The Year Of Self-Indulgence

self-portrait, Granger photographer

Last year, I signed up for a class at Big Picture Classes.  It was called “One Little Word” with Ali Edwards.  The idea is, you pick one word that encompasses what you want for yourself that year.  There are monthly assignments for photographs and journalling.  My 2012 word was “Intentions”.  You know all the things you intend to do and just don’t even put forth any real effort towards?  The things maybe you think about wanting to do as you’re driving home from the store and then it just completely leaves your mind by the time you get home.  Or the things you really feel committed to after a cup of coffee (or bottle of wine) with a friend.  My main intentions for 2012 were to lose weight (fine, I’ll put it right there at the top), move my business forward (er, actually make money) and keep up with Project Life.  I even ordered a necklace with my OLW (one little word) on it.

I didn’t lose weight but I made a lot of progress on eating healthy & a little bit of progress on making exercise a part of my lifestyle.  I moved my business forward in that I shot more client sessions than ever but didn’t really make money because I didn’t keep my expenses in check and gave too many discounts.  I didn’t keep up on Project Life.  At all.  And I barely used my camera to take pictures of my kids, especially when I was busy with client sessions.  Also, I didn’t even touch the OLW class materials.  I just plain didn’t take the time to even open the assignment emails.  Here’s the thing though, I feel the personal accountability for those things.  I have accepted them as unfulfilled intentions and have stayed mindful of them since last January.  I haven’t made lame excuses as to why I didn’t  fulfill them.  There are no valid reasons and there’s no one to blame but myself.

This year?  I don’t have a OLW.  I didn’t sign up for the class.  This year?  This is the year of ME.  This is the year I do things like fitness challenges at the gym, carry a grown-up purse, wear red lipstick (sometimes), buy clothes that aren’t on sale & from places other than Old Navy and Target, allow myself to work when my kids are around, take the time to write on a blog that has no clear goals or purpose & last but not least, get decent sleep.  I promise that I’m not trying to embark on a mid-life transformation where I begin frosting my hair, selling nutritional supplements and alternating facebook statuses with party pics & proselytizing my new-found faith at a new-found church.  Not gonna happen.  I’m still wearing my “intentions” necklace because it is a tangible reminder of these intentions as well as less self-centered intentions like tracking my spending, making housework & laundry a part of a solid routine (bbooorrring).  But this is the year I do things that I know will make me feel better about myself.  This is the year I choose a few grown-up things to do so that I can continue to indulge in less grown-up things.

So what’s with the wig?  I got that wig before my friends and I went to a Madonna concert last fall.  We had our makeup done before leaving town & wore crazy wigs.  We had an absolutely fantastic time.  Something about getting away for a night and wearing what for all intents & purposes was a disguise was eye-opening for me.  Until then, I did not realize how self-conscious I had become.  That night, I was confident with what I was wearing & how I looked.  And I realized over the next couple of days that I don’t usually feel like that.  I have a wonderfully amazing circle of friends.  We do lots of fun stuff, whether it’s big like a concert or taking our kids swimming or just getting together after putting our kids in bed to drink a glass of wine and relax.  My marriage is in a strong, good place.  My kids are great.  I’m not suffering or losing myself in motherhood.  So why wasn’t my self-esteem commensurate with how good everything else in my life was?  I don’t do a lot of negative self-talk or complaining about my appearance.  I don’t have time for that & quite frankly am not interested in the “Oh I’m so fat” conversations thick with “No you’re not, you’re fine…”.  That’s just awkward and not productive.

That’s my 2013.  I’m focusing on things that are good for me; things that are self-indulgent in a positive way.  I did this self-portrait on January 11 as an outward reminder that it’s time to clear out the cobwebs and do what it takes to get my self-image in check with the rest of my life.  Because the rest of my life is blonde wig & red-lipstick-worthy.  Also, at the very top of my list is a good pair of yoga pants.  I’m planning on some from Athleta unless y’all can talk me into Lululemons.

Debbie - Oh, Nancy. I just love you. Great post.

Kate - Love the picture, love the post and love YOU! Awesomeness…

Sue - Oh my red=lipsticked beauty of a friend, how I miss you!! Great post!

Amy Allen Clark - How come I missed this!?! I love this so much. So many of our intentions are the same this year- I went out and bought red lipstick (maybe I will wear it tonight), I got an accountant, I am getting serious about treating my business like a business, I will make time for myself at the gym, I need to work on my self confidence, and I even started using accounting software so I am not screwed next tax season. Now I just need to order a 1 word necklace from Lisa! 😉 xo

Tina, Eat!

Remember in Napoleon Dynamite when he feeds the llama & yells, “Tina, Eat!”   Like THIS?

