Sharing the Event of Mother’s Day

I may not be rich. I may not be successful. I may not be gorgeous. But I make a darn cute kid, as is evidenced by the photos I’m including. Yes, I’m showing her off today. That’s practically my sole reason for blogging. She’s cute. Indulge me. Eddie treated me to a brunch at Montelle Winery in Augusta, MO, Sunday. If you know me, you know it’s one of my favorite places. To top it off, he even coordinated with my mom, and she came along, too! Three generations of Tracy/Adamson/Strimel girls noshing on good food. What could be better?

In spite of the wonderful parts, Mother’s Day was bittersweet this year. It was our last day in St. Louis and my brand new pregnancy–just confirmed last Wednesday–began miscarrying late the day before. Kind of a kick in the pants for a day devoted to mothers but, hey, stuff happens. I figured I could sit around all crampy and sad or just buck up and get on with business. I got on with business, and it was a nice day. Now I don’t advocate miscarrying and moving 700 miles in three days, but it taught me about strength and the human mind. It’s a load of crap that happiness is what you make it but…big but…you can do a lot to turn things around just with your head.

So my sage advice that I like to offer along with these philosophical pieces is this: take care of yourself, take care of those you love, and remember that you are stronger than you think you are. I don’t care who you are, what’s wrong with you, or what you’ve been through in the past…you will surprise yourself by what you can handle. And if you need to sit down and cry once it’s all over, that’s okay too.

Oh, and if you’ll permit me a couple of seconds…I think this little one was a boy. I just want to tell the world that he existed even though it was just a few weeks. If there’s a heaven somewhere, I hope he’s with his little sibling and all the little ones like him.

Sometimes You’re the Windshield, Other Times the Bug

I adore my child, which makes days like today incredibly hard. I was really doing well, thinking what a great parent I was. Oh, how the mighty fall. After going to Zoey’s classroom to read Where’s My Mummy, we headed to Target to buy Easter basket gifts for my niece and nephew. I’m still winning mom of the year at this point. We make it past the dollar section and head toward the holiday area and…bam…burp from the toddler. Seconds later I’m running through Target with a kid puking all over me. Trust me, I was mortified (and grossed out). After 20 minutes in the bathroom, I walked out to apologize. The 20-something Target employee standing there said “don’t worry about it,” and he seemed to mean it. It absolutely meant the world to me. What’s my point? Everyone has bad days. The most significant thing is how you–YOU–react to those who are having problems. I will be calling the St. Charles, MO, Target management to say thanks and commend their staff. And to that sweet guy outside the bathroom, thanks for being patient and sanitizing whatever I missed.

Insults, Nitpicking and Hating on Our Sisters

A few days ago, a FaceBook friend posted a picture of Kate Gosselin walking the red carpet. I’m not a follower of Kate’s show or escapades but she’s a beautiful woman. Heck, if I had that kind of body after having one, let alone the 6 or 7 or however many kids she’s birthed, I would be strutting everywhere in a string bikini. Upon loading FB later, I saw the same post with a huge list of comments like “She’s ugly inside” and “She paid for that body.” Now, I don’t know Kate Gosselin. She may very well be “ugly on the inside” but I’m betting none of those women (oh, yeah, did I mention the comments were all from women?) have met her either. So why the hate?

I abhor stereotypes, but by-and-large, women seem to choose insults and nitpicking when they feel inadequate or lack confidence. To be totally honest, I’ve done the same. And to be even more honest, it wasn’t until the last few years that I’ve stopped hating women. What have I hated? The cattiness, infighting and struggles to gain superiority for no particular reason other than to hurt or “put her in her place.” It was the ultrasound that revealed Zoey’s sex that began to change me. I don’t hate women now. I don’t like a whole boatload of them but I don’t hate women. They are struggling the same way I am…some just use a poor arsenal.

The moment the sonogram tech saw “girl parts,” my focus changed from what I hate to what I need to teach a future woman. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am not confident in my looks. Textbook-wise, I should be a Barbie or Victoria’s Secret model (tall, busty, blond, thin…in my adult years) but somehow it didn’t all translate like that. Oh well. I’m kind of past all that at this point. I need to be a strong woman who appreciates herself AND other women so that my daughter will grow up to be a strong woman (which should be the textbook definition of “gorgeous”).

I realized the other day that I toss out compliments all the time. If I had a nickel for the number of times I’ve posted “You are beautiful!” on a FaceBook comment, I’d be wealthy. But I MEAN IT! I’m (almost) past trying to compare myself to others and I am past putting down others to bolster my confidence. I started this for my daughter but it’s made me feel so much better about women and about myself.

Before I close, let me tell you…You Are Beautiful!

Enjoying the Moment

I hate New Year’s Eve. I hate that the year is ending even if it’s been a less than stellar year. I hate that there’s a new year starting…too full of unknowns. For that reason, I always stay at home, drink responsibly, and try to make sure I’m sleeping soundly at midnight. I asked myself just a few weeks ago why I’m like this. Well, for one I hate change. I hate the unknown. I have to and often do push myself into new situations because stagnation is bad. If I was an extremely positive person, though, I might instead say I’m into living in the moment. Sadly, I’m not the living-in-the-moment type. That being said, I think maybe I need to be.

