Having Girls, Becoming A Boy Mom

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All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a mother.

That is exactly what I told my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Lacy – I was going to grow up to be the mom of six kids; three of my own and three adopted.

So when the time came and I became pregnant with my first child, I didn’t care what the sex of my baby turned out to be. I was happy just to be having a baby.

He turned out to be a son.

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PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY

Not even six months later, I got pregnant again. Since I had already bore a son, I thought it HAD to be a girl this time. Nothing else was a conceivable notion to be toyed with, even momentarily. A girl would make my little family picture perfect complete.

The first twenty weeks seemed to take forever to pass by, as I grew more and more excited by the day.

When the day of my ultrasound finally came, I was certain that everything in my future would be pink and purple, paisley and floral-patterned. Princesses, ballerinas, ribbons, and tulle would rule my world.

Having a little girl was all I could focus on; my heart was set on having a daughter.

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The Paradox of Darkness

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Feeling so small and insignificant, lost and floating in empty space.

Wishing I could dissipate, leave behind nothing. Not a trace.

The sounds coming in are deafening, my head is left to spin.

Always at war against the world, a battle I will never win.

So different from the others, a mistake of genetics, perhaps.

Eyes seeing more than they should, time passes in a lapse.

Moment by moment, always searching for a purpose beyond the box.

I drift along in vain, suffocating in this emotional paradox.

A Convenience Of Love

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Simply a convenience. Like microwave popcorn. Or cold water from the faucet.

A remote control or even socks. Won’t know what good you had until you’ve lost it.

Hard to see past the image staring back at you. Your own beloved reflection.

An ego so large it devours everything in sight. Even your discernable discretion.

Mocking from your stately throne. Sitting upon that fine, high horse.

Delegating orders, commanding attention from peasants. Never showing remorse.

Wickedly charming. Like a pied piper. Or a white collared politician.

Taking all that you can get without a care. Self-fulfillment seems your only mission.

Ignorantly unaware. Trampling over anything, in a frenzy to feed.

Selfishly forgetting the one who dares love a man who desires only his needs.

Simply a convenience. Like shoelaces. Or the warmth of a favorite sweater.

Unnoticed unless wanted in the moment. An umbrella for times of bad weather.

 

Overgrown Insecurities

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Never did I imagine as a young teen that I would still be dealing with my insecurities well into my thirties still. Bright-eyed about the future with all my youthful naivety, adulthood seemed like a magical place where all my issues would disappear with instant maturity.  

When I thought about what it would be like to be a mother back then, I imagined myself being a responsible and level-headed, calm and collected photocopy of any late eighties and early nineties family sitcom mom. Never did I consider the possibility that emotional growth wouldn’t just happen the same way my body grew and changed overnight with puberty.

Here I am, over fifteen years later, and I am still struggling to get a grip, fed up with the insecurities consuming my mind.

Growing up, I had the stereotypical child of an alcoholic thing going on. My father was a police officer and my stepmother his wannabe Barbie doll barely over the legal age. Both were seasoned drinkers with no time for raising children. It’s easy to conclude that my self-esteem never quite developed and my ideas, views, and values were a little skewed after growing up in their care. There was no one available for nurturing or guidance, after all. I was left to raise my brother and keep the house the best I could for a young girl because when my parents weren’t working they were at the bar and when the bar closed they brought the party home until it was time to go to work again.

Approaching the only mother figure I had when puberty began turned out to be the biggest mistake for my already fragile core. My stepmother fits the mold of womanly perfection, as her trophy wife status disclaimed. She was everything I wanted to look and be like. Naturally curvy, carrying an extra five or ten pounds around my middle, it was obvious to me early on that my body type was never going to be like hers. I still can’t say for sure, all this time later, if anything she said to me about accepting my differences was genuinely sincere or a calculated manipulation to keep me from coming under my father’s spotlight. She never took the time to show me how to care for myself or do any of the womanly things a girl learns from her mother. Never showed me how to feel pretty or how to love myself.

