Quit Bellyaching Over Peter Rabbit!

Yesterday, my husband who knows me well sent me a link to an intriguing article about some parents boycotting Peter Rabbit the movie on the premise that it encourages “allergy bullying”. In a nutshell, this was due to a scene depicting the annoying fictionalized  bunnies who slingshot some blackberries in to the mouth of the farmer, knowing very well that he was allergic to the berry. Then causing the farmer to go into anaphylactic reaction and collapse, but thankfully had an EpiPen with him to counter the effect. As a result of this boycott, Sony provided an apology to all the offended parents  for the insensitive material.

I’ll have to admit that it took me more than just a hot minute to ponder over this and come to terms with how I felt about the situation. I mean, I have 3 kids and as any loving parent would, I worry about bullying on a daily basis. Initially I would not have thought much about it, but then all this pondering opened up a floodgate of many other things I worry about and find quite concerning with this movie. Here’s the thing though… I’ve searched the web, and I’m not sure why other groups are not speaking up.

Why isn’t the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (aspca)  boycotting due to what clearly is a depiction of animal cruelty as the farmer is always trying to trap/kill these rabbits?  Why isn’t the US Hunger Relief Organization boycotting due to the disregard for crops, when there are so many starving children in this nation? Why aren’t the Feminist groups boycotting the movie on the premise that the main character has a strong masculine name, Peter and his male sidekicks name is Benjamin while the females have names like Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail, which denote weakness and appearance attribution? Why aren’t  Law Enforcement agencies  speaking up and issuing a warning on the movie due its glorification of gang-like behavior, as Peter Rabbit and his Gang shows outright disregard for the law as they consistently trespass the farmers property, STEAL his crops and even try to seek revenge?

I think I may be losing sleep worrying that these parents who are boycotting the movie solely on the bullying scene though are in effect helping society minimize all these other offenses that may mold and nurture our children toward a life of crime.

Between the gang, the stealing, and the bullying alone, I’d say this 1 hour and 40 minute movie is a recipe for disaster for all our children, undoing ALL the positive qualities we’ve been trying to instill in them since birth.

Are you sensing some interjected sarcasm? Maybe a little.

You see, sans the “allergy bullying” scene, I can say with confidence that prior to buying a ticket to this movie, I already knew that taking my kids to watch it would mean they’d be exposed to rabbit misfits, stealing, conniving, trespassing and battling with an adult. The fact is that we are provided with all that information in the long-winded trailers littering kid friendly television time slots, and hence probably why most kids jump at the chance to watch it. As parents, we too have seen the trailers, because, of course every responsible parent is fully aware of what their kids are exposed to on television. And every prepared parent logically researches the actual premise of a movie before exposing their innocent and vulnerable offspring to these larger than life influential images. And every intelligent parent knows well to never allow animation fool us in to believing that all is wholesome in the world of Hollywood. Take those cute anthropomorphic bunnies and replace them with actual human kids and BAM!, an off-limit flick. Or, forget human replacement. How about substituting these bunnies with cartoon characters the likes of the Simpson’s, and BAM!, still off-limits.

A piece of advice to parents that get offended by Hollywood’s portrayal of ANYTHING. Go big or go home. Don’t pick apart a movie just because YOUR kid suffers from allergies, then minimize or turn a blind eye to all the other probable worrisome faults of the same movie.  Food bullying? Sure, that’s definitely wrong. But then boycott the plethora of issues with the entire movie. If your expectation is that an entertainment corporation needs to be sensitive to YOUR plight, then make sure that you too are sensitive to everyone else’s plight. How else will you be able to teach your child to be inclusive? Or will your singular concern teach your child that only HIS issues are worth your time and voice?

Here are other pieces of advice. Research thoroughly the context of anything. Watch with clear eyes the trailers and information given on anything. Use those negative portrayals to teach our children valuable lessons. Let us also teach our children that the world cannot logically accommodate every one and every situation, but provide them with great tangible solutions on how to handle each. And last, let us all remember to put the responsibility on to ourselves as our kids main source of values and stop expecting Hollywood, or religion, or politicians or our neighborhood to do it for us.

At the end of the day, your kid will forget Peter Rabbit in a month and remember everything YOU taught them in all their years.

The Pretty Platform 

 

Dear Future Daughter In Laws – My Sons Know About Your Period

The following is an open letter to my future daughter-in-laws. If in the case my son or sons are gay, this will not apply since this letter is specifically regarding my sons knowledge of a woman’s period and all that comes with that knowledge. (I will gladly write another letter to my future sons in-laws).

 

To all my future Daughter-In-Laws,

As I sit here writing this letter, all three of my boys are still too young to even contemplate marriage. Two of them still recoil and “eww” at the idea of having a girlfriend. For those two, I am still the one and only woman in their lives. But just as with the oldest, and in the true nature of life, this will not last for much longer. And that’s definitely okay with me. I actually look forward to meeting you one day and getting to know the other half that will make my boys turn in to a gooey mush. I look forward to watching from afar those stolen moments of laughter, inside jokes, a touch of the hand, simple sweet gestures, and those moments you both light up as the other walks in to the room. I look forward to not only seeing how much you will make my sons happy, but how much my sons will make you happy. And this latter one is just as important to me as it is to your own parents.

It’s been quite the journey, but I pride myself in doing all I can to raise three respectable, authentic, loving, kind, hardworking men… not just for their own benefit, but mostly for the future you. I have made it a goal to show them clearly what it feels like to be a woman. What life is like when you are a woman, through my own experiences. I remind them that it is both a wonderful and hellish thing to wear the female crown. There are the ideal moments where we shine, and there are the unpleasant moments where we don’t. I continue to provide them with the tools they need to make those unpleasant moments that much less troublesome for you and their future daughters.

When you’re in a partnership, both parties influence the happiness of the other.

