Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Know Any Multitasking Moms?

A box came today. I opened the front door to get the mail and there it was. Nondescript. Leaned up against the pale yellow vinyl siding, casual-like. A pool of crack-ly leaves protecting it from the last cold gusts of winter. Maybe it had been waiting there a day or two, I don't know. We don't use the front door all that often.

I thought it might be the pants I'd ordered from Eddie Bauer for Connor. I have yet to find a store that sells a casual, slim fit khaki pant in 30/34. No one believes you can be that thin and that tall (I assure you, he comes by it honestly). So I order the 32/34 and then we have them tailored to fit.

But I digress. It wasn't the pants (where are they anyway? I ordered them a week ago!), but a box of books. Chicken Soup for the Soul books. I have a story published in one of their latest titles: "The Multitasking Mom's Survival Guide." This was a really difficult story for me to write and so I am at once proud and terrified of it. As a writer, I realize that the best writing comes from honest emotion. And I'm not talking about the fluffy "Hallmark" stuff. I mean the real. raw. feelings. It's difficult enough to admit our faults - especially as moms. But to admit them to the world at large? In words printed in a book and put on a shelf that can't be taken back? That's hard. But no false emotion, no faux difficulty is going to be worth reading, right? And so I wrote my truth. And it was tough. And it hurt. But, it worked. And maybe... some other mom out there who's going through her own tough time will read it and realize she's not alone. And that's exactly why I sent that story in. And maybe that's why they published it. Who knows.

But I digress (again). They did. And so it's in this book with 100 other great stories of moms who are juggling families and jobs and health issues and aging parents, and stress and... life. And I'm proud to be a part of it.

And I wonder - do you know a mom like this? Tell me about her, would you? I'd like to pick a few of these fabulous moms and send them one of the books. You can tell me in the comments, or shoot me an email at beth@bethmwood.com. Make sure to include your email address - and hers.

Speaking of moms, I'm thrilled that a story I submitted has been chosen for the Listen To Your Mother auditions here in St. Louis. Next week, I'll be joining 39 other very talented women/writers/moms (among them an old friend from high school - shout out to Shannon Rooney Mette!) - to read my story aloud for the judges. Only 12 will be chosen to read at the live event, but hey - I'm thrilled to have made it this far!

We moms have stories to tell! What's yours? Chicken Soup is looking for Stories ABOUT Moms and Stories BY Moms (along with a few other titles). What are you waiting for? Check it out here.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

That's Debatable


I have every intention of writing more frequently here, but the truth is, running a business is pretty damn time consuming. It just is. So if you're wondering why I've stopped writing... I haven't. I've just been busy writing for my business blog, writing feature articles, short stories and poems to submit for publication, oh... and raising three fantastic kids. It's full time - to the power of "Holy Crap I'm Busy!"

But, I haven't forgotten about my blogspot. And as soon as my muse fights for some space in my incredibly-shrinking brain, I'll be writing my heart out here, too. 

Oh, and since you're here, I'll Digress...


I watched a little bit of the Grammys the other night. I was shocked at all the uproar over the Macklemore song (which I just love, by the way) and the little wedding show. Correction: I was NOT shocked over the uproar. I fully understand that there are those who don't believe in marriage between two people of the same sex. I mean, that would really screw up everyone's lives, wouldn't it (oh, I forgot you can't hear the sarcasm... hopefully you picked up on it)?  What I WAS shocked about was that I haven't heard much at all about Beyonce and Jay Z's performance. Hey parents, this is a family show, isn't it????  How many of you watched with your kids sitting next to you on the couch? How many of you squirmed, or even fast forwarded through that overtly sexual, PG-13 (at best) rated performance? I did. Zipped right past it after Lady B spread her legs apart in that chair, circa Flashdance, 1983.  

I turned it off after that, and never did get to watch the wedding "ceremony," but I can tell you with complete certainty that if my eight year old daughter had been cuddled up with me on the couch watching that part, she may have asked why two men were getting married. And I'd have said, very simply, "Because they love each other. And love doesn't always happen between a boy and a girl" and left it at that.  

Now, the next night, I was curled up with her on the couch, and we were watching an episode of Good Luck Charlie and I had to laugh when two moms showed up with their daughter for a play date with Charlie. I could just picture some people turning the channel on the tv and swearing off that family-friendly show (good news for those folks, it's off the air very soon). Anyway, Ella DID ask me "how can she have two moms?" And I said, "Because that's her family. And there's all kinds of different families." 

And that was the end of it. 

Far easier than explaining why Beyonce' had her back arched and her legs spread wide, and was scantily dressed in front of millions of people. Although come to think of it, I would have said something along the lines of: "Well, honey, because some people believe that the only way to be well liked is to disrespect themselves, and isn't that sad? Because she's so talented but I guess she isn't confident enough to stand on her talent alone." Which would have been a great conversation starter between my daughter and me, and what society believes, yadda, yadda, yadda.

