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

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, 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

parenting

Letting our kids grow up

Children at school classroom

Hello, readers! Today I’m tackling a hairy parenting topic known as letting our kids grow up and find their way. I feel this is necessary after I witnessed a meet and greet with a new teacher this week that can only be described as a well intentioned assembly that went off the rails. Yes, it’s late in the school year. Yes, our school had to replace one of their teachers (who I previously wrote about here). Yes, we can do this.

If you don’t want to click the link for the backstory, here’s a brief synopsis of the issue. New teacher acts inappropriately many times. New teacher enjoys a great deal of “bathroom/locker room humor” with 10-14 year olds. Kids, of course, love said teacher because he acts like a peer and not an authoritative, adult teacher. Teacher not a good fit and leaves with seven weeks to go in the school year. I don’t know all the whats and whys behind the leaving but I trust the school did what was appropriate. Yesterday we got to meet his replacement, a highly qualified individual with a doctorate, and from what I could tell from his message to parents, many years experience with a variety of grade levels and sound teaching practices.

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parenting

Courage in Parenting

On Tuesday evening after picking my son Liam up from school (5th grade), he told me something that happened in one of his classes that day and I had a deep pit in my stomach that lasted for a good hour. He rarely wants to talk about his day, let alone relay something he feels uncomfortable about. I went into full mother alert and began texting other moms to see if they could corroborate if anything weird happened in religion class.

It took forever for anyone to respond to me so I called my husband to relate the incident. I had initially tried texting the details and he wasn’t getting it so I called him. Yes, the teacher said something completely offensive about a student’s mother and it was sexist and suggestive and completely inappropriate for a 5th grade RELIGION class.

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Life

The Rhythms of Life

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I tend to get suspicious when life is going along just fine. After a while I get used to it and then when an issue comes up, I’m unprepared and knocked back just a little bit. Oh, right, life isn’t supposed to always be easy, I remind myself! This is an important life lesson that I keep trying to instill in my son Liam who is elven. He seems to be coming home with different issues from school these days and I try to give him my best advice to help him along.

Sometimes it has to do with academics – a poor test grade or missed assignment. He will get very upset when he doesn’t do well on a test even if his grade is in the low 90’s. I do not want him to put so much emphasis on one grade or one assignment. I simply tell him to learn from these situations and just to always do his best. We can never be doing everything perfectly.

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Musings

A crazy idea

I am forever trying to get my act together. You’d think by 50 I’d have things well under control, but instead I find myself still messing things up several times a week and this morning’s was a doozy.

Liam is playing basketball over the winter so he’s had to miss Sunday school for the past few weeks because his games have been on Sunday morning. I was very excited we didn’t have a game this weekend and while Jim ran him over to church, I got back in bed with a cup of tea and a book – sounds heavenly, right? I still had to shower before we went to collect him before mass and I kept telling myself just one more chapter.

Then Jim came in and announced there was a family activity during his class today where we were all supposed to make Valentine’s together. Jim had thrown on jeans and a sweatshirt and didn’t stay with him because he also needed to shower before mass. I was upset because I could picture him at a table all by himself in a corner sulking that we did’t love him as much as the other kids parents. I pictured him in many years hence describing to a therapist the various ways we had let him down through the childhood and I hightailed it to the shower and was ready in an astounding 15 minutes, makeup and all. I managed to get there with 20 minutes left in class but I could tell he was sad.

I’m sure I have an unread (or worse, an unread and deleted email) from the organizer because we always get reminders when something special is going on. I usually make time to read these because I am trying to be more organized but sometimes my email gets so overwhelming I just delete a bunch without reading – most of it is junk.

I really don’t know how to get it all together and that’s where my crazy idea comes in. Last week I had the idea to start a vlog about “getting it together”, but I’m not really sure there would be any interest in it. I myself love to follow several vlogs but they are run by extremely put together people. By all appearances they have perfect homes, cleaning routines, flawless makeup, healthy diets and excercise schedules and just all around good organizational skills. I was thinking of something more realistic for the rest of us who might not have it all together.

I did end up shooting a five minute video to introduce it last week, but I’m not sure how to even edit and publish such a thing. These people all have good camera presence and editing skills and I am just so raw. What do you think? Would you watch such a thing? It might be kind of like looking at a trainwreck!

