Self Love

I love me.

There. I said it.

I can’t remember anything that has ever been more difficult than self love. Saying I love myself is uncomfortable for me. It’s an extremely difficult task. I’ve had low self esteem for as long as I can remember. I blame no one for it. I’m not sure where it stems from. I didn’t have an abusive up bringing. My parents were never cruel and they’ve never made me feel unloved or unworthy of anything. I’m unsure of when it began or why. I just know that one day I woke up and I hated everything about myself. I never believed anything good anyone has ever said about me. I make jokes at my own expense and I’ve always shied away from compliments. As far as outward appearances go, I’ve never felt beautiful. As far as inner beauty goes, well, I didn’t have much of that for a really long time and it showed. My past choices and decisions proved my lack of self confidence and love for myself.

I had a habit of making relationships with people that made bad decisions and poor life choices. To me these were just people that needed to be loved. I could “fix” them. Maybe by “fixing” them, I could find my own self worth.

Wrong.

I always ended up more wounded and hurt and I allowed those situations to validate who I was. In every failed relationship my self esteem would plummet further and I would blame myself for every single thing that had gone wrong. It was a vicious cycle that went on longer than I care to admit. These weren’t just relationships with a significant other, it was the same with friendships I had acquired as well.

I didn’t understand why I wasn’t loveable or why things just couldn’t work out. Obviously there was something wrong with me.

It turns out that there was something wrong with me. There was a lot wrong with me. I knew nothing about myself. I didn’t know how to make my own decisions or how to be my own person. I waited until others made a decision for me but I claimed to be this strong independent woman because I worked hard and tried to be a good mom. I’ve been a mom since I was seventeen years old and I wanted to believe that I was doing the best that I could, but if I’m being honest I most definitely was not. I could have done better. I could have been better. Had I realized my true strength and seen how much more I deserved, we could have gone so much further. I drug my poor daughter through the ringer right along with me due to my lack of self love and self appreciation through the years. I was too blind to see that my own daughters would need to see self love come from their own mother in order to practice it for themselves. That is one of my biggest regrets and I’m doing everything I can to make up for it now.

After many years of poor judgment and self hate, something in me woke up. I can’t fix anyone. It’s not my job, it’s theirs. What business do I have trying to make someone else a better person when deep down I know I’m my own biggest disaster. It’s my job to fix me and that’s it. Until I got to the root of my self hatred I could never grow or find any happiness. When I realized that I held the key to my own heart that’s when I could really see the big picture. I validate myself. I was made with a purpose and I was not a mistake. I am beautiful and I am strong and every flaw I thought I had are really the very things that set me apart from everyone else. It sounds so cliche’ doesn’t it? Just like a motivational poster but it’s the truth.

When I let go of all the mud I had allowed myself to trudge through I became weightless and free from the senseless burdens I had no need to carry. Everything changed in that moment. The drive to be better for myself and for my children was all I cared about. I learned how to say no to others and not feel guilty or second guess myself. I made my own decisions and my own choices. I worked desperately hard to become a leader and not a follower. When I finally learned to let go I found my freedom.

Big things began happening in my life after that. I found true happiness and love. Love for myself and love for another. Real love. Not the kind that I had convinced myself was real in years past. I found self respect and in that I found others that could actually respect me too. My children see a mother that is happy. A woman that sees her worth and demands that they see their own as well. Not just my daughters but my sons too. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made and we all deserve to know about it and actually feel that kind of love for one another and for ourselves.

I still have days of doubt and I still have battles with self esteem and bouts of depression. I am still human after all. The only difference now is in how I handle it. This time around I don’t believe the lies that my mind tries to tell me. I find my support system and they help me through it as well, but ultimately it’s up to me to really see the truth. I am broken but I am beautiful. I am working hard to become the best of me.

I find things to do everyday that help me build on my self preservation and self love and one of the main things is self care. That means physical and mental self care. I have basically unplugged from social media. I check things out from time to time but for the most part I’ve let it go. I try to wake up earlier than everyone else before the daily routines begin and enjoy the quiet before the day begins. It may only be for ten minutes but that ten minutes of uninterrupted silence has been my saving grace on many mornings. It’s my time to “get right” before I do anything else. My morning devotionals have become a normal staple for me and if I miss one I can definitely tell.

