Category Archives: parenting

My Semi-Isolated Life

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I started doing daily dispatches on Facebook when the Corona virus started to really impact our day to day life.  They are just my musing as we adjusted to distance learning, working remotely, the inability to go most places and everything around us shutting down.

Social distancing started in earnest for us on Saturday, 3/14.  The kids were sick with bad colds, schools shut down that following week but distance learning wasn’t up and running yet and we had no idea what was coming.

March 18th.

Alright, Day 5 of our extended stay-cation at home and I woke up without the huge ball of anxiety in my stomach. It was only medium sized (think basketball vs beachball) and the band around my lungs was a little looser.

Denial? Acceptance? A complete breakdown looming? Who knows – any of the above are possible.

The good news is my kids are being rock stars. I never thought I’d be so very thankful for technology- but there you have it. They are keeping in touch via PS4 games, facetime and messaging and I’m not complaining.

I wish I could tell you we have some die-hard color coded schedule, but we don’t. Scorch will have his school work tomorrow and Bean will on Monday. Once we evaluate how much work they have, we’ll set something up – most likely 1.5 hours of work / reading in the morning and 1.5 hours of work / reading in the afternoon once I’m done with work. I’ll be throwing their butts outside as often as possible. Their new basketball hoop gets installed tomorrow, so that will help A LOT.

PurpleFlowers

 

March 19th

Day 6 finds me counting my blessings, which includes the prompt delivery and assembly of a basketball hoop.

This sucker keeps the kids busy, gets them outside and gives us all something to do after dinner- which isn’t something we had time for before this slowdown.

Basketballhoop

 

March 20th

Day 7: Yesterday my teeth ached. I was a bit freaked out- was it a low key sinus infection? Are my teeth rotting out? Do I need to see the dentist? CAN I see the dentist?

Then I realized – nope, I must be grinding the shit out of my teeth at night due to this stress. So, that’s fun…or, you know, the opposite of fun.

Not going to lie- today we started home school with Scorch and I’m a little worried how I can be a full time employee and helpful mom (on top of being the cook, part of the cleaning crew, social coordinator, and sanity saver during the day because the Hubs is still having to report to work).

Bean starts school work on Monday. *sigh* I’m very thankful for having a community of teachers around me who can virtually help, but the stress of needing a schedule, being available and answering questions all day long is daunting af.

So tonight we’re disconnecting and watching Jumanji 2 (we love these movies).

I’m very glad tomorrow is the weekend so we can re-calibrate and figure out how to make this work.

March 21

Day 8: I can’t remember the last Saturday where we didn’t have to wake up 8 am at the latest. Practice, game, gym- whatever, we’re usually up and out. So it was super weird not to *have* to get up for anything. We had no place to go today – just a house to clean, a workout to do….and that was it. So today was the day that the weirdness really hit me.

It was also the day that my kids – who have been *wonderful* thus far- were DONE with each other. Squabbling, arguing, nitpicking – they made each other (and me and the Hubs) NUTS. I made Scorch run my errands with me (Redbox return, book drop off our Little Libraries) just to get her out of the house and get her away from her brother.

On the upside, the house is clean and we watched a super fun family move- Spies in Disguise. Yes, it’s about a spy who turns into a pigeon but it’s adorable and funny- I dare you not to love it!

Here’s hoping tomorrow brings renewed patience, Scorch’s cough to subside and more sunshine.

Emmie_2020

 

March 22

Day 9: Another odd day with *nothing* to rush off to do. Decided I could get behind this whole, do-nothing-on-the-weekends vibe as I was laying in bed at 9 am. Then by 11 the boredom hit and we cleaned the bathroom cabinets out and rearranged Bean’s room, doing some spring cleaning as we went along.

Today was the literal calm before the (snow) storm, so I took advantage of the sunshine to practice some socially responsible socializing with my BFF (a walk with 6 feet between us at all times) and some basketball with the kiddos (who wouldn’t know what social distancing from me meant if you offered them $1M).

After 20 years of living together, we also bought a second TV today to save *all* our sanity when the weather gets too crappy to go outside and the Hubs is eventually told to work from home. Am I ashamed of having an electronic babysitter for my kids? No, no I’m not. #survivalmode

 

March 23

Day 10. Alright folks, shit got real today as home schooling started at Heat Academy of (Maybe) Learning, the Hubs left the house at 4 am to go arrest bad guys and I had to work. Do you want to know how well things went? It was not pretty and I was texting my family group chat by 10 am in ALL CAPS. That’s never a good sign.

