you belong with us

I just realized that I have been doing Recruits for over a year.  It all started last April with Nichole.  Can you believe that?

Anyway, I have been giddy with excitement to bring you today’s Sluiter Nation Recruit.  I asked her awhile ago not knowing what she would say.  I am not sure she considers herself a blogger even though she blogs.  But she has it.  That thing…you know what I’m talking about…that makes for an amazing blogger.

And she’s related to me.

MacKenzie, author of Stepping Stones, is my sister-in-law.  Cortney’s sister.

Both of us are the only girl in our families.  Neither of us had a sister until I married her brother.

Over the past seven years of being her sister (and specifically since we both became mothers), I have felt a bond that is so very different than I have with my brothers.

The day she told us they were starting the adoption process, I cried with joy.  Not only was she going to make us an aunt and uncle, but she was opening her heart and home to save a child.

Little did we know it would be TWO children.

Since their arrival in December, MacKenzie has made me so very proud.

Grab a tissue and read her letter to her boys, Kingston and Kyrie.

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My Sweet Babies,

I can’t even begin to tell you how much my life has changed since you entered it.  Everything I’ve known for the past 30 years has been turned upside down.

You made me a mommy.

You taught me how to live on 2 hours of sleep or less a night.

And still function.

You showed me that I can love in a way I never knew about.

You helped me learn 100 tricks to getting food in your belly without it being spit right back out at me, followed by your giggles.

You have changed my life so very much.  And I know this is only the beginning.

But then I think about your sweet little lives.  In the seven months of your lives before you knew me and daddy, you have experienced so much.

You had to lose your birth family in order to join ours.  Which is something that even though you were infants, I know you felt.  I know you grieve.

You then lived in an orphanage.  And were cared for by a new set of people.

Only to be moved to another place.  Where you met your special mothers.  Woman who became special to you.  That you grew to trust.  Maybe even love and bonded with.  You spent the majority of your life there before meeting us.  And I think you probably thought you were finally home.

But you weren’t.

And then what had to be the hardest transition of your life happened.

You met your mommy and daddy.

And we swept you away from everything you knew and loved.  We took you from your beautiful country.  From the sweet brown faces you were familiar with.  From your friends.  From all the smells, sights and sounds you were used to.

And into Michigan.

I know it was hard, my darlings.

I know you were unsure of us.  Of our unsteady hands.  Of mommy’s tears for no reason.  There were lots of times I cried right along with you.  Sometimes out of happiness.  Other times because I didn’t know what to do for you.

You were unsure of the changing formula, and the doctors visits.  The antibiotics.  The tummy aches. The sleepless nights.

Slowly and surely, we found our rhythm.  You found comfort in my arms.  And slowly (OH SO SLOWLY) you started to sleep better.  You beat out your tummy troubles, and we finally got rid of that nasty parasite.

And every day you learn more.  You laugh and play.  You are both crawling EVERYWHERE.  And fast.  And Kingston, you’re walking more every day! You get into everything you shouldn’t get into.  And you look me straight in the eye before you do it, you silly boy.   You capture a room with your adorable expressions.  Kyrie, you laugh at everything.  Especially when I tell you no.  You shoot your hands straight up in the air to show me how big you are, and with SUCH confidence.  And the stories you tell me.  I cannot WAIT until I understand your babbles.  Because I already know you are hilarious.

But my loves, I often wonder about your hearts.  Do you know I will love you forever and ever?  Do you know that no stranger will ever come and take you away again?  I worry that you do not know.

Because you still have not lived with us for longer than you’ve lived without us.

And at one point, we were the strangers that took you away from what you knew.

And sometimes at night, you cannot be soothed unless you are in my arms.  And if I even think about putting you down once you are asleep, you wake up immediately and cling to me.

Oh, how on these nights I never want to let you go.

I promise I’ll never let you go.

I want you to know we are your forever family.  You are home.  We love you with every ounce of our hearts, and a little bit more.

I will always kiss your tears away.  I will always cuddle you.  I will always let you snuggle up next to me at night when you cannot sleep without me.  I will protect you, no matter what.

I’m your mommy.  Now, and always, darlings.  I’m your forever mommy.

*************

I might be partial, but not only are those boys some of the cutest ever (not counting my boys of course), but MacKenzie is one of the most kick ass moms ever.

And she’s a pretty flippin’ awesome sister too.

Finding My Belonging

I think it’s time for another Sluiter Nation Recruit.

This week I bring you Brittany of Mommy Words.

I don’t even know how I met Brittany, to be honest.  She just seems to be someone that was always in my twitter stream, always in my facebook newsfeed (well, her blog). Her cute little smile pops up at just the right time.

Her blog is a fun mix of personal stories, strong opinions, and awesome DIY tutorials.

Seriously, Brittany is the full package!

I am so honored that she is here today sharing such a close subject…finding friends.

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I watch my children when they meet someone new.  I see the spark of excitement and the moment of nervous energy that vanishes the minute they find the smallest similarity with this future friend.  Without hesitation, they approach and make an introduction.   They are so young.  They have no fear of being rejected or ignored.  It only takes one shared interest and they are off with a new friend.  I am always impressed and proud and wishing it was still so easy to fit in anywhere.

