Momisms

Daily Prompt: Verbal Ticks

Is there a word or a phrase you use (or overuse) all the time, and are seemingly unable to get rid of? If not, what’s the one that drives you crazy when others use it?

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Momisms they’re called.

Those little words, phrases, or pet names that I’ve created and say so often that they drive my family crazy. So crazy, in fact, that they’ll often say them for me now in some mockingly sarcastic tone before my lips can even form the syllables.

I happen to have several of these momisms, and to narrow it down to the most overused one would just seem well…impossible.

I’m grateful for this opportunity to share with you, my adoring one and a half fans, some of my most coveted momisms, in vocabulary form. Pay close attention. There will be a quiz later.

Hubnoxious: A combination of the words ‘husband’ and ‘obnoxious’. I use this word frequently in reference to my 41-going-on-7 year old husband when he’s acting more juvenile than the kids.

When used in a sentence: “Its 7 am. Why are you poking me? Quit being so hubnoxious.”

(Okay that’s 3 sentences but you get the point.)

Red-Doodle: A word often used when addressing my red-headed offspring with hair the color of a cheese doodle.

When used in a sentence: “The floor is not your laundry hamper, Red-doodle.”

(Coincidentally, ‘the floor is not your laundry hamper’ is also a favorite and frequently used momism.)

Man-Squirrel: A name used to describe Red-Doodle’s boyfriend because the boy behaves just like Hammy the squirrel from ‘Over the Hedge’. (In other words, a nervous squirrel with A.D.D hopped up on energy drinks.)

When used in a sentence: “Please tell your man-squirrel to go sit down somewhere, he’s making me and everyone else within a 60 yard radius nervous.”

BerbsieA mutated form of Berber, which stems from the name Amber and is also occasionally used in acknowledgement of the red-haired female child.

When used in a sentence: “Get a move on, Berbsie, we’re already 15 minutes late.”

Slower than Molasses in January: The reason why ‘Berbsie’ has made us 15 minutes late. Because she has one speed, and it isn’t fast. Much like molasses, a slow pouring liquid that would pour even slower, if at all, after being introduced to the biting January cold. While this phrase has been around for decades and isn’t necessarily my own, I say it often enough to consider it another annoying momism.

When used in a sentence: “I swear, child, you’re slower than molasses in January.”

Smallish Male Human: Used when referring to the youngest child in the family, and often written on his school lunch bag lest he forget what he is. Sometimes these words are simply replaced with: ‘the boy’.

When used in a sentence: “Aww look, the smallish male human has fallen asleep in the back seat and is drooling on himself”, or “have you fed the boy yet or should I?

Get up, clean up: The same 4 words used any given morning when the job of getting the kids up and out of bed has befallen me. Their rooms in the morning tend to look like a hurricane passed through the night before, hence the ‘clean up’ part. These words must always be barked in shrill mom-tones as bedroom doors are rapidly flung open to achieve the desired effect.

When used in a sentence: “Get up, clean up.

Kapeesh?: A shortened way of asking, “Do you understand what I am saying to you?” Often used to drive a point home at the end of a lecture. Not necessarily my own word either, but used so frequently by my mother when I was a kid that it has now become an integral part of my own vocabulary.

When used in a sentence: “Come home late one more time, and you won’t see the light of day for a month, Kapeesh?”

You spill, I kill, you know the drill: A phrase directed toward the ‘smallish male human’ to let him know that he’d better be careful while eating food anywhere other than the kitchen table. He’s heard this phrase so often that he now says these words for me as he disappears into his room with a bowl or plate.

When used in a sentence: (in mocking tone) Yes mom, I know…”You spill, I kill, you know the drill.”

It is what it is: Another way of saying, “Oh well, you can’t change it so you might as well accept it and move on.” This phrase was formerly used so often in conjunction with the words “quite frankly”, that now the ‘red-doodle’ will add the “quite frankly” part in mocking jest  for me every time I say this phrase.

When used in a sentence: “We aren’t millionaires again today…ah well, it is what it is.”

(followed by the echoing “quite frankly” from the red headed child)

End of Story: Meaning ‘I expect to hear no further argument on the subject’. A phrase inherited by my father but now spoken more frequently by my husband than myself because I’m more of a pushover than he is.

When used in a sentence: “I don’t care if you are on the phone with the man-squirrel for the 20th time today, I said put your laundry away…end of story.”

I think that pretty much sums up today’s lesson in momisms.

Like all good things, this post must come to an end, and quite frankly…

It is what it is.

End of story.

