It’s not us…

“She shouldn’t have been by herself.”

No. No. No.

I read that comment today on a link to a story about 22-year-old Celia Barquin Arozamena who was murdered. The Iowa State student went golfing Monday morning and authorities say she was raped and murdered.

Let me say this loud and clear for the people in the back:

Women should not have to travel in packs.

We should be able to go for a jog.

We should be able to go for a bike ride.

We should be able to play golf.

We should be able to go to a store.

We should be able to walk through a parking lot.

We should be able to walk on a trail.

We should be able to sit on a park bench.

We should be able to kayak.

WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO ALL OF THESE THINGS ALONE IF WE WANT.

In fact, we should be able to do whatever the heck we want BY OURSELVES without the fear of someone attacking us…without the fear of someone raping us…without the fear of someone murdering us.

It’s not US who need any reminders.

It’s the people who don’t know the word NO…

It’s the people who think they can have whatever they want…

It’s the people who have zero respect for women…

It’s the people who think they are superior…

It’s the people who think women are weaker…

It’s the people who have no soul…

It’s the people who think women are for the taking…

THOSE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO NEED THE REMINDERS.

So let’s stop blaming women.

It’s not the clothes we wear…

It’s not the time of day we are outside…

It’s not the way we looked at someone…

It’s not whether we’re alone or not…

It’s not whether we drank too much…

It’s not whether you thought we didn’t mean NO…

It’s NOT US.

Point-blank PERIOD.

IT’S NOT US.

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Parenting.

When I was in high school, I got grounded so many times my curfew eventually became 8:00pm.

It was normally my mouth that got me in trouble…saying the word “whatever”…rolling my eyes…or putting my hands on my hips (my mom really hated that one). It was the perfect combination of being a snotty teenager.

As you can imagine, an 8:00pm curfew is “debilitating” to a teenager’s social life. At least that was my argument to my parents over and over when I was 17.

So let me get to the point: I always made my curfew…but I snuck out. I would wait until my parents were asleep and then I would tip-toe downstairs…sneak out the backdoor…climb over the fence…and dart down the block where my friend was waiting in her car. It was always around 11:30 when I would make my daring escape. We would head to parties and I would have a few sips of Mad Dog, Boone’s Farm or Zima – it was the mid-90s and those were the classy beverages being served. Around 2:00am, I would sneak back into my house and head to bed.

I snuck out dozens of times…I had several parties when my parents were away…I did a lot of things I wasn’t supposed to do.

Whenever there is a story in the news about a kid who messed up, our first reaction is almost always, “where were the parents?! That’s bad parenting.”

That has been my reaction in the past.

But then I had to think back to my own childhood.

My parents were amazing.

And they were strict.

We had rules…we had chores…we had family dinners every night…we went to church together…we prayed together…we had curfews…we had a lot of hugs…we said I love you every morning, noon and night…we had our homework checked…we got grounded…we were afraid of disappointing our parents…we had heart-to-heart conversations…we had LOVE.

But.

I still made bad choices.

My brother still made bad choices.

My sister still made bad choices.

Those bad choices weren’t made because we had horrible parents who didn’t know what they were doing.

We made bad choices because we WERE KIDS.

Maybe I wanted to see how far I could push.

I quickly realized that every action had a consequence…and it was a tough one. I was held accountable for every little thing I did.

Maybe that’s what we’re lacking now…accountability. Look, unless you have rose-colored glasses on, every child is going to make bad decisions. Every single one. And that is ok because that’s how we grow. But as their parents, it’s how we handle the aftermath…that’s the most important moment.

I tell my children all of the time: the first time you do it, it’s a mistake and you learn from it. If you made the same bad decision twice…then it’s a CHOICE.

My kids can roll their eyes at me all day long…every action will have a consequence.

Shaming.

A recent comment made to me got me thinking…

Did you know…

Some women gain a TON of weight when they’re pregnant…while others gain very little.

Some women can fit in their pre-baby jeans right after birth…while others still rock maternity pants years later.

Some women work a full-time job outside of the home…while some women work inside of the home.

Some women color their hair…while others like to go au natural.

Some women have their finances in check…while others struggle to make ends meet.

Some women are in solid, loving relationships…while others are in the throws of a terrible breakup.

Some women breastfeed…while others use formula.

Some women choose to wear hair extensions…while others choose not to.

Some women like to wear sweatpants and a hat on the weekend…while others like to get dolled up.

Some women feed their kids organic food…whole some just drove through the fast food drive-thru.

Some women like to go for a run to stay fit…while some women prefer a leisurely walk.

Some women are Democrats…while some women are Republicans.

Some women are bold and vocal…while some women are shy and reserved.

Some women are like delicate flowers…while some are like bulls in a china shop.

Some women delivered a baby vaginally…while some have delivered via C-section.

Some women went to college…while others chose to go right into a career.

Some women prefer an inexpensive staycation…while others travel to a five-star resort.

Some women like to show their assets…while others choose to be more conservative when they dress.

Some women like to wear fake eyelashes…while some do not.

