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Throwback Thursday: Respect Yourself

It’s Throwback Thursday again (What’s Throwback Thursday?). I actually kind of like this post. Having become single a few months prior to this post, I was back in the dating world and finding that I was not thrilled with my options. While I don’t remember the exact details behind this post, I’m pretty sure it must have been in reference to the fact that the guys I was dating were not meeting my standards. As might be expected, I began to question whether or not my standards were too high. Here is the post:

[Comments by 2012 Susan]

1:35 PM

I was thinking today about who I am as a person. I think everyone makes decisions in their life that affect all other areas of their life. Those decisions aren’t the ones you make everyday but every once in a while they come along and however you decide changes your life significantly.

For example, you become a smoker. You are, from that moment on, a smoker. When you go to restaurants you sit in a completely different section from everyone else [For my younger readers, there was a time when you could smoke in restaurants. Crazy, right?]. You must leave the room to go smoke a cigarette outside. You don’t see it as an inconvenience because it’s something that you choose for your life and therefore you are happy with your status as a smoker (there are some exceptions, but you know what I mean). I am not a smoker, so for me it seems like spending that extra money on smokes [really, Susan? Did you just call them smokes?] each week and making your breath and clothes smell would be a burden, but for smokers, the positives outweigh the negatives.

The same principle can be applied to my life. I will be the first to admit that I have made decisions in my life that others might see as a burden. There are certain things that I choose not to do, not because I feel forced not to, but because they are things that I decided not to make large priorities in my life. On very rare occasions do I ever regret these choices I make for myself. And even when I do, I eventually come back to my pre-established beliefs sooner or later.

Basically what I am saying is, I don’t want that other kind of life. I am so fine with other people having that kind of life. I don’t think I am better than them. I am just different and I understand that. But I also don’t want to be with someone who cannot see things in the same way that I do. Someday, somewhere, I will meet someone who is on the same page as me. [Spoiler alert: I was right, this happened!] And that is going to be an awesome day. [It was!] But until that day, I really have no reason to be upset, because every person that comes into my life NOT seeing things the way that I do, is not the person for me. I think the disappointment is less the fact that I cannot be with that person, but more that the person is not quite the person I thought he was. I really do believe that there is someone who will share my same values in life but there are a lot of people in this world. I would be naive to think that I would find that person so soon in my life. [Little does 2002 Susan know, she meets this person five months after writing this post]. For now, I’m content with waiting it out. It’s better than being with someone who you know isn’t quite right.

This is my advice to others: don’t be with someone, or stay with someone, because you are afraid that no one else will ever come along. Don’t let yourself believe that you are not worth the best. Don’t question what you feel inside. You feel that way for a reason. If you cannot love yourself when you are single, you will never love anyone else. If you think you do, you are mistaken.

When Fun Wins

I let my kids play in the rain.

I do this because I am addicted to the look of sheer joy that comes across their face when they are happy. The excitement of playing in the rain is one that is not matched by many other things.

I am fascinated when I watch them play in the rain. While most adults race through the rain to stay as dry as possible, kids will stand with arms outstretched hoping to catch every single drop. They are immune to the discomfort of being wet. They don’t mind that their hair is messed up. They don’t notice the dirt sticking to their damp legs. They are too caught up in the thrill of the moment to notice those things.

Kids are like this at the beach as well. Remember when it was fun to get buried in the sand? Remember the sensation of having sand surrounding your little body? Kids don’t think about how annoying it will be to wash the sand off later. They aren’t thinking about whether or not a dog has peed in this exact spot of sand. They just want you to bury them and sculpt a new body on top of them.

These disturbances of sand and water are too minor for kids to take note. Kids have an amazing ability to recognize the greatness in something, rather than becoming weighed down by the discomforts of a situation.

I used to be like this. I used to love to play in the sand. I used to love to play in the rain. I loved to sit beside a puddle and splash my hands in the water. But eventually, I grew tired of getting dirty. I hated the discomfort of wet socks in sneakers. I came to believe that staying clean and dry was more desirable than the alternative. My eyes no longer sparkled when I found myself caught in the rain.

