Thursday, August 15, 2019

Can I please just have some supplies?

 A few months ago, the administrative assistant at my work left.  I'm not angry about that.  She got a better position, moved, it was just a better situation for her.  I'm happy for her.

However, I have feelings about her replacement.  Feelings.  Negative feelings.  Angry feelings.  Frustrated feelings.  Exasperated feelings.  I don't want her job, but I'm positive I could do it better than she does.

Here's the sitch: I'm in charge of ordering supplies for our department.  Anything we need for class, labs, whatever, it's my job to order it.  Because I work for a corporate entity, there is a defined procedure for obtaining approval for those supplies.  I create a want list (a list of the things we need), I submit it to the administrative assistant, she  performs some kind of black magic involving Accounts Payable, and the list gets returned to me with a Purchase Order number on it.  Then I place an order, everyone's happy.

At the same time New Girl was hired, the system for Purchase Orders changed in some way.  My part in it is the same (I think), but apparently something has changed in the black magic portion of the process.  I found this out because shortly after she arrived, I discovered that two of my purchase order requests had not been returned in about 2 months.  I asked her about it, and she pulled out a folder and asked me, "Is that what these are?"  My requests had been sitting on her desk for 2 months, without being processed.

This is where the drama started.  I asked her if there was another way she wanted me to submit them.  I thought maybe they had gotten lost or delayed because the change dictated that I needed to follow a different protocol in requesting purchase orders.  She told me she was working with the assistant from another campus on the purchase order process, so things were moving more slowly that usual.  I asked her if she needed me to resubmit these requests to the other campus for the time being.  She said I couldn't do that because she (New Girl) had to "be aware" of what was ordered.  I asked what she needed me to do.  She told me a really long story.  It had a cast of characters that ranged from humble instructors like myself, to corporate employees in charge of huge budgets.  None of it involved telling me what I had to do.  I was losing my patience.  I said, "Those are all great things.  What do you need ME to do to make this process more efficient."  Commence another epic recounting of the entire system.

I took my issues up the ladder.  I spoke to my supervisor.  I spoke to the campus president.  No one could figure out what my role is in this process.

I now have 5 pending Purchase Order requests, the oldest of which dates back to July 17, that have not yet been approved.  I have a list of supplies needed a mile long and all it does is get longer.  Yesterday, I took some students to a lab where we did not have enough supplies to get everything we need done.  A colleague who teaches the dissection portion of Anatomy and Physiology is attempting to teach the class without enough gloves, surgical masks, or absorbent pads.  Next week, I have to teach a class how to run a blood test, and we don't have enough syringes to make this happen.  And to make things even more awesome, the vendor where we obtain our testing supplies has placed a hold on our account due to nonpayment.

My supervisor is working on it.  The Dean of Education is working on it.  The Vice President for Campus Affairs is working on it.  I don't know where the problem is.  But while this is being "worked on," I continue to submit lists and request Purchase Orders, none of which get approved.  And who suffers?  My students.  I have to somehow teach students practical skills without the supplies they need to perform those skills.  I have coworkers asking me when they're going to get their supplies.  All I can do is shrug.

And the other day I drank way too much coffee, had a minor panic attack, and started looking for new jobs. 

Universe, HELP!!!!  What can I do that I have not already done?

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

At 40 I Decided to Run a Marathon

I'm not a runner.  For a while I dabbled, but I could really never be called anything more than a jogger.  I'm slow.  I'm lazy.  I run because it's cheap, and I know it's good for me.  I've run in a few 5k races and one 10k.  That was good enough for me.

My husband said that for his 40th birthday he wanted to run a marathon.  "Great," I said.  "Pick one you think sounds like fun, and I'll support you the whole way.  I'll make you weird smoothies, I'll help evaluate your form, I'll stand at the side of the road with a hilarious sign, whatever you need me to do."

A few weeks later, he said, "What if we did it together?  We could do it together.  Wouldn't that be fun?"

My logical response was, "No.  Not at all.  None of that sounds fun."