I remember my childhood and all of the friends I had over the years.  We moved quite a bit.  I introduced myself many times.  I had no trouble fitting in somewhere.  I loved theater and soccer, so I had an easy team or cast to join.  It was simple to belong. Even aside from organized activities I was lucky.  I knew who I was and I had no trouble finding my people.  I kept myself busy belonging and along the way I made a few very close friends. Those few friends were the most important part of my life.  I still have them.  But they are far away.

By college I knew that I was different than the girl of just a few years before.  Even then it scared me.  It is so easy to belong when you are joining groups and participating in activities.  It’s much harder (at least for me) to find a best friend.

‘m a best friend kind of girl.  Somehow, over the years, I went from being fine with being good friends with lots of people to needing deep friendship.  I tend to share a lot of myself and want friends who aren’t afraid to talk about the good and the bad.  Laughter and tears and hugs and a deep understanding.  That’s what I crave.

Over the years I have found very close friends.  When I have one, I am happy.  I feel good.  I belong.  When I don’t I feel lost.  I feel afraid.  I feel lonely, even in a crowd of wonderful people.  Maybe one of them could be my friend?

I wouldn’t know because for the last few years I haven’t tried.  I worked 80 hours a week when I graduated from college to pay off my tuition.  My friendships suffered, and I wasn’t making any new friends sitting at my desk while the rest of the 20 somethings I knew socialized.  When I got pregnant with my 2nd child, I left my job.  I thought surely it would be a cinch to bond with other mommies.  You know, like we would all walk on the playground and bond instantly because we all had offspring.  Yeah, I thought that.  I never found the right moment to dive into really meaningful stuff so I tried my best to become besties over discussions of diapers and dinnertime.  It didn’t work.

When I had my second miscarriage I felt like there was no one I could talk to.  None of my old school best friends have kids.  I grew up in New York and the first of my really good friends is getting married this summer.  I just didn’t know how to share my loss.  So I went online.  I found a wonderful group of women on a pregnancy loss board.  Months later, I started my blog.  I started sharing my life with strangers and I began to feel whole again.  I shared my heart and I was blessed. Because in time they, no YOU, were not strangers.  You are friends. My online friends who I hug the living daylights out of when I see you, because you saved my life.  Because you love me.  And I love you.

Still, my blog tricked me.

I forgot about my real life and I need to get out there and be a friend.  I need an offline bestie to find where I belong.  I need to find a real life sidekick chick.  She must be out there.  I am scared, but I watch my kids and I know that the heart of a child is inside of us.  We all want to find where we belong.  It may be a bit more complicated as big ol’ grownups, but it is certainly possible.  The good thing is, I still know who I am.  I like myself.  I love my family.  I have all of your support.  I know I can do this.  I just need to introduce myself, start talking and steer it away from bowel movements and pre-school for long enough to start a conversation between two women.  And see where it goes.

Wouldn’t it be nice and easy for us online girls if we could go all dating site style for this?

Gal Seeking Gal:  34 year old woman seeking new best friend.  Big fan of wine.  Huge fan of long conversations about everything from politics to personal life to parenting. I get deep yo! Loves to read great books only slightly more than romance novels.  Slightly obsessed with DIY projects, power tools and throwing parties.  I can’t sew.  I want to learn.  I’ve got a blog so sometimes I talk about it.  I’m okay if you tell me to shut up sometimes.  I like to keep it honest.  In the spirit of honesty, sometimes I cry when I am talking because I get so upset or I am so moved.  I’m okay, it’s just the drama in me.  I am liberal. I’m not a fan of handguns.  You can be conservative and have a gun and we can be besties, I just thought you should know because here in the south that really bothers some people. I have three kids and they rock my world. Sometimes I want to talk about them and sometimes I need to talk about anything else. I know the words to every song in hundreds of musicals.  If you do too the rest might not matter.

Sadly, I fear this will not work. So…

I’m going to make an effort.  I’m going to bury my fear and step out of my shell.  I’m going to find a friend close to my ‘hood.  Maybe on the playground.  Who knows? Am I the only one who finds it incredibly hard to find a kindred spirit as a grown up? Am I the only gal who longs for one?

I am really just trying to find where I belong.

more sleep

It’s Sluiter Nation Recruit Wednesday again!  Yay!

 

This week I am super excited to bring you someone I have stalked read for quite awhile but lurked and never commented.  In fact, last May she was at a blogging conference with me, and I was so intimidated by her awesome, that I didn’t introduce myself.  I just stared and thought, “that is really her…like in PERSON!”

Sometime in the past few months she wrote a post that I couldn’t help but comment on.  And include in my weekly Saturday round up of awesome on the internet.  And I tweeted it.  And she tweeted me back.  And we chatted. And…she is AWESOME!  And approachable. And I am clearly a moron for not talking to her a year ago.

And can I use the word “and” again?

Jen has four children…but three of them came out at the same time.  We call those triplets ’round these parts.

She has been SUPER supportive while I navigate having a toddler and a newborn because she has done it.  With THREE infants.  But she never makes me feel dumb for being overwhelmed with only one.

