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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Poem

It is the night before Thanksgiving and all through the house
Not a creature is stirring, not even my spouse!
The turkey's not bought but I do not care.
I just want a moment, I say with my prayer.

The children aren't nestled all snug in their beds
For Netflix is showing the Walking Dead.
I dream of a moment without things to do,
the laundry, the bedding, the dishes-accrue!

When out in the hall there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away through the blackness iPhone Flashlight in hand
I tore through the darkness to see it firsthand.

The moon on the floor from the windows above
Gave a luster to the dust on the floor I'm not proud of.
Then what to my wondering eyes should appear
But a half-grown puppy with my kitchen gear.

That little ol' puppy, so lively and quick
I knew in a moment I just find his throw stick.
More rapid than eagles, my curses they came
And I whistled and shouted and called him by name!

"Now Dammit! Now Darn It!
Now Prick Dog and Vajayay!
Oh Clusterf*ck! I'm Screwed!
G*d Dammit! This is Bullsh*t!
Get away from the turkey!
Come! Stay! Sit in the hall!
Don't dash away, dash away,
Dash away at ALL!"

As swear words poured out before my sanity arrived
I realized in a moment the turkey had survived!
So back to my couch my butt it sure flew,
this was just too much to have to go through.

Then in a twinkling, I heard on the stairs
the sound of sweet footsteps and knew I'd been snared!
As I put down my head and was turning around
I knew in a moment I'd be met with a frown.

They were dressed in their jammies, from their heads to their feet,
and I knew in that moment I was in the hot seat!
A bundle of giggles they had held in their cheeks
And they tried so hard for those giggles not to leak.

The kid's eyes how they twinkled! Their dimples so merry.
Their cheeks were tight with laughter. Their noses so flarey.
Their droll little mouths, drawn up like a bow
The cursing they heard, they wanted to know.
The taste of fresh words held tight in my teeth
and those words circled inside of my head, my breath held underneath.
They had on that face and and certainly knew better
And they laughed when I began to stutter and fretter.

"That turkey was chubby and plump, in-spite of it's size."
and I laughed when I saw them and knew I had allies.
A wink of their eyes and turn of their heads,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

They spoke not a word, but went right back to Netflix
They had learned some new words for their big bag of tricks.
And laying my head in my hands I did shake
Knowing I just taught them the words that they'll take.

I sprang to my feet and gave my kids a notice.
I am only human but I am not hopeless.
But I heard them exclaim as they walked out of site:

"I heard it from you, Mom! Don't say it's not alright!"




Monday, November 17, 2014

Trust Your Gut

Do you ever get that feeling in your gut something is wrong, but don't listen to it? Ever get it about something related to your child? What do you do if your child has a friend you don't approve of?  What do you do if they do something you don't approve of? Ever had a situation arise where you know in your gut they are making the wrong choice, but you have to let them learn the lesson on their own? These are questions every parent faces, day in and day out. From kids writing on walls to befriending those who are bad for them, each step of the way it's hard as a parent, especially if we were raised (and society tells us) shaming and controlling our child is the answer.

I want you to think about a time when you felt shamed by an adult, at any age.  I bet you can still feel that humiliation in the pit of your stomach, huh? I remember in 4th grade, I had a teacher I did not get along with.  I was painfully shy and hated to read out loud to the class, but it was required.  I was reading along and came across the word "photographer."  I pronounced it as I saw it: photo-grapher.  The teacher called me stupid and all the kids laughed at me.  I still feel that humiliation writing about it over 30 years later. Now, imagine if someone I trusted and loved had humiliated me? How much worse would I feel?

But that was only a person who I had limited contact with for a small portion of my life.  What about a situation you knew was wrong, but you did it anyway and someone else had to pay the price for it? Do you have one of those?  I do, and its a doozy.  I will get to mine in a moment.

You see, Honey Bunny has befriend a boy she knows is bad for her and I know is bad for her.  Rather than shame her into dropping the friendship, or putting rules on her which negated the friendship, I have allowed her to continue to communicate and see this person.  Please know, there was no illegal activity going on and she was not in direct harms way for physical abuse. Was emotional and mental abuse possible? Yes.  She and I discussed this friendship openly and I told her my concerns and how I was not going to stop her from this friendship, but neither would I encourage it.  It was one of those times in life where a teen has to learn on their own, in their own way, in their own time.

