Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘daughters’

Dear New Daddy,

You didn’t know it (or you might have, who knows?), but I watched you the other day. Not in a creepy stalker way, although my husband may disagree, but I couldn’t help myself.

We were guests at a wedding, an absolutely wonderful time filled with love and laughter. At the reception, across the room from our table, you were holding your new daughter who, I found out later from her grandmother, was ten weeks old. She was adorable, this little bitty peanut in a navy blue dress with the obligatory giant bow on her little head.

If you know me at all, you know that I am powerless in the presence of babies. In my family, I have the reputation of being the baby-stealer. I adore them. Every maternal instinct in me cries out to cuddle those little snug-a-bugs and I don’t care who knows it. Social anxiety be damned, it’s no match for my baby fever. I lose all inhibitions at the chance of eliciting one little gummy smile from a cherub face, of wiggling an irresistible toe. Your baby was one of many little ones that day, adding even more joy to a wonderful day.

While your baby was reason enough for me to be admiring her, it was your interaction with your little one that made me keep on stealing glances.

You had her tiny head cradled in one of your big daddy hands, her little diaper butt in the other. You were engaging her, talking to her, smiling at her, making those goofy faces that adults only make when we talk to babies, and she was fully into watching you, those bottomless eyes watching one of her favorite people in the world. I love when people talk to their children like that; no texting or other cell phone distractions, just pure parent/child time together. The thing that touched me so much that I decided to write about it, though, was the love in your eyes as you looked at your baby girl. For that moment, nothing else mattered to you; she was your whole world, a wee girl and her Daddy. It gave my heart the warm fuzzies to watch. My eyes still well up when I think about it.

Why am I gushing on about this? It’s simple. I want you to remember. I want you to remember that exact moment when it was just you and her in your own little world, not noticing themusic, the cake, or the baby-crazy lady a few tables over. You connected, you were bonding, you were loving this adorable little human with everything in your soul. Remember this, Daddy, because there will be times in the next eighteen years when you don’t feel quite as close to her. Buckle up, Buttercup, because parenting is no joke.

There will be sass, hopefully less rather than more, but at some point, she will assert herself and it will completely take you by surprise. I still remember hearing that first, “I don’t have to listen to you!” pop out of the mouth of my sweet boy and it rocking my world. Oh, yes, there will be sass and the bigger they are, the worse it can get. Prepare yourself.

There will be slammed doors, maybe from her, maybe from you. (I am guilty of this after losing my temper because of, you guessed it: sass.) There will be angry tears, cries of, “You’re SO unfair!”, and rolled eyes. There will be friends of hers that you can’t stand, hours of PBS Kids, and endless messes to clean up. There will be times when you wonder what you were thinking. It is so important that during those difficult times, you remember those beautiful moments, the moments like I witnessed, where all is right in your world. Those are the moments that will get you through those tough ones, like when you’re trying to figure out how to get nail polish off of a wall or dealing with explosive diarrhea in the middle of the night. (All over the bathroom. Enough to where you have to get entirely new bath rugs, towels, and shower curtain and spend two hours bleaching everything else. I’m not kidding. Seriously, I have PTSD from that night.)

There are moments that I hold onto now, with Youngest Child being a teenager. Teenagers, you see, are their own special category. They can be both extremely frustrating and incredibly lovable, often in the same day. The same teenager that whines and moans about emptying the dishwasher or cleaning the lizard cage can say something profoundly sweet in the next minute, sometimes without an ulterior motive. In a word, they can be a challenge. I digress…

One of the moments that I hold onto with Youngest Child is when he fell asleep on my chest on the couch. He was around six months old, still a little bobble-head, and had been having a difficult time settling down to his nap. He wanted to be with his mama, and snuggled up to sleep so sweetly in my arms that I just let him take his entire nap on me. He little cheeks were so soft and he was so warm and cuddly that I couldn’t bear to take him up to his crib. My heart was full, in that moment, life couldn’t have gotten any better for me. When he woke, he realized where he was and smiled at me so happily that it melted my heart even more. It was perfect.

