Happy Birthday, Helen!

On this day, 12 years ago, my “mommy’s girl” entered this world. I prayed throughout the pregnancy that this baby would be all mine, that she would want me over everyone else at all times. It’s interesting when I think about that, because it had never occurred to me to pray for something like that before my first two babies. Sarah was born ready to rock and roll and be li’l Miss Independent. Dani had special affection for her dad from the get-go. So, I often found myself wishing for someone who gave me “those eyes” — the looks of love and happiness that only came my way.

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And, so God answered this prayer thousand-fold. As a baby, Helen was forever on my hip (when I wasn’t at work). She cried if I put her down. Helen was the one baby that was content to nuzzle and snuggle at all times. She was the kid who never understood why (oh why???) I had to leave her every day to go to work and spend my days away from her.

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Now, she is 12, and from the moment I woke up this morning, I had a smile on my face for this day that commemorates her entrance to this world. Helen has deep, dark eyes (we think they are actually black now) that penetrate your soul with her love and her smile. And oh, that smile! From her earliest smiles, she could light up an entire room.

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Make no mistake, she is fun-loving and can be quite ornery. She’s learned which behaviors are acceptable and not. She’s challenged me like none of my other children so far. Her heart is gold, though. She loves to make other people laugh and enjoys showing her friends how special they are to her. She is one of the best sisters to her siblings. (As Dani made her cake last night, I mentioned how great it was that she was doing that and Dani said, “And it has to be perfect. Helen deserves the best cake ever!”) This school year, as Helen moved on to the middle school, she has spent most afternoons ensuring the boys have someone there to pick them up at the bus stop and walk them the short way home. She has had stints of making Sarah’s lunch for her — all because she wants to.

A few years ago, we discovered that Helen dealt with a bit of anxiety. Being away from me triggered it, or interactions with others in her class could trigger it, sometimes it was struggling with a school subject that triggered it. We’ve learned to handle her anxious feelings and now she can be away from me for much longer than she used to stand. She’s a straight-A student and part of the district’s A.V.I.D. program. She’s had some growing pains as she transitioned to middle school (what kid doesn’t?!) But the growth I have seen in her during this school year is amazing. She took personal responsibility for her words and actions, understands there are consequences when choices are made and has worked through how she chooses to behave and more often than not, makes good choices.

I pray that Helen has the best birthday ever today. Every day that I celebrate my childrens’ birthdays are my favorite days. Being a mom to these precious souls is the absolute best gig ever.

Happy Birthday to my Baby Girl!!

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Last Take — So Far So Good

It’s been a little over a month since I blogged about my weight loss. I’ve posted a bit on Instagram (and therefore onto my Endless Strength Blog on FB), but nothing with some real meat to it.

Since my post here on the blog, I decided to suck it up and rejoin Weight Watchers, which was the best move. They’ve done a reboot again and the program they have now is called Freestyle. I really like it. When I posted via Instagram how much I liked the changes to the program, I received a few inquiries and decided to post a little about the differences here.

Just a few of the changes that impact my use of the program are listed here:

