Childing 101

adulting

I love that we have begun using “adult” as a verb.  Take note of this definition from Urban Dictionary:

Adulting (v): to do grown up things and hold responsibilities such as, a 9-5 job, a mortgage/rent, a car payment, or anything else that makes one think of grown ups.

Used in a sentence: Jane is adulting quite well today as she is on time for work promptly at 8am and appears well groomed.

Here’s the thing:  I think I’m actually moving backwards. Regressing.  Retreating.  Re…childing.  Is that a thing?  Maybe I’m not adulting anymore.  Maybe I’m childing.  I feel more like a child today than I ever have.  As the old saying goes…the proof is in the pudding.

Here’s my pudding.

College Michelle – worked full time, didn’t drink, didn’t sleep around, was in a serious, committed relationship, managed a 4.0 most of the time, had an apartment, a car payment and a dog, showed up for my 8 am classes smelling and looking good

“Adult” Michelle – works random part time jobs, drinks a little most times, drinks a lot sometimes, flirts all the time (my husband is aware), doesn’t really pay any bills, spends her time writing angry poetry, spends her time working on a novel, goes to the bus stop in pajamas with crazy bed head and is obsessed with running

What the hell happened?  Did I adult too young?  I think the answer is yes.  I didn’t have the typical college experience. Not to say that everyone has to go out and get rowdy to have a good time in college, but, the truth of the matter is, I love to get rowdy.  So why didn’t I?  I don’t know how to answer that.

Why have I reverted now?  Well, I’m sure that question is best answered by my therapist, but maybe I feel like I missed out on something.  I didn’t indulge in the selfish behavior one is supposed to indulge in during their 20s so they can get it out of their system.

Perhaps my “childing” is a result of feeling like I never got to be selfish.  The problem is….I have kids, and a husband.  I really can’t afford to be really selfish.  So, I take my selfishness where I can get it.  I write, I run, I drink, I flirt.  And I try to balance it all with taking care of my family.

These are all total random thoughts brought on by a conversation I had with a friend this morning about sleeping in. They said,”I had my fair share of sleeping in days.”  My first thought was I didn’t.  I never did.  I was responsible.  So, today perhaps I will lay in bed, watch movies, nap, eat nachos.

That would be childing 101….hiding in bed to avoid whatever it is I’m trying to avoid.  Alas, there are things to be done. So maybe I will write and lay in bed before I run.

I need a new verb.  I’m not adulting yet I can’t fully child. Any suggestions?

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Words, words, words

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So, a couple of weeks ago my 5th grader came home excited about a lesson she learned in art class about graffiti.  She was really enthusiastic about the project and told me all about a video the teacher showed her in class about tagging.  I was excited because it’s rare my child comes home happy about anything she did in school.

I thought nothing more about it.  Until…..I recieved an automated call from the school district informing me that they were aware that the video shown contained a few “bad” words and they were handling the matter internally.  Interesting.  I asked my 5th grader what “bad” words were in the video and she told me, “the a word.” My initial thought was that the video was full of F bombs.  That would probably warrant a few parent calls.  But ass, really?  

I get that some parents are getting to get upset over this. I’m not judging the other parents.  It’s your decision what to teach your children and what they should be exposed to; however, I’d like those parents to consider that some words are worse than others and it might not be the ones they are thinking about. 

My children have heard me say every “bad” word imaginable.  I have, what would be considered by some as, a filthy mouth. I make no apologies for this.  I love the way a good curse word makes me feel.  If I’m having a bad day, there is nothing like a good fuck to make me feel better.  If I miss the school bus because the kids are being slow, I love to shout shit.

There have been studies done about how cursing when in pain has been shown to relieve the pain and make the person feel better.  I could look these studies up and be more specific but I’m too fucking lazy today.  I truly believe that my children hearing these words from me will not make them any of the following: psychopaths, drug dealers, prostitutes, animal abusers, murderers, bad grade getters, mean girls, or assholes.

I believe that there are far worse words in the english language.  Words that I would never want to hear come from my children’s mouths.  What are those?

  1. Stupid – don’t call anyone stupid especially yourself.  People learn in different ways and at different speeds.  At the end of the day, learning comes easier for others.
  2. Retarded – this is the worst word my children could say to me.  I was blessed with two healthy children at birth.  I know people whose children were not healthy.  They had disabilities at birth.  Do they feel any less blessed by their children?  Absolutely not.  They love their children and see their worth despite the fact that others may not.
  3. C.U.Next.Tuesday…..don’t say this one to me.  This is not just a bad word.  This demeans women.
  4. Any word that classifies someone by race.  Don’t do.  I don’t like being called a cracker so don’t call anyone else something that judges them based on their skin color.

