March 13, 2014

#banbossy campaign gets it wrong and fuels fire of women’s inequality

I thought it was a joke when I read about it at first.  Really, I did.  So now we are teaching children to remove words from their vocabulary because we are afraid of them?  Now, hear me when I say, there are certain words that should never be uttered again, and I understand that.  Hateful, derogatory statements should never be tolerated and you’ll find me on the front line of those battles.  But terms are tools.  And they are very valuable.  Bossy is one of them.  I’m going to need it as a counterpart when I teach my son how to play with others.  I don’t want him to be bossy as a child, in the classroom, or in the workplace.  And if he doesn’t know that word in it’s organic form, how will he avoid it? Also, did you notice I said son?

Sheryl Sandberg’s tragic error in her campaign is she singled out girls.  By doing so, she is indicating girls need protection from a normal word. They are weak, fragile, and failing to thrive in a world where the “b-word” plagued our pasts.  If we begin to tell our young women that they can’t handle a word, but our boys can, isn’t that quite counterproductive to this whole “movement”?  

What if, instead, we continued to move forward in teaching our children kindness, appreciation for each other, and that we all have equal value no matter our gender, race or any other outlying circumstance?  What if we remember that we are already in control of words and the connotations they hold- and we don’t have to fear them.  We need to empower our children to use them correctly.  What then?

March 9, 2014

What's Eating Them?

I could tell by the looks on their faces that something had gone awry, but I had absolutely no idea.

It was the first beautiful day after a long winter and my friend and I set our kids loose at the park on a Sunday afternoon.  As long as we caught the occasional visual and saw no blood, everything else was fair game.  Stealing other kids’ toys? Whatever- it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Work it out.  Eating rocks (again)? Maybe they’d fill up on them and take a great nap.  Approaching the street with oncoming traffic? Great running practice.  We all were happy to be out of our houses and into the great wide open.

I’d clearly had too much fresh air when I sauntered up to a family having a picnic nearby.  “Sorry our kids keep hijacking your toys,” I said jovially.  I wasn’t sorry.  I was just geeked out on sunshine and out of my head with unusual friendliness.  We struck up a conversation and it was all going well.

My son had wandered up at this point and asked to be held as the families swapped adoption stories.  “I LOOVEEE LIIFFFEEEEE” I thought in my head as I wondered why I didn’t get out more/talk to people on a regular basis. 

I noticed one by one that each of the husband-wife pair began to look less amused.  I immediately began doing a mental playback of the things I’d said, searching for a possible offender.  I didn’t know how to gracefully exit the conversation, so I just kept talking.  With the baby on my hip, I distractedly obliged as he pretended to feed me.  He is super in to pretending these days.

As I tilted my head slightly towards one of the men, I saw each expression shift to horror in a ripple effect.  Out of nervous energy, I began over animatedly interacting with my son’s game.  “Mmmmm! Yummy! (smacking noises and ridiculous carrying on).  But this time, I noticed there was actually something in my mouth.  And it was salty. 

I froze for a moment, then slowly, ever so slowly, turned to see my toddler with his finger up his nose heading back for more of what the all American family had been watching for who knows how long now.  Surely not.

I looked back at the pristine families on their precious worn out quilt, all slack jawed and shaken up from the trauma thinking to myself, “they’ve just witnessed the most horrific scene of their life. How do I get out of this?  What’s my exit plan?”

So, with a cheek full of, well, you know, I smiled a talked about, well, I have no idea, and my face burned crimson.  I turned on my heels and headed to the car, looked at my baby and said, “We do NOT put our boogers in Mama’s mouth!”

And also, that’s why we don’t get out anymore.  Now I remember.  

March 1, 2014

mrs fancy whaaaa? A CONTEST + GIVEAWAY!

When I began my blog several years ago, I threw my hands in the air and threw a silly name on the title because I couldn’t possibly choose a forever and ever and ever and ever blog name.  In fact, I’d been trying to think of one for two years prior to that, and delayed the whole blogging shindig because I kept crumbling under the pressure. The process made me break out in a cold sweat, research names for hours on end, and declare my entire writing career null and void.  At the time, I thought my blog would be more of a make up and nail polish review- meets home d├ęcor- plus some fun pictures of my family.  Turns out things have gone another direction.

One of my favorite things to do is look at the searches done to find my blog.  Some of the reigning winners are:

“she wears fancies panties blog”

“amanda's panties are fancy blog” and

“mrs. fancy plants blog”

It’s time for a new name, people. Clearly.  And I need your help! If you’ve read my blogs, you know what I’m about… big, crazy, messy love.  Grace and Jesus and laughing and all that good stuff!  I don’t want anything cheesy or kitschy, and I’d love something that lasts.  AND THERE IS A PRIZE!  If you submit the name that I choose for my blog, I’m giving away a bundle from my favorite writers. 
Carry On, Warrior Glenon Doyle Melton
Traveling Mercies Anne Lamott
Interrupted Jen Hatmaker

So, send in your suggestions- as many as you want, and pass it on!! The contest is one week long!  I’ll announce the winner next Saturday! 

p.s. My friend Amy hysterically suggested mrsseriouspants.  She is the one to beat so far!

February 25, 2014

why my family will never “tolerate” homosexuality

I remember the last time I was tolerated.  It was a family-ish function and there was no question I was simply being “tolerated”.  It’s a cold, isolating, sterile feeling.  I’d rather have someone just say “gosh, I’d rather chew on a handful of rusty nails than sit here with you” than to be endured.  It’s uncomfortable and it’s degrading.

This week we are being bombarded with news of nation-wide discrimination, inundated by acts of hate, and it has left me hurting all the way down in my gut.  How can our country even THINK of entertaining a bill that would deny another human being service? Prevent an athlete from playing his game?  It all seems so primitive and cruel and it’s scary that we “the land of the FREE” are back in this place. 

