During my most recent mammogram I walked into the room, disrobed and this particular technician looked at me and asked If I had implants?! I looked at her thinking maybe she was joking...or crazy (she wasn't) yet I continued to make some sarcastic comment about how if I did have implants you would think I'd have done something a little more spectacular with that area (especially after 4 years of continuous breastfeeding-that part of my body is unrecognizable to me now). It's what I call my "Ugly Flaw"and I have more of them than I can count on my fingers and toes. Granted, I'm hard on myself, but living up to the expectations and competitive nature of the female beasts that surround me in this Universe is a little more than I can stand. It's a little more than any female should have to stand. The things we do for acceptance, for men, for ourselves in the name of beauty is beyond what we should tolerate...and yet we still do. I still do. It starts young, very young, in fact my 3 year old daughter asks me daily if she looks beautiful today and although she is quite stunning, even for a 3 year old, it breaks my heart that her happiness depends on her appearance that day. A few months ago she cried when the mailman failed to tell her how beautiful she looked in her Belle costume and screamed out over and over that he didn't think she was pretty today. I was floored!! Did I teach her this or is this just ingrained in us from birth as women/girls to want to be considered beautiful (or is she just a bit dramatic)?
With friends we talk about our insecurities and what we hate most about ourselves (it's what some girls do) but appearances tend to top the list in this category, sadly enough. I often fail to see what they see, the things that make them beautiful and unique to me are what makes them ugly to themselves. So I've come to this conclusion: We, as a female gender, are completely insane!! We are our worst critic and We.Never.Stop.Obsessing...I know this to be true after numerous recent conversations with girlfriends and female family members (which is the inspiration behind this post). We want a non-existent, "grass is always greener" kind of perfection that we, in our crazy minds, think some other women actually possess.
I frequently hear men talk about how they like a natural woman, so why are we trying so hard? Because what men say they want and what they actually want are entirely different and because the "natural" girl is a rare species. It's capturing bigfoot in a leopard bikini in a photograph kind of rare. The natural girl these men think they are looking for are the ones who would hardly generate a second glance from these same men. Why? Because we dye our hair, we use extensions in our hair and spend insane amounts of money on product to maintain our "natural" flowing, shiny tresses, we manicure and paint our nails, pluck/shave/wax every part of our body on a fairly regular basis (or would he really dig those hairy armpits?), fake-tan or real-tan our natural skin tone to look sun-kissed but not orange, make-up our faces and cover the imperfections with all sorts of potions, cover our bodies with sweet smelling lotions and perfumes, workout like maniacs and starve ourselves to look like the girls in a Victoria's Secret catalog and call this Natural Beauty (and men buy this as natural beauty-suckers!). These are just the basics. Many of my friends have already given themselves over to the plastic surgeons or injections of botox by the time they were in their 20s (and I'm not judging or naming names), but they caved to the pressure, they could no longer tolerate the ugly flaws a.k.a. uniqueness that made them beautiful. I'm not saying I'm above doing it, I just haven't caved yet and I question why we try so hard- is this really for ourselves, for men, for attention, for competition between each other or all of the above? Admittedly, since the 7th grade, I have wanted, ached and (in my mind) needed a nose job. Vanity, Beauty, Supermodels and Fashion consumed my world from that point on and clouded my view of reality. It became an obsession of sorts giving way to my insecurities and feeling like I would never be enough.
I have never in my life looked at a person and thought, 'what a hideously ugly person!', not ever, unless I count the times I have said it to myself in the mirror. And I'm not alone, which is both comforting and terribly sad. Perfection will never be a part of who I am, but I'm trying to embrace that reality and my ugly side as well. The visible scars that will never heal, the nose I inherited from my grandpa and the many, MANY other flaws have a distorted sort of beauty to them I someday hope to appreciate because, in the end, the only person whose opinion truly matters on this topic is the girl in the mirror.
*Favorite clip from Beautiful Girls but here's your R-rated language warning*
Friday, April 19, 2013
I'd like to blame my absence on writers block, but truthfully the past few months I've opted to keep my private life private, which is pretty unusual for me, considering that I've been blogging nearly every moment of my life since 2005. A lot going on: some good, some bad and some things in my life are floating around in space unsure of where they'll land as of yet. But, with this time I've spent away from writing (at least public writing) I've learned some important facts about life that wouldn't be fair to keep to myself so, in true Jenny fashion, I have yet another list of the facts of life (not the TV show) to enlighten you with. *Note: You may think, "No, these facts are just Jenny's opinions"-but you'd be wrong.
