I Want to Hold Your Hand

I was sit­ting at the kitchen table talk­ing to my mom when my near­ly nine-year-old placed him­self on my lap.

What’s wrong, bud?” I asked.

Noth­ing, I just want­ed you to hold me,” he respond­ed as he leaned back and rest­ed his head on my shoul­der.

I auto­mat­i­cal­ly assumed that he felt bad or was start­ing to feel bad or thought he might feel bad, because this just nev­er hap­pens any­more. My baby, my first born, my Hand­some #1, the boy who made me a mom, is begin­ning to out­grow me. He has friends and inter­ests that I am no longer dic­tat­ing. And in all real­i­ty, that makes things a bit eas­ier. Often my atten­tion is divert­ed in many oth­er direc­tions. He is the old­est of four with three younger sib­lings rang­ing in age from sev­en all the way down to a year. To say that my focus tends to be stolen by oth­ers is an under­state­ment.

For the first two years of his life, it was us again­st the world. We would sing, dance, and play all day long. His white blonde hair and pierc­ing blue eyes lit up the room. He was a very ear­ly talk­er and would read­i­ly strike up a con­ver­sa­tion with any stranger that caught his glance. His play­ful grin and irre­sistible charm had me wrapped around his fin­ger from the word go.

As our fam­i­ly grew larg­er, my focus shift­ed to the new babies as they arrived and he became my great­est helper. Being the old­est is a birth posi­tion that I share and com­plete­ly under­stand. There is a lot of respon­si­bil­i­ty that comes with being first. You have to set the exam­ple, you have to behave, and you have to be the one who grows up while every­one else gets to be lit­tle. That grow­ing up hap­pens so fast and before a mom knows it; her baby is not a baby, nor a big boy try­ing to get even big­ger. He becomes a young man in a blink.

It use to be that I could pick him up and car­ry him up the stairs with­out a sec­ond thought. Today it would be a strug­gle, but one I would hap­pi­ly chal­lenge myself with if he asked. Some­times, I catch a look at his pro­file and see the same point­ed nose that he had as a new­born baby. As he has grown, his chin has become more chis­eled and his cheeks a bit thin­ner, but his eye­lash­es are still any model’s dream. If I brush his hair away from his fore­head I can still see him lying in a crib.

Some­times when he doesn’t even know it, he will grab my hand in a store and I get a lit­tle lump in my throat. I real­ize that time is fleet­ing and I want to hold on tight­ly for as long as I can. All too quick­ly he can feel my grip tight­en and he is gone run­ning down the aisle laugh­ing, smil­ing, and car­ry­ing on the way that a nine-year-old boy does.

Bed­time rou­ti­nes have trans­formed from singing songs, read­ing books, say­ing prayers, and more hugs and kiss­es than I could count to a quick, good­night and a, “Can you please close the door?” That lit­tle boy who want­ed me to read his favorite book just one more time is now read­ing nov­els on his own. Occa­sion­al­ly he will ask me to stay and tell him a sto­ry. He likes to hear about when I was a kid and fun­ny things about his grand­par­ents. He will lay on his bel­ly and let me rub his back as I talk. I take full advan­tage and even sneak in a kiss or a snug­gle before he asks me to leave.

He no longer wants my help get­ting dressed and locks the bath­room door for added pri­va­cy. He has nev­er been a high-main­te­nance kid, but there has recent­ly been a shift in what he cares about. Brand names are impor­tant and so is his hair. He comes into my bath­room in the morn­ing and asks me to style it for him. I breathe in his lit­tle boy smell and stare at him in the mir­ror. I quick­ly turn my head as the tears begin to well so that he doesn’t notice and grum­ble, “Mom! Please stop.”

As he begins to exert more and more inde­pen­dence, I am taxed with ensur­ing the he is mak­ing the right deci­sions. We are still in the, be nice to your sib­lings and don’t say bad words, phase. We talk about being kind, lov­ing, and faith­ful. I reit­er­ate that we should only treat oth­ers the way that we want to be treat­ed. Soon our talks will trans­form to more seri­ous sub­ject mat­ter like alco­hol, drugs, and sex. It is mind bog­gling to me that I even have to con­sid­er the­se con­ver­sa­tions, but the world that we live in neces­si­tates the seri­ous­ness of our dis­cus­sions because kids are fac­ing adult choic­es entire­ly too young.

I want him to con­tin­ue to love Minecraft and Trans­form­ers. I want his imag­i­na­tion to run wild about wiz­ards and far­away lands. I pray that he will always come to me with his fears and con­cerns and not ever be too embar­rassed to talk to me. I know that I can’t keep him lit­tle, and I don’t want to. He needs to explore every bit of the world that he can. But while he still wants me around and finds com­fort in my arms, I will keep him close and safe and pro­tect­ed. Who am I kid­ding? If he wants me to hold his hand when he is 35, I’ll do it. By then, I will be well into my six­ties and will like­ly be look­ing for a lit­tle help from his younger and stronger arm. I have no doubt he will extend it with a smile. But until then, I will hold his hand tight­ly and he will hold my heart.

Five Reasons Why I am a Guilty Catholic

When I was a lit­tle girl I stole a pack of Rolos from the gro­cery store. I use the word stole cau­tious­ly because there wasn’t any great pre­med­i­tat­ed plan. The brown roll with the gold­en edges looked deli­cious to my three-year-old eyes, so I grabbed them and head­ed out of the store with my moth­er. Once we were in the car she noticed the silence and real­ized that my mouth was qui­et because it was filled with choco­latey caramel good­ness. I was imme­di­ate­ly marched back in to the store where I pro­ceed­ed to return the half-eat­en stolen mer­chan­dise to the cashier along with a long, drawn our apol­o­gy. Cer­tain that I was faced with eter­nal damna­tion, my Catholic guilt was born that day.

I am not uncom­fort­able in my guilty Catholic skin. As a mat­ter of fact, I kind of like it. I am always dou­ble check­ing what I do or say so that when I have to answer to St. Peter at the gates of heav­en, I will have a decent sto­ry to tell. Make no mis­take, I am doing things wrong all of the time. If you’ve read any­thing else that I have ever writ­ten, you know that. I have learned from my moth­er, St. Mary Mau­r­mi her­self, a few things in my life. I have glad­ly passed the­se ten­ants on to my own chil­dren so that they will grow up to be a bit more decent…ish.…..

My moth­er had this pic­ture tak­en an entire year after I made my First Holy Communion.…Not that she should feel bad­ly about that.…..