But now I knew.  I knew he wanted to do it together.  I knew he cared about it enough to mention it and ask, seriously, if I would consider it.  It was what he wanted for his birthday.

Fast forward a bit and our church was putting together a team to run the LA Marathon with Team WorldVision.  In case, you're not sure, WorldVision is a charity that brings clean water to communities in Africa.  They are the largest non-government organization providing water for people in Africa, to the tune of about a million people a day.  It's a great cause.  I told my husband, "There you go.  You can run with friends from church, raise some money for clean water, do the 40th birthday thing, you should check it out!"

We both went to the orientation meeting where they handed out the training schedule.  Team WorldVision employs a running coach, a physical therapist, and a nutritionist to help runners accomplish this crazy thing, and their training schedule is extremely gradual.  Definitely geared toward people who are not used to running.  As I looked at it, I thought, "Well, maybe I can do this.  If I start now, and follow the schedule, maybe I can make this happen."  And it was what he wanted for his birthday.

I signed up.

4 months later, I realized what a moron I am.  That was the day I did my first 10 mile run.  Now Team WorldVision is fantastically organized, and every Saturday, we had a group training session with everyone from Team WorldVision in our area.  Honestly, that was the only thing that kept me training sometimes.  I knew that if I didn't show up for the group run, they would notice and they would ask where I had been.  The day I joined the Double Digit Club was a rough one.  It took me well over 2 hours, and I was the last one to finish (a trend that continued through training up until the day of the race).  When it was over, my husband told me I could back out if I wanted to.  But I don't quit (read: I'm stubborn and don't think things through all the way so I tend to do things I'm not actually capable of).

I've lost track of when, but somewhere along the line, I injured a hip flexor muscle.  It's a tiny muscle that runs from the lower vertebrae to the top of the thigh bone.  However, it's the major muscle that pulls the leg forward, so straining or pulling it makes running (and walking if I'm honest) very hard.  According to my physical therapist, that event caused a bit of a chain reaction where the muscles of my thigh and backside had to compensate for the injured muscle, rotating my thigh bone forward and changing the way the mechanics of my hip work.  She also sounded as though she thought running a marathon might not be the best idea for me.  But she didn't expressly forbid me from doing it, and like I said, I'm too stubborn to quit.

Fast forward again to the day after my 40th birthday.  Why that day?  That was the day of the marathon.

We caught the shuttle from our hotel to the starting line at Dodger Stadium and stood in the back with the slow people.  In case you're unfamiliar with how races work, let me set this scene for you.  All 24,000 runners are organized into groups called corrals.  Near the front are the seeded corrals.  Those are the runners with proven official times in previous marathons who are not strangers to this particular crazy activity.  The number of corrals varies from race to race depending on the number of registered runners.  The fastest runners are closer to the front, and the corrals get slower as they move further away from the start line.  The final corral is called the open corral.  That's the one for people who are running their first marathon or who are too slow to run with real runners.

We set off just as the sun was rising.  And the day after my 40th birthday, I was running a marathon.

Things were great for the first 5 or 6 miles.  I was alternating running and walking and feeling pretty good.  Then I stopped to go to the bathroom.  In the 2 minutes it took to do that, my feet swelled up inside my shoes.  When I hit the pavement coming out of the bathroom, my feet hurt so much I couldn't run anymore.  So for 20 miles, I walked.

I walked uphill.  I walked downhill.  I walked through downtown LA, Chinatown, Koreatown, past Disney Concert Hall (uphill), through Hollywood, through Beverly Hills, Westwood, Rodeo Drive, the Sunset strip, and into Santa Monica.  Now, no one starts a marathon intending to drop out, but around mile 15 I was seriously considering it.  My feet hurt, my hip hurt, it was hot, my hands were swollen, I was sunburned, I couldn't figure out what I needed to make myself feel more normal.  Dehydration and exhaustion will make your brain do funny things.

About this time, I walked past an Episcopalian church.  Outside was a priest wearing a sign that said, "Bless me Father, for I have a long way to go."  He was sprinkling holy water on all the runners as we passed.  I will always be thankful for that priest.  Just as I was thinking about flagging down a medical transport and giving up, I saw his sign, and he smiled at me as he sprinkled me with holy water.  It helped me keep going.