I try to take “me time” everyday. Nothing serious. Maybe it’s painting my toes or using a facial mask. Maybe it’s just taking a walk around my back yard. Maybe it’s going through my cabinets and finding a bunch of random ingredients and throwing together a new recipe. The point is it’s something I want to do. It’s something that makes me smile. It’s something that makes me happy. I find my peace in opening my heart to any form of joy that I can find in even the smallest moment. Some days when I’m feeling especially low or down on myself I make myself write out every single thing I like or love about myself. As ridiculous as it seems it’s helped.

If you’re reading this today and you’re feeling unloveable or ugly or if you’re convinced you’re unworthy of anything good.

Please don’t believe the lies.

You are spectacular.

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Be a Blessing

Roughly 8 years ago I encountered a woman that left a lasting impression on me. A simple act of kindness that she shared with me changed my outlook on everything.

I’ll never forget the day. It was an early Monday morning and like a typical Monday for most it was stressful. I had gotten my oldest child off to school. My second child was still a toddler and she was a very strong willed toddler. My third was an infant. I had my hands full and I had a ton of errands to run. Per usual, nothing went as planned. After several stops I had forgotten to go to the post office, I needed stamps. After driving back across town after nearly being back home I made it to my destination. To my frustration. The office where you could purchase stamps was closed and the stamp machine outside of the office had run out of stamps. I was on the verge of tears due to the constant run ins with bad luck and screaming kids among other things going on that day.

Life was rough during that time, any kind of minor setback would send me nearly into hysterics. I really needed the stamps, though I can’t remember why now. (Funny thing about bad days, it seems like the end of the world and then years later you look back and laugh at how mild it really was)

A split second later a woman with a wide smile stopped me outside and said “I don’t know why but I just feel like you needed these” and she handed me a book of stamps. I stood there dumb founded. I offered to pay her for them and she refused. Still smiling, she simply stated “Its a blessing to be a blessing”. She gave me a hug, got in her car and drove away. I stood there speechless and in tears. My entire mood shifted and my day was immediately better. I had never laid eyes on the precious woman before and I have never seen her again since. To this day her words resonate in my mind every morning when I wake up, even on my worst days. You can’t convince me that this kind lady was not a strong message from God and I believe she may have been a guardian angel. Call me crazy, Call me a religious nut, whatever. Either way her blessing blessed me much further than just that one day. It was so much more than just a book of stamps. That one moment impacted my life in a huge way.

I made a decision then and there that one day I would do the same for someone else. I wanted to be a blessing. The only problem was I had the wrong ideas about what I was supposed to be doing versus what I could actually do and in that personal misconception, I missed many great opportunities because they weren’t obvious enough to me. I was looking for the wrong things and for the wrong reasons.

For instance, if someone was having financial difficulties, I didn’t help because I was having my own financial difficulties. In what way could I possibly help? That’s where I was wrong. Many times those that reach out for help in this way are truly humbled and embarrassed. I know this because I have been there, many times, and could easily be there again at any given moment. What can you give if you can’t help financially?

For starters- Compassion, friendship, a hot meal, a hug, secrecy, respect, prayer, and kindness. I could go on.

I kick myself now for the many missed opportunities to help in other ways because I didn’t realize those things mattered and could help too.

Notice I brought prayer into it. Let me clarify. I’m not talking about the #thoughtsandprayers mantra that so loosely gets thrown around on social media in times of trouble and heartbreak.

First, not everyone has the same beliefs and that’s okay. I’m not speaking for everyone, only myself. From a Christian stand point (for me) when I feel like I can do nothing else or if I feel helpless about a situation, I pray.

For me, Praying for another person or a situation is the purest, most selfless form of love that I can give to another human being. Whether it is praying to help ease the persons burdens or to give me insight on other ways I can use these two good hands of mine to be of better service to another.

Secondly, telling someone that they’re in your thoughts and prayers doesn’t mean a thing if you’re just saying it and you’re not following through. I am guilty of this and I will be the first to admit that in those times that I didn’t follow through. Not only did it make me a big fat liar, it also made me even less helpful of the situation.

(Through the years I have had to really work hard on myself with this to truly follow through on the promise, because sometimes even when I mean well, I’m still an imperfect human that gets caught up in my own personal life and my own problems and I push everything else to the side. Including prayer. Human nature is a fickle thing and I am admittedly guilty of allowing myself to get pretty self absorbed at times).