Things I learned today: my kids, bless them, are terrible at self-motivators when it comes to school work but not PS4 games, math is something I will never, ever be able to help them with, they could get their work done in half the time if they stopped complaining and their teachers are *amazing* with all the prep work they did to help ease us into this. #godblessteachers

By 11ish, I was feeling pretty good about things and then I heard that VA cancelled school for the rest of the year…so I had a small panic attack thinking that NY may do that. #deargodno

I realize how very, very lucky we are that both the Hubs and I are employed right now when so many are struggling and I know we’ll find our groove. But today the thought of working + ensuring my kids get their work done + helping them with new concepts seems daunting as hell. So, if you need me, Imma going to be hiding in the paper bag with Emmie. #tomorrowisanewday

Emmie_Bag

 

March 24

Day 11. I wallowed in my anxiety and fear yesterday, wrote it out and then got a good night’s sleep and woke up this morning knowing it was time to put my big girl pants on. So, that’s what I did.

Day 2 of home school at the Heat Academy of (Maybe) Learning went a lot smoother than yesterday. One of my kids was thrilled to Zoom with their class and do the online work….and one bitched and moaned the whole time, but got it done.

I started putting into practice the advice I’ve been giving others. I exercised, set up breaks during my day and then took a nice 30 minute solo drive with my audio book to get out of the house. I managed to find that balance between being an employee and a mom today with some success. Will tomorrow go just as well? Who the hell knows, but I’m taking my victories where I can find them.

March 25

Day 12. We all (except the Hubs, which is weird since he’s the only one leaving the house daily) have colds with coughs. The kids were tested for Corona last week – they came back negative on Sunday (thank GOD). But, my house sounds like a TB ward, so that’s a fun soundtrack to this new normal.

Day 3 of the Heat Academy of (Maybe) Learning went off really well! Scorch is fully my child – he sits down and immediately is distracted. “How can I hook up my airpods to the Mac?” “There are too many tabs open on this computer – what is on each of these?” and on and on. But he buckled down and got the work done between bouts of yelling at the computer, throwing his beanie and randomly breaking out in dance. #13yearoldboysareweird

Yesterday, Bean read my daily FB posts and was *shocked* that I wasn’t happy about being forced to stay home. “Mom, this is pretty much my dream come true” said my sweet little homebody who does her school work everyday with zero complaints. I had to reassure her that no, I was not depressed. Yes, I am worried. Yes, I do miss our old life. But no, I wouldn’t pick anyone else to be stuck at home with – even if she made her 5th batch of brownies in 12 days yesterday. #corona15

Temps above 40 with blue skies meant that PE was at the Nature Center with miles of walking. Does this mean the kids will be tired enough to go to bed without bitching? Most likely not, but a girl can dream. #momjokesfordays

March 26

Day 13.

Patience is the name of the game today as I (still) try to adjust to this new normal. I don’t do well with uncertainty – not just the horrible uncertainty of the spread of the illness and who will get sick (and how sick they’ll get) but when this will end. I realize that none of us are God and no one knows- but I’d be willing to throw good money at an accurate soothsayer right about now.

Day 4 of the Heat School of (Maybe) Learning had both kids on Zoom calls with various class. Emmie, our cat who can’t stand most people, cannot stop showing off and walking on our keyboards during said Zoom calls which leads to both kids hiss-yelling while trying not to move their mouths or show their panic for me to GET THE CAT while I’m in the middle of my own work day.

All in all, today was a good day despite the uncertainty and my cough that makes me worried that I’ll be beaten if I go out in public.

 

March 27

Day 14. We survived 5 days of the Heat Academy of (Maybe) Learning! A huge kudos to all the teachers who have worked so freaking hard to transition to 100% online learning. Nothing about this has been easy – but we lived through the first week and I’m calling that a huge win! I’m so proud of how adaptable the kids have been, they make this look easy.

And now we’re staring down another weekend. Weekends are the weirdest time for me- there is no schedule, there is nothing we have to do – it’s just 2 days of freedom. Not going to lie, it freaks me out. I love having places to go, I love seeing our sports family on Saturdays, I love being able to go out to dinner or to the movies and I take great comfort in the tradition of Mass on Sundays. And now, none of that is possible which is unsettling and odd.