Around mile 24, I stopped into a medical tent and asked if they had anything for blisters.  A nurse sat me down and asked me to take off my shoes and socks.  One word: blisters.  Blisters EVERYWHERE.  Blisters on the balls of both feet that were spreading up between my toes.  Blisters on the insides of both my big toes.  Blisters under the nails of both my middle toes.  Blisters on the insides of both my heels.  Blisters under the two smallest toenails on both feet.  I knew my feet hurt.  I knew I had blisters.  I was not prepared for the disaster that was actually present.  I commented to the nurse that the blisters were bigger than I had expected.  His response: "Yeah, these long races can take you by surprise."  I'm proud to say that I refrained from responding with profanity.  After covering my feet with moleskin, I squeezed my swollen feet back into my shoes and took off again.

About a mile further down the course, I came to the WorldVision support tent.  They gave me a bottle of Gatorade, and reminded me that every mile I had come so far represented a child who could go to school because they no longer had to spend the day fetching water.  Every mile was a mother who could allow her children to live normal lives for the same reason.  Every mile was a community that would be free of any number of preventable diseases now that they had access to clean water.  Then as I walked away, they shot me with a confetti canon.  I will always have a soft spot for confetti now.

At this point in the story, I have to stop and talk a little bit about Team WorldVision.  They are an amazing organization.  Not only do they support communities by providing clean water and child sponsorship, they also do an incredible job of supporting the runners who raise money for them.  They are there for the runners every (literal) step of the way.  They coached us on everything from how to buy the right pair of running shoes to ways to raise funding to being there all day the day of the race cheering for everyone and providing drinks, snacks, and encouragement.  That support was the only thing that kept me training, and as I reached the end of the course, it kept me going when my body wanted to do nothing but stop and collapse.

As I crossed the finish line, I wish I could say it made it all worth it and I felt incredible.  I didn't.  I wanted to die.  Volunteers put a huge medal around my neck, and all I wanted to do was rip it off.  I walked half a mile to the gear check truck, all the while wanting to lie down, and knowing that was the wrong thing to do.  I picked up my gear bag, and met up with my husband (who ran the same race with a kidney stone) at the WorldVision tent, where a well-meaning young man stuck a microphone in my face and asked a bunch of questions I don't remember, and I tried to answer through my "civilized person" filter.  Once he let me go, I sat on the grass and ripped my shoes off, peeled my socks off, and tried to figure out what I needed.

Now, if you've ever engaged in any ridiculous, extended physical activity, you know that when it's over, you have no idea what you need.  I told hubs I was feeling dizzy and he immediately peppered me with questions about what I needed.  I didn't know.  Water?  A snack?  Gatorade?  A massage?  I didn't know.  Finally someone handed me a can of ginger ale, and I suddenly knew that's what I needed.  I had the presence of mind to sip slowly.

We were supposed to walk about a block to the shuttle stop to go back to our hotel, but my feet hurt so much and were so swollen that not only could I not put my running shoes back on, but I also could not put on the sandals I had left in my gear check bag.  I couldn't walk.  I wanted to lie down.  There was nowhere to do it.  Finally, my father-in-law hired a pedi-cab to take us to his car and he drove us back to our hotel.

I also would love to say that I took a shower and a nap and felt almost back to normal, but that's not true, either.  I did take a shower, and a nap, but when I woke up it became abundantly clear that I was still dehydrated.  I drank a bottle of water, FaceTimed the kids, and my husband convinced me that I should probably eat some food, even though it was the last thing I wanted to do.  And my feet still hurt so much I could barely walk.  We ate dinner in the restaurant in the hotel lobby and went back upstairs. 

The next morning, after over 500 training miles and one day of hell, we drove home. 

I will never do that again.  Hubs says he might one day, but it will be in a different locale.  I told him I was 100% behind him if that's what he wanted to do.  But I will no longer be participating in the insanity that is marathon running.