I remember that moment, and many others, when he comes home covered in mud on my clean floors, when he stalls so he doesn’t have to clean his room, when he “forgets” to let me know who he was with. Those moments remind you that you can get through this, that you do have this bond with your child. And, lest I completely scare you off, it does get better. They start understanding why you made the rules that you did and, as they get more independent, they understand you better. We’re experiencing this with Oldest Child right now and, let me tell you, it is balm for a parent’s soul when they have to clean their own place.

New Daddy, these moments you have right now are precious, something that you will look back at with misty eyes the older she gets. I still can’t watch family videos without tearing up. You’ll make tons of wonderful memories, plenty to draw from during those difficult times, but I’m telling you to not take those moments for granted. Treasure them, cherish them, just as you do that baby girl of yours. Children should be cherished, they should be loved with our whole hearts, even when they make us crazy. We have to take a step back, cool down, and remember. Remember that toothless grin, that grip of a tiny fist around one of our fingers, the sloppy, open-mouthed kisses, the first, “I love you”. spoken in a tiny voice.

You’ve got a good thing going, New Daddy. I wish you and your little girl much love. Thank you for letting me be a witness.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Disclaimer: I swore off political posts a few months ago and have stuck to that, but in that time, I have seen things get worse and worse in this election season. This is not a post about politics; I am not politically savvy and have never claimed to be. This is a post about humanity, not political issues.   There are only two days until the election and I can’t understand why Donald Trump still has any supporters at all. I’m so disheartened by the willingness of people to let him slide by for the truly awful things he has done in the name of a political party or because they don’t want Hillary Clinton to become the president. His words and actions make me sick. I simply have to get this off of my chest before I explode.

In raising my children and as a teacher, there is one thing that I have tried to teach over and over again, both by example and by helping them work through it: When you’ve made a mistake, when you’ve messed up in some way, admit what you did without blaming it on someone else, apologize to who you’ve wronged, and work to fix it. I think that’s an important life lesson, one that I learned the hard way growing up. The older I got, the more I realized that it was tough to earn the respect of others if they couldn’t believe you. It was hard, really hard to bite the bullet and admit the truth of things, especially when you really screw up, but as with many situations, the more I told the truth, the easier it got. Being honest is a quality that inspires other good qualities, including integrity, humility, and a heightened BS detector. I want my own kids and others under my care to grow up with this, instead of learning to skirt around hard truths so that they can grow up to be trustworthy people. I even had a poster hanging in my classroom for years that said, “What You Do Shows Who You Are” and we talked about it all the time.

Donald Trump is a man who has never learned that lesson. For almost two years now, from the time that we mistakenly thought he was a joke candidate until the frightening scenario before us today, he has consistently shown that he cannot tell the truth, even when confronted with the evidence from his own lips. He constantly deflects blame onto others, offers pathetic excuses for his own reprehensible behavior, and acts in a way that I would never have tolerated in my very youngest students, much less a grown man who wants to become my president, representing America to the rest of the world. Many of his supporters echo that behavior. Crude and crass t-shirts and signs are normal at any one of his rallies. He eggs it on, encouraging them, riling them up almost into a frenzy. This is the man people want to be the leader of the free world?

Think about this: Would you leave him alone in a room with your daughter, sister, or wife for half an hour? Five minutes? What is a good amount of time to leave a loved one alone with an admitted sexual predator? Even without the heinous allegations that have come out about him concerning groping and other forms of sexual assault, HIS OWN WORDS AND ACTIONS have shown what a rude, misogynistic ass he is time and time again. And he’s proud of it! If tweets or recordings of President Obama had come out like that back in 2008, he would have been crucified for it and his political aspirations would have been over. Done. Finished. Say what you will about his presidential actions and politics (again, this is not a political post), President Obama and his family have been nothing short of a class act from the moment they stepped into the national spotlight. It makes Trump’s behavior even more shocking and embarrassing on the world stage. How will you explain it to your daughters? How will they take that message as they grow into women?

Donald Trump proclaims, falsely, that he will “Make America Great Again”, whatever that means. Turbulent as these times are, we have achieved things that wouldn’t have been thought possible 50 years ago. Things aren’t perfect, but there are huge efforts to improve race relations and equality in the workplace. My family and friends who are gay cannot legally be discriminated against for their sexual orientation anymore. The old class structure is being shaken up and, sure, there are a lot of people who don’t like it, but it’s time. Equality for everyone should be a priority, not an afterthought, and we aren’t quite there yet.