All I walked away with was more self-doubt and shame than I had ever felt before.

Uncomfortable in my own skin doesn’t even begin to explain how I felt. From that point on, I lived in constant fear of my flaws, seeking fault in everything I could find to validate the growing insecurities I gathered like friends- my looks, my personality, my intelligence, my worth. Nothing was free from scrutiny. My confidence and self-respect had been blown to smithereens.

Deep down, I really believed my daydreams of feeling whole and valuable would become a reality once I left home as an adult. That I would be able to fix all the broken pieces of myself just because I wanted to. I hadn’t the wisdom to know any better, yet. I lived in a bubble of fairytale hopes and aspirations too unrealistic to ever become a reality until the truth hit me in the face. The damage had grown rooted in the core of my being, becoming part of who I thought I was. It would be necessary to unthread parts of my identity in order to begin the re-stitching process needed to mend the insecurities which plagued my soul.

I fought against the truth for far too long, hoping, wishing, and praying I would wake up and be well. The idea of trying to find my true self under the false beliefs and self-loathing was daunting and overwhelming. Enough to make me contemplate suicide to end my miserable existence at one point along the way. Underneath my negative self-imagery, though, I was a fighter and always up for a challenge. Living was not going to beat me at living. No way, no how.

Here I am, a decade and a half later, finally ready to take action. No more ugly business. No more picking and poking at every little glitch on my skin. No more resentment and jealousy over the traits I do not have. No more comparing myself to The Mold I became so obsessed with – and for what? To live in fear of being disliked… rejected… tormented… because I didn’t fit within it? Fuck that.

Excuse my language, but I have had enough of some ridiculous stereotype defining my sense of worth and leaving me trapped in a void by my overpowering insecurities.

Looking back, I can now see what I never could see clearly when I was younger- those I knew who fit The Mold, had very little else to offer this world. Certainly not compassion. Something I know without a doubt I excel at. I may not be the prettiest, the skinniest, or the most breath-taking of female specimens to grace the planet with their presence, however, I am the most kind-hearted, caring, and selfless giver of them all. For me, those are much more valuable traits to possess and be known for than all the beauty in humanity.

Those positive traits are the key to unraveling the roots wrapped around my core, squeezing the ability to love myself right out of me. Focusing on what I have to offer instead of what I lack, I can find myself all over again. I can learn to live with who I am.

With enough hard work and dedication, I will lay these overgrown insecurities to rest once and for all. The challenge has finally been accepted, as terrified of taking on myself that I am, and I will not let life win this time, either. I can’t. It’s already taken away too many years of my life making me hate myself. I will not let another fifteen years go by living in fear of loving myself.

 

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Hot Lunch or Starve

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Say all you want about me, but I don’t give my children a choice –  they have to buy school lunch every day. The new government-instituted nutritional requirements have eliminated the mystery meats and bad carbs, so I’m not concerned about the quality of the food being served in the least. My kids can either get school lunch or starve. I received the old school hot lunches as a kid and survived, so I know mine will, too. In fact, the invaluable knowledge I gained from my experience has helped me transition into adulthood easier than my friends who were spoiled with craft-style lunches made by their moms.

Everything I needed to know about life was on that plastic tray laden with eraser bit macaroni salad and boiled gray hot dogs.

Nothing is fair in this world. Nothing at all. Life gives what it gives and you have very little control over how much or how little you get if you don’t try speaking up. You’re not always successful at getting what you ask for, though. Sometimes you are forced to watch your mortal enemy get the coveted piece of pizza with two pieces of pepperoni while you get the all-crust corner piece, even though you hate the crust. It’s about learning to accept life on life’s terms – appreciate what you have, always work hard, and keep striving to reach your goals, making your dreams a reality.