I will be honest, it was hard.  It sucked.  Everything in my parental body was screaming at me to put the kibosh on it: block his number, not bring her to youth group, etc.  We had stepped in a few times and not allowed her to go to a party where he would be because even she said he was bad for her and I wanted to stand by her decision and support it.  But, the truth is, I wanted to shield my baby from the pain and conflict she was feeling. Reality is, if I had, she would only up the anti on the next person she found who was bad for her. 

After 3 months of this, Honey Bunny came to me and told me this friendship was relly hurting her.  She had to cut it off.  She asked for my help.  Let that sink in for a moment.  A teen.  Asking for help. From their parent. 

Yep.  You read that right. I asked if she needed a sounding board or to help find solutions.  Those are two different things a friend has to offer.  She chose options.   I gave her three:

1) I text the boy, explain to him I am blocking his number because the friendship is toxic to her.
2) She texts him and tells him with me sitting next to her.
3) She talks with her therapist and they decide on a course of action together.

I gave her 2 hours to decide.

Honey Bunny does best with small increments of time to make a decision.  She said she needed to process and think and went upstairs to listen to music.

Here's the thing, Dear Reader, had I at any time, made her feel shamed about this friendship that I disapproved of, she would not feel safe coming to me when it was time to end it.  She would have been all alone and frightened. As a parent, and with more experience, I can often see the writing on the wall, but she can not.  Why should I deny her the ability to learn to read that writing by shaming or refusing her the ability to learn to decode it?  Isn't it my responsibility to be her guide? To assist her in her growth, not deny her of it? 

When she was learning to walk, did I carry her everywhere, when she wanted to walk, to avoid her falling down and scraping her knees? No. Did I stand by and gasp every time she fell? Yes.  Did I help her back up, tell her she did a great job and keep trying? Of course I did.  I dried her tears. I kissed her sore knees and I helped her back onto her feet when she was ready.  In essence, how is this any different?

So why is it we, as a society of parents, see the need to shame our teens while they learn different age appropriate lessons in life? Because "they should know better"?  Really? Don't you think if they knew better, they would do better?

Back to the story, ultimately, Honey Bunny chose option 1 and I texted the boy, with her permission and blocked his number.  But, the story doesn't end here.  This was just step one.  She felt empowered and I, truthfully, did a happy dance.  And for a few hours, we were both happy. But, then reality hit her.

A loss.  Another loss of a friend. Yet another betrayal. It is SO hard to do what you know is best for you, especially when it hurts.  She is still struggling with it, a week later. She misses his text attention. She misses they cycle of abuse: the tension, the action, the make up, the honeymoon phase.

This has been a life long pattern for my girl.  It's one I hope to help guide her through as gently as possible so she doesn't end up where I did.  Remember I told you I had my own story?  Well, here it is in a nutshell.

Eighteen years ago, I didn't listen to my gut and went against everything that was telling me someone in my life was bad for me. I thought that intuition knew nothing.  I was 24 and knew it all. What I couldn't know then, that I know now, is that my action of not listening to that gut feeling has caused someone I love very much to suffer the consequence of my action for the rest of their life, and they didn't have a choice. 

That someone is Honey Bunny. 

There person who was bad for me?

Her biological father who abused us both.





Monday, November 10, 2014

Should You?

Yesterday, Boo Bear and I went out for almost 6 hours. We made natural bird feeders, picked pumpkins, fed a horse, had a pizza and hung out together. Hubby was grumpy and I felt it best not to be home to listen to his grunts, groans and other grumpy noises.  When I got home, he was on the couch, almost asleep, and had done no house work at all. Well, not really, he had sanded the door jam down and not cleaned up any of the sawdust. Does that count?

