We Really Are Okay

We Really Are Okay

To My Son’s Father,

While you truly do not deserve an ounce of my energy or a moment of my time, I am writing to you on behalf of our son and his unfulfilled desire to experience some glimmer of a healthy and functional relationship with his father. I use the term “our son” extremely loosely as your contribution to his existence has been minimal, yet this beautiful young man still longs for your love.

I could hear it in his trembling voice this evening as he enumerated all the reasons why he would rather not have you in his life any more.  Frankly this has been a long time coming. You’ve missed out on so much: a lot of skinned knees and ear infections, a lot of late nights and early mornings, a bunch of empty pockets and unfulfilled promises. You don’t feed him or clothe him or cuddle with him. You do not help him with his homework. You don’t listen to him, comfort him or respect him as an individual.

In the 16 and a half glorious years that our child has graced this planet, you have managed to not only miss out on countless memories and milestones, but also to contribute a surplus of disappointment and daddy issues to his life. Time and time again you have failed to show up, forgotten to call, and messed with your son’s emotions and sense of security. You have become famous for incoherent conversations and infamous for sleeping off hangovers instead of spending your free time with him. You’ve made limited attempts to support your child in any manner whatsoever. You take no initiative to be involved in his schooling. You take no steps to take part in his healing. You ignore all monetary obligations to assist in his surviving. Oh that’s right, you did pay rent two months in a row last year, half the rent back in April of last year; and of course there was that time back in 2004 when I had to sell you our big screen tv so you could actually help me pay rent.  Yet somehow you believe that the few times that you did help us equates to you being there for him all his life. When in reality you’d often say things like “I’ll see him when I see him.”
Most recently you claimed that me being unable to pay rent is my problem and that you are not responsible for me.  You are right.  However, you do not seem the least bit concerned about how this affects our son – where will he sleep, what will he eat, how will this affect his grades?  Perhaps this is your way to force him to live with you, again without any consideration about how doing so will affect him.
In spite of that I never kept him from you. I never prevented you from seeing him and I never told him anything disparaging about you. I let him make his own choices.
I am thankful to you for many things. The first, and most obvious, is for contributing your genetic material to create him, albeit the solitary shining achievement in your legacy of fatherhood. Secondly, I would like to extend my sincerest gratitude for the many lessons you have taught our boy. Thank you for teaching him to be strong. Without your constant onslaught of spectacular screw ups, he might not be as fiercely resilient as he is today. Had you not failed him in every way imaginable, he might have only had the opportunity to be a typical little boy. Thank you for teaching him to be independent. He doesn’t need you. Not for anything anymore. Thank you for teaching him one of life’s most valuable lessons: expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed. Thank you for teaching him how to cope with grief, and anxiety, and depression at such an early age.
Thank you also for all of the unsolicited advice you continue to dole out to your son: he should play a sport, he should eat more vegetables, he should be thinner, faster, smarter, better.  Because according to you he belongs to a superior, highly educated family. Since you seem so interested in working in the advice department, allow me to return the favor. Get a life. Get a grip on your selfish, self-centered, childish and petulant behavior. Get it together for your son.
Our son is special. He is smart and funny and all-around awesome, and he is tough, independent and successful. He has a spectacular sense of humor and a well-rounded sense of self.
Although I am concerned about how this decision will affect him as he rushes into manhood I am relieved that my silence about you is finally over. My protection of you in the eyes of my son has ended. I will no longer bite my tongue about your questionable parenting, and I will no longer force him to make any attempts to contact you. My son, will determine from this point on whether or not HE wants to deal with you.
Despite the fact that I am currently unemployed and our future seems bleak and uncertain; I know Baz and I are walking out on the other side of this dark tunnel holding hands, mother and son – an unbreakable bond of love and support. We are stronger than we’ve ever been because of each other, because not only did I guide and show him the way, he showed me too. He gave me the reason to believe in myself and push hard to become who I am. He taught me how to love, and he showed me what the meaning of work ethic is and what the word fight really means. We really are okay.
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On Your 16th Birthday

On Your 16th Birthday

You are sixteen today. SIXTEEN! How is this even possible?!!? I remember being sixteen. I loved being sixteen! (It doesn’t seem that long ago actually.). For the record, I think you’re going to be way better at it than I was. You have a better sense of who you are than I ever did.

