Author Archives: Heather

About Heather

I adore my family, writing, books, cats, lazy mornings in bed, and chocolate. I'll never say no to breakfast for dinner, long talks with friends and lazy summer days at the pool with family. My life is often crazy, always awesome and one I'm so happy to be living! My side hustle is editing and proofing work. Find out more at https://heathercaryn.com/

Not Me

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The Bean found my blog.

I mean, I knew the day would come- my kids are the reason I started this blog, after all. My kiddos don’t have baby books and most of their childhood pictures are stored in Shutterfly, not in physical albums. I didn’t keep many of their childhood mementos outside of a few blankets, some books and a few stuffed animals. But I have been chronicling their childhood for almost 10 years now- since the kids were 4 and 2.

Since she’s been going back and reading my old entries, I got nostalgic and started to do the same.  One of the things I used to on Monday’s was “Not Me Monday” back when widely used blog themes were a thing.  “Not Me Monday” was a way to confess your sins and since the old entries made me laugh, I figured I’d share a few of my gems lately:

  • While in Mexico, the Bean got M&Ms and immediately told Scorch he couldn’t have any. He didn’t want any – but he *always* wants to torment her, so for 30 minutes straight, he followed her around making comments like “Yummm…those M&Ms look amazing!” or “You know what I’m craving, M&Ms!” or “Mom, the minute Bean puts those M&Ms down, Imma going to snagging them.”  I was not too busy laughing hysterically at him to make him knock it off when the Bean pleaded with me to do so.
  • Later that same day, I was blessedly at the pool sans any kids, reading my Kindle. 4 chairs down from me was a mom, trying in vain to read her magazine while her son and daughter squabbled in the pool over things just as dumb as M&Ms. The mom finally LOSES it and goes “This is supposed to be FUN. We are flipping on vacation in MEXICO and you’re making me crazy.”
    I did not want to high-five her in solidarity or at least find some of the Bean’s M&Ms to share with her.
  • Earlier this week, Scorch was in class and accidentally drew on his face with his pencil. When one of his friends told him they could see the mark, my son absolutely did not proceed to draw a penis on his forehead and then have to walk around alllll day with his bangs pulled down to hide it when he couldn’t erase it. (“Mom- it was the only thing I could think of to draw!” #teens)
  • I did not laugh stupidly hard at a “69” reference in an Instagram video because Scorch and his buddies are obsessed with certain numbers (69, 420, etc) which evidently has dropped my sense of humor down to a middle-school level.* I also certainly did not save the video to show him when he got home from school.
  • Within seconds of picking the Bean up from school, it was clear she was in a mood. After 2 minutes of grumpiness and a snotty tone, I told her she wasn’t allowed to speak to me again until she could do so with a civil tongue. We did not not speak for over an hour. #tweens

Hot Mess Express graphic with a purple background and pink words

So, spill – what haven’t YOU done lately?!

 

*Please note: I DID (and do, frequently) absolutely talk to my kid about these numbers, what they mean, how they are not appropriate in a lot of places/context, etc – but he’s 13 and he’s in middle school and kids laugh about dumb stuff no matter how mature and enlightened you try to make them. I can either freak out over it every time or embrace my inner 13 year when something is legitimately funny. This video was NOT sexual in any way shape or form, it was just simply a bunch of idiot teens freaking out when that number was called out in public – and it was really, really funny.

 

Life’s a Beach

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We are a family that loves our vacations. But we are, usually, a family who road trips (with mixed results, tbh). We drive to the NC beaches or Florida or up to one of the Great Lakes. In fact, the kids have only flown once prior to this month only because 1) I got a great deal on airfare and 2) I pretty much bribed the Hubs – he hates to fly.  But 2 years ago, I was out with my girlfriends – my friends whose husbands are the Hub’s friends and whose kids are my kid’s friends – and we decided that February 2020 was the year we were all going on vacation. 10 adults, 11 kids – we were going on vacation together, damn it.

And that sounded all well and good until it actually came time to plan said vacation. Then things got a little dicey as we tried to figure out where to go and I tried to figure out how in the hell to get the Hubs to agree to this vacation. My Hubs is a creature of habit and, as mentioned before, hates to fly – let’s not even mention the cost of this.  All of our vacation options would require us to fly outside of the US and I knew this was going to be a hard sell.

