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Letter to my 17 year old self

November 19, 2010 5 comments

Several years ago a few friends and I practiced an exercise where we each wrote a letter to our 17 year old selves, words of advice so to speak. It was awesome, very self-reflective, and showed us just how much we’d learned and been through in the previous decade. I encourage you to try this yourself. Here is my letter.

Dear Maria,

I know you feel alone, like you’ve just lost the rest of your life because you have this baby to raise, but I promise you – it will get better. Just ride this time out, it doesn’t seem like it, but this time will only equate to a very small portion of your life. And your life is far from over.

You will learn to be a good mom. It takes time and I know you are unsure of yourself right now but you will learn.

Finish school. Go straight to college, even if it’s only part time. If you fail a class because you’re having a hard time juggling work and your son, ask for help from the family and take the class again. Make it work this time. Just don’t stop going. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Get a digital camera as soon as you can afford it. Take a lot of pictures. Those digital pictures are going to last a lot longer than the 35mm film. Honest.

You will find the love of your life.

You haven’t even met half of the people you are going to meet in your lifetime. Don’t worry.

You are going to make a million more GREAT memories that you don’t believe you can- but you will! Just be patient.

Save some money in a secret bank account. Make it an IRA plan that you can’t access so easily.

Save more money for AJ sooner, college will be around the corner before you know it.

Spend less time worrying about your weight. You’re not fat.

You are beautiful. You have great cheek bones, smooth skin, and a sweet smile. Enjoy your youthful beauty for as long as you can because when you get older you will regret that you never realized what you had.

Practice safe sex.

Don’t have sex with your girlfriends’ ex-boyfriends, it complicates things.

Cherish the group of friends you have in your 20’s. They will be the best you ever have.

Don’t drive drunk.

Accept your mom for who she is. She’s crazy but don’t ask her to change, don’t expect her to. She doesn’t have to and she won’t ever. The sooner you accept that the sooner you can make amends with who she is to you.

Don’t be sad  about Dad. I know you think he doesn’t love you, but he does. It’s not about you. You didn’t do anything wrong. Some people are just broken.

Hold onto every moment with your baby sister. Make every memory with her last longer. Love her. Take care of her for as long as you can. Forgive her.

Control your temper. Don’t get so angry. The world isn’t out to get you. Think before you react. THINK FIRST. Revenge doesn’t fix anything.

Don’t sweat the stuff people do to you, life really is a circle. You get what you give.

Get into jogging, or running, or walking in the mornings. Make it a habit.

Write it all down. All of it. Everything you feel. Everything you’re afraid of. All of your secret hopes you don’t want anyone to know about. Write it all down. Hide them if you have to but just write it all down. Your own words will serve as your record that you actually did it, you went through it, you got through it. I know you’re afraid people will read what you write but that’s okay. When you get older you will want them to.

When you are 22 you will go through some things that make you question yourself. You will ask this question everyday for several years. The answer is yes. Yes, the tears will stop. Be strong.

Throw less house parties. They are not worth the headache.

Buy a hybrid car as soon as they are available. I’m serious. Don’t worry about how they look. It won’t matter soon enough.

Go ahead and take those risks. They won’t always pay off, but when they do, they will pay off BIG.

Take care of your credit.

Don’t talk back to Grandma. Just listen to her. You don’t have to believe everything she says, you can pretend. She won’t be around forever and you will regret the times you fought with her.

You don’t know who I’m talking about yet but- he will come home. He will.

Don’t be angry when your kids act just like you, they are doing it because you are what they know.

Don’t get angry when your kids don’t act like you, they are their own people. They’re not you. Let them be who they want to be.

Last piece of advice. Remember this one because you will question this time and again for decades to come. Things are going to work out for you. You will be okay. Don’t let your fears stop you from trying or you’ll miss out on all the successess in store for you. Don’t stop trying. Your life is worth it. You are worth it.

Love,

30 year old Maria

P.S. Don’t overanalyze this letter. It’s not a map of your future. It’s just some advice from someone older and wiser.

Why I write comical satire

Wouldn’t all the crap in my life be experienced in vain if I couldn’t share my family’s dysfunction with others so that they, in turn, might gain some consolation in knowing at least their lives don’t exceed the lunacy I encounter everyday?

Ho ho ho…or maybe not

The holidays are creeping around the corner and I’ve asked the kids to make their Christmas wish lists now so I can budget early. Yeah, I don’t play that “one night Santa miraculously visits everyone’s house and gives them everything their heart desires” crap. I tell my kiddos the real deal. Mommy and Daddy work hard 365 days a year to try to get you what you want, but don’t always deserve. Santa stories are for woosies.

