On the 9th Day of Christmas

What I received this year…

Wisdom – My mother told me when I turned 40 in January that one thing that she wants me to know is that 40 brings about wisdom. A greater understanding of self and others. She said you will really begin to dig into who you are and what you want when you turn 40. No truer words. This year has been about me learning to love me, accept that others won’t ever love me and be okay with it. I’ve been wise to hold my tongue and I’ve shown strength when I’ve walked away from unhealthy situations and people. I received wisdom this year and I’m grateful for it.

[ File # csp5262413, License # 1720724 ] Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php) (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / payphoto
[ File # csp5262413, License # 1720724 ]
Licensed through http://www.canstockphoto.com in accordance with the End User License Agreement (http://www.canstockphoto.com/legal.php)
(c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / payphoto

James 3:17-18 (MSG)

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.

Munch Moment: Divorce Sucks

Divorce sucks. Yep, I said it.

Besides it being excruciating on the couple, it is painful for the children of the divorcing couple. I read this post on Scary Mommy Post entitled “An Open Letter of Apology to My Kids” by Abby M. King and cried. It was such an emotional piece about what every parent who goes through divorce feels. The agonizing emotion that you are hurting your kids. The guilt that they will somehow be damaged by your own choices.

Does it hurt? Absolutely. Will your kids get over it? Umm, it depends. I would like to believe that my son will get over it. I would like to think by us being apart and civil to each other and being present at every thing that he will see that we are trying to normalize his reality. No, it won’t be easy. Yes, we will act a fool and not speak at times, but we have to keep trying right?

I never wanted munch to suffer, but I know that in time it will get easier. Not because I never loved his dad or wanted my marriage, but because I continue to tell him that he has two parents who love him more than life itself. I remind him that “Mommy and Daddy love you without thought or reason because we know that you were the best gift we ever received. ” But, I wonder is that enough?

I know that my son longs for a two parent home. I know he wishes that his parents can figure out a way to make it the way it was, but that is a fantasy and we live in reality and the reality is…that divorce sucks. It breaks my heart when he says things like, “Daddy, I gave mommy a big hug and kiss. It’s your turn daddy.” Why? Because he’s being manipulative. He wants to see his parents kiss and make-up. Kisses won’t make it better. However, I remind myself that he is six and wants to see his parents together so I shrug it off.

I don’t have an open letter that I want to write to munch (not yet), but there are some things that I wanted to apologize for. So here goes:

  • I’m sorry that you will no longer know what it feels like to walk in your parents bedroom and tell us both that you had a bad dream.
    • You will have to wake up in your bedroom whether at your dad’s or my house and tell us (depending on whose week it is). We will still listen, kiss and tuck you back into bed.
  • I’m sorry that you have two rooms and you forget your favorite toy at my house. It’s okay.
    • I will bring it to you if you ever want me too. It’s no problem. Your comfort matters to me.
  • I’m sorry that you will not grow up seeing your parents kiss and hug and be affectionate to each other.
    • You hated this when we were married, but I know that it will hurt when you see your dad or I find someone else. I promise you that you will never see that affection unless it is someone who is absolutely special and he knows that you and I are a package deal.
  • I’m sorry that you won’t see us eat dinner as a family.
    • We do this once a year for your birthday and I know it sucks, but we’re a new kind of a family trying to figure out new traditions. Not all of them will be weird. Some will though.
  • I’m sorry that you won’t know how it will feel to wake up on Christmas morning with both of us in the house.
    • We tried this last year. Your dad came over at 6 am so that he could be there to watch you open your gifts. You didn’t wake up to 10 am. Needless to say it was a long day.

I’m sorry if some days it feels as though your world is upside down when I show up to spend time with you because I miss you so much. I’m not trying to confuse you and I want you to adjust to the schedule you’re on, but mommy gets lonely too. I know that you don’t understand why divorce had to happen, but I promise you that I am a better mother because of it. Your dad is a better father because of it. We’re still your parents and we’re still your family. Always munch.

