Saturday, January 18, 2014

Call Me Mrs. Mom

The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.”
― H.L. Mencken

I am officially the old lady with the years of experience under her belt.  In my new office, I think I am actually a couple years older than the owners.  (I don't know for SURE how old they are, but I know that they are around my age...but probably a couple three or four years younger.)  The other employees in the office include 1) a young woman who is completing her last two classes in college and 2) a 23-year-old young man who is our web/developer/designer.

He calls me "Mrs. Mom." 


Maybe it's because I tell him that he should get more rest.  Maybe it's because I use his full name instead of his shortened nickname as is my habit.  Maybe it's because I am actually old enough to BE his mom.  Maybe I remind him of his mom because I'm still trying to figure out the ins and outs of Macbooks.  Whatever it is, I understand that it means I have moved into a whole new checkbox of life.

I will be 43 next Sunday.  I do realize that this puts me on the "back nine" of life.  God willing, I have a similar number of years LEFT as I have already lived.  Don't get me wrong:  I am not afraid of aging.  I fully embrace it and look forward to what the coming years will bring.  Well, I look forward to the GOOD stuff the coming years will bring.   But it just feels WEIRD to me to be this age when I still crank up the stereo and basically dance my way through life. 

So let's review some myths we have about people  (or you can just substitute "Kelly" for the word "people") as they get older:

  1. They're wise.  OK, if you've ever read this blog EVER you know that I am figuring stuff out just the same way these young twentysomethings are.  And my brain hurts from the effort.  Even if I am wiser, I am almost certainly DUMBER than I was 20 years ago.  Maybe that's the exchange.  People realize that they're losing brain cells at an accelerated pace so they just start spouting off platitudes in the hopes it will make them appear wise which is then equated to intelligence.  I am not wise.  I am exhausted from the effort of remembering the names of my children.
  2. They're cultured.  I do not sitting around discussing politics or world events.  As a matter of fact, I am far less informed NOW than I was in my younger days because I simply refuse to participate in the "news" of the world. I prefer the old Def Leppard music to opera.  I read a LOT but, quite honestly, it's not like I'm reading Dickens.  I much prefer picking up a Jennifer Weiner book or the blogs of Jenny Lawson over anything of real substance.  I want to LAUGH and I do so often.  And loudly.  Cultured people don't laugh.  And they certainly don't giggle.  They probably aren't huge fans of the corny joke.  And I go to McDonald's for a cheeseburger on occasion.  Believe me when I tell you that there are CERTAINLY no cultured people at McDonald's.  
  3. They always eat their vegetables.  I WILL admit that I do now enjoy vegetables.  Immensely.  Especially when they're fresh from my garden.  But (and this sounds terrible) there are days when I go an ENTIRE DAY without eating a single fresh vegetable.  Mostly because I'm a fan of carbs.  And sugar.  (I's not very grown-up of me.)  And it's why I consistently hover about 20-30 pounds heavier than I should be.  I like Cheerios in the morning, chicken sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner.  Sprinkled in with some M&Ms and coffee.  And wine.  Granted, I don't do that EVERY DAY.  But there ARE at least one or two days a week when it happens.  I admit it. 
So, yeah.  I'm getting older.  But I hope these kids I'm working with aren't looking to me for anything other than project direction.  I'm flailing around just like I did when I was 23.  With kids.  (Not 23 when I HAD the kids...but still flailing around with kids.) Yeah, please go ahead and feel sorry for Things 1 and 2.  'Cause they're the victims here.  Maybe I should try harder to be a Real Grown-Up.  Or just settle into the role of Mrs. Mom.

I think I'll just roll with it.  Whatever "it" is that comes my way.

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Coddling Hurts Everyone (Or, How I Realized I Coddle My Sons and the Steps I'm Taking to Fight It)

“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
― Umberto Eco

Last night, after dinner, I did something I have never done before:  I left Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the kitchen to clean up while I retired to the living room to read.

I know, I know.  The above doesn't sound like something that should be shocking.  Things 1 and 2 are 13 and 11, respectively, and have been cleaning up (somewhat) after themselves for years.  But I have NEVER EVER left them in the kitchen to clean up BY THEMSELVES after dinner.  I have HELPED them.  I have COACHED them.  I have lingered on, watching while they rinsed each dish and I have showed them how to load the dishwasher.  I have offered to clean the pots and pans and I have gently offered helpful household tips while they have cleaned.  But I have never EVER never ever NEVER left them alone in the kitchen to clean up after dinner.

It. Was. Fabulous.

Did they do it as I would have done it?  No, not really.  Did they do a great job?  Yes.  And no.  Did they complain?  Not once.

The whole affair was entirely shocking.  And, unbeknownst to them, has completely changed the way we do business around the Manor.

In many respects, I am actually a terrible parent.  I sometimes encourage dessert before dinner; I very often choose that we read over chores; instead of shuttling them to lessons or other useful pursuits, I tend to suggest that we have Great Adventures or Laze The Day Away.  And, in so doing, I have coddled them and, I fear, probably ruined them for good.

