parenting

Raw Parenting

A week ago we had our first parent teacher meeting for the sixth grade school year. I always have a bit of anxiety around these meetings because I’m never sure what I’m going to hear, but I was going in with optimism since the school year had barely started.

Admittedly it did not start off uneventfully as we received email communication from a teacher within the first week about a long-standing issue with his talking in class. We addressed it and started anew. The next week we stopped in for a talk with his advisor who will help him navigate the year and this conversation was also mixed. He’s a good kid, a smart kid, but his emotions run high and he’s often in conflict with a few of his classmates. Deep breath. Start anew.

I’ve written on here about my ups and downs with parenting. He is an amazing kid. Smart and thoughtful. Has a strong sense of right and wrong and fully embraces our faith and treating others the way you want to be treated. He works hard and has shown unwavering dedication on his path for a Black belt in Taekwondo and continues working toward his second degree today. He makes me laugh nearly every day. But sometimes I cry.

He is persistent and argumentative. Strong-willed and extremely literal, which is the root of some of his peer interactions. We’ve seen a therapist for a couple of years to help guide him and us through these trying times. It’s been a roller coaster for sure and while I know we are not alone in these struggles, sometimes I just want to wave a white flag of defeat in the face of it all. I lose my patience. Sometimes I yell. I don’t like this about myself, but there it is.

So you can imagine the conference didn’t go so well because I’m not sure a blog post would be warranted if it had. Overall, we received an overwhelming number of positive comments but one was really hurtful and therefore took precedence above them all. And so like a new wound that covers over, I repeatedly returned to it in the past week to peel back the layers, making it fresh again with each examination. I have tried processing it from every angle to make sense of it. I talked to my husband, a friend and the head of the school. We received a note of apology for how the message was delivered from the teacher.

Now it’s time to move on. The only way I can think of doing that is through faith and prayer.

MC

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Life

Rage

I feel so much rage right now. Honestly, I don’t know where to put it. This is partly because my own #metoo story has been rekindled little by little since last fall and is now in a full-blown blaze of anxiety and hurt. After it happened, I packed it away because I didn’t know what to do about it 32 years ago. The thought of telling anyone – family, friend or trusted adult – was never of consideration. How could I point a finger at a beloved classmate, all-around sportsman, a boy who had suffered a devastating loss in the recent past of that time? I couldn’t do it. I can’t even do it now.

I think about all the brave women sharing their stories and I try to put myself in their shoes. How could I be that brave? Why not at least tell my husband? Does what happened to me really matter anymore? I’ve gotten past it, right? Dates are hazy, although I could pinpoint it easily enough as it happened on prom night of my senior year. I remember the setting (a car) but not where it was parked or why the two of us were alone in his car when we were going with other couples. Did I shun him for the rest of the evening? I honestly cannot remember. The words he said to me and the act itself are seared in my brain like so many others who have been sexually assaulted. He did not rape me so I told myself it was OK. It wasn’t.

The rage I feel right now is not for my attacker (this doesn’t even feel like the right word for what he was). It’s for the Republican Senators and the disgrace we call a President. These angry white men want to place a judge on the Supreme Court who, even if he didn’t do the thing he is accused of, certainly doesn’t have the demeanor or non-partisan temperament for the job. Why do they want to force this man on the highest court for the rest of his life? We don’t want it. We don’t want any of it.

I hope there are enough angry women AND men ready to march to the polls in the next few weeks. We are ready for a tide of change. We need to right the wrongs of 2016 and we need it to happen fast. The “president” continues to show us new lows of civility and decorum with every passing day. That people are still supportive of him is mind-blowing. There is more to life than financial success (if that is the reason for their support of him). I am trying to teach my kid that kindness and decency are the greatest assets we can have in life and I don’t see that reflected back at me from this administration.

I hope they surprise us all and pass over on this Supreme Court candidate.

MC

Life

Having a “me” day

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Today is a small miracle. A gift, really. Even with the rain and the damp and the lingering sad thoughts from watching the Kavanaugh/Ford hearing yesterday.  Today is good. I can finally rest and do what I want to do for me today.

I don’t take this gift lightly and promise myself not to spend any time on my phone cruising twitter for the aftermath of yesterday’s hearing or browsing other social media sites to kill time. I am not going to an exercise class or to the grocery store and I’m not going to do any laundry. Thanks to the very fun girl’s night (another important form of self-care!) at my house last Friday, the house is still in decent shape.

I survived a raucous sleepover last weekend with my son and his friends. I survived a week with my husband out of the country, running Liam to activities every night during the week and because he doesn’t take a bus, I’ve done drop off and pick up duty too. Plus there is the job I get paid to do as well. I am tired.

This is by no means a complaint. Being productive is a fulfilling achievement in its own right. I love ticking things off. I can handle the unexpected errands (like how I had to run and buy Liam a new school blazer – the fourth one since the beginning of the last school year – because he is a serial misplacer of things and because school pictures) and how we ran out of dog treats mid-week. I’ve got this.

