This is my Body and I Love it for You

I lay on the couch on yet another snow day morning, another day stuck home with the children. At this point in time, I had lost count at how many days we had been home and had long stopped caring if the children ate, slept, pooped or wore clothes.

I couldn’t have told you when I last showered or even if my underwear was clean. Putting on a bra or real pants seemed like an impossible task for you see, we were snowed in but there was also the plague making it’s way through the house.

Snot was flowing and puke was spilling. This is the stuff that makes day drinking happen.  It was so bad, I knew the inevitable should happen… I had to clean the house.

But later.

I adjusted my position on the couch, turning more on my side and as I scooted my shirt pulled up revealing my stomach. I was playing on my phone, it didn’t matter to me.

She came out of no where as she often does when I’m laying down. It’s funny she never wanted to cuddle as a baby, always wanted out of my arms, miss independent so similar to me. But as the years have past, she never misses an opportunity to crawl on top of me and nestle her head just under my chin.

mother and daughter

She seems to need to be close, breath me in.

I never push her away even when she decides to cuddle at the most inconvenient times like during ‘wrestling’ between me and her father but that’s what happens when we forget to lock the door.

She crawled on top of me, sticking her bony child knee in my groin causing me to scream.

“Sorry mommy,” she said with a giggle but not stopping on her way up.

She lay her head down, I wrapped my arm around her and I could feel her relax. I continued reading on my phone and she began to trace the lines of my shirt.

She traced the scoop neck of my tank top and with a hint of mischief, let her finger slide over my breasting knowing that she shouldn’t touch it because breasts are one of those special parts no one gets to touch (at least for now, I’ll talk to her about ‘2nd base’ when she’s older).

Her finger reached my exposed belly, “Mommy, your shirt is too small. I can see your belly.”

My normal reaction would be to quickly pull down my shirt, covering a part of me that I’m not the most proud of, that’s not ‘perfect’ and don’t want people to see. My body would tense and cringe. I would usually swat her hand away as she tried to touch it, telling her no. But this time, this time I decided to just let her touch.

I decided the message was to important.

I want to raise a strong and confident daughter. I want her to know she’s beautiful because she is. I want her to embrace her imperfection and know that she is perfect because she is who she is and there is no such thing as the perfect body. I watch her watch me as I look in the mirror and do my makeup. She questions why I wear it, what I like about it. She watches me dress and stress over clothes that will hide those areas I don’t like. She hears me say things like, “Ugh this makes me fat.”

She sees my insecurities…. I need to let her see my confidence too.

My body is beautiful. It’s healthy. It’s strong. It’s sexy. It’s done amazing things; pushed on another’s chest to make blood pump when their heart had stopped, turned on a man I’ve known and been with for more than 17 years and most importantly, my body has given life to 4 children, 3 of whom lived inside me all at once.

I want her to know that I am proud of this body of mine and I have earned every scar, freckle, wrinkle and stretch mark. Well, some I earned and some were just given.

She traced the stretch marks on my stomach, buried her finger deep in my belly button and poked my stomach to watch the squish wiggle. I didn’t say a word, just watched her, let her see I wasn’t ashamed.

Her hand went flat and she placed it on my stomach then laid her head on my chest.

“My momma,” she said. “…pretty and squishy.”

I kissed the top of her head and held her close. She stayed a few more seconds and just like that she was gone but I can only hope the message, though it will need re-enforcing, will always stay with her.

 

 

We are not in Toddler Clothes any More

I stepped off the escalator, careful not to get my foot eaten by the steps, a big fear of mine, and was greeted by a very happy sales clerk.

“Welcome,” she said with a glittering smile, “How can I help you?”

I understand it’s her job to be friendly and helpful but I didn’t want either. I just wanted to look around and shop in peace.

“Thanks but I am just looking,” I said, pleasantly.

She did not take the hint, “Any thing special?” she asked.

“I need to get some summer clothes for my daughter,” I said, hoping that if I gave her a little bit of detail she would feel like she was doing her job and leave me be.

Whenever there is a change in the season, that means it’s time to sort through the kid’s clothes. I have to pass on the smaller boy clothes to my sister for her son, go through the hand-me-downs that Hayden and his cousin wore for Jake and Quinn and do an inventory of what still will fit Hayden.

