Friday, March 30, 2012

Promises kept

Once again I find myself doing something that I swore I would never do—I’m getting married again. And to top it off, I decided last week that we should have a wedding rather than elope like we had originally planned. What’s even crazier is that I’m not even panicking yet.

I guess I have come to some sort of peace about getting married again which makes the wedding feel so right. It’s obvious that the kids need to see Robby and I tie the knot. But I’m surprised by how happy this wedding is making everyone else. I guess they see our love and they just want to see us happy after the hell we both have been through. It’s the kind of love fest that makes single people want to claw your eyes out.

So with the wedding on Memorial Day weekend, it looks like we will be married before we move in together which on some levels solves another dilemma I had—I swore I would never live with someone I wasn’t married to.  But to be honest, that doesn’t really matter to me anymore either.

It’s not that my values have changed. I still want to set a good example for my children. I just don’t sweat the small things that I used to think were so important. Basically, I guess I just don’t care what people think about me anymore--at least that is what I try to tell myself..

I know I’m a good person. I know that I am a good mother. I no longer secretly hope that everyone else agrees with me--at least that is what I try to tell myself and my therapist.

This isn’t a change that happened overnight. I didn’t even realize it had happened until I realized that I was making plans and not worrying too much about what people would think.

I’ve always been a people pleaser. My mom will be the first to admit that the dynamic of our family instilled the idea in my head that it was my job to make everyone happy. “You just always wanted to make everyone laugh,” she told me. “We put too much pressure on you to be the cheerleader for the family. It was wrong, and I’m sorry. You deserve to be happy.”

Perhaps that’s true. I do know that this need to make everyone happy was made worse by my marriage. Despite our split, I really did love my first husband and I really wanted to make him happy.

The problem was that nothing ever made him happy. Nothing was ever good enough. The harder I tried, the harder it got. And like my parents, his mood would change in a second. I never knew when he would get angry or frustrated or depressed. I never knew when I would be forced to be the cheerleader and try to make things good again.

I’m not cured though. I find myself falling back into these old habits almost daily. I’m getting better. I don’t feel as guilty as I used to when the children are disappointed or if Robby is bummed about something that happened at work. I don’t feel that it’s my job to make everyone happy--well, sometimes I feel this way.

I do know that if I don’t continually work on this need to make everyone happy, then I will lose myself again. Everyone will be happy except for me and I don’t want to end up in that place again. Robby and the children deserve a happy Kim and I want to give them that.

I caught myself falling into those old habits when Robby and I started planning the wedding ceremony. Venues in downtown Savannah were more expensive than we planned for. I immediately felt the need to back down on my expectations. The wedding cake we priced at Publix was more than we really wanted to spend, and I began to think of other alternatives to keep the peace on price--to make Robby smile.

For those who know Robby, they probably find this funny. He’s the least overbearing person on the planet and if I asked for something, he would do everything in his power to get it for me.

So, I had to remind myself when I felt that twinge of guilt in the pit of my stomach about prices, that it was okay for things to be a little difficult. It’s okay to see the disappointment on Robby’s face when he finds out it will cost $300 for the cake I want. It’s not my job to make everything painless. It’s my job to make sure I am happy. No one else can do that for me and nothing around me seems to work right when I’m always trying to please everyone else. And even though it’s still a daily struggle to focus on my happiness and even though I still feel guilty when I get my way, I realize that it’s going to be okay.

I swore to myself several years ago that I would never allow myself to be unhappy again. This is one promise I really need to keep.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Amy!

Today is my sister’s 40th birthday. It’s hard for me to tell if she is depressed by the milestone or not. She has mentioned her disgust with the age change a few times, but she doesn’t seem fazed by 40. I guess it takes a few days for the shock to settle in.

I know I have a hard time believing my sister is 40. It just seems too old for her. We still do a lot of the same things we used to do when we were teens—giggle, talk about sexy guys we see at the grocery store, stay up all night playing cards, drink too much, and hangout all day at the beach with the kids. But I just can’t seem to get a handle on one question, “Where has the time gone?”

Amy on vacation
With each passing year, the reality of aging sets in. Amy’s daughter started her freshman year in college in the fall. Amy and her husband are glad to finally have that honeymoon time they didn’t get to get in the beginning, but I can tell the empty nest bothers her sometimes.

I’m not sure what I will do when that day comes for me. I’ve been such a hands-on mom for so long that the idea of having an empty nest seems exciting and painful at the same time. So much time has already passed with my children that it’s hard for me to know “where has the time gone.”

