Monday, February 28, 2011

I think 'self-esteem' gets a bad rap these days. It's been taken too far and somehow became synonymous with 'self-centered' or 'bratty'. Self-esteem is not even close to those things. It's just a sense that you have worth as a human being, as much as anyone else. You like yourself and do the things that are best for you and yours. I am a veteran of the low self-esteem war and let me tell you, if you are lucky enough to have never fought it, thank your lucky stars right now. It sets the course of your life, truly. It's at the heart of every decision you make, every person you bring into your life. It's such a hard thing to explain. When you have low self-esteem it's not conscious, it's just how it is. You see yourself as below others and that's just that. Surely they must be smarter and better than me. Somewhere along the way you've determined that others are worth more than you. Their needs and wants upstage yours because they deserve it and you don't. And you don't even think about it. It I look back at parts of my life with shame for how I allowed myself to be talked to and treated, used and abused. Yes, allowed myself. I am not into victim-blaming, and you can't be a victim without a victimizer, but self-worth would have prevented so much. So much. Hindsight is 20/20, y'all. Me now wants to grab me 20 years ago by the shoulders and shake the shit out of her. Not that it would have done any good. My mother tried. But after years of "get out of my face", "you are worth more than this!" didn't have quite the same ring to it. Also it is hard to take advice on being happy from someone who is unhappy themselves. Now, this is not to demonize my beloved mama, far from it. She did the best she could with what she had, like her mama did, much like I am doing now with my children. With each generation the cycle gets broken a little more and a little more. The better you know the better you do. I am not a big Oprah fan, but I heard this quote on her show and I swear it speaks so many volumes to me. ""A Mother Who Radiates Self-Acceptance Actually Vaccinates Her Daughter Against Low Self-Esteem." Naomi Wolf

What finally did it? Why can I now see so much that I could not see before? Why am I now what people call "strong"? Well, several things. I had daughters, for one. Daughters who were growing up watching their mother be abused and kept under control by violence and coercion. Learning that this is what life is supposed to look like. That's pretty much what kids do. However your house is, that's what life is supposed to look like. I woke up as if from a trance when that heavy mirror came off the wall (that happens when people throw chairs at you and miss) and was inches from piercing my baby's soft spot and ruining her life or killing her. It felt like a literal fog lifted from my eyes. The road stretched out in front of me...years of this. Years of this. How will I survive years of this? There had never seemed to be a choice before. It was my lot in life to be treated this way, I didn't deserve any better. But my children did and that's what made me see that I had to leave. But for years even after that wakeup call and subsequent divorce, I had a long way to go. People used me. A lot. Like the song says, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. "I turned to a stranger, just like a friend." So much drama, so many bad bad people swirled around, like lions on a wounded gazelle. So much fear and hurt and tears.
Then Eric came along. He didn't know what to make of me. Slowly, over years, he worked methodically to build me back up. He nourished me like a newborn, corny as that sounds. With his actions and love and patience and his own high self-esteem he showed me every day that I was worth more than shitty 'friends' who used me and got me in trouble. It's funny to look back on that time in my life. People sure do get mad when you wise up and realize that they are using you and mistreating you. You are all kinds of assholes and uppity-so-and-so's when the jig is up. He helped me to see that I was worth more than minimum wage jobs. I could make CHOICES. Choices!! Choices that bettered my situation and my children's situation. Choices that let my kids see that we aren't limited by our pasts. We can move on and move up, because we are worth it, just by virtue of being human beings.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Let's talk about bad parents a little bit. The way I see it, there are two main groups of parents who are doing a craptastic job of raising the next generation of adults.
On one hand, we have Helicopter Hoverer Parents of Speshal Snoflakes. HHPOSS never let their preshus dumplins fail or feel any sort of discomfort, however fleeting. What Preshus wants, Preshus gets. They live in Crazytown, where once you've created another person you cease to matter at all, and all your energy and passion and focus must be channeled into this new being who is unique and special (you know, just like everyone else). They're set up for real failure because they weren't allowed to have mini-failures. Mumsy never let them forget to bring their homework back to school--she put it in that backpack herself, like a good mother should! Their projects were always the best--because mom & dad were working on them long after they went to bed. Mom & Dad shielded them from the real world, making sure they thought that everything was Disneyland, all the time. If there were problems or issues they were always hidden from the Snoflakes. No learning to overcome adversity for you, ya li'l Flake! These Speshal Snoflakes grow up to really believe that the world revolves around them, and God help them because it totally does not.
The other extreme is probably worse. The other kind are their kids' best friend. Guess what? You cannot be in charge of another person AND be their best friend. Ever been a manager? Were you bestest friends with your employees? How'd that work out for ya? Friendly is fine. Friendly is wonderful. But confiding too much info to your kids and treating them like fully functioning adults is not fair to them or you. Confide your problems with your marriage in your kids and they lay awake at night and worry about what is going to happen to Mom and Dad and eat a hole in their guts. Comments that seem casual and offhand to you might grow into "OMG THEY ARE GETTING A DIVORCE" to your kid.
Treating kids like confidants is so not cool. They need to view you as The Adult. Someone has to be in charge and guess what, it's you. As kids get up into the middle and high school years this gets even more important. AND HOW. Does your best friend tell you what you're allowed to do or not allowed to do? Thought not. If you didn't lay the foundation of Authoritah when they were smaller than you, God help you now that they're bigger than you.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I saw a woman on television once, maybe on 20/20 or something, in a segment about people who were feeling the crunch of the economy. She said, in all seriousness, with a lump in her throat and a tear in her eye, "I've had to teach my little daughter that she can't have everything she wants whenever she wants it. I cried when she told me 'mama, just go to the atm and get some money' and I had to tell her that I couldn't do that anymore." She was all broken up about it, like it was the worst lesson that poor li'l dumplin would ever have to learn. I laughed my ass off.
The show centered around some families where the professional dads had lost their awesome jobs and couldn't find new ones. Well, couldn't find new ones in the exact place they wanted. They didn't want to relocate, so they weren't looking anywhere else. OMG WHAT? You want us to....move? But we like this gated community!
So they were living off their savings. This was spoken about as though they were living off the blood of sacrificed infants. Oh Good Heavens! NOT THE SAVINGS!!! Isn't that what savings is for? Maybe I'm wrong about that. One particularly touching part showed a man who had been forced to take a regular people job, at (horror of all ungodly horrors) Sears. He tearfully told the camera that when old colleagues who were still in the Professional Asshole Association or wherever he had worked came in to buy whatever the hell they sell at Sears he would hide so they did not see his shame. Literally, he would hide.
I don't know where I'm going with this. I guess just...holy shit we are spoiled in America.