  • Weight Watchers unveiled ZERO point values for some foods that used to have points associated to them. AND…they were things I really like to eat. AND…they are healthy things that I would choose to eat more of if they didn’t cost me points. Here are just a few: Eggs (Yes!!! EGGS ARE FREE now!); Chicken Breast (only the breast!); Turkey Breast (only the breast!); Shrimp (THIS JUST KEEPS GETTING BETTER!); Crab (not the imitation kind…only actual honest-to-goodness, dug out of the leg/shell Crab); Plain, Fat Free Greek Yogurt. Those are things I eat and will eat more of because they are zero points. I think there are more, but I haven’t found the need to go searching for them probably because I don’t eat them all that often.
  • There are fewer daily points assigned also. For example, I used to get 30 points per day, and I now get 23 and I weigh more now than when I was on the program at 30 points per. I happen to think the change in point values for those healthier foods must be part of it, but I haven’t felt the need to dig into the program materials to discover why daily points were lowered.
  • ROLLOVERS! So, we have always had this batch of “weekly” points that could be dipped into if we go over our daily points. As of right now, I get 42 every week, but I foresee that dropping when I get down another 10 pounds or so because i understand that a person’s weight/age/etc. all impacts the number of weeklies they are assigned. And I remember that the number would go down at various points in a person’s journey. So where do the rollovers come in? Well….let’s say you don’t use all 23 daily points. It used to be they really encouraged you to eat ALL of your daily points (something about metabolism, avoiding starving yourself, etc.) Well, now if you have up to 4 points remaining at the end of the day…rather than try to find something 4 points to use your remaining points, if you’re not hungry, just go to bed and the next morning, those 4 points will have been added to your weekly points! LOVE this, by the way. More later.
  • Recipes have been adjusted to reflect new point values and that makes it all easier (love love love the WW app, by the way, it’s my lifesaver).

Tomorrow is my next weigh-in and it will be my fourth week in a row. I’ve lost every week. I anticipate that I will lose again this week.

I’ve tracked every day for the last four weeks. It’s crazy. When I was struggling and not focused, I would miss a day tracking all the time. Of course, that didn’t help me achieve my goals and I fell completely off the wagon. Now I’ve tracked stuff all day every day for four weeks and I think how crazy it would be to go a day without tracking. That just means I’ve reestablished my good food-tracking habit.

I’ve stuck to my activity plan all these weeks, too. Now, last week on Monday and Tuesday, I didn’t make it to my 5:15 a.m. Crossfit, but I made sure and walked 45 minutes both of those nights to still get something in. I’ve learned that walking really IS just as good as running. Sure, it’s slower, but I am a fast walker, so it’s not that much slower. 🙂

Craig and I have food-prepped for the week on the weekend each of these weeks. It’s been wonderful to rush out of the house for work while simply grabbing a meal container out of our extra refrigerator and knowing that lunch is taken care of. No Jimmy John’s or Subway or workplace cafeteria food! A healthy, pointed-out, delicious lunch every single day. What’s awesome is, we usually make enough that I can have one of them for dinner, too, if I don’t want to use the points it would take to eat whatever the kids are eating.

Here are a few of our recipes we have used:

  • Bacon and Swiss Quiche (this was surprisingly delicious and we fixed it two weeks in a row) — 4 points per serving

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  • Ham and Cheese Quiche Spiral — 3 points per spiral
  • Slow Cooker Italian Chicken and Tomato Soup with Spinach — 1 point. If you add 1/4 cup orzo pasta when heating up in the microwave, it’s delicious and it’s 5 points.

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I didn’t use Parmesan either…
  • Spicy Turkey-Cheddar Enchilada Pie — 9 points (usually saved this one for dinner)
  • Tuna Salad Flat-Out Wrap — 4 points and YUMMMM!
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I had points to give that night so added the mozzarella cheese for 2 more points
  • Chorizo Beef and Veggie Enchiladas — 7 points. Truth: The WW recipe was Chorizo Chicken and Veggie Enchiladas for only 5 points, but we couldn’t find Chorizo Chicken. :/ But they are delicious — it’s more like a casserole and made 12 servings. I’ve also reserved this mostly for dinner. I even let Dani try one because she loves enchiladas. I didn’t get a chance to ask her how she liked it though.

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We put a little Cilantro on top and then also when eating a small amount of light sour cream (it is spicy!)

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So, there you go for a little status update on how this whole recurring weight loss thing is going. I’m feeling better, my pants are looser (well, the larger sized ones that I bought a few months ago), my stamina is getting better during workouts and…I’m overall happier knowing I am doing something to get myself healthier again.

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Gotta Love Snapchat Filters 🙂

Sink or Swim!

