Category Archives: parenting

They Make Lifetime Movies About People Like Me!

My teenage daughter has hit yet another (inevitable) stumbling block in her young adult career. First (real, true love)Break-Up.

It sucks. And it sucks to be her mother watching her go through this heartache and not be able to make it all better.

Except laugh.  (Yes, I’m one of those moms.)

“They make Lifetime movies about people like me!” she wailed.

Thank goodness her head was buried in a pillow and she couldn’t see my face. I was biting back a smile.

You mean the one about the teenage girl raising her half siblings because her drug addicted mom was in jail?

Nope.

Or the one about the good kid turned porn addict?

Nope. (Thank God.)

Or what about the one about the cougar-she-devil who seduces her stepson who kills his dad to have creepy stepmom all to himself?

Ewwwww and a firm no.

Then there’s the upcoming movie about the woman who thinks her husband has been unfaithful so she hires a private investigator to prove it and the P.I. falls in love with her so he fakes that the husband is having an affair to win her over.

(Honestly. I couldn’t make this stuff up.)

No, sweetheart. I hate to tell you this. Your life, as unique as it is, is so similar to the millions of other lives out there. We have heartache. We have pain. We have suffering.

Some of us push through it better than others. Some of us wallow.

But we are all walking Lifetime movies of our very own.

And hopefully, yours will never be produced for television.

(Hugs, hugs, kisses and hugs, sweet girl. I am hurting for you. Right now, everything is raw and horrible. Empty. And oh-so-difficult. But like the beautiful moments we should treasure and cherish; this, too, shall pass.)

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Filed under Growing Up, Motherhood, parenting

The Pain Never Lasts Very Long

We were all working in the yard over the weekend. Spreading mulch, dividing daylillies, minor repairs. Side by side. The whole family. Ok. So, we had to bribe our daughter with gas money for her upcoming trip. But we were still having a great time. One big, happy family.

A thorn jabbed me under my nail. Deep. And it hurt.

“Ouch!” I cried.

My youngest son, all 7 years of him, rushed over, grabbed my hand and said, “Don’t worry, Mommy! The pain never lasts very long.”

I smiled. Savoring his wise words. Starting to dismiss them. Because our family has been struggling through a heaping basket full of minor and major mishaps for the past five months.

And then I realized, he’s right. In the huge (and in our case it has to be huge because we still haven’t seen the end to the crap parade that’s been coming down our street) grand scheme of things everything we’ve been going through is going to look like a tiny blip on the radar. Tiny. At least, fingers crossed, that’s what I’m predicting.

Have you ever sat there, in your comfortable life, thinking things were so hard? And wishing for the days when things were so easy? You’re in your forties, with college looming ahead for your daughter, wondering how in the world you’re going to help finance it and wishing you were in your thirties when her biggest expense was a new bicycle. Or you’re in your thirties, struggling to give your children everything they deserve, wrestling with their constant demands, wishing for the carefree life of college. Or you’re in college, struggling with studies and holding down two jobs to help pay for your existence and wishing for the easy days of high school when your biggest dilemma was what to wear or which social activity to attend.

It’s all relative.

And it’s true, the pain never lasts very long.

In a blink of an eye, your daughter is being placed in your arms at the airport. Sweet, cuddly little bundle of joy from Korea. Blink, blink. And she’s 10 years old, doing her adorable judges salute at the state gymnastics championships. Blink again and she’s struggling with a death of a boyfriend, honors and AP classes, essays for college applications.

Or she’s struggling with pain you feel you created for her. A dad, the man you married much too young and later divorced, who is making her feel like a burden, less than valued, an inconvenience. You try to take away her pain. You try to tell her the pain never lasts very long. But your words feel hollow and thin.

As much as this pain that she’s struggling with hurts right now, it is true. It will dissipate.

And be replaced with something new.

And thank goodness, that pain will never last very long either.

