High School Graduates,
I stand before you not as example of greatness or achievement, but as an example of decisions. I do not possess any great talent or skills. But what I do and did have, even at the young age of 18...I knew what I didn’t want. It’s ok not to know exactly where you going, but you better have an idea of how you want to live. I did not get where I am today by reaching for the moon and landing among the stars. I could say, “this is not the end but just the beginning.” Why are graduation speeches filled with these cliches? Because everyone is hoping to inspire you. Not me, I think you should know the truth. The truth is...life is all about decisions. Up to this point the probability of the decisions you’ve made so far will not have effect on the rest of your life. Let’s face it getting your record expunged as a juvenile is far easier than when you’re adult. From this moment, as you enter into adulthood, these decisions will now have lasting effects. This is your life. What do you want? How do you plan on getting there? This is no longer about your parents. I say, show them up...find your passion; make more money, fall deeper in love, build a stronger family and then rub in their face. Whatever path you choose, work, college, trade school or the military, this is the only time in your life you get to be selfish. You get to do whatever you want. Devote all your time and energy into becoming your best. I know everyone is going to be telling you have your whole life ahead of you. And yes you do, but’s only selfishly yours for a short period of time. Let’s just say you start a family, whatever that family picture looks like, at the ripe old age of thirty, that’s only twelve yeas from now. Sounds like a long time, but think of this. The average life expectancy for an adult in the U.S. is 78 years old. If, and that’s a big if, you wait until 30 to have a child or be in a committed relationship...you have another 48 years of life where you can’t to be selfish. Unless you plan on dying alone, then don’t worry about what I have to say. 12 versus 48 years...say it that way and you realize just how little time it is. Embrace your freedom. Make good decisions not for your parents, but for you. Because....THIS IS YOUR LIFE! Now I’ll be cliche...this is the time to make all your dreams come true! Congratulations graduates, I can’t wait to see what you create!
I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a mom. Your Dad and I always talked about having kids and we agreed on two before we got married, but I was scared. As the oldest of six kids, I had a good inkling of the stamina it would take. And you know I don’t take any commitment lightly. And this job was not for a given amount of time, it was for the rest of my life.
One day it hit me like a ton of bricks, I was ready to share my life. First came Sebastian. I wasn’t the mom who cried once the doctor placed you in my arms, in fact, my first thought was,”oh crap, what did I do?” To be completely honest, at my 6 week follow-up appointment I asked the doctor to put you back. But soon enough I’d have Christian. I thought I was tired before...now I’ve got two boys under the age of 18 months. I was exhausted. But I also gave up trying to be perfect mom. I did my best to relax through it all and enjoy the ride. And the two of you have so far given me the best ride of my life. You’ve touched my life with your spit-up, poopie diapers, snot and various messes. For years I ran around with something smeared in my hair, clothes and face. But that’s a small price to pay for all those hugs and kisses.
Motherhood; I have touched, picked and smelled some nasty things. I’ve dry heaved on more than one occasion. This is why I’m not a nurse, you solidified that decision for me.
But here’s my promise to you. I promise to be your cheerleader by standing behind you ready to shower you with praise when you’ve reached your goals. Here it comes...the big but...I’ll also be the first person to call you out when you haven’t tried your best.
I promise to love you no matter what, but I may not always like your decisions. When you make a mess I’m not going to fix it for you, but I’ll be standing behind you with love, encouragement and if you ask for it...guidance.
A funny thing has happened during my motherhood journey...the life you given me. You’ve taught me more about myself that I could have ever imagined. And no I’m not talking about my gag reflex, inability to draw or my complete lack of interest in WWE, Pokemon and Minecraft. This Mother’s Day I celebrate the unseen gifts you’ve given me, but don’t forget that I still enjoy a little bling.
I’m a fake, a phony and a wannabe. It’s not easy pretending to belong to this group of women. Sure, I can talk the talk, but I can’t walk the walk. My “bestie” tries to convince me it’s time to come clean. But how do I admit I’m jealous. I just want to be part of the “in” crowd, a scrapbooker! I think it started when I was an innocent 10 year-old. My neighbor, an older woman of 14 introduced me to stickers. Puffy, smelly, glittery, she had them all. And I had to have them too. I’d do all sorts of odd jobs from cleaning cars, picking up dog poop and babysitting to get my hands on some cold hard cash. I just loved stickers. Then came Duran Duran and my sticker obsession went out the door, but did it? Suddenly came my 30’s, kids and scrapbooking. My world of stickers is back. I have big plans to commemorate all of my family's milestones with stickers, colored papers, and embellishments. I don’t want to admit how much I’ve spent on scrapbooking supplies because my hubby will read this. Let’s just say, I’ve managed to purchase a Cricut. Sure I’ve got grand plans, but I’m overwhelmed. Do you know how many pictures a potential scrapbooker takes? Not to mention a closet full of supplies. Okay, I’ve completed about 8 pages, but my boys are ages 10 and 11. At one point, I had to put myself on a Michael’s diet. Now, I can walk into the store, but I must stay away from the scrapbooking aisles. I made a pledge not to purchase any more supplies until I use what I have, I’ll be 80 before I’ll get another sheet of stickers. Recently I was asked the 5 things I wanted to accomplish before I die, I said...scrapbook my boys’ lives. My hubby had much grander plans, but me I think my boys should not have to scroll through an external hard drive to see their baby pictures. Today, I completed 2 pages and my hubby said, “are you sick?” “No, but at this rate, I’ll be free to die in 50 years.”
It’s not easy having a mixed marriage. I was so innocent, sweet and ignorant. How did I not see the signs? Is it that I didn’t want to see them? How could I be duped by this man I was so attracted to? And the worst part about it, was his ability to fool me for more than 18 years. I thought we were on the same page. Before saying “I do” we discussed kids, money and life goals. For years, the man was playing me like a fiddle. He fooled me with romantic gestures to make up for our differences. Differences he kept hidden until one evening just before a party...he snapped. He said, “No more! I can’t take it.” His head began spinning like Beetlejuice. I didn’t understand. He declared our “cultural differences” were slowly killing him. Our cultural differences? I frantically began searching my mind for some indication of what our differences could be. Okay, so he’s Mexican-American, I’m Irish-American, but that can’t be it, we’re both American. He’s a Bulldog and I’m a Runner (college mascots). Could that be it? And I won’t point out the obvious...I’m a female and he’s a male. “Nope,” he said, “ I can’t handle your playlist anymore!” “What? He doesn’t like my music?” He proceeded to tell me I have crap taste in music and he was taking over the deejaying. Are you kidding me? He’s never complained before. I thought he liked Usher, Taylor Swift, Pitbull, and Pink. How many nights did he turn up the music, dance and smile? I’ve never said anything about Korn, Tool or Jane’s Addiction. I like them too. But I should have known he was up to something when I started seeing my itunes account go on overdrive. The signs were there...Dokken, Pennywise, Mother Love Bone and then Neil Diamond and Johnny Cash. I get that Neil and Johnny are good to sing too after throwing back a couple of drinks, but how can I get my groove thing going with this kind of music? At one point our “conversion” got ugly. He mentioned my age, choice of music and said some other things I can’t remember, because the gloves were coming off. I’m not sure how to get past this. I can’t find a therapist to help us work out this dilemma. Our playlist problem is not considered a problem in the counseling world. It can all go downhill from here. Two playlists for 1 party? Please! There’s only one way we’ll get back to marital bliss...before the next party... I’ll be hiding his iPod.
It’s as elusive as Bigfoot and as endangered as the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker. Imagine my surprise when I came face to face with this being. For years, the status of this creature has been diminishing at an alarming rate. Personally, it’s been at least five years since my last encounter. Imagine my surprise when I haphazardly stumbled upon one. At first I just stared in disbelief, then not wanting to scare my new friend, I slowly bowed my head to show a sign of respect, held out my hand as a small gesture of friendship and proceeded to make contact. I was so exited to be greeted with open arms. And I rejoiced. Then of course, I pulled out my iPhone to take a picture to post on Facebook. No one would believe me. I needed proof. I actually found a family who buys a real live Christmas tree. I know...amazing. If you haven’t noticed Christmas tree lots are not like they used to be. In fact, I drove past one in a parking lot the size of three spaces. Then it donned on me, my boys and countless other children will never experience a life with a real Christmas tree in the house.
Let’s be more realistic, they will never hear Mom yelling at everyone to pick, “a nice full tree, not one with gaps. Be sure to check the needles and no we are not flocking the tree, it’s just a bigger mess.” Then Dad and the Christmas Tree lot employee spend 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get this huge tree on top of the Datsun. Once home, the experience continues with foul language and how to get,“the bleeping tree through the bleeping door.” I especially loved watching my parents spend hours adjusting and arguing over the height and position of the tree. Sawing and cursing is over. And Six hours later it’s finally time to decorate the tannenbaum. As children we live the next few weeks excited about Santa Claus and the promise of gifts. In the back of our minds, we know at any minute that beautiful tree could catch fire and torch us up in our flammable pajamas. We’re reminded to make sure the tree has water, vacuum up the needles and keep the dog from drinking the tree water. It’s a full-time job. And sadly, my boys will never live in fear of Christmas tree combustion. Christmas is just not the same.
Now Dad pulls the tree out of the box, mom fluffs it and it’s done. Within an hour and half...tree is up and decorated. But there is one thing that will never change; that’s Mom. For generations we will still be telling our kids, “don’t put all the ornaments on one branch, spread them out. Don’t put that there, and watch for gaps. Can we please not put all the ornaments around the bottom of the tree?” Although I’ve been tempted to re-arrange the baubles, I don’t. Soon enough I’ll be decorating the tree by myself.
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