I just want you to know- I had your back. I was trying to make eye contact and give you the mom-sisterhood of  “you’ll survive this, smile.” However, you were too busy trying to get the diapers paid for -so you could escape the stares and just loud enough to be heard, critiques of your parenting.

I know the looks.Those glares leave a sunburn on a mom-heart. I’ve heard the comments. I’ve received my share. From other shoppers. From retail workers, from random strangers and pretty much everyone you can imagine. I’ve heard them all: “She should get her kids under control.” “In my day we didn’t tolerate that kind of behavior.” “If your baby is crying- you should leave and spare the rest of us.” And of course the ever popular: “Can’t she hear that child screaming?”

The answer is: Yes. We moms have supersonic hearing. In addition to a hyper sensitivity to the cries of our own child that makes our heart beat in time with our headaches as if a marching band playing in in our body- we can hear all the hurtful things said about us. Yes, even when our kids are screaming.

Here’s the thing, Mom. I’ve been there: planning my trip for groceries and diapers perfectly between nursings and naps. I’ve darted from the house for the 13 minutes in the day when I had the best shot at a quiet, unevent-filled trip. And then my kids happened, too. They’re like that.

I want you to know I saw you make it through produce and head straight back to milk. I heard you telling silly stories to distract the toddler while jiggling the cart to keep the baby happy. I saw you grab the diapers- and I watched while you were sprinting to the finish line.  AKA: the register. I was cheering you on, sister. And then- the kids imploded and your milk came in. Ugh . MY stomach turned. I know that feeling. It’s a fight or flight thing. An instant of panic…. and then a choice: “Do I risk the line and the concentrated judgment there? (Those confined spaces make it me feel like I’m under a parenting microscope. PS: it’s very helpful that they put all that “out of our budget and not in our eating plan crap impulse buy stuff” rt there- to make it more difficult. The alternative to facing The line of scrutiny and  tantrum temptation? Leave a cart full of stuff I need and end up coming back only to make it halfway through produce before this happens again.” I’d stay, too. I have. Lots of times.

It happens to all of us.

I also know you were just trying to survive- and feed little people and keep bottoms from getting rashie. You weren’t shopping for Manolo’s on Park Ave. It was diapers and milk at wal****. Let’s face it. Wal**** is not exactly a place of serenity or decorum. It’s a place of crazy last minute dashes and families and noise and a dress code that  is apparently open enough to inspire a website. Or, so I’ve heard.(It’s a mean site. Hilarious. But, mean.)

So- I purposefully got behind you in line. No, not to stalk you. (Although, it sounds like it right now.) I was just hoping to at least try the eye contact -thing. Cause, I know. I get it. And- I  heard the comments from other shoppers. I wanted to help. Be a buffer. Something.

(Why do people think they’re snark will make our kids stop imploding? I mean, other than some people can be stupid… Or is that the only reason? It may be.)

Anyway. We didn’t make eye-contact. But, I noticed. And I want you to know, that after you left? When the cashier did exactly what you’d feared, and started rolling her eyes and going into the spiel about staying home if your kids are crying? “Blah blah blah.”  I had your back. I didn’t go along with her. I didn’t smile and nod in agreement.

I told her I’d been there. I told her that kids spontaneously combust and you: STILL need diapers and milk. I told her that there were a hundred WORSE times you could have darted in that day- and she’s lucky it was timed as well as it was. I also told her that by the time you’re sprinting to the finish line, you’re exhausted as well as the kids, and you’re just hoping to make it to the car before you cry. Because you heard the comments. You felt, the stares.They hurt.

Basically- I (kind of loudly, cause I’m Italian- or obnoxious or passionate take your pick.) had it out with the cashier so that she- and everyone around us, could get a reminder about what parenting is really like: Hard. And that you were doing what had to be done. And you did. I promise I didn’t go crazy on them. I was all appropriate and everything. But: I had your back.

Even if you didn’t know.

You’re not alone. You’re loved. And it will get better. I promise. Someday you’ll be the one with her kids at school and work, in no rush at wal****.   Maybe, you’ll do the same for some other mom.

Anyway- I just thought you should know.

With love, from a mom who’s been there- and survived.

