A Better Daughter: Working with family

I’m working on being the best daughter I can be, but sometimes my role as daughter also blurs into co-worker and employee.

Several years ago, when my family moved to Texas from Nevada, my parents bought a small business. The small business, had 3 separate parts, one oil change facility that served our average day customer, had a gas station, and did state inspections. Another part was a one bay stall that serviced large 18 wheeler vehicles and did state inspections. A third part was the “office,” this part eventually became my career. And I truly do love where I’m at and my job, the road here has been FULL of bumps. I wasn’t expecting any of this and sometimes I can sit back and see things through clear glasses and see that had things gone differently, other parts of my life would be different too, but the road went this way and I’m beyond grateful for this bumpy road and the destination.

I’ll start from the beginning, when we bought the business, I was still in high school. Of course it was my family business and I wanted to be involved, fortunately, they needed the help and I became a part time cashier. I held this position for several years. I’ll be the first to admit that I took advantage of who I was, I was the owner’s kid, I was young and spoiled. I did have the business and my parent’s best interest at heart but I also was reckless and growing up. I called in more than I should of, I broke rules, I talked back, I walked out, I did not respect my position or my parents.

Two months prior to me turning 21, my parents were in very serious automotive accident. Immediately I told myself, it was time to grow up. My family was hurting and I needed to put me aside and help them. I was miserable in college, I believe by this time, I was on my third major. I convinced my mother and father to let me drop out of college and take over where my mother needed me, up until this point, I was still only cashiering part time, my mother though was running the “office.” Yet she was going to be in the hospital for months, someone had to take care of things. So with her help, from the hospital bed, we got me trained and up and going. That was years ago, she’s back to work, we’ve built a new office, we’ve taken on more tasks, and we work side by side, her desk is 4 feet away from mine. We’re a team.

But we’re not a team, she’s my mom AND boss. That’s hard yall. When the accident happened, and the months that followed, I needed her, but I also had to grow up and depend on myself. We struggled with the roles of mom and daughter, of employee and employer. And we still do, to be honest.

In the fall of 2010, I decided I needed to go back to college and finish up. So I did, I still worked, but in my mind, I was going to move on after college. I remember the months before I graduated, coming to the realization that I’d be leaving my family’s name, my family’s investment, the business I loved, leaving it all. I couldn’t do it. I decided to stay.

I know I will do this for the rest of my life, I know that I know this business inside and out, I know that I do a good job, I know no one is going to care as much as I do…But what means the most to me, I know I don’t want to work with or for anyone else by my mom. She’s my best friend, she’s my boss, she’s my partner in crime.

We have our good days and we have our bad days, but I think if family can find a way to work together, to respect each other, it’s a beautiful thing. Sure there are days and sometimes even weeks that we forget to be mother and daughter and spend too much time being employee and employer, but sometimes, that’s all we have time for.

 

A Better Mother: Let them be little

I can remember when you fit in the palm of my hand
Felt so good in it, no bigger than a minute
How it amazes me, you’re changing with every blink
Faster than a flower blooms they grow up all too soon
So let them be little ’cause they’re only that way for a while
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle
Oh just let them be little

I’ve never felt so much in one little tender touch
I live for those kisses, prayers and your wishes
Now that you’re teaching me things only a child can see
Every night while we’re on our knees all I ask is please
Let them be little ’cause they’re only that way for a while
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle
Oh just let them be littleSo innocent, a precious soul, you turn around
It’s time to let them go

So let them be little ’cause they’re only that way for a while
Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle
Oh just let them be little

Let them be little

I think this song, the saying, they say it all. So why it is so hard for us as parents to allow this to happen. I know my reasons. I’m scared for them not to have rules, to not hear “no,” to be those kids. But I also know that a “yes” can light up a little face. I know that a mess can make memories. I know that it won’t kill me to let them be little. I’m working on this. I’m working on thinking before I say no. I’m working on letting them be little.

 

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A Better Wife: Embracing the differences

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Black and white. Apples and oranges. Oil and water. Separate they’re different. Together, they can create perfection. I’ve talked about how different my husband and I are, specifically I spoke about how we were raised. But even our identities as adults, as parents, they’re different too.

I remember the day I met my husband. He was in cargo shorts, a old t-shirt which had lost its sleeves long ago, lace up boots, scruffy, quiet. It all attracted me, he was the quiet, mysterious, county…I was smitten. But it wasn’t long before I started finding fault in him. We were different, he did things differently than how I would, he thought things opposite to my thoughts.

I wouldn’t want to marry my twin, he’d drive me crazy. So why would I want someone to be just like me.

I wish I didn’t have this bossy, my way is the right way nature. But I do, all I can do is work towards changing my actions and thoughts.

