Thursday, December 7, 2017

An open letter to my Ex and his new bride

Dear D and K,

Congratulations.  I mean this from the bottom of my heart.  I could not be more happy for the two of you.  You two have just started the journey of your lives together, and I want you to know, you have my full support.  I will always have BOTH of your backs.

To K (the new bride):

Welcome to the family.  Yes, I said "family".  For even though we are not together, and haven't been for years, we have continued to function like a family for G's sake.  Not a traditional family by any sense of the word, but the family unit we have created.  We still do holidays and birthdays together, and we still hang out.  He is my best friend.  You have just married my best friend.  I know that sounds funny, coming from his ex, but it's true.  We were two very imperfect people, who made a perfect son.  But over the years, we have done a very good job of continuing to love each other.  Not in the sense of being hung up on each other, or longing for each other, but in the sense of respecting each other because we have given each other the greatest gift imaginable; our son.  Through peacefully co-parenting in the beginning, to a deep friendship now, we have a unique situation. People have always thought our relationship was odd.  I go to his house parties, he takes my children that aren't his to his house for the weekend, we talk regularly, and sit together at ball games.  We are friends.  It is the best possible scenario for our son.  You have accepted this, even embraced it.  And you have become my friend too.  That's how I know you're right for him. Please be good to him, better than I was.  Please handle his heart with care.

On top of being a newlywed to my friend, you are now my son's new stepmom.  And I don't think I could have picked a better one for him.  See, I've always wanted to know (and approve) of whoever D ended up with, because I knew this person would have a huge impact on my son.  God forbid, if anything ever happened to me, you're it.  You would be his mom.  So it has always been important to me to know this woman who would have such a huge role in his life.  I WANTED to know you, and be your friend.  I want you to know me.  I want you to know how much I love my son.  I want you to know and support how he is raised, and what I expect of him.  Lucky for me, you are very willing to have this type of relationship with me.  I see it already.  I see the love you have for him.  I see how you have his back, and how you bring tenderness to the house that was formerly a dude's pad.  I have complete confidence that you will make that house a home.  I am a step mom too.  And at times it seems like a very thankless job.  You're behind the scenes, making sure everything is ready for when he is at your house, making sure presents are bought for birthdays and holidays, and most of the time, it's Dad that gets the recognition.  Know that I know, and I see.  I know, and am thankful for all you already do, and all you will do for him throughout the years.  I hope you always have my back, and I will always have yours.  We girls have to stick together ;).

To D (the groom):

Congratulations, my friend.  I'm so happy for you.  You know for years I have worried about you.  I have worried about you being alone in that house when G isn't there.  I worried the loneliness would at some point over take you, and your old demons would come back to haunt you.  But in your happiness, I have peace.  I know that K does and excellent job of keeping you in check.  And I see in your eyes that she does an excellent job of keeping you happy as well.

Be good to her.  Better than you were to me.  Better than we were to each other.  Learn from the mistakes that were made with us.  Create the life you always imagined.  But most importantly, love her.  Love her through her flaws.  Love her on those days where she just may not feel like being perfect, and shouldering the load, for we all have those days.  Love is an action, not a feeling.  She is good to you, and good to our son.  You finally found what you have been waiting for all these years.  Enjoy every little moment.

Be good to her son.  You are now a step parent.  As long as you treat her son how you expect her to treat G, you will be on the right path.  And try to remember, there is no such thing as "step" kids.  They're just kids.  You have gained another kid.  Our crazy, messy family unit now has another little guy in it. Thank you for bringing that blessing to us.  Kids can never have too many people to love them.  Remember that.  Remember that being a step parent is often a thankless job.  K may not say "thank you" for all that you do, but she is thankful, and her little guy is too.  Just remember, you won't get praised for everything.  Don't expect it.  It may not be seen at the time, but some day, he will look back and know you were there for him.

As you make new traditions with your new wife, know that I understand some things may change with us, as they should.  You may not come to me for a woman's perspective on things, or relationship advice.  It may not be me you call when you need to vent about something. You may not be at all of my family functions anymore, because you have your new in-laws to consider.  I don't begrudge this.  I am happy for you.  But I want you to know that you are still, and always will be welcome, as are she and little man.  We have just added more to this chaos we call our family.

With much love,

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mommin' Ain't Easy

Today was one of those mom days no one warns you about.  To be quite honest, it sucked.  It was one of those days where you want to run away, and not look back.  After you leave a list of what needs taken care of and maintained while you're gone, of course.

You know, a couple of years ago, I would have felt awful for admitting that.  Frankly, I probably wouldn't have admitted it. I would have felt like I was going to be judged for saying something even remotely along those lines.  And I'm sure there are people out there that will judge this post. But they obviously have perfect children.  Normally, I can find a way to laugh these things off, and somehow make my blogs about these kinds of things humorous, and today, I can't even do that.  Earlier this evening, I was talking to one of my old teachers, whom I have an immense amount of admiration and respect for, and she basically told me that as far as life goes, I'm killin it.... I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

My youngest has been sick.  Has had a fever off and on for 6 days now.  I've taken her to the doctor and got the standard, "it's probably viral and will have to run its course" and sent on our way response.  By now, day 6, she is sick of being sick, and I'm sick of her being sick.  Selfishly, I can't deal with the whining anymore, I have stuff I need to get done, and I want her to go play on her own, rather that wanting me to wait on her hand and foot.  I mean, I distinctly remember at least twice, looking at her, wondering if this is my karma.  Like, are we sure I'm cut out for this?  I. Need. A. Break.  And that's ok. 

I refuse to feel bad about the fact that I am human, and I have human emotions.  I don't know about all of you other moms, but being a mom didn't give me the super power of having and endless fountain of patience flowing from my inner self.  It didn't give me complete and utter selflessness.  And it certainly didn't give me and endless amount of energy.  See, in my opinion, there is far too much mom shaming that goes on in this world.  This expert says don't spank.  That expert says don't say "no", offer another option.  Do this, do that, don't do this, don't do that.  As mothers, we are told far too often how we are doing it all wrong, when in all honesty, we're all just winging it.  We are all flying by the seat of our pants, keeping our fingers crossed, and hoping for the best.  There is no such thing as a parenting expert.  How can anyone really be an expert at something where there are no two like subjects?  See, all of these little humans running around are actual people, with people emotions, and personalities, and no two humans are exactly alike.  And Moms, the same goes for us.  We're human.

I love these little turds, and don't know what I
would do without them.  Although sometimes
 I wouldn't mind an extended solo vacation...
I was given all of this advice when I was a new mom such as "never discipline when you're angry" or "never go to bed mad".  And quite frankly, that's bullshit (pardon the language, Mom).  Of course we're going to discipline when we're angry, and of course we're going to go to bed mad.  There's going to be times we even wake up mad.  And maybe even stay mad through out the whole next day.  Why?  Because we're HUMAN.  We can't control how we feel.  So stop feeling bad about it.  Feelings are the only thing in this life that are what they are.  You can't change them, you can't force them.  you can't control them. You can't just snap your fingers and be un-mad.  Now, we don't have to drag out the punishment for days.  Yes, when we wake up, tomorrow is a chance to start over.  But I have the right to still, in the back of my mind, be a little pissed off that my whole day off got ruined by constant fit throwing.  I'm salty.  So what???

When I wake up tomorrow, I will probably still be a little mad.  But you know what?  I will still love my kid.  And she will still love me.  I will still give her a kiss and hug and tell her I love her.  And she will do the same.  I will still tell her to have a great day, and mean it.  And I will not allow myself to feel bad about having a bad mom day.  It happens to all of us, whether we want to admit it or not.

My ultimate hope for my kids is that they always know, no matter what, I tried my best.  I'm sure that I have made plenty of mom mistakes, I'm sure I made a few today, but I'm doing my best. so to all you moms out there, you're doing a good job!  You're mazing, and beautiful, and someone out there is looking up to you right at this very moment.  Don't forget that!

But for now, I'm not going to worry about tomorrow. I'm gonna go pour myself a glass of wine, turn on some Pandora to angry rock and roll music, take a bubble bath, and try to forget this day ever happened. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Ichthyosis Awareness Month: May 2017

As May rolls around each year I question what I can do different this year from last to raise awareness about Icthyosis, the genetic skin disease my daughter was born with.  It has, over the more recent years, become important to me to help raise awareness as my love/hate relationship with Ichthyosis has become more about love and less about hate.

In the early years of Ashlynne's life, I couldn't have cared less about raising awareness.  All I wanted was for these doctors to get on the ball and find a cure for my kid, and the other children and adults that were affected by this disease.  But as I have found an inner peace with our situation, I have realized that by raising awareness about Ichthyosis, I am not only educating people on our particular situation, but hopefully spreading awareness about compassion in general.  Ichthyosis is by far not the only disease that carries with it a visual difference.  There is the more common ones, such as cleft pallets, and Down Syndrome.  But there are also the more uncommon ones such as Progeria, and Trisomy 18.  And while some are more well known than others, and are all very different diseases, they all carry something in common:  They all present with visual physical differences.  And MOST of the kids and adults affected with these various diseases know they are different.  And they know you're staring.  And it stings. 

I know most people don't mean to be rude.  They don't mean to stare.  If it's something you've never seen, it's a natural reaction to do a double take.  You're curious.  Maybe you want to get educated.  Maybe you want to go home, and google and try to figure out why the little girl in the mall had such red, dry skin.  It looked like a burn, but maybe it wasn't?   Maybe you have the best of intentions.  I think most people do.  Most people's hearts go out to those with differences.  We, as adults, know what a tough world this is, and we hate this for these kiddos.  But the kiddos getting the stares don't know that.   They just know that yet another person looked a little too long, or stopped in their tracks, or whispered to their friends, and tried not to make it obvious they were talking about them.  They just know that yet another person noticed they were different than the other kids on the playground.  They just became a little more self conscious.  They just pulled into their shell a little more.

So how long is too long to look?  I guess I don't have the magic answer for that.  If my kid wasn't "different" I don't know that I would even think about these scenarios.  But I do know there are gentle ways to handle it if you do notice a kiddo with a difference.  Smile.  Don't rush your child away if they become curious.  It's ok to ask.  You're children are learning from you how to handle diversity in people.  Be the person you want them to grow to be.  Don't just stand there with your jaw on the ground.  Don't stop dead in your tracks.  Don't point.  Don't whisper.  They can see you.  Their parents can see you.  Their siblings, and friends, can see you.  And we all know our loved one is different.  So just smile.  Say hi.  Ask.  Get educated.

Become aware. 


Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Hair Emporium... revised

I just realized that other than announcing that I was buying The Hair Emporium, I haven't updated on how everything is going!  So here it is:  The past week has been one of the most exhausting of my life.  More mentally than physically.  We gave the salon a facelift.  And I was terrified!

We closed on the sale on December 12, and I officially became a salon owner.  I waited to get through the process of getting everything switched over, the craziness of the holidays, my first round of taxes, and issuing W2s (and yes, I survived it all) before I put my own touch on the salon.  And it was quite the undertaking.  I mean, this is a BIG space.  It was very well maintained, and in very good shape, but it is huge, and if I wanted to get all of this done in one weekend, I was going to have to bust my butt.  That was a lot of wall space to paint! And to top matters off, I had already signed on to do a 5K race on the same weekend that the salon wasn't booked up, and available for the remodel, and at the last minute, one of my stylists found out she was closing on the sale of her house that weekend, and would be moving, so she would be unavailable to help.  That left it up to me, and a few of my friends and family to get that salon taken apart, flipped, put back together, and ready for reopening in 58 hours.  So bust our butts we did.  And it was so worth it! 

When I say I was mentally exhausted, I'm not being dramatic (believe it or not).  This was a big deal for me.  The salon has a very wide range with our clientele's age, tastes, styles, etc.  So trying to figure out a theme that would appeal to the younger generation and try to pull more of that clientele in, without offending the senses of the current clientele was a big deal for me.  So I started thinking about things that are timeless.  Old Hollywood Glam came to mind.  One of the most classy, timeless movie stars I could think of was Audrey Hepburn.  And Tiffany Blue is one of the most popular colors throughout all generations.  So there we had it: a theme.  Now I just had to figure out what to do with it.  That came together in pieces.  As I found pieces I wanted on the wall, I had a vision for where they would go, and before I knew it, I had a vision in my mind.  Breakfast at Tiffany's theme.  With black, white, and Tiffany blue, pearls, and chandeliers. 

The biggest challenge as far as the painting goes, was by far, the black and white stripes on the bottom.  I had this grand vision that I was not budging from, but this was a huge undertaking filled with measuring, chalk lines, taping, and multiple coats of paint, and trying to keep a steady hand.  Thank God for my friend Kesa, she kind of took charge on this front and we got it done.  It took 2 days for just the stripes, but it looked amazing when it was done.  And surprisingly, unless you look really close in one area, they are all fairly straight!  And I'm not telling where they are slightly off  ;).

I absolutely love the chandelier decal we put
on the wall by the nail station.  So I ordered
another for the front desk :)
When it all came together, it looked even better than I could have imagined.  I had a vision in my head, but seeing it on its canvas made it come to life, and made it real.  The whole weekend, it kept hitting me in waves, I am finally chasing my dream, and with each brush stroke, I was watching it come to life.  I could not have done this without my family and friends.  Some of them devoted their entire weekend to helping me at that shop, and all they got out of it was a few slices of pizza.  My mom, with her bad leg, was up and down off of ladders.  My sister, I mean, she just gets stuff done, whatever I needed, she was on it.  And my friends, that showed up without asking a single question, in their paint clothes.  This is what friendship and love is all about.  Doing something for someone, not expecting a single thing in return.  All of them were so happy to be there, and so happy to help, and excited for me.  It is overwhelming, and humbling when I look and see the love they all showed me.   I hope each and every person that yielded a paint brush, or used a putty knife, or fired a nail gun this weekend knows how deeply I appreciate it.  I could not have done it, let alone on time, without each and every one of them.

But mostly, I need to thank Vicki, the former owner.   None of this would have been possible for me without her.  She paved the way for me.  She got this salon established, with an amazing reputation, and when she was time to hand it over, she chose me.  She could have very easily said no to this sale.  She could have said it didn't feel right, and chose someone else for the buyer, but she said yes to me.  And for this, I owe her so much gratitude.  She made it possible for me to chase my dream.  She made it possible for me to see a vision come to life that I have had since I was 19 years old.  She will never know how much that means to me.

And by the way, as far as my 5K goes, I shaved a minute and 30 seconds off of my personal record.