I’ve Lost My Social Skills

 

It seems the older I get, the less social I am.

I think part of that is a natural progression of getting older. I’m in my late 40s and priorities are different than they were when I was younger. The days of “Mom Groups” are long gone, walking kids to school isn’t necessary, and moving across the country a few years ago definitely put a dent in my social calendar. By way of circumstance, I’m just not exposed to as many social situations as I used to be. The opportunities aren’t there.

We haven’t fully established ourselves at a church, which is entirely our fault. But I have to admit, I feel a bit like the weird girl in the corner when I go to a social event these days.

Other than “Did you finish your homework,” or “please put your laundry away,” and “get off the computer,” my vocabulary has become somewhat limited. Can anyone else relate?

My husband and I made an intentional effort to reach out to new people this weekend, which is always awkward because I’m the extrovert and he’s the introvert. It makes for an unusual social combination. We went to a class at church instead of attending the main church service. There were about 24 men and women in the class, and everyone was friendly and welcoming…and WORE NAME TAGS! I’m terrible with names. You can tell me your name, I’ll repeat it, say “nice to meet you” and your name is erased from my memory. But seeing it written on a nametag, that’s my saving grace!

So, we enjoyed the class which had a “Parenting” theme, and there was time for fellowship and small talk. But for my husband and I, there always comes a time when we just run out of things to say. We aren’t good at “inventing” conversation. In fact, we’re TERRIBLE at it! After class, we said our quick “goodbye’s” and headed out to pick up the kids from their Sunday school classes.

We completely missed our opportunity for further fellowship! We panicked at the thought of inventing conversation and got out of there as soon as it was over. We noticed after we were down the hall, that everyone else lingered behind and visited some more. We blew it.

But we aren’t giving up. We won’t be back next week, since the class isn’t meeting because of Easter, but we will be back after that. Fortunately, it is a year-round class, leaving us plenty of opportunity to sit tongue-tied lots more times.

We are determined to make new friends…at least I am. My husband is perfectly happy with a book, but I cannot live by book alone.

Oh, the best part of the class? Not a single person had their phone out! No one was texting!

Do you struggle making friends as you get older?

Letter to my teenage children

 

It’s a precarious tightrope that parents walk: wanting to keep you safe and needing to let you go.

I need to give you enough rope to wander away, but not lose sight of home, yet still enough to pull yourself back home without getting tangled up in the process.

I want to guide you and help you with the circumstances that cross your paths, but I want you to use the tools we’ve given you to try to solve your own problems.

I want to give you freedom to experience things in your young life that will help form your opinions, your relationships and your joy. I want them to be your opinions and not mine, even if they are different from mine.

I can’t be there all the time. The world is a big place. It’s a place of wonder, a place of amazing sights and sounds, and, unfortunately, a place of danger too.

So how do I protect you without smothering you? How do I wait patiently by while you may not make the choices I would choose for you? How do I let you go and hope that you remember everything we’ve taught you? How do I know that you will come home when you get in over your head? How do I know you’ll seek wise counsel, even if it isn’t mine? I have to have faith.

I know you’ll try things you shouldn’t because, like you, I was young and curious once too. I know you’ll make mistakes, because I have, and still do. I pray those mistake can be reversed.

I hope that you find love, but not at the expense of your self. I hope you find success, but not at the expense of love.

So here’s where I have to trust. Here’s where I have to let you make your own decisions, and hope that I’ve equipped you well.

Here’s where I begin to set you free into the world, and hope you remember that you can always come back home.

The door will ALWAYS be open, the table will ALWAYS be set, and I will ALWAYS have the time.

Love,

Mom

Keeping My Head Above Water

Some days it’s all I can do to keep my head above water.

Being “Mom” and “Wife” is a varied job description for women. No one woman does the same job as her counterpart, yet we share a sisterhood that, on many days, all we need to do is look one another in the eye and nod. That nod says it all. I understand. I’m right there with you.

Some days I get too far ahead of myself. When things seem to be not going as planned, I’m the first one to want to jump in and fix them. But unfortunately, sometimes there are no quick fixes, no immediate solutions, and that drives me crazy!

The hamster wheel just doesn’t go fast enough for me and it still only goes round and round in circles. No end, no fix, just a whole lot of wasted energy.

Whether it’s the mounting price of groceries, or the stress of doing taxes, or keeping the kids in clothes or  worrying over their grades, I just can’t do it.

