When your children want to know the gory details…

(Original Post July 2015)

 

So I found myself caught between a rock and a hard place (sorry for the cliché) the other night.

My daughter wanted to know if I was a rebel when I was younger.

Maybe it was the deer in the headlights expression that gave it away, but she knew immediately that I was not always the straight-laced, button-down, Christian woman that I am today.

Don’t get me wrong, I was always the one who everyone’s parents trusted, including my own. And for good reason.  For the most part, I stayed out of trouble, rarely broke the rules (I was usually too scared) or at least was smart enough not to get caught. But my daughter wanted the dirt, the gory details.

At first I told her that if she could guess something that I had done, that I would fess up. She couldn’t really come up with anything, to my relief, but she was relentless.

So what’s a parent to do? Make up something? No, that’s not my style. I’m too honest for that. I mean, really…honesty has always been my enemy.

This was a dilemma. If I told her a rebellious story she may use it against me further down the line. You know, throw my words back at me…”But YOU did it!” That would be bad. Or she could go the other way…”Just because YOU never did it doesn’t mean that I can’t do it!”

There really was no way to get out of the messy situation. It was a teachable moment…for both of us. So I thought of something forgivable, and told her a brief story from my rebellious youth. It was entertaining and not something she could really duplicate, so I was safe there. No one in the story got hurt. I told her how I learned a lesson and why it wasn’t a good idea to begin with.

Discernment…that’s what I learned. I learned that it isn’t so bad to tell my kids the gory details of my past mistakes, as long as I keep them in my past, and as long as my kids can learn a lesson from them. I think I’ll be ready for the next time one of them asks about my history, and I’ll keep the gore to a minimum. I’d like to keep my straight-laced, button-down reputation intact.

I’m just glad I got to live my teenage years BEFORE the internet.

Do you tell your kids about your gory details?

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Confession – I’m Guilty of Enabling My Kids

“I’ll just do it myself.” Even if I don’t say it out loud, I often think it. Not out of martyrdom, not out of self-pity, but just because I can do it faster, and get it done when I want it done, whatever the “What” may be.

Am I alone on this?

I wouldn’t say my kids are spoiled, not in the traditional sense. They don’t have the latest iphone, they don’t get showered with unnecessary gifts, I don’t buy them brand name clothes. They aren’t spoiled in that sense. But when I step back and look at what I do around the house in comparison to what they do around the house, I realize that I am an “enabler.”

It started because I was a stay-at-home-mom, and my only job was to take care of the kids and the house. But the kids got older (12 and 16) and yet I still do almost everything.

I do their laundry, I make their lunches for school (except the 16 year old makes her sandwich), I make dinner AND wash the dishes AND put them away when they’re dry. Our dishwasher is broken, so I hand-wash everything. I dust, I vacuum, I clean the bathrooms, I empty the trash and take the bags to the garbage…I do way too much.

And it isn’t helping them AT ALL.

These are vital survival skills they need. But rather than engage in yet another argument, I just do it myself.

But ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

With my back being injured this past couple of weeks (it’s getting better), it’s become very apparent to me how I’ve cheated my kids out of figuring things out on their own.

Please don’t misunderstand, they are good kids. Put to the test, I’m sure they would survive. But I’ve made it really easy for them to sit back and not have to take responsibility.

But this week, due to necessity, I’ve been forcing myself (and them) to take on some more responsibility. Doing the dishes without pushing back has been the biggest change. And when they argue about whose turn it is, I’ve stepped back and let them figure it out for themselves.

Tonight was a big step forward for me and the kids. We decorated the Christmas tree (we have an artificial tree and it’s our tradition to set it up the day after Thanksgiving). And for those of you who “re-decorate” after the kids have had their shot at the tree (you know who you are), you know this is a big one.

I didn’t hang a single ornament…not a single one! I couldn’t. The mere act of getting up and down off the floor and bending and stretching hurt my back. I even passed the torch of arranging the lights on the tree to my oldest and she did a fabulous job. It was my job to take the ornaments out of the box and hand them to the kids (and my hubby) to hang.

