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!

Setting the Right Example.

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I found myself reflecting back on some of my recent posts…

And it got me to thinking…am I setting the right example? Sure, we all can get ‘fired up’ about certain topics. We can all state our ‘opinions’ (which we know, are like blank and everybody’s got one). But I guess it’s how we deliver those messages that really set or don’t set the right example…

Recently there was a trending topic about the owner of a restaurant (a woman) who yelled at a toddler who was crying in her restaurant. Since there are two sides to every story, the argument seems to revolve around the woman owner yelling at the toddler vs. the parents not removing their child from the restaurant. As a mom, I do not feel it is appropriate for another adult to yell at my child, no matter what the circumstances. However, there are others who felt were happy she yelled at the toddler as one individual commented, “Kudos to the managers for setting that mom in place. So sick of parents not parenting.”

Now here’s where I get fired up. Parents not parenting? First, you weren’t there, so let’s just hold the phone on that one. Second of all, what makes you think they weren’t parenting? And who are you to judge? Have you ever taken a toddler to a restaurant? It’s not the easiest thing to do but that shouldn’t mean those with toddlers can’t go out to eat! This is where I believe everyone starting jumping on one bandwagon or another and the media went crazy with its exploitation of the situation (are you surprised?).

I guess my point is that we need to set the right example in life, especially those of us that have children/watch children/are children caretakers/etc. And sometimes its hard to figure out what those examples are. My baby doesn’t have the capacity to understand ‘no’ yet or how to reason. Here’s a great article explaining this if you don’t believe me. So if we’re in a restaurant and I tell her to stop yelling and she doesn’t, I’m not a bad parent and she’s not a bad kid, she’s just at the age (12-18 months) where she’s learning to express herself through her voice. I do tell her ‘no’ in a quiet tone or we don’t talk like that in a restaurant to encourage her to stop or distract her with something if needed, but I don’t yell at her. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments where she makes me so angry and I do yell (then of course I see that scared look on her face and immediately apologize and hug her!), but does that make it right? Do I want her to learn that every time she is upset or frustrated she can yell? No.

There are things in life we all have issues with. I don’t think there should be websites for married people to have affairs. I don’t think Victoria’s Secret should target teenagers to buy their ‘lingerie’. I don’t think Facebook is an accurate representation of people’s lives. These are my opinions. And maybe I haven’t gone about them in the right way, but it’s how I feel. Our feelings are what drives us. They make us passionate, crazy, angry, excited, fearful…the list goes on. We live through our feelings. But just because you feel a certain way doesn’t give you the right to act a certain way either. If I feel mad at a co-worker I can’t just go and punch them. I mean, I can, but I would most likely lose my job and be facing a lawsuit in the process.

I want to be a better example…and my example starts from Jesus and my faith. Here’s a man who was ridiculed, betrayed by one of his own and persecuted. He died for me and my sins…for the sins of the world. That is the ultimate example. And no, I’m not saying you need to die, but I’m saying that sometimes setting the right example isn’t easy, but there is a reason for it. I want to be someone my daughter looks up to. My love for her is like Jesus’s love for the world. I would die for her. If I had to, I would without hesitation so that she could live. Sometimes while I believe my intentions are good, I don’t always say things in the right way to get my point across. The point becomes lost in my rants. I think the same goes for most people.

So as I reflect upon the example I want to set, I know one thing is for sure. I want the best for my daughter. I want to give her the best of me, so that requires more patience, more practice and more understanding to those around me. There are lots of situations completely out of my control, but how I behave as an individual is not. If I can’t respect myself, how can I expect anyone else to? It’s time for me to start setting the right example not only for my daughter (and God willing any future children), but myself.

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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Dear Victoria’s Secret…

Dear Victoria’s Secret,index

Can I call you VS? I think the endless amounts of money I’ve spent in your stores and once-Angel-holding-card-member gives me that right. I hope this message finds you well. I know that you are super busy sending out magazines to every household in the world of your catalogs even when they aren’t subscribers (is anyone besides college fraternities?) with your gorgeous models so perfectly Photoshopped (check out this great site to see some really botched up Photoshopped images: The Illusionists). But I’m hoping you could indulge me a bit…supermodels-beforeafter

In my twenties, I lived for your stores (and your online shopping). I couldn’t wait for the swimsuit issues to come out. I bought at least five swimsuits every issue. I received a pair of flannel pajamas every year for Christmas (and matching slippers!). I had what felt like a never-ending supply of 5 for $20 panties. I even enjoyed your semi-annual sale commercials where the British lady would tell me how “bras and panties are up to half off”. I owned pretty much all of your PINK sweatpants and a large majority of your workout clothes too. Let’s face it, I was one of your VIP customers.

