My granddad died this weekend. His funeral is today.  I can’t say that I am very sad.  His body has been shutting down, and it was finally time for him to go.

There are a lot of reasons to eulogize him, and I know a lot of stories will be told.  He was a WWII veteran, a pillar of the community, a stalwart of his church.  But he was just my granddad.

Granny and Granddad’s kitchen table was one of my favorite places to be when I was a little girl.  Granny would make bologna sandwiches, the kind with the bologna sliced from the deli and I would peel the paper from the edges.

She would give me bowls of ice cream.  Rocky road or cookies and cream.

Another of my favorite places was Granddad’s “building”.

In the middle of the afternoon….standing at the sink, eating peanut butter and saltine crackers, tomatoes straight from the vine, a glass of milk, and, on really special occasions, a banana and ginger snaps…. Granddad would announce that he was going to “the building”.

I loved that dirty old shed.  It smelled of dirt and sweat and gasoline.  There were always old bicycles and lawnmowers in various stages of repair or disassembly.  I would hover at the end of the workbench and watch Granddad work.

I didn’t usually understand what he was working on, and I didn’t really care.

The smell of gasoline permeated the wood of the entire shed, and there were clumps of grass all around the floor.  Flattened bicycle inner tubes hung from pegs on the wall.  I would sit at the end of the workbench and repeatedly spin a vise that was mounted on the end.

Spin…. open…. spin…. closed.

I don’t remember any great life lessons being passed on during those times in the building.  I remember being hot and sweaty.  I remember bringing Granddad a glass of iced tea that Granny asked me to deliver.

I remember Granddad reaching into his back pocket for a bandana to wipe sweat  from his brow.  And I remember the smell.  The glorious, heady stink of gasoline, oil, and years of sweat.

Granddad, I’m not sad that you are gone.  It was time.  Your stubborn, old body was tired.

You always loved me and you were proud of me.  I hope there are lots of lawnmowers to be repaired in Heaven and lots of projects to be “tinkered” with.

I love you.

Supporting all the mommies….

An SOS came from a new mediocre mommy.  She needed help nursing her newborn babe.

She was worried about her milk supply.

Baby boy had stopped latching, and she was pumping full time.  Honestly, she was not doing a great job.

She was tired.  She was trying to mother a new baby, and she wasn’t pumping enough.  She had been making lots of milk, and now, her body was adjusting from the initial overabundance just after birth.

We got a pumping schedule established, boosted her supply a bit…. and she was off and running again.

Because she’s completely sarcastic and bitchy, like me, it was fun to have these talks in a disrespectful and crass way.  There was nothing professional at all.  Just two girlfriends talking trash and boobs and making milk.

And then, the next SOS….. how to transition from pumping to formula.  What?  I thought things were going well….

She was actually doing great, but she was thinking ahead to returning back to work, and she was ready to break up with her pump.

We talked,  and then we made a plan to slowly close down the dairy and adjust her little man to formula.

The irony did not escape me.  Do you know that I’m a Lactation Educator?  I teach moms how to nurse their babes.  I help with difficult latches, failing milk supply, oversupply, mastitis, thrush, all kinds of obstacles to successful breastfeeding relationships.

Yet, here I was, without a second thought, helping a young momma to end her nursing relationship.  Ironic?  Yes, a little.  Did I doubt for one second what I was doing or consider not helping her?  Never.

Why not?

Because I love and support mommies.  I want them to have the tools to be good mommies. I want them to feel proud of the choices they make.  I want them to have strong, powerful voices.  And I want them to do the same for other mommies.

This new mommy loves her boy so fiercely that I hesitate to call her mediocre.  She’s much more than mediocre.  She is dedicated and amazing.

She powered through almost four weeks of weaning.  Even when the sight of the pump made her want to cry and curse, she did what was most gentle for her boy and her boobs.

She texted me pictures of her swollen breasts so I could help look for plugged ducts.  She sent me pics of her bruised nipples to ask, “is this normal?”

