Putting My Mask on First

I don’t like to brag, but last Tuesday, I hopped on a plane in the middle of the school week to visit my best friend in Florida for her birthday. I was only gone for 36 hours, but it was fantastic! I am a lucky girl.

Happiness is … celebrating over thirty years of friendship with this #bosschick

My husband agreed to pick up the slack for two days so I could take this somewhat spur-of-the-moment trip. I felt very Eat, Pray, Love — dropping everything and running away from my life, even if only for a day and a half. It was exciting and fun and just what I needed. Who couldn’t use a little break from their everyday life once in a while?

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My time away was both glorious and illuminating. Here are just a few of my brilliant insights from last week:

  • The lead up to leaving your family behind is hectic for a mom. In addition to making sure my roots were touched up, my legs were shaved and my bag was packed, I had to prepare meals, wash uniforms and outline the drop off/pick up schedule for the time I was away. A dad would have just left (not hating, just saying).
  • As a “just in case” person, I have trouble packing everything I might need in a small carry-on bag — and it takes me FOREVER to decide what to eliminate. What if it rains?!
  • I am like a kid on Christmas morning when I travel. No snooze button needed here!
  • It is very dark at 5AM and there are remarkably a lot of cars on the road at that ungodly hour … And just as many in the airport, too. WTF?!
  • The world is one big gym, but people will stare when you use the airport work space as a makeshift workout station. Oh well. #nevermissaworkout
  • Frontier Airlines is a cheap/decent option when traveling alone, without checked luggage. Just bring your own drinks/snacks.
  • I’m still perplexed as to why people clap when the pilot lands the plane successfully (read: does his job). Do those same people clap for their taxi driver, too? Or their dentist?
  • Florida weather and my hair do not get along!
  • Sometimes, a short break is all you need to get back on track. Asking for a break isn’t selfish, it’s enlightened.
  • Quality really is more important than quantity, especially when it comes to time. Make it count with deep conversations and even deeper belly laughs.
  • Bestie time is the best time — no matter how short.

Truth be told, this trip wasn’t just a present for my bestie; It was also a present for me. Leading up to my brief excursion, I was in a bit of a funk. My usual routine felt stale and simultaneously overwhelming. I was exhausted, stressed and bitter. This short break from reality was the antidote I needed to snap out of it. Yes, a day and a half isn’t much of a “getaway,” but it was the perfect amount of time to recharge and appreciate all that I have at home. Big shout out to my hubby for holding down the fort and kinda-sorta cleaning up around the house so my zen vibe wasn’t killed the minute I walked through the door (messes stress me out).

I know that skipping town in the middle of the week probably won’t happen again for a very long time, but I do plan on taking more local mini-breaks. A mani/pedi here, a coffee/tea date there, even a solo run through the hills followed by lunch at home while watching This Is Us On-Demand all sound pretty doable to me.

Preach! I don’t know who said this first, but it’s the truth.

In this crazy world of parenting, self-care is vital. In the words of the Frontier flight attendant, “Secure your mask first before assisting others.” It’s the only way to survive.

– LJDT

Keeping it Real … My Mother’s Day Wish List

Back in the day with the two who call me “Mom.”

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day — or as I call it, Sunday. In my world, there will be no breakfast-in-bed served or brunch reservations made. No homemade cards with glitter and still-wet glue to read or towering piles of extravagant gifts to open. No bouquet of fresh flowers to smell or surprise facial and much-needed massage booked at my favorite spa. And there definitely won’t be any sappy slide shows showcasing my most loving mom moments while Bette Midler’s song, “Wing Beneath My Wings,” plays in the background. Nope, not here … And I am perfectly fine with it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d happily accept any of these gifts or gestures. But as the mother of two moody growing boys (a tween and teen whom I simultaneously cherish and want to strangle on a daily basis) and the wife of a more pragmatic than romantic man (whom I love dearly, despite his shortcomings), I just don’t expect such things …. And I really am okay with it. Really.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t confess to having a few lofty wishes, but I’m too much of a realist to think they’ll come true; I know how to lower the bar and set my expectations accordingly. So what’s on my Mother’s Day wish list? I wish to sleep until noon, but I’ll settle for 7AM. I wish to be smothered with hugs and kisses all day, but I’ll settle for a single, unforced hug and kiss from each of my boys. I wish for a full day of zen and blissful relaxation, but I’ll settle for a peaceful hour of gentle yoga and unforced help planting my vegetable garden. I wish my husband and kids could read my mind and get sh*t done without me, but I’ll settle for them doing what I ask when I ask and how I ask without attitude. I wish for world peace and human kindness, but I’ll settle for a single day without eye rolling, arguing or back talk.

