Category: Boys

For Millennials, Mom Doesn’t Always Know Best

Seriously, high school kids don’t wear coats anymore? It’s winter in the northeast, there’s snow everywhere, it’s cold… but I have yet to get my almost-17-year old in any coat, let alone a winter one. Makes me crazy.

He’s not the only one, I don’t see any of them wearing coats when I drop him off at school every morning. That’s the other thing. He goes to public school but our town doesn’t have busses for high-school kids. They have shuttles – busses for middle schoolers that will shuttle any high schoolers to the high school as a last resort. He won’t ride with the youngsters. Not to mention it costs $500.

No coat, no bus.

He wants to fit in, not stand out, not ride the bus with babies. I get that. But I don’t get the stubbornness. He’s my third and by far the most resistant to anything I suggest, say, advise or even insist. He simply won’t comply.

Not sure I can blame this on the millennial m.o., although this fits into the selfish stereotype. But I don’t see it as selfish, ego-centric or even lazy. It’s about this generation’s ability to make choices that they feel are best for them and be solid in that. They walk their own path and they stick to it, because they have the will, and the courage. They don’t let other people tell them what’s best for them. I can totally appreciate that.

Minus the condescending, not-so-nice, teenage bad attitude of course. Empty nest is just around the corner and is looking pretty good.

Maybe I’m just inexperienced in the ability to stand tall in my own resolute identity. I’d love to be able to do that without any guilt or lingering trepidation. I grew up differently. I had to do what I was told or the consequences would be painful. The innate hesitation therefore, is real for me.

In fact I’m still hemming and hawing about a story I recently submitted. It was a tough assignment, long, involved and I had to follow a complicated outline. I do better when I can write without explicit restrictions – you know – walk my own creative path.

Sure everybody has to follow rules, but the politics of working well and playing nice with others can be a little tiring. He said…she said…do it this way…that way…no my way… Honestly, I was not only a little grumpy, I was sad when all was said and done because the powers that be didn’t seem happy with the story. Yet I complied and worked hard.

But do you think my son (and I’m guessing his comrades,) are sad when they don’t comply, even if it seems sensible? I doubt it. Maybe he’ll grow out of it, although his older brothers didn’t. They lost the b.s. teenage attitude, and they do ask for advice, but they still do what they want in the end. Even if it doesn’t make sense…to me.

Imagine the freedom living like that. Although I’ll still be wearing my coat.

 

Where Can I Find A Little Peace And Is There Room For It In The Budget

 

black-fridayOnly 17 days until Black Friday, the countdown has begun. There were years when my children were growing up that I had all the gifts purchased, wrapped, and hidden long before this enticing annual event. All it took was a trip to Toys “R” Us filling up back of the old Volvo wagon with the items on their lists, done.

Although it didn’t seem easy at the time, I had the time, energy and budget back then. Time only proved, that while the gifts got physically smaller, the price tags got much bigger. The boys got older, technology got newer, and gift-giving got harder.

vintage-christmasBut no matter our circumstances, my children have wanted for nothing really, despite my incessant frugality. To this very day I still prefer scoring the absolute best bargain on anything from clothing to food to holiday gifts. I’m far from extravagant but always provide a suitable stash for my kids.

This year though, we’re in a bit of a bind. We’ve had to shoulder some hefty unexpected expenses for the boys that required our hard-earned holiday stash. It’s no secret that our lives drastically changed after Mr. Ex revealed his gambling addiction, we ended up nearly homeless with empty bank accounts, retirement and college funds. That was 10 years ago, and he is happily recovered.

But unfortunately the boys and I have been unable to recover from his losses, even to this day. What they say about the lasting domino effect of someone’s addiction is completely true. So when things come up, like college tuition or emergency car repairs, we find ourselves hard-pressed. Sadly Mr. Ex says he can’t assist, so unless I find a way, my boys are on their own.

behaviorNot whining, I totally have their backs. Except, as the most wonderful (and most expensive) time of the year approaches, I am worried about how to manage. Like Charles Dickens writes in A Christmas Carol, it’s not about the gifts. But do kids really buy into that? Will they feel happy waking up on Christmas to a tree with no gifts underneath? Sure it’s about feeling the love – of family, of the season, of life. But how will it really feel this year when our small gift budget went to their emergency expenses instead? Let’s be real, they will be disappointed, and I will feel pretty bad.

