When Raising Adults

There comes a time, a very sad time, when your babies are no longer babies. You spend so much time raising your children and then they don’t need you anymore. But remember…. they do. It’s just instead of raising children, you need to start raising adults. Parenting is about the long game; the war, if you will. That’s the important thing to know about parenting. Getting through the day is about picking your battles. Winning the war is about standing strong on those battles that matter most. Bribing your kid with a smoked sausage firecracker treat to wear pajamas to school on Pajama Day is fine. Bribing your kid on the regular sends a message. Again, it’s picking your battles.

Earlier this year I wrote about raising teenagers. About how this is the time to let them sink or swim, hoping that you taught them enough to help them stay afloat. How you move more into an advisor role rather than an authoritative role. You can’t fix their problems for them anymore; you just hope that they have learned enough to figure it out or trust you enough to help guide them to the answers. That’s what you are doing when you are raising adults. When your child hits high school, they need to have the skills to “adult”. Trying to cram everything in with just 4 years to go is nuts, but a gradual lesson as they age into this milestone will make a huge difference.

For instance, when my oldest was tall enough to use the washing machine, probably around 12, he was expected to do his own laundry. I taught him how to do it, supervised him for a while, then I just trusted that he could do it. This is a life skill that he is going to need. I let him help cook in the kitchen growing up, teaching him recipes along the way. Now, he can do a decent enough job cooking some meals on his own though he’s never cooked supper for us (but I’m confident that he could pull it off). These are ways to raise an adult. I don’t want to raise him in a way where he expects his partner to take care of him. What if he never has a partner, loving the bachelor life? I’ll be damned if I’m doing laundry for my 30 year old child.

I started to “raise an adult” when they are a little younger. I was focused on how to make them into self-sufficient adults. I wanted to raise them with a solid work ethic but with compassion. It’s about the long game. Whether we like to admit it or not, everything we do as parents has an impact on the type of adult your child will become. It’s an insane amount of responsibility with an insane amount of pressure. This leads us to always second guess what we are doing. Guess what? We’re going to screw something up. Our kids are going to grow up just as flawed as we are. It’s about accepting those flaws and hoping that they learned enough from you to use their strengths.

Even in high school, our kids need us even if they don’t want to admit it. You can be firm about expectations for behavior or grades, but you have to be compassionate about the social issues that they are going to be struggling with. There’s peer pressure, bullying, and all sorts of things that will have a huge impact on your children for the rest of their lives. I can remember every bad bullying event that happened to me growing up, and it’s haunting sometimes. We have to make ourselves available to our teenagers, listening without judgement. They may not “need” you anymore, but they want you to still have their back. They still need to know that you love them. They need your support and guidance. They are not-so little adults right now and in 4 years, they will be entering college or the workforce and you need to do enough to prepare them for that.

Advertisements

How Have You Been Shamed Today?

I’m glad people are rising up against shame. Though, to be honest a lot of people that I see complaining about things like “mom shaming” tend to do a lot of that on their own as well. That’s completely besides the point, I think. Maybe not. I think I just shamed anti-shamers for shaming. I have too much of a headache already, but I promise you this isn’t a post about being disgusted with the concept of being shamed. I’m here to share with you about how I’ve been shamed today (generalizations, I just mean lately) in hopes that you will share your “shame”. We can bond over our shame and feel better knowing that you have a friend that feels the same way. Even if I’m just some random blogger.

It’s all about the weight.

Alright, admittedly I’ve been having a bit of a struggle with my weight since I lost a ton of it before moving. I could go on about stress, how medicines screw with your body, but apparently those are all excuses that I’m using. I shouldn’t work out though, because that’s bad for someone as fat as I am. All I need to do is more housework and I’m going to be super skinny again. My first question is: am I being shamed about my weight or my house here? Honestly, it’s probably both. Do I have unhealthy habits? Absolutely. Do I need to be reminded of that every day? Probably not. I know, I used to be so beautiful and skinny. I don’t need to be told that I’m neither anymore.

Listening to the advice of professionals is bad for you.

For a long time, I did get a lot of negativity by taking my son to get tested as requested by the specialists that I shouldn’t have had. He’ll talk eventually, he doesn’t need speech therapy, a developmental specialist, and to go to preschool on an IEP. They are just making things up to get more money and you just let them. So and so had this problem and they are perfectly fine now without all of this nonsense. Oh you’re allowing him to get screened by an occupational therapist? He’s fine, there’s no need for this. Oh he has anxiety? Why is that? What did you do that screwed him up? He is who he is and I’m going to do what I can to help him out. He needs a support system, not judgement. I need a support system, not judgement.

