Beautiful Like Me Project

Beautiful Like Me ProjectWickedStepMom from Life and Times of a Wicked Step Mom has a little project going on over at her site called Beautiful Like Me.  According to WickedStepMom:

“The driving force behind this project is to raise awareness about the lack of self-esteem and poor body image in today’s youth.  I want to change the way that we look at ourselves and the way that the young women and men look at themselves.”

A worthy pursuit.

Tricia over at Shout is helping co-host this project, along with Amy of Five Flower Mom.  This week’s subject is “In your opinion, what is the best way to build self-esteem?” and Tricia has asked me to give it a go and write something about the subject.

I don’t know how well I can tell you how to help your child build self-esteem, but I can certainly tell you what to avoid doing.

I had absolutely crappy self-esteem growing up.  I was smart and I knew that, but I was also a plump child.  Not fat, by any mean, just a little chubby.  I was chubby because my mother had atrocious eating habits, which she passed on to her children, and I was discouraged from too much physical activity – I’d been diagnosed with a heart murmur at the age of two and the well-meaning but misguided doctor told my mother to keep me “as quiet as possible.”  So running, swimming, roller-skating and bicycling, all things I loved to do as a kid, were strictly curtailed and I was encouraged to read (I could read by the time I was three), draw, paint and do various crafts; it helped that my mother was of an artistic bent and I am possessed of a vivid imagination.

By the time I was a teenager it was apparent that I was not going to drop dead any time soon of heart-related problems – the murmur, which I still have, is what doctors term an “innocent” murmur – and while I still enjoyed swimming, roller-skating and biking, I enjoyed my sedentary pursuits even more; not surprising, since those were the ones that had been encouraged.  The problem was, by the time I was a teenager, although I was healthy as a horse, I was a good 30 pounds overweight, and it wasn’t helped by the fact that I am fine-boned, big busted and short-waisted – every extra ounce has always been all too obvious on my slight frame.

An even larger problem was my mother.  Mom had been overweight most of her life and was a yo-yo dieter to boot – whatever new fad diet was out, Mom would go on it, lose a lot of weight, and gain it all right back…plus more.  And she nagged me about my weight – I saw my very first diet doctor when I was 12 years old, and was put on diuretics.  By the time I was 18, she had nagged me to go on every quack diet there was, but by this time I was doing most of the cooking in the house and, well, eating cabbage and grapefruit three times a day kind of paled in comparison to a pan of homemade brownies or a plate of chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.  Not much deterred Mom, though – I imagine I was the only kid in high school that had taken speed supplied by her mother.

My teen years were a litany of “You’ll never catch a good man if you don’t lose weight” “Don’t wear horizontal stripes  (or all white, or A-line dresses) they make you look fat” “Don’t eat that…or that…or that.”  All while NEVER being encouraged to exercise or truly eat properly.  She also ignored my good physical qualities – my thick, gorgeous hair, my very pretty face, my tiny hands and feet, my fine, unblemished complexion, my curvy figure.  And while she was proud of my intelligence and talents, she never encouraged them the way she drove me to be thin.  It was as if she felt that being thin were the end-all and be-all of a woman’s exitence, and that all the answers to all of the problems of her life, to say nothing of mine, could be found on a number on scale – preferably reading under 120.

Like most people, by the time I had kids I was determined not to make the same mistakes my mother had made.  I won’t claim to have been a perfect mother by any means, but I swore that my kids were never going to feel judged by their physical qualities.  Oh, I fuss at them a little about how they eat, especially Oldest Son, but it’s about eating healthy, and I really try not to nag them.  Mostly, I encourage them to make the most of who they are, not how they look – I’ve vowed that none of them will ever, ever hear me say “You’ll be happier if you just change the way you look.”

And they never will.

Oh, Lookie Here…

No Smoking200 posts.  Wow.  Is there a protocol for your 200th post?  (I’ll spare you 200 facts about me, since I can’t count and you’d end up with 327.)

Anyhoo, that’s not what I wanted to talk about.  What I wanted to talk about is the fact that, as of today, I have not had a cigarette in a year.

Yay, me.

I have to be honest – I wanted to quit.  I was ready to quit.  I didn’t enjoy it any longer, and I was tired of the expense and the smell and the mess.  I was tired of feeling controlled by it.  I was tired of being a social pariah of sorts.

I was tired of being a smoker.

I was also tired of being afraid.  You see, my mother was a life-long smoker and it was a contributing cause to her death at 51.  Once I hit my 40s, I began to get more and more nervous about my fate as a smoker.  Once 45 was staring me in the face, I guess I finally realized that I could no longer say “I’ll quit later, when I’m older” because “later” and “older” were here.  Mom was never able to quit, even after her surgery and I was damned if I was going to let that nasty, dangerous habit rule me for the rest of my life – it already had for long enough.