That is why Jen is awesome, people.

Today she is here talking about those cutie pie triplets back when they were teeny tiny.

**************

One of the best things that we did when the triplets were newborns was hire someone to come into our house and do the midnight feeding every other day.

This God-sent of a person would come to our house at 10:30pm. When she got there Jeff and I would go to bed. She would do the triplet’s midnight feeding, change their diapers, put them back to sleep and then leave. This meant that Jeff and I didn’t have to get up until about 3am for their next feeding.

Jeff and I would get to sleep for about 5 hours in a row!

I know that might not sounds like a lot of sleep but when you are dealing with infant triplets who need to be feed every three hours, 5 hours of sleep in a row is like heaven because on a normal night it is 2 or 3 hours of sleep.

It had been a particularly long day. Hayden showed me the full force of the terrible twos and the triplets were disgruntled and decided that they weren’t going to follow the nice schedule that had been set for them.

At one point in this day, all of us were in tears.

Thank God, that night was one of the nights our babysitter was supposed to come over. When she walked through the door, let’s just say I ran in bed yelling “Hi and thank you” as I went.

The day had beat me up and spit me out so I was asleep as my head hit the pillow.

The sleep was beautiful, deep,and dreamless. It was so good that I actually woke up on my own, totally, not normal for me. I never woke up on my own, it was always too babies crying or a toddler saying, “Mommy?!”

I smiled to myself and lay there in the peace but then I began to wonder…. what was wrong with the triplets? Could it be that they were actually sleeping through the night? Where they going to be miracle babies and at 8 weeks old sleep through the night?

I rolled over to check the baby monitor when I was greeted with the alarmed clock…

4:20am

“HOLY SHIT!” I screamed smacking Jeff dangerously close to man parts. “It’s after 4am. We missed the triplets feeding.”

The baby monitor silently yelled at me. Some how the volume was off but the lights flashed, signaling that my babies were crying.

I threw the covers off and ran out of the room screaming, “Oh my God! My babies!”

I raced up the stairs and busted into the triplets bedroom to hear the hoarse cries and whimpers of my three tiny infants. I bounced back and forth between the three cribs like a chipmunk on crack trying to pat and sooth each baby.

As the baby cries began to ramp up again, I realized I didn’t have any bottles. In my hast, I had run up the stairs without what the kids really wanted… freaking food.

“Jeff! Jeff! Bottles. We need to feed them, we to….” I ran back downstairs almost knocking Jeff over as he climbed up the stairs with three bottles in his hands, warmed and ready to go. The man is nothing but level headed and thank God for that.

I turned around and ran back into their room. Jeff walked in behind me, set the bottles down and picked up Quinn. I scooped up Jake and then Claire and sat down ‘criss-cross applesauce’ on the floor with a baby in positioned on each leg.

With Jake, Quinn and Claire hastily sucking down bottles, my postpartum emotions took over and I began to sob.

“What?” Jeff asked and he began to burp Quinn.

“I am a horrible mother! I let my newborn baby triplets cry for God know how long. They cried so long they are hoarse. What kind of mother does that? Aren’t I suppose to have this 6th sense to hear them and just know? How can I be enough for three babies?” I sobbed as Jake finished his bottle and I lifted him to burp.

Jeff placed Quinn, who had drifted back to sleep, in his crib and took Jake from me to do the same. Claire finished her bottle and let a burp escape her lips so I stood up to place her in her crib.

“I am a horrible mother,” I repeated, tears rolling down my cheeks. “Why did God think it would be a good idea to give me triplets?”

“You are not a horrible, mother.” Jeff said coming up beside me and kissing me on the cheek. “So they cried for a little longer than usual. Crying never killed a baby. And look they are all now happily sleeping”

“But I didn’t sense them. I didn’t feel their need for me…” I cried.

“Yes, you did,” Jeff said, “Sure it was later and they had to cry but when you heard them you ran up here like your ass was on fire. You are a wonderful mother and you are the perfect mother for my children. They and I couldn’t ask for anyone better.”

“Are you sure?” I asked as I sniffed and wiped some snot on my sleeve.

“Positive.” Jeff said, “Now can we get a couple hours more sleep?”

I tried to process my emotions, my feelings of being inadequate, Jeff’s words but the only thing my exhausted brain could grab onto was…. more sleep.

Go read some more by Jen.  She rocks.

New Kid On the Block

While I get used to my new schedule of living in three hour chunks of “bottle-feed, diaper change, get some sleep, repeat,” I have another Sluiter Nation Recruit to introduce you to.

Today I bring you one of my favorite Canadians…Robin of Farewell, Stranger.

Robin has long been a special blogger to me.  She and I bonded over our shared struggle with PPD, and this past August I was so blessed to be able to hug her in person.  She is one whom I did not get enough time with when I met her.  I wanted so badly to sit across from her and have a quiet cup of coffee and just chat.  Unfortunately, with all the loud, busyness of the conference…and my weird anti-social-ness due to being sick pregnant and on the verge of antenatal depression, I just didn’t get to properly connect with all the people I wanted to.

