Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Parenting Teens: When Does This Merry-Go-Round STOP?

I hope you never look back, but you never forget,
All the ones who love you, in the place you live,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
And you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
And always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, more than anything
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too...
Yeah, this....is my wish.
-Rascal Flatts 

Things 1 and 2 off to school
Yesterday, I watched my eldest son walk away from the house toward his bus stop.  His head bowed, he looked more man than child as he moved.  His arms have become roped with the veins of a man and his face needs shaving more often than not.  

His brother, taller now by an inch or two, still loped away with the easy grace of a child. But I know, as I watch his limbs lengthen and hear the deepening in his voice, that he is also moving away from our shared life and into his own.

They're in tenth and eight grades respectively and they each have only a few more years to benefit from my daily tutelage and the day-to-day umbrella of my winsome personality.

I was talking with a friend this morning about my changing role as a parent.  "I don't WANT to tell them what to do anymore," I complained.  "I shouldn't have to tell them to take out the trash or mow the grass or do their homework."  Except, apparently, I do. I have an example from last semester that fully illustrates that point but it makes me tired to even think of it.

Here's the problem:  as they begin to LOOK more like men, I don't want to ACT like some woman nagging them to do what they're supposed to do.

See, I don't want them to get accustomed to the idea of, oh, if I don't live up to my responsibilities, some chick will just tell me that I need to do my laundry or feed the dogs or pick my socks up off the living room floor.  Scratch that, socks are found on every horizontal surface in my home.  I don't want to train them to be nagged.  Nor do I want them to live with a nagger.  There is nothing more miserable on this earth than being told constantly that you're simply not meeting expectations.

So how do I handle it?  I often let them fail.  A lot.  I don't rescue them nearly as much as I could.  Or maybe even as much as I should.  I won't let them completely screw their lives over just yet but I regularly just expect them to do what they should.  But, often, they don't.


I need to come up with solutions to ease them into adulthood without causing me to lose my tenuous grasp on sanity.  Or, I could just do what I always do..what I always HAVE done as a parent:  I need to keep adapting to their needs.  I need to continue to morph as a parent to ensure that I'm giving them what they need as they need it.  It's OK for me to pull back but probably not OK for me to expect them to behave like a 40-something adult when I can barely manage that on a regular basis.  So, fine, I'll keep reminding them.

They're gonna screw up.  They're gonna tick me off.  And my job is to love them through it.  And usher them into adulthood relatively unscarred and without excessive emotional baggage that they'll have to sort through with a professional.

For now, I'll continue to watch them walk away.  I'm growing accustomed to it.  I just hope that they know that they wear my heart on their backs.  And that, no matter what...no matter how many times they fail or, let's hope, succeed, that their mom will always be thankful that she only has to raise them once.

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.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

5 Things You Should Never Do During Chemo Treatments

“Cancer. The word meant the same to me as tsunami or piranha. I had never seen them; I wasn't even quite sure what they were, but I knew they were bad and I knew in many cases they were deadly.”
― Natalie Palmer

One of my very, very good friends has gone and gotten breast cancer.  She's now inundated with appointments, information, more appointments and the well-meaning actions of the few people she has told.  She's living every single day by putting one foot in front of the other and just getting through it. 

Because she's just not ready to go public, we're going to call her MGFWC (My Good Friend With Cancer) for short.  Actually, we'll just drop it down to MF to keep the character count down.  MF has been through a lot these past few years and cancer is just the icing on the sh*t cake she's been living.  (Yeah, I said "sh*t cake."  And I meant it.) And just a few weeks ago, she had been presented with the chemo treatment facility where her doctor has privileges to treat.  Laughing, she told me about her visit with the Chemo Nurse who showed her around. The sad little room was barren with a couple of chairs and no television or any artwork on the walls.  It was a dreary room intended for an even drearier purpose.

"We have Wifi," Chemo Nurse said proudly.  I think MF (who, I just found out, has her nephew download things onto her computer because she just doesn't "get it") was singularly unimpressed.  The nurse THEN said that they strongly encouraged interaction between patients during treatment.  MF may have mumbled something about having enough friends and the average age of the other patients being old enough to remember the suffragist movement.

MF then said perhaps I should write blog posts to entertain her during treatment.  So, I shall.  The first one is all about Things You Shouldn't Do During Chemo. I mean, she doesn't have TV.  But she DOES have Wifi.  And she's a freakin' troublemaker.

