Category Archives: As a Woman…

Going on a Girl Date

“I’m thinking you and I should catch a mom’s night out at some point…we seem to have a lot in common.”

It was the text I received from the mom of one of my son’s friends. I had known her for a little over a year, and it was true, we did have a lot in common. I had been thinking the same thing about her as well, how we seemed to be a perfect match for friendship. But I didn’t know how to broach the subject. I’m shy when it comes to friendships.

Yes, me – shy.

Truth is, it’s easy to sit behind a computer screen and spill my life secrets for everyone to read and dissect (and, as some of you may have noticed, been at the mercy of a few trolls….). I’m not actually looking at you when I type. And therefore, I can pretend that what I’m writing is merely a long letter to none other than ME. But it’s nerve wracking to be face to face with someone else, offering more of myself than common pleasantries. You will not see me hosting any huge awards night (I’d be much more James Franco than Anne Hathaway). You won’t see me throwing the party of the century. And in social situations, I am more likely to see how the food is holding up than looking someone in the eye and casually gabbing about the latest and greatest in my life. For someone who has a lot to say in typed word, I have nothing to say in person. So obviously, making friends is not my forte.

And making friends with girls, even more intimidating.

I think it stems from my school days. I was not the most popular, but I definitely had friends in elementary. Of course, elementary is easy. In those grades, everyone is friends. If someone gets mad over something, it’s forgotten by the next day. It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight, if you don’t own the most expensive clothing, or how your hair is cut. Your classmates are the very people you grow up with. But it all changes in Jr. High, sometimes a little before. Girls I had been friends with suddenly sectioned off into an elite group, and me and my chubby self were not allowed. Of course it hurt, though I pretended it didn’t. I hung out with a much smaller group of girls and made different friends. But the awkward shame of being outcasted by the very people I loved as my friends hurt me to the core.

In high school I finally had a redeeming moment. At a football game, a girl I had been friends with in our younger days got into conversation with me. She had surpassed the Jr. High social mountain, climbing her way to the top thanks to her beauty and parents’ wealth. And here she was laughing at all my wisecracks, a defense mechanism I had perfected in my nerdiness.

“Why haven’t we been hanging out?” she asked me. And we planned a sleepover that very night in her elaborate castle of a home. We spent the night giggling and gossiping, and the morning making crepes in her huge kitchen. And the Monday after the weekend, I ditched my usual friends and meandered over to the group she hung out with, quietly hanging on the outside of the circle. She waved to me, and I smiled, making my way closer to her. But my presence didn’t go totally unnoticed.

“What is SHE doing here?” one girl hissed, sneering at me through narrowed eyes. And my new friend smiled apologetically as I sheepishly exited the group and went back to where I belonged, wondering what the hell I was thinking in the first place.

Why are girl friendships so hard? My 7th grade daughter is discovering the perils of girl friendships in her first year of Jr. High, suffering at the hands of some mean-spirited cattiness. Veronica, the P360 mommy blogger at “Adventures in Mommyhood” describes her own conflicts with girl friendships, as well as her fears for her own three girls, in a recent blog titled Mean Girls. On the Santa Rosa Mom boards, moms have lamented over friendship loss that occurs when babies are born. And as I sat over lunch with my new friend, she also described the loss that happened when she started having children, noticing that her friends were disappearing one by one, and how making and keeping friendships with girls now seemed harder than ever.

And in this new friend, I suddenly saw a fellow sister – someone who was describing what I have gone through, and what many women were experiencing all over the place.  Trust issues, shyness, friendship loss, and the phobias that enter each time a friend abandons us – leaving us to check out the food table rather than meet new people.

I’m happy to say that our Girl Date was fabulously successful.  We started out shyly, but warmed up to be true pals by the end. She’s even called my back so we can go out again.  I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Have you experienced difficulties in friendships with girls?

51,419

What's eating away at you on your bucket list?

The end. They were the 51,418th and 51,419th words I wrote in a long and messy document I had been working on for weeks. And on the 27th day, I typed those words and closed the lid to my laptop, and basked in the revelation that I had successfully accomplished a goal that I had set out for myself at the beginning of the year. And even though I did it 11 months after I made that goal, I had still done it. And it was one of the major things I had planned to accomplish all my life that I could now cross off my bucket list of things to do before I die.