She texted me pictures of her postpartum belly and the darkened line down the middle.  My response was to send pictures right back of my “postpartum” belly.  You know, five years and six kids postpartum, but it still counts, right?

I really loved the other pictures she would send.  The pics of her little man, curled in her arms, cuddling his mommy.  The video of him cooing and crossing his eyes after having his milk.

I got to help a mommy learn to be an even better mommy, and it has been incredible.

Her texts may be about milk and nipples, but they say to me that she loves me and trusts me.

Today was a celebratory day.  I got to tell her to pack the pump away and put it in the back of the closet.  Today, she pumped her last bottle for the little man.

She sacrificed so much of herself to give her babe exactly what he needed.  She gave up unhealthy habits to grow him inside, and she tethered herself to a machine once he entered our world.

I could not be more proud or more honored that she chose me to take this journey with her.

Thank you, amazing new mommy.  And never fear…. you will join the rest of us in being mediocre in time.  I love you!

Between the longing and the love…..

Twenty years ago, I met my Hubby.  I was struggling through a difficult break-up.  We built a life and a family together.

For the next decade, I was a mother.  I experienced pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, sleepless nights, weaning, temper tantrums, and potty training.  Rinse and repeat.

There were babies that were planned and very wanted, and there were surprise babies, too.  There were pregnancies that challenged me physically, and others that challenged me mentally and emotionally.  When I wasn’t changing diapers or feeding babies, I was managing tantrums and battles of ownership over favorite toys.

Hubby was at  the bottom of my list of priorities, and I was even further down the list.  Things were just as they “should” be.  We survived colic and night feedings, overtime and a new college degree.  There were job changes, promotions, and financial struggles.  There were times we grew apart, and there were times that we rediscovered one another.  And always, there was another baby….

I discovered a small village of women who became my survival.  We met once a week, babies and toddlers in tow, and prayed for strength.  It worked for a time, but life got in the way.  Families moved, priorities shifted, and our group was no longer.  They were genuine friendships, and those of us who were not able to stay close, held tightly to our love and support for each other.

My season of discontent began when the last pregnancy surprised us.  I was done with babies.  My family was complete.  And then it wasn’t.  I avoided my first midwife appointment as long as I possibly could.  I drove to that first appointment and sat in the car, my heart pounding wildly, dreading the ride up in the elevator.  The smell of hospital antiseptic and the distinct smell of hospital linens nearly gave me a panic attack.  I went back to therapy.  I did not want another baby, and I did not change my mind.

Her birth was fast and furious.  We arrived at the hospital exactly eighteen minutes before she was born, and I laughed when I saw her.  She was one of us.  She resembled all of her sibling Hobbits, and she was MY BABY.  My midwife called my reaction a “delivery-room miracle.”

I thought the emptiness in my soul would be filled when I fell in love.  Hubby is a beautiful, grounded complement to my chaos and impulsivity.  But he has not fulfilled me.  I tried filling the emptiness with babies.  When they began to stop needing me, I had another…… and another….. and another.

I found my way back to god, and then maybe away again.

I found some measure of independence in working, but I am still not whole.

I am not allowed to think for myself.  I am not allowed to make a single independent decision.  I feel judged and found lacking.  I feel needed… oh, so very fucking needed…. and oh, so very fucking loved.  I am suffocating under the weight of it all.

This is not who I want to be.

I love my Hubby with all my heart.  I love my kids so fiercely, it sometimes takes my breath.  It is not enough.

I find myself planted firmly in middle age, longing for something.  I long for space that is my own.  I long for thoughts that are mine to keep.  I long to make even one single decision without first thinking of the other seven people in my life.

I long for small cozy spaces and long stretches of solitude.  I long for soft pillows, fluffy blankets and unlimited time to read.  I long for a warm drink to cradle in my lap.

I long for hours to nap and daydream, but my daydreams frighten me…. and so I nap.