I’m so good about encouraging him, loving him, but what I’ve realized is that no matter how much I encourage him and love him, if I don’t embrace our differences, let him have his own identity that’s different than mine, then I’m not truly embracing the whole him.

I’m going to work on this yall, we are different, we talk different, we dress different, we think different, but he is the jelly to my peanut butter, the peas to my carrots, my everything.

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A Better Me: Health

This is going to cover a lot, food issues, working out, weight loss surgery…so if none that interests you, I completely understand. Please keep your comments considerate, we’re all fighting different battles.

For as long as I can remember, I was the bigger girl. Always. But yall, I was raised loved and never lacked in confidence. Sure I didn’t love myself the way I should, but I was happy as me. Some people struggle with body issues and I feel so bad for these people. In my opinion, no matter what someone’s weight, height, looks, they should love themselves. Confidence can make such a difference.

I’ve always been on a diet, always obsessed about food, I was either thinking about what all I could eat, or I was obsessively weighing and measuring everything to eat a certain amount.

After my father passed, our lives crumbled. I was on a downward spiral and was drowning my sorrows. I got up to 297 pounds. My mom and I decided to look into weight loss surgery. The whole thing is a blur to me now, but we did go forward with the lap band procedure.

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I recovered and when it was time for me to go back for my first restriction adjustment, one of our full time employee’s was out for a month. So for over a month, I put my progression on hold. I did finally go get my first restriction, in fact I may of had 2 or 3 but then 7 months after my procedure, I found out I was pregnant. Twenty weeks pregnant. That’s a whole other story for another time.

So all weight loss came to a stop, I had lost 30 by this point. But right then, my focus was on my baby. I delivered a happy healthy baby. I got back on the weight loss journey shortly after.

It’s been 5 years and I’m happy and proud to say I’m down to right around 205. I am a completely different person. What I am not proud to admit is I never truly changed. With most weight loss surgeries, there are restrictions and rules for your future. I never listened and never changed. I lost the weight but I lost it the hard way, the wrong way.

December of 2012, I started having intestinal issues. I called doctors, I tried different medications. Finally in December of 2013, I went gluten free. That was a HUGE life altering change. With it, I decided I needed to finally do the hard work, I needed to finally address my food issues, I needed to find a food and exercise plan that worked for me. I never got 100% back to normal though. I finally decided to schedule an appointment with a GI doctor. I remember going in thinking, it had to be a gluten allergy, but the doctor looked me in the face and said gluten alone would not be causing all my symptoms.  We scheduled a colonoscopy and endoscopy.

When the day came, and once I was asleep, they found that the pouch created by my lap band, still contained food and liquid, after not eating or drinking anything in 36 hours and 12 hours respectively. I was woke up and sent over for an emergency upper GI. It was during this scan that they found my lap band had slipped. What this caused is a pouch above the lap band, a pouch where my stomach acids were not reaching, a place where food was laying and rotting, a place where food could come up and I could aspirate at any second. For over a year, I thought I’d been having acid reflux, but to find out that all these times, I could of aspirated and been gone. Something clicked. The lap band was completely loosened. It still is. I don’t know what will happen with it in the future. But for right now, I need to focus on fixing me, getting to the hard work of being a food addict, finding a way of life that I am happy and can live with, eating healthy, without obsessing, find a exercise plan that works and that I enjoy.

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I know this subject will continue long after these 31 days as this will be a life time struggle, so for now I will leave this alone, I am working, I am trying.

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A Better Friend: Going the extra step

I’m not a good friend. I’m just not good at it. I don’t check in with my friends like I should. I don’t go to all the events I’m invited to. Heck, sometimes I even forget birthdays.

I remember years and years ago, I think I was in middle school, I convinced my parents to buy several of those little boxes of chocolates at Valentine’s Day. I made them believe that I had all these friends that would be buying me valentines also. It was a lie. I took those candies and passed them out to people who didn’t even know I existed. Sure they probably knew my name, heck I’d probably let them cheat off me several times. But they weren’t my friends, I just wanted them to be.

Years later, I have true friends, friends that love me for who I am, friends that show up when I need them, and I don’t have to bribe them. But I’m ashamed to admit I’m not always great at returning their friendship. I think it’s a pretty common problem as we get older. We settle into our lives and our daily routines. Days are busy between work, school, practices and games, dinner, dishes, laundry, and homework  and next thing we know we haven’t spoke with our friends in days and then weeks.

So many times, I depend on social media to catch me up with my friends. Sure I think about them, I see photos, I see updates, but I don’t always take the time to stop what I’m doing and send a text or call real quick. And that makes me sad because I risk losing these people who mean so much to me.

Maybe I’m entirely way too soft and emotional, but to me, if someone has been in my life, whether we dated or were friends, no matter the status of that relationship now, severed, estranged, or still friends, I still care about that person. Once someone touches my heart, my memory of them doesn’t just disappear. I still care, I still think about these people, I still want good for them.