Dear Lord- mothering is hard. Some parts are harder than others. Wal**** trips are right up there with vaccinations. No fun for anyone, painful and  sometimes necessary. Lord, I pray that you’d raise a generation of moms that have each other’s back.  I pray that we’d try to help instead of snarking and judging. I love you lord- and the moms you bring my way- even when their kids are imploding, I pray you’d bless each one who reads- and encourage us so we can encourage others- in your name- amen.

Isaiah 40:11
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

Ps: I’m typing this on my phone at urgent care -sister- so forgive the type and lack of finesse. Like I said- I’m a mom… ;) As a mom, I’m multi tasking. The urgent care people prolly think I’m awful cause I’m typing away while my kid waits for X-rays and plays DS. Whatever. We do what we have to do, rt? Rt.

If you’re a mom who’s been “that mom” at wal****- and you’re feeling alone. I encourage you to visit a MOPS group near you- I’ve been working with moms there and been helped as a mom there for the past 24 years- MOPS gets moms. And loves them. Even when their kids are snotty faced screamers at Wal****.

 

I watched as each woman gracefully walked to her place on the stage. Each one a picture of poise and beauty. Their Runway strut and pivot turns were  “America’s Top Model” perfect.

They were all:
• Beautiful
• Intelligent
• Resourceful
• Unique
• Dedicated
• Incredible

And, vying for the same crown. The competition was fierce. It was game on. I eyed the crown, for inspiration, before I went to take my place along side them. The glitter and prestige made me gag on my insecurity.  Nausea be darned: “I want that crown.” I thought. I strode across the stage.

The music slowed, then quieted. The announcer made her way across the stage to ask the “crowning” question of each contestant. I worked to listen to their answers and reconsider my own well-practiced one, while trying to simultaneously size the other contestants’ answers up.

Each one gave it her best. (This was a serious contest.)

Each answer was more difficult than the next.

I started to feel small. Smaller. Smallest. I don’t mean in dress size. I wondered if my answer would seem petty. I wondered if I should be on the stage with these women, at all. I wondered if I could sneak out, without being noticed.

I wondered which of them would win the crown. It wasn’t going to be me.

What was the question?

“What’s the hardest type of mom to be?”

Not exactly the type of question you were expecting in a pageant?

Well, I admit it. I lied. There was no pageant. I’ve never even been to a formal gowns, bathing suits and brutal stage lighting pageant. Please, being in one? That would be my nightmare.. Especially after 3 kids and more years than I care to count. Let’s just say, the bathing suit thing gives me hives- which might camouflage my stretch-marks, but won’t win me a crown.

I have, however, competed for the Mommy Martyrdom Crown. Several times. Whether it’s a question that’s actually been posed to a group- or one that’s implied, it’s one I’ve competed to answer.

Have you competed for the same crown? It’s a one-up-momship. A “my life is hard than your’s–so- you- should- not complain”  contest.

The thing is, no one wins.

After a winner is crowned, the rest of the contestants line up to congratulate her: “I don’t know how you do it.” “I could never do that” We offer them as blessings, but the words become walls. Miss congeniality ends up feeling “less than.” And the winner? She feels…… “more than.”

The Crowned Martyr-Mom has convinced herself (and others) how awful her life is, while at the same time convincing the others how petty their struggles are. She’s got skillz. We all do. Because we all know how to play the game.

We just don’t know how to win- because – everyone loses. We disconnect because we can’t be authentic with each other.  We’re too busy either trying to top each other or feeling guilty about feeling frustrated by “our little issues.”  In the end- intimacy is lost. Intimacy is way more valuable than a tinsel crown.

The Martyr -Mom  is miserable. So are the rest of us.

What if we stopped competing? What would it look like if we could learn to hear and understand the struggles of others without comparing our own? What if we set aside the Martyr-Mom crown for the crown of friendship?

What if we learned to respect each other’s challenges?

We are all:

  • Beautiful
  • Intelligent
  • Resourceful
  • Unique
  • Dedicated
  • Incredible

We’re also all:

  • Living with challenges
  • Imperfect
  • Frustrated
  • Overwhelmed
  • Grieved
  • Perplexed

At any moment in time- we could each win that crown. But, we could have so much more than that.

  • We could learn the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.
  • We could grow in compassion
  • We could learn from the struggles of others- before they become ours. (Trust me, it happens.)
  • We could find out we’re not alone.
  • We could find help and hope in the stories of others.

How can we stop the pageant? Maybe, we just need to leave the stage. Together.

