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My Kids and I are Friends

First off, let me just say that I am no parenting expert. If anyone says that they are you should probably put your fingers in your ears and sing loudly when they talk. I mean, with parenting it seems to me that it’s all one big experiment. You kind of do your best and cross your fingers and see what happens. Seriously, I am the mom that found 2 of her kids naked and pooping in the yard when they were 3 and 4 (we did not live in the countryside). Yeah, so at this point you can either laugh/relate and keep reading or roll your eyes and pretend you never saw this.

This little post is in response to many articles I have seen lately floating around the internet suggesting that we should not be our kid’s friend. Every time I see this it bothers me. I couldn’t figure out why, but today as I was mopping (because occasionally I actually do that) I think I got a grasp on it.

I am friends with my kids. I love being with them and we have a great relationship. I have never been a super authoritative parent. I am of the belief that I should speak to my children with respect as I would like for them to speak to others. I don’t treat them like minions I treat them more as equals. I still ask them to do things and they comply happily 90% of the time.

I think my issue with this whole “you can’t be friends with your kids” is more about our concept of friendship than about parenting. I think we have become friends who don’t tell each other the hard things and don’t want to hear other people tell us those things. I am lucky enough to live in an amazing community of friends. We love each other well. We laugh together and cry together and sometimes we sit down with each other and give our friend a proverbial slap across the face and say ‘this area of your life is getting way out of whack, what is going on?’ or maybe we hug them and say ‘something seems off, you’re not yourself. How can we help?’ In my observation and experience outside of my community we just want to be encouragers and say only nice things about each other. But, blind spots are, well, hard to see. If you truly love someone you will want to help them grow as a person. You don’t want to see them sitting in the same pile of dog poo for the rest of their lives, you want to help them get out and move forward. And since you also don’t want to sit on that pile for the rest of your life so you have to learn to receive hard truths from those that love you. Yes, of course we should be our friends’ biggest cheerleaders and encouragers, but to love each other well we have to move into a deeper kind of love.

I make dumb mistakes a lot. It happens. I am learning and so are my kids. Hopefully, all of us are learning and growing. I am so grateful for my friends who have and do pull me aside and tell me when I have areas that need some work. So I will continue to be friends with my kids (and also cross my fingers and hope for the best).

Worth More

Getty Images, Dieter Spears / Vetta

I have a geek podcast. We talk about…cosplay, sci-fi, superheroes, comic books, video games, cong langs, board games, etc. I love what I do. I LOVE all of those things we talk about on our show. We have been to several conventions of different sorts…and I love those, too. A few months back we were invited to an anime convention. My co-host and I were both pretty clueless about anime, but we agreed it would be a fun new thing to learn about.

I watched several anime shows in preparation. I loved some of them and really couldn’t stomach others. I expected this con to be basically similar to all the others I had attended. I was wrong. It was a much younger crowd. The attendees were mostly teens. These kids were creative and amazing and funny. And often they found community with other like-minded souls. There were a lot of great things happening…a group of boys dressed as soldiers marching through the vendor room singing “Be a Man” from Mulan, girls dressed as scouts from Attack on Titan standing at attention saluting a girl taking their photo, teens walking by in unbelievably intricate cosplays they lovingly handcrafted themselves.

But something stopped me in my tracks.

I stood in front of a vendor’s booth. It was similar to all the other booths in every way. I had been bombarded with these images all day…but I finally collapsed under it. The wall of posters behind the vendor was almost entirely women, some anime, some superhero. There they were…giant boobs and butts…these women were in the most ridiculous poses. They were not telling stories of their bravery or heroism or strength. They were selling their sexy. Don’t get me wrong here. I am not anti-sexy. But the girls displayed on that wall didn’t need the treatment they were given.

The two that stood out to me among the spandex and school girls with giant cleavage were Katara (from Avatar:The Last Airbender) and Mikasa (from Attack on Titan). These two girls are heroes in their stories. They are brave and nurturing, kind and selfless. They have attributes I wholeheartedly hope to obtain someday. In the poster, however…they looked like sex kittens. Mikasa even had boobs (in the show she is pretty flat chested). Something in me wanted to stand up on the table of the vendor and gather all the young girls in the hall around me and tell them that this (pointing hysterically to the posters behind me) is not why these girls are amazing and valuable. This is the candy coating…it’s nothing…it melts away. I wanted to tell them all that they are so much more valuable than cleavage and short schoolgirl skirts. I didn’t want to condemn them for their cosplays…not in the least. What I wanted was to make sure that they knew that they are worth so much more than all of that surface crap. The thought came into my head, You are worth so much more than the skin you are in.