But I don’t have to do any of that today. I can have a day for me and knowing that is enough to lift my tired soul. I can read. I can write. I can go to a movie if I want. I can stay in my pajamas all day or not. I can make cookies or do nothing. I can breathe.

MC

 

Life

Cleaning for guests

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Nearly a month has passed since I’ve written here, or even attempted to write here. I seem to have lost my voice. It’s not because I’m not feeling or thinking about things. I’m really not sure what it’s about. As I mentioned in my last post, the kitchen is done. Mostly. There are still a couple of items on the list to be completed when the contractor has time to come back. Do contractors ever find time to come back when they’ve moved on to a new job?

About three weeks ago I invited some friends over for game night. We get together about once a month and I couldn’t make the last event which was a movie night so I threw out the game night suggestion for this Friday. On Monday someone asked if it was still on. Gulp. My house is still quite a mess. Of course, I said yes and then one after another affirmed it was good for them too. The menu is set. But the house, not so much.

Continue reading “Cleaning for guests”

Life

Free Time Free Fall

Unrecognizable woman sitting on window sill with smart phone

You know those moments that aren’t sucked up by work and home life and other obligations? Those few minutes captured just for yourself. Maybe when you wake up in the morning or just before you go to sleep. A few stolen moments as dinner is being cooked or maybe you unexpectedly have the house to yourself for an hour or two. How do you spend your time?

Of late, I have to admit, I’ve been overdoing it on phone time and it occurred to me last night that I needed to step away. I’m usually refreshing Twitter to get a fix of what everyone’s talking about and often times I have to look something up just to get the gist of what’s being said. It is a foxhole I go down and before I know it an hour may have passed. And with Trump dominating my news feed, it is also mentally exhausting. Could I have instead been doing something more constructive like writing in my journal, meditating, reading or the many other things I love to do but don’t seem to find time for anymore?

I also have to put my house back together. For four months I have let it go to pot as construction ensued in the dining room, office, master bath and finally the kitchen. We are 95% complete! But the heavy lifting is still ahead as I go through our boxes and boxes of belongings to root out what we actually need and use. How have we accumulated so much stuff?! Last night I put down the phone and while Jim and Liam were at a baseball game I forced myself to focus on emptying out a few of the boxes. At the end of two hours, I felt more accomplished than if I’d spent that same time frustratingly trying to reach new levels at Candy Crush (an admittedly poor choice of how I use my free time).

I’m am not advocating for not doing frivolous or even mindless things with our free time because I think sometimes our brain just needs a break to chill out. I just need to be wary of how much time I spend this way.

What are some ways you like to just chill out and how do you set limits for things you know are time wasters?

MC

 

Musings

Dorm shopping: today vs three decades ago

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I was working on a blog post of the things I didn’t grow up with when I stumbled on a post from Real Simple called The Ultimate College Packing List – 26 Things Every College Student Needs. I passed right by it and then scrolled back up a minute later because, really, I AM interested to see how much things have changed since I went away to college 32 years ago. Let’s go through the list and compare! Continue reading “Dorm shopping: today vs three decades ago”

Life

An unexpected message

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I haven’t watched much TV in the past year or so. It used to give me so much pleasure to get involved in a show, (Downton Abbey, Scandal (through season 4) and my favorite binge watch of all time – Breaking Bad) but somewhere along the way I decided to spend more time reading and less time on television. Partly too, I was having trouble sleeping and they say less screen time, especially at night, is key.

Recently I let Liam (my 11 year old) talk me into watching a show he loves called The Flash which is a show about an (accidental?) Super Hero who is super fast and stops criminals from doing criminal things. I wanted to make him happy so I agreed to watch the first episode and much to my surprise I really liked it. It’s been a few weeks and I’m only on episde three, so there you go.

Last night, after watching the third episode, I decided to browse around Netflix and see what else was on. I wanted something no more than an hour and after several minutes of scanning titles, I settled on Hannah Gadsby’s, Nanette, because I had seen several people mention it on Twitter as a must see. It looked like a fairly typical standup comedy show but I was not prepared for what it turned into. In my opinion, everyone should watch it.

Hannah Gadsby is a lesbian who doesn’t know how to categorize herself. She makes jokes about coming out, people’s reactions, people who have suggestions and critiques of her. That she’s not lesbian enough for some and that others don’t think she should treat her mental health issues. So many opinions about how she should live her life. She jokes about it until she doesn’t. I really don’t want to give anything else away but it was an extremely powerful show that made me think and emathize and also it made me cry. A lot. Totally unexpected for a “comedy” show.

This is basically the TED talk of all TED talks that every human should see.

MC

Life, Uncategorized

This and that

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My brother and I, age 8 and 6

Today would have been my brother‘s 53rd birthday, so far he has missed 32 of them. It used to be a very painful day for me because our birthdays fall just 10 days apart and we often had a dual celebration when we were growing up. They say time heals all wounds and while that doesn’t fit in most cases of lost loved ones, it seems to have dulled the ache over the past three decades. These days I sometimes fleetingly think about what could have been if he hadn’t died, but living in the past is good for no one. It’s all about accepting our current reality.

