adult children, anxiety, clarity, family, identity, life, marriage, peace, purpose, raising kids, school, Uncategorized, writing

Ready to write…

It’s been a while. A while since I’ve been moved to write again. I have been doing a good job at looking inward and searching for a better understanding of me in the past few months.

I have been disconnected from FaceBook since May (9 months) and it feels refreshing. I do not do much social media at all. I am a new member of LinkedIn and I am enjoying it,  seeing other people’s professional accomplishments and other’s rooting them on for it, now that’s refreshing! We did away with cable and only use our Amazon FireStick for our TV, this has helped not have the news in our face.  I have a routine of doing a morning check of the news on my phone before work from sources that I have hand selected and of whom I trust.  This has been helpful in my daily life.  I was just feeling bombarded (literally!) by too much information.  I needed to set boundries and set limits for myself,  I find the steps I’ve taken have been helpful.

My husband and I are navigating the empty nest very well. We survived holiday break; getting first semester grades, adjusted social lives and the return of higher grocery bills. They have both now returned to the University, happy and ready for a successful second semester. We have settled into being just the two of us again and have adjusted to not hearing from them very often. It feels good to know they are out there navigating this big world without having to rely on us for much. They are doing great! Our oldest son is still very happy in his new career and is thriving in the business world. I guess it’s feeling more and more like I can breath.

Speaking of breathing… I began to meditate. This is something I’ve often thought about but have never practiced.  I am using the Calm App on my phone and it has been wonderful. I highly suggest it. It has helped to create space in my mind, I feel I am more at ease and have more clarity these days. First of all, I’ve never been able to let myself shut out the world. I literally put in my headphones and it is just me in my space for 20 minutes a day (10 min of meditation and 10 min of stretching).  I don’t know where or what anyone else is doing, it’s about me! This is an entirely new concept for me and it feels amazing! I feel as though I am on my way to taking better care of myself. I’ve done an awful lot of caring for others, but myself, not so much.

Which leads me to my husband having his surgery.  He had his second hip replacement  surgery in October. He is still doing all of his physical therapy and working hard at being back 100%… but can I just tell you, he is OUT OF PAIN!  The transformation is unbelievable! He is happier, he is stronger, he is more confident!  I am better because he is better.  I worried about him so much, he was always in pain. That is gone and we now take walks together, he wants to do things with me again… we are literally living a new life! I have to admit for almost the entirety of our marriage my husband has been in pain.  He has had 6 surgeries in a 10 year period and prior to his first hip surgery 10 years ago he suffered with the pain of his arthritis for a very long time.  He is a very young man for having been through all of this. He is only 53 and I am 46.  We have our sights set on our future now, he is healthy, happy and pain free.  I have been a caregiver to my children, my husband and anyone else who needed help for what feels like my entire life.  I am entering into the ME ZONE.  I am exercising, meditating, saying “no” when asked to join committees and boards.  I am feeling refreshed for the first time in a very long time. It feels simply wonderful!

There is something else that is different also. I need you to understand my husband is Superman.  He has worked to provide for us throughout all of his pain, he does not complain, he works a full day and then works around the house and maintains anything needing to be done… he is my hero.  Well, that being said, he is also my children’s hero. The disturbance and upheaval of our family from him being laid up over the years has taken a toll on myself and my children.  I have had anxiety since I was a child, but with the life we have experienced over the last 10-12 years it has flared up in new ways. The uncertainty of his surgeries, his recovery, his being out of work, the finances, his physical therapy, our car accident when he couldn’t be with us… the list goes on. This has taken a toll on my mind and my body.  I have been the one to care for him, I cared for the kids, I worked to keep his spirits up when he felt down about being laid up and not able to be the partner I needed. I was everyone’s cheerleader. I worked during this time also, trying to find the balance between my work and my home, this proving not to be an easy task.   Well, it seems we are on the other side of it now. He is feeling strong in body and mind, He knows what he needs to do to stay healthy and works hard at it everyday.  But in the meantime our two youngest children are battling with anxiety. They are both in college now and their doctor has told me that the trauma to the family through all of these unsettling times and not being sure of the outcome for their father being in and out of hospitals so often has played a big role in the people they are today.  They are fearful of the unknown, the “fight or flight” response is very real for them. Navigating college life and balancing their lives has been a bit of a struggle, but what I know from experience struggle brings strength and I have great faith in their ability to overcome these feelings of being out of control of their lives.  This is an unsettling time of not being able to see your future clearly and it is uneasy.  I do feel a lot of guilt due to my not being what they needed through out our family’s hardships. I wish it could have been different but what I know now is that I could not have controlled what happened to us.  We got through the difficulty and have persevered. They are seeing the end result of where the struggle has brought my husband and I and I know they will be ok.

