Define Motherless.

With Mother’s Day approaching, every blogger is publishing their take on “for those hurting…” and still a few others claiming that those posts are unfair to mothers. I’m a speed reader and choose to skim to my part- for those who have lost their mom. They call me Motherless.

That stuck with me for awhile- Motherless. See, I think there are people who fit that situation.

Motherless is the daughter who cut off a toxic or abusive mother.

Motherless is the child who takes on that role for themselves and those around them at a young age.

I am not Motherless.

I got 29 amazing years with my mom. Were it my choice I would have gotten 29+ more. 29 sometimes doesn’t feel like enough- but her memory never leaves new. Her advice still rings in my ears- I still hear her singing when I go on shuffle mode.  Thanks to that, I am never Motherless.

As a woman who has recently lost her mom, let me tell you this: you don’t have to love your mom just because mine is dead. You don’t need to hug her “because at least you can”.  That’s a real low cost of admission, and you are worth so much more.

There will not be a day when someone will ask me if I wish my momma was still around and I will say no. I will forever wish that I was here today telling a story of earthly healing, or that we had gotten more time. The beautiful thing for me is that because I know my mom in Jesus, I never said goodbye. I said see you later.

I am not Motherless.

 

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I don’t feel like writing a title so here’s some stuff about how I feel like a fraud.

There’s so many memes on this topic out there but this one springs to mind:

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I feel like that so many times a day. Whenever my kid or spouse asks for help, when I’m cooking, when I’m at the doctor, when someone asks for exercise or food advice- like… why are you asking me?! I am very clearly not adult enough to be in charge.

And yet I am.

I feel this way the most with writing. I don’t feel like a Writer. I don’t introduce myself that way. I don’t know what makes a Writer vs.  a writer, but I feel like the latter. People like my bestie Najah- those are Writers. She’s an amazing poet and performs her pieces in OKC. She self-published a chapter book. She’s a Writer. I have more failed blogs than Elizabeth Taylor had marriages. I am barely a writer, much less a Writer.  And yet- here we are.

I wish I could make this into one of those Buzzfeed listicles or some clickbait to tell you the simple trick to feeling less like a fraud, but I don’t think there’s a simple trick for much. I will tell you that if you are reading this thinking that surely God can’t use a fraud like you, you’re wrong. So very wrong.

More than ever before, since December 26, 2016 I have struggled to see the road ahead. I have fought round after round with the Almighty trying to figure out how we got here (how did we get here-how the hell ? /Pan left  close on the steeple of the church.  did you just sing that? Then we are now BFFLs ) and why we got here in the manner we did. The answers are sparse right now. But I know that my fraud feelings won’t last. And that the best way for me to deal with them is to keep moving forward (name that Disney movie). Maybe the secret in me feeling like a Writer is to simply write more. Maybe it’s that I need to unpack my own baggage about worth and how it ties into economy. Maybe it’s that I’m listening to the wrong voices.

Tonight I am simply owning it.

 

Hello, my name is Jessica and I regularly feel like a fraud. And for right now, that’s okay.

 

 

Mirror Mirror

Have you ever shown a kid themselves in the mirror? There’s a beat or two while they figure out who that is, and then a huge smile and goofiness soon follow. It’s so magical to see, especially when viewed in contrast to how I react to myself in the mirror.

For me(and I assume most adult women) it’s more like a dog hearing a strange noise. A questioning head tilt that leads to the Inventory. The scar from my hip surgery, stretch marks from weight gain after moving abroad, leftover skin and fat from two pregnancies. A pretty face and hair, but the woman I see is certainly fat.

The fat problem. Is it even a problem? Sure, I’m not 100% happy wth where I am right now. I have fat loss goals. I don’t have some huge attachment to the number on the scale. But I question every bit of my appearance and life just because I am fat. I hate that.

I’ve bought into Society’s claim that because I am fat, I am therefore not deserving of love,success, or any good things that may come my way. If I could just lose 15 lbs then I’d be happy because I’d be worthy of the good things in my life. What kind of bullshit thinking is this? Why do I need to be skinny to worthy of my life? Why do I think that skinny (or “toned” “fit” etc) means that life is better? 40-60% of ELEMENTARY aged girls are concerned about their weight or becoming fat. My best guess is that the media is at play here.

 

Who does this thinking benefit? The diet and weight loss industry. They make SO MUCH off people like me. Selling the snake oil quick fix that will only leave me filled with shame and heavier than when I started. It’s a cycle that does not benefit me. Not one bit.

I want to trade that in. I want more of the little kid wonder and love when I see me. I want to greet the me in the mirror with a big smile.

Today I give up all my head tilts and run towards joy and silliness. I resolve to DELIGHT in the creation God has entrusted me with. I choose the childlike joy of recognizing all the wonderful things my body does. I am choosing to view my body the way God does: in awe of what it can do, proud of what I’ve endured, and in love with its potential. I accept the dichotomy of loving my body as it is, and wanting it at it’s best- fueled with good food and good movement. Most importantly, I am worthy of love and all the good things in life regardless if I’m a size 2 or 22. I refuse to spend another minute thinking that the size of my thighs determines my worth.

In the words of the most amazing RuPaul- if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else? Can I get an Amen?

The Things I Didn’t Say

i went to Talbots today. My loving Granny had gotten my mom a gift card there for Christmas. Obviously, mom didn’t get to use it. My granny wanted me to have it… so now 3 months later I went.

