Do We Need a Serving of Humble Pie?

 

By: Lara Winburn

pride

In recent weeks, I have noticed a lot about ego. The good news about writing this is folks with a mega-ego (in politics or otherwise) never know they have one because the mega ego has blinders. First of all, a little ego goes a long way. In my opinion, most everyone with a healthy dose of self-worth also has a healthy dose of ego, self-confidence, whatever you want to call it. I am even attracted to folks that let their ego flag fly – often they are not afraid to try new trends, laugh too loud, and be the center of attention. (If you have ever heard me laugh you know this rings true)

But here is the truth. Humility is the stuff true rock stars are made of. Give me an anonymous donor or a secret Ivy League graduate any day. There is a balance. As I raise both a son and a daughter, I want them to be brave and confident, self-aware and proud of their little individual spirits. But more than that I want them to be kind and thoughtful, patient and loving, and humble.

I do not know whether a yearly helping of humble pie can be mandatory. But I am always striking a balance between building self-confidence without creating a cocky monster. I mean y’all- I have a friend that we have literally joked for years that her momma spent too much time building her up. Her momma must have gone to some “Self-Esteem 101” class but slept through “Nobody likes a Bragger 102.” It is a delicate balance indeed. The best I know is to continue to praise my children for all of their many talents and gifts while also pointing out that this world is full of people walking around with crazy cool talents and gifts. I do not think it is healthy to compare ourselves to each other but it is healthy to look around sometimes and say “Wow – that person is an amazing writer” or “Darn – that girl is so organized, she makes it look easy” or even better to recognize that humble servant that is rarely recognized and seems to be at peace with it all.

This world seems to be screaming: post that awesome thing you did on Facebook, take a picture of that dinner you just slayed, or add another skill to you LinkedIn profile. I think I will try to give as many high fives as I do pats on the back. And as for that humble pie, I promise to choke it down when the time comes to tell myself that I’m only awesome 85% of the time.

Vanity Thief

By: Lara Winburn

Motherhood has stolen my vanity. (Vanity is only one thing stolen from me – sleep, abs, and my own beating heart are a few others.) But vanity is the one that occurs to me when mirrorI realize the only reflection I have seen all day is on the side of an SUV.

A friend hopped in my car last weekend, glanced down at my makeup bag on the console, and said, “So you put your makeup on in the car, too?” Every single morning. I’ve even considered having multiple makeup bags in cars, offices at work, the church nursery. Just in case I am having a hard time finding a few minutes to actually look in a mirror and apply a little blush. I started applying makeup in the car when the kids were babies because they would be safe in their car seats as I took my eyes off of them for 5 minutes. Now it just shaves time off an already hectic morning.

I cannot remember the last time I was fully dressed, mascaraed and standing at attention in front of a full-length mirror. I mean, to be honest, I have never been very impressive with an iron but I normally had time for a lint brush and mirror pause before racing out the door. I feel certain now that the reason I never look in a mirror is because I would not have time to correct the litany of things wrong – wrinkles, lint, bulges and pulls. You know, ignorance is bliss.

A friend of mine that is a stay-at-home mom was recently talking about her morning routine and like a strike of lightening she stopped and said “Oh my gosh – you have to put on real clothes before you leave the house every morning.” This is not a mommy war, stay-at-home mom vs. working mom statement, this is just the truth. I cannot wear yoga pants and a pony tail to my office. Just a fact. But I would venture a guess, that no matter where your morning takes you, most moms have lost the energy for a certain level of vanity along the way. Maybe that’s just fine. We are raising small humans and all – so lipstick on my teeth seems a little trivial. (But if you see me with lipstick on my teeth, will you please tell me?? It’s some kind of girl rule.)

Sometimes beneath my tall brown boots my socks don’t match because I am tired, they are clean and you didn’t know until just now. I have already admitted to wearing mismatched shoes. I realized the other day as my big, wild, curly hair whipped around, that I didn’t really know what my hair looked like to other people. I felt around and it “seemed” to have a part but I forgot for just a moment that I was not invisible and the people I work with are not blind. Who knows if I look like a lion or a Pantene model? I think I’ll just hope for the later.

I have never been particularly good at eyeliner or the latest Sephora find so this fall from grace was a short trip, but I hope as the kids get older I will reclaim a little of the style I once had. In this season of life, it is hard enough to make sure that my family is clean, fed, and clothed some mornings as we fly out the door.