Life is a journey, we often don’t know what’s around the next corner.  This exact notion has brought me great anxiety on the heels of many twists and turns, but I am also learning to embrace it. And with my husband standing strong beside me and loving me more everyday… I feel unstoppable.  It feels like we’ve climbed and climbed and have finally gotten to some sort of clearing in the trees and the sun is shining.  We can see the path ahead of us… we will just stop here for a while and enjoy the view!

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” ~ Louisa May Alcott

 

 

adult children, clarity, family, life, marriage, raising kids, school, time, writing

The Sound of Silence

Yes… it’s a Simon & Garfunkle song… a beautiful song etched in my memory from childhood… but it also the phrase that came to me when I arrived home from work today.

You see, it has happened. Almost every post I’ve written since I began blogging has mentioned it at one time or another… today it is my reality.  We spent our weekend moving our two youngest children into college… we are officially “empty nesters”.  This term has been thrown around for years as my husband and I have approached this moment.  Well, the whole weekend went well… We spent it together as a family in a rental home.  Our nephew, our oldest son and his girlfriend joined us and we vacationed a few days of the long weekend before the “move in”.  I did great… the diversion of disguising the whole good-bye weekend as something else really worked for me.  I didn’t even cry at the moment of good-bye at the University.  You see, our two youngest are going to the same college, only a 45 minute ferry ride and a 1 hour drive away.  I have felt good with the whole transition… “they have each other and they are close to home, easy for me to get to them if I need or want to”… these are the words I’ve uttered to myself and others literally thousands of times in the last few months.  I had adequately prepared myself… all went well at move in and drop off.  They were happy, we were happy… “wow that was easy” I thought yesterday as I drove out of the parking lot of the University with my husband.  I had worried a bit about my over-looking the fact that I would be saying good-bye to many of my loved ones within the same half hour, after our wonderful weekend together, but I did great.  Boy, I impressed myself.

About a mile into the drive, the car was silent.  There were no more piles of “stuff” to move, there was no more grocery bags of snacks and dorm room essentials that had been jotted down on lists for the last month or more… it was just me and my husband.  I realized we were driving further and further away from our children… each rotation of the tires meant we were entering brand new territory… our “new chapter”… uncharted waters.  Tears began to flow.  I know full well that we will be fine, we “may even enjoy it” (like everyone keeps saying) but if you’ve read any of my other posts you know that transitions can be hard for me.  We wept together on the highway on the drive home, not many words between us, we didn’t need them.

Well today… today is a brand new day!  A new school year started today… as a school teacher that comes with its own mix of emotions.  I had to switch gears last night and focus on today.  A busy morning of the new routine… what I was wearing, timing of the dogs feeding and going out, just all my own stuff!  I had even reached the point last night that I convinced myself how wonderful it will be to not have to share the car, my day would be my own! Bring it on!

So my first day back at school went well… a day of firsts for all the kiddos at school. New outfits, new schedules, lots to focus on!  I just moved along so easily… no tears when colleagues asked how the “drop off” went?  I was good.

