Monday, November 21, 2011

The Eye of the Beholder

Driving through Bethel a couple days ago, on the way back from getting groceries, Ira was chatting away as usual. He was oddly quiet for a minute before asking, out of the blue, "Mom, are you beautiful?" Without thinking, I snorted and said "Nope, definitely not." Then I felt bad because, well, why DON'T I think I'm pretty? Because my nose is big and my breasts are small? Because my hair doesn't match my eyebrows? Because I had two babies and show it? Because I don't look like those glamorous women that I'm told are gorgeous by magazines and movies? I guess so. But do I like that weird idea? No, of course not, it's sick...but here I am, accidentally passing it on to the next generation.

Damage control time. "Actually Ira, everybody's beautiful. Momma's just grouchy lately. You are very, very beautiful and you came from me and Daddy, so we must be beautiful too." (Best I could do on short notice. In Bethel.)

Made me think about it though, the reason the whole wide world goes along with this dumb theory of what is and isn't beautiful, is because... we JUST GO ALONG WITH IT. Duh. Let's not. It's quite simple. But apparently, with the way I feel about myself, I'm sadly one of the worst offenders.

See, I have a hideous self-esteem problem. Always have. Don't really know why, and lately, with the pressure NOT TO FAIL coming from so many angles, this problem has manifested into something very tricky. (And no, this isn't a passive aggressive way to get people to tell me how great I am. Of course I'm great, and blah, blah, blah, we're ALL great, that's not the point. The point is: I need NOT to need other people thinking that, I need to think I'm great all by myself.) For some reason, I have forever felt inferior in looks, talents and intelligence to everyone else...not sure if it's because I'm ultra sensitive to the fact that I didn't go to traditional college, that I don't have a successful career, that I grew up too poor to have the glossy hair, perfect teeth and trendy clothes others had, that I got picked on a lot when I first started public school in those crucial teenage years, maybe the fact that Justin was always the genius and I was always the idiot, or maybe because pride in one's self is sometimes treated as acting "too big fer yer britches" around here...whatever it was, I don't want my kids growing up crippled in the same way, always needing someone ELSE to tell them they're worth it. I'm working on my self confidence, trying to move away from that ridiculous need for pre-approval from others before I believe in myself. Because if I hang around waiting for it forever, well, maybe it ain't ever coming.

Example: when somebody disapproves of something I do, something I wear, something I say,(which is often, given we are talking about ME here) my first reaction is that they are right and I am wrong. I don't trust my own instincts about a situation. If a person is upset with me, I am instantly crushed and wonder what I did would never have occurred to me in the past to say "Screw you". Or to not exactly say "screw you", but be confident enough in myself to know that it's not ALWAYS my fault. Stick to my guns, so to speak. Instead of letting the world know I'm an easy target because I'll back down apologetically in any case.

Jen and I used to pick on Myra for catching her as a very little girl, looking in the steamy mirror after a bath, batting her cute eyelashes at herself, and quoting a cosmetics commercial from the time..."Don't hate me because I'm beautiful." Well, she was. And I was always rather jealous of both her beauty and her confidence to know it. I mean, it sure didn't hurt her to hear people say how adorable she was every minute, and perhaps it DID hurt me to hear boys say in high school that I wasn't pretty like my sister. But knowing is half the battle. She KNEW she was pretty, therefore, she WAS pretty. Lesson to be learned, right there.

Going through this split, and the anger-talk that goes with it, has been one of the biggest blows ever to my shaky self-esteem. To hear people on the "other side" are criticizing my choices, and me in general, is a rotten feeling, especially to someone who's always felt rather swayed by other's opinions. Constantly made me second guess myself. I hope that I'm finally becoming smart enough to know that no matter how bullied I may feel, I'm not doing anything wrong. I'm NOT crazy/stupid/morally unsound. I've got bigger things to worry about than opinions fueled by anger, not fact. Public opinion can go hang for once. I'm in a tough situation, doing the best I can. Look at my beautiful boys, I must be doing something right. And for the record, I'm a damn AWESOME mother, even if I'm not pretty. So there.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Working a lot in the last few days, it's the Christmas season portrait rush...just thought I'd post a few shots.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Went up to Unadilla on Friday to watch sheep shearing...they shear late in the fall to make lambing season easier. Apparently the lambs can nurse better if the wool isn't so thick by spring. Poor, little, bald sheep were wandering around in snowflakes by the time afternoon rolled around, but they have a cozy barn to get out of the weather, so they'll be fine. The boys were fascinated, Eli especially, with the process. The machines and tools and technique, the funny, elfin, wool booties the professional shearers wear. Ira, in true Ira fashion, was just into the sheep. I've never really seen it done before, which struck me as'd have thought I'd have seen it at the Barreda's or someplace else, we know so many people with sheep, but nope, I haven't. Such an art to it. I found it lovely to watch, the way the wool peeled back perfectly, stroke after stroke, leaving shimmering, uniform stripes on the sheep's bodies. Reminded me of some graceful dance...the shearers even stretched and did yoga poses beforehand. In filthy work clothes. Very interesting, all of it. Would love to try it sometime.

Anyhow, today's a busy one. Sunday is obviously NOT the day of rest at my house, darn it. I wish. I'm writing in between four portrait sessions, and after they finish, I'm watching Av in exchange for Jen watching the boys right now, so she can do a massage, then scheduled to clean the school this evening, so it's a long day, work-wise. Helped John with a dinner party last night that went super late, all neat, fun people and I enjoyed it very much, but I'm feeling pretty exhausted at the moment. Wondering when I'm going to find my groove. Will I ever? IS there even a groove to find for someone in my situation? My brain repeats "WhatamIforgetting?WhatamIforgetting?WhatamIforgetting?" all day long, every day. Starting to get rather nerveracking. I keep telling myself: "Let it go." "One day at a time." "Breathe." and "You're going to be OK." My calming mantras. Hoping that helps a tiny bit at least. One of the women at dinner last night, Sidney, talked to me at length about her divorce and it was one of the hardest talks I've had yet, somehow. I've only meet her once or twice before, and here she was, crying, and so was I, and it was just sad and awkward and nice and awful. It was uncomfortable since she was a virtual stranger, and oddly comfortable for that very same reason. She had no judgements about us already. Huh. I don't know why I wrote about that. Just kinda tired and writing whatever pops into my head, I guess.

Well, that's all folks. Off I go to grin and shout "Say cheese!" for another hour. Over and out.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Beautiful Day

It's been a couple week's worth of awful. Seriously, I don't know why things always seem to happen at once, but anything that could break, go wrong, or turn up missing around here did. I won't even attempt to list all the random are-you-KIDDING-me? stuff that happened, but yesterday I decided to try and take some nice Christmas pictures of the boys and it was actually a lovely day for once. We went up to Landgoes for lunch, because it's so pretty for photos, had a delicious dinner at Myra and Jim's, and then saw a funny, old, Buster Keaton silent movie at The Hop. A good day. I hope good days start to be the rule rather than the exception.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat

Eli insisted on cramming himself into his robot costume from a couple years ago, and Ira changed his mind ten minutes before we left the house, from turtle to pirate.