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Filed under children, Deep Thoughts, family, Lessons Learned, Motherhood, Observations, parenting, Problems

Jane! Dooooon’t Strike Oouuuuut!

It has to be some of the most heart-breaking moments in parenting.

When you are unable to shield your child from the cruelties of the world.

Or the playground.

Whatever.

My sweet, little #2son was so sad in the back seat of the car today on the way home from school.

“What’s the matter, buddy?” I asked.

“Nuh-fin’,” he said, staring out the window.

I let it go. He always talks when he’s ready. And I guessed that he didn’t want to talk about it with his big brother around.

Changing out of his school clothes, I knocked on the bedroom door. He was sitting, forlornly, on his bed.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked.

“In private,” as he rose to shut the door.

It all came pouring out. How all the kids were playing “Snake” on the playground but he couldn’t always hold on because he wasn’t fast enough and everyone was getting frustrated with him because he couldn’t keep up so they asked him (nicely) not to play. He insisted on playing. He kept trying to keep up, but he couldn’t, so then they demanded (not so nicely) that he go play somewhere else, that he was ruining their game.

He was devastated.

He’s in a mixed age classroom, ages 6 – 9. And quite honestly, he’s not terribly athletic. I asked him if he could go play with his other friends. But he said, no. Everyone wanted to play with the “big kids” and they all were playing “Snake” (whatever that is) so he was left to play by himself.

“Did you talk to your teacher?”

He was alarmed that I would suggest such a thing. “No! This is something I should handle myself.”

So I told him about Mary Kay and how, as much as I loved the game of baseball, as much as I knew about the sport and my beloved Detroit Tigers, I was horrible at it. I struck out. A lot. More times than I ever connected with the ball. And Mary Kay batted after I did. Every time I’d approach home plate she’d taunt, “Jane! Don’t strike out!” To this day I can still hear her whine. How she’d drag out dooooon’t and oouuuut. And every time she’d get into my head, I would fulfill her prophecy. To her dismay. And my great embarrassment.

And then, we talked some more. But we really didn’t come up with any solutions. We talked about feelings. We talked about not always measuring up to others’ expectations. We talked about how sometimes there’s not a whole lot we can do to change how people feel or how they handle things.

He gave me a great big hug and said, “Thanks, Mom! I love you so much!”

He felt so much better.

But I didn’t. I wanted to run back to the school and give those kids a piece of my mind. I wanted to confide in the teachers and have them make those kids play with my son. I wanted to turn back time. I wanted to erase that horrible experience from his memory

But what was I hoping to accomplish? And if he didn’t learn how to deal with this disappointment what would happen when, not if, something bigger came along?

Yep.

These are the moments I hate being a parent. I feel inadequate to protect. I can only arm him with as much love and support I can muster.

And that just has to be enough.

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Filed under Motherhood, parenting

Did You Know…..?

Did you know that your child can be allergic to a whole family of antibiotics…the Keflex family of antibiotics, to be exact?

I learned this last spring when #1son had his very first round of antibiotics at age 6. First round in his life. (Boy, did we luck out.)

Did you know that when your child’s head blows up like a basketball and his skin looks like it’s going to split, crackle and pop that the Urgent Care down the street will be your new best friend?

Thank you sweet nurses and doctors for caring for me just as well as you cared for my child!

Did you know that even if you tell your pharmacist not once, not twice, but three times that your child is allergic to Keflex antibiotics they still won’t put it on his chart?

Yep. It’s true. (Check, double-check and triple-check like I did. It could save your child’s life.)

Did you know that an allergic reaction to some drugs doesn’t typically show up until day 8 of a 10 day drug regimen?

Weird, right? You’d think it would show up immediately. But no. Antibiotics need to build up and then present themselves. When it’s too late to do anything about it because you’ve been dosing your kid two times a day for 8 days now religiously.