I’m making a vow, to myself, to be a better friend. To attend functions. To make time to catch up with my friends. To be the friend I should be.

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A Better Sister: Embracing the difference

Growing up my younger brother and I were the best of friends or chasing each other around the house with knives, kidding, ok not really.

We’re 14 months apart, we’ve done so many things together in life, and yet for each team, school, sickness, and so many other things that we tackled together, we’ve always been very different people.

From the very get go, he was my baby. Maybe it was my bossy nature or my bossy nature but I’ve always walked a very fine line of sister or mother and more often than not, I acted like his mother.

The older we got, the more the differences became apparent. School was so enjoyable to me, the academic part at least. It came easy. School was enjoyable for him too, but the social aspect more so than the academic. I was the straight A student who no one knew, and yet a grade below me was my brother. President of student body, voted best dressed, very much so liked by the girls, popular in every part of the word. Many did not even know we were related.

We’re older now but the differences still remain. We’ve taken two different roads in life. I’m married, a momma, I guess you could say settled into life. My brother is a self proclaimed life time student, but what he doesn’t admit to so freely is that he put his education on the back burner for many years to help others. But he’s focused on his future now and will be done very soon. He’s in a relationship. He’s still a social butterfly and very well known in our town. He’s finding his way in life. We both will, in our own time and in our own way.

No matter the differences, there is no one in this world more like me. And there is no one in the world more like him than me. We competed for so long that sometimes we forget we’re on the same team. We’ve fought the same battles, together.

My bossy nature still rears its ugly head sometimes and as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I have failed in supporting him. Sometimes I look at how different we are and forget to support him, instead I judge and belittle him and his journey.

I have to remind myself that although we’ve gone down two separate roads, our roads intertwine, merge together, and separate again more than any two other people. We are different, God created us this way, but there’s so much that is the same. We have the same eyes, the same noses, the same hairline, the same upbringing, the same hurts, the same frights. One day, I know we will be all each other has.

So what that we’re in two different places in life, that doesn’t make me right or him wrong. Our differences make us stronger together.

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My brother and I a few years ago at the MS 150. In two days he rode 150 miles on a bicycle for raise money for multiple sclerosis. Told you he’s awesome!

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A Better Daughter: Being the daughter

Why are mother daughter relationships so complicated? I know very few who don’t have some difficulties. Maybe because it never fails that they’re both similar they butt heads. Or maybe because moms are harder on their daughters because they’ve been there, done that, know better? All I know is they tend to be, shall we say complicated.

Mine and my mother’s is no different. It hasn’t always been easy but it’s been so worth it. I’ll be the first to admit that I put her through hell growing up. I know at times I purposely tried to hurt her, but you know what, she NEVER cried. At least not in front of me. Now that I’m older and able to look back at things, I can’t imagine the hurt she felt. And we are so close now, she’s admitted she would cry in the shower, far away from where I could see or hear. I’m already praying for my daughter and I, I know we’ll need all the prayers we can get. But I also know we’ll make it through just like my mom and I did.

At times there are added difficulties to the mother daughter dynamic. We’ve faced some and years later I think we’re finally figuring out how to make it work. Several years ago, in fact I was 2 months shy of 21, my parents were in a horrific automobile accident. I was miserable in college, so I volunteered to drop out and take over running the businesses (we owe and operate two). So I did, I had to learn from the floor up, up until that day I had nothing to do with the business. My mom ended up being in the hospital for almost 3 months, she was completely broken. In those months something changed in me, I went from a girl to a woman. I had to, I gave myself no other option. My mom faced many difficulties, both physical and mental. She will never be the same and either will our relationship. When she finally came home from the hospital, she still needed quite a bit is assistance for a few more months. Her body and mental strength didn’t recover the way we’d all hoped and in many ways they never recovered back to before the accident. Things are different now, but that ok, we still have her.

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Not long after my mom got up and going, my dad’s cancer decided it was its time. It reared its ugly head full force and we all focused on my dad. Sixteen months to the day after my parents accident, we kissed my daddy goodbye.

In less than 2 years our entire world was completely changed, and it was never the same.

Because of my mom’s injuries in the accident, there were times her physical pain weakened her. There were times the medicine required to make her comfortable made her weaker in other aspects. Because of her brain injury, there were times her mental and emotional strength lacked. And because she raised me to do so, I wanted to take care of her.

We butted heads a lot of times, but the one thing I’ve realized in the years since is that no matter how much she hurts, no matter her emotional pain, no matter her mental standing, she’s still MY mom. I think it’s hard, for many years, our parents take care of us, then things switch later on in life and our parents sometimes need us to take care of them. But no matter the roles, I think it’s important to remember that I’ll always be the daughter. She’ll always be the mother.