Joining the swim team is not usually the sort of thing juniors in high school do for the first time. Especially when they can barely tread water for a few minutes. I’ll admit that when Sarah first told me she was considering joining the swim team, I was a bundle of nerves! First of all, I was excited because I think swimming is an excellent sport. But secondly, I was nervous because I remembered all the money I forked over for lessons when she was little and she still never really learned how to swim. I’d figured over the years, she had figured out enough to stay alive, so I was glad for that, but swimming laps for hours at practice, diving off blocks, racing…I was nervous for her. Thirdly, I knew it might test my mettle a little bit because one of the things Sarah said initially was that if she didn’t like it, she’d just quit. And when she told me this, I reminded her that she is not allowed to quit things, that if she commits to the sport, she has to finish the season.

As I sit here thinking about why I was nervous about any of this when I wouldn’t be the one doing any of it, I realize that this is truly one of the first times I secretly thought that perhaps Sarah would fail at something.

When Sarah started playing volleyball, the fact that her coordination and athletic ability was behind that of her peers was quite evident. But she worked. She never let it bother her that other kids were serving overhand (and hard!) and she was struggling to get an underhand serve over. She never let it bother her (seemingly) that she was so tiny while the other girls had grown and gotten stronger at an earlier age than she did. Sarah is the youngest kid in her grade due to the cutoff for entering kindergarten and her birthday being only two weeks before that, but she’s always kept pace academically and exhibited leadership qualities, never letting on that she might not be up-to-snuff for the tasks.

But this swim thing…well, this was something different. So she went out and she made it through a week of practice. And then she made it through another. I saw her practicing early on and saw as she struggled to keep form as she swam, reverting to keeping her head above water to catch her breath instead of side-breathing, for example. Then, I went to her intrasquad meet and saw her swim 50 free without doing that and … i know, this will sound silly … but I was AMAZED, almost mesmerized watching her!

Gradually she learned to start off the blocks (even if she does tuck her knees in a very-cute-but-so-not-fast way) and do flip turns and she learned the breastroke! She went to practice faithfully and she worked hard while she was there and she took it all in and learned so much.

Tonight was her Junior Varsity Conference Swim meet and I could not be prouder to yell and cheer for my daughter as she swam. She swam a 200 Free — all by herself!! Then, she helped her 200 Free Relay team (in which she swam her fastest 50 free for the season) win 2nd place in Division. And after that, she swam 100 Breastroke and won a 6th place medal all of her own!

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Sitting here writing this I realize that Sarah is proving to herself that she can do things. She can do things she thought were beyond her abilities. I love that she put herself out there with this swim thing. She took that risk where she could fail (sink) or she could succeed (swim) and she made the swim-thing happen!

She’s growing up so darn fast. I’m so pleased and blessed to be her mom and know that when this chick leaves the coop, she will indeed FLY!

Dominic is 9!!

Who gets happy at receiving educational toys for his birthday?

Who plans to get up at 6:00 a.m. even though he has no school due to dangerously cold weather conditions?

Who is one of the sweetest, smartest, most genuinely happy children you will ever meet?

Dominic Richard Hughes! Of course!

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Happy Birthday to my boy, Dominic. Over the years, I have pondered God’s plan. Why did He send Dominic to us when He did? What must He be planning to work through Dominic — a boy who exudes joy and happiness and love to everyone?

If you ever get the joy of spending some time with Dominic, you will leave that moment in time a better person. I guarantee it.

Happy Birthday, Dominic! Enjoy this last year as a single-digit age and keep letting God work through you to bring love to all you meet and leaving a rainbow in your wake.

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Last Take

Anyone who has read this blog over the past few years knows that I struggle with my weight, I have body image issues and I have lost weight successfully. AS a matter of fact, I have spent the larger part of the last 2 years undoing all of the hard work I did for the two years before that.

I began what I hoped would be my last “weight loss journey” in October 2013. I succeeded in reaching my goal weight in June 2014 and maintained that weight through the beginning of November 2014. I put on about 10-12 pounds over the holidays that year, and then I maintained that through the spring and into the summer of 2015. But then…the bottom fell out, really.