So this past summer, our friends booked their vacation. The February 2020 trip that was dreamed about in 2018 turned into a trip to Cancun and everyone was committed – except for us. The Hubs was still holding out for some very legit reasons (the cost) and some more interesting ones (not wanting to fly, being convinced we’d be kidnapped in Mexico).  Turns out, going to a friend’s 40th birthday party with all our friends taking the trip, getting a few beers in him and begging worked – I got a very begrudging “I’ll leave it up to you – if you want to go, we’ll go” from him.

For those of you who haven’t been in a relationship long enough, that was his passive-aggressive way of agreeing to go on vacation while making sure I knew that if things went badly, it wasn’t his fault, it was allllll mine.  Was it an enthusiastic yes? Not even close! Did I care? Not at all- I booked that trip the minute the travel agency opened Monday (pro tip: traveling with 20+ people? Use a travel agent).

Of course, after we booked the trip everything we read and watched on TV had to focus on terrible things happening in Mexico.  Seal Team on CBS? Multi-episode arch about the horrors in Mexico due to the drug cartels. Hell, even the new <horrible> Rambo movie dealt with Mexico. Every time something came up, I got the side-eye and a quick muttering about how Mexico was a fantastic choice for vacation from the Hubs. It was a fun few months, let me tell you.

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But – miracle of miracles – we still managed to go to Cancun if February with our friends! I’m very happy to report that we all survived the short plane ride (~3.5 hours, direct flight), no one got kidnapped and no one got sick (although two of the travelers- Scorch included – got the flu the day we got home). It was perfect.

Heather holding a heart-shaped shell in front of the ocean.

We stayed at a resort that was a great fit for our 11 kids. There was so much for them to do and the resort was small enough that we could let them roam in packs by themselves all day. Would I recommend it for adults only? Hell no – again, so. many. kids. – but it worked great for us. The food was great, the staff friendly and kind, and the ocean. Oh you guys- the ocean.

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We had to put our beloved 18 year old cat, Reese, down two days before we left. I’ve lost two other pets in the past 3 years, but Reese’s death gutted me. She was the last of the animals we adopted before having the kids – she was our constant companion since I was 24 years old. I cried into her fur when Pete was in training for months in Georgia, while we battled infertility and miscarriages, when I felt like a terrible mother, when our marriage hit rough spots. Losing her was horrible enough- but it also felt like saying goodbye to a huge chapter in my life.  I was a zombie in the days leading up to her death and the day we put her down.  By the time we hit Cancun, I needed this vacation – and the ocean didn’t disappoint. It didn’t bring my cat back, but it soothed my soul.

I honestly have no idea if we’ll ever take a trip like this again. Getting everyone’s schedules to align took an act of God, committing to savings for 2 years wasn’t easy and who knows if we can make the magic happen again. But I’m so glad we had this experience- this moment. It was worth all the back and forth, heartache and annoyances to get us there.

 

Time To Give It Up

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A warning: if you have little kids, don’t let them read this, please. Holiday tradition talks ahead.

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Our Christmas tree- covered in multi-colored lights and a mix of homemade and store-bought ornaments.

Ok, true confession time. I am *not* a sentimental mom. I don’t miss the kid’s younger years. Yes, they were adorable. Yes, their squeaky voices were beyond sweet. Yes, things were simpler then.  But, nope, older kids FTW all day, every day.

When the kids were little, they were alllll about Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Buddy, our Elf on the Shelf, was the perfect tool to keep my monsters in check in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I loved their excitement over the holidays – their pure joy in seeing that Santa was coming. Christmas morning was 100% magic through the eyes of kids who really believe.

But being Santa? Holy shit, that’s hard work. That’s making sure the kids get equal gifts, that’s making sure Santa has his own wrapping paper (note to new parents: don’t wrap gifts from Santa. Elves don’t have time to wrap. Thank me later), that’s making up a new handwriting for Santa and making sure you leave out cookies and milk.  Is that fun- of course it is? And it’s what a lot of parents do to bring that bit of Christmas magic to their kid.

After roughly 11 years though, I was done. I was tired. I was over it. Scrooge, thy name is Heather.

But I’ll be damned if I’d tell my kids the truth about any of this. Kiddos – want to talk about drugs? I’m your girl. Relationships and sex? Pull up a chair! What’s going on with our government? Let me tell you a story.  The truth about Santa et al? Hard no.

