On Being a Role Model

I am keenly aware of many things as a parent. One of the things that I think about often is that I am a role model for my daughters. My girls look to me as an example of what it means to be a woman. If I want them to grow up to be strong, smart, independent, spunky, honest, creative, spirited, trustworthy, and lovable people, then I must work to be one myself. The whole “do as I say, not as I do” motto really doesn’t fly when you’re a parent, try as we might to convince ourselves otherwise.

I struggle some days with this whole ‘being a good role model’ concept. I have days I am weak and needy. Other days I’m cranky and just not able to cope with the small annoying details of life. I’m not always the easiest to love. I know that there are times when I’m not modeling the best behaviour or attitude for my girls.

Most of the time* I’m okay with this, though, because I know that this is all part of the human experience. By admitting to my flaws, and working to improve them, openly, I’m showing my daughters that perfection isn’t a requirement for being a good person. We all have flaws; we all stumble from time to time, we all have moments when we are assholes. An unflattering moment doesn’t make us terrible people. It doesn’t mean that there’s anything “wrong” with us.

It just is. It’s just one moment in a lifetime of moments. It’s just one itty-bitty crumb of what makes us who we are. Because really, it is those stumbles in life that make us better people; they are how we learn to do better next time. And yeah, I’m learning lots. Not only am I learning how to do better next time around, I’m also learning about the value of compassion, forgiveness, and unconditional love.

This motherhood gig comes with a lot of pressure, it’s true. But the rewards make it so very worth it.

(*And yes, in case you’re wondering, I’m struggling a bit right now with this whole “role-model” thing as I continue to battle with some of my inner demons over self-worth and self-esteem. I’m getting there, though…and certainly doing better than I was recently. So YAY for small victories!)

40 Days til 40

Today it is exactly 40 days until my 40th birthday.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit these last few months, this whole turning 40 bullshit business. Birthdays always have a way of making me extra thoughtful about myself, my life, and where I’ve been and where I’m headed. A change in decade just amplifies all of those thoughts for me. I’m not going to be “in my 30s” anymore.

I’m not going to lie, 40 is a big one for me.

The thing is, I’m not going to really miss my 30s all that much. Granted, some of the best things happened while I was in my 30s — meeting CBG and getting married to him, for example. Starting my life all over again. Learning how to stand on my on two feet. Learning how to love myself better. Making wonderful memories — alone, with my girls, with CBG and our extended family. There have been a lot of wonderful parts about my 30s.

But there’s been a lot of not-so-wonderful stuff, too. Getting divorced and dealing with the amazing amount of bullshit that goes along with that. Suffering from depressing. Experiencing a nervous breakdown. Struggling in so many ways — mentally, emotionally, financially. Enduring abuse. Losing friends.

My 30s were very, very full — of both the good and the bad.

The thing is, I’m not sad to see 40 coming down the pipe. In fact, I welcome it. One thing that the last decade has taught me its that I’m still getting better with age. I’m welcoming my 40s and all of the adventures, laughter, love, friendship and learning that it will hold. Inevitably there will also be some challenges there as well, life is always full of them. But like the other challenges I have faced in life, I will learn the lessons life has to offer me and become better for it.

But I’m not quite 40 yet. For now I will enjoy these last 40 days of being in my 30s, and when the big 4-0 arrives, I’ll be gal standing there with the big grin on my face.

Teaching My Daughters

Last night at bedtime I was tucking Little Mo in after a tiring evening. There had been some conversing with her father and I was unhappy with how the conversation had gone. I normally allow him to manage his relationship with our girls, in much the same way that he allows me to manage mine. Last night was a bit different, and I found myself having to advocate for Little Mo, because I’d felt that in the conversation she had been steamrolled by him –  in much the same way that I often was during the course of our marriage — and beyond.

As I stood in her room later, about half an hour after the conversation had ended, I could tell she had something on her mind.

“This is going to sound a little weird, but during that conversation with Daddy tonight I felt like a piece of cheese being grated down, smaller and smaller. I just gave in because I didn’t want to disappear.”

God, I am all too familiar with that feeling. How many times in the decade that he and I were a couple did I feel that exact same way? How many times do I still feel that way when we don’t see eye to eye on an issue? I had felt that way earlier in the day when talking to him, in fact.

Why can’t he see that he’s doing the same thing to his daughters?

I met her eyes. “I’m so sorry you felt that way tonight, sweetie.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” she told me.

I knew that I was treading in potentially dangerous waters. Imperfect as he may be, his is still her father. And she loves him, flaws and all. And he loves her, too, in his own way. While she’s a smart girl, and catching on, she’s still only nine years old. And some things she needs to learn on her own. I knew that what I said next had to be worded carefully.

“I know it wasn’t my fault tonight, but I know exactly how awful it feels when someone makes you feel that way. And you know what? You don’t deserve that. Nobody deserves that. It was disrespectful and wrong.

