Category Archives: Problems

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

I’ll Stand By You

“Oh, why you look so sad?
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don’t be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
’cause I’ve seen the dark side too” – Six months ago my daughter’s boyfriend died. She called me to her bedroom and when I opened the door she said, “Mommy, please don’t be mad at me. Phil is dead.” My mind started racing. Why would I be angry? Who is playing this terrible joke on my daughter? She burst into tears and started sobbing uncontrollably. I was in denial. How could this be? He just had dinner with us last weekend.

“When the night falls on you
You don’t know what to do
Nothing you confess
Could make me love you less” – Phil had been addicted to Oxycontin. It was the reason for their break-up many times. I had no idea. A week before she had put her foot down and said she couldn’t deal with it anymore. It was the drugs or her. He chose her. He went off cold turkey. And died four days later from complications of withdrawal. The only people who knew he was quitting were her and two of his closest friends. Because withdrawal symptoms mimic the flu that’s all his parents thought he had. A common flu.

“So if you’re mad, get mad
Don’t hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?” – She felt guilt. She felt anger. She felt tremendous loss. The pain she felt doesn’t even begin to describe. Her first love. Gone. At age 17. She withdrew from me, from us, from life.

“When you’re standing at the crossroads
And don’t know which path to choose
Let me come along
’cause even if you’re wrong
I’ll stand by you” – I wanted to be there for her. She was so lost. And so was I. But she pushed me away. Angry and ashamed. She felt that I would never trust her again. She felt she could never trust herself to make good decisions again.

“And when…
When the night falls on you, baby
You’re feeling all alone
You won’t be on your own” – I wanted to be there for her. I wish I had been there for Phil. He was such a bright, amazing young man. He treated my daughter like she was a princess. He was funny and smart and kind. So gentle with her little brothers, setting up train tracks, admiring their pictures that they drew. How could I have not seen it? Or even suspected? I used to teach teenagers. I know what to look for. I was completely in the dark. And my daughter was shouldering this burden all on her own.

“I’ll stand by you
Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I’ll never desert you
I’ll stand by you” – She has worked through much of the pain. It still hurts. But it’s getting better. She talks to me more. She’s even made a major shift with friends and who she spends her time with most. She was tested recently with a friend going in the same direction as Phil. When I asked what was going on she said, “I have to worry about me. They have to want to quit. I can’t do that for them. So we don’t hang out anymore.” Such a hard lesson for her to have to learn. Such a horrible way to have to learn it.

“I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you
Won’t let nobody hurt you
I’ll stand by you” – I hope she knows that no matter what she’s dealing with I’m here for her. There’s nothing she can do or say that will ever push me away. Nothing. Ever. She’s my sweet, adorable angel. Forever my daughter. Forever the light of my life. I want to protect her. I never want her to hurt that way ever again. But if she does, I’m here to hold her, share in the tears and boost her up when she needs strength.

(Educate yourself. I had no idea this new favorite drug among teens was so highly addictive. And so easy to obtain. Nor did I know that withdrawal should only be done under medical supervision. If you have teens or pre-teens in your home and your school offers drug education seminars for parents, GO! Even if you think your children are immune to such temptations. You may learn valuable information that could save one of their friends.)

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Filed under Lessons Learned, Problems

Dancing with Mrs. Happy and Mr. Right

In my younger days my mother would say to me, “Would you rather be happy or right?” and I would reply, “I’m happiest when I’m right!” I was young. Ready to take on the world. I thought I knew what was what. I wanted to go to law school. I could certainly hold my own in an argument.

But it took me until now to really understand what she meant.

And some people? They never get it.

I was at a neighborhood get-together and I met the elderly mother of one of my friends. She was visiting from out of state. We were chatting about her grandchildren, her visit and then moved to the innocuous topic of the weather. “The weather man said today that we’ve had 8 straight days with no sunshine,” I told her. “Well we had four days of no sun,” she replied. I thought she hadn’t heard me. I smiled and said, “Yes, but we’ve had more than a week without sun…unusual for this area.” I was trying to be more clear using the term “week” instead of 8 days. She said, “But we had 4 straight days of rain!” I just nodded as I tried to figure out if week or eight somehow rhymed with one, two or three and that she still just misunderstood. But she hadn’t.  Every topic of conversation continued in the same vein. She had worse allergies, better seat at the event, worse meal on the plane. The draft we were feeling was stronger where she was standing – not 6 inches from me. I kept hearing my mother’s voice in my head, “happy or right? happy or right?” I nodded, smiling dumbly. I was going to be happy.