Anyway, between a busted transmission and a broken refrigerator, it’s an easy guess the pickings under the tree will be slim this year. I instructed each child to make a list of their top ten, but expect a solid three they might actually receive. 

As for me and my husband,well, aside from the makeshift craft gifts our kids give us, we actually haven’t given one another more than three gifts each, Christmas or otherwise, in the last five years. Gift giving between the two of us has become like sex in our relationship – near nonexistent.

Raising three Democrats and one Republican

Well, not really, but this may end up being the case. In a house full of liberals, the baby of the family seems to be exhibiting early signs of conservatism.

She was mortified when she saw her older brother wear an I Love Boobies bracelet. I tried to explain the purpose of the Keep A Breast Foundation campaign, but she didn’t care. She felt the bracelets and shirts alike were inappropriate.

When she saw the advertisements for the new Tyler Perry movie, For Colored Girls (2010), she expressed her nine year old disappointment that the producer didn’t simply call it For African American Girls. I’m not kidding. I tried to explain that “colored” wasn’t necessarily a derogatory word, but again she countered with “it still isn’t right”.

At the dinner table she refrains from joining in some of our more potty mouth discussions. She says “we shouldn’t talk about those things at the table”.

Just last night the topic of gays and lesbians came up because she was reading my blog page out loud. She refused to say the word “gay”. I told her it wasn’t a bad word and asked if she knew what the word meant. She did and was  compelled to add, “that’s just horrible, mommy”. All I could think was, ‘Oh no, I’m going to have to sit this girl down a lot sooner than I expected and give her a  good talking to.’

I have no clue where some of her ideas are coming from, definitely not from our house, but even at nine she’s so strong minded, I just want to make sure she knows that while it’s okay for her to be conservative, she’s still going to have to learn to respect the way other people live. Wish me luck people because it’s not the easiest thing trying to rationalize with a kid. I may walk out of that discussion with questions of my own.

He wears his sunglasses at night..and everywhere else..

My husband is driving me nuts. I can’t get him to take off his sunglasses. He wears them everywhere; in the house, in the car, in the club, in the dark, on the boat, at night, in restaurants. WTF? I’m beginning to think he thinks they give him superpowers. A brand whore at that, he’s proclaimed himself a sunglass connoisseur.

If he doesn’t cut it out by the time we’re 6o, I’m not going to sit beside him at the retirement home. He better find himself some too old groupie to do that.

Cruise Escapades

November 5, 2010 1 comment

First impression..why are there more Filipino workers on this boat than there are Filipinos in all of Austin? I kept expecting some guest to ask me for fresh towels or to take their order. And why does this ship resemble a 1970’s casino?

Gayribbean…no, I did not make that word up. While I was booking the cruise I was so concerned with affordability I didn’t realize I had booked us on a Gayribbean Cruise. That was the official name. A few hundred gay guys…I’m from San Francisco so it actually took me two days to notice. All good, it wasn’t a bad thing.

Eye candy…I seemed to serve as the eye candy for a lot of the black men on board and in some cruel circle of a joke many of the gay men served as my eye candy.

On using the bathroom…the first time we heard a ship toilet flush

one of the girls was supposed to be taking a shower. It’s a scary sound and we had no idea what it was. I had to send in my oldest son to make sure his sister didn’t get swallowed up by the ship.

Sail and Sign card…the ship ran cashless so you had to charge everything to your room key/Sail and Sign card which was linked to your credit card. My husband was so excited in the first 3o hours he spent $156.00 on drinks for himself. I took away his Sail and Sign card the second night and told him to find another way to be that happy.

Silly things we find amusing…while watching the girls swim on the boat my husband and I watched a four year old boy, who weighed an easy 70 plus pounds, go down the five foot tall mini waterslide at least three dozen times. Each time he slid down the entire front row of sunbathers would get drenched. His oblivious mother kept egging him on once more.

Hairy man contest…this was a real event. There’s nothing like watching heavy and hairy middle aged men, to be exact; a plumber, an A/C guy, an IT manager, and a UPS driver, gyrate shirtless to Dancing Queen by ABBA.

Hip hop dance class..throw on a jumpsuit, wear a pair of Adidas shoes with the fat laces, chew gum from the right side of your mouth, say you’re from Puerto Rico and voila! You have a certified cruise hip hop dance instructer.

Meeting people when you’re drunk…my husband’s first night on the boat he met a guy named Ted. They chatted it up, ran into one another several times, and we actually spent a day in Cozumel with him. It wasn’t until the third day he finally told my husband, “My name is actually Tay, not Ted. I didn’t realize I would end up hanging out with you so much so I didn’t bother correcting you, but I figured if you wanted to keep in touch you should probably know my real name.”