So what did I learn?  Well, I learned I can, in fact, finish a marathon.  I learned that in order to do that, I needed a lot of support and accountability.  And I learned that we are all capable of things we thought impossible. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

And Now a Moment of Irony

Back in December, everyone in our house contracted that evil stomach bug known as noravirus.  Of course the kids were fine in a day, but my husband and I took a few more days to feel normal again.  In about a week, my husband was back on track feeling normal, but my version hung on and on.  It didn't matter what I ate or drank, I never felt any better or any worse.  I went to the doctor and found out I had an infection.  Ah!  The source of the tummy troubles demystified!  He put me on antibiotics and something for the nausea.  I figured it would all go away in a few days as the infection got better.

After a few days, I could tell the infection was going away, but I still felt nauseated all the time.  The doctor had warned me the antibiotics could make me nauseated and had advised me to take them with food, so I again figured it would all go away when the medication was done.  As I finished the medication, the nausea stubbornly hung around.  I went back to the doctor.

They said they wanted to run a pregnancy test.  Uhm... okay.  I guess it's their effort, not mine, that's wasted.  I could have told them the results before they even ran it.

Have you ever heard God laugh?

The doctor came back in and said the pregnancy test was positive.  Sure, I'll go ahead and say it again: the pregnancy test was POSITIVE!  After an ultrasound, I discovered that not only was I pregnant, but I was 9 weeks along!  I had gone almost the entire first trimester without even knowing I was pregnant.

I have previously alluded to the statistical unlikelyhood of this very scenario.  Only 5% of couples diagnosed with infertility conceive.  I'm now a statistic.  And all I could think about as I drove home was all the times I told people they were nuts when they said, "Maybe you'll still get pregnant."

We'd decided we were done.  No more kids.  We'd started giving away all our infant stuff: clothes, bottles, bouncy seats, the swing.  And now that there's going to be breastfeeding involved, there's a whole batch of things we'll need to acquire that we are completely unfamiliar with.

This is a weird place to be.  It's our third child, but our first pregnancy.  There are a lot of things we don't know, don't know what to expect, don't know what to do.  And yet once the kid gets here, we'll be good.  We've done the newborn thing before.

I've become the person all infertile couples resent: the infertile woman who conceives by accident.  And now I wonder how long I would have let it go before I found out.  Shortly after I found out I was pregnant, the morning sickness (remember that unexplainable nausea?) went away and I've felt fine for the past couple of weeks.  Would I have been that girl who thought she was just eating too much fast food?  What would have been the tipoff?  I'm not an idiot, but I was certainly not expecting this particular outcome.

The roller coaster of life.  And we'll now be riding it as a family of 5.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Adoption Advice I Wish Someone had Given Me

When we began our adoption process, we looked everywhere for advice, tips, stories, some kind of idea of what we were heading into.  We found very little.  We spoke to a few adoptive families we knew, but they had all adopted through private channels.  We never had an opportunity to speak to anyone who had gone through the foster system, as we were planning to do.  We learned many things along the way via trial by fire.  Now that we're on the other side of 2 finalized adoptions, and we've closed our foster license, I've compiled the following list of points I wish someone had told me about before this all began.

1. Be Vocal
Social workers are busy people, usually being asked to handle far more work than any human should be able to get done in a lifetime, let alone the week many of them are allotted.  They are also having to juggle a number of different types of cases at any given time.  You, a stable home with intentions of permanency, will likely be lower on the priority list than you would like to be.  Social workers focus their time where they can, and less stable, potential problem homes are going to be at the top of the list.  If there's something you need, or a question you want to ask, don't wait for your social worker to come for a visit, send out an e-mail, or give you a call.  Ask any questions you have, address any problems you encounter, bring up any concern you think of whenever you think of it.  Despite the work load, your social worker wants to help you.  That's what they're there for.  You just have to reach for it.  Be the squeaky wheel.

2. Be Candid
Your adoption worker is your advocate within the system.  They approve whether your family profile is considered for given child.  Let them get to know you as you are.  Be truthful.  No adoption worker is looking for the perfect family.  They know it doesn't exist.  They just want to know who you are so they can accurately match you with a child available for adoption.

