growing up

3 tough questions my kids asked me over the weekend.

  1. Is Santa real?  (9 year old)
  2. How did Robin Williams die?  (9 year old)
  3. What exactly is cancer?  (12 year old)

Amazingly, of these three questions, number 1 was the easiest and most direct to answer.

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She had asked me the ‘Is Santa real?’ question earlier in the week when everything was crazy busy and I was able to Jedi mind trick her with ‘let’s talk about that when we have time to really have a good talk.’  Then, a few days later, she cornered me in the backyard as I was watering the plants.  She just needed to know.  No emotion, just needed affirmation.  We talked, she was cool, and on she went to ride her Ripstick in the front yard.  Three kids, three different reactions to that question.  My 15 year old still has never asked me that question.  My 12 year old was extremely emotional during our conversation.  And I think I need to investigate why my husband has been away for a night when this question has been asked….

Question number 2 happened in the car while driving with all three of my kids.  This question I did not answer as directly as question number 1.  The movie ‘RV’ is our family go to movie.  All five of us love it, and consistently laugh each time we watch it (which is usually at least twice a year).

We, as many did, felt that we almost knew Robin Williams personally, so our family was very sad when he died.  Why my youngest wondered how he died while driving in the car yesterday, I do not know.  I wasn’t sure how honest I needed to be about his death, which isn’t really something I know too much about anyways.  We instead talked about that he had been married, and had adult children.  They were amazed when I told them I thought he was about 60 when he died (turns out he was 63).  My son said ‘but how did he look about 40 then?’  One thing I did say was that I had read that he had been sad at times during his life and making people laugh probably made him feel good.  I have talked to my kids about suicide, and learned to use language such as ‘you matter’, and ‘moments pass’ due to a mother’s extremely heartbreaking true story which has allowed me to learn how to help educate my kids http://amasongraceproject.com/about-the-project/.  And although suicide is something I have talked about with my kids, I wasn’t confident in going there and using that term yesterday with the Robin Williams talk.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s something I will revisit.

Question 3 happened out of the blue in the kitchen.  I tried to explain cancer as it happens in a persons body the best I could.  I tried to ‘answer only what is asked’ as I have in the past.  The follow up questions were ‘does it hurt?’  Then specifically about breast cancer and how ‘sometimes women just get them cut off?’

It’s these types of conversations that make me feel like such an amateur in this parenting thing.  But, I just keep doing my best at being honest while trying to keep in mind the maturity level of my kids.  Having Google implanted in my brain so I can reference it in the middle of these talks seems like a good idea to me.

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Did I used to be a better parent?

I recently told my husband that I feel like I used to be a much better parent than I am now.

I think back to when my kids were little, and I remember smiles, snuggling, making home made play dough, blowing bubbles outside, making cookies, reading stories, and having all day jammie days.  It seems like time moved so slowly back then, and that I was able to sit back and just soak it all in. Today, time moves so fast.  And as I spend much of that time in the drivers seat chauffeuring my kids to numerous events, practices, and games, I don’t know if I get that feeling of connection and soaking in the moment as often as it seems I did when they were small.

I think it’s maybe that I felt like a more successful parent when they were younger.  When they were little, it was not hard to make them happy, I had all the tools. These days, I can longer longer fix a grumpy kid by going for a drive until they fall asleep, so that they then wake up happy. Image

It seems like now I am the guard dog at times, and they are trying to break in.  And honestly, that is their job as they get older, to push and see where they can get to, in order to learn limits.  To walk that tight rope of independence, as I try and keep the net operational below.

My kids are great, I am very proud of them.  They are loving and wonderful, smart and caring.  But, I have a teenager, a pre teen, and a tween.  All those labels come with their own set of instructions and needs.

It isn’t necessarily easy with the ages that my kids are now.  I can’t really send them to time out for two minutes, or take away a Rescue Hero if there’s an issue.  I’m up against so much more than a tired toddler. The amount of why questions today are almost more than when they were little and asking their ‘why is the sky blue’ questions. Although now, it’s ‘Why can’t I?’ And, ‘Why not?’ I can’t always come up with clever crap that will pacify them anymore, it has to be real answers that make sense with my explanations.  And then, at times when I have nothing left, I resort back to ‘Because I said so.’

Image 1 When they were little, there was no checking out of real time and losing hours on the internet, it wasn’t available as it is today.  Now, I have to decide which apps are appropriate for my kids, how much time is acceptable to zone out on their devices, and hope (and check up) that they are following the rules. Social media apps and I don’t see eye to eye when it comes to my kids. I see many as invitations to problems. So, I say no to most.  And then comes the backlash of being the ‘only one‘ without (enter in the social media app of the week here) in the whole school.

Clothing is another issue.  I just can’t go for some of the things that young girls wear for my kids. It’s not enough that everyone is wearing them.

