Tag Archives: parenting

Mythical beast baby

This kid has flow like a river. Maybe that’s what you get when you give a child a middle name like Hudson. He’s got such a wonderful warmth to him, always generous with the hugs, and people simply like him. It’s charm at its most essential.

In a hundred ways he reminds me of me, but I just keep thinking he has things so much easier, so much better. There’s a security in his life that I never knew at his age. That probably doesn’t matter, though, when you’re a senior in high school and on the verge of what’s next. Cusp is a four-letter word.

Out of all my children, he’s the one I worry about the most, at least these days. They take me on their emotional journeys individually, just like the Mom & Me trips I take with them. There are turns. Fair enough, I suppose.

As a mom, I want my children to live truthful lives. The sooner they learn that being honest and direct works best most of the time, the happier we’ll all be. It’s a milestone just like learning to walk, which Griffin did at 9.5 months. Some things he gets quicker than others, but he’s always loved.

If you see him today, wish him a happy birthday. Then tell him to go home. He’s grounded.

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Filed under aging, Albany, birthdays, Boys, family, love, moms, musings, Observations, Spring

So mothers be good to your daughters too

D0CB0C7D-372C-4FFF-A072-2C34D5F64266-1258-0000011A65462537When I was a child I often heard about my Oma with whom my mother had a strained relationship. The complaint my mother frequently made was that Oma treated her sons and daughters very differently. Sons were useful and contributed to the family’s existence and thus were to be indulged, while daughters were primarily useful only for assistance in taking care of the boys. Even though this was one of my mother’s greatest criticisms of her own childhood, you’re probably not surprised to hear that she herself was guilty of repeating the same behavior. Habits are hard to break.

I met some family members on my trip with whom I had never before crossed paths. It’s an odd thing meeting someone you’re related to after living five decades on this planet without ever encountering them. What’s even odder is when you realize how many remarkably similar experiences you share despite not having ever known each other.

Did you know that the word “cousin” is the same in both English and German? That fact makes me smile.

My cousin and I sat across the table from one another and told the stories of our lives, our relationships, our health and our mothers. At times the thread of our conversation was so personal and intimate that it was impossible to believe we hadn’t before met. There’s never been a time when I felt so firmly that someone understood exactly what I was talking about when I shared some moments from my own mother-daughter highlight reel. Why? Because she had experienced the same sort of unhealthy situations.

Our mothers, sisters that they are, had not really grown up together since my mother is more than a decade older and had left home when she was in her early teens. Despite the lack of time the two of them shared, what they did share was their own mother and that left a mark on each of them which they in turn, left upon their own daughters.

Neither my cousin nor I ever knew our fathers. When we were sick or injured as children, often we had to seek care on our own because our mothers were unavailable to us. We each have witnessed the astonishing deception of our parent in the way they conduct themselves with other adults and children while neglecting the very children they delivered. It is uncanny.

My cousin and I responded to our mothers’ disregard for us by growing into strong and capable women. We became educated and learned to understand that our mothers are frustrated, narcissists who will never perceive our own success as anything but an affront to their own unsatisfying lives. We severed our ties to these women not to hurt them, but to protect ourselves, and we’ve struggled with allowing others into our hearts and souls after suffering the disappointment and pain of what should have been a primary relationship in our lives.

I learned that my cousin has a physical condition very much like my own – we both have extremely low heart rates and a genuine need for vigorous exercise. She runs, too. Maybe that’s how we have learned to keep our blood flowing and our hearts alive. I don’t know for sure, but I do know that meeting her has changed me. Something good has come from something less than positive. I think my ability to recognize that is what makes me fundamentally different from my mother – and like my cousin.

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Filed under Europe, family, Germany, girlhood, moms, musings, relationships, secrets, Uncategorized

The right things

1F11A1B5-75F8-4D43-8056-96FC5FB61650-23130-00000FC14214CF59The schedule my boys’ dad and I share is probably unique, but it’s been working for all of us for more than 5 years. There’s a good bit of back and forth for the guys, with them generally spending no more than two consecutive nights in either house but, since our two houses are literally around the block from one another, things are pretty low stress. I’m thankful for that because I’ve seen other divorces that most definitely are not as amicable.

Marriages are about two people, while families are about all involved. When a marriage no longer works, it is the responsibility of the adults to navigate the family to a new place that serves everyone. While my marriage may not have lasted our commitment to our children, if anything, got stronger. I know that I work harder than ever to foster the relationship between my sons and their dad* because I would never want them to think their father is anything but a great dad. Because he is.