Some women are Catholic…while some women are Jewish.

Some women are Christian….while some women are atheists.

Some women have tattoos…while some do not.

Some women have had plastic surgery…while some have not.

Some women love to eat salads…while some prefer a juicy cheeseburger.

Some women like to get Botox…while some women do not.

Some women have lived a pretty charmed life…while some have been to hell and back.

Some women have the means for a lavish lifestyle…while some do not.

Some women will like you…while some women will not.

Whatever “woman” you are…you are perfect. Don’t let anyone shame you because you are not like them. Don’t let anyone shame you because your path was different.  Don’t let anyone shame you because you are not “perfect” in their eyes. Don’t let anyone shame you for the struggles you have faced.

People who take the time to research you and list your flaws don’t deserve you in their lives.

This is YOUR story.

Re-enacting someone else’s story would be boring and lifeless.

Don’t let anyone shame you but if they do…call them out on it.

Trust me, it’s not you…it’s them.

Temper tantrum v. Passion

During a basketball game when I was 17, a referee made a horrible call. Well, in my opinion, the ref made a horrible call. I remember taking the ball and slamming it on the floor out of pure anger and frustration. Then I heard the whistle…saw the ref make the “T” sign with his hand. Boom – technical foul.

I would have rather walked home than to ride in the car with my parents that night. “You can’t throw a temper tantrum like that….lose the attitude…you embarrassed yourself.” That was the gist of the convo. My parents were right…I let frustration get the best out of me.

That weekend, my 12-year-old brother had a basketball game. He fouls out…comes to the bench…kicks a chair pretty hard before sitting down. I thought, “well this car ride home will suck for him.” But it was much different. “Sorry you fouled out son…it was a horrible call against you…I like seeing you play with so much heart and passion.”

HOLD. UP. A. MINUTE.

Fast forward to present day.

Serena Williams. No doubt one of THE BEST ATHLETES OF ALL TIME. Period.

If you haven’t heard, an official at the US Open accused her of cheating during her championship match. By doing that, her character and integrity were under attack. As you can imagine, Serena was livid…so she confronted the official. Moments later social media and the internet blew up with headlines like “Serena throws temper tantrum…Serena is a sore loser…Serena acted like a toddler.”

Again…HOLD. UP. A. MINUTE.

I am not going to sit hear and argue whether she should have been yelling or not…that’s not my lane.  But I know if someone is calling out my character and integrity than I definitely will have something to say.

But can we talk about the double-standard with the reaction?

How many times have we seen male athletes throw helmets…yell at referees…complain after a loss?? Too many to count. And every single time they are referred to as “passionate…dedicated to the game…so much heart.”

Vomit.

Women are described as being too emotional…throwing a temper tantrum…no class…immature…attitude problem.

This isn’t just in sports…it’s in “real life” too.  I remember being vocal in a meeting and I was called a hot-head. My male counterpart did the same and was called a leader.

Now I am not going to twist things here — if I am acting like a lunatic — then I need to be called out. I am all about accountability.  But let’s have the same standard across the board.

And no – I don’t want to be treated with kid gloves because I am a woman. I’m not delicate like a flower…I’m delicate more like a bomb.

I don’t want any woman to ever feel less than. Our feelings are real…our emotions are real…our leadership is real…our stance on issues is real…our beliefs are real…our passion is real…our heat is real…our competitiveness is real.

And if there’s ever a moment where someone makes you feel less than, just remember one thing:

Everyone in this world, was carried and delivered by a woman. I don’t know what’s more powerful than that.

We are MORE than we are depicted on most days.

To my tween:

The first, of what I can assume will be many arguments over clothing choices happened this morning. The subsequent eyeroll and crossing of the arms just reinstated one thing: I’m totally winning at this mom thing 😉

I realized I have entered the full-on stages of “TWEENHOOD.” That awkward time in between a little kid and a teenager. So there are things I want my “tween” to know…because regardless of she thought this morning when she slammed the car door, I do know what I’m talking about. And I AM still cool.

  1. Leggings are not pants (unless you’re at home). Leggings look best with a sweater, baggy sweatshirt or tunic. Leggings do not look good with a crop top.
  2. You CAN wear white after Labor day. It’s a stupid rule and I have no idea who made it up.
  3. You’re 10 – you do not need makeup.
  4. Do not search Pinterest for the proper ways to contour your face. See #3 – you’re 10.
  5. You are absolutely beautiful.
  6. Binge on a good BOOK series instead of Netflix.
  7. Keep your nails clean.
  8. It’s still cool to hug and kiss your parents.
  9. I will hug and kiss you in public. Sorry not sorry.
  10. It’s ok to have a crush on a boy – but that’s where it ends – again, you’re 10.
  11. Smile at people in the hallways – it will brighten their day.
  12. Turn your homework on time (and in our house, early is on time).
  13. Don’t ever let anyone sit by themselves at lunch.
  14. You don’t need a phone. I survived without one at 10 😉
  15. I will ask you a million questions about your day – “fine” is not an acceptable answer.
  16. Please remove the word “whatever” from your vocabulary.
  17. Don’t lie. Ever. Even if you mess up or make a mistake, always tell me the truth and I won’t be mad.
  18. Be YOU. Don’t compare yourself to your friends – their strengths may be your weaknesses and that’s ok. You’re one-of-a-kind kiddo!
  19. If you’re having a tough time, talk to me. I’ve been there. Trust me. Just ask your grandparents.
  20. I love you more than life itself – but I’m your Mom, not your friend (that will come later). I will be hard on you because I don’t want this world to chew you up and spit you out.