I curse to express myself.  I never curse to make someone else feel bad.  I curse because sometimes saying fuck is better than keeping in my bad mood.  Why some people decided words were bad and offensive is beyond me? I’ve taken the power away from words.  Fuck is just another word. So is ass.

Years from now, if one or both of my children come home and say, “Fuck. Today was a bad day.”  I will look at them and say, “It fucking happens.”

If they come home and call someone retarded. They will lose every privilege known to man.  That is the way I parent.  Don’t judge me or my mouth.

Own It

Last week, we celebrated the 11th birthday of our daughter, Madeline.  She hates it when I call her that.  She thinks it sounds too grown up and I love that about her.  She’s not ready to be so grown up.  It’s rare these days to find children who want to be children.  The race is on to adulthood. To knowledge of the world that I don’t want Maddie to have.

The truth is that Maddie already has knowledge that I wish she didn’t.  She knows pain and despair.  As she blew out the candles on her cake, I thought back to her 10th birthday.  It was, as she describes it, the worst birthday of her life.  Granted, she had only had 10, but she is not exaggerating.

It was, in the days leading up to Maddie’s 10th birthday, that I discovered she had inherited my anxiety disorder.  It was one of the worst days of my life.  In the scheme of things, it may not seem that bad to people who don’t understand anxiety but to someone who has lived it, I knew what she was going through and it broke my heart.

She has always been a nervous child.  When she was very little, she always chose to watch the other children playing before she joined in. She wanted to see what would happen to them before it happened to her.  In first grade, she became worried about having her name moved to red in class. This coming from a child that has never disobeyed me was worrying.

I thought it might be new school jitters but every year it was always something.  She seemed to always be worried about something.  It was not a long sustained kind of worrying.  It was a complete panic attack that lasted a few hours and eventually she got over it.

Then it changed.  She became withdrawn.  Distant.  I could tell she wanted to be present in the moment but something was keeping her from being able to do it.  She didn’t want to talk but looked at me like she desperately wanted to tell me something.

I asked her repeatedly if something was bothering her. She said no.  I asked her if she wanted to talk about it.  She said no.  I finally stopped asking and demanded that she tell me what was going on.

She exploded on me.  It was a mess of tears and sobs.  She had been so worried about everything. She could not get her brain to stop worrying.  It was the same repetitive thoughts over and over again and she didn’t know how to stop it.  

She was me.  

I have suffered from anxiety since my twenties.  I understood the absolute despair that Maddie was going through.  I know how hard it is to be stuck inside of your own head.  It’s like being in the scariest maze and knowing you are never going to be able to find your way out.

We got Maddie help.  She didn’t think it was going to work.  I knew it was.  I’ve been there.  Except I didn’t handle it as well as Maddie.  She handled it with a grace that I didn’t have at 20 much less at 10.

The other night I was lying in bed writing and she came in and climbed in with me. She asked me what I was working on and I told her.  She asked if she could read it and I told her no.  She thought I was joking.  Was it inappropriate, she asked?  I laughed. She knows me. I’m not a June Cleaver kind of mother. I’m the kind of mother who doesn’t sugarcoat life. I tell her like it is. Sometimes I not the most appropriate.  

I told her no, it was appropriate, but I didn’t like for people to read some of the things I wrote.  Why, she asked?  Maddie got an award in fourth grade for asking the most questions. Because I don’t think they are very good, I said.  

Why do you care, she asked?  I didn’t know how to respond.  She had stumped me.  I thought for a minute and answered her with the truth.  Because I’m afraid. I’m afraid it’s horrible.  I’m afraid people won’t get it.  I’m afraid people will think I’m stupid or weird or dramatic.

She looked me right in the eyes and said, “I don’t think you should care.  They’re your words.”

In that moment, it was not about what I could teach her.  It was about what she taught me. I asked her if one day I could write about her journey with anxiety.  She didn’t hesitate before she said sure.  Maybe it will help someone.  
She doesn’t care what others think.  She’s not afraid of her own story.  And now with her strength pushing me forward maybe I won’t care either. I write all the time.  Mostly in my head.  And now I’m going to stop putting those thoughts on paper and then using my pen name to publish them.  I’m going to put them out their for the world to see.  Maybe most people will think my random musings are weird or stupid.  I don’t care.  Well, I’m trying not to care.  Maybe it will help someone. These are my words and I’m not afraid to own them.

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Crushing It

His name was….wait. I’m not telling. Some of you know him.  It was 8th grade and I thought this boy hung the moon and made the sun rise and set by his mere presence on the planet.  I had it bad. I loved everything about him.  The way he smiled.  How his hair fell in front of his eyes when he put his head down during class.  I was crushing hard.

Fast forward 30 some years and I can’t even remember his name.  Wait, that’s a lie.  I do.  And thanks to Facebook, I now know where he lives, what he does for a living, who he married and what his children look like.  