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Marriage for One

Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without. – James Dobson

So, by now you’ve all seen the reports of the Texas woman, Yasmin Eleby, who married herself last month. If you haven’t heard (because you’ve been out of mainstream media) it was publicized that she got fed up with dating and promised herself that she would marry herself by the time she turned 40 if she wasn’t already married.

Ms. Eleby had an all out ceremony with 10 bridesmaids, a huge wedding cake and her sister officiating the ceremony. The ceremony was a symbolic ceremony because you can’t legally marry yourself, but the bride decided that she wanted a  wedding. Now, as weddings go, this one was all out gorgeous. The decor, location, colors, photos were all beautiful and appropriate, but I got to ask the question…is this where we are headed?

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I know what it’s like to get engaged and be all googly eyed over the possibility that you are marrying your soul mate. The other half of who you are. You stare at the ring thinking “He did good” and rush to call your parents and tell them the good news. You start planning immediately. Who will be your bridesmaids, what will you wear, the guest list, etc? It goes on and on. It is a roller coaster of emotion and you think…this is happiness.

But, is that really fair? What if you don’t ever meet your soul mate or it takes you a few failed relationships or marriages to find Mrs. or Mr. Wright? Should you be depressed and drink yourself into oblivion? Should you just take matters into your own hands and marry yourself in a grandiose fashion? Is marrying yourself in a small and/or simple ceremony more appropriate? Is marrying yourself a desperate attempt at being a bride regardless?

I don’t know. But, does it matter? Not everyone supported Ms. Eleby’s personal decision to marry herself. But, is it wrong to want to commit to honor yourself and who you are as a woman in an all out ceremony? Not to me. I have to say that I was intrigued by her desire to put forth a ceremony to vow to honor, love and protect the woman she is. If no man is forthcoming shouldn’t we do it for ourselves?

Think back to Sex in the City when Carrie Bradshaw created a wedding for her stolen Manolo Blahnik’s? I loved that episode. In it Carrie, attended a baby shower and her new shoes were stolen because all guests were required to take off their shoes. The host actually blamed Carrie for her shoes getting stolen by saying that she shouldn’t have worn such expensive shoes. Carrie decided to get her money back by creating a marriage to herself with only one gift on the registry…the same pair of Manolo’s that were stolen. The host paid for the shoes from the registry.

carrie-and-manolo-blahnik-picture

Genius!

Ultimately though, I have to wonder will society think women crazy because they vow to commit to themselves instead of waiting for a knight and shining armor to come sweep them off their feet with a big ring? Or will we be forced to be mocked because we want to honor ourselves in the same way we would honor ourselves if we had a partner? In either case, (Yasmin or Carrie), I say no. Marry who you choose. Including the person you love the most…You.

Protecting My Assets

“Divorce is the one human tragedy that reduces everything to cash.”- Rita Mae Brown

To prenup or not prenup. That is the question I am pondering today. I’ve always said that I wanted a prenup. Before getting married I asked “Hey, what do you think about a prenup?” He laughed at me and said, “Why? It’s not like you’re sitting on a pile of wealth that I’m after.” I dropped the issue. He was right. I wasn’t. However, my concern was about my future wealth and earnings.

But, many people still have issues with prenups. Especially women. Sorry ladies, but it’s true. People feel that you’re looking at things negatively and that you don’t believe that your marriage will work. Nope. Not true at all. You’re protecting yourself and your earnings. If you had one million in the bank before we get married and I had $1,000 why should I be entitled to half of that? Because I married you? I didn’t earn it.

I started thinking about this because more women are demanding prenups than ever. I read how Gabrielle Union demanded one from her very rich husband, Dwayne Wade. She wanted to protect her brand and assets. I actually liked that idea. What’s wrong with protecting your identity and the money you’ve made prior to securing your life partner?

Prenups don’t decrease the value of love you have for one another. It actually helps you discuss finances as part of your marriage planning. You’re entering into a territory of “we” but neither of you wants to get screwed should one person decide it isn’t working out for them. Now, no one enters into a marriage thinking that it may never work out, but I’m here to tell you that sometimes it just doesn’t.

