Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Menopausal Moms of Kentucky: Confessions of a Menopausal Mom at the Gym

Menopausal Moms of Kentucky: Confessions of a Menopausal Mom at the Gym: Since I have seven months experience, six if you count that I've only been to the gym four times since Thanksgiving, I wanted to share m...

Confessions of a Menopausal Mom at the Gym

Since I have seven months experience, six if you count that I've only been to the gym four times since Thanksgiving, I wanted to share my vast, hard-earned experience with you my fellow Menopausal Moms.
I just started wotking out last year in May. It was  12-wweek  program for people over 50. I always was an overachiever so I started at 49.  For $100 you got two visits with a nutrtionist, a weekly visit with a trainer and access to the gym. (HealthWork Baptist Health in Lexington offers the program called Joints in Motion) Best Money I Ever Spent.
It did not start out in a great way. During my first visit the trainer didn't know what to do with me I was so nervous and sweaty. Sweaty partly because of anxiety, partly because my air conditioning didn't work in my car and partly because of the occasional hot flash which a careful reader will know by now are apparently made worse in me by stress.
He, seriously, took me past a Zumba class with a woman dancing in it with a chair in front of her so she could sit down. She easily had 100 pounds on me. There, he said, if she can do it you can.  Looking back I guess that isn't a terrible motivational tool but it didn't feel encouraging at the time. I just got sweatier and more hot flashy.
But I stuck with it. It wasn't pretty. It was plenty sweaty. But I did it and am going to go back at it again in the New Year.
Here are some randoms thoughts, some confessions, about the gym.

  • My first time at the gym the trainer told me to walk for four minutes on treadmill then left, seeming confused that walking 30 seconds seemed a challenge. I thought those four minutes would never end. It was nearly all due to nerves. In no time I was doing 15 than 20 than 30. It gets better. 
  • There are very few chubby white haired women at the gym. I don't know where they all are because trips to Wal-Mart show me there are plenty of us. Let's see what we can do to change that.
  • If you haven't worked out in a long time or ever then getting ready to work out can be a work out. Those damn tennis shoes don't tie themselves and gym shoes don't slip on. I was stiff, stiff, stiff. My awesome second trainer would catch me as I emerge from the dressing room, sweating from shoe-putting-on and no-airconditioning in the car and say "oh good, you are warmed up." It gets better.
  • Most people aren't paying any attention to you. If you think they are judging you in some way for being in a gym but not being in are in the wrong gym and you, like me, are probably too self-conscious. That gets better too.
  • Yes, sometimes, there are grunty, sweaty men which can make you, if you are like me, uncomfortable. (Women, in my experience, are 90 percent less grunty.) If you put in your ear buds, say tuned into One Direction, you can't hear them. (Or, maybe, grunt back randomly. I haven't tried that yet but I might. It's something to aspire to in 2015.)
  • After the treadmill, I really, really wanted to stick with something that looked like a recumbent bike and that was it. It was where the Super Seniors at my gym hung out. I wanted nothing to do with the elliptical, no free weights, no walking to the part of the gym where the muscle-lifting, super grunters roam. I was scared. But with some encouragement I tried new things. I liked them. So, push yourself and get support.
  • Sometimes there are fit young men in the gym. I feel that it is appropriate to admire them in not a creepy grandma way but in a way that honors God's good work. When I see a fit young man I say to myself, sometimes out loud, "Good Job, God. Look what you did there? Nice work!" There are some perks at the gym you just can't find anywhere else.
  • Today's shout out is to Ireland. Yes, someone in Ireland has read Menopausal Moms of Kentucky. Mary Charlotte Meehan is may name. If you say it with an Irish accent you can see where my roots are. Go Ireland. Menopause and Moms are Universal.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ok, now I believe you. There's a stretch when you won't recognize your teen.