 

Sagging Stupendous!

Daily Prompt: Game of Groans

Think about an object, an activity, or a cultural phenomenon you really don’t like. Now write a post (tongue in cheek or not — your call!) about why it’s the best thing ever.

I personally think every male on the planet should start “sagging”.

What is sagging, you ask?

Why its only the greatest cultural phenomenon ever!

According to Wikipedia, sagging is defined as: a manner of wearing trousers or jeans which sag so that the top is significantly below the waist, sometimes revealing much of the underwear. Sagging is predominantly a male fashion.

I, however, believe sagging is best defined here:

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You see, they just can’t help it. Their elongated torsos make it difficult to wear their pants in some normal, boring, mainstream manner.

Ooo la la…Am I right ladies? Nothing hotter than a scrawny butt sticking out from over the top of some seriously huge jeans. Add a belt around the knees, and the ensemble goes from daytime casual to evening wear in and instant. It’s a great look for frequent trips to the ATM, pawn shops, liquor stores, job interviews, first dates…

When I see this look I instantly think, “Wow. That young man right there has it all together. He has a bright future ahead of him for sure.”

Just think of all the perks that this phenomenon brings with it, too, girls. I mean, you know exactly what you’re getting because you can see it all gloriously displayed over the top of their sagging South Poles.

Oh! And If you ever decide you just need a little break from your doting sagger, a brisk walk in the opposite direction will provide sufficient alone time. Pretty hard to give chase with your pants around your ankles.

Also, imagine all of that extra storage space they have for wallets, afro picks, guns, knives, your jewelry, a refreshing 40 oz. malt beverage…there’s just so much room in those over-sized jeans! Saggers are like the SUV’s of the fashion world! And if you’re ever tired of walking, ladies, you can just hop right into those size 80 jeans and hitch a ride because there’s plenty of room.

And a note to saggers everywhere: Please, by all means, continue to approach my gorgeous daughters with your pants around your ankles, sideways hat, and an ample handful of that which you are over-compensating for with your oozing charm.

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It makes me all warm and fuzzy right down to my toes when you dashing gentlemen shout things at them from across a parking lot like, “Ooo gurlll…let me holla at you fo’ a minute” and then, to make absolute certain you have their full attention, follow it up with “What? Where you goin’ gurrlll. I just wanna axe’k you sumfin.”

That right there has ‘future son in law’ written all over it.

I’m sure my husband would agree, too.

Now waddle on over and give us a hug.

Welcome to the family, son.

Halloweening on a Budget

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Well folks, it’s almost that time of year again.

That time of year when our kids beg us for expensive costumes that they’re only going to wear for about 2 hours, while they go door to door begging for candy like a band of street urchins.

Now, the candy part I like. If I don’t send them out begging for candy, how else am I going to steal all of the good stuff like Kit Kats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and leave them with junk like Necco Wafers and that nasty chewy peanut butter taffy? (Seriously people, stop even buying those things, they just end up in the garbage or at the end of some kid’s slingshot.)

It’s just the buying costumes part that tries to throw a monkey wrench into my devious, candy thieving plan. We haven’t been able to afford a store-bought costume in years, because we just happen to be certifiably, duct-tape-your-shoes, Ramen-five-nights-a-week, wear-your-undies-until-there’s-more-holes-than-actual-fabric poor. So, we’ve just managed to make do with what we have.

We’re so poor, in fact, that one year we cut some arm and leg holes into a trash bag, stuck some wadded up paper and wrappers to my son’s head, and took him to an upscale neighborhood, (you know, the kind where they give out candy that didn’t come from the dollar store) where he went door to door proudly proclaiming, “I’m poor white trash.”

Don’t judge. It worked. Not only did the kid win a costume contest that year, but he even got double the candy out of sympathy, and it only cost us a trash bag.

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So, lack of funding during this time of year has forced us to get quite imaginative when it comes to costume creating. Call it Halloweening on a budget. We make it work, though.

I thought I’d highlight a few of my favorite past costume creations for you; my adoring one and a half fans. In honor of the upcoming festivities.

May you be inspired.

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Let’s start with this work of art that we like to call “Stepped in Bubble Gum.” This one happens to be one of my all time favorites. It was cheap, easy, and won him another costume contest. One of his sisters had the pink shirt and pants already, and I drew tire tracks and footprints on them with a sharpie. We found the pink hat at the thrift store, and I sewed one of my old shoes to the top of it. Voila! The kid was transformed into a wad of ABC bubble gum. (That’s “already been chewed” for those who aren’t in the know.)

