The GRINCH Who Hated Football

The Grinch Who Hated FootballI am not sure if my youngest, Matthew, is actually related to me. I mean I look at him and see that he is the perfect combination of Eric and me, but there is something that is just off about him.

He hates football. Seriously. Hates it. He can’t honestly be a Greer and hate football. I mean it is our family tradition.

We can usually convince him to go to the first few games, but I never make it to a game past mid-October. Eric still goes with Ethan and Ella rallies sometimes too. I stay home with the Grinch who hates football.

Yesterday on the way home from our trip, I asked Matthew why he hated football. Without skipping a beat he growled (just like the Grinch)… 

When they get in the stadium it is filled with that

Noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise!

Then they Feast!

Feast! Feast! Feast! Feast!

They feast on popcorn and nachos and hot dogs

And they Sing!

Sing! Sing! Sing! Sing!

They Sing Rocky Top every time they score!

I cannot take it any more!!!

 Drop the freakin mic.

I am just passing the MacBook on to him.

Peace Out.

Sometimes You Gotta Hit a WALL

Sometimes You Gotta Hit The Wall

Hey. It’s me. Steph? The Southern Lady Mama? Remember me?

Whew. Good. Sorry it has been a while. I had to peel myself off of the wall that I hit last week 😉

Last week was cra-zy. Some good crazy. Some bad crazy.

I am fortunate enough to spend a good bit of my free time volunteering at my kids’ school. Last week was Book Fair, and I am Scholastic MONSTER Book Fair at LESon the committee that runs the show. It is incredibly fun and extremely rewarding. We sold almost $30,000 in books in five days. That’s HUGE! It was fun to be part of, but at the end of the day, I looked forward to my heating pad and a glass (or 2) of Chardonnay. In the midst of that, we had a health scare with both my uncle and my dad. Needless to say, there were some sleepless nights, tears shed, and numerous prayers said.

When we finally closed down the book fair on Friday afternoon, I had another big event on my calendar. 20 Brownies camping at my house the next day. And I hadn’t cleaned a lick all week. And Eric, my husband, was leaving to go out of town for a much needed guys weekend. And I have never started a fire by myself. And I have never pitched a tent. And I had a solid foot of leaves on my back deck. And I really wanted to shove the 4 pages of directions that Eric left for the tent and leaf blower up his nose. Can you feel my anxiety level rising?

Saturday morning I pulled out the tent and the 4 pages of directions (complete with diagrams) and tried to tackle pitching my first tent in all my 38 years. Ella “helped” me by swinging on the tree branch and running and catching pages when the wind caught them. At one point when the $%## pole went the wrong way for the 10th time, she said, “It’s no use. We can’t do it without Daddy’s help.” That made me even more determined to get it up. I made her help me more and after another painful 20 minutes, we got the tent up. I asked her what she learned and she answered, “That you can say the ‘s’ word and I can get away with saying ‘crap’ when we are pitching a tent!” #Truth However, I was thinking more along the lines of us putting our minds to something, perseverance, determination. But no, she gets the free pass on a foul mouth.

Ella and I tentWhat she did get from her Brownie campout was a great lesson about friendship. They played games. They just ran around and were silly. They told stories around the campfire that I started!!!! (Where’s my badge!!??) They wrote poems for each other. They had a dance party. The moms even Whip Whip Ney Neyed for the girls. (To which Ella quickly told me, “I would rather not see that again.”) They made smores and drank hot chocolate. They made memories that would last a lifetime.

The ultimate compliment was when one of the Brownies asked if she could come camp out at our house again next week J

So while I look at the last week where I literally ran myself ragged, I am just so thankful that I can. I am thankful for my uncle and dad’s health, which I was reminded this week, can turn on a dime. We cannot take it for granted for one second. I am thankful that Eric is supportive of me “working” full time and not earning a cent. I am thankful that I can use some of my talents at my kids’ school. I am thankful that I didn’t miss a second of the excitement of the book fair. It won’t be long before kids will be ashamed to be so openly excited about books. I am thankful for a home that my daughter’s friends want to come back to again and again. I am thankful that my daughter is making friends and memories that will last a lifetime and that she wants me to be a part of it. I am thankful that I am making new friends through the other mamas because this Mama thing is tough and we need each other,

And I was very thankful for my fuzzy blanket, comfy chair and Kindle coma day that I had on Sunday (and maybe part of Monday) to recuperate.