I long for deep breaths, and space to take them, unencumbered.  I am trapped somewhere between the longing and the love.  The battle between the two is slowly killing me.


I regret my children…..

A post appeared on Facebook from a mommy group.  A woman was asking for personal experiences in deciding whether to have another child.

For some reason, I was compelled to read the comments.  I wondered what advice other mothers would offer this woman.  The comments followed along these lines:

I have never heard of anyone regretting the children they have….Children are such a blessing….I only regret the children that I didn’t have….Your clearly have a desire for more children.

Every comment was encouraging this anonymous woman to have a baby.  It disturbed me in ways I didn’t even have words for.

I scrolled past, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I read the post again.  I read the comments again, and then, I posted a comment.

I might regret my children.  And while we are on the subject, I just might regret my marriage.

Don’t get all judgey.  I don’t want pious advice, and I want a chance to explain.

I regret the last two Hobbits, and, sometimes, I almost regret all six of them. I wouldn’t give them back, I love them dearly, and I can’t imagine my life without them.

But I am not sure that I chose the path of my life with my eyes wide open.  I regret that my view of the world was so small that I didn’t know the unlimited opportunities before me.

I regret that I was not better prepared to be a mother.

I regret that I did not know the energy it would take to bring them to adulthood.  I regret that my resources of patience and energy are so divided.

I regret that I did not know my own weakness.  I regret that I did not know I was going to fail each and every day.

Hobbit #5 is simply a joy.  She is the tiniest wisp of a girl, with a personality that takes over any room she enters.  She is happy and charming.  She makes friends with every single person she meets, and she has intelligent and thoughtful conversations with adult neighbors.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, at a block party knows #5.

She is delightful, but she deserves a better mother.

The Baby Hobbit is great fun, partly because of her opposite personality to #5.  She is built like a football player…. wide and robust.  She is naughty and mischievous.  She surprises us constantly with how smart she is.  She has a mind that can work out a way to get around any obstacle, and, sometimes, I swear she is going to grow up to be a criminal mastermind.  It is going to take a lot of work to stay one step ahead of her.  She has uncontrollable hair that is every bit as unruly as she is.  She wears boy’s clothes because of her love of Mickey Mouse, and she pairs those boy clothes with a fluffy tutu.  She is strong and willful, and oh, so naughty.

It is so much fun to be her mother, but she should have better.

I regret that I was incapable of making my own rules.  I regret that I was ensconced in societal norms of what I should do or who I should be.

I regret that I wasn’t more selfish.  I regret that I was woefully naïve about my ability to be a mother.  I regret that my self-identity rested on my ability to form this family.

I regret that I am not enough.  I do not love my Hubby enough.  I am not patient enough with my Hobbits.  I am a lazy friend.

I regret the baggage my Hobbits will carry with them, simply because I am their mother.  I wonder if they will remember the way I gritted my teeth when I was trying to maintain my patience.  I wonder if they will remember the times I left them to be alone.

The Hobbits are growing into amazing people, with sensitive and kind hearts.  I do not deserve them, but I am humbled by the fact that I get to witness who they are becoming.

Don’t judge me and don’t comfort me.  I love my Hobbits fiercely.  My path may not be what I should have chosen, but it is my path.  To use the worst phrase ever, it is what it is.






Mediocre Mommy’s Christmas letter…..

After a whirlwind of family Christmas gatherings, the Hubby and I finally got a chance to read the couple of Christmas letters we got today.  It seems like the Christmas letters, and even the cards, don’t come in the quantities that they used to.  It could be that people have become more mediocre…. to that, I say, good on you!  And it could be that we fell off the lists when I stopped sending them several years ago.

For a few years, Hubby kept up with sending the cards, but I finally quit ordering them one year when I found them still unaddressed in July.

I have decided to use my new favorite blog to update you all on our 2015 Christmas letter.  It’s short and sweet, so here we go….

Dear Friends and Family,

Hobbit # 1 turned 14 this December.  She is really smart.

