Sunday, September 19, 2010

Living life ugly in a beautiful world

Not too long ago, I was reading the Dear Abby column in my local paper. A letter in there was from a woman who was confused because her friend all of a sudden started to ignore her, give her the brush off and just not arrange to meet with her anymore. At one point, this woman tried to reach out to her friend via email, only to get a response from her along the lines of “leave me alone.” She wanted to know why her friend was all of a sudden shutting her out, since she couldn’t come up with an explanation herself.

This was something I could relate to. I know someone who has done this same exact thing – not just to me, but to us.

When Jennifer became friends with a girl at her school a couple years ago, her mom and I started to communicate via email. This particular friend was one Jennifer couldn’t stop gushing about! Every day, she had this or that to say about her friend. They also talked on the phone for hours. So it was arranged Jennifer could have a sleepover at the girl’s house. I met the parents and they seemed nice. The sleepovers happened, as did several playdates. The two of them were in BFF Heaven.

Then, something happened.

Jennifer would call her friend only to be told that her friend could not talk now. Whenever we asked about sleepovers, the friend said that her dad was sick – but I started to grow suspicious after the friend kept feeding her that line for several weeks.

I tried to reach out to the mother via email. She refused to reply, so I tried to communicate with both her and her husband. I kept the emails to every so often, NOT every day, just so it would not look like I was “hounding” them. I asked about what was going on and expressed my concerns for the friend’s dad being sick for so long. I apologized for every imagined crime under the sun. I gushed over what a “beautiful and smart” daughter they had (which is the truth, actually). Finally, out of frustration from not receiving an answer, I just came out and asked why they were not communicating with us anymore.

Nothing. Zip. Zilch.

I considered the possibility that they had changed email addresses. That they lost their Internet connection or that my messages just somehow ended up in their spam folder. However, I knew they still used that email address, because I later would occasionally see them as logged in.

It wasn’t any of that. They were just ignoring me. Yes, I KNOW this is rude, but I’m used to this. People HAVE ignored emails from me. Yes, it is rude, but they just don’t seem to care and decide to be rude anyway.

So I decided to just let it go. They didn’t want anything to do with us. Fine. It wasn’t like I was THAT desperate for this woman to be my friend, anyway.

But what pissed me off was how they were hurting Jennifer in all of us. They did not see the sad or hurt look on Jennifer’s face when she could no longer talk with her BFF on the phone, how there were no more playdates or sleepovers. The friend even started to ignore Jennifer at school. That was even MORE hurtful for her! I would even see that happen myself and just get so angry that this was likely the girl’s mother forbidding she interact with my daughter.

I mean, at this point, I was boiling!

It was just so wrong they were doing this to my daughter. Hurt me, I can just walk away. But hurt my kids, and I go on the warpath.

Then I read that letter in Dear Abby. Dear Abby (in title, not as a show of affection) threw around a bunch of possibilities why this friend was acting the way she did. Why she shut her BFF out and just stopped communicating. But, in the end, she suggested to the writer that she just give that friend her space and wait until she decides to come around again, if that ever happens, and until then, just be a friend.

Even as I related to that woman’s predicament and wanted to know what to do myself, the answer Dear Abby gave was useless. I had pretty much given up on that friend’s mother. I’d given up on the possibility that Jen’s BFF was even a friend anymore. I started to encourage Jennifer to find new friends, even a new best friend. I counseled her so many times on this and reminded her that sometimes, things like this happened.

As for me, I just washed my hands of those people. I just didn’t care anymore. They didn’t want communication. Fine. They didn’t want to explain themselves. Fine. Whatever! Life goes on.

Then the other night, after Jennifer had experienced all the excitement of entering third grade this year, I decided to ask her about how things were going at school. We three sat at the table, eating dinner, and I asked her about the new friends she was making. I also asked if she happened to see any of her old friends. Eventually, the former BFF came into the conversation. I was surprised yet VERY relieved to hear that the girls were playing at school again. This was a weight lifted off of me, especially since I could see how Jennifer’s eyes lit up as she talked about what they did. She had that BFF spark again!

But my happiness was shot when Jennifer grew sad then mentioned that her friend had explained why her parents didn’t want to see us anymore. I held my breath, unsure about whether or not I should allow this to continue. But I DID really want to know! So I asked her what her friend said.

Want to know their reason for shutting all of us out of their lives? It wasn’t for something like an unintentional faux pas or something we said.

It’s because we are ugly!

Or, so THEY think. Actually, they think hubby and I are ugly. So they’d rather avoid us like the plague. Ooh, beware! Don’t want to catch the Ugliness!

Good grief.

And all this time, I thought maybe they thought we were devil worshipers, or something. I never would have guessed it was because of something so petty and shallow.

When Jennifer told me this, I was shocked. I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe it! I know my burn scars make me unattractive. And, if it weren’t for them also thinking my husband is ugly, I would have pinned the blame on that. But, no. It’s not my burn scars. Or maybe it is. I don’t know.