Love. Math Skills. Patience. And UT Football. These are the things my husband, Eric, brings to the parenting table. I admit when I started dating Eric at the University of Tennessee, I wasn’t a huge football fan. I went to the games, but I really only cared about if we won because that would dictate how fun the parties would be that night. Fortunately, we had a full nine months of dating before the season started so that he could bring me around.

Little did I know that his (and now my) love of UT Football would be a cornucopia of life lessons for our children. 

Vol For Life LessonsHere are 7 Vol For Life lessons for my kids:

  1. Tradition is important. UT Football isn’t just a game. It is a TRADITION. I married into a family that is steeped in this tradition. If it is a Saturday and the Vols are playing, you are there cheering until you are hoarse the next day. We planned our wedding around the school calendar for the teachers, the harvest for the farmers, and the UT football schedule for the inlaws. Our Saturdays in the fall are reserved for the Orange, White, and Family. Watching and cheering on the Vols has given an opportunity for our oldest son, Ethan, to have a special bond with not only his Daddy but his Papa too. He loves to watch the game and ask a million questions so that he knows the ins and outs of how the game is played. UT football is a tradition for our whole family that will last a lifetime. Whether we win or lose, we don’t lose our tradition.
  2. My All.  We give our all for Tennessee. We don’t just roll into the parking lot right before the game. No. We warm up with a big tailgate. Make a mad dash to Peyton Manning Pass for the Vol Walk. Watching Ethan’s excitement as he brushes fingers with Coach Jones and all the players he idolizes on the field makes the huge crowd worth it. We tear up as we sing the alma mater, nearly come out of our skin with excitement as we watch the Pride of the Southland Band form the Power T, cheer wildly when we see the team storm through the T, sing Rocky Top at the top of our lungs, devour Touchdown Dogs, and third down for what like no one’s business. And we don’t just do this for the “big” games. Every. Dang. Game. And that is what you gotta do in life. You can do it halfway just to get through or give it your all and really live.
  3. Teachable Moments. Sometimes when you are giving it your all, you encounter people who take a whole different meaning to that saying. The week before the first game this season I had been talking to the kids about alcohol. I was trying to explain to them that when you had too much, it would cause you to make bad choices. When we were tailgating at Nissan Stadium, Ethan and I witness a man who was stumbling around and singing “Rocky Top” at the top of his lungs up and down the parking lot. At 10 a.m. I looked at Ethan and said, “Son, you remember when I said too much alcohol can cause you to make bad choices?” He answered, “Yea. You mean you can act a fool.” Bingo. Bless that man. I am sure he thought he was giving his all for Tennessee, but I am fairly certain he wasn’t standing by the time the game started four hours later. All kinds of lessons of what to do and not to do at games.
  4. Celebrate the wins. I was spoiled when I was a student at The University of Tennessee in the late 90s. We were on a great winning streak. We expected to win. We haven’t had a season like that in Ethan’s lifetime. Ethan was the only one in the family that could make the Georgia game because of other commitments we couldn’t get out of. It’s ok. He didn’t need us. He just met his Papa at a Truck Stop off the interstate and rolled on to Rocky Top without us. I was so glad he was there to experience that win. I had tears rolling down my face when I saw the players sitting on the wall in the end zone with the fans. They deserved that win and were basking in its glory. When I finally talked to Ethan a few hours later, I could still hear the excitement in his voice. It is important to take the time to celebrate the good times.
  5. Don’t let Defeat defeat you. Ah, there is always that other side of the coin. And unfortunately, we have had more experience with this side than we would like. That is the way life is though. Sometimes we work our butts off, think everything is going to go our way, and fail. And it sucks. And sometimes it isn’t fair. It is a really hard concept for a 9-year old boy (or even a 37-year old man). We can get mad when things don’t go our way. Sulk. Hang our head in defeat. Get ready to just throw all our plans out the window. And sometimes you do have to get your mad out. Last week after the loss to Bama, Ethan was heartbroken and spittin’ mad. We gave him some alone time. When that wasn’t enough, we had him run some laps around the house. Then my husband gave him a stick and told him to go hit a tree. (Laisseze Faire parenting at its finest 😉 After all that is said and done, we have to dust ourselves off, learn from our mistakes, and prepare for next week. But back to #1. Tradition. You don’t turn your back on your team.
  6. No one is perfect. There are eleven players…people…humans that are on the field. Not a one of them are perfect, but we expect them to never make a mistake. Every kick that is missed…reception that is dropped…ball that is fumbled. No one wants that play to be executed perfectly more than that player. And that player? I will blink and Ethan will be the same age as him. They are still kids growing into men with the pressure that I could not even begin to understand. They are going to make mistakes because they are human. The key will be for them to learn from the mistakes and practice to improve just like in real life. And we have to learn to not be so hard on others.
  7. It’s all about CHARACTER. Ethan has no less than six Peyton Manning jerseys (UT, Colts & Broncos, of course). Sure he is an amazing athlete, but he is an even more phenomenal man of character. I am proud to see Ethan wear his number on his chest. I gladly plastered a Fathead of Peyton on his bedroom walls. I am thankful for players like Joshua Dobbs who works his tail off on the field and in the classroom. Oh how he wishes he could have a Dobbs jersey!! Darn NCAA rules!! 😉