I always thought I’d know when the time was right and I’d take the kids (Scorch first since he’s older, obviously) out for hot chocolate and we’d have a long talk about the magic of Christmas, the spirit of giving and what Santa really means. Then I’d threaten him within an inch of his life to make sure he didn’t tell his sister. But did I do that? No, I did not. Neither did the Hubs. We just literally did nothing. Seemed like a legit parenting choice.

Then last Spring, Scorch and I were home and he told me he needed something and I informed him that the Easter Bunny had brought him that same thing a few weeks earlier for Easter. He promptly yelled back from his room – “do you mean, that *you* bought that for me for Easter?”

Awwwww, shit. The gig is up. I played stupid and told him that the Easter Bunny was the bringer of gifts. (Me- the mom who couldn’t WAIT for the truth to be out!!) Scorch looked at me like I was dumb, and said, “Mom, just give it up. I’ve known since 5th grade. I’m 13, it’s time.”

And guys- I cried. I legit teared up, standing in his bedroom because this day that 1) I wanted to come and 2) was really well past time had arrived and I was not ready. I was not OK. Scorch, continuing to look at me like I was an idiot, told me he had known since 5th grade and was just waiting for me to say something. *sigh* The only thing that went according to my previous plans was me telling Scorch if he told Bean, I’d castrate him. (don’t hesitate to ask me for parenting advice- I’m KILLING it).

Fast forward to this week when the Bean lost a tooth.  She came into the kitchen and asked me what she should do with it. I told her to put it under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy and it was her time to look at me like I was an idiot. “Mom, the Tooth Fairy isn’t real.” and she THREW her tooth in the garbage.

Ouch.

I did what I do best, and deflected and didn’t say another word because I was NOT READY again.  But the next day in the car, my child confessed that she knew that none of the big 3 were real and hadn’t believed in a long while. Cue the tears again.

So, here we are. A family with kids officially too old to believe. On one hand, I’m not mad about that. On the other, I know I’m still going to get the kids gifts from Santa, pick out a special wrapping paper and sign his name in his special signature. After all, I’ve had 13 years to perfect it.

 

A Grateful Heart

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Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays – a lowkey chance to reconnect with family and friends before the hustle and bustle of December comes crashing in. There are no gifts, no running around- just a good meal, lots of laughs and time to reflect.

So today, and every day, I thankful to all of you.

Thank you to the Hubs and my kids. Hubs- you have walked by my side for almost 22 years now and built a life with me that I’m so proud of. Does it look like we thought it would? Nope- it’s a 1000x better, Can you believe we made these two fantastic people and get to have all these adventures with them?! Kiddos- you makes me laugh, every day. You make me want to be better, every day. You fill my heart and our home with laughter and hugs and so much joy, it’s hard to contain.

Thank you to my family – the one I was born to, the one I married into and the one we’ve made together. You made me into who I am today, lift me up when I’m down and fill my life with love and loyalty.

Thank you to my friends. The old friends that I’ve known since I was a child whom I still hold dear and adore spending time with – the ones who know all my bad hair styles, crappy boyfriends and crazy escapades. I adore you all and I’m still halfway convinced we’ll always be 17 at heart.

A white heart ornament is on a wooden surface. On the heart, it has a small pink heart and the words "I am grateful".

Thank you my new friends- the ones who have helped me raise my babies into the amazing kids they are, talked me through the ups and down of my marriage and have become my chosen family. You are my sanity, my coaches and my favorite people – we are so lucky to be surrounded by your infection spirit, generous hearts and disgusting, immature sense of humor.

Thank you to my friends who, as the Hubs says, live in my computer. 20 years ago, I made my first set of online friends (the Hubs thought you were all 50 year old murders, btw) and my online crew has only grown since then. Thank you for your friendship and your knowledge – for pushing me and expanding my world that much more.

I wish you all joy, friendship and love this Thanksgiving.  Thank you for reading, laughing and loving- I can’t imagine my life without you.

 

 

SHOTGUN!

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So, it’s been a minute! After I shared my fantastic parenting skills, we got sucked back into the routine of school and sports and general insanity. The re-entry back into the school year was a pretty tame one- neither kid made any major transitions so that made back to school pretty damn easy.  Scorch is in 8th grade and the Bean is in 6th and I’m officially old AF.  The biggest drama going back to school was if Scorch should wear black socks or white socks with his navy blue kicks – the boy takes his sock game very seriously.