Hobbit #2 turned 12 and started middle school.  It was a bad year for her, as she was diagnosed with a mental illness.  She is doing better.

The boy Hobbit has a tendency to be a class clown, but he is fiercely protective of all of his sisters. (He may be my favorite.)

Hobbit #5 is in first grade.  She is hilariously funny and utterly charming.  She is consistently at the top of our favorite list.

Baby Hobbit is enjoying preschool.  She is the family’s darling, and everyone’s biggest pain in the ass.

Hubby and I still like each other, and try to run away from the Hobbit’s as much as humanly possible while still pretending to be good parents.

Merry Christmas, and a wonderful 2016 to each of you.


The Mediocre Family

P.S.  I forgot Hobbit #4.  We like her too.

You don’t understand…..

I have started several posts in these past few months.  I have never finished any of them.  They would have been entertaining and amusing, but I was never able to find the energy to complete them.

How can I possibly relate what has been happening in our home?  There are truly no words.

My bipolar daughter has been in crisis.  We have all been in crisis.  I stumble through every single day, vacillating between tears and anger, desperation and fear.

I miss my job.  I miss my coworkers.  I miss folding jeans and waiting on customers. I miss my paycheck.

I miss getting my hair cut and pedicures with my girlfriends.

I miss quiet days, spent cleaning the house, folding laundry, running errands, watching Netflix, eating waffles for lunch and taking naps.

I miss my Husband.  I miss laughing with him at the end of a day.  I miss curling into his arms and feeling safe.  Nowhere feels safe.

I miss sex.  I miss flirting in the kitchen, and taking it to the bedroom when the Hobbit’s are asleep.

I miss our friends.  I miss hearing funny stories, playing dice, and laughing while we have another cocktail.

I miss being alone.

Somehow, we manage to make our home safe for all of the Hobbit’s.  We take care of our fragile Hobbit.  We spend time with each of the others.

We are emotionally and physically spent.  At the end of every day, I wonder how we will find the strength to carry on.  But we do.

I currently hate every mental health worker I meet.  They are kind.  They say the right things.  They tell us that we are wonderful parents and we are doing everything exactly right.  “It will just take time,” they say.  They don’t know what they are talking about.  I’m running out of time.  My strength and resources will not last much longer.

I hate people who say they are praying for us.  God is not listening.

I hate people who say they understand.  No.  No, you don’t.  You may empathize, but you do not understand.

I hate people who question her diagnosis or her treatment.  Stay the fuck out of it.  You don’t know what you are talking about.

I hate when people ask how they can help.  There is nothing you can do.  You cannot take over parenting for us.  Would you like to float our bills for a few months so we can parent full-time and then take a long vacation?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  I know you mean well, but I can’t think of one helpful thing that anyone can do.

We are managing to keep the other Hobbit’s well-functioning.  Our fragile Hobbit is hanging in there.  That is success for now.

We are over-burdened.  We are exhausted.  We are spent.  We are at the end of our ropes.  We are barely hanging on to the faintest glimmer of hope.

Maybe it will get better.  Maybe it won’t.  I just don’t know right now.




Today is your day.

Twelve years and 22 minutes ago, the celebration of you began.

Today you are not my hobbit.  Today is too important to call you anything other than my child.

In the late afternoon hours of this day, you took your first breath.  You were oh, so difficult to birth.  In many ways, my most difficult.

I remember so clearly the feeling that my body would break in two as you passed from my womb.  I wonder, sometimes, if my heart will break in two as I watch your life unfold.

You have never walked an easy path.  But it is your path.  It is rocky and difficult.  It is breathtakingly beautiful.

I looked into your eyes when you first opened them, and there was depth and knowledge in your soul.  There is still empathy and wisdom beyond your years.

You continually surprise me, and I wonder if the world would continue to spin upon its axis if the beauty of your soul were not a part of it.

Your eyes sparkle with life.  They cloud with anger.  They carry mischief and sadness.

Your spirit soars.  Your heart overflows with kindness and wisdom.