3. Be Proactive
Don't be afraid to go up the chain of command if your questions are not being answered.  If any of your social workers is unable to help you, speak to their supervisor.  If you don't get the help you need, speak to THEIR supervisor, until you find someone who can give you the information you need.  At some point in the paper process, you will be given a list of contacts within the foster system.  Use it if you have to.  It's there for a reason.

4. Be Flexible
Remember that you could get a call at any time that a child is available.  Be willing to leave work early, call in sick, or move your schedule around to accommodate that meeting.  Your social worker has a busy schedule, as mentioned before.  They may need to schedule their meetings with you at the last minute, sometimes the day of.  Within reason (they understand you have a job and things that need to get done) be as flexible as possible to these scheduling anomalies.

5. Be Attentive
Take notes during classes and meetings.  Whenever you deal with someone new, ask for a card or make sure you write down their name and contact information.  This way, when you have questions or concerns, you can address them to the proper person who can help you get the answers you need.  Nothing prolongs problem solving more than asking questions of the person who doesn't have the answers.

6. Be Realistic
Although you do need to be vocal, it's not a good idea to pepper your social worker with questions and expect answers immediately.  Give them some time, have a little patience, and remember they WANT to help you.  They will answer your questions when they have the time and the correct information.

7. Be Thorough
When filling you any paperwork, fill it out COMPLETELY.  Don't leave anything blank.  If you have no information for a particular item, write "N/A" or "none".  One of the most frustrating things during the process is having paperwork returned to you because something was left out or done wrong.  County deadlines are not suggestions.  They are real.  If you're late, your process will be delayed.  Make sure everything is done on time and in the correct format.

As you navigate the system, pay attention to social workers, other families, and any other sources you may come across.  They are your allies.  You never know where some important piece of information will come from, so make sure you have your eyes open along the way.

Adoption is amazing, beautiful, meaningful, and rewarding.  It is also aggravating, frustrating, confusing, and complex.  Fill your tool box, and forge ahead.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Adoption Education Is Flawed

My university's alumni newsletter did a feature on adoption in its most recent issue.  The focus appeared to be using adoption to express God's love.  A beautiful topic, and many inspiring and wonderful stories.  I'm grateful to the families who were willing to share, and I greatly enjoyed reading them.

And yet, as I read, I was aware of another similarity all the stories had.  They were all private or international adoptions entered into by families who felt they were doing God's will in adopting a child.  That this was their ministry.

While I agree that adoption is certainly a wonderful allegory for God's love for His people (we are, after all, adopted into His family once we choose to be), I wondered what these selfless and Godly people would think of me, who chose to adopt for the selfish reason of wanting to have and raise children.  I admit, I thought very little about what Jesus would do in my situation, and I was not motivated by showing God's love to my children.  Certainly they would be raised in a Christian home, but that's simply the climate of our family.  I chose to adopt because I wanted to be a mother.  It's possibly the only thing I've wanted for as long as I've been able to articulate future goals.  I've wanted it for my entire marriage.  My entire adult life, for certain.

These stories also brought to light a gap in the world of adoption education as far as what information is out there and the public opinion of adoption in general.

When most people talk about adoption, they're talking about these same kinds of adoptions: private, open, international.  The kind that cost a not-so-small fortune.  It's one of the things that makes some people afraid to attempt it.  Every adoptive couple has two major fears: the first is that something will go wrong and the adoption will fall through.  The second is the price tag.  The costs associated with private and international adoption also cause many people (myself included) to have an ethical dilemma on their hands.  In the face of $30,000 in expenses, how do you convince yourself you're not buying a baby?

My central thesis in this discussion is that roads to fost-adopt need to be more vocal.  The foster system needs to wave it's hand around and let people know it's out there.  People fear the foster system because of the horror stories that are out there.  We've all seen the stories in the news of the child being driven away from the adoptive family, tears streaming down her face, only to be returned to a family that couldn't support her in the first place.  Stories like these are, in fact, rare.  The reason we hear about them, the reason they make news is because they're rare.