Mr. Ex says he is at peace. That’s great, we all could use some peace.

Peace is an interesting concept. It’s easy to imagine, it’s highly desirable and naturally sought-after. We hear about it, read about it, sing about it, talk about it, and we’re even told it’s already there inside, so why, for some of us, is it so hard to really feel?

This is what I want to give my children this year – the feeling of peace – which could possibly be the best gift I could ever give them. First though, I have to believe it’s possible. In order to receive we have to believe, right? Just like in the beautiful story The Polar Express, believing is seeing…and feeling.

It is a special season, full of miracles and magic – and if we believe hard enough – even peace. Beginning of course on Black Friday.

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believe-gold

 

Halloween Is Over, Bring On The In Between

Welcome to the Christmas Season! It’s just two days after Halloween – the official holiday launch. We can tune in to Christmas music on satellite radio now, and we better start shopping for all the popular gifts.

Nah. I’m headed to the store to get a bag of Halloween candy for 50 percent off. We didn’t really get to celebrate Halloween this year, nearly empty-nested for the first time. Our 16-year old wasn’t interested, and we live in a big old house-turned-condos that sits well off the road in the woods, nobody rang the bell here.

At first I didn’t mind the lack of festivities – much to my holiday-loving surprise – the last halloween-04-064-copyoctober-05-010-copytwo decades of hazy Halloween memories were more than enough. No costume quandaries this year, messy pumpkin carving or mad dashes to the front door making idle chit chat with wee fairies and movie characters who aren’t old enough to eat a Skittle. No boys up past their bedtime sitting in a pile of open wrappers in the middle of the floor, no candy coma, no weeks of chocolate sitting around the house. Yea it’s all cute, and I loved it year after year…including raiding their bags when nobody was looking. But they’ve grown up and moved on.

Then the sun started to set on Halloween night…and some sadness crept in.

Halloween was over and it hadn’t even begun. I didn’t miss the hoopla or mess, I missed tradition – the anticipation of the doorbell ringing, trying to keep our hands out of the candy fullsizerenderbowl, pumpkin seeds toasting in the oven, glowing amber candle lights in each window, decorations, black and orange everything. Nope, none of that this year. Just a couple of full-size candy bars that Sir Husband sweetly brought home and placed near our teeny pumpkin. We missed the kids.

But “it’s whatever” as our millennials say. They are able to move forward in time without batting an eye, something I continue to try. I think there is an “in between” phase for parents, when we’re conscious of the big change adjusting to the empty nest. The shift in circumstances is noticeable.

But why do we always try to hurry our way on to the next thing, the next phase, even the next day?

water-restIn between is underrated. Nobody wants to hang out in between anything. Whether it’s between life phases or in between holidays, the world just pushes forward instead of embracing the void in between. What’s so bad about the void? That’s where we can pause, take a breath, and just be for a minute or three.

There’s something cool about being in the gap. Suspended between destinations or phases, hanging out in this space of has-been and will-be. Like when you are looking at a candy bar sitting on your table and you know it’s there and you are psyched about eating it but you don’t go for it. You wait. You anticipate. In between.

That was my favorite part of Halloween back in the day. The part just before the sun set when everything was ready but it was too early for trick or treating. We just hung out in those moments of peaceful readiness for whatever was ahead. We enjoyed the scenery. We enjoyed the pause.

Anyway…in the meantime, Merry Christmas.

charlie-brown

Being Extreme Can Feel Uncomfortable Until We Balance Out

bathroom-wisdomDon’t you hate when you are hanging out with your husband, having a glass of wine and relaxing because your kid is on a sleepover and you finally get some alone time…then you get a text from your kid that he hasn’t pooped in seven days and now he’s suddenly freaking out?