To me, living in the moment is enjoying where you are, who you are with, what you are doing, and how you are feeling. It isn’t burying your head in the sand or missing deadlines or drinking a whole bottle of vino with little regard for the consequences. It’s about feeling content and enjoying life. It’s about enjoying the few minutes of silence or a 5-second cacophony of laughter from your 3-year-old in between tantrums.

And so I enjoyed the moment today. I put Zoey in coveralls, snowboots, a coat, a hat, mittens, and a hood (and she looked like the little boy from A Christmas Story) and dressed similarly myself and we played in the snow. I had things to do but, really, what was more important? We walked up the block and traced the footprints of others, I watched her make multiple snow angels, and we went sledding. I even got on the sled twice and let her push me. (Yes, a 3-year-old can push her mother down a hill.) And it was frigid and fun and I am so incredibly glad I did that even though I didn’t get more edited on a dissertation I’m editing.

I’ve realized that I’ve missed so much of the scenery because of the minutiae. Living in the moment will never come easily because I’m a worrying type A but I’m making some conscious strides.

Check out what I experienced living in the moment this afternoon…

Why You’re Probably a Role Model and Don’t Even Know It

When I was 17, my friend Joni’s mom pulled me aside and thanked me for being such a good role model for her daughter. Now I was a generally squeaky clean, “good” girl and didn’t do much, if anything, that would make me a poor role model, but this freaked me out a little. Even at 17, the idea that anyone was looking at me as a guide was monumental. I remember driving home and creating a laundry list of people who might be watching and learning from me. My youngest brother topped the list, and I became much more aware of my actions and words when I was around him starting that day. I continued to be mindful of the fact that someone might be watching and learning from my actions into my adult years but became less concerned. Then Zoey was born.

I know what you’re thinking–Courtney is going to launch into how she’s trying to be a good role model. Well, it’s true that I am, but the fact of the matter is that I started looking for role models. I’ve always been confident (except in the looks department), bold and in-charge. This period in my life and the addition of a child who would model after me made me feel otherwise. I needed and began looking for role models, and not just in the parenting department. My molting period started about the time I found out I was pregnant and I needed guidance by way of regular, real-life women. Some of these people seemed to sense my needs and began carefully visiting my office a little more often, offering a pat on the back and doling out anecdotes (advice they cloaked in palatable packages). Others became unknowing examples. I’ll admit that the first year after having a child was not attractive on me. I was lost and it was hard, especially with a husband who traveled 260 days out of my first 365 days of being a full-time working mother. And this, too, is a topic I’ll springboard from a little later.

Cut to today. I’m still trying to figure out who I am am. I see it more as an adventure than something scary. And I’m still looking for and at role models. I have so many, too, that it would be impossible to name them all. Some of them know that I watch and learn from them (my mother, my sister-in-law Vickie) but the bulk of them probably don’t even know I watch their moves, read their FaceBook posts and visit their blogs looking for my next bit of inspiration and guidance. Heck, some of these women don’t even know I exist (my absolutely favorite fashion blogger J’s Everyday Fashion, for example. A great resource for creating editorial looks on a shoestring budget.) The point is I have been a role model and I have role models who don’t know they are role models. I absolutely do not mean to put pressure on my own role models. We should all, I think, look at ourselves, though, and ask if we’re comfortable with what we’re putting out there. We should also all look at ourselves and ask if we need a role model or two. I hope that the answer you find is ‘yes’ !

Lobsters, miscarriages and mid-life crises

As my first post, I think a little “about me” is in order. Taboo subject or not, I lost a baby about 6 months ago. You have to understand that I’m very pragmatic and, on the outside, I was taking it very stoically. It wasn’t until I sat crying in my ob/gyn’s office at 16 weeks pregnant and right before an inevitable D & C that I realized I was a little messed up by the whole experience. And trust me, being 36 years old wasn’t helping anything. A miscarrying embryo, surging hormones, a little mid-life crisis…what a cluster. My ob, or should I said Ste. Karyn Fowler (who is no longer practicing sadly), gave me a tissue and said “I have a story for you. It’s weird but don’t stop me. Just listen, my friend.” And right then she calmed me. Whether it’s true or not, this is what I heard (in my own words)…

A lobster is never more vulnerable than when it molts its exoskeleton. Eventually, though, it has to as it begins to feel cramped, stifled, and uncomfortable in its own skin. It realizes that there’s no other option than to molt…dangerous or not. In order to molt, though, it has to find a safe place to settle while it’s without protection. When the lobster knows it’s time to molt, it begins surveying the sea to find this safe place. Once found, the lobster molts and begins growing a new shell that fits, that feels comfortable, and works for the lobster.

With that, she laughed (and hugged me so tightly I felt like I could let go for a minute) and said “you’re molting.” And boy, am I ever molting. The weird hormones are gone (along with my little one who is resting peacefully, I hope…mama loves you, my dear)  but I’m still searching, trying to better myself and find the real me. My reason for starting this blog is because I guarantee you I am not the only one in my boat. I am a mom, a fashionista, a driven working woman (who is taking some time off), and I’m exploring my options for a safe place to molt as well as how I want that new shell to look. Hell, I’m not even sure what’s going to happen when I molt. I just know there’s something big afoot. Explore it with me, won’t you? I’m putting myself out there. Let’s see what happens.

And because textbooks tells you that you must define a blog, I can tell you that you’ll see some cooking, some drinking, some crafting, some parenting, and a whole lot of fashion-inspired topics in this blog. In the words of my ob/gyn (who is probably my guardian angel), “listen, my friend.”