I quit. I quit comparing. I want to listen and love. I want to build intimacy not compete for martyrdom.

How ’bout you?

In just a few minutes, I’m heading out to the mall. Not for my typical mall run that involves coffee and bookstores and shoe shopping.  I’m going to do an experiment in judgment. I’ll be counting the number of times I make snap judgments about the people I see there. In one hour.

I’m nervous. Let’s just say, if my theory is right, and we all do this everyday… then, the same number of people  will (possibly)  be making snap judgments of me, while I sit there sipping a latte.

So just for fun, and maybe  a contest…. How many judgments (assumptions made about someone’s character based on their appearance or quickly observed behavior) will I make in one hour?

The experiment will work like this: I will move to 4 different locations around the mall during that hour- so I don’t stack the deck by sitting near any one particular store… (ummm yeah…. my Grandma shops at JC Penney and the goths all shop at Hot Topic… sooo too easy if I just sit there :P)

Post your guess in the comments-  I’ll pick up a little giveaway while I’m there:)

Edited to add— I’ll keep the comments open for this post until Midnight 9/17  *** the prize?

Hello Kitty Earbuds purchased at the mall, of course:)

if you send tweet a message linking here- or facebook post a link let me know and I’ll give you an entry for a second pair that will be drawn at random:)

The experiment went well- but I’ll be running it again- I only counted my negative judgments.. and I know I made positive ones too:) I also want to go on a busier day/ time and to a bigger mall… although I’m kind of scared of the results!


“So…. can I run?” I asked hopefully.

“Well, you seem to be having trouble walking..” Replied the orthopedic specialist.

“But, I need to exercise.  I’m trying to lose weight. I just got into a good habit.. I don’t want to have to start all over.” I argued .

“There are other exercises you could do. Biking and swimming don’t result in  running injuries.” He countered. “You can do what you can tolerate. We’ll schedule an MRI, and go from there. It could be a stress fracture, internal knee derangement, tendonitis or pes bursitis. Wear the immobilizer or don’t, whatever feels better. Do you want a prescription for pain meds?” He offered.

“No, I should be fine. “ I replied. I was convinced the pain would be gone, soon.  I’ve had sprains and tendonitis before.  I can handle it.  I thought.

I was wrong. Very wrong. almost 2 weeks and an MRI later, the pain is no better.  I walk like zombie. I lurch and heave and swing and wobble.  Every step increases the pain.

I’ve been icing so much, I worry I’m turning into a popsicle. Or, maybe a blood-slushie.  I seriously feared for my life, when I went to see Eclipse.  (If any real vampires were there..a blood-slushie would have been nearly irresistible in this heat, I’m sure.) Apparently, the only vampires present were on-screen. I made it home safely.

I have purchased and tried every type of wrap/ brace I can find.  Nothing is helping.

If I sit just the right way, (which  involves pillows and elevation and just the right degree of bending…it’s a new yoga pose: The IfIdothisitdoesnthurtlikeabear pose. ) and don’t move… it is more comfortable. After a bit in this new pose,  I start to think: “Hmmm, maybe it’s getting better!” Then, I move and the pain crashes back in like a tsunami.

*Sigh.*

I am having trouble concentrating on writing projects. I’m having trouble doing the basic mom-stuff. This weekend was my son’s graduation party.. it was rough and painful and wonderful.  I am VERY thankful I had lots of help. I could NOT have pulled it off without it.  I’m having trouble keeping my sanity.

I’ve been obsessively researching the potential diagnosis.’  I’ve been obsessively reviewing my MRI. (I have it on CD and downloaded a viewer- yup- that really IS my leg in the pic.) Did you know you can see your fat on an MRI?  Gross.  My brain seems to be convinced that if I knew what was wrong, I could fix it.

My brain is confused. I’m not a doctor. Every time I read another article, I am convinced it’s something different. Every time I compare the MRI pics to those I find online… I change my mind, yet again. (Funny how radiologists and doctors go to school for years to learn to read those things.. But, I think a few hours of online research will equip me to diagnose myself…Am I the only one who does that?)

I’ve been wondering if I’m a hypochondriac. Between hurting my back, and the lame liver stuff I had last month and  this, I’m feeling like a wimpy-whiner.

I want my life back.

Once in a while, I pray.