It’s a process that leaves me asking, why do kids have to grow so fast?

When it comes to Claire, that is a whole different ballgame. People in my family seem to only make boy children so there are no older cousins for Claire to get hand-me-downs from. Clothes for her involves a process.

I used to do a lot of shopping for her on Ebay, buying large lots of clothes but the cut throat last minute strategic betting that happens on Ebay was just too much for me. I don’t have time for that and often times the prices gets so high, it’s cheaper to just buy them new.

I know people use Craig’s List to find clothes for their kids but I am scared of Craig’s List. I will chat up strangers on the Internet on Twitter until my fingers are numb but talk to someone and then meet them via Craig’s List to exchange money… I run scared to hide under my bed.

My usual plan to get her clothes without spending a small fortune and having Jeff tell me the shopping budget is gone is to scour the clearance racks in the stores. I watch for sales and even use coupons. Plus it’s shopping and I love shopping.

I sighed.

I just wanted to be left alone but I didn’t want to be rude. “Well, she kinda needs it all being that she is the only girl. I think I will just look around and see what I can find.” I said and then started to walk away.

“Well, we have shorts and really cute shirts here and oh I bought this for my friend’s girls. Isn’t it cute? I just love it so much…” she went on.

I smiled and nodded and slowly backed away. She continued to talk but I turned my attention to the clothes around me. I pulled a pair of shorts from the rack and held them up.

“Seriously?!” I said under my breath. “Is this a joke?”

I pulled at the fabric, would this even cover her butt?  My goal here was not to get my 5 year old daughter shorts that allowed her vagina to hang out. I save those for me. I wanted to get her clothes, that covered her for the summer.

And that’s when it hit me… I was no longer in the toddler section of the store. Gone where the cute rompers, sundresses and tee shirts with little sparkly ice cream cones on them. Apparently clothes for  little girls go from fully covered toddlers to skanky bare it all Brittany Spears wanna be’s.

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I sighed again.

Well maybe when she is 25 and trying to find a husband can she wear clothes like this but not now. She is already able to collect little boy’s phone numbers with a smile, heaven help me if I allow her to wear a shirt that bares her midriff.

“How about this?” the sales clerk said as she thrust a mesh shirt with rhinestones at me. “This would be so cute with a little tank top or bra.”

I looked at the woman.

“Um, no.” I said, “I’m dressing a little girl. Not a street walker.”

And with that, I went in search of the toddler section. One more year in toddler clothes is not going to hurt her.

How I Know My Daughter will be a Good Mother… Someday

mother and daughter

My darling daughter,

I know that you are aware tomorrow is Mother’s Day. You have been making cards and pictures nonstop for about a week now and I love every single drawing you made. Especially the card where you wrote, “Mom and Dad, I hope you know to love me the most.” The cuteness is just too much to take sometimes.

There are some days I watch you and I feel so blessed to have you for my daughter and then in a about 5 minutes you will do something that will make me was to strangle you. It’s just the nature of the mother/daughter relationship. Don’t believe me, just ask Nonna. I am sure upon occasion Nonna wishes she could clock me up side the head.

Someday, I hope that you will choose to have children. Since you are 5 now, I hope this day is like in 20 years. I would love to watch you as a mother. Learning the joys and trials that come with it.

I can already tell that you will be a  fabulous mother and here are 5 reasons why.

Communication. As a mother, you need to communicate with your children, a healthy open dialog is good. All the books say to get down on the child’s level, look them in the eye and talk to them using words they understand. Yeah, as you know…. I ain’t got time for that. So yell. I know that you will excel in this because you learn from the best, me, and it is your choose form of communication for your brothers.

Sleep. Once the seed of a new baby is planted in your belly, you will never ever ever sleep the same again. Pregnancy sleep is crap and then once that baby is out, the gloves come off and there is no sleeping. I am glad you are getting yourself accustomed to this now since you regularly wake up in the middle of the night to tell me random things like there is a dragon in your room or the house might catch on fire.

Relationships. If you are going to want to have children, you are going to need a boy. I will explain exactly how and why you need a boy in a few years but just know that you will need one. This is an area that you don’t struggle in. Already, you have the men in your life wrapped around your little finger and don’t get me started on all the little boy phone numbers that you bring home from school. Yes my love, there is a chastity belt in your future. Again, I will explain more when you are older.