Her dark eyes stayed locked with mine for a moment before she sat up just a little bit straighter. I could see the wheels turning as she slowly nodded. “I love you, Mommy.”

“I love you, too, sweetie. So much. You are a wonderful girl.”

I just pray that my words will stay with her longer than his.

Seeing Lack

It’s been a frustrating few days for me.

Full confession: I just wrote a way-too-wordy blog post whining about why the end of the week last week (i.e. Thursday and Friday, the two days I took off work to spend with my daughters on March Break) really kind of sucked.

And then, mid-whine, I deleted it all.

There are days when it does you some good to complain a bit about things, and then there are days when that complaining is really just wallowing in self-pity. And I was definitely in self-pity territory.

Thank you, delete button.

Instead of whining about all the reasons why the last four days of my life kind of sucked for no particular reason I’ll sum it up in a single statement.

Lately, instead of focusing on all of the many good aspects of my wonderful life, I’ve only been seeing where it lacks.

And it makes me angry. It makes me angry that I’ve apparently got blinders on when it comes to the good stuff and can only think about the less-than-perfect aspects of my life. It makes me angry that I am basically ungrateful for this life that I have. A life full of love, laughter, good health, friendship and family. A life that I’m building with the perfect man for me, the absolute love of my life.

I am ungrateful because I have been allowing myself to dwell on the ways that my life isn’t pefect. Which basically makes me an asshole. This life that I worked so hard to build. That CBG has worked so hard to build. The life that we continue to fight and sacrifice for.

I see moments that I want so much to be perfect that I squeeze the joy out of because I’m either trying too hard, or too scared to really try at all. Not even big moments, either. Days like last week with my daughters. I wanted so much for it to be the perfect two days together that they ended up being total flops. Or like this past weekend when CBG and I wanted to take a Sunday road trip that basically ended up being “meh” — all because of me and my inability to focus on the goodness that was right in front of me.

When it comes to goodness and joy in one’s life, here is something that I know: You can’t force it. Instead of just enjoying some rare time off with my girls, I was fixated on this time being “perfect”. How could I be anything but disappointed?

The truth is that while I’m looking around and seeing lack in everything around me, the real lack that I notice, that I feel more than anything, is in me.

empty

Marriage and Laziness

So I’m going to cut right to the chase, here, without any fancy lead-in.

CBG and I have gotten a little lazy in our relationship.

Sure, there’s the whole ‘happiness’ factor, and how sometimes when we’re happy in our relationship we get a little complacent. We don’t pay attention to the little things like we used to. We forget that we need to romance our partners just as much as when we were dating. Sometimes, our hurt and broken parts clash with one another.  It’s a slippery slope, laziness in a marriage. One day it’s “let’s not worry about date night this week” and eventually you end up sitting beside one another on the couch every night, not talking, staring at the tv.

And quite frankly, that’s not the kind of marriage I want to end up with.

I remember the lack of communication at the end of my first marriage. I have distinct memories of actively avoiding any kind of conversation with him. I just didn’t have anything that I wanted to say, and he had nothing that I wanted to hear. We were going through the motions of life, and marriage, but the joy was lacking — both the small daily joys and the big, rare moments of pure and utter bliss.

It’s more than a little scary to think about my marriage to CBG going down the same road.

It’s not to say that we’re miserable, because we’re definitely not. It’s just that things have been lacking that certain Sunshine-CBG flair that they used to have. Some of the passion has died — just a little bit. A bit of the shine has worn away. And it’s not about our relationship changing and evolving, as all relationships do, no, this is about something else. It’s about us being lazy. It’s about us allowing life to get in the way. It’s about allowing things other than our marriage to become a bigger priority in our life for a little too long. Not to mention the fact that we’ve both been in a bit of a funk lately and so that certainly is putting a damper on things as well. It’s tough putting mental and emotional energy into your relationship when it doesn’t feel like you have enough for yourself.

We had a big talk on the weekend and agreed that things have to change. It’s time for us to fight our mutual funks, and fight our “marriage funk” as well.

We did the easy part. We stood up in front of our friends and family and said “I do”. There’s no challenge or difficulty in that. THAT is not marriage. Marriage is what happens every day after that day. The big picture. The long haul. The re-committing yourself every single day to this same person.

There’s no room for laziness here, kids. Because isn’t that one of things that you promise when you marry someone? To NOT be lazy in this relationship? (I’m talking lazy with a capital “L”, big-picture laziness, not, “we’re having lazy few days or even a week”….because every relationship is allowed to have those now and again). After all, our marriages can’t be the main focus all the time, every single day without fail, there are other parts to life, too, right?