Just be…

When you’re in school and trying to fit in…know this:

Be the funny kid.

Be the weird kid.

Be the artsy kid.

Be the athletic kid.

Be the science kid.

Be the shy kid.

Be the outgoing kid.

Be the smart kid.

Be the kind kid.

Be the kid with the wild hair.

Be the kid who loves the monkey bars at recess.

Be the kid who likes to read on the bus.

Be the kid who loves a bologna sandwich.

Be the kid who wears bright pink shoes.

Be the kid who knows random facts about tornadoes.

Be the kid who likes to smile.

Be the kid who likes to make others laugh.

Be the kid who never lets anyone eat lunch alone.

Be the kid who breaks out into random dance moves.

Be the kid who loves doing homework.

Be the kid who likes to be called on in class.

Be the kid with the crazy nail polish.

BE YOU.

You are one-of-a-kind so don’t be anything else but YOU.

Besides, it’s too exhausting going through life pretending to be someone we’re not.

BE YOU.

And never apologize for it.

 

 

Gross.

“Why do gross grownups ruin it for everyone?!!”

(Sigh)

My son was asking that in a very loud 7-year-old voice all weekend.

All he wanted to do was play a game on my phone that he had been BEGGING to play all summer. Saturday I finally caved. I downloaded Roblox. “It’s better than Minecraft, Mom!” So I did some research on the game…it’s going through fun obstacle courses, mazes and other appropriate scenarios for an elementary-aged kid. My husband made sure all of the parental controls were set…then Nico was off…excited to FINALLY be playing the game. But like all games, he was playing it while sitting in the same room as us.

I was in the kitchen when I heard a very soft, “um Mom?”

“Mom…someone is saying something gross on Roblox.”

(The thing about Nico is this: he is honest. Like brutally honest. He doesn’t hide anything from me. He tells me EVERYTHING).

“What? What do you mean something gross?”

Nico handed me the phone and I saw it: a chat room popped up. Someone named DALE54 was asking questions like: HEY WHAT GRADE ARE YOU IN? WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE COLOR? DO YOU PLAY SPORTS? WHAT ARE YOU WEARING?

I yelled something that I probably shouldn’t have yelled in the presence of a child. But for the LOVE OF GOD come on!! Why can’t kids just be kids without some creep trying to be so sinister?

Nico was obviously upset when I told him that he can no longer play that game…we will stick to Super Mario Brothers or Pac Man…the basics. I also praised him for coming to me immediately…it’s a quality he has that I pray never goes away.

My husband and I thought this was a good time to reiterate the scary truth of today: don’t ever talk to anyone online that you do not know…ever. You will think they are a 7-year-old boy who plays the same sports you do…he will ask you about your favorite sports teams…you both like the same kind of food…you hate the same subjects in school…he will tell you he has the coolest arcade at his house with the very latest video games…he will ask you to come play at his house but don’t tell your mom, because she probably wouldn’t let you play those games…he’ll say it’s not fair that moms can be so not cool.  He will say whatever he can to get you to leave your house…but it won’t be a 7-year-old boy.

My kids have heard me talk about this over and over but today was different. Today, it became a little too real for them.

A friend of mine said was I being a little too harsh…that I shouldn’t have told them this because now they will be scared.

It’s not about being scared.

It’s about being aware.

It’s sad…but what’s happening IS scary.

When we were growing up, we were taught to look out for the scary van that was driving around the neighborhood. The one with the window in the back with the frayed curtain.

Now we have chameleons all around us.

It shouldn’t have to be like this…but it is.

I went back online to look into the game even more and I found this on The Cyber Safety Lady:

Edit 04/06/18 Due to the recent reports of a Sex Room and other adult content in Roblox I cannot recommend this game even with the parental controls set up as being safe for children. Some of the adult content is not being blocked by the filters or parental controls. Even with the strictest parental controls set up (see below) Children are seeing Avatars in Roblox with sexual organs attached or who have enabled what are known as “particles” and sound attachments, which blast out floating pictures of graphic pornography and or explicit music. The parental controls also do NOT block random friend requests from strangers.

I read that last line again carefully: The parental controls also do NOT block random friend requests from strangers.

We had the chat blocked…

But I did not do ENOUGH research.

(Sigh)

As adults, it’s OUR job to keep children safe.

And I failed.

I rolled my eyes at my son’s brutal honesty when he told me one day it looked like I was having another baby.

But I hope he is always THIS brutally honest…because it helped to keep him safe.