Many changes will be arriving soon enough and experiences are going to be pouring in, just remember to always be true to yourself. You were born in this world to be an original just as you are. Of course there will be times where you will sometimes blend in with the world, but at the end of every day, remember to hold on to your individuality. Stay caring, loving, humble and as confident as you are and allow these characteristics to become permanent elements as you continue to grow into your future self.  As much as I celebrate the ever-more-amazing you, and want to wrap you up in super-duper extra strength bubble wrap to keep you safe and sound as you navigate the next few years; I know I have to let you cut your path.  I pray that you make good decisions. But if you make bad ones, I pray that you be given a moment of grace so that the consequences aren’t life-altering, heart-breaking or soul-crushing and that you appreciate that moment as gift and a chance to grow. 

Oh, yes, remember to always call your mother. I know this sounds cliché but do it anyway. For as long as I roam this planet, there will never be a time that I don’t want to hear about the latest in your life, your friends, your studies, your job, what you hope to achieve or even just what you had for lunch. I may not always have all of the answers, but I can promise you that I will always be here to listen, nurture, and comfort you. So call me.

Don’t be afraid to be all in. Explore, read, see the world, get involved, defend a cause, right a wrong, step out of your comfort zone, sing, dance, make a fool of yourself, swim, run, hike, watch sunsets, play games and look at the stars. 

I am so very proud of you my son and I am ridiculously blessed to be your mom. I know your future holds great things.  And I feel privileged to claim a front seat in watching it all unfold. Live long and prosper. 

Happy birthday, Sebastian!  

 

Here’s To You

Here’s To You

 

When we graduated high school we swore we would keep up with each other all the time. We said we would talk on the phone and write to each other, believing that there was no amount of distance that could change our friendship.

We were wrong.

Between exams and the clubs and the new friends we met at our respective colleges, the phone calls grew further and further apart. Our lives went on, and we found ourselves on different paths with different people. 

 
It felt odd at first to experience things without you by my side, but over time, things settled into a routine. I became accustomed to discovering life with new friends with new inside jokes and new personalities. I stopped counting down the days to breaks where I would only see you for a few brief hours before being swept away by other friends and family. 

So yes, we were wrong about our friendship. Some combination of life and distance did change us—but not in the way we thought.   Sure, we were just two kids in high school, neither of us really knowing what was going on any more than the other, but talking to you in my driveway, or in your room, or at the beach under the stars always helped things seem a little more manageable. You pushed me to be my best when I was sure I was at my worst, and you saw so much in me that I never saw in myself. There is no amount of time or distance that could make me less grateful for that.

We have both done a lot of growing over the years, and one of the biggest lessons I have learned is to embrace change. Go with the flow. It is what it is. Our friendship is not what it used to be, nor will it ever be, because we are now more than a couple of high school kids hanging around and waiting for our futures. We are living our futures right this very second. It’s so nice to see my best friend do all of the things you said you wanted to do. I am so proud of everything you have done for yourself.  I am in awe of you!

The future is unpredictable, but our friendship is not. If you are ever need a familiar voice to talk with about unfamiliar problems, look me up, because I will always be happy to lend an ear and a friendly word.  New friends may come and they may go, but no one can ever take the place that you have in my heart. 

Everything in life happens for a reason, I believe we were put into each others lives. I love you and hope your birthday brings you even more blessings than you ask for, and may all good things continue to come your way. Happy Birthday, Vero! 

 

Do As I Do

Do As I Do

Growing up I heard the words “Do as I say, not as I do” often enough to know better than to use them on my own child.  In fact, I consider it hypocritical of me to ask him to do things that I wouldn’t do myself. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I am not athletic in the least.  I do my best to get a minimum of 6 hours of sleep (and if I can sleep in, I will), eat healthy and exert a minimal amount of energy just enough to keep me on the edge of NOT developing heart problems and/or diabetes.

Often our meals are made from scratch using whole foods such as lean meats, lentils, brown rice, kale, spinach, carrots, green beans, turmeric, coconut oil, veggie or whole wheat pastas, etc. (You can find a recipe HERE and HERE.)  BUT…oh boy, do I LOVE my sweets!  I’m a sucker for cookies, cakes and ice cream – most desserts really!!! Unfortunately, so is my son.

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Most parents think that if we “teach” our children well enough with our words they’ll be able to make better decisions than we do, but let’s look at the latest research, shall we?: Moms’ and kids’ activity levels are directly linked to each other.   We know better. Obviously.  We know what the healthy choice is: to eat our (not deep-fried) veggies. To get a good night’s sleep. To make time to play and move our bodies. And yet, again and again, we avoid getting physical at all costs.

My excuses and “reasons” were inexhaustible: “I’m happy the way I am.”; “I’m too exhausted to wake up at the crack of dawn and/ or after work to contemplate going to the gym.”; “I am beautiful enough already.”  Not realizing that, all the while, my son has been picking up on my habits, developing the same behaviors towards fitness and, much to my dismay, gaining unnecessary weight.

