8/3/2017

On Raising The Future, Or The Future Raising Me Parenting

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I found out a few months ago that my daughter identifies herself as bisexual, or more specifically, pansexual, but I had to look that up because I really don’t understand the difference. This information was secondary to the suicide threats and other information that flooded the front of the queue of New Things I’m Learning About My Daughter.

The beautiful thing about learning So Many New Things About My Daughter was that I could sit down with her at the table that day, iPad in hand, and look her in the eyes, all of her secrets now in my own mind and heart and still on the device between my hands and honestly tell her, “I’ve read everything you’ve said over the last few months and there is nothing here that makes me not love you. Now. Can we talk openly? Because I’m here and I’m not going anywhere and you’re not in trouble at all.”

That conversation took place on the Wednesday after we learned about her suicidal thoughts. That conversation took place on the day I will Never Regret My Words. That conversation took place on the day I started being a real parent, an honest mother, with a truthful relationship with one of the most beautiful human beings I’ve ever known.

Tonight as I watched In A Heart Beat she came down to give me a hug. Since The Day I Do Not Regret My Words, we have a mutual understanding; I know all of her shit and am here to give her a hug any time she need it. And she takes me up on this, knocking on the bathroom door when I’m trying to make-my-hair-pretend-to-be-young-again she will say shyly, “Oh, I just wanted a hug,” and I’ll tell her to hold on, one sec, and I’ll grab my robe and open the door because By God Woman, if you want a hug, a hug you get! It’s sort of a rule now. Sort of like how my mother said to never pass children selling lemonade without buying it, there are no hugs turned away when requested. Ever. Period. 

Tonight, though, she didn’t just need a hug. She was coming down because I was upset and she knew it. Like most children, my children don’t like to see their mother upset. This bothers me but I understand. I want to make it OK for any of us, all of us, at the same time or otherwise, to be upset. It’s OK to feel too much and to cry and to want to smash the living fuck out of the air because it’s suffocating your thoughts and sobs and stifling your spirit. But that wasn’t the lesson tonight. Tonight the lesson was more tender. 

8/3/2017

Animal Meditations Balance

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My son and I started this bedtime meditation together when he was in third grade. 

It was a day he said the whole class got in trouble. Apparently some of the boys were playing with the soap in the bathroom. My son is sensitive, and being the kid who hates to piss of anyone, felt targeted by this lecture. (Apples and Trees, y'all.) He said his teacher was angry and looking right at him but then, my young son explained in air quotes, “chuckled” and was a little nicer. 

This interaction seemed small to me but I don't dismiss his anxiety. As an adult I can see his teacher, a nice, gentle man, suddenly hearing himself lecture seven year olds about playing with the soap in the bathroom. That silly reality probably made him soften and suppress a chuckle. As an adult, and a parent, I understand suddenly hearing the ironic things that come out of your mouth as you yell at your children to stop yelling or please, jesus, don't bite the dog.

This was the first night we tried this new meditation I heard about. The meditation goes like this: Take three to five deep breaths, close your eyes and picture yourself in a nice, happy spot, seated and waiting. Wait there until an animal arrives to teach you something.

He chose to sit in tall grass under a tree. He sees a lion. It tells him he can stand up for himself. When he opens his eyes, "MAMMA! I GOT ONE!" and I open mine, no animal yet to share, I see his face as he explains this lesson to me. He is soft and excited. I explain that this is a fantastic lesson. There absolutely is a lion inside him and can be with him any time. He might be the one doing the work but inside him is a lion giving him confidence. He nods and we decide to try again.

7/13/2017

Blogging Elephants Stories

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This. This. This! Go ahead, read it, I'll wait until you're back.

Back? It's good, right? It made me think of you.

I remember when the Blog Scene was full of badass women who would circle around you when shit went down. I remember when the Internet was somehow smaller, in 2003 and 2004 when the babies were born with our blogs and our community. I remember when I was so naive as to be honest and raw on a public forum about postpartum depression and a new daughter that Would Not Ever Fucking Sleep. I remember when you understood this and gathered around with your encouragement and your own stories of non-sleeping babies and crying on the bathroom floor.

