Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Little Ole Me!

It's "Show Us Your Life" Friday over at Kelly's Korner and today's topic is Moms of Only Children. As of right now, I am the mom of an only child, but that isn't really what I wanted to talk about.

But catch me later and we can talk about Sweet Charlotte any other time you want!

You see...yours truly is an only child. That means I have some wonderful insight into the positives and negatives of being the sole heir to a dynasty. And I use the term dynasty VERY loosely here, folks. When my parents got hitched my mom was only 22 or 23 and my dad was 32 or 33. He was obviously much older, but my mom was awfully good looking, and he just couldn't resist her charms! Fast forward two years later and they welcomed a sweet little bundle of joy named Tiffany...and life (nor their bank account) would ever be the same!

Mom and I

My mom had two older sisters and one older brother, so I assumed she probably always intended on having a bigger family or at least one other child. It's funny how life just gets in the way of your good intentions. She probably would have gotten pregnant again when I was 3 or 4, but she wanted to make something more of herself and went back to school to get her degree in Early Childhood Education. She graduated, got a great job doing what she loved, I got older....and time just kind of slipped away from her. Damn that time--it has a tendency to do that.

Daddy and I

This is my Daddy. He is sweet, funny, and all of the best things a daddy should be. He originally thought he was too old to have kids when they got married, but once again he fell subject to my mom's charms. (He tends to do that a lot, in case you haven't noticed) He saw a blue-eyed little girl with curly blonde hair at the Seafood Festival right after they got married and said "If we have kids...I want one just like that!"

Good call, Daddio! I'm glad she changed his mind because although he is good at everything he has ever tried to do (except for maybe his handwriting), his true calling in life was to be a daddy. Cause he's awesome at it.

I have never had a sibling so I don't have a clue what that's like, but I can confirm for all you parents out there on the fence about whether or not to add to your family of 3....being an only child kind of rocked. Here is my list of reasons why:

1.)I believe that with good parents, an only child can thrive academically. My mom jokes that I never really had a first word, I just had many words. From the beginning...and they never stopped once they started. They always talked to me like an adult and they encouraged me to communicate with them like an adult. They had ample time to spend reading to me and cultivating my mind because they weren't distracted and pulled in ten thousand different directions.

2.) Financially speaking, one child is significantly less expensive than even having two kids. My parents were able to give me so many wonderful things throughout my childhood and young adult years. Granted, I know material things aren't the most important things in the world, but my parents used some of those things (horses, cars, etc) as bonding tools and lessons in responsibility. I always knew that these things were blessings and I was a lucky gal to be so fortunate....but they could be taken away as quickly as they were given.

3.) Some of my best memories during childhood were family vacations. Even today we will talk bout how my slow-as-molasses-in-December PawPaw ran from a bear and beat everyone to the car that time we went to Gatlinburg. Though we weren't rich by any means, I have gotten to see parts of the country and world I probably wouldn't have been to see if our family was much bigger.

4.) Being an only child can also be good for your self-esteem. I never had a brother or sister to compare myself to. I've always thought it would have been just horrendous to be "the ugly one" or "the short one" or God forbid, "the fat one". Shudder. My parents thought I hung the moon, and they frequently told me how proud they were of my accomplishments. Likewise, I took that pride very seriously and even today I try my best to never disappoint them or make them embarrassed to be my parents.

Mom and Dad....cute, huh?

Yeah, there were some drawbacks to being an only child. It was lonely at times, but that in turn helped me develop a great imagination and a love for reading and writing. And I will admit that sometimes all of that attention and pressure to be the perfect child got to me. My mom was especially strict and worried way too much about me-probably because I was her one and only. (I've heard moms are always less strict on the second, third, etc kids in line) Eventually I know there will come a time when my parents won't be here and I'll be left as the sole person to handle all of their affairs. I can only imagine how hard that is to go through even with siblings to lean on, much less alone.

But in the end, I'm glad I was an only child. I'm independent, outgoing, creative, imaginative, and driven which no doubt came from my experiences growing up with no siblings.

H and I haven't really decided if we want more children or not. Since we don't need more field hands and none of our offspring would be tall enough to form some sort of family basketball team league, we are still on the fence about reproducing again. The experience of this first one (from pregnancy to childbirth to now) has been so easy, I'm afraid I would have some sort of Rosemary's Baby situation next go round!