I said nothing knowing he was having a bad day, but honestly I was annoyed. Why was there still garbage, his garbage, on the counter in the kitchen? Shouldn't he have cleaned that up?! Why wasn't the laundry folded and switched over? Shouldn't he have done that? Why weren't the dog blankets washed? The house smelled like dog. Shouldn't he have realized that and taken care of it?  Why didn't he clean up the stove, where he reheated dinner for himself? Shouldn't he have realized he needed to be responsible for his own pick up?

There I stood, standing in my laundry room, thinking about what my husband should have done, based upon what I would have done.  Man, what a bitch I was being! It occurred to me that by my putting the word "should" in there, I was assuming he wasn't doing his best. I was assuming that he had the energy, the forethought, the insight, to see what had to be done. I was assuming that he should have known. I was accusing him of not being good enough.

Wow. Let that one sink in a bit. Not being good enough. Didn't we all feel that way one way or another? Maybe our parents made us feel that way. Maybe it was sports that made us feel inferior. Maybe it was school, or a subject in school, that we thought we should be able to do better at but never could. We live with so many should's, it holds us back most of the time.

There I was, standing in my laundry room, thinking my husband "should" have done something different.  It stopped me in my tracks.

What does Free Dictionary say the definition of Should is?
should  (shd)
aux.v. Past tense of shall
1. Used to express obligation or duty 
2. Used to express probability or expectation
3. Used to express conditionality or contingency

What other things do I think people I love SHOULD do? What things do I express an obligation to or a duty to without communicating that to them about?

What things in your life do you think people should do?

Are those thoughts realistic? Are they set upon the value sense of those we love are doing their best or is it a judging stick we use to "whip" them with because they aren't living up to our expectations?

What are our expectations? Are they clear? Are they obtainable?

Do our expectations leave room for self awareness and growth? Do they encourage the person to become who they are or do they force the other person to become who we want them to be?

All these thoughts were swirling through my head while I folded boxers and neatly tucked one sock into an other.

When I was done in the laundry room, and I could hear in Hubby's voice he was still struggling, I asked myself what would I do if Honey Bunny or Boo Bear felt this way? Would I expect them to tough it out or would I be there for them? I hung my head in shame internally knowing I expected he should be able to tough it out because he's an adult, knowing I'd be more supportive to my children than my husband.

I bucked up, went out and asked him if he'd like a hug. Now, this was a big deal because he hadn't showered and smelled like, well, an oily man. Ick. Then I asked if I could draw him a tub. We have a large soaking tub.  He said yes and I drew him a nice hot tub, with Epson Salts, and took out the biggest and fluffiest towel I could find to put by the tub. He came in and asked me to stay.  Honestly, I wanted to leave and let him have some personal time, but then realized that was MY wish when I take a bath and he'd been alone for almost 6 hours that day. So, I pulled up a chair. And I listened.

He told me all about his frustrations that day. Waking up at 4:30 am and never falling back to sleep. How the door insulator wasn't fitting right. How he had to sand and sand and it still sticks and he's concerned the girls won't be able to open and close it. How the new dryer didn't set up as he expected or as easily. How everything he touched that day was an issue - from dropping screws where he couldn't see them to heating dinner and burning some to the pot. It was all just too much for him yesterday.

He shared with me his feeling of being less than. That is hard for a man. Had I acted on my "should-y" feeling, I never would have heard how he was up at 4:30. I never would have seen inside my man, but instead stood there over him in a sense, judging him.  That isn't what a good relationship  is based on.

A good relationship is based upon support, respect and love for one another. I am so thankful for that moment of irritation with my man for it showed me where I need to grow in our relationship.  Our 8 year anniversary was last Tuesday and I was wondering what else we could possibly learn about each other only to discover I don't need to learn more about him, instead, I need to learn about me.

So I ask you, dear Reader, what should's do you put on your relationships? What should's do you put upon yourself? What should's do you put upon your life? Should you make more money? Should your kids get into a high end college? Should you...what? What SHOULD do you have?  List them. During the week, when you feel someone should be doing something-write it down. Then, ask yourself this important question: "Should they REALLY?"  and then why. For what purpose does it add to their life? How is your should adding value to how they feel and live their life? Honestly now, not your projection of what you expect it to do, but what does it truly do?

Stop living a "should-y" life my dear Reader.