Scorch, wearing navy blue sneakers, and Bean, wearing white sneakers, on the first day of 8th and 6th grade.

In early October, Scorch broke his wrist playing in a football game about 2 hours from home. Thankfully the Hubs and/or I always go to every away game (my kids getting seriously hurt when we’re not there is one of my biggest nightmares) and were both there that day. We had to drive by the Big City on our way home, so we stopped by the same orthopedic place that did the Hub’s ACL surgery in the Spring and had Scorched x-ray’d and casted within an hour. He’s been a super good sport, but with less than a week to go until the cast is taken off he’s D.O.N.E. with it.

An x-ray of Scorch's left wrist.

The biggest news is that the day I’ve been DREADING finally is upon us. When I took the kids in for their flu shots, the Bean’s height was recorded and she’s finally tall enough to ride in the front seat.

*sigh*

That’s right, I have two kids vying for shotgun for every.single.car ride. Once the kids put the pieces together, they both started coming up with an elaborate way to decide who got to be the shotgun winner. The rules included when you could call shotgun, how even calling shotgun doesn’t mean you actually get to ride in that spot if your sibling can wrestle you out of it and something about headlocks and Scorch using his cast as a club.

Needless to say, that didn’t fly with me, so I quickly instituted an odd/even system – on odd days, it’s Scorch’s turn, on even days, it’s the Beans. They were ticked- I was stripping away ALLLLLLLL the fun out of shotgun- but frankly, I didn’t care. The last thing I needed was those two beating the holy hell out of each other for the privilege of sitting next to me and controlling the radio.

This worked relatively well…except for during school drop offs. I drive both kids to school, dropping Scorch off first, and alllllll Scorch wants to look during drop off is cool. There is a single drop off line – it loops around the parking lot and you can drop your kids off anywhere along the sidewalk. But evidently there is a art to where the perfect drop off location is. Like, he gets concerned if I drop him off too far away (“they’re all waiting for us in line, mom”) or too close (“I don’t want to look like I’m lazy”), the music has to be off just case we’re listening to something that is cringy and the drop off has to be QUICK- there can be no fumbling when you get out.

Which was all doable when he was the always riding shotgun, but now that he’s in the backseat of our van every other day – quick isn’t a thing. First, I have to put the van in park to open the automatic sliding doors -and those doors are slow. Then there is the fumbling for his stuff because he can’t actually wait until the door is all the way  open before jumping out. Don’t even mention the fact his sister is choosing the tunes and Lizzo blasting out of the speakers of our minivan brings down his street cred by like a 1000 points.

Which is why earlier this week, my sweet dumb kid decided that the best course of action was to CLIMB into the front seat – WHILE his sister was sitting in – and going out that way.
Bean, with only her legs showing, is sitting in the passenger seat of the car. Scorch is perched on the leg rest of her chair, trying to climb over her.

Bean’s sitting in the chair, Scorch is trying to climb over her. I’m being the responsible adult and taking pics.

She was super psyched about that idea – he’s lucky she didn’t kick him in the butt and send him sprawling.

So, how’s your fall going?!

Mickey Mouse Does What Now?

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There are a ton of things I adore about raising tweens/teens. I’m happy to go on and on about how awesome older kids are – but I realized very quickly this weekend that the fact that I cannot physically move my children to force them to do something is one of the biggest drawbacks.

This past Friday, the kids and I were driving 45 minutes south to hang at my parents for the day. We had to be there by 8:45 am so I could start my work day – we were already running a tad behind because we had to drop the kitten off at the vet. So, we’re hustling, just about to get on the highway, when the Bean let’s out a shriek from the backseat that can be heard for miles.

There is a spider on the arm rest next to her and she’s losing her mind. The Bean hates spiders – somethings I wrote about here – and she was going into panic mode.

I pulled over as quickly as I could and Beaner jumps out of the car, freaking out. I quickly took care of the spider and told her to get back in the car.  She flat out refused. Nope. Not happening- she’s not getting in the back of the van again. Ever. For her whole life.

I’m quickly looking at my watch, looking the Bean and looking at Scorch, who is laughing his fool head off from the front seat, trying to figure out the best way to manage this nonsense so I can get to work on time. We’ve got two choices: keep going to my parents and go back home. Either way, we have got to get back in the car to get to where ever we’re going.