And I mean honestly...when you get it perfect the first time there is really no need to try again, right? :)

Disclaimer: However, if anyone at TLC is reading this blog post right now: My uterus can be seduced with promises of any sort of reality show involving us, our dogs, and a shit-ton of kids. Although we may not make the best produce pickers or basketball stars, we are incredibly entertaining!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Random Wednesday Thoughts

Do you ever wonder why we as women compare ourselves to other women so much? Men never seem to do that. Or if they do question their insecurities and compare themselves to other men, they never seem to voice those concerns or even dwell on the outcome of that comparison.

I've never heard a man ask if that other guy's jeans look better than his. And I've certainly never heard a man ask if he was a better father than his neighbor. Or friend. Or even a random dude at the grocery store.

Before I actually was a mom, it was so easy for me to judge other moms out there. I would venture to say I'm probably not the only one who has watched another mom's disciplinary tactics or listened to them voice their struggles and though to myself, "Ha! I will NEVER have that problem because my ways are so much better!" All I know is that I want to make the absolute best decisions for Charlotte, and I want to be the absolute best mom I can possibly be. I'm sure I will make mistakes because mistakes are inevitable in life. Thank the good Lord, we all make them.

I'm trying very hard not to compare myself to other moms these days. In the beginning, it really broke my heart that I wasn't able to breastfeed. If other moms were able to do it, I should have been able to as well. I was literally pissed off that for some reason so many other women had managed to conquer this feat, some even quite successfully. While my baby was just starving to death, there were other moms who bore their leaky boob pads proudly. It killed me! And I saw the look of disdain in some eyes when I shamefully admitted I was using formula to nourish my child. It was hard to overcome that feeling of inadequacy, especially in the beginning when I felt inadequate at everything!

As I strolled my Target onesie-clad baby and adorable little neighborhood girls wearing their adorable smocked bishop dresses just to play in the yard...I must admit I was originally more than a little intimidated. I would compare sweet Charlotte to their children and myself to the moms....and just feel like I fell totally short of the mom I expected myself to be. I threw my own little pity party on more than one occasion.

Facebook and blogs can also be a warzone for women, even if it is unintended sometimes. Some of the responses or comments I read are just so hateful and harsh it blows my mind! It almost makes you afraid to be honest about the things you want to discuss. It's rough looking at other peoples' photos and seeing extravagant birthday parties or crafty home decor. Don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge those people at all. I'm happy that they can manage to do all of those things, but there is some jealousy there, too, if I'm being totally honest. It's hard not to fall short every once in a while when you are trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Sometimes I find myself on the good side of my comparisons. I would think to myself "I'm never going to pawn my kid off on a babysitter every single weekend like so-and-so" or "I will spend much more time reading to my child rather than plopping them in front of the TV every evening." No, I'm not proud of it. Pride and insecurity are scary things to face, especially in the midst of the biggest unknown (new parenthood, duh) of my life thus far.

I've compared mine and H's relationship to other marriages. And let me tell you-that is pretty much always a recipe for disaster. There is always going to be someone else's situation that looks better from the outside looking in. It might look easier or more effortless, more loving or more romantic. But then again, you never get to see the stains on the carpet when you're on the outside looking in.

I really feel like this is a terrible habit of the female gender. I hate that so many of us feel like we have to tear other women down to build ourselves up. And I hate that we compare ourselves and our lifestyles to each other on so many different occasions when the simple truth is this: We are all different. Gloriously different. We have different kids, different parenting styles, different marriage relationships, different friendships. We like different foods and kinds of underwear; we even watch different televisions shows and like different kinds of music. It doesn't make me wrong and you right, it just makes us interesting and unique.

Now that I am in charge of the growth, develop, and general outcome of another human being, I'm trying really hard not to judge others so harshly. I've learned that maybe a more laid-back, less judgemental mom is the best kind of mom to be. And I've learned that sometimes the best intentions don't work out the way we planned or expected, and I would hate to know that someone is basing their opinion of me as a mother (or woman) on one simple mistake or bad decision. In the end, it doesn't really matter if Charlotte is wearing a smocked dress on a random Tuesday (although she did yesterday, yay for me!) or even if she doesn't have socks on when the baby next door is dressed like an eskimo when it's still 80 degrees outside. My baby might be smarter than yours, or she might not be potty trained before yours. But I'm going to try my best to reserve judgement and remember that all kids will reach their own milestones in their own time. To quote "Jersey Shore"... "I'm gonna do me. You do you"

I'm fairly certain it will make for a better life in the end.

