Enough.

Not another one. 

I whispered that to myself while I was in the waiting room of a doctor’s office.

“Dan James Richards, of Creston, died on May 30 at the age of 16.”

Dan ended his life after being bullied…relentlessly. The rest of the obituary read:

The family would like to note: to the bullies out there who succeeded in making Dan feel worthless, he wasn’t. The family has no hard feelings towards you, and you are forgiven.  Your actions are between you and God now. Dan was so loved by many and was a sweet and caring young man. He had such a big heart and will be greatly missed. In lieu of flowers, we ask that everyone be kind to each other.”

My sadness for this young man, quickly turned into a deep-seeded rage because I have to be completely blunt…I am tired of the bullies and keyboard renegades getting away with it.

I am 100% OVER hearing things like, “it says more about them than you”…”just ignore them”…”take the high road”…”just block them”…”it’s just a part of being a kid these days.”

Nope. No. No.

The day of reckoning needs to be TODAY for the bullies out there, because I am over it. I’m tired of it. Because if you give them a free pass to do or say anything they want with no accountability now…think about how they will be as an adult.

Exhibit A.

I got this gem the other day. It came into my personal FB account as a “message request.”

fb1

Isn’t that special?

I didn’t respond to any of the messages sent by this “person” because A) it’s a fake FB account B) I refuse to have anymore conversations about my damn lipstick shade and C) if you have to hide behind a fake social media account to tell me what you really think of me, then you don’t deserve a response. (Ok, I will give one response: Goodman is my maiden name, so the only Mr. Goodman I know, is my father. I’m still married to the same man I married 12 years ago).

People send these kind of messages so they can feel powerful…they get to “put someone in their place.” Sadly, we all know there are people out there who enjoy trying to make others feel worthless.

I get these messages ALL THE TIME. And I turn every single one over to the police. See, police departments have something called an “Internet Crimes Unit” and they can track EVERYTHING. Even the anonymous accounts. So congratulations.

I’m not playing.

Kids should NEVER get messages like these but they DO.  They place their self-worth on what their peers think about them…what they say about them. And far too often the only advice we’re giving them is “Just let it go! You take the high road.” We cannot expect our children to have the same THICK SKIN that we have.  Kids are using words as weapons and the wounds are deep and they never heal.

You can tell a bully that they are ruining someone’s self-esteem…making their life unbearable or the unthinkable, making them to want to take their own life. But this is the thing: the repeat bully doesn’t care. They never will care. There is a lack of empathy. Their bully behavior will continue well into adulthood and they will likely breed new bullies. It’s a never-ending cycle.

You can put hundreds of signs up in the halls at school…you can have every school assembly about the topic under the sun…you can think you know what you’re child is posting/sending on social media. But until the bullies understand that their behavior is CRIMINAL and parents understand that this is not “kids being kids,” we’re going to continue to bury our children to suicide.

HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.

TURN THEM IN.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All about the LIKES

I have hit the age where nearly everything that comes out of my mouth to my kids starts with: “when I was your age.” I still don’t have the story that ends with me walking 10 miles…uphill…in a blizzard like my Dad did.

But my kids hear the stories over and over: “When I was your age, the phone was attached to the wall…when I was your age, we only had four tv channels…when I was your age, the only video game we had was Pong.”

The “when I was your age” stories are usually met with disbelief, shock and a few rolling of the eyes. Nothing gets me more eye rolls than when I say this to my 11-year-old tween: “When I was your age, we took a picture and then had to wait 2 weeks for the film to develop!” We would tear into that packaging to see the pictures before we ever left the aisle at K-Mart.

Every picture chronicled an unfiltered childhood of awkward smiles, crooked haircuts and questionable fashion. Nothing was posed or staged…every picture captured each moment of my sassy and ornery personality.  When I flip through the now yellow-tinted family photo albums, I get taken back to a carefree childhood when the only time I was trying to impress anyone, was in the neighborhood kickball game.

Social media has changed everything for our kids.

And it makes me sad.

Our kids are feeling pressured to morph into something that they aren’t in order to impress their peers…to gain acceptance or adoration…to get LIKES.

It’s all about LIKES. Because getting a notification of a LIKE on a picture, is the seal of approval, isn’t it? Our children are putting their self-worth on whether someone likes their picture or not. Thoughts shoot rapidly through the head like “did I look fat? Am I not pretty enough? It must have been a bad picture.”

Nothing is posted without examining every detail of the picture. They edit… filter… shade…highlight…trim.   Kids are filtering out everything that makes them different.  I wish they knew now that what makes them DIFFERENT…makes them GREAT. But at this moment, in the thick of the “judgmental years,” their happiness is often based on other people’s opinions of them.  So they change into who they think they should be…rather than staying true to themselves.

I get it. You don’t want people to talk crap about you.

But let me tell you something…I know this firsthand: It is far better to be talked about and hated on for who you ARE…than adored and loved for who you are NOT.

I want you to meet someone. Take a look at her.

IMG_6110

This picture probably wouldn’t have made it on Instagram without first editing out those overgrown brows…smoothing out that frizzy, permed hair…fixing the big ole gap in between her teeth…erasing those pimples on her face…contouring that big nose that people always make fun of.

Giving this picture the Insta-treatment would erase the 13-year-old ME.

My daughter laughs when she looks at this picture of me because I am sure she’s noticing the “imperfections” that social media has trained us to look for.

I was perfectly imperfect then…and I am perfectly imperfect now.

When I look at this picture I see a 13-year-old kid who has no idea that the stuff she often daydreamed about…will become a reality.

Be awkward. Be weird. Be 100% you.

You’re more than a picture. You’re more than a post.

Never trade your authenticity for approval.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Count to 10…

This was me yesterday.tattoos

There I am in an extreme close-up…holed up in a public restroom. Why? It was either that or let my temper and “choice” words get the best of me. This is called growth 😉

So I went to count to 10 in order to find my zen.

Long story short, a couple of women were talking about how “tattoos and nose rings don’t belong on a woman, let alone a mother with four children.”

Hi. That’s me.

I could go on a day-long rant against the Perfect Polly’s of the world and while just because something doesn’t work for them, it doesn’t automatically mean their way is the right way.

Sometimes rude comments come from a place of ignorance…after all, you don’t know what you don’t know.

While I never feel the need to explain myself…I would like to share a little bit so I can avoid future labeling and eye-rolling.

When I was 18 years old, I told my parents that I wanted to get a tattoo. My mother responded with: “if you ever get a tattoo, I will burn it off with a match.” Nice mom. Nice.

So within my first few months of college, I headed right to the tattoo parlor.

Back then, you picked your tattoo from the wall. Remember those days? There was no Pinterest or Google to peruse for something with deep meaning. Just a wall full of flowers, Disney characters and dolphins. I picked something that represented my sorority…and said, “go ahead and put it on my ankle!”

Fast forward several years, I wanted to cover it up.

It’s now covered with a purple Gladiolus flower that is wrapped with a rosary. When Perfect Polly sees it, she may want to jump to judgment, and that’s ok. But when I look down, I see a memorial to my uncle. He was one of the most important people in my life and he died a few years ago from pancreatic cancer. The flower signifies remembrance & strength of character…and I prayed the rosary every day asking for a miracle.

The other tattoos I have are just as meaningful…they’re part of my story…my journey. Every time I look at one of them, it takes me back to that moment in my life…whether it was something over-the-moon joyous or a struggle that made me who I am today.   (My mom still doesn’t like them lol)

Oh yeah, and about the nose ring…I actually just got that not too long ago. I have ALWAYS wanted one. But I wasn’t able to get one when I was the “news lady.” After all of the puppet strings and years of following the rules with my hair, makeup and weight…I said screw it. Let’s do it. So yes, this mini-van driving mom of four walked into a tattoo & piercing shop and shouted, “I WANT MY NOSE PIERCED!”

It was just a sparkly stud in my nose but it was so liberating to finally be 100% authentically ME.

One of the women who was taking part in that passive-aggressive, mean girl convo asked me: “Are you afraid of what people will think?”

Nope.

It’s silly if you think about it and we all get caught up in it don’t we?

We get to be more concerned about what other people think of us rather than being true to ourselves.

Embrace who you are…who you’ve always wanted to be…I guarantee there is no feeling more freeing.

And the people who judge you for it?

Just smile at them. They may have a tad bit of envy that you are the one being unapologetically real.

xx

Just wing it.

I have a new mantra that I will repeat to myself every day this summer:

“Just wing it. It’s all good, mama.”

I don’t know about you, but every year at this exact time, I try morph into a combo of Perfect Polly & Carol Brady to plan the “PERFECT SUMMER FOR KIDS.”  I’ll shamefully admit that those exact words are in my Pinterest search box.

Zoo day! Pick berries! Go on a hike! Camp in the backyard! Grow a butterfly! Make an outdoor obstacle course! Volunteer! Collect & paint seashells! Try a science experiment! 

I have a rare moment of over-the-top giddiness thinking about how excited my kids would be…the memories they would have…and then it hits me: it’s never going to happen.

I will be perfectly honest, we are not “let’s get Pinterest creative with this summer day” kind of people.

As much as we love some delicious berries, the “OMG it’s so hot” and “eew is that a bug” comments would probably overshadow any fun that the Mommy blogger found on Google promised me.

So this summer, we’re going to stick to what we do best and we’re going to roll with the punches…wing it…go with the flow {insert other cheesy metaphor here}. I am keeping the expectations at a REALISTIC LEVEL because every year I don’t check something off the summer bucket list taped to the fridge, I feel like a dud…like I need to have my Mom-card revoked.

Our kids don’t need to ride a unicorn down the beaches of an island in South America while sipping out of a coconut to have a summer to remember. (But dang that sounds magical, right??)

My list for my kids?

Sleep in.

Get lost in a book that you want to read.

Go on a bike ride with your friends.

Eat a popsicle for breakfast.

Have sleepovers.

Swim until it gets dark.

Make S’mores…most likely with the toaster oven because we may not go camping…not because we don’t want to, but because your Dad and I have no idea how. Save the judgment 😉

Have a couch sleepover while we watch some CLASSICS…ya know… Goonies, Adventures in Babysitting, Hoosiers…we really could spend a week posted up on the couch.

Try the new rollercoaster…ya know, the one you were afraid of last year?

Ride the wave.

Let’s just do what works for us…

Let’s do what makes you smile…

Let’s do what makes you laugh until it hurts.

My family’s summer bucket list doesn’t need to be Instagram worthy or envied.

It just needs to be memorable…in a good way.

xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After 40…

A friend of mine in her early 30s found her first signs of crows feet. By her reaction I didn’t know if she needed talked off the ledge or a bottle of wine. She jokingly asked me, “Is it all downhill from here?”

When it comes to fine lines and gravity…yes. Yes it is 😉

She looked shocked when I told her that when I turned 40, life got better. (Gravity still stinks but whatever lol).

Being 40+ is a beautiful thing for one major reason: you finally learn to cut all of the unnecessary BS out of your life and you stop apologizing for it.

With unnecessary BS, comes unnecessary people.

When I turned 40, I realized that I no longer have the energy for meaningless friendships, forced interactions or unnecessary conversations. 

It. Is. Liberating.

It’s refreshing to finally admit “ya know…I don’t care for that person…so no, I don’t want them in my circle or even on the outer layer of my circle.”

I used to feel really bad for thinking things like that or even saying them out loud…but now, I am making no apologies.

The people with ulterior motives…the people who are as authentic as my spray tan…the people who are your friend on social media so they can be a “surveillance camera” because they have never liked or commented on a picture…the people who yuck it up with you in public when you already know they can’t stand you.

Those are unnecessary people in my life.

I don’t like everyone…and that’s ok.

Not everyone likes me…and that is ok.

I have been unfriended, blocked and everything in between. It used to bother me in my younger years…it would actually keep me up at night. I would lay there and think, “What did I do? Did I say something? Did I not say something? How can I make it better?”

But once I hit 40, it became more of a relief than anything else.

Why surround yourself with people who obviously don’t care for you? If they want to delete you from their life…let them and don’t give it a second thought.

Admitting (to yourself) that you don’t like or care for someone doesn’t mean you are not KIND.

Admitting that you don’t like someone means that you value your OWN energy, heart and time.

Walk away from the people who only want to spend time “playing in the sandbox.”

It’s liberating.

We need action

At what point are we going to actually do something to protect our children?

I remember the day, time and where I was when Columbine happened. The images of all of those children running from their high school or scaling walls to get out will be etched in my mind forever. That school shooting was unimaginable…unthinkable…rare.

School shootings are no longer rare. You hear people say, “there was another school shooting today.” And it’s said in passing…like it’s normal…like we’re telling people it may rain today.

I’m tired of the two-sided war…. “TAKE THE GUNS AWAY!” “DON’T TAKE MY GUNS AWAY!”

Can we, just this one time, stop. Not to have a kumbaya moment here, but can we come the hell together and figure out how we can protect our children? And to our lawmakers in DC, I’m not looking at you because quite honestly you’re not getting anything done except arguing back and forth and looking for your next viral sound-bite.

I think the communities and their own schools should have a meeting of the minds and find a plan that works.

We need to first pop the bubble. The “it will never happen here” bubble. I get it…I share the same sentiment. I live in small-town USA where when people smile and wave at you, it’s genuine.  The thought that someone would walk into our small school and do this was in the back of my mind. Until now.

The sad and scary thing that we all know is that a school shooting can and will happen anywhere. This is our reality now.  Kids are impulsive, we know that.  They act on emotion and are unable to think ahead to any consequence. So who is to say the kid who is getting picked on won’t walk into a school with a gun because he’s fed up?

We can talk about stricter gun laws…we can talk about mental health…we can talk about everything in between. But we need to get off the Merry-Go-Round conversation that we’ve been having since April 20, 1999 and do something. Now.

Do we install metal detectors in every school? Maybe that’s the first step. We can’t fly without going through one…we can’t walk into a courthouse without going through one. I mentioned that before and someone said, “that will just scare our children!” Sorry, but our children go through active shooter training at school…they’re already uneasy. I’d feel better knowing that every backpack, coat, lunchbox or guitar case have been checked.

Before our children are born, we research every car seat…every crib…types of formula…baby carrier…gates. We childproof our electrical outlets…our cabinet doors…even our toilet seats. We have baby monitors and home security cameras rolling on every minute. As parents, we always find the way to keep our kiddos safe, don’t we? So why aren’t we doing it now? Why are we waiting on anybody else to protect our children?

This problem…this epidemic…needs an immediate solution.

Let’s bring our children into the conversation and ask them, “what will make you feel safe?” Let’s ask our teachers the same question. Our teachers should not have to worry about being a shield from bullets to protect our kids.

After that, the back-and-forth conversation needs to be over. We’ve talked long enough…and we’ve done nothing.

We need action.

 

Motherhood bat signal?

There is nothing more uncomfortable than hearing your child has been the “mean kid.” Trust me, I’ve been there.

But can we take off the rose-colored glasses and remove the blinders for a second because there are kids who are screaming for help.

A few days ago, I spoke to about 250 sixth-grade girls from around the area. When I asked them who deals with mean girl drama…EVERY HAND WENT IN THE AIR.

EVERY. HAND.

It literally took my breath away and left me speechless…which is hard to do.

I was sad for them because I know mean girls operate: they exclude. I remember vividly the girls who left me out or the ones who made talking about me a sport. With our daughters, it’s magnified because of technology. That’s why I have a love-hate relationship with all things social media because when friendships end, it’s a very public declaration.

I know my oldest has been a mean girl…she has said some not-so-nice things.

I know she has been on the receiving end of it too.

It happens. But I refuse to accept it as “part of growing up.”  Whether you want to admit it or now, there’s a little bit of helicopter mom in all of us.  So maybe we need to fire up the chopper’s engines for something meaningful like helping our daughters navigate through the drama. After all, we survived adolescence…some of us have more battle wounds than others…but we all made it.

We have to let our daughters know that it is okay to not like someone. It’s okay. You don’t have to force a friendship but you cannot make anyone feel less than. Just because you don’t want to be their friend, does not give you a free pass to be mean or rude. 

I read once that the best thing we can do for our daughters is to “teach them how to make friends, keep friends and leave friends; those are skills women need their whole lives.”  Friendships change every year. And THAT IS OK.  I know I held on to some toxic friendships for way too long because I thought I “needed to.”

Bottom line, we need to be the example for our daughters.  That means not slamming other women in front of them…not saying anything negative about a girl in her class…not trashing a girl on her team.  Nada.

I had one woman tell me that her daughter “doesn’t have to deal with mean girl drama because she is popular.” Not to point fingers, but you may be too caught up in your daughter’s social status…that kind of popularity is fleeting and it doesn’t mean your daughter is well-liked.  I got a message on Instagram from one of the sixth-graders I spoke to and she said: “The kids who think they are popular are always the rudest.”

Mic drop.

Not only do our daughters need our guidance…but they need us to stop being hypocrites. We say that we would want to know if our child is being mean so we can handle it…but do we?

Accountability has to start with us.  We have to have the tough conversations…we need to start calling our own kids out.

No, it’s not fun hearing that your child has been the mean kid…but we need to be open when another parent, teacher or even another child comes to us.

We need to have a motherhood BAT SIGNAL to let everyone know: PLEASE COME TO ME IF MY CHILD IS BEING MEAN!! I WILL BE RECEPTIVE!

Whether our skin is thick enough to hear that our child is mean or not…we need to know…we need to start talking.

We can’t change what we don’t know.