1. Do not dis­card any­thing reli­gious- My moth­er has box­es of bro­ken rosaries at her house because she is sure that light­en­ing will strike her dead if she dares put one in the trash. “The­se are blessed, Colleen. You can nev­er get rid of any­thing blessed.” This one state­ment is why I have an Infant of Prague stat­ue with no hands hid­den in my sec­re­tary. I also have funer­al cards of the par­ents of kids who my moth­er went to grade school with in my mem­o­ry box­es. I have nev­er met any of the­se peo­ple. Not a one. I have no idea how in the hell (I am going to hell for just typ­ing that) I got them. But I sure as hell (back down to the firey abyss I go) can’t get rid of them. I say a quick may God bless you to Mrs. Mary Jones, b. 1921 d. 1994, every time I pass that Rub­ber­maid tub in the base­ment.

2. Make the Sign of the Cross when you pass a Catholic church- I live in St. Louis, you sneeze and you’re out­side of a Catholic church. That’s a lot of signs of the cross and plen­ty of time for reflec­tion. Very often when I am dri­ving alone I lis­ten to 90s gang­ster rap. As soon as I pass the church, that quick sign of the cross turns into a Hail Mary seek­ing inter­ces­sion from the Blessed Moth­er so that I will not be con­demned for lis­ten­ing to music filled with curse words, vio­lence and that objec­ti­fies wom­en. I real­ly like rap music so I am often over­whelmed with thoughts that I prob­a­bly shouldn’t be lis­ten­ing at all. Oh, and if I miss a church, then it is a dou­ble sign of the cross fol­lowed by a, “$h!+” and an “I’m sor­ry for curs­ing.” I get so worked up that I am sin­ning like crazy, I shut the rap music down and end up lis­ten­ing to Bar­ry Manilow for the remain­der of the day.

3. Make Sure you are Giv­ing Back- I feel like every sin­gle time I go to the store I am asked if I would like to donate a dol­lar to a cause. Some­times I say yes. Oth­er times I real­ly just don’t have the extra cash, so I decline. I am instant­ly over­come with shame know­ing that when the cashier says, “Receipt with you or in the bag?” She is real­ly think­ing, “Come on lady, you can’t donate just one dol­lar? Don’t you know that the cure would hap­pen if you just gave one dol­lar? But instead, you are enjoy­ing that Peo­ple Mag­a­zine with Richard Sim­mons on the cov­er and that Diet Coke, which, by the way, isn’t help­ing. So, please, take that flam­ing red hair and match­ing lips and go on about your busi­ness know­ing that you have just let down the entire effort. Thanks. Thanks a lot!” I reply, “Bag is fine.” And walk out with my head hung in shame.

4. Don’t For­get the Poor Kids- I hold on to every piece of cloth­ing, toy and book know­ing that there is a poor child that needs them. Shirts, shorts, coats and any­thing worth­while is bagged up and head­ed to those in need and the poor kids are thrilled. But what about the left­overs? The prob­lem is, the poor kids don’t want ten­nis shoes with holes or stained one­sies, but I feel so bad­ly about throw­ing away any­thing use­ful that I keep it in bins in my base­ment. Just in case. My fear that the poor kids will go with­out is not lim­it­ed to the hoard­ing of my children’s cast offs. I bring my sad­ness for the poor kids into the kitchen, too. If I exper­i­ment with a recipe that no one will touch, there is no way that we are throw­ing it out, because peo­ple are starv­ing. So, my hus­band ends up eat­ing the same casserole for lunch every day for a week. Or, he throws it away when he gets to work. Those deci­sions are on him. He’s the one who will go to hell for lying.…and wasting.…not me.

5. Look out for Your Guardian Angel- There is always some­one watch­ing you and it isn’t San­ta Claus. Sure, he sees you when you are sleep­ing and knows when you are awake, but the guardian angel isn’t lim­it­ed to the hol­i­day sea­son. He’s with you 100 per­cent of the time. That angel will pro­tect you when you need it, but he will also give you a quick real­i­ty check when it’s deemed fit­ting. Have you ever smart­ed off to your moth­er or slapped your broth­er and then walked away and tripped, or banged your elbow on the cof­fee table or spilled some­thing on your shirt imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the infrac­tion? That is your guardian angel giv­ing you a shove. Just ask my moth­er. She has ter­ri­fied her four chil­dren and eight grand­chil­dren with this lit­tle fact for years. Next time you do or say some­thing unkind, you’ll fee a swift kick to the back of your knees and fall right over. Mark my words!

There are a lot of things in life that I am guilty about, but my Catholic guilt is not one of them.  My moth­er has forever said, “If you can’t do it in front of me, you prob­a­bly shouldn’t be doing it.” That state­ment has rung true my entire life. My Catholic guilt does not make me a para­noid bas­ket case. Instead, it helps me to make bet­ter choic­es because I am con­cerned about what will hap­pen to me if I don’t. They say (I don’t know who they are but they are filled with help­ful nuggets of infor­ma­tion) good things hap­pen to good peo­ple. Lots of peo­ple call it guilt, oth­ers call it Kar­ma, some say it is blind faith. To me, that guilt is like a warm com­fort­ing blan­ket that makes me feel secure in my choic­es. But I am not too naive to real­ize that blan­ket has the abil­i­ty to spon­ta­neous­ly burst in to flames in case I get off course, so I always keep a bot­tle of water close at hand to fight the flames.… Just in case.…..

My Mom’s Original Gangster Parenting Hacks Would Never Fly Today

My kids are cod­dled like every oth­er child on the plan­et. They get par­tic­i­pa­tion tro­phies. They have gigan­tic water bot­tles so that they won’t ever dehy­drate. They get stick­ers at Tar­get for being in the cart, even though their behav­ior is so deplorable I often threat­en to leave a few behind. That is the way of our world. We as par­ents have become soft. The sec­ond you attempt to assert tough love you are labeled an a-hole par­ent by the rest of the pearl-clutch­ing moth­ers at pick up.

We thir­ty-some­thing moms were raised by a dif­fer­ent pack of wolves. If we didn’t fol­low the rules, it wasn’t about a gen­tle con­se­quence like los­ing a mar­ble from the good girl jar. Our par­ents pulled out the big guns. Today’s sweet and lov­ing Grannies and Grand­pas, whose grand babies can do no wrong, were not kid­ding around thir­ty years ago. They taught us lessons that we will nev­er for­get.

I am a moth­er of three boys and one girl, a mir­ror image of the fam­i­ly that I grew up in. Hav­ing four kids is often chaotic, but I guess because I am from a large fam­i­ly it isn’t the ginor­mous chal­lenge that the world assumes it is. Hav­ing said that, I cer­tain­ly have my fair share of, “What in the world have I got­ten myself into?” days. But when I am at my worst, it is com­fort­ing to know that my mom was in the exact same place and some­how she made it through. I will often reflect on my own child­hood expe­ri­ences and think how lucky I was to have been raised in a lov­ing fam­i­ly in the 1980s because if I pulled any of my par­ents’ OG child-rear­ing hacks today, I’d be in jail. Or at the very least, the con­fes­sion­al.….