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Casting a disapproving look at myself.

After numerous failed attempts to coax, and even bribe, my son into becoming more active it finally dawned on me that he wouldn’t do anything if I didn’t first set the example.  So, I joined a gym and reluctantly reactivated my old MyFitnessPal account to keep track of my meals.

Now, I hate counting calories and wouldn’t know how to determine the amount of calories in my home cooked meals but thanks to this app I can record my food with just a few taps on my iPhone.  It’s actually shocking to see how quickly the calories, fat and sugar grams start adding up. Just this morning I’ve already consumed half of my target sugar grams for the day!

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Today’s Food Journal Entry of First and Second Breakfast  😉

Keeping track of my food has forced me to face the fact that, regardless of my fitness goals, what I consume affects my body in ways seen and unseen.  One of the things that I’ve found interesting is the importance of keeping track of the macros in one’s diet.  What are “macros”, you ask?  Macros short for macro-nutrients like protein, carbs and fats.  These macros are the basis of all calories you consume. Rather than obsessing over calories, targeting macros helps keep you focused on food composition and overall healthfulness rather than just low-calorie options.   And again, with the help of free apps like MyFitnessPal it’s easy to stay on track! (No, I am not getting paid to say so.)

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Calculate your optimal macronutrient ratios based on your age, height, weight, gender, and activity level using a Macro Calculator.
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MyFitnessPal helps me keep track of my macros without an extra app.

Although I have yet to see any visible results on the scale I have noticed that my clothes fit a lot better. AND I am happy to report that my example has not gone unnoticed.  On Monday, as I was going about my new routine, my son approached me and asked if he could join me at the gym.  For a brief moment it seemed like the clouds parted and a chorus of Angels sang in triumphantly!

FINALLY!!!

For the last two days we’ve been walking 30 minutes to the gym, lifting weights then walking 30 minutes back home.  Monday when I asked my son if he was ready to go home he replied, “One more exercise.  This is strangely addictive!”  Then yesterday on our walk home he said, “We should have started this years ago.”  To which I replied, “I know.  I’m sorry.”

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Ah, There You Are!

After nearly five years of feeling like a fish out of water, I’m happy to report that I am finally starting to feel like myself.  If you’ve read some of my previous posts you might recall that moving to Texas has been less than pleasant, to say the least.  There’s been a considerable amount of meditation and soul-searching, a lot of introspection that I couldn’t quite articulate.  I’ve been digging deep into my childhood and discovering the experiences that shaped me… both the good and the bad.  So far my internal exploration has revealed a lot, such as how my relationship with my mother has affected the way I relate to others. self-esteem

We’ve all read a book, article or blog about how our self-esteem was affected by the way our mothers treated us as children and how that may affect our relationships as adults.  Like it or not, our relationship with our mother will have a lifelong influence on our personality, behavior and self-esteem. If we’re lucky, that legacy has been an overwhelmingly positive one.  But what happens when you are raised by a ‘difficult’ mother?

For most, regardless of the problems, struggles and conflicts, between parents and their children, their relationship is mostly comforting and supportive. However, for some, there’s more pain in the mother-child relationship than comfort and pleasure.

My childhood was bewildering and volatile due to my mother’s violent and unpredictable outbursts. I lived in a constant state of high alert, waiting for the next emotional explosion.  Often, Mom would take offense at the smallest imagined slight and would abruptly stop talking to me as punishment for ‘insulting’ her in some way.  (Even as I type this I’m afraid that should she find my blog, she might get offended by my words and stop talking to me – again.)  I remember feeling that I was constantly wrong.  There was constant pressure to be subservient yet I was still expected to shine.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not complaining about my “miserable” childhood.  We had some wonderfully happy moments too and some good did come out of growing up in the emotional roller coaster that was life with mom.  But this “exercise” is about figuring myself out and understanding myself in order to make better choices as a person, become a better parent and maybe discover why I’ve had such a difficult time finding a suitable mate (Things seems to be going well in that department).

Ideally a child is born to be curious and spontaneous. When said child is allowed to spend her childhood learning to be her authentic self and building her self worth and self esteem she may be better prepared for adulthood.   As the eldest child I was expected to be the strong, sensible one, at times Mom’s confidant, best friend, rescuer, partner, her scapegoat, and sometimes even her rival.  Always feeling like whatever I did was never enough.  I never realized until very recently that even now as an adult, I’ve continued some of these roles for others, being codependent, struggling with anxiety, feeling unworthy or even depressed.  These tendencies hinder me professionally by keeping me from reaching my full potential and on a personal level preventing me from making genuine friendships and emotional connections.