Don’t be grossed out, everybody poops. And sometimes of course, they don’t. He has been on a ketosis diet, an all-protein plan for several weeks now, without my confident support. It’s not that I didn’t think he could do it – it’s that cutting out all carbs and only eating protein seems a bit extreme and potentially unsafe. Not to mention he didn’t tell me his dilemma before he was emergency room bound.

teaSo I told him to immediately drink some warm laxative tea. I’m not into chemical anything – food, beverages, medicine, toiletries – I prefer the more natural stuff. But I’m not a barefoot hippie either, I think there’s a middle ground. Eventually we had to level up with a chemical brand so the poor kid could go. But the whole thing reminded me that extremity is not the best idea.

I can speak to this, because around his same age I was pretty extreme too. I tried so many radical diets I ended up with a whopping case of bulimia that changed extrememy digestive tract forever. It took years for my body to readjust, and it’s still not right, so I take extreme things pretty seriously. Of course he thinks he’s smarter than I, and that may very well be the case. He’s not alone, we all try extreme things, that’s just a part of life.

All-nighters, speed driving, alcohol binging, crazy exercise, shopping sprees, the list goes on and on. We even do extreme things that are “healthy,” like high mileage marathon running or that hot/cold plunge technique where we go from a sauna to an icy cold shower. Liquid cleanses…colonoscopy preps…how can these be good?

What do we really get out of extreming it besides some hard-earned lessons? Isn’t life supposed to be about balance and walking a neutral fine line? This goes for emotions too – extreme anger, extreme fear, I suppose even extreme happiness can’t be all that good. What happens to our body’s cellular state when we are swinging on the edge? What happens to our mind? It’s connected too.

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My kid has lost weight on this un-balanced diet, but he has also thrown off his colon and even his emotions a bit. He’s fairly irritable and jumpy – of course – he needs a few healthy carbs.

When we spend too much time focused on one particular way of doing things, one concept or idea, one path – even when it’s good it might lead to something bad. Sure we can redirect our course, but some damage may already be done.

Although my son’s situation resolved, he’s back on his all-protein kick. At this point there’s not much I can do except stay neutral while he figures it out. Sometimes it takes something extreme to see that we’re being extreme, like a belly of piled up poop. Life has a way of showing us how to find our balance too.

fairy-meditation

Pleasant Days Are Ahead In Spite Of What We’ve Lived

 

lets be fairiesI’m ready to write about sunny days – this summer we had so many. But when it rains it rains hard. As I drove my youngest to school yesterday in the remnant downpours of the weekend’s hurricane, he sobbed. It’s not comfortable to watch your young-adult teenager cry like a baby. Nor is it the same as when he was a baby because consoling him doesn’t work as well. Or in my case, at all. No matter what I have done (or not done because sometimes we need to back off from our teens,) he has been resistant to our recent move, starting a new school as a junior, and our supporting him through this transition. I get it, I really do.

fineHe’s gone through way too much for his tender young age. It’s heartbreaking on every level. I haven’t done so well myself – sometimes it’s impossible to wrap my brain around our former years of trauma, even as an adult. And my body still reminds me via physical pain every single day.

So I dropped him off then drove home shedding my own tears. This isn’t something I can just “fix,” which is awfully hard. When we can’t fix our child’s upset, what can we do?

hilltopI reached out to his guidance counselors, we are fortunate he actually has two. Both are skilled veterans who know their game, my son is quite lucky to have this built-in support. Because as I tried to cope with his upset, I struggled with nowhere to turn. I can’t go to the guidance office…or keep moaning in my blog…or to friends. After all, I’m grown up, I have to deal with it. I knew that going into this role.

So I scroll through social media, hoping for relief, and instead see all the parents who posted their smiling kids happy on the first day of school. That’s hard – I don’t have that picture to share. I spent most of the day watching the rain out the window, feeling quite a bit of despair.

this too shall pass

But somewhere between dropping him off and afternoon pick up, a miracle must have occurred. He was like a different kid. Oh sure he said school was terrible, but then proceeded to tell me ok things about his day. He wasn’t shut down or miserable, he talked the whole way home. This may be the first time he’s done this in months, or possibly even years.

I noticed the sun had just come out, it was shining through rain clouds. What a difference a day makes, or even a few hours. It’s amazing when there’s a ray of light. He did it…I can too.