FACTS OF LIFE:
* The most brilliant ideas come to mind about 5 minutes before drifting off to sleep. I'm pretty sure If I thought about things to the capacity at which I think about them right before I fall asleep I'd be on my way to becoming a theoretical physicist (which I can't describe to you right now considering that I'm awake and not so brilliant).
* I fail everyday as a Mom, and that sucks. At the end of everyday I think (and hope) every Mom thinks we could've, would've, should've done a better job at handling something that day-or maybe it's just me who feels immense failure everyday-but a day doesn't pass without my needing to hold them, hug them, kiss on them and tell them repeatedly how much I love them and how proud I am. It doesn't make-up for my screw-ups, but they'll never question if they were loved.
* A LONG walk outside late at night (armed with the appropriate mace, rescue whistle, secret weaponed flashlight & Rock n' Roll on the ipod) brings the body clarity, relaxation and rock hard calf muscles.
* A mini dress and high heels have no expiration date on age or style (and gives you a great opportunity to show off those calf muscles).
* Friends are easy to find, but the can't-live-without-you variety of friends are rare, extremely rare! Don't take these friendships for granted, you were lucky to find it once and chances are you may never find it again-and then who will you text at 2 a.m. when you're both awake with insomnia?
* Real love is unconditional.
* The Notebook is the BEST movie ever created and Sex and the City is the best show ever created and I quote both often because I'm a believer in romance and true love. (Note: I'm an unrealistic, fairytale type of girl- I never outgrew that Cinderella phase of life).
* Write everything down and save it! I write constantly. Notes on scrap paper in the car (at a stoplight), notes or poetry in my iphone when I can't find a pen. Thoughts or ideas on grocery store shopping lists, etc. I've started about 15 books and quickly become bored with my characters, but keep them all in the hopes that someday I'll have the courage, determination and attention-span to actually finish one. Lesson here: Never give up a dream. My dream is to be a writer and someday I may succeed. Lesson for non-writers: Don't bottle up emotions and thoughts-get them out on paper and out of your filled-to-capacity head.
* Give to others without expecting anything in return-it's good for the soul (yours and theirs).
* Avocados, Trail Mix, String Cheese, PB & Chocolate, Hot Tea and Wine...there's no better food on the planet.
* The beauty of a person is on the inside. Heed your parents advice and stop judging books by their covers, you may be surprised at what you find.
* There will ALWAYS be mean girls in your life if you show the slightest bit of confidence! Other women love to knock you down to their level of misery. I thought by the time I reached this age I would no longer be dealing with people like this and it still stings to find out someone is attacking your character (and even worse-your parenting!). It doesn't matter if you're 6 or 96, you will always be the target of gossip, of jealousy and of rumors if you're worth anything at all. That's the upside though. You're so priceless that you become another woman's jealous obsession-learn to ignore and let it go!
* Open yourself up to new ideas and new possibilities and resist judgement on another's choices. I'd also like to add-never mix politics with friendship, it doesn't work and you're setting yourself up for disaster.
* Believe in Miracles!
* Be Spontaneous, Crazy, Wild and (as my sister calls me) a Free Spirit! You only get 1 life to live so live it up! Try new adventures, travel, jump off the high board and maybe, just maybe, try fish once in your life...you may actually enjoy it!
* Always watch Big Bang Theory before going to bed. It will put you in a good mood.
* Don't watch the news, it will keep you awake all night with worry.
* Remember to blog (otherwise people will kindly remind you constantly that you have forgotten to do so, but I love those people who care enough to read my mindless jibber jabber).
Posted by Jenny Reijgers at 10:34 PM
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
So while my first post in a few months should be an upbeat and happy one, I will give you fair warning that it's not (in case you couldn't figure that out from the title). I've been swamped with my boys birthdays, both of which happen to fall in February, the kids schoolwork/science projects/ extracurricular activities and pretty much being an awesome Mom (kidding) that I don't have the time for Valentines Day a.k.a. meaningless holiday of LOVE-really? If it's all about love then why do I hate it so much?
Reason #1- The ridiculous amount of $$$ I'm required to spend on cards for each person in my family (which, by the way, I'm handmaking next year-not the pinterest way, the crayon and paper way), the gifts my kids have learned to expect (my fault) except this year they are just getting candy-tomorrow will be insanely disappointing as I'm trying to scale back on the toys expected for every holiday and my love should be all they need anyway, right? Ha! AND the cards I have to buy for every child in 3 different classrooms. What I learned this year, however, is that cards no longer come with just cards, but with every package there are erasers/bracelets/puzzles/sticker sheets/candy/pencils included so the stores can jack up the price and keep us Moms competing for which one of us bought the most expensive Valentines junk. I set out to spend about $20- I quadrupled that amount in about 10 minutes with a bunch of crap that will be thrown away on February 15th.