Just maybe I am a visual lesson for those sweet babies that it’s what’s on the inside that really counts. I can almost always promise I am clean, but after that all bets are off. I would like to believe that there are moms everywhere with makeup bags in their car and mismatched socks under their boots with the beaming beauty of love.

Not “The Talk” But a Conversation

By: Lara Winburn

The talkOctober is “Let’s Talk Month” and when I say talk I mean, yes, that talk, the awkward-for-most-everyone-participating talk. But the truth is, it isn’t just a talk – it is a conversation. Now, I do not remember much of “the talk” when I was growing up. Maybe I have blocked it out of my head or learned everything from Salt-N-Pepa, who knows? One friend said her mom never had “the talk” with her. She just handed over a book for her to read and then suggested she pass it down to her younger sister one day. “The talk” has had parents and kids blushing for years, but I am willing to blush for good reason.

I work for the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and because of that there are a lot of office conversations that are not your typical water cooler talk. (On my first day here, I heard the word “sex” enough times to make even the most comfortable person cringe in a staff meeting.) But that’s our business. We are in the business of preventing teen pregnancy and we have to talk about real issues – and yes, that includes love, sex, and relationships. Our mission is to improve the health and economic wellbeing of individuals, communities and the state of South Carolina by preventing teen pregnancy. We work with youth serving organizations, teachers, counselors and parents to implement appropriate teen pregnancy programs. These programs educate young people about waiting to have sex (the only 100% reliable birth control) and empowers teens to think about love, relationships and IF they are going to have sex – are they protecting their bodies, their hearts, and their futures?

I have little kids, so NO, I am not having “the talk” with them about sex, but I have started the conversation. Part of the conversation that starts even with my sweet toddler is knowing about good, healthy relationships. I want them to understand all kinds of love: between mommy and daddy, between friends, and my endless love for them. I want them to know about bodies all sizes, shapes and colors, and appreciate how wonderful and beautiful and strong and important our bodies are. Unfortunately, we live in a world where I need my children to know the difference between a “right” touch and a “wrong” touch. Do I fumble through this? Absolutely. Do I hope they never need this information? Hope is not a strong enough word but I do it all the same! This is all part of that early conversation.

If you start this now, October 2015 –  Let’s Talk Month, then even if you are talking to a toddler like me, the conversation has begun. In 2 years, 5 years and even in 10 years I know this conversation will change drastically but they already know that I am here. I am here to talk.

You can stop blushing now, too.

If you need some age appropriate talking tips, visit http://www.notrightnowsc.org/parent-teen/age-appropriate-guidelines.

Confessions of a Famously-Hot Mom

By: Lara Winburn

Though there is a “cool front” coming through Columbia as I write this, we all know that a cool front in June, in Columbia, is a lie. It only means no triple digits on the heat index. And I must admit all of this hot weather and no vacation in sight can make me a little less of the mom, friend or human I hope to be. So, I have some famously hot confessions to make. I hope you will understand and even have a keep-cool suggestion or, at least, an invitation to your pool!

Famously Hot Confessions:

(Seven of them as we approach the seventh month of the year. Or, these could be affectionately referred to as “The Sweaty Seven.”)

  1. Famously HotI talk about the weather constantly, and when I say weather I mean heat. If you are trapped with me outside for more than 10 minutes I can promise you I will say some form of “wow, it’s hot” 9,478 times. I apologize for that but it is hot. I mean, I am even blogging about it.
  2. I do not care about artificial flavors, colors, or artificial ice. Sno-cones are good.
  3. I have run through our sprinkler more than once this summer….after work…in my work clothes.
  4. My favorite friends have a pool. Seriously, haven’t talked to you in 9 months – you have a pool? We should get together more often.
  5. I play hide and seek inside sometimes just to avoid: A) going outside and B) playing Candyland for the 400th time. (Did I mention I am a recovering competitive board game player? So even if my opponent is 4, I might play to win.)
  6. I consider shaving my head daily. I have a lot of crazy curly hair and it traps heat like a fleece blanket on my neck. But since my round face could never rock a pixie cut I keep some length on it so I can put it in a pony tail OFF MY NECK every single day. So if you see me with shears in hand, WATCH OUT!
  7. Sometimes the kids and I sit in my car, in my driveway, for what might be considered a long time – because my car has excellent air conditioning and it is so hot out there in the elements.

