Hard Choices and Parental Guilt

They make you second guess everything. They make you sit back and mull over all of the events leading up to the need for said choice. They make you rethink everything you have ever done when it comes to making that hard choice and they leave you wondering if the choice made was the right one once you actually make it!

My hard choice is still a hard choice. I’m over the second guessing myself, because I know in my heart that I made the right one…but it is still hard emotionally. Emotionally, I am torn. I am torn between what I know is right and what I want. But what I want is not based upon anything other than soothing my own emotional discomfort.

My hard decision was this: allowing my son to stay with my parents when my little family moved from my parents home into our own home in a different school district and county. Truth be told, it was a positive decision for him. My son is happy. He is doing well in school. He is making good choices and learning to do things that he needs to learn. Why did I allow him to stay? Well, he finally felt settled into a highschool and I didn’t want to move him. He is surrounded by friends that are good influences. He gets to be the only child that he wants to be while still maintaining a relationship with his younger siblings. But most importantly, he is happy.

I, on the otherhand, am pretty torn up. I miss my kid. I miss his goofiness. I miss his jokes and telling me all about some new game he is into or how he is trying something new with his lizards. I miss him being there in the morning and at night. Being physically seperate from him for an extended period of time like this is not okay and I feel guilt. I feel massive guilt.

Honestly, the massive guilt is probably why I feel so crappy. I really am thrilled that my son is happy and healthy and doing well. I am so fortunate to have parents who love my son so much that they would be okay with him living with them on a permanent basis. But that guilt…it’s brutal. And it eats at me at every possible moment.

I feel guilt for not being able to provide for my kid the way he needs. I feel guilt for not having the kind of relationship with my son that I had hoped we would have. I feel guilt for allowing someone other than myself to care for him. He is my first. The one who made me a mother 16 years ago. A young mother. And I think that is where it all comes to a point. I was a young mother. Not all young mothers have the same relationship with their children as I have with my son. Some grow to be inseperable. My son formed that bond with my mother rather than me, I think, because I was so young when I had him. I was barely more than a child-not even a month past my 20th birthday-when I had him. I needed her more than I knew and being a mother was something I had not planned on doing until faced with it realizing I couldn’t NOT be a mother because of what was in my own heart versus what society expected of me. And so I had him and cherished him (I still do) and I made the hard decision to allow him to live away from me.

I couldn’t ask for two better people than my parents to teach him, though. I am beyond blessed that they love him so much and are willing to look out for him and teach him and help him to become a good man. There is no lack of appreciation there, or gratitude, for their selflessness and generosity.

But this is hard. Harder than I ever imagined it would be. And even though I know this is what is best for my child, and as a parent I want to do what is best, it still hurts.

Teenagers…Sigh

raising-teenagers

 

I LOVE my kids. LOVE THEM. But they can push those buttons and do ALL the things that drive me insane. I joke that they are in a contest to see who can put me in a straight jacket first, but honestly, it feels like I am teetering on the precipice of insanity 99.9% of the time.

parenting-insanity

Can we talk pre-teen/teenage girls?

Are they *ALWAYS* this squirrelly? Are they *always* this emotional? Must they *ALWAYS* pick a fight with their siblings over *absolutely NOTHING* and then get mad when called out??

The answer to all of the above is a loud and resounding Y E S. Yes, they are. Yes, they must. It is ingrained, I think, in the DNA and when they hit a certain age, all reason goes out the window and it is an out and out free for all of emotions and actions and behaviors.

 

Complete and total chaos and unpredictability. ALL the emotional rollercoasters, all the drama, all of the hormones….ALL OF IT IS HARD!!!

phoebe-madness

 

This was me. This past week and weekend. This is almost how I had to handle the girls. I thought I was going to go insane!

But they survived to make me crazy another day. As did I. And of course, I am sure the rest of this week, should I play my cards right, will be almost a repeat of this past week. Exciting, eh?

parenting-teenagersI guess my point in all of this is that where there is insanity, where there is conflict, once has to find the humor. Humor has been getting me through a TON of parenting situations. Because sometimes, all you can do is sit back and laugh at what is going on. Because getting mad doesn’t work. Getting sad doesn’t work. But laughter…well, laughter can help to soothe the savagery and help my progeny live to make me crazy another day.

Raising teenagers is tough, y’all. No lie.