That era of innocence is gone in a sense. There is more to this community now, it's bigger and full of marketing and click bait and blogs claiming that blogging is over. It doesn't need one more blog post about blogging (Oh, the irony). What it does need is a gentle reminder that there is now an even greater need to circle together, to rally, to hold our sisters' vulnerability with care and have their back because right now, with the whole world watching, it's very much obvious nobody else will

When we lose someone from our community, that time before The Internet Blew Up  (you know, back in 2009?) we see the impact blogging has had on our lives. We remember together. We become intertwined again, for a short time, showing up for each other and looking back at photos and times of shared vulnerability. And then, as it is and will always happen, we get pulled to the present moment and shift focus to the Now. Great! YES! We should be living in the Now. That is exactly where we are supposed to be. 

6/26/2017

On Being 40(ish) Balance

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40 is about accepting the blame

One morning when my 8year old was in a heap over the horrid inevitability that he would have to go to school again that day, he spat out, “You don’t do anything right! You promised I could skip school and you’re always lying!” It took me a minute to recover. I most certainly was not always lying but to explain this to him right now wasn’t going to get us any closer to him putting on his shoes. That I never ‘promised’ him he could skip school this particular day, wasn’t a discussion point, either. The facts of what I had said, the truth, was we discussed a time we may be traveling and, like the friends he’s so jealous of who get to miss school because they have a plane to catch, we would likely have that experience one day, too. But that was not what he wanted to hear or what he remembered that foggy, dark morning thirty minutes before the first school bell. 

In that minute I sucked my breath back in to my deflated lungs and took the punch. “One day, yes, we can skip school for a big adventure, but that is not today and here are your socks.” 

Many, and I mean many, people skip this step of 40. Blame continues to live on others’ shoulders. In their eyes, blame is a game of power and he who holds it is the loser.

In the wise words of the famous author, Christina Aguilera, “I’m sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn’t do, and I’ve hurt myself by hurting you.”  40 is about accepting your roll, your participation, and letting others off the hook. And then? the next big lesson: letting yourself off the hook, too.

40 is about compassion

6/18/2017

On Growing Up A Little Bit Catholic Stories

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We usually sit in the pew in the back of the church. God doesn’t mind if you sit in the back as long as you show up for the part before communion. If you’re late, sit in the back on the right so as to not upset Father Tom. After communion you can take your wafer, genuflect to the God Box, and walk straight out the door because you got your weekly allocated God Nutrition Wafer.  That’s the bit God cares about the most because God is a strict foodie. No, seriously if you read the bible, a large portion of it is what you should or should not eat. (You have to thumb through the parts about the names of people who are related to other people. That was a wedding guest list. Your name isn’t on there. Mine isn’t either, I checked.)

We always leave just after communion. “It’s just the announcements,” Mom explains. Nothing important, nothing that is going to change what God said or how we’re supposed to live our lives. Plus it means we can beat the crowd out of the parking lot.

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My feet don’t touch the floor yet but I get in trouble for putting the kneeling bench down because you’re not supposed to put salt water sandals on it. Or maybe I get in trouble because I can never figure out if the kneeling bar should be down or up and I’m always trying to figure out how the hinges work. There’s an arm on both sides but it doesn’t completely collapse when it’s in the “away” position and it doesn’t completely lay flat in the “down” position. It’s much more interesting than the talk from Father Tom. 

I don’t like to look Father Tom in the eyes when he’s talking on the pulpit. He looks at me and I can feel God’s disappointment. I’m a sinner. I snuck a peanut butter Little Debbie and a scoop of ice-cream when Mom asked me to serve desert last night. I know God is angry at me for this because it was the same confession I had three weeks ago at my last confessional. God doesn’t like it when you don’t learn from your mistakes. It’s not like those Hail Marys get you out of anything. I mean they get you out of hell, but not out of doing it again. That’s what my CES teacher said. 

6/7/2017

Three Weeks Later Parenting

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I don’t know about your children, but mine seem to have a very small memory for some things and an elephant-like memory for others. I look at them and wonder where this comes from but then I remember a conversation I had a few hours ago about something I’d completely forgotten while bitching about something I can’t let go of.

Let’s call this “Human.”

My children are quintessential human. Nobody tells you this when you’re pregnant and having dreams about birthing a taco. 

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They have their own emotions and perceptions and thoughts which are always wrong, and not looking at the bigger picture and so self focused, JEEZE, SERIOUSLY, like humans can be. Like I can be. So I try to empathize.

5/20/2017

Teenage depression, hope, and resources for suicidal ideation Parenting

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Before I go in to a long winded update, here are a few things to know immediately:

For parents: Call 9-1-1 if your teen has a plan for suicide and has a willingness to follow through and will not go with you to the ER. Do not be ashamed. None of the staff will fault you for this, in fact, they will hug you. It's ok. You're not alone. They're not alone. Ok? Ok. Now, I can let you know how our experience is, so long as everyone is safe. 