I take stock and hope that if I can get the Bean to ride shotgun, Scorch will ride in the backseat and we can just go somewhere.  Yes, the Bean is too small to ride shotgun usually but desperate times and all that.*  I tell the kids the plan and Scorch, between snorts of laughter, refuses to move. Flat out refuses to move.  I calmly tell him to move his hiney so we can get going and he’s just like – Nope. And the Bean is like Nope when I tell her to get in the back seat.  So, we have a stand off.

After a quick few minutes of negotiations and some not-so-quietly shared threats, I finally get the Bean back in the backseat and we’re on our way.  But I’m ticked- like, really, really, really angry that Scorch wouldn’t move his seat and that the Bean is scared of spiders and that we’re running behind and that I have so much to do. Basically, I was in a tizzy over everything.

And Scorch, bless his complete inability to read the room, pipes up next to me as we’re pulling out of the parking lot where all this has gone down, “Mom, do you see….”

And because I’m so freaking ticked off at this point, I cut him off quickly and without much thought to what’s coming out of my mouth, yelling:

“YOU are not allowed to talk. I don’t SEE ANYTHING – and I don’t care what you see. You could see Mickey Mouse shitting rainbows right now and I don’t want to hear a word about it!”

“Mickey Mouse shitting rainbows” is not a phrase I thought I’d ever utter in my life. Yet, here I am, earning my Parent of the Year award in a Wendy’s parking lot on a summer morning.

MickeyMouse

If you need a babysitter or any parenting tips, y’all know where to find me.

(stop judging me, JT, I can hear you from here).

 

The End of Summer

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This summer has been amazing – hands down, one of the best we’ve had. We have traveled to new places, visited with family, caught sharks, hung out with friends, welcomed a new nephew / cousin into the crew and watched more than a few ball games.

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We’ve had quiet nights at home where we’ve all retreated to our own corners and nights we’ve danced in the streets. My house has been, more often than not these past few weeks, filled with at least 2 kids who aren’t mine- usually more. My backyard is littered with wiffleballs and makeshift bases and Gatorade bottles. We’ve heard coyotes chattering in the hills across the street and adopted a new kitten.

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We’ve celebrated birthdays – mine and the Bean’s – as well as our anniversary. We’ve floated in pools in the hot sun and had to bundle up to stay warm on boats. We’ve roasted marshmallows and ate more ice cream than I could measure.

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We’ve worked out 3x a week at 7 am and the Hub’s has rehabbed his knee from ACL surgery. I quit two jobs that I had and loved for over 5 years and started a new one, requiring a trip to CA to meet my new coworkers. We’ve dealt with some stress (ask me how our home addition is going- I dare you) that comes with adulting, but it hasn’t overshadowed the fun.

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All in all, we’ve simply enjoyed the hell out of each other. School starts in a week – the shoes have been purchased, the supplies sorted out and the schedules posted. We’re ready for routine again and all the fun that comes with fall- football, Halloween, the gorgeous leaves and the upcoming holidays. But I can’t lie, I’m going to be more than a little sad to say goodbye to this perfect season.

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18 Years After “I Do”

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18 years ago today, two kids got married.

We had been together three and a half years and had been living together for a year an a half. The Hubs had been in the Secret Service for almost two years and I had had two different jobs in the past 20 months that we were living in DC. We had already changed apartments, figured out what the hell 401Ks were and thought we were bonafide adults.

When we got married, we were the first in our crew to do so. We had a gorgeous Catholic mass complete with all the trappings: escorts down the aisle, a veil, and family and friends blowing bubbles as we left the church. I was completely calm and collected on my wedding day- there was no doubt in my mind I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing with my life.

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Our reception had over 200 people in attendance, great food and an open bar. The party was epic and included a school bus, grandfathers dressed up as the Village People and hours and hours of dancing. The party officially ended at 11, but the after party was still going on at 3 am when my father finally ordered Pete and I to go to bed because we had to be up for the post-wedding brunch the next day. 😉

We were two kids with the world at our fingers tips, promising each other forever in front of God, family and friends.

It’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

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Over the past 18 years, those kids grew up. We moved a handful of times, adding two kids, three cats and a dog to our crew. We battled infertility, dealt with job loss and said goodbye to friends and family that left us too soon.