Some day I hope to get a second chance at that.

But today she is here.  In my little corner of the internet.  And she is sharing a worry I understand too well…the one about whether or not our child(ren) will belong.

*************

be.long [bih-lawng, –long]

verb (used without object)

To have the proper qualifications, especially social qualifications, to be a member of a group. You don’t belong in this club.

 

As I write, my son is at his first day at his new preschool. In March. He didn’t seem nervous as he left with his dad to go the few blocks to the school, but I certainly was.

We moved to a new city in November, so he’s been out of school for three months. He was only in preschool for three months in our old city, but one of the boys in his class was one of his best buds so for some reason that seemed less like sending him out into the great unknown. Here, he knows no one. Doesn’t know any of the other kids and of course doesn’t know the teachers.

And you know what? He seems totally unfazed by this.

We went to visit the school a few weeks ago in an attempt to get him a spot in the four-year-old class this fall. (While there, we talked to one of the teachers who mentioned that they had an opening coming up for the current year, so she dug up the waiting list and there we were. We had to wait a few weeks, but at least he’ll get to finish this year.) He understood that we were visiting a new preschool and it didn’t take him long to be comfortable in that environment. The bucket of Lego pretty much sealed the deal.

We talked to the teachers and looked at the facility and the programming. It all seemed fine, and the location is really convenient, but how is a mom to know if her child will do well there?

When I talked to him this morning about going to his new school, I was expecting him to be nervous. Because that’s what mothers do, isn’t it? We project our nervousness onto our kids, who, in many situations, wouldn’t think there’s anything to be nervous about. Especially when there’s Lego involved.

I don’t actually have any reason to worry about Connor. He’s quite outgoing and he likes playing with other kids. He doesn’t care if he knows them, and as long as they don’t push him he generally comes home with little to complain about. (And if they do it’s a good opportunity to remind him that he’s been known to push a child or two here and there and to remind him what it feels like to be pushed.)

His social skills are pretty good and he’s quite good about sharing. He’s got an incredibly kind heart, and seeing him try to include others makes my mama heart swell with pride and love for him.

He’s not nervous and probably has no reason to be. So why am I? Because, like all mothers, I want good things for my child. I want him to learn and have fun, but most of all – especially at this age when it’s less about the lessons and more about the socialization – I want him to belong.

*************

Thank you so much, Robin, for being here today.

So, friends, have you been there?  Have you worried about your kid(s) belonging to a new group or fitting in in a new situation?

niche-full

So I had a baby last week.  Things have been rather wild and crazy around here.  And by “wild and crazy” I mean “sleep-deprived and spit-up smelling.”

It’s a good thing I have a new Sluiter Nation Recruit to share with you today!

The lovely Nicole is here today.

Admittedly I am a lurker of Nicole’s.  I love her writing, but I find myself wanting to comment “love it!” or “AGREE!” and while comment love is comment love, I always want to say something more meaningful.

And so I lurk.

But her words are so lurk-able.

You’ll see.

*************

So we have bloggers with a niche, and bloggers who build a community, but not Katie, no, Katie is building a nation. A whole nation that she recruits, handpicked, one by one. So I feel both honored and empowered to be here today, a part of her Wordy Nation, called The Sluiter Nation. 
Hi, my name is Nicole – Daughter, Wife, Mom, Friend … and I am a blogger.
My little corner of the world is called,

That is what it is called for now …  I want to change it so very much, but sadly, my given name is the name of a porn writer’s site – she uses words like animalistic. It just breaks my heart. Really.

I recently returned from an extravaganza called Blissdom, even Joe Jonas was there (he is legal now we were told, and that was weird) Afterwards, tired little bloggers spread across the land heading home mentally energized while physically exhausted, ready to take on the world (once they had had some sleep) Blissdom 2011 had been my first taste of a conference. Intimidated, I convinced a friend to head there with me, and watched the relationships unfold around me. Bloggy hierarchy appeared to be alive and well, and there were niches at every table.  It is important to figure out where you fit in sometimes, for instance, if you find yourself at a frugal blog table, tread lightly.  When someone has just said they can feed a family of four on $150 a week, because you are impressed and think that your husband would love for them to be your new best friend, you tell them that you spend more than that on wine … its time to change seats. Quickly.

But a year later, and feeling more of a conference veteran, these weekends have become a get away to reconnect with friends. Yes, friends, the people that lived for so long in my screen, have become a part of my real life.  I approached this year with a relax, enjoy, engage and it was ‘bliss’.  Blogging I have learned, like life, takes a little time to become comfortable in your own skin/blog.  And being comfortable in your own skin/blog also means that it has to be the real you, both in and out of your computer screen … because trust me, people will see right through you if you are not.

I look around the genre’s of writers that post their intimate details everyday, like they are side by side drinking coffee, sharing their most intimate secrets with a close friend. I am still not that kind of blogger.  I have stories of my own to share.  But sometimes those stories of my life, are not just my stories to tell.  They would involve my family, affect my marriage, could impact my children … and if our stories have an affect on the lives around us, is it always the right thing to share?  Do I feel the need to share for validation, or do I need to share for vindication of battles won. If I am only telling part of my story, then am I comfortable with who I am, the skin I wear?
I am. For now.