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We all know that money doesn’t grow on trees, but sometimes it does for Halloween!

I had alot of fun with this one. The fake foliage, headband, and play money all came from the dollar store. I got a pack of brown pipe cleaners from Wal-mart to twist into little branches, and we found the brown gloves at the thrift store. I sewed some of the leaves and money onto the finger tips of the gloves, attached the remaining leaves and money to the ends of the pipe cleaners, wound them around the headband to look like branches, and sewed a couple of the makeshift branches onto the shoulders of the shirt. I even found a rubber dragonfly hiding out in my bins of craft supplies, and sewed it to the front  of the shirt. All in all, we spent about 6 bucks to make this costume.

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This costume didn’t cost us a dime. She was going through a goth phase so she already had most of this stuff in her closet  anyway. She threw together a few of her items to make a dark fairy costume, and the wings just happened to be hand-me-downs that I found stuffed in the back of my closet from some Halloween years ago:

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I pieced that together, too, but don’t ask me what I was. No clue.

Oh, and by the way:

Tree hugging fairy!!!

Sorry, just had to throw that in there.

Moving right along:

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The Low Budget Ninja.

Michelle Phan (love her) has this awesome little YouTube video called “Be a Ninja In 30 Seconds…I Think“. She basically teaches you how to take a black t-shirt and turn it into an instant ninja mask. That’s what we did for this costume, and then we just went through closets until we found some black garb to complete the ensemble. He had the weapons already because, well…he’s a boy. Grand total spent on this costume: nothing.

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Uh oh. Looks like Mr. Ninja stepped in some gum.

Anyway…

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Who doesn’t love a zombie girl, especially when she’s eating her daddy’s brain? This corpsie cutie made her costume herself. She cut up a shirt and some jeans to look like they had slash marks, added some fake blood and face make up, and her undead look had suddenly come alive. This costume only cost a few bucks for a tube of fake blood and some face paint.

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The following year my daughter was going through an “Everything Batman” phase and decided that she wanted to be Batgirl. So, I got this little slip-type skirt that I cut up from the Salvation Army store for a buck along with the shirt which was 3 dollars. I got the fabric for 5 dollars at hobby lobby, cut out the wings, and sewed them along the side seams of the shirt. I then sewed the tips of the wings to a couple of her rings so that she wouldn’t have to hold them.  We found the mask for a couple of bucks at a Halloween store. She already had the belt which was a gift from her dad I think, and the boots were borrowed. We probably invested about 12 dollars total into making this costume, which is pretty good considering the fact that when we looked at Batgirl costumes in the store, they were 40-50 dollars! Yikes!

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What good is a superhero without her trusty sidekick?

I had found this plain green shirt and little red slip-skirt at the Salvation Army store for a few dollars as well. I cut up the skirt to match her batty counterpart’s ensemble. I bought some t-shirt paint at Hobby Lobby for 4 bucks and painted the Robin symbol on the front of her shirt. I then found some red, green, and yellow fabric pieces in the craft section of the thrift store that I used to manage. I used them to make the cape that I sewed onto the shoulder seams of her shirt, and also her green armbands, and her belt. The mask was a couple of dollars at Walmart, and she already had the boots. The total spent on this costume was around 10 dollars.

Off to fight some crime, ladies?

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Go get those candy bandits!

Alrighty then.

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Mr. Gangster here was a last minute throw together costume because we really had no other ideas. The pinstripe suit was given to him by some friends of ours, and I used an eyebrow pencil to draw on a snazzy little beard. Don’t worry son, you’ll be growing facial hair of your own soon enough.

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Last year my daughter opted for a mother nature look. I’d say we only put about 5 dollars into creating this costume with the purchase of the make-up. I used an eyebrow pencil, metallic gold eye shadow, and metallic green eyeliner to paint the design on her face. A friend had given her the fake fall leaves that she used to weave into her corded belt and make into a circlet for her head. The shirt and cover-up she already had, and the skirt was a part of my old renaissance costume:

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Uh…yeah. Old school.

And then there was Juliet:

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Okay. I’m no great seamstress, but with the added help of a plain white skirt and some gold-trimmed pink velvet ribbon, I managed to recycle an old church choir robe into a work of art. I accented the ensemble with a teardrop shaped pearl bead tied to a piece of gold ribbon to adorn her forehead. All of the items for this costume were found in the thrift store that I used to manage, so the only thing it cost me to make this costume was time.

Now, these last few low budget costumes weren’t necessarily for Halloween, but I’ll throw them in with the mix anyway because they were just so much fun to create:

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Even better than the Von Trapp family is…well…mine.