So with that, please have the below list handy for reference. I want you to know what they know. I want you to know that they have been guided on how to be a positive influence in your most difficult times. Do not ever let them lead you to believe otherwise. Their mom (that’s me) did right by them, by you, and by my future granddaughters. You can send me a thank you letter or take me out for sushi and wine. Either will suffice.

∗ Your Tampons/Pads:

  • He is fine with buying tampons/pads without an ounce of embarrassment.
  • He knows the difference between a light flow, a regular flow and a heavy flow.
  • He knows that the tampon/pad boxes are color coded for flow indication.
  • He knows very well that Pearl is better than Cardboard, and why.
  • He knows that pads have wings and will never joke about it.
  • He understands the urgency and will go out to the store at a moment’s notice if you run out of tampons/pads.
  • He knows that some women prefer pads over tampons and he will never have a say in either.
  • He will keep in his notes your favorite brand. Just let him know if this ever changes.

∗ Your Period:

  • He knows about the monthly calendar menstrual cycle.
  • He knows it can last anywhere between 3 and 7 days.
  • He knows that it can be messy.
  • He knows about overflow and about the probability of staining the sheets at night or your underwear and will never make you feel uncomfortable about either.
  • He knows that it is probably very painful for you. Let him know what usually works to help with your pain and he’ll take care of the rest.
  • He knows that it’s a natural process in life and knows never to bring it up unless you do.

∗ Your Mood:

  • He knows about the emotional and physical definition of PMS (not just the acronym)
  • He understands that each month you might feel different from the month prior. Some women are consistent and others are not.
  • He is aware that you’ll try on 3 outfits and each one will make you hate your body.
  • He knows that during this time the sound of your sweet children’s voices sound more like screeching nails on a chalkboard to you and will do everything in his power to keep them quiet.
  • He knows that you can feel old and ugly even when you’re young and beautiful and will never minimize nor maximize your feelings on either.
  • He understands that WHO you are during your cycle is ONLY a product of your hormones and not who you are normally, but will never point that out, knowing the dangers lurking if he does.
  • He knows that you won’t be smiling much during this time.
  • He knows that your sleeping patterns and your eating patterns will change throughout your cycle.
  • He knows that keeping your favorite snacks stocked can help you during this time.
  • He knows to watch that chick flick with you and let you cry without flinching.
  • He knows to be more affectionate without the expectation of sex, unless of course you want to.
  • He knows never to use the term “on the rag” and think you won’t come at him like a bat out of hell if he does.
  • And above all, he knows never, ever, under any circumstance to use your period against you. This would be detrimental to him and there would be no coming back from it. Safety is key.

With much love and understanding,
Your MIL and ally.

— The Pretty Platform

My DNA Reveal and Nina Simone!

When I began writing this post, the first thing that rammed itself straight away in to my mind was Nina Simone’s song “Feeling Good”. The lyrics related to the hook especially. For those of you that don’t know Nina Simone’s original “Feeling Good”, you may have heard Michael Buble’s rendition. Whether you favor one over the other is inconsequential. What is relevant, or fitting, is that every day, every moment, every decision lends itself to hearing Nina’s soulful voice in my head … “It’s a new dawn, It’s a new day, It’s a new life for me”.

My post prior to this one explained my decision to taking a DNA test. A simple process which once received, then catapulted me like a missile in to a universe of feelings that seemed to be fermenting in a galaxy within my soul. Yes, I know, poetically dramatic, but descriptively accurate. (Hey, my feelings, I get to paint the picture here).

A DNA test not only comes jam-packed with the discovered scientific details of your 23 chromosomes, it also opens up possibilities of either 1.”feeling good”, 2. the opposite of that, or 3. floating somewhere in between. But despite which of these three presents itself to be, hopefully Nina’s following verse can still hold true for any and all of us (hopefully) ….

Sleep in peace when day is done, that’s what I mean
And this old world is a new world
And a bold world, for me

But what better way to understand both me and Nina Simone than to join me here on a trip into MY “#3- floating somewhere in between” outcome!!!

— The Pretty Platform

My Sisters Eulogy… Celebrating Her!

Unconventional, non-traditional and just plain-old different. That’s what my sister was. And if gathering all together to remember her life at a sports bar isn’t testament to that, then I don’t know what is. There’s salsa music playing in the background. There’s an art station with a Forget-Me-Not painting for all to partake in. Poster board selfies and group pictures to help everyone go down memory lane. And no prayer cards here to hand out. Instead, you have a biography pamphlet the likes of a Playbill as your keepsake. Unconventional to say the least.

My relationship with Nitza was no different either.  Even before I came in to this world she had made me an aunt. My only sister was 19 years older than me and hence began our awkward trip into siblinghood. We encountered some of the stereotypical ordeals many siblings go through. She’d yell at me when I’d touch any of her belongings. As the older sibling, she always thought she knew better. She’d give me orders and I would ignore them. And she’d try to pin our mom against me, all to win an argument and reign proudly as the firstborn. My most “traumatic” sibling rivalry memory?… I was 13 years old and I was having a hideous, frizzy, looked like a boy hair day in the 80’s. My mom who was big on understanding the ordeals of vanity, to my relief agreed to keep me home from school that day. But instead of having my sister on my side, she reminded my mother that beauty is skin deep and that she should not encourage the importance of outward appearance. She tapped in to that motherly guilt. Nitza one, Elke zero. To my dismay, I was sent to school. 