My point in all of this is that I'm curious about why people who believe that marriage is meant to be between a man and a women because it says so in the Bible (right. but it also says a man can stone his wife to death for almost any imaginable reason, and that slaves are perfectly acceptable), are okay with Beyonce whoring herself on stage. Or maybe not. Maybe they were just as upset about that. But the Christian singer that walked out? Now that's just funny. She can get up on a stage and sing about Jesus, and how he loves us all, and wants us all to be loving towards one another, but then she storms out of the building because two men are doing just that. Hmm. That's like all the Facebook posts about how you can only be saved if you find Jesus (Really? I'm feeling really sorry for my Jewish friends right about now). Well, come to think of it, maybe she just doesn't believe in the way they show their love (this is a family blog, so you'll have to read between the lines). Maybe that's the problem. Okay, so I suppose none of those heterosexual people have ever, um, "showed their love" that way?



But I Digress.  

I'm not saying that I agree with the wedding ceremony during the Grammys. As my oldest son wisely said, "that's about as fair as holding a pro-life rally during half time at the Super Bowl"). He has a point. It's not fair to force one set of ideas down the public's throat. It probably wasn't the time or place to hold a wedding ceremony. But hey, that's Hollywood. They love to think that because they're famous, they're smart, too. A few, yes. The majority? Well, you decide. 

Regardless of what side you agree with - on this or any other issue - let's not act like everyone who doesn't think like you is going straight to hell in a hand basket, okay? I know there are many who disagree with me. That's fine! And I know there are two sides to every debate. That's what makes it a debate.


Personally, I think being able to agree to disagree is a sign of intelligence. I feel sorry for close-minded people who refuse to hear any opposing position. I love a good debate, really I do. That doesn't mean I don't have an opinion, it just means I'm willing to hear it, think about it, and sometimes even (gasp) let it affect my own thinking. 



Speaking of which... I watched the latest Cheerios commercial via Yahoo today. I had no idea there was such an uproar regarding their last commercial featuring an interracial couple. I can remember a time when people would say it's just "not right" or "it's not fair to the kids." Have you seen how beautiful these children are? Their skin is absolutely beautiful. Now, this is entirely my own opinion, but looking at children of interracial couples, I can only think that God absolutely intended to make something so beautiful.

Well look at that... I guess I did have something to write about after all : )













Monday, December 30, 2013

Letting Go Is Hard

Last night, I left my daughter with my oldest son and his girlfriend to drive my middle son to his friend's house to spend the night. I hopped in the car and suddenly, out of nowhere, started to tear up. What it was I couldn't name right then. But I knew the feeling. It was the feeling of losing. Of having to let go. Jack is very perceptive and picked up on my mood right away. "You okay mom?"
"Yeah. I don't know. I guess."
"What's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong, really. I'm just... you guys are just... growing up really fast."
"Oh. Like Connor has his girlfriend over, and I'm going to my friend's...?"
"Yeah. Exactly. Silly, huh?"
"No. I'm still your little boy."
He hugged me then, before jumping out of the car, with all the confidence of a successful adult.
I allowed a few of those tears to fall in the few minutes I spent alone in the car on the way back home.

Letting go is hard.

I remember being sixteen. I had no clue - just no idea whatsoever - that my mom might have been going through growing pains of her own in my growing up and away. I was so very immersed in my own world. A typical, selfish teen, finding her own place, her own way. My friends were my world. Where did she fit?

And today, where do I fit in my boys' respective worlds? I hate to think I'm just the dictator. The homework task master. The rule enforcer. The dinner-maker and clothes washer. I would so much prefer to be the confidant, the friend, the wise woman they might look up to. Hey - check out our mom - ruler of her own universe - business owner, healthy, boot-camping, Insanity-crushing warrior!

Letting go is hard.

And not just as a parent. As a lover. A friend. A partner. Knowing when to let go is painful in itself. Trusting the instinct, even when everything looks great "on paper." When we know in our hearts, from somewhere deep inside maybe we can't even explain - it just "is" - we have to learn to trust that, and know that it's enough. It is enough.

Or when your heart wants so much to hold on, but your head knows. Your head knows that it is time. Beyond time, maybe, to say goodbye. But I digress.

Letting go is hard.

I just finished a beautifully written novel by John Green called "The Fault In Our Stars." How, I still wonder, right in this moment, how did he write that novel? How did he flesh out those characters? How? Because it seems so easy - for him. I am dually touched and tormented by this heart breaking book. Not just because it is sad - which it is. But because it's so honest. It's so real. Yes of course the author Hazel admires is a jack ass. Certifiable. Of course he is. Because only in a cheesy, Harlequinn romance or sappy Danielle Steele book would he be a true keeper of dreams. A hero. It's just not real. Real life hurts.

