June 2010


 

I love this outfit. Love it.

But, you have to admit that since the pants are still just a little big on her, she must look like a blast from 1990 when she starts to kick her legs. Ah, the M.C. Hammer pants. You know you had a pair. You know you did the dance. You know you had an assignment in 8th grade Home Economics, in which you had to sew a pair of M.C. Hammer pants and wear them to school, but you got the pattern upside down and ended up failing your final exam because you couldn’t complete the assignment by wearing the clothes you made. Um…that might have been just me. Nevermind.

“U can’t touch this! Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh…”

Again, watch your toes.

“Now that I have a daughter I try to be more aware of my daily relationships, so that she knows what it means to be caring and to be cared for. I want her to see she deserves to be treated with respect but that she also has to give it.” – M.H.

I wonder how many moms begin to pay more attention to their daily relationships after they have children. In particular, I wonder how many moms become more aware of their relationships with other women when they have daughters. Surely, I can’t be the only one.

The truth is, we need to have close relationships with other women. We need our mothers, sisters, friends, cousins, and colleagues with whom we have the most common experiences. Those are relationships to be treasured, and they aren’t the kinds of friendships we can have with a man. And, I know some of you might start spouting some PC ramblings about how men and women are the same and therefore this blog is sexist and should therefore be stricken. Before you do that, please go find a man with whom you can swap episiotomy stories. I’ll wait here…

 …No? Ok, I’ll continue.

So, if we know how much we need these relationships with other women, why do we spend so much time comparing ourselves to one another, looking down our noses at so-and-so, being envious, gossiping behind each other’s backs, or making each other feel like garbage? I’m not saying that we do this to all the women in our lives, nor am I saying that men never engage in these same activities. (There’s an episode of Andy Griffith about that. 🙂 ) But, is there one of you out there who will deny having ever been catty?

How many times do we have lunch with one friend and complain about another? Or, to gossip about the other friend? “But,” you say, “We weren’t gossiping. We were questioning a choice she made that we felt was wrong for her.” If you didn’t bring it up with her first, and she isn’t participating in this conversation, it’s gossip.

How often do we look at another woman’s clothes, home furnishings, kids, husband, hair color, choices, etc. and judge her? “What would possess that fool to dress her child in an outfit that I wouldn’t have chosen for her?!” “Who does she think she is, not having an accent table in her entryway?” “She must be a terrible mother because she sends her children to public school. Clearly, my way is better.” “I think I’ll call Blanche and tell her how much I think Maude paid for her new purse. That’ll show her!”

I never said I’m not prone to judgment and gossip. But, my purpose here is not only to laugh at myself, but also so the other women in my life will read this and know how ridiculous we sound. I’m no Regina George, but I do compare myself to others a lot and I probably care too much what other people think. And, if you are rude, lazy, or lack hygeine, I might have said something about you. I’m just being honest.

And, if we’re honest with ourselves, the reason we judge other women who are different from ourselves is that we are either so narrow-minded and self-important that we cannot imagine someone else having a valid point of view, or we’re jealous.  More often than not, it’s the green-eyed monster. And, what a SHAME! How many great relationships do we miss out on because we can’t just accept people and keep our jealous mouths shut?

If we need each other so much, and we do, why do we say and do things that will destroy our relationships? I know you’ve been hearing this from your mama and your teachers since middle school, but I’m going to say it again. If someone will talk about other people to you, she will talk about you to other people. This isn’t the way we’re supposed to be treating the people we need to lean on when the guy has moved on to blonder pastures, or when we need our bridesmaids to get us through the pre-wedding jitters, or when we just can’t be pregnant for one more minute and we need encouragement. What a sad existence we would lead if we didn’t have other women to make us laugh about things that men just don’t get – or about men. 🙂 How lonely would we be if we didn’t have friends who had experienced the same tragedies to let us cry out loud? What would we be without Girls’ Night Out? And yet, sometimes these are the ones to which we are the meanest.

Because I have a daughter, I plan to start examining my daily relationships with the other women in my life more carefully. I will try my best to watch my tongue and my tendency to be judgmental, especially when she is within earshot. I will treasure my friendships and hope that she learns from my example. The last thing I want is for her to become a Mean Girl.

Because I have a daughter, I will pray for her to have a kind and gentle spirit, and that she will love herself enough to keep her words soft and sweet in case she ever has to eat them.