The truth is, I don’t CARE.

Like I said, I washed my hands of those people. As shocked as I was that a supposedly MATURE and ADULT person would sink to something so low, I realized that there are just people like that in the world. There are people who think looks are EVERYTHING. They have this shallow idea of how people should always look BEAUTIFUL and PERFECT.

Well, guess what?


Deal with it.

Even so, I do not consider myself to be ugly. True, I’m not exactly a knockout. (And this particular mother is not a knockout, either. Neither is her husband. Actually, they are average.) But I know I’m not ugly.

And you know what? Neither does Jennifer. She kept insisting that I am not ugly and that her daddy is not ugly. She told me she told her friend, “They are wrong.” Her friend AGREED.

I told Jennifer if that is the kind of people that they are, then I didn’t want to be friends with them, anyway. Some people just can’t look past what they see on the outside of a person. They only focus on what they see, not on what they can find. They are a waste of my time and I don’t want friends like that. Phooey on them!

Still, I grabbed that window of opportunity and explained to Jennifer that it is what’s on the inside of a person that is important. People should NOT be judged by their appearances, by their scars or by their weight. They should be judged by how they are on the inside. We may live in a society that demands beauty and perfection and that takes everybody who is fat, scarred, short and disabled and labels them all as "ugly." But people who follow that religion are missing out on the important things in so-called "ugly" people that are more important than appearances. Things like honesty, helpfulness, selflessness, compassion and generosity.

And, best of all, we know what REAL beauty is. It's not what you see. It's what you feel.

Believe me, I have known “beautiful people” who were jaded, selfish, greedy and filled with some kind of “holier than thou” attitude. Some of them like to play head games with others, trick people and use them for their own sport. They are NOT pleasant people to be around!

And I have met people who society perceives to be “ugly” – the obese, the scarred, the physically disabled and the plain Janes – and these people have hearts of gold. They are so giving, so kind, patient and helpful. THEY are the people I would feel blessed to call my friends. THEY are the people I want to have in my circle.

That night, when I tucked Jennifer into bed, I kissed her and told her, “Goodnight, my beautiful daughter.”

She smiled and said, “Goodnight, my beautiful mom.” Later, she made me a card gushing about how “beautiful” she thinks I am. She made one for her daddy, too. In this card, she even pointed out some of his better qualities.

I can shake my head and roll my eyes over how petty some people can be. I guess age and life experiences just won’t decide on how mature a person can be. That’s life. What matters is that we are able to walk away from this confident in the fact that WE know what beauty really is, and that at least we can share that true inner beauty with each other.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The money comes and the money goes

Okay. New plan.

I'll be attending school to study for job certification NEXT year. Not this year.

The money I had for this had to be used for family expenses (that's just the way life is!). So, I'm going to start all over again and save up for next year. Also, it's probably just as well. The classes I had to take were all full. So maybe next year I can get in there early and get the classes that I need. Jesse will be in preschool fulltime next year. And at least this way, I can get a regular job (not the kind you need certification for) and just work my way through that and have regular employment in place if I don't end up being able to get a job in my desired field after this schooling ends.

So, it's all good. It'll work out. I'm VERY frustrated, because I was so ready to do this, but that's just the way life is. Maybe this can be a good thing. Hubby keeps telling me this approach would be better. He stressed that even if I went to school and got a certificate in medical coding, there's no guarantee I'll have a job waiting for me. I can see how that could happen. The new plan just makes better sense, because I'll have something to fall back on even after I complete the schooling. So I'll do it this way.

I just have to be careful with expenses. I will REALLY need to be firm to save up for this. It's just that it's leaves your hands faster than it can stay in them! The money comes and the money goes. Hubby and I have been trying to establish a savings for YEARS, but it's like there's ALWAYS something that comes up. The car needs a new tire, something in the house breaks and needs to be fixed, something comes up at our daughter's school that we need to pay for, etc., etc. It's just, always something! As it is now, even as I have a nice check on its way to me, that money isn't going to last, either. My dog has a loose tooth and I need to take him to the vet to get that taken care of. (We don't have pet insurance. Is there even such a thing??) So that money has to go towards that. Such is life.

This is part of the reason why I want to have regular employment. We need to have that extra money there -- if anything, so that we can build up a savings. We literally have NOTHING saved. So if our house is crushed by a wayward comet, we'll be living on the streets. I know it's important to have a savings, and that's why I want a regular job. Hubby's job pays him well and we also have my annuity. But that can only carry us so far. And, like I said, things keep happening where the money just doesn't last. So if I have a good job that I receive certification for, that will help us a lot.

For as long as it can, anyway.

I just need to try to hang in there. Next year will be better. But that's what we all would like to think!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

9/11 -- We Will Never Forget!