Instead, we’ll be cleaning out bedrooms and researching local hiking trails if the weather is nice enough. If it’s not, I foresee lots of movies, PS4 gaming, reading and game playing. Maybe I’ll learn to like naps?

To ease the weirdness, we ordered a sundae making kit and ice cream from a local restaurant. Ice cream makes everything better.

IceCreamKit

 

March 28

Day 15. I saw someone on FB chastising someone else today for complaining about this self-isolation. You’re healthy, they said. You’re safe, you have a roof over your head, a family to love and savings in the banks. Stop complaining, they said – enjoy the family time, the time to reconnect and play and catch up on TV. This isn’t so bad, they said.

And they are right, this isn’t so bad. I *am* blessed beyond measure and complaining seems petty – it really does.

But I can acknowledge all that and also mourn my normal life. I can be sad and scared and worried while realizing that my worries are so first world, it’s not even funny. But it doesn’t make them invalid and it doesn’t make me not feel them.

I can enjoy the heck out of my family’s company….and still want them to go back to school / work. I can enjoy playing games at home…and still wish we could get out of the house. I can know my worries are insignificant in the grand scheme of things…but still fret nonetheless.

But I can also choose to count my blessing to keep me grounded in the here and now. So today, I’m thankful:

> That the Hubs came home safe and sound this morning after working all night after a local police officer was shot.

> That the officer will recover from him injuries.

> That an dear friend got married last week an ocean away and I was able to virtually share my joy over his news.

CaronoCation

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.

 

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.

 

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?!

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.

RegistrationFee

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.

~*~*~*~

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.

 

 

13.

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Dear Scorch-

You turned 13 this month.

You are now a teenager.

I don’t know how that happened either, but it did. I swear it was last Mother’s Day that you came roaring into our lives…but it wasn’t, was it?

Before I became a Mom, all I really knew were babies and toddlers. Those were the ages of the kids I babysat for, the ones I liked the most. When I envisioned being a mom, I pictured chubby cheeked infants (which you were), sturdy-legged toddlers (also you) and that was about it. I didn’t give much thought to parenting a child, let alone a teen. I realize it seems silly when I write it out, but that’s the God’s honest truth.

DannyBirth

~*~*~

This year, you started 7th grade. You moved out of your small, protected Catholic school with 14 kids in your entire grade to the public middle school with 200 kids in your grade. You know your father and I battled about this – he wanted to send you to a Catholic school 45 minutes away to keep you safe and swaddled. And I did too- but the logistics just didn’t work so instead, I became the cheerleader for our local public school hoping hoping hoping you would thrive there, all the while so freaking nervous about it, I couldn’t sleep some nights.

When I think back to my middle school years, I just remember how precarious things were. Friendships were constantly shifting, bodies were morphing, voices were changing – nothing was static and, for someone like me, who loves to know what’s going on all the time, it was scary as all get out. But middle school in 1991 is very different than middle school in 2019 so I held out hope that your experience would be better than mine.

I warned you that things would change this year. Friendships may not be the same, dating was going to become a thing and expectations were going to be a lot higher. We established some ground rules, let you (little, slight, small YOU) join the modified football team and prayed things were going to be OK.

Football

And you know what? They weren’t OK.

They were amazing.

You, my funny, goofy, amazing kid, thrived in 7th grade. Yup, friendships were challenged, dating was a thing (not for you though – sorry, your parents are mean) and expectations were a lot higher – but you met them all. Except for that 43 in Orchestra- but you fixed that fast enough and took allllllllll the teasing that went along with it (because, really, who gets a 43 in Orchestra?!) with good humor and determination to do better. You learned how to schedule your time, take responsibility and make things happen.

You made new friends, learned a whole hell of a lot of new words, saw a lot of fights, decided both your father and I were cringy at various times during the year, learned that just because your friends “shipped” you with a girl doesn’t mean you have to date them, saw that the world is made up of a lot of different colors and sexualities and took advantage of a lot of the opportunities offered to you.

You have always been one of my favorite kids in the world, but, to my absolutely delight, you’re growing into one of my favorite people in the world.

~*~*~*~

So now, 7th grade is almost done and you’re 13. We’re seeing glimpses of the part of teenagedom we were warned about- the hormones, the dramatics, allllll the feelings. I know it won’t always be sunshine and rainbows, but I’m hoping we’ll keep talking to each other, sharing our experiences and working forward.  I’ve promised you this a million times – your family will always be the first to support you when you try new things, the first to correct you when you’re being a jerk and your safe place to land no matter what.