For all you here that have siblings I’m sure you can relate. As a kid though, I was torn between needing that sisterly bond with this adult woman, and just viewing her as another parental figure. And she was equally as torn. But despite this, I carry with me the fondest of memories of my sister. She meticulously put my hair up in rollers for my 4th birthday. She took me on my first pony ride when I was 6. She gave me my first lessons in playing handball when I was 9. She’d take me with her roller skating to the rink when I was 11. She taught me the intricacies of tanning when I was 12. She took me to a Menudo concert when I was 13 (I guess to make up for the hideous hair day ordeal). She’d badger me with boy questions when I was in HS. She gave birth to my beautiful niece when I was 15 (yes, I took that as a personal gift to me). She gave me advice for my “first time” to drink some champagne to help me relax.  When she found out I got plastered and sadly couldn’t do anything that evening because the room was spinning so badly, she laughed at me, and told me “I said SOME champagne tonta, not the whole bottle!” then gave me a hug.

And with all the beautiful, funny memories also came the arguments, the difficult times and the sad moments in life as I seemingly caught up to her. We were now two adults and both moms, with still a 19-year age gap. We always butted heads. We never let the other win an argument. She complained a lot, and I rolled my eyes a lot. I’d stand my ground and she’d get frustrated. She over shared and I under shared. But again, despite all this push and pull, when I needed an ally I knew that Nitza would be ready and willing to fit that role. 

She longed to listen, and did. She longed to be the shoulder I needed to cry on, and was. She greeted me with open arms whenever I’d have a shift in life or beliefs. We were the epitome of two sisters always trying to fit a traditional role knowing there was nothing normal about either of us.

And that’s what I hold closest to me about my sister. She was different. She was a lot of woman, a lot of person. She would laugh and dance and sing; and use that very same moment to be emotional, deep and reflective. You never knew what Nitza you were going to get at any given moment. She didn’t have to fit in to any expectations except her own. She was loving and strong, she was sympathetic and bad-ass, she was independent and needing of others. She was both the ying and the yang, the black and the white, the ups and the downs. And for some people, THAT may have been too much,, SHE may have been too much, I get it. But to the women in my family, to my sister, that was and IS our normal.

My sister was and will forever be loved.  People may think that not seeing eye to eye, or arguing on mostly any topic can compromise one’s love. But not when true love is involved. I have true love for this woman. And it pains me that I won’t be able to argue with her again. I won’t be able to tell her “I told you so”…again. I won’t be able to remind her that it doesn’t matter that I’m the younger one. I will have to dig inward to feel her, to hear her and to smell her scent. I will miss my dear sis dearly. But what keeps me going is that I am forever bonded to her even in this new stage of our lives. Yes, our new stage, because that’s what keeps us unconventional folks going.

So, I want to leave you with this. I don’t want people to remember Nitza in her finest days, or just in her younger vibrant years because that would mean her life stopped way before it physically did. I want you to remember my sister even at her worst. Nitza suffered from depression since childhood, and yet she never allowed it to stop her. She loved being out and about. She loved nature and sports. She loved dancing. She loved life. In her last three years, she struggled until the end. She wasn’t ready to go. These last three years of struggle NEED to mean something. What would my sister want you to learn from her early deterioration? That you need to dream NOW, act Now, make it happen NOW. Do something you love. Spend time with those that you love. Try something new. Do something scary. And be kind to others and especially to yourself. And in that way, you make my sisters unconventional story part of your history and wonderfully, also part of your future.

See you in my dreams Sis!

 

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a Little Jealous of the Kids!

Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic” comes to mind. I have an extra verse for her… Only child status without actually being an only child.

The story of my life given that my sister came 19 years before my appearance in to this world. My only sister, my only sibling lived outside of our home, already a parent to her own child by the time I was born. I surely couldn’t compete with her own offspring for attention. As a parent myself now, I know she couldn’t just drop being a mom to be a sister to a little girl. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want her to. Oh, how I yearned for the relationship some of my friends had with their own siblings, fights and all. I wanted to have a doubled wardrobe. I wanted to sit crossed legged in the dark with her talking about boys. I wanted shared secrets, and a secret language. Well, as we all know, we can go ahead and dream our lives differently, but that doesn’t change a thing. So you grow up, you acclimate and you move on.

Fast forward to my 40’s. I am now a parent to three boys, three brothers, three different types of personalities and hence three different types of relationships. But when I look at my two youngest boys, which are closer in age, I find myself fascinated with their dynamic. You may even say borderline jealous. No, no, not in a dysfunctional, weird mom kind of way. And no, I don’t have “sibling issues”. What I do have is a keen eye for the little meaningful things, the details, and that’s due to my endearing flaw of observing everything and everyone. That includes primarily my kids.

My two youngest, 8 and 5, will love each other to annoyance. I am constantly yelling at them to shut it, to be nice, to give it back, to stop the name calling, to stop tattling, to stop blaming, and to not hit each other. Sounds dreadful? Not really, since more than that are the moments I catch them chatting about “kid” topics, having shared interests, playing Nerf tag or air hockey. The eight year old helping the 5-year-old get through a video game level. The 5-year-old reminding me he needs to give his brothers a goodnight kiss before going to bed. I watch the two of them laying together in bed laughing about nonsense. They build forts together. They even share the same neighborhood best friend, for now at least.

 

I pride myself in having instilled in them the importance for closeness, the need to be there for each other, to share themselves, to defend each other against the world and to be “brothers” in both flesh and spirit. So yes, when I encapsulate the beauty of these two boys, I am an itty-bitty, teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy jealous. Deep down wishing I had this same type of relationship with my own sis. Imagining what it would have been like had we been close in age, growing up together, experiencing things within the same household, driving our poor mother crazy. I would guess it would be somewhat similar (female version of course).

Hey, if you’re a parent and you take stock of your kids beautiful life and have gotten just a little green, don’t be so hard on yourself, albeit of course lovingly, functionally and sanely. I certainly don’t feel bad about it. We are giving them more than what we had. We are providing them with opportunities we may not have had ourselves. We are teaching and guiding in a way more suitable to them. And isn’t that what every parent wants for their kids? More opportunities, more love, more laughter, more fun, more adventure and more growth? Absolutely!!!