I do know that when I walked the long and lonely road of infertility, suffered miscarriages, moving back and forth across the country – my life would have been richer had the blogosphere been alongside of me. The stories shared on everything from postpartum depression to infertility, grief and illness are a blessing to so many.  The joys and achievements, lessons shared, of our peers helping us grow in our own lives. So it would seem to me, that no matter which part of yourself you choose to share with those around you, your words … are a gift.

In the meantime, I share my stories of motherhood and my life with MR51% who would have no part of being only the other half.  Most days its the mishaps of life as I find it, and sometimes the real stuff creeps in, because it is hard to be always happy go lucky in life – because sometimes life does hand us lemons ( we should go in search of tequila)

I am happy to have a little niche (that is niche like quiche and not nitch like … well, of course I wrote about that …) but yes, my little niche of the ramblings of my mind, a place that stores a few memories, a place to connect with my readers and a place to share with my friends – and those last two, I hope are one and the same …
Here are pics of some of my friends in Nashville, real friends thanks to blogging.
I have posts on adoption, infertility (Fertile Myrtle is lighter) and some of my tribulations like Foot in Mouth
I hope you come over to get to know me a little more … and each day there is just a little more.
Thank you to Katie for having me, thank you for reading today, and thank you to the blogging world for all it shares with me.
As always …

The Blog
The Twitter
The Facebook

leaping

Hey!  Look!  It’s the bonus day we get every four years: February 29!  And because this day is a bonus, I figure we should have a new recruit today, yes?

 

Today’s Recruit is Renée from Lessons from Teachers and Twits. I met Renée via the twitter, if I remember correctly.  She is wonderful to chat with not just because she is a fellow teacher, but because she is also a fellow lover of words.  She never holds back on her opinion or advice, which I admire about her.  We don’t always agree, but we can always see each other’s side.

I am so happy to bring you the voice of one of Sluiter Nation’s most loyal readers.

*************

I remember desperately wanting to be allowed to try out for gymnastics and being told: “You will have to wait until you are 5 years old before you can try out.”

And then forever came and I did flips on a red mat and suddenly I had a shiny purple leotard and ribbons in my chalky hands.

I remember watching the big kids walk to school. Stuck on the warm side of the window, I studied how they threw their snowballs and sucked the giant icicles they’d knocked from the roofs of houses.

And in eleventeen and a hundred bajillion days, I was the big kid walking up the hill, all the way to school, my feet squished inside Wonder bread baggies, inside of boots: a sweater over a turtleneck under my blue-belted coat with the over-sized buttons.

I remember my breath rising in the air in the wintertime when a boy I liked touched my knee after I had fallen off the slippery jungle gym. And even though the ground was cold and I was wearing snow-pants, I felt warmth seep through his gloved hand. I wondered about kissing and if anyone’s mouth would ever touch mine.

One February, I met a man. We talked for hours on a dark leather couch, oblivious to the noise around us. In the wee hours of morning, he walked me back to my dorm. I fell instantly in love with him and his silly hat with the earflaps. Together, we learned a secret language that I kept to myself.

One month, I sang on stage while it snowed outside. People looked at me and nodded their heads. That night I kissed an ice-cube and danced until my feet bled.

The next day, I was a teacher in a New Orleans classroom eating my first King Cake. Everyone laughed as the purple and green and yellow sugar dripped from my fingers to my wrists. I hadn’t known such sweetness existed before: to be surrounded by students and colleagues and sugary treats all at once.

An hour later, I was staring at a diamond on my left hand. Everyone talked about how we would need pots to cook in and rugs to walk on and glasses to drink from, but I was quiet and stared at bundles of fresh flowers and contemplated commitment.

Four minutes passed. Trembling with exhaustion and anticipation, I looked at my 6-month old son as his fingers curled over the edge of his blanket.

Fast-forward two nano-seconds.

And by nano-seconds, I mean twelve years.

I see myself now, the outline of a girl who keeps filling herself in. I will always pray the ground, always burn the rice, always sing in the shower. I will always be the first on the dance floor.

The lines around my eyes remind me the clock is moving.

I am loving harder.

But losing harder, too.

I am writing harder.

And more than ever, I am

blaming less. This February,

I am alive

and leaping

with gratitude.

*************

A teacher for 20 years, Renée Schuls-Jacobson loves being in the classroom, finds her students endlessly fascinating, and believes the most important thing we can do is teach folks to read critically and write masterfully.

The mother to one busy middle school-aged son, these days she finds herself scribbling ideas for blogs on napkins and scraps of paper.

And then she loses them.

Her family and students keep her humble and serve to remind her that, even on a good day, she’s still a total twit.

Be sure to visit Renée at her blog, Lessons from Teachers and Twits, and like her on facebook.

And of course follow her on twitter at @rasjacobson

gelled

It’s been awhile…but it’s time for another Sluiter Nation Recruit!  Forget what a Recruit is?  Go read all about it here!