So now we are faced with a real grown up sized problem. The next game is Saturday night…in Lexington…on Halloween. It was a time of serious contemplation in our house. Travel 3.5 hours to Lexington to cheer on the Vols? Or Trick or Treat.

Dun Dun Dun!!!!!

Agony. Tears. Then…free candy won out. That is the great thing about tradition, we have a lifetime to cheer on the VOLS. But I am on borrowed time of having kids who still want to be kids.

And Ethan is dressing up as his other fav – Jalen Hurd.

Growing a #VFL

How Michael Myers Helped Me Through a Hard Time

How Michael Myers Helped Me Through a Tough TimeNothing like a good old Halloween marathon to make me nostalgic for my days with newborn babies.

Wait. What? How does Michael Myyers make you think fondly of sweet babies??

You see when I was younger I loved me a good horror movie. The scarier, the better in my opinion. I watched that majority of it through my hands or a blanket up to my face, but I still loved it. I loved to scream at the idiot, half dressed girl, “Don’t go in there!!!” I loved to jump and scream even if I knew it was coming. I laughed and laughed at myself for being so scared. And I always liked being surprised when there was a twist in the story.  “I did NOT see that coming!!”

Eventually, I grew out of my scary movie phase. Maybe it was because I had an Ethan, Ella, and Matthew to keep me up at night. I certainly didn’t need a Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, or Leatherface to keep me up at night too. Or maybe it was just that I saw Saw. Ha ha ha ha. Saw Saw. But seriously, Saw is the scariest movie I have ever seen. Now I can’t even watch a commercial for Annabelle without losing sleep.

But I digress.

I will always get a smile on my face anytime I see a Halloween marathon on TV. You see back in October of 2006, I had 2 sweet babies that I had to leave behind in the NICU. Unlike most new mamas, I couldn’t rock my sweet babies in the middle of the night. I had to leave my heart in the NICU 20 miles away.

But there was one thing I could do. I would set my alarm for every 2 – 3 hours, and I would pump breast milk that would help my very frail babies grow strong. As you could imagine, it was exhausting to pump so often around the clock. I would wake up, call the NICU to check on the babies, then I would hook myself up to the pump like a cow. In order to keep myself awake and entertain myself, I would turn on the TV. Since it was late October, I could always count on AMC to have an all night Halloween marathon to watch. At my midnight pumping, I would watch Halloween. My next one I would catch the end of Halloween II. As the sun was starting to rise, I would catch part of Halloween IV. (It worked out well that I missed Halloween III because everyone knows that is the worst!!)