I took a big risk and changed directions in my career in the summer of 2015. I left my  structured bank operations manager job and entered an unstructured real estate sales job. I’m not gonna hash it all out, but what I can say is: I learned for what I think is the last time that I AM NOT A SALES PERSON. The lack of a good schedule and the stress of trying to make up the income I lost all contributed to a steady weight gain, even though I was still exercising regularly. Flash forward to November 2016 when I returned to my structured bank operations manager job (different area, same job basically). Though the schedule got better work-wise, the kids’ schedules got CRAZIER school and activity-wise. So though I’ve had a regular work schedule and rectified the financial situation, I have not been able to find a balance with food and exercise that has contributed to an even larger amount of weight being gained in the last year.

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So, it’s time to lose about 48-50 pounds. I really want to say that I’m going to lose it “FOREVER!!” but I’ve lived this story over and over again, so I have no clue if it will be forever or not. I want it to be. I want to be healthy and well. I want to be able to run with my kids and have a fighting chance of staying with them. I want to be the example of health and wellness they need to have in a mother. So, I guess for now, that’s going to have to cut it. When I finally lose the weight again, I will have to figure out a new way to want things because what I did before didn’t work out so well.

What’s my plan? Well, Weight Watchers isn’t in the budget right now. And honestly, I feel as though I know all the things I learned in Weight Watchers before. I know I need to track my food and keep the intake to a much smaller amount than it’s been for awhile. I know I need to stay active — that part has never been an issue. I know I need to plan every day what my food will be — take my lunch, for example. I know that “Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail” and I’ve lived that out in all directions my whole life.

Discipline is essential. I understand discipline better than many people. Just because I understand it, though, doesn’t mean I know how to stay with it. So I need to re-institute my discipline that I had before where food is concerned: Plan ahead, Make Healthy Choices, Stay Mindful of the food I eat.

Craig and I bought some packages of food prep containers and we plan to spend Sundays cooking to make meals for the week ahead. I created a new Pinterest board where I have posted some Paleo/Keto recipes I plan to use for meal prep.

I need to maintain my discipline where activity is concerned and probably take it up a notch: Continue my four days a week at the Crossfit Box (maybe five if I am able to make Saturdays sometimes) and then find more ways to be active in the everyday — take my kids to the Community Center and we can swim or run or play volleyball/basketball. Choose those sorts of family activities instead of a night out at the movies or video games.

I created a new id on MyFitnessPal.com (LastTake, if you’re interested in connecting). I will use this site for tracking food and exercise and water intake.

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I still have a FitBit that I’ll use to help track activity. It’s nice I can connect it to MFP and they can talk to each other so my exercise ends up on MFP and my water intake comes over to my FitBit app. It’s kind of cool. Maybe someday I will afford an Apple Watch or something, but for now, I’m using what I already have.

I’m going to begin reading a book recommended to me by a friend I met at CrossFit. The book is called “Breaking the Stronghold of Food: How We Conquered Food Addictions and Discovered a New Way of Living” and it is written by Michael L. Brown, PhD and Nancy Brown (Not sure, but thinking they are married). I just ordered it and it should arrive at my house mid-week.

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I’m going to try to pray more. And I mean, I am going to try and INTENTIONALLY pray more. I think that if I reconnect every day in an intentional way, to our Lord and his Mother, then I will probably have a shot at long-term success.

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I created a new Instagram ID as well (LastTake18, give me a follow!) I’ve been watching my kids and how they handle their IG accounts and I think I’m learning a lot about how to create and maintain a new page in the app.

 

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I’ll post weekly, try to have a related blog up that I can reference and hope to find ways to post that will keep me going. The many times I have gone on a weight loss journey, I have found that people who get to know me online (my blog, Facebook, IG) often inspire me to keep working toward my goals. I’m a social media person — I like to use it to help get through my days or connect and follow my family and friends in life. So, this is one more way I will do that.

