Friday, February 5, 2016

Over Achiever

It is a cold, sunny February morning. I just made my 3rd cup of coffee despite the fact that I have piles of laundry and a 42 pound terrier that wants a walk. It is Friday morning and I am tired from waking up in the dark to a 6 am alarm all week.

I had my yearly physical yesterday and I really am thankful for my good health. My doctor told me I was "biologically 30" instead of 40. I do not know if this is really a medical thing or not, but I'll take it. Most mornings I feel 40, though.

Musings from my 40 year old mind today:

I married an over-achiever. It was inevitable, really, since I was raised by an over-achiever.
My father was the hot stuff of his small west TN town. He was salutatorian of his high school class and captain of the basketball team. He was in student government, popular, and friends with everyone.  He went on to succeed in  college and then Air Force officer training school where he graduated 2nd in his Flight school class. He went on to be a flight instructor and then had a successful career as an airline pilot. The man knows how to fly at least 5 different airplanes. He has retired from flying airplanes and now, at 65, has started a successful financial planning business. He has an MBA and is a CFP. He is athletic, handsome, and rarely meets a stranger. He has succeeded at everything he has ever attempted. I often say he has lived a charmed life.

My mother was raised by a strong, single mother in a small TN town. She was a cheerleader and a college beauty queen. She was a true Chi Omega. She is petite, beautiful, and smart as a whip. Besides her physical beauty, she is truly an angel. Everyone that has met her knows this. I have been her daughter for 40 years and have rarely heard an unkind word come out of her mouth. She embodies Proverbs 31 and defines the term "Godly woman." She lives to help people.

As an only child, this was quite a lot to live up to. I have often said I didn't have anyone to help spread out the disappointment! Seriously though, they never made me feel like that.  All this to say, I know why I was attracted to John Will.

Mom has been on a cleaning kick for, oh, her whole life. But, recently she gave me back boxes with all my old journals that I kept all through high school and college. In one of the college-era journals I made a list of characteristics I wanted in my husband. At the top of the list (along with Christian) were the words: "someone smarter than me." Now, some might say that wouldn't take much, but I specifically remember breaking up with guys that I felt were not quite smart enough.  I was never attracted to guys who didn't take school seriously. I needed someone that I knew I could trust to be smarter than I was. I know that sounds crazy. I just read it and it does sound crazy. But, when I met John Will I knew. It's as simple as that. I knew he was the one for me and 16 years later I am still crazy about him.

Last night Will got yet another phone call from a classmate asking about an assignment. This used to make me mad, but it happens so frequently now I am over it. Ryan asked me: "why do people always call Will about school work?" I answered: "because Will knows everything."  And it's true.

Our community was crushed last week when a Senior at the high school committed suicide. He was a National Merit Scholar, had a 35 on his ACT and had a full ride to his dream college. No one knows why he did it and he had showed no warning signs. It was a total shock.  Our middle and high school are nationally ranked public schools.  People in our community are extremely proud of our schools reputation for having high test scores and lots of National Merit scholars. Many kids go on to Ivy League schools. The rigorous academics are a source of pride.  But let me make this clear: IT IS NOT WORTH IT. A child's life is not worth it.  I have just spent this entire post telling you about my over-achieving parents and husband. But, I am now telling you I do not want this burden for my boys. It is just not worth it. If it comes easily to them, great. If it drives them to the point of insanity, then by all means let's just be average. I once read an article entitled, "The World is Run by C Students." This may or may not be true but the lesson here is that it is okay to not be perfect. It is okay to not be an over-achiever.

So, today I wish you love. I wish you many days filled with sunshine and happiness. I wish you a healthy acceptance of who you are and who God made you to be. Nothing more and nothing less.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

This is 39

Disclaimer: I did not write the essay below. But, I wish that I had written it. I can identify with every single word. Every. Single. Word. I only have a few more days left in my 30's. It is hard to take. Hard. I could have written every word below from the fact that WAY too many people I know get diagnosed with cancer to wondering about Natalie Merchant and hoping she is okay. I cannot deal with the mall but I still love Guns N Roses in an unhealthy way.  It's scary, but here I am. Turning 40. As my Dad would say, think of the alternative. 
This is taken from the Scary Mommy blog

I am feeling my age. Age is a loaded word and concept, but in my case, what I mean is that I feel this year of 39 completely: this is not just another year in the life. When I was younger, the milestone birthdays seemed to be 13, 16, 18, and 21. I remember announcing what I believed to be the last of them at 25, a birthday I felt marked the beginning of when “everything counts” as well as my ability to finally rent a car on my own. But 39 has been a milestone too — maybe even more than 40 will be. I feel as if I am standing in a more significant threshold, leaving one place and entering another.
This is my 39…
At 39, you splurge on Justin Timberlake concert tickets because you love him in a way that almost feels inappropriate — even though you still remember his hair circa the ’90s — but then you find that his concert homage to Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison” thrills you even more than “Suit and Tie.”