Catamaran sailing..on an excursion in Mexico we were provided with free unlimited margaritas, although they were completely watered down. Caught in the moment, I let my son have his first sip of alcohol. Just as he was taking a sip we passed another boat full of nude people. There was my fourteen year old sipping a margarita and looking at several sets of breasts and then some….talk about walking him into manhood. I tried to get him to close his eyes but he was not trying to hear me one bit.

Afterthought…being on a Carnival cruise line is a lot like being at a week long party on a vessel that resembles Circus Circus with lots of drunk people. We had a ton of fun, but next time around I’m saving up for a Disney cruise. It might be more family friendly.

How can you tell when your son is going through puberty?

October 28, 2010 1 comment

He starts taking showers two to three times a day. I’m not kidding. With our older son I thought he just started caring more about his hygiene, but my husband filled me in on the real deal. Initially I was too shocked and stunned to address the issue whereas my husband seemed more proud, in that ridiculous man kind of way. Of course, he didn’t find it so funny when our water bill increased 20%. That’s when he warned our son to “cut your showers down, I mean it, and you know what I’m talking about.” I did my part and started hiding my Victoria’s Secret catalogs.

Dinner at my house

October 19, 2010 5 comments

Dinner is a favorite time at our house. We have a wipe board in the kitchen and every week we post that week’s dinner menu. My husband is a phenomenal cook which gives everyone more incentive to look forward to it. Unfortunately, since the children outnumber the adults our dinner conversation revolves more around pop culture or kid gossip and less politics or current events.

Here are some of the funnier comments overheard at my dinner table.

Regarding Justin’s 5 million plus Twitter followers. “I think Justin Bieber could beat Obama if he ran for President.”

“I don’t care if you can’t help it, if you fart at this table one more time I’m going to kick your *ss!”

After my brother shared his Kahlua ice cream. “Mommy, am I drunk? Is this drunk? Oh no, I think I might be drunk.”

“Daddy, the dogs keep trying to hump eachother under the table.”

Our meatitarian to the vegetarian. “When Daddy’s not looking give me all your meat and you can have my vegetables.”

The week I tried to make only healthy dinners, this is the night I served only salad. “Mom, are we broke this week? Oh..OK..then where’s our real dinner?”

Same week. I tried to feed my Asian husband brown rice. “What the hell is this?”

“Aw crap, one of the dogs is peeing on my feet.”

This wasn’t even my kid. He was a friend of my son’s and apparently never ate canned meat before. “Wow, this is good. What’s this called again? Corned beef? And they sell it at HEB? Is this Filipino food?” No kid, this is actually family on a budget food.

When I asked why one of the kids didn’t come down for dinner. “We tied her up. She’s still trying to get out.”

Now I realize my family leans a bit towards off-color humor, maybe too much for your taste, but silly as it may sound for an educated adult to say, still, I’ll take that potty humor any day over the grown up stuff. I spend all day, and several hours in the evenings in class, talking about reports, deadlines, equations, and logistics. There’s a time and place for everything and if my kids prefer to laugh at dinner, then I’ll take that. Every chance I get I’ll choose the sounds of their laughter to wrap up my day.

On learning from my mistakes

September 29, 2010 Leave a comment

The first few weeks of living with my first husband entailed a lot of getting used to one another’s personal habits, annoying and otherwise. I should note we were pretty young at the time. One morning he woke up looking at me funny and said, “My mom always told me girls were special, that even their farts smelled like flowers.” He then scrunched up his nose shaking his head side to side and added, “She lied.” We divorced a year later and a few years after we each remarried someone else.

I’ve been with my current husband for almost 16 years. Would you believe in all this time I’ve managed never to pass gas in front of him? I’ve got this one convinced I always smell like flowers.

Rolling credits for the night.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=COiIC3A0ROM

Top 5 Lessons of Marriage

September 28, 2010 9 comments

Here are the top 5 lessons I’ve learned being with the same man for 16 years.

1.       You will contemplate divorce seriously once or twice a year. A couple times you will even go so far as to pack your bags, skim through the yellow pages for an attorney, or mentally start a getaway plan and calculate the division of assets in your head. Eventually you change your mind and a week later you forgot what you were so worked up about anyways.

2.       Sex stops. You go from frequent to infrequent and then finally to exclusive special occasions only, which is far less than the ten federally observed holidays. Each of you will go through the mourning period separately but then gradually get used to it.  I have heard that some couples rediscover it after the kids are all out of the house. By my count that means I have quite a few more years of abstinence ahead of me.

3.       If you don’t figure out early on that the grass is actually greener on your side and not the neighbors – you’re screwed.  There are always going to be those “picture perfect” couples that make you feel like your marriage must be in bad shape or that single friend who has the freedom you’re envious of. Better believe that picture perfect folks are usually full of sh*t and being single isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Stick to what you got. Cherish your own marriage, with all of it’s imperfections and inconveniences.