What I know from my days of crushing on him was that I lived in a perpetual state of existence that vacillated between exhilaration and devastation.  Every move he made, every word he spoke I dissected as if it all had some sort of relation to my place in the world.  It never occurred to me that nothing he did had any intended effect on me because he never thought about me.  His thoughts and actions were not meant to send me shooting towards the heavens so I could float on clouds and then send me crashing down to earth in a fiery blaze.

Alas, that’s what a crush does.   Crushes do exactly what they say they are going to do.  They crush you.  I generally think there are three types of crushes: younger, older and the “this just sucks” type of crush.  When you’re younger and you find that first crush, it’s all so innocent.  Most of the time you just admire them from a distance.  Circling around them like blue birds waiting to dress Cinderella.  You want to be in their presence.

There’s little contact.  Except in your head.  In your head, you play out every chance meeting, what you’ll say, what you’ll wear, how you’ll smile.  Most of the time, this doesn’t happen as you planned or at all.  One day, he’ll get a girlfriend or you’ll hear through the grapevine that he’s crushing on someone else and the fall from heaven occurs.

This is how crushes worked when I was in middle and high school. I can’t fathom what it’s like in today’s age of snapchat, twitter, facebook, kiki or whatever that shit is called.  You have immediate access to your crush all the time.  

And with that immediate access can come immediate devastation. Take for example a story I heard from one of my younger friends.  They were crushing on someone and had been enjoying what could be construed as flirting via snapchat.  Things were going well.

He sends her a snapchat asking her to get together.  Great.  Only she can’t. She politely declines and they exchange a few more flirty snaps.  Twenty minutes later, she gets a snapchat from her crush asking her to come over.  Say what?  

This is where she thinks he’s made some mistake and he has. He didn’t mean to send it to her. He’s going down his list of girls he knows are crushing on him and seeing which one is going to come over and make him happy.  Total devastation brought to you by your crush.  

Crushing in your 20s is hard.  When the crush knows you’ve got it bad and they use it for their own gain.  Horrible.  

The last type of crush is the “this just sucks” crush.  This is when you have a crush and you find our your crush has a crush on you and for whatever reason you can’t be together.  Wrong place, wrong time.  You get to endure the ache of what might have been.

This is the worst type.  Hands down.  There’s nothing like sitting around wondering what it would be like to cuddle up with them at night or to wake up to their face in the morning.  To wonder if being with them would have been as fantastic as you imagined it all those times in your head.  To be able to say everything you’re feeling.

So, this is what I want my kids to know, crushes are horrible.  I mean like kick you in the teeth horrible. They will make you feel miserable in the end.  But one day, it will all work out. You crush on them.  They crush on you.  The timing is right and everyone lives happily ever after.  Well, ever after anyway.

I found this quote on Instagram the other day and it really made me think.  Lies.  This is filled with lies. Sometimes you are thinking about someone you can’t have and maybe there’s a reason for that.  Maybe it’s the universe’s way of keeping you from getting crushed far worse than having a crush.

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year

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And I’m not talking about Christmas.  It’s the week before school starts.  Before you judge me, let me say that I never thought I would be one of those parents who counted down until their kids went back to school.  When my oldest was about 3, I cried when she had to go back to preschool.  I knew she had to go.  Socialization, learning, blah, blah, blah.  But I was genuinely distraught over not being with her.

Fast forward 8 years and another child later, and I’m ready to take them to the bus stop with a sleeping bag and some lunchables and wish them luck. Okay, it’s not that bad.  I really do enjoy the time I get with them.  We’ve made some great memories this summer but mommy needs a break.

Granted, I am writing this after spending a total of 20 hours in a car and five days at the beach with four girls; two, who are on the cusp of being teenagers, one who has her own hashtag on Instagram (#janeisanass) and one who never stops asking questions…..ever.

There’s a certain craziness to summer that I can’t handle after a few weeks.  Life just seems to get away from me.  And I can’t ever seem to get a grip on it.  For one entire week this summer, we had no food in the house.  How does that happen?  I remember thinking I should go to the grocery store but we were too busy.  I’m not sure what I even fed my kids that week.  It was all a blur.

Some mothers love the summer and I can appreciate what they love about it.  No homework or projects.  No early to bed fights with the kids.  No lunch packing.  I get it.  I really do.  But at the end of the day, I thrive on structure and schedules.  It’s the only way I can successfully manage my life.  Three different, random jobs, two kids, a house, a husband, a Chewie, some farm animals and my desire to never stay home to clean, cook or shop for food, apparently, leads to the utter destruction of my sane, productive life.