My mother is a shining example of strength, very very few people know of the difficulties she faces, she keeps them to herself, she’s proud that way. She’s too strong to let anything break her. And I should always be her daughter and need her, as my mother. She earned that title, Lord knows.

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A Better Mother: Quit being so hard

This is REALLY hard for me to confess.

I am not the mother I want to be. I love my child and my step child, more than anything. I would lay down my life for them today. But I know that there are times I don’t show them the love I have for them.

Children are going to be children, they are not going to mind, they are going to talk back, they are going to misbehave, but I do not have to lose my cool the way I do. I spank, and scream, and cuss, and pop them, and sometimes, I forget to love. I’m not saying all these punishments are wrong, what I am saying is wrong is my quickness to resort to these. Why does my child have to be punished for my lack of patience.

When I see my child flinch, that breaks a part of me so deep inside, my child, my babygirl, should not be afraid of me.

I expect perfection and yet I know there is no perfect, why would a 4 year old be so robotic in her thoughts and words and actions as to not upset her mom. She shouldn’t be, she’s a child. I was a child too once.

I remember a few years ago, my own mother called me a nazi. I of course argued that I wasn’t that bad. But deep down, I knew there was some truth to it. I was hard on the kids, I do expect too much, I do scream when I could instead talk, I do react without thinking and regret it later.

Years ago,  I’d picked up my daughter from daycare, got in the car and she immediately started whining and crying, I can’t even remember why now. I called my own my mom crying, why were the drives home like this every night. And she said something I have never forgot, “she’s been at school for almost 9 hours, she’s tired, she’s hungry, things haven’t gone the way she wanted, in her own little mind, she’s stressed out too.” A light bulb went off, we were both tired, we were both hungry, we were both ready to be home, but at her age, limited vocabulary, and mind of a toddler, she didn’t know how to express this. Heck it’s taken me almost 30 years to learn to express myself to this extent. So I dried my eyes and talked to her.

I’ve failed at this so many times since this conversation years ago, but those words have stayed with me. I often question myself why I expect so much from them. Why do I lose it so easily? And sadly, the majority of the time it’s because they’re inconveniencing me. Talking when I want silence. Not hurrying when I’m in a hurry. Not minding. Isn’t part of my role as a parent to put my own needs and wants and life aside for my child. And I have and I do. But I can do better.

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A Better Wife: Listening

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I remember years ago a book was published, Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars. I think it was even a New York Times best seller. And I think none of us needed a book to tell us how different men and women are.

My husband and I are so different, we very well could be from two different planets. But then again, we kind of were. I was born and raised on the west coast. He was born and raised in Texas. City girl and country guy. Even our families and upbringings were complete opposites. There is no right or wrong, together, we can be something stronger.

My husband’s upbringing was as stereotypical southern as you could imagine. Yes ma’am, yes sir, star football player, star baseball player, born and raised his entire life in less than a 20 mile radius, father who ruled the roost with an iron fist, fishing in the spring and summer, hunting in the fall and winter.

My upbringing was so different, growing up in several suburbs of large west coast towns. Always in subdivisions. No major sports, never truly needed for anything, we were subject to corporate America and there was a lot of commuting, but it all worked in the end.

In his home, there was little communication about feelings, whether good or bad. In mine, we were lovers, huggers, talkers, even if it was screaming. Having grown up the ways we did, we both naturally took on both mentalities.

I think every generation strives to do better than their parents’ generation, not because they did it wrong, but because we want to do better. We both want to be more and do more. But we both still struggle.

My husband struggles with opening up. When for so long, he instinctively kept things to himself, it has taken time for him to get used to the idea that he had a partner, a team mate, who wanted to know it all. I care and want to know if he’s had a good day or bad day. He’s my husband and I care.

I’ve always talked, heck sometimes too much. But it’s in my nature, when there’s something good to be shared, I’m bursting at the seams to share it. When there’s a disagreement, I want to talk it out and solve it now. I say I love you and I’m sorry way too much and silence can make me uncomfortable.

Coming from such different viewpoints on pretty much everything has taken us time to find our middle, where we can meet and each of be comfortable.

Because I’ve spent so much time talking, my listening skills haven’t always been the best, and my husband has never wanted anything more than a listener. So I’ve learned to shut my mouth sometimes, let the silence smooth over, to give him time to process his day, to process his feelings, to feel the need to share. And when he shares, I listen. And I truly take it all in, even when it’s about things that I have no clue about, I listen.

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Men and women are different, we’ve all seen the scenes where a woman is just steadily talking away and a man is just nodding his head. I think about 90% of the time, women just want to talk, sometimes we even know no one is listening. But my husband and I’m sure many other men, they don’t just want to talk, they want to be heard. So my job is to listen. To let him know that when he speaks, it’s important to me.

 

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