Somewhere along the way, I lost track of time, and forgot that they weren’t babies anymore. I forgot where my responsibilities ended and theirs began. I forgot when “helping” became “enabling.”

My hope is that I can keep it going and not slip back into my old enabling ways when my back is better. Maybe everything really does happen for a reason.

Can you relate to this? I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one.

At the Mercy of Others

I haven’t posted anything all week because when I haven’t been working on my NaNoWriMo Manuscript, I’ve been in pain. A lot of it.

Over a week ago, I did something to my back, though I can’t remember anything in particular that I did, and I’ve been in horrible pain. I can’t lay down, I can’t sit up, I can’t stand for very long without a LOT of pain…you get the idea.

I’ve thrown out my back before, but this pain is different. It even hurt to lift my leg to go up the stairs. I finally broke down and went to the doctor. But I didn’t like her prognosis – “It’s either a kidney stone or you have a bulging disc. Go home and drink lots of water, and if it gets worse, go to the emergency. Oh, and take these super strong pain killers in the meantime.” Are you kidding me?! How about I go get a new doctor! (I’m going to get a second opinion tomorrow).

Because of the pain, I’ve had to rely A LOT on the mercy of others.

The first day I was laid up was laundry day. I watched my dear husband do all the laundry and fold and put away the clothes. Even the kids got involved. Being the control freak that I am, that was hard to do. Watching the laundry being folded by someone else as well as hearing the washer be done and waiting for people to put it in the dryer drove me crazy. As I said, I’m a control freak.

It also showed me that I’ve spoiled my family entirely too much. They don’t know where anything is in the house! I have failed as a wife and mother! And trying to describe to my husband where I kept the heating in the bedroom closet while I reclined on the couch downstairs, was a true test to our marriage.

It has been a mixed bag of blessings all week.

Towards the end of the week, I had to go back to work, where I am a stock clerk in a grocery store. My male co-workers, who treat me as their equals and not as a “girl,” were super helpful. They lifted the heavy boxes and pushed out the heavy carts for me without complaining or judging. I need to make those boys some cookies.

Instead of going out to lunch with a friend, because it hurt to sit in a regular chair, my friend brought lunch to me.

My husband made dinner (or brought it home) several times and my kids helped with the dishes.

The worst part, besides the pain, has been the boredom! I’ve watched more Dr. Phil and sitcoms than I’d like to admit. But at least the Hallmark channel has been running their Christmas movies round the clock. Although that makes me want to go Christmas shopping, and though amazon is practical, it doesn’t take the place of being out in the decorated stores to really get in the mood.

I’m glad I have people in my life that don’t mind helping, and even get mad if I try to go ahead and do things even if I hurt, but I’m about done with this pain. Here’s hoping tomorrow’s doctor has a better solution than drinking lots of water.

Have you ever had a situation where you’ve had to rely on others and give up control? I’d love to hear about it.

More than a record store

Until recently, I had forgotten how important, scratch that…how VITAL music is to a teenager’s soul.

Feeling angry? Put on some thrash metal. Feeling sad? Cry to a good sad rock ballad. Feeling happy? Celebrate with a good punk rock number.

Sure, as adults, we enjoy music too. But not the same way that most teenagers LIVE for their music.

But it’s different for them. Just as video killed the radio, MP3 killed the record store. Yeah, we have an endless choice of music now, and our kids don’t know the beauty of sitting by the radio with the tape recorder waiting to tape the song they love. But they also don’t get to enjoy the romanticism of the record store. Remember those?

I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles, so the music scene was huge for us. We had access to concerts (they were still affordable then), to alternative thrift stores like Aardvarks and Restyle Too (for those of you from Southern California), and to…well…Hollywood and all the alternative music you could stand.