So does letting go. It hurts. And it is hard.

But if we do it correctly, with love and respect, then maybe the pain will be worth it in the end.
Because I believe that you learn more about a person at the end of a relationship than you ever could at the beginning.

How do you handle the letting go? It can be a painful, angry slice of the wrist. Or it can be agonizing and slow, but beautiful in its own way. It may hurt more to let it happen gradually, to feel the hurt. To understand the reasons and just be okay with it all. But, just as raising our kids, and then watching them slowly, sometimes painfully, learn their own way, we can look back and know we did the right thing. We can't hold on forever, but maybe we don't have to completely let go. There are bound to be stops and starts, bumps in the journey. But it's all a part of the life we're living. And someday we'll look back and smile through our tears and remember it all. The good, the bad, the heartbreak and the joy.

And maybe, just maybe, these children I worry about constantly and love more deeply than I can say will one day look at me and be grateful. And know that deep, crazy love I have for them. And they'll be better for it. Smarter. Successful. Happy.

Letting go is hard.

But maybe it's not forever.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas! OR... Holiday Shoppers You Love To Hate


Last year, I wrote a little blog post about the various types of shoppers I run into during the Christmas season. I thought I'd repost the list, and even add to it this year. So, hey, if this post reminds you ofa certain type of shopper you are forever running into (and never able to avoid), please feel free to add your own description in the comments!

I couldn't be happier that I am officially done with my Christmas shopping. I finished it up this past weekend, traveling from mall to mall to get everything checked off my list. The parking lots were a train wreck, but we Catholics have a very special prayer for that. So, I drove slowly, weaving through the lanes of vehicles, praying quietly... "Hail Mary, full of grace, help me find a parking space." It always works... eventually.

Every year, as I fight my way through the crowds, I bump into the same types of shoppers over and over again…

The Professional Shopper...On a Mission (from God)



This gal takes no mall prisoners.  She walks with a purpose, cutting a swath through the throng of holiday shoppers that would impress Moses. She checks off the items neatly listed in her iPhone notes page one by one, heads to the check out where she whips out that debit card (not a credit card for this pro, no, she's got her budget down to a science) like she's ten paces out in an old western.





The Stressed Mom
Not only has she lost the napkin on which was scribbled her list of gifts to buy, but she can't find the damn coupons she's been saving for just this day...this ONE day that she was able to escape without the kids. She's got exactly two hours and 14 minutes left to get ALL of her shopping done. Her husband just called to ask her where the number for Pizza Hut is, and she can hear screaming in the background. She starts grabbing things - any things - off shelves in an effort to buy something - anything. She fishes in her purse for a credit card - any credit card - and pulls out used tissues, a pacifier and a half-eaten sucker in the process.


The Lost Husband

He knows he hasn't bought a single gift yet, but he's so enjoying himself at the Apple store. When he finally realizes the mall closes in 45 minutes, he gets nervous and heads straight for the only place he knows he'll find something his wife will like...the jewelry store. There he stands, hands leaning on the glass, eyes peering into the long wall of cases. A diamond heart necklace is on sale - especially for the holidays - the ad says every woman wants one.  He is about to do something he'll later regret, but right now, the game is still on, and he could use a beer. So he buys two: one for his wife, and one for his mother. Poor bastard.


The Hungry/Tired/Bored Toddler (aka "Screaming Kid")
There's one in every mall, isn't there?  Poor thing. She's been dragged around for hours, had a lunch of dry cheerios and a seventeen minute nap in the car, and is made to walk right past all the shiny toys, beautiful dolls and cozy stuffed animals.  No, her mama tells her, you must wait until Christmas.  Here come the tears.  The kicking.  The screaming.  The making-my-whole-body-like-wet-spaghetti-so-you-can't-pick-me-up-and-drag-me-out-of-here.  What this child needs is a babysitter.  And an hour of fresh air.

The Young Couple In Love
These two are joined at the hip. They simply must stay together, and no mere shopping mortal will pull their hands apart, even for a moment. They swing their connected arms up over children, dance around groups, squeeze in closer to let people pass around them. But try to walk between them and you’ll get “Red Rover-ed” right into the sunglass kiosk. They’ve got lots of shopping to do, and their eyes are on… each other. So much so that they bump into anyone who dares to stop in front of them. They ohh and ahh over the same merchandise, share a pretzel and fountain soda at the food court, and don’t’ get a single present bought, other than those matching sweaters they found.