I would probably never see her again. With some people it’s easy to just smile and nod. Let them be right. With the people you love? Not so much.

And that’s what I struggle with. My husband knows a lot. About lots of things. Even when he doesn’t. My teenager knows everything, too. All the time. In her mind. These moments become defining moments where I pick my battles. The “happy or right?” mantra playing over and over in my head until I can choose what is needed for that situation. Sometimes, I can be happy that the movie we just saw was PG-13 (it was R rated) and wasn’t it pretty violent for PG-13? (really, it was R) I can smile and nod and be happy. “But you said I could go to Sara’s after the concert!” Ahhh, no, I didn’t. Your grandparents are visiting. “But you promised.” I wouldn’t have promised with out of town relatives visiting. You’re lucky you’re going to the concert. Any more discussion about this and you won’t be going to any concert.

Recently, while at a nice restaurant, a server brought two plates of the appetizer we ordered. “Oh,” I said, “We just ordered one.” She got very defensive and told us that our waiter had written down two. Our waiter, was standing just behind her and smiled. “No,’ he said, “It was two soups,” which he had in his hands. He set the soup in front of my husband and I. “No it wasn’t!” She wanted a fight. He just smiled. And I could faintly hear: happy or right? happy or right? I believed him. You know how you can just tell when someone is right? He had proven to be a very experienced waiter so far. I don’t believe he made the mistake. And he wasn’t going to engage with her- not in front of the customers, anyway. But I think he was choosing to be happy.

Knowing when to Pick Your Battles and the Smile and Nod. It’s a dance I do every day. And I’m getter better and better. Pretty soon, I’ll be good enough to try out for So You Think You Can Dance. And I bet I’ll win!

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Filed under family, Growing Up, How We Roll, Problems

If I Ruled the World

My friends and I will talk about the woes of the world, offer our solution and then laugh, “When I’m Queen….” We tackle some of the world’s biggest problems and often come up with some pretty simple solutions. Or we just completely eliminate issues as if they never existed. Wave our magic wands. Sprinkle the pixie dust. Send out our decree. If only….

If I ruled the world, of course there would be no war or poverty or hunger or disease. That’s a given. But I’d also eliminate deceit and prejudice.

Only people that wanted children would give birth to children. That would eliminate the need for abortion and foster care in one fell swoop.  The job of Stay At Home Mom would be revered. Teachers would rank right up there with doctors. They would be the celebrities of their communities.

And celebrities? They would be entertainers. That’s it. Nothing else. No hanging on their every word, burp or latest visit to Target. If they had something intelligent to say about an issue, we’d listen. Just as we would listen to anyone else who had something intelligent to say. But no more going to world leaders, with their 10th grade education and fishbowl perspective, simply because they won an Academy Award, excelling at their craft of entertaining.

We wouldn’t need to organize Neighborhood Watch because that’s just what good neighbors do. Watch out for each other. Get involved when we see injustice or something suspicious. Look out for each others children and step in with a gentle reminder if your neighbor’s child misbehaves. And the parent would be glad you stepped in and took care of it immediately in their absence. Because, after all, it truly does take a village.

And Neighborhood Watch? Wouldn’t be necessary, of course. No major crimes unit here. Just the occasional teenage prank or mis-step. Because they’re still learning, you know.

We’d encourage our friends and celebrate their successes. No more jonesing for the Joneses.

No waste. We’d grow only what we could eat. We’d all recycle. We’d buy only what we needed. And we wouldn’t need too much because no one’s looking to see if you wore that dress at the last party, or if your son’s pants are hand-me-downs. No one cares because it’s what’s inside that counts.

Ok. So it’s a bit sappy. Pollyanna. Glass half full. Resemble a Disney movie you saw recently. But that’s the kind of world I’d love to live in. I’ll take sappy over scary any day of the week.

Yep. If I ruled the world……if only.

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Filed under Problems