I’m thinking a weekend blog entry every week is what you can expect to see here. I’ll probably talk about my wins and my struggles. More than likely, I’ll work through something as I destroy this food addiction I have and I’ll have something to write about it here, too. I’ll probably post pictures as I lose so that we can see the success along the way. I may share how I reward myself — hopefully without incorporating food! — and learn new ideas from you here in the comments or on my Instagram account.

So, Here We Go. Again. Again.

 

#MeToo

#MeToo started a couple of months ago now. Though I didn’t go into any details, I posted my own little FB Post where I simply typed the words. No one asked for details, but I got some “reactions” and “likes.”

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In the past couple of months, there’s been quite a bit of backlash against those who have come out with their stories of harassment and abuse. I’ve seen it. You’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it. I’ve met it with mixed feelings.

Yes, there’s a part of me that wonders what the point is of bringing these things to light years after the fact. There’s a part of me that ponders the idea that the victims played their own part in becoming victims. I guess that there is a part of me that hates to see someone’s name and reputation dragged through the mud for something they may have not even known was harming someone else. Our society is such that it’s quite easy for me to believe that people think their “compliments” are desired. We’re so messed up that predators have become that way due to watching their own role models — their own mothers and fathers sometimes — behave in that manner.

But (you knew there would be a “but” right?) since something stirred in me to simply post “Me Too,” I know that I have a story to share.

My story doesn’t involve any celebrity. I have nothing to gain by sharing my story. I really have nothing to lose either since everyone I care about losing already knows my story and has stuck by me anyway.

My story starts as a young girl being reared by a mother who knew no boundaries. None. She didn’t understand emotional boundaries. She ran rough-shod over physical boundaries. The only memory I have and I know is not just some sick dream I had happened when I was almost 13 on the day I began menstruating. I won’t detail what went on. All I have ever said to anyone other than my husband about it is that she did something extremely inappropriate and I believe sits on the edges of sexual abuse.

And she did it because she knew I wouldn’t tell anyone. She knew I would never tell anyone about it. Oh! I now believe that she would never believe she did anything inappropriate either…but the fact remains that if she had any clue at all that I could bring myself to tell anyone about it, she wouldn’t have done it. But…as the mother of a young girl who had been scared into silence through family demolition of divorce, she had watched me enough to know that I didn’t have anyone I would feel comfortable to tell and that I for sure wouldn’t tell anyone that was a stranger to our family. It was safe for her to do what she did. So she did it.

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My story continues as a young teenage girl who wanted male attention. The positive male attention — not the male attention I already had which was playing pickup basketball and being the “cool” girl who had a great baseline jumper. I wanted to be hugged and kissed. I wanted to feel close to someone. By the time I was 13 years old, I had been abandoned by my father for about 5-6 years. I was told I was ugly by my older brother many times. I told myself I was ugly many times. When boys started to pay attention to me in a positive way, it was strange and exhilarating.

When our family moved across the country during my sophomore year of high school, I became a “prime target” for manipulation and abuse, though I wouldn’t have said so back then. I didn’t have a group of friends any more. I played basketball as soon as we moved and played on varsity, but never clicked with the girls on the team. I got a job and it was there that I met some friends — a couple of them, I would still consider friends today even though we mostly communicate on Facebook. It was through these friends that an abuser gained access to me, though.

When I finally told my husband about this guy, we’d been married 18 years already. To be honest, I had shut a lot of this away. But back in August, it all flooded back into my consciousness. I wrote a 12 page letter to my husband telling him everything I had never told him before. I named names and I recognized abuse and manipulation.

You see, my #MeToo story really gets going about the time I was 16 years old. And I dated a man who was 3 years older than me. Three years!! That is a 16-year-old dating a 19-year-old — WITH my mother’s permission and blessing! Because he was a manipulator, and my mom wanted to be snowed over, it all worked out quite smoothly. Nope, he wasn’t a teacher or a coach (although, later on in my story — there’s a coach involved, too, sadly) but he still hung around the mall at the age of 19, to meet girls my age (and younger!!) Back then, security wasn’t all that tight at schools and he could come in and see old friends from younger grades.