Did you know that when your doctor prescribes amoxicillin and you ask the pharmacist if it’s related to Keflex one pharmacist will tell you no and the next one (the one you call 8 days later because your son’s head is blowing up to that familiar basketball shape) will say that yes, they are indeed cousins?

No two pharmacists, or doctors for that matter, will give you the same answer. Do your own research!

Did you know that someone who is allergic to both Keflex antibiotics and penicillin is now in big trouble if another infection were to arise?

That’s what one other doctor and one pharmacist concurred, anyway. Yipee!

Did you know that Keflex/penicillin/antibiotic has been consuming me for the past three days and why I’ve (yet again!) been so absent from Blog World?

(I need a nap. And a new hobby.)

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, children, Lessons Learned, Moms, Motherhood, parenting

Money Makes The World Go ‘Round

Money makes the world go ’round. Or does it? And if it does, why can’t we talk about it?

My parents, when times were tough, were horrible with money. I found out, only recently, that they almost lost their home – not once, but twice – when I was a small child.

When I was very young we lived very simply, very frugally. I remember sharing a bedroom with my three other sisters and my parents sleeping on the pull-out couch in the den. We ate every kind of noodle and rice casserole to stretch the dollar. We walked instead of starting up the car. (But then, we lived in a neighborhood where we could actually walk to the market and drugstore.)

My father worked hard at a job that he loved. He worked hard at a job that he hated once new management took over. Bottom line, he worked very hard for the things that we had. And by the time I was a middle school student, we were doing very well. Really well. Designer clothes, high-end restaurant meals, a large beautiful home decorated by professionals, new cars. Money was flowing and my parents were no longer poor money managers.

Me? I’m the exact opposite. My chosen profession was education. I loved teaching. I loved it so much that I passed up the opportunity to earn a higher salary in the public school system where I felt my creativity would be squashed. I taught for a much lower salary at a small private school.

With my low salary and as a single parent, I was just above the poverty line. In fact, if the car I drove was a few years older, I would have qualified for food stamps. But I was happy. I had minimal debt. I was a good money manager. We were getting by.

Life circumstances changed and now there is more money to manage. Unlike my parents, when the money is flowing, I am a terrible money manager. I allow myself to get lulled into a false sense of security. Because I know the money is flowing, I use the credit card more often. I buy things I don’t need. I spend before I think.

Anything I’ve learned about money I’ve had to read in books or listen to money experts on TV or radio. What they talk about is so foreign to me. Putting into practice what they preach is difficult.

My parental model has flaws. My parents never spoke about money with me. They bought. They spent. And I never saw the consequences. When I was 16 they gave me a department store credit card. In my name. I’ll never forget when the first bill came and I freaked out because I couldn’t pay the balance. They laughed at my distress and told me they’d cover it. I cut up the card and told them I didn’t want it anymore. I couldn’t handle the responsibility.

I also vowed I would teach my kids about money. With my daughter, I’m not sure I did any better than my parents. I’ve tried one theory and the next, but she’s a spender. A generous, kind, loving spender. When money is flowing, she buys for herself and for the ones she loves. She had her first real job this past year and at Christmas she was so excited to be able to buy “real gifts” (her words) for her family and friends.

But she’s had the job for 5 months now and has yet to save a dime.

How can I stop this cycle with my sons? Which money theory is the best one? Some say you shouldn’t pay your kids to do household chores. They are part of a family and chores are part of being a family member. Others say if your child doesn’t do their chores, they don’t get paid. Just like the real world. But both theories make sense to me. What’s a poor money manager to do?

I wish my parents had been more open about their mistakes and their successes. I have no idea how my parents became “successful” with their money decisions. They just did. One day we were poor, the next day we were very, very comfortable. (See? I can’t even say the word wealthy.)

Ugh.

My money issues are just too big for this blog.

So I’ll do what I do best. I’ll bury my head in the sand and distract myself with a little humor.

You can, too, if you’d like. Just press play.