Can’t you just suck it up? (TMI INC.)

Females are conditioned not to talk about issues that they have with their reproductive system. Now with celebrities and movements like “SpeakEndo”, people are starting to talk more about their issues. My entire life I had issues with bad cramping and an obscene amount of bleeding which was made worse by the fact that it would come whenever it wanted. I could go months without one, probably why as a teen I didn’t even realize I was pregnant until late in the game. I was told I couldn’t even get pregnant so why put me on pills to prevent it or help my problem. Things got better before they got worse. I missed days at college because I just couldn’t make it out of bed. I had headaches that would blind me. Dizziness, vomiting, extreme pain. I’d find a pill that would stop it, until it didn’t, causing me to try so many different types of medicines that I did end up starting to gain weight from hormone switches and all that fun stuff. Finally, it would get so bad that I was practically bedridden for the entire 10 days that I would have this issue. I needed 3 heating pads, couldn’t hold any food down, and I was completely useless. Finally, something worked and here we are. But throughout the process and now, I keep hearing, “just take Advil and suck it up”. Do you know how many different types of medicines I’ve tried to stop the pain? I’ve had contractions that were less painful. My clothes and furniture always get ruined. People don’t understand, and shame me for not being tougher.

How can you live like this? This is a jungle.

Imagine a day, where you can spend the entire day cleaning. Your house is spotless. The toys are picked up. You have no dirty dishes. Your home is the epitome of clean. And then your kids and husband gets home, leaving trails of disaster behind them. And somehow, somehow, it always ends up looking so much worse than it did before you spend 3 hours scrubbing every aspect of the home. It’s always then, that someone shows up or you have to take a picture of something adorable that you want to share with the internet. Never share with the internet; it’s a terrible, horrible place.

Aren’t you too old to dress like that?

I’ve very capable of dolling up when I need to. However, I’m a jeans and t-shirt type of girl. I like my Chucks. I never want to not wear my Chucks. I want to be 100, wearing bright blue freaking Chucks and it’s going to be amazing. Yes, I do wear video game t-shirts and hoodies. I love D.Va and I will wear my hoodie despite the fact it has a slime stain on it, some chocolate stained on it, and it’s ripped. You can buy me a new one or a few of them to replace them if it bothers you that much. But I do have a soft spot for a cool and functional handbag. So I’m okay with that.

What do you mean that you make your kid do chores/discipline them?

I’m a believer in disciplining my children in a manner that will work for them. For my kids, time outs are typically the best approach when they reach of age to understand what they did. I ask them as they sit down what they did wrong. Usually they nail it, sometimes they need me to calmly explain what they did and offer solutions of how they could have handled it better. Sometimes I yell. Again, I’m only human. You would not believe the amount of hate that suggesting time outs gets me. I say “no” to my kids, picking which battles I want and what I’m willing to say “yes” to. Children need boundaries but they need a loose enough leash to learn. Yes, my children do have chores. My youngest feeds the dogs and cleans his room. My oldest is expected to do his own laundry, take care of the trash and recycling, take care of his cat, and tidy up our (very small) living room. Granted, my oldest hardly ever does tidy up the living room and it’s a fight to get him to change the litter box. But I have reasonable expectations for behavior and I’m willing to bend a little on the chores when they meet those expectations. Most of all, I want my boys to be respectful of others and show kindness. And I want them to make sure that they get their homework done.

So how have you been shamed today?

One Person’s Small Victory

When I had my first son, my big accomplishment would be making it to work without a gummy snack or some other food smeared on my clothes unknowingly. That was a small victory that many moms cherished. The moment that you can go to the bathroom or take a shower without an audience is a victory. I don’t think I truly appreciated these small victories as much as I should have.

Yesterday was my youngest son’s Christmas concert. This could have gone a few different ways. 1) He could have had a meltdown before going on stage, causing me to sit on the sidelines with him while the other classes performed their songs; 2) He could have had a meltdown while on stage (or standing in front of the stage), halting the entire concert and making a scene; 3) He would stand there, staring off into space, while doing something else that would draw attention to him; 4) He would be the perfect child, singing and dancing with his peers. I love my son, but holding out for option 4 was not a reasonable option. It would be great if that happened and I got fantastic pictures of my otherwise normally musical son performing. But I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I was okay with that.

The battle was a weekend long one. “I don’t want to go to school.” “I don’t want to sing.” “I don’t want to dance.” I considered bribing him into option 4. I’m not above bribery. I know I’m going to get the people that will tell me how awful of a mother I am for that. Listen, I’m just trying to make it through the day with what little sanity I still have.