-------- Update from this post and all your wonderful replies. One week later. --------

Reaching out to The Internet can be a mixed bag. Sometimes you get coal and sometimes you get Ice Cream Sundaes with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Y’all provided some amazing ice cream when we most needed it. I can’t say thank you enough.

5/13/2017

A guide to parenting a suicidal teen Parenting

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When you left the hospital with your first born, you joked about how ridiculous it is they let you take this entire human home as if you have any clue what you’re doing. She seems so fragile compared to every car on the road between the hospital and home and HOW THE HELL LONG IS THIS DRIVE because it wasn’t nearly as long from the house to the hospital before.

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You all struggle to figure each other out. It takes time. There’s a lot of crying. Sometimes it’s even the baby.

Mommy LB 6months

She grows and grows and becomes a spirited human that you marvel at. In many ways she’s stronger than you are. She teaches you about kindness and imagination. She grows and grows and becomes a young woman. In many ways she is braver than you are. She teaches you about friendships and my little pony and anime and how freeing dancing in the car is at stop lights. And then one day it changes.

5/9/2017

The Littlest Birds Sing The Prettiest Songs[1] Parenting

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He slammed against the large window and flew backwards in what I personified as frustration. “How did he get in?” I ask the table of strangers all working near me. “The front door,” a woman answers from the other end. We all laugh. Of course! He took the same way in as the rest of us.

Twenty minutes later I’m standing in the back near the bathroom. The bird flutters between windows, pecking at each and quizzically wondering how to get on the other side. I’m assuming he feels this way, at least. I recognize that feeling.

My own little bird has been feeling trapped. She’s trapped in a system. She came in the front door, like everyone else, and found herself in a box of glass windows made of expectations she didn’t know existed. Her free spirit that was such an asset before is a source of frustration and pain. She doesn’t fit in. She’s not set up for success here. She’s too young to know what options she has or that the world outside isn’t just an extension of this ridiculously cruel joke. She feels powerless to make a change so she slams against the glass window in frustration and backs away hurt and helpless. She’s lost her song and we aren’t sure what or how to help.

I watch as someone opens the back door where the bird is becoming more frantic as he searches for a way out. The lady smiles at me as I acknowledge the simple gesture. We are silent but we know this is the only solution for the increasingly manic bird. 

Earlier this week I sat down with my own bird and opened a door. I gave her a way out, a safe way out, an option or two. When she wanted to run away, I drove her to a new place. I let her flap her wings frantically to show her anger and frustration and then I let her know we would always open a door when she gets stuck. She doesn’t know that as big as her anger and frustration and hate is in her body, her body that can’t contain all this emotion and volatile energy, is equally met by the magnitude of love and space and acceptance that we can open on her behalf. 

5/3/2017

Inside Voice Balance Parenting

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Teachers or parents who work with, or have, pre-schoolers and Kindergartners use the term “Inside Voice.” It’s a vocabulary word you don’t normally hear at a business meeting where other terms like “Synergy" or "Tech Disruption” get tossed out as if they had actual meaning. Nobody ever says, “Let’s use our Inside Voices.” Although I think they probably should.

Parents and Teachers use this word, ironically, loudly in order to tell the child to stop yelling in the store/house/meeting/car/market/coffee shop. “USE YOUR INSIDE VOICE,” I may or may not have been caught yelling at the three year old who was singing Baby Beluga at Top Volume. 

Now that I have a near teenager and near double-digit dude, “Inside Voice” doesn’t come up as often. Sure they might be loud and rambunctious but “Inside Voices” and “Outside Voices” aren’t a thing. Now I can yell, “SHUT THE FUCK UP FOR LIKE TEN MINUTES,” and they will listen and comply immediately. (I’m kidding. I never use the F word with them.)  (I’m kidding again. I don’t know why I’m lying to make friends, y’all already know me.) They just laugh at me if I yell to shut up and continue on. 

I’m the model mother.

Lately, though, “Inside Voice” is taking on a new meaning. In the silent bliss that is the three minutes after the youngest gets on the bus for school and the house is completely silent, I heard myself whisper to nobody at all, “Use your Inside Voice.” I nearly startled myself with this idea, looking around half expecting to find a kindergarten teacher standing over me. “Use your Inside Voice,” I thought again. Interesting.