I’ll leave you to the rest of your day, since now I’ve got to go investigate what that sound of breaking glass was. I’m sure those boys will blame each other. Ah!, brotherly love.

— The Pretty Platform

“D” for Divorce – Scarlet Letter No More!

  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.
  • If life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
  • It’s never too late.
  • Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start all over again.
  • Never give in and never give up.

Just a few uplifting quotes that totally did NOT help me when I was going through a divorce. Yes, that’s right…I’m a DIVORCEE. Did you just frown when reading that? Smirked? Felt bad for me? Well…don’t!

There was a time when I wanted you to feel bad for me, to show me some empathy, to side with me and not with him. I wanted the world to understand how I tried so diligently to keep us together but failed. How I wasn’t the one at fault. That I was wronged, and I was forced to become a victim. I wanted everyone to “see” within my four walls as well as into the confines of my mind and heart to understand ME, even if just for a moment. In hopes you would nod after listening to my vent session and say, “Ah! I totally understand, I would leave too”.

I was confident that getting a divorce was the best decision. Nothing and no one could make me sway or doubt myself. But there was a progression of sorts, an unfolding of events I first needed to go through to get to this point.

This wasn’t a spontaneous idea or a notion that maybe being single was better suited to my nature. There were conversations I fought to have, I analyzed everything, I questioned all sides, I put myself last and thought about the effects this would have on others, I allowed everyone who had an opinion to tell me what they thought was best. But eventually I had to take a look deeper inside the one person that kept quiet for so many years, that stayed on the sidelines as everyone else played the game of life and she was a mere spectator. And when she got the chance to play, she did so only by following the game plans created by others. I finally tapped her on the shoulder, handed her a megaphone and gave her a voice. She spoke, deliberated, exposed  all things and cried. I listened….and to this day, I stand by my decision.

What transpired after that though was truly unexpected. I was branded, a SCARLET LETTER of sorts, a big tainted “D” for divorce. Those that scorned validated their disdain on the basis of their own opinions.

  • “God hates a divorce” (So much for receiving understanding from a god of “love”)
  • “You broke up a marriage” (No, HE did that when he did what he did)
  • “I’m sure it could have been worked out” (Tried that)
  • “You didn’t trust that god would help you fix things” (I trusted that a loving god would have intervened BEFORE he did what he did)
  • “Your son is now from a divided household” (This one tears my heart to this day)

I dealt with this for years. And this came from people in my life that I trusted. People that I thought would understand me and support me. Most people showed no interest for the WHY of my divorce. They never asked. They were so blinded by this big ugly red “D”. I stopped becoming a person. I became a statistic. They looked at me and saw a DIVORCEE, a SINGLE MOM, a woman with NO HUSBAND, a FAILED MARRIAGE.

Don’t be mistaken though, I celebrated; and my bestie was there to celebrate with me when that piece of paper was finally stamped, sealed and delivered. It was now official. As time passed I learned that if I could get through years in a misguided marriage, then I could most certainly deal with the snub looks and whispers behind my back. If my divorce made people uncomfortable then I made sure to make it easier for all of us…no need to have you in my life. If I learned to move away from a bad marriage, then I learned to move away from bad friendships. My divorce was not about to become a nasty four letter word for myself nor for my son.

Here’s the upbeat part of the story… Along with time came clarity. It became clear that being divorced was not an impediment to feeling accomplished or complete. Along with clarity came freedom. Freedom from the past, the mistakes and the anger. And with that freedom came comfort. Comfort to be myself. Comfort with this new me. Deliverance from any guilt. And this new me was good. Correction…this new me was GREAT. Divorce was no longer a burden nor did it equate failure. Divorce was my teacher and my wings. Because of it, I was now able to fly. And I haven’t stopped flying since, and my son has been flying right by my side.

And that scarlet letter? Scarlet being synonymous with Jezebel, like her I have thrown it out the window and allowed the stray dogs to absorb every bit of it. It becomes someone else’s meal. One that I will never partake it.

Let us keep in mind Jim Morrison’s words…”Each generation wants new symbols, new people, new names. They want to divorce themselves from their predecessors”.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

No More Pets Please

I commence the following diatribe as a way to reach out to the many out there that may be feeling the same way, but are too afraid to speak up, too afraid to admit this out loud, too afraid of being judged. We live in a society that claims freedom of speech. The beauty of speaking up and being honest, but in doing so, the masses gather to bully in retaliation to the point of harassment. I will take one for the team. Life has callused me. I’m ready to hear what you have to say, but only after you hear what I have to say first.

Picture this… It’s the summer of 2006 and Big O suggests that we visit a quaint little place called Puppy Boutique. At the time we were NYC dwellers of a substantially sized 2 bedroom, 14 foot high ceiling downtown apartment with gorgeous views of Battery Park City. He must have been stealthily planning this for a while now because this store was not located in the vicinity. Needless to say, it wasn’t even in the city at all, but in Brooklyn. When did we ever travel in to Brooklyn? I cave and approximately 30 minutes later we find ourselves surrounded by the tiniest, mushiest, fuzziest, yappiest puppies ever. What did I just get myself in to? Nothing good is going to come from this. My gut was yelling at me, “GET OUT, GET OUT, IT’S A TRAP!!!” But it was too late. It is noteworthy to mention that we had never spoken about buying a dog prior to this moment. As I was coddling every puppy my hands could possibly handle, I hear his voice from behind me; “THIS IS THE ONE”. I turn to look, and my eyes feasted upon a site that melted my heart. He was right. The tiny golden chihuahua barely visible in his arms was THE ONE. I should have named her Neo but she became our beloved Lola.