So there it is. I am open to suggestions, because did I mention it is hot? I need some new cool ideas!

The Louder I Speak, the Less They Hear

By: Lara Winburn

getting kids to listenHave you ever witnessed a conversation between two people that speak different languages, and one of them continues to say the same thing over and over just louder? It is as if increasing their volume will make them bilingual. Lately at my house it appears that my children and I are speaking different languages and all I am doing is getting louder and louder. Perhaps instead I need some version of Parenting Rosetta Stone.

Here is a perfect example of the less-than-perfect nightly occurrence at my house:

Me: “Hey, precious daughter of mine, please go put your pajamas on.” (This is said in my sing song mother-of-the-year voice.)

Daughter dances, plays, skips etc.

Me: “Hey Bud, put your pajamas on.” (This is said in my less sing-song, but still light tone.)

Daughter continues to dance, play, skip etc.

Me: “Pajamas now, please.” (Firm, but friendly, and saying it for what seems like the 3,498th time.)

You know what my daughter is still doing ….

Then I speak my best English in what seems like a very loud, rather harsh voice because surely she just doesn’t understand what I am saying and if I say it louder she will finally get a rough translation of Mommy-Talk to 4-Year-Old Talk.

Me: “PAJAMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please.”

I know this is not the answer and I have admitted in the past how tone deaf I try not to be. But seriously, just put on your pajamas. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be some screechy mommy over something as minimal as pajamas.

Surely, these small people that inhabit our home must just need a translator. Sometimes daddy is an effective translator because he has not repeated himself as many times and he still has a singsong or a joke left in him. Or maybe sometimes I just need to stop, take a breath, count to ten, and refer to my mommy-to-kid translation dictionary that gives me the many tenses to ask for pajamas in their language. And if all else fails I try to remember the wise words of Mary Poppins:

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game!”

Or, as a last resort, but also in the words of Mary Poppins: Try RUM PUNCH.

Getting On My Nerves And Off My Chest

By: Lara Winburn 

In my last blog post I was gearing up to lace up my sneakers for the LexMed Heart & Sole 5 Miler. Let me just say I am slow moving and my shoes are barely tied. I would love to write a post about my training success, the running endorphins, and how I cannot wait for sciatic-nervethe next mile. Unfortunately, at the risk of sounding like a whiner, this post-baby body is keeping me more in the tortoise category hoping to be a hare.

Before I started training I noticed I was having some sciatic nerve pain. This pain (like a litany of other ailments) started during my first pregnancy. If you have never been blessed with sciatic nerve pain, it starts in your rump and runs down your leg. I have only known one thing to remedy this, so I went back to my physical therapist who had “fixed” me before. After being sidelined by my physical therapist, I spent a few weeks just walking…slowly.

Then I felt like my legs were ready to cooperate, but my lungs were not. I am now in day nine of antibiotics and still struggling with stupid bronchitis. Turns out when you have bronchitis you should lay off the running as well. And I can’t even blame that on the post-baby body.

So here is what I am aiming for now….I have a solid six weeks of training if my lungs are given the “all clear” on Friday. Six weeks is plenty of time, right? 42 days, minus a few resting days here and there. Who’s with me? I have the schedule in hand and I am ready to go. I’ll keep you posted.

Tone Deaf

By: Lara Winburn

tone deafAt the risk of this being used against me in the family court of my living room, I have a confession: Sometimes I am a little tone deaf. Not the kind of tone deaf where I can’t do an awesome rendition of Taylor Swift, but a different kind of tone. My husband has so generously pointed out to me on a few occasions (a few being 7,456,987 times) that most of the time it is not what you say, but the tone of voice you use when you say it. I am guilty of many tones at our house, some helpful and some more hurtful.

With the kids, I have my second grade teacher tone, which can be used for good and not evil. My family knows when we are getting down to business or when I have given my last warning. There are other pleasant tones- playful, silly and even the occasional profound tone. My struggle is not to be tone deaf to a particular tone.

There are two not-so-pleasant tones I am guilty of using. I really do struggle to improve their pitch. These tones do not have names, but they definitely have characteristics.

