Even things that don’t look perfect can still mean something good

As any girl will tell you, the teenage years are hard and sometimes downright suck. The past year has been especially difficult for my daughter. Her knees required one more surgery to remove the appliances repressing her growth plates for almost two years. We were able to do the surgery in the summer before school started, but opening up the old scars made them even more puckered and noticeable. Embarrassed, she wears pants, a lot. But being a swimmer, she has to trade in those pants for a leg revealing swimsuit at least five times a week, if not more.

This past week a group of high school boys at the pool noticed her knees and decided to pounce. Over and over they brought up the scars on the inside of her knees, calling them grotesque and hideous. Some of them even accused her of cutting her body for attention.

It was a quiet car ride home that day from the pool. When she finally came clean and told me what happened, part of me thought about driving back and punching every single one of those boys in the face. But I’ve learned over the years that running around demanding every wrong be met with justice is exhausting and seldom changes anyone’s behavior.

Instead, I pointed to her knees. “To me, those scars are a miracle. We were able to fix your knees without many, many surgeries. You can walk, and even run now without hardly any pain. I promise if you focus on the good things those scars brought, the taunts of others will fade, just like these scars will fade over time.”

I don’t show many pictures of my children, but, just help the reader understand, I’ve attached the before and after surgery pictures of my daughter’s legs.


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Yes, reality bites, but it’s best not to ignore it.

The concept of “free” is thrown around a lot now days. I personally teach my children to be wary of anybody touting “free” anything. As my mother always said, “Nothing in life is ever truly free.”

This week my oldest son got his first W-2 ever. To say he was shocked at what the government had taken out of his paycheck in the six months he worked last year is an understatement.

“Why did they take out so much?”

Welcome to reality I thought, doing my best not to crack a smile. “Where  do you think the government gets the money they give to other people and countries?”

Just like every teenager I’ve ever met, he made it all about himself. “Me.”

“Not just you, but all of us.”

“Man, this sucks.” He stomped down into his room.

Yes it does, and I hope he always remembers that. Maybe he won’t be so inclined to jump on the “free” train I see all around me. Because, eventually, any expanded “free” government programs will be coming out of his paycheck.

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Diving off with almost no preparation

My careful and under control personality doesn’t do fly by the seat of my pants very well. Though I like to write that way, in life, not having a plan makes me uncomfortable. This week I met the ultimate just-winging-it kid.

I’m standing between starting blocks at the swimming pool as a stroke/turn judge for a swim competition. A young man, decked in a speedo, taps me on the shoulder. I’m in the middle of judging a race so I only slightly turn toward him to let him know I’m listening.

“What’s the stroke order for this race?”

I stood there blinking. “Well…it’s the IM.” Nobody had every asked me what they needed to swim right before a race before. The race finished and I turned to him and listed the order slowly. “Butterfly, back, breast, free.”

“Oh, yeah. Thanks.” The whistle from the referee had called the next race. He hopped up on the block next to me and bent down for his start. In a matter of seconds, he was flinging himself off the block and into the water.

I honestly didn’t think it would end well for him, but he did just fine. I saw no infractions on his part to disqualify him, and his time wasn’t too shabby, ta boot. But man was I stressed out the whole time watching him, and he wasn’t even from my high school.

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A bundle of nerves…

I’m one of those people who get about as nervous as my kids when watching them compete in sports, especially wrestling. I’ve always said that if I could know the outcome it would be so much easier. Well now I know that’s a big, fat lie.

My youngest took first place in the wrestling tournament he went to last weekend. He went alone with a family friend because my husband and I needed to stay and help at the local high school tournament. The friend’s mother made a video of each of his matches and sent us a link so we could watch them.

My husband and I hovered over my phone watching the matches and I couldn’t believe it. My heart pounded and my body tensed at every lock up, takedown, and switch—my nerves wrestling right along with him even though I already knew the outcome. I guess when you’re a nervous-mervous at heart escaping its effects are not possible—no matter what.