You do all your Christmas shopping on Amazon — not because you are all savvy and techy, but for the simple reasons that you cannot bear to deal with crowds and parking at the shopping malls and you don’t have time to shop on foot anyway. ( I  once spent New Year’s Eve in Times Square. I went to Woodstock in ’94. When did I become such a wimp and so “busy?”)

People you love have cancer. Way too many people you love have cancer. It makes you angry. And scared.
Thus, you look at moles differently. You start staring in the bathroom mirror for long bouts of time, trying to figure out what is going on above your upper lip and what to do about your forehead and WTH that tiny bump on your temple is.
You dish with your college girlfriends about miracle devices that remove chin hairs and the most comfortable yoga pants for school pick up. Because, you know, that is hot.
Your husband remarks to you that Taylor Swift seems like “she’d be a really cool girl to have… as a daughter.”

You find yourself keeping the car running so you can finish hearing that Guns ‘n’ Roses song on the radio — on the easy listening station (the hell?) — because it reminds you of college. Hall and Oates take you straight to the backseat of your parents’ car on road trips to the beach when you were a child, and Paul Simon and Billy Joel sing the songs that you hold sacred, the songs that your parents used to play on a record player  at parties that went past your bedtime.

You cry at commercials and flipping You Tube videos. You don’t want to watch violent movies. You wonder how the teenagers at the mall have parents who let them dress that way. You realize with a start that although you believed you were Carrie when you watched Sex and the City on HBOyou now think of Carrie and her friends as “young,” and they totally wouldn’t hang out with you.

You hear through the grapevine about friends separating and divorcing, a stark contrast to your 20s and early 30s when there was another wedding every weekend. It feels surreal; divorce seems like such a grown-up thing to do, even more than mortgages and minivans and babies. It’s threatening, like a tornado that might randomly hit you or someone you love. Even though divorces are not random at all, they feel random — which is terrifying.

You spend lunches with friends comparing local memory loss facilities and living wills for your parents in the same breath as preschools and tennis lessons for your kids.

Everyone you know is training for some kind of race — whether it’s a half marathon, a full marathon, or an Ironman (overachievers). Your friends wear CrossFit T-shirts and Zumba pants at the grocery store because they actually do those things. Fitness is the new mid-life crisis.
Still, you very possibly might drink a Diet Coke with your lunch of kale and quinoa salad. Details.
Speaking of beverages: hello, hangovers. Every drink after your first is now some huge risk and gamble on whether tomorrow will be absolutely miserable.
You squint more. You consider appliances a viable gift option. You don’t know any of the bands playing on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve — and you don’t want to — but you can totally beat your kids at Just Dance (and only Just Dance). It ticks them off in a very satisfying way, but you are pathetically sore the next day.

You find yourself wondering whatever happened to Winona Ryder and Natalie Merchant. You hope they are okay, because they feel like distant cousins you grew up with once upon a time. You have a soft spot for Ethan Hawke and John Cusack and you always will, like the boys next door growing up that you can’t forget. Jake Ryan will always be the hottest boy who ever lived, and no, you don’t want to see a picture of what he looks like now. Thanks.

Your parents are slowing down and retiring. Some of your friends are losing their parents. It feels like some kind of seismic shift to realize that our generation is now up to bat. We’re the ones leading our countries and churches and corporations and the world. It’s us. Donna Martin graduated and has four children now — and so do I. The same people I drank with in college are now in charge of universities and hedge funds and corporate giants and Homeland Freaking Security. Gulp.

That blows my 39-year-old mind, because I feel like a teenager in middle age clothing. I still feel like someone else should be the grown up. Still, I do feel ready to take responsibility for life and my place in it. I am not afraid to speak up for what I believe. I accept that not everyone is going to like me, even if it still hurts. I know I am never going to be perfect, and I no longer even want to be. I feel like I know what I want from my life, regardless of the expectations of others; unfortunately, I also know that my own expectations for myself are the hardest to bear and the least forgiving. I’m still getting used to the idea that this blur around me is my life happening, but I am getting there.

