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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I Wish I Would Have Asked More Questions

What I wish I would Have Asked

 

My Dad was a great man. He was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known, he rarely raised his voice, if ever. He was a teacher. He taught my brothers and me how to fix things, how to settle things (fights), how to do math (I hated that one…he was an engineer and I was a creative type, so his explanations never made sense to me and I almost always ended up in tears of frustration…but still, he tried). He taught me all the Dad-things: how to hammer a nail, how to ride a bike, how to play the piano, how to stand up for myself, and too many to name.

I don’t have many regrets in life. I look at life as one big learning experience. Are there things I would take back? Sure. But at the end of the day, my mistakes, my faults, my triumphs are what make me the person I am today, good and bad.

But now that I’m an adult reaching middle age, there is one thing I do regret: I wish I would have asked him more questions.

Not about HOW to do things, or just the FACTS about my Dad’s life, but I wish I would have asked him what it was like to BE him. I wish I would have asked him how he FELT about things.

Like when he was drafted into the Navy in 1956, six months after marrying my mom. He was a Seabee in the Navy. I remember him talking about the bug they caught that had pincers so big it could break a pencil, or the time he almost touched a lion fish not knowing how poisonous they are. But I never asked him how it felt to be so far from home and newly married. I never asked him what he did while he was stationed there. Or the people he met and called “friend.”

He worked for almost 35 years as an engineer and worked on top secret projects for most of that time. I never asked him what it must have been like to come home and not be able to vent about the annoying events of your day with your spouse or have a “bring your kids to work day.” It must have been lonely.

I heard stories about his childhood, but I wish I would have written some of them down (it’s what writers do).

And when he got older and got Alzheimer’s and I became an adult, at times I was too busy to take the time to just sit with him and listen. He didn’t talk much, especially towards the end, but he did still remember stories from his youth, even if he couldn’t remember my name.

So, don’t forget to spend the time, to ask the questions that you might not think are important. Because, one day, they will be.

At least I have all of eternity to ask anything I want to one day.

Are there things you regret not asking your loved ones?

Parenting Teens – Unshakable Love

Parenting Teens

My oldest child is 16. Sixteen! How did that happen?!

It’s been an emotional roller coaster this last year. Lots of tears, lots of hurt feelings and misunderstandings, and lots of times when her father (who had no sisters) had no idea what he was in for.

I think we’re at a good point at the moment. I can’t say how long it will last, since emotions run high, and things seem to turn at the drop of a hat or the slam of a door.

I think parenting teens is so hard because we remember what we did as teens, and how much we didn’t tell our parents. We know what they’re probably doing when we aren’t around, or, thanks to technology, even when we’re in the next room.

I have a new slogan for my kids that I keep repeating:

“It isn’t what you do that makes me love you, it’s who you are. I will always fight for you…ALWAYS, even when we disagree.”

It’s sort of a mantra for both me and them. I want them to know there is nothing they can do to lose my love…NOTHING. There is also nothing they can do to EARN my love. I love them because they are my children. That’s it. It’s just that simple.

Let’s face it, there are going to be times when we will disappoint one another, but that disappointment will never make me turn away for them.

There will be times when we make each other really mad, maybe too mad to even speak. But they can’t shake my love.

Working a Blue Collar Job in a White Collar Area

I mentioned a while back, that I’ve taken on a new job with a local grocery store. It’s physical work, and it’s repetitive work, but I absolutely love it!

I don’t miss dealing with customers, other than to point them in the right direction, AT ALL.

I honestly feel like I experienced some sort of “mental trauma” with my last job which was listed as Customer Service, but really was more of a sales position than anything. I couldn’t deal with the pressure of “making the hard sale” and “upselling” services that I knew the customer didn’t need or couldn’t afford. It was a lot of stress and at this stage in my life, I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. I hated “bring the job home with me every day.” It was slowly killing me.

An interesting side note to my blue collar job is working in a white collar neighborhood.

A few crazy statistics about the county where I live just to give you an idea: the median income level is somewhere around $140,000 per year; the average education level is at least a Bachelor’s Degree, 79% of people own their homes…I could go on, but as you can see, it’s a rather privileged area. My husband and I joke all the time that we’re bringing down the neighborhood with out modest income and one car household.