It was through this person that I was introduced to “Truth or Dare.” I literally want to be sick thinking about this. It was through this person that I learned how to really lie to my mom — about everything. He would tell her we would be doing something on a date that would be highly inappropriate (Like driving to some beach/lake hangout and playing “Truth or Dare” with a bunch of kids my age and younger) and then he would laugh and say, “Nah, I’m just kidding! We’re going to such-and-such movie and then maybe to McDonald’s after and then I’ll have her home by 11!” and my mom fell for this crap all the time. She never knew that the highly inappropriate thing he mentioned was exactly what he had in mind. I can’t remember very many times that our dates consisted of what we told my mom we were really going to do.

And see, then…because my mom liked him, he would say things (in a joking manner, of course!) like “Well, you can’t tell your mom you’re doing this because then you’ll get in serious trouble. She wouldn’t believe you anyway because I told her we were doing XYZ and she knows I’d never lie to her.” So he manipulated me into believing my mother would take his word over mine and it wouldn’t even be worth it to tell her or anyone in authority what we really did because I’d just get in major trouble.

I won’t go into many of the major details because honestly, they don’t matter at this point and thankfully, a very good friend of mine destroyed the evidence of one of the major abuses (thank God).

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A relationship with this person lasted for about 15-18 months…I can’t remember exactly. And when I finally had the courage to break it off with him, it was only because I was running into the arms of an even bigger and more dangerous abuser. This guy was 24 (I was 17-almost-18 at this time). I didn’t find out until I had been involved with him for several months that he was married and had some children. I also didn’t find out until I was too far into the relationship to extricate myself easily that he was heavily involved in drug dealing. Again, no one celebrity, not a teacher, not a coach — just a predatory asshole taking advantage of a girl who got little-to-no positive (healthy) attention from a man and was routinely manipulated and neglected by her mother.

This guy was the worst kind of predator. He somehow convinced me to give him money regularly or buy him things. He also used the manipulation tactic that I couldn’t very well tell anyone anything because I was an accomplice to any illegal activity and I could get myself, my siblings, my mom all in trouble if I didn’t keep quiet.

In the midst, I guess my basketball coach saw fit to make his move and claimed he “loved” me as well. This was highly inappropriate, but I didn’t know it. I was so mired in the inappropriate relationships and I had never had a healthy relationship with anyone at this point, that it was this seemingly never-ending cycle. Of course, I see it this way now looking back. But while I was in it, I literally believed these men “cared” about me! Now as a mother of my own teenage daughters, my blood boils.

This second abusive relationship lasted for almost a year. I almost threw away my high school education and everything else because of this horrible relationship. Sometimes I wonder how I ever graduated high school with all this stuff going on. I mean, I ran away from home. I caused all kinds of worry to my parents and my siblings. I was a horrible big sister — definitely NOT the shining example of how to grow up. I experimented with all the things you can think of in reading this story. If you think, “Hmm, I wonder if she ever did XYZ drug?” I would say “Yup. I may not have known it when I did it, but I don’t put it past that guy for slipping it into something else I was doing.”

Unfortunately, for me, my #MeToo story doesn’t even end there. What people who have never been through this sort of abuse don’t realize is that when you grow up in these abusive relationships, when you move on to someone else, it is often just another abusive relationship. While the abuse in my long-term college relationship wasn’t the same sort and was definitely less hurtful than what I’d already endured, I still put up with quite a bit of manipulation and abuse. And it is because I did not realize my worth. I thought I was “lucky” to have found this guy because he seemed to fit the mold of what I figured my parents would be happy with. Obviously, I had no idea what my parents would be happy with — this was all in my messed up brain — but I told myself that because this guy was about to graduate college (oh, yeah, still WAY too old for me, by the way…can I roll my eyes back in my head any further???) he knew what he wanted in life, he had a job, he had money, he had a BMW, he had paid for college by joining National Guard Reserves. The abuse I suffered at his hands was more of the kind where I would never live up to his expectations of what he wanted in a woman, but he was going to let me keep trying.