Fast forward quickly out of the posie-filled garden storybook sweetness of it all, we enter many sleepless nights and exhausted mornings of whiny whimpering howling puppy woes. There’s pee on our bed, pee on our hardwood floors, she’d miss the wee-wee pads completely as if they weren’t even in sight. Poop! Oh the poop everywhere! On our floor, on the dog, and one evening even on the walls of our bathroom. That day haunts us still. How can a small dog create such a mess? How high did this tiny dog jump when we weren’t looking? And the hair was everywhere. We were unaware, uneducated to the fact that Chihuahuas shed their fur, all day, every day. It just kept coming. By now the dog should have been bald, but they seem to have a never-ending instant-grow gene that keeps them warm and US pissed off. But we loved her and we trotted with her everywhere. We dressed her, socialized her, entered her in to competitions, and bejeweled her in the trendiest bling NY could offer. We were her crazy humans.

Then the unexpected happens… I find myself one year later standing again in the middle of Puppy Boutique surrounded by more cuteness than I can handle. How did I get here? Did he hypnotize me? Deja vu! I’m sure we did NOT talk about this. Lola was still not fully trained. What made us think being here was a good idea? Bad idea maybe, but there SHE was down on the ground trying to stay warm cuddled among the other puppies. If the group of puppies moved, she moved with them in a backwards motion just to find her ass meet with a warm body. Each time she did this it sent me in to an empathetic whirlwind. Always cold myself I felt a warm tug to my heart. Her beautiful white fur, her floppy ears and her big paws were all wrong for her breed, but I fell in love. Her eyes sent cupid-like arrows straight to my heart. I was hooked. We scooped her up and off we went with yet ANOTHER chihuahua. What! The! Fuck! Did we forget these dogs shed? Now we multiplied this issue along with all the other nuisances that come with a pet. Along with the hair, came more pee, more poop, more whining, more food, and this dog could bark. Not a yappy, yippie little-dog bark, but her larynx was hijacked by the spirit of a Rottweiler, I was sure of it. But Ginger was home to stay.

Two dogs, three kids, one house and a move to NJ later we eventually lose Lola during one of the most difficult evenings of our lives. As we struggle to keep her comfortable, after about 5 straight seizure episodes, Lola’s heart stopped and so did ours. This tiny dog didn’t take up more than one foot of physical space and yet left a huge emotional gap in our home. It took a lot of time for all of us to readjust to our everyday lives, especially Ginger. It’s been almost 4 years now since that sad rainy night. Ginger will be turning 10 this upcoming January, and yet she remains to be the baby of the house. We all love her and can’t imagine our home without her, despite the insane amount of hair everywhere.

One day we will also lose Ginger. We will mourn her and feel empty. We will miss her bark and her floppy ears and her out of control playful spins on the bed when she gets excited. We will miss cuddling with her. We will miss her dark, dreamy, hypnotic eyes.

And here IT is…

I will not miss the hair all over the furniture, the floor and on my clothes no matter how much I sweep, mop or vacuum. I will not miss the money we spend on wee-wee pads because she refuses to ever do her business outdoors. I will not miss having to prep her hard food with soft food of only one kind because she’s a picky eater, or the money we spend on that as well. I will not miss randomly finding vomit on the floor because she has the most sensitive stomach I’ve ever seen a dog to have. I will not miss not being able to stay anywhere we want when traveling due to the limitations of having a dog (We refuse to leave her at a kennel since she gets depressed if left with anyone else). I will not miss the pee nor the poop. I’m sure you realize by now how much I hate poop. I will not miss the added responsibility. I will miss my Ginger, but I will NOT miss having a pet.

When the time comes, I’ll be ready to have the extra cash, the extra time, and more worry-free moments. I do not want to immerse myself again in nurturing yet another living being, especially one that cannot express back its needs or concerns. At the rate Ginger is going it’ll be almost 2 decades caring for a pet. I don’t want to partake in it after this. When I initially expressed my feelings to Big O and the kids, it was not kindly received. I was the cold, mean mommy. They tried spinning the pro’s of all other types of pets…Lizards, Chinchillas, Sugar-gliders, even a Hedgehog. I will not budge. I’m tired. I’m really tired. It’ll be MY time. Just as is the case when our kids grow up and leave the nest, it’ll be MY time. I will not be looking to have any more babies in my 50’s, nor will I want any more pets of ANY nature. I want to write. I want to paint. I want to come and go as I please. I want everyone to care for themselves. No more trips to Puppy Boutique (Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me for not beating your ass the first time). No trips to the shelter. Very limited amounts of time watching puppy or kitty videos on YouTube. It’s cold turkey after this. I know there is a life after pets, and I’ll be damned if anything is going to stop me from finding out what exactly that feels like.

— The Pretty Platform

Fear Life… Not GOD

When we’re kids, the norm is to be taught by our parents with regards to what’s right and wrong. Along with that, teachers seem to also have a hand in how our psyche evolves toward these two elements given how much time we spend under their influence. I’m no doctor, but I was definitely a kid, and as kids, we are vulnerable and modifiable to the standards by which we are raised.

Right or wrong. Yes or no. Stop or go. If you’re a kid, you hear these CONSTANTLY. As an adult, you hand these out like hotcakes to your own kids.

And with these standards come the dreaded consequences. A smack to the hand, a timeout, no gadget time, parental disappointment. Temporary stings that adults hope will be enough to teach these little people cause and effect.

What happens though when you’re all grown up?

In most cases knowing the difference between right and wrong can be simple. It can be logical, so as long as the adult, for argument sake is of sane mind and emotion. As for the scenarios where the line between the two get a little fuzzy, for the most part, it’s an ethical stand that begins to trump logic. But the logical aspect of even those blurred moments still hold the foundation of the argument in question. “Sure, it’s still wrong to (kill, cheat, steal)… although (A, B or C, fill in the blank with self-defense, true love, poverty)“.

And what is our punishment as adults for these infractions? Again, logic comes in to play here. If the offense is one against a set governmental law then we get court time to be then handed our sentence accordingly. Not difficult folks. Depending what that judge and jury dishes out, the “sting” can be either temporary or fatal.