That’s why I let my kids play in the rain. So that I can remember the feeling of complete and absolute joy. So that I can remember what it’s like to let fun win. I know there will come a day when my kids are tired of playing in the rain. They too, will grow up and choose to walk with an umbrella rather than get wet without one. That time will come soon enough.

For today though, they still delight in the rain.

Throwback Thursday: What is Family?

It’s Throwback Thursday again, though I’m beginning to think I should change the name to “Deep Thoughts From a Clueless College Student.” But since Throwback Thursday is shorter and a bit catchier, let’s stick with that.

[Modern Day Susan commenting]

September 2, 2002 [My 20th birthday, seems I was taking this one a little better than my upcoming birthday.]
11:56 AM

What is a family? I started thinking about this yesterday while spending the day with a friend’s family in the Poconos. Isn’t it interesting to watch other families be together? It’s so weird watching a bunch of people who all look similar sit around a room and talk. They know things about each other that other people don’t. They have a history together.

Sometimes I forget the feeling of a nuclear family. I am fine with my parents’ divorce, honestly, it doesn’t bother me. But there is something about having a mom and a dad together doing stupid things like riding a car together that I miss. I can’t remember the last time my mom and dad were in the same car. This is silly for most of you I know [well at least I could recognize my odd train of thought at the time...], but when you get so used to a life different than that, when you are so used to your dad living in one place and your mom living in another, you forget that at one time, they used to live together.

So while thinking about my family and how much I missed that feeling of being together, I realized that I have a different kind of family at school. I consider my good friends to be sort of a family. The ones that see me when I haven’t showered or brushed my hair and don’t even give me a second glance. These are my girls. We make dinner together, we pick on each other, we tell the truth to each other even when we dont want to hear it. I don’t have any sisters, but I think that this is what it feels like to have them. The day trip yesterday got me thinking how lucky I am. Two of my favorite people riding in a car down to Pennsylvania. We didn’t have awkward pauses when no one was talking, we didn’t have to watch what we said. The whole day I could not get over how lucky I was to have such great people in my life.

This continued this morning when I was awakened by a blindfold being put around my eyes by these same girls. They then changed me out of pajamas, tied my wrists together and took me to breakfast. [If memory serves me correctly, I believe I was allowed to take the blindfold off once we arrived at the restaurant.] Seriously it was the best birthday morning ever. They didn’t even have class this morning but I did and they woke up extra early to take me out before I had to leave. [That is love, am I right college students?] Seriously, these are great girls.

“The best kind of friend is one you can sit on a porch with and swing with, never saying a word and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you ever had.” [I didn't cite this quote in the original post. Apparently I felt the quotations marks were citation enough. I have since googled it to discover that the author is unknown. So there you go.]

[Stay tuned next week as we get one step closer to college Susan totally losing it after finding out that her ex-boyfriend has a new girlfriend. But I'm jumping ahead. We still have more posts of me convincing myself that I've moved on, though I am pretty disgusted with the dating pool I've jumped back into.]

Advice from an Expert Worm Catcher

I’m a mom of three preschoolers. That means I get asked roughly 10,000 questions every day. Most of these questions I have answered before, sometimes even within the last 5 minutes. I’ve become so accustomed to these questions that I’m able to answer them without hardly thinking about them. But yesterday, one question stopped me in my tracks. It was a question I had never heard before.

“Mom, can you help us catch worms? Because you are such a good worm finder.”

I don’t want to brag, but I am pretty good at catching worms. The trick is to not use the hand shovel thing. You will cut the worm in half if you dig with one of those. You need to use the little rake thing (can you tell that I am NOT an expert gardener?). The hand rake, or as official gardeners might call it: a cultivator, is the perfect tool for finding worms. It loosens the dirt without splicing the worm. But this post is not about my worm finding technique.

The question above was asked by my 5 year old son. Lately he’s been really into fishing, okay maybe just casting a fishing pole in the front yard, but it’s relatively the same in his mind. He needed worms for bait. Earlier that day, we’d spent some time collecting worms which is where he discovered my mad skills.