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Filed under children, Growing Up, parenting, Ponderings

Toddlers & Tiaras: Has Child Protective Services Been Called?

I’ve been snowed in. Trapped in my own home. We’ve baked. We’ve cleaned. We’ve played xBox and board games. The boys have comandeered the computer. There’s a half-finished 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle on the kitchen table. Laundry has been washed twice. 

What to do….what to do?

Watch television.

Has anyone seen Toddlers and Tiaras? Another train wreck of a television show. I got involved and couldn’t look away. I can’t say I’ll ever watch it again. This episode had me catching flies. My boys came downstairs and saw my facial expression and said, “Mommy?!? What’s wrong?”

“Go!” I said firmly, “This show isn’t appropriate for……..well, anyone.”

Prancing around little girls. Waxing a 7 year-olds eyebrows while she screams and cries for them to stop. Spray tanning, mascara, lip gloss and debating fake nails for a 15 month old. Yes, you read right. 15 months old.

I burst out laughing when little Sami Jo’s mother said, with a serious-as-a-heart-attack-expression on her face, “I just don’t know HOW she’s going to react if she doesn’t win her division!”

How she’s going to react? Are you kidding me? She’s 15 months old. Your daughter “uses three words regularly, walks backwards, scribbles with a crayon and has adopted “no” as her favorite word.” She can’t spell the word pageant, let alone say it. She doesn’t know she’s in a pageant. She doesn’t know what a pageant is. And she certainly doesn’t know what it means to win or lose a pageant.

Your daughter? Adorable.

Toddlers & Tiaras? Crazy.

The moms that put their daughters through the pageant paces?

……

(I’ve already been smacked down by Monday’s post. You’re welcome to fill in this blank.)

38 Comments

Filed under Observations, parenting

Divorce: Standing Alone In The Wreck

If I could have a regret in my life that is wrapped up in a wonderful gift it would be my first marriage. All by itself, I regret that marriage. Oh sure, I learned so much about myself. I grew. I became a better person.

And most of all, I received an amazing, wonderful, beautiful daughter. If the way she had to come to be was through that marriage, fine. I accept it. But I don’t have to like it.

Because I hate what she has had to go through. I hate what it’s done to her self-esteem. I hate the choices she has had to make because of the split. All because I chose him for her dad.

When I was going through the divorce my attorney advised me on many things. She predicted things that would come to be and I nodded. Not in agreement. Because my ex would never, ever do the things she described. Never. Ever. (Insert wry laugh here.)

Boy. Was I wrong.

I have watched my beautiful daughter experience such dysfunction. Promises broken. Lies told. A step-mother who is insanely jealous. A woman who treats my daughter like “the other woman.” Since she was 6 years old she has had to keep secret any activity with her father that doesn’t involve her step-mother. Every movie. Every ice cream cone. Every shopping trip.

Recently, we have been weathering an amazing storm. A situation I never dreamed would happen. Out of respect for my daughter, I won’t air the dirty details. But it has ripped my daughter to the core. She wants to change her name. She wants to never see him again. She feels abandoned and unappreciated. And what tears my heart apart is that she feels unimportant, unworthy and unloved by him.

If I could go back and change something, anything – I would. Quite honestly, I have no idea what I’d change. If it means me not being her mother, I would sacrifice that for her to be treated better by a father. I only want the best for her.

And she doesn’t deserve this.

She deserves so much better.

23 Comments

Filed under children, Lessons Learned, Marriage, Music, parenting

To Flu Shot Or Not To Flu Shot – THAT is the Question

I go through this. Every. Single. Year.

To the point that my friends start hiding from me and won’t return my phone calls from October to January. This year, advertisements for the flu shots started popping up in August. I recognized my friend’s weary glances right away.

But you, dear readers, have never been exposed to my paranoia around this time of year. You are a fresh new audience.

Welcome.