Better yet, pray without announcing it. You don’t have to say a word. It is possible to drop everything you’re doing and pray without anyone ever knowing it or without posting about it and bringing hashtags into it. If you’re a believer let God do his thing. He knows what he’s doing.

Respect is another huge way to help. If someone is struggling. No matter what the burden may be. Respect their privacy. Whether you’ve been told in confidence by the person in need or if you’ve heard it in other ways, don’t allow a word of it to leave your lips. Don’t boast about how you’ve helped them, because at that point it’s no longer about them, it is now about you and the giant invisible flashing sign above your head that says “look at me and everything I have done”. Show them that no matter what is going on in their lives that they will always deserve dignity and respect. Sometimes when a person is at the end of their rope, their dignity is all they have left to hold on to. I speak from experience. Unless they have personally given you the go ahead to tell others, don’t do it. Period.

Which brings me to my next point.

If you give with the expectation that you will have the same done for you, you will be greatly disappointed and You are doing it for the wrong reasons.

Stings a bit doesn’t it?

Guess who’s guilty of doing all of the things listed above at one time or another? Yep. This girl.

It’s hard to give when your own life is so topsy turvey. “When’s it my turn”? Is a classic black cloud that has followed me through the years. Especially when I was a single mom, fixing burst water pipes on my own and trying to figure out a way to feed my kids. I found myself bitter and resentful about my circumstances many times and would do a mental countdown of all the dollars and cents I’d given to others and how I could have used it just as much as they had. After much soul searching through the years I realized how wrong I had always been. My resentment was about me. No one else. My mindset was all wrong and I was soulfully immature. My entire outlook and perspective was completely wrong.

I realized that during those particular times in my life, I had no business giving anyone anything because my heart was far from being in the right place. How could I give with a kind and loving heart when I didnt have those qualities to give in any aspect of life?

The Blessing is BEING the Blessing.

It took me way too long to really, truly, understand that. Entirely too long. When I finally found myself after all those years the realization of what that kind woman at the post office was actually saying to me slapped me across the face and I felt so foolish for misinterpreting the true meaning.

I finally realized how selfish I had been.

What have I learned? Tons, and I’m still learning every day.

If you are getting ready to help others make sure your head and your heart are in the right place. Do some soul searching first. Are you really willing to give someone your help knowing they may never be able to do the same for you? Are you willing to help even if you don’t get the kind of response or thanks you think you deserve? Can you truly and genuinely give without judgement or strings attached? If not, wait until you can. It will be worth it in the long run. I can honestly promise that. If your answer is yes then here are some other ways you can be a blessing to others.

-Give in secret.

Being an anonymous donor is one of the easiest and kindest ways to help someone. Not only does it protect their privacy, it’s a beautiful thing to sit back and watch. Another way to give in secret is to keep it between you and that person. Even if it’s a complete stranger, no need to tell others about it. No need to make a post on Social media about the good deed you’ve done. It’s a lot more satisfying when you don’t. Trust me.

-pay it forward

This has become a really popular way to help others through the years. Whether it’s paying for someone’s coffee in the line behind you or buying someone’s groceries in the grocery line, but it doesn’t have to be about paying for anything. You can still pay it forward by doing nice things in other ways. Opening a door for someone, giving a compliment, even smiling. Smiles can be contagious.

-Don’t discriminate with your help

It’s okay to help strangers. Obviously this world is crazy and you do have to be safe and take precautions. I’m in no way saying you have to run up to a complete stranger on the street that you know nothing about and put yourself in harms way. What I mean is, if there’s a person that you don’t know personally in need of help and you choose not to because you have different beliefs or you think you have nothing in common, then you’re really selling yourself short and could really be missing out on a wonderful friendship. Don’t save your help just for the ones you know or are in your immediate circle. Don’t be afraid to branch out. Everyone needs a friend or a listening ear in times of trouble. Again, you don’t necessarily have to aid with their finances, but sometimes just reaching out and letting them know they have one more person to talk to can make all the difference. Even if you never talk to them again, you showed them they weren’t alone. A complete stranger took a chance on me and changed my life. It really does happen.

-know when to say no

You don’t have to give every last ounce of yourself every single day. Know when to say no and know what you can and can’t handle. Being helpful is an amazing gift in itself but not at the expense of yourself. Only do what you can when you can and don’t feel guilty over what you can’t do or when you can’t do it.

Got it?