Another thing to understand about the foster system is that adoptive families and foster families are essentially in different categories.  When you first fill out the very first piece of paper, you designate yourself as either adoptive or foster.  You also get to dictate how much risk you're willing to take when having a child placed in your home.  Legal risk is the likelihood that the child will go back to his or her biological family.  There are 5 levels of legal risk ranging from 5 (definitely going back) to 1 (parental rights have already been terminated and the are no family members within 4 degrees of biological separation who are willing to take the child... also known as legally free), and you get to say how far you're willing to go.  The social workers will only present you with children who meet your legal criteria.

The world of private adoption is all full of fuzzy stories about birthmothers making a loving choice and choosing a family to raise their children.  And those things are true.  But the adoptive family is left feeling totally out of control of the future of their own family.  Here they are, ready for a family, and it all hinges on someone else's decision.  They have to be "right" or "good enough" or "suitable". Most adoptive families already feel somewhat out of control for various reasons in their past.  And now they enter a process that removes yet more control.  The foster system, while not perfect, does give adoptive families a small measure of control.  When they are matched with a child in need of a permanent home, they go to a social worker's office for a presentation where they hear the child's story and then are given 24 hours to decide if this child's case is one they want to be a part of.  If they decide to move forward, a schedule is created to aid the transition from foster home to permanent home.  If they decline, the social worker moves on to the next matched family and offers them the choice.  The child never knows any of this is going on.

Adoption is confusing because the private adoption world has dominated the public opinion, and their advocates and representatives are not always clear about how the process works, how laws apply, and what the rights of all involved parties are.  People believe the horror stories perpetuated by the media because no one is standing up to set the record straight. 

Well, consider my feet on the ground, my head held high, and my hand waving in the air.  I adopted two wonderful, amazing, beautiful, unique children through the foster program.  They are neither "messed up" nor are they scarred for life (except what my husband and I may scar them with as time goes on).  They are perfect, incredible kids, and fine examples of the kind of experience that is common within the foster system.

All questions will be answered.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Anti-Adoption Groups Are Real

I recently had my first encounter with some anti-adoption groups. This encounter was, to put it mildly, less than pleasant. Without repeating what they said (it doesn't belong in civilized conversation), let me just say that it was very mean, very hateful, and very personal. Although the experience was negative and slightly damaging, it did get me thinking about the other side of the coin. I've heard it said that hurt people hurt people, and I had a strong suspicion that the hateful things these people were saying came from a place of pain, not malice. With that in mind, I set out to find out about this anti-adoption thing, and I learned some interesting information.

The term "anti-adoption" is a little bit of a misnomer. Most of the people I encountered (with the exception of the very vocal minority I was unfortunate enough to run into first) were not against adoption in every form and every situation. They're against unethical adoptions. Let me backtrack a bit to explain what MOST of them mean by "unethical".

As I was meeting people who defined themselves as anti-adoption, I noticed a lot of them were Canadian, and a lot of them were birthmothers who felt they had been coerced into placing their babies for adoption. When I enquired as to this Canadian mindset, I found out something disturbing. Back in the 80s, the Canadian government made the executive decision that babies are better off in homes with 2 parents who are married, rather than a single mother or an unwed couple. The hospital protocols were changed so that unwed mothers would always be in the same maternity wards in every hospital, they would always have pain medication during delivery, and while they were still under the influence of those medications a government social worker would convince them to sign over their parental rights, effective immediately. Many of them had no idea what they were signing, assuming it was more hospital paperwork, and only found out later when they asked to see their babies that they in fact had given them up. Many of these mothers have formed a coalition and are bringing lawsuits against the government for violation of rights and punitive damages. To add insult to injury, Canadadian adoption records are closed, completely. The children can't find out who their birthmothers are even if they do want to know, and the mothers are left with no answers, no closure, no resolution.

Needless to say, this was an abomination and I certainly share their opinion that this is not the way adoption should be practiced. The laws have changed and it's no longer done this way in Canada, but the damage is done.