My #MeToo story ends when I ended that relationship. But back then, I wouldn’t have recognized it as an abusive relationship. At the time, I cried every night for months because I cut off a relationship that was going nowhere, but that I wanted to go everywhere. At the time I cut it off, I thought I was the one screwing up by leaving him instead of being strong and setting myself free. It took me over a year to figure out that I was better than that relationship and that I deserved someone who absolutely believed I was worth being loved.

When I see posts on Facebook or Twitter of people posting negative backlash towards the #MeToo movement and the condescending and non-compassionate words that all who have #MeToo stories are simply “allowing themselves to be victims,” I cry inside for their hardened hearts. And I also pray thanksgiving for their life experience where they have never been in a position to be manipulated and abused.

Over the course of the past couple of years and a growing awareness of things like “white privilege” I think there are also levels of privilege that have nothing to do with race but with our life experiences. If you grew up with parents who worked at and maintained their marriage, you grew up with a privilege that many of us did not. If you grew up with parents who cared more about you than about themselves, you grew up with a privilege that many of us did not.

I mean, if you grew up with a mother who wouldn’t dream of allowing you to date a man three years older than you while you are in high school, understand that there are plenty of kids out there who don’t have that privilege.

When I finally told my husband all the horrible things I’d repressed for years and years, I asked him to think about our oldest daughter, now 16, and whether we would ever let her go anywhere alone with a man three years older than she was. Of course we would not. Looking back, I’m so confused as to how it all happened, but I’m also not confused. As I process and heal from my realization that my mother is far more concerned with herself than with her children and that it has always been this way — I see how it happened, the clouds of confusion dissipate.

I know we hear a lot about #MeToo stories with the celebrities, or in the movie industry, or in workforce and I dislike the backlash. I recently watched some video where the woman was all like, “I mean, YOU went to that room with the man, YOU are at fault!” I cringed as I watched. This backlash is evil, really, because it seems like all they want to do is tell everyone who says #MeToo to SHUT UP! It’s unfortunate because honestly, it seems like people with a #MeToo story just got the courage to start speaking out and now the very thing they had kept quiet to avoid is what’s happening — they are made out to be the ones at fault for what happened.

Obviously, I have only my story to tell. I can’t speak for all the women out there who felt as though they were abused and unable to tell their story, lest they lost their job, or their pipeline for jobs. Telling my story doesn’t gain (or lose) me anything that I am aware of.

I can say that telling my story feels like the right thing to do at this moment in time. I’m not naming names. I’m not going to my abusers’ places of employment and trying to get them fired. Only a few people that read this will even know whom I am talking about. But this is a problem and it’s been a problem for many years. It is a tragedy when the #MeToo story starts in the home and extends from there. I’m pretty sure I can’t be the only girl with a story like this. Most likely, I’m only one of many. And speaking out with my own #MeToo story isn’t going to take down an empire or plug a hole in the dam.

I think, in the end, sharing a #MeToo story isn’t really done for those reasons. I have thought about this a lot before writing this. I wrote that letter sharing my story with my husband four months ago. That information resided inside of me for 18 years of marriage without shedding light on why I could not take myself past my “damage” to share with my husband for that long. And before that I was living the story.

So why share it on a blog?

Well, I process through writing. I share with people on my blog. Someday, I would imagine my kids might read this. I’ve hidden a lot from my children about my upbringing. I’ve only recently realized I was doing it. So many times, I get caught up in knowing my children and I think that I had not realized that they want to know me, too. They want to know all of me. They are getting to ages now where this desire to know their mother — her life, her struggles, her triumphs — is strongly driven, especially for my girls as they grow into young adults. As painful as it is to be reminded of the upbringing from which I came, they need to know it and to understand it. But only if they request it (and they have started to do that).

