The Graduate

It’s no small feet to graduate from high school. In todays society the cards are stacked against our youth. Our kids battle so many different pressures than I did when I was growing up. It is no small feet to graduate high school in todays world.


As parents we struggle to grasp what they are faced with and at the end of the day find ourselves in unchartered territory more often than not. Influences coming from every angle and are continuously changing the way we think, the way we live, and the way we survive.

When I was a student, even though drugs and alcohol were around, it seemed as though my biggest obstacles were social. Who drove, who dated who, Friday night football games, the latest music and who dedicated what to who on the radio, *69 (of your too young to remember thats a blog for another day) and of course the latest fashion. Today, our students have to worry about their personal lives being exposed on any kind of social media, violence, very real drug and alcohol pressure, bullying, self identity, violence, and abuse. These are all before they ever step foot in a classroom.


Speaking from 26 years of experience with multiple children in schools in multiple states, I have to say their biggest hurdle is not the previously mentioned obstacles, but school itself.

Yes I said it! But let me explain what I mean.

From the State all the way down to the teacher, we need to relook at how we teach our children, protect our children, and prepare our children for adulthood. Heads up, in no time, our children will be adulting, and we need to do better at preparing them.

State to state, county to county, school to school, the rules change. What is taught, how it’s taught, and how we measure comprehension. Schools put so much emphasis on scores, numbers, and excellence…but forgot the basics. What happened to life skills (preparing taxes, managing checkbooks, understanding credit, cause and effect) that prepare them for the rest of their lives.


Our schools cater to the ivy league student and the 4.0. Our students who need to be taught are too often left behind. Educators rely on the parents, society, and social media to teach our youth.

I know some great teachers and don’t want to seem as though I’m bashing anyone. Those great teachers don’t forget about the struggling student. They show up to ensure that none of our students are left behind, but In the end, the state, county, and school have stacked the deck against them too. The pressures of fast paced curriculum, sensitive subject matter, and benchmarks on standardize testing limit the time they can spend actually teaching.

It’s been a long road, not just for me as a parent but for our kids to grow up, become adults, and graduate. It was a much different road than I knew. The hurdles were high, the challenges much more dangerous, and all of the ways in which their success was measured were anything but standard.

Regardless of all of this, they made it. They did it. As a momma, I did it too. We navigated this world together and graduated.

To all of the parents out there, you can do this and your kids can’t do it without you. It may all be very different from when we were growing up… just stay involved, fight for your kids, and let them know that this is the biggest accomplishment of their young lives so far. Once they achieve graduation, they will have an understanding of what it feels like to set a goal, work hard, overcome, and achieve something they set out to do. They’ve got this, and so do you!



Wrinkles be damned

This morning I looked in the mirror and I almost didn’t recognize myself. I saw stretch marks I had never seen before, wrinkles I am most certain came overnight, and holy moly grey hairs everywhere. On top of that everything looked thicker. The visual was not pretty in my eyes. Have I let myself go?

I stewed on this in my mind for the better part of the day. First I thought: it’s time to diet, I have to shed these pounds, I look awful. Call me vein if not liking what I saw in the mirror fits the bill! And the gym! It’s time to throw myself back into the gym, and work to get down to my ideal weight. That’s it!

Planning in my head, I will eat two hard boiled eggs for breakfast, mid morning oatmeal, a small salad for lunch, carrots for a snack, and a salad for dinner. I’ll make time for the gym at least four or five days a week. No excuses! Overtime, stressful days at work, family time….excuses. Not gonna have it, I convinced myself I will do what it takes.

I was already feeling the exhaustion from the plan with the reflection in the mirror still vivid in my brain. Although it took an hour to admit, If do these things, I wouldn’t be happy. I would run myself down. No matter how much progress I saw, I would resent my schedule and eventually rebel against my own plan.

I went on about my business of cooking dinner, prepping some breakfast burritos and a meal for later into the week to make life simpler. I find a lot of time to think while cooking in the kitchen. Of course my thoughts quickly went back to the reflection that looked back at me this morning. But my analysis slowly began to change from disgust to a more fair and realistic view.

When I was in my 20’s I weighted in at a meager 110 pounds. I was skinny as a rail and couldn’t gain weight if I had to. But then something happened. Not overnight, not even in a year; It was life. Life happened. Then life of an adult mom.

I am a proud mom of three beautiful humans. The first one left me with some beautiful stretch marks. Each line represented the fact that I carried him in my body for 9 months. For 9 months his existence and his survival depended on me. The marks left on my body don’t even come close to the marks he has left on my heart.

The cellulite came with my second human. Being pregnant with whole having a toddler meant I was exhausted. Carrying her required more rest and less moving. She tried to come into this world too early. Because she needed me to protect her a little bit longer, I couldn’t be as active. Hence the arrival of the fatty gel. So now, when I think about the way that cellulite made me sick, I recall being more than willing to slow down my entire life to give my baby girl a shot at one!

My baby, last born, brought on the weight. I was a little older when I got to carry him and we were a very busy household of four already. Our meal choices became things we could get an 7 and a 5 year old to eat. I worked full time, and then we were beginning the world of youth sports. Ball field concessions were my friend. Fat is evil, but for each pound I put on, they could never amount to the laughter and joy my baby boy brings to my world.

As for the wrinkles, grey hairs, and stiff joints….they are all here to remind me that I have lived, loved, and lost. I have worried, cried, cheered, and felt pride for all of my kids. For each late night, soccer match, baseball game, football hit, breakup, makeup, party, and milestone, I have a mark.

I walked back into the bathroom, stripped my clothes off and took another look in the mirror. This time, the person looking back at me was more familiar. She was older, and physically looks different. But I began to see memories, a history, a mom.

I will probably still work on eating better. I will probably try to hit the gym a few days a week. But I will not make it the priority. Healthy is good, and I want to be healthy for years to come, but for once, that is now my why. Not to look thinner, erase the wrinkles, or burn the cellulite. Those things are there to remind me of the important roles I have played and I will now start wearing them with pride.

Starting today, I’m going to live a little healthier but I’m going to also proudly live in my skin!