The Besties
(this one's for you, Kim...)
These two gals are the best of friends. And holiday shopping is just one of their time-honored annual traditions. From the moment they are in the car together, they have much to catch up on. Other drivers on the road should beware... the one driving is paying more attention to her BFF's latest story than to the traffic signals. Once they arrive, they focus hard on finding a parking spot, and then promptly forget the location in all of their extremely important conversations. Inside the mall, their pace matches that of their mouths, and they speed-walk past half the stores they might shop in - if they were paying more attention. They each buy a gift or two, and one or two things for themselves before deciding it's really just too difficult to carry on these important conversations and shop at the same time. Lunch break!  One appetizer and two glasses of wine later, they are feeling much more relaxed. So much so, that they each buy themselves something to wear next weekend. They weave through the crowds like professional track stars, hitting sales and picking up a few odds and ends and then... would you look at the time? It's happy hour! The time spent searching for their car eats up a bit of their happy time, but they end up at favorite restaurant with a glass of wine, great conversation and, well, a few items checked off their respective lists.

Don’t you just love the holidays?

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Raising Jackson: On Saying Good Riddance (Oops, I mean Goodbye) to 13



In my experience as a mom, thirteen is a tough age. I get that it's not so easy for the thirteen year old either.

But, tomorrow (Nov. 13), my sweet, fun, engaging, big-hearted, stubborn-as-all-hell middle chid, JACK will be 14. FOURTEEN! YAY! That means we can all kiss that blasted 13 goodbye.  Whew!

Hey... we made it Jack!  We did it.

Didn't we?

    

I had parent-teacher conferences last week. And I was worried, because between you, me and the fence post (oh, and everyone else in the world who will read this), Jack isn't much for silly things like, say, homework. Or studying. Or... homework.

But one of his teachers said to me, "Jack is going to be just fine. In fact, he'll be more than fine. Because there isn't a company or organization in the world who wouldn't want Jack to be a part of it." And ya know what? She's right. When Jack steps through the door, there are a few things you can count on...

1. You'll know his mood within seconds. No guessing how he feels. No wondering whether he's feeling good or bad about something. Jack wears his heart on his sleeve.

2. Jack cares. Good or bad, right or wrong. Jack has an opinion, and he is not afraid to share it.

3. Jack wants to help. Really, truly, he wants to be a big part of whatever it is you need. And if someone is struggling - upset, sad, angry, confused... Jack knows how to make things okay. He just does.


It's ironic I think, that Jack has always been the one who can calm his little sister down whether she's having a massive, floor-kicking tantrum or a full-on crying jag. The ironic part? Half the time, he's the cause of it.

But, I digress. That's Jack. He's like the perfect fiction writer - putting his protagonist up in a tree, then throwing rocks at him, and then, well, helping him down.


I don't know if we're out of the woods yet, as far as Jack's teen angst is concerned. But I'm hopeful that as he matures, he'll continue learning to control his temper, find value in hard work and most of all, know how much I love him.

He'll be heading to high school next year, and I'm looking forward to watching him grow into an amazing young man, with passion, talent and, most of all, heart.



Here's to my son. Willful, loving Jack. And in honor of his BIRTHDAY, a few of my favorite Jack-isms from the past 14 years:

"Bitch, Mama. It's Son of a Bitch" (age 2, as he rounded the corner where I was on the phone. Upon hearing his little feet, I stopped in mid-sentence, i.e. "Son of a...").

"Mama? Did you see her lips?!" (age 3, as he passed an "older" - 4-year old girl on the playground at preschool who was wearing a pink, leather Barbie jacket and applying Bonnie Bell lip smackers)

"Hi Mister Bear!" (age 4, as he walked along the oceanfront with his grandparents and passed a very large, very hairy man).

"Well, why don't you just leave that husband of yours at home?" (age 5, to one of my dear - and attractive - friends, Kris, who had just told little Jack that she would meet us all for dinner as soon as her husband, Joe, got home).

Good stuff.



Last night, Jack and I spent a bit of time at the orthopedic surgeon's office at Mercy Hospital. Turns out, he broke his ring finger. Again. This time, on the right hand. (This has been a TOUGH year for jack... broken knee cap, torn MCL, two broken fingers. Enough already!)

As we were leaving the building, we walked by a woman and her daughter. The little girl's arm was in a cast and a sling. She was about 8 (Jack's sister's age).  Jack slowed down, turned and smiled at the two of them. "Did you break a bone?" he asked the little girl. She nodded politely, shyly. "Look! I broke one too! You must be brave like me. How did you do it?" Turns out she plays soccer, too. "I bet you're the fastest on your team, huh?" he continued chatting with her until we reached the parking garage. Her mom was blown away by his kindness. I was, too. But I wasn't surprised in the least.  That's my Jack.

Happy Birthday Kiddo... May 14 be your best year yet!


I love you to the moon and back.