Pictures from the following sites:

Also, please visit this memorial site:

These photos are not copyrighted in my name. I am sharing them so that people see just a glimpse of the images kept on other sites which capture terrifying moments from that sad day. If you visit these sites, be warned that there are disturbing images of people leaping to their deaths from the flaming Twin Towers.

God Bless America. Nine years later, they are gone but not forgotten.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

And when he was bad

I've got it! The perfect title for a book if I ever decide to write about my son's life: "And When He Was Bad..."

I love my son. Really, I do. He is so precious to me. BUT! Believe me, he is VERY mischievous. My mother used to share horror stories of the kind of mischief I caused when I was a toddler. I guess history is repeating itself.

This month, a new book for parents of 2-year-olds came out called The Terrible Twos: A Parent's Guide. It's by my friend and fellow writing parent Shanta Everington. I mention this book because I am in there, discussing how I'm getting through the "terrible twos" with my own toddler. I have earned my place in that book! I will be sharing some instances as to the sort of mischief Jesse has caused in his short life on her blog next weekend.

The kind of mischief Jesse has caused has been enough to make us scream, tear our hair out, have our hearts in our throats and cry. Yes, cry. But, we need to laugh, too. For instance, Jesse got a hold of the hose this evening while I was cooking dinner. His older sister was supposed to be watching him (as hubby was busy in the garage) but she had other plans. Anyway, Jesse was in the back yard, got hold of the hose, pointed it inside the house and...let it rip. It took hours to clean up the mess. We were cursing, grumbling, stomping feet, refusing ice cream to the children and sending them to bed early. But in the end...hubby joked about it. He said, "At least the house is cleaner than it was before."

You just have to laugh at these things...after you cry.

Not too long ago, I was on the phone with my mom. I was sharing with her my worries over Jesse's latest ailment (the doctor thinks he has a cyst next to his eye) and complaining of how it was so unfair that Jesse was going through so much medical trauma at such a young age. There was this, then that and then THAT! Heck, he was born with the side of his head uneven! But I reasoned that, just as I went through so much early in life and all that nonsense ended later on, as I got older, maybe it will be that way for Jesse, too.

I'd like to think that the same could be said as far as Jesse being a troublemaker is concerned.


Who knows.

A girl can dream!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Down with diapers!

I have a new mantra: Down with diapers! Up until today, we have been going back and forth on the pottytraining thing with Jesse. Some days were good, some not so good. Today, however, I feel more confident about this pottytraining stuff, because today I got Jesse everything he needed: A potty training seat and his own underwear.

Yep, that's right. His first underwear! No more diapers!

I have, however, kept a few of his diapers on hand, mainly because he WILL be wearing them for his naps and at bedtime. But other than that, he's going to be wearing the underwear and not much else besides a T-shirt. I think it would be better if he mastered the whole picking up on when he had to go potty, experiencing the accidents and learning how to pull the underwear down and up thing before I add pants to that mix.

This is the way my mom pottytrained her kids and grandkids. I have heard of some parents letting their toddlers run around with NOTHING covering the bottom, but I don't feel comfortable about that. I think it's better to have him wearing underwear instead. Worked for my mom, so maybe it will work for us, too.

I have also noticed, as I worked with him today, that he got impatient waiting for something to happen while he sat on his potty. So I got a bunch of his books and put them into a drawer by his potty chair. I joked to Jennifer about how I never understood the whole "boys and reading while on the potty" thing and she admitted that she liked to read while using the potty, too. So she, too, had some of her books put into the bathroom. I guess I am the only one in this family who doesn't read while on the toilet!

The book thing worked like a charm. He quietly sat on his potty chair, going through his books. Sometimes, though, he would say he had to go potty and when he was on that thing, nothing happened. I think he just wanted to sit on an uber comfy seat and enjoy his books!

The potty chair I got for Jesse had an inflatable seat on it. I told Jennifer they didn't have anything like that when she was pottytraining and she was NOT happy. I told her the potty chairs they have for babies now are so different than what they had when she was a baby. Heck, one of them even plays music! And Jesse's even has a bar on it for toilet paper. We no longer have Jennifer's original pottytraining seat but it was interesting to compare how they were all different. The one thing that stayed the same, however, is that Jesse's chair can be converted to a stepping stool, just like Jennifer's was.

I'll be working with Jesse this week on getting this pottytraining thing down pat. And I just may start reading on the toilet, too -- not while using it!! -- because I have noticed that sometimes it takes him a while to go to the bathroom and determine if he is done.

At first, he wanted to check out the potty chair, take it apart and put it back together again, and I read this is normal at first. I am reading EVERYTHING I can on this pottytraining stuff -- not so much to refresh my memory but also because this time it is with a BOY! And I read that you should teach boys how to pee sitting down first, then later how to do so standing up. (That will be where his father will come in.)

It has been quite a challenge but I know it's important to stick with it. After all, Jesse is READY for this phase of his life. So I have to keep at it until he figures out how to do this on his own.