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24

A friend loves at all times…” Proverbs 17:17

We’ve secretly replaced Dan’s usual coffee table with an adorable baby. Let’s see if he notices…

First of all, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and dads-to-be out there!

As I was researching information for today’s post, I discovered that there was such an overwhelming agreement about the topic I wanted to address that there are just too many sources for me to quote them all here. But, here’s the jist of what I found:

Experts agree that the relationship a girl has with her father will affect her relationships with men for the rest of her life.

Let me repeat that: FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE!!

What I found was that girls who have fathers who are emotionally absent or not affectionate, are more likely to have inappropriate physical relationships with boys at a younger age to make up for what they feel they are missing. Girls who have gruff, abrasive fathers who are impatient or abusive are more likely to marry someone who treats them the same way, AND even if the father does not treat the daughter that way but she sees him being rough with the mother, she is still more likely to be in an abusive marriage.

Wow. That’s a lot to think about, dads.

But, here’s something else to consider.  How daddy views mommy has a big influence on kids, too. According to Parents magazine, “…children who do housework with their father are more likely to get along with their peers. They are also less likely than other kids to disobey teachers or to become depressed or withdrawn.” (McCarthy, 95) That’s right. You read that correctly. It is a good thing for BOTH parents to share in the responsibilty of child-rearing and household chores.

I also discovered, through my research, that when a father treats his wife and daughter(s) with love and respect, that father’s girls are a lot less likely to settle for the first handsome face that comes along. They are more likely to pursue higher education because they believe in themselves. They are more likely to hold onto their innocence for longer because they like themselves more and don’t want to give a part of themselves away until the time is right. And, they are more likely to postpone a trip to the altar until they find a man who treats them with the respect they deserve.

Because I have a daughter, I thank God every day that my husband is a loving husband and father who thinks his precious daughter makes the sun rise every morning. She has two grandfathers who feel exactly the same way about her.

Because I have a daughter, I am thankful that my husband is secure enough in his masculinity that he isn’t afraid he will lose it if he helps me with the dishes, makes dinner, changes diapers, or rocks the baby to sleep. Madeline’s daddy is a real man – the kind who respects his wife and supports her in her dreams and goals. She will see this. She will see that Daddy loves Mommy. She will know that Daddy loves her and for that reason, she will love herself. When we tell her that she can be an author, an artist, an astronaut, or an ambassador, she will believe it.

Daughters, sons, fathers, and mothers alike, enjoy the pictures!

Grandpa Phil & Mommy, circa 1977

Grandpa Ken & Daddy, circa 1979

Daddy & Madeline, 2010

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”  ~Anna Quindlen

“There are many ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” ~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Madeline’s suggestions for how to make Mommy happy, #17:

Squeal with delight any time you are placed in the midst of books, and then shun all the other toys in favor of said reading material.

Disclaimer: 1) This post has the potential to step on some toes, so if you are the type who spends your time looking for reasons to be offended or if you always think the finger is pointing directly at YOU, stop reading now. 2) I am, admittedly, guilty of the acts I will describe in this post; therefore this is not an act of sanctimony but a declaration of intent to reform.

“You don’t have a soul; you are a soul. You have a body.” – C.S. Lewis

My long term memory is awesome. I can remember the first time I went to Sunday school when I was four. I can remember every kid from my kindergarten class. What I cannot remember is a time in my life when I didn’t think I was fat.

I have never been petite. I was not one of the teeny little blond girls who looked just like her dolls. I have an ample booty and by the time I was middle school aged, I was already wearing a C-cup. Oh, don’t misunderstand me; I wasn’t so huge that I could barely walk. No one stopped to stare at the fat girl when I walked by or anything, I was just taller and thicker than the other girls. This is due in part to genetics and in part to the fact that even watching people sweat on TV makes me want to take a shower. Oh, and let us not forget my affinity for baked goods.

I have serious body image issues.

It’s no one’s fault. No one is to blame. No one ever told me that I had to be a certain weight or have particular facial features to be pretty. That is, no one said those actual words to my face. But, my friends and family (and yes, I) would always make comments about the physical appearance of other people. How many times did I hear, “She was so pretty but then she gained all that weight,” “Ew! Look at her nose! It’s huge!” “That woman is too fat to be wearing that outfit,” and on and on and on. What else was I supposed to conclude? When all the boys wanted to talk to my thin, blond, beautiful cousin Kristie and I was “the smart one,” so they never even looked my way, what else would I think? (Kristie was great though.  I had the biggest crush on this boy named Dusty but he, of course, liked Kristie. She refused to sit with him, talk to him, or go see him unless I was also invited. It was uncomfortable for me, but she was not going to leave me out.)