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A spa?

My oldest son gave me a spa package for Christmas this year. I looked at the gift card then back at him and could only say one word. “Oh.” In my forty-plus years I’d never been anywhere near a spa. Besides massages, I didn’t even know what you did in a place like that. But my sweet son was so excited to give his mother a special treat of relaxation that I had to go despite my fears of what might happen in this “spa.”

My worst fear was realized when a woman took me to a locker room and told me to undress and put on a robe. I stood there after she left for like five minutes. Holy crap, I have to get naked?

Steeling up my courage, I did as she instructed and found my way back to the meditation room to wait my turn, for whatever they would do to me next. And still not relaxed one bit.

A woman comes and takes me to a room with a large table and a fake waterfall running on the far wall. She tells me to take off my robe and get under the sheet draped over the table. “Your masseuse, Brett, will be in shortly.”

She had already closed the door before the name registered anything. Brett was a man’s name! I was supposed to lay naked under a sheet for a man I’d never met? Yeah, still so not relaxed.

I scurry out of my robe and get under the sheet, my face turned toward the closed door in fear. The dreaded knock finally comes and in walks a man with dark glasses and the white cane of a blind person.

My nerves are unable to stop my loud, audible sigh.

“Are you all right, ma’am?”

“Oh, yes. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but my forty-year-old body is so glad right now that you are blind.” Yep, this is what nerves do to me, turn me into a blabbing idot. “You see…I’ve never done this before and my son sent me here as a Christmas present.”

The man chuckled. “Ah…I see. I promise to do my best to make this as relaxing of an experience for you as possible.”

And did he deliver? Oh yes he did. I would have no qualms about doing that again. Having my body rubbed into a floppy jello state is an amazing experience. Yeah, I left there relaxed.

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The mama bear got loose

In all my years of watching wrestling I’ve seen some pretty painful moves put on kids. The sport is incredibly hard and brutal on the body. And even though I know this, I did something I’ve never done before this week. I stopped a match.

My youngest son was doing his thing, out on a mat fighting it out with another kid his age. He was up, he was down, back and forth they went striving for dominance. Then the kid caught my son in a weird hold. He didn’t have a cradle with a leg, but he locked onto his other wrist and squeezed. The arm he left under my son prevented him from being able to pin my son, but he just kept squeezing my son’s shoulders together. My son screamed out in pain, and I mean screamed, but the teenager playing referee still didn’t stop the match.

To say I made a scene is probably an understatement, but no way was I going to let this match continue. The boy couldn’t pin my son from the painful hold he had, and he showed no signs of trying to change his hold to one that would pin. To allow him to keep crushing my son’s chest until the third period ran out seemed beyond assinine to me–we had more than thirty seconds still go. So no, you’re not gonna stall there, torturing my son. I’ve never been more fine with a forfeit in my entire life.

I have to give my son kudos though. After taking some time to rub out his aching sternum, he went back out on the mat to face the last competitor he had for the day. I don’t know if I could have been so mentally tough at that age.

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When I’m lucking enough to stand outside the fog

Where I live gets some pretty crazy fog in the valley during the winter time. I live high against the bench of the mountains so our home isn’t ensconced in the thick soup as often as those that live in the valley. This fog can last for days, even weeks sometimes, so for those in the valley it can sometimes feel like the sun never rises.

The heavy fog this week got me thinking about life, and how sometimes when we’re in the thick of a struggle it’s easy to believe we’ll never overcome the darkness surrounding us. But even in our darkest moments, good things are happening around us—they are happening to us. Maybe we have to strain a little harder to see the light filtering through in our lives, but the sunshine is still there. And if at this moment the darkness is threatening to swallow you whole, I hope you have friend to lean on who sees both the struggle and blessings in your life. Nothing improves one’s thoughts and actions more than a balanced perspective.

Below is a picture I took of the valley where I live while driving home.

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