So consider this fair warning — if you see a few more mushy tweets and blog posts and Facebook updates than usual, it’s all about romancing my man a little bit more, and putting my marriage a little more front-and-centre than I have been these past couple of months.

So if you find yourselves gagging a bit, just try and do it quietly, okay? ;) I’ve got a marriage to be better at.

wedding

100 Happy Days

It’s no newsflash that I’ve been struggling with positivity lately. I’m not 100% sure what’s going on, really. A little emotional crisis of sorts, I guess, where I’ve been basically questioning everything about myself. I had a bit of a meltdown on Friday, where all the self-doubt and self-loathing that I’ve been keeping at bay for the last good long while just suddenly came flooding in.

It was ugly.

Today, as I write this, I’m feeling better, but still a bit…tender. My Inner Critic really walloped my ass but good. It’s not something that I can pull myself back up out of very easily, particularly since my Inner Critic is smart enough to point out all of those things that there’s a grain of truth to. Lies I can easily put down. But harsh truths? Well…that’s a a lot more difficult.

In an effort to focus on the positive things in my life, I’ve decided to participate in the ’100 Happy Days’ challenge that I’ve seen a bunch of people participating in right now. If you’re not familiar with it, the idea is that every day for 100 days, you post a picture of something that makes you happy with the hashtag #100HappyDays. It will be good to help me re-shift my focus away from the not-so-great things that my Inner Critic is beating me over the head with, to the many good things that I have going on in my life. Because logically, I know that there are lots of great things. I just need to remember to look for them. Daily.

If you want to follow my photos I’ll be posting them on Instagram (kellyhfx) and on my personal Facebook account, for those of you who are friends with me there. If anyone feels like joining me, I’d love it if you did. You can check out the 100 Happy Days Website here: 100 Happy Days  . I love this idea and I’m really looking forward to shifting my focus a bit.

And they won’t all be pictures of sunrises and oatmeal, I promise.

happiness

Love Looks a Lot Like a Banana

Anyone can go for the grand gestures in a relationship. Flowers, chocolate, jewellery, trips around the world. Sure, those things are nice, but to me, they’re pretty easy.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I certainly wouldn’t turn down an impromptu Carribbean vacation if my husband wanted to whisk me off on one.

………….

…………..

*cough*

More than anything, love is made up of those small gestures that might otherwise go unnoticed on a busy day. Like when your wife scoops up your dirty socks from the bedroom floor and tosses them into the hamper for you. Or turning on the heat seater for your thin-blooded Mrs. on cold winter mornings.

Sometimes, love even comes in the form of a banana.

This morning, CBG and I were on the way to work and had just hit the end of our street when I was struck by an important realization. I’d forgotten my banana. Every morning I eat breakfast at my desk at work. Breakfast always, always, ALWAYS includes a banana. Forgetting a banana might be a small annoyance to some people, but not to this gal. I am usually pretty precise in what I eat most days. And because of my dietary restrictions (no gluten, very little dairy and for the time being, no sugar), I have to make sure that I have food on hand that I eat.

Because nobody wants to see me hangry. Trust me.

Immediately upon realizing that I’d forgotten my banana, a minor panic began to set in. My mind was swirling. No banana = starving by about 11:00. Starving at 11:00 would force me to eat my lunch early. Early lunch = starving again by 3:00 pm. Disaster!

“Ugh! I forgot my banana!!!” I pouted.

Silence from my husband.

“Dammit! I don’t know what I’m going to do!”

My wonderful man had an errand to run before work, but offered to pick me up a banana on his way back. No dice. It was unknown how long his errand would delay his return to the office and since I went for a run this morning, putting off breakfast for an unknown length of time could end badly.

I explained this to him.

With more whining.

“What do you want me to do?” He asked.

What I really wanted was for him to wave his magic wand and make me not so scatterbrained so that I didn’t forget my precious fruit to begin with. Or, if he indeed DID have a wand, then he could just make one magically appear in my bag.

I hesitated. The next solution meant turning around and returning home. But there was no way I was going to suggest that. I mean…it’s a banana. I may be a bit of a spoiled princess but I’m not a total asshole.

Well…not usually anyhow.

“Do you want me to go home so you can get it?” he questioned.

“Yes.” I replied meekly.

(I mean, he OFFERED, right? I couldn’t turn it down. It might hurt his feelings. heh.)

And so, my loving husband zipped around the block and stopped back at the house so I could run back into the house and grab my banana. My glorious, glorious banana. The star of my morning oatmeal…without which I would have been starving and hangry long before lunchtime.

Love is in those tiny little moments like this morning when he proves to me the depths of his love and devotion. Because yeah, I know I’m sometimes difficult and a total pain in the ass to deal with. And he puts up with me and all my silly quirks and demands, and loves me anyway.

And I love him for it.

THIS is what love looks like in my world.

THIS is what love looks like in my world.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,182 other followers