I had written a book.

Sure, the book sucks. It is full of grammar mistakes, too little description in some areas, and too much description in others. There are parts that I need to move from the beginning towards the end of the story, and vice versa. There are other parts that I need to rewrite to change details and add missing pieces. And then there are the parts that I need to just delete – and deny that they ever existed. But it doesn’t matter how bad it is right now. It just matters that I wrote it, and I can actually say, if someone were to ask me, that yes, I have written a book in my life***.

I do not write this to gloat. Ok, maybe a little. But really, I write this because this goal of mine that I accomplished was one that was my anchor for so many years. I’m going to write a book someday. It was always a promise I made to myself, promising that on this “some day” I would fulfill this lifelong dream and get a bunch of words on paper that would equal the same size of a small to large novel that could one day be placed between two hard pieces of material and bound into something called a book. When was this “some day”? Not today, that’s for certain. Today is too scary of a day to get something that huge out of the way. But “some day” was the perfect day to get that done. But when exactly was “some day”??? Doesn’t matter. It only mattered that it wasn’t today.

Yeah, it’s pretty clear that “some day” was turning into “not in this lifetime”.

So November 1st (along with thousands of people who take part in some crazy scheme called NaNoWriMo), I made “some day” today. And I even struck a bargain with God in this one. I told him that I didn’t even care if I gained weight this month, that’s how important it was to fulfill this goal.

Um, sidenote here. Please be careful what you say in prayers. Yes, my goal is done. But I also have a little extra padding from some major sit-itis and impulsive snacking while chained to my laptop.

At any rate, the biggest reason I put this here is because we all have goals in our lives to fulfill. The year is almost over. How far did you get on your New Year’s Resolutions, or any goals that you have set for yourself this year? Have you lost that extra weight you gained from last year? Have you successfully run a whole mile or more without stopping? Have you learned that new language, or signed up for that group you’ve been meaning to join? Have all your photos made it from your computer to glossy prints that are now safe in a photo album ready to be viewed by all your friends and family?

Have you accomplished your goal?

This really rough excuse of a book I just finished was written in a very short amount of time. At the beginning of the month, I saw 50,000 words to write. That is roughly 85 single-spaced typed pages or so, the same size as The Great Gatsby, by Ernest Hemingway. That is a lot for someone who has never written a book before. And that huge number is enough to make someone throw in the towel. But know what isn’t a huge number? 1,667 words, or about 3 pages. That is the minimum I had to write every day to ensure that I could finish this goal in 30 days. And at first it was hard. The story was still working its way out in the beginning, and sometime 1,667 felt a bit large. But know what happened after awhile? The story began to write itself. And some days I ended up with almost 6,000 words. And as the total number grew to 25,000 to 37,000 to 48,000, I suddenly found a second wind inside of me that saw that yes, I could do this. And that is why, on the 27th day, I sat at my computer and typed until those final words could end the goal I had set so many years before.

The end.

So make your “some day” today. Don’t wait.  Make a plan, and stick to it. Envision the finish line.  And then set tiny goals that lead up to fulfilling that major accomplishment.  Make the action of crossing that one item off your bucket list a reality.

As for my goal next year? I see months of revisions in my future.

***No, you cannot read it.  No, it has not been published.  No, a publisher will not be anywhere near it for a very long time, if ever.  I have written a book, but I have not published a book.  One goal at a time.

P.S. Did anyone join me this year in NaNoWriMo? How’d you fare?

Feeling sexy

The majority of your time is spent with children under 5. It’s a lucky day when you are able to wash your hair. You haven’t worn a dress in….you can’t remember when… Your size is a number you’d rather not discuss. You’re exhausted from reffing childhood fights, cleaning up multiple juice spills, washing and ironing the same clothes day in and day out, and trying to find the shirt that smells the least like spit-up to wear for the day. Sexy? You’re idea of porn is watching your husband unload the dishwasher so that you can sit for a few minutes with your nose in the book!

