Why I Will Always Love My Mom

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My mom and I are a lot a like. That goes for the good and the bad. Some of the good: we are passionate, caring and loving. We go out of our way for others. We are faithful, honest and giving. We are creative! We love deeply. We never give up. Some of the bad: we are perfectionists, which can cause us to become our own worst critic, we are controlling, which can be good at times but usually it tends to bite us in the butt and we speak what’s on our mind, sometimes too honestly.

Because we are so similar, we’ve had our share of disagreements over the years. As she is now Emma’s primary caretaker, I feel that’s been the biggest struggle for us. It’s not about how much she loves my daughter (which is immeasurable) or her ability to take care of her (she goes above and beyond), but about me being her mom and wanting things the way I want them. It’s hard for me to let go of control, and I think the same goes for her. But our common ground is how much we truly love Emma.

The other day I stayed at my mom’s after work and we had dinner together. We talked about our relationship and how it’s been different. Our conversations revolve primarily around Emma and we don’t get to talk the way we used to. Sometimes I wonder if someone else watched her would our relationship had never changed. However, I am so blessed to have her do what she does three days a week and the bond between them is incredible. Emma loves her MEMA!

There was a moment when my mom was hugging Emma. She told me she reminds her so much of me when I was little. She said she loves us both so much and she started to cry. She told me that it goes by so fast and one day I’ll know when Emma has a baby and she is no longer around (to me, that world doesn’t exist because my mom is going to live forever!). We hugged and shortly after I took Emma home. I thought about what she said..the fact that she now has two grown daughters and one of them has a baby. The surreal experience she feels holding Emma and recalling the moments she held me. I cried my whole ride home thinking about it…thinking about how she must feel and although its primarily love and joy, the little heartache that is there knowing that I am no longer her little baby anymore.

I never want Emma to grow up. I want her to be little forever. It sounds silly but I do. I love her small and I can’t imagine her as a teenager let alone and adult. So what my mom said really hit me. It really made me stop and think. Sure, we can disagree or even get on each others nerves, but when it comes down to it, I will always love my mom. I will always love her for everything she’s done for me and everything she’s given me. For the endless amounts of unconditional love and support, for never giving up on me in my most difficult moments and for all the things she’s done for me over the years that no thank you could ever even express my gratitude. And now, for the role she’s taken on with her granddaughter. There is no one I trust more to take care of her. There is no one that can ever compare.

When you become a mother, you truly understand everything your own mother has said to you over your lifetime. You get ‘when you’re a mother you’ll understand’ or ‘I’m doing this because I’m your mom and I love you’. You get it. You really, really get it because you have that same love for your child. I will always love my mom for the person she is and the mother I hope to one day become. I can’t thank her enough, but I can sure try. Thanks mom for doing what you do, you mean the world to me.

The Minute My Heart Stopped…

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It was a beautiful August day in Michigan. There was a slight breeze as the sun warmed the air. It wasn’t humid or too hot…the weather was just right. We have family in town so it was decided to go to the Troy Aquatic Center for the kiddos. Emma loves the water and I was excited to take her.

We got there and she was pretty fussy and unwilling to leave my arms. After a while she got more comfortable and soon she was splashing by the fountain pads and laughing. I took her into the water with me and we played. She takes swim classes and loves being in the water so there wasn’t much concern for me there. However, there were a lot of kids swimming and splashing around so I decided to take her out, maybe grab a snack and just sit for a bit.

I placed her on one of the lounge chairs as her uncle and cousin were saying hello and engaging with her. Here’s where the mistakes start…

I didn’t ask them to watch her for a second. I didn’t even see if they were completely interacting with her. I didn’t take her down so she wouldn’t fall. I turned away. I TURNED AWAY! I hear a scream and see her face down on the cement. My heart stopped. I literally felt like I couldn’t breathe. I wanted to cry, scream, throw up and pass out all at once. I grabbed her. She was hysterical. I was hysterical. The blood wouldn’t stop coming from her mouth. I was a wreck, I still am.

Per our pediatrician, we took her to the ER. She was admitted, examined and released within one hour (great job Royal Oak, Beaumont!). No stitches, no CT scan. She is okay. That’s what my husband had to keep reminding me, “She is okay.” Her lips is pretty cut up and swollen and her chin is scratched up but other than that, she is okay. Thank you God, she is okay. I know it could have been worse. I know. But I can’t help myself. I can’t help but blame my stupid self for turning away. Why did I think that would be okay? What is wrong with me?!