I wasn’t going to make him sing or dance. I wasn’t going to make him dress up for the event. Part of parenting is knowing your kids; knowing which battles are really worth it. Fighting with him over going to sleep? Worth it. Fighting over a Christmas concert or dressing up for it? Not high on my priorities. I’m just trying to get through the day with as little tears as possible, from both sides of this table. Some kids were dressed in gorgeous dresses or looked way too adorable in full suits. Mine wore a long-sleeve shirt with a pocket and jeans. That was fancy enough. He wasn’t the only one dressed in normal clothing. He wasn’t even the only one who wanted nothing to do with the singing. He didn’t dance. But boy did that kid have a killer bow game going on. He knocked his bow (okay.. “bows”…) out of the park. Did I see him trying to do The Floss while up there? Oh, he definitely started. He looked out of place. He stood out. But he did his best. And I could not be more proud of him.

When you have a kid who seems a little too different from everyone else, it’s easy to feel self-conscious. It’s easy to ask yourself what you did wrong. I didn’t do anything wrong. I may be judged by the fact that I proudly recorded my son even as he stood and did nothing. Why? Because he was there. He showed up. He didn’t have a meltdown or freak out. He showed up and got up their bravely, happy that he saw his mommy in the crowd to support him. That’s my job. My job isn’t to change him. He’s not broken. He’s flawed, just like the rest of us. But he’s not broken. He doesn’t need to be fixed. I’m here to guide him, to support him every step of the way until he becomes an age where I have to sit back and hope that I did everything that I could. And I know that I am doing everything I can to build a solid foundation for him, because a solid foundation is what will hold him up for the rest of his life.

Just Another Offensive Political Post

Back during the election, back around the time where I was conflicted about going for Hilary Clinton despite the fact I thought she was terrible at the job because at least maybe she would have been better than the other option, the decision was made very quickly for me over her emails. It was simple. She toed a line that she shouldn’t have. I understood that. I understood that voting for someone who was already questionably fit for a job despite a system seemingly rigged in her favor, wasn’t an option. I couldn’t elect someone that was at least a borderline potential criminal. That would be a slap in the face to the office, I felt. Being president means representing the American people and I wanted someone who would honor the office. Who would be a positive representation of our people. Who would display strength. Who wanted to change the political climate of America, a country about to implode. And she wasn’t it.

But then, there was Donald Trump. I had dismissed him long ago as a shady businessman who really had no place even in the running for office. Who spent more time writing Tweets at a lower ELA standard than my 6 year old could write. I thought he was a criminal, along the same lines as Hilary, and also felt he was completely unfit for the presidency. We may have forgotten that Hilary may or may not got away with her crimes, but the same people willing to chase her with pitchforks have seemed to disappear now. “Her crimes, her ineptitude, made her unfit to be president”. I argue that the same is true of President Trump. You know what innocent people don’t do? Lie. They don’t deflect. They don’t turn everything around. They cooperate. Remember when people were getting shot by the police, and they would argue “If they have nothing to hide, if they are innocent, why run?” Again, the same principle applies here. If you are innocent and this is just a witch hunt, why hide?

Do I think he colluded with Russia to win an election? Let’s face it, election meddling is a more common practice than we’d like to think. But I’m not entirely sure I believe he knowingly colluded, though his staff may very well have. What I do think is that maybe people knew he was shady and guilty of a lot of crimes that no one paid attention to until he was elected, and Russia decided “Chaos shall reign in America”. To put someone like that in office, would create such an ideological divide in the country that could easily take us down. To weaken us. (Maybe I’m a bit of a tin-hatter here, I concede.) Whether that last conspiracy theory I mentioned is crazy or not, you can’t deny that this plan would have worked as intended.

There is a sharp contrast that Republicans should take note of here. President Bush and his father loved their country. You may not have agreed with their politics and thought that their approach was misguided, but they genuinely thought that they were doing the right thing for their people, the American people. That is why they are admired today, and why President Bush was mourned by this country. President Trump doesn’t love his country. He loves himself. He loves his name. He’s about selling out venues and being talked about, even negatively. It’s a toddler mentality. Even negative attention is still attention. Did any family I know personally benefit from the tax plan? Unless we’re going to get some great refund at tax time, nope. I was able to buy a package of more expensive toilet paper with the extra $10 in our paycheck ($5 a week, since we get paid bi-weekly). I’m not better off by his policies. But I’m willing to bet his family is greatly benefiting from it.