As a parent, I know how fast the years with my children at home have gone by and it no longer is unimaginable that they will be moving out, and on in their lives, in the next couple of years. Had my former husband and I not been able to negotiate the end of our marriage with our children’s best interests in mind, the years since the divorce would have undoubtedly been very different.

Last night I had an extra night at home with the guys since their dad had some plans for the evening and I wasn’t needed at the restaurant. I didn’t have a dinner plan in place, so we all did something different – a leftover half calzone, a rare visit to McDonald’s for takeout and an impressive and spontaneous shrimp and pasta dish prepared by one of my gourmet wannabee kids. Everyone was happy.

There was something about this third night that made me feel indulgent, even a little lazy. The wind outside was fierce and I wasn’t even a little tempted to take a run. The vacuuming had been done, the laundry was underway and I had uncovered a surprisingly tasty bottle of rioja in the basement. We settled on the couch with a movie. It was a mellow night, glowing with normalcy. We had all the right things.

*What I mean is, I always speak positively of him and share memories and stories from when we were married. I want our children to be comfortable with their place in our family.

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Filed under Boys, family, love, marriage, moms, musings, Observations, relationships, Uncategorized

Breaking (bad) boys

Is it just my kids who seem to break the most random household stuff? I’m not talking about the odd dish or glass, I’m talking about entire hanging racks of stemware, furniture and Sheetrock walls. I mean, how do they do it?

The most recent thing to be destroyed in my home is a wall upstairs in an area of the house I think of as the BoyZone. The claim, from my youngest son, is that he was just leaning on the wall and next thing you knew there was a 18″ x 24″ hole! Isn’t that one of the oddest things you’ve ever heard? Seriously – how the hell does that even happen?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I remember breaking things around the house when I was a kid – I put my hand through a window once and have the scar from my stitches to prove it. But, let’s remember, it was glass. Glass breaks really easily. Holes in the walls, though? That takes some effort.

Over the years, there have been some epic examples of breakage around my house. There was that time when my middle son decided to leap from the back of the sofa to the 6 ft tall wine rack, pre-parcore, by the way. The result of this escapade was multiple bottles of wine smashed and ultimately dripping from our second floor flat down the wall and into the first floor apartment. Talk about pouring someone a drink…

This, of course, is the same child who once carried a large branch into the kitchen which then got caught up in the ceiling fan and took down the hanging glass rack, shattering glasses everywhere.

There have been electronics broken as soon as they were removed from their protective packages and eyeglasses destroyed in the most mysterious of circumstances. I can’t count the times I’ve freaked out when I discovered yet another thing inexplicably destroyed. When I look around my house, I see the cracked window, the wall with a hole and some big furniture that still serves its purpose, but has definitely seen better days. What I feel, though, is that I’m home. On the best days, the boys are, too.

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Filed under Boys, family, house, musings, Uncategorized

Face wash (is not a) game

img_0800After much experimentation with my constantly changing skin (Is it dry? Sensitive? Aging? All of the above?), I’ve gathered together a collection of facial cleansers that feel like they’re working out ok for me. It’s a mix of creams and lotions,* many of which come from Origins, but there’s some Philosophy and Bliss thrown in, too. (As I wrote that sentence I had to laugh at what a sucker I am for a well named cosmetics line! Who wouldn’t want to be associated with origins, philosophy and bliss?!) The various washes and scrubs vary in price, but I think they’re a decent value just because you really only need a small amount to wash your face and they seem to last quite awhile. Unless, someone else is getting into your face wash, that is.

My middle son has been taking my Origins face wash from my bathroom in recent weeks and it has turned into a mini war. The first time it happened, I was puzzled. Where could it possibly be? The second time, I was annoyed. Really? Again? The third time I was absolutely pissed. How did this kid get to be so damn entitled? You see, if he had asked me if he could have the damn face wash, I would have said yes. I’ve got a back up Bliss I could have happily (blissfully?) used and everything would be fine. But, no, he chose to repeatedly force me out of the shower to retrieve an alternate product mid-shower which is really beyond annoying.

In the spirit of the season, and against my own sense of right and wrong, I went to Macy’s Christmas Eve eve and picked up a couple of things, including a face wash for the metrosexual boy-man I’m raising. I wrapped it up and placed it in his stocking in the hopes that this situation would now be resolved. The day after Christmas, I stepped into the shower and reached for my face wash and…it was gone, but this time so was the apricot scrub. Unbelievable.