I suppose that I have played a part in helping you to become who you are.  But, many times, I believe my job is to simply protect your soul, as I witness its unfolding like a beautiful flower.

Today is your day.  Today my body was the vessel for allowing your spirit to walk the earth.

You were not an easy child.  You were never compliant.  You were stubborn and difficult.  You were never to be deterred from what you wanted.  You have not changed.

Today is your day.  I celebrate you.  I celebrate your laughter.  I celebrate the way that your body is always just a few steps behind your mind.  I celebrate your silliness.

I celebrate your stubbornness.  I celebrate your determination.  I celebrate your successes and your failures.

I celebrate your strengths, and I celebrate your weaknesses.  I celebrate your courage.

Today is your day.  I celebrate your eyes that look upon the world with empathy and kindness.  Your heart that can sense pain or frustration.

I celebrate your words.  Words that flow from your heart and your lips in song and stories.

Today is your day.  I celebrate your heart full of compassion, empathy, and the silent pain that you carry.  Your tender heart that allows itself the risk of being broken.

Today, I celebrate your beautiful, elegant hands.  The hands that master every musical instrument they touch.  Hands that exude gentle caring.  Hands that wring with anxiety and tremble with fear.

Today is your day.  I celebrate the feet that have carried you every step of the path you walk.

I celebrate your kindness and your instincts.  I celebrate your warmth and your caring.  I celebrate your fears and your loneliness.

For, yes, you are sometimes lonely.  There is no one who can truly understand your experience of the world.

Sometimes, you take my hand, and allow me to walk the path beside you.  Other times, you are too tired to walk, and you allow me to carry you for just a little while.

Often, you walk alone, but you are never truly alone, sweet baby.  I am beside you, ready to catch you when you stumble.

Today is your day.  Today, I celebrate you.  I celebrate all of the things that make you so uniquely you.  I celebrate every single breath of the life you have shared with me.

Thank you for choosing me to be your mother, and for allowing me to celebrate you today and every other day of your precious life.

Happy birthday, my sweet child.


Screw you, Costco….

Dear Costco,

I have been in love with you from the first day that we met.  You whispered sweet nothings to me.  “Low prices,” you whispered, “high quality, large quantities.”

You spoke straight to the heart of this tired, harried, pregnant mom with a house full of toddlers.  I fell for you.  I love you.  But, now, I worry that you are taking advantage of me.

I appreciate your giant two-pack of peanut butter for less than I pay for the regular sized jar at the supermarket.  I happily buy your quantities of cereal, for less than the cost of a box of sugary cereal that lasts through one breakfast.

We host parties, and we stock up on your cheap beer and reasonably-priced wine.  And, god, I love your fruity drinks.

We look to you first for nearly everything.  Food, meat, cleaning supplies, paper goods, holiday wrapping paper, electronics, Halloween candy, kitchen utensils, sheets, even the mattress on our bed.  We have bought furniture, diapers (oh, so many diapers), cakes, coats, and swimsuits.

But, oh, sweet Costco, you are a cruel mistress, preying on my weaknesses.

When I am thirsty, you offer me a cold sip of a new vitamin health drink.  When I am hungry, there is a bite of a tasty quiche.  I turn a corner and you offer me a yummy cheesecake or a gooey, chocolate muffin.

Before I realize what you have done, I have added the vitamin drink, a cake, and two frozen quiches to my giant buggy.  I pack the buggy carefully, but it is soon overflowing with toilet paper, boxes of cereal, frozen waffles, and deli meat.

I need you, Costco.  You complete me.

I need your cases of paper towels.  I need your deli meat.  I need your tender steaks.

I need your easy breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods that are healthy, nutritious, and easy to prepare.  I need the sanity you offer disguised as a box of drinkable yogurt.

And, surely, I need the extra vitamins in the health water I have just tasted.  Extra vitamins could be the cure for the common cold times eight!  The Hobbits are back to school and crawling with germs.  Sickness is just a mere cold snap away.