#Woke

via Daily Prompt: Oversight

It was gradual. But powerful. Sitting back and watching the protests in  Ferguson, where ever there was violence against people of color, the beginnings of #BlackLivesMatter movement, I thought to myself, “Wow-how angry these people are.” And went about my own business. I wasn’t indifferent, just ignorant in my understanding of their experience. Sure, I could watch the tv news every morning and night and see the violence that people of color are subjected to daily by the government meant to protect us all, but hey-it didn’t affect me, so….I didn’t think about it too much. Am I showing how deep I was in my own white privilege?  I hope so. Honestly, I am still shoveling my way out of this deep hole I am in.

Then I spoke with people. SPOKE with them about their experiences. SPOKE with them about their thoughts, their feelings, their beliefs. And it started to sink in. I wrote a piece earlier last year…about 6 months ago…and I stated that violence begets violence begets violence…but I better understand WHY there has been violence. I was still mired down in my own privilege and allowing that to influence my thoughts and feelings. But not anymore. I GET IT NOW. We have, since the founding of this country, used non-peaceful protest and actions to achieve the desired results (Hello…the American Revolution! A giant war that included an act of rebellion and governmental property damage in Boston). WE WERE FOUNDED ON NON-PEACEFUL PROTEST. I get it now, my friends of color. I get WHY there has been so much violence. I get WHY peaceful protest does not always work. And I understand that, if I want to be a part of this protest against the atrocities taking place in our country against people of color, women, immigrants, the LQBTQIA community, I HAVE to WAKE THE FUCK UP to the fact that it will not be peaceful, silent, or pretty. I HAVE to be okay with that because if I am not, I will remain in my bubble of ignorance surrounding myself with the unrealistic and idealistic point of view that just by talking about it, something will happen.

NO. I was WRONG to think that a peaceful protest will always be the best way to be heard. And it is uncomfortable. I feel guilty. I feel ashamed. I feel like I have been part of the problem. And I am going to try my damndest to correct my oversight. I am going to try my damndest to continue to be uncomfortable, because when I am feeling this discomfort, I am learning about what I have done to overlook the truth of it all. And MY truth is that I was too scared to be fully involved because I didn’t want others to think poorly of me, to think I was stirring the pot, to think that I was supporting something just to support it and not because I truly believed in the movement. I didn’t want to catch shit from my family, whom I love dearly, but I do not share the same political beliefs as they do.

The amount of emotional labor that my friends of color and my friends in the LGBTQIA (of which I identify as being a part of, btw) have put in to educate cisgender, heterosexual white people has been tremendous. They are the ones experiencing the violence, condemnation, anger, racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc and then they have to EXPLAIN WHY they are upset?? No. Not okay. NOT OKAY AT ALL. I should not expect them to go through all they do and then do MORE work to try to explain why things need to change. So, I plan to stay uncomfortable. And I plan to make other folks uncomfortable as well by talking about it.

So, my friends of color, my friends in the LGBTQIA community, stay angry. Keep protesting. Keep speaking out. I am going to be a better advocate for you. I am going to be a better listener. I am going to pay attention to the ignorance that is around me and try to educate people as best I can. And I may come to you from time to time to help me use the right words so I am not furthering misconceptions or passing along unhelpful and ignorant information. I am going to stay #woke.

Remembering the Lost

I’ve had some ups and downs here lately. And yesterday, I had a big shock. A dear friend, someone I have known for the past 24 almost 25 years of my life, died.

He was an enigma. Rob was someone who, as cliche as it is, marched to the beat of his very own drum. He was never one to conform, always trying to new, different, and sometime dangerous things in life for the experience and the thrill. Rob was easy to love, easy to hate, easy to forgive. He had a way about him that would draw you in, anger or not, and you would find yourself smiling in amusement at the conversational twists, turns, and topics. Rob was, simply put, himself.

I met him in middle school. He was a wild child, bucking against authority and that appealed to every young girl he knew and met. He was a “bad boy” in his thrift store gear and combat boots, as though he was daring anyone to challenge his sense of self and style. I knew, from the moment I met him, that despite everything, we would remain life long friends. You see, it isn’t often you meet your male counterpart who shares the same birthday-year, month, and day…with only a few hours of difference between time. He was my birthday twin. And there was a friend connection that lasted over two decades and while he is no longer with us, that connection will remain for the rest of my natural life. I am sure that I am not alone in this sentiment.

He was a father, a brother, a son, a friend. And while I won’t lie and say he made only the best choices in his life, I will not stoop to slander him either by saying he was the worst kind of person; I truly believe he was a good man with a good heart and a lost spirit who only wanted to find his true and rightful place in this world. Everyone has a dark side. It’s our choice as to how much of that we share with others. And Rob, while he kept some things to himself, shared these moments with those he trusted. Not many people do that.  He was a musician. A talented guitarist and piano player. He loved his friends and his family with a fierceness. He was someone who loved and needed love in return.