Clean up, or else

Today’s child has a chore chart on the wall out­lin­ing their dai­ly respon­si­bil­i­ties with a cor­re­spond­ing mag­net that they can move from one side to the oth­er so as to earn their dai­ly stick­er and, ulti­mate­ly, a prize at the end of the week. In the 1980s you had the, “I swear to God if you don’t clean up this room, I am throw­ing all of your crap out the win­dow,” method. Par­ents didn’t just threat­en, they fol­lowed through. The entire con­tents of my broth­ers’ bed­room went fly­ing from a sec­ond sto­ry win­dow and when my mom said she wouldn’t pick one thing up, she meant it. No,the family’s dirty lit­tle secret was nev­er shared with any­one; but the lesson was learned and noth­ing took flight again. Today, the neigh­bors would whip out their iPhones to cap­ture video, post it on Face­book and my mom would end up on Dr. Phil defend­ing her boot camp-style par­ent­ing.

If you want to leave, go

If a child today threat­ened to run away, par­ents would have a men­tal break­down. Why are you unhap­py? What can I do bet­ter? Is there some­thing that we can do to improve your liv­ing con­di­tions? When I was a kid if you want­ed to move out, your moth­er would help you pack. As a mat­ter of fact, if you were lucky, she’d grab the gigan­tic Sam­sonite from the base­ment. There were no wheels of course, but it was nice and hard and made a great seat when you need­ed a rest. She’d pack up all of your clothes, some­thing fan­cy for church on Sun­day, per­haps a swim­ming suit in the sum­mer, and you’d be on your way. It’s unlike­ly that you’d make it too far past the front stoop car­ry­ing all of your world­ly pos­ses­sions. How­ev­er, you’d have plen­ty of time to think the plan through, just as your moth­er had intend­ed.

You will eat this or starve

If you were a kid in the 1980s you prob­a­bly had the plea­sure of culi­nary delights like Chick­en Tonight, Man­wich or if it was a spe­cial occa­sion Bagel Bites and Totino’s Piz­za Rolls. No mat­ter what was placed on the table, that was the only option. No one was con­cerned that you didn’t like the way it looked, smelled or how it felt in your mouth. Din­ner was served. And if you were hun­gry, you would eat it. If you refused, you would be forced to sit with your cold chick­en and dumplings, under dimmed light­ing, while the rest of the fam­i­ly went to watch ALF with­out you. If you didn’t eat said dumplings, there would be no oth­er food offered until break­fast. You would legit go to bed hun­gry and live to tell the tale the next day

Do as I say, not as I do

Going out to din­ner was a lux­u­ry when I was a kid. Sure there were plen­ty of fast food joints with out­door play places that caused per­ma­nent scar­ring from their met­al joy rides, but a sit-down meal was a treat. When din­ing out, par­ty man­ners were expect­ed, and so help me God; you had bet­ter nev­er let any­one know how old you were. Even if it meant keep­ing your coat on for the entire meal to hide your blos­som­ing chest or duck­ing down real­ly low in your seat, under no cir­cum­stances should the estab­lish­ment ever ques­tion whether or not you were 10 and under. There was no kids eat free with an eli­gi­ble adult in the good old days. Every­one had to pay their own way, but fathers in the know had a plan. Chil­dren were prepped in the car. You are nev­er old­er than the age lim­it for a kid’s meal. Is that clear? You will gra­cious­ly accept a kid’s menu. Do you under­stand? Only water and soda have free refills. Don’t even think about order­ing choco­late milk. Got it? Once you were clear­ly too old, your father became “Mr. I look so young for my old age” and would start order­ing off the senior citizen’s menu to bal­ance things out.

Don’t make me turn this car around

Vaca­tion was a time for the whole fam­i­ly to pack into the sta­tion wag­on and hit the open road while your mom yelled direc­tions from that, “damn Rand McNal­ly,” she could nev­er fold, while your dad took long angry drags from his Salems. There were no five point har­ness per­son­al utopia’s con­tain­ing tablets pre­load­ed with edu­ca­tion­al videos and apps. You played the license plate game and beat the hell out of one anoth­er for a win­dow seat. You’d hope for a quick nap in the car before you checked in to the hotel and spent the next six nights shar­ing a dou­ble bed with all five of your sib­lings. Vaca­tion came with no itin­er­ary, no day trips or jaunts. Your trip con­sist­ed of the hotel pool, third-degree sun­burns, bee stings and you cried when you left because you couldn’t wait for next sum­mer.

It was a sim­pler time with few­er dis­trac­tions. Fam­i­lies were big and weird and so many of them were unbe­liev­ably hap­py. And aside from that one sum­mer when my broth­er fell from the brand new swing set and prob­a­bly broke his foot, but we’ll nev­er know because it was the 4th of July and no one was going to the ER because, “it would be load­ed with idiots who’d burned them­selves with fire­crack­ers!” I think that my par­ents and the rest of the neigh­bor­hood moms and dads were real­ly on to some­thing.……

Guess What kids? It’s not my fault!

kidsYour base­ball uni­form is still damp because I for­got to put it in the dry­er last night. It’s time to go so I hang it out the car win­dow on the high­way for a lit­tle line dry action, that is my fault. You have to take your lunch in a plas­tic shop­ping bag from Tar­get instead of brown bag­ging it because I didn’t buy them on my last trip, you can blame that on me. Your oat­meal mixed with paprika instead of cin­na­mon, I am respon­si­ble for that. I will not; how­ev­er, take cred­it for any of this.

You are exhaust­ed

Well, mom, if you just put us to bed on time I wouldn’t be this angry and cry­ing every morn­ing!” Oh my lit­tle Hand­some, how quick­ly you for­get that I sent you to bed on time last night, and every oth­er night of your whole life because when the witch­ing hour arrives I am ready to jump out the win­dow. You decid­ed to laugh and wrestle and do every­thing else you weren’t sup­posed to be doing with your broth­er for an hour and a half while I yelled from my bed­room to go to sleep. You didn’t lis­ten. Not my fault.

You are cov­ered in some­thing

Mom, I have tooth­paste all over the back of my neck!”  Well, when you insist on sit­ting on the toi­let in the down­stairs half bath, even though there are three oth­er bath­rooms in the house, while your broth­ers are also brush­ing their teeth in said bath­room tow­er­ing over you because, why would we ever not be togeth­er in the small­est bath­room in the house? Some­one is prob­a­bly going to spit on you. Not my fault.