My poor husband, Eric, begged me after one night of Halloween marathon to please, please not watch Halloween at night anymore. He had nightmares and heard the theme all night in his sleep. Do do do do do do do do. After getting very little sleep myself, I only felt a little bad 😉

Thinking back, that was one of the hardest times of my life. I was exhausted. Between getting my strength back from being in the hospital for three months, to delivering twins, living in a NICU all day, and pumping around the clock; I was beaten down physically. Not to mention the emotional toll of everything! Being separated from my babies was agony.

But God. God helped me through the very difficult time. He helped me find humor in the midst of it. He healed my heart so when I think back to a time filled with Halloween and tears, I would only reminisce with a smile.

Maybe you are going through a Halloween time. Have faith and cling to God. Some day you will be able look back, hopefully, with a smile.

“I’m Gonna Need You To STEP AWAY from Pinterest” – God

Southern Lady-2

I got this little note from God last night. I was trolling Pinterest for decorations for my kids’ birthday party this weekend. I was literally having heart palpitations trying to figure out how I could make all these stinkin, cute decorations while juggling everything else on my plate.

“Steph, I’m gonna need you to step away from Pinterest. Now. Nope. Don’t pin that. SHUT IT DOWN.”

So I did. Instead I went to Party City this morning and dropped some change on some kinda cute, definitely tacky decorations. (The tackier the better to 7 & 9 year olds, right?)

And my kids probably won’t even realize that we even had decorations at all. They will, however, enjoy a mama who is able to sit on the couch and just snuggle. A mama who isn’t snapping at them because she has over scheduled herself.

Thanks God for letting me off the hook 🙂

How I Got SCHOOLED in Dodgeball

How I Got SCHOOLED in DodgeballMonday night I hit “Publish” on my latest blog post.

“Whew, “ I thought, “Don’t have to worry about that for a few days.”

But I have nothing in my pipeline to write this week. “Oh Lord please give me some inspiration!”

So He hit me in the face with a big, red kickball…


Yesterday afternoon was gorgeous. We were enjoying a beautiful Indian Summer day in Tennessee. The kids all worked hard on their homework. Books – Read. Math – Common Cored. North Eastern States – labeled…kinda.  Now it was time for some fun outside.

I was showing off my bball skillz. Let me be clear. I am 5’2” on a very good day. My three sweet, beautiful children haven’t quite… shall we say…grown into their feet 😉 So showing off my basketball abilities was pretty much dribbling and walking at the same time. And they think I rock. 

I was getting ready to show off my awesome chest pass to Ella, when I hear, “DODGEBALL!!” from Ethan right before I get nailed in the face with our red kickball. I mean NAILED. Completely Marsha Bradyed. Tears poured down my face. I saw stars. I was pretty sure my nose was oozing blood. The pain was instant and completely unexpected.

I looked at the 3 Greer kids and they all had identical “Oh sh*t!!” expressions on their face. I am pretty sure I saw a squirrel with the same expression. The birds quit chirping. There was absolute silence on our street. Everyone knew it was about to go down for real in the driveway.

I narrowed my crazy eyes on Ethan and said between clinched teeth, “Get. Your. Bottom. Up. Stairs. NOW!!!!” I am not a cusser at all, but it took every last restraint in me to not pull out the A double S. I did, however, certainly emphasize the two syllables of bot-tom.

His eyes turned frantic, “But Mama…But Mama…But Mama…” he kept stuttering. “I said Dodgeball!!”

“That doesn’t mean you can tattoo me in the face with the DODGEBALL!!!! We are playing Basketball!!!” I cried.

“But Mama…But Mama…But Mama..” he started again.

“Now!!!” I roared. “Get up in your room and don’t come out until I come in there!!”

He scurried up the steps with his proverbial tail between his legs. Ella and Matthew slowly backed away from me to get out of the line of fire. I took a deep breath, wiped my eyes and nose then calmly said, “I am ok, guys. Don’t worry.”

I took a deep breath and wiggled my nose to make sure it wasn’t broken. I went straight to the bathroom to assess the damage. My face was tear streaked and bright red. I wasn’t sure if it was from being hit, being mad, or if was just a transfer of the red paint from the ball! I leaned in to see if there were the tiny swirls imprinted on my face from the kickball. Deep breath. Deep breath.