I’m a little (maybe a lot) frustrated right now. To be honest, it’s a toss up who I’m angrier at- myself or God. Myself, because I have a bad feeling this is a nasty stress fracture and it’s my own fault for over doing the running thing… and God.. because, well.. because I believe he could heal me and isn’t.  It’s entirely possible he’s allowing this to teach me to listen to my body and not over-do.  It’s possible I’m hard headed.

Or- it’s possible there is no huge lesson in this.. and it’s simply something I just need to limp through.

One step at a time.

When I started writing “A Mile in Her Shoes” I hadn’t considered having to limp through some of those miles….But that’s for a chapter in the book, I suppose;)

Dear Lord– I don’t know what’s wrong with this stupid leg.  I do know that it’s hurting and making me crazy.  Please give the doctor wisdom  to treat it. I hate drugs Lord- you know that- so if he could put me in a splint that would relieve the pressure..and allow me to at least walk.. that would rock!  I’m worried about being able to function at MOPS Convention, and I’m worried that if I keep walking on it this bone will eventually snap right through. I’m impatient, Lord, and need to get ready for vacation this weekend. Please either heal me or help me wait… let me lean on you during this time of limping… I love you Lord– even if I’m frustrated with you right now- amen

* for the record-I am convinced I see a fracture in this MRI. and also for the record: I will be sickly thrilled if I HAVE diagnosed myself. I’m like that.

**** And now- just for fun. And because I have an essay in it… how bout we have a contest?  Who ever diagnoses my boo-boo, most accurately, including whatever the doc recommends for a treatment plan wins a copy of “Momology“.. we’ll call this a scientific application of the book….. ;P

options:

Group A (choose 1)

Stress Fracture

Pes Bursitis

Internal Derangement of the Knee

Tendonitis

Hypochondria

Some combination of the above.

Group B (choose 1)

cast

surgery

brace/splint

Physical therapy

suck it up you whiner- call a shrink.

leave your answer in the comments. I have my follow up Ortho appt Friday morning.  I’ll announce the winner then;)

sunday dewI never thought I’d be one of “those” moms.  You know, the ones- they walk their kid to the bus stop and then head out for a “run.”   Them. The crazy runner moms.

I had lots of excuses:  “Bad knees.” “No time.” “I can’t afford the shoes…”  “If I have an hour I should spend it doing something productive… like laundry.”  “I have too much to do for my kids… to take that kind of time for myself.”

Yup. I had plenty of nice- good mom-excuses..

But, as I work on the “Mile in Her Shoes Project,” I realized, it’s more than excuses. I’ve been judging those “workout moms.”  And thats why, I didn’t want to be one.

I kind of thought I was “holier than thou,” because I don’t have time to take care of myself.  I focus on my kids, their needs, their schedules.. them. . So-that means I’m not selfish, right?

Then a couple of months ago we had that dog attack of doom.  I ended up flat on my back with an injury from trying to fend off a german shepherd….The worst part is- I couldn’t really fend off that shepherd. It was pathetic. I am so out of shape I couldn’t take care of myself, my kids or pets.

Not good.

Recovering gave me some time to ask myself some questions. I did not like the answers… “In the condition I am in… can I really care for my kids in the best way possible?  Answer: No.  I’m tired and sore and crabby over my weight. What kind of example am I living?  Answer: That cake and cookies are a good stress reliever. If it’s not what I say but what I do that matters as a mom..what a I showing my kids to do? Answer: “To not take care of yourself.

BUZZZZZ! Wrong answer.

When you combine these answers with a cholesterol level hovering over 200, my blood pressure creeping up at each doctors appointment, an ongoing struggle to manage stress and PMDD…and a family history of diabetes and heart disease (my Dad had a heart attack and bypass at 50.) … Something had to change.

My attitude.

It’s not selfish to want to be alive and healthy for my kids, my husband and (yes) myself.  Is it?

174 miles in this pair of shoes has taught me that no, it’s not.

At first- it was HARD. I made lame mistakes by being overzealous and training too hard.  I made it hurt more than it needed too. It took more time than necessary.  I felt crappy. That was not so much, good for my family.  but I’m learning.

Now- I’m listening to my body. I run when I feel like it and walk when I don’t.   It doesn’t HURT everyday.  Actually- my back feels better and things are starting to fit better. Looser- even! (Although- I’m refusing to weigh myself because I don’t want this to be about weight…)

At Noah’s cajoling- I’m trying to eat breakfast.  (I hate eating in the morning.)