At that moment, I could not think of anything more important to do than go outside and dig for worms. The weight of my son’s question was not lost on me.

Most days, I go the entire day without having a moment like I did yesterday. Most days, I worry about the laundry and the dishes and forget that I live with three little people who will not always be so little.

There will come a day when I am no longer the expert worm catcher my son thinks I am. In fact, I won’t be the expert on anything in his mind. He will see me for the flawed human that I am and not think twice about letting me know his opinion of me.

There will come a day when his eyes won’t light up when I tell him I’m subbing for his Sunday School teacher. There will come a day when he won’t climb into bed with me at 6 in the morning and cuddle. There will come a day when I can’t pick him up and tickle him just to hear his adorable belly laugh.

It’s tempting to be sad about the inevitable passing of time. To be angry that we are not able to freeze time during the good moments and enjoy them longer. Because like I said before, these moments do not fill my day. There is laundry to be done and dishes don’t clean themselves.

In two weeks, my worm catching apprentice will enter Kindergarten. For the next 13 years, he’ll spend the majority of his waking hours somewhere without me. I will eat lunch with him only two of the seven days in a week. Our opportunities for worm catching are limited.

So you can understand how easy it was to answer that question yesterday. Only a fool would have said no.

Throwback Thursday: Is Chivalry Dead?

It’s week two of Throwback Thursday (what is Throwback Thursday, you might ask? Read the intro post here.) Again I’d like to remind you that at the time of writing these posts, I had recently broken up with my boyfriend. I was what you might call “on the rebound.” Sadly, my high standards seemed to be getting in the way. If I had to define my writing style I would use the world melodramatic and slightly annoying. But I do find these posts pretty humorous because they seem so pointless now. At the time, you must realize, I thought I was being very profound. Anyway, enough commentary from present day me, let’s read what 2002 Susan had to say.

[comments made by 2012 Susan]

August 28, 2002 12:38 AM [another late night posts. Those were the days...]

Is chivalry dead? I thought of this question while in the movie theater watching “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” [As a poor college student, I'm absolutely shocked I would spend money to see this movie in the theater. I have a vague memory of going to see this, I'm pretty sure it was playing at the dollar theater. That makes it a little better.] I’m sitting there watching the guy in the movie propose to the lead and I started to wonder what happened to chivalry. Don’t get me wrong, there are still guys out there that are more than polite when it comes to the dating world, but I feel as if a women’s independence might slightly diminish the chances of finding a chivalrous man. Here is my logic:

I consider myself a pretty independent person. This meaning that I do not tend to need someone to constantly lean on to get through life. I was raised by a mother who taught me that I could do anything a boy could do. Therefore it never dawned on me that girls were anything less than boys. It seems to me now however that this independence is a factor in how I related with guys. I want a guy who will walk me to my car, open the door for me, protect me, but I feel like those guys are too busy being chivalrous with “needy” girls. Okay I know this is hard to follow but hear my out. [I can't tell you how much it pains me not to edit this so that it's not hard to follow, but in the interest of keeping the integrity of the posts, I'm copying these old posts as is.]

If you are a girl like me, who has never thought that she was anything less than boys, it would not dawn on you to have a guy open the door for you when you get to a building or go to get in your car. So if you are not looking for these behaviors, will you not find them? Is chivalry only there for girls who want that and “mold” guys into being that way? If you accept a guy who is not chivalrous and then decide later that you would like him to be more of a gentleman later on, is it too late? And if it is not, if guys are really chivalrous at heart, why are they so quick to drop the attitude as soon as they meet a girl who does not demand it?

I don’t really know where I am going with this other than that the movie made me really want a guy that would walk that extra mile for me. Someone who would know that while I don’t show it, it would be nice to receive that random act of kindness once in a while.

So to answer my question about whether chivalry is dead, I would have to say that no it is not, however for girls like me, it just tends to come less often than it seems to in the movies.

How It Feels To Win The Lottery

People say there is a curse associated with winning the lottery.  I’m not one for believing in curses so naturally I’m a bit skeptical about such a claim. How could a random stroke of luck hold with it a curse?