Reason #2- My single friends and family-especially those going through a recent divorce or break-up. This day sucks for them and I know that because I too have experienced many, many awful and devastating Valentines Days. If I would have had any money left over from my previously mentioned shopping spree, I would buy them all a bottle of wine to drown their sorrows and take them dancing-chocolate, flowers and sappy movies just won't cut it in getting you through a Valentine's Day as a singleton. I wish I could fast forward this day for them so they wouldn't have to be exposed to all the Love the rest of the world around them is so openly and disgustingly displaying.
Reason #3- If you need a special day to say "I LOVE YOU" then your relationship most likely needs CPR anyway.
Reason #4- Unrealistic expectations of women. Victoria's Secret (which normally I do shop at and love) irritates me to no end during Valentines month with daily emails, Facebook updates and catalogs reminding me I need to dress up (or down rather) in scantily clad nothingness as a gift to my husband by bombarding me with photos of anorexic/airbrushed models in fuzzy heels and diamond bras and trying to convince me that this is what will make me a good spouse?! We get chocolates or roses or a fancy dinner and are expected to "repay" while looking as glamourous and sexy and willing as the lingerie models all in the name of freaking Valentines Day!
Reason #5- Unrealistic expectations of men. I would hate to be a man on Valentine's Day trying to come up with some aberrant revelation of love while trying to out-do yourself year after year. Dealing with insane women who didn't get the roses, the romance or the diamonds they were hoping for...please get over yourselves women! Do you really need these gifts from a man on this particular day to make yourself feel like you're worth something?
Reason #6- Lovey Dovey Valentiney Couples= YUCK! The mushiness of this day is a little too much for me. The kissing couples, the romantic songs, the flowers at work, the pictures of couples showing how romantic they are all over the internet, the holding hands couples, the thousands of couples getting engaged, the couples rubbing the fact that they're so in love in the face of everyone else and putting on a show for the sake of Valentine's Day. (P.S. This is not reality and the day after V-Day these couples will be hungover from love but all will be right with the world again).
Don't get me wrong, I love romance (real romance-not forced) and I love LOVE, but I hate the idea of having a day where I feel like I'm required to celebrate it. What if tomorrow I feel like wearing sweats, ordering a pizza, reading a book and watching a horror movie? (which I kind of do). Regardless, I will still send my kids to school with their Valentine cards full of bracelets, sticker puzzles and erasers. I will still run around to all of their Valentine school parties. I will give them chocolates and cards and make our annual Valentines Dessert Dinner= everything covered in chocolate and I will take Valentines Day pictures to have a memory of this blasted holiday. But everyday is a day that I love my family and everyday I will still continue to tell them and show them how much I Love them- especially when it's not Valentine's Day!
Posted by Jenny Reijgers at 12:06 PM
Monday, December 17, 2012
It took me a few days for the reality of all that has occurred to sink in. Last night, after much thought, I made the bold decision to sit my kids down and tell them everything. Not in an attempt to scare them but 1) to talk about the events and the outcomes with them before their friends relayed the news this morning (Monday morning) leaving my boys with unanswered questions, fears and confusion. And 2) As a precaution.
Both boys gave me their undivided attention and when I finished talking I asked Spencer (my 3rd Grader), What would you do in a situation like that? His response was, "I would run towards the gunman and try to stop him!". This answer, as brave and honest as it was, terrified me. He had no idea!! Coen (our Kindergartener) sat silently and listened as we explained to the boys that you run as far away from danger as possible or you hide and keep quiet. This seemed to satisfy Spencer, although he was still a little uneasy at the thought of going to school this morning, but Coen was very much at a different and difficult level of fear. I sat with him a long time in bed and answered his innocent and fearful questions over and over again. I began to regret my decision to divulge this "grown-up" information to an innocent 5 year old, but the reality is that my children are growing up in a world where Stranger Danger drills in the classroom have become the norm., where evil is lurking around every unsuspected corner and copycat crimes from the most deranged individuals are out in full force and, unfortunately, my kids are in a position (at least at school) where I cannot personally protect them so it is essential that they know of these dangers and how to respond to protect themselves.
