For the times when you don’t get along with your mother

I realize the title of this post is long. Lots of words to reflect an often complicated relationship. I love my mother dearly. She is my biggest cheerleader. But she can also be my worst critic. And not in a constructive “hey, I see you doing this right, but this is questionable, but hey, this is awesome so I know you can do better” kind of way. It’s more like “that’s not how I did things” kind of way. (This is just a tiny sampling, and trust it is always said with a hint of judgment, a dash of disdain, and a pinch of ¬†“my way is better.”) It’s frustrating. It’s aggravating. It’s often difficult not to react, to try to listen to what I feel is constant criticism with some kind of understanding (by now, I mean I’m 40 and my mom has been my mom my whole life!). I should be up to speed by now, right?

So my question, albeit a late one, is how on earth can I navigate my relationship with my mom in a way that is far more constructive? I’d like to, once, hear her comment about the state of the house or the state of my children or my parenting skills or my choice of wardrobe or my choice of food or reading or exercise or date or….you feel my pain? Yeah…so how to navigate in a way that doesn’t end in a clash that leaves me feeling like a jerk?

After careful evaluation, I don’t think there is a way to navigate this relationship. I’m just along for the ride. It’s a bumpy one, for sure. Yet, she is my mom. The mother who I know would do anything for me, even though I’m nothing like her. It may not make every criticism from my mother palatable, but knowing how much she loves me makes the medicine go down a lot easier.

Not quite like any other day

I go to the gym about 4 days a week on average. It’s all part of a fitness plan I’ve managed to stick to for the last 3 years, despite my general inability to stick to anything with any kind of consistency. Yes, I am consistently inconsistent most of the time. Anyway, back to the gym story. So I went into the gym, put my stuff in a locker in the ladies room and after sprinting on the treadmill for about 3 miles, went back to the locker room, showered, and because it is winter and cold as hell outside, decided I’d sit in the sauna for a bit before I head home. The sauna was empty, so I found a place and made myself comfortable.

I understand, being that I am a woman and have been going into women’s locker rooms for ages that a glimpse of a body part belonging to someone who is not ME is inevitable. However, what I had to endure yesterday was just…inhumane. A lady wearing nothing but her birthday suit rushes into the sauna and proceeds to BEND OVER and put lotion on. I wouldn’t have minded that so much. I can get over the naked despite the fact that the signage outside of the sauna CLEARLY says that you must be wearing some form of undergarments AND a towel upon entering the sauna. I know people usually can’t be counted on to READ, but damn. Follow examples then. People come and go out of the sauna all the time and they are covered at the very least with a towel. However, she was NAKED and her ass was less than two feet from my face. Talk about a “WTF” moment. No. No. No. You do NOT do things like that. NEVER, ever, (ever ever ever!) put your ass crack naked JUNK that close to an innocent stranger. It’s just beyond any normal human beings level of comfort, not to mention completely inconsiderate. I can appreciate that you have no shame, that you are comfortable in your skin and maybe even that you are a little frickin’ crazy and you think that rushing into a sauna butt naked and slathering on lotion with your ass in a stranger’s face is an OK thing to do. Unfortunately, there are those of us who would prefer not to be victims of such a brazen act of defiance against all that is good and holy. Yes, I said I was victimized. Because seriously, YOUR ASS?! In my FACE?!¬†Needless to say, my time in the sauna was cut dramatically short. I am hoping my memory of this event fades just as quickly.

 

Lessons from a thief

So yesterday, I went to work. It was like any other work day in Chicago, except that yesterday was bitterly cold. I didn’t park where I usually park. Strike one, because I had a thought that I should just park in the employee parking lot as usual. But it was so FAR. And it was also so COLD. Did I mention how cold it was? Anyway, I parked on the street and something told me as I got out of my car to make SURE I locked the doors. So I did, I made sure that I locked my doors and went along my merry way, believing I had taken the care I needed to. Strike 2. Did I mention that the office is in an industrial area, and the street I parked on is not that busy, generally? Strike 3.

Cut to hours later. I’m leaving the office and as I approach my car I think, “Wow, that’s weird. My door is open”. You’d think seeing my car door open would be a clue something wasn’t right. But no, being the naive person I tend to be, I just thought maybe I hadn’t closed it right getting out of the car. I open my door the rest of the way and WTF!!! My radio is gone! Gone, gone….GONE. Nothing but a hole and wires. My immediate reaction was no reaction. Just shock. After a minute of standing there in shock I started to get irritated. Who would someone steal something that didn’t belong to them, from someone they don’t know?! You don’t know my struggles. I am a mother of 5 kids! I have food to buy, clothes to buy, shoes…school fees, BILLS BILLS BILLS. Then I wondered why? Why on EARTH of all the weeks and all the cars on the street and all the days and all the times (I mean, CHRISTMAS IS COMING!!!) would you break into someone’s car and steal a radio. Note: also stolen was a bag with paperwork for my job, and 2 bags of shoes I had planned to give to charity. I imagine, somewhere in Chicago, a thief is currently trying to get rid of little girl’s shoes, size 2. Red and sparkly. That was just one of many pairs of little girls shoes in those bags.