There are certain things that we Moms, menopausal or not, simply don't share willingly with each other. Did someone, anyone, come to you when you were pregnant and tell you that your feet would never been the same size again? Did your best friend or sister let you know that the shoes in your closet would forever be a reminder of your pre-pregnancy glass slipper size as your newly evil step-sister sized feet will never again squeeze into.
No one tells you.
I've never told anyone.
I don't have the heart. The baby-making mammas are so excited. I can't stand to point out any of  the downside.
They'll find out soon enough.
 Giant feet. Raw nipples. Lack-of-sleep psychosis. They'll find out.
Along the same vein, no one tells you while you are growing a human that someday that interloper will think you are an idiot and actively show their disdain for you. Eyes will roll so far back into their head you aren't sure they will ever unroll. This may be because you suggest, perhaps, wearing a coat to a high school football game because with the windchill factor of -15 degrees.
Apparently it is a part of the developmental process. The paperwork given to me by my mental health counselor -- if  you don't have one you should totally get one -- shows that it is a child's job to separate from their parents. My personal experience is that it is especially painful or dramatic between mothers and daughters and compounded exponentially between Menopausal Moms and hormonal teen.
No one told me.
Ok, that is not true. A couple of people told me and I didn't believe them. One of the them was the sweetest, kindest, most Christian woman I know. She swore her daughters were terrible as teens. She didn't recognized them. The got better when they were young adults. I didn't believe her. Her family was so adorable it couldn't be true. They looked like the families that come in pictures frames when
you buy them at fancy stores.
My fellow Menopausal Mom, Kim, told me of the Dark Times with her now grown, and awesome, children. She also said it will fade and my girl will come back to me.
I'm not sure I believed that either.
So, I have been taking two informal polls in the last few weeks. One is of mothers whose daughter's recently travailed adolescence. I don't even have to really know you. I just have to know you have a young adult child. I just say something like: My daughter and I are at that stage where she acts like she hates me.
They nod and look sympathetic.
The other is among any unfortunate young woman who I encounter between the ages of 20 and 35. Did you hate your mother at 15? I ask. They all say yes.
What about now?
Generally, it's something like "Oh, I totally love her, I talk to her every day. She's in Bolivia and we FaceTime every night."
So I take some solace.
This being the holiday season every sitcom I watched this week seemed to have an over reaching mother shaming, begging, manipulating their children to spend time with them And, sitcoms being what they may, in each instance the child, often grudgingly but most genuinely as a sitcom can manage will see -- gosh darn it-- I love my Mom too much not to spend an evening
around the Christmas tree with her if that's her hearts desire.
Oh, if life were wrapped up like a sitcom.
But I realize I have to adjust my thinking. This developmental stage isn't personal.
When my girl was a baby and she cried I didn't think "that cry is a indictment of my skills as a
mother". No, I tried to help her. I tried to figure it out. I put myself second and worked for the better of both of us. And that's what I need to do now.
I never thought of myself as one of those moms who saw herself first as her kid's friend. But maybe it slipped that way. Maybe I thought I was protecting her by letting of some things I need her to do chores or listening or being respectful because overall she is a great kid.
But, apparently, according to my mental health professional, she needs something to push against.
That is me.
So here is my job. She pushes, I stay firm. She hurts me and I let it go.
I set a rule and I stick to it.
It is a little trickier because part of this for me is saying no, setting boundaries and making her accountable so she can be an accountable adult. I was really good at setting boundaries for her when she was little. Even when she would push. Because I could see it clearly. Don't touch the stove you will get burned. No matter how much you want to touch the stove the answer is still no.
And now it is the same. The lines are just more involved. But I will figure it out although I could use some suggestions.
And I know, and I should have known all along, we are family and we will work it out. It might be a couple of years, apparently, but it will work out.
Polls don't lie.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Mushy Christmas!

Maybe it’s my menopausal emotional mood swings?

Maybe it's because I turned 50!

Maybe it is celebrating Christmas without my children all together this year? 

Maybe it’s the fact my dad has been gone a year this month, and I want to hug him so much?  I would love to hear him say, “Hey Sissy,” just one more time. 

Maybe it is all of the heart-wrenching CHRISTmas videos I am seeing on Facebook?  I don’t know what is doing this to me?  But, I am a mushy mess!  Christmas is such an emotional time. 

Last week, I was taking pictures at our church of Santa reading the story of Christ’s birth to the children.  Santa asked the children if they knew the true meaning of Christmas, and one little boy stood up and yelled, “Jesus!”  Wow!  Out of the mouths of babes!  The church erupted in clapping.  He brought a big smile to my face.

Later in the service, the children went downstairs to celebrate the birthday of Jesus.  They were gathered around a table playing with various toys.  But, while they were doing this, they were singing, “Happy birthday Jesus…I’m so glad it’s Christmas.”  (If you don’t know the song, check the link below.)  I couldn’t help but tear up.  And as a photographer, it is quite difficult to take pictures while boo-hooing like a toddler who just got time-out.

This has been my emotional rollercoaster for the last 7 days…up and down.  One minute I am laughing hysterically, and the next I’m sobbing into what is now the third box of Kleenex I have opened this week.

Tears, however, are not always a bad thing.  The first video I watched on Facebook this morning was of children who were given an early Christmas present.  This present was their father returning home from serving overseas.  I cried like a baby!  But, those tears were happy tears.  Those children were crying too, but everyone involved was happy.

The second video I watched this morning was the story of a young mother who lost her husband in a car wreck, just 14 weeks after the birth of their son.  The baby was also injured in the wreck, but survived.  The video centered on the mother thanking the hospital staff who saved her son ten years later.  And, it had a happy ending.  But, all I could dwell on was the loss of her young husband.  I cried again, but this time, I was so very sad. 

Life is full of good and bad things, and maybe God does this on purpose.  We cannot truly appreciate the good things unless we have the bad to compare it to.  2014 taught me this lesson very well.  I lost my father (very end of 2013.)  I had difficulties in my marriage.  I had difficulties with work.  I also injured my back and treatment for this caused my hair to fall out.  It just didn’t seem like it could get much worse. 

But, our oldest daughter, Amanda, got married to an amazing man this year, and we now have a bonus granddaughter to boot.  And, our younger daughter, Ashley, had a documentary, “Tig,” she co-produced, chosen for the Sundance Film Festival for 2015.  Our oldest son, Brad, won two KPA awards for his work in journalism, and our youngest son, Jordan, was hired to work for American Airlines.  I am so proud of our children!  Too obvious?