You can’t find your shoes

The last time I wore them, I put them away.” Your Grand­pa loved to use this one on your uncles and me when we were kids. It’s my favorite. I share this lit­tle tid­bit with you every sin­gle time you can’t find your Nikes. They are sup­posed to go by the front door so that we can avoid being 15 min­utes late, instead of our tra­di­tion­al ten. Of course, you ignore me and throw one upstairs the oth­er in the base­ment and have no mem­o­ry of either. Now you’re wear­ing pen­ny loafers and gym shorts to Mass. Not my fault.

You are starv­ing

Um, what is that? It looks bas­gust­ing.” My cook­ing may not be on par with Julia Child, but give me a break! I can crack open and thought­ful­ly pre­pare that jar of Ragu that you asked  for a mere 30 min­utes ago. The fact that you have decid­ed that any­thing red will induce vom­it­ing and there is absolute­ly no way in hell you will touch the fork that I put in the bowl instead of on the table takes crazy to a lev­el that I am not pre­pared to deal with. Not my fault.

You are not ready for bed

At the end of the day you need a drink of water, anoth­er hug, one more kiss and a short sto­ry. Bed­time is here and you need to go to sleep. And even when I am the most tired that I have ever been, there is noth­ing like lit­tle hands on my face and lit­tle lips whis­per­ing, “Good­night, mom. I love you.” I don’t want the­se days of you need­ing and want­i­ng and lov­ing me more than any­one to end. So, I indul­ge those last lit­tle requests because from the moment you were born, you stole my heart. Not my fault.

Keep Smiling, Keep Shining.…..

come

Since the dawn of social media the world has become obsessed with shar­ing. Our lives are open books of pho­tos and text writ­ten for every­one to see. Many of us have con­nect­ed our­selves with large groups of peo­ple, that if it weren’t for the­se sites, we may not have kept up with at all. On any given day I can tell you what peo­ple who I went to grade school with had for lunch. I can spot a friend’s hus­band, who I have nev­er met in my life, at a gas sta­tion but I won’t intro­duce myself because that would be weird. I can name hun­dreds of friends’ children’s names and tell you won­der­ful sto­ries about those chil­dren because I have read all about them, but they don’t even know I exist.

I, myself, tend to be an over shar­er. I like to think that my kids are fun­ny and so I write down their quips and I pub­lish them. I am lousy at baby books,. Those 0–12 months pic­tures always hap­pen a day, or a week late. And, shh, I total­ly throw away papers when my kids go to sleep at night. But, I will absolute­ly Insta­gram a quote about the time some­one told me they hoped they could throw up just to stay home and play with an iPad. That’s my life, day in and day out, and it’s the real life of so many par­ents.

When I was preg­nant with Dar­ling a few months ago, we decid­ed to keep the gen­der a secret until the end. We did this with all of our preg­nan­cies, so it was noth­ing new, but boy did the world want to weigh in on who was grow­ing in my womb. I thor­ough­ly doc­u­ment­ed my preg­nan­cy and the excite­ment that our entire fam­i­ly had dur­ing this spe­cial time.

When my Dar­ling was born, I proud­ly shared her birth sto­ry and the amaz­ing sur­prise that she was for all of us. I was so thrilled to announce my beau­ti­ful baby, I nev­er real­ly took the time to think about how my posts and pic­tures, so many sil­ly and often trite, could be affect­ing oth­ers.

And then this note appeared in my mail­box and stopped me in my tracks.

So I nev­er wrote you- I was going to but it seemed too strange, but you are a strange gal and will prob­a­bly appre­ci­ate this! I was due with a baby last March 2016… exact same time as you! I was busy hold­ing my breath hop­ing and pray­ing that this lit­tle one would stick when you announced #4. Of course I love your posts and was thrilled for you! My sweet lit­tle one was just pass­ing through and for some rea­son I had a REALLY hard time recov­er­ing emo­tion­al­ly from that loss. I sought out sup­port from all dif­fer­ent heal­ers — ther­a­pist, ener­gy work, etc. I KNEW it was a lit­tle girl!

I sort of lived vic­ar­i­ous­ly through your preg­nan­cy updates on Face­book! I just KNEW you were going to have a girl too!

I had a dream the night you went into labor that you had a lit­tle girl and woke up to the news on Face­book announc­ing the arrival of your Dar­ling! I cried. I was so emo­tion­al because I was so hap­py for you and so sad for me — it was real­ly cathar­tic for me to expe­ri­ence the joy you felt wel­com­ing your daugh­ter! Just so beau­ti­ful! So super dog ran­dom that you had NO IDEA that you and your preg­nan­cy played such a role in my heal­ing process!!!!! THANK YOU!

This mes­sage from a real-life friend from school, who lives a few states away and is a moth­er of three her­self, was an eye open­er for me. It made me real­ize that just being me, just being sil­ly and just shar­ing what hap­pens, made some­one else feel good. It made her smile dur­ing a real­ly hard time in her life. I find such plea­sure in read­ing oth­ers’ updates, too. There are a few select peo­ple whom I reli­gious­ly check on because they make me smile, laugh and real­ize that I am total­ly not as bad of a moth­er as they are. I kid, I kid. The real­i­ty is, we are all just try­ing to get through the day and we all serve as great bless­ings to one anoth­er. I am grate­ful to play that role for some of you and equal­ly thank­ful that you are there for me.

And while we may not always care about what that girl, who total­ly told a nun that she hat­ed her math class and walked out sopho­more year (this was absolute­ly a fever-induced demen­tia) did over the week­end, keep her on your friend’s list. She might be just what you need when you least expect it.

Tell ‘Em that it’s Human Nature

It's fine, I don't need sunglasses you all just protect your eyes. Let the child go blind.

It’s fine, I don’t need sun­glass­es you all just pro­tect your eyes. Let the child go blind.

If you can’t do it in front of me, you prob­a­bly shouldn’t be doing it. My moth­er spoke those words when I was a young girl and they stuck with me through very dif­fi­cult times. There were moments in my life when I was tempt­ed to do not so great things like smok­ing in a bath­room, under­age drink­ing in a field, or that time I was with friends lis­ten­ing to a bootleg copy of a 2Live­Crew tape and I was cer­tain that the neigh­bors could hear and would call the police because we were com­plete­ly and total­ly ignor­ing that parental advi­so­ry. But nev­er fear, my mother’s cau­tion­ary wis­dom was always with me.