You see, we had this “World Nations” dinner at church and we were supposed to dress up in a costume that represented a country of our choosing. Since I’m of German decent, I naturally chose to piece together a few German costumes for the fam. All of the clothing and fabric that I used for these costumes I found in the thrift store. I sewed their cute little hats out of felt pieces and ribbon. I dissected an old fashioned ruffled shirt and added the sleeves to my vest and some of the lace to my step-daughter’s shirt. We found some plain white skirts that fit and used some gold cloth place mats as aprons. I made the suspender pieces out of fabric and wide ribbon and sewed them to pairs of shorts that we already had to make Lederhosen.  Ja!

And there you have it folks!

This year we’re working on an awesome Alice costume for my daughter. My son is going to be the Mad Hatter, and Ray Darr, the worlds worst excuse for a pet rabbit is going to be the March Hare.

Stay tuned for those pics. It’s going to be fabulous!

Collaborating With My Kid

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On a recent trip to Michigan to visit my parents that included my husband, daughter, son, and one of my step-daughters, we found ourselves attending my cousin’s college graduation party. It was just a simple outdoor gathering with a barbecue style buffet spread.

While there, there was an item made available to the gathered guests and children that caught my ever-artistic daughter’s eye:

Sidewalk chalk.

She proceeded to grab the bucket of chalk and set to work doodling on the cement driveway.

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This eventually led to her working on a detailed picture of one of her favorite things to draw:

Her “Mushies”.

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Being the huge Alice in Wonderland fanatic that she is, she loves mushrooms, and she loves to draw colorful and creative pictures of whatever toadstools her imagination can work up; among other things, of course. She has a very vivid imagination.

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So there she was down on her knees, diligently working on her chalky cement creation while other party-goers were slowly packing up and heading out one by one. The party was coming to an end, and my husband and parents were trying to hurry my daughter along so that we could leave soon ourselves.

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My child, however, takes after her mother in that she’s not only an artist, but a perfectionist as well, and walking away from an unfinished work of art just isn’t an option for her. I understand this incessant need to finish a masterpiece while others may not.

In a crunch for time, however, I bent down and asked, “Would you like me to help?”

She responded with a relieved “yes,” and we proceeded to finish the creation together that she had started herself.

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Now, in the artistic world, one does not simply allow other people to dip their hands into one’s creative cookie jar. This is especially true with me and my daughter, considering how seriously we take each project that we set our minds to. There has to be complete trust in another person’s artistic abilities to even consider allowing them to touch your own masterpiece.

My daughter and I share a bond that goes deeper than just mother and child, though. We share an artistic bond, in that we have almost the exact same sense of artistic style, imagination, and ability. We have complete trust in one another artistically, and often times, we’ll find ourselves working together or running ideas by each other on any given project.

We collaborate well, and we complement each other quite nicely. It means a lot to me that I’m the only one on this earth that she trusts enough to touch her work. This goes both ways.

We recently worked together on a project to rework a beat up old gun rack that had been kicking around the thrift store for almost a year into a sword rack for my step-son. My husband screwed a wooden plaque on the front for us, and I painted the whole thing black. I had intended to paint some sort of Asian dragon design on it, but I asked my daughter if she would be willing to do it instead, because I knew it would turn out just as well if she did it.

And it did.

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I look forward to collaborating on many more future projects with my kiddo. As a matter of fact, we’re wracking our brains even now trying to come up with something amazing that we can work on together. I have a few ideas. You’ll have to stick around if you want to see what we come up with.

I told her yesterday that I was throwing her out of my art class. Not because I don’t love her, of course, but because she’s just way too advanced. Then I decided to let her stay, but only as my assistant. I think that would be a much better arrangement, don’t you?

Oxymorons and Such

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I have admittedly been suffering from writers block for the last two weeks. Well that’s not entirely true, because the words still seem to flow when I’m given a topic assignment that interests me, so maybe writers block isn’t exactly what I’d call it. It’s more or less been a lack of imagination. Creative Constipation. I’ve simply had an inability lately to think up good writing topics on my own.

So, I’ll go to the Daily Prompt each day and look it over. Lately they haven’t appealed to me much, but occasionally I’ll say, “Ooo, that’s a good one.” Then I’ll get sucked into some TV series on Netflix, and writing goes out the window for the day. Sad, I know, but it happens.