Along with the good things happening for our children, I was offered a position teaching full-time for a technical college.  This has always been a dream of mine.  And, I renewed my wedding vows to my husband…who just also happens to be my best friend.  We also have a roof over our heads and food for our bodies…many people do not. 

It is truly a good life.  God has blessed me so much!  And, to him I give all glory!

May your hot flashes be mild and your wrinkles even milder.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I got the best Christmas present ever 16 years ago. My daughter

 I was pretty zen considering I hadn't gotten any medicine yet. The hat says "I believe"

To Bailey from her Mom:

I'll start at the beginning. Well not all the way at the beginning because that involves the type of conversation that is inappropriate.
But this is the thing I can tell you. The way I remember it the nightyou first arrived in this time and space there was the most amazing moon. I've never seen one like it before or after. Your Dad and I had been in Sanford, Fla., just outside of Orlando and we were heading home as the moon was coming up. And on the flat landscape somehow the moon looked epic, like it was really rising out of the road ahead of us. It was perfect and orange and red andround and kind of breathtaking.
I had some trouble with keeping you around early on. But that is a story for another day.
I loved growing you even though I threw up at least once a day.
Somebody told me that when a baby has a lot of hair it can mess with your digestion. You had a lot of hair.
A few months in I had a dream about the baby I was going to have. I'm not sure yet even if I knew you were a girl. But I had a dream of a little girl with a bouncy head of hair in a field of flowers. Her
hair was kind of reddish and she had the chubbiest of cheeks and she wasn't smiling but looking at me like she knew me and that she would be heading my way.
When you were about three we were at the kite festival. You were running up and down the hill in your Tweetie buttoveralls with your curls bouncing in the sun and you turned around and looked at me.......and your face was the same as the face I had seenbefore you were born. I struck me then, like it has a hundred times since you've been mine, we were meant to find each other.
So back to the day at hand. It was Dec. 23. I was ready to have a baby. Because, as you know, I am a woman who likes to have deadlines and, baby, we were on a deadline. You were due Dec. 23 and I felt pretty strongly that you should arrive. I was huge and uncomfortable and ready to have you occupy your own space in this world. I had been reading all the things you could do to promote labor. I had actually written a story about the pine nut and gorgonzola salad at a restaurant in Winter Park
that women swore helped get their labor going. (Years later I read something about the chemical properties of pine nuts actually do mimic some labor hormones so, who knew?)
Anyway I had the salad. I took walks. I was shopping at Christmas time
in a crowded chi-chi shopping place and I was enormously pregnant so you can imagine how much I was enoying that. Oh, did I mention I had on a red and white stripped candy-like shirt and a baseball
cap/elf hat that said "I believe".
I ran into an old boss as I was wobbling through one of the stores. His name was Mike Bales. He had laid me off. But had done me a kindness in doing so. I'm not sure I was aware of that at the time. We
had some idle chit-chat in a crowded store. I joked at the time that Mike Bales scared me into labor.
I was prepared. There was a bag packed, movies included: Clueless (because it is my favorite movie ever) and It’s a Wonderful Life (because George, Mary, Bailey).
We had asked our friend Jan to come along to take some pictures and keep us company.
I had on a red and white candy cane stripped shirt and a elf-inspired baseball cap that said I believe.
We had been to the birthing class. To be honest, I had a feeling that your Dad wasn't going to be all that helpful. (Turned out I was right) Jan was a no-nonsense kind of person when the situation called for it so I knew she would be stalwart.
But, here is something that is a little surprising, I was not really well versed on exactly what would happen. I knew I would be giving birth and there would be breathing and epidural but that's kind of
where it ended. I didn't know about drugs or hormones or how many centimeters you needed to be dilated. I guess I figured my body would just make it work. More likely I was afraid I wouldn't do it right so there was no point in studying for this particular test.
I don't remember the contractions being that bad but when they became about five minutes apart we went to the hospital.
They wanted us to walk. So we did.
It was, you know, late Dec. 23 so most of the hospital was empty plus there was renovation going on so there were entire hallways with no one around. We walked and walked and walked. I had my Birkenstocks on and I was, you know, hugely pregnant so I kind of rolled along. It was likely a very slow procession. (Still in candy cane shirt and hat.)
At one point I decided to sing. It seems to me that I sang a lot. One song went something like this, except to the tune of Jingle Bells: "Giving birth, giving birth, it's time to give birth. We’re here now,
I'm big like a cow, It's time to give birth, Yeah!"
When we came close to wings where there were people, I am sure 1) People thought we drunken idiots. 2) They really wished I couldn't sing so loud.
Eventually my water broke or something happened and the nurses were suddenly not so keen on my walking and they made me get in bed and they strapped this belt around my middle that told them exactly what my contractions were doing. I didn't know until maybe 11 years later
when we were talking to Dr. Meinke about your calves, that they were in a rush because they were worried you might swallow meconium and that you were in distress. And that could have been bad.
But, fortunately, I had not done my homework so I just thought ­-- Ok...I'll lay down now.
Contractions were not that bad. They did go on for like, 11 hours. I kind of got use to them. Jan's boyfriend at the time was there and he had an annoying habit of looking at the monitor and announcing with each contraction that this one was going to be an especially bad one.
Thank you Jan's douche bag boyfriend.
But mostly, I said "ouch". Yep, "ouch". No screaming. Surprisingly, no
cussing. Just "ouch."
Just like when I threw up everyday and I said that it was for a good cause, I told myself the same. This was for a really good cause. So, "ouch."
When the doctor showed up, finally, he had on the same hat that I did. Although I had never seen him before and don't recall his name, I believe that was kind of meant to be.
They kept telling me how I needed to stay really still for the epidural. I had been saying ouch for 10 hours and they told me the epidural would make that stop so I was damn skinny going to be still.
No problem.
Then I was a little giddy on medicine, ok, a lot giddy on medicine. I decided I wasn't going to be able to do this thing. Yes, I was going to be the first woman in the history of healthy woman in actual labor with a healthy baby who would somehow mange to not be able to give birth. I somehow decided I was just incapable of it so.....I wanted to go home.
Mr. Tree which I had won by stuffing entries into a give away box at a local store was waiting for me at home. 
I tried my best to go home. I tried to be my most charming. I promised and purred that I lived just so close and that I would come right back. It would be finnneee.....why not just let me go home for, like,
a sec? No worries. I'll come back.
I tried and tried to convince everyone to let me go home and no one would. They wanted me to rest but I kept wanting to talk to your Dad so I could convince him to let me go home. They made him leave the room so I would sleep.
So what happened when you finally decided to come?
I my memory, it was like there was stadium seating in the place. Jan was there. Your dad was there.
Your Nana and Pop were there. My friend Cheri was there. Jan's boyfriend was there. Jan. Your Dad. There were two teams of nurses because they were worried about you although they didn't tell me that.
The only time I lost my cool was when they were telling me to push.
The whole room was kind of yelling at me. It was suppose to be encouraging but I couldn't believe that they didn't understand that I kind of needed to concentrate.
Pushing out a human, here!
I snapped a little: Only one person can tell me what to do.
And there you were. Your Dad swears It’s A Wonderful Life was playing on the television. (That is back in the day of VHS.)
Anyway. You were beautiful.
I felt in an instant that you were mine. I could feel your heart beat in sync with mine and I never knew I could love anything as much as I loved you.
They put you in what looked like a plastic bin away from me and told me to rest. But every time you made a sound I would sit up and look in your direction, even though I was exhausted and still pretty high. I knew I had to help you if you needed me.
When we got to our room it was just us. Everybody left. Now it was Christmas Eve. There wasn't even hardly a staff. The nurses didn't answer the call button. There was a place for your dad to sleep but he went home.
So it was me and you and they told me not to keep you in the bed with me but I did for awhile. When I put you back in your plastic bin I didn't want you to feel lonely so I had a yarn Santa face that had
been on a present and I taped so you could see it and have something interesting to take in.....although looking back, you know, the whole world was new to you so it was probably a little bit of overkill.
Still, my sweet baby girl, it was the most amazing day of my life. My best day ever, easily. And you are truly the best Christmas present I have ever had.
Although, when you become a successful grown up, I hear diamond
earrings are awfully nice :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Turning 50 is like attending a funeral…