Protecting your assets or future assets is not a bad idea. As women seem to be earning more and marrying men who may not be as financially wealthy as they are there is a shift to protect what was earned prior to marriage. Think, Real Housewives of Atlanta when Kandi Burruss married Todd Tucker. They were literally holding up the wedding until the prenup was signed. It was signed prior to their nuptials though.

Let’s not forget Kim Kardashian when she married her second husband, basketball player, Kris Humphries. It was Kim’s sister who went to her mother to confirm that the prenup was signed before her sister walked down the aisle. Khloe didn’t want to trust the fact that their joint family ventures were at risk because her sister was in love. The prenup was to protect their assets.

But, even though you may not have the millions like the women I discussed, think about if you are a business owner, a homeowner or you have a trust fund or inheritance. Would you want to take the chance that love conquerors all and roll the dice that a prenup would “destroy” the love? Not me. Just think about protecting yourselves and there is no time like the present to bring up the idea of a prenup.

The best quote I read was from a woman who fell in love with a man who lived in Paris. Her story “Why I’m Getting a Prenup—and You Should Too” was posted on the Huffington Post and she said, “I may be in love, but I’m not ignorant about the fact that “things” can happen. I understand that infidelity is always a possibility, that sometimes love just dies, or even that there may be a situation where I’m stuck in France, unable to leave the country with my daughter because of laws I can’t change.”

Just think about the quote above that says “Divorce is the only human tragedy that reduces everything to cash” and hopefully you will make the right decision. Because it is true. There are no guarantees, but you don’t want your brand, assets or investments to suffer because there wasn’t sound financial planning involved.

Off Limits

Let me get on my soapbox for a moment, please!

As many of you may have heard by now the issue with the fumbling GOP staffer who thought it cute to diss the President’s daughters on Facebook.  Elizabeth Lauten is was a staffer for Representative Steven Fincher (from my home state of Tennessee). She resigned after her inappropriate comments about Sasha Obama and Malia Obama were posted on her Facebook page.  Here’s a screen shot of what she said.

Elizabeth-Lauten

 

Now, why would this grown woman concern herself with the attire of the President’s girls? She’s a political communications director and is supposedly super smart (she claimed to have gotten a perfect score on her ACT). Shouldn’t she have known better? Didn’t she learn anything from Justine Sacco? Aren’t there more pressing issues that she should be worrying about than how the First Daughter’s look at a Turkey Pardoning Ceremony? Aren’t Republicans trying to stop immigration reform, repeal the Affordable Care Act and charge the President with every crime imaginable because they don’t like the fact that he has reduced our budget deficit, created and supported Equal Pay for Women and reduced unemployment to the lowest since 2008. Not to mention a whole lot of other things, but why would that concern Ms. Lauten?

I mean I have a son and no I’m not the President, but some of the facial expressions he makes are pretty hilarious too. He would rather be watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates than attending a function for or with me. He’s a child. Not interested. It happens. Heck, you should see some of the facial expressions that I make as an adult. I haven’t truly perfected the art of showing disinterest (I’m working on it) and I’m almost 40. So, why would you expect children to know how to do it? Because they are the President’s children? Chile please!

Ms. Lauten then tried to offer an apology for her post, but guess what? Too little – too late. But, the funny thing was that it wasn’t an apology. She said:

“I wanted to take a moment and apologize for a post I made on Facebook earlier today judging Sasha and Malia Obama at the annual White House turkey pardoning ceremony:

When I first posted on Facebook I reacted to an article and I quickly judged the two young ladies in a way that I would never have wanted to be judged myself as a teenager. After many hours of prayer, talking to my parents, and re-reading my words online I can see more clearly just how hurtful my words were. Please know, those judgmental feelings truly have no place in my heart. Furthermore, I’d like to apologize to all of those who I have hurt and offended with my words, and I pledge to learn and grow (and I assure you I have) from this experience.”