It’s okay to have a life of your own and it’s okay to know what your priorities are. You can’t save the world and you can’t help everyone. No matter how much you want to. All you can do is your best and even if you only help one person your entire life, no matter how that may be, that’s still one person and that’s still a big blessing.

You never know.

They may call you their guardian angel one day.

I know this is a bit lengthy. I haven’t written in a while and this is something that has been on my heart and in my mind for some time now. My joy and my peace are precious things to me. It took me years to acquire them. My faith has been tested many times and I have done my fair share of unkind and not so helpful things. This particular posting is in no way claiming sainthood or artificial perfection. I’m a big hypocrite just like everyone else. I’ll never claim to be anything else. My life and my journey are my testament. A big part of my joy comes from helping others. Every moment of my life has been for a purpose, even the ugliest parts. If I went through those ugly, horrible moments for no other reason than to help someone else by hearing about it, then I am thankful for all that I have endured.

“It’s a blessing to be a blessing”.

Never a victim, forever a fighter

I try to keep my writing light and upbeat for the most part, but I also want my writing to be honest and real. I can’t very well do that if I’m constantly sugar coating with “I’m fines” and “I’m stronger than this storm” and rainbows and butterflies and yada, yadas and blah blahs.

I’m going to address a topic that I don’t like to talk about for all the classic reasons, but it’s important and whether it’s just helping me get it out or even if it helps someone else by reading it, I can be satisfied with that either way.

Depression is real. It’s ugly and awful and excruciatingly painful and I hate it. It affects so many people, for so many reasons, and it can even hit a person without any reason at all.

Mine stems from change. A change that I never asked for or wanted but is nevertheless part of my daily life. A huge overwhelming part of my life that I am learning and failing miserably most days in coping with.

Please don’t misunderstand this. I am in no way stating I don’t want to live anymore. That is not the case at all. If anything I have fought harder to live this life in the last couple of years than I have my entire known existence. But that’s just it, some days I don’t want to exist. Not die, but just not exist. Disappear for a time. Just until the thoughts are gone and until my head is clear and I don’t have to face anyone or anything or answer any more questions or have lack of privacy. I want to hide until I can breathe again and not feel so angry or afraid or bitter about my circumstances.

I go from not wanting to face anything else to growing so angry I want to scream and cry at the top of my lungs until I get all the bitter poison out and I can feel like myself again.

There are times I go days without brushing my hair until it’s a matted mess of knots and tangles because I just don’t care or get out of bed just to go to the bathroom and come back to sleep another eight hours. That’s all I can manage. Between my chronic pain and the pain of heartache during all of this, I feel like a broken mess.

I have a deep faith in God, but I still battle depression. I pray without ceasing, but I still battle depression. I cast all my burdens at his feet and I still battle depression. I practice gratefulness and praise and positivity…I still battle depression.

And that’s okay.

I know that he understands my depression and my anger and my resentment. He also knows I’m working on it.

I am imperfect. I am scarred. I am terrified.

And I’m mad as hell about it.

I’ve started feeling a lot less guilty admitting all of these things to myself and others once I accepted it and put it all out there.

After all, what on earth do I have to be depressed about? I am so blessed!

And this couldn’t be more true. I am blessed, blessed beyond measure, grateful to wake up and live another day . But it’s still there and it’s still real. I get told “don’t be so negative”, “you’re still alive”, “youre back home you’re better now right”? “You’re not in the hospital, so you’re not that sick anymore are you”? Hahahahaha…..it’s not their fault really. At one time that was me. I was that person. You never really “get it” until it happens to you. Well I most definitely “get it” now. You learn to laugh it off and move on and ignore the blissful ignorance of the unscathed and healthy.

Im learning though, there are days when my anger is needed to push me further than I want to go. Because some days walking is too painful and I want to give up and go back to bed. The anger fuels me through the hurt and gets me through the daily tasks that I have to get done.

My depression is needed to grieve the loss of who I once was and all that I have endured. I’ve earned the right to be sad and cry my guts out on those days. No matter how ugly it gets, I just have to.

I need my resentment to show me where I want to be in the future and why I absolutely can’t stop trying.

I need my fear to keep me alive.

I am in no way playing the part of a victim. I’ve never been one of those. I will never be held hostage by my circumstances. I will always prove my own humanity to myself by facing down the darkest inner parts of my story.

I have always been a fighter, that will never change.