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Here’s what I hope for you in your 13th year:

  • Keep being kind. You’ve seen the kids that don’t have kindness in their lives this year – how they act, what they do. Don’t be that kid. Be the kid that makes sure people are OK and lend a helping hand. It costs you nothing, but it could mean the world to someone else.
  • Use your position to lift others up. Don’t ever punch down to make yourself feel better, you’re better than that.
  • Keep making new friends. The friends you’ve had forever- keep them close and cherish them. But don’t be afraid to meet new people too. Befriend the band kid, the art kid, the computer kid – they all have amazing stories to tell.
  • Hold on tight to your self-confidence. Know that you are worthy of good things and make smart decisions even if they aren’t popular decisions. Being a leader is freaking hard work – do it anyhow.
  • Take advantage of the opportunities school provides you. You’re going to a big public school with sports, groups and organizations. Explore them all to find your passion.

~*~*~*~

While I couldn’t have imagined raising a teen 16 years ago when we we started trying to expand our family, now I can’t stop being amazed over how very lucky I am to be doing so. I’m so excited for you, Scorch. It’s a privilege to watch you grow, knowing how many fun things are coming for you – new friends, first loves, learning to drive, going to dances, heart breaks, discovering what makes you happy, finding your true tribe, going to college.

So, here’s to 13. May it be your best year yet, my boy – and if it’s not, know that we’ll love you no matter what.

All my love,

Mom

 

 

 

Nope, Not the Cool Mom

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Back in the fall, I took Scorch to one of the varsity football games. He was settling into middle school and feeling like the big man on campus wearing his modified football jersey to hang out with all his friends under the lights. Oh, he thought he was hot stuff and he was feeling it…

…until I made him leave before the game was over because he had a 3 hour long practice starting the next day at 7 am.

He wailed, he pleaded, he tried to bargain – he was pissed at me like never before because I was making him leave early.  He was in SEVENTH GRADE and he was NOT A BABY and why was I SO MEAN?!!?  He ended his fit asking me if I wanted to be a COOL MOM because this was, unequivocally, not cool.

I'm not like a regular mom, I'm a cool mom

NOOOOOPE

~*~*~*

Fast forward 3+ months and Scorch, the Bean and I have had lots of conversation about the fact that I am not the cool mom, the Hubs isn’t the cool dad and we’re all OK with that.  Because right now, to my kids, being the cool mom means letting them do whatever they wants….and nope, not going to happen.

Here’s what kind of mom I am though:

  • I’ll be the mom that shows up. Games, recitals, plays, concerts – if my kids are in it, I’ll do my damnedest to be there. I might complain because it’s freaking freezing, unbearably hot, or boring as hell, but you’ll still see my ass parked in the stands without fail.
  • I’ll be the consistent mom. The kids might not like my rules, but they’ll know them. Their friends will know them. Heck, our neighbors will most likely know then when I yell them at the kids loudly (hint: I’ll never be the quiet mom). The rules won’t change, ensuring the kids will know what’s expected of them, and they’ll be expected to follow them.
  • That said, I won’t be the dictator mom. Rules will flex as the kids age – we’re all going to have to adjust. I’ll always be willing to hear the kids out in a respectful way – it may not change my mind, but they’ll never be discounted or ignored.
  • I’ll be the mom you can blame. Both kids know that I’m always happy to be thrown under the bus. If there is anything they don’t want to do, or feel uncomfortable with, they’ve been told that saying that their mom / dad will kill them is a very welcome excuse to give. I don’t care if my kid’s friends think we’re nuts, as long as my kids are safe and happy, make me out to be the bad guy as much as needed.
  • I’ll be the mom with the open door. I admit, the Hubs and I like a peaceful home and having a ton of tweens over is the exact opposite. It’s loud, chaotic and expensive as those kids can eat. And that’s 100% fine with me. My door will be open anytime the kids wants to have friends over. I want to be the house that my kid’s friends feel comfortable in because I know as they get older, my kids and their friends will need safe spaces. We’re it. Nope, we will never condone drinking or drugs ever, but need a break from your parents? Had a bad break up? Need a warm meal? My door is open.
  • I’ll be the mom you can talk to. My kids know that they can talk to be about anything and I’m there for it. Question about your body? Hit me with it. Friendship quandary? Let’s talk it through. Mad at a teacher/coach/friend? Unpack that drama. Sex, alcohol, drugs? Get it alllllll on the table. There is literally nothing that they can bring up that will embarrass me or shut us down. If they are willing to talk, I’m willing to listen. I may laugh like a loon with them, I may have to work really hard not to throw out advice – but I’m always here.
  • I’ll be the mom who is a vault. Admittedly, this is a new one for me. Before if my kids shared stuff with me and I repeated it, it wasn’t a big deal but now it is. So the kids and I have agreed that if we pinky swear on it, nothing will go past me unless the information involves someone getting hurt/hurting something else/self harming/doing illegal things. Those things are going to be shared with the appropriate adults, but the other stuff lives and dies with me.
  • I’ll be the mom who laughs – a lot. This age is hysterical, the kids are AMAZING and there is nothing wrong with having fun. I’m going to poke fun at kids, allow them to tease me and call out their friends as needed. It’s way too easy to take life too seriously especially as a teen. I’m here to point out the crazy and to laugh at it all with my kids – otherwise, what’s the point?!