I had a blog post all ready to go about a recent adven­ture with my boys and I let her pre­view it, as I always do, and she said, “I don’t like it. Sor­ry.” At first I thought, well for­get you, I don’t care what you think. But then I had to dig deep­er, because even at 37-years-old, I seek parental approval. She was con­cerned that I was cast­ing my Hand­somes in a neg­a­tive light. Part of my deci­sion not to use their real names on my blog is for that exact rea­son. I nev­er want what I believe to be fun­ny to be hurt­ful, shame­ful or embar­rass­ing to them years lat­er. I likened her dis­taste for my post to a pair of her jeg­gings that are on my own per­son­al worst dressed list. Her respon­se, “But I can defend myself.” Mic drop!

As they get old­er, I sup­pose that I will need to be a bit more dis­cre­tionary with what I choose to post. Not that I would ever pur­pose­ful­ly embar­rass my chil­dren, but they may not love every detail of their lives shared. Back when I was a kid, I didn’t have a clue about the world around me and had no idea if my moth­er was telling all of her friends about the sil­ly things that I did.

Since there was no Inter­net way back then, sto­ries were beloved because they were told over and over and over again. We have many tales from our own child­hood that my broth­ers and I love to recount. I am cer­tain that this will hap­pen with my own chil­dren as they get old­er as well. Some have been shared with the world, some have been untold for 27 years.……But who’s count­ing?

Once upon a time, I was in to Michael Jack­son. Not like I kind of liked him, more like I kissed the poster on my clos­et door good­night, obsessed.  I want­ed noth­ing more than to win tick­ets to see him when he per­formed in St. Louis. It was 1988, I was nine, and the only way to win any­thing back then was to call in to radio and TV sta­tions dur­ing var­i­ous con­tests. A local tele­vi­sion sta­tion was run­ning a pro­mo­tion that involved video clips of pop­u­lar Michael Jack­son songs. When the video ran, you were to call in and say the name of the song being per­formed and you won. This was a dream come true! I could total­ly do this.

For days, I watched and dialed in a futile attempt to spend an evening lis­ten­ing to the King of Pop live with thou­sands of oth­er scream­ing fans. I would hit the redi­al but­ton over and over and over, only to be met by the fast busy sig­nal, my arch­en­e­my. The clips played once per 30-min­ute show, so there was quite a bit of lag time, but I kept busy. And when there are six peo­ple liv­ing in your house, there is con­stant chaos. Sure­ly some­one was cry­ing, some­one was scream­ing and some­one was just try­ing to keep her san­i­ty. It was Girl Scout cook­ie time and my moth­er had been tak­ing last min­ute orders from fam­i­ly and friends through­out the day. The­se final addi­tions had to be called in by that evening. She was mak­ing din­ner, but had just enough time to make one quick call for Thin Mints.

The last pro­mo spot of the day aired and I was ready. Human Nature, one of my most favorite songs. It had to be a sign from God that this was my shot. I grabbed the phone, hit redi­al and it began to ring. The but­ter­flies in my stom­ach were in over­drive. The moment I heard a hel­lo on the oth­er end of the line, I couldn’t speak. I stood motion­less, my eyes and mouth open. My Nani, real­iz­ing what was hap­pen­ing, grabbed the phone and began to scream.

Human Nature! Human Nature! Michael Jackson’s Human Nature!”

I was in awe. She had done it. We had done it. All those hours of Diff’rent Strokes episodes had paid off! I was going to see Michael Jack­son. I began to pick out my out­fit for the evening and what auto­graphs I want­ed when the needle was ripped from the record.

Oh my God, mom! Who are you yelling at?” My moth­er asked.

She won the tick­ets. We got the tick­ets! I just redi­aled and I got the tick­ets. We’re going to see Michael Jackson,“I announced.

I said Human Nature! Michael Jackson’s Human Nature” she con­tin­ued to yell.

Hang up! Hang up! Hang up the phone! That’s not the TV sta­tion. That’s the Girl Scouts!”

The two of them pro­ceed­ed to laugh to to the point of no return, tears flow­ing down their cheeks and tin­kle down their legs. It was the 1980s. There was no caller ID, no *69, and absolute­ly no way for any­one to ever know that very strange phone call came from our house. The three of us swore to secre­cy that night, all for dif­fer­ent rea­sons. I was dev­as­tat­ed, they were embar­rassed and the poor per­son on the oth­er end of that call was con­fused.

My moth­er was look­ing out for my best inter­ests then, not want­i­ng me to be humil­i­at­ed or dis­ap­point­ed and she is still look­ing out for those inter­ests today. No mat­ter how old I am, I will hope that I am mak­ing her proud. As a moth­er, I can only pray to instill the same cau­tion and love in my own chil­dren. My biggest dream for them is to find laugh­ter in the lit­tle things. Every time Human Nature comes up on my iTunes I can smile know­ing that it brings such a won­der­ful mem­o­ry for me and a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent, and like­ly ter­ri­fy­ing, mem­o­ry for some­one else.

Mother's are always right...Ugh....

Mother’s are always right…Ugh.…

To My Nani Nine Years Later.…..

dkm

Nine years ago today was one of the most emo­tion­al­ly thrilling and equal­ly dev­as­tat­ing days of my life. Just the day before, I had an over­whelm­ing urge to take a preg­nan­cy test, some­thing that had nev­er even crossed my mind before. I was home alone and stared down at those two pink lines know­ing that my life was about to change in the most pro­found way, but hav­ing no idea what that real­ly meant. My first incli­na­tion was to tell my Nani, even before my hus­band or my moth­er. She had been my very best friend for my entire life and I always shared my biggest news with her.

She was very ill, in the hos­pi­tal, and I knew that my time with her was like­ly com­ing to an end. But she was a cat with nine lives and I hoped that she would give us all one more mirac­u­lous recov­ery. After shar­ing my news with The Grillin’ Fool, we decid­ed to head out to see her and tell her about our baby.

For the past few days the hos­pi­tal had been filled with our extend­ed fam­i­ly, vis­it­ing, pray­ing and lov­ing our Nani. There wasn’t a sin­gle moment that a cous­in, Aunt or Uncle wasn’t keep­ing vig­il over her bed. Because of the con­stant flow of vis­i­tors, I had not had a chance to tell my own par­ents that we were expect­ing. I felt a bit guilty, but knew that ulti­mate­ly they would under­stand why I chose to tell her first. I opened the door to her room and wait­ing inside were my three broth­ers, my par­ents and Nani lay­ing peace­ful­ly in her bed. Just my imme­di­ate fam­i­ly, no one else. I knew that God intend­ed for us to share this news right then and there with all of them.

I leaned in, kissed my Nani on the fore­head and said,

Nani, I have some­thing to tell you. I am going to have a baby.”

You could hear a pin drop. There were looks of shock on the faces of my fam­i­ly, but no one said a word. She opened her eyes, ever so slight­ly and smiled.

Oh hon­ey. I am so hap­py about your baby. That makes my life com­plete.”