But, just know that I’m still human and there will be dark days that I just can’t answer questions anymore, and I can’t give the “I’m fines” anymore, or any of the other polite responses that are considered good manners or what is expected. There will be days that sneaky depression will be there, rearing its ugly head and I might give a quick tempered, impatient, answer. Please understand that’s a day I’m fighting my hardest. Say a prayer for me, forgive me, and we can readdress it on another day. Chances are I’ll feel terrible and apologize soon after anyway.

I have people that reach out to me and that I can reach out to on these days. But to those of you that feel as though you’re all alone. You’re not. You never have to be polite and say “I’m fine” if you’re not.

Check on your friends and loved ones. They won’t always reach out to you. Expect the possibility of them biting your head off when you do, or some days you may not get a response at all. I’m guilty of both.

Check on them anyway.

It will never go unnoticed or unappreciated.

“You don’t have to stay strong. You are allowed to break. But you’re never ever allowed to stop fighting”

Just winging it

If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you’ll know that I’ve been dealing with some health issues for roughly two years. I’m constantly in the doctors office or having surgeries or recovering. It takes up a lot of my time and energy. Which being a wife and mother first makes these issues even less than ideal.

Before my last surgery (a few weeks ago) I had an eventful summer planned. The excitement of the kids being out on summer break was almost too much anticipation for me to withstand. I think I was worse than the kids about it. I think a lot of parents thought I was crazy for being thrilled about the idea of summer break, but considering everything going on in my life, piling school on top of it made it even more difficult. There was no real bonding time with them. It’s always survival mode around here. Prepping and preparing and planning around getting them fed, bathed, homework done, extra curricular activities, among other things. There was just never enough time. I blink and time has flown by.

I feel as though I’m missing everything. I can’t make it to many of their school functions or ball games and it kills my soul. So I was determined that the Summer would be different.

That was before I got the news of another surgery, followed by multiple procedures bi-weekly after. You can’t even begin to imagine my disappointment. However, my tenacity wouldn’t allow me to give up completely. I’ve still got a few tricks up my sleeve and I’m not throwing in the towel just yet.

We may not be able to go all the places we had planned but there’s no reason why we can’t wing it. “Winging it” has always worked best for me anyway, long before my illness and surgeries. Usually I surprise myself in how much better it works out than having an actual plan. As an adult I have no problems admitting I have no idea what I’m doing. In fact I’m truly flattered when others think that I do. I guess I’m a fairly good actress.

My surgery was a pretty rough one. It was much more painful than anticipated and the recovery has been much more difficult for me than I had planned. You would think by now with my “just wing it” mentality that I would be used to the unexpected. I felt the need to spend time with my kids even more at this point and wanted to do whatever I could to have them near me without them being bored to tears or just stuck watching me sleep.

The weekend after my surgery had arrived and my husband was working and had army stuff that took up a lot of the following Saturday. It would be just me and the kids (and my mom who was still sitting with me so I wouldn’t overdo it) until he made it back and could spend that evening and Sunday with us. The day before I designed and made invitations for all the kids. They all received “movie tickets” for movie night in mamas room. They had to play together sweet all day to keep their tickets to be able to attend the movie. They received a family invitation for that Saturday for a day crammed full of events. Painting, water play, picnic, and game night. The girls received their own “super secret, extra girly, no boys allowed” invitation from me and the boys received a “boys rule, girls drool, super secret, no girls allowed” invitation from my husband. These invitations were booking that Sunday for a mother/daughter spa day and a father/son manly man day.

The kids seemed truly overjoyed and excited about the weekend plans and by Friday night they were just bursting for movie night. The day before I went on my first outing after surgery for a quick trip to our local dollar store to pick up a few things for our weekend ahead. We planned an entire weekend of fun for super cheap. I’m all about being thrifty with such a large family.

Friday night was Movie Night. The movie was a double feature we picked up for 5 bucks and we had a night at the movies concession style dinner. Nachos, popcorn, and of course candy.

They loved keeping up with their tickets all day and thought it was hilarious that their grandma even had to have one to get in. They made their pallets on the floor while mom and I were piled up in the bed with full view of the movie and the kids. This was pretty exciting for them as my room is off limits usually. Just being near them hearing them giggle brought my morale up tremendously.

Saturday Morning started off with Art

They each painted pictures on cheap canvases I picked up. I keep paint stocked because it’s still one of my favorite things to do when Im feeling up to it. They haven’t had a chance to really explore their artistic side here lately so this was an unexpected treat for them. They couldn’t believe I was just handing it all over and letting them go with it.