But you can’t argue with the stories. Many winners go on a spending spree and soon find themselves with a lot of expensive items, but nothing left in the bank. Others are bombarded with requests for money from friends and family and end up with destroyed relationships and hardship. These winners end up hating the very thing that brought them so much fortune in the first place. As outsiders, we look at these winners and cannot imagine how they have managed to screw up such good fortune.

Others hire a lawyer and/or financial advisor, remain anonymous and are able to live out the rest of their lives responsibly, spending money when necessary but not exorbitantly. These are the people who are able to recognize their good luck and have decided to live responsibly, never forsaking that they are blessed to be in such a position in life. These are not the people that make the headlines about the lottery. Often times, they have remained anonymous and will never be recognized.

A few months ago, when the Mega Millions jackpot reached an insane amount, I must admit I found myself with a little lottery fever. I spent my share of time daydreaming about how my life would be different if my husband and I won the lottery. We told ourselves we’d keep our jobs (because we really do enjoy them), but quickly realized that our passion for traveling the world might get in the way with our time at the office. It was kind of fun to plan vacations I knew we’d never take, design houses we’d never build and discover hobbies in which we’d never partake. There is something about winning the lottery that just seems so lucky to me. A big check written with my name on it and all I did to deserve it was pay a dollar to have a computer pick some numbers for me.

This past week, I was reminded that I have in fact won the lottery. Not the Mega Millions or the Powerball. I won the lottery of life. From no effort of my own, I was born into a family in the United States. I was a cherished baby even though I was not a boy. I was fed the same amount of food as my older brother and given the same level of healthcare as he was. I was able to stay in school and learn to read and write rather than drop out to help support my family. As a teenager, I went to one of the top public schools in my state, one of the top 200 in the country. I graduated from a private college with a bachelor’s degree that I didn’t pay a dime for (thanks Mom and Dad!). I have had the privilege of voting in the last three presidential elections. I was able to freely choose the person I wanted to marry (and thankfully he chose me back). I have been able to pursue a career of my choosing. I was able to provide all three of my children with the necessary NICU care they needed when they were born because I had health insurance that covered most of the costs. I attend a church and freely practice my faith without the fear of persecution.

I live a very blessed life.

In the past thirty years, I’ve made many decisions that have led me to where I am today. I could have dropped out of school. I could have decided not to go to college. I could have chosen a different person to marry. All of these choices could have drastically changed my day-to-day life. I believe I have made smart responsible choices that have led me to the life I have today.

But none of these choices would have been possible had I not been born into my middle class American family.

I wonder how often, in my own life, I’ve been plagued by the curse of the lottery. How often do I over buy food and allow it to go bad in my pantry? How often do I stress over the actions of my three healthy children? How often have I complained about my job or my family? To all my family members reading this, I can assure you that the answer to that question is RARELY, once or twice, ever.

How different would I be if I lived everyday acknowledging the lottery that I have won in life? How many more people could I bless if I truly realized all that I have been blessed with? At the end of my life, will people wonder how I squandered away such good fortune or will they be able to see the difference I made with the resources I was given?

Introducing Throwback Thursdays

Earlier this week, my kids and I were having a dance party in our living room as we often do during hot summer afternoons. After a few minutes of throwing them in the air and spinning them around, I sat down and took a break next to our bookcase. While sitting on the floor watching my kids continue to tackle each other (our dance parties quickly turn into wrestling matches) something on the bookshelf caught my eye: a journal I made in college.

But this isn’t any journal. This is a collection of writings written on my first blog in college. Yes, I had a blog in college. It was on one of those Live Journal or Open Diary sites. Honestly, I have very little memory of it. I did, however, anticipate that I would forget all about this blog and so at some point in college, I printed out all the entries and made a scrapbook out of the entries.

[Side Note: I'd like to take a moment and reflect on the fact that I had time to scrapbook a journal. Okay that's it. Moving on.]

So while I was sitting on floor reading through the entries, I was struck by how similar my writing style was. I’ll admit the content was pretty different, but rather than use the blog as a daily account of my activities (though there are some entries like that) I found myself writing about my thoughts. Rather than reflecting on motherhood, my college blog was often reflecting on being single. You might notice a slightly melodramatic tone, just go with it because what 20-year-old isn’t a little melodramatic?