Monday, February 14, 2011

EEEP! Had a skurry moment today. My mother was in the mirror. Now, my mother is a very attractive lady. Super cute for someone who will be 60 this year, for sure. But I am not her. I am me, so seeing her in there freaked me right the hell out. I messed around with my hair some, and then got my straightener out to tame my cowlick. BAM, she was gone. Is that the fundamental thread that makes me resemble my mother? Apparently so. Crisis averted.

suck on that

One day I will shop at Modcloth and Anthropologie--like, every week. Even if I'm in my 40s. DON'T CARE. One day I will get Lasik and never have to wear glasses again unless I feel like donning a sexy librarian look or something that day. One day I'll have me some gigantic breastasus that will still be perky in my coffin and my stretchmarks will be a distant memory erased by a laser. One day I'll spend my days taking the kids to do crazy fun stuff and shopping and out to awesome restaurants with amazing food. Eric and I will go on weekend getaways just because we feel like it--someplace where we'll lay in the sun and sip dranks with little umbrellas and have couples massages and whatnot. We'll have a housekeeper and landscaping service. Our kids will have their own rooms, beautifully decorated. I want wide windows and a view of something gorgeous. I want one of those huge showers with three or four heads and a sauna and a hot tub. Our kids will be able to plan their weddings without a shoestring budget. When they're ready to buy homes we will pay the down payment. Then we'll spoil the crap out of our grandkids.

Some of you may think "Damn, she is materialistic!" Well, you know what? I've had enough frugal to last 10 lifetimes. I've had enough "I don't need a new pair of shoes, these are still fine with a little glue". Enough "sorry we can't make it to that event, we're busy" Yeah. Busy not having gas money to get there and busy not being able to afford a present. I've had quite enough of not having room to entertain the way I want to. Enough of robbing Peter to pay Paul and too much month at the end of the money.
Don't get me wrong. I live a nice life. Very nice. Also I want for nothing in this world except that which money could buy. I dream of material things and financial success because that's literally all that's left to dream about. I have healthy children, a fantastic marriage to a man who make every day Valentine's day, and a wonderful family who loves us and helps us.
Me 15 years ago would look at me today and think "SHE IS RICH". She'd be right, really. By comparison to her, I am rich. I have things and experiences that poor girl dared not dream of.
That being said, in 15 years, I want to say it AGAIN.