At the alternative thrift stores we found more than clothes. It was a place where we could find “our people.” Other music fanatics who had more in common than SAT scores and Baseball or college admissions. We were considered the misfits (and I use that term affectionately), but we were misfits together. For those of you who might not understand, think Andy and Ducky in the movie “Pretty in Pink.”

I’ve blogged about the area where we live several times. It can be a pressure cooker of status and grades and fitting in. And when you don’t, well, life can be hard. Don’t get me wrong, I love the opportunities my kids have here, things they would never have been afforded in our old area. But it’s sort of painted with one brush.

I’ve been scouring our area for thrift stores or vinyl stores (there are very few) where my daughter can find some heavy metal and rock patches and pins for her new jacket. And, other than Hot Topic, there are very few. When I first moved here, I asked one of my new friends where the thrift shops were, and you would have thought I was asking where they kept the slaughter house. People don’t shop there, unless it’s a consignment shop that only accepts gently-used designer labels. And there’s nothing wrong with that, unless you don’t fit that mold.

It looks like I’m left to amazon, the great shopping mall in the sky, to find patches. But it isn’t the same as walking into the record store with Souxsie and the Banshees or AC/DC blaring on the sound system. It isn’t the same as exchanging a knowing glance from the stranger across the clothing rack that you both know the lyrics to the song being played. Or striking up a conversation with the clerk behind the counter about the concert t-shirt he’s wearing, and realizing you were both at the same concert.

Which leads me to the bigger picture: perhaps technology has separated us as much as it’s united us…perhaps even more so. I know I miss those days of connecting.

So, if you’re a “misfit,” just where do you fit in? How do you find your people?

Maybe we need more record stores and less cell phones. Maybe we need more affordable concerts and less YouTube videos. And if anyone knows where to find patches on the Mid-Atlantic Coast, please let me know. And don’t say Hot Topic, lest my daughter burn your corneas with the look of a teenager scorned.

Why Moms Need a “Village”

When I had my first child, over 16 years ago, I was elated. Growing up, I never aspired to be a CEO, or a big executive (not that there’s anything wrong with that). I just wanted to be a Mom and a Wife. My dreams were coming true.

And then the hard work began.

For starters, I have a minor disability which makes me somewhat dependent on others, which I hate, by the way. But it can’t be helped. That’s where my “Village” comes in.

I knew going into parenthood, that I would need help, especially getting around town with the kids. And it became evident immediately when the doctors screwed up my C-Section (a small portion of it opened back up) which sent me to the wound center EVERY DAY for the first 10 weeks of my daughter’s life. My husband couldn’t take that much time off work, so my village took me there and waited with the newborn while my wounds were cleaned.

Because I can’t drive, I try my best to be close to schools, grocery stores, and doctors, and God has provided that for me. But there are times when stumbling blocks get thrown in the way. That’s when I need my village. Sometimes it’s made up of good friends or family and sometimes near strangers.

The truth is parenting is hard, whether you have a disability or not. There are times when you’ll be criticized, and judged, and you’ll need your village to support you even when you’re wrong.

My Village comes in all shapes and sizes.

I’ve had friends who are like surrogate parents to my children. They love them almost as much as their own. They’ve watched my kids early in our friendship when my husband had a gall stone attack (we didn’t know what it was at the time) and had to be rushed to the hospital. They’ve picked my kids up from school or watched them when I was stuck on the bus or they’ve taken them to school functions when I couldn’t get them there on my own.

Sometimes the “Village” support comes in emotional support as well. When I thought I was losing my mind as most of us Moms do from time to time, they picked me up off the floor and reminded me that “this too shall pass.”

My kids are now in their teens, and I still need my “Village.” Moms with older kids who have gone before me to advise me with high school decisions. Moms with younger kids to remind me not to take any moment for granted, because they pass quickly. Moms with kids the same age to support each other in the insanity.

My Village…I love them all and there’s never any way I could every repay their kindness. Somehow “thank you” doesn’t seem to be enough.

What about you? Have you found your village?