First, let’s say I am cautious about vaccines. I get them. I have my children get them. But we spread them out. Way out. During my children’s first years of life, we were in the doctor’s office about every other month just getting vaccines. I appreciate the value of a vaccines but I don’t want to overwhelm a body’s delicate system.

There are some vaccines I skip. When the chicken pox vaccine first came out I let my daughter get those delightful, itchy spots the good old-fashioned way. But my boys? Too many people were getting the vaccine by then. I was risking that without the vaccine they may contract chicken pox in adulthood when it is far more dangerous. So they received the chicken pox vaccine.

Then comes H1N1. Oh. My. God. I had no friends during that time. Not during flu season, anyway. I bored them ad nauseum with facts. I deliberated. I asked strangers on the street what they thought.

Last year, my kids each got the first dose of the vaccine and then #1son had a horrible reaction. Or, so we thought. (Later, the CDC – or whatever lab they sent the results to – deemed that it was a coincidental reaction to something unknown) The kids never received the subsequent doses and we were fine last season.

Except for last year, we never get the vaccine. We’re a typical, healthy family who enjoy the typical amount of colds each season. I’d venture to say a little less than the typical amount.

But every single year I worry that I’ve made the wrong decision.

My husband, who practices Chinese Medicine, is absolutely no help at all. Chinese Medicine believes in letting the body build its own immunities. When we first had kids, he was adamantly against any vaccine. I was adamantly for. We battled. It came to such a head that I planned on sneaking the kids to the doctor and never telling him. Luckily, we came to an agreement we both could live with after a wonderful talk with our amazing Western Medicine pediatrician who values my husband’s expertise.

But during flu season? He’s no help. He laughs at me whenever I ask a question, reminding me of what he thinks of the flu shot industry. Every time we pass a sign advertising flu shots (at a drug store, grocery store, the library, in the airport – God, they’re everywhere!) he gives me a sideways glance, just waiting for my barrage of questions.

In an advertisement for flu shots on the radio this morning they reminded all of us fearful listeners out there that the CDC has recommended that everyone should receive the flu shot this season.

Everyone.

Is this advertising? Is this a twist of a study just to create fear and make money for the store/pharmaceutical companies? Or should every typically healthy person out there get the flu shot?

I hate this time of year.

Hate it.

And I know what I’ll do. I’ll choose to skip the vaccine for all of us. And then sit on pins and needles until spring, worrying that I made the wrong decision.

Sigh.

So I’ll just take this opportunity to say goodbye to all my dear friends here in the real world. See you next spring.

Blog friends?

Anyone?

Will you keep me company until then?

33 Comments

Filed under All In A Day's Work, children, Moms, Motherhood, parenting, Ponderings

Gimme Chemicals! I Have A Teenager!

Need I say more?

And the sad things is, she’s an awesome teenager. (Knocking on everything wood in sight) We’ve had a few, a tiny few troublesome incidents with her. So few, in fact, that I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Why is it sad that she’s an awesome teenager? Because I’m beginning to realize that there are parents out there who are way more stressed than I am. And I can’t imagine going through more.

My troubles include:

  • an A-B student, taking Advanced Placement and honors courses, who is perfectly fine with getting C’s if she doesn’t like the teacher, the assignment, her seat next to the door, or  the temperature outside that day.
  • a teen who chooses high school football games, dances and other activities over studying for exams next week
  • a child who has to be reminded and reminded and reminded to do the few chores we ask her to do
  • a senior in high school who knows she’s going to college but doesn’t want to actively participate in the process. She tosses all brochures into the circular file, with her mind already made up to go to the easiest state school that’ll take her.
  • a spendthrift who never budgets for gas for the car she uses or lunch at school. When I hand over her allowance that is supposed to cover more than one item, she blows it in one day at the mall – and no, her purchases don’t include anything she needed in the first place.

I know. Pull out your violins. Cry me a river. I have it so tough.

