Mommyhood…

I was raised in a home where there was a full-time stay at home mom.  My mom’s sole focus and job were raising all seven children. She woke up early, made us breakfast and when we came home from school, there was a snack waiting.  The smells of dinner cooking would permeate the apartment. She cleaned, ironed, and made all the beds. She never worked outside of the home.  She was the true definition of a housewife/homemaker.  She kept an immaculate home. It was her pride.

BUT…

Interestingly enough, she pushed and encouraged my sister and me to get an education and pursue careers.  I thought it was quite ironic that she didn’t have the same expectations for us that she had for herself.  I later learned through an oral history project, in which I interviewed my mom, that being a homemaker/housewife, though it was her choice, it was not her dream.  She went on to share how she walked away from studying music in the conservatory, which was her father’s dream for her.  My mom has a sister who is was a world-famous opera singer, and her younger sister was a world-class ballerina, and her brother is a doctor.  She realized her “legalistic” beliefs caused her to walk away from having a different life experience.  She said she didn’t have regrets because she had us, but she wanted her daughters to fulfill their dreams.  I remember her reading all of my college, “Spanish novels.”  She read my textbooks and asked a lot of questions.  My mother’s dreams were deferred for reasons that only she guarded.  Yet she wanted us to have our own dreams full-filled whether we were married, married with children or single.  She chose to raise my niece and nephew so that my sister could continue her higher education.  She would prepare dinners for me so that I could go to college at night and not worry that I needed to rush home and make dinner.

My sister and I both completed College degrees.  We both pursued our careers in different avenues.  BUT, when I had my children, I found myself mirroring my mom’s choices.  I became the homemaker.  I became the mom that solely focused on her children.  I lost my identity and thought my sole purpose was to raise my sons.  Several years later, I realized I was mistaken.  I lost my way and my identity to something that I was not supposed to be doing for myself.  I regrouped and realized, I am better if I know who I am in this role of “mommyhood.”

I am a mom with dreams, aspirations, vision, and focus.  I am a mom with an opinion, intellect, and a voice. I am a mom that is strong, independent, that has her own dreams.  This realization didn’t change how much I love my children and honor my husband.  This realization did not disengage me from the role of wife and mother.

 Instead, it reinforced my purpose in my family.  

It’s okay to have your own dreams.  It’s okay to want a little more than cooking, cleaning, ironing.  It’s okay to say I want something that is all mine. As a mom, find something that brings you the greatest joy.  It doesn’t have to be life-changing.  It can be something that you can simply call your own.  Journaling, writing, gardening, golfing, going back to work, going back to school, volunteering, serving, hosting.  There are a million little things that we can call own and not forsake the role of “mommyhood.”

Don’t be afraid.  

Lesson:

Being a mom is the greatest honor of all time.  Being a happy mom is the greatest gift you can give your husband and children.

 Find that one thing that brings you the greatest joy and call it your own.

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Women can be….well… read on…

So, here I was feeling really good about myself.  Walking with a pep in my step and singing along with the radio in the car.

I was HAPPY!

It had been a summer of several health challenges, in which at this point, I was overcoming, and I had just completed my third semester of law school.  Don’t know if I mentioned, I am getting a Masters in the Studies of Law (MSL).

It seemed like any other day.  Moments of reflections and truly a thankful heart.

YET!

Here it comes! I encounter an acquaintance who, unbeknownst to me, was not having such a great day, and as I was sharing my accomplishments with her she proceeded to be critical and diminish all my achievements and efforts.  I found myself defending my experiences and immediately bothered by her ability to stomp and crush my spirit with her antagonism. I WAS LIVID…NO I WAS PISSED. Yes, there…I wrote it!  I could not believe here I am having what I thought was a delightful exchange with this woman, and she chooses to hold me down and crush me…like a bug.

I was stumped. Literally.  And that is pretty hard to do, for those who know me.  I sat there looking away, wondering, what just happened here?  Why did I allow her to get under my skin and become defensive?  What was it saying about me?

 Cause I know what I was thinking about her!

I went on with my day feeling sorry for myself.  I figured some retail therapy will make me feel better.  As I walked toward the back of the store, to the sale rack, I came across a lovely woman, and we acknowledged each other with a smile.  I proceeded to look mindlessly look through the racks, and she said, “excuse me,” and I moved out of the way.  Then I heard her say, “no…miss, excuse me, may I say something to you? ” I was slightly confused, and hesitantly said “sure.”  She proceeded to tell me, “you are beautiful, you need to know this, that you are absolutely beautiful.  Have a nice day”I literally gasped.  I looked at her and said, “Oh my God, thank you, thank you,” and she quietly walked away.

You see, I needed to hear that. It wasn’t about my physical appearance, I was well aware of that.  It was about my heart, what was living in my heart.  I was hurt, and God knew I needed the assurance that HE sees me, and HE thinks I am beautiful.  I wanted to share with this complete stranger what had transpired earlier in the day.  I wanted to let her know how much I needed to hear that I mattered. I walked around looking for her, and she was gone! GONE! GONE! I realized at that moment, she was an Angel sent to whisper into my soul.