Ethan was in his room with the door closed. I had to take a minute to get my cool. Deep breath. Pray for patience and a clear head. Deep breath. Check the chicken in the crockpot. Deep breath. Check the rice. Deep Breath. Deep breath.

I walked to Ethan’s room, let myself in, and my heart melted.

He sat on his bed in the Lotus position. His little hands clasped tight in front of his face with tears streaming from his closed eyes.

I insisted on the kiss; Ethan insisted on the cartoon bubble :)

I insisted on the kiss; Ethan insisted on the cartoon bubble 🙂

I rushed to him, gathered him up in my arms, told him that I forgave him, and showered him with hugs and kisses. I asked for his forgiveness for laying into him, and he gave it to me immediately.

How lucky are we that we have a God that forgives immediately. He doesn’t have to take His time and get His cool. He doesn’t have to take deep breaths….repeatedly. He doesn’t have to see us broken to forgive us. He just forgives because He loves us so much.  And once He forgives us, it is gone.  No “Remember that time you hit your mom in the face with the ball??”  Or no, “Stephanie, remember that time you completely lost your cool and yelled at your son when he made a mistake?”  All is forgiven.  Instantly.  And forgotten.  Thank you, Jesus.

“And I will be merciful to them in their wrongdoings, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:12 (TLB)

A Halloween Matthewism

It is 46 days until Halloween, so we are obviously in deep negotiations with the kids about costumes.  They have been tossing out ideas for weeks now and it is crunch time.  I have two hard and fast rules for our costumes: 1.  I will not make any costumes (I know my limits) and 2.  Nothing scary.

IMG_3458My 6 year old, Matthew, is always trying to get around the last rule.  Last year he wanted to be a skeleton, and he skirted it by picky out the goofiest looking one and being “Funny Bones.”  This year he is on the Grimm Reaper campaign.  I promptly told him, “No way.”  He was completely perplexed when I told him that it was a symbol for Death.  “No,” he told me emphatically, “the Grimm Reaper is a farmer that carries a hoe around!”

When he got home today, he was armed and ready with his arguments to be the Grimm Reaper.  The entire walk around the block, he entertained me with his well thought out, creative story about the baby Grimm Reaper.

You see Mama, I am just a kid, so I wouldn’t be the big Grimm Reaper.  I am the baby Grimm Reaper.  My parents (the big ones) were really tough on me always wanting me to be bad.  But I decided I didn’t want to be bad and I loved God and wanted to help people.  So you see I am not a bad Grimm Reaper, I am a good Grimm Reaper.  I go around and tell people about God’s love and farm wheat.  Everyone likes wheat, right?  I am a Missionary Farmer Reaper.  So instead of saying “Trick or Treat” on Halloween, can I say “Let the light of God be with you?”

Are you kidding me?  Grimm Reaper costume. In. The. BAG.

How My Disappointments Have Made Me a Better Mama

Who in the world messes up Jello Instant Pudding? It is three basic steps: dump mix & milk, cook & stir, dump in bowl & refrigerate. Pretty simple, huh?

Apparently not for me.

This weekend I was trying to be an overachieving Mama and cook with my kids. (I realize how pitiful it is that my definition of “overachieving” is cooking Instant Pudding ;) Ella was carefully stirring the pudding continually as it cooked. Ethan was thoroughly enjoying his job crushing the Oreos to go on top, so they could be “Dirt Cups.” 1, 2, 3 steps done with smiles.

A few hours later we pulled our pudding out to find that it was just as liquidy as when we put it in the refrigerator. “It’s ok! Let’s let it stay in over night!” The next morning was no better. My kids watched as my face fell when a full 24 hours later… it still looked like chocolate milk. No dirt cups AGAIN!

“I am sure it is because you used 1% milk,” my husband, Eric, consoled me. “Oh sweetheart, I am sure that your mix was just out of date,” my Mama soothed me.