I know she’s going to get injured. I know this won’t be the last time, but I could have prevented it and I can’t help but feel like the worst mom in the world. I close my eyes and see that image of her laying there. I cringe. My heart breaks. It makes me sick to my stomach. I want to permanently erase it from my mind.

While I realize it was an accident, I can’t help but feel angry at myself. It seems like she is continuously having these issues too. Her tooth incident at my mom’s house when she was only 8 months old, her chipping her front tooth with me in the bathtub (a week ago) and now this (by the way, her front teeth are a complete, chippy mess)! I wish I could just fix it all. I could just take a magic wand and eliminate the pain and the scars (these poor teeth!). But I can’t. This is a part of life. And as her mother, it’s important for me to stay strong which so far I have not been able to do…

The love of a parent is so amazing. It’s like my heart just jumps out of my chest for her. She has truly completed my life and if I never have another I will be okay because I have her. And that’s why I think it’s so hard for us as parents. We have this love that cannot be described until you actually experience it. And with that love comes this innate responsibility to protect. This responsibility is so strong that we would become superhuman if needed, we would do anything to protect them from all harm…but we can’t. It’s just not possible. Even if I bubble wrapped my child (I definitely considered it after yesterday), she would still get hurt. There comes a point when you need to have faith it will all be okay…whatever your faith may be. This is where I must learn to ‘let go and let God’.

Emma is okay. She’s alive and healthy with a few cuts and some chippy teeth (luckily these ones fall out!). I am very lucky it wasn’t any worse. It can always be worse…

So while I work on trying not to lose my mind when she gets injured, I think about how blessed I am that she’s okay. My advice for anyone going through something similar is this: Keep calm and ‘mom’ on 🙂 You’re a great parent. Be thankful for the blessings you have and continue to pray for all those suffering, it could always be worse!

Ben Affleck and the Experts ARE Right, Marriage IS Work!

I am normally not one to comment on articles unless I am really passionate about the topic, like this article I read here entitled: ‘Ben Affleck and the Experts are Wrong: ‘Marriage is not Hard Work‘. My two passions here are Ben Affleck and marriage, in that order, kidding! Maybe

As we’ve all heard/read, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced after 10 years of marriage that they will be getting a divorce. As a wife and mother myself, this saddens me (despite the huge crush I’ve had on him for the past fifteen years). While we do not know the private details of this situation, the media will speculate and tabloids will continue to exploit these stars (because remember, they’re not people) during this very public split. When I first saw this article, I was quite bothered. The title alone put my head in a tizzy. Marriage is not hard work? What? I mean seriously…WHAT?

The author states she has been married for 31 years. As someone who has only been married almost four, I believe that marriage is hard work. While I realize I don’t have the miles that she does, I agree with Ben Affleck and the experts. Let’s break down this article piece by piece, shall we?

“You are only as happy as your most unhappy child. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Deciding whom you’ll marry is the most important decision you’ll ever make. Marriage is a lot of hard work.”

She seems to be setting up this first paragraph to be all things that people say/believe but aren’t necessarily true. The first sentence for me is one of those puns I don’t like so I’ll skip it. As for ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’, DUH! There have been studies proving this to be true (a study from Harvard Medical School found that people who ate breakfasts of whole-grain cereals had lower rates of diabetes and heart disease compared to skippers). Some may argue with me saying that there are also studies showing breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day and that is true. I, however, don’t think they are as supported. Next, ‘deciding who you’ll marry is the most decision you’ll ever make’. Hmm, what to eat for lunch today or whom to marry? Yeah, I’d count that as pretty weighty. You actually repeat the vows ‘until death parts us’ so unless you’re planning to ‘Dateline’ your spouse, it’s kind of a forever thing and in my eyes, I think spending my life with someone is the most important decision….after what to eat for lunch, that is. And she nailed it with the last statement…’marriage is a lot of hard work!’ She could have stopped there, but she didn’t, so I shall continue.