I shall mourn the loss of my friend. I shall mourn the lost time with him here on this earth. But I shall celebrate his life. I shall celebrate his spirit. I shall celebrate him.

Rest In Peace, Robert F Cook IV. I hope to one day see you again on the shores of Valhalla.

rob

til vi møtes igjen bror

schwabs-obits-viking-funeral-illust

That Is NOT Networking

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” ~ Mark Twain

I am an office manager. I have had a LinkedIn for years. And I use it for “networking”. I keep in contact with past co-workers, keep up with industry news and information, update my skills and basically use it as a live resume in combination with the networking function.

What I don’t use it for is business solicitation. I don’t use it to try and sell my business, to garner new clients. Because in my mind, business solicitation is different than networking. In business solicitation, you are attempting to solicit business from someone with the intentions of making money. In networking, you meet new people, talk shop, send out feelers for possible new employees and collaborations. Networking isn’t cold-calling or cold-emailing. At least, in my mind it isn’t.

Which is why I am still so irritated with an email I received via LinkedIn this past Monday morning at 5:30 am. Yes. He messaged me at 5:30am on Memorial Day…a day when no one is in the office because we are busy honoring those who fought for the many freedoms we enjoy as an American people. This gentleman sent me a message indicating he had sent an advertising request to our dedicated email for advertisers last week and had not received word back and he wanted “someone in the office to reply to the query”. Um…no.

Maybe I am being uptight about this. Maybe I am too staunch in my beliefs on how you conduct yourself professionally, but to me, sending an email at 5:30am on a holiday requesting a reply from someone who has NOTHING to do with what you are asking about is pretty unprofessional. And after doing a bit more digging, I became even more irritated. This man was not requesting to advertise with our company. He was trying to sell us email services.

No…just…just no.

Prior to my research, I refrained from responding to him in the way I wanted to, but after I found he was simply trying to sell my company services under the guise of requesting advertising, all bets were off. Don’t worry-I kept it professional.

“The email that you sent goes to our advertising company, which is not in house, of whom I do not work with, nor do I have access to those emails. And emailing me via LinkedIn at 5:30 in the morning on Memorial Day to request a response is not going to end with successful results. Should you need to contact anyone with (my company), or our advertisers, again, please refrain from contact via LinkedIn. Rather, pursue contact with emails to the appropriate parties.”

I never received a reply, so I am assuming he knows we are neither amused nor interested in his attempts to garner our business. What galls me the most, though, is his lack of honesty. Had he been honest about his intentions, had he simply said “Hey-I have this great email company. We can be bad-asses with your email. Use our service. Let’s set up a meeting.” I would have had so much more respect for him professionally. Granted, the answer still would be no, but at least there would have been an indication of integrity and professionalism in the exchange. As it is, I think he is no better than a crooked car salesman, using all the tricks and being less than honest simply to make a quick buck.

I guess my point in all of this is when soliciting new business, don’t lie. Be honest. Even if it means an automatic no, be honest. Because if I ever meet anyone who mentions this company, I will have zero issue in letting that person know how this “consultant” attempted to use dishonesty to get a foot in our door. Someone who is willing to flat out lie about their business intentions is not someone I would want to associate with professionally.

“To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.”  ~ Edward R. Murrow

Hardening the Spirit

“It is the season of your spirit hardening, my dear” He said.

A recent conversation with my father regarding life took place yesterday. Not gonna lie, it was a shit day, yesterday. Nothing hurts more than family turmoil and in the end, I turned to the one rock in my life that I knew would give me a better sense of stability, peace, and calm.

My dad. He is a man who is wiser than he lets on. A man who loves with the gentleness of lamb and the fierceness of a lion. He would kill and be killed for his children and grandchildren, gladly laying down his life if it meant keeping his family safe. My dad. My rock. My hero. His words helped me feel better. Quiet and unyielding support is what he gives, words that help, analogies that only make sense to the both of us.

I’m a daddy’s girl through and through.

But this past year…and the one before that…hell, for the past 3 1/2 years, it’s been hard. I did a LOT of growing up in a short amount of time. Growing up that, perhaps, should have taken place long ago, but was delayed for selfish reasons. A lot of tests, a lot of trials by fire, a lot of blindly stumbling my way through the darkness with only a small pinpoint of light to guide me through safely. (I wrote about my guiding light. My husband is a good man.)  But I remain unbroken, not lost, and still breathing and ready to take on whatever else is thrown my way.