Cause and effect.

Now take the two; childhood and adulthood and add the FEAR OF GOD to the equation. What happens then? Does it change anything? Does it change people? Without thinking it through, you may instantly say that it does, but I can tell you with all certainty that it does NOT change a thing. Don’t be too quick to get offended. My statement is not one of blasphemous or critical nature. That’s just reality.

Growing up, as many other kids, I was initially taught about a heaven and hell. An eternal hell-fire that waits for anyone, man or child if disobedient to god. A place of torture as the ramifications of going against his written rules. Other religions do not teach about this place of torture, but it does provide eternal death as the consequence. Long term punishment. From a higher being. Your creator gives you life and he can easily take it away or make you pay forever.

Cause and effect.

What I have noticed is that the knowledge of someone more powerful than yourself does NOT deter someone from taking a certain path. Knowing the possible consequence of a Hell or eternal death is not enough. Even those that are “god fearing” do not take this as their foundation of determination. I was raised in two different religious organizations, and although they are filled with some very spiritually righteous people, they are also filled with the spiritual inversion of that. Sure, you find that everywhere in the world, but my point though is that being closer to god, or neck-deep in religious activities, or truly believing in a god does not change your desire to act differently. People don’t truly fear god. If they did, they wouldn’t  “serve” god and sleep with someone before being married. If they truly feared god, they wouldn’t smoke. If they truly feared god, they wouldn’t gamble, or swear, or get inebriated or secretly celebrate events that are against their organization. They wouldn’t consult psychics, masturbate or watch porn. They wouldn’t allow women to teach (I understand your reaction to this last one, but hey, it’s actually in the bible). They wouldn’t try to justify their actions with their “imperfect” ideas. They wouldn’t minimize their god’s standards with human reasoning. They just don’t fear god.

What have I seen though? That many of these very same people (myself included) do actually fear, but it’s life and the consequence their actions have in ‘learned’ effects that they (we) fear. Smoking can equal cancer and other ugly and painful health issues. Constant inebriation can lead to alcoholism, blackouts, cheating. Sleeping around can lead to diminished dignity, disease, unplanned pregnancy. Cheating will most likely lead to a broken family, lost trust, and in many cases violence (a partner scorned is a dangerous thing). Drugs can lead to brain, heart and organ damage along with crime, violence and even death. The smaller stuff like swearing like a truck driver is usually perceived as unprofessional (although I occasionally curse too).

As a kid, I watched my nephew, who I adored make some very bad decisions in life. And with those decisions came a life that I definitely did NOT want anything to do with. So with each of his actions, I did the complete opposite. We used to joke around how he paved the path for me and my “better” life. He used to claim all the credit as to why I avoided the “expected” life of a young Hispanic girl being raised by a single mom in the hood. We joked about it… but it was entirely true. His life became unnecessarily difficult, lonely and dangerous. I FEARED his life although I was taught to fear god.

More kids today need to be exposed to this unwanted life, to the reality of a decisions outcome within their lifetime. Kids and teens alike need to understand, up front, in their face what can happen to people when they make the wrong decisions. Not through a TV screened commercial. Not through a FB article on their phone. Not through a YouTube video. And certainly not through a supposed “on paper” teaching of a torturous flamed destination.

Will this help with everyone? No, but it will up your chances as a parent to avoid heartache if your child feared real consequences. If they truly learn and grasp other people’s suffered consequences. If they see where they can land in life, and talk to the people best suited to tell them the truth. As a parent you can find the best way to do this for your child, but take it from this chick…. without that type of exposure, I’m not sure how much I would have truly feared.

And for THAT, although saddened for my nephew (who has passed away), I am still grateful for having SEEN his truth.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

A 40-Somethings “AHA!” Weekend Away

Many times we coast through life blinded to the lessons waiting at the end of each moment. Despite being slighted, they simmer there for as long as it takes us to collect them for later consumption. And it’s a good thing, since allowing a lesson to shift our thoughts for personal growth is only possible when we are good and ready. I’m at a point in my life that I make sure to meditate after each experience to pull as many lessons possible I can from it…you know…for safe keeping. By doing this, I ensure that my experience was both a memorable one as well as purposeful, no matter how small or insignificant the moment seemed.

This weekend was surely a purposeful one. The type of trip that I knew would be an “Eat, Pray, Love” revelation (except not alone) even before it started. So, as I sit here on the plane going through some heavy turbulence, I reflect back on the last couple of days.

This was a well deserved and long overdue trip with my girlfriend of 18 years. Just the two of us away from our respective lives, offices, and families.

  • Friendship: A time to bond, reminisce, uplift, gossip, vent, and laugh. One where we could remember who we were, how far we’ve come, discuss where we both missed the mark and help each other see where we hit the target. A time to catch up and ask questions and realize that sometimes you don’t always know someone as much as you thought. What a beautiful opportunity… to know you could keep learning things about those most important to you. That who you were and who they were 18 years ago, or 10 years ago or even 5 years ago is not the same person in it’s entirety, but that the essence of what has kept our relationship as strong as it has through all these years, is still unquestionably in tact, and we allow these new revelations to keep the friendship fresh and exciting. “How did I not know that” or “did you tell me that and I just forgot” can be common questions among all types of relationships, be it friends, lovers or family. I take what I know, or reminded, or recently learned and embrace the details as another little charm to our friendship bracelet. And who doesn’t love those cute little charms, that create such a sweet sound when mixed all together.

This trip also enlightened me toward…..well, ME!