After art it was outside time. They were each surprised with a new beach towel for their day in the water.

They loved their towels. Their big sister did too as you can tell from the photo, she took them over. Classic older sibling behavior.

We brought a quilt out for me to lay on and if that got too uncomfortable I would head to my room and lay down and open the window to look through and watch them from my bed. Hearing them play and laugh always brings me so much joy. I took as many pictures as I could and just lived in the moment, taking it all in. They thought they were just having summer fun, they didn’t realize they were actually helping their mother heal.

After water games we had a picnic and they experimented with a solar oven.

They finished out the afternoon exhausted and ready to rest in the A/C and wait on Brent (dad) to get home for family game night.

He was a good sport about it when he came in, even after having army dental work done. He played with us without complaint. We even roasted what was left of the marshmallows over the gas stove burner for a snack before bed.

Sunday was the day they had been most excited about. Something about sharing secrets with parents and keeping it from your siblings is obviously the greatest thing to ever happen. Despite being exhausted the day before their feet hit the floor around 6am rip roaring and ready to go. The suspense was killing them. You could hear the girls arguing with the boys about who’s super secret Day would be better. After a huge breakfast, we got started.

The boys were ecstatic when they found out their boys day was to be held in Brent’s man cave. A place no children were ever allowed to go. He cleaned it up especially for them and set everything up for them to watch as much Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, and every classic 80s action movie he could think of. Among other things they refused to let their mom know about, because after all, I am a girl.

Complete with root beer for them and “man snacks”….whatever that is. I don’t ask questions anymore.

The girls opted for the living room and wanted to binge on Sabrina the teenage witch episodes. We started our girls only spa day by making the girls their own kid friendly facial masks out of yogurt, oatmeal, and honey. They had no idea what they were making and then got hysterical when it started getting spread all over their little faces.

We had facials, manicures, pedicures, hot tea, snacks and makeovers. They even gave me my own mommy makeover since I’d had such a hard week. They couldn’t believe they were getting to play in the “good makeup”

They didn’t do too shabby…

We finished out the day together and eventually they couldn’t stand being apart from the boys any longer. They all had to get together and tell each other all about their fun day. They ended up getting another treat when their cousins came to play that evening.

I’m sharing this not because I feel I deserve a mom of the year award or any kind of special recognition for the things we planned. I wanted to share this because life gets hard sometimes. Parents beat themselves up a lot. Especially when things outside of our control happen and change everything. Whether it’s health or finances or even exhaustion. If you’re an adult, especially an adult with kids, chances are you get it or you’ve been there. I wanted to show you that you can still enjoy your time and have fun even when things may fall through. Chances are you have more fun and make the most memories that way. I didn’t have to take the kids on vacation or even spend a lot of money. We were together, they had our undivided attention, and we showed them that staying home can be an adventure too.

If you blink, you miss it.

Cherish every second.

Insight

Looking back on life, I realize every day has been important. There hasn’t been a single experience wasted.

Every moment has taught me something. Even the moments that are cringeworthy. I regret nothing now, even though it took me years to feel that way.

I needed those moments to learn. I needed them to grow. I’m 32 years old and I still learn new things about myself and about life everyday.

I have so many stories to tell. Some funny, some not so funny, but all very real.  Writing a blog is a new step in my journey. I hope to help others through it and maybe even help myself along the way.

So, here’s to stepping out of comfort zones, facing fears, and taking risks. Thank you for taking the time to join me on my newest endeavor.

Bribing the bus driver

To anyone that has children, I think we can all agree that kids really do say the darndest things.

They will most likely blurt out anything that comes into their precious little minds. No matter how uncomfortable or mortifying it may make the parents. These kinds of genuine, non filtered, brutally honest statements are usually brought up at the most inopportune times. Most likely in front of a crowd, or in church, or in the grocery store.

With five kids I try to stay prepared at all times but I’m outnumbered in the children vs adult ratio. They tend to “get me” quite regularly. My six year old son Travis usually “gets me” the most.

Last year, around this time, school was coming to an end and everyone was excited about Summer vacation. He showed his enthusiasm by acting out on the school bus. I received a call from his bus driver. I knew it must have been pretty bad because she never called me and she hates getting any of the kids in trouble.

He had been up and trying to run around the bus, just generally wild and not listening to her. I offered my apologies and assured her I would take care of it and he would behave better or I would start driving him myself. This would have been the ultimate punishment for him because he LOVED riding on the school bus.