Housekeeping. This is an area that I have failed you in. I am not a good example on how to keep a house clean. I just don’t like to clean and by the look of your room, I know cleaning will not be your strong suit. Let’s just hope that whoever you choose as a life partner will like cleaning.  If not, I fear you may be featured on an episode of Hoarders.

Avoidance. Every good mother needs to master the skill of avoidance. Don’t want to do the dishes? Avoid them until there are no clean dishes and either the dad does them or just buy new ones. Don’t want to deal with the latest child drama? Grab you phone which will get you to the Internet and hide.  Since you regularly play on the DS to avoid doing what I ask, I have no doubt you will continue to master this skill.

There you have it, my sweet girl. I think motherhood will suit you, again in about 20 years and not sooner. I am sure as time passes, I will be able to add to this list but for now, know that I love you and Happy Mother’s Day to me and all the other mothers out there.

He Won’t Marry Me

Kindergarten Love Gone Wrong

“What was that?” I asked mainly of myself since Jeff as wearing headphones playing a game.

I didn’t expect a response and he only glanced up as I walked up the stairs. I had heard a loud thump which I thought maybe was a child jumping around instead of being in bed sleeping.

When I reached the top of the stairs, all was quiet. I opened the door to Jake and Quinn’s room slowly, hoping to surprise the perpetrator but I found all was still and as it should be expect Quinn’s bed was empty.

Then I knew what the thump was. Quinn had fallen out of bed. This was not an uncommon thing for this child. He needs a seat belt when in bed, always has. Most nights, he will sleep on the floor by choice. Why the floor is more comfy than his bed, is beyond me

I scooped him up, which of course startled him and he began flailing and smacked me in the boob. I laid him back in bed. I tucked him in and turned to kiss Jake on the forehead. I slipped out of the room quietly as I had come in, rubbing my wound. Once in the hall, I decided I might as well check on Claire.

I opened her door a crack and that’s when I heard the first sniffle.

“Claire?!” I said as I opened the door wide enough to walk in. “What is it, honey?”

When she saw me that is when she lost it. Her sniffles because full blown body shaking sobs. Big crocodile tears rolled down her face and snot dripped from her nose. She was ugly crier just like her momma.

I stroked her back and let her get her cry out of her system . I had no idea what was wrong. I thought that maybe she had a bad dream about tornadoes and fires, the two things she fears the most. I also knew that sometimes, a girl just needs to cry.

“H-h-he w-w-w-won’t,” she started in between sobs, barely able to talk, “m-m-m-marry m.e” Then she broken down again.

I hugged her close to my body, confused. “What?” I asked.

“Landon won’t marry me,” she spit out at me and wiped her snotty nose on my shirt.

“Oh honey,” I said hugging her and stroking her hair while trying not to laugh. I could tell to her this was a really big deal and I didn’t want to down play but I also want to convey that 5, almost 6, was way too young to trying to find a husband.

“You and Landon are friends, right?” I asked and she nodded, “Well then why don’t you just play together on the play ground at recess?”

“Because I want to play on the monkey bars with Mason and Landon and he wants to play soccer,” she answered.

“Did you ask him to play on the monkey bars?” I questioned.

“No, I just ran away and he was supposed to know that is what I wanted.” she said and began sobbing again.

It was then that I had a premonition into our future. I saw her and I sitting together in about 10 years, 15 going on 16, her body so big it won’t fit on my lap but me wishing it could as I tried to comfort her because some boy hurt her.

“I don’t understand boys,” she sobbed, “I tell him what to do but he won’t listen.”

“Oh honey,” I said, again trying to hide my smile. I just rubbed her back and let her cry.

When her little body stilled, I kissed her head. She pulled away from my hug and laid her head once again on the pillow. “It will be ok,” comforted. “I promise, it will.”

She sighed.

“How about tomorrow, before recess and before you run away from him, why don’t you ask him to play with you. Ask him to play soccer or on the swings. He can’t read your mind, sweetie. You have to use your words.” I said trying to teach her one of the most important lessons a girl can learn about relationships.

“Ok, momma.” She said.

I leaned down and kissed her head. “Sleep now, my sweet girl. Sleep.”