However, let me worn you in advance....if you have stuffed animals in the back windshield of your car---then yes, I will probably still judge you.

But just a little.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Meet the Pups

Friday was "Show Us Your Life" over at Kelly's Korner, and the theme for the day was "Show Us Your...Pets!" Hot dang, don't mind if I do! Our dogs are AWESOME. H and I are totally dog people-we love them unconditionally. We consider them to be our responsibility to care for until God (and hopefully not a car) takes them home. Because yes, indeed, there are pets in Heaven in case you were wondering. One of my biggest fears before Charlotte arrived, aside from the obvious health-related ones, was that she would be allergic to dogs. We are NOT the kind of people that would just give our dogs away simply because a new baby came along and things got difficult, but of course if there was a health issue...well it's just too heartbreaking to even consider. But thankfully Charlotte and the dogs are totally BFFs now and all is well!

Charlie (aka Chuck) and Lois

Let me begin with Lois, as she is our first born. H did not want a dog because we were just renters at the time and he didn't want to be responsible for whatever damage a puppy will inevitably cause. see, there was this pet store around the corner from us and every Thursday was Adopt-A-Mutt night. I would casually stop by every once in a while just to "look around" (or at least that's what I told H). People would bring boxes of puppies and kittens they didn't want and some poor fool like myself would be suckered into taking one home. Puppies are my kryptonite, what can I say? One random Thursday, this little gal stared up at me from a cardboard box and the rest was history. She was SO cute and SO little and SO adorable that my heart melted into a puddle of mush. For $5 I got the best little furbaby in the world AND a ten-pund bag of Puppy Chow. Winning!

When I brought her home, I surprised H with my new find. He was ticked off to begin with, then she be-bopped over to him on her 1/2 inch-long legs, licked him in the face, and he was a goner, too! He still jokes about me, Lois, and the "5 o'clock Free Pet Giveaway"!

Lots of people giggle when I tell them her name, and we have my hubby to thank for that. He said since I picked out the dog against his wishes the least I could do was let him name her. And now we have a dog named Lois. True story.

Lois is the best dog in the world. She is probably too smart for her own good, really. She doesn't do tricks, although trust me-she knows what you are asking her to do. She just thinks she is above entertaining humans at their will. She REFUSES to wear a collar and only tolerates one for walks around the neighborhood. She immediately needs it to be taken off or she will go into a coma-like state for hours. It's hilarious. She doesn't really think she is a dog, because the common dog rules do not apply to her. But, if she was a dog, she would think she is a lab because the only other dogs she has ever been around are Labs. She plays fetch, swims like a fish, and loves to ride the boat. She likes long walks on the beach, eggs with cheese, and bossing the other dogs around. Trust me when I tell you that Lois rules the roost; this is her world and we are all just living in it. Her favorite place is Dauphin Island, and I swear you can see her smile when she is basking in the sunshine on a sandy stretch of beach.

Charlie is our Chocolate Lab. We call him Charlie, Chuck, and Brown Dog. He will answer to all three. Or none, depending on his mood. Everyone I know who owns a Chocolate Lab says they are weird, and Chuck is no exception. He is very shy until he gets to know you, and then he loves you forever. We got him from some friends whose dog got knocked up, so we know he has never been abused, but you would think we beat this dog within an inch of his life the way he acts sometimes. (And that couldn't be further from the truth-I don't think either of our dogs has ever been hit!) Chuck LOVES to swim. He would have been a fantastic bird dog if either of us cared about hunting at all. H grew up on the water, not in the woods, so it is only fitting his dog should follow suit. Charlie's passion in life is to swim, play fetch, chase birds, and torment Lois-preferably all at the same time.

I am a big animal rights supporter. I'm not a crazy PETA person, but I think even the animals we eat or wear deserve to be treated humanely and with respect. We should try to limit their suffering as much as possible. I fully believe that God gave us animals to teach us so many lessons in life. I heard a quote once that said something along the lines of "The true character of a person is evident in the way they treat their animals" and I totally agree. Please, please, please...if you are in the market for a new dog (or cat for that matter!), check out your local shelter or humane society. I promise you a mutt will love you just as much if not more than a pedigreed dog, and you will have the satisfaction of knowing you saved a life. Plus, mutts have fewer health problems because they do not carry breed-specific hereditary traits like full-blooded dogs.

