Carpe Diem

When my daughters (14 and 15) are grown and living on their own, I hope they miss me and call me often.  I hope they visit. 

We’re in middle of high school angst: social issues, the need to be more independent,  and stress of grades. On some days, I feel like I am nagging incessantly. It can be drive a wedge between us. 

The 14 year old went out with friends so I pounced on the opportunity.

“Josie, want to go out for lunch with me?”

“Where?”

“Anywhere you want.”

She chose a Japanese restaurant and had the chicken teriyaki bento box. I had the California roll. She told me funny stories about her friends and how she feels anxious,  even when on vacation.  I was careful to just listen and sympathize.  

We had a wonderful time.

A Family That Plays Together…

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Our family (my husband, two teenager daughters and I) had fallen into a habit of eating dinner together and then retreating to our rooms to do homework, watch TV and write. We were together many hours a week, but we weren’t interfacing much. I longed for that connection, but evening walks fell by the wayside and watching movies together (which we all enjoy!) was not exactly interactive.

Our girls have adopted snarky, rebellious attitudes. It’s normal, but I felt like it could alienate us as parents if we didn’t talk more. The girls once mentioned a fun card game. I logged onto Amazon.com.

20 minutes in and we’re laughing and discussing our answers. Yes, it isn’t exactly “politically correct.” But it’s funny and the girls find it very compelling. The game is hilarious and we all enjoy it. It’s not for everyone – just “horrible people”.

 

 

 

Parenting Breakthrough

 

I’ve discussed my trials and tribulations parenting teenagers here and here and…everywhere.

I had a breakthrough today. If you’re reading this and you’re a perfect parent, well, you won’t be impressed in the least. Maybe I’m a slow learner. But this is a true story.

I was walking today and listening Eckhart Tolle.  I know some of you think it’s all self-help crap and I’m a lost soul…but I have become a better person for it. Anyway, in this particular recording, Tolled talked about the importance of of “space” and “non-reaction.”

The goal, he says, is to feel at peace. At all times.

Just then, my daughter texted me. “—— can drive me to you.”

“Great,” I respond.

“I need to go home and change and do my makeup and then I need to be back at school by 6:15,” she texts.

“Can —– drive you home?” My boss had a retirement party this afternoon. It’d be quite challenging to drive back and forth.

Tolle continues to talk about the importance of space and non-reaction. If you can, create space between yourself and the angry person.

She calls me. I answer. Good, texting is dumb, anyway.

She talks to me in an angry voice. I can hear a bunch of teenagers trying to talk to her. She gets angry at me because I can’t understand her – she’s talking to me, she’s talking to them…I’m confused.

I ask her (again) if —- can drive her home.

She responds with sarcasm and anger. She sighs heavily, as if it’s so hard to have me as a mom. She talks to me as if I’m stupid. Her words become staccato with anger. I. told. you.

I hang up.

She texts me with more anger. Her answers include expletives. How dare I hang up on her!

I text back with: “If you think you’re going to talk to me that way, you’re out of luck.”

I’m proud of my lack of emotion. I feel the anger, but I refuse to react. Eckhart has my back.

Tolle continues, “Someone may even yell at you and you want to yell back, but don’t.” It’s as if he’s walking with me!

So I don’t. I don’t react. I want to, believe me. I want to remind her whose the mom…but I’ve been down that road before and it never works.

It never pays to engage with her rage.

Long story short, she tried to involve me in an argument. She wanted to place blame. She wanted to excuse her horrible behavior and blame me. I stop her. I re-direct her to make a plan. We make the plan. We execute.

Later, she apologizes. She has not apologized in a very long time…months, even.

We hug.

I see many painful moments in her future. She will have to learn the hard way, she always has. But that’s OK. I’ll be here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parenting Pain

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No longer mine – can’t carry you anymore,

you’ll stumble, fall and eventually – soar,

As your path widens and grows long,

I realize how I was so very wrong

 

 

You take your steps while I watch

sometimes wincing

Your self-determination can be dreadful

yet entirely convincing

It’s fast becoming apparent

that your flubs and whims aren’t errant

You don’t own reasons for my heart breakin’

for I never “owned” you, in that, I was mistaken

Let ’em Go

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One day, a mother took her four year old and five year old daughters to their Montessori preschool. She apologized to the teacher for being late, and explained that it took some time to get her kids dressed.

“Why don’t you let them dress themselves?” The teacher asked.

“They’d look like disasters! Nothing would match.”

“So?”

The mother thought about it. She decided to let them dress themselves. Thegirls wore odd things: sweaters with light pants, short-sleeved shirts with boots…but eventually, each daughter forged her own style. The girls laughed loudly, and they walked proudly. It was clear that each girl was her own person.

It was challenging for the mom. She wanted to help them so many times. “Relax.They’re doing great!” The father said.

 

As the girls grew, their mother made mistakes. She got some things right, but she learned that “letting go” was her biggest challenge. She noticed that they learned lessons most effectively through mistakes: forgetting an instrument at home and having points deducted at school taught them to plan the night before. When they didn’t eat well, they felt sick and chose to eat better next time.

Everyone – the father, the mother and the kids – are still learning. And it’s all good.

 

 

 

Dear Ms.K., Thank You for Giving My Daughter Detention

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Dear Ms. K.,

I want to thank you for giving my daughter detention today. Per our previous email, you informed me that she has been late to your class every day for several days. This baffled me, as I drop her off an hour early and you are her first class of the day. After several warnings, you emailed me to let me know that should she be late again, she would get detention. I assured you she would not repeat that mistake.

But of course, I cannot guarantee the actions of anyone besides myself.

After confronting her, she hurriedly assured me she learned her lesson. She explained that she gets hungry and her friend meets her to bring her food. Her friend is not always so quick.

Oh, are we blaming our friend?

No, no. It’s not her fault. Mom, it won’t happen again!

I try to give my daughter freedom within strict guidelines. A  “C” in a class at any time means her cell phone gets confiscated until the grade goes up. How she operates within her hours and activities is up to her.

When I remind her to make time for breakfast in the mornings and to pack a snack, I am met with heavy sighs. She is too busy styling her hair and applying makeup to worry about breakfast.

So it happened again today. She didn’t eat breakfast. She got hungry and met her friend. She was late to your class. And, as you promised, she will now have to serve detention – one hour after school tomorrow.

In the car, she was shaken. She’s never had this kind of consequence from a teacher before.

“It’s my fault. I got hungry. I didn’t pack any snacks or eat breakfast. It’s my responsibility. I will pack food the night before.”

I wanted to lecture  her and reinforce the lesson. I wanted to voice my dismay and disappointment. Instead, I said, “I am very proud of you for taking responsibility for this and not blaming anyone.”

Thank you, Ms. K., for doing the right thing. You are helping my daughter develop character and responsibility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your “Role” Vs. “Being”

You’re a parent and you want to do a good an excellent job. Afterall, what could be more important? I’ve learned (the hard way), that to be a good parent, you have to both DO and BE.

DO – remind your kids to brush their teeth, make their beds, do their homework, etc.

BE – sit with them and just listen. 100% listening, with your eyes and ears and your full attention. Laugh with them. Ask questions and know them as people. They are people, separate from you.

You have a job: protect, nurture, teach.

But then, let them go and love them for who they are.

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