Now, I have a degree in English Language and Literature and I know word semantics and word play and what she did was apologize for getting caught. Not to the children she offended. Someone who is that smart and a communications director should know what words to use to apologize.  She tried to CYA (cover your a**) in hopes of keeping her job and avoid being social pariah numero uno. Communication rule number one Ms. Lauten – you can’t make comments like that and expect to keep your job.

I would like to offer this piece of advice for everyone – Children are off-limits. Always. Whether they are in the public or on the streets, public shaming of children is not acceptable. The President said and displayed this noble character trait when he was running in his first election and Sarah Palin’s daughter, Bristol, was discovered to be pregnant and unmarried. He said, “Children are off-limits.”

In a society where young women already have self-esteem issues about their bodies why would you choose social media as a platform to further draw attention or try to humiliate them? To say to them that they need to “try and show some class” is an opinion drawn from what? How disinterested they looked from hanging with their dad? Oh, it was how they were dressed? Let’s see you said that they should “dress like you deserve respect, not a spot at the bar”. Umm, what bar have you been too lately where…

1. Underage women were admitted in.

2. Dressed like Sasha and Malia

Shouldn’t you have respect for the President and his children because hey he is the President? I thought what they had on was very age appropriate and not bar attire. But hey, I’m a mother and a bit conservative in my appearance and would wear what the girls wore (If I could fit it and it was appropriate for someone at my age to wear – but it is not).

I guess I’m just utterly disgusted in the fact that another woman would choose to pick on the girls when clearly more young women today seem to be pimping themselves for Facebook or Instagram likes as a confidence booster. Every young woman goes through a period where they are dissatisfied with their body image and I think Ms. Lauten was just being a bully. Heck, it’s now being reported that self-esteem of teenage girls has fallen significantly in the last few years. Why be part of the problem?

You all know that one of my greatest joys is being a parent and I don’t tolerate bullying of any kind. But, before I was a mother, I was an aunt and I know how social media can affect a young woman’s self-esteem. My 16-year-old niece told me last week, “Auntie my Twitter game is off the chain”. WTH? Yes, she actually said that. Getting over 2500 shares on a photo or 500 plus likes on a tweet is important to her. Why?  Because like many young women, it validates her social existence and is seen as a confidence booster.

I had to remind her that it is just social media and that I’m proud of her accomplishments and the mere fact that she is my beautiful niece more than those people who like her posts or share her photos. I constantly tell her that I am so proud of who she is and I want her to know that her body is just that. Hers. Love you first because we do and we don’t want you to change. I would hate if an internet troll became a bully and decided to affect her self-esteem by saying that she is dressed like she should be at the bar instead of supporting her parents. I would be livid and unleash an enormous amount of anger on that fool. Thankfully, she hasn’t had to experience that and prayerfully she never will.

That being said, I am proud that the White House has not chosen to address Ms. Lauten’s comments because the village has already spoken. People were outraged and felt that she had no right to make comments about the girls on social media. As part of the village, I just want to remind Ms. Lauten and every one of the social media rules of etiquette: Children are off-limits!

My 3 Rules

I read a great post on the Huffington Post entitled “The 3 Rules of My House” and laughed because I thought the author and I must be kindred spirits because I have 3 rules too. I had Munch reciting my household rules a couple of weeks ago. Not for punishment, but memorization and application.

When talking to other parents and adults we are often angered by the state of our youth today. Not having any manners, their lack of respect for technology, a complete disrespect for privacy, their completed disregard or concern about their own health or their future plans. All these frustrated topics were discussed and dissected in great detail that the only thing we could agree on was the fact that the state of our young people scares us. What is happening to them?

A couple of Saturdays ago, Munch was waiting patiently in the nail salon while I got my bi-weekly maintenance. Normally, he wouldn’t be there because I go when I don’t have him, but his dad being out of town kind of threw a wrench into my plans, but such is life. We got up that morning and I asked him did he want to eat breakfast at home or I would stop by McDonald’s as a treat for him being a good boy. He opted for McDonald’s. I grabbed the I-pad his headphones and headed to the golden arches before going to get my nails done.