  1. Porn.  The very first thing you should not do during chemo is surf porn sites with your tablet.  If you accidentally knocked the headphone jack out of your tablet, then everyone (including that Chemo Nurse) would hear the...well...whatever sounds it is that people in porn sites make.  Also, I hear those things aren't free and you should probably be saving money for your deductible.
  2. Sing out loud.  OK, I REALIZE that when we were little kids Karen Carpenter encouraged us to "sing, sing a song...sing out loud...sing out strong" but, c'mon.  Unless your name is Beyonce or Kelly Clarkson, no one really wants to hear you singing.  Especially during chemo.  Because for goodnesssake people are SICK.  They're already feeling nauseous from that chemical cocktail coursing through their bodies and you over there belting out "My Way" isn't going to help anyone.
  3. Scratch yourself.  You might be itchy.  And uncomfortable.  But did you ever notice how, when you're in the room with people who are scratching themselves, all of the sudden you feel itchy, too?  I feel kind of itchy just WRITING about scratching.  Oogie.  No one needs cancer cooties.  
  4. Cry.  Nope.  Not the time and not the place.  We'll go to another oldie but a goodie:  "Don't Cry Out Loud," that old Melissa Manchester favorite that begs you to very healthily stuff everything inside.  "Learn how to hide your feelings."  'Cause that's totally what well-adjusted people do.  Like baseball, however, there is no crying in chemo.  Crying is for later with a pint of chocolate ice cream and Lifetime Television for Women.  ('Cause just THINK, YOU could be imprisoned for a crime you didn't commit or have a cheating husband just like those poor chicks on the Lifetime Movie Network.) 
  5. Call me.  Whatever you do during your treatments, you should probably avoid any phone calls to me.  This is not only because I'm now working in a highly library-like environment but it is also because I am likely to be fairly irreverent and make wise-cracks about cancer and the other people sitting beside you and Nurse Ratchet and pretty much raise holy heck on the other end of the phone.  And because you're getting cancer treatments and not treatments for some kind of bladder problem, you probably aren't wearing Depends undergarments. This can be a problem for excessive laughter. And I will not be held responsible for the stains on your seat because of that fact.  
I love you, MF.  I truly do.  And I have a lot of faith that you're going to make it through this.  And that your life is going to be amazing.  And that we'll be sitting together in rocking chairs when we're 102, drinking tequila and telling dirty jokes to the staff at the nursing home.

You've totally got this.  And when you don't have the strength...you've got a lot of people who will carry you.

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.

    Thursday, August 13, 2015

    5 Secrets To Keep Life from Keeping You Tired

    “Winston was gelatinous with fatigue.”
    ― George Orwell, 1984

    Maybe coffee is the answer?
    The very last time I remember being exceptionally well-rested was 1999.  Newly pregnant, I was weary due to that whole business of actually manufacturing human life in the walls of my uterus. I slept.  Oh, how I slept.  I would come home after work and climb into bed at 8 pm where I would snooze away blissfully until the snooze button was worn to the nub.

    Then, Thing 1 was born and all notions of sleep left with the incessant wailing of the newborn, the finicky restlessness of the baby, the 5 am wake-up calls of the toddler and the ever-present one-ear-open-because-what-if-he-needs-me of the child.  Then came the teenager that wakes me up in the middle of the night with the hushed laughter and murmurs of forbidden late night phone calls, Skype sessions or online video game parties.

    My forties came calling and with it endless nocturnal wanderings at 3 a.m.


    I don't remember NOT being tired. I'm tired right now and I haven't done a damn thing all day except attend meetings, send emails and jot down a few notes. Well, I worked out halfheartedly and slapped together a mildly nourishing, somewhat edible dinner. Short of just going to bed at 5 pm and ignoring the rest of my life, I've got to figure out a way to combat this incessant fatigue that prevents me from being the world-famous figure I am almost certainly destined to be.

    I must have a plan. 

    1.  Eat fewer fat-girl calories.  Let's take one night a couple weeks ago, for example.  I stopped by the grocery store on the way home.  Famished and exceptionally susceptible to grocery-line suggestive selling, I chucked a Snickers bar on the belt.  I didn't really WANT a Snickers bar but, let me tell you, I WANTED A SNICKERS BAR.  I read the useless, wasted calorie count and the "imma make you fat" sugar content conveniently AFTER I snarfed the bar.  All that stupid sugar makes you feel sooo good and then it makes you feel so very, very, very tired.  And to punish myself, I basically licked water off the counter for dinner

    2. Treat exercise like a date to the movies.  I would never, ever skip a date to the movies.  I don't even care what movie it is.  I am NEVER late to a movie.  I always show up early and sit there, breathless, waiting for the dancing popcorn to start its entertaining jaunt across the screen.  And then I am fully engaged in that. But exercise?  I think of any excuse I can to skip it, be late or half-ass it.  But, truly, the more active you are, the less tired you are.  I don't know why it works this way other than the notion that the universe is obviously pitted against me.

    3.  Stop trying to control everything.  Very, very little is actually under your control.  And trying to rein in all of the earth and its inhabitants is a pretty big job.  And exhausting.  I am pretty much limiting my little corner of control to...myself.  Sure, I have some influence over Things 1 and 2 but, quite honestly, at this point they're in control of themselves. I have to trust them to make good decisions and use me as a parental consultant on an as-needed basis.

    4Sleep.  I'm getting good at this one (with the obvious exception of my odd middle-of-the-night random wakening).  If it's not finished by 9, I probably shouldn't be doing it.   Nothing good comes not after midnight but after 9pm.  And that includes cookies.  And one last glass of wine.