She links Ben Affleck’s Best Director Argo Oscar speech (highly recommend the movie to anyone who hasn’t seen it), where he mentions that his marriage is work. Well, you know what, it is! And I don’t think he was insulting his wife either, I think he was speaking honestly. You are entering into a binding (and legally, I might add) partnership when you get married. You are fully committing yourself to another. You are saying you will love, support and honor that person until death do you part. You speak the words, ‘in sickness and in health’. Have you ever cared for a sick person? It’s work. The author continues stating that she asked her husband and he agreed their marriage isn’t work. Well of course he agreed with you and for two obvious reasons:
1. She was holding a knife (that part of the article made me chuckle)
2. If he disagreed with her then there would have been a long discussion as to why (and we all know men hate long discussions!)

The article continues about how the author and her husband have asked each other this question over the years and her most recent reply was this: “Not at all. It’s never been work for me. Not even for a day in 30 years.” I told him.

I know I have not been married that long, but my follow-up question to this statement would be ‘do you have kids?’ Because if she does, then I would say that answer above is bullshit. If not, I still call bullshit (and I call it Kate Hudson style…if you haven’t seen ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days’ this won’t make sense to you).

My parents will have been married for 35 years this August. I, too, asked them both this question. And guess what? They both agreed that it is! My mom did say that some people would agree with this author, but believes the majority would not. So why is it hard work? Because it’s a relationship that requires effort. It requires being present. It requires making time for one another. All of these things take work. Maybe this author feels complacent in her marriage and for some people, that is okay. They get along and go about their lives. But for me, I just don’t see it.

The author winds down the article with the following: “I am not saying that everything is always perfect, that Mike doesn’t sometimes disappoint me, that I don’t get angry at him. I am not saying that there are not hard times, hard issues, hard problems. But I must say that he overwhelmingly makes it easier to handle these things. So maybe if marriage seems like really hard work, there is something that needs a little fixing.

Mike and I spend hours cuddled up on our couch. He scratches my head if it hurts. He hugs me when I am sad. But he doesn’t consider that work either, because when I am happy, he is happy. And I know the reverse is certainly true, so I do what I can to make him happy too. Did I mention that I sail overnight on the boat every summer taking a three-hour shift on my own in the middle of the night? So is our marriage work? It can’t be. Because I never feel like I need a vacation. Does anyone else have a marriage that isn’t hard work?”

I agree with some of what she’s said above, but her overall message, I do not. My husband and I irritate each other. We disappoint each other too. We fight, we forgive and we continue to love. That’s just simply part of marriage. We also have work stress, personal stress and overall life stress that sometimes spills into our marriage. We have a child that requires our constant attention. We can take each other and our relationship for granted. We can fall or drift apart from one another. And then we reconnect. We work at it. We work at it because marriages just don’t magically stay together. They require two people committing to that relationship. No, it’s not a 9-5 job, it’s actually a 24/7 job that when you don’t put your time into, can really affect its productivity.

This doesn’t mean our relationship needs fixing. That means our relationship is real. We have a love that while it is full of joys, affection and appreciate is also full of sacrifices, compromises and hard work (some of these the author mentions). And by the way, when you are sacrificing and compromising you are working…you are working to satisfy your partner, to keep them happy. That takes work, whether you want to admit it or not. So maybe you believe that your marriage is not hard work, good for you (and I say that in the most sincere way). As for me, I will continue to work at mine each and every day because my goal at the end of it all is to bring out the best in my husband and in me…and how can I ever do that without working on it?

Why You Need Your Girlfriends…

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Good girlfriends are hard to come by. Why? Because in all honesty, girls can be bitches. I mean let’s face it, at some point (or multiple!) in your life you’ve been one. Did a girlfriend steal your boyfriend in high school? I bet you were a bitch then (and she was kind of a bitch too). Or talk about you behind your back? Oh, I bet bitchy came out then (and that was pretty bitchy of her too). Maybe you have a bitchy boss who’s intimidated by you or that bitchy woman you always get on the phone at the doctors office (I’m a first time mom, OKAY?!). Was someone mean/hurtful to your child? Your bitch level probably hit the fan when that one happened.

But, it’s not just women either. There are some mitches out there too (for those unfamiliar with Kevin Hart, that would be a man-bitch, or ‘mitch’). Because we are innately flawed as humans, we have developed these behaviors/attitudes/ways of living that we justify for our actions. We feel we have the right for our ‘bitchy/mitchy’-ness. But do we?