Have you ever attended a funeral…walked up to the casket…only to hear someone say, "Don't she look good?" 

Really??  Have you ever seen a dead person look good?
And, what is the deal with all of the flowers?  The person is dead!

Typically, funerals are sad events, but many times families host "Celebrations of Life" to honor the dead and remember the great aspects of that person's life.

All of this is quite similar to what happens when someone turns 50 years old!  On Sunday, December 14th, 2014, I turned FIFTY!  I woke up that morning and thought to myself, "I cannot believe I am 50 years old!  …I am so old!!!" I was actually depressed!

Other people know you are old too!  On my birthday, people felt compelled to tell me how good I looked to be FIFTY years old!  And, they sent me flowers!  Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed them immensely!  But, my house began to smell like a funeral parlor…ironically!

And, yes, the day was definitely a celebration of life...what little I seemed to have left.  It was filled with wonderful birthday greetings and Facebook posts that were so sweet and nice…as you would expect epitaphs to be. 

Here is my top ten list of things said to me when I turned FIFTY:

Number 10:  Fifty is the new 40!
Number 9:   You look really good to be 50.
Number 8:   You are just getting warmed up!
Number 7:   You could actually say it is the 20th anniversary of your 30th birthday!
Number 6:   You are a HALF-CENTURY old. Wow!
Number 5:   The older you get, the wiser you get.  You must be a genius!
Number 4:   Welcome to the club!
Number 3:   My age was compared to a dog playing dead.  (This one came with a video.)

Number 2:   Are you able to get a senior discount now?
Number 1:    Rudolph is celebrating his 50th anniversary too.

All in all, my birthday was amazing!  My students threw me my first ever surprise birthday party.  