I am weak and powerless against you.  My eyes begin to wander, looking for other pleasures you have for me.

I don’t take care of myself.  I forget to eat sometimes.  Maybe instead of cookies, I should buy “natural granola” to satisfy me.  Trail mix?  Edamame?  Protein drink?

No.  I will focus on my list and get the last two items I need.  But you are not done with me, yet.

I am paused at the end of an aisle when a subtle scent tickles my nose.  My head turns toward the cooler of freshly-cut flowers.

They are beautiful bouquets, with a lovely, soft fragrance.  You are like a lover, kneeling at my feet, offering me a token of your affection.

Baby Hobbit and I choose a bouquet in stunning shades of purple.  Blooms of deep aubergine and soft lilac.  We deserve these flowers.  You want us to have these flowers.  You want us to feel special.

I am sweating when we finish checking out.  But you made lunch.  A half-pound beef hot dog and a cold glass of lemonade for Baby Hobbit.  Nothing for me, thanks.  I’m exhausted, and probably too tired to lift that half-pound to my mouth.

I refuse to unload any more quickly because a dumb shit is waiting for my less-than-optimal parking spot.  Dude, we are at Costco, on a Thursday afternoon, with a suburban.  Chances are, I am a stay-at-home mom with a big-ass family.  This is going to take a little while.

When we get home, I unload only the perishables.  I tuck the baby Hobbit in for a nap, and then sit down with my giant box of individual cups of rice pudding.  Four of these put me into a perfect semblance of a post-coital nap.

I love you, Costco.  Thanks for the nooner.  I will see you soon.








Gender bending….

On June 1, 2015, the athlete once known as Bruce Jenner revealed himself to the world as Caitlyn Jenner.

On July 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legally recognized in all fifty states.

Both of these events have led to increased awareness and heated controversy about equality and gender rights.

Because the national news is drawing attention to issues of gender and orientation, my facebook feed is full of moms who allow their children to dress how they want regardless of gender stereotypes.  My feed is full of mommy blogs declaring an end to gender “rules.”

I am glad we are talking.  I wish we could talk without hatred and anger.  I wish we could listen with open hearts and open minds.

It’s my turn to join the conversation.

I had a gender-bending kid long before it was a national news story.

When Boy Hobbit was just a tot, he dearly loved to play dress-up.  He paraded around in his sisters’ tutus and sparkly shoes.  His favorite outfit of all was a rainbow-colored leopard leotard and shiny, red, Wizard of Oz, Dorothy shoes.

There were a couple of raised eyebrows from time to time, but I couldn’t have cared less.  He was pretending to be a princess or a ballerina or a chef or a police officer.

He wore those sparkly Dorothy shoes nearly every day until he fell equally in love with a pair of red crocs.

For Christmas that year, he asked Santa to bring him a tractor or a princess “because I love princesses.”  Yes, buddy, you do.

He eventually stopped wearing tutus and sparkles, but one of his favorite colors is still pink.

Do I worry about his gender identity or his sexual orientation?  Not even a tiny bit.

We have a second cross-dresser in our house.  Baby Hobbit has been wearing boy clothes for the better part of two years.  You see, she is over-the-moon crazy about Mickey Mouse.

You can’t buy girl clothes with Mickey Mouse….only Minnie.  So that little one has been wearing boy clothes since she first fell in love with Mickey.

I have railed against the sexism of Disney, and then I have shopped in the boy section for my daughter.  For the last two summers, she has worn a boy’s swim shirt and shorts at the pool.

It’s not unusual for her to wear a Mickey Mouse football shirt with a tutu or dress-up high heels.

My Boy Hobbit enjoys Sofia the First, and my girl Hobbits love Pokémon and Lego Ninjago.

On our family vacation a few weeks ago, Hobbits #1 and #2 were doing manicures and creating nail art for the little girls.  Between four families, there are fifteen kids…..that’s a lot of teeny, tiny fingers and toes.