This week I am bringing you another fabulous writer.  So much of this blog world for me is reading blogs that sound like someone is actually talking to me.  Blogs that sound like robots are just blah.

Missy is one of those fabulous writers.  Her blog, Literal Mom, is a mix of all things mom.  It reminds me of Real Simple, but less like reading articles and more like having coffee with a friend.

I can’t imagine her not fitting in anywhere she goes, but she is here to tell you that sometimes?  That is the case.

************

“You’ll never fit in here.  Your kids might, but you never will.”

When we moved to our home, the home we’ve lived in, gotten married during, created and raised children in and become “grown-ups” in, we were elated to find a nice section of our city, close to downtown (where we both worked), but still “suburb-y.”

We knew nothing about the A+ school system, the multiple generations who live here, coming back after college to live their lives the way they were raised, or the areas you choose to live in (as in “central,” “north,” or “south,” in order of most people’s preference).

We just loved the house we’d found at the wee little ages of 23 and 25 and we loved that we didn’t have to take a highway to get to work anymore.

Time passed.  A marriage happened.  Kids arrived.  I decided to stay at home with the kids.  We met people.  Made friends.  All was good.

And then, one night at a party or some social function, the quote up there was delivered to us, smugly, with the satisfaction of knowing THIS was the truth.  They belonged.  We didn’t.

Up until that moment, we’d never thought about “who belongs” and “who didn’t” in our suburb.  We just liked where we lived.  We liked the people we’d met and befriended.  We liked the couple who said this to us!

But of course the seed of doubt was planted.  And we started noticing things.

The family at the ice cream shop who asked us where we lived and when we told them “north,” they said, “well you’ll want to change that and get into “central” as soon as you can.”

Or a fellow attorney who told me that if we really wanted to get “into the fish bowl, instead of watching from outside,” we should have kids sooner rather than later.

My husband, being a man, has never been truly bothered by this.  I, being a woman, sometimes have.  Sometimes it hurts to feel “less than” merely by the fact that you didn’t grow up in a place.  Sometimes it’s hard to learn I may never fit in here simply by being from “out of town.”

But it’s really ok.  You know why?  Because I left my home town for the exact reason most people come BACK to this community we live in.

I wanted to become who I needed to be in life, not just go back to a town that had already decided who I was as a teenager.  So I moved away and haven’t regretted it for one minute.

And here where we are?  I think we finally “belong,” but in a different way than the couple at the top said.

Last Spring for my 40th birthday, I picked 5 couples I really liked.  Couples who didn’t bring drama wherever they went.  Couples who both of us like the husband and the wife (and that’s sometimes not easy!).  Couples who also didn’t grow up here.  A few even live in a different suburb.

And we had a blast.  We all clicked.  Bonded.  Gelled.  And since my birthday, we’ve gone out together several times and it’s the same easy, relaxed, supportive good time every time.  Everyone is genuine, enthusiastic. Supportive, fun-loving.  It works.

And after 15 years here, I feel that we finally belong.

In a different way.

A better way.

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Literal Mom – Founded in March 2011, it encourages parents to be thinking parents and uses wit, humor and sometimes even tears to make her point (on the blog and with her kids).  

Missy is the youngest of 6 and an only child, if you can imagine that.  Former criminal defense attorney turned stay at home mom, turned volunteer who has a really hard time saying no to a good cause or a good friend who asks.  But writing and connecting with others is where her heart truly lies.

belonging

Guess what!  I have a new recruit for you this week!  Don’t know what a Sluiter Nation Recruit is?  Well hop on over here and read up.  We can wait.

Ok…so you’re back.  Good.

Today I get to bring you another one of my favorite DAD bloggers…J.R. from Sex and the Single Dad.

Don’t let that blog title fool you, while J.R. can let the raunchiness fly from time to time, he’s not writing a sex column over there or anything.  In fact he writes about what it is like to be the full-custody single dad of a 13 year old daughter while trying to write and date.  He is pretty funny…and from time to time very poignant.  (although I am sure he would somehow make a dirty joke about the word, “poignant”, if I said it right to him).

I think I met J.R. through the good old Red Dress Club (now Write on Edge) and loved his writing.

Then we became twitter buddies and we all know where it goes from there…

quit being dirty!  I’m talking about bouncing writing ideas off each other and exchanging stories.

He’s a good guy, that J.R.

No matter what he tries to tell you about himself.

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A month ago Kate asked me to do this guest post and I was all, “Hell yeah!”  I then explained I had one request and this one was a deal breaker.  Kate is well aware that almost every single time I read “Sluiter Nation” my brain reads, “Sluttier Nation” and she’s OK with that.  (Admit it, you’re done that once or twice, right?)  I told Kate I would write this, but only if I could make a reference to Sluttier Nation.  There it is.  Now on to my blog post.

I was told the topic was “Belonging” and I immediately knew I could knock this one out no problem.  But I was wrong.  At least a half dozen times I sat down trying to come up with the right angle, but never got more than eight or nine words in before stopping.  There are a thousand different ways to look at belonging, but which way did I want to go?

The more I let it marinate in my brain I realized there was one angle I could take which not many others can accurately portray.  “Yeah,” I thought in a very Jon Lovitz-SNL way.  “That’s the ticket.”