When I put my foot down and will not bend on some of these issues, the looks that are supported by what seems as disgust, (with no other word coming to mind to describe what I see in their eyes), can be hurtful.  Issues my kids face and bring up make me question myself with every cell in my body at times, but in the end, I’d be cheating myself if I went against my beliefs, and that would feel much worse than dealing with a disappointed child. Because once I cheat myself, it would be very easy to cheat again, and my kids would know me to be a cheater on my own morals and beliefs, in addition to being wishy washy and willing to change my mind.

This shit is hard. And it’s going to keep going. Continue reading

Don’t Stop Dreaming

About two years ago, I had a 1-1/2 hour drive where I dreamed the whole time about playing the drums.  (Sidenote:  no idea how I had a 1-1/2 hour quiet car ride by myself where I could be lost in my own thoughts.)  (Second sidenote:  I have no musical talent whatsoever.)  I imagined that playing the drums, hard core rock and roll drums, would just be so bad ass.  I thought about taking up drum lessons, and then thrashing on them during jam sessions in my barn.  Every song that came on the radio, I pictured me whaling on the drums to.  I pictured Tommy Lee in his cage playing the drums while spinning in the air upside down in concert.  I remembered loving Alex Van Halen’s drum solos during my numerous trips to Van Halen concerts.  Their energy and concentration was just crazy!  I loved it!

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Did I take up the drums after that 1-1/2 hour drive by myself, no.  Am I sad or incomplete?  No.

I have dreamt of taking up dance lessons.  I’ll admit, listening to Enrique Iglesias’ Bailando on the radio real loud gets me dreaming about learning some crazy Latin dances and cutting up a rug.  Have I, no.  Do I feel like I’m short changing myself?  No.

When I’ve presented at a workshops, or in front of groups, I usually start with handing out name tags and asking everyone to write down their dream job on it.  (This activity actually relates to my presentations, but that’s not my point here.)  My point here is that I almost always write down farmer as my dream job.  I have dreamt of being a farmer for a ridiculous amount of hours that can not be returned for more productive things.  This is one dream that I’ve kinda gotten a taste of, living on an acre with 2 dogs, 3 cats and 4 chickens as well as my garden of many different fruits and vegetables has given me enough of a taste to be satisfied.  I still dream of driving a tractor, and walking through my rows of crops, but I’m ok with what I have going on for now.

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I love to dream, I think I’ve always been a dreamer.  I’ve been able to get wrapped up in the what ifs for hours.  Usually, it’s fun stuff, like drums and dancing.  Other times, it may be dreaming of punching someone in the face.  Sometimes I get caught up in dreaming about worst case scenarios (these I try and stop, I can get way to carried away and scared).  The point is, I don’t necessarily end up doing the things that I dream about.  Especially the punching someone in the face, that would not be good.  (But honestly, who hasn’t thought one of those scenarios out!)  I don’t feel like I’m short changing myself for not going after all of my dreams.  I dream all the time, its different than a yearning, or a drive.  If I dream about something long enough, that becomes important, and turns into a drive, I’ll go for it.  But dreaming is different, it’s daily.  I think that if we don’t dream, we don’t grow.

My kids asked me when I was a kid, what did I want to be when I grew up?  I tell them a veterinarian.

They seem to slowly look around, and you can see the wheels turning:  Stay at Home mom, Recreation Therapist, Substitute Teacher, Bookkeeping for our home business, Volunteer at more things than can be counted…..no veterinarian in there.

Then I get the question “Why didn’t you become a veterinarian?”  And I explain it that as my life went on, I discovered new things, things that led me to new paths.  Not lesser paths, different paths.  I am fully grounded, fulfilled, and happy in the roles that have become my life.  I’ve learned to adapt to changes.  I’m not always graceful with it, but in the end I’m pretty good at making the most out of situations.

When we ask our kids what they want to be when they grow up, professions such as Marine Biologist, Teacher, Sports Statistician, trainer for Shamu the whale at Seaworld, and SF Giants Announcer have all been thrown around as ideas.  A couple say they want to play professional sports.  As an adult, I could easily look at the probability of one of my children being a professional athlete, and point out the small percentage of people who get the opportunity to play even at high school levels these days, let alone college, and then professionally. But my job isn’t to shoot down their dreams.  I feel that once they stop dreaming, they may stop living what can be an incredible life.  It’s up to them to decide where their lives will take them.  If kids don’t dream, they are stifled, there is nothing to reach for.  The reality of life will hit them sooner than they know it.  I love watching them be kids, and seeing where they want their life to take them.  I want my kids to keep dreaming to lead them to one of the many ‘right’ paths of their lives.

So, even as a “grown up”, I will continue to enjoy dreaming.  If there are no dreams, where is hope?   Someday, when a dream sticks with me and won’t let me go after a 1-1/2 hour drive, I’ll go and chase it as I have with so many!!!  Dream big and dream often.  Even though I’m not living my younger self’s dream of being a vet, I’m happy.  And that’s what I dream for my kids.

 

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 Looking through my old ticket stubs had me dreaming of younger years where $20 for beer and a cab ride home from the concert was all the worries and needs in the world for that night!!!

Good times.