So, I’m happy to wear ballet flats instead of stilettos, and I have finally decided that Spanx are not actually worth it — I don’t care who is going to be at the party. And I have realized that I am the only mother my kids are going to get, so I better treat myself well and let them know that as imperfect as I am, I’m still valuable . Someday, they will all be imperfect, valuable 39-year-olds too.
I cannot lie: 40 scares me a little bit. This is the big-time. But it scares me in a good way, the kind that feels all tingly and full of possibility. If this is 39, I think that there is a lot to be hopeful for in my 40s. As long as I can figure out that whole what’s-going-on-above-my-upper lip thing.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2015


I have been going to a Sunday School class at church this Summer that I have really enjoyed. I am usually downstairs in the preschool wing teaching 2-3 year-olds to sing "Jesus Loves Me." I love that too, but sometimes it is nice to sit in an adult class.

This past Sunday we talked about identity and transitions. Most humans do not embrace change well. I would be first on that list. We wrap our identities up in different things. One example he gave was the woman who has a husband with an important career who works long hours and kids who go off to college and is left with an empty nest. Who is she then? Where is she left? I immediately felt defensive. Well, huh, I am super proud of my husband. I have supported him every step of the way. I am his number one fan. I honestly think he is the bees knees.

I am super proud of my boys. Listening to my 12 year old play Ode to Joy on the piano is almost more than this Mother's heart can take. Watching the way Will treats people and respects others makes me so proud. Seeing my 9 year old have intensity and faith beyond his years is amazing to me. Ryan would step in front of a moving train for his brother. No questions asked.  They are both smarter than either one of their parents and seem to have gotten the best traits and qualities of all their family members. Grandparents included.

When I was about 8 years old I remember wanting to be a ballerina. I took dance for many, many years with my best friend, Missy. Neither one of us had a lick of coordination when it came to dance, but good gracious, we had a blast.  In high school I shadowed a female attorney on Career Day because I wanted to go to Law School and be a lawyer. I still think that would have been a good move for me but by 1998, I just wanted to graduate with a college degree. The thought of more school and more paper-writing was atrocious to  me. In the mean time, I also remember wanting to join Greenpeace and save the whales. Wanting to go into journalism and be the next Anna Wintour or Jane Pauley. Wanting to get a Ph.D in Southern Literature from Vanderbilt. Wanting to go to Ole Miss and get a Masters in Southern Culture. (Because there is always such a high demand for experts in Southern Studies.)  In the end, after I met my future husband, all I wanted to do was be a Mother.

For better or for worse, I promise I won't lay on my deathbed and wish I had done anything else. My life could end tomorrow. I have already seen too many friends my age diagnosed with cancer. I promise I won't think: "man, I really shouldn't of wasted my life raising two boys to be men." "I really should not have loved them so much." All that time driving people to baseball, soccer, school, and church activities. All those wasted mornings packing lunches, walking my dogs and folding laundry. All the hours spent at school, in my kitchen making cookies, prayers prayed, friends counseled. All the bike rides after dinner. All the days spent at the pool.   No, I'm good.  So, yeah, at 39, staring 40 in the face, I'm good with my identity. Thanks anyway, though.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Its May Again. Cue the Emotions.

3 1/2 more days of school left this year. This year will be a big transition for our family as Will goes to middle school and the boys will no longer be in the same school together.
I need to recap the past week. It may take me all summer to recover.

This past Friday our school had the 5th grade promotion ceremony. This is a beautiful, well-done ceremony where each student is recognized. They sing songs, have a slide-show and give awards. We have six 5th grade classes and each teacher chooses one student to receive the outstanding student award given based on exemplary  character, achievement, personality, etc.  Well, this being my first 5th grade promotion ceremony to attend, I did not know this award existed.  Will Dawson won the award for his class. I was a mess. I am not surprised Will won the award, but I am so proud his teacher recognized him.  I told him I would be equally as proud of him if he never won a single award, but I am so happy his wonderful teacher saw the light in him that I have always seen. He is an amazing kid and he makes me proud every day, award or not.

Ryan just ended a tough baseball season. He played up in a select division this year for the first time. He was on a new team and they had a hard time hanging with some of the other more-seasoned teams. Little league baseball is a tough scene for me. They are 8 and 9 year old little boys expected to play a very mature, impossibly hard game. Some of these kids will play up to 50 games over a couple months time. Parents on the road traveling every weekend. Thankfully, our team did not have that kind of schedule but we played teams that did. I loved watching the games and supporting these boys who honestly game 110% every time they were on the field. The sad truth is that in our area of town only the very best will succeed and end up playing on a school team. These boys will have personal trainers and private lessons year-round. It is hard for me to accept that truth. Ryan can be very intense and competitive, but he is only 9. Who can decide what they want to devote their life to when they are 9?  We take it one season at a time.