For those who don’t know who I am, I’ll throw you the Readers Digest version.  I lovingly refer to my 14-year-old daughter as Drama Queen and I’ve had full custody of her since she was five.  My ex, who I call Baby Mama, has been in and out of the picture, though lately she’s been more in then out.  [That’s not supposed to sound dirty].  You may think the job of full time single dad sounds glamorous, but I assure you it’s not.

How does this fit in with the whole “Belonging” theme?  There are gaggles of full-time single moms out there, but there aren’t a lot of full-time single dads.  I’m not slighting single dads with visitation or shared custody, because I’m not at all.  Being a parent is tough period.

That being said, married parents have their group that they fit into and single moms do too.  I did a few things with some other single dads, but I stopped because I got tired of explaining why I couldn’t drop everything at a moments notice to go to Vegas with them on their free weekends

I remember one particular moment like it was yesterday.  Her Majesty was around seven and this was in the midst of a four-year absence by Baby Mama.  We went to K-Mart to grab some clothes for her and I was asked to leave the store.  Why was I asked to leave?

We were picking up shirts and jumpers for school (her district has uniforms K-12) and when we went to the dressing rooms I told the lady I wanted her to come into the men’s with me because she has a problem with turtlenecks and jumpers and I needed to help.  The way the lady reacted; you would have thought I asked permission to kill her dog.

This chick raised her voice and made a scene about how what I was suggesting was inappropriate and said my daughter had to use the girl’s side by herself.  I asked who would help the Queen when she got stuck and the lady assured me that wouldn’t happen.  How the F can this person assure me of anything when the first time I saw her was 20 seconds ago?  “Whatever,” I said as I waved my daughter forward.  Less than 90 seconds later Drama Queen screamed, letting everyone as far as the grocery aisle know she was stuck inside a turtleneck

I looked at the guardian of the K-Mart dressing room and asked if she could go help my daughter.  “I have to stay here,” she said in a monotone.  The screaming continued and finally a woman came to the rescue and got the turtleneck off.  At this point I demanded a store manager and when one finally showed up, he was all you would expect from the Assistant Manager of a mostly falling apart K-Mart.

I swear to God that the first words out of his mouth were, “Why don’t you have her mom bring her back to try on clothes later?”  “Why don’t I what?”  I thought.  The long and short of it is the dude suggested that I leave the store before, “I call the police to tell them we have a shady character they should talk to.”  I looked at the guy and laughed in his face.  “Seriously?”  I asked.  “Go for it.”  The manager stammered (probably because I didn’t pee my pants and run away like he hoped) and politely asked me to leave.

I’d like to say this was the only weird instance, but it’s not.  I used to hear comments from the local chapter of the Snarky Moms Club when DQ’s hair wasn’t all fancy on picture day and they thought it was stupid that my daughter made me Mothers Day presents.  It used to bother me, but then I realized they all must have unhappy marriages and that’s why they’re so shitty to people.  Plus, the pack leader has a boob job that’s both off-center and with two vastly different shapes

Now that my daughter is in high school I have new stresses to deal with, but over time I’ve learned that “belonging” to a social group might be cool, but it’s not necessary for being a good parent.  I’ve somehow managed to raise a daughter to high school freshman on the Frosh-Soph Tennis team without any major scars (physical or emotional) and no legal problems, so I must be doing something right.  Ish.

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You should definitely pop over to his blog.

And “like” him on facebook (tell him “hi” from Sluttier Nation while you are over there…he he he).

And follow him on the twitters.

from dial-up to bloggy belonging

Welcome to the first Sluiter Nation Recruit of 2012!!  Don’t know what a Recruit is?  Refresh your memory here.

I had to find a way to start 2012 on a super great start, so I was THRILLED when Tiffany of the mom blogger social network site, Bloggy Moms agreed to kick off this new year of Recruits!

Bloggy Moms was one of the very first “group” type blogs I found myself exploring when I realized that this sphere o’ blogs existed (almost three years into my blogging adventures).

I met some of my first bloggy friends there and found some of the first blogs I ever read there.

It is a GREAT site for networking!

I always figured it’s founder/creator was some huge personality who would never actually talk to a lowly newbie blogger.

I was so wrong it’s not even funny.

After being a member of Bloggy Moms for awhile, I started following Tiffany’s personal blog, A Bloggy Mom and her twitter account @bloggymoms.  I found out quickly that Tiffany doesn’t just sent out “corporate” type “blanket” tweets, she is actually a person and mom who tweets and blogs about the same stuff we all do:  surviving this phase of our life.

I was SO lucky to get to meet Tiffany in person at BlogHer; I only wish we had more time to chat because she was AWESOME.  She has really been an inspiration to me as far as following your dreams and goals.  Not only does she have a hugely popular mom blogger network, but she launched a blogging conference last year too!

One would assume from all these awesome accomplishment that she has always been someone who can just fit right in…easily talk to everyone….right?

Well…maybe not.

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Belonging

I don’t.  Belong, that is.  No matter the situation, title or group.  I feel I don’t belong.