Another reason to share is because sometimes the backlash is too loud and intimidating. The backlash to the #meToo movement has, undoubtedly, kept many from sharing. I believe there are lots of stories like mine (maybe not identical in details and circumstances, but I mean stories that don’t involve high-profile authority abusers) that will never be told because those people saw the video I mentioned earlier that blamed the victims for being a part of it at all. Many #MeToo stories probably start for girls who are in their teens who have been convinced that it’s their fault for “enticing” their abusers with the way the talked or the way they dressed or simply for being in that place at that time.

I’m sure it may happen that someone who is 100% in line with the backlash reads this, rolls their eyes and thinks, “What a stupid girl, she should have known better than to go on dates with a man that much older. Doesn’t she know there’s only one thing a 19-year-old wants with a 16-year-old? She was just stupid. It’s her fault.”

That’s okay. I was stupid and I was naive and I also didn’t have the benefit of having a mom who cared enough to handle it properly. It doesn’t mean that I wasn’t abused.

Thankfully, I’m now a 44-year-old mother of a 16-year-old who absolutely knows the folly of entertaining the interest of someone that much older. She would call it “creepy” in the teenage jargon of the day. Thank God she finds it “creepy.” And I also make sure she knows how hard her dad and I work to ensure she understands her worth, that she deserves a life free of harassment and abuse. Sadly, however, I have had the conversation with her that there are kids out there her age who don’t know that. Recently, I have shared with her that I was one of those girls. I didn’t share the details, but she got the gist.

If I didn’t have the courage to acknowledge and share my own #MeToo story, then maybe no one could ever have the courage to do it and we’d continue to live in a world where predators got the last word. I refuse to be a part of that world.

 

When Your Kids Surprise You

It’s funny how my kids surprise me. Funny because they meet my expectations, yet it is still a feeling of surprise at how awesome they can be at times. In a time when people seem to expect so little of kids in society, I expect so much from my kids and they still deliver. So why do i feel surprised?

Today, I woke up and decided I needed to rake leaves. I began working in the front yard and quickly discovered we were out of lawn and leaf bags. I filled the ones we had, then decided to go on the hunt for more. Craig and I walked up to the local hardware store only to find out they were completely out. So I drove to Lowe’s and Home Depot only to find out both of them were out as well. What’s a momma to do?

We have these awesome and big yellow trash bags, so since I had made the decision to get the leaves cleaned up today, I asked Dani to come out and help me. She worked with me for more than two-and-a-half hours to finish the front and work in the back yard! We got many many leaves cleaned up. It was such a joy to work alongside my 8th grade daughter and get all that work done! She never complained. She simply let me know she was getting tired — and I was too, matter of fact — so we picked up the piles we had made and called it a day.

Throughout the time I was working outside with Dani, I noticed that inside, my other children were doing things to help. Helen brought the dog out onto the deck and brushed him to remove excess hair, then she took him inside to give him a bath. Sarah was working with her brothers to clean the bathrooms and vacuum the common areas of the house. Vincent was outside on the deck and I gave him the job of sweeping excess leaves off of the deck. He finally tired of that and went inside. He came out to ask me if he could play video games and I said that he needed to ask Sarah if she needed help first. and I heard him say as he went in, “I know! I’ll clean up my room first!”

I know it’s kind of silly. Most likely when you started reading this you may have thought I was about to write about how talented my children have been in the classroom (which they have!) or how surprised I’ve been with their talent onstage (which would also be true) or how much they surprise me play various sports. And even their artistic ability — sewing, painting, drawing — surprises me at times.

But honestly, they please me the most on days like today. They please me when they simply help me out — they clean their rooms, or they help clean the house, or they help in the yard — all without my nagging or asking for their help.

On days like this, I feel truly blessed to be their mom.