Time is a true healer and the things that seemed urgent and insurmountable a couple of weeks ago are background noise today. I mentioned in a previous post that my dad had been the victim of a fraud scam (to the tune of $4,400). I was so angry about this and to be honest, initially, I couldn’t fathom how he could have fallen for the scam which is known as the “grandparent scam“.  After hearing him tell what happened I understood how he could have been duped and only felt the deepest heartache for a man who has only approached life with optimism and trust in his fellow humans. He has given the shirt off his back on many occasions over the years and is always willing to lend a helping hand. He is the last person who should have been the victim of a scam. My siblings and I have pitched in to make him whole and it has been a learning and growing experience for all of us.

That same week we were at the bottom of our patience reserves with our pre-teen. Every day was bringing more fighting than peace and my husband and I didn’t know how we were going to survive the summer and quite possibly the rest of his years until he was safely through his teen angst. We called in an expert and came up with a plan together to at least get through the next few weeks. It hasn’t been without its bumps but it no longer feels insurmountable. I’m constantly reminded that below all the turmoil is a good kid with a big heart and he often makes me laugh. The other day he posed the question “what if Wakanda didn’t exist” and then proceeded to tell me how all the other Marvel plots would fall apart if that had been the case. He is even making a Marvel lover out of me(this is a genre I had always avoided)! He loves magic and jokes and is always trying to entertain us. He is not out to get us! I have to remind myself he is trying to come into his own now and it’s time to loosen the strings.

This week will bring our contractor back to us. In the middle of our home renovation project, he had the audacity to get married and go on a honeymoon. The nerve! No, seriously, he is a great guy and I’m so happy for him and his new wife. He has been a tremendous worker and cares a great deal about his craftsmanship that I have no doubt we will be blown away by the end product. We are definitely in the final weeks of the project and the house will be back together by the time September arrives.

Happy Sunday.

MC

Writing

Friday writing

Good morning from Friday morning. It has been ten months since I moved to a four day work week with Fridays off and you know how people who retire say they don’t know how they had time to work, that pretty much sums it up. The idea behind Fridays was to make time to write and I think it started out pretty good but then life crept in and took over my “day off”. Errands, exercise classes, cleaning, school holidays and other not so fun things.

A year ago I had just started an online fiction writing class that I squeezed in while working a full workweek. How is it I no longer have time/make time to write? What happened to my WIP? I abandoned it at the end of the six week writing workshop, that’s what happened. I still hold those characters in my heart though and maybe it’s time to revisit and dust them off. What have they been up to this past year?

Today I declare a day free of errands, meetings and obligations. Today I will write and maybe it will go poorly or maybe it will go great. Maybe I will write pages and pages of giberish. There will likely be guilt in the back of my mind for other things I should be doing but I’ll have to try to mute it. The house couldn’t be in any worse shape than it is now so another day isn’t going to hurt much, right?

Cue the ABBA soundtrack and happy writing.

MC

 

 

 

 

Musings

Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again!

*spoiler inside*

Film Title: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

Today is all about light and happy (it’s my Birthday!) so I thought I’d say a few words about that new Mamma Mia movie. I am a fan of ABBA from way back and feel like there is nothing better than a little ABBA Gold, their greatest hits album, to pull anyone out of a funk and I’ve been in a serious one lately. A couple of my friends saw the movie was out last week so we made plans to see it on Monday night. Guys, the theater was PACKED! I haven’t been to a theater so packed and on a Monday night in ages.

So a little backstory. Back in 2002, Jim and I visited London and the Cotswold area of England which had been a HUGE bucket list item of mine. When I met Jim the year before, I had been in the midst of planning and saving to take this trip on my own and he ended up surprising me with tickets for Christmas. Mamma Mia, the musical was a fairly new phenomenon and he got us tickets. It was icing on the cake. A cherry on the sundae. The play was amazing and fun and I ended up seeing it three or four more times over the next several years. One of those was a girls’ trip to New York and it’s with this group I saw the first and then the second movie.

While I saw the trailer, I did not read any reviews or other articles about the movie so as not to spoil it. The week before I watched the first movie on Netflix so I was primed to go. So I was completely taken aback when I learned Donna was dead. What?! No Merryl Streep in Here We Go Again?! But really, they made the best of it. They flashed back to Donna’s younger years from when she graduated from college and found her way to the island that would end up being her home for life and how she met the three men who were the questionable dad to her daughter Sophie. Lily James who played the young Donna has an amazing voice and screen presence. It was fun and cheesy and ok, it was a little sad.

The preview seemed to highlight Cher as an addition to the star-studded cast but she didn’t come in until nearly the end and I have to say she was a little weird. To be honest I’m not a huge fan and thought she upped the cheese factor significantly with her rendition of Fernando (played by Andy Garcia who was also weird in this movie).  There were definitely some drawbacks and it didn’t really measure up to the first because, most notably, Streep’s absence until the very end of the movie when she ghosts/sings a song to her grown daughter. It was a low note to end the movie on. The montage as the credits rolled was somewhat redeeming.

Overall, it was a fun movie and I will likely see it again when it comes out on DVD.

MC