One is a more combative, normally a rhetorical question tone…you know the one. “Are you going to leave those shoes there?” Translation: MOVE THOSE BOATS, I HAVE TRIPPED ON THEM A MILLION TIMES AND I ALREADY STRUGGLE WITH BEING MISS GRACE. Or another example is, “What do you think we should have for dinner?” Translation: haven’t we talked about how making these decisions is exhausting? (See Please Pass the Magic Eight Ball.) I know this tone is hard on the ears and the heart so I try (really, I do!) to use it as little as possible.

Then there is my husband’s least favorite tone of all. He describes it like this: “You make a statement or ask a question in a way that you can always add “you dummy” to the end of it. For example, “Are you going to dress the baby in that?” becomes, “Are you doing to dress the baby in that, you dummy?” Or “Tomorrow is dance class.” With a certain tone, this simple statement can sound a lot like, “Tomorrow is dance class, you dummy.”

I know, throw the book at me. This is wrong. The tone you use is just as important, if not more important, as the words you say. (I just said that with my desperate, you-are-right, apologetic tone)

As the many, many words I say each day fall out of my mouth, I pledge to really hear them – not the letters, but the tone. I am the victim as well as a perpetrator…just ask my three-year-old who has now mastered the art of the word “fine,” with the tone of a 16-year-old.

Super Baby

By: Lara Winburn

There are a lot of things about babies that I find magical. Newborns fascinate me with their sweet smells and their tiny, perfect finger nails and ears. Watching a baby and then a toddler learn all of the things we find most basic like walking and talking are quite babiesremarkable. But after a baby moves in to live with you forever, you realize they are even more magical than you thought.

A baby, somehow, cannot utter a cry for hours and as soon as you pick up a fork and touch it to your own tired and hungry lips, that baby will wail almost on cue. You can change a diaper, dress your child in the most precious outfit for picture day and within minutes have an explosion that can ruin the outfit and your morning. Dress them in some mismatched, emo-looking get-up and the diaper will hold for days.

Once they hit the toddler phase, they instinctively know when you have quietly slithered away to use the bathroom, shower or heaven forbid, just breathe alone in a separate room. That “mommy tracking” device is foolproof. Go out on the town and stay out just a hair too late with a whispered prayer of hope that baby that will sleep until morning, you will find yourself face-to-face with a wide awake child at 4am. They are all knowing.

My one-year-old also has super human strength. He can push my husband and me out of the bed, in the middle of the night, as he lines himself up into a hyphen position. We are powerless and grasping with fingernails to the side of the mattress. Let one of these super babies get their fingers wrapped around your hair and it seems like it will take “the jaws of life” to get your locks released.

I have watched children play, wrestle, climb and catapult themselves off slides, steps, and even couches only to laugh in the face of injury. If there is a way to get two feet off the ground and free fall down, they will find it. Both of my children can scale the front of my body like they are climbing the side of a mountain…really it is quite impressive. If you watch a toddler cruise around the cleanest space on the face of the earth, they will find the grossest particle on the ground or the tiniest, yet perfectly shaped choking hazard. No danger radar for a lot of these super babies.

What a wonder they are. Their smile can bring you to your knees. The word “mommy” whispered at night can make your heart explode. One tight hug around the neck and your tear ducts are full. So many super babies with super power.

Tiny Handcuff

By: Lara Winburn

Before you read this you should know I might be carefully tiptoeing on to a soap box. **Consider yourself warned.** But I am genuinely confused about a recent revelation. Maybe you can help?

marriageIn the past couple of weeks, I have heard more than one tale of people who remove their wedding bands when they go out on the town. Men and women alike decide it is more “fun” when they are on a girls’ night or a boys’ night to strip themselves of this outward symbol of marriage and, I can only assume, also their inhibitions.

I have been thinking about this, and I am both annoyed and confused by this behavior. I mean, my husband and I have referred to our wedding rings as “the smallest handcuff in the world.” But we joke. (Seriously, just jokes.) Not to mention, it would take a hack saw or a tiny bullet to shoot my ring off this pudgy finger, which does make it a little like a handcuff.

With this trend, I am concerned about a few unsuspecting souls. (Now obviously, if this “fun” behavior is agreed upon by both parties…whatever floats your boat, people. My boring self will stick with keeping my ring on at girls’ night.) But if this is in secret, what about the husband or wife that is out of town on business or at home with the kids? Are people just throwing caution to the wind and their wedding ring in the jewelry box? (I mean, where do you keep it?) Is someone considering how their spouse might feel about this missing accessory?