I have spent the past 33 years thinking that I would wear this, do that, or go there when I lost some weight. I refuse to do that anymore.

I’m not looking for sympathy. It’s not like I’m the only person who feels this way. We live in a culture in which real people keep getting bigger but the media shows us pictures of airbrushed, underweight women as if that’s what we’re really supposed to look like.

I thought it was normal to feel that way, to talk about people’s physical appearance until I met people who were confident enough in themselves that they didn’t feel the need to point out flaws in other people. Wow! What a refreshing concept! In fact, I went so long without having one of these conversations that the next time someone said, “I ran into ____ the other day. She’s at least a size___!!” I thought, why do you care? Why does another person’s jeans size have such a profound impact on your life that you need to discuss it with someone else?

 Then, I started to ask myself those same questions. Why do I care what someone else looks like? What does it matter if someone has gained weight, or aged, or cut their hair in a way that I might not want to cut mine? Who cares? Does it make him/her a bad person? Does it mean they have become less intelligent, less spiritual, less friendly, or just…less? Does it make me feel better about my own body image issues to talk about someone else? Ding, ding, ding!!! Tell her what she’s won, Jack! Why else would it even be worth mentioning?

It isn’t.

Madeline is probably not going to be petite, either. But, whether she is tall and thin, tall and thick, or a little teapot like her mother, she will be beautiful. Whether she is blond, brunette, or redhead, she will be beautiful. Whether she has a broad nose like mine or a straight nose like Dan, she will be beautiful. Whether she has a high forehead like her Mom or a…OK she’s going to have a high forehead, and she will be beautiful.

I want Madeline to know that true beauty comes within. It’s cliche and we all say it without living it, but I want to live it. If I tell my daughter that beauty is only skin deep, and that what makes a person beautiful is love, kindness, gentleness, and generosity of spirit, but then I talk about how awful I look because I’m fat or go on about how much I hate the shape of my chin, isn’t that hypocritical? What is she really going to learn from that? Studies have shown that a mother’s body image and self-esteem are directly related to her daughter’s. I want my Madeline to be confident and to like herself for who she is, not what she looks like.

Yes, I want her to be healthy.I don’t want her to be overweight. Do I want her to be unkempt and disheveled? Of course not! I want her to take care of herself and look like she takes care of herself. I just don’t want her to spend her entire life obssessing over whether she’s gained a few pounds, or the size or shape of her facial features or hands or feet or whatever.

Sounds idealistic and far-fetched, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be. If C.S. Lewis is correct, and I believe he is, then wouldn’t it make more sense to focus our attention on the soul – the real person – than the body, which is only a temporary means of transportation? Seriously, when was the last time you went to a funeral and heard someone eulogized with the words, “LuLu was always visiting the poor and sick, loved with her whole heart, and worked hard to make the world a better place, but with those big thighs she probably can’t fit into heaven?” If that’s not how we want people to remember us – and they won’t – then why is it even worth talking about?

Because I have a daughter, I am going to make every effort possible to improve my own body image so that I can model a healthy, positive self-esteem for her. Because I have a daughter, I do not want her to hear negative things being said about the physical appearance of other people. Because I have a daughter, I will carefully explain that normal people do not look like the people in the magazines and on TV, and hope that she doesn’t buy into the almost constant ads for weight loss products that will only make her sick. Because I have a daughter, I am banning another “F” word from my house. It rhymes with cat. (There are now three. The obvious one, the one that rhymes with heart, and now the one that rhymes with cat.)

And, because I have a daughter and you might, as well, I am issuing a challenge to all of us. Before we say anything negative about a person’s appearance, we must first say two positive (and sincere) things. If we can’t say anything nice, we will keep our mouths shut. Are you with me?

Since I met my incredible husband, I have gone from a size 8 to a size 16. I would blame it on the baby, but my wedding dress was a size 14, so that’s out. I am currently larger than I have ever been. And, I am beautiful.

Yep. I sure am.

A friend had this posted as her Facebook status today, and I liked it so much I decided to pass it along. This is a great reminder of how we should be speaking to and about others.

T – is it TRUTHFUL?

H – is it HELPFUL?

I – is it INSPIRING?

N- is it NECESSARY?

K – is it KIND?

What a positive place the world would be if we would all stop and THINK before we speak!

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