While I’m glad to be rid of diapers, bottles, and sleepless nights, the idea of being rid of karate practice, horse riding lessons, Girl Scouts, and art camp makes me a little sad. The idea of being 40 makes my stomach hurt a little bit. But the knowledge that my sister and I will never be those two giggling girls sitting in the back of my parents van enduring another drawn-out vacation makes me want to cry.

At the beach with Amy
 I’m not ready for us to get old. I’m not ready for my children to get older. I don’t want to come home to a house that isn’t full of giggling children and toys thrown on the floor. I’m not ready to plan my day without taking into consideration if we have doctors’ appointments or PTA night at the school.

I’m proud of my sister for aging gracefully. She raised her daughter on her own on a teacher’s salary and did an amazing job. She found a way to balance motherhood with her career and still make time to create a healthy relationship that turned into a once-in –a-lifetime kind of romance with her husband. She didn’t let herself get bogged down with regrets or missed chances—she has lived each day to its fullest and she probably always will.

I hope that when the hands of time click down to the day my children leave home and begin their new lives that I will be grounded enough in my own world to continue to grow and flourish in this new life I have built for myself. I hope I grow up to be like my sister, because if she can make 40 look great, she’s gonna make 50 look unstoppable.

I love you, Amy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My plastic surgery quagmire

I bumped into an acquaintance of mine at the gym this morning. I say acquaintance because we are not really friends—not even Facebook friends. We both live in the same town, our children are the same ages and go to school together, and they do a lot of the same activities. We have mutual friends and I have even been to her house for a birthday party. But I forget her name sometimes and I doubt she took the time to ever remember mine since she used to refer to me as Veronica’s mom.

To put it bluntly, I don’t fit into her world and she doesn’t fit mine. She drives a $65,000 car and spent $9,000 on her new boobs a few years ago. I drive an old minivan and I spent $25 on a push-up bra from the clearance rack at Victoria’s Secret in an attempt to recycle my God-given goodies. She won’t let her kids eat at McDonald’s and I won’t let my kids eat off of the floor. I guess you could say we have different priorities…

We pass at the gym during the week. I usually just wave and say “hey” and she gives a nod and says “hi.” But today she caught my attention. She had that “deer in the headlights” look and I noticed she didn’t have a reason to look surprised. Apparently she hadn’t taken the time off to stay at home and let her recent plastic surgery procedure “settle.”
Joan. Van. Ark.
Mother. Of. God.
I found myself looking at her face trying to get a good look at her forehead and eyes. I even tried to just look at her reflection in the mirror during sculpting class so she wouldn’t think I was staring at her. Then it hit me, “Am I really at the age when my friends will start getting face work done?”

I’ve become accustomed to seeing friends with new boobs. I even have an acquaintance at the gym who has a fake butt. To say you could bounce a quarter off of that thing is an understatement. I used to think she spent her days doing squats and running up and down stairs. Boy was I relieved to find out that thing was fake. It’s hard to compete with plastic.

I have mixed feelings about plastic surgery. I understand why people do it—I seriously considered having some work done before I went back out into the dating world. I was worried about a man seeing my naked body. My boobs have seen better days and I have had two C-sections so my tummy has a sagging pooch that never seems to shrink no matter how many sit-ups I do. One day I was at the gym and I saw the lady with the fake butt and I thought to myself, “I’m just going to go get a consultation and find out what it would cost to get my tummy fixed and my boobs lifted.” About that time, I looked up at one of the TV screens and I saw a lady who was giving a news conference about her new face transplant—this lady was worried about having a face and I was worried about gravity's affect on parts that I can keep covered up. I realized that was God’s way of telling me that I was being shallow. I haven’t thought about plastic surgery since that day.
Ms. Connie Culp--face transplant recipient
I also feel that I have a responsibility to my daughter. She is obviously physically handicapped. I tell her every day that God made her perfect just the way she is. What kind of message would I send her if I had unnecessary cosmetic surgery? I would lose all credibility with her if I chose to alter my appearance.

And while there is this part of me that would love to get a few quick shots of Botox to relax my furrowed brow and laugh lines, there is a bigger part of me that knows I should just save what little bit of money I do have for push-up bras, Spanx, and dark lighting. I mean it’s hard enough to feel sexy at my age without looking like a hunter just jumped out from behind a tree and shined his spotlight in my stunned face. After all, my Mama always told me that God made me perfect just the way that I am. Who am I to try to prove my Mama wrong?