I attended the “The Nutcracker” ballet in Louisville with my husband, son and fellow Menopausal Mom, Mary. 
We ate at an amazing restaurant called, “The Rudyard Kipling.” (I HIGHLY recommend this place.  The food was amazing, and there was live music!) 
And, I only suffered one hot flash during the ballet. (I think the snow tricked my mind into thinking it was really cold!)  This was without a doubt, the best birthday celebration ever! 
The ironic piece here is that I had never had a birthday party or celebration to this point.  So, getting old does have its benefits; people feel sorry for you, and in turn, do super nice things for you!  It’s a good sort of sympathy!  I’ll take it! 

Kim York

"May your hot flashes be mild and your wrinkles even milder!"

Friday, December 12, 2014

I'm still a ID Mom although my baby loves the death metal musings of Slipknot

This is my latest ill kept secret: 1D is my jam and videos of the 1D boys in interviews are my happy place even in my Menopausal Mom years.

For those of you are reading this blog carefully --- at this point I think that is a couple of  my sisters and my fellow Menopausal Mom, Kim and I really want to thank you all -- you may have detected a few trends.
1) I'm having a hard time my daughter growing up so fast.
2) I like to listen to One Direction. I listen to them to work out. I listen to them in the car and do some enthusiastic if not elegant car dancing.
3) The first thing I am working on. The second thing makes me both ridiculously happy and a little embarrassed.

The three are actually tied together. I started to like 1D because my daughter loved them. I remember the car ride to Wal-Mart where I was like, ok, there are five of them? Harry has brown hair? Niall is the Irish one. Who is Liam?
She laughed a lot. For months I could never get them straight. They were just a meld of Justin Beiber hair and British accents. 
 This is 1D in what fans call the "Fetus" stage because they were such babies. BTW. That's, left to right, Liam, Louis, Harry, Niall and Zayn.

And when I say she loved them. She really loved them. She spent hours watching videos of them. I think she sent Tweets and Instagram posts about them. She put pictures of them all over her walls. She bought magazines about them. She wanted desperately to see them. On the first day of high school I played their CD at car rattling levels because we could all sing along and I knew that would both distract her from panic and keep her breathing deeply so anxiety couldn't set in while we waited in what seemed like an hour-long line.
When they announced they were touring the  U.S. lthough I didn't really have the money I got her two sets of tickets, one in Lville and one in Nashville, as soon as they went on sale. The tour would be an year later but was already selling out. It was more than $300 which is more than I've spent in my life on anything other than a car or a major appliance. My wedding dress was less expensive.

This a pictures of her looking extremely happy because of the tickets to Lville.

So how did I get sucked in? When they hit it big, in the 2011, she took this ridiculously extended vacation to Florida. (A blog for another day.) She was gone for a month. We had never been apart for a month. I really missed her. I started watching 1D interviews on YouTube because it made me feel closer to her. (Weird, maybe, but not even close to the weirdest thing I've ever done as a mother.) Before I knew it, for the first time in my life, seriously, I was a fan who knew not only the music of a band, but the back story. (Don't get me started about how they aren't really a band. Just because they don't play instruments doesn't mean they aren't a band. Just ask Twitter. I dare you.)

When I was the age of the most ardent ID fans, I thought getting really invested in any celebrity was just stupid. I never dreamed about marrying one of the Cassidy boys because I knew, even at 10, that I would never meet them. I have never been an uber fan of anything. It must be some kind of pathological fear of commitment.

But soon I knew enough about 1D to help my friend's daughter make a great sign for the concert they went to, when they were four rows back from the stage that said "I Heart Niall and Nando's" a nod to the Irish-one's favorite restaurant. The sign got a thumbs up from the real Niall (OMG!) and a nod to my friend when Harry had a shout out to all the "1D Mums" who've made band such a hit.  I'll admit...I'm a little jealous Harry didn't give a nod and a shout out to me.(I let my daughter take her friend with our two tickets, although I really would have liked to go.)

I love them so that I have made her promise multiple times to play One Direction's  Live While We're Young as a surprise to the guests at the end of my funeral. (In advance, you are invited to attend. Hopefully you will all forget by then and it will still be a surprise. If not, pretend for my sake.)

Look at the boys all grown up.

But my Middle Aged Mom fan status also shows the depth and power of social media. The people handling these guys did a great job early on taking questions on Instagram and Twitter creating live stream chats. Teen and preteen Directioners are a true, fast-typing force of nature. This Matt Lauer recently learned after an apparent diss of member Zayn on the Today show.
I think he got death threats..

But the 1D handlers were also genius in marketing  to the parents, especially Moms. In the first movie about the band there were sequences about all of their mothers and how they missed their boys. They were all so young and so scared it tugged on my maternal heart strings and I also felt for their, mostly, middle aged moms.

Being a 1D Mom is kind of a thing. So I am not alone by any measure. On Twitter girls brag about their Moms being 1DAF. Some naive moms think it means One Direction Always and Forever but it really means something that rhymes with As Duck but starts with the second word beginning with an F.  It is meant, I believe, as a compliment.

I don't know if I am that far in but I do know for certain that while my girl has moved onto the death metal musings of SlipKnot........