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Our Comfort Zone Is Somewhere Between Yesterday, Tomorrow and Now

motherhoodHeartbreak is defined many ways. Like watching your teenage son shake and gasp for breath as he embarks on his first day of school as a brand new incoming junior. If there was any possible way that I could have made his life easier, believe me I would have done it long before now. We get entangled in situations as we maneuver through life, and we just do the best we can in the moment. Sometimes the best might have been different of course, when we’re looking back. Reflection can be helpful, but all we really have is today.

For most of us though, it’s hard not to reflect, especially when we are trying to reconcile parts of our past so we are comfortable in our present – put the pieces together, find closure, understand, reconnect or let go, start fresh, fix, resolve – whatever it may be so that we’re okay with where we have been and where we are going. This concept has been on my mind recently since we moved back home.

one decisionAlthough it’s not necessarily helpful, we all have expectations of however we think life should be, could be, or we want it to be. That’s just human. But when reality and expectations collide, it makes it tricky. Since learning a few months ago we were moving again, my son was sure his new high school experience would be a complete disaster. He built up all kinds of dreadful scenarios in his mind which added to his angst. Time will tell whether he comes to terms with however his experience plays out.

something wonderfulSince being back, I have tried hard to not have any expectations around reconnecting with close friends who I lost over time after leaving here years ago. Losing some caused me great heartache. Not to mention there are all kinds of other expectations that are just part of “coming home.” How could I not have expectations or hopes of all being right with the world now that I’m back. It’s taken some effort to sit back and allow what will be, to be.

Reflecting on our past, our experiences, that’s all we really only have to go on when it comes to thinking about what may lie ahead. The future can be kind of scary when we don’t know what to expect. So that leaves us with the present moment – which can feel a bit overrated. I work on it all the time, but it’s hard to truly be present and let go of refections and expectations, which both can lead to heartbreak.

When I came home from dropping my son off at his new school, I saw a post from a friend. Today is the beginning of anything you want it said, and it struck me like a lightning bolt. Think about the simplicity of that, it takes the pressure off. A clean slate today that is not marred by history or hope? I’m tattooing that on my hand.

I am also going to write it on a note and slip it into my son’s lunchbox. Today is the beginning of anything you want. What more could we hope for than that.

world in hands

Blaming Is Easy – But What Good Does It Do?

your faultThere was a whole lot of blame going on at our local registry of motor vehicles yesterday where I took my youngest to convert his driver’s permit. We had put it off since our out-of-state move a few weeks ago, and it finally moved up on the list.

He’s not particularly interested in driving, although he’s now 16. I am secretly glad he’s not ready, insurance rates are sky high. So we went through the motion of converting his permit because someday he will want to drive.

RMB

now servingfixI fear the RMV. It’s intimidating. Besides the fact you need piles of documentation and paperwork for a license or registration, the wait is always too long. You go in hoping you have all the right stuff, get a numbered ticket then sit. Maybe an hour or more goes by and when you get to the desk you pray that what you brought with you will pass.

After only 30 minutes on this slower RMV day, we finally were called. At first I thought we were all set but then our processing stopped. Turns out our former state did not give us the right paperwork. This did not surprise me, our former state is behind the times when it comes to the national status quo.

rmv supervisorI got shuffled to the supervisor, and that’s when the blaming began. I had just called our former state a day before to ensure I had the right documentation – they swore I did. They were wrong. Blame.

That began a long list of required paperwork that did not match up from state-to-state. More blame.

She informed me that the regulations are not typical there, they are much less than the rest of our country. Even more blame.

This went on for two hours. Phone calls and faxes and waiting and forms, blame bippety blame boppety blame.

While I was enduring there, I had a loud ah-ha thought.

Blame is in the air around me a whole heck of a lot. People love to blame. It somehow lets them off the hook from their own internal chaos – whatever it may be. They may come right out and directly blame, or they find ways to passive-aggressively blame, using whatever forum they can to announce to the world that they are right and and others are wrong. It’s not just on a personal level, look at this election year. Blame is a prominent theme.

blame o-meter

But as I was thinking about all the blame going on – not just between state-to-state registry of motor vehicle offices – but with other blame that’s been thrown my way lately, I decided to eliminate blame.