After the call I tracked him down to have the talk. As soon as the words “your bus driver called” escaped my lips, his eyes grew wide with shock. He didn’t give me a chance to say anything else before he started pleading his case.”You mean she really called you”? “You’ve gotta be kidding me”! “Mama, I gave her 12 cents not to call you, A WHOLE Dime and TWO WHOLE pennies”! “I can’t believe she really called you when I gave her all my money and asked her not to”! You could hear his heartbreak and You could see the betrayal he felt all over his face. What a life lesson at such a young age.

It was probably wrong for me to laugh. It was probably even more wrong to laugh until I cried but in my defense I was able to hold it together long enough to walk into another room to regain my composure and find my serious mom face again before continuing his lecture.

Before having kids you would have never convinced me that I would have to explain the legalities of bribery to a five year old. Now, nothing surprises me. It’s keeping a straight face through it all that is most challenging.

*side note

Travis did apologize to his bus driver about his behavior and hasn’t had a minutes trouble since then.

Well, no trouble being a bus rider that is.

I would like to give a shout out to his bus drivers loyalty because she never once ratted him out about the bribe. Even after his apology she just grinned and winked and never said a word.

None of us ever figured out where the 12 cents actually came from…this is still our longest running mystery…

Tough as a Mother…

I’ve lived in the South my entire life and there’s definitely something to be said about the women here. Southern mamas are in a category all their own. Don’t get me wrong, I believe ALL women were made strong, especially mothers, but there’s no mother quite like a Southern Mama.

Call me biased but it’s all I know.

My grandmothers both passed away when I was really too young to remember much about either of them. So, I thrive on the stories I’ve been told about them and the few memories I do have. I am fascinated by my family heritage and learning about my genetics. So anytime there are family gatherings I’m right in the middle of it all, listening and soaking it all in.

My Grandma Vaughan was my dads mother. I have no memory of her at all but I know I’ve met her because there are pictures of me with her. I think the last time I was ever around her I must have only been around three or four.

I wish I could have known her. I hear she was a firecracker. A tiny, petite woman that raised not only her nine children, but many others as well. I’ve been told none of the children were as worried about crossing their dad as they were their mother. As tiny as she was she was feared and respected greatly by them all. It’s funny to hear the stories especially the ones told by my dad and uncles. These big burly men that still to this day admit how much tougher she was than all of them. She didn’t take any nonsense and she was never afraid to stand up for what she believed in. She was fearless.

My Grandma Bethea was my mother’s mother. I was able to spend a little more time with her and I do recollect a few things about her.

I know that her favorite color was green (mine is too) she had a big beautiful smile and eyes that seemed to have a little sparkle to them when she was laughing. She always let me sneak chocolate chips out of her refrigerator and she kept velveeta cheese and green grapes stocked every time I was over. She let me watch the Disney channel (when it was actually good) and she collected books for me, many I still have and passed down to my own children.

She went through her own share of tragedies, many I can’t begin to imagine how she made it through, but she did. She was strong.

Tammie Bethea Vaughan is my mother

I have watched her my entire life. She is a unique soul that many don’t understand and I love her for it. She wasn’t the Southern mama that put giant bows in my hair or pushed me into pageants. She didn’t teach me the southern belle mentality about how to sit pretty and keep my mouth shut. On the contrary. She taught me how to explore and use my imagination. She let me run and play and get as dirty as I wanted. She took me hunting and fishing and showed me how to field dress a deer and clean fish. My dad did this as well, but it was my mom that showed me that women could do it too. She taught me manners but also taught me that it was ok to stand up for myself and use my voice. “You have to be respectful, but you never have to be a doormat”. I think of these words everyday. She showed me that individuality in a cookie cutter world is beautiful. She is creative and selfless.

As a mother myself now I find myself appreciating them more each day. I am proud to come from such a long line of incredible women. I aspire to be like them while finding my own way through parenthood.

I wonder sometimes if I have any of their traits and then I hear my kids fighting in another room say “shhhh, don’t tell mama, PLEASE, don’t tell mama”!

I laugh and think to myself “yep, there she is”…

Wherever you come from, may you all know your strengths, admit your weaknesses, Embrace the imperfections, and love the chaos that comes with Motherhood. It is a beautiful journey.

Happy Mother’s Day to you all!