Bonus points if someone buys me flowers. I prefer tulips or peonies (hint, hint).

Preach!

Happy Mother’s Day!

– LJDT

My Vagina Monologue

A warning to my readers with virgin ears: Today’s post uses obscene and salacious language. Please read at your own risk.

Growing up, I had a cat named Mittens. She was gray with white paws that looked like winter mittens, thus her name. My grandmother called her Cat, Fuzzy Cot and Pussy Cat, but never Mittens. My dad, who did call her by her proper name, also frequently referred to her as a pussy cat, and as a little girl, I, too, labeled many kittens pussy cats. “Josie and the Pussy Cats” was one of my favorite Saturday morning cartoons and I even had a Pussy Cats lunchbox one year. But somewhere along the line, I became uncomfortable using that terminology because the “P” word took on a whole new meaning as I grew older and more worldly.

My childhood bestie, my kitty cat and me, c. 1978

My childhood bestie, my cat and me, c. 1978 — back when it was okay to say pussy cat.

“Don’t be a pussy,” was a pretty common expression used by high school boys when I was growing up (and it still is today). The less vulgar kids used the term ‘wussy’ instead when they wanted to call a guy out for being a wimp, but pussy was definitely tossed around pretty freely and without much blowback. Sure, boys may not have used the phrase in front of adults because it was akin to saying shit or some other minor curse word, but it wasn’t like dropping the “F” bomb … Until it was used to describe a vagina. Then, the word went from being mean and uncouth to lewd and pornographic.

When did pussy develop a double entendre? When did it turn dirty? And who decided anyway? It’s the same as so many other frequently heard foul words used (by men, mostly) to mean vagina. I’m talking about innocent words like beaver, clam, box and snatch — to name just a few. Seriously, WTF?! All of these words have real, chaste definitions that are completely unrelated to female genitalia. But thanks to some perverts, I can no longer perform a snatch move at the gym, dress as a beaver for Halloween or call my friend’s kitty a sweet, little pussy cat without thinking of vaginas.

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The funny thing is, most of these words — beaver, box, etc. — don’t really offend me. I kind of just shrug them off as bawdy and go about my business. I’ve even jokingly used some of them (and others) myself in comfortable settings. I am far from a prude, but I think we’ve now gone too far. As a mother raising two boys, hearing the word pussy used by a Presidential candidate and the media is just too much for me. I do not want that word to become commonplace. I do not want that word to become acceptable. I do not want that word to come out of my sons’ mouths, so I am taking it back.

I know, I know. Sounds hypocritical coming from the mother who admits to cursing on a daily (hourly?) basis in front of her kids, but that word, when used in that way, is misogynistic and hateful. Much like the unspeakable “C” word and the forbidden “N” word, I’d rather hear my kids say f*%@. [Side note: In my opinion, a well-placed “F” bomb is descriptive, but when used as a verb, it’s just crude.]

I don’t know who befouled the word first (it was done long before Donald Trump spoke of grabbing it), but I’ve decided that whomever it was isn’t going to win. I am reclaiming pussy, as well as beaver, clam, box and snatch. From now on, they will only mean what they were originally intended to mean: a cat, a rodent, a mollusk, a container and to grab something (also an intense Olympic barbell move, for my fellow gym rats).  I can’t stop people from using these words in profane ways, but I can stop making the association in my own mind. I can also teach my sons that these are not respectful words to use when speaking about women.

So join me in bringing innocence back to the word pussy because a vagina is not a small, furry pet. It’s just not.

Oh, and guys … If you want to reclaim (D)ick, cock, pecker, balls and nuts, I’m all for it. Just don’t forget wiener so we can lose the stigma associated with singing that old Oscar Mayer wiener song … “Oh, I wish I was an Oscar Mayer Wiener …” Try getting that out of your head now!

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Thank goodness there’s no female equivalent to the wiener mobile.

– LJDT

To Sit or Squat: That Is The Question

I don’t consider myself an expert at anything.  I mean, I’m good at a bunch of things, really good at a few other things, even really, really good at one or two things, but a true expert at something?  Probably not — unless you count my extensive familiarity with public restrooms.  As the owner of a small bladder, a sufferer of an autoimmune disease, leaky gut and IBS, a cardholding member of the “childbirth-ruined-my-pelvic-floor” group and someone who drinks over a gallon and a half of water daily, I make it my business to know where the best public bathrooms are at all times.

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Public restrooms are my jam!