I used to try and write something daily, but I’ve been pretty unmotivated for whatever reason these past couple of weeks, so it’s been more like twice a week. I suppose I can blame my allergies. I’ve had an almost continuous sinus headache that has kept me feeling pretty crappy and has sapped my focus.

When I have written lately, it’s usually turned out to be something sad and depressing. When I wrote the previous post, my husband came home that evening and said, “Would you warn me before you’re gonna post stuff that makes me cry? I can’t be bawling like a baby at work.”

He’s right. I have been getting further and further away from the lighthearted humor that I used to try to fit into all of my posts. I’d rather be funny than depressing. I was just trying to keep it real. Didn’t mean to make anyone shed tears on my account. Don’t cry my adoring fans, don’t cry. There, there.

I mean sure, it’s all true stuff about my life and the emotions that past events have brought about, but all one and a half of you don’t want that sappy junk. You want the good stuff. You’re humor junkies, shaking in the ultraviolet glow of your electronic devices until you get your next fix. “Show me the funny,” I can hear you say. I’m telepathic like that. I’m watching you with my mind’s eye right now. You’re looking good. Have you lost a few pounds? I have to be honest, though, pink isn’t your color, and it’s about time you had a haircut.

Anyway, in the interest of lightening the mood for a change, I thought I’d grace you with a few of the crazy things that my kids have done or said that have made me chuckle over the years. Having offspring, while a full time, exhausting job most days, isn’t without its entertainment value, after all.

A couple of years ago, my daughter and I were discussing the fact that my son will walk around with sticky, gooey hands and a dirty face, and it doesn’t bother him in the least. So, in an effort to sound all motherly and intelligent, she turned to him and said, “You’d better wash your hands more often, or you’ll get Glaucoma.” I about died laughing. She of course knows what that is now, and I, being the compassionate, loving mom that I am, bring it up from time and time just to agitate her. It always works. She’s easy to rile up, though. It usually takes little to no effort to push her buttons. I think it’s a redhead thing. Or maybe a teenager thing. Probably both.

Then a few months back, my husband, who refused to cut his hair for whatever reason, decided to slick back his unruly mane with hair gel one day. I looked at him on the ride home and said, “Nice hair.” He said, “You think? I was going for a Bella Lugosi look.” I responded with, “Well, I think you more or less have Fonzie pegged.” My son vehemently disagreed from the back seat. I said, “Son, do you even know who  Fonzie is?” “Yeah. He’s that guy from the Muppets,” he replied.  My husband and I both laughed out loud.

This is also the same boy that was bored one day while we were running the thrift store, so he decided to go out and dance in the rain with a stuffed buffalo. I peeked around the corner out of the big roll up door at him spinning around with his buffalo, and said, “Son, should you have that buffalo out in the rain?” His response to me was, “Yeah, it’s fine. He’s a water buffalo.” I love my son.

Many years ago, when my oldest step daughter was about 11, her younger brother decided to shut the door in her face while we they were getting out of the minivan. A small argument ensued between the 2 once she made it out of the vehicle, which resulted in her eventually calling him a ‘stupid genius.’ I looked at her and said, “He can’t be stupid and a genius. That’s an oxymoron.” She put her little hand on her hip, gave me a cocky glare, and said, “I am NOT a moron.” I laughed until my sides ached.

Several years later, we all went to Krystal after church to get burgers; all 7 of us. On our way out, that same child thought that one of the large, sectioned windows next to the door actually was the door, and walked right smack into it. She stood there for a second and then said, “Oh. This one must be locked.” The whole family witnessed this display, and we all burst out laughing. This resulted in my quick witted self turning the situation into a joke. “How do you confuse a blond?” I asked. “You put a window where a door should be!” Everyone laughed, but I got a slug in the arm for that one from the blond in question. That whole scene still haunts her from time to time to this very day. Only because I bring it up, of course.

My kids.

They’re crazy, but I love them, all five of them; two that I gave birth to and three that I married into. When we’re all out and about people will say, “Are all of those your kids?!” I just smile and say, “Yep, never a dull moment in my house.”

And I mean it.

Reflections of a Life Wasted

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I’m coming up on my 39th birthday here in…umm…

*Cue awkward silence as I count on my fingers and mumble under my breath, “Let’s see. Multiply by 5, subtract 96, carry the one and…*

5 days.

Now, there’s no big fuss made over a 39th birthday. It isn’t even a milestone event in one’s life. Next year, however, the big 4-0 will hop up and bite me in the backside like a snake that’s been hiding in the tall, overgrown grass of my life. I look toward this event with trepidation.

