communication, expectations, family, life, marriage, respect, responsibility, trust, Uncategorized

Marriage ~ working together

This morning I am reflecting on my life;  I am reflecting on how I have gotten to today.  When I take time to stop and reflect ~ I am truly grateful.  I often speak in my posts of my time and my relationship with my children, but the truth is my marriage, my husband, is the root to our beautiful family. It takes work to be grateful, it takes work to have a good marriage… I am blessed that I have a partner beside me willing to work.

Marriage is defined as ‘a union of two elements’… A union is ‘the action or fact of joining or being joined’.  When my husband and I joined each other in this life we became teammates, partners, allies, and honestly… best friends.  You certainly don’t know this is the case right away!  You begin by living together, trusting each other, ironing out differences, listening…  If you really listen you learn about one another and learn from one another!  In every decision we make in life we must put effort into it to make it work… marriage follows this rule threefold!!

What I find interesting in this life is that each simple moment leads to things you could have never imagined.  My husband and I have been married 23 years and 6 months!  Could I have ever imagined us being here? No. Did I know then that each struggle, each decision, each triumph together and literally each moment (good or bad) would lead us to the strength in togetherness we feel today? No.  We have built the life we live today.  By being true to ourselves and true to each other we strengthen our bond minute to minute.  When I hear others complain about their husband or wife I have a hard time understanding it. If you have agreed to be married… to be partners & teammates to one another… I believe you better find the good in what another is attempting to do and learn to share it, learn to tell them and others what is good about what they are contributing.  We can all find fault, we can all blame others, but being teammates means you rely on each others strengths to ‘join together in a cooperative effort’.  Venting what you dislike about your partner , your teammate, to others will always weaken your bond. Work hard to tell others what’s *great* about your partner, and most importantly when you identify the good in them… work hard to tell THEM what is great about them!! This will strengthen your bond!!

My husband is exceptional.  He is reliable, he is willing,  he is committed, he is flexible, he is consistently respectful and supportive.  Now, does he occasionally veer away from these many attributes? Of course! Do I? Of course!  Do we need to focus on the times we veer away from being our best? No.  Always focus on the good, be grateful for the times we are able to accomplish our best intentions… realize that each other is trying!  Learning to respect the good in one another is your key to happiness… bring each other up not down!  Of course there will be times when things are off balance and you can’t find the good if there isn’t any to be found… but when you chose to have this person as your partner, your teammate in this life, there was good… if you find the courage and work hard to voice what you love about them and show gratitude for what is good when it is good ~ then when things are off balance you have leverage to speak about it. Respect comes from built trust… if you have put honest gratitude into your partners emotional bank, if you have allowed them to see and believe their worth and excellence to you over time, it is easier to talk about and deal with the tough stuff.  I’ve said it in parenting… but I believe it to also be true in marriage… All we expect is respect!

My husband is my best friend. We laugh together and  we cry together. This isn’t something that comes magically, there isn’t a soul mate out there that is just the right one that you skip out into the flower-filled field with and run into the sunset… but there is a partner willing to work along side of you and be your forever teammate.  They will sacrifice self for you and they will tell you when you’ve done well and they’ll tell you when you’ve done bad.  They will love you for you.  The hard work you put in is so worth the time, so worth the struggle… if you take care of every moment, be your best and demand the best from them… you will lead yourself to a place you never knew existed.  23 years ago I was young, I was learning…I met this man and we fell in love,  we have built a successful life, a life to be proud of.  Through all the changes and transitions we remain modest and grateful for one another.  We have built true love… it didn’t just come to us… we continue to work at it… side by side… we are stronger together than we are apart!  I wish true love to be created by all.

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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