 

Maybe one day I’ll earn some cool points, but I’m not losing any sleep over it if I don’t.

Middle School Joy

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School has been back in session for a few weeks now and, so far, the transition has been a smooth one. Bean is still in her beloved school – only this time – for the first time ever –  without her brother there with her. In her words, it’s amazing. And Scorch transitioned seamlessly from his tiny Catholic school to the much larger public school.

I think it helped that for the first year ever, we’re letting Scorch play tackle football. Trust me, we debated this decision over and over and over – but what finally got me to say yes is the fact that my kid thrives on a team. He soaks up everything about being a teammate-  having kids to hang out with, having a set schedule, being forced to manage his time. Football here meant summer conditioning sessions and practices that started the week before school started so he went into the new school already feeling like he belonged, which is a really good thing.

Last week, Scorch was supposed to have his first game so the Bean, Hubs and I went to the field. There was a tennis match going on below the football field and a cross country meet happening on the far side of the field. The Powder Puff game was going on after Scorch’s game, so the entire athletic area was packed. Warm up music was blaring and kids were hanging out in groups – teasing, laughing and carrying on. It was a loud, chaotic, fun community atmosphere.

It may be 22 year later, but damned if the sounds, sights and smells weren’t exactly the same as when I was in school.

I freaking loved my teen years. Not in a Glory Days way where I want to go back and relive those times again – but those years were a lot of fun. Sure, there was the typical drama that all teens go through – first loves, fights among friends, pushing boundaries and figuring things out – but overall, those years rocked.  And as I looked around at where my kids were going to be living out their teenage years, I became excited for them.

I know that being a teen today is a hell of a lot different than being a teen 20+ year ago, but I’d like to think that the foundational things aren’t that different. Social media adds a whole new levels to things, but at the core, middle school and high school years are about starting to figure out who you are and who your tribe is. It’s about exploring your interests, stretching your wings and taking those first steps to adulthood.

Sure, it can also be about drama and angst – but, thanks to social media and the news, it’s easy to think that’s all it’s about. But it’s not. It’s also about joy, friendship and crazy love. Come on???  Don’t you remember that first exhilarating car ride you took with your friends with no adults in the car? Finding new friends that you clicked with? Discovering a new activity that you loved? Riding the bus home from games, celebrating the big win? Taking class trips? Sneaking out of your house to meet your friends and getting away with it (or not- thanks, Mrs. Wilson!)? Picking out your outfit to your first formal dance?  The thrill of your first kiss?

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We called this our 90210 pose. Awkward as hell middle school years? You betcha. But I’m going to on vacation with these ladies next month to celebrate our 4oth birthdays!

*sigh* I want my kids to have all that and more. I want them to be 40 years old and look back on that crazy time with a smile on their face remembering amazing friends lost and the amazing friends still in their lives. I want them to laugh over the stupid things they did and realize how those years helped to make them into the amazing adults they will become.

So, instead of freaking out about all the horrible things that the media tells me lurks for my kids as they get older, I’m going to concentrate on all the awesome things that will also happen. My eyes will be open to the bad – I can’t pretend it’s not out there – but that fear won’t take away the joy that I know will be there too.

 

10.

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Dear Bean-

You have been blessing this earth with your sassy attitude, funny personality and charm for a decade now.

Girl, you’re old.

How in the world did that happen? Aren’t babies supposed to stay babies? I think there is a law about that somewhere that you broke with all this growing up you’re doing.