But, I digress. I am still mildly irritated at the loss of my radio. I mean, how am I supposed to maintain sanity driving in rush hour traffic to and from work in CHICAGO without my radio?! However, I have decided not to make a big fuss about it. To understand that this happened for a reason. What lessons can I learn from this thief?

Lesson 1: Follow your instincts. Yes it has been said time and time again and yes, I am sure we ALL know we should be following our instincts. However, if I had followed mine, I believe my radio and I would not be dearly departed.

Lesson 2: Don’t get too comfy. I can definitely say that I got a little too comfy…parking on the street is generally a safe thing to do but NOT WHEN YOU WORK IN AN INDUSTRIAL AREA and definitely NOT IN CHICAGO. Always remember where you are, and keep that at the forefront of your mind when you are making choices.

Lesson 3: Speaking of choices, this is a prime example of how our choices can affect our lives for the good or the bad. I made the choice to park on the street. I was robbed. Seems like going back to kindergarten here, but I guess that’s life. We have to go back to kindergarten to be reminded of the simple lessons. Hope now I can move on to Grade 1.

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A time for acceptance

I have always been my own worst critic. Many people can say that about themselves, I’m sure. When I was chatting with a friend the other day, I understood that I’m not alone in this. It’s not something we always talk about or share with one another. As for me, I’m forgetful, I lose my temper, I’m blind as a bat without my glasses, my hair gives me the blues because I look like an idiot no matter how I try to style it, I cuss, I sometimes feel really, really depressed, I am completely disorganized and it took me more than 4 years to complete my bachelor’s degree and more than 2 to finish my master’s because of it. Some days I feel like a crappy mom. Some days I’m on top of the world and I can’t really figure out why. These are just a few of the things I have picked on myself about, excluding the body issues I’ve had over the years. Maybe these things seem trivial. Perhaps they are in some ways.

Despite this I have lately become determined to love myself for who I am. The walking, talking contradiction that I am. I even went so far as to write about myself in the form of a poem. It’s a love note to myself. An awakening to the fact that I am who I am. Don’t get me wrong in thinking that the road to acceptance means I will stop trying to be better, though. Not so. I will continue to strive to be the best ME I can be. But I promise myself that I’m going to love ME every step of the way, to the best of my ability, from now on.

Average Me

I don’t rhyme shit…

Rhythm in my world is inconsistent

Though I try to defy that part of me

Beauty hides a struggle

Skin deep can’t get deeper than dark

Dark can’t get colder than cold

So hot…

Fire burns white hot

Burn out.

A mess, a jumble

A mystery to myself A

Rubic’s Cube minus a few colors

But with added dimensions

Where past and present collide

Where future holds…

Where silence screams

Where dreams shift into overdrive

And sometimes stall.

Yet…I remain in spirit unbreakable as the wind

Ever try to catch a breeze?

Damn right…I don’t rhyme shit.

Beautiful Remarkable Incredibly Average Me.

The birth of a blog

This blog was born in the wake of loss. This summer, I lost my grandfather, and just this past week, I lost a friend. These were two men who walked different, yet similar paths. Family, tradition, love, strength and courage are just a few of the traits they shared. I won’t go into the details of their individual struggles…suffice it to say that my grandfather died after a long struggle with Parkinson’s Disease. My friend died after a 3 year battle with cancer. Where their paths diverged can be seen in the families they left behind. One family, my grandfather’s, is broken…a break that is more than likely irreparable. My friend’s family is bonded forever by a tremendous amount of love.

What these two men taught me, very simply, is to LIVE. I have been alive for 40 years now. But I can’t say that I ever truly lived. I’ve spent the vast majority of my time feeling stuck, feeling trapped and unable. The borders I constructed for myself included the belief that what other people thought of me mattered…that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough…worthy enough. Fear of judgment and failure dictated the constructs of my life. After the death of my grandfather, who I was very close to in the end, I began to realize that maybe, just maybe, all these 40 years of “living” I had under my belt wasn’t really living at all. And when my friend died, I UNDERSTOOD that I haven’t lived.

Living means very different things to different people. These two people, in a short span of a few months, have sparked a fire in me to define, for myself, what it means to truly LIVE. They have inspired me, for once in my life, to step out without fear of anything. To be ME with the understanding that I am here to push limits. I am here to leave a legacy. I am here to LOVE.

With this in mind, I am setting out on a journey to appreciate the time I have left, to become the person I was meant to be, and to leave a permanent mark on all the people I am gifted to have in my life. One small step at a time…so here goes.