Perhaps these aren’t huge discoveries but to me it’s like being able to see after acquiring the proper prescription lenses and realizing that all this time there has been a huge elephant in the room that I couldn’t see before. There a certain kind of freedom with the acknowledgement of your “handicaps” which then leads you to co-exist with this enormous elephant in the room allowing for new experiences.
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Slowly I am becoming calmer, more aware of my true feelings and gaining a better understanding of myself.  I like this new and improved version!

ah there you are

Happy Mother’s Day

Visiting Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico with Mom and Baby Sister
Visiting Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, Mexico with Mom and Baby Sister 1986

When you get right down to it, it’s not that hard to say I love you. Three little words & it sort of says it all. So, in theory, it should be pretty easy to do that for Mother’s Day.

Here’s the thing, though, you can go in & out of like with your mom. So Mother’s Day can sometimes be a little tricky. But that doesn’t mean we don’t love her. Sometimes it’s just hard to find the right words to tell her, especially when you’re holding on to your differences…. yet…in spite of those differences she is Mom…..

Moms come in all shapes & sizes, but they’re pretty easy to recognize because they’re the ones who teach you stuff all the time about how to be in the world & sometimes that sounds a lot like: chew with your mouth closed, sit still. stand up straight, be polite, Look them in the eye & sometimes it seems like that sort of thing doesn’t add up to a whole lot… Until the day you feel the soft ache of love in your heart that makes you care for a friend who hurts or when you look in a stranger’s tired eyes & you stop & smile… Or when you listen to the ABC song for the thousandth time & you laugh & say ‘again’ & suddenly you understand that this IS the real thing moms do & it adds up to the whole world…

I love you Mom – the messy, ugly and beautiful that is our relationship….<3
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A fin de cuentas, no es tan difícil decir Te Amo. Son tres palabritas, de esas que lo dicen todo. En teoría, debería ser fácil decirlas en el Día de la Madre.

La cosa es que uno a veces no se lleva tan bien con Mamá. Así que el Día de la Madre a veces puede ser un poco difícil. Pero eso no significa que no la amamos. A veces es sólo difícil encontrar las palabras adecuadas para expresar lo que sentimos, especialmente cuando nos aferramos a nuestras diferencias…. sin embargo, a pesar de esas diferencias que ella siempre será Mamá…..

Las Madres son de diferentes formas y tamaños, pero son fácil de reconocer, ya que son los que te enseñan cosas todo el tiempo acerca de cómo ser en este mundo y en ocasiones eso suena muy parecido a: mastica con la boca cerrada, estate quieto, párate bien, se cortés, mira a las personas a los ojos y a veces parece que ese tipo de cosas no son la gran cosa… Hasta el día en que usted mismo siente ese dolorcito suave y sutil de amor en su corazón que le ocasiona apoyar a un amigo necesitado o cuando mira a los ojos cansados de un extraño y se detiene para brindarle una sonrisa… O cuando escucha la canción del abecedario por milésima vez y se ríe y dice ‘otra vez’ y de repente entiende que esto es lo que hacen las madres y que realmente lo es TODO en el mundo…

Te amo mamá – lo sucio, lo feo y lo hermoso que es nuestra relación…. ❤

Ciao Bella!

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Every brochure about studying abroad makes it sound like the most sublime experience.  It truly sounds like students get the best of both worlds: you get a comprehensive selection of courses that count towards your home university’s requirements and you get to explore the beautiful and historically rich city of Rome!  She’ll get to visit some of the world’s most beloved and iconic landmarks, monuments, and museums, all while living and studying in a culturally and politically dynamic environment.  Studying abroad always appealed to me but I never got the opportunity to do so. Now my gorgeous cousin has the opportunity to travel to Rome, Italy and turn her education into an adventure!

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As the eldest in of three in children in a single-parent household, Kristy is has already beat the odds by being the first in her family to go to the college.  Doors are opening up for her and opportunities like this this study abroad program are only going to expand her horizons!  I am so proud of her!!!

Kristy has worked really hard for this opportunity both in school and at work but I’d like to contribute to her trip by sending her off with some spending money.  To that I’ve organized a Chloe+Isabel online trunk show.  Every now and then I’ll post something here about the jewelry I sell as a merchandiser for Chloe+Isabel.

The party will run through Friday, March 20th and I plan to donate 100% of all sales commission to Kristy’s Rome Travel Fund.

It would mean the world to me if you would check out the Pop-up link:
http://www.chloeandisabel.com/boutique/bymaruca/78cba9