I guess the approach of what society has deemed to be the “over-the-hill” mark, rendering my last official year of youth as methodically ticking away, has caused me to really start reflecting back on my life. Replaying the mistakes that I’ve made. Weeding through the “what ifs”. Gritting my teeth against the “could-have-done-betters”.

I’m a dweller. I try not to be, and the Christian crowd will tell me that I shouldn’t be, but I’m just so very human. I think that mulling things over again and again and reworking them in my mind is probably in my blood. I can agree, though, that without God in my life now, I would have completely reverted back into my head and might otherwise be found drooling in a corner somewhere rocking and mumbling to myself. Clinging to faith and hope keeps me upright.

I didn’t always, though.

Fresh out of high school, I viewed the world as my playground and had very little determination to seize any kind of future for myself. I entered one scholarship contest to an art school that I was mildly interested in, but when I showed up with portfolio in hand, I took a look around at the other 300 applicants and their work, and was instantly discouraged. I packed up and left that day thinking much less of myself than I had when I woke up that morning. Afraid and unsure of my abilities from that point forward, the portfolio found its way into the back of my closet, thus closing the doors on any further attempts to try to be somebody and make a career stem from my talents. I never looked back again.

Instead I gave in to the calling of my social life, got a little apartment above a house lived in by the woman renting the place, and held killer parties. I figured maybe the parties were getting out of hand when people were vomiting out the windows onto her car below. She was understanding enough, though, and gave me the opportunity to stay as long as I toned it down.  Soon after, the roommate moved out, the boyfriend moved in, and I did behave; as much as a young single girl shacked up with her boyfriend possibly could, and for a while, at least.

I traded one boyfriend in for another when that one enlisted in the military. He was a good guy, but I was wild, free, and simply didn’t want to wait for him.  So out went the old, and in came the new. With the new, I fell instantly head over heels. Or so I thought. Reflecting on it now, I had no concept of what love really was back then.

Then the bad break-up happened and I ran from my hurt. I packed up my apartment, quit my job, stuffed anything that wouldn’t fit in my car into my parents’ basement, and took off to a place 8 hours north of home to escape seeing him. I had met some people there the summer before, and my grandpa had a cabin there that I broke into once I arrived. It was quickly discovered that I was staying there, though, and I was tossed out on my bad decision making backside.

After a month of living in my car because I had no other place to go, and a job that quickly went south because I either didn’t show up for my 12 hour shifts or came in hung over, I threw in the towel, pawned my entire CD collection for gas money, and went home.

I got my old job back. The boyfriend and I got back together. I became pregnant at 21, and we got married to the urgings of family members to “do the right thing.”

Well, the right thing essentially turned out to be the wrong thing.

At the ripe old age of 23 I was a divorcée that was looking for love in all the wrong places to try and ease my pain. I traveled in all the wrong circles and spent nights with forgettable men. Some of them so forgettable, in fact, that I couldn’t even be bothered to learn their names to begin with.

I had become your average barfly because I just couldn’t bear to sit home alone with my thoughts, wallowing in my self-pity, so I had sought out ways to drown them. Cheap alcohol and the attentions of the opposite sex became my crutch.

Until a long island iced tea bought for me by a dark haired stranger, and a one night stand, turned into ‘a regular thing’.

Age 26 then saw me stuck in a loveless relationship with an alcoholic compliments of my bar hopping habit, (and that long island) that thought nothing of disappearing on a drinking binge for an entire weekend, while I sat home wondering where he was with a 4 year old and another baby on the way. Well, what did I expect from a guy that I picked up in a bar?

I also had 2 abortions under my belt by this time. I wasn’t a Christian then, and in my panicked worldly ways and unwillingness to change, I did then what is now the unthinkable to me. Those uncaring and heartless murders have slowly gnawed away at me like a flesh eating disease for all of the years since. Anytime that word is even mentioned around me, it becomes a knife stabbing at my heart all over again.

So, age 27 found me deeply wounded by my own choices, with 2 different children by 2 different fathers, desperately trying to find a way out of the nightmare relationship that I was in. I tried the direct “get out” approach to no avail. He used the fact that I now had his child as an excuse to drag out the misery for both of us.

Once again I sought ways to drown my sorrows, this time settling on church and video games. I found God to the tune of the alcoholic’s snide, ridiculing comments, and I also found a virtual reality world where, for a while every night, I didn’t have to be me. I could forget how low my life had sunk.

It was through those online games that I finally found my current husband and rescuing hero, and how I coincidently was able to finally end the relationship I was in. He didn’t stick around long once I was finally able to profess my love for another. He then decided to deny our son out of his anger toward me. My husband has since stepped into the role as daddy, though, so my son’s biological father denying him hasn’t really affected him much. Yet.