We can’t be selective in which crimes we ignore and which ones we are willing to riot over. If you were passive over any crimes Hilary maybe had part in but screaming from rooftops about Trump’s, you are part of the problem. Criminals shouldn’t be treated so differently from people who commit similar crimes. Why did Brock Turner get 3 months in prison when he was caught in the act of sexual assault, but even a less privileged white man could get at least double that without any proof? If President Trump isn’t guilty, this investigation shouldn’t bother him. He should welcome it to clear his name. Wasn’t that what they all said about Hilary? I can’t even keep track anymore.

When Your Childhood Offends

Recently, there has been a take-down of some of the classics that we 80’s children grew up with. Let’s recap. Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving is an obviously display of racism. Rudolph, with the Island of Misfit Toys, glorifies being a bully. An iconic song from Little Mermaid disregards consent. (Let’s be fair here: you could argue that the original story glorifies suicide. Horrifically violent suicide.) There’s probably more but honestly, I don’t care. Honestly, I think it’s a little ridiculous and people obviously have way too much time on their hands. I think this has less to do with the culture becoming newly “woke” and more to do with the culture just likes to complain a hell of a lot more.

Everyone’s interpretation is different. I’m a person that feels that if you are offended by something, you have every right to be offended. Do I think these things can be a little silly at times? Sure, there seems to be a lot of insanity. Does that mean everything needs to change? Depends. It all depends on the offensive thing in question. I have an excellent example of what I mean. One Christmas, someone I knew got a set of stuffed animals based on the Island of Misfit Toys. The said person in question watched this stupid show all of the time. Was the gift made in jest as well as because they genuinely thought he’d like the gift because of his fondness for the show? Yes. Did the recipient of said gift get offended and pissed off for the rest of the holiday season, and still seemingly holds a grudge over this? Oh you can bet your butt on that one.

When news broke out about this iconic classic now being offensive for it’s treatment of the outcasts, was he the first in line to agree with this move? Nope. It was suddenly “what’s so offensive about this movie?” and complaining about people being snowflakes. His mind didn’t change on whether or not the gift was originally offensive, but suddenly the media that he favors told him that being offended over this show was stupid. He was simultaneously offended and not offended over the same exact thing.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t have the world just cater to your every offense. There are certain things that will always be offensive. I am someone who isn’t easily offended, but I know where that line is and I am very careful not to go too far over it. Being offended for the sake of being offended because someone is telling you that it is offensive? That’s not how it works. Now if say Santa was doing the Hitler salute and talking about mass genocide, that would be offensive. That would obviously make the show something that we should just forget about. But in Rudolph, the outcasts save the day. There’s a valuable lesson in there. Sure, these characters were bullied. Sure, they could have told everyone to screw off and not save the day. But they overcame, they refused to go low, and they came out the heroes in the end. It isn’t about encouraging bullying; it’s about overcoming it and becoming a stronger version of yourself without caring what those other people thought of you. They were wrong. You are still awesome. That’s the moral of the story. (I should point out that I despise “Rudolph”, “Frosty”, “Charlie Brown” and anything Christmas or Disney related, so this is a completely unbiased perspective on this.)

It’s all about perspective though, isn’t it? It’s how we interpret what we see and read. That’s the big problem with religion. Not one group of people interpret the bible (or any other divine text) in the same manner, which is why you get so many sects of the same broad group of religions. Because racist homophobes want to interpret the bible in a manner that rationalizes their hate, doesn’t mean the bible is bad and everyone who reads it are terrible people. It just means the ones who interpret it that way are, and the same goes with every other religion out there. A classroom could read a book, and everyone in the room including the teacher may not exactly agree on what they took away from it. Because it’s perspective.

Instead of telling people how they should think or feel, maybe we should listen more. As the saying goes “God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason”. I’m not sure why people are so hostile to each other; to the idea of having a reasonable debate on a topic that doesn’t result in a screaming match. You’d be surprised at what you could learn from another perspective.

Failure Confirmed

I never once in my adult life ever thought that my parents found me to be a disappointment, something that shamed them. Every teenager thinks that about their parents, that they’ll never be good enough. But when you mature and realize that they were just trying to mold you into the best you that you could be, you get over that. But when it was suggested that I may be a disappointment or embarrassment to them, I crumbled and I crumbled really freaking hard. Even as an adult, no child wants to hear that your parents are ashamed of you.