Others of the anti-adoption crowd are against trafficking and sex slavery to create a baby mill. This is something we think of happening in third world countries, but it does happen here at home too. Again, something I'm not interested in supporting.

A smaller number of them are against any form of private adoption where money changes hands and agencies get richer by making families wait longer. I find myself leaning in their direction on this one, but it's because our first encounter with a private adoption agency was so negative that it turned us off completely.

And of course, there are those who believe adoption shouldn't happen at all, that you can teach anyone to be a good parent and that what you should do is support unhealthy birth families instead of removing children for their own safety and placing them with a family who can raise them and give them a future. Oh, sorry, did my opinion on that one show? Good.

Most importantly, I found out that the issue is far more complicated than being for or against adoption. A blanket label in either direction is misleading. I also found out something I've known for a while: you can't convince someone to agree with you by being loud, obnoxious, and insulting. People want information, not verbal beatings.

Bottom line: if you're pro-adoption, don't assume everyone else is, too. If you're anti-adoption, don't assume all adoptions are unethical.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

I'm Important, Too

I have decided that today is a day for honesty. I have, therefore, prepared a couple of confessions for your perusal and consideration.

Confession 1: I love makeover shows. I do. I love the one where they take your clothes one by one and shoot them up a vacuum tube, and then all your friends shop for clothes they think are appropriate for you and you pick the ones you like. I love the one where a bunch of fat people go to boot camp together and get eliminated based on how much weight they lose. I love the one where people hang on to every candy wrapper they've ever owned until roaches have made their house unlivable and then they bring in a professional organizer (who usually has no clue what they were getting themselves into) to get rid of all the junk, clean the house, and make it like new. But my favorite one is the one where they film you for two weeks to show what a disaster your wardrobe is, throw away all your clothes (making fun of you the whole time), and then give you $5000 to go buy new ones.

Something I hear all the time on these makeover shows is the story of the "Martyred Mom". You know her, you love her, maybe you ARE her. She's the mom who has spent the last 20 years taking care of everyone else, and hasn't bought so much as a stick of gum for herself. So the makeover staff go out of their way to let her know that now's the time. She deserves it. And certainly she does. In the face of all she does, two weeks buying her own clothes are but a small reward. However, this brings me to my second confession.

Confession 2: I am not a martyred mom. I don't have the syndrome where I have to ignore myself in order to take care of everyone around me. If I get a chance to take a long shower, shave my legs, and put on makeup, I take it! And I don't care that I let the dishes or the laundry or the housework wait for an hour or two while I do it. Maybe that means I'm selfish. But I don't feel like I have to ignore myself in order to take care of my family. I'm acutely aware of the fact that if I don't take time for myself, I get overwhelmed and start to feel taken advantage of. That makes me feel like I'm the only one doing any work which makes me impossible to live with. I know these things about myself. I also know that because of these things, I take better care of my family when I do a few little things for myself every now and then.

So I will not apologize for taking a long shower every few days, dying my hair every few weeks when my roots start to show, or going through my wardrobe every now and then and getting rid of things that don't fit, and replacing them with things that do fit, do flatter, and do look amazing. I don't wear Mom jeans, I don't wear tennis shoes everywhere, and I certainly don't wear those velour track suits that do nothing but make EVERYONE look fat. I will not apologize for having good hair, cute clothes, and a stack of books by my bed without the name Seuss on them.

My final act for the day is to let all the moms out there know that you don't have to be the martyred mom. It's not selfish to get your nails done while the kids are at ballet class. It's okay to put styling product on your hair. It's just fine to buy that dress you saw that you totally love, provided you actually have the money for it. Your family doesn't want you to suffer for them. They DO need you. They DO depend on you. You ARE an important and vital part of them. And it's BECAUSE of those things that you owe it to yourself to be nice to yourself, every chance you get. There aren't a lot of those chances, so when you see them, snatch them. There's no doubt this can be a thankless job, so take every chance you can to thank yourself. Write yourself a speech. Because in this case you're the only nominee, and therefore a shoe-in.

Enjoy the after party.