My husband is one of the few things that I’ve done right in my life.

At 28 I married him on a cold January day to the joyous melody of everyone telling us that we were wrong. “It’s too soon. You barely even know each other,” they would say. The courtship started with his first pixelated words to me across my computer screen in September, ( ‘happy birthday’, coincidentally) and spanned over 4 months of nightly phone calls, webcam chats, and 2 visits in person. By the beginning of December, I was shopping for a wedding dress. Maybe we didn’t know each other completely yet, but we had the rest of our lives to get to that point. We knew it was right, and that’s all that mattered.

That marriage brought with it 3 young step-children. I admittedly haven’t always been the nicest person as far as they’ve been concerned. I couldn’t really pinpoint why, though. Likely petty jealousy over the attentions of my husband. I saw him as this treasure that I wanted to keep all to myself, and I didn’t realize for the first half of our marriage that I couldn’t. His youngest is very needy, too, when it comes to her father, so I’ve had to really struggle to work through my sharing issues.

I’ve tried to mend my relationships with them, with some success. They essentially tolerate me now, and the youngest one is even loving toward me, though she’ll argue with me ceaselessly over anything that I ask her to do. I think sometimes that it’s her way of showing animosity toward me brought about by past hurts, but then I realize that it just comes with the territory when you have teenagers.

Regardless, though, my husband was a package deal and it took me awhile to figure that out.

At age 35, I almost lost him. We were so heavy into our online gaming addiction that we had fallen away from church, and each other. In our emotional separation due to distraction, I regrettably strayed. He gave me a choice to leave or stay. I stayed, and it took hard work on both of our parts to make our marriage fully functional again. Counseling. Church. New friends that were good for us. Turning away from our addiction and turning to God.

I’ve made so many mistakes in my lifetime thus far. Lord knows I have. They weigh on me like chains draped across my shoulders at times.

Sometimes I think to myself, “You never went far. You never made a name for yourself. You really have nothing to show for your life but a barrage of bad choices. That’s your legacy.

Then I look at my daughter, who’s about to turn 17, and my son who’s about to turn 12, and it seems like only yesterday, but in another dimension entirely, that I spent 19 and 22 hours respectively in sweating, screeching labor to bring them into this world…

And now my daughter will sit and talk to me and confide in me like I’m her friend…

And my son will hug my waist and hang there like a boy-sized belt…

And my husband will wraps his arms around me and kiss my forehead…

And my step daughter will call me beautiful…

And I’m assured that they all love me in spite of me…

And I feel safe from not only the world, but my own tendencies toward destructive behavior…

And I’m reminded that I’ve made it this far…

And I know I did something right in the midst of my messes…

And everything is okay…

So that brings us to the here and now. Time isn’t stopping, and it certainly isn’t slowing down. I am older and I am wiser, but my life will likely never be mistake free. I’ll keep on making them, but they’ve at least been getting noticeably smaller over the years.

I’ll wish me a happy birthday this year, and my biggest gift will be the knowledge that I’m a survivor.

Of myself.

An Open Letter to My 16 Year Old Daughter

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To Amber, my “Berber” Baby…

Where do I even begin with the hopes and dreams that I have for your future? There are just so many things that I’d wish for your life; paths that I’d choose for you, if I were allowed to. Your life is your own, however, and though there may be rules and guidelines for you to follow now in an effort to steer you in the right direction, soon all I’ll be able to offer you is motherly advice. It will then be your choice to either heed or ignore it.

So as far as hopes go, I’ll start with the hope that you can one day see the beauty that lies in forgiveness. Finding the ability to forgive has been a huge struggle that you’ve faced for a while now. Let go of your anger toward others. You’ll love how free it will make you feel.  Always remember that people are just that; people. Imperfect beings. They will screw up. Try not to hold anyone to a higher standard than you would hold yourself. You don’t want to become a bitter, lonely woman someday because you have placed excessively high expectations on others, and are unable to forgive them when they can’t meet those expectations. There’s a saying that goes, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” This is very true. It will only hurt you if you can’t learn to let it go. I’d hate to see you leave nothing but a slew of failed relationships behind you because you’re unable to finally see what it means to forgive.