I was weak enough to ask the question to my mom. I don’t normally give in, but I admit my mental state is always shakier around Christmastime. She scoffed and was genuinely offended at the notion that she would be disappointed in me when I dropped off the kids so I could go Christmas shopping. I was on a tight schedule so I didn’t get around to hear her finish her statement. My father wasn’t in the room at the time, but I have a feeling the idea was just as silly to him as it was to my mother. I wish I could say that made me feel better, but I spiraled. I spiraled hard. I thought about about giving up. I thought about settling for a life that would have made me miserable. Was I doing everything wrong in my life? I questioned every single decision I have ever made.

I quickly started alternating between what I could only describe as blind rage and rock-bottom depression. Normally when I discuss feeling like a failure, it isn’t an actual feeling. I use it in a derisive manner. I don’t really think I’m failing, though there are brief moments that I do blame myself for things I have no control over. But this was different. Maybe I wasn’t doing everything right. Maybe I was a disappointment to everyone in my life. It was hard. It was very hard to deal with. I didn’t cry though. I think I have successfully went full ice-queen.

What made me a failure? The decision my husband and I made for me to stay home and be there for the kids while doing something I loved to do. Something my husband fully believes I can do. My husband thinks I’m immensely talented and honestly, that should be enough. He thinks I’m talented enough to support me through this journey. My “doing this silly writing thing” and “staying home” was what my family was disappointed in me for doing. How ashamed they must feel to have a daughter like me, squandering my intelligence and abilities in the way I have chosen to. As if I’m the secret daughter my mother doesn’t talk about because I have shamed her so. I brought the plague upon my family because I was such a failure in life.

I wish I could say that I was feeling okay about this now. That it still didn’t sting. That I didn’t hear those words swirling about my head as I try to move forward, doing whatever I can to further my career. I can’t. But I can say that it won’t break me and that’s really enough for me today.

The Appropriate Adult Response

It’s hard when you think you are being judged, even if it may be all in your head. The idea of being the perfect mom and wife tends to conflict with the actual realities of the situation. You try to do it all and even when you get through 90% of your self-inflicted to-do list, there always seems to be that one person that reminds you of what you didn’t accomplish during the day. Then it’s the last 10% that you failed at that makes you crazy. That you obsess over.

It was that 10% that led me to the place where I sat on my kitchen floor amidst a pile of Lysol wipes that I’m allergic to, hands covered in rashes, having a mental breakdown in the middle of my kitchen. That’s an appropriate adult response, right? It’s all of those little things that accumulate into one massive meltdown on a random day. A day which I wish I could have said was a long time ago, because I’ve realized that I’m never going to be a “Supermom”. I’ve made peace with my place of mediocrity in the place of moms. But no… this was yesterday. Even after accepting my mediocrity in a lot of things in life, I’m still sitting here with “Unsteady” by X-Ambassadors and “Little Talks” by Of Monsters and Men on repeat lamenting over my perceived failures of the past month, year, forever. The voices of people in my head, reiterating how badly I suck at things. With every worry sitting on my chest, making me think that I can’t breathe.

It was a rough day. One I had to pull together because it was my oldest son’s 16th birthday. Was my oldest hitting this milestone a catalyst for my breakdown? I wish I could say. Was it watching my son get screamed at for waiting with his friends on a sidewalk before school, then watching him run anxiously in the back of the schoolyard? Was it the realization that I definitely wasn’t going to finish NaNoWriMo, thus solidifying my fears that I suck at writing and need to quit? The thing about snapping is it’s always a snowball of a dozen events that end up causing a blizzard.

It doesn’t matter that I did complete nearly 30,000 words of the 50,000 word challenge, which may seem respectable. It was a failure to me. It doesn’t matter that my house was “decent looking”, I failed to make it museum worthy. I burned some onions while making sausage, peppers, and onions for supper. Maybe I should quit cooking? Maybe I have been wrong my entire life about everything?

That’s the whole thing though, isn’t it? Other people make us feel like our best is never going to be good enough. That comment about your house looking like a jungle is something that you obsess over until you start believing that you are less than. When people put you down because of your job. When people point out your single flaw, you obsess and destroy your sanity over it. You don’t need to tell another mom how you think they are failing and telling them about how they could be better. Trust me, they already know.

Why? Why do we always do this to ourselves as moms? What lesson does that teach our kids? How can we tell our kids, who are having anxiety attacks because they think they are failures or broken, that they are perfect despite the fact we think those things about ourselves?

You have to be okay with yourself. As long as you are doing the best that you can every second of the day, then maybe it’s okay that everyone views you as some mediocre mom. You’re never going to be perfect. Sometimes being supermom is just about being super good at what your kids need and want, not what you think everyone else thinks you should be doing.