And then I remember what’s missing: God.

I’ve been trying to do it on my own: trying to solve problems that haven’t even happened yet, and may not ever happen, all on my own. The people around me feel my stress. I’m one of those who can’t hide my feelings…my face shows my every emotion. It’s a curse, really.

There’s a definition of “Anxiety” that I really like: trying to figure it all out at once.

That about sums it up.

The nights when I can’t sleep because I’m running numbers in my head, and no matter how I rearrange them, they just don’t add up. The nights when I wake myself up because my jaw hurts from clenching it so tightly that I might break a tooth.

All those nights could be better spent in rest and sleep if only I would let things go, and let God work it out. I know it may sound silly, but it really does help. God wants us to bring our worries to him, not so that He can fix them (though he certainly can), but so that we will rely on Him and not ourselves.

He’s already got it figured out. He really doesn’t need our help. In fact, for a lot of us, He just needs us to get out of our own way.

So I’m going to remember to breathe when things get hectic. If only I could remember to do that BEFORE the craziness starts.

Here’s to a better night’s sleep.

Organizing Fail

Nothing drives me more insane than being unorganized. Sometimes it can’t be avoided: like that pile of school papers sitting on the kitchen counter of upcoming events (there’s only so much that will fit on the refrigerator), or the pile of bills waiting to be paid. I’ve learned to accept that some things just don’t have a place every moment.

But then there are the things like chargers and ear buds that are strewn across table tops and desks. THOSE things drive me nuts!

At first I sewed this clever organizer that had a little strap for each item, then the entire thing could be rolled up and tucked into a drawer nicely. Thank you, pinterest. I thought I’d solved the problem. Every cord and charger would have a neat little home. Boy was I wrong! I think my family used it maybe once or twice. And I was STILL the one picking up the cords and putting them away, only to have them strewn across the table hours later.

Big Fail!

Next, I saw another pinterest post where they had used empty mint containers for the earbuds, and a clever box with a section for each charger – each section was even labeled. Genius, right?

Again…FAIL!

See, there’s one thing that all the organizers don’t tell you about those ingenious organizing ways…EVERYONE HAS TO ACTUALLY USE THEM for it to be effective.

Everyone has to be on board and feel as passionately about organizing as the one who made the fancy organizer.

My family, the ones who use the earbuds and chargers, do NOT share in my passion. It doesn’t bother them to have to hunt for their chargers and earbuds, and then untangle them to use them. Of course, these are the same people who consider the floor as a very low shelf!

So after many different trial and error options, my ingenious organizing solutions? A BOX! That’s right…a plain old box. Actually it’s one of those photo boxes from the craft store that was on sale for $2.50. And I didn’t have to put in ANY effort to make it!

So far it’s working out great. They just have to roll up the cords, and toss it into the box – no effort whatsoever! And I even threw in a few empty mint containers for earbuds. They can choose to use them or not. But the best part is I DON’T HAVE TO LOOK AT THE MESS ANYMORE!

What Parents Do to Make Things Last

 

shoes-1509209_1920

I’m replacing the 2nd pair of sneakers that my son has had since school started in September! Already!

It doesn’t matter whether I buy name brand or Target specials (no offense Target), he is the Sneaker Destructor: villain to sneakers everywhere.

It made me think about the things that my parents used to do to make our belongings last, before the world was so “disposable.”

I grew up in the 70s and 80s (GenX), and when something broke or started to wear out, they did everything they could to stretch as much life out of it as they could. Throwing something away was a last resort.

In the early 70s, my brothers were subjected to jeans made of indestructible fabric. They were called Toughskins and they were horribly uncomfortable. They didn’t bend, but Toughskins could take a beating. But just to be sure they got the most wear out of them, before my brothers even wore them, my mom would reinforce the knees with iron-on denim patches. Fortunately for their reputations, she put the patches on the inside of the pants. But it only made them less flexible.

And when the soles of sneakers started to wear out she’d reach for the “Shoo Goo.” Before she’d spend a dime on a new pair of sneakers, she would “Shoo Goo” the heck out of the sneakers. It wasn’t until a toe would poke through the top of the shoe that she’d have to break down and buy a new pair. Maybe I should invest in a tube.

My mom would also re-use any plastic food container. I never saw her purchase any Tupperware. Instead, she re-used every margarine, Cool Whip, and cottage cheese container over and over again. She still does it to this day.

