Lift Women Up (or get out of their way)

I have long considered myself a champion of women. One of the most fulfilling parts of being a writer is empowering others to own their truth by sharing mine.

Honesty is strength; sharing our struggles with each other allows us to be vulnerable. It heals and encourages us. It is one of the million tiny steps that it takes to travel from darkness to hope, and every time I’m honest, I grow stronger — which makes the risk of truth-telling worth it.

Ever since becoming a mother, I have made it my mission to speak truthfully about the beauty and the bullshit of parenthood. I know that one day, my kids will probably read my work and either end up in therapy because of it, or become inspired to write their own truth. Mothers carry so much invisible emotional weight on their shoulders. Weight that no one will ever understand or see, because it comes from places that cannot accurately be imagined or described.

Today, I’m going to try.

I fear that my daughter will one day fall in love with a boy who has a crazy family. This fear is rooted in the fact that I once found myself in this exact situation, and it ended with me getting my face beat in and spending the rest of my life recovering from the heartbreak and anxiety of having people I loved turn on me.

I fear that my children will have unprotected sex. I did.

I fear that they will be so afraid of losing my approval that they will stop telling me the truth.

I do not fear that they will experiment with drugs. I fear that they will experiment with drugs and never be able to stop.

I fear that they will marry the wrong person.

I fear that I will die.

I have many fears, but my greatest fear is that my children will not be strong enough to lift others up, and will instead tear others down. Producing children who grow into adults that destroy others would absolutely devastate and shame me as a parent.

Fear causes us to destroy others rather than empower them. Can we just put fear aside for a little while, cram it into a box and stuff it under the ratty underwear in our dresser drawer? Fear holds us back, while bravery propels us forward.

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Image via download-images.com. All rights reserved.

Fearlessness allows us to experience life in such a way that not only do we change, but we are also able to change the people around us: by loving them, lifting them up, supporting them, and offering our applause. Everyone struggles, but women REALLY STRUGGLE. It’s ironic that women — the ones who need support the most — are often the most destructive to each other. Ask me how I know.

My greatest moment of destruction was at the hands of women.

My greatest moment of achievement was because of women.

Women gave birth to this world and we continue to give it life, so either lift us up or get the fuck out of our way.

(If you liked this post, then you should follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!)

 

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Always Original.

It has been FAR too long since I’ve done a “Things That Make Me Happy” post. Today’s the day to make that right.

I finally have a daughter to dress however I want, but because I’m always short on time (and money) she normally ends up wearing stuff from Target. Which is fine. But … you know. It’s not fab. So, when an old friend contacted me and asked if I would be interested in putting her clothes on Pepper, I said YES. PLEASE HELP US.

Elly Belly Style by Melissa is couture clothing for children. Note: I just looked up the definition of “couture” to make sure I was using it correctly, because this is unfamiliar territory. I’m a T.J. Maxx-er and a bargain hunter, and has always mistakenly assumed that “couture” was synonymous with “overpriced, frilly shit.” Now I am more educated and I know that it just means it’s the only one like it out there, and it doesn’t have to be overpriced or frilly. Who knew?! (Not me.)

Melissa asked me to take Pepper’s measurements, and it’s a shame no one has that footage on camera. Have you ever measured a wiggly 16-month-old? I don’t recommend it. It’s hard — way harder than dealing with tights or pigtails. I definitely broke a sweat and stress-ate a bag of M&M’s when we were done.

Based on the info I gave her, she created this adorable Halloween-themed dress and the panel (which is the part with the characters on it, I learned) was created exclusively for Elly Belly customers. The dress is made from organic, European fabrics, and don’t tell Melissa I said this, but when I opened the envelope and pulled out the dress it smelled so good I buried my face in it. Weird? Yes. I don’t get out much, you know.

Wanna see the dress?! Of course you do!

20141017_094116 20141017_094123 20141017_094223 20141017_094445 20141017_094446 20141017_094452 544924_10203299178420066_8006976742753994307_nYes, it says “LET IT GHOOOOOOOOOST!” That made me laugh. Pepper loves playing with the shiny ruffle around the bottom and got upset when I finally took the dress off her.

If you are interested in seeing more amazing creations from Melissa, you can find her on Facebook!

 

Bittersweet.

At 10 months and 2 days old, the baby finally crawled.

Raising little girls

It was so bittersweet. I was standing barefoot on a blanket watching her, and I thought I would burst with pride. Of my three children, she took the longest to start crawling, but she put the most work into learning. For almost 3 months she has been working on figuring it out, spending her nap times practicing in addition to countless frustrated hours on the floor.

It’s hard to watch your children try and fail and try again. Today I watched Maverick try to climb a tree. He insisted he needed help, but I refused. It was a low tree, and I was close by. He doesn’t know that I was climbing trees like a monkey when I was just a little older than him. I would take the canoe out alone and paddle around the lake at 8 years old. I haven’t told him much about what I was like as a little girl because I’m afraid he will think he can just jump into the nearest canoe and take off with it. He can’t swim yet … so I’ll hold off on my stories.

Looking back, it freaks me out to think about the things that my parents let me do. My mother must have been worried sick while I was off adventuring through the woods, but we had a big German Shepherd who always tagged along and — get this — nothing bad happened.

As I grew older, I found that a large majority of girls my age were fearful and lacked self-confidence because they had never been allowed or encouraged to be independent and/or strong.

Children won’t know what they are capable of if they are never allowed to DO ANYTHING, especially girls, who tend to have confidence issues to begin with. Sometimes by thinking you are protecting them, you’re actually stripping them of the one thing that is vital to their quality of life and happiness: their inner strength.

I understand now how hard it is to let go and hope nothing bad happens as you loosen your grip to allow your child more freedoms. It’s terrifying. I waffle between wanting to lock my children away from the world, and encouraging them to be as involved in it as possible so they can eventually, somehow, change it.

So … I say all of that to say, it’s a big moment for me and for my kid when he climbs his first tree. And, more notably, when his little sister finally crawls to the edge of the blanket to eat the grass she’s been eyeing for months.

As I swept her up and moved her away, pulling wads of clover from her tight grasp, I whispered “I AM SO PROUD OF YOU. YOU JUST KEEP GOING.”

And I know that she will.