So while I will miss their smiling faces as we are sitting by the pool, I am going to cherish Thursday when I send them on the bus and off to school.  It’s going to be a much needed respite. A chance to get my life in order and my brain unfrazzled.  At least for six hours…until they get off  the bus and I have to help them complete three different assignments due on the same day while simultaneously studying for a test all while driving them to and from activities.

What’s that cliché?  Oh yeah, the grass is not always greener on the other side.  Sigh.

You want me to give up what?!

‘Tis the season. No, not Christmas. Lent! This time before Easter is actually one of my favorites. It marks the beginning of the holiest time in the church. According to Wikipedia, the traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, atonement and self-denial. Sounds fun, right?

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Actually, I find Lent to be the most spiritual time for me because it is one where I give up something I love for 40 days (not including Sundays) and really try to focus on what God gave up for us.

This past Sunday, my little one was sick so Daddy stayed home and my oldest and I ventured out to church by ourselves. At breakfast, after church, we had a discussion about what Lent really is meant to be. She is starting to understand what it means now that she’s older. I loved this conversation. I was filled with joy and feeling wonderful that we were connecting. I was so overcome with happiness that I decided that it would be a fantastic idea if we got to pick for each other what we would sacrifice this season of Lent.

I went first. I chose for Maddie to give up junk food. She’s a great eater. She will eat whatever I put in front of her with little complaint. Everything from baked fish to boiled kale. But if she is given the choice between chocolate and kale, like any child, she is choosing chocolate. I really wanted her to take some time to cut the junk out and to understand what it feels like to eat healthy all the time. This felt like a huge victory for me. What was she going to do? Say no to God! Nope! Mommy – 1; Maddie – 0

She contemplated this for a while as she picked at her cheese omelette and bacon. Then she planned everything she was going to eat in the next three days to satisfy her junk food cravings until Easter.

Her turn. She looked at me thoughtfully and asked, “So, it has to be something you really love?” “Yes,” I replied. “Great. I want you to give up Netflix,” she said with the biggest grin ever.

“Ummm…well, see, umm…” I was literally stammering. I had no response. She couldn’t possibly be serious. Netflix? 40 days plus Sundays without Netflix?? I still have 28 episodes of Friends to watch. What will happen if I can’t watch the rest? Mommy – 0; Maddie – 1

This was the moment I actually stopped and listened to the crazy that was running through my head.

Here was my child, engaged in a meaningful discussion about God, Christ, Lent, and sacrifice and I was actually almost panicking because I couldn’t watch the rest of a television show that I actually watched in its entirety when it was actually on television.

This was the moment I realized that I was in a place to teach my child something. I was in a place to do something I didn’t want to do and to do it anyway because it is the least I can do for God who made the ultimate sacrifice for me.

So, I did the grown up thing. I told her yes. I would give up Netflix. So, now as I sit here and type, I’m listening to a podcast from Joyce Meyer. I would normally be watching Netflix as I work. To tell you the truth, so far, I’m not missing it. Granted, it’s been only 3 hours but I’ll take small victories.

The bigger victory at the end of the 40 days will not be that I taught my child by using words about sacrifice and Lent but that I was able to show her the love of Christ through my actions. And, finally, the biggest victory will be knowing in my heart the meaning of true sacrifice. Not Netflix or candy, but what God sacrificed.

Say it with me: For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

At the end of Lent, the math will look like this: Mommy – 1 + Maddie – 1 = God – 2

Amen.

The Best Worst Valentine’s Day Card…..EVER!

My beautiful Jane made me a Valentine’s Day Card. So thoughtful. So caring. So wrong, in so many ways. Let’s break it down, shall we.

The Cover:

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We’re off to a great start. She wants me to have a happy Valentine’s Day and I got two hearts…not one.

Fantastic.

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The first line is fabulous. She thinks I’m a dear mother. The second line, however; is better than the first. She is thanking me for giving her life. “I am happy that I am born.” Next line: “I liked the movie.” This one means the most to me because she should be grateful that I spent 2 hours sitting through Spongebob.

Moving on…”and I wish I could get a Valentine but no one makes me one. Happy Valentine’s Day. Love, Jane.”

Really, really? My child used my card to express her irritation that I didn’t make her a Valentine. Nevermind the clothes from Justice, the stuffed animals and the candy. And the fact that her sister made her one and she got 18 of them yesterday from her classmates.

The back cover:

Are you ready for the kicker? The best worst part of this Valentine’s Day card.

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She drew a picture of me handing out Valentine’s Day cards with the caption “Here Kevin, Here Maddie.” Do you notice what’s missing? Her name! She drew a picture of me handing out Valentines to everyone but her.

Despite the not so passive aggressive undertones of this Valentine. I know she loves me and the fact that she spent any time making me a card warms my heart and I get the added bonus of being able to hold this over her head for years to come.

Happy Valentine’s Day!