You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

Sometimes every option sucks. There are three categories on the menu every day to choose from. Despite an array of choices, there are going to be days not a single thing sounds appetizing and you are going to have to settle for the least offensive to your taste buds. Life is good for that. There will be many times when you’ll find the only choices you have been given are nothing like what you had hoped for. Like the first apartment you have imagined moving into in contrast with the options, you will actually be able to afford when it comes time. Or, how you will expect to find work right out of college in the position you always dreamed of, just to discover your choices are nothing comparable for a multitude of practical reasons you’ll one day understand. You just have to pick the suckiest one and hope for a better circumstance the next go-round. Tomorrow is a new day full of new opportunities, so hang in there.

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Someone else will always have it better. And someone else will always have it worse. Just because someone has a fancy looking lunch does not mean they have a happy home. If other kids get free hot lunch due to low-income status, it doesn’t mean their parents don’t love them or work hard to provide. Appearances can be deceiving- the piece of pizza with two pepperonis may be lacking cheese underneath. Life gives you what it wants to for a purpose greater than you could ever begin understanding. You can’t let your story give you room to judge others.

That lunch may not measure up to those handcrafted, creative masterpieces, but the option is still better than having no food at all. Enjoy what you have.

Step out of your comfort zone. Waiting in line, making a choice, placing the order, carrying the tray through the crowd, and finding your seat in the cafeteria is a daunting task for some. Whether they are shy, soft-spoken, easily distracted, or indecisive, the daily routine is helping them break out of their shells, one platter of rigatoni with meat sauce at a time. Without a trusted adult, like Mom, Nana, the principal, or a favorite teacher walking you through the process, you’re coerced into gaining independence. From speaking up to classmates who try to cut in line to making yourself heard over wanting a larger portion as you order to excusing your way through the chaos to your assigned seat, you are paving your own course in life. The opportunity often arises to try new foods, as well. Even if you find the food leaves a bad taste in your mouth, you can still taste the personal growth. The school lunch experience is almost as valuable as the education, itself. Outside the box of comfort is where all the good stuff happens in life and your true potential lurks in wait.

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Premium costs extra. Just like the real world, all the top-quality, highly coveted items from the snack cart are going to cost a little extra. ‘Tis price you pay for wanting the good things in life. You’ll have to work for what you want because nothing is ever truly free- even if it costs nothing monetarily. Your time, your dedication, your strength, your talents, your joy, your health…the list goes on and on. Only you can determine if the cost is worth the price to be paid and the work that will need to be done to achieve the prize you desire. I can promise you, though, hard work will always be worth it. Then, you can afford all the bags of chips, granola bars, popcorn, cotton candy, and novelty ice-cream your little heart desires. If not, you have no room to envy the kids who do.

My oldest is in sixth grade and has never expressed a desire to have a bag lunch. He’s responsible, outspoken, and driven to excel at anything he sets his mind to. I can’t help but attribute some of this to the lessons he has learned from getting school lunch; especially since his younger siblings are heading in the same direction. If you had any doubts that I’m the meanest mom in the world, I am sure I only reaffirmed you were wrong by now. School lunches are the way to go. Otherwise, it’ll be your Bento box problem one day when Junior grows up expecting his life to be balanced on a silver tray held by someone else while he dictates from his high horse.

I Am Angrivated

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Motherhood was waging war against my soul, marriage was suffocating me, and I had lost all touch with the woman I had once known myself to be. I knew I needed to find my way back to happy again and old habits die hard for a reason. It was a struggle for me to make the decision to not only go back to writing as therapy, but take it to the next level and publicize it with a blog. I was in a dark place in my life and wasn’t sure of anything, not even myself.  The only way I had ever gotten through the pits of Hell before was by bleeding on paper and the familiar ache in the bottom of my stomach told me it was way past time to let myself at it once more.

It was in this dark place where I was angry with my life and aggravated with the circumstances that made it what it was, The Angrivated Mom was born.