I then left school and drove home. On my drive I saw the bus in my rear view mirror and saw parents waiting at bus stops to greet their children.  Ok… So? It entered my mind… those fond memories of yesteryear came and went quickly and I moved on… no tears, I was ok.  I then arrived home and the dogs were there to greet me (perfect planning on my part to have dogs a part of our life just as the kids were to begin leaving us) … That was great, I let them outside, we visited a bit in the yard.  We then came inside, they were content to go to their water bowl, the excitement of my being home had wore off for them.  I went to the back deck to water my plants…  As I pruned and watered I became fully aware of the silence.

It was my first day back to school… for 18 years it has always been someone else’s first day back too… someone to share with.  Before I worked at the school, I was the bus stop greeter… it was a hand-in-hand walk home talking about the days events.  When I began working at the Elementary School my kids attend in our home town I drove us all home… a sometimes quiet or sometimes enthusiastic exchange in the car about how our days went.  When they started high school it was different, I could feel it changing, but I was still the driver… picking them up at practices and having good conversation in the car with them and their friends.  Then licenses were acquired and it seemed they needed the car more and more … they became the drivers and they would pick ME up… they were older now and conversations got even better.

Well, today… today on the deck I realized there was only the sound of silence.  My mind went to the fact that I COULD call them, or text them… check in and see “How’s it going?”  Initiate that conversation I need so bad.  But I know I won’t… I remember the same head & heart battle I had when my oldest left for college… Wanting to reach out so bad with my heart but knowing with my head that it’s not in either one of our best interests.  It is healthy for them to not need to talk to me ~ It’s healthy to allow distance right now.  Knowing that and wanting to ignore my wisdom made it harder of course.

I cried on the deck alone today, I am crying now!  Coming to full realization that this is life now.  My children will only grow older by the day and need their mom less and less.  It is the way it is supposed to be.  They will have other people to share stories and days events with. Oh My God…. How did I get here??? My heart aches so terribly with this transition… my writing always helps me… this, this I am finding hard to write. Silence will become a new norm at our house.

I will eagerly await each day for my husband to arrive home so we can share stories. We will begin our new chapter.  We started last night after arriving home from move-in weekend … we tried finding a program on TV we both might like… we tried Episode I of Game of Thrones — I can say with absolute certainty that THAT WILL NOT be our new show… I can’t say it works for both of us! What I do know is we will figure it out.

I will pray for the strength that each day of silence will get easier.  That I will begin to smile easily through the memories and not cry as much.  I will envision their smiling faces on move in day and know they are where they want to be.  I know that growth doesn’t come without feeling uncomfortable… this is something I’ve always taught them and I will once again take some of my own advice.  I sincerely love them and achingly miss them… but I know I will be ok.

 

adult children, anxiety, clarity, communication, identity, life, peace, purpose, raising kids, responsibility, school, self esteem, trust

Finding Ones Balance

How do I feel about my two adult children being prescribed medicine from a phsychiatrist in the last few months? Well, mixed emotions I suppose (like most things in my life). After all,  I am the one who suggested and advocated for the visit to the doctor.  Did I suspect medicine was a possibility?… Well the answer is, not really!?! Not right away.  Maybe get to know them and have an understanding of their lives before prescribing… but then I tell myself he’s a doctor – he looks at facts – he asked questions and he knows the proper answers. Well okay then, I understand.  But it is still my children, it is still their brains and bodies that are being altered.  But yes altered, altered because there is a possible chemical imbalance that is causing them to struggle, isn’t this what I wanted someone to help them with? Yes.

Do I fully understand medicine today and why it is so much more common than when my parents were children? No.  Do i want to learn? Yes. Do I look at my extended family and see alcoholism and struggle? Yes.  Do I want to find a way for my children to be successful and able to fulfill their own hopes and dreams? Yes.  Is medicine the answer to helping them through a difficult time so they can achieve this?  The answer here is… I have to put trust in their doctor and believe that they are well monitored. So yes.  Yes it is the answer for them for now.