Ellie is our Tina.  We actually say it, “Eat, Tina!” because we are old and remember it that way.  She loves her white carbs like bread, pretzels, canned chicken noodle soup, pretzels, ramen, plain noodles & again, pretzels.  Oh.  And bacon.  She loves bacon as long as I don’t try to put it IN anything.  She will eat raw veggies but only when she’s in the mood (we also compare her to a cat which I’m pretty sure has very little in common with a llama).  Without fail, when we sit down to dinner, she frowns at her plate.  She keeps the frown on the D-L though because she’s been sent to her room plenty of times for complaining about dinner the second she sits down.  She picks.  She scoots things around.  She sits nicely.  She looks forlorn.  She finishes her drink.  But she rarely really eats & enjoys dinner.

Sometimes I feel bad for her.  Dinner is the one thing we do as a family as often as we can.  You have to wait for dinner until Dad gets home.  Dinner is supposed to fill you up for a good night’s sleep.  It would really suck if every time I sat down to dinner, someone put a plate of something really gross in front of me.  And that’s how she looks, like we’re giving her moldy bread with a side of maggots.  Like Fear Factor without the glory & prizes.

We make sure to throw in a few “sure thing” dinners every week.  And the nights we can’t pull together a real dinner, she eats the heck out of a bowl of cereal, hot dog or any of the the above mentioned white carbs.  She is being fed.  I switched her back to whole milk and am talking to her more about what she eats for lunch (as well as what she’ll eat if I send it).

Here’s my hope.  I hope when she’s in her thirties & thin as can be with her healthy  metabolism, she’ll be thankful that we didn’t force food on her or turn it into an ugly power struggle.  I hope she grows up with the willingness to frown instead of complain & still occasionally strange and unusual foods like ketchup or cauliflower.  I hope that for all three kids.  I hope they retain the ability to eat only when they’re hungry, to stop when they’re full and please God demonstrate the ability to enjoy things in moderation.

Bradyn’s first babysitter had strict rules about food & I learned a lot from her.  She said she’d always offer a plate of healthy food.  They’ll eat if they’re hungry.  And if they don’t, it’s on them.  They’ll remember that at the next meal.  No short-order cooking or catering to individual preferences.

For now, we try to walk the line between teaching her to participate in a family meal & allowing her to listen to her body when it comes to food.

This night, we had pork sandwiches, beans, cole slaw (undressed..I just doused mine with Pear Tree dressing) & mashed cauliflower mixed with instant mashed potatoes (oh yes we did).  She didn’t want her meat in a sandwich so after dinner, I let her have a bun & a 2nd glass of milk.

 

tina - will is just like ellie when it comes to dinner. i push a lot of peanut butter and yogurt at him. the poor thing looks a little undernourished sometimes. thanks for sharing! as for the “tina, eat” thing…that is not a problem for me 😉

“I feel like an adequate mother.”

Have you ever heard someone say, “I feel like a terrible mother.”?  Maybe they fell asleep in the pickup line.  Or maybe they forgot to send in that really important form for the really important thing.  I hear people say this.  I hear friends say this.  This isn’t something I say.

That’s because I know I’m not a terrible mother.  I’m quite confident that I do all the things that qualify me as a completely adequate mother.  Feeding, clothing, sheltering & loving with the best of intentions.  I do not act with malice or even negligence.  We have all had at least a glimpse of a terrible mother at some point.  I’m pretty sure that I’ve been in the home of a terrible mother or two.  I’m not talking about the mother that is trying to not be a terrible mother.  She might be poor or ignorant or lazy or scared but if she’s trying, she’s not terrible.  I’m not talking about the mom that we see at Walmart and deem terrible because of what she is wearing or how she is speaking to her children.  I’m talking about the truly terrible mother.  They’re out there.  The woman who does not meet the needs of her kids.  She doesn’t try to meet their needs.  She has no regrets about not meeting their needs, and she does not have the best of intentions.  Maybe a terrible mother isn’t really even a mother at all.  Maybe she’s just a woman with kids.

Next up from terrible is probably “shitty mother” & then “not-so-great mother”.  Even a shitty mother might have good intentions or at least be trying to meet the needs of her kids…most of the time.

A terrible mother is not the woman who feeds her kids cereal for dinner…even if she does it for weeks at a time.  A terrible mother isn’t the woman who yells, “Oh my God, just get in the damned car.  GET IN THE CAR RIGHT FREA-KING NOW!”.  Look, she even took the Lord’s name in vain and even threw in a regular swear word, and she’s still not terrible.  She’s not even terrible when she does that same thing every day at 4:22pm.  A terrible mother isn’t the woman who lets her kids watch too much TV (every day) or spends too much time on facebook.  A terrible mother is not the woman who is trying to do all the things all the time with all the healthy food and well-rounded extra-curricular activities and laundry and exercising and all of the other things.

Maybe the moms trying to do all of the things have their own continuum of “complete slacker but just manages to get by”, “hot mess”, “undeniable narcissist” up to “pretty good most of the time” & “totally has it together”.  These moms are all completely adequate, just like me.  They’re not terrible, even on a really bad day, even in their darkest moment when they yank an arm harder than they meant to or say that thing they can’t even believe they said.  We are human beings with emotions and limits.  Our kids will be better off growing up not just knowing that even mom has emotions and limits, but seeing her manage them.

