my fourth boy.
Then the smell hits me.  I pass an eatery that has muffins in all their glory in a glass case.
For me it is like a muffin peep show and I am tempted.  I remember that I promised Don that I would stop buying food at work in an effort to bring down the $100 I spend each month in coffee.
Damn it! I resist temptation and wonder why a college educated couple has to pinch pennies so closely that I can't afford to buy the only thing I want in this world, a damn muffin.
 I haven't even reached my office yet, and I have already convinced myself, that I'm a bad mom, a bad friend, a bad wife, spade, chubby and of course, a loser.
I hate to admit this, but this is a familiar thought loop that plays in my head..sometimes louder than other times. This recording can drown out any compliment and usually does.  It is a remix of the above thoughts and sometimes I start to believe it.
If I ever heard someone talk to another person the way I talk to myself I would be appalled.  But because it is to myself it is somehow acceptable.
I realize that the reason I was having a four muffin day was completely self induced.  But why muffins? Was it because they were delicious and wonderful? Maybe it takes me to a place of comfort.
When I was working in the little coffee shop eating my muffins I didn't have a care in the world. I didn't worry about kids, I didn't worry about being an adequate wife or my future career path.  I should have been worried that I had less than $5 in my bank account, but I didn't because I knew that the tip jar would always be full at the end of my shift.  I was confident in what I was doing and I knew I could make a mean mocha. What happened? Life happened. And in my case kids. I have taken on the role as the family empatherian. This is a self elected position that absorbs all the worry, fears, anger and sadness that any particular family member feels.  I choose to be the bearer of everyone's pain so that it gives them reprieve. By the time my nine year old has sorted out his friend issues at school, I'm already conspiring  how to make a microwave muffin I saw on Pinterest just to suppress my feelings..
The paradox is that my 0 muffin stress level days were when I was actually EATING muffins.   Was I deserving of those muffins then? Yes. Am I deserving of them now? Hell yes, and then some.
Its funny that a tip jar that would have about $15 dollars in extra change is what built my confidence. Actually birthing another human didn't.  By all appearances I have grown so much since my coffee house days but in regards to my belief in my abilites, I have somehow regressed to measuring my self worth in muffins.
By this time I was about to walk in to my building.  I passed a woman who has just returned to work after having a baby and without hearing it, I could see she was attacking herself in her head.  I know I'm not alone in this, I just have a weird way of measuring it.
I asked her how she was doing.  She gave the canned answer that all new mothers do.  I said I was happy for her, but I decided to go a bit further an added that she was a good mom. For all I know, she may leave her baby with the dog, but because I sensed her worry she must be a good mom.  Just like that her eyes welled up and she said thanks.  I had instantly filled her tip jar.
Hearing myself say that to another woman I was able to reflect it back to myself and somehow, I heard it.  
I liked the way it sounded. What I hear in my head are just thoughts,that I have manifested into fact, facts that no one believes, except me... (At least I hope nobody believes them or hears them for that matter. )
If its that easy, I'm going to try and do it more often.  I decided to make a detour and get a muffin. Not a huge one, just one that was large enough to fill me up.
I have earned the right to have my cake and eat it too.