I’ll have to think on it some more.

MC

parenting

Disrupted sleep leads to a hard topic

I’m drifting off to sleep when I feel something jostling my arm. A soft voice whispering but I can’t make it out. I want to sleep. The jerky nudging continues until I can’t ignore it anymore and my eyes adjust to see the hazy outline of Liam bending over me, loud whispering something I still can’t hear. The words are lost but I can hear the urgency in his voice, a mother’s fine-tuned sense of when something is wrong with your kid.

This is the third time over the past week we’ve been through this. I urge him to tell me louder what’s the matter since I’ve taken my hearing aids off for the night and sound is like an underwater cacophony to me without them. He tells me in a louder voice, right next to my ear, he can’t fall asleep. He’s ten and five feet tall, nearly my height, practically adult sized but he wants to get in bed with us. I try to dissuade him telling him he’ll sleep better in his own bed, knowing I’ll sleep better if he’s in his own bed.

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Life

Halloween regret

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I wore my pajamas to work yesterday. Easiest costume ever. The coziness of flannel, the soft fur lining of slippers pressed against my sockless feet, the pure comfort of it. Who doesn’t dream of wearing pajamas to work? I sprayed my hair into a rat’s nest (it really didn’t need much help), threw a roller in the back of my hair and was at work in record time. And then I realized I had a meeting with several managers and a couple VP’s and I instantly regretted my decision.

I was one of the first to arrive at the meeting first thing that morning and one of the VP’s looked at me through squinted, questioning eyes and I said, yes, I’m wearing my pajamas. In a teasing, scolding tone, she said she’d be sending her managers home if they came to work dressed like that. My boss came in shortly after and sat nearby, glanced my way and then inched closer to whisper I’d left a roller in my hair. I said, I know, I’m wearing my pajamas and got another quizzical look. It’s Halloween, I explained. Ah, enlightenment dawned and there were smiles and jokes about how I’d pulled one over on them.

I should probably explain pajamas are the opposite of my working MO. I tend to take great care with my appearance when I’m leaving the house, even to run to the grocery store. On days when I work from home, I shower, dress, put on make-up and jewelry as though I’m going into the office. It just makes me feel better and I think I do better work when I’m “suited up”. So this Halloween “costume”, while at first so enticing, had me wanting to run home by noon to shower, fix my hair and put on real clothes.

The end of the day couldn’t come fast enough. I would have enough time to shower and change before picking my son up from school so we could go to his friend’s neighborhood for trick or treating.  When I got to school, he was dressed in his costume with his friends and they talked me into letting him go with them so I told the mom I’d meet them at the appointed house at 6:00 where there was a pre-trick or treating party. A pre-trick or treating party?!

I arrived well before everyone else and sat in my car because a) I didn’t have a kid and b) I didn’t know the hosts of the party. Minutes passed and I worried I had the wrong house and texted to make sure I was in the right spot. They assured me they were on their way and soon pulled in and the kids jumped out of the car ready to go. I had tried to talk Liam out of the costume he chose. I knew he’d be picked on but he wouldn’t be deterred.

I think it turned out to be a disappointing night for him. As I suspected, he was picked on for the costume and said someone had actually hit him. He quickly discarded the mask and the boys ran through the neighborhood like their life depended on it, picking up treats along the way. As the night wound down and he had one more confrontation with a girl who wanted to spray his $100 jacket with shaving cream before I intervened, he said he’d learned his lesson about his costume choice which will remain a mystery here.

We had a quiet ride home as we both mulled over our poor choice of costumes this Halloween.

 

Life

Offline living

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Oh my, it’s been ages! We are officially at summer’s halfway point (at least in my mind) and I should update you on what’s going on here. I don’t know if you remember, but back in May, I decided the family needed a technology break (including me).  I have posted just a handful of blogs since that time because you know, I’m on a break which means everything is happening offline, including writing.

The break from technology has been, overall, a mostly fabulous experience. You know how sometimes you don’t know how stressed out you are until you are sitting on a beach with sand filtering through your toes and then you dig in a little deeper to get to the cool, wet sand and you let out a huge sigh? That’s kind of what it’s been like. To know that you are not going to be fighting with your kid about when to turn off their iPad and go do something outside like you did when you were a kid is just, well, pretty amazing.

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