But now, I’m a mom. And that doesn’t mean that moms can’t shop at Victoria’s Secret, it means that as a mom of a one-year-old daughter, I never want her to. So please…PLEASE target the appropriate age demographic for your stores. As a thirty-something-year-old, do you think PINK targets me? Do you think PINK targets anyone besides teenage girls? Because that’s just what we need, more teens wearing slutty lingerie. Why not? Isn’t there a shortage of teen pregnancies these days? And yes, I understand the act of having sex isn’t consummated through lingerie but what else are your ads/stores/ridiculously young half naked models promoting? Because it’s not a slumber party! And don’t even get me started on your holidays commercials…

I value your need to conform. I really do. You need sales and young girls need…what would you call it? Confidence? Yes, young girls need confidence. They need to feel good about themselves so let’s push bras and underwear (I LOATHE THE WORD PANTIES!) on them. Better yet, let’s make a brand called PINK and make it all ‘cute’. Oh and let’s add some sports/university lingerie too because that’s important for college girls, having their university or some ‘cute’ saying about their university plastered across their ass. I’m embarrassed to admit I have a sleep shirt by PINK that says “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” As a wife, it could maybe pass as cute, maybe…if you’re newly married and under the age of twenty-seven. But as a high school or college student, it’s not cute. It’s degrading.

Women want more respect. They want to be treated as equals with men. But when is the last time you saw a man wearing underwear that said “come and get it” or “pay attention”? Why are women expected to be sexy all the time and why do we encourage it?! WHY? The selfies, the duck face photos, the bikini shots, the boob shots….what the shit?!

I mean seriously, what the shit?! The problem is we’ve all done it. We have. You took a selfie or a bikini photo at some point in your life. And if it was recently you probably posted to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat. However, if we cannot respect ourselves then how can we expect others to?

There must be a start and Victoria’s Secret you are it. Stop advertising to young girls! Just stop. Being sexy at sixteen isn’t cool, it’s called a bad reputation. No one under the age of eighteen should be in your store without a parent. PARENT!!! There should not be high school girls shopping with their boyfriends at your stores! Don’t you find a problem with that? Oh wait, you don’t. You just want sales and everyone to salivate over your televised fashion show which is pretty much the Miss America Pageant in lingerie…ok, now walk and wave…watch those wings, Angels!

Don’t get me wrong, your models are stunning. They really are. But that’s not my problem. It’s how you advertise them. It’s the marketing strategy you have targeting young girls. It’s calculating. It’s corrupt. It’s cruel. Because the thing is, we need young women to gain confidence without having to expose any of their body parts. We need young women to feel beautiful without changing who they are. And if we continue down this rabbit hole, it’s only going to get worse. What happens when eleven and twelve year old girls are shopping at your stores? Will you be comfortable selling them lingerie? What if it was your daughter? If you are Victoria’s Secret then where are the women in your company? Because there’s no way in HELL there are moms pushing for these kinds of ads, especially if they are moms of teenage daughters. And let’s not forget how Photoshopped your pictures are! WE ALL HAVE FLAWS! That’s what makes us human. These images are such a distorted version of reality! What are we really teaching here? That nothing is real? Sure seems like it…

The sad reality is you won’t change…but I will. I will stop going into your store. You’re not the only place that sells bras and underwear (for anyone interested Gap Body makes bras that are way more comfortable and last longer than VS). I will continue to throw away your catalogs and coupons. I won’t miss you. Not one bit. And as my daughter grows up, I will tell her everyday how beautiful she is. And when we walk by your stores I will tell her that nothing in there will make her beautiful and to always remember that. It must be easy for you to sleep at night. You can’t ‘control’ who makes purchases in your stores and it’s not your ‘fault’ if someone misinterprets the brand you’re representing. Frankly, I don’t know what you’re representing but it’s not self respect and it’s definitely not about giving young girls confidence.

Thanks for listening and do me a favor, save a few hundred trees and never send me another catalog again.

Sincerely,

A mom who loves her daughter more than you could ever understand.