His own campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, can’t answer the basic questions that are thrown at her about his disgusting words and actions without deflecting to Hillary Clinton’s emails or Benghazi. She absolutely can’t give a straight answer. To tell you the truth, I feel kind of sorry for her, having to defend someone like that. She’s someone that I would like to have a glass of wine with when this is all over with and talk about why she stayed in that job. She constantly looks exhausted, and no wonder. The woman has chutzpa, that’s for sure, trying to cover up for his stupidity on interview after interview.

This is not a post for Hillary. To this day, I’m not sure about her. I don’t trust any politician as far as I can throw them and that’s what she is. Politicians lie and stretch the truth to show themselves in a good light. The sooner you understand that, the less disappointed you’ll be. Politics being what they are, there is no way that we can know the absolute truth about any candidate, but this is what I do know: she has publicly admitted to screwing up with the email situation, many times. She has publicly apologized over and over and over again. She was investigated and nothing incriminating has been found. Is she corrupt? Maybe. She continues to be investigated, even now, two days before the election. If something criminal is found, she should be prosecuted, end of story, but so far, this has been a wild goose chase.

Benghazi was a terrible thing. A horrible thing. Americans needlessly died. But here’s what I don’t understand. This has happened before!!! American embassies and Americans have been attacked and have died under almost every other administration, under almost every other Secretary of State in the last 70 years, yet she is being blamed for this particular instance as if the entire thing was her decision. Where was the rage then? Every death, no matter the nationality, by terror is a tragedy, absolutely, 100%. By comparison, she’s done no better and no worse than those who went before her. But when Donald Trump openly criticized a Gold Star Family, his supporters excused it, no problem. When he claimed to know more about ISIS than our generals, his supporters stuck right by him. Lies, oh, my gosh, lies, one on top of another, and still they stay! (Oh, and by the way, Hillary cannot take your guns away. That requires an Act of Congress and many years of arguments, so just stop. Look it up instead of reposting Facebook memes.)

I’m afraid. I am truly afraid. This is not a normal election. This is ugly and scary. The worst of human nature is coming out to support Donald Trump openly and proudly. He’s been endorsed by the KKK. He admits to groping women, meaning that, if he wins, we will have knowingly elected a sexual predator, whether any other allegations are proven or not. As a survivor of not only sexual abuse, it sickens me that people are able to overlook that and make it no big deal. He claims to be a Christian but eschews any Christian principles. There is no amount of rationalizing that makes it okay for this man to be President., not on account of his politics, but on the basis of his thoughtless, disgusting, rude, sexist, bullying, and even criminal, behavior.

I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican. I am not anything. I think that aligning to a party is limiting and buys into the sheep mentality. I have voted for several parties in the past and feel no allegiance to any particular one. Hopefully, in the future, we will have more than two realistic choices. The closest we came to that was in 1992 when Ross Perot threw his hat into the ring. I would welcome that in a big way. This year, this is a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, that much is clear, and I will be voting for Hillary on Tuesday. Not in the name of politics, but in the name of decent people who should expect to have a leader that knows how to behave like a civilized person with self-control.

You have a choice on Tuesday. You may not like Hillary,  but I’m not asking you to like her. You may even hate her. But, really, look at them both. One of them will be the President of the United States. Voting for Donald Trump validates all of his bad behavior as normal, every bit of it. Who do you want representing you, an American citizen? What can your conscience live with?

Read Full Post »

I just realized that I haven’t posted anything in almost a month. I have some catching up to do! March can be a tough month for me, though. Bittersweet. The sweet part is my Middle Child’s birthday, smack dab in the middle of the month, balancing out the bitterness with joy. I’ve blogged about one of the bitter parts before (https://juliabbb.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/march-8/) so I won’t revisit that right now. Today I want to focus on the other part of March that I think about on a regular basis: My father and his death on March 22, many years ago.

He’s been on my mind a lot lately. I never knew him, at least in life. Those of you who know me personally already knew that. He tragically died in a car accident seven months before I was born, the night before he was going to apply for a factory job so that he and my mother could get married and give their family a good start. That never happened. The circumstances of that night aren’t especially clear to me, but the fact is that he died, leaving us behind.