I'm not moving along with her.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cinderella has given stepmothers a bad name

When I married my husband 21 years ago, along with him I received the most amazing blessing, two bonus daughters named Amanda and Ashley. 

Yes, officially they are my step-daughters, and I would officially be their step-mother, but really?  Who came up with the term, “step?” 

I did a little research to determine it is actually a Judaic term from Biblical times for men who would step in and marry the wives of their brothers when their brothers passed away.  In those days, it was an obligation of one brother to take care of the family of another brother who died.  That was noble.  Right?

Of course, for the women, I am sure they hoped the brothers were like the ones from “Property Brothers.” Oh yeah!  

I digress.

It is also said that a man/woman “steps” into a family as a father/mother when they marry someone who already has children.  But, many times, those children already have both a mom and a dad...they have just divorced.  So, I say the term “step” should be eliminated from family descriptions!

Look at Cinderella.  One of the most famous fairy tales ever, and both the step-sisters and the step-mother in this story were evil women.  This story annoys me for many reasons, but this one is the trump card!  It gave “step-mothers” a really bad name!

I never made the girls sweep the chimney, or haul in buckets of coal.  But, they did work as cashiers at the local grocery store in high school to earn extra spending money.  My dad was their boss, and he loved them dearly! 

More than anything I just wanted them to grow up and be happy.  They made (make) me happy every day. 

But, being a step-mom is a tough role, especially in the early stages.  You never know where the boundary lines are for anything…it is always a guess.   As the relationship grows, and the love grows with it, those lines become less and less blurred.  You become family.

My bonus daughters have grown into two of the most happy, successful and beautiful gals (inside and out) that a step-mom could ever ask for.  I couldn’t love them anymore if they were my biological daughters. 

And, as I approach my 50th birthday, I take comfort in knowing I can now go to them and whine a little if I am having a bad day...because the older I get, the more things seems to go wrong.  And, they will say, “It will be ok Kimmiebun.”  (To have your first name end with “bun” in our family is a term of endearment.)

And, my oldest bonus daughter, Amanda, has married an amazing man who also has a sweet daughter from a previous relationship.  So, Amanda is now a “step” mom, and I am now a proud “step” mimi. 
My sweet bonus grand-daughter, Sophie
Amanda, her husband, Paul and Sophie
The family

But seriously, where do the steps end?  There are so many steps!

Is this what we actually want to call someone who has entered our lives for what we hope will be “til death do us part?”  We don’t have such terms for parents who adopt a child.  They are still mom and dad. 

Something needs to change!  The total number of blended families grow every day and the steps get higher and higher.  Let’s tear down the steps and build something new!

I like the term “bonus.”  What do you think? 

Bonuses can be something a working person receives from their employer at Christmas time.  Those bonuses are always welcome…right? 

Bonuses can be something free you get in addition to something you have purchased.  Free stuff always puts a smile on my face. 

Bonuses can also be a reward for doing something right, or going above and beyond. 
For me, I would like to think I did something right to earn my bonus daughters.  They mean the absolute world to me.  I could not imagine my life without them.

Kim York
May your hotflashes be mild and your wrinkles even milder.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Elf on the Shelf Moms: You Win.

I hate Elf on the Shelf.

I know I am not alone.   

The Elf itself is kind of retro-50s era Connecticut-Christmas cute. I'm not mad about that. I'm not even opposed to hiding the Elf around the house. I do think it's adding a layer of work to a holiday already filled with work. 

But, if it makes a kiddo happy, well OK.

No, I hate it because this new "holiday tradition" has become a a blunt object used in the ongoing Mommy Wars by a certain segment of mothers, some Menopausal some not, who feel compelled to show the rest of us, the majority of us, how fabulous and thoughtful they are because THEY really, really love their children so no extra step is too extreme. 

Their zealous tending and sharing, and sharing and tending, make me feel like I am just not trying hard enough.

 Not trying enough because I have a demanding 40-hour a week plus full time job.

Not trying hard enough because I am trying to do somethings for myself after 16 very kid-focused years. 

Not trying hard enough because I don't create flour "snowball" fights in my kitchen with a doll just so I can clean it up. 

The source of my hatred is two fold. 

One: Elf mission creep.

 There is the Elf ($30)

 An ever-growing assortment of Elf on the Shelf accessories. 

A push to have multiple elves especially if you have multiple children. 

You might need two because your Elf is lonely and needs a companion. 

Elf on the Shelf is now for birthdays.

I'm not sure what that Elf is counting down, or who Elf is reporting back to unless Santa is also engaged in mission creep and is taking over birthdays. 

Reason Two for Hating Elf  On the Shelf:
The elaborate scenarios that people, and by people I mean Moms.
 create for Elf.

So, all these internet postingslearnot enough to put Although the real moms I know who have drank the Elf Kool Aid generally seem to remember the need for a new location at 3 a.m. just before packing lunches and have only the engery to throw the Elf in the fridge where he will be found in the later morning clinging to a bottle of orange juice or fling him onto a high shelf in the den.
Other Moms, the Professional Internet Moms, go all out. They make lists and post them. They have a plan. They are having fun, damn it, and seem to say "look at all the thought I put into this lighthearted venture. Read my list! I rock being a mother and you, well, where is your list??"

