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.

If Only…

We live in a world of hurry. We want everything yesterday, five minutes is an eternity, waiting is should be outlawed and time is money. If only we could see the other side. The side where the thought of waiting leads something beautiful like the miraculous birth of a child or the moment when no amount of money could replace time with a dying loved one.

But we’re too much in a hurry. We’re too driven by our own needs for immediacy. Life can change in the blink of an eye and in those moments we question ‘why’, we are not prepared and we don’t understand yet we expect those instantaneous results in almost every other aspect of our lives…

The other day I ran into the post office to mail something. It was my day off and one of those 50-degree Michigan afternoons. I figured it wouldn’t be too busy and I could run in and out without having to lug my sleeping daughter in the car seat. I was first in line with one woman working and an elderly lady just finishing up. I figured this would be less than two minutes until the elderly woman after paying stayed to talk to the post office clerk. I almost lost my mind! There are people lined up behind me now. Do I just leave? Do I go up because she is finished? Do I tell the lady I’m in a hurry? I started tapping my foot I was so frustrated. It was only a few minutes but it felt like an eternity.

It wasn’t until I got into my car where my angel was still perfectly sleeping when it hit me. Maybe that is the only interaction this woman will have today. Maybe she enjoys her trips and talks at the post office because it’s the only time she can get out. Maybe she just wants to be heard. If only I could have been more understanding. If only I could have thought about her instead of myself.  If only…

I read this beautiful email forward my mom passed along and it bought me to tears. I hope you read it. If only we could have the love and compassion for life the way this little boy did. Can we? Can we all just stop being in such a hurry?

I don’t know. I truly don’t. We have been trained, maybe even a little brainwashed if you will, to rush and to be rushed. We have things like flash sales (buy me now before I’m gone!), instant coffee, fast food (the name alone says it all), rush delivery, and the fast lane (for driving purposes). We are bombarded with hurrying!

For most of my life I lived in a hurry. I didn’t have time or the patience. I rushed as often and as much as I could. I wish that I didn’t. Life is a learning experience and that’s one I’ve definitely changed. People felt my need to hurry. I hurt people in the process. I was constantly ‘rushing’ and never had the time.

If only I knew then what I know now. If only I could see how precious and beautiful waiting is. I waited for my husband. I waited through bad relationships and lots of broken hearts. I waited impatiently. And then, I gave it up to God and He gave me my husband. I thank God for him each day and for showing me the reason why I needed  to wait…it was for him. I waited 27 hours to meet my daughter. I waited that long to find out my baby was a she! I waited in pain and discomfort and at moments in fear, but the minute I saw her, I forgot about it all. She is everything to me and worth all of the waiting and more!

I bet any of you would wait patiently if you could see someone who is no longer here…someone who has left this life already. If you were told you have five minutes and all you have to do is wait you would. And you wouldn’t complain or huff and puff. You would be filled with joy of that moment to come. You might be overwhelmed with love and maybe even a little worry. But you would wait…wouldn’t you?

If only we could have that kind of patience with everything we do. If only we could stop being in such a hurry. Today I looked at pictures of my daughter when she was first born (pictured above) and thought to myself, ‘if only you were that little again’. If you’ve ever stayed up late and seen one of those infomercials to buy whatever it is they’re selling at the end the voiceover comes on and says “Why wait? Act now!” and then continues on with what you get for purchasing at that exact moment. So why wait? Why not?!

Life is full of unexpected and beautiful surprises. If only we could all just be in less of a hurry to experience them.

Time…What Time?!

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The other day my mom was asking me if I was reading the “What To Expect the First Year” book she got me regarding what your baby is doing for the first year of their life by months (written by doctors). I said no and sounding a little shocked and in her mothering tone she replied, “Well you should, it will help you to know what’s going on.” “I know, I’ll work on that with all of my spare time,” I said sarcastically. We both laughed but the more I thought it, the more frustrated I got. What time do I really have anymore?

I’m lucky I’m able to get any time in to write this blog! How can you find any time in the day to do all the things you need (and want) to get done? When I became a mom, I lost almost all of my ‘me’ time. Sure, I tried hard to make some but any ‘me’ time I got usually ended up being going solo to get groceries or run any other errands while my husband stayed home with our daughter. It wasn’t like I was going to the spa or shopping for shoes. Yes, I can and could still do those things but it really comes down to finding the time.

Then that’s when I realized your time is really about your priorities. I base my time on things that need to be done. When I’m home with my daughter she is my number one priority. All of my time is devoted to her. Sure, I make dinner and get some laundry done (hers is first) if I can, but everything else can really wait. There’s some days home with her when I don’t get to shower until the late afternoon because there is no time, she is consuming all of it. I am okay with that because this is the job I signed up for. I decided to become a mom and take on those responsibilities. It’s like that saying how we always want more time when we don’t have it, and when we have it we don’t need it (my best example here is arriving extra early for appointments, it’s extra time I don’t need because they never take you in early anyways!).