But there is something else that outrages me. What about those people out there who are truly trying to find that someone special and they find….somebody else’s someone special. Is it really fair to trick those people? Why bring them into whatever unhappiness you are breeding? Even if this is the agreement you have with your spouse, my friend looking for Mr. Right is not part of this agreement and does not deserve Mr. I-Don’t-Wear-My-Ring-Sometimes.

Mostly, I really just do not get it. I am making some assumptions here, but nothing too drastic, so bear with me.

  1. You choose to get married; it was not some arranged commitment that involved a dowry and some goats.
  2. I am not going to promote nor dissuade divorce. We live in a place where that is a real and – from what I understand – relatively manageable process.
  3. Doesn’t it feel just a little bit like a Lifetime movie or a bad sitcom to “Go out on the town and take your wedding ring off?” I am just annoyed that I have heard this tawdry tale before and did not think it was really a common practice of people I know.
  4. Isn’t life, marriage, love, jobs, kids, laundry, and an iCloud complicated enough? Don’t you already feel like you are barely keeping up? Call me lazy, but this ruse just seems like more work.

With recent debates about who should and should not be allowed to get married (another discussion for another day), shouldn’t you just put your tiny handcuff back on before somebody gets hurt?

Service With a Smile

By: Lara Winburn

I am a sucker for good customer service. I once wrote a note to a waitress at a Pizza Hut because her service was so stellar. I have been a waitress and have owned a retail shop; in my mind, service is what separates a good place from a great place. My roommate and I once called the customer service number at Sonic to rave about the service we received…it got us a coupon for a free burger, I do believe – more great service.

Recently my three year old broke her arm. She is fine but it has hindered her social calendar quite a bit. A few weeks before the break, I had scheduled some time at The Little Gym. We had a gift certificate that was going to expire (typical) and I thought both Great customer servicekids would like it and it would be a nap-making kind of activity. Well, I have been to The Little Gym (N. Beltline Blvd) one time for a birthday party. They do not know me or my cute kiddos, but due to arm break I had to cancel our classes there. (It just seemed like the heavy cast might make a balance beam more of a challenge.)

You see that picture of that Get Well Card? That is what they sent my daughter. Just because I told them the reason I was cancelling and that we would try again when all of our appendages were in working order. The inside is signed by who I assume are the sweet teachers that spend their Saturdays teaching kids there. Is that service or what? A little human touch goes a long way. I am now a huge fan of Little Gym.

I am not much of a shopper, because of time and money restraints blah blah blah. But a few weeks ago I ordered shoes from Zappos.com. I feel certain you may have heard of this little company. My mom may be single handedly keeping them in business. Anyway, I ordered some shoes that magically appeared on my door in two days. I tried on the shoes and they did not fit quite right. (One more blessing of pregnancy…new shoe size.) As I studied the shoes I noticed they looked previously worn. Or, at best, tried on by an elephant kicking a soccer ball. So, I decided to call customer service. Not because I was mad, I just did not want to send the shoes back and they think my pet elephant had been kicking a soccer ball with them, or that I wore them out on the town and sent them back. I explained to the lovely sales representative (after listening to the Zappos “joke of the day”) that the shoes did not fit properly. I also wanted to tell them for the record if they looked worn it was not by me. I even said “I am not mad about this and this is not why I am returning them I just thought someone should know and mark it in my shoe chart. The sales associate apologized for the inconvenience and we disconnected. Thirty minutes later, I got a $25 gift certificate because of the inconvenience. Yep, the total hassle dialing 10 numbers just to cover my own tail before I mailed back (on Zappos’ dime) shoes that magically appeared on my doorstep a day before. Total hassle?? If this is someone’s idea of a real inconvenience, let’s talk.

When humans treat humans like humans it really just warms my heart. I am sure we all have lots of examples of bad service, disappointing products, and total retail disrespect – but sometimes there is a little service with a smile. And for that I am thankful. (It doesn’t take much.)

**Disclaimer: For the record, I LOVE LOCAL SMALL BUSINESSES and do not buy everything online. These just happened to be my two examples as of late.**