Sometimes I have days when I’m just adequate.  I have no patience and someone seems to need something every 17 seconds.  I’m thinking of the things that should have already gotten done or of the things I’d rather be doing.  I’m pissy with them and I certainly don’t even try to accomplish anything whether it be work- or house-related which makes me even more irritable.  And then they just won’t GET IN THE FREA-KING CAR when I tell them to.  Or maybe it’s the kind of day that I manage to suppress the pissiness until my husband gets home & I don’t even have an adjective for the kind of wife I am on those days.

Or maybe I actually did do the things that day.  Maybe I even did some of them right.  A day when I exceeded adequate for the majority of the day.  Win!  On those days, I usually fall asleep after dinner under the guise of “Let’s all watch a show together!” because doing the things makes me tired.

I constantly try to figure out how manage my time and money and energy so I can exceed adequate on a regular basis.  “Get more done in the morning so the afternoon isn’t a hopeless mess.”  ” When the afternoon is a hopeless mess, figure out how to turn it around or at least coast peacefully downhill to bedtime.”

Chances are that, for better or worse, those kids and that husband are going to wake up in the morning and give me the opportunity to do the things again.

We know it’s not okay to tell our kids they’re bad kids.  We know we’re supposed to tell them they made a bad choice or did something bad.  So why do we allow ourselves to feel like bad mothers?  Let’s not anymore.

Amy Allen Clark - I really love this, Nancy! I am constantly saying things like that and I need to work on that. My expectations of what I *should* be doing often outweigh what really is necessary for my children to be cared for and happy.

I love your heart.

Linda Ellis - I love your heart and your mind and your beautiful face. I think you are a great mother. And thanks for letting me know I was an adequate mother

Kate - Nancy–This is an AWESOME post. You really have a gift…

Michelle - Love this Nancy. Just getting my Oh-Lulu fill on a day when I need a pick me up. You reminded me that I am adequate even though sometimes I’m totally the mom that resorts to telling her kids to get in the damned car! My children are happy, they are loved, so because of that, I know I’m doing okay…actually I’m doing more then okay.

compelled

Today all three kids were downstairs playing.  Barbies.  Together.  I was wandering around kind of picking up, kind of switching laundry out, kind of checking Facebook.  And I came across an image my friend Ginger posted of her daughter.  It stopped me in my tracks.  I thought to myself, “I’ve GOT to take more time to shoot my kids just as they are in that moment.”  I grabbed my camera & went downstairs to catch them playing.

First, what is UP with that dust?  I’ve been curious about shooting down there & what kind of light that little basement window would provide.  Now I know.  It gives a narrow, dusty ray of light.  I kind of feel like I have to cough just looking at it.

Then, so yeah, Bradyn is in there playing Barbies with his sisters.  He definitely gives it a different vibe with his boy ideas and boy phrases.  The girls sound totally different when it’s just the two of them playing together.  But he gets in there and plays along.  I’m so glad I have a kid that will play with his sisters.  We’ve had such a good holiday break together.  I kind of hope Sunday sucks so that I’m ready to send them to school on Monday because as it is, I could easily take another week.

I feel like I should also point out the Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse in the background.  I ordered the wrong house from amazon, trying to save a buck, and it was too small for Barbies.  So I bought myself a … I mean, I bought Ellie a Barbie house the day after Christmas.  There was a coupon on the shelf which was obviously a sign that it was going home with me (us)  (Ellie).  We will send the other one back.  That is, I will disassemble the other one, pack it up and return it to amazon.  Sometime next week.  I’m really looking forward to that one.  I always wanted the Malibu Dream House.  Remember that A-frame design & that really ugly orange-brown color?  I got the Townhouse that had an elevator which was pretty cool & I remember being perfectly happy with it.  But now I have a…I mean, Ellie has the Dreamhouse.

 

Linda Ellis/Nancy's mother - I didn’t know! I’m so glad you, I mean Ellie, finally got it. I remember when I finally got my garage that the cars drove up on the roof. I was a lot younger than you….26.

122012: Peace.

We took this as part of an effort on The Bloom Forum.

Peace To Sandy Hook.

It’s interesting to see the positive movements like this evolve after a tragedy like Sandy Hook.  I like the idea of sharing images of our own kids sending them a message of support & peace.

Another of my favorite views is that of the Mister Rogers “Look For The Helpers”:  ““When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,'”.  I read The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers when Bradyn was a baby.  We all know Mister Rogers is the bomb but I really loved learning more about him.  I like the idea of preaching without words and the toast sticks story also stuck with me.  I cut my kids toast into sticks and always think about how it’s those little things we share with our kids & ultimately leave them with as they grow.