Ryan is still my love. He still can't pass me without touching me or hugging me. He wrote me a Mother's Day piece in class and on "What is one of your favorite things about your mom?" he wrote: "when she laughs."  And that, my friends, made my whole life.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

10 Things I Know for Sure:

1. Jesus Christ is My Lord and Savior. Without Him, I would be lost and empty.

2. God put me on Earth to be a Mother to the two most amazing boys in the world. I wake up every morning knowing that is my purpose.

3. Nothing taste better on a cold Fall morning that a cup of hot pumpkin spice coffee. Watching the sun rise while drinking this cup of hot coffee is truly magical.

4. Perspective is very important. Keeping life in perspective is a minute by minute exercise. Also known as "The Big Picture." Most things in daily life do not matter in The Big Picture.

5. The Lord forgives. Forgiving yourself is harder.

6. Being kind matters. Being kind to animals matter. Being kind to those who don't look or act like you matters. Just be nice. Just be kind.

7. What sports team your kid plays on doesn't matter. It just doesn't. I promise.

8. Eating healthy food matters. I promise you will feel better.

9. The cream always rises to the top. Always. It might take a while, but it rises.

10. When I get to Heaven I am going to run until I find my Grandmama. And I can't wait.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Don't stare in the mirror on cold January mornings

Looking in the mirror this morning I see the deep creases in my forehead from years of scrunching up my forehead wondering about people. It's the exact same expression Ryan wore on his face for the first 2 years of his life. Unsure about people. Not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and a smile. The older he gets the more I see myself in him. Hoping its the good, but knowing it's probably the crazy too.

I also see the additional 10 (15 if we are honest) pounds that I am currently waging war on this year. It is not nearly as easy to lose now as it was when I was 21 and could run a few extra miles. It is beyond frustrating. Weight is not something I ever, ever thought I would have to worry about, but this is 38 and 2 babies.

I look at my hands and can't believe how bad they look. Scars from eczema and repeat cooking burns have left them looking like my grandmamas. I will decide this is not entirely a bad thing.

I see the beginning of tiny creases around my eyes. I try to ignore these for now. I have long taken pride that I inherited the good skin that can only come from good genes. Skin you can not purchase. No expensive skin products can replace good genes. My Nana's porcelain skin at 81 is beautiful. So, for now, I will not worry about the eye creases.

I do not look in the mirror and see my Mother. I keep wondering when she will stare back at me, but for now I do not see her. And, that's fine.

Sometimes I look in the mirror and the little voice in the back of my head starts asking questions. "What are you doing?" "What have you done?" "Are you sure you are doing enough?" Annoying questions like that make me doubt myself. I try to ignore that little voice most of the time.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

20 Years

Last Saturday night I went to my 20 year high school reunion. 1993 doesn't seem that long ago, but I guess it was.

I think we all felt like it was a little strange that it has been 20 years. I mean, we talked about things that happened in high school like they happened last week.  Since we now have Facebook, we know where everyone lives, what they do, and what their kids dressed up like for Halloween. So, not a lot of time was spent on the "what are you doing now?" conversation.
I graduated with about 300 people, but maybe 100 came to the reunion. I wish more people had attended, but was so glad to see the ones that did come.

Hendersonville was a great place to grow up. It is a beautiful suburb of Nashville that is set on a lake. We had fantastic public schools and we were all expected to graduate, go to college, and do something with our lives. In the summers we hung out on the lake or at the various swim and tennis clubs. Hendersonville felt like a small town in that you could cruise around on a Friday night and always see someone you knew, but we had Nashville at our fingertips as well. I guess a lot of towns were like this, but Hendersonville was ours.

The people I grew up with are amazing, hilarious, smart, beautiful people.  We grew up together, made mistakes together, celebrated each other, and took care of each other. Hendersonville still feels like home. Seeing those people felt like coming home.

I love my college friends. I really do. But there is nothing like the people who have known you since you were in the 2nd grade.

I really wish that I could see these people more than a few hours every 10 years. It is simply not enough to have any kind of quality conversation. It was so nice to be transported back to my high school self for a moment in time.  I am going to have to try to figure out a way to plan a 25 year reunion. I love my 38 year old mom self. I have a blast with my boys and I would not trade these days for anything, but 16 year old Ginger was a fun girl too.