Yes, I know that sexy may not be a word in your vocabulary right now. But it should be. After all, it goes without saying that feeling sexy feels good. The good it does for your own self image will do wonders for your love life. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that you will even be a better parent to your kids if you feel sexy in your own skin.

Sometimes it’s as simple as wearing sexy underwear. Something new and lacy underneath is a secret you can keep to yourself, keeping sex at the corner of your brain even while you do the most mundane tasks around the house. Execute a swift and spontaneous flashing to your husband (when the kids are otherwise occupied), and see what happens. Pay attention to how you feel wearing something so risqué throughout the day. One of my favorite places to buy lingerie is Ma Cherie et Moi (see their write-up over at ShopSoCo.com). They sell European undergarments that don’t only look sexy, but feel sexy. While here in America we tend to make sure that there is no trace of a bra – be it straps, through a shirt, or above the neckline – in Britain, women wear their bras to be seen. Their shirts might be a bit sheer, or lower cut than the top of their bras. But they don’t hide their sexiness. They FLAUNT it. Now, that’s sexy. 

Exercise. I know, I know – with what time??? It doesn’t take much. All it takes is 15 minutes out of your day to get your heart rate pumping. Put the baby in a stroller and take a brisk walk around the neighborhood. Pop in an exercise video and work out with the kids. Wake up an hour early and enjoy an early morning bike ride. Take the kids to the park and utilize all that play equipment as your own personal gym. Grab the basketball and challenge your kid to a one-on-one. Not only will a little extra activity increase endorphins (the naturally induced “sexy drug”, if you will), you’ll have more energy AND you’re promoting health and fitness in your family. And THAT will feel really good!

Take some time out for yourself. There I go with the whole “time” thing again. “Crissi, where am I going to get all this free time you’re throwing at me???” Hey, I’m a single mom. I get that time is valuable. I get that time doesn’t just happen. No, you have to MAKE it happen. Remember that husband of yours? How about your parents or family members? What about that single mom friend who is always commiserating with you about the lack of free time she has? Surely you know someone that would be willing to take the rugrats off your hands for a few hours, even just once a month. Take advantage of that time by treating yourself to a pedicure or a new hairstyle, enjoying a quiet afternoon watching the world go by from a park bench, paint a picture, take a picture, write a poem, peruse a bookstore, enjoy a movie without a date, take yourself out to lunch… The possibilities are endless. The most important part is to spend time with YOU, the person that you know the most. What? You don’t know her anymore? Well, here is a great chance to get reacquainted. Harried mom, meet “self”.

Take time out with your partner (see above for any arguments about time). Plan a date night at least once a month – once a week is even better. Or, if that proves to be too difficult, plan a date night IN. Put the kids to bed early and enjoy a candlelit dinner together. Cuddle on the couch for a movie. Share a book. Share a bubble bath. 😉 Turn off the phone, shut down the internet, and sweep the toys in the living room to the side to be dealt with tomorrow. Spend some time when it’s just the two of you, coming together without distractions, reminding yourself why you took on this crazy life together in the first place.

My friend, Claudine, recently told me about something she did that made her feel incredibly sexy. She had boudoir photos taken of herself. Boudoir literally means bedroom, or woman’s dressing room. Boudoir photos are meant to be partially or fully nude, taken in a completely tasteful way. “I’m almost 40 and did them this past year for fun (because) my hubby was up for deployment and I wanted a ‘nice’ gift for him to remember me by,” Claudine told me. “I was scared witless, but the second I started the shoot I was totally transformed! After the shoot, I felt like I had more self confidence and felt sexier than ever before, at almost 40!” I know of several photographers who take professional photos of this nature. Seasyn McDowell Photography took some wonderful shots of my friend. And a personal friend of mine, Becky Lafayette of Becka Lynn Photography, takes gorgeous boudoir photos.

“I think that society wants us to look a certain way, and of course, we follow.  But we don’t believe we are beautiful after churning out a child or two – the actual reality is that we BECOME more beautiful as we experience LIFE – children – family – love – etc.” Claudine Parks

What are some ways that you increase your sexuality, even as a busy parent?