The next day, she passed away. My heart broke in a way that I had nev­er expe­ri­enced. But even in my sor­row, I took solace in the fact that my final con­ver­sa­tion with her was to share the most amaz­ing news of my life and I knew that she would watch over me through­out my preg­nan­cy.

I believe in God, I believe in mir­a­cles and I believe in signs. I have felt her pres­ence in my life many times in the last nine years. As I was prepar­ing for Hand­some #1’s bap­tism the May after she died, Mau­r­mi brought over the sil­ver cup that Nani had given to me as an infant. It was hor­ri­bly tar­nished and the inscrip­tion was illeg­i­ble. Mau­r­mi scrubbed and pol­ished that cup until it looked brand new. She hand­ed it to me and as I read the engrav­ing, my heart skipped a beat.

Colleen McK­er­nan Dilthey

April 22, 1979

Most infant cups have the baby’s birth date on them. My Nani had mine inscribed with my bap­tismal date. That seem­ing­ly benign date also hap­pens to be Hand­some #1’s birth­day, the boy whose bap­tism we were prepar­ing for. She was there the day he was born, she was there the day he was bap­tized and she was with us in my kitchen as my moth­er and I cried star­ing at that cup.

Life has moved on in nine years and mine has changed so very much, but I don’t think that she has missed a thing. Sure, I wish that she was still here with me, but as I have grown old­er and wis­er, I use that word very cau­tious­ly, I real­ize that you have to live your best life while you are here on earth and your guardian angel will take care of you. When I need a lit­tle boost, I think of her and the won­der­ful things she did for me. I could write a book just about her and the Fri­day nights that I spent at her house watch­ing Love Con­nec­tion and eat­ing peanuts and drink­ing Sprite in bed.

While I miss her like crazy and I wish she was here, I watch her daugh­ter and she has embod­ied the very best of her own moth­er and is becom­ing her. My Nani was at every game, every per­for­mance, every thing that she could be for her grand­chil­dren. She was the ulti­mate cheer­lead­er and we could do no wrong. If you look out in the stands at St. Simon today, you will see that same fierce defend­er of her grand­chil­dren with a smile on her face and more love in her heart that any­one I know. Her name is Mau­r­mi and her grand­chil­dren adore her.

For the first 28 years of my life, I watched my Nani and my moth­er with envy. They had the kind of rela­tion­ship that many moth­ers and daugh­ters dream of hav­ing. I was close to my moth­er, but noth­ing like the two of them. My Nani had been my very best friend and it wasn’t until she was gone that I tru­ly began to appre­ci­ate my own moth­er for the wom­an that she is. I used to be a bit jeal­ous of the way that my children’s faces light up when she comes in the room, but then I remem­ber my own child­hood and real­ize that is the way it is sup­posed to be.

As a mom, I admire her. I know that she learned from the best in the world and I want like hell to be like them. No words can accu­rate­ly describe the way that I feel about my mom. She is my best friend, my part­ner in crime and the source of more laugh­ter than any per­son on the plan­et. Every min­ute that we spend togeth­er is cher­ished. She loves her fam­i­ly, her faith and her friends and will drop any­thing to help oth­ers. I can­not imag­ine what I would ever do with­out her. Many wom­en dread hear­ing, “You’re turn­ing into your moth­er.” To me, it is the ulti­mate com­pli­ment.

God sur­prised us last sum­mer and gave my hus­band and I a fourth baby. Like always, we decid­ed to keep the gen­der a sur­prise, tru­ly want­i­ng noth­ing but this bless­ing. I prayed for a smooth preg­nan­cy. I prayed for a safe deliv­ery. I prayed for a healthy baby. God grant­ed me each of the­se. Unlike my pre­vi­ous deliv­er­ies that all began in induc­tion, with baby #4 my water broke in the mid­dle of the night and we head­ed to the hos­pi­tal despite the fact that I was sched­uled to deliv­er via c-sec­tion a few days lat­er.

After painful con­trac­tions in the hall­way, even worse pains in pre op and mis­er­able pains before the spinal block was in, the surgery start­ed.

Before I knew what hit me, my doc­tor cheer­ful­ly announced,

Oh my God, Colleen, it’s a girl. It’s a girl!”

As I looked at my gor­geous pink bundle of love, I knew that my life was forever changed for the fourth time. I was once again inspired to be a bet­ter moth­er. I looked at my hus­band, both of us with tears in our eyes, and fell in love with him all over again. My heart was so very full. Togeth­er we have cre­at­ed an incred­i­ble fam­i­ly and I am so very proud.

That beau­ti­ful girl, Dar­ling, was named after my Nani and Mau­r­mi in the hopes that she will pos­s­es their spe­cial breed of mox­ie. I know that she is des­tined to make her mark on this world. Every day, I look at her sweet lit­tle face, and I hope that she and I will have the kind of rela­tion­ship that my mom and I and she and her moth­er had.

Nani, nine years has lit­er­al­ly been a life­time for me. I was just a girl when you left me, now I am a moth­er of four try­ing to get it right. You cer­tain­ly left an impres­sion on the hearts of those who knew you. Believe it or not, peo­ple still talk about you and your con­stant pres­ence when we were grow­ing up. It has not gone unno­ticed the impact that you had on your baby girl as she has tru­ly embod­ied your spir­it and con­tin­ues to make you proud con­tin­u­ing your lega­cy as the best grand­moth­er out there.

I miss you more than ever and I wish I could have you back for just one day to laugh and smile and eat of loaf of jel­ly toast in your kitchen. I know that you will con­tin­ue to watch over us all and to bless each of us in your spe­cial way. I love you so and appre­ci­ate what you have helped me to become more than I could ever explain. She is a fire­ball with smil­ing Irish eyes and I promise that your name­sake will do you proud. I can’t wait to see you back in two and two.…..

Perfect 10

We are a mere nine days from the open­ing cer­e­monies of the Olympic Games in Rio. The sum­mer games are always my favorite. I can watch the swim­mers, divers and gym­nasts for hours and be in the purest state of awe as their bod­ies move in ways that seem almost human­ly impos­si­ble. They are tru­ly glo­ri­ous ath­letes and I will sit, in my own per­son­al glo­ry, and eat lots of snacks and drink Diet Coke while watch­ing them all go for the gold.