It didn’t take long for the boys to get in line for American flags on their fingers and toes too.  They proudly showed off their nail art to every parent.

Not one parent reprimanded the boys or raised an eyebrow.  No one told them that nail polish is for girls.  The Hobbits that were giving the manicures didn’t shame the boys or mock them.  They simply made designs on little nails, boys and girls alike.

Do I think any of those boys will grow up to question their gender?  No.  Do I think they will grow up gay? No.

Of course, I can’t know that for sure, but there is one thing I do know without a doubt.

Each of those boys know that their parents love and accept them, regardless of which shade of polish they choose.




I used to be a nice mom…..

I am pretty honest about the fact that I have never “belonged.”  I was the rebellious teen, the “backslidden” Christian, the fallen virgin.

The most difficult thing I have ever done is learning to love myself.  It is sometimes a painful process that forces me to face my insecurities.

I am discovering that my differences make me interesting.  My inability to fit in makes me uniquely me.  I am profoundly quirky, a beautiful renegade.  My style, my honesty, and my vulnerabilities are exactly what make me perfectly me.

I do not belong in a small-minded world.  I long for a world of tolerance, love, acceptance, and respect.  I am creating that world for myself.

The family within my 2,000 square feet is open, honest and loving.  I created that.

The friends and family that share our lives are accepting and kind.  I have chosen them.

I experience a fair share of raised eyebrows and sideways looks, some of them more subtle than others.  I dress too young for my age. I wear my tattoos proudly.  For the better part of a year, I had a bright blue faux-hawk, and now I am rocking platinum blonde.

When the receptionist started with, “that’s an interesting outfit,” I ignored it as a weird backhanded compliment.  When she continued with, “where in the world did you get that shirt?” I assumed she was clueless when choosing her words.

When she went on to say, “that explains it.  I wondered what was going on.  I thought it was some sort of mid-life crisis,”  I quickly checked in for my appointment.  And when she ended with, “you used to be such a nice mom,” her words barely registered.

As I waited for my appointment, I replayed the exchange.  I simply couldn’t believe the ignorance and judgment she had displayed.  I became angry that I should hear such ridiculous comments when simply checking in with a receptionist.

When I needed to return a few days later, I confronted her.  I had not been able to shake off her comments.  I couldn’t let it go.  I was nervous about a confrontation, but I was determined not to be a victim of her ridiculous character assessment. I needed to stand up for myself.

So I did.

I told her that her words were out of line.  She should have never let those thoughts pass her lips.  They were hurtful, insensitive, and incredibly ignorant.  I believe I actually used the word “bullshit”.

I was annoyed with myself when I showed too much of my vulnerability, telling her that I preferred the company of tattooed people who live outside the “normal” bounds of society over the company of small-minded people.

I wanted to be invincible and badass, but my softer side was just under the surface of my bravado.

She began to sweat and I fed off her fear.  With wide eyes, she tried to apologize and tell me that she had not meant anything by her comments.

“I should never have to face ignorance and judgment when I come to a place of business,” I said.

I did not hug it out like she wanted.  I wouldn’t let her off that easily.  I wanted her to be uncomfortable with the consequences of her words.

I was proud of myself, but I also thought I was going to cry on my way home.  I didn’t understand my conflicting emotions, until Hubby summed it up in a text message.

“You stood up for yourself… where for years you were judged and just took it.  You have never really stood up for yourself face to face with someone.  You should cry!  Good for you!”

In that moment, that one silly woman represented every face that has ever looked at me with judgment.  Her words were the ones that had cut me from some of my earliest memories.  She was the embodiment of every person who claimed to love me, yet judged me the harshest of all.

And I stood up to her.  I refused to accept her criticism, in spite of my fear.

Even the most “badass” among us is afraid.

Don’t be afraid of your vulnerability.  Show your fears.  Wear your scars.  Every time that you do, you give power and courage to each of us who have ever felt alone or afraid.

You are beautiful.  You are loved.  You are worthy.

We all are.