4.       There is an extremely thin line between love and hate. You can love someone more than yourself and still manage to hurt him or her with a contradicting callousness. You’ll promise never to hurt one another but you will and if you’re lucky you’ll forgive each other and stay because unconditional means exactly that. You learn to forgive the unforgivable just when you thought you couldn’t.

5.       Relationships have a shelf life. If you don’t work on it daily, yours will expire. This doesn’t mean you have to buy extravagant gifts or celebrate everything under the sun, just show up. Be there. Listen. If my husband eats dinner with me every night and listens to me gripe about work or gossip about people he doesn’t even know, I’m a happy girl. In return, I’ll go to that overpriced sports bar and watch a game that bores me to no end just to keep him company.

In short, marriage is hard work. Sometimes it’s boring, other times painful, and most often downright tiring but if you can find the right person it really is worth it!

Rolling  credits for the night.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ju8Hr50Ckwk&ob=av2n

Arguements you can’t win

September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Have you ever argued with your husband or wife, girlfriend, whatever, and you were so frustrated you yelled back something that didn’t even make sense?

I do it all the time. Sometimes my husband and I even argue over text messages. That’s the worst. You start typing off the handle and all your words come out jumbled, or autotext tries to finish your words, but the software doesn’t recognize profanity so sh*t becomes shirt, an abbreviated f*k becomes fur, and so on.

Yesterday my husband and I were having one of those ‘who can throw more attitude’ arguements and somewhere in the middle I just stopped making sense. The Beastie Boys were on the radio and I made some smart *ss remark like, “I would so leave your *ss for MCA right now,” and the lame part was I don’t even think he heard me because our call dropped.

That’s another thing that bites, fighting on your cell phone and having the call drop while you’re still yelling. It’s awkward calling back because you’re not sure which insults to repeat since you don’t know which ones he already heard before the first call dropped.

Rolling credits for the night.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEM3dW2oWW4

Pipe dreams

September 23, 2010 1 comment

This has been a real clusterf*@k of a week. Sunday I wanted to cry, Monday I did, Tuesday seemed hopeful, Wednesday I was spent, and today’s only Thursday.

These are the bad days, my low points.  All the things I want for myself seem ridiculously out of reach and I get to thinking, ‘Who the hell am I kidding? I ain’t never gonna’ be more than what I am right now. Everything else…is just a pipe dream.’

Weeks this crazy I worry I’m not seeing enough of my kids. So sometimes when I get home late from class I tell them to sleep in my room, all four of them. It seems silly, but I just like to hear them breathing while they sleep. It’s comforting knowing I’m breathing in the same air as they are, it reminds me why I keep those pipe dreams.


Rolling credits for the night…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mQnhZMJMNo&feature=related

Thongs

September 19, 2010 3 comments

The other day we were at Target and as I put some underwear on the rolling counter my husband made a snarky comment. “Do you have to buy your granny panties from Target?” All I’m thinking is, “Excuse me???” First of all, these are not granny panties, they’re boy shorts and FYI they’re very comfortable. Second, it’s not like we’re at the $1 store.

He wasn’t convinced and still seemed pretty irate with me. This coming from the guy who likes to wear his shades at night. I mean seriously, don’t make me go there. Besides, we’re so past that point in our relationship where he even saw me in my undergarments anymore. The only time he was gonna’ see those things would be when we did the laundry.

I remember the days it was nothing to drop a bill on buying a handful of thongs at Victoria’s Secret, but that just seems ages ago. Four kids and a mortgage to pay later, I’d rather use that $100 to pay my electric bill.

I don’t know, I guess I’m older, wiser. These days my notion of sexy comes from a higher place than wearing a piece of cloth riding up my butt. Ladies, that’s actually code for “in the last few years my ass has grown to out of control proportions and I refuse to ask some cute little sales woman half my size to help me find a size XL thong”.

Epilogue…

I just received a comment from a wise friend who opposed my initial view and fear of the intimidating tiny thong. She pointed out that thongs served as a reminder to our husbands of how lucky they are to have us; hence, “every now and then the thongs need to be on display!” She also noted that “the marriage bed is holy and undefiled”. (Look that up, I had to. It’s actually pretty good.)

I believe I’ve just been schooled.  Apparently, if I want to remind my husband, and myself, of the inner and outer sexiness I possess I’m going to have to bite the bullet and pull out the thongs, or as she referred to them, “the sexies”. *Sigh*

OK, I can dig that. After all, my man did buy me that gorgeous Burberry purse last month and I have yet to show him the full measure of my gratitude.

Ladies and gents, wish me and my derriere luck, I’m gonna’ need it.

Rolling credits for the night.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18TLHhhHZCA

 

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