While incontinence is one of the joyful gifts of motherhood and aging, my small bladder issue has been around since I was a kid.  Case in point: Each summer, my sister, parents and I would pile into the car and drive from New York to Massachusetts to spend a few weeks with our cousins.  Apparently, my sister and I requested frequent pee stops along the way, resulting in a family “joke” that the Dewey girls know where all the good bathrooms are between NY and MA.  As a child and definitely during my wilder (read: intoxicated) college days, I’m sure I was less discriminating than I am today.  Thankfully, I’ve matured — even though my bladder hasn’t.

Over the summer, my Facebook feed was flooded with articles about public bathrooms:  How you can’t catch STDs by sitting on a public toilet; how toilet paper over a soiled seat isn’t helpful; even a plea from another blogger for everyone to just sit down already.  Ummm, NO.  As a frequent public urinator and opinionated blogger myself, I stand firmly in the squat camp.  Or rather, I squat firmly.  Either way, you get my point.

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This is not too far off from the truth … and yes, I also use my foot to flush the handle.

Yes, sometimes I experience a rogue stream that has a mind (and aim) of its own.  Sometimes when I’m rushing, my squat is too high and I splatter a bit.  Sometimes on leg days or double workout days, my toilet hover is shaky and so is my stream (I blame my trainers, Kim and Mike, for this).  And yes, sometimes there’s even an unfortunately timed need for a public bowel movement.  But none of this means I’ll be sitting on a public toilet seat anytime soon, despite what a fellow blogger and various columnists recommend.  The solution isn’t to sit on a dirty, public toilet (even though studies prove many other surfaces carry far more bacteria than a public toilet seat).  The solution is simple: LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE STALL.  Turn around, face the toilet and make sure you didn’t leave a mess in, on or near the bowl.  And if you did, CLEAN IT UP.  Wipe the seat.  Flush the toilet.  Pick up your tampon wrapper and toilet paper.  It really is that simple, ladies.  Basic hygiene + proper bathroom etiquette + common courtesy = PROBLEM SOLVED.

You’re welcome, America.

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Make Bathrooms Clean Again!

– LJDT

My Tuesday Truth

Sometimes, the universe is trying to tell you something.  Sometimes, you have to listen very closely to hear it. Sometimes, it smacks you in the face.

This morning, as I got the boys off to school and prepared for my day, I had the TV on.  I never have the TV on.  Really — Never.  It was tuned to Good Morning America and, while I was mostly ignoring it, my attention was grabbed when I heard Michael Strahan introduce a mommy blogger.  Intrigued — and frankly, a bit envious. How can I get on GMA as a mommy blogger? — I stopped to watch.  Ilana Wiles was talking about her new book and how she is embracing being just an average mom with an average life.  No labels, no judgement, no Pintrest-worthy family photos, crafts or meals.  Mediocrity at its best and not feeling bad about it.  Her trick is to maintain a selective memory, i.e., choosing to remember the positive and letting all the other crap fade away.  I feel ‘ya, sister!  I say it all the time to my girlfriends and I write about it in this blog, but I don’t always live it.  I compare, I judge, I complain, I bitch.  All too often, I focus on the negative instead of the positive.

Later in the day, I had a scheduled phone consultation with a holistic health and wellness coach.  She asked about my concerns, my goals and what’s holding me back … Um, where do I start?  We only have an hour, right?  So we talked about my autoimmune condition and my related food needs, my workout routines and writing schedule, my daily challenges and current coping mechanisms.  I told her how I start my day with a few yoga stretches and mindful meditation, but that zen feeling is gone as soon as the kids are up — Then it just snowballs from there.  When I confessed that I often feel burdened and overwhelmed, I was forced to face a few self-truths that I’m not especially proud of.  Like my unusually high standards for both myself and my family.  Add in the guilt I have for feeling unsatisfied, resentful or ungrateful at times, and it’s not a pretty picture.  Her advice was to release the guilt by changing my language and cutting myself some slack.  I need to practice using kinder, more positive words to frame my world so that I can begin to change my mindset.  Once I do that, I’ll feel the shift.

Wow!  It sounds corny, but when I hung up the phone, I felt lighter.  More at peace.  It was as if I was finally given permission to be nicer to myself.

The universe was sending me a message today and I heard it, loud and clear.  Hopefully, I remember to listen tomorrow.

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– LJDT

Happy Mother’s Day to All the Okayest Moms Out There

Today is Mother’s Day — at least for another hour or so.  I know this because my Facebook stream was filled with posts from just about every woman I know announcing her unconditional love for her children and declaring her own mother to be the world’s best.