After my shower, I went into my son’s room and retrieved his stocking with the still wrapped tube of face wash. He’s going to have to get his own. That sh*t is mine.

*Can we agree to call them potions? It just sounds so much more magical. Maybe I should create a product line called Potions?..

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Filed under aging, Boys, Christmas, family, holidays

Being a bad mom

Last month, my youngest son and I watched the movie Bad Moms together. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that to you that since I told Quinn to deny seeing the movie if his father anyone asked. There were scenes that I really thought were funny, but I squirmed and covered Quinn’s ears and eyes at more than a couple of moments. I can’t deal with vulgarities, especially when I’m sitting on the couch with my kid, and thought the movie would have been better without all of the crudeness. Just an opinion.

The reality is that Quinn lives Bad Mom. For instance: I have a hard time remembering when his birthday is. Seriously, until recently, when a friend suggested a technique to help me remember, I couldn’t recall if he was born on the 5th or the 9th of February, 2005. Obviously I was there, but it just refuses to come easily to me. Kind of like that delivery.

There are times when I completely lose my patience with my children and I’ve been known to use language that I’m not proud of including in my Mommy vocabulary.  Prior to actually becoming a parent, during that time when I was reading everything I could get my hands on about parenting, I never imagined a day would come when I would look at one of my offspring and silently say “asshole.”  Where was that chapter in What to Expect When You’re Expecting?

One of the things that I’ve said with even more frequency is the phrase “figure it out.” This has been my standard response for years to whining, sibling disagreements and excessive complaint about problems that are not on par with global warming and immigration. In these circumstances, Tim Gunn is my spirit animal – “Make it work,” boys!

Dinner can be a real challenge around my house – deciding on a menu and then executing it can be a struggle, even if I’m only on the hook 4 nights a week. Confession: my children eat ramen, boxed macaroni and cheese and breakfast for dinner regularly.  Soup and a sandwich was good enough for me as a kid and canned tomato soup, accompanied by a grilled cheese, never hurt anyone. There’s always fruit and yogurt available.

As my children grow older, I’ve made a point of showing them my flaws – my sometimes bad memory, lack of patience, hands off parenting (what’s the opposite of helicopter parenting?), and half-assed meal planning. I’ve shared my struggles with managing responsibilities, finding balance and family and other relationship challenges.  They know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am not perfect.  How can I ever expect them to share their own missteps if I am unwilling to do the same?

As one of the characters in Bad Moms said, “…the worst part about being a mom, though, is you don’t know whether or not you’re doing a good job until they’re fully grown.”  I’m going to take comfort in the fact that despite my shortcomings as a mom, my youngest son* seems to be doing ok.  Quinn sings and jokes and makes me smile every day. If the right music comes on, he doesn’t hesitate to dance, solo or arm and arm with me.  He teases me about forgetting his February 9th birthday, occasionally displays salty language of his own, works to resolve issues independently and has no signs of malnourishment. I think I’ll just go on with my bad self.

*They’re all ok, I think! This post is most directly about Quinn, though.

 

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Filed under Boys, Movies

My home is not broken

image: sandylomedia.files.wordpress.com

image: sandylomedia.files.wordpress.com

I attended a meeting recently and was struck to hear a colleague describe a student’s home as being “broken.” Of course, my reaction is personal and I’m probably just being hypersensitive, but it really bothered me, particularly since it was offered as an explanation for all of a particular child’s academic, social and personal issues. I mean, the end of a marriage can certainly be construed as a failure belonging to a husband and wife, but to present it as the ultimate reason a child fails to thrive, just doesn’t seem fair to me. What do you think?

To me, a “broken” home is one lacking in warmth, love and affection. Fortunately, that’s not my children’s experience. A “broken” home is a place where the parental relationship has eroded, or failed to grow, to a degree that the adults in the household are actively unhappy. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a number of those types of houses, homes where a couple remains together “for the children” or due to financial reasons or for health insurance or other benefits. Is an intact, but painfully unsatisfying home life really considered to be a superior setting for raising children than two separate residences led by adults who are emotionally and personally fulfilled? I don’t think so.

Let’s stop equating ended marriages with homes that fail to provide a nurturing and healthy environment for raising children. They’re not the same thing.

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Filed under Boys, family, marriage, Rant, relationships