A mom who inspires

There’s a certain truth in the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child”. On one hand, this includes every person that touches your child’s life – their parents, their teachers, their aunts, uncles… But it also pertains to the wisdom of the generations that have come before them, passing down their values and tendencies that will be carried on for years to come and to future generations.

As a single mother, the mom that inspires me the most is my grandmother, the matriarch of our family. On her own, she raised three kids in an era when single parent households were uncommon. She attended countless baseball games and band recitals, opened up her kitchen for her sons’ insistence on cooking the animals they had hunted (in this case, deer or squirrel), held several jobs to maintain the household, and became creative in her dinners to stretch her dollar (tongue, anyone?). She sacrificed and gave it her all in raising two boys and one girl, as a single mom. In those days, there was no support system for single mothers. Most families were not divorced. And yet, she did it, and she did it well.

There are times when I am bitter about the hurdles I have to overcome as a single mom. I get angry about circumstances and, admittedly, sometimes wish I were the kind of person who could throw in the towel. My grandmother has been my constant, the person I focus on in rough times. She is a tough lady from a tough line of women, and raised a daughter who became a tough mother. This only means that I come from a tough lineage, and it is in my blood. My grandmother has become my inspiration to keep going even when I think that I couldn’t possibly make it any further. Not only that, she is a great listener in those times when I just need to vent. It helps to swap stories with someone who’s been there and understands.

P.S. The picture above is a photo of my grandmother and almost all of her grandchildren and great-grandkids.

Do you have a mom in your life that has inspired you? How about a group of moms that have helped you to keep going when motherhood seems like the hardest thing in the world?

Swimsuit Hell

The other day I had an hour to kill, so I thought I’d try on swimsuits for fun. I headed out to Macy’s and perused the aisles of little tiny pieces of cloth meant to cover just the barest essentials. And then I locked myself in the dressing room and stripped to my skivvies. One by one I tried them on.

Now, I only tried on 3 suits. But trying on 3 suits can take a long time as you twist and turn, seeing parts of your body that you normally aren’t that aware of. Not to mention the conversations that result…

Mirror: Ok, how about this one? It’s a pretty red, your favorite!

Me: Um, I better not. It makes me look like I haven’t seen the sun in, um, never.

Mirror: Come on, you’re not that white.

Me: Seriously, I think I might injure someone if I wore this one. I can’t be held responsible for that. Let’s try another.

Mirror: Ok, then try the blue one. That color is usually kind on pasty skin.

Me: What are you saying? Are you calling me pale?

Mirror: But you said… You know what, nevermind. Just try the blue one on.

Me: Uh, how does this one go on? Does this strap tie around my back? Or do I tie it around my neck?

Mirror: I think it’s supposed to connect to the bottoms to hold them up. You’re going to have to groom really, really well if you wear those ones.

Me: I think I better pass on this one. I have to wear it around my children.

Mirror: Good idea.

Me: Thanks a lot.

Mirror: Anytime. Last one’s the black one. You can’t go wrong with black. Black is sexy and sleek, not to mention slimming.

Me: I’m going to pretend you didn’t say that. Um… Are the girls supposed to be hanging out the sides like that?

Mirror: I can’t tell. I’m too distracted by how much of your ass is showing. Are you sure that’s not a thong?

Me: Let me check… No, it says it has full coverage.

Mirror: Perhaps you should get a larger size.

Me: But this was the largest size they had! Come on, it’s not that bad.

Mirror: Trust me. It is. I didn’t even know that your ass was that big. Perhaps you should try on a wetsuit.

Try on swimsuits for fun? Honestly, it really sounded like a good idea at the time. I’m in need of a new swimsuit, and the stores have been displaying some really cute ones on the front racks of all their clothes. But was I really that delusional that this was something that would be fun? I placed all the swimsuits back on the rack and swore to lose another 5 pounds before re-attempting this kind of punishment. Maybe, by then, the mirror and I will be on speaking terms again.

Anyone else brave enough to already be trying on swimsuits?  How’d it go?