I decided to share these posts in what I’m going to call “Throwback Thursdays.” For the next few Thursdays, I’ll be sharing posts from my college blog.

First here is some back-story. I wrote the blog my junior year of college. Earlier that summer, I broke up with my boyfriend. While the break-up happened in June, I didn’t really deal with it until I returned to school in August and had to see him on a regular basis. [Note to girls: while it seems cool that all of your girl friends are dating friends of your boyfriend, if you decide to break up with said boyfriend things get awkward when everyone wants to hang out.]

So without further adieu, here is entry number one [Comments made by 2012 Susan]

August 28, 2002 – 12:50 AM [Can we note the timestamp on this thing? Clearly a sign that times were different]

Change is really kind of a weird thing wouldn’t you say? I mean, when you think about it, everything is change. Everyday something new happens that didn’t happen the day before. You could even break it down simply to that you eat different food each day. Everyday you are constantly doing things differently than you did the day before. So technically we should be really used to change right? Because our whole life is just a series of changes. Why, then, is change so hard?

How come then [did I really just write 'how come'???] there are some things that when they change affect everything else in your life? Physically is doesn’t interfere with anything, but emotionally it changes everything else that you do. Your mind set is different going into things. And it’s also not like you can see the problems coming. They just hit you in a passing thought randomly. Like driving in a car thinking about what you are going to do next and suddenly like a flash lightning you remember how things are different. And until that moment it was fine and it was normal but now it’s scary and hurts just to think about it.

It’s not that I don’t deal well with change. That is not the problem. I am all about meeting new people and doing new things. However it’s the not knowing that kills me. Not knowing when things will get better, not knowing how strongly things will effect me, not knowing when to smile and when to cry. That’s scary to me.

I will say this though. Sometime life sucks, but sometimes life is really good. And the object is to maximize the time when it’s really good, but you would never really appreciate things unless you dealt with the sucky parts too. There is a quote from Hope Floats that says: “Beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s what’s in the middle that counts. So, when you find yourself at the beginning, just give hope a chance to float up. And it will.” So that is kind of how I am going to take things now. Knowing that eventually this scary part will be over.

[End of post. Hang in there readers. I promise they are not all a pity party for Susan. Okay if I'm being honest, a lot of them are. BUT hang in there. Or don't. I'll post them on Thursdays. If you don't care for them, just don't read my blog on Thursday. Consider yourself warned.]

Perspective Dinners

We have a group of friends that happen to all have children much older than our children. In fact, the next youngest child is at least nine years older than our oldest child. All of the families have children that have graduated high school. The group gets together a few times a year as a chance for the college-aged kids to see each other again and for the parents to reconnect. They are some of my favorite dinner parties of the year.

I love to talk to these friends. They are seasoned parents. As a whole, they’ve raised 11 children. They’ve seen it all. There is no story of mischief they haven’t experienced. As my husband and I share the latest of our kids’ antics, they look on and smile. As our kids run up from playing in the basement with the older kids and ask us for more chips, our friends cannot help be reminisce about the past when their kids that age.

Every parent of young children should have these types of friends. There is no parent who can offer more perspective than a parent of a child who has graduated high school. I listen and try to soak in the words they offer me.

“It goes by in a blink of an eye.”

“It seems like just yesterday when I was in your shoes.”

“You will not believe how fast they grow up.”

They all agree. Not one would argue with the statements above. And yet, from my side of the coin, I seem to be light years away from their stage of life.

I’m thankful for these friends. I’m thankful these friends have welcomed our family into their group. I’m thankful for their older children that keep my children busy in the basement so that we can have an uninterrupted conversation with other adults.  I’m thankful for their words of advice. I’m thankful for their perspective in life.

Someday I’ll be in their shoes. My kids will be grown and I’ll be the one longing for the days when my kids were so young and cute. I will be telling the exhausted mom that time goes fast.

So I will believe them. Though it seems impossible, my heart tells me they are right.