I did not make a similar Mother’s Day proclamation and here’s why:  I, too, love my kids unconditionally — but they also piss me off on a regular basis.  And I, too, think my mom’s the greatest — but she’s far from perfect.  I’m not saying this to be mean or unloving, I’m just keeping it real.

You see, I’m not in competition with anyone on Facebook or the real world for that matter.  It’s all relative anyway — relative to your life and your world.  I’m pretty sure my kids would not call me the world’s greatest mom and I’m okay with that.  I know — and more importantly, they know — that I’m doing the best that I can.  I’ve given up trying to be the best and am working on being my best.  Some days I succeed and some days I don’t, but each day is another day to try.

So I’m dropping the superlatives and celebrating all us moms who fail daily, but keep trying … Because even the world’s “okayest” moms deserve praise on Mother’s Day.

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– LJDT

A Shout Out to My Sideline Sisters and Bleacher Bros

Anyone with kids who play youth sports knows that in order to survive a long season on the sidelines, you need to have your network — a group of like-minded parents who make sitting in the stands more enjoyable.  Whether it’s sharing an umbrella in the rain or snuggling under a single blanket in the cold, cheering our kids to victory or commiserating about yet another loss, having a good set of parents on the sidelines can make even the most unbearable season bearable.

Let’s be honest.  Youth sports isn’t all fun and games.  Long hours, extreme weather, crazy parents, unbalanced teams … It can be downright brutal some days.  And because alcohol is frowned upon at youth sporting events, you need a good group of sideline friends to get you through.  This circle of companions often varies with each team, although there can be some overlap, which only makes it stronger.  If you’re lucky, your network remains unbroken as the kids get older and friendships are forged in the off-season.  For me, with two sports-loving, athletic boys who play a variety of sports for a multitude of organizations, I spend my fair share of time at a host of fields, courts and tracks.  Consequently, I currently have 13 respective networks to get me through the year:  Two football networks (two kids, two teams), six basketball (depending on the team and the kid), four lacrosse (again, depending on the team and kid), plus a track and field network that I’m still developing.  Some groups are big and some are small, but each provides me with a sense of camaraderie and community that I cherish.

Case in point: U11 spring lacrosse — my younger son’s team.  Despite having played lacrosse since he was in kindergarten with pretty much this same group of boys, my fourth grader’s team isn’t very good this year (for a variety of reasons).  With double-digit losses each week, we’re off to a rough start.  I’m not one of those parents who makes a big deal about wins and losses, but one win would be nice … or at least a smaller deficit loss.  Honestly, some games have been painful to watch!  And while it’s no fun to lose, it is fun to watch with my sideline sisters who’ve been with me for the past five years.  In the words of Billy Joel, “We might be laughing a bit too loud, but that never hurt no one…”

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Me (second from right) with some of my U11 spring lacrosse sideline sisters — Emily, Mary Liz and Tonia. (April, 2016)

So as the spring sports season chugs along, be sure to bring your sunglasses, water bottle and support system to each game.  It really is more fun that way!

– LJDT

44 … Simultaneously Fabulous and F***ed Up

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Happy birthday to me!

I stopped making a fuss about my birthday sometime in my 20s when it was no longer feasible, reasonable or acceptable to celebrate for an entire week.  Thus, last weekend when I turned 44, it read like most of my Saturdays in February — an early morning workout at home followed by a partner workout at the gym, two basketball games before a quick lunch and two more basketball games, family dinner with my guys then home by 9PM.  The birthday bonus: My mom drove down from NY to take us out to eat … and she brought cupcakes and presents.  Yeah, my mom rocks!

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A little sad, but true.

I’m not one to get upset about turning a year older, yet when someone asks how old I am, it takes me about six months to answer correctly.  Not out of duplicity or embarrassment, just habit.  Remembering a new age/number takes me awhile.  The truth is, I’m glad I’m not younger.  I like being in my 40s.  I’m more comfortable in my own skin now … and my jeans, too.  I’m healthier, stronger and can do things that I couldn’t do 10 years ago — hell, even 5 years ago — like, bench press over 100 pounds and deadlift over 200 pounds.  I can even do a handstand!

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Learning new tricks in my 40s — check me out!