With her eyelids getting heavy, I slipped out of the room and silently closed the door behind me. “Worrying about getting married at 5 years old. Now that’s funny but oh so sweet.”

 

 

Operation: Girlie Girl

Recently, Claire told me something so sad that I almost cried. It just came out of no where. It was like she jumped out of the closet and smacked me in the face with a bat. Without any warning, Claire came up to me and told me that she is no longer a Princess and wants to be a ‘Baller’.

After I wiped my tears and nursed the wound in my heart, I decided that this will just not do.

Now, I really have nothing against tom-boys but because I am a girl, a very girlie girl, I was just hoping that my one and only daughter would flow in my foot steps. I have dreams of us doing girlie things together like getting pedicures and manicures, going shopping for hours, and gabbing until we have no more words (like that would ever happen).

Apparently, this is not the road for Claire according to her but I decided that what does she know. She is only three and really wet behind the ear where life is concerned.

So its time to begin Operation: Girlie Girl.

My first step was taking her to see Disney’s Princess Wishes on Ice

If a night all about princesses could show her that being a girlie girl was the way to go, I don’t know what would. We got all dressed up in dresses, curled our hair, picked out just the right shoes and made sure our lipstick (chap-stick in her case) matched our purse.

I made sure that I had reinforcements, my mom, to help me on my mission and off we went to the show.

From the moment we put the crown on Claire, I knew she would be putty in my hands. She was running from the all things tom-boy like playing trucks and beating tree with sticks and coming back to all things girlie.

Expect for the character of Sebastian from the Little Mermaid who looked like he had a vagina for a tongue, the show was awesome. And Claire LOVED it. She couldn’t take her eyes off the performance. I got all choked up and teary eyed to see her joy and smiles with each new Princess.

She was so into the show that she didn’t ask to go to the bathroom until almost half way through (and that is saying a lot). As we were in the bathroom finishing up, she looked up at me told me that she wanted to be a Princess.

Oh be still my heart, Operation: Girlie Girl was a success!

I smiled down at her and said, “Well, for you to be a Princess, we are going to need to find you a Prince to marry.”

At the sound of those words, Claire suddenly stopped dead in her tracks and gave me a look that would have melted ice it was so fierce.

“No, momma!” she said stomping her foot. “I don’t need a Prince to be a Princess. I am a Princess all on my own.”

A huge wide smile crossed my lips. Thank the Lord in Heaven. I have a Princess girlie girl for a daughter who is strong enough to do it all without a man.

I guess my work here is done.

******

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Who Needs a Therapist When you Have the Mall?

As a mother, it is my job to teach and mold my children. And the things that can’t be taught, I hope that my children learn from my actions and follow my example. I am after all bringing up the people of tomorrow.

I take this job very seriously. I want them to be successful in life and well adjusted so that they can handle whatever life throws at them. I want this for my sons but I especially want this for my daughter. I want her to be a strong, confident woman just like I like to think I am.

I learned everything that I know about being a strong and confident woman from my mom. She taught me most of the things that I needed to know in life like how to manage work and family, how to insert a tampon, how to ‘motivate’ your husband and most importantly, she taught me how a little retail therapy can make you feel so much better.

When I was younger and had a bad day at school or got in a fight with my best girlfriend or things were just not going right for me, my mom and I would jump in the car and go to the mall.

As we would pulled into the parking lot, I would just to feel my mood lighten. And walking in the door would cause all my worries to just melt away. The hustle and bustle of people shopping were like little pixies taking all the sadness away. Sometimes I swore that they sun was shining inside the mall but that could have just been the glare of the florcent lights off the freshly waxed floor.

But the best part of the mall was the clothes. Oh, those wonderfully, fabulous clothes. The texture and color just make me smile. There is nothing better than putting on just that right pair of shoes or slipping into the perfect outfit that hugs every curve and highlight all the good things about your body.

Now, I am not saying that we always purchased everything, it really was just about being there and together.

Retail therapy can really sooth the soul. And I am happy to report, that this joy has been passed onto the next generation.

Now Claire is a little young to really appreciate the joys of the mall but she sure does know the awesomeness that is online shopping.

She totally is my daughter and I couldn’t be more proud.

This post has been part of Writer’s Workshop.