Taking those statistics into consideration, I have to admit that a small part of me wondered how I would feel when I ran into parents of my kids’ friends. Because, clearly, grocery clerk does not pay nearly as well as most of their government or IT management jobs. And it certainly is nothing to write home about. I wondered if I’d be embarrassed. There’s no degree needed for my job, I didn’t go to a prestigious college, and I certainly don’t carry the clout that a lot of them do.

So, as I’ve told people about my job as a grocery clerk/stocker, you can imagine some of the reactions.

True friends, of course, are completely supportive. And knowing my situation (not driving, being epileptic), it is the perfect job for me.

However, I’ve had few people pause, and then with a longing in their eyes, seem to be a little envious when I tell them how I don’t work in a stressful environment at all. In fact, I’ve even had a couple of them tell me they wish they had a job that they didn’t have to take home with them.

That’s one thing that the statistics don’t show is the amount of stress and anxiety people go through trying to measure up to their neighbors and trying to keep their heads afloat. It’s impossible at times, especially in my neck of the woods.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking other people’s jobs. You do what you need to survive and be happy. I’m just saying that success can measured in a myriad of ways. Being successful doesn’t have to drive you to an early grave.

For me, there’s something fulfilling about doing an honest day’s work. I come home with sore muscles every day. Taking a physical job when I’m nearly 50 years old was probably not my best decision. But even though Aspercreme is my new best friend, and I’ve pulled a muscle in my back, and creak every time I squat down to put the butter on the bottom shelf, I’m hoping that this will be my last job.

What about you? Have you ever changed careers halfway through life for something completely different? Oh, and one last thing: for stay-at-home-moms wanting to return to work part time, I highly recommend checking out your local grocery store. The hours are flexible, and what better place to use our “mom skills” than in the grocery store? We already know where everything is, right?

A Letter to My First Born

To My First Born Child,

There’s a reason you’re called the “first born,” and it’s not just because you’re are first in the lineage of my children. It’s because you got the “first” of everything, both the good and the bad.

You are the one I have the most pictures of. There are pictures of your first smile, your first coo, your first toy, your first visit with grandparents, your first ‘Mommy and Me Class,’ your first “friend” before you even knew what a friend was, your first taste of green beans that you hated (and still do). There’s a picture of the first time you fell asleep on your Daddy’s chest, and the first time you went on the potty. Don’t worry, we’ll destroy that one before you get your first boyfriend.

I’ve had the most time with you which means for the first three years of your life, you had ALL my attention, the good and the bad.

You’re my “experimental” child. The Beta-Child, if you will. I had no idea what I was doing when you came along, so I screwed up…a lot. I’m still screwing up.

When you were very young, I told you “no” and you listened, and I thought it was MY good parenting. I had no idea it was because you were an easy baby. Now when I tell you “no” you don’t always listen, and I attribute it to YOUR temperament and not my bad parenting. See how that works? (Just kidding)

You were the first one through the horrible middle school years. I knew what was coming, having experienced middle school myself (a lifetime ago), and so I could commiserate with you. You are also the first one to reach high school, and I’m terrified that I’m going to forget to make sure all your testing is done, all your credits are reached before you get to college. But I somehow got through it, and so will you.

So, I feel the need to apologize for screwing up, but also rejoicing that we have learned together. I hope you won’t end up in therapy when you’re older for all the mistakes I’ve made.

For the Beta-Child, you’ve turned out pretty good. I’m proud of the woman you’re becoming, despite my errors in parenting.

Thank you for being patient with me. We’ve got a long way to go, and I still have a lot to learn.

I Am “One of Those Housewives”

This week I was called “One of Those Housewives” as if it was a curse word. Uh, yeah…I am “One of Those Housewives.” I’m also “One of Those Moms” and “One of Those Wives” and “One of Those Women.”

And I am darn proud of those titles. I’ve earned them. I have the scars to prove it.

But when I got the comment, which has since been deleted because I like to run a happy blog not a critical one, it struck a nerve. I didn’t know how to answer it. I try to live by “if you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.” And I knew, if I answered it directly, then it would only encourage my commenter (who, by the way, commented on a post written 2 YEARS AGO) to spout back and start not a conversation, but a war of opinions. It’s usually not my style.