My dad could fix anything. Whether it was electronic, made of glass or wood, belonged on the car, or belonged in the house, with enough tinkering, he could fix it. And this was before the internet, so he didn’t have any YouTube videos for reference. Just good, old-fashioned, common sense got him through it.

I think I inherited a little bit of their attitude of preservation. My husband laughs when he comes home and sees me re-gluing the leg on a chair, or weaving my kids’ clothes back together. But he’s appreciative when it’s HIS favorite shirt or comfortable sweatpants that I’ve mended.

Tomorrow we’ll go buy a new pair of sneakers, because my son’s toe is poking through the top and Shoo Goo won’t really help with that. If only Toughskins made sneakers that would keep the Sneaker Destructor at bay.

What crazy things do you do to stretch the life of your things?

Family Time – Am I Asking Too Much?

mama-1751487_1920

Family Time should consist of more than shoe shopping on the weekends or errand running during the week. And, though I value every minute I spend with my kids, helping with homework and studying can hardly be considered “quality time.”

It seems I’m constantly competing with electronics for any conversation at all. And dinner time gives me only 20 minutes (at the most) of their undivided attention.

But getting them interested in spending time with the family, all together at the same time, doing the same activity, (especially the 14-yr-old) is down-right exhausting. And what I’m left with is grumbling kids that are sparing me very little of their cerebral attention.

The worst part is that I know they are merely “appeasing me” until they can get back to their own interests, namely the darn technology.

Has family time really changed that much from when I was a kid, or teen? I mean, I have memories of playing family games together with my brothers and my parents. I realize we didn’t have the electronic distractions we do now. In a sense, if we didn’t find friends to hang out with on a Friday night, we were essentially stuck with the parents, and, as such, we were subjected to there torturous games of “Sorry” and “Scrabble.” But we hung out…together.

The difference today is that my kids don’t have to go outside of the house to find their entertainment. And friends? They can meet up with them on-line. So maybe it just “feels” different. As parents, we’re competing for our kids’ attention on a whole different scale.

I don’t want to force them into Family Time, because then what I’m left with is pouty kids who will go along with whatever said activity is, but you can bet their enthusiasm is less than convincing, if existent at all.

So what’s a parent to do? I know I only have a few years left before they are completely out the door, at least with the older one. The 11-yr-old still has a few more years, but I feel like time is getting away from me.

So I’m asking other parents of teens: what have you done to implement Family Time? Has it been successful? I’d love some ideas.

Why textbooks are still necessary

apple-256264_1920

There are A LOT of different ways to teach and learn, and it seems every school is different for different reasons. I understand budget restraints, and different teaching styles, and I’m not a teacher, so I can only speak from a parent point of view. #momopinion

But I MISS TEXTBOOKS!

My daughter has a full schedule of classes: all the basics, History, Language Arts, Geometry, German, Health, Science…the usual.

But what she doesn’t have is textbooks. Only her History class uses a textbook. The rest of the classes use printed worksheets to work on and study from.

I understand that textbooks are expensive, but they are useful and so much more consistent when it comes to the learning material, especially for us parents.

I can’t tell you how many times my daughter has brought home geometry homework that I can’t help her with because, let’s face it, high school was A LONG time ago for me. It’s been a lot of years since I’ve had to prove “Angle-Side-Angle” or use the Pythagorean Theorem. And when she brings home a printed paper, it would be nice to have a textbook for a reference.

The same has occurred in German. I took Spanish, not German, so I’m not much help, and you can’t count on google translators to correctly translate sentences.

My kids laughed at the fact that I saved my Harbrace College Handbook, but my daughter finally appreciated it when she needed to know the difference between a compound sentence and a compound-complex sentence.

That’s why I love our public library. I’ve checked out a German to English Dictionary AND Workbook, and my daughter’s grasp of the German language improved. I also checked out an Idiot’s Guide to Geometry complete with exercises and answers. It’s starting to come back to me now, and it’s helping her too. #supportthelibrary

The “age of technology” is a marvelous thing, but it isn’t a consistent resource. Not to mention, a book never goes “offline,” and when you look up a subject in a reference book, chances are you won’t find objectionable material that you weren’t looking for. I’ve never heard of anyone getting a “virus” from a book either.

I guess I’m old fashioned, but textbooks do still have their place in school. Sometimes it’s to help the kids, and sometimes it’s to help the parents help their kids.