I have also struggled in my life.  I ask myself the question “Am I trying to pave a smoother road for my kids than I have had?”  Isn’t that what parents do?  Is medication for them the correct answer for doing this? If I had been medicated for my anxiety would I have done all the soul searching that has led me to today?  Does medication take away creativity and true personalities?  Is this right for MY children???  I could ask 100’s and 100’s of questions and never have answers to them until it is tried for them as individuals.  I have to continuously remind myself that they are being monitored by both me and their doctor through the beginning stages of beginning the medicine.  This has been done thoughtfully and professionally.

Do I know whether or not medicine for me in the earlier years of my life would have helped me? No.  Do I think I may have been a better student or a better friend had I been medicated to help my anxiety and focus? No, I don’t know the answers to these many questions that flow through my mind… all I know for today is I helped my children to seek help for the way they were feeling and this is where it has led us.  Does there seem to be stigma attached to people on “meds”? Yes indeed there is. Should there be? No, there absolutely should not.  Each person is traveling their own journey… We all gain help along the way in different kinds of ways.  I am thankful that my children are on the path to self-understanding and learning about themselves and their bodies.  The medication they are on will help to regulate some of the things that have been out of sync for them and should help to put them back in balance.  Life is all about balance.

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adolescence, communication, drugs and alcohol, expectations, family, raising kids, respect, responsibility, teenagers, trust

Parties…Driving…Independence…

Being 17 isn’t easy, I remember.  Now our third child, our youngest is!  You’d think after having been through it with 3 other children I would have it all figured out by now.  Wrong!  One thing I can tell you about the way my husband and I parent is we have always figured it out as we’ve gone along.  Each child brings with them a uniqueness, a difference in personality… the answers are never uniform because each situation, each scenario deserves to be looked at with fresh eyes.  That is how we respect our children. Not to mention, even with the same child nothing stays the same, they change daily, as do we.  They grow and learn so much each day. This deserves to be respected.

The hard part is the balance.  Finding ways to respect their own beliefs in what they should be able to do and our parent ideas of what they are ready to handle. This is the reason I choose to be transparent.  I want them to know my thoughts and ideas, so there can be clear understanding when we do not allow them to do something they’ve asked to do.  I also want them to share their thoughts with us.  My husband and I are both great team players, I believe this is what has helped us be successful parents.  With he and I respecting each others ideas, we can stand united in our decisions for the kids.  We do not undermine each other in front of the kids, we often will not give an answer right away, we give them a “let us discuss it”.  The kids have learned that this is better than a “no”, because we are willing to take a deeper look into what their needs and wants are.  We do not want to be authoritarians, and just have them obey. We want to treat them with respect and ask for the same in return. This has worked beautifully.

Where we live is unique.  Small towns are a challenge, but try a small town on an island! To give you some perspective…Our pizza places close in the winter at 9:00pm!  My husband and I were both born and raised here, it is a special place, we love it.  Raising young children here is a dream. The school systems are great, the atmosphere for raising little ones is wonderful.  For teenagers, not so much.  When they reach high school age and want to be social… our island is lacking for things to do.  House parties have become the cultural “norm”.  Parties thrown by 20 somethings who have not gone off to college or who attempted it and are now back home.  Either way, it presents problems in our community. I do not find that drunk 20 somethings and drunk high schoolers are a good mix.

It is not unique to our island that parents differ in beliefs when it comes to raising their children, certainly their teenagers.  By the time kids here get to High School, there seems to be a “right of passage” message, for many, that it is okay to smoke weed and drink alcohol.  In my experience, it is either blatantly right in front of the parents and they choose to turn a blind eye, or weekend sleepovers are the norm where Sally says she’s staying at Suzie’s and vice-versa and there is no parent communication, no accountability, and then they both stay out all night and report to no one.  The way we have found to combat this with our own children is to have high expectations of communication and responsibility. Their involvement in sports and keeping open lines of communication has been key.  Sports is a great outlet for kids on this island and we have found it very important for their social lives. In my opinion, by the time they get to the High School they need the social outlet of being a part of sports and organized activities.  Our oldest was a 3 sport varsity athlete for all 4 years of high school. The amount of time and energy it took to be a part of these teams served him very well. He has been a phenomenal role model to our younger children, and continues to be.