I almost wish I had waited longer. I wasn’t prepared for how it would feel staring at those red doors. Feeling the lump in my throat as I first walked in and looked around, a million shopping memories rising to the surface. She hated shopping for clothes towards the end.

shopping is not supposed to be emotional. So then I start wandering around, drawing stares from the surprising amount of women shopping there while simultaneously bringing down the mean age about 10 years. I didn’t know where to start- I’ve never shopped for myself at Talbots. It was mom’s store.

I eventually amass an armful of clothes and make my way to the dressing room. Even more memories. How many times had we stood in dressing rooms just like this? picking school clothes, prom dresses, my wedding dress? The perfectly put “You can do better” rang in my head as I tried on some less than flattering shirts. She never told me I looked bad. Not once.

Then, the dress. I picked it up on a whim, thinking the pattern was nice. As I slip it on I notice that it’s part of the Oprah collection. Mom, like most women her age, loved Oprah. The flowers are purple. And it. Has. Pockets. I couldn’t not buy it. Maybe it’ll be an Easter dress.

I make my way to the register and politely ask about the salesperson’s day. Mom taught me to always be kinder than necessary. She starts to ask me to sign up for Talbots Rewards. I decline. She asks again. I politely decline again. She asks again.

I worked retail. I know about the multiple asks required. I’m not mad. But how do I say stop? That I don’t think I can shop here again? That I’m here using my dead mother’s Christmas gift, and I just want to go feel in my car alone?

I just say maybe next time I’m in– maybe then I’ll sign up. The reflexive smile to get her off my back. I wish her a good day and go sit in my car, take a deep breath, and start    Towards home- my mind reeling full of the things I don’t say.

 

Landmines

Emotional land mines are the worst. You’re walking along, having a perfectly day, then you trip on one little thing and just see devastation. Luckily, unlike the real thing, feelings landmines have fleeting devastation. I smell her perfume and cry for a moment. I see a Dory and I sigh. I hug my pillow a bit more tightly while watching British Bake Off.

A feelings landmine went off the other day watching Moana. We had put it on for my toddler, but in short order he had run off to do Lord knows what. In “I am Moana” she sings of her recently departed Grandmother:

“I will carry you here in my heart, you remind me
That come what may I know the way
I am Moana”

So then I’m nursing my 6 month old and bawling. A welcome sight for my husband I’m sure. The man is a saint.

Look at the cut song “More Reprise” from the same movie:

“She always knew more
She hungered for more
She taught me more
And somehow I know she’d want me to go”

I have struggled with identity since my mom died. Saying I am Jessica to me said also that I am Susan’s daughter. And while that doesn’t change with her death, how I frame us does. My mom and I are special. We didn’t fight like most did. I didn’t go through the “I hate my mom” phase. We are special. losing her feels like a free fall because it felt like I lost my special.

 

thankfully, Moana was there to remind me that even if my mom isn’t a giant spiritual luminescent sting ray, she is with me. I like to think that she’s controlling my “shuffle mode” now. She is still reminding me that she is proud. That I am more than enough. That I need to live my “more”.

 

Love you More

jess

 

Just Keep Swimming

My 7th grade language arts teacher gave me a great piece of advice as we were tackling one of our assignments- write what you know. That advice has followed me as I took on college papers, high school research projects, and my first failed blog. With that in mind, There is one thing I can tell you about grief.

I don’t know much. I don’t know what’s ahead, I don’t know what will set off a feelings landmine, I don’t know how tomorrow will run.

What I do know how to do is to just keep swimming. My mom loved the character of Dory in Finding Nemo. She related to the “look something shiny!” Aspects and loved the positive outlook that Just Keep Swimming provided. She even kept a stuffed Dory on her desk.

That’s what has guided me through these first few months. It’s become a rallying cry of sorts. Even if the day before all I did was keep the little ones alive- just keep swimming. Tomorrow is another chance to try. A really good day? Just keep swimming. Try to do that again tomorrow.

I needed that reminder this week-one with more than a few land mines. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming,swimming, swimming.  What do we do? We swim.. swim…

Love,
Jess

First post anxiety

(Shit. What do I title this? Oh God people are going to read this. What if no one reads this? What if everyone reads this? No, that title sucks. Scrap it. too. Much. Pressure.)

 

So in a first post, you’re supposed to introduce yourself or at least what people can expect to read here. Problem is, you probably can guess as well as I can what will come out here.

I guess I can tell you what brought me to blogging and writing.

Many years ago, way back in 2013,  I decided that I was going to be a blogger. I had a few friends who did it and even supplemented their husbands’ income with it. so that’s how I was going to be able to give back to my family in a two-move year. I had good posts and it was good for me to write, but as I was writing I was dealing with depression  and infertility and the stress of living in a country where I didn’t speak the language. It fell by the wayside a bit, and then completely fell off when in a 60 day period I both started a new job and found myself pregnant.

3 years later, I had two kids and was living in a new area back in the United States. I was struggling to find joy. This has nothing to do with my kids and just that I’ve been through a lot since 2013. Then my earth shattered on 26 December, 2016 with the loss of my bffl-my momma. More on that later.

Several tear filled therapy sessions and an identity journey through my home church later, I remembered that I enjoy writing. I am a writer. Just because people around me are capital-W Writers doesn’t mean that I’m not a writer.

I’m still working to figure So much of this out. I’m still not 100% sure what life looks like or what my writing will be like. It will probably cover grief, body image, wellness, cooking/baking, marriage, and kids as these things fill my life on a daily basis.

I won’t make any promises on post regularity. But I’m here for the foreseeable future.

(oh hell. I need a sign off. “Lost and found” sounds cheesy. Lost? Nope that’s depressing. Love? No I can’t do th- nope that works. That really works.) 

 

love,

jess