With that said, this morning SUCKED! My boys awoke excited for school, leaving any traces of fear far behind them. I, however, was not as brave-although I'm a great pretender (sometimes)! My anxiety was kicking while I performed our normal get ready for school routine and assured the boys that they would be safe and told them about 5 million times that I Love them. The anxiety worsened, however, as we passed the police officers parked on both sides of the street in front of the school and as we came to the front of the school the Principal, teachers and some sort of security guy in a big, black trenchcoat stood guarding the entrance of the school. I can't say I was surprised as I have been receiving messages all weekend from the Principal, Superintendent of the district, my Kindergartner's teacher and the head of the PTO that these changes in security would be happening, but kissing my 3rd grader good-bye as I watched him walk into school (and dread having to do this yet again later this afternoon with my Kindergartner) brought me to tears-sobbing, uncontrollable, fearful tears right there in front of the school. I hate that I must now fear for my Childrens lives in a place I once believed they were so safe and I hate how helpless I feel. I want to think that someday this uneasy feeling will subside, but, realistically, this is the world we live in now and I angrily admit that fear is a part of it, but thankfully only a small part in the grand scheme of things. Life will go on if we allow it...
Posted by Jenny Reijgers at 10:53 AM
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Yesterday was one of the most memorable days in the most horrific way possible regarding the mass murder of 20 young children and 6 staff at a Connecticut school. Many, actually most, of my friends flocked to express their feelings, sadness, condolences, their anger and their politics in the most public forum they could come up with-Facebook! I very much realize how "cold" I came off not expressing myself as well but, to be completely honest, I'm still processing the shock of it all.
From the time I began sending my oldest to Preschool this very event has been a fear of mine-unrealistic, far-fetched fear? YES! But a fear, nonetheless. It's a fear of mine whenever they are out of my sight and out of my protection. Yesterday, before my Kindergartner was preparing to leave for his PM Kindergarten class I noticed he was running a fever and, obviously, I made the decision to keep him home. About this exact same time is when I started receiving notifications on my phone about the events which occurred yesterday. I'm not even sure I would have been capable, at that point, of sending him to school anyway and I was relieved-as strange as that sounds-that he was just sick enough to stay home with me. I laid my youngest kids down for a rest time as I reluctantly turned on the news and allowed myself to become immersed for 45 minutes in what I can only describe as every parents worst nightmare! The images of parents screaming out for their babies while police held them back, the stories of parents taking out the carseats and throwing them in the trunk because they couldn't bear to see the empty carseat in the car, the fear on the faces & interviews (really Journalists?) of innocent children who had witnessed more at their young age than most will be exposed to in a lifetime, it was too much-at least for me-and I could tolerate no more.
There is not a moment that has passed since yesterday, despite my emotional cover-up and changing of the subject at every chance, where I haven't felt the sadness, the anger (Oh, so much anger) and the helplessness. Those babies and the terror of what they experienced, the parents coming to pick up their children only to find out their 5 year old is not coming home with them, it's more than I can take. I also can't help but picture my own Kindergartner and his classmates in this situation, playing this disturbing image over and over and over in my head and It's something I realize I need to switch off.
Last night I kept the kids home with my husband as I headed out to finish their Christmas shopping. I'm not sure what I expected, but the world-which I had assumed momentarily halted-was out in full force. Fighting over parking spots, lining up to see Santa, crowding stores and laughing with their families. There were no somber faces, just those enjoying the holidays. Part of me was relieved, as I could no longer stand this physical ache of fear and sadness eating away my stomach and I desperately needed to see happiness in full force yet the other part of me wanted to scream, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?".
As I, hesitantly, dared to check Facebook last night I was, once again, inundated with the words of those hoping to encourage others with prayers, with the depressing posts about these children who will never experience the life their parents had wanted and hoped for them or the Christmas they were anticipating, with those who are spewing messages of hopelessness for our Country (disguised as hatred), with the people who insist on making a tragedy a political war (for these people I must say, ENOUGH!! Not the time to stand on your political soapbox and arouse unnecessary arguments) and the posts of various news stories and links. Through all of this though, I have found a glimmer of goodness. Parents, all over the Country, are appreciating our children more, holding them tighter, covering them with love, with praise, with kisses and hugs and with the attention and I LOVE YOU'S that our children deserve and crave! While we must all deal with tragedy in our own way, we are capable of coming out of tragedy bolder and wiser as well...my news is off and will remain that way, my kids are in pjs next to me watching Saturday morning cartoons and having tickle fights and I have been given an important reminder to slow down and appreciate my blessings today because tomorrow there are no guarantees.
Posted by Jenny Reijgers at 10:54 AM