There were a few times over these past 18 years that I wondered if marrying the Hubs was the biggest mistake of my life. Times where I looked at real estate listings, wondering what house I could afford on my own for the kids and myself. Times I laid in bed next to this man I promised my love to, wondering what in the world I was thinking when I said “I do” all those years ago.

It seems cliche to say that marriage is hard work…as well as slightly dishonest. I don’t consider my marriage hard work, but our marriage is something we have to work at. We need to remember to prioritize each other, to talk to each other about the things that matter, and to love each other through the rough spots. Sometimes my marriage is a feeling of completely contentment and sometimes it’s a decision I make daily to forge ahead with, and make things work.

Thankfully those hard times are completely overwhelmed by all the times I can’t stop grinning, so very glad this messy, loud, chaotic life is mine. Times when I am so very grateful at all the happiness around me and this life we built together.

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So, if I could tell those sweet kids getting ready to start the biggest chapter of their lives anything, here is what I would tell them:

  • Happily ever afters don’t just happen – they are attainable, but you better be ready to work for them!
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a date night.
  • Therapy is a God-send, don’t be afraid of it.
  • Change is good – just because it’s scary doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a leap.
  • Money comes and money goes – stay on budget, keep talking and have faith.
  • Friends – individual and couple friends- are essentials as is time to develop your own passions.
  • Find things that bring you together – a love of movies, history, travel, whatever- just make it yours.
  • It’s OK to go to bed angry, sometimes you need time to cool off. But don’t let things fester even if the conversation is hard and uncomfortable.
  • Figure out your damn love languages – it’ll help a lot!

Here’s to many more years of a happy, happy life!

 

The Bean Finds Her Voice

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The Bean has been playing lacrosse for over 3 years. The first few years, she loved it – the physicality of it, the speed, the great kids she played along side. Then last year, she started to make noises about not wanting to play anymore.

The thing about the Bean is she *never* wants to play anything. She is happiest in our house, Facetiming friends or playing on her phone – but, 9 times out 10, when she gets out of the house to do whatever activity she’s been dragged to, she’s happy to be there. So, when she started saying she didn’t want to play lacrosse, I pretty much ignored her and I signed her up for the season anyhow, figuring once she got in the swing of it, it wouldn’t be a big deal.

<Hi, my name is Heather. Evidently I’m new to this parenting thing.>

When lacrosse season started, Bean had to miss the first few weeks of practice due to conflicts. She kept telling us she didn’t want to play but we kept assuring her she’d love it and not to worry. I figured she’d fall into the same routine of complaining and then being fine once she was actually there.

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Hahahahahahaha….in theory, yes. In reality? Not so much.

 

Finally the first practice she could attend arrives and I knew I was in for a battle, but I figured within 5 minutes or so she’s be resigned and we’d be on our way.

Or…..not.

Me: Hey, you have practice tonight. Eat your dinner and we’ll head out in a bit.

Bean: I’m not going.

Me: Yes, you are – we’ve talked about this. You love lacrosse! Eat up and we’ll go!

Bean: I don’t like lacrosse and I’m not going- I told you I’m not playing this year.

Me: Yes, you are- you’ve made a commitment.

<This is normally where she cries. Once that doesn’t work,  she folds, grumpily gets ready and away we go to have a good night.>

Bean: (completely calm) No, I did not. YOU made the commitment. I told you I didn’t want to play, you signed me up anyhow. So the commitment is on you.

<Huh. Welllllll, this isn’t going to plan. She has a point, but I’ll be damned if I tell her that.>

Me: Either way, you’re on the team. They are expecting you – go get changed, we have to leave in a few.

Bean: No.

Me: (clearing losing here and more than a little flummoxed) Well, if you don’t get changed, I’ll take you in your school uniform. I don’t care.

Bean: Neither do I.  You can take me in my dress clothes – when I get there, I’m just going to tell the coach I don’t want to be there and sit on the bench. You can make me go, but you can’t make me play.

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I always knew the Bean had a bigger back bone than most people. She’s been stubborn from day one and I know this trait will help her move mountains when she’s older. But now? Now, when she’s 11, I really just want her to do what I tell her to do. It would make *my* life a thousand times easier.

But did I really want to teach her that she has no voice now? Did I want to stifle her autonomy and force her to do something she really didn’t want to do – something I knew she didn’t want to do, but I signed her up for anyhow, ignoring her wishes? Do I want her to be a person that gives into what other people tell her to do just to make the other person happy?