I went to my car and cried.  Thanking God for that most personal and transcendental moment.  I realized I was still his favorite (thanks to Robert for the reminder).  I also realized that as women, we can lift each other up and bring each other down.

My preference is always to lift, encourage, and celebrate.  There’s power in the words of encouragement.  There is love in the act of celebration.

Women can be smart, strong, kind, and loving.  Women can be caddy, petty, judgmental.  Let’s chose to be women that lift each other up!

Because…WE ALL ARE BEAUTIFUL!

Lesson:

“Keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts…” (Proverbs 4:23, Message Translation)

 

-Annette Ortiz Mata

Brokenness walked into my house…

This summer, a few things occurred that stopped me dead in my tracks and forced me to face the reality that lives all around us.

Her name is Sarah*.

A phone call from our son asking if a friend could sleepover.  By sheer instinct, I knew the omission of the pronoun led me to the conclusion that his friend was a girl.  I met her the following morning.  As she walked down the stairs to leave quietly, my son introduced her.  I noticed her height but more importantly, how thin she was.  I asked her if she wanted something to eat, and she politely declined.  She thanked me for allowing her to spend the night, and she left.

I immediately pounced with a million questions, and to my heartbreak, the answers devastated me.  You see, Sarah was homeless.  She had been living out of her car for a few weeks and was bouncing from home to home of any friend that would let her sleepover, and when she exhausted her welcome, she would just sleep in her car.   I will spare you the devastating statistics on young adults that age out of foster care, but Sarah was just that.  A young adult that lived her entire life in the Foster Care system.

She spent three nights in our home.  We talked and she shared her life at that moment.  When she aged out, she moved in with her boyfriend; her boyfriend moved away, she moved in with a friend and her friend’s boyfriend, they broke up and there she was…homeless.  I asked Sarah if she had ever met her mom or dad.  She said no, she was placed into foster care as a newborn. She had never met her birth mom or any family and the foster family that she did live with for a bit moved away, leaving her behind.  Can you imagine that?  A 20-year-old all alone with absolutely no family to call her own.  I was devastated.  I immediately started contacting a few of the folks I knew who might be able to assist Sarah.  I suggested that she go back to DCF and ask for some kind of assistance and I am happy to write that she was able to be placed into transitional housing for youth that age out of the System.  She can live there until she turns 21.

Then once again she’s on her own.

Though Sarah was homeless, she has a job and is in school.  She’s doing what is required or expected of her to survive her life’s journey.  I was immediately challenged!  What am I doing to help!!  Yes, I offered her a place to sleep and eat, but that was not enough. How am I offering a hand-up to so many who need it not because they are lazy, but because they have been dealt a hard blow?

I started volunteering at our local Shelter.  I started showing up for those who needed a smile, a meal, a hello,  a simple word of encouragement.  Look around you, I am sure there is someone that needs a helping hand.  Don’t wait for brokenness to come walking into your door.  Go to the broken and help them put themselves back together.

Lesson:

Don’t ever judge a book by any cover…read some pages first.

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata

 

 

*Sarah – name change to respect her privacy

My words…have traveled​!

On May 8, 2017, I posted my very first blog.  Little did I know that those words would travel the world.  My intention for the blog is to inspire, educate, and entertain.  Have I achieved that these past two years, I would hope so?  I desire to always leave the reader with a new perspective.  Hopefully bringing insight to an experience that they have held privately and I have held openly.  I began reflecting on the “why” of my blog. I realized we are all connected by experiences.  Experiences can encourage, educate, inspire, and entertain.

 That is why I write my blog.

 I want to help at least one person know that “I am not alone in this” or “wow, if she survived that, I can too” or “Woah, that is deep” or even “that is hysterical, this chick is crazy.”  Whatever your response is to my “why I share in my blog, I thank you for reading and joining me on my life’s journey.  Thank you to all the readers around the world.  May you continue to enjoy and hopefully be inspired, educated, and entertained by “LIFE”!!!

Here is a list of the countries that have read my blog!  Thank you to the over  6,000 readers!!!

United States, Canda, United Kingdom

India, Australia, China

Ireland, Germany, Mexico

South Africa, Philippines, Spain

Indonesia, Italy, France

Peru, Hong Kong SAR China, United Arab Emirates

Puerto Rico, Brazil, Greece

Japan, Malaysia, Ukraine

Czech Republic, Colombia, Egypt

Turkey, Romania, Taiwan

Netherlands, Russia, Singapore

Belize, Portugal, Israel

Thailand, Denmark, Algeria

Morocco, Switzerland, Kenya

Chile, Sweden, Vietnam

Bangladesh, Poland, Bosnia & Herzegovina

New Zealand, Jordan, Nigeria

Norway, European Union, Pakistan

Nepal, Armenia, Afghanistan

South Korea, Guatemala, Guam

Cameroon, Serbia, Nicaragua

Panama, Sri Lanka, Qatar

Luxembourg, Tunisia, Austria

Kazakhstan, Jamaica, Saudi Arabia

Trinidad & Tobago, Argentina, Azerbaijan

Mozambique, Ecuador, Finland

Estonia, Uruguay, Paraguay

Belgium, Georgia, Malawi

Lesson:  Identify your why…and share it with others.

‘Til Tuesday

-Annette Ortiz Mata