I hate these posters. The art is amazing and the women are beautiful, but, but. Hmmmm…well. I have three daughters; perhaps that is why I feel passionate. I want my daughters to express their beauty. But maybe my idea of beauty is just different. This poem is what I want for my daughters.

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge you’ll never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed;

Never throw out anybody.

Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!

- Sam Levenson

I love cosplay and I love these female superheroes, but for the sake of my daughters and all the other young girls out there who might cry themselves to sleep because they don’t fit into the mold created by these posters and they never will….I want to deliver a different message: you are worthy of love just as you are. How you look is irrelevant.

I have struggled with acne for YEARS…pretty much most of my life. But I have for about the last four months experienced clear skin, beautiful skin. It has been delightful to go without makeup and feel okay about it, to not constantly be worried about what new hell I will find on my face when I next look in a mirror. When this idea about beauty hit me, it brought with it a horrible break-out on my face. It was like a dare…do you really believe this? Are you really just as valuable now that your face is a war zone? Are you worth more than the skin you’re in?

The answer, my friends, is YES. I am just as valuable, and so are you. The reason we love these poster women has VERY little to do with how they look. They are beautiful, yes, but so is Cersei on Game of Thrones, and I can hardly stand to look at her. They are strong, brave, true to themselves, vulnerable, kind, forgiving, alive, selfless, adventurous, funny, smart…and the list goes on and on. They are what we want to be because of those things. That is what is beautiful.

You are worth so much more than the skin you are in.

Excuses, art and giving your baby to a troll

Everyone has a valid excuse for not creating.

I could list mine here and trust me it would be a compelling argument. We could all sit back sipping our tea and nodding “oh yes, you should never create anything. You are much too busy and unprepared and undereducated and…”.

Yes, well, I love to create. Doesn’t everyone? Something in us longs for it.

If you’re thinking of arts and crafts right now and having a mini panic attack, relax…creation is not just arts and crafts. I really hate arts and crafts myself and am familiar with said panic attack. When my children were smaller I went to a moms get together which consisted of eating, listening to a speaker, then doing a craft. I would sit and drink coffee while my crafty friend would do my craft for me. It was a beautiful system.

Creativity is in us all. It might be in business or mechanics or engineering or it might be in the arts, but it is there. I am frustrated to see how many people bow to their excuses and fear in this area.

The excuse I hear the most is that what they create is not good enough.

First, I doubt there are many artists who can look at a masterpiece they have created and not point out some flaws (flaws that only the creator would notice).

Second, if you wait until you become really good…then you never will. The act of creating art that isn’t “good enough” is the path to creating something of value.

The ticket price for becoming a “real” artist is being brave. I don’t mean being brave enough to make art, although that is the first step. I mean being brave enough to put your art out there for the world to love and enjoy and criticize and tear apart. That is terrifying.
It stretches you in a way that makes you feel as though your skin may never fit on your body again, but it is a good stretch albeit painful.

Your excuses are valid, but so what. There are thousands of other people out there with more valid excuses than you who are doing it.

Pick one, excuses or creation. If you pick excuses, own it. Cuddle up with them, pet them, love them. You will have an easier life in many ways and the crazies or resistance or whatever you want to call it will leave you alone. But, that other thing won’t. That thing in the back of your mind that says “what if…what if I had had the courage, what if I had become an inspirational story that would light the fire for other artists, what if I had let the world see who I really am?”

If you choose creation over excuses you will still have to continue to fight off excuses, they won’t leave you alone. The crazies will come to tell you that you can’t do it and you aren’t worthy and that you are wasting your time. Then you present your art to the world and it feels a little like handing your newborn to a troll to babysit. Sounds appealing doesn’t it?

But, there are moments. Moments where you can feel another piece of you coming to life. When you can feel how much you have grown and changed. When you touch someone deeply and a long dormant emotion seeps out of their eyes and yours too. The tiny moments of absolute certainty that THIS is what you should be doing…THIS is what you were created for. It’s a little like the moment when you see your baby for the first time. You don’t forget the pain of childbirth, but you realize why it was worth it.

It is worth it.

The Granny Panties

Blogging is like giving someone a peek into your underwear drawer, but only after you’ve gone through it and hidden all the pairs with holes and the embarrassingly large granny panties. It is the illusion of transparency. Here is ALL my stuff for all the world to see.

There is an art to this. You must show enough of the “embarrassing” stuff to create the appearance of total share-age, but not so much as to reveal the holey underpants. Share enough about your silly, somewhat socially acceptable quirks and you’re OK to hide the rest of the ugly undies safely tucked away under your bed.

It’s good to have a small safe circle that know about your granny panties and still love you (I am thankful for my little group of creeps). But…just know that the quirks you read about on this site and virtually every other blog are only scratching the surface of our insanity.