I know, that’s completely unheard of in this age of social media. What? Remain silent? Don’t engage? My husband likes to say, “Social Media is not a conversation.” He’s right.

But I’m regretting not defending myself. So, I’m making an exception this once, not just for myself, but to give a voice to all “Those Other Housewives” out there.

If my commenters happen across this, here’s what I would say for the record: I am not one of those housewives that think that social media is “evil.” I never said that and that wasn’t my point at all. I do, however, think it can be a catalyst for “evil” to be done. See the difference? I am also not one of those housewives who think that video games cause kids to shoot people. But I do think that isolation can feed into a person’s psyche, adult or child, and if they don’t have someone keeping them in reality, it can be dangerous for their well-being. And that includes RPG platforms as well. Because what’s acceptable for an 18-year-old to play is not necessarily what’s acceptable for a 12-year-old. It depends on the kid.

And most important, I am an involved mother…not a S’MOTHER. I DO care what my kids are watching on-line. I DO care who they are chatting with on-line. And I believe it is my responsibility to make sure they can make wise choices. And if a part of making those wise choices means temporarily taking away their technology, then I will do it. I AM THE MOM. IT’S MY JOB to make sure they don’t end up going down a path before they’re mature enough to handle it. I wouldn’t let my child talk to real life strangers, especially ones whose influence may be potentially harmful, and I don’t want them talking to those same strangers on line either. That’s just common sense.

So, if that’s what you’re referring to when you try to insult me by calling me “One of Those Housewives” then I guess I am. It isn’t a curse word, it’s a privilege. And to my commenter, I hope that you have “One of Those Housewives” in your life.

That’s all I got. My apologies for breaking my rule of “not responding to petty comments,” but I felt the need to defend myself and all the other Moms working hard to keep their kids safe and help them make good decisions.

We do the best we can, even if we are just “One of Those Housewives.”

Trying to Understand My Teens

I don’t get it. There…I admit it. I’ve become my mother (but I’ll never admit that to her).

We have a day off school (because apparently one whole week + one day of Spring Vacation was not enough). And I have the day off work today. The only one that went in was my poor husband.

I figured that the kids would want to get together with friends at the mall, or have a friend over, or go to a friend’s house…do something socially, right? It’s what I would’ve done at their age. Heck, it’s what I want to do RIGHT NOW!

But instead, they are both happily glued to the computer/phone playing with friends on line or texting their friends.

I don’t get it!

Granted, it’s only 40 degrees outside today, so I can see where they might not want to go outside. But, come on! DO SOMETHING!

In an attempt to understand, I asked the older one (the 16 year old) if she was bored and she said “no.”

This was the conversation:

Mom: So, let me get this straight. All your friends are sitting in their individual homes, and rather than go to one collective house or location to hang out, you all prefer to sit at home and text each other all day long?

Daughter: Yep. That way we can each do our own thing and still talk.

Me: Okay.

At that point, I turned and walked out of the room because I clearly don’t understand. How can they not be bored?!

In an attempt to understand what they spend their time doing, I went on YouTube yesterday just to entertain myself. (Yesterday was a carbon copy of today) It was SOOOO BORING! I looked at animal memes, a few of the YouTubers they watch like (but I don’t endorse) Pewdie Pie, Dan and Phil, etc. etc. Within 3 minutes I was bored. I mean like mind-numbingly bored. I couldn’t do it! And I just don’t get it!

I’ve tried to play some of the mindless games. Again…BORING. I even downloaded games that interested me like crossword puzzles and again…bored.

I tried watching music videos with the same result. I’m trying to understand, I really am. I want to have something in common with them and understand the one-liners they say to each other at the dinner table. But, like I said, I’ve turned into my mother.

I just see it as such a waste of time. Such a waste of the mind.

Now you might say, it’s just not my thing, and you’d be right. But I’m a writer and I go on the internet for research at times, but that’s in little spurts. I also can spend hours writing my current WIP. But even that gets boring once in a while and I have to step out of the bubble, lest the bubble burst!

Maybe I’m not supposed to understand them. Maybe that’s why they call it a Generation Gap. I’ve found the Gap and it doesn’t sell clothes. It’s a void where parents throw a lifeline across and hope that their kids look up from their phone long enough to catch it.

I guess I’d better go change the laundry, because there’s not an APP that does that yet.

Have a good day!