“There has to be a reason for this,” I said to him, “I have to be being prepared for something bigger. There has GOT to be a reason for all of this.”

He responded that it’s probably my season of my spirit hardening. I’m experiencing things I was pretty well shielded from as a child. I have him and my mother to thank for that. I try to shield my children from life’s cruelties… but I am afraid they have experienced some of it and for that I am sorry, but I digress.

So this is my season. My season of hardening. My season to mature my spirit and grow in wisdom. At least, that is what my dad says. And hey…he has a few years on me. He must know what he is talking about, right?

Let’s Play a Game

 

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” ~ Richard Bach

“Let’s play a game”

Generally in my house, that phrase holds within in a realm of possibilities. With three kids and a husband who all have a slightly vicious competitive streak, playing games can be a fun family past time or a declaration of war.

If I am playing with my husband, it is on the XBox. I will be honest-I suck at video games. I was never a true “gamer” nor did I ever attempt to be, but my husband loves his Call of Duty games and so, I will try to oblige him by playing with him. It usually ends with me almost throwing the controller while yelling “I don’t give a damn. It’s justGAME!!!” while he fusses at me for not trying hard enough. I mean, jeez…I grew up on Nintendo and Atari. All these new fangled buttons on the XBox controller gets me flustered.

With my kids, I play on the Wii. We play MarioKart or bowling and yes, I still suck at these games, too. I will play a few rounds of MarioKart but after that, I am gamed out. My hand eye coordination is just not there. The girls aren’t so interested in playing video games, but if I ask them to play with me, they will. Or if they want to play and ask me to join, I will.

Now, board and card games are a completely different story for me. I will play some board and games and I will kick your booty. At least, I will try my damnedest. Monoploy? I will bankrupt you with hotels. Uno? I will make you lose a turn or draw cards. Checkers? King me! I love the old school games where you have to actually speak with each other to play the game. Pushing a few buttons on a controller is far less satisfying to me than knowing I will collect $2500 from you in rent because you landed on Park Place and I have hotels all over that bitch and that will bankrupt you and I will win. (Maybe that is where they get that competitive streak!)

Participation in their lives is important. Showing my husband that yes, I will at least try to play a game with him tells him I care about what he does. Showing my kids that yes, you can beat me at a game and the world will not end helps them see that playing for fun is acceptable and not everything has to be about who wins. And letting my kids in on the fun that I had growing up playing board and card games is so fulfilling. I feel as though I am teaching them secret skills that their friends might not ever learn given the current youth obsession with everything digital and/or electronic.

Quality time with family is important. Taking time out of your day or week to really spend time with your family is paramount to building and maintaining those strong bonds. A family dinner, followed by a family game. Or movie. Or outing. But doing things together…THAT is what is important. THAT is what my kids will remember.

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” ~Michael J. Fox

Respite

In the vastness of this land

I walked alone

Broken

Battered

Bruised

Stumbling over obstacles as I searched for meaning in the dust

Your heart’s fire was a beacon

Your soul’s light was a signal

Calling to my starving spirit

Beckoning me home

Your warmth a comfort

Your touch nourishment

Your words the water to satisfy my thirst

I found what I was searching for in the dry, unforgiving dust

With you, I am alive

With you, I flourish

 

Failure is Okay

“Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” ~Mia Hamm
This is a hard topic. I know there are harder topics out there…but this is hard.

Parenting is hard. I love my kids. I would bend over backwards for them, kill for them, die for them. I love how intelligent they are. They have this way of just knowing, even if I don’t say anything, if I am having a bad day or feeling a bit down. But this current situation is hard and it hurts and I feel, as a mother, as though I have failed my son.

My son. My son is a smart, funny, compassionate, sweet, adorable, goofy, distracted, geeky, nerdy but in a cute way, suffering from ADD teenager. Honestly he is so much more than that, but I am not here to wax poetic about how amazing my kid is (which he is). My son is dealing with some school stuff that we have all been struggling with since the first day, honestly. As a parent, it is my job to push him, to challenge him, to make sure he understands how to follow through with his responsibilities. Follow through at school is such a struggle for him. With his ADD, medicine might help…or it might turn him into a zombie with no appetite again and that is the last thing we need. But he gets distracted. forgets things. Loses track of when items are due. No amount of organization attempts have really helped him. School meetings, action plans, parent/teacher conferences…nothing seems to help.