Do I think he wanted to leave us? No, absolutely not. From what my family tells me and from a poem that one of my cousins wrote for his funeral, I know that he was excited about being a dad, that he was planning everything out. It took a bit for him to get used to the idea of being a father, though. When my mom told him about me, he went to his grandparents house for three days to process it all. When he came back, he was ready to go forward with a family. I hold that little scrap of information dear and tight.

I’m not writing about him to elicit sympathy or to rehash sad old feelings. I guess I just still want to know him better and this blog is a great place to express that. I want to know if he felt the way I do at times, what he would think of the world today, how our family dynamics would be different if he were still around. I want him to know his grandsons. I think he would have been a cool grandpa. My boys are lucky: they had another grandpa, Marty Man’s dad, for a few years. They have my uncle-dad, my brothers, and cousins who have all stepped up to give them extended family closeness. I don’t think they know what they’re missing, but I had two wonderful grandfathers until I was an adult. I wish they could have had the same experience as I did.

I used to be a hot mess about him. When my mother told me about my dad, I was around seven years old and at first I was elated. I already knew that the step-monster wasn’t my real dad and all of the other kids had dads, so I asked my mom about it. I had also just learned the facts of life, so I knew with all of my seven-year-old wisdom that there was a missing piece. When she explained that I indeed had a dad, the big question in the back of my head was finally resolved, but then the realization that he would never be there crushed me, especially as my life got worse. All through my very roughest years, I used to pray for God to say that his death was a mistake, that he wasn’t really dead, sobbing in my bed for him to come back, thinking he would rescue me. My grandma had given me a lens from his glasses and I took it everywhere I went, wanting a piece of him to be with me all the time.

I had a lot of anger toward him for a while, too. I was mad, so mad at him for dying and leaving me. After all, if he hadn’t died, my mother would never have married the step-monster. Of course, none of that was his fault, but as a very angry and confused teenager, it made sense to me to place the blame on him. I wondered about him all the time. Did he crash on purpose because he didn’t want me? Did he not try hard enough to survive? Had he been on drugs? Was he drinking? Like I said, even today, I don’t know all the details. I don’t know if anyone does, but that’s not important anymore. I’ve worked through the whys and made peace with that. I’ve made my peace with him.

I really truly think that he is still here, still around me. Things happen. I’ve had dreams where he’s there for very short periods of time and in them, he’s told me things about himself that I didn’t know, things that later checked out to be true, such as the fact that he played guitar. A song will come on the radio, that I’ve heard thousands of times, but for some reason, I’m overwhelmingly moved to tears for no reason at all. Later, I find out that it was one he liked. I feel him around me. He may be gone physically, but I believe that his spirit is here.

My anger is long gone. My pain is much fainter. Talking about him, learning more about the person he was from my family and his friends helps. I wish I could talk to him, to have one short hour with him. I still have that frustration sometimes that I can’t pick up my phone and call him to tell him what his grandsons did or to invite him to Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it did when I was younger. I am a part of him, I have his hair, his eyes. Half of my very DNA is his and that’s saying something. I have a father. I am his daughter.

I don’t have a rhyme or reason to this post. Again, my dad has been on my mind a lot lately and I just needed to write about him. If you have a dad, hug him tight. Hold him close, tell him you love him. If you are a dad, do the same for your kids. They need you more than you’ll ever know.

 

Read Full Post »

Miley Cyrus is all over the news this week, poor girl. I’m not a celebrity follower, but I teach young girls; some of them are fans of hers. That’s probably why watching her implode on a public stage has really been on my mind lately.

I was never much of a Miley Cyrus fan. It wasn’t that I hated her show, Hannah Montana, but I have three boys and we were knee-deep in Star Wars and the Wiggles when it was popular. Hannah Montana was barely on our radar. My niece watched the show and loved it, but other than buying her a blonde wig for Christmas, I really didn’t follow it. I knew who Miley’s dad was. Billy Ray Cyrus was hugely popular when I was in high school. Our family went to Tennessee the summer that “Achy Breaky Heart” was at its peak. Every pick-up truck with a dog in the back was blaring it down the crowded streets of Pigeon Forge. Not my style, but you would have had to have been dead to not know who he was. When his daughter burst in on the Disney scene, she was all over the news. The media all talked about what a well-adjusted girl she was and how great of a role model she was to the tween set and younger who watched her show. Then something happened.