I am not to blame, I brought all the stuff I had. The poor girl at the registry in our other state who didn’t send the right documentation isn’t to blame – she was not trained properly in her job. The supervisor at our RMV wasn’t to blame – she was just doing her job. If we really stop to think about it, blame is kind of useless. What purpose does it serve? It doesn’t fix anything.

Blaming is the easy way out. It’s feels better when it’s someone else’s fault. We are off the hook,  absolved of any responsibility regardless of our role. It’s a mechanism that’s backed in anger that allows us to feel like we are justified. But in fact it seems quite selfish.

no more blameSo I’m quitting the blame game. Whether it’s about feeling helpless or out of control, or we are projecting our own inner upset on someone else because we can’t face it ourselves, or we simply have an inability to accept a situation as it is, when blame is in the air, own up or let it go. It really only hurts us.

Within minutes of saying bye bye to blame, the permit conversion was resolved. Amazing how life’s lessons are learned. I love the RMV.

blame

 

Cheap Sunglasses Won’t Work, But Thankfulness Still Prevails

running waterLife lately has been an exercise in finding gratitude. It hasn’t been easy. From lacking running hot water in our kitchen to intermittent internet, to appliance and apartment fiascos, we have had to really stop and think about the important things, like the healing sound of silence or that our hearts are thankfully still beating. It’s easy to take everything for granted – including having the right sunglasses and shoes.

We found ourselves on several adventures while my college boy was home last week. Unfortunately he lives out of state and works year-round to pay for school, so we try to pack in whatever he wants to do on his short visits home – which can be anything from going to the beach to walking city streets to shopping and bar hopping.

During one of our sunny day outings my sunglasses broke. I have had them for years and love them. Not inexpensive, they are UVA and UVB, anti-glare, perfectly-sun-dimming sunglasses, made for sensitive eyes. Desperate for relief, I decided to buy some cheap ones until I could get mine repaired. Three pairs in one hour and way too much money later, none of them were right. Who knew sunglasses were as individual as underwear – for me anyway. sunglasses

Then the same thing happened with my shoes. Wearing flip flops on our city’s historic cobblestone terrain did not work out too well. After several hours and miles of discomfort, I ducked into Nordstrom Rack and got an over-priced pair of semi-comfortable-yet-fashionable walking sandals.

160708SummerLegs1

But the real discomfort came when I tried to settle for sunglasses and shoes that didn’t do the job I needed them to do. Nobody in my family could understand why I was so finicky about these basic essentials, and gave me a little guff. But why should I compromise my comfort when I know what works best for myself? It shined some light on gratitude.

I was grateful because I knew what would work best for me, no matter what other people thought. We all have comfort-levels for almost everything in life. Some people are ok with lacking hot water or technology blips or dime store sunglasses. Other people, not so much. The trick is to be confident in what we need, and be grateful when we have it.

sorry no internet todayWe still have several unresolved, important issues with our hot water, our internet and other unexpected and frustrating hurdles from our recent move. While it’s all a huge hassle requiring way too much time, energy and attention, it has made us keenly aware of some of our basic first-world things, things we always took for granted. And that goes for our hearts beating too.

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When the Fearless Pursuit of Peace and Sleep Leads To Trying Vape

We’re not smokers, so when I found out a while back that my 20-something son had been smoking for years to soothe his anxiety, I wasn’t happy. Smoking seems both stupid and gross. That’s not to say I didn’t try a few puffs as a teenager. I’m referring to cigarettes, which now are fairly un-hip.

vape juiceI didn’t realize my boy was so cutting edge when he went from tobacco to vape. When electronic cigarettes came on the scene a few years ago he switched over, touting the benefits of using a tobacco-less product, ignoring the fact that inhaling flavored nicotine chemicals called “juice” may not be such a good idea. In fact, I’m really worried.

vaporizersVaping connoisseurs believe that the clear, sweet-smelling vapor that they pour into their e-cig, aka vaporizer, is not only safe, but effective when needing a fix. Not to mention the devices come in different shapes, styles, sizes, colors and wattage.