But, no more!!  The coddling ended last night when I realized that, seemingly overnight, they have become fully capable human beings.  I have to admit that I take the whole Divorced Parent thing a bit too far at times.  Because I am Divorced, I am the only Functional Adult in the household.  And, because it's not THEIR fault that I am Divorced, I tend to DO more things for them than I think I would in a Real Family environment.  (The capitals are all mine and always included in my thoughts.  Welcome to my head.)  I pick up their glasses and plates from the living room.  I do all the cooking and most of the cleaning.  I mow the lawn and pick up the animal feces from the backyard.  I do all the dusting and most of the vacuuming and sweeping.  I do the laundry.  I used to fold it AND put it away but in the last year I've been putting it on their beds for them to put away.

I just feel like since I ruined their lives by getting a divorce, the very LEAST I can do is be their servant for life.

And that's the crux of it.  I do too much because I'm trying to make up for interrupting what MIGHT have been an idyllic childhood by thrusting Divorce into their lives.  Because they have to shuttle back and forth between Mom's house and Dad's house, I try to somehow make up for that pain and inconvenience by letting them skate by with very little effort.

But that's not going to make them very good human beings, is it?

I don't know that I'll EVER be guilt-free about being Divorced.  I don't know that I'll ever truly forgive myself for inflicting that pain on my kids.  At some point, when they're older, I hope they'll understand that being Divorced actually helped their mom Get Healthy.  And I hope they can forgive me.

But, until that day, I think they'll be doing a lot more dishes.

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Resolutions and Other Fairy Tales

“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late. "
- Lee Iacocca

Photo by Ned Stark (
2014.  It's a brand new year! You'll have to forgive me for being somewhat self-congratulatory this morning because a) I did NOT overindulge last night in the adult beverages (which makes me feel ever so much more adult and b) I am pretty darn proud of the changes I made last year.  One of my dearest family members put the year into perspective for me a couple of days ago:  "You hung in there and did all the right things--including facing your own demons and slaying them."  So step off, demons.  I will cut you.

So now it's time to up the ante.  It's the New Year.  But here's the thing about resolutions:  I HATE THEM.  They're kinda like lists for me.  I just don't participate.  I have this wishy washy feeling that change is organic and should come from your gut and not from this thing that society tells you to change.

Let's address typical resolutions one by one:
  1.  I will lose weight in the new year.  This is the granddaddy of 'em all.  Ever been to the gym in January? It's tough to find a treadmill.  Everyone there is decked out in their new fancy schmancy workout gear and they're sweating and puffing.  For about two weeks.  And then life gets in the way.  And they head back to the couch.  This resolution is worthless.  I make the same one every weekend: "I am going to get SERIOUS about eating healthy and getting fitter."  And then Monday comes.  And I don't get serious.  If I was serious about it, I wouldn't talk.  I would do.  I know this because I've done it.  And I didn't talk about it while I was doing it.  I just did it.  How can we make this a reality?  Don't make it a resolution.  Make it a life.  It's not about losing weight at all:  it's about getting healthy and making good choices for your body.  You in? I'm in...on Monday.  
  2. I will be a better person (insert: kinder, more honest, loving...whatever your adjective of choice is).  Here's another one that I fail at continually.  I am a sin-filled ridiculous human being.  I am selfish, mean, lazy, and highly distracted.  If you tell yourself that you're going to be a better person then you are probably going to fail.  (I'm that too honest?)  But maybe you should approach it a different way.  Let's all decide to take each day as it comes.  Maybe we'll start small:  I won't say that mean thought OUT LOUD.  I will do one nice thing for one person today.  I will eat dinner before I eat dessert.  Whatever it is...make it small.  Incremental change is so much easier to stomach and more likely to stick.  Don't be resolute.  Just be different.
  3. I will change my money habits in the new year.  Having been there and done that, I can say that, like the losing weight thing, this isn't a resolution.  This is a life.  This is making the choice to be responsible.  A very good friend taught me this rule:  Is it nice or is it necessary?  Sadly, MOST of the things I want in life are niceties...NOT necessities.  Food for my kids?  Necessary.  Filet mignon?  Nice.  Most of my clothing was getting frayed and/or picked with holes this last year.  (I am not a shoe girl or a clothes horse.  I am PRACTICAL when it comes to clothing.)  I actually had to buy clothes for work as a NECESSITY.  But I know a lot of people who buy clothes every week.  Nice?  Or necessary?  It's not a's a decision to be different.
One could argue that resolutions ARE life choices or decisions to be different.  I say we need a different term.  Everyone mocks resolutions even as we make them ourselves.  "Oh, let's see how long THIS one sticks...hahahahaaha!"  But if you're serious about making'll change your mind and then you'll change your life.

Been there.  Done that.  Still making changes.  I wonder if I'll be PERFECT by the end??  Like Mary Poppins I'll be "Perfectly perfect in every way."   If that's the case, I hope I get that cool carpetbag that holds everything.  TOTALLY.  NECESSARY.

Happy New Year! What changes will you make this year?

If you like my blog, share it.  Or Like my FB page to get updates.  Or make a comment below.  If you don't like it, well...just try not to hurt my feelings.  I'm sensitive.