I’m eating fruit instead of some of my baked goods frenzies… (let’s not be nuts here-.. some baked goods are necessary for mental health!)

And yes- I’m running 5 days a week. I’m averaging somewhere between 4-6 miles each day. Sometimes I run more than I walk- sometimes I walk the whole thing.. But,I’m getting there. One step at a time. One mile at a time.

174 miles in her shoes.. only now?  They are mine!

To all the moms out there who’ve been working hard to take care of yourselves while I’ve sat back and judged you as selfish.. I’m sorry about that.  I’m learning. I’m growing..

I’m letting go of my prejudices.

***for those who will worry- the shoes in the pic- are NOT what I’m running in:P

Questions for you:

How do you take care of yourself?

Do you exercise?  Why, or why not?

How do you feel about “those” moms?

Who are “those” moms to you?  The moms like me, who sit on the couch and complain about and make excuses for being un-fit?  (Until I really felt like I HAD to do something.. I really thought I couldn’t…)


I’m a mommy-bigot.   I hate it, but, it’s true.

oh my it's real

For the most part my bigotry is centered on mommy’s choices, preferences and lifestyles. I am prejudiced.  A bigot of Mommy-sorts. (I pre-judge others.)

It’s like I have a Google indexing program running in my brain.  For the most part my Google-fu is amazing… but it’s way off, when it comes to moms.

It works like this: I see a mom, sum her up in a searchable word (SAHM, Working, Home Schooler, Tatted.. etc) and my brain pops up a list of  “top results” (prejudices/assumptions/related searches) And “related” searches….

Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes, not so much.  They look a little like this:

Goth-mom- Top Results: Possibly a Mompire, prefers black fingernail polish, reads Edgar Allen Poe to children at bedtime.

Related searches: Bat baby mobiles, faux fang pacifiers. Current reading: Potty Training after Dark…. (more…)

I had it all planned out. There would be: fresh baked bread and  dinner in the freezer ready for when we brought the new baby home. I dreamed of  coffee with friends in the mornings and  cuddling and reading with my baby in the afternoon. I envisioned smiling-clean children welcoming their Dad home in the evening.  In my Stay at Home Mommy-hood dream, I am always dressed in mommy-professional attire and feeling completely fulfilled in my role as Mommy and Wife.  I sing like Snow White while I vacuum.

That picture of mommy-hood perfection lasted the first 13 days of my first pregnancy. At which point Mommy-hood went High Definition.  I was put on bed-rest. My planning and preparations came to a screeching halt.  

Suddenly, every bumpy, lumpy, hard and wonderful pixel of motherhood came into sharp focus.  My longing to protect my little one… the pain of facing loss, the excitement re-building at each Dr’s appointment when I found out I was still “expecting.”  It was hope, fear, trust, pain, joy all rolled into one. It was  motherhood condensed, and I hadn’t even had a baby yet.

My preparing for baby dreams of ready made meals and hand stitched baby clothes instantly changed to spending my days crying through Oprah, as I watched the laundry and dishes pile up around me.

I’ve been trying to “catch up” with my housework, ever since.

Don’t get me wrong…there have been moments that look a lot like the picture I had in mind.  Stories shared, children clean and smiling,(especially when they are both clean and asleep.. those are moments of dream become real.) There has been bread baked (the crust of which no child would eat.) meals served (even if it’s mac and cheese)  and  Daddy welcomed.

But there have been lots of things that were not part of my SAHM dream.. Like struggling to pay bills on one income, split lips and screaming kids, sibling fights and late nights. My “mommy professional attire” is most often comfy sweats with something spilled on them. The busy-ness has been shocking.

as I’m working on the “Mile in her shoes” project and thinking about being a SAHM….I have a few questions for you: (whether you’re currently a SAHM or were previously every mom’s voice matters!)

  1. What surprised you most about being a SAHM?
  2. The busy-ness?  The tediousness? The loneliness? The overwhelming responsibility? The messiness?  The response of others when they learn you’re a SAHM? The joy?
  3. What do you find most difficult?
  4. Most enjoyable?
  5. How Has High Def Mothering been different from your mommy-dream?

I can’t wait to hear!  Please Comment, Twitter or email me your answers!