I had 2 options. I could be humiliated, hang my head and cry. I could tear my apron off and swear to never try to cook again. OrCheers to the Dirt Cups! I could laugh. Full on belly laugh until there are tears coming down my face. “Well Nana will never let me cook Thanksgiving dinner now!!” I said between giggles. And the kids laughed hysterically too. Then we went to the store and bought pudding cups for a couple of bucks. We still had our dirt cups. We sprinkled our crushed Oreos because Ethan can smash Oreos like a BOSS.

My lesson didn’t bring about culinary genius as I hoped, but I reminded my kids to not take themself so seriously. At such a young age, so much is expected…demanded of them. They have to learn that sometimes things won’t go as you plan and how to react to that. Do you beat yourself up for screwing up? Or do you laugh, move on, and just go buy the dang pudding cups?

God gave me another opportunity to show how to deal with disappointment yesterday. Thank you, Lord. 😉

Getting a literary agent has been at the top of my to-do list since I got back from the She Speaks conference. Between getting the kids settled in school, my PTO obligations, and just life in general, I hadn’t been able to send out my letters until yesterday morning. I nearly hyperventilated before I hit “Send” with each email, but I got it done.

As soon as I sent the last one, I felt a huge burden lift from my shoulders. Like all phases in the publishing industry, it would be a while until I heard back from anyone. “Whew. Off my plate and I don’t have to worry about it for a while!”

So imagine my surprise when I heard from two of the agents within hours. They were both incredibly nice and encouraging about my book. But the bottom line is the answer was NO. It was kind of like an “It’s not you, it’s me,” kind of a rejection. However, rejection still stings. I tried to laugh it off and focus on the positive things they said. And hey, at least I won’t wait forever and get rejected! There are lots of fish in the sea…

Later that afternoon I was waiting for my kids to get out of the car – and let’s be honest, it takes them like an hour to get out of the car….gathering backpacks, lunchboxes, water bottles, random papers, a shoe that came off. I have aged another year by the time they all get out of the car. As I wait, I glance down at my phone and see I got another email from an agent. Another rejection. I didn’t even understand what this one said??!! All I heard was NO for the 3rd time in one day, and I wasn’t even mentally ready to hear back from one!

So I did the exact opposite of the day before. I cried. I tried to play it off as “allergies” at first when Ella asked if I was crying. Pretty soon, it was evident that excuse wasn’t gonna cut it. After all the backpacks were put away, I took a deep breath and talked to my kids. “Kids, Mama is a little sad right now. I need your help. I really need you to be good listeners and obey me this afternoon. I would appreciate a little more patience and grace because Mama’s nerves are a little on edge.” They nodded their heads and got straight to their homework without complaint. They were perfect angels for me all afternoon. It was a gift to my raw emotional state.

Ella's Treasures

Before dinner I got a big bear hug from Ella. She is not my overly affectionate one, so it meant even more to me. In her little hand, she held some of her prized possessions she selected from her jewelry box. “This is to cheer you up, Mama!”

For the 2nd time in 24 hours, God gave me had an opportunity to demonstrate how to handle disappointment to my children. He spoke very clearly to them through my situation:

  • Everyone experiences disappointment sometimes. Even Mamas.
  • It is okay to cry when you are sad. Sometimes you just have to let those feelings out and allow your tears to cleanse your soul.
  • Even though it is hard, you need to talk to people about why you are sad. Communication can help others understand how you are feeling and what you need from them.
  • You can show God’s love and be a great comfort to people who are sad.

As I lay in bed with Ella last night, I thanked her for being Jesus to me and giving me the love that I needed to find my smile. I also told her that I was not discouraged or giving up because I knew I was following God’s path for me. Just like when God helped me find her Daddy after dating some of the wrong fish, He has the right agent for me out in that big ole sea. He just got me three steps closer to finding them.

How Labor Day is Quickly Becoming My FAV Holiday

Labor Day Weekend Plans:How Labor Day is quickly becoming my Fav Holiday

Sleeping in.                                       Check!

Grillin out.                                         Check!

Tailgating like a boss.                       Check!

Cheering for my team.                      Check!

And last but not least…

Packing up the swimsuits                Big CHECK!!!

I am OVER the hot weather, the pool and definitely, putting on a swimsuit. Give me sweaters, jeans and boots.