Being involved in sports at the High School level is not the answer for all kids to stay out of trouble.  There were many, many teammates through the years, and continue to be, who have also found plenty of time for the party scene.  This is where communication comes in, we have clear expectations for drug and alcohol use.  Again, not strictly a command to obey, but an expectation to be responsible and constant discussions surrounding the topic.  Discussions of our understanding that it is available to them at their age and how they might handle this.  Discussions and an understanding of how alcohol affects different people differently, that alcoholism runs deep in our family and to be fully aware if they choose to try it how it is affecting them. We make it very clear that we have trust in them to be responsible and make good decisions and that their will be consequences if that trust is broken.  These are consequences way beyond parental punishment and staying in on Friday night (that is not how we discipline). We teach consequences of real life. Like, all the hard work that’s gone into working toward a future goal could change instantly due to a bad decision. Dreams of being recruited, being successful in a particular field, keeping the respect of others… the list goes on and on.  Pointing out the importance and the reasons for being responsible have always meant enough to our children to act responsibly. Our belief is that at age 17, 18, & 19 we are helping to guide them into adulthood. I believe it is understood that we do not want to dictate what they can and cannot do. We want to see them finding ways of having independence while staying responsible. If they show responsible behavior and make good decisions the freedom is theirs… If they show lack of responsibility and poor behavior we will intervene and help.  We believe this is our job.

Our talks with our children do not only surround drugs and alcohol.  We have open communication for anything that needs discussion.  Getting a driver’s license is a privilege. It is understood that if this is abused (in our eyes, not only the law) that we will take away that privilege. That goes for cell phones, computers, etc. We have taught them right from wrong since they were born, we do not believe stopping when they become a teenager would serve them well in adulthood. We feel strongly that this is our job.

Our family is strong. Our children are respected in their schools, on their teams, and in our community. We feel strongly about helping others when they are in need, we foster this any chance we get. I feel proud of this. I feel proud of the family my husband and I work hard to build strong each and every day. I believe they are proud of us too.

“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher.”  ~ A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

 

 

 

 

 

communication, family, identity, life, marriage, peace, purpose, raising kids, teenagers, time, trust, writing

The taste of my coffee, the feeling of my couch throw…

Saturday morning silence.  Husband’s left for work, college-break daughter sleeping late, high-school son at team sleepover, dog at my feet, coffee in my hand, blanket across my lap. Wow…Saturday!

My five senses are happy this morning. I can taste my coffee differently than on weekdays. I can be present and feel grounded, it’s a satisfying feeling.  Slowing life down enough to feel and experience…I live for these moments of satisfaction.

Our family was all home for the holiday.  Our oldest son has come and gone.  At age 22, he is on his quest to live his own life. If you’ve followed any of my other posts you will know that I am learning how to make this transition.  Today I am at peace. There is a story for how I got to this peaceful place this morning…

After Christmas our oldest told us that he was going to head back to school 2 weeks earlier than anticipated.  His girlfriend was coming to visit us and he would plan to head out when she went back. I had a difficult time with the news. I had prepared myself for this potentially being our last holiday break together, as Del graduates from college this May and it will just never be the same, but cutting that time in half threw me for a loop.  In fear of seeming selfish for the sadness I showed when he told us he was leaving I wanted to share my recent struggle with my children.  I wanted to be transparent in my feelings so they were not perceived wrong. I read one of my earlier posts about what I believe to be transitional depression to them.  I felt it would help explain a mother’s pain in letting go and that I wouldn’t ever be asking him to be doing anything different, that it was just the feelings that were emerging from me and the struggle between my heart and my intellect again. I hoped reading this would help them understand.  I read it with great difficulty, I had no idea I would be so emotional as I read it out loud. They heard me and I felt it helped.  I took their hands and told them that we all have a journey and that this is just part of mine. I am learning to let go.