I didn’t watch the VMAs the other night. I haven’t ever. MTV turns me off with its shock-culture and low-grade shows that do nothing except show younger people how to behave badly. I don’t allow the boys to watch it, either. I’m under no illusions that they could probably see it somewhere else, but it’s not a part of our family. Garbage in, garbage out, right? Anyway, I didn’t even know they had been on until the next morning when Facebook erupted with Miley Cyrus postings. I watched it online then and no matter how much I try, I won’t be able to un-see that.

Now, even before the fiasco of the other night, Miley had been in the news for some other Lindsay Lohan-esque behavior: proudly twerking on camera (basically shaking one’s hindquarters/cellulite in the faces of others. Ew.), radically changing her look, and praising the drug “Molly”, a type of ecstasy that is popular in concert venues. Even I, someone who doesn’t follow tabloids, was a bit shocked by how quickly she was trying to shed her good-girl image. It’s not as if others haven’t struggled with that transition before. Going from a teen star to hopefully being taken seriously has derailed a lot of Hollywood’s babies on a path of self-destruction. All of the kids from Diff’rent Strokes, some of the Brady Bunch crew, Britney Spears, and, of course, the aforementioned Lindsay Lohan, have made some bad choices about how to be seen as valid once they’ve turned 18. Others have done well, but it seems as if the majority have a tendency to self-destruct.

Now, I don’t know any of these people personally. Probably no one reading this blog does, but this I do know. I don’t have daughters, but I have beautiful, wonderful nieces and cousins. The oldest of them is going to be eleven pretty soon and heading for that age where choices about being a girl become more difficult. Boys have difficult choices, too, but since I was a teenage girl many years ago, I know a bit more about that. Girls walk a tricky line between wanting to be admired by boys (or other girls) and being independent. It makes it really difficult when celebrity women have so little respect for themselves that they are masturbating with foam fingers in front of both a live and a television audience. That’s NOT what our young, impressionable girls need to be seeing! Hell, I don’t want to see it! That kind of thing goes back to Madonna, but it doesn’t make it right.

I’ve seen the rebuttal that her performance was “art”. Bull. One hundred percent bull. Art is not cheap. Art does not degrade oneself or others. On the Today Show, I watched Robin Thicke’s wife call his uncensored video for his song “Blurred Lines” “art”. I’m not a prude, but having beautiful naked women dancing around and hang all over you while you sing about them “wanting it” not only disgusts me, it creeps me out. Isn’t that what a lot of rapists and abusers say? “She wanted it”?  It’s not art; it’s the same thing that it’s always been: the old boys’ club that exploits women.

If I ever saw one of my beautiful nieces or students doing what Miley Cyrus did the other night, my heart would break, not that I’m worried about that happening. Their parents would kill them if it did and they’re not being raised like that anyway. But it does make me wonder. What part of her upbringing makes that behavior okay? Why did dancing like that ever seem like a good idea? Why does she feel the need to leave nothing to the imagination? It makes me very sad for her. It really does. I feel like she was failed by people in her life and, as a result, these are the kinds of choices that she makes. I see those same choices in some of the girls at the high school and even the middle school. They’re allowed to leave the house wearing booty shorts and sheer tops with lacy bras showing through. These are 12- and 13-year-old girls. Why don’t their parents say, “NO!”? That’s something I don’t understand. Parents are afraid to tell their children, especially teenage children, no and it shows. Not all of them turn out to  be hot messes, but why risk that? I want my kids to be aware that their actions have consequences, that how they portray themselves creates their reputation, boys or girls. I want my boys to not take women for granted, to respect them and to be respected in turn. It’s kind of hard to respect someone who calls herself an adult yet runs around like she’s high with giant teddy bears, stroking a married man between his legs with a foam finger. You might be able to see the same thing in the clubs down on Michigan Avenue.

I really don’t even know where I was going with this, just that I was really  upset about seeing that whole thing. I wish the best for young Miley and for the girls who are now confused about what happened to her. I pray for the parents who have to find some way to explain this to their kids, including me, and that Miley somehow understands that what she’s done didn’t help her career any. The End.

Read Full Post »