So, what time do I really have? Do any of us really have? Well, we have the time to enjoy life, to love and be loved, to watch our children grow (despite how much we want to slow that time down), to travel, to find passion in new adventures and hobbies, to spend time with the elderly and listen about the experiences throughout their lifetime, time to fulfill our dreams and accomplish our goals, to make mistakes and learn from them, to forgive and be forgiven, time to move on, time to heal, to smile, to laugh, to drink and be merry….

Our time is precious and it’s special to each one of us…and doesn’t last forever, so use your time wisely. I may not have time to read all the baby books I would like but I have time with my daughter and for me, that is the best way to spend my time!

Will I Ever Stop the ‘Breathing Tests’?

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Since the day my daughter was born I have been doing the ‘breathing tests’. You know, the one where you either place your hand gently on their chest to feel it going up and down or listen to hear their actual breathing. Or, maybe you zoom in as far as you can on the monitor to see their breathing movements. I remember in the early months checking on her every hour or so as she laid in her bassinet next to me as well as jumping up multiple times during the night because I felt like it was too long without hearing any crying. Yes, those tests.

I still check the monitor during nap times and at night as she curiously makes her way around the crib, bouncing and babbling until she eventually tires herself out and falls asleep. And when it’s finally time for me to go to sleep, I check it once more, turn up the volume just in case (we have a bungalow so her room is downstairs and ours is upstairs) and then if I wake up randomly during the night I’ll check it again just to see how she’s doing.

I’m not sure if this is a ‘mom thing’ or I’m just a paranoid nut but all I do know is it gives me some sense of peace. I know I have no control over her life. While my job is do the best I can to provide her with love, security and safety, God has a plan for her that is out of my control. And I am okay with that…in fact, I am more than okay with it. However, there is still a part of me that worries. A part of me that thinks, what if she stops breathing? Maybe that feeling will never go away because as moms, I think we will always worry. We will always worry about the safety and well-being of our children. How can we not? They are these little miracles that we created!

So while I may be overly checking on the breathing patterns of my child, I have to say that watching her sleep is one of my favorite things to do. Seeing her curled up (the above picture is usually how she sleeps) and just quietly reflecting on how much she’s grown and continues to grow brings the biggest smile to my face. I helped make her….and she is mine, and I am hers :).

But Do They Really Get It?

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Sometimes I sit and wonder if my husband really gets what I do, whether it be home with our daughter all day or just the generalized wifely duties. I try my best to do everything and maybe that’s the problem, but sometimes I just feel like he doesn’t get or appreciate it. Sometimes I feel like we’re arguing over the fact that I left some lights on which needed to be shut off instead of appreciating that I was able to pick up around the house and make dinner.

It’s frustrating. It really, really is. On the flip side, I get what he does, maybe not completely but for the most part. I get that he’s the major source of our income and works hard each and every day to provide for our family. I get that he has stresses about his job, its security, our family and being able to support us. I can’t imagine the stress of that financial responsibility. And maybe I also don’t always show or tell him how much I appreciate what he does…and maybe that’s the problem.

When we both stop appreciating one another, we start resenting. Resentment is the worst. It causes a build up of anger, disappointment, sometimes jealousy and overall frustration. It makes us snap over little things. It causes us to dislike something or someone little by little. And in marriages, it takes away some of the compassion, love and support we should always have for one another. It takes away our ability to understand, to have empathy for, to reason with and to find patience. Resentment is an evil feeling that if continued too long, can really wreck havoc on ourselves and our relationships.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am not perfect. At times, I can be impulsive, say things without thinking and can go from zero to sixty in an instance. I am not proud of these things, but again, I am not perfect and all I can do is try to improve these behaviors. But when I feel unloved, unappreciated and misunderstood, I have a hard time being anything but resentful.

This is when a new pattern of thinking needs to happen. This is when I need to express what I’m feeling and hope my husband would do the same. Instead of harboring anger, I need to channel my frustration into love. I need to remember that we are a team, we are in this together and the way I say things to him can determine how a conversation will go.

But the question still becomes, does he really get it? I think so, or at least, I hope. Because I am trying my hardest to be the best mom, wife and employee that I can be. I am trying to balance it all without losing myself in the process. And maybe I don’t always appreciate him the way he doesn’t always appreciate me, but at the end of the day, I hope we can take the time to find the appreciation in one another. And when all else fails, there is always hope. Hope for a change, hope for tomorrow and hope for the chance to make a difference. I will always have hope for us and our relationship.

On some level, we all can be unappreciative of our blessings. The important thing to remember is we can always find our way back. Appreciate what you have, for at any moment, it can be taken away from you.