But I’m stuck. How in the world do you teach responsibility, dedication, discipline? At her age I was the one applying to schools, begging my parents to consider the school of my choice – with them shaking their head no, and telling me I would go to the university right next door. I just want for her what I couldn’t have at her age. But she doesn’t seem to want more.

I want her to want more. So how do you teach ambition or drive? How do you push without pushing too hard?

On the other hand:

  • You tell her to be ready by a certain time? She’s rarely (if ever) late. Punctual to a fault.
  • You ask her to help you with something? I can count on one hand how many times she’s given me attitude. She is almost always willing to chip in – well, that is, if it isn’t already on her chore list.
  • As much as we’ve been at odds she hates leaving the house or going to bed at night without us resolving the conflict. I hate to admit it, but she’s usually the one that makes me talk it out with her until we can hug…and mean it.
  • When her money just flies out of her purse, it’s often to buy something for someone else. She is very, very generous.
  • She still wants to spend time with us. Whether it’s to watch Masterpiece Theater with me, go out for sushi with her dad, take the boys to the park or out for ice cream or a family hike – she is eager to go and will switch her schedule to make time for us.

But some days. Some nights. I’ve had it with the struggle of the week. And you parents with more struggles than mine? You need this song more than I do. So crank it up. Shake your head. And scream it so the neighbors hear! (Well, maybe not that loud. Wouldn’t want a visit from the men in white now would we?)

Disclaimer: I have no idea what kind of chemicals The Pink Spiders are speaking of. The chemicals I crave come in red and white Coca Cola cans, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream tubs and those brown and yellow packages carrying plain and peanut m&m’s. THOSE kind of chemicals.

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Filed under Music, parenting

What NOT To Say To Adoptive Parents

“Now that you’re adopting, you’re sure to get pregnant!”

“Oh, it happens all the time. Once you take the pressure off, you’ll get pregnant!”

I have been through adoption twice. Biological birth, once. Happens all the time? Yes, it happened to us – one time. But the first time? No.

Our world was turned upside down and our adoption threatened when we found out that I was 10 weeks pregnant. #1son was already assigned to us and we were waiting for him to come home.

Please, don’t say “Oh, that happens all the time!” It doesn’t.

It didn’t after #1daughter was adopted. And I know of only one instance where pregnancy happened during adoption – out of all the families I’ve come into contact with through the course of our journey.

While we were waiting for a decision from the agency if we could still adopt our son because of my pregnancy, those comments were of little comfort. We were already in love with our son from Korea. He was already born to us, as far as we were concerned. We had pictures. We had named him. To lose him now would be devastating. The pregnancy was no consolation prize.

I can’t tell you how many times someone said to me, “Oh, now that you’re adopting you’ll get pregnant!” I waited 11 long years for that to finally happen. So, I suppose they were right. Eventually. But I had given up all hope of pregnancy. Those comments, as well-meaning as they are, can be little stabs to your heart if you aren’t physically pregnant and you desperately want to be.  It takes away from the joy that you are pregnant in your heart with your adoptive child on the way.

In our case, in our second case, I was actually pregnant, with an adoptive son on the way. All of the well-meaning, but mildly thoughtless comments, took away from the joy of our #1son and HIS place in our family – as if he were second best. As if he were the consolation prize.

I am so grateful that I was able to experience the joy of giving birth. Of being physically pregnant as well as mentally pregnant. If it weren’t for my age, I’d go back on the fertility roller coaster all over again.

But forming a family through adoption is no consolation prize. It is an amazing, wonderful and perfectly viable way of creating family. The planning, wishing, hoping and heartache that accompanies the adoption journey makes it that much more beautiful.

Be excited for the once infertile mom if you ever hear of this happening. Be delighted for her that she gets to experience the joy of adoption and the joy of pregnancy.

Most of all, be thrilled that she is creating this amazing family.

Out of biology.

Out of need.

Out of love.

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Filed under children, Motherhood, parenting, Soapbox