At least, that’s how I felt at one point in time.

I was never going to belong.

Until the day I heard the then sweet sounds of a dial up modem.  I was connecting.  I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was something.  I could belong.  Somewhere.

In an instant, okay it wasn’t quite an instant, I could connect with people from all over the globe.  I surfed the amazing world wide web.  I found sites like angelfire and tripod where people were expressing themselves.  I signed a few guest books.  That’s what you did, you signed guest books back then.

I stumbled across programs like mIRC {instant relay chat} and eventually ICQ {I seek you – clever huh!}.

I belonged.  Finally.

If I didn’t quite fit into the group on a chat room… I could easily move to the next.

Yet in a way, we all seemed to belong.  No matter our interest… we all seemed to be online for the same reasons.  Reaching out into this new void.

I never thought the beginnings of social media would transition into what we have today.  Through blog platforms, social networks and mobile apps… we can reach out and connect to each other.  We now even have meet ups built around these amazing social tools.

No matter where we are, what interest we have or how introverted we are… we belong.

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Ok dial-up?  Oh how I was brought back with that one!

And I SO did not know about anything other than my email back then.

Anyway…you need to “connect” with Tiffany.  She is a LOVELY person who I really hope I get to see and hug again soon.  Working with her and just knowing her is a joy.

where he talks about belonging

Here we go…Wednesday again!  And Sluiter Nation Recruit Day!  Don’t know what a Recruit is?  Check in here first.

Today is a special Recruit Day for two reasons.

1. It’s the last Recruit Day of 2011.

2. I have a DUDE in the Nation today!

Yup, John…who many of you on twitter know as Daddy Runs A Lot is here.  Having a guy in the Nation always is great because, let’s face it, the actual Sluiter Nation is me and a bunch of boys.

John writes the blog, The Adventures of Daddy Runs A Lot.  I always find it refreshing to read a “daddy blog” from time to time because they have such a different style and perspective than us ladies.  Plus John is funny AND a great writer. Plus he has a thing for footnotes which reminds me of Jen Lancaster.  Total win.

He has always been super supportive on twitter in the way I understand support best: humor.

And he is here today defining “belonging”.

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What does it mean “to belong?”

The Free Online Dictionary1defines “belong” as “to be proper, appropriate, or suitable.” I really like that, as a definition.

The thing is, you look at those words . . . and, well, I have difficulty applying them to me.

See, I’m someone who commonly feels that he goes over as well as an orgy joke at a Vestal Virgin convention. Proper, appropriate, suitable? Ha! heck, I revel in my inappropriateness every Sunday!

Well, maybe it means that I don’t belong in the middle of a group of nubile, sex-crazed girls . . . but I certainly belong somewhere2, right?

Honestly, it’s taken me a long time to feel like I might belong, anywhere. Growing up, I was “the big kid.” At first, I was just taller than everyone . . . seriously, substitute teachers would kick me out of class because I was, obviously, an older kid who was just pretending to be younger.

Then, as others approached my height, my face broke out.

When acne became manageable3, I grew fat.

Even in college – I struggled to find where I belonged. I was the tall, fat, goofy kid with a loud voice who drank too much and played some instruments and took a lot of physics courses.

After college, well, that nearly destroyed me.

Now, I don’t worry, as much, about belonging . . . but, at the same time, I feel more & more like I do belong.

Proper, appropriate, or suitable . . . there are no set definitions between what is proper and what is improper. There isn’t a grand arbiter between appropriate & inappropriate. Suitable? Well, when I was a kid, I thought it meant a table that you put a suit on when you were done wearing it . . . but, even now, suitable seems like it’s the minimum to get a job done. If you tell my that my “performance was suitable,” well, I’m not sure I’m going to be happy with that assessment4.

So, while we can argue about how proper, appropriate, or suitable I am — I can say that I do belong. And why do I belong? Because I feel like I should.

In this little online life that we’ve all made for ourselves, I’ve screwed up a bunch of times. But, when push comes to shove, even Uncle Walter, with his “two sizes too tight” polyester shirt and the inappropriate comments that gush like a geyser after a single drink, belongs. There’s room for everyone.

It turns out that the secret to belonging . . . is accepting yourself, and believing knowing that you belong.


1 I’d use Webster’s here, but, well, Google put “The Free Dictionary” at the top of the search results, so that’s what you’re getting.
2 Not that I wouldn’t want to be thrown into the middle of a group of nubile, sex-crazed girls . . . but, um, yeah . . . this is a path best left to other blogs.
3 Note that I didn’t say disappeared . . . acne was, and is, bullshit — I steal deal with the random stress or “I ate an entire pepperoni pizza” breakout today.
4 At the same time, if you told me that my performance was “appropriate,” I’d likely think that you had me confused with someone else.
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I told you had had a penchant for footnotes.
And guess what, John?  You totally belong here too. Because you are completely suitable and appropriate for the Nation.
Need some more o’ the John?  Yeah you do.  Check it, don’t wreck it, yo.
And one of the BEST posts I have ever read that starts off to do with breast cancer awareness, the one where Percy visits to talk about boobs