I nev­er had aspi­ra­tions of being an Olympiad, which I am sure comes as quite a sur­prise. I was far more con­cerned that the blue and gold rib­bons in my hair matched my uni­form to get too caught up with the actu­al sport that I was par­tic­i­pat­ing in. I attend­ed Catholic school from K-12 and in grade school, I played all of the sports, excelling in none of them. Dur­ing the sum­mer, we belonged to Macken­zie Swim Club, a fond but dis­tant mem­o­ry, and of course, I was on the swim team. There was also a div­ing team, but I was nev­er a part of that. I think the sum­mer that a mem­ber fell through the bars on the high dive, crashed to the ground and broke both of her arms (total­ly sounds like this should have been me) killed any thought my moth­er may have had of get­ting me signed up for anoth­er adven­ture.

swim

 

For as many sum­mers as I can remem­ber, we were at the pool every day. My par­ents had four kids and for a few hun­dred dol­lars a year, this kept every sin­gle one of us hap­pi­ly occu­pied for hours and hours. All of my broth­ers and I grew up to be decent swim­mers with no fear of the water. Our par­ents bought the house that they live in now when we were all young adults and lucky for us, there is an enor­mous pool in the back­yard. As we have grown up, got­ten mar­ried and had chil­dren, Mau­r­mi and Pop Pop’s house is the per­fect sum­mer spot to take our kids for hours on end.

The Hand­somes love to head over to their house when The Grillin’ Fool and I get home from work at night. I nor­mal­ly stay home with Dar­ling, our sweet baby girl, but a few nights ago, he had some evening work to do for a client, so I took the boys for an adven­ture. It’s aver­ag­ing 600 degrees here in the STL, so the water feels like a fresh­ly drawn bath, per­fect for evening swims. Mau­r­mi and I spent our night float­ing and chat­ting with fre­quent inter­rup­tions of, “Mom! Watch this!” “Mau­r­mi, look at me!” and “Hey, this is my best one yet.” Over and over they were in and out of the water doing tricks off of the div­ing board and call­ing us out instant­ly if we hap­pened to blink.

Hand­some #1 made his way over to Mau­r­mi and I in the shal­low water and start­ed doing hand­stands. He went up and down bare­ly keep­ing his skin­ny lit­tle legs togeth­er before top­pling over and splash­ing us.

Shoot! I just can’t keep me legs up,” he com­plained.

You’ll get it bud­dy, you just have to keep prac­tic­ing,” I reas­sured him.

Can you just show me?”

Oh, hon­ey, I haven’t done a hand­stand in 30 years.”

Please!”

When your child, who is so very much like you not only in his looks but in his manip­u­la­tive ways, begs you to help him, you move your aging, expand­ing and some­what sag­ging body to the deep­er water, hold your breath and give it your best shot. I went under, hoist­ed my body up on my arms, attempt­ed to put my legs togeth­er and flopped over on my back. I splashed with such gus­to that I imag­ined the water to be far below the skim­mer when I resur­faced. I was a bit embar­rassed, but fig­ured, I would give it anoth­er shot. Once again I held my breath, said a quick Hail Mary and went under. This time, I got one leg up and plunged for­ward. I came up for air feel­ing defeat­ed, a bit light head­ed and deter­mined to get both legs up and togeth­er. Third time’s a charm, right? I took a deep breath and made a final attempt, but nev­er got my legs ful­ly extend­ed. Instead, my left arm slipped and I went crash­ing down, think Shamu Show in the big tank. I came up for air and was sud­den­ly extreme­ly nau­se­at­ed.

The head rush from my failed attempts at show­ing my chil­dren that I could mas­ter some­thing as an adult that I was nev­er even kind of good at as a kid, was too much. I began gag­ging and head­ed for the steps.

Colleen, what is the mat­ter with you?” Mau­r­mi ques­tioned.

Noth­ing, gag, I am fine, gag, gag, gag.”

Mom, mom, are you OK?” Hand­some #2 yelled from the deep.

I moved from the steps to the side of the pool dry heav­ing and lay­ing my head on the salty, hot con­crete. I was posi­tioned on the ground like a beached whale, wet, flail­ing and dis­ori­ent­ed, just hop­ing that some­one would direct me back to my prop­er place. The fuzzi­ness in my brain rivaled any morn­ing after the very best nights of my life in my ear­ly 20s. I was breath­ing slow­ly in through my nose and out of my mouth. I was afraid to open my eyes, for I was cer­tain that the world was not just spin­ning, but also on fire and laugh­ing at me.

Colleen, are you alright? What in the heck is going on?”

Mom, I am fine! I just got a lit­tle dizzy, I’ll be fine.”

I can’t imag­ine how that hap­pened? Your form was just love­ly,” she smirked.

This com­ing from the wom­an who breaks into tap danc­ing at Hob­by Lob­by, but I digress. It took a cou­ple of min­utes, but I final­ly gained my com­po­sure and was able to get back in the water, my hand­stand days clear­ly over. I grabbed a noodle and float­ed effort­less­ly, not a care in the world. Then, Hand­some #2 yelled from the deep,

Hey, mom! Can you show me how to do a back flip off the board?”

8 High Hopes I Have for My Girl

Hand­some #3 stood on the deck in noth­ing but his Under­oos, his chub­by lit­tle bel­ly pro­trud­ing and a big smile on his face.

Look at him. He is so sweet and hap­py, let­ting it all hang out, not a care in the world. Can you imag­ine hav­ing that kind of self con­fi­dence?” I asked The Grillin’ Fool.

What do you mean? I do!” He said with a smirk.

He was only half jok­ing. If he didn’t think any­one would call the cops, he’d be on the deck in his under­wear too. But instead, he parades around the house in his box­er briefs and a t-shirt with his bird legs danc­ing and doesn’t think twice. I, on the oth­er hand, feel like I should have on Spanx under my night­gown just in case the door bell rings in the mid­dle of the night.

My hus­band has no shame when it comes to his body. He’s a forty-some­thing with four kids just try­ing to make it through the day like every oth­er man sup­port­ing a fam­i­ly. He pur­chas­es zero self-care items and will use any bot­tle in the show­er. He has nev­er in his life looked at a nutri­tion label for sug­ar, fat or calo­rie infor­ma­tion. As long as it doesn’t smell too bad he will wear it. He is so hap­py in his own skin, that noth­ing phas­es him.

I have birthed three sons who are exact­ly like him. Hand­some #1 is thin and lanky. He loves to brush his hair over to the side and lath­er him­self up in body wash. He doesn’t care one bit about what his clothes look like and will let me pick what­ev­er I want from his clos­et. Hand­some #2 is a bit more of a fash­ion­ista. He has a very par­tic­u­lar opin­ion about what to put on,and will fight for a win. Even if that means a sweater vest and a pair of ath­let­ic shorts. He’ll wear that com­bi­na­tion proud­ly. Hand­some #3 has more con­fi­dence in his lit­tle fin­ger than the rest of them com­bined. They are pre­cious, per­fect lit­tle boys and I want to be just like them.