    5. Practice joy. It may seem like a weird concept to actually practice joy. But human nature allows us to often focus on the What Ifs and the But This Could Happens of life. I prefer to dwell on the infinite possibilities of the hidden surprises that life often presents me as a gift. Last night, I looked up while The Boyfriend and I were heading to the garden for late-night tomato picking and I gasped. The stars were stretched out across the sky in a velvet blanket of wishes and dreams. It was magical. And an instant boost to my weary self.

    There are a lot of things we can do every day to ease the weariness of life drudgery that makes us want to forego the bucket list and head for the couch. But the main thing is this: take care of yourself. If you are running around taking care of everyone else first and ignoring your own physical, spiritual and emotional well-being, there will come a day when you are introduced to the wall of life. And that wall will quickly force you to your knees. 

    So today, take care of YOU. In one small way, take one small step and reclaim your vigor...your hunger for life. Just say no to being tired all the time.  Instead of folding laundry, read a book. Feed your life. And it will, in turn, nourish you.

    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.

    Sunday, August 2, 2015

    Are You Afraid of Change? 4 Ways to Make it Not Suck

    “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky
    Forrest Gump faced a lot of changes, too. 

    A little over a month ago, I made a decision to make a big change.  Again.  It seems that I am often reinventing myself and my life to make it look just a little bit more like my evolving vision of who I should be and what I should do.  You see, I'm not comfortable with the status quo.  A claustrophobic person by nature, sometimes the metaphorical walls of my life seem to cave in on me and make it so I feel like I can't breathe.  So, I look around and I see what is making me feel trapped or dulled or uninspired and...well...I change it.  

    This time, it was work.
    The job that I had was amazing.  It was.  I worked with great people and had terrific clients but...I couldn't sleep.  I was up at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. or 5 a.m. working, working, working.  And it wasn't that I was REQUIRED to work...it was just that I couldn't stop.  I felt continual self-induced pressure to produce.  And that would have been fine with me if I felt like I was making a difference in the world or maybe if I was building my OWN business but...I just felt like I was spinning my wheels.  So, I found another job.  A great job with terrific people.  But I agonized for weeks over it...over making the change and abandoning people who had become friends.  I was horrified at myself for cutting the bonds of loyalty and leaping off into uncharted territory.  But I wasn't scared of the change.  Now that I'm THERE, I realize I probably SHOULD have been (have you ever read the book Modern Hydronic Heating? yeah, I didn't think so...I'm learning more about HVAC, fluid dynamics and heat transfer than any reasonable person should).  

    I love change.  And here's why:  changing my circumstances means that I am still growing.  If you stop growing, you might as well hang up your hat right now and just sit and wait to die.  I'm not ready to do that...and you shouldn't either.  So, if you're afraid of change, you can do what I do.  Or not.  

    1. Think of the worst thing that could happen if you make a change.  I mean, think of the WORST THING that could happen.  For me, it was "I'll take this job and everyone at my OLD company will HATE me and the new job will be boring and slow."  Then, I think of what I would do if the very worst thing happened.  "Well, I'll just get another job."  Then, as soon as I've faced the worst thing, I'm completely OK with making the change.  And, yes, sometimes the answer has been, "I might die."  And, guess what?  I still do it.  I'm completely comfortable with death.  
    2. Think of the very best thing that could happen if you make a change.  "I will love this job SO MUCH that I'll become the KING of the company and people will throw rose petals at me when I walk in the door!" (I never said that I was a realist, ever.)  But, it allows me to free my mind and just start imagining really cool things that could happen if I just let go of what's comfortable and reach outside of my comfort zone for just a moment.
    3. Forgive yourself for all the other bad decisions you've made.  I don't know many of us who have made perfect life choices 100% of the time.  Sometimes, dwelling on those wrong choices stymies us and we freeze, unable to move forward or back because of the fear of making the wrong decision.  But then, hey, see tip #1 above.
    4. Keep your sense of humor.  I often use humor as a filter. I have been kept afloat during some of the very darkest, blackest hours of my life by just viewing things from a different angle and, yes, laughing through it or at it or in spite of it.  Change doesn't have to be this big, huge THING.  You can just brace yourself, shrug your shoulders and jump in with both feet and hope that somewhere someone has a life raft or that you'll grow wings and fly. 
    But what about the changes we DON'T choose?  What if your spouse leaves you? What if you get a serious illness?  What if you get fired or laid off?  Let me propose this:  the above four things still apply.  Every. Single. Time.  Trust me.

    I've lived at 34 different addresses in seven states.  I've been through a LOT of therapy for some screwed up stuff.  I had a kid who had a tumor.  I'm divorced.  Trust me...I KNOW change.   And I still move toward it.  I'm captivated by it.  Because change means that I'm learning, growing and, with any luck, becoming a better me.  A better mom.  A better friend.  A better partner.  A better person.

    It's nice to sit in the Rockin' Chair for a few minutes.  Peace.

    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.