A week after this talk we kissed Del goodbye and bid him farewell for a while. We went about our family Sunday, at bedtime I pulled back my bed covers to find an envelope with “Mom” written on it.  I knew it was Del’s handwriting and I instantly welled with tears.  My husband lay next to me while I read it out loud. The words that flowed from my child were so eloquent, so beautiful.  His words and feelings put so much into perspective for me, his words were so powerful and healing. Part of me wants to share that letter with you here, but selfishly I also want it just for me. Maybe one day it will make sense to share it, but not today. His words are my strength.

In one of my former posts entitled “From Little Acorns Mighty Oaks Grow” I stated that as my children have grown they now help to give me cover and shade when I need it.  This letter is proof of that.  The maturity he showed and the insight he shared has strengthened me. Since I read my post about transitioning to my children, I have found an even greater understanding between us. We have always had great understanding, but with each new beginning I find communicating what it feels like to each of us is important.  If we don’t share our feelings with each other then assumptions are made. I would have never wanted the assumption for my oldest son to be that my sadness was a reflection of us being disappointed in his decision.  I needed him to know and understand that my sadness is something that I am working on within me.  That we support his decisions wholeheartedly but that there is an emotional process of letting him go that we continue to go through.

I am at peace today because I believe we understand each other.

communication, family, life, marriage, purpose, raising kids, time, trust

Pondering… Wondering… Searching…

I’m pondering life. I’m wondering if I could be going a bit crazy. I’m searching for answers to where I’m headed. Is there any wonder why my head is spinning and I have a hard time functioning these days?  I have had some side effects of a new generic brand of birth control pills.  My hormones have gone array and I am literally spinning. I am weepy, I have episodes of depression that are scary and I feel very anxious.

Maybe with all of this happening with me it’s not the right time to ponder, wonder or search? But it’s part of my normal daily existence anyhow, it’s just a bit more emotionally heightened these days. Because I’m feeling out of sorts, I look inward.  I am so aware of myself and my feelings that when I am not acting like “me” I can’t stand it!! I don’t like to pretend to feel okay, but I also don’t like to burden others with my negative feelings and concerns. therefore it feels better just to recluse and not be bothered (or bother) anyone else.  But I can’t, I have a job, I have a husband, I have children… I still have many roles to fill each and every day.  I have been told by others who dealt with similar feelings that it’s best to just keep working, just keep moving, keep your mind busy.  I have been attempting that for 3 days now and I have cried on my lunch break, I’ve cried in the fire escape stairwell, and have fought off feelings of hopelessness, frustration and fatigue throughout each day. I have glimpses of ‘normal’ (What the hell is that anyway?) as my day goes on… This sudden change in ups and downs of my emotions is my very reason for wondering if I may be going a bit crazy…? I work with kids at my job, so my very best moments are when I am directly interacting with them, I feel lowest when it’s quiet and my mind isn’t busy… But I know myself, I know I can’t continue to suppress these feelings and be just “okay” or “fine”. ” My norm” is to be energized by life itself and filled with joy (even when I’m alone). I feel like part of my ‘purpose’ is to bring joy to others, I just can’t continue to feel this way.  I have a call into my doctor to answer some of my questions… is this really hormonal? Will I get back on track with the re-taking of my old birth control pill? Do I need another type of medication to get regulated again? What is happening???