  • Self: Spending most of your everyday life surrounded by work, husband, kids and home, you usually conclude that the life you lived prior to having all of these things can’t be enjoyed anymore. That going out for drinks in a dark crowded bar with strangers, staying out until “last call”, trying to have a conversation over the ear-splitting sounds of huge subwoofers, does not fit your “lifestyle” anymore. And hence pops up the adage “I’m just too old for that”, which is a stupidly depressing thought. But, it turns out, we weren’t too old for it after all. We pushed through it reminding each other to relive good old “28” again. We didn’t feel out-of-place. We didn’t feel awkward. We looked great, felt great and we had a blast. And despite feeling every achy bone in my body the next day I wouldn’t take back the night before. But…. I’m happy to say that the issues is not that I’m too old for that lifestyle, the enlightening moment is that I don’t WANT to party that way anymore. I don’t really yearn it or miss it. The realization is that I truly like being who I’ve evolved into now in my 40’s, not because I NEED to live this way, but because I enjoy my new self and along with it the interests that have flourished. I love sitting by the lake and taking in my surroundings, I relish in browsing through antique shops with my husband, I look forward to eating out at new restaurants trying different cuisines. I want to go to quaint art exhibits, and book readings, and exploring tucked away towns. I plan fruit picking outings. Search out winery tours.  And finding the perfect cafe that serves gourmet coffee, tea and pastries (none of that typical bakery stuff found on every corner) is like striking gold. And as for you 20-somethings…. just know that you’re never too young for my “lifestyle”.

If I have to pull yet another lesson it will be this…

  • Other folks: Sure, I was the only one that got away from the normal routine of the every day. And yet, Big O and the boys seemed to have benefited as well. I was excited for Big O to have the bed all to himself and allow the room to get as cold as he liked, without me complaining that I was turning in to an icicle and who could live like this. Not to mention the constant nagging I do for him to turn over in hopes to stop the unrelenting snoring that keeps me up all night. I was relieved that the kids had a chance to have an all-boys weekend without mom constantly reminding them to put their pants on, or that the sofa is NOT a trampoline. They all got to live as freely at home as I did in a hotel room. People (even kids) need time away from each other. They need to realize that life is not always about other people being there with you or for you. Another well-known adage “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is unmistakably accurate. We all need a break from what we know and need time to miss each other (no, not in a Ross and Rachel kind of way). Time-away allows us all to feel connectedly refreshed and renewed. You just may find it heartwarming to be welcomed back home with the cheers, smiles and kisses as if you’d been away for months instead of just 4 days.

Now, on to plan the next getaway!

 

— The Pretty Platform.

 

 

 

 

 

Surprise, Surprise, I Didn’t See THAT Coming!

Things have been hectic lately. Between work, home renovations, the kids and all that they require to survive and thrive, daily chores, spending time with Big O (that’s my husband for those that don’t know) and just trying to be me, life has been a whirlwind of just….stuff….lots of stuff to do. It’s been like this for quite some time, so in the spirit of trying to keep my sanity, for my 45th birthday I treated myself to a trip. A trip away from everything I know to be my normal everyday life. A trip away from the home, away from the chores, away from work of all kinds. A trip away from the husband and kids. Did I forget to mention that there’s a dog too? Yeah, away from her as well. A long overdue trip with my Bestie for a Ladies Only weekend. (I really hate using the term “girls”. It’s a thing with me). In all my planning leading up to today, yes, I’m sitting here at the airport waiting for my flight to be called in about three hours (hey, better safe than sorry), all I could think about was how glorious it’s going to be to sleep in late. How awesome it’s going to be to wake up in the morning and not worry about getting breakfast done for the little ones even before I have time to brush my own teeth. What a treat it’ll be to just sip on some coffee and do whatever the hell I want in the morning, from reading the news to just staring at absolutely nothing while absorbing the peace and quite that surrounds me. And how nice it’ll be to fall asleep in a bed where, well, to put it simply, no one is snoring. This is all I’ve been thinking about for the past month. Daydreaming about these 3.5 days of re-energizing, in a Seven of Nine Borg kind of way.

Counting down to today, last night I had to make sure that any loose ends at home were tended to if I wanted to leave worry free. Tidy up the house even though I knew all too well that the four men in my house will undo all that I’ve done, to just put it all back together right before I get back home. I needed to make a Target run to get the seven year-old an orange shirt since tomorrow the first graders are going to be the orange part of a human rainbow at school for a PBS event. How he didn’t already have an orange shirt in his closest is perplexing. Red, he has about 5 red shirts. Who needs that many red shirts? Iron two cute outfits for the two smallest ones to look presentable for their trip today with Dad for Take Your Kids To Work Day. Yes, Big O bravely ventured to take BOTH boys to the office. I needed to make sure they had snacks, their gadgets plus those life-giving chargers to make today a bit easier for him. I also needed to put together a nighttime routine mommy video for Big O to play for the kids at bedtime. Clearly you can understand why I need to get away for a few days. And wait, I still needed to finish packing.

Kids asleep, loose ends handled, teenager content in his room, dog oh so pleasantly plopped on the bed. Big O settling in to the dining room to do some writing. Then it happened. I didn’t know it was going to happen. It just did. I didn’t really think about it. It’s not like it was festering. But I was suddenly compelled to ask O if he minded to do his writing in the bedroom while I packed. He laughed and asked if I was lonely. No, no, I wasn’t lonely. I hesitated. Then I sheepishly explained that I was going to be gone for three days and although I didn’t think I was going to miss him in all the excitement of my trip, but, well, the thing was, that as crazy as it sounded, and believe you me, I was surprised as well, that I already, at that moment, started to miss him. Can you believe it? He too seemed surprised, pleasantly surprised, big grin on his face surprised, “But you haven’t even left yet”. I know, weird huh? Here’s the thing….Big O is a lot of fun to have around. He jokes around, loves to laugh and is skilled at almost any topic of conversation. He loves life just as much as I do. He’s my friend.