I think I’m a little slow on the uptake of cutting edge anything, because I only recently learned that not only can you fill your customized e-cig with juice, you can also use it to smoke pot. I don’t smoke that either, but apparently a lot of folks do.

potThat’s a whole other story – the miracles and magic of marijuana to help with everything from mind-blowing to chilling out to chronic pain to insomnia. In the old days you rolled a few pinches in some rolling paper, licked it, sealed it – sheesh, what a time-consuming mess. Now, you just put it in your vaporizer and apparently you’re good to go.

can't sleepThe pot phase came and went for my kid. But imagine my surprise when a good friend shared a little secret she has. Upscale citizen, polished professional, magnificent mommy, exceptional human – the poor woman has a case of insomnia so bad she makes vampires look like wimps. Not only is she up most of the night, she still functions most of the day. She’s a survivalist.

And a hip one to boot. Because when she revealed her new plan to take a few puffs to aid her sleep, my ears actually perked up. I don’t sleep well either. Although I’m pretty sure I’m too uptight to try it.

Her story cracked me up – middle-age insomniac mom learns from other middle-age insomniac mom that vaping dope helps you sleep like a baby. While her husband is away, she secretly purchases a vaporizer, makes contact with a local and reputable dealer who delivers said product right to her door – arranged to ensure no one was home. She hides her paraphernalia and her substance knowing it’s there but invisible, a tempting little treat that may actually soothe her sleep.

I’m betting this is more common than we think. Melatonin to sleep? Nah, that’s old-school. When that doesn’t work, try pot. I’m not judging her, in fact I wish I was that cool. To not be afraid to try something “new” that is medically-approved for health issues? Longterm insomnia counts.

This isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses, it’s about keeping up with the times, and doing so without fear. I can’t condone my son vaping vape, but my friend vaping weed? Right on.

 

if it scares you

I Wasn’t Prepared For Red-Level Security When I Registered My Kid For School

red alertWe hear on the news what has become of the world – our national security, our cyber security, even our privacy. It’s disconcerting to know that we are not particularly safe on any level. Ironically, technology is supposed to help us be more safe, more protected, from secret intelligence to microchip credit cards, but nothing would have prepared me for what I went through to simply register my kid for high school.

Sixteen years ago I moved away from my quiet little town, just 10 miles outside of the big city I now call home again. A lot can happen in 16 years, and a lot did. I just didn’t know that as much as it has not changed, it’s really a whole new world.

Boston skyline

First I noticed increased traffic. This state is known for its traffic, but I thought we would relish in our quiet side streets like we used to. Nope. Then I noticed the small local businesses that I used to call for my home needs are now big businesses that don’t return my calls. Some family businesses survived through the years, but even they are different – nearly a generation gone by – grown children running the business their way.

The town has not changed in beauty, but has changed in numbers. That became clear when I saw that the high school that used to abut my neighborhood is now the middle school, and a big, shiny new high school stands where a plot of trees used to be. I was in awe of the new structure. But it was the inside that surprised me.

We had a registration appointment for my now-junior son. First we had to be buzzed through two sets of doors. Then they took my driver’s license and scanned it into a device that not only made an electronic copy, but printed out a special badge with my picture on it. At the same time that machine also let the administration know if I was a criminal.

paperworkWe had to provide more than 50 pages of signed documentation as proof of everything – residence, citizenship, marriage, language, driver’s licenses, notarized affidavits, utility bills, pay stubs, W-2s, home insurance, bank statement, house payment, and that was just for the parents. The registrar said that if they have any questions, they actually send the police to your house to be sure that you truly live there and with the people you say you do. I have never gone through anything like this to enroll my boys in school. It blew my mind.

My son did better with it than I did, I felt fairly invaded. Why would I lie about who I am, where I live, or anything relating to our identities? Apparently people do. It was like a government agency background check. Then I learned the school re-checks periodically to be sure we’re still good.

That was just for high school. When I learned what we have to do to get our driver’s licenses and car registrations I was shocked again. We don’t live in a police state…or maybe we kind of do. I’ll be so glad when the administration of moving is done and we’re finally real residents here. I must have been living under a rock before, but I bet now even that’s not too safe.

welcome rock

 

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