But even Moms with a Plan don't grate on my nerves as much as Moms who Make a Mess. I don't understand at all the Moms who throw flour all over their kitchen to show their Elf had a food fight. Or, below, bring in what looks like 10 pounds of sand to their entry way so they can clean it up later. 

I completely don't understand anyone who would shave their husband's head just to inspire a little extra Christmas magic.  And I hope it is someone's husband because if it isn't it is strange that the  Elf is witness to a crime and we all might be complicit in a felony.

To me it all screams of highly educated, highly creative women who got on the Mommy Track and now focus every bit of themselves --- Every Bit Of Themselves --- into making every moment of childhood magical and managed and fulfilling and, maybe there isn't even anything wrong with that, but they must tell EVERYONE that they are doing it. Better, apparently, than anyone else ever.

I come from the school of thought that sometimes, seriously, kids need to wonder about an imaginary friend and dream of Santa all on their own. My daughter's favorite thing when she was little was to make potions in the bathtub. I bought her bottles and bubbles and bath Crayons but I didn't digitize every wondrous thing that she did. (And some things were wondrous.)
It was the only time on most days that she was ever alone with her own thoughts and when she could do whatever she wanted.

So I will say this, Elf on the Shelf Moms, you win.

I don't have the time or inclination or the extra toilet paper to post a picture about how my Elf, who I imagine would be named Marvin Moonpants, wrapped my entire Christmas tree in Charmin.

 But, please, this Menopausal Mom asks that the mission creep stops at birthdays. Let's not see the Elf on the Shelf Fourth of July Count Down Calendar.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

When did pantyhose go out of style?

I am 10 days away from turning 50, but suddenly I feel much older.  

Yesterday, I wore a dress and tights to the college where I work with really cute shoes I had just bought.  My students were very complimentary.  One student said, “Ms. Kim, you look fly.”  I wasn’t sure what that meant, but the others agreed, and it seemed to be a compliment. So, “Yay!”

Then today I wore another dress, but I wore pantyhose instead of tights.  I could tell by my student’s faces that today, I did not look fly.  One student asked, “Ms. Kim, are you wearing pantyhose?”  Then, all of the sudden, my other students were all staring at my legs.  I felt like a freak in a circus and people were paying to see my mutant calves!  The shocked looks on their faces were saying, “OMG!”

Then I broke from my own shocked state and said, “Yes, is that a good or a bad thing?” 

I already knew what they were going to say by the smirks and giggles.  I was sure this was not a good thing.

Another student quickly spoke up and said, “Nobody wears pantyhose Ms. Kim.  If you don’t have tights, just don’t wear anything at all.  Go bare-legged.”

Huh…Really?  Even in the winter?  It was in that very moment I realized I was becoming the old woman I swore I would never be.  You know, the one who doesn’t care about fashion anymore and just puts on whatever she can pull out of a drawer when she wakes up.  Flowered blouse and hounds tooth skirt…perfect match!

Now, I have nothing against mix-matched clothing.  But, I swore to myself I would always dress with a little bit of flair and buy up-to-date clothing.  I have failed in this self-promise.

My closet is full of clothing, but very few things I have actually purchased in the last decade…or two. 
Yes, my name is Kim, and I wear clothes from the 90’s. 

I am an old clothesaholic!  I even have a sweater I bought at the Smart Shop in downtown Pikeville, KY in 1982!  It’s 32 years old…older than some of my children!  But, it still looks good…does that count for anything? 

And, many clothes do come back in style…right??  Take for instance my Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.  I saw where they are back in style, and I still own 2 original pair! 

I get it…how sad is that?

So, in light of this epiphany, and as a New Year’s resolution I might actually keep, I am getting rid of the old and bringing in the new!  (Hopefully, I can find a 12 step program to assist me with this!)  But, in the meantime….Look out Chico’s, here I come!

NOTE: I was compelled to edit this post when I opened my fortune cookie at lunch today. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The anniversary of my dad's death. I still miss him every day!

December 1st, 2014, is the first anniversary of my father’s death.  That happens to be today.  I feel numb.  I feel sad.  I feel sick.

Yesterday, I wasn’t sure what I would feel today.  Yesterday, the feeling was dread.  But, dreading it did not keep it from happening.  I woke up at 5:00am, and the date hit me like a ton of bricks.

What do you do on the anniversary of someone’s death?  I know what to do when it is someone’s birthday, or marital anniversary.  But, what is the proper thing to do on the anniversary of someone’s passing?  Does Hallmark make a card for this? 

So far, I have cried.  That’s about it.  I have tried to teach class, but I am sure my student’s know I am somewhat distracted.  You see, more than the fact my dad died one year ago today, I live with something that is still hard for me to think about.  I had my father’s body burned. 
I know the proper terminology is "cremated," but that is not what went through my mind at the time.  I was in shock from his death, and I was in shock by what I had to do.  This was his request.  He wanted to be cremated, and asked that this request be fulfilled on several occasions.  I always assured him I would honor this request, but never really gave it too much thought.  However, after he died, this was a harder task than I had imagined.