In my first paragraph, I mentioned searching, searching for ‘where I’m headed’? When I say this, it is because I feel like a lot of what I am going through right now may be something I read about as I searched my odd symptoms on the internet the other night.  I was fishing for others who may have been feeling the way I’ve been feeling, looking to validate some of my own strange thoughts and behaviors.  My thoughts and behaviors clearly are defined by depression. But, what I found that seemed to make sense was something called “transitional depression”.  It is defined by people who have a hard time with transitioning and often become stressed and depressed in the process. Well, that could be me!! The answers I was searching for was ‘how can I be clinically depressed when on a normal day I am an extremely happy, positive, and optimistic individual but then sometimes I reach these points where I can not get up and function as myself and have a negative thought pattern?’  The answer is that transitional depression can strike at different times in your life and you kind of get off track.  When I analyze my life right now, I am clearly in a transition.  Our oldest son is in his senior year of college, graduating in the spring and doesn’t know yet if he will be coming home or getting an intern somewhere and moving to begin his life somewhere else. Our daughter is in her first year of college (4 hours away), we said good-bye to her in August and have only brief conversations and minimal visits since she’s been gone. Our youngest son is a junior in high school, got his license this week and will begin the process of figuring out his next step in life in the coming months… WOW!! Could I give myself a break? These are H U G E transitions for all of us! I have always prided myself in being so intuitive as a mother, my heart so attached to my children, our closeness and our unique way of communicating… now I am not sure if setting myself up for all this confusion was such a good idea?  Because of our tight bonds I am often talking each one of them through the emotions that come along with what they are going through…helping them to process and transition.  Well, in the meantime I am having a flood of my own emotions.  Learning how to let go of them… allowing my heart to break while my intellect tells me I am doing it all correctly!?!? Am I really? Is this correct??  My heart tells me to call or text them every evening (every hour) and check in, my heart tells me to visit any chance we get, my heart tells me to smother them with hugs and kisses whenever they an arms length away…. But, my intellect demands that I leave them alone… let them text and call when they have time… let them figure things out until they need to ask for help… let them spend weekends on campus to meet new people and navigate new territory.  I mentally exhaust myself by knowing the right thing to do for them, but struggling a constant struggle with what my heart feels like in the process.  The truth is… it just hurts.  Them being away from our family unit hurts.

Then all in the same moment I get mad at myself for spending that kind of energy on what that feels like when I still have my almost 17 year old right in front of me.  Believe me… I snuggle with him every chance I get, just him laying on the end of our bed staring at his phone brings me more joy then he could ever even imagine! I still refer to him as my baby, and although I suppose I should stop calling him that he forever will be just that! My husband and I have the same bond with him as we do with our others, so the thoughts of him leaving us too, is almost too much to bear and I cannot allow my thoughts to go there at this time.  Soon, we will have to.  He will begin college visits and his own life decisions… I do believe this road I am on is a long one.

I will try to be patient with myself.  I will continue to talk with my husband and my friends about how hard it is. I will embrace the moments I have left with our youngest at home and learn new ways of finding joy in my life.  They have always been a ‘built in’ joy for my husband and I.  For 22 years we have had external joy, living life through the trials and tribulations of our children, we will now find joy in each other, again.  I look forward to it actually… I would just like to be better at transitioning. 🙂changes-ahead

 

 

adolescence, communication, expectations, family, identity, marriage, raising kids, respect, school, self esteem, teenagers, toddlers, trust

All we expect is respect.

It seems to me that kids have a lot of expectations put on them today.  Expected to perform at high levels in school, in sports, and basically in life. When raising our children, my husband and I tried not to put a lot of expectations on them. We have found a foolproof way of transitioning through each phase of our children’s lives with just one thing expected: respect. We certainly didn’t set out 22 years ago as parents with any theories or agenda… we have navigated ourselves along with one simple basis for everything. Our three children, now 22, 18, and 17 were raised with my husband and I nurturing them, guiding them, and respecting them. We in return felt we deserved respect and used it as the foundation for each and every stage of their lives.