Despite kicking ass in my 40s, it’s far from all roses all the time.  There are definitely some armpits mixed in that make 44 feel old, such as:

  • having to scroll waaaaaay down to find my birth year online
  • being called “ma’am”
  • having to pee as soon as I stand up
  • forgetting why I entered a room, opened the cabinet or opened a drawer
  • needing my glasses to read anything and everything
  • not being able to hear when people talk (but thinking a TV volume over 7 is deafening)
  • wrinkles!
  • needing to dye my roots every week and a half
  • having to check for chin hairs (thanks, early menopause)
  • fighting a slower metabolism (thanks again, early menopause)
  • being too tired to stay out past 10PM
  • catching myself singing along to Hall & Oats and Lionel Richie in the supermarket
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Seriously, which is it?

But grooving in the grocery store and plucking chin hairs doesn’t make me wish for younger days.  I really like being in my 40s.  I may be older and have more gray hair, but I’m also wiser.  I know what (and who) I like and what (and who) I don’t.  I know my strengths and my weaknesses, and I don’t care what other people think because I’m no longer trying to impress anyone — including myself.  I’m learning to embrace my imperfections and celebrate my Type A-minus personality in order to become a better version of myself.  I know I’m a work in progress and 44 is just the mid-way point.  I may not be looking forward to turning 50 in six short years, but if I can make it through early menopause and puberty with two boys, I can handle a silly little number.  Besides, I’ll probably keep saying I’m 49 anyway … out of habit.

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– LJDT

Early Menopause … Living the Dream

ATTENTION TO THE MEN WHO READ MY BLOG:  Talk of periods, poop and PMS to follow.  Proceed with caution.

Getting older sucks.  Gray hair, wrinkles, constipation and, as if that wasn’t enough, peri-menopause and menopause.  Welcome to the world of irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain and severe mood swings … Good times!  Think lions and tigers and bears are scary?  Try living with a woman going through menopause … Screaming and crying and swearing, oh my!

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T.M.I. Alert:  I haven’t had a period since November 2012.  Thanksgiving day, to be exact.  Almost three years ago.  Menopause at age 40 … Yep, it’s true.

Between the ages of 38 and 40, I experienced typical peri-menopause symptoms: hot flashes and night sweats, sporadic periods and severe mood swings, sleepless nights and unexplained weight gain.  I thought I had severe PMS.  My family thought I was a crazy bitch with an attitude problem.  It sucked.  A LOT.  For me and everyone near me.  But it’s over now and I have to admit, being on the other side of menopause does have some benefits.  Here are the five best things about being post-menopausal:

  1. I save money not buying tampons and pads every month.
  2. I can wear white whenever I want.
  3. I spend less time shaving your legs (less body hair is another fun side effect of menopause).
  4. Three words: No more PMS.
  5. Two words: Safer sex (no birth control required!).

Jealous?

But for every positive, there’s a negative, right?  For example, …

  1. All the money I save not buying tampons is now spent on Poise pads and Benefiber.
  2. I still use “protection” when I wear white — just in case (you never know!).
  3. Less body hair applies everywhere, including eyebrows (although, I am constantly checking for old lady chin hairs).
  4. No PMS means I have no excuse for my bitchiness.
  5. No eggs = no more babies … Actually, at 43, I’m not sure there is a down side to this one.

As my sister says, it is what it is.

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– LJDT

Downgrading From an “A” to an “A-minus”

Until recently, I identified myself as a Type A personality.  In most aspects of my life, I am textbook Type A:  anxious, controlling, sensitive, competitive and highly organized.  But in some other areas, not so much.  This contradiction has led me to believe that I’m not really a Type A personality, but more of a Type A-minus … and The Huffington Post has now validated me.

I am a walking oxymoron.  My closet is meticulously arranged, but inside my dresser is a mess.  My iCalendar is color-coded, but my grocery lists are scribbled on the back of random envelopes.  My emails are read and discarded immediately, but my pile of unread magazines is overflowing.  According to a recent Huffington Post article, this contradiction makes me a Type A-minus personality.

As stated by Healthy Living Editor, Lindsay Holmes, Type A-minus personalities are “particular about most things, but laid back about others.”  BINGO!  This is so me!

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Being Type A-minus explains so much.  It explains why I can’t have dirty dishes in the sink, but often leave the laundry in the dryer for days (and then have to dry it all over again to get the wrinkles out).  It explains why I can’t get into an unmade bed at night, but will walk past a basket of folded laundry for nearly a week before putting it away.  It explains why I can’t handle long lines and traffic jams, but can easily waste three hours on Pintrest, Twitter and Facebook.  It explains why I’m fastidious about so many things, but flippant about others.  It explains me to a tee.

Guess this means I should update my profile page … I am Lauren Tarr and I am a proud, Type A-minus, crazy lady.

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Now if someone would just create an A-minus bra, I’d be all set!

– LJDT