My husband thought the name was silly and a little stupid at first. We looked it up on Google and nothing came up, which was a relief, because everyone knows a blogger is defined not by their author name, but by their brand. Coming into the blogging world late to the game, by about six years, made it difficult to find a name I would love for the duration of my writing journey; one which hadn’t been used in someway before me. I was terrified of encroaching on anyone else’s territory. We popped into the Urban Dictionary to see if it was a widely used word we didn’t know about and only found one listing for it which had been collecting dust until we came across it. I thought it was safe to say that word was available to use as my branding ticket in the blogging world.

Since becoming The Angrivated Mom, Google finally began to show that there was another site with my newly coined word in existence, but since it was a man’s site and he didn’t have any intention on banking off his site as a writer, I thought I was in the clear. I thought I would be the only mom blogger who was known as Angrivated and that it would stay that way.

Along the way, my little blog has picked up some momentum and reaching the goals I laid out for it. My following grew from just a handful of friends and family to a cozy couple thousand people. I met others in the industry and befriended a close knit circle of writers and page owners. It took me awhile to shake the newbie status, but I actually did. Quite recently at that, in all honesty. It was then that I realized how much good had come to me because I taken that first leap of courage by starting my blog.  I had found a new perspective on life as I found myself again in The Angrivated Mom and it felt great.

Then, in the blink of an eye, it all came crashing down around me.

While laying in bed at 1a.m., someone I believed was a friend- even after they began distancing themselves after a major life event for the better- and a fellow page owner who only dabbles with writing , sent me a private message on Facebook. In it she told me that she had already taken the word Angrivated and used it to change her Facebook page name. Not asked, but declared.  Looking back, I am relieved she did not have a blog to change name as well, because this whole shebang could have been worse for me. Being someone close enough to consider a friend, this person should have had the decency to come to me with her intentions – at a time she knows I will be awake, with certainty, and not the middle of the night when there’s a chance I wouldn’t be coherent enough to comprehend what was being said or awake to discuss the message any farther. But she didn’t.

This so-called friend has broken the sacred bloggers code of ethics.

You do not copy another writer in any way, shape, or form without permission. It isn’t even about stealing the word in itself, because I would love to see it become the next catchy slang term to take off, but the fact that she used it to RE-brand her Facebook page – something that is not on the same career-level seriousness as a blog website and would confuse people searching for the corresponding page to my blog. You don’t see other companies coming up with names like Tides, Targeting, or MacDonald’s to bank on the momentum of a more widely-known brand. It just wouldn’t be good for either company, big or small.

For someone to take the word of a supposed friend in the social media business, though, that really is stooping low. They have only proven how much of a friend they never were in the first place by doing this; especially when that person ran to play the victim the moment I stood up for myself and my blog name, acting like I’m purposely attacking her- bringing our issue to the public in a way which did not allow me to defend myself or my intentions without creating a keyboard war.  Besides all that, a real friend would have made contact during waking hours long before they considered putting the change into action. They would know and understand the importance of my personal writing journey and how critical to success the whole original blog name issue is. They certainly would know me well enough to know my heart and the nothing but good intentions I have for everyone I hold dear. Even when I am upset with them.

I never saw this coming. Not in a million years would I have thought I would ever have to worry about someone encroaching on my brand name. Someone I called “friend” nonetheless! Whether I’ve trademarked, copyrighted, or simply just branded Angrivated to myself, it has become the symbol of who I am on social media and it defines me as a writer. People know they are going to get me – raw, emotional, soulful, and vindictive of life me, because I am The Angrivated Mom.  My journey to insanity and beyond, and I, will go on. That’s just what I do.

Midnight Heartbreak

Needing. It’s never enough. 

Wanting. Comes a little too late. 

Desperation. Alone at night. 

Failing.  Left up to fate. 
Counting. Stars supernova death. 

Burning. Desires succumbing. 

Crying. No one is listening.

Wounded. The pain is numbing.
Naked. Cold and withdrawn. 

Tormented. Truths do so lie. 

Accused. Stake no claim. 

Shamed. Wishing just to die.
Weighted. Drowning patiently. 

Cheated. Never meant to be. 

Leaving. All there is to do. 

Breaking. Nothing left of me.