For years, I wor­ried about what would hap­pen if God ever gave me a daugh­ter. How could I pos­si­bly set a good exam­ple of body image and con­fi­dence if that is the one thing that I tru­ly strug­gle with on a dai­ly basis? For my first sev­en years as a mom, I par­ent­ed my three boys know­ing that their father would have a pro­found impact on the type of men they will become, but not wor­ry­ing that my self image would affect them.

Then a sur­prise preg­nan­cy brought the biggest sur­prise of my life, a daugh­ter. I was thrilled beyond thrilled, but equal­ly ter­ri­fied that I would screw her up. I am the one who she will look to for strength and guid­ance. She will come to me for advice and help. I will be her exam­ple of self con­fi­dence and wom­an­hood. I want to do it right.

DMT

Thank­ful­ly, she is only a few months old and I have some time to get my act togeth­er. Gone are the days of look­ing in the mir­ror and list­ing all of things that I hate about my body and face. The inse­cu­ri­ties that have plagued me for years have to die before they begin to rear their ugly face in my daughter’s eyes. When I look at her, I feel inspired to be bet­ter. She is inno­cent and pure and beau­ti­ful. She is so beau­ti­ful. I nev­er want her to doubt that. I do a lot wrong, don’t we all? But, there are a few things that I have picked up along the way that I hope that she might think are worth­while nuggets of advice.

1. Laugh- Laugh Loud­ly and rau­cous­ly even if you are the only one who gets the joke. Most impor­tant­ly, laugh at your­self and know that every­one makes mis­takes. Make oth­ers laugh and know that there is no bet­ter med­i­cine. I would also be extreme­ly proud if you were the third gen­er­a­tion class clown at a cer­tain all girls Catholic high school, but I will not put unfair pres­sure on you to be any­thing that you are not.

2. Fall Hope­less­ly in Love with a Boy Band- There is noth­ing bet­ter than cov­er­ing your bed­room walls with pic­tures of the men that you are cer­tain you will mar­ry one day. I will hap­pi­ly down­load all of their music, buy crazy expen­sive tick­ets and sob with you when you see them in per­son for the first time. Trust me, you will want to keep your t-shirts, ear­rings and every over­priced acces­so­ry you can even when you think you are over that part of your life. I will glad­ly help you hoard them, and hide them from your father, so that when your favorite band goes on tour in 20 years, you can squeeze your post­par­tum body into that shirt and feel like a kid again.

3. Be a Friend- Not just to the cool kids or the pop­u­lar peo­ple, be a friend to every­one who needs it. The shy lit­tle girl in the back of the room wants to play in the game too, invite her. Always be the nice girl, not the mean girl. Years from now peo­ple will remem­ber the slight­est bit of kind­ness that you have shown them. I’m sure at some point, you will feel the wrath of a mean girl, and it will hurt, but please do your best to be kind, to watch your words and to walk away with a smile on your face, it will make you stronger.

4 . Lis­ten- This is a tough one, because you come from a long line of peo­ple who love to talk. But, trust me as much as you may want to speak, wait your turn and let oth­ers talk. It isn’t always about what you have to say, some­times it is about what you don’t say and the time that you take to hear some­one else that makes all the dif­fer­ence.

5. Pray-Every sin­gle day of your life take a moment to talk to God. Thank Him for what you have, who you are and where you are going. Ask for for­give­ness and guid­ance. Your faith will guide you in life’s most dif­fi­cult times. When all else fails, close your eyes and whis­per, Sacred Heart of Jesus, I trust in thee. This has got­ten sev­er­al gen­er­a­tions of wom­en in our fam­i­ly through tougher times than I could ever imag­ine.

6. Wear Red Lip­stick- Wear bright lips, shab­by over­alls, plaid high heel shoes, or pink gloves. Your friends may tell you that it is too bright, or too bold, or too much, but if it makes you feel good, do it! If it makes you feel pret­ty, then wear it, use it and flaunt it often, no mat­ter what it is. You will devel­op a sig­na­ture style that screams your name, make sure to scream it back.

7. If You Can’t Do it in Front of Me, Don’t Do It- This isn’t a threat, and it isn’t meant to be scary, it is just some­thing for you to always think about. I learned this from my own moth­er many, many years ago. And to this day, it still rings true. The old­er you get, the more time you will spend on your own and you will be faced with chal­lenges and choic­es to do things that you may not feel right about. If you would be com­fort­able doing it in front of me, you are gold­en. If not, it’s prob­a­bly not the best idea.

8. Be Hap­py With the Skin You Are In- You are not fat, not today, not tomor­row, not ever! You are gor­geous and per­fect and exact­ly as you were meant to be. Don’t ever let any­one dim your sparkle, espe­cial­ly not some­one who wants you to fit in to some kind of mold. They aren’t worth your time if they think a sin­gle freck­le on your nose needs to change.

As I read over my words, it was very clear to me that this advice is just as impor­tant to my boys as my girl. All I want is to raise chil­dren who are kind, lov­ing and respect­ful mem­bers of soci­ety. Each day I try to be a good mom and I real­ize that par­ent­ing will nev­er end, it will nev­er get eas­ier, it will always change. And it is the great­est chal­lenge I have ever accept­ed as it forces me to set an exam­ple and thought­ful­ly work to be a bet­ter per­son. To my chil­dren, I am so grate­ful and I love you.

Airing Our Dirty Laundry, All Over Saint Louis Hills

 

My first reac­tion to this video was to be crit­i­cal of myself. The hor­ren­dous screen shot of a five-week post­par­tum moth­er, couldn’t they have cho­sen some­thing bet­ter? I want­ed to point out my errors, the way that I look and the way that I sound. But, I am throw­ing all of that out the win­dow. I am so incred­i­bly proud of this accom­plish­ment. I stepped com­plete­ly out of my com­fort zone, put my heart and soul on the line with an orig­i­nal piece and the audi­ence loved it. I am so incred­i­bly thank­ful for the sup­port of my fam­i­ly, my three broth­ers and my dad, who allowed me to bring a lit­tle laugh­ter into the world at all of their expense, but par­tic­u­lar­ly to my moth­er, who has always been my biggest sup­port­er. I am also grate­ful for my hus­band and chil­dren who allowed me to take this time to be com­plete­ly self­ish and to do some­thing just for me. I love each and every one of you!

The Lis­ten to Your Moth­er expe­ri­ence tru­ly was life chang­ing for me. It helped me to real­ize that God has blessed me with a tal­ent and that I need to take advan­tage of that tal­ent. I am cur­rent­ly work­ing on a col­lec­tion of essays from my child­hood, very sim­i­lar to the fol­low­ing, that I hope to pub­lish soon. I appre­ci­ate all of your kind words and your love. You will be see­ing a lot more from me soon!

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