I hear rumblings of tolerance quite often as if to say we are making progress.  I don’t want to tolerate anyone anymore than I want to be tolerated.  We don’t get it all right in this family (a lot, actually). But let it be said of us that we LOVED!  Let it be known that anyone, from any walk of life was welcome in our home.  May our legacy be that we loved scandalously when others turned away, that we embraced and formed relationships with anyone who was willing and had a full life of abundant grace.  We don’t stand for tolerance here… we believe in ferocious love!

January 17, 2014

one year ago today: finding my way

            I don’t remember when I stopped painting my toenails for my fertility appointments, only thinking it felt oddly like I was in a relationship going stale and I was the bad girlfriend not doing my part to keep things exciting.  I also remember the nurse practitioner had lipstick on her teeth as she cooed at my empty uterus blipping on the screen, “Sometimes we just don’t understand these things, honey.  I’m sure you’ll find your way.”  We had been trying to get pregnant for four years at that point.  For me, finding my way was becoming a mother.  That was two years ago today.

Twelve weeks and one miracle adoption later, I was holding my newborn son.  I was a mother.  We were also a transracial family.

One year ago today, I looked into the sparkly eyes of my beautiful nine-month-old boy and said, “What are we supposed to do?”  My husband left for work again and there we sat, both crying in our tiny rocker wearing dirty PJs soured with spit up and heading into a day of counting down hours and doubting one another. Complete meals had stopped months ago—instead I grazed throughout the day, as time allowed, like a wild animal. I avoided calls from friends, and hoped neighbors didn’t notice my car rarely moved from its spot.    With splatters of baby food and nubs of mushy crackers, showering was futile. I didn’t even bother to remove the mounting pile of diapers from my front porch. I aimlessly bounced and swayed in my hallways praying for something, “Baby stop crying, time go faster, someone turn me into a mother.”  I wasn’t really even sure what I was praying for.  It seemed I was looking for my way again.  And perhaps, motherhood had found the wrong girl.

What I didn’t expect was that I had never felt more alone than I did at home with my new baby.  It was as if I was living life in one of those snow globes. My surroundings were beautiful, seemingly perfect, even.  I could see out, and people could look in on me, but no one could connect.  And here’s why:  I still felt empty inside.  I’d repeated the sweet Southern mantra “I just want to get married and have children” for as long as I could remember.  When the second part of that seemed it might never happen, I deemed it the cause of any feeling of sadness or emptiness inside.  But then, then… after all those years of trying and pain and feeling like a failed science experiment, my dream had finally come true.  The guilt I suffered when I still felt pangs of sadness or emptiness was almost unbearable.  Who wanted to hear me complain?  And after all those years of whining?  Because, as my mom said to me, tongue in cheek, one day as we heard my son waking from a jokingly short nap, “well, you finally got what you’ve always wanted!” 

Everywhere I looked, I saw new moms, smiling and cooing like Disney princesses visiting with little girls.  Giddy instagrams and Facebook posts and even real-life encounters had me convinced that I was just not mother material.  Because living in a magical kingdom, I was not.  Each day my husband would come home to me, a blubbering, sniveling mess, and he’d say, “You’re both alive! It was a great day here! Good job, baby.” I'd stare down at my sweet sleeping son, twirl one of his chocolate curls around my pinky and wonder if he would grow up and remember these days. “Giddy “was not even on our radar. 

I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for my Lolly.  She is my dearest friend and the one who finally said, “Amanda, sometimes it’s just hard.”  I remember crying and crying and asking her why she didn’t tell me all these horrible things about motherhood before I took the plunge.  “It’s awful!” I wailed.  “I don’t know what to do with him, and I’m so gross, and he cries, and I never sleep any more, and why would anyone have a baby to begin with?”  She just smiled in her beautiful, gracious way and reminded me that if people knew the gory details, no one would have babies.  “It’s worth it, and it gets easier every day” she assured me.  I remember not being quite convinced this was worth it at the time, even with my precious baby in tow.  I daily had the horrifying thought “this is why we couldn’t get pregnant.  I don’t have the mothering gene, or whatever.  It’s not supposed to feel this way.”

But, as time passed, I had a revelation.  Every time I felt sadness or loneliness, I began to recognize it as an emotion that did not necessarily have anything to do with being a mother. Perhaps it was the writer in me, aching to get back to my craft and take a break from washing bottles and bottoms.  Or the grown-up, fancy me who actually did enjoy showering, dressing up, and going to a lovely dinner with my husband.  Sometimes it was just standing in the sun and remembering what my dreams were when I was young and fearless, without a care in the world.  I had to get back to that place where I remembered all the parts of me I had forgotten about in the overwhelming, life-changing, alien, early days of motherhood. And it was in those very moments, my baby would look at me and laugh his musical giggle, and things just got easier. 

There is one line of thinking that “I was made to be a mother.”  And that just isn’t me.  I am a mother.  And, second to wife, it is by far the highest honor I have.  But I was made for so much more.  I have gifts and talents that God has given me and when I use those, I am a better mother because of it.  Once I shifted my perspective, the depression slowly faded away.  It’s okay if staying at home all day, every day with your babies is your greatest joy. It’s also okay if the thought of that makes you panic and start itching all over.  Just like we all have different strengths and talents, we also have very unique ways of mothering.   My mistake was trying to find my identity in this whole shebang. Motherhood isn’t my identity.  It’s a gift, a bonus, the miracle I never expected.  It has taken me a while, but we are getting into our groove as a family.

And I think I’m finding my way as a mother.

***Special thanks to Amy Lemley Bailey at for inviting me to share!***