When Your Teen Doesn’t Share Your Beliefs Anymore

 

The following post is a reminder to myself in this season of my life and my teen’s life. But I thought someone else might benefit from it as well. I hope you can find some comfort in the following words if you’re experiencing growing pains of your own.

My child’s “unbelief” was pre-ordained. It’s only a surprise to me, not to God. He knew this was coming, and He knows the outcome.

It’s not my job to “convert” my child. It’s my job to guide and let God do the “converting.”

Forgive myself. It’s nothing I did wrong. Sometimes when your child is coming to their own conclusions, it means they are acting on their own. They are doing exactly what you taught them – to think on their own. They are maturing and thinking about what life means to them.

Don’t take it personally. Sometimes their unbelief is out of rebellion, but more often it’s out of discovery. Sometimes I think it can even be out of sheer laziness – they don’t want to be accountable to God, so they are taking the easy way out. It’s the “because I don’t want to” reasoning.

It’s a growing pain. Both my teen’s and my own. Just like growing out of dolls or playing with legos, they’re maturing and deciding what works for them. For me, it means learning to let go. They’re getting closer to adulthood, and my belief will not always be their belief.

The best thing I can do in this time of their life is to love them. It should be a time of “show” and not “tell.” Lecturing will only push them away. They need to know I love them. They need to know that my love for them doesn’t come with conditions like sharing a belief in God.

Let them experience Grace – mine and God’s. Forgive when they don’t deserve it, be kind to them just because. Really show them God’s love with how I respond to them.

Most importantly, this is God’s battle, not mine. I don’t have the ammunition or the army or the stamina to run the race with them, but God does. He’ll be there when they choose Him. And even if they don’t choose Him, God will love them in spite of themselves.

God tumbled down the walls of Jericho by having men walk around, time and time again He brought people out of despair and raised them up when they didn’t even know He existed. He waited while his followers groaned and walked through the wilderness for 40 years, and He was there every step of the way.

What makes me think He will not do the same for my child?

Take a breath and say a prayer and love your child. There is a time for everything under the sun. And now is a time to wait.

Meet Our New Tarantula!

I know, I know…that’s not a picture of a Tarantula, but it was supposed to be.

Here’s how it started.

My daughter started asking for a Tarantula last year. But my husband is afraid of spiders and it was not something that he was willing to consider. She begged and pleaded, but to no avail. She continued to do her research, trying to find breeders, and what Tarantula would be a good “starter” spider, all in the hopes that he would change his mind.

When she pulled off a really good GPA at the end of the year, he couldn’t say “no” anymore. He new he had to give in.

A little side note: the reason we don’t have a cat or a dog is because I am completely allergic. Runny nose, puffy, itchy eyes, big red welts, the whole enchilada. I love animals, they just don’t love me, and allergy shots are not an option for me. Anyways…

We went to the pet store a few weeks ago to price out all the supplies she would need for the Tarantula. My husband tried distracting her with the fish, I looked at the adoptable cats in the clinic (behind glass) with longing, wishing things were different. But she stayed focused on the spider, until she happened past the Guinea Pig cages.

There were two: one hiding is his cave with the typical black, brown and white coloring, the other one was brown and looked as though he had a “flat top haircut” and he came right up to visit us. My daughter immediately fell in love! He looked like a hairy potato (her description).

And you better bet my husband saw his opportunity! LOL

We told her that we didn’t know anything about Guinea Pigs and that she needed to do some research before we said ‘yes’. She went home and did some quick research and came back within a couple of hours and bought the cute cavy. His name is “Jameson Fawkes” AKA JunkRat (Gamers might recognize the name).

And the best part? NO ONE is allergic to him!

So, we finally have a pet. And even better…he doesn’t have to be walked in the rain or the snow.

Sometimes parenting decisions are made for us. Sometimes dilemmas work themselves out. Guinea Pig triumphs over Tarantula!

By the way, my son is already saving his money for his own Guinea Pig.