I had some shitty girlfriends in my lifetime. A few talked behind my back when I thought they were my friends, a few went after guys I was dating and some even ended up dating them (!) and a few just wrote me off based on changing circumstances. I wasn’t a perfect friend either. I gossiped about some of my friends and said hurtful things to them too (I just felt more on the receiving end of the backstabbing then the giving). There were friendships that naturally fizzled, others that went down in flames and a very few to this day that have remained as my closest and strongest.

It’s natural for friendships to change, especially when everything else in our lives do. Now that I’m a mom, I’ve found an amazing group of girlfriends I feel so blessed to be a part of. They all went to high school together and had what I wished I did…a group of girlfriends that stayed friends and true to each other. I feel like I have been friends with them my entire life and have to say now that we are all moms, I rely on them more than ever!

The best part about aging and friendships is how you mature. You realize what’s important in life. You don’t have time for drama. Your gossiping is restricted to celebrities and reality TV shows. You complain about your husbands and sometimes your kids but never one another. You support, love and respect each others decisions. You never judge. You never fault. And sometimes when its needed, you always forgive.

The older I get, the more I realize how much I need my girlfriends. I need to vent about how marriage is hard work or ask questions about something regarding my daughter. And sometimes…just sometimes I just need to let loose! I need to go out and enjoy drinks and lots of laughs with just the girls. And when Channing Tatum happens to be involved, that’s an extra perk!

As women, whether we are close friends, co-workers or strangers on the street, I hope we find more ways to be accepting of one another, our own personal struggles and successes and really embrace the power of womanhood instead of tearing each other down. Whether you have one or one hundred girlfriends, cherish your friendships…they’re an extension of you. I’m so happy to have the girlfriends that I do! 🙂

What Really Matters

Emma GraceMy daughter just recently turned one so of course I wanted to have a big first birthday party for my little princess (that was the theme!). I drove my husband crazy with all the time (and money!) I spent on decorations, planning and cleaning to make ready for this momentous occasion. I know she will never actually remember it, but I was excited about hosting such a special event at our new home.

It was the first time practically everyone would see the house so with my Type A personality, I spent zero hours sleeping and every waking moment getting the place in tip top shape! Needless to say, there would realistically be no way mentally or financially that we would have the entire house furnished and decorated, I did my best. A part of me was worried about what people would think and that’s new for me because usually I don’t really care (ha!). I think because this home is so much a reflection of me and my taste since I did most of the decorating (okay, let’s be honest, I did it all and LOVED every second!), I wanted people to really love and appreciate it the same way that I do. I realize our style isn’t for everyone (think Farmhouse/Chip & Joanna Gaines style) but I love it, I really really do. And I spent a lot of time making it a place I could love. Online orders, in-store orders, “Renee, why is there another package at our door” my husband would shout and I’d pretend not to hear him, returns, returns and more returns! I also made a lot of things too, centerpieces, re-upholstered dining room chairs (thanks for the help, mom!) and my personal favorite, painting and distressing with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (check out my before and after bench here).

Yes, it was great…at first. My husband and I would argue about how I ‘get to do all the fun decorating stuff’ and he ‘just gets to do the shit I don’t want to do’. On some level, I saw where he was coming from. But as much as it was really fun, at times it was really daunting. I spent a lot of time trying to save money by making many of the items in our home. I had five weeks to get as much as I could done. Renovations with a child aren’t easy so that meant either going on my lunch break during work to shop and doing projects in the evening when she went to bed. But I’m happy to say it was worth it because we have enough of the house done to where I feel comfortable (minus our bedroom, we have no furniture so it’s kind of a mess).

But that’s not even the point. None of that stuff really matters. It’s all materialistic. What matters is family. We are blessed. We have a beautiful home and we are healthy. These are the moments that matter…

It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane tasks of everyday life. We are too busy and there’s never enough time. The other day I took my daughter to Partridge Creek to play in the water fountains. There was a moment when she walked towards me smiling and laughing. I scooped her up and hugged her tight. It was perfect. That’s what really matters…moments like those. Not house chores, not decorating, not party planning…

I’m happy to say her party was a success and I feel like all my planning paid off. But the best part of her birthday for me was the day my husband and I took her to the zoo as a family. That was our birthday with her. And those are the moments to me that matter the most. Find some time this weekend to enjoy what really matters 🙂

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