Moral of this story, I was humbled by this sweet, touching moment. Don’t get it twisted though; I’m still happy to be leaving for this short trip. I still look forward to the much-needed “me” time. I believe everyone needs time away. But it reminded me that in between all the chaos of errands and work and chores and kids and husband and dog, there are things that make me truly and deeply happy right there at home. I need to slow down and look past the dust cloud of errands and work and chores, to enjoy more time with the kids and husband and dog. More importantly, this moment reminded me that I don’t necessarily WANT to get away and that in itself is probably the most reassuring thing I NEEDED at this moment.

— The Pretty Platform

 

 

I Don’t Want to Play with the Kids Today.

I’m not your typical mom. At least I don’t think I am.

Although I love reading about other bloggers discuss the issues and nuances we all share as moms, I personally don’t feel compelled to always write about my kids. It bores me… or maybe I think it bores other people… or maybe it’s a little of both. I also feel I’m being redundant to whatever you may have read somewhere else. I don’t think my experiences as a mother differ all that much from my sisterhood of mothers worldwide. Maybe with a different twist at some point, but we can all relate to poop conversations, a messy home, tantrums, clothing dilemmas, homework battles, opposite sex drama, to mention only a few. Plus some of the mommy/daddy bloggers I follow have such a wonderful ability to write about poop and keep me wanting more. How can I possibly compete with that?

But, every so often I come across a situation that makes me feel like I need to vent and well, since this is MY platform to do just that, here I am.

As I stated in the beginning, I’m not your typical mom. At least I don’t think I am. I love my children, and don’t get angry at what I’m about to say, but they are not my world. They just play a part in it. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it?

Let me explain as I take you back a few years. Well, many years considering that I’m no spring chicken anymore. I was about 9 years old. Raised by a single mother. She made many mistakes, but was still overall a very loving and nurturing parent. She was doing the best she could. I’m not going to get into all that she did or didn’t do. I want to focus on one aspect that can help you understand where I’m coming from before you start to feel sorry for my kids. To keep this story as short as my chatty self can make possible, my mother caught the eye of a very nice gentleman. They had a lot in common and shared the same standards in life. In essence, he would’ve been awesome for her. One day, my mother asked me, a 9-year-old child, if I would like her to ever get married one day. Without understanding fully the future repercussions of what I was about to say, and without knowing the progression of their relationship, I told her what most kids being raised by a single parent would say. I wanted it to be ONLY her and myself together forever.  Yes, at 9 years old, kids still believe they will be living with their parents forever under the best relationship scenario they know. Her response? “Okay. I will never get married for you.” Gave me a hug and we went about our day as usual. And my mother based her entire future on that one statement. She allowed me to become her world.

Do you know what that does to a child growing up? I never forgot that moment. As I got older I started to develop feelings for the opposite sex and BINGO…. that one statement started to haunt me. The understanding of what I did to her came full circle. I didn’t want to be my mother’s world anymore. I wanted her to have a life outside of me. The guilt became burdensome. I felt obligated toward her. She missed out on a beautiful relationship because I was her beautiful relationship. I became whatever my mother wanted me to become. Sure, that may sound like the ultimate recipe for a good kid. And yes, I was a “good” kid. But I felt trapped. Lovingly trapped, but still trapped nonetheless. And she was trapped as well. We had a very dependent relationship to the day she passed.

Fast forward to today. I have seen many parents other than my own mother live their lives mainly for their children. Everything they do is centered around their children. Their hobbies become their children. Their conversations are only about their kids. Their vacations are always with Junior in mind. Where they go out to eat, or what movies they watch, even what clothes they wear. They forget what it’s like to be an individual and their identity becomes Mom or Dad. I’ve seen couples transition out of Honey and Sweetheart and even start calling each other Mom and Dad.

I have seen empty-nesters fall in to deep depression because they no longer know what to do when they get home and the kids aren’t there. I have seen couples have nothing to talk about because they no longer KNOW each other without the kids around to be their buffer. I had one mother once tell me after her daughter grew up and left home, “I don’t know who I am anymore. I was a mother. What am I now?” My heart aches for her. I told her she now had the opportunity to get to know herself again. What an adventure that would be. Unfortunately nothing worked.

I adore my children. I love helping them. I enjoy watching them grow up. I’m happy to provide them with new experiences. I take pictures and videos of every moment (Heck, I have to buy another back up drive since I don’t trust only “The Cloud” to hold all my memories). I celebrate anything and everything with them (nothing is too trivial to buy cupcakes for). But….and this is a huge but (no jokes please)….I look forward to one day coming home and not worry about homework, or meal preparation for the tykes, or washing clothes for 3 growing boys, or school events, or the dozen of classmate birthdays or having to watch another episode of the Thunderman’s. I look forward to not doing any of this anymore because I make sure to fit in myself through all of this. I look forward to spending time with myself and my husband more. I love to write and want to do more of it. I want to read more and join a book club. Painting is one of my most loved hobbies and I want more time for it. I love comedy clubs. I love eating out, a lot. I love bookstore visits. I love listening to the ocean and watching the waves. I love sipping wine and eating cheese. I want to go visit Jazz clubs more often. I want to go to museums more and contemplate art in silence. I want to volunteer more. I want to go to weekly yoga classes. I need to do more cardio. I have an entire bucket list of things I need to complete.

I look forward to an empty nest on a daily basis. Sure, I’ll invite the kids to come and visit on weekends and holidays. And after quite some time, the grand-kids will come and I’ll do the Abuela thing and I’ll do a kick-ass job at it. But I’m proud to say that my kids can be independent from me and feel like its okay that Mom and Dad are on their own now and that we too will survive. That their Mom and Dad will do more than just survive, that we will live life to the fullest. I’m happy to know that I didn’t create a burden on them for my personal happiness and self-worth. And I’m relieved to be aware that I’m doing ME now so I don’t forget later who I was to begin with.

Disclaimer: This is not criticizing other parenting methods, just what works for me and based on my past experience with my own mother. I love you Mom!

— The Pretty Platform