So, when we got up on the morning of December 23 last year and boarded our plane for Hawaii, I just stopped.  We were in airplanes or airports for 16 hours and I figured if I could go that long without a cigarette, I could go forever.  It was surprisingly easy, and by the time we got home 12 days later I realized that yes, I was done.

I won’t lie – there are times when I still crave one, but I just wait for a few seconds and the desire passes (it’s usually when I have a glass of wine beside me and Beloved lights up).  Most of the time, though, they just smell awful and having Beloved still smoking is a major nuisance, because when he’s not smoking around me I don’t think about it at all.  I try not to nag him, though, because when it’s time for him to quit, he will, and there isn’t anything I can do to change that time table.

I also won’t lie and tell you I haven’t gained any weight, because I have.  Quite a bit, as a matter of fact, but I’ll take that as an acceptable compromise, because I know for a fact I can lose it – I have before.

Perhaps that will be my “I did this for my health” anniversary post for next year.

Happy Birthday To, Well, Me

Birthday CakeHi, everybody!  If I’ve been conspicuous in my absence, it’s because of that darn party this weekend which was further complicated by the fact I have a rip-roaring case of bronchitis.  Nothing says “I need my job! I’m appreciated!” like eating food prepared by an ill employer.

If I was not conspicuous in my absence, humor me and pretend like you missed me.

So, yes, I am a Christmas baby, although I made my peace with the whole getting one present for both occassions thing a long time ago.  Indeed, I’ve reached an age where if no one remembered my birthday it wouldn’t bother me much a bit.  Of course, the fact that no one close to me would actually dare forget my birthday probably helps matters considerably.  This birthday is especially nice because Oldest Son is flying up for a week and will arrive today.

(Miss Jacki was supposed to be here at 11:30 a.m. Friday morning, but her connecting flight was canceled because we got ice the previous night.  The poor kid was stuck at the Atlanta airport for 36 hours before they were able to get her on a flight up here to Podunk.  She didn’t arrive until 7 p.m. Saturday night.)

Seriously, though, I don’t think much about my birthdays anymore, although this one concerns me a bit.  You see, I’m 46 today, and 46 is when my mother developed an aeortal aneuryism.  It required open-heart surgery (she was misdiagnosed and the aneuryism burst) and she died 5 years later from a major heart attack.  This isn’t exactly comforting, especially since every time I see a new doctor and they learn this little tidbit, I’m subjected to a barrage of questions, poking, prodding and tests.

So far, so good.  It still makes me nervous, though.

I have, however, done something major which will hopefully help me avoid an early death, but that will be the subject of tomorrow’s post, in which I will celebrate another anniversary of sorts.

In the meantime, I have over 50 posts in my Google reader to catch up on, and consequently some major commenting to do.

Have a lovely day, y’all.

The Post In Which I Embarrass My Children

Vodka Mom has an amusing post about what you should never tell your mother.  I was going to respond, but my answer took on a life of it’s own so I thought I’d just post it over here.

I have to say I agree with her – I don’t want to hear about it either.  It’s enough to know they do it.  So when my adult children tell me about their sex lives, I tend to put my fingers in my ears and chant, “lalalalalalalaaaaaa” loudly and repeatedly until they get the hint and go away.

Hey, it could be worse – I could give them the same reaction they give me when confronted with the fact I have a sex life, and scream, “EEEEWWWWWW, GROOOOOOOOSSSSS!!!” and make desperate retching noises.

I didn’t become sexually active until I was 18 (for someone who grew up in the 60s and 70s, I was quite the prude) and while I was afraid to get the pill, I did buy some contraceptive foam and condoms, which I immediately buried in the bottom of the large cedar chest in my bedroom.  Whacky-But-Lovable sister, who was then 13 and had been the bane Ramona Quimby of my existence since the day of her birth, made regular reconnaissance missions through my things.  She dug them up and handed them to my mother, saying she’d found them under my bed while cleaning our room.

Right.  Like she ever cleaned our room.  *hmph*

My mother confronted me with this after I came home from a date that weekend, saying she had found them under my bed while cleaning my room.  My mother was a formidable woman, and I believe this was the first (and possibly last) time I stood up to her.  I told her she should be glad I was taking precautions and not to even try to bother lying, because I knew good and darn well where I’d put the stuff and next time she better make sure Whacky-But-Lovable had her facts straight.  Also, was she going to punish the little brat for a) snooping and b) lying, two absolutely verboten activities in our home?

She changed the subject and suggested we both go to bed.

That was the last time my mother and I discussed my sex life.  And I learned to lock things in the trunk of my car, after I hid them in the spare tire well.