Once in the salon, he ate his breakfast and watched his movies. He waited the entire 2.5 hours while I got the works and never complained. All the women were complimentary about his patience and behavior. I smiled and said, “Yep, he’s a good kid.”

So, my mood changed when 20 minutes later a couple of young women (guessing their ages were between 16 and 20) walked in and yelled, “How long for a full set?” I cringed and looked at my nail technician and said, “Wow, no good morning? How about rephrasing and asking….Good morning, may I please inquire as to how long it will take for a full set?” She laughed and said, “T, that’s all day every day. Some of these young women just walk in her and start cursing up a storm that I have to remind them that this is a place of business and we don’t talk like that in this establishment.”

I was floored. Why are these young people being so disrespectful? Do they not have any home training? What do their parents think of their behavior? I said, “When I was growing up, my momma had many rules but only two ever stuck out: 1. Never, ever embarrass me and 2. A lady never gets drunk in public. She gets drunk in the privacy of her own home.” She laughed and said, “I know that’s right girl!” I said, even now I only have 3 rules for my house. I said, “Munch, come here please.” Munch walks over. I said, “Munch, what is the number one rule for mommy’s house?” He smiled and replied, “Don’t embarrass mommy.” I said, “Thank you love.” She said, “Wow, I like that.”

Reading the article prompted me to share the three rules of my house:

  1. Don’t embarrass mommy. This is an all-inclusive, mega statement that applies to everything you do from the minute you wake up to the day you die. Don’t embarrass mommy. I know that you will go through things that will make your choices seem difficult. Many questions such as:
  • Should I skip school?
  • Should I try drugs?
  • What about pre-marital sex?
  • What about cheating on a test?
  • My parents won’t know if I lie, that’s easier than telling the truth, what should I do?

I get it. You will have a lot of choices thrown at you, but remember that all your choices are designed with one thought in mind…not embarrassing mommy. Your choices should seem easier if you answer them with that thought at your fore-front. I know. I’ve been there. I can thankfully say that I have never embarrassed my mommy.

  1. Don’t run in traffic. Yes, it seems that this shouldn’t be a rule that will follow him until adulthood, but it will. It’s a continuation of rule number 1. When you’re young, I don’t want you letting go of your parent’s hands and running into traffic. Traffic is dangerous. We want you to hold our hands until you no longer feel the need to be led by us (which hopefully will be until you graduate from high school – but I know that may be weird for you). Traffic is dangerous and I want you to stay out of traffic. Traffic is where you go once you’ve been licensed by the state as a safe driver and can operate a vehicle that will hopefully protect you when you let go of my hand. Traffic is not to be played with and we don’t run in traffic.
  2. Give thanks. In all that you do, you need to give thanks. Have an attitude of gratitude. Things won’t go your way, such is life, but you should still give thanks. Thanks for being able to have a roof over your head and clothes on your back. Thanks that you have food to eat when you open the fridge and that if you want to buy lunch, your parents can afford to put money on your school lunch account. Thanks that you have two bedrooms, with two tv’s and two dvd players and a whole lot of Disney DVD’s. Thanks that you have parents that love and adore you more than their own lives. Thanks that we want you active and healthy which is why we put you in sports. Thanks that we try to enrich your life by teaching you French, taking you to museums, vacations and beaches. Thanks to your many aunts and uncles who adore you and listen to mommy blog about you all day long. The same aunts and uncles that love you as though you were their own. The same ones that sent you a beautiful children’s Bible from Paris in French so you could read it and translate it to your parents.  In all things give thanks. Never forget that.

Three rules. Simple and easy to remember. I want munch to have an attitude of gratitude and respect for human kind. I want him to open his mouth and say Good Morning and thank you sir to those who he comes in contact with. I want him to grow up the way most of us grew up. With respect and appreciation for everything.