The day after he passed was the day the funeral home would be taking him to be cremated at another location in a different state.  They assured me they would call me as they were leaving and that someone would be with him at all times.  Then they agreed to call me when they were back with his remains.  They were successful with the last part, but failed to call me when they left with him.

I broke down.  I kept thinking maybe I would change my mind, and that I had until they called as a deadline to back out.  And if I backed out, I would just have him buried.  But, they never called.  I never had the chance to change my mind.

Maybe God intervened to keep my father’s wishes?  But none-the-less, I was at a low point in my life.  Had I done the right thing…even though this was my father’s request? 

I wish I had discussed this much deeper with my dad.  But, I always said, “Dad, we have many years to talk about this…let’s talk about something less depressing.” 

I need to get this out of my head…I cannot go back.  I followed through with what my father wanted, and I need to take solace in that.  And, I am grateful to God every day that my father passed without the need for life-support.  Making a decision to turn off life-support is something I never want to do.  I watched my husband and his sister’s go through this with both parents, and I felt their hearts breaking.

So, I guess the best thing to do today is to remember my father and the love we had for each other.  I am so fortunate to have so many good memories of time with him.  I was truly a daddy’s girl, and I miss him every day…every minute.  

Peace to all,

Friday, November 28, 2014

Menopause has left me feeling deflated

Hello, It’s Mary….. Hello You Gorgeous Menopausal Moms!

It’s quite amazing what happens when losing weight and menopause coincide. I have lost 34 pounds since May. It appears that I’ve lost 15 pounds in each boob and four pounds scattered all across the rest of my body.

According to the National Cancer Institute, in a handy pamphlet about breast changes that aren’t cancer, when your hormone levels drop during menopausa breast tissue “becomes less dense and more fatty.” Apparently my lobes and lobules, crucial to milk creation, are also kaput.
(Kaput, by the way, is not the official medical term)  So I guess I was left with no density and more fat which left that particular area of my body while remaining in other areas. (Namely tummy and upper arms.)
In my case, again this is probably not how my doctor would say it, my boobs left to their own devices simply look deflated. 

Apparently that is not all that unusual.


Thankfully, a good bra, one size smaller, shoves them into the approximation of the space they once held on their own unassisted.  But, while I’ve never had a outsized, ongoing interest in their size and shape, it is kind of astonishing what difference a few months and a few pounds can make. I have looked in the mirror in a bit of wonder and awe. Somebody recently told me that older people are incredibly resilient because they are every adapting to a changing body. I totally get what they mean.

That doesn’t mean I’m sorry I have been losing weight.

I move through the world with more ease. I feel strong for maybe the first time ever and certainly the first time in a long time.

I’m kind of proud of myself. And believe me when I tell you if I can do it anybody can.

And, so far, I haven't had to go crazy.

I know some people do.  I have a friend who is a beast in the gym and a fiend at calorie counting. She has lost more than 50 pounds. And while she looks great, she seems to take little joy her transformation. And, unfortunately, she is also losing her hair.

I have taken a more laid back approach in part because the effort I am putting out is still showing some results. According to my Goggle Medical Degree that is because my friend had already been exercising pretty frequently while I had only been exercising my right to watch reality television while knitting. I think because of that I benefit from my slothfulness. 

My body is like, whoa, we’re moving!
What’s that about!?!

Boobs aside, which as we all know is where they go when we lay down, there have been other unintended consequences. My mouth literally watered the other day when looking at a pear, fig and feta cheese salad even though I’m not sure I had ever eaten that particular combination. It was delicious and I now have in my house the ingredients needed to make one. The second one was as delicious as the first. I soon will have a third.

Overall, actually, I have discovered an almost Pavlovian response to food stimuli that I never recognized before. I'm not sure that it is menopause-related but it is strange to notice at age 50. Maybe I have been spending too much time with my dog. 

I also know I have about 70 pounds to go before I am at the upper end of the range considered appropriate  for my height by those bastards at the National Institutes of Health. (I’m not sure I’ve been in that range since I was about 24 so I wonder about its validity.) Still it is something to shoot for and I’m heading in the right direction, one or two pounds at a time.

Here’s a weird thing. I feel so much better I forget how big I still really am. Sometimes I fool myself into thinking the current weight loss might be good enough and then see a picture and think…hmmmm…no you’ve got some work to do.

And, apparently, that's going to be a challenge because it's suppose to get significantly harder following menopause to lose weight. The Mayo Clinic says that has to do with the shift in muscle to fat as we age. It also offers these genius tips for menopausal women: Move more. Eat Less. Seek support.

I’ve been doing two of those, I guess now I’m doing the third. Feel free to support. I could seriously use it.

I'll keep taking the smallest of baby steps.

On Thanksgiving I ate turkey and gravy and stuffing and skipped the pie.

Today I met for the first time with my very own personal trainer. Maybe down the line she will have some suggestions about the boob thing. Or  maybe that's a bit too personal. I also think they are beyond being trained. #menopausal moms