I also hope you dare to dream, but hope you never have that dream where you’re standing in the high school hallway naked while the other kids laugh and point. That’s a terrible dream. Yeah, don’t have that. Dream good dreams instead and focus them into your artwork. You’re an amazing artist already, and I’m in awe of your extraordinary imagination. You can do great things and go far with your God-given talent. Speaking of God, and I know you’ll probably just roll your eyes at what’s to come so I’ll try not to draw it out…

I hope you’ll one day turn to God and seek a relationship with Him. Desire His will for your life and know that He’s genuinely there for you and wants to bless you. I know that several “Christians” have hurt you in the past and have proven to be terrible examples of His love and compassion. Now you don’t want to even consider a relationship with God because you’re afraid that every move you’d make as a believer would cause you to be thrown under a microscope and judged, so you’ve turned away from faith completely. This all goes back to forgiveness, though, and how people are just people. The ones that point fingers are no better than anyone else. Remember that. It’s not about them, anyway. It’s about you and Him. God himself is not a bad dude, he’s just misunderstood.

I’m not going to go on to tell you that I hope you find someone…a partner in life that makes you happy. Happiness lies within you, and no single person on this earth can give that to you. I do, however, hope that you find someone that treats you with the respect that you deserve. You’re beautiful, inside and out. I’m aware that you know it, now, but I hope that no one ever crosses your path that makes you forget it. Never settle, either. Your perfect guy is out there, and he’ll be worth waiting for. Remember what I said about forgiveness when you do find him. You’ll need that to make it work.

At the same time, though, don’t allow yourself to become someone else’s punching bag, either physical or emotional. Learn where to draw the line. Never ever accept abuse as a way of life.

Last but not least, I hope you strive to be something more than I was. Advance your career. Make something of yourself. Never give up. More importantly, though, if you don’t happen to achieve all that you have planned, don’t allow yourself to be filled with regret. Try not to dwell on the “what ifs” like I have done. They’ll just tear you apart.

Do you remember the 6 years that I left you from the ages of 6 to 12? Yeah, so do I. I doubt I’ll ever forget. Your dad and I both wanted you. We always have. You weren’t some possession that I could just keep in my pocket, though, and the judge said that you were better off staying where you were, with him. I left anyway. You were in good hands. They just weren’t my hands.

I’m not sorry for that pivotal turning point in my life. I can’t apologize for the choice that I made to follow my heart.  I am loved more than I ever could have dreamed. I’ve found the other half that makes me whole. I will, however, always regret that we couldn’t be together during that time because, while I may have found one piece of my heart, I left another behind with you.

I’d call you during that time we were apart, and we would sing “You Are My Sunshine” together over the phone. Remember? We may not sing together anymore, but we talk now, and it’s nice, those heart to hearts. Mother daughter bonding chats. It can’t make up for the time that we lost, but I enjoy our close relationship now more than you’ll ever know. You’re still, and always will be the sunshine that brightens my life.

I’m pleased to see that you have finally grown into your own person. I have to admit that when you were younger, you simply, and blindly, followed the pack. What the crowd did, you did. How the crowd dressed, you dressed. What the crowd liked, you liked. Now, you’ve developed your own sense of style. You have your own likes and dislikes. You form your own opinions and have developed your own personality.  You have become you.

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While I cradled you in my arms as a baby, I daydreamed of who and what you would become. Where would your life lead you? I can honestly say that while you may not fit the exact profile of the future daughter I had created in my head then, you’re even better. You’ve grown to be even more beautiful, funny, talented, and loving than I had dreamed. You’ve become a young woman that I am very proud to call daughter.

My pride and love for you will always be there. You’ve already done things that have left me disappointed in you and there will likely be more as time goes on. We’re all human beings, though. We’ve all made mistakes. Lord knows I’ve made my fair share. For me to hold yours against you would make me hypocritical at best, and not fit to call myself a mother at worst. My love for you is unconditional. There’s nothing on this earth that you could do that would make me stop loving you.

Yes, you will make bad decisions, and you will fall. I won’t always be there to catch you, either. You’ll be 17 in 3 short months, and then, before you know it, you’ll be out in this vast world seeking your own adventures and riding the wind in whatever direction it takes you.

Unfortunately, though, life doesn’t come with bumper pads, like the Winnie the Pooh ones that used to line your crib. I hope that you’ll always be able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off when life knocks you down. That’s how we become stronger. That’s how we build character. When you do fall, please try not to stay down for too long. We’re not guaranteed tomorrow, so make the most of today.

I’ll leave you with a reminder of the greatest words of wisdom that your dear old mom has ever spoken.

Quite frankly, it is what it is.

And in keeping true to your German roots,

Ich leibe dich.

-Momsie

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The Art of the Open Letter