Yesterday at the football game I polished off a little of everything at our tailgate. I even finished Matthew’s hotdog after he took one bite and declared he was done. I did this all guilt free because there is ZERO chance that Steph is going to see a swimsuit until next May. Holla!!! As long as I can still zip my jeans on Monday, I am golden.

Honestly, how many women can say that they just love the way that they look in a swimsuit?? If you can…seriously, awesome for you! Over the last ten years, my body has literally been through hell and back. Years of fertility treatments, shots, surgeries and being restricted from any kind of exercise are not kind to your body. When I finally got pregnant with twins, I was in the hospital on bed rest for 11 weeks. That is 77 days of laying down.

My family and friends always visited me bearing edible gifts, so I would be spared one hospital meal. I ate every single bit with a smile. I was eating for three, right?   And some days, Arby’s curly fries were the highlight of my very boring day.   No exaggeration.

One day late in my pregnancy, the cleaning lady came in to mop my room. We had become friends during my stay, and I looked forward to her coming. I had been crying a little bit and was embarrassed. There was no such thing as privacy when you lived in a hospital. I quickly wiped my tears so that she wouldn’t feel uncomfortable. I painted on my happy face ready to shoot the breeze as she mopped away.

I leaned over to grab my water off the table as we were chatting away and my shirt came up a little bit. She said, “Shooey Girl! I didn’t realize you had all those stretch marks on your hips!” I was no longer concerned with making her uncomfortable, and I just let the tears roll.

The SLM & HusbandFast forward several years and another pregnancy later, I was sitting in my nice “slimming” tankini with my husband, Eric, at the beach. Since I had Matthew almost seven years ago, I have become very good about exercising regularly. Unfortunately, that does nothing to erase my stretch marks on my hips. My tankini hid some of my “wobbly bits, “ but there was no hiding all of the stretch marks. After a few minutes of people watching, I pointed out to Eric that every single lady that passed by was wearing a bikini. Some rocked it and some thought they did. And some just didn’t care; they were at the beach! The only lady that was wearing a swimsuit close to mine was 30 years my senior. I turned to Eric and said, “Next summer I will either be in a bikini or a maternity swim suit.” (We were in the middle of fertility treatments with our frozen embryos.)

After we had our last failed Frozen Embryo Transfer and we made it through the chaos of the holidays, I got serious about reclaiming my body. I exercised and I watched what I ate. (Then I decided I liked to eat too much, so I compromised by eating a few more salads and exercising a little more!) As we got closer to summer, I spent way too much money on two bikinis that were supposed to be just perfect for my body type. I sat out in my backyard wearing them to get a little color…because who doesn’t feel better with a little color??

When I took my kids to the pool for the first time last summer it required a pretty big pep talk to myself. I felt pretty good, but I was still self-conscious. It didn’t matter if I had lost weight and got in shape. I still had these stretch marks on my hips. They had faded but they may as well have been bright red in my mind.   I put off taking off my cover up as long as I could. And dang it if a kid didn’t ask me to take them to the potty as soon as I disrobed! Now I had to walk across the whole pool deck in a bikini to take their little booties to pee.

My sweet little Matthew would tell me every now and again how beautiful he thought I was. Then he would laugh because my “belly button would kinda dance” when I walked. It was such a good reminder. My babies thought I was pretty and most importantly, Eric, thought I was perfect the way I was. That was all in the world that mattered.

I finally have gotten to a very comfortable place in my life and it took a very uncomfortable piece of clothing to help get me there. I am going to be healthy. I am going to eat healthy so that I have the energy I need to take care of my family and myself. I am not going to cut out all the fun stuff because life is too short to not have Arby’s curly fries. I am going to exercise, so I can be physically fit. I may not have a six-pack, but I can play kickball with my kids and not collapse 😉

I will never be in the same place that I was ten years ago. Thank God for that. Today I am stronger mentally, spiritually and physically. And I will never be a size 0 again. I will gladly leave that size to the teenagers of the world. I am a gladiator Mama with the stretch marks to prove it.

All that being said, am I pumped to not wear a swimsuit the next several months?

Hell to the YES.