Hell no!

I grew up with the philosophy that once you committed to something, you saw it through and have tried to raise my kids with the same mindset. But, in this case, she didn’t commit to something- she was 100% correct that the Hubs and I made that decision for her.

Sometimes, as a parent, it’s easy to make a proclamation and decide that the most important thing is to force your kids to do what you say.  You dig in your heels and decide that that decision is a hill you’re willing to die on. And sometimes, as a parent, you’re 100% correct and your kids just have to deal.

And other times you wise up and realize that raising a kick-ass kid with a mind of her own and the strength of her convictions is a thousand times more important….no matter how much you miss watching her play.

 

 

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Dear Bean –

Happy birthday, kiddo – you’re 11! And, frankly, you weren’t happy about it. You told me, very seriously, that 10 was a great year and you’re a little worried that 11 won’t live up to your expectations.

Girl, I hear you.

Getting older is HARD and I know you’re starting to realize that things are changing. You only have one more year left in your beloved school and the kids you’ve known since you were 3 will scatter. We’re still in the process of figuring out this home addition. And this summer is an odd one with lots of trips – one without your dad and I. While you do many, many things well, you do NOT do change.

Bean_CloseUp_091709

But here is where I tell you, it’ll all be fine. I swear it.

~*~*~*~

You weren’t wrong though- 10 was a stellar year for you! You slayed 5th grade with great study habits, a wonderful teacher and solid friendships. You continued to ride horses, you gave up lacrosse (in a moment that oddly made me stupidly proud of you), you made more Tik Tok videos than should be legal and girl – you found basketball.

You’ve never been much for team sports, and that’s Ok. You don’t thrive off of the sense of community that comes from playing on a team, you don’t really care about meeting new people, nor were you particularly sold on sports, but something clicked this year. So, with the urging of some friends, you decided to try out for a travel basketball team.

You made that team and you FOUND YOUR TRIBE! A group of girls that you instantly bonded with- I have never seen anything like that with you before. Even your teacher commented that being part of this team gave you more confidence across the board. So, high-five to that!

Bean shooting baskets in an empty arena.

~*~*~*~

And now, you’re 11.

Here is what I hope for you this year:

  • I hope you realize that you can always, always keep talking to us. I don’t care if it’s about inane Tik Tok videos or your deepest fears – I will always listen.
  • I hope know that I trust you to make good decisions.
  • I hope you know that when you don’t make good decisions (because you’re human), we’ll talk them through. Yes, you may be punished. Yes, you may have to live with consequences you don’t like. Yes, you may disappoint me, your dad and yourself. But you’ll grow from what you learn and do better the next time.
  • I hope you know that your emotions are going to be BIG this year – and for roughly the next 7-8 years. And you’re not going to know what to do with them sometimes and that’s OK.  You can laugh, you can cry, you can yell and you can talk them all out. All are totally good by me, but…
  • I hope you know that big emotions aren’t an excuse to be mean. Don’t be a jerk for the sake of being a jerk. Mean girls and the drama surrounding them won’t ever be tolerated in this house.
  • I hope you you realize the very real difference between being a jerk and standing up for yourself. Because, my girl, standing up for yourself is something every.freaking.person needs to know how to do – and sometimes, when you stand up for yourself, you run the risk of not being liked.
  • I hope you know it’s OK not to be liked. I hope don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your self-worth is dependent on what people think of you – because it is 100% not. Say that with me one more time: What other people think of me doesn’t determine my self worth. And keep saying it to yourself every damn day until you feel it in your bones.
  • I hope you know that regardless of the changes your body starts to go through, you’re beautiful. I hope when you look into the mirror you see the strength and humor and brains that I see and know you’re gorgeous in the very best ways.
  • I hope you always respect your body. You won’t always like your body – it’ll be doing some weird things soon enough – but I hope you realize what a gift your body is. Strong legs that run you where you want to go, arms that lift you up, a spine to help you hold your head high. You’re a freaking miracle and I hope that even when you hate your body, you still respect the hell out of it and treat it properly.
  • I hope you know that you’re always, always loved fiercely.

So, here’s to 11 being even better than 10! I can’t wait to see where your adventures take you.

The Bean at the barn.

I love you,
Mom