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We were in FL back in March, on the beach in St. Augustine – you were all long, skinny, tanned limbs and my heart stopped just looking at the gorgeousness that is you.  Not just your physical features, but your sparkling eyes and loud laugh  – that was the moment I got a glimpse into you who you’d grow up to be and it was astounding.

~*~*~

You are still my mystery girl. Your brother and I are very similar- what you see is pretty much what you get. We like people, we like crowds and there are no such things as strangers- just friends we haven’t met.

You, on the other hand, are much more guarded. You keep your circle small, your friends close and list of things you love to do pretty damn small. Getting you to try new things is like pulling teeth and if you’re not sure you’ll be 100% successful or comfortable doing something- you’d really rather not.

Parenting you is sometimes one of the most challenging things I do  – and I’m so thankful for it.  You, my Bean, make my life a 1000x more interesting. You keep me on my toes, you show me a new way to look at things and you’re constantly wowing me with your intelligence and humor.  In short, I adore you.

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~*~*~*~

This past year was a great one for you. You rocked 4th grade- adoring your teacher, getting good grades and working hard. This year was the start of some serious girl drama as you discovered that have 2 BFFs is hard. But you ladies figured things out and learned a bit more about kindness, compromise and what being a friend is about.

You kept playing an instrument, even though you complained once a week about that. You played lacrosse again and killed it – even though you complained about that too. Your father and I have figured out that you’re going to complain about most things that take you out of the house- but once you’re there, you shine. You’re dedicated and work hard and more or less remember your manners.

The only things you never, ever complained about? Playing flag football and horseback riding. You’ve already stated that in 7th grade you’re playing real football because when you grow up you want to play in the NFL. Then become a marine biologist. You don’t care which you do first- you’re just going to do both of them. And I really don’t doubt you will if that is what you really want.

As for horseback riding- you started taking lessons about a year ago and fell in love. I don’t know if it’ll be a long time love affair- but you have never once tried to get out of riding and you’d pretty much rather be at the barn than anywhere else (except home- you always want to be at home). It’s a joy watching you find what makes you happy – and right now, being on a horse is one of your most happy places.

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~*~*~

You start 5th grade in a month – and it’s the first time in your life you’ll go to a different school then your brother. You two make each other crazy, but you’re also each other’s BFFs and I wonder how this will go for you. I have a feeling you’ll find a sense of independence you’ve never had before and I can’t wait to see how you stretch your wings.

As you start the first year of your second decade, I wish so very much. I wish you:

  • Friendship: keep your BFFs close, but don’t be afraid to make new friends too. Let people surprise you in the best way possible- because people are amazing.
  • Kindness: I hope the girl drama stays to a minimum and you all remember the importance of being kind to others- but to yourself as well.
  • Courage: try something new. Venture out and do something that scares you just a little. You are smart, funny and amazing- hold on to that knowledge and step off that ledge.
  • Determination: some things are going to be hard. You’re going to have to work really hard at some thing, or you’re going to be faced with a situation that will need strength. Stick to your guns, see it through and know that what ever it is, you’ll succeed.
  • Confidence: Know all the way down into your bones that you are worthy of love, kindness, friendship and compassion and settle for nothing less. Be true to who you are. That may mean that you won’t be loved by everyone- and that’s OK. Be confident in yourself enough to know that it’s about the quality of those around you and demand what’s due.
  • Curiosity: don’t be afraid to meander down different (physical and metaphorical) paths if something interests you. Sometimes you’ll find the most delightful surprises at the end.
  • Conviction: as you get older, knowing your own mind and sticking up for what’s right becomes more and more important. Ask question, figure out how you feel about things and stick up for yourself and others when you feel you’re not being respected.  I have all the faith in the world in  your ability to move mountains.

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You, my darling Bean, are one of the best gifts I have ever received. You are my heart – my wild child, my rule breaker and my stubborn mule. Watching you grow is my greatest privilege and I cannot wait to see what the next 10 years bring.

Love,

Mom

Broken- and Why I’m the World’s Worst Mom

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When Scorch was in 3rd grade, he started snowboarding. He worked so freaking hard to learn- it took him all 6 weeks in row of weekly 2.5 hour lessons to finally- FINALLY- get his green pass. He hasn’t looked back since. Last year, the Bean and I started skiing. She’s fantastic, I stink- but we are, officially, a family that skis. (Except the Hubs- he wants nothing to do with it thanks to his previous 5 knee surgeries.). We love our Thursday nