It…will…zip…

“It…will…zip…it…will…zip…come…on….get…up…there…

There. It zipped.

Can I breathe? A little.

Can I sit? Uh perhaps.

Can I stand back up? With assistance.”

This was me fitting into my dress for Saturday night. We’re having a Blue Dress Gala. Black clothes are my jam…they camo my flaws…it’s easy to find something to wear to compliment you…but no, I had to go with royal blue.

I stared at myself for a hot minute wondering how many pairs of Spanx I will have to wear to smooth everything out. I was beginning to regret every tortilla chip…every tater tot I cleaned off my toddler’s plate…every drop of Pinot Grigio I drank. I was living in REGRET CITY…heck, I was just sworn in as Mayor.

I walked out of the bathroom and my oldest was standing there. “Wow Mom…you look so pretty in that!”

I was careful not to tell her that I felt like a whale that was beached…because I don’t want her to have body image issues and stuff, ya know?

“Thanks – a little out of my comfort zone.”

Then my 10-year-old who I swear is an old soul said this:

“I think it’s great you are wearing that. Just think – you wouldn’t have been able to wear any kind of dress last year.”

Be. Still. My. Heart.

She’s right.

Last year I couldn’t wear dresses.

Forget the fact that I was still insanely big after having Aria…but I couldn’t even wear something stretchy to pull over my head.

Well I could…but the six feet of tubing that was coming out of my incision into a chic little wound vac that I carried around made it a tad difficult. So I stuck to oversize sweaters and leggings. I tried to cover as much tubing as possible so I didn’t have to see the “Oh my God…why and where is that tube coming from” looks. That’s what happens when you get a nasty infection after a C-section…when you’re told you were only hours away from septic shock before the whole thing exploded inside of you. I’ll spare the rest of the cringe-worthy details.

Back to the blue gown fitting…I went back into the bathroom and I suddenly looked at myself completely differently.

No I am not where I want to be in my health journey just yet but guess what…I am going to celebrate who I am and where I am in life AT THIS MOMENT.

No, I don’t have my pre-baby body back…I don’t look as good as my friends do on Instagram…I don’t like getting tagged in unsolicited photos on social media.

But guess what? I. AM. HEALTHY.

At first look I thought – should I wear this?

But then I realized heck yes! I am going to celebrate the fact that I have been to hell with my health.  But I CAME BACK. That’s why I look and smile at any obstacle I am faced with now.

So I am excited to slide (shove) myself into that dress…

My faithful sweats will still be waiting at home.

And tater tots.

😉

 

 

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In that Fraternity basement…

Mad Dog.

That’s what I was drinking one night in college.

It’s not exactly what you call fine liquor but it was cheap and when you’re in college, you try to make your summer savings account last. Even though my funds never made it past October.

My girlfriends and I were spending our Friday night at the usual place…a basement frat party. They were my favorite nights.

Let me get to it…my friends went home. I remember they needed to be in good condition the next day because their parents were coming to visit. I, on the other hand, was not ready to stop dancing…or drinking my Banana Red Mad Dog.

Then there were shots. Many shots.

Goldschlager.

Just typing that out makes me gag. There are mouthwashes I can’t even use because it takes me back.

I was surrounded by 15-20 fraternity brothers…some I knew really well…others I didn’t know at all. They were all pretty big guys.

I was the only girl left at the party.

The last thing I remember is the room spinning…and the bass from the speakers was killing my head.

That’s the last thing I remember.

I woke up early the next morning on the couch.

There was a warm fuzzy blanket draped over me…my shoes were on the floor beside me…there was a trash can next the couch too…my clothes were on.

Those 15-20 fraternity brothers took care of me.

They didn’t take anything that wasn’t theirs.

And you know, I wasn’t dressed what some would call “appropriate.” I had a belly shirt on…low cut jeans with a flannel wrapped around my waist. I’m sure I was overly giddy…maybe even flirtatious considering the amount of alcohol I drank.

The night could have ended a lot differently for me because it was a textbook situation we have been taught to avoid. Skin was showing…alone at a party…too much alcohol.

IT. DID. NOT. MATTER.

They didn’t take anything that wasn’t theirs.

They respected me.

They protected me.

It’s not what we wear.

It’s not a look we give.

It’s not how much we drink.

It is how we are raised and how we value another human being.

Not only was I forever grateful to those 15-20 fraternity brothers…I was forever grateful to their parents.

It’s not just our job to teach our daughters about situations to avoid…

It’s our job to teach our sons to respect women.

Period.

 

“October” people…

Ever read a quote and it hits ya’ right in the stomach?

Yeah, me too.

“October is about trees revealing the colors they have hidden all year. People have an October as well.”

That one got me.

After I stepped away from the “spotlight”…I learned that a lot of people around me were “October” people.

I have always kept a wall up because honestly, there always seemed to be an ulterior motive or other intention that wasn’t genuine. And the funny thing is, some people thought I was stupid…like I couldn’t see it.

The warning shot was always “let’s take a picture together so I can post it!” Now, viewers would post a picture and that was something different. But the “October” people would always write something like “Hanging with my girl.”

People like that never knew ME.

People like that can only see a name.

I gotta call it like it is (pardon if this comes across as sounding egotistical because that is not my intent)…

BUT…

There were people who wanted to be around me because of my name.

There. I said it.

They are my “October” people.

In my TV days, one of my “October” people would always say this “We really need to grab some lunch or coffee soon!”

I see that person from time to time now. Just the other day I said, “Hey, we need to have that coffee soon!”

Crickets.

Her calendar is suddenly insanely busy.

Ok I’ll be honest, I did not want to necessarily have coffee with this person because the only things I want in my life that are fake are lashes, spray tans and my hair 😉

I guess I wanted to test my theory of “October” people.

Sadly I was spot on.

But you know what? It’s a good thing. You have to weed those people out because those are the people who will be drilling holes in your boat instead of helping you paddle.

They’re often opportunists.

My circle is a small as a Cheerio but they are my WOLF PACK. They are my ride-or-dies. They are the ones who will listen to me for hours. They will call me out on my BS. They celebrate my victories. They understand that my job NOW…is far more important than any job I had reading the news. They tell me things I don’t want to hear. They get the fact that I’m not always able to attend everything. They understand my plate is super full. They’re the first ones there and the last ones to leave. They know the way to my heart is talking over some wine and chips & salsa. They don’t name-drop me.

They don’t care who the he** I am.

But they do care about my character…my integrity…what I stand for…whether I can laugh at myself…my honesty.

I’m not Amanda Goodman.

I am Amanda.

I have four kids…my house is rarely clean…I wear makeup only when I have to…anything with an elastic waistband is my MVP…I struggle with losing the baby weight…I tend to roll my eyes way too much…I pretend I can sing Whitney Houston while driving my car…I hate doing my hair in the morning…I don’t like it when people tell me to “calm down”…I love Botox and I have no problem admitting it…I scream like a mad woman at the TV during a Notre Dame or Eagles game…I know every word to a Biggie or Tupac song…I cry at church songs…I play basketball…I have been known to have road rage…I hate talking on the phone…I am Queen of the Instant Pot except for Sundays, then it’s homemade Italian food…I am a fan of Pinot Grigio…I speak my mind…I am fiercely loyal…I’m as real as they come…I quote Steel Magnolias every single day…I drive the Hot Mess Express…I’m not glamorous.

That’s who I am.

It’s no fun when you finally figure out who your “October” people are…

But it is liberating to let them go.

It may be our child…

“MOM FILES FEDERAL LAWSUIT AFTER SON DOESN’T MAKE HIGH SCHOOL SOCCER TEAM.”

That is an actual headline.

That is actually happening.

Facepalm. Eye-roll so hard. You get the gist.

Can we just stop with this nonsense?

Look I get it – we want to protect our children from hurt…we want to go all Mama Bear on someone if they hurt our child’s feelings.

But THIS? It’s setting that kid up for major disappointment and failure in the future because newsflash…mommy and daddy can’t fight your battles when you grow up. Stuff like this teaches our kids whining and constant complaining will let them get their way.

It’s a good 100% probability that the kid didn’t make the high school soccer team because he wasn’t good enough.

It happens.

We need to take the rose-colored glasses off and realize that our child may not be the next LeBron James, Alex Morgan, Tom Brady or Serena Williams. And guess what? That’s ok!

We, as parents, have to come to the realization that IT MAY BE OUR CHILD.

Our child may not be the smartest kid in the class…

Our child may not have handed in their homework…

Our child may not have studied for the test.

Maybe that’s why they’re not doing well in school.

Our child may goof off at practice…

Our child may not be working hard at their skills…

Our child may not be the best one on the field/court…

Maybe that’s why they’re not playing.

My oldest daughter was upset with some playing time recently – she wants more. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I wanted her to have more playing time too.  But it’s also pretty obvious that she needs to step up her game.

Sure, the Mama Bear in me gets irritated…I ask questions in my head…maybe I bounce things off my friends about it…

BUT…I am not emailing the coach.

I am not running across the field to yell at the coach.

I am not posting things on social media about it.

The only thing I am doing is having a very REAL conversation with my daughter:

“Are you paying attention at practice? Are you working hard on your skills when you’re at home? YOU have to put in the effort. If this is what you really want to do, YOU are the one who has to improve every single day…every week…every game. YOU control this. Nobody else is at fault. Period.”

Does it suck for her to hear something like that?

Sure.

But if I don’t teach her accountability and strong work ethic now, then I have failed her as a mom.

Not everything in our kids’ lives will be fair.

There will be kids who don’t show up to practice and still play.

There will be kids who blow off their homework and still get an ‘A.’

There will be a million and one examples like this but none of them have anything to do with our own child.

They control their own destiny…they are the ones who hold the pen to their own story.

Let your kid fall.

If we teach them right…they’ll get back up.

Failure is good.

It makes success THAT much better.

 

 

 

 

Wolf in plain sight…

This whole chastising women who are coming forward claiming sexual assault is setting up a dangerous precedent. The immediate refusal to believe a woman…could end up hurting even more children.

Hear me out here…

Before they turn 18 years old, 1 in 5 children in our area will be sexually abused.

Let that sink in.

1 in 5.

Think about high school graduation. Imagine how many kids walking across that stage have been sexually abused.

It makes me sick.

And it scares the heck out of me because I worry that people will treat a child’s accusation the same way they have been treating women’s accusations.

My mind was all over the place last night because I realized something disturbing: when a woman is sexually assaulted, it’s the only crime that happens that the victim is doubted…ridiculed…questioned beyond belief.

Think about it…

If someone’s home is broken into…do we say things like: you shouldn’t have had such a big house…it’s your fault for having such nice things inside!

No. We don’t blame the victim in this case.

If someone’s car is broken into or stolen…do we say things like: next time don’t have such a nice car! It’s your fault for buying something that expensive.

No. We don’t blame the victim in this case.

If a guy is attacked by someone on the street…do we say things like: well you probably had it coming. Did you look at him funny? What were you wearing?

No. We don’t blame the victim in this case.

If a woman says she is sexually assaulted…we immediately hear things like: why is she just speaking up now? She is trying to ruin his career. How can she remember if she was drunk? What was she wearing?

We blame the victim.

I know some things are hard to believe…hard to understand.

I never would have thought my favorite childhood priest would be accused of hurting children…but he is accused of it.

I never would have thought America’s TV Dad would have sexually assaulted dozens of women…but he did.

I never would have thought one of the country’s top journalists would have been sexually assaulting women in his office…but he did.

I never would have thought a young man who I knew as a promising lawyer and former athlete would have raped one of my friends…but he did.

Just because it is hard for us to comprehend or answer the “why”…doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

It’s probably hard to understand why a father shows his young daughter pornography and then sexually abuses her. But it’s happening.

It’s probably hard to understand why the neighbor you had over for family BBQs every summer rapes your son. But it’s happening.

It’s probably hard to believe that your son who goes to church every Sunday and is a star athlete has sexually assaulted the girl in his class. But it’s happening.

It’s probably hard to comprehend that the family friend you have had for 30 years is sending inappropriate pictures to your children. But it’s happening.

It’s probably hard to wrap your brain around the fact that a 60-year-old man tried to solicit sex from a young teenager. But it’s happening.

All of those things happened. Locally.

It’s all disgusting, despicable and inexcusable behavior…so of course it is hard to believe. It’s sick and doesn’t make sense. But it’s happening.

Let’s not forget about what we learned when we were kids reading “Little Red Riding Hood.”

Wolves are often disguised very well in plain sight.

Never discard someone’s story. Stop assuming it’s all about attacking a political party…ruining a career or looking for the spotlight.

Imagine if a child comes forward to tell you someone is hurting them and your immediate response is “Are you sure? What did you do to make them hurt you?”

Listen.

Believe.

Protect.

Report.

 

13.

13.

That number sticks in my head.

It’s certainly not lucky 13.

13 is how many friends of mine who have been sexually assaulted.

13 of my friends were called liars.

13 of my friends suffer in silence.

13 of my friends knew their predator.

13.

The #MeToo movement has rocked this country to its core. It’s like somebody is shaking the hell out of a tree and all of the apples are falling off.

I know it’s hard for some people to understand why some people are waiting decades to come forward. I know there are people who think everything is politically motivated. I know there are people who think some women want to cash in. I know there are people who think victims are lying because they want the spotlight.  I know there are people who think women are coming forward out of spite or revenge for something else that happened. I know there are people who think the women coming forward are just trying to ruin someone’s life.

Perhaps all of these reasons are why women never come forward.

I’m not going to share any details of the 13 stories I know.  Those stories are not for me to tell.

But I will share this.

Every single one of my friends who was sexually assaulted felt shame. They lived in fear.  They were in denial. They were bullied.  They were intimidated.  They were ridiculed. They felt “less than.” They were powerless. They thought it was their fault. They felt dirty. They felt embarrassed.

They went to school with their attacker…they worked with their attacker…they lived in the dorms with their attacker…they were neighbors with their attacker…their brothers were best friends with their attacker.

13 of my friends come from good families.

13 of my friends go to church every Sunday.

13 of my friends have college degrees.

13 of my friends have executive-level jobs.

13 of my friends have spouses.

13 of my friends have children.

13 of my friends appear to have it all together.

13 of my friends suffer every single day because they re-live that moment of terror… every single day.

13 of my friends are watching other women reclaim their power to finally speak up and speak out about a moment in their life that changed everything. A moment in their life that changed all of their years FOREVER.

So if 13 of my friends want to share their story 5, 10, 15 or even 30 years later…I will stand with them.

It takes an incredible amount of courage to reclaim your voice and power.

Every story should be heard.

Every story matters.

Instead of thinking “wow…she is going to ruin his life.”

Try thinking “wow…he ruined her life.”

13.

And those are the ones who felt comfortable telling me.

Imagine how many more there are.

“I’m Surprised You’re a Feminist”

I remember the first time I was called a feminist…actually, I was accused of being a feminist.  I was in my early 20s and was just starting my TV news career…and really just getting a tiny glimpse of what was to come. I was defending a story idea when a male colleague looked at me in disgust and said, “What you’re a feminist and hate men now??”

I thought wait what?? I’m not that kind of feminist…wait…no. I was a ball of confusion.

Fast-forward to present day…I received a message from an individual who said they were surprised that I was a feminist. He went on to say “I thought you were someone who could see both sides. I guess I was wrong.”

Sigh.

Can I cue the eye-roll now?

I am a woman.

I want to be treated equally.

I don’t want to be handed something to fill the “woman quota.”

I want to get what I have earned…not what I am owed for simply being a woman.

I just want a seat at the table like everyone else.

I am PRO-WOMAN.

But that does not make me ANTI-MAN.

I can’t lie…bitterness grew and burned inside of me for a long time. Working in the “boys club” for so long will do that to you.  I did find myself resenting men for awhile because things seem to come so easy for them. When I was at a TV station back east I realized that men were never criticized for their appearance on-air…they could be fat, bald or gray…they could and would wear the same suit for days at a time…they could speak their mind and would be commended for being “leaders”…they were immediately respected as journalists…they were given the hard-news stories first.

I was on the bitter bus.

But I quickly realized that things had to change. It was never my male colleagues’ fault that things came a little easier for them. It was society as a whole. I feel like there has always been this perception that women can work…but maybe we should be in the background a bit. And if we got a high level position…then it’s only because we HAD TO GET it because we’re a woman.

So I use my voice.

I call people out when they criticize my shade of lipstick…my waist-size or my hair. I speak my mind even more and I am called names other than leaders…but I realized I don’t care. If that’s how people see me…that’s on them. I know my real motivation…I know my intentions.

If women are getting raped and murdered by men…I’m going to be THEIR VOICE.  I am going to ask people to stop blaming women for their own murders. This doesn’t mean I am anti-man. I’m anti-psycho person with no soul who thinks they can take whatever they want. If the person behind the crime happens to be a man…then it’s on the individual…not on MEN everywhere.

The moment a woman speaks up…we are labeled. We’re troublemakers…we’re anti-man…we’re too forceful…we’re angry…we’re trying to flip roles at home…we’re trying to overturn time-honored traditions…oh the list goes on.

We’re not trying to take anything from anybody.

We’re not anti-man.

We don’t want to be entitled to anything.

We just want to be heard.

We just want a seat at the table.

We want to be seen eye-to eye.

We want to make the path a little easier for our daughters.

Broken down to its simplest form…that’s what feminism is.

If you don’t believe in all of that…then maybe you’re a sexist.