We did home based online school for a while. At his request, I re-enrolled him into public school as he missed the social aspect of it. We were confident after his semester in a home school situation, with his grades up, he would be great in public school. We were wrong. He has struggled since the beginning. And we are facing a bitter truth: this won’t be the year he passes this grade level. At least, that is what it is looking like.

Failure is a bitter pill to swallow. Thinking back over everything that could have been done as a parent, and realizing you did everything you could only to end up with the outcome you were dreading and trying to prevent is a very frustrating experience. And as defeated as I feel, I can only imagine how defeated my son must feel. This directly affects HIM. In the past, I would simply make the decision I thought best for him and be done with it. As his father and I are divorced, and as my kids live with me, I would make that ultimate decision and not accept feedback from his father or anything else. But I need support on this. I need back up. I need to know I am not the only one frustrated with this situation and I am not the only one grasping at straws trying to help my son. So I made that hard phone call to his father, who is well aware of our son’s struggles, and I am dreading his response.

I don’t do conflict well.

Failure is scary. It hurts, stings, reminds you of your fallibility and that sometimes, things don’t always work out the way we want them to. I refuse to look at this as a dead end, though, This is not the end for my son. He has many years of school, mistakes, proud moments, failures, and successes left to him. My job, as his parent, is to encourage and support him through all of these moments. His failures are not my failures and his successes are not my successes. But I can love him through all of it and that is the best, as his mom and biggest cheerleader, that I can do.

 

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” C. S. Lewis

A Lesson In Courtesy

“Courtesy is as much a mark of a gentleman as courage.” Theodore Roosevelt
My husband and I had a last minute date night last night. We were fortunate enough to be gifted some amazing tickets to see the Brave play the Phillies and the seats were amazing. Well…they would have been amazing had the seat stealers actually moved back to where they were supposed to sit. No matter. We sat just a few seats down and the seats were still amazing. We were in left field, in the home run ball zone, and my husband was beyond tickled. It was an amazing night, the weather was perfect, and all we had to pay for was the parking and our food and drink and souvenirs.

And then they sat down. A group of young, beautiful people. Who were, for a lack of better words, shitty drunk. High pitched voices of the women pierced our ears, disturbing the quiet murmuring of the crowds around us. Incessant drunken conversation that stemmed around the procuring of more alcohol. Knees hitting chairs, loud and unnecessary chatter…honestly it reminded me of that scene from Mean Girls. All of the vapid, meaningless name dropping of the camera men to try and get on tv since the game was televised combined with the drunken yammering was enough to kill the mood for us. My husband moved us. Twice. (No worries…unfortunately for the Braves the stands weren’t filled so we weren’t taking anyone’s seats.) We managed to get far enough away from the drunkards to satisfy my husband.

As we sat back in our newly acquired seats, we were able to relax and watch the game. We held hands, kissed, talked about the players and the obvious mistakes in the plays. We marveled at the perfection of the weather and the night, how amazing it would be to do this again as a date night and how much fun the kids would have going to a game. The look on my husbands face as he watched the game was priceless. And to think, all of his happiness at being at Turner Field could have been taken away by a handful of discourteous attendees. I took a picture of the back of their heads and ranted on instagram about them.

obnoxious ballgame people

“Thank you, drunk and obnoxious attendees of tonight’s Braves game. Because of your ridiculous and incessant prattle, we had to actually leave our seats. Just because you are young doesn’t give you the license to drink irresponsibly, talk loudly for the ENTIRE section to hear, and detract from the entire experience around you. Be wary of how you present yourselves in public, for you never know if the people you irritate are the ones looking at your resumes.”

And then I thought of all the times my behavior may have been seen as discourteous or rude. Instead of washing myself in all of the guilty feelings and wallowing in my ignorance, I took a step back and thought about something my dad has always said. ‘Where their rights begin, yours end.’ It has taken a long time for me to know what that means to me and how to apply it in my life. I can’t expect people to do what I want them to do all of the time. I’m not their keeper nor am I their mother and if what they are doing is bothering me, I have a choice on how to handle it. I can either speak up and make my discomfort known, which can lead to arguments when alcohol is involved, OR I can make the choice to remove myself from the situation. Last night, my husband made that choice to remove us both from an uncomfortable situation without causing a scene or making a fuss. And for that I am grateful. I am grateful that his courteous behavior removed from the company of discourteous people.

Life really is what you make of it. You can roll with it, rage against it, or remain stagnant and allow it to over take you. Last night, we rolled with it. Last night we learned more life lessons.  And last night was a good lesson on how to handle rude behavior without even saying a word.

“Courtesy is the one coin you can never have too much of or be stingy with.” John Wanamaker