When they were young, even before the age of 2, our children were taught to understand respect. Even without language yet, there was unspoken communication happening. When they were told not to touch something, but they did anyway and looked to us for a reaction, we were teaching them then how we would handle such things. We were being tested, this set a basis for our forever relationship. If we were to say “no” to something, the follow through we exhibited was crucial to our bond and our trust. If we had not stayed true to every word we uttered to them as toddlers until this current day, I believe the trust and respect we share today could not have existed. Our oldest son said something to me once… I remember the exact spot we stood in the hallway by the kitchen, at the age of 16, towering over me… he said, “Mom, I don’t always like what you say, but I trust it.” That coming from my oldest child, at my first attempt at parenting a teenager, was a monumental moment for me. I knew in that moment that all the years of being true to my word was helping us in one of the hardest transitions of life.

We have honestly displayed to our children since day 1 of their lives that all we expect is respect. When they became school aged children we did not put great emphasis on grades. We did not have expectations set for how their letter grades on report cards should look. Our marks were always based on respect for teachers and authority at school. By learning that we had expectations of certain behavior at school the grades would easily follow. When they would uphold themselves a certain way and respect the school and the classroom, they learned respect for themselves and the learning happened.

When it came to sports we didn’t have expectations of how they would perform on the field or the court, it would be expected that they respect their coaches, the officials and their teammates. Their performance level would grow and grow due to them respecting themselves and others, and always working hard.

Our children’s social lives have always been nurtured as well. We have always put great emphasis on respecting relationships and friends. We have always welcomed their friends into our home as family members. I believe my marriage of 22 years is stronger everyday because my husband and I respect what each of us do financially and emotionally to contribute to the growth of our family. Our children are witness to that and it helps them to be better people.

Our society today puts so much emphasis on the wrong things. Raising children with morals and values and to have self respect will equip them for most anything. I am blessed to have been a stay at home mom until our youngest was five, caring for other people’s children to help out financially. If people could find ways of putting more effort into their families we would have stronger communities and stronger communities translates into even bigger successes for our entire culture. When people begin to realize that emotional wealth is more important than financial wealth. Our children’s well being should mean more than the car we drive or the house we live in.

When paying our monthly bills, I often strategize with numbers in hopes of paying more monthly to the principal of our home mortgage to pay it off earlier. To do this we would need to cut money in certain places, it’s always the “extras” that would have to go first. The “extras” in our life right now are weekend social expenses … that translates into our weekend trips to watch our son play football at college, visiting our daughter away at school and treating her out to a nice dinner, and/or the expense of buying pizzas and drinks for our 17 year old to host friends over for game night in the basement… Each and every time I consider cutting those expenses I know that we are doing the right things with our money. The investment in our children’s emotional well being far outweighs any desire I may have to cut some years off of our mortgage. What I see these days are bigger homes, fancier cars, fancy vacations, and kids who feel lost and disconnected. I have a strong wish for things to be different for future families. We need to get back to simpler times, less material things, and family togetherness.

I believe if all things could begin and end with respect we would all be better off. The definition for respect is ‘a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.’ Kids can learn to respect their peers, their parents, and most anyone. Teaching people to set aside ego and find things they admire in others can boost self esteem enormously. In today’s world we have to be careful to teach our children that you don’t respect someone just because they are your authority, respect is earned. It is important to learn respect for yourself as all other relationships hinge upon the one you have with yourself.

Finding ways to show our children they are special and important is the key to them learning to respect themselves and others. When we take time to really be present in their lives, they feel it. Being at sporting events, plays, or concerts… anything that is important to them makes them feel they are important. Photographing them at special times and just ordinary times shows them we care… then looking through old photos together bonds us and helps them to grasp the beauty of moments past and those yet to come. We always have had grand birthday parties, celebrating them and finding great joy in their existence!! We still have grand birthday parties at the ages of 15, 16, 17… Everyone loves a party!

We have found ways in our lives to honor and respect our children and they in turn learn how to do the same for us. Children have their own sets of woes and worries and when they do not feel like they are ‘less than’ just because they are ‘kids’, they feel respected. Let’s face it, the problems and obstacles they encounter each day are all relative to the ones we face.

“The family is the nucleus of civilization.”  ~ Will Durant

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