And I am now going to step off that soapbox and put it away.

I hope you enjoyed meeting my sweet pupper dogs! We think they are pretty darn great, and I hope they have inspired you to adopt a pet if you're in the market for one.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Just My Opinion

When nothing exciting or interesting is happening in my own life, I tend to get wrapped up in political hoopla and the goings-on around me. I read a lot of news stories throughout the day and therefore I have become an EXPERT on current events. And by expert, I mean a person who owns a Smartphone and watches E! News daily.

Yep, that's me!

So, just in case you happen to be as bored as I am and are looking to hear/read a reasonably intelligent person's opinion about our current state of affairs, let me offer these little jewels of wisdom...

Alabama vs. the Illegal Immigrants
I am all for immigration if done legally. Most of us are descended from an immigrant (or two) somewhere along our geneology, and we should be thankful for all of the wonderful things our country has gained from others. Chicken Parmesan and Spicy Tuna Roll, I'm talking about you. We are blessed to live in a country that welcomes others despite their appearance, their religion or even their sexual orientation. There aren't many other countries in the world that will welcome you with open arms, all the while knowing that you will more than likely disrespect her flag, her troops, and her God. All we ask is that you pay taxes and contribute to the pot from which you are so contentedly sucking dry. I do feel sad for the little Hispanic children who are afraid their mommy or daddy won't be home when they get off the school bus. But, as cruel as it is to say...that ain't my problem, honey. Blame your mommy and daddy for not taking the time and energy to gain citizenship for the past 10 years while you and your 4 siblings attend a public school. It sucks for you, but that's what happens when you try to do something the easy way.

I know a lot of folks are up-in-arms because now we have a labor shortage and there is no one around who wants to pick peas, wash dishes, or work construction. And that leads me to my next point...

Welfare and Food Stamps
I believe our government has taken over the role that churches, families, and charity organizations used to fill. Yes, sometimes people fall on hard times and might need welfare and food stamps. For those times, we DO need some sort of agency in place to help us through those rough times. But welfare has become a life-long form of sustenance for too many in our population. We've created a society where women are rewarded for having children they can't afford and men are encouraged me be lazy because an actual J-O-B pays less than sitting on your ass watching Jerry Springer reruns. Let's put a time limit on welfare and food stamp assistance except for in cases of mental and physical handicaps and seniors over the age of 65. We need to encourage that spirit of "pulling yourself up by the bootstraps!" and taking pride in a hard day's work. If I have to work, by George, everyone else should have to as well!

Political Correctness
Nobody can say anything these days without getting somebody else's panties in a wad. As much as I would love to get into politics one day, I would probably be crucified after Day 1 on my campaign trail because I would say something inappropriate (probably trying to be funny) and someone, somewhere would be calling for my head. Apparently nobody ever taught the ACLU the phrase "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!" Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and just because it's different than mine doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to express it freely. (Again, see paragraph one about the freedoms we enjoy as Americans) In my honest opinion, we need to stop worrying so much about hurting someone's feelings or offending someone and do what is right for our country. Honestly, I could care less if Muslims are upset that Americans don't want a mosque at Ground Zero. Even enlightened folks (like myself)that realize not all Muslims are extremists don't really think that is the best way to pay homage to the people that died in that spot on that day. It's my opinion and I am allowed to have one. And thankfully, so are you.

Let me say that I don't classify myself as a Republican or a Democrat. I think we have way too many Republicans who are too caught up in themselves and their own agenda to make any real progress for the average citizen. Most of the Tea Baggers say they want less government, fewer taxes, and more freedoms, yet at the same time they want to limit the freedoms of expression and differences. And we have too many Democrats who are trying too hard to save the world to realize that too much going out and not enough coming in = DISASTER. If I were running for office, I would run under the Common Sense Party. (Not necessarily that Common Sense, Thomas Paine) I would stop spending countless tax dollars on grants to study the effects of the gravitational pull of underwear on llamas in the western states. Congressmen and Representatives would stay in Holiday Inns rather than Hiltons and The W Hotel, and committee meetings held "over drinks" would be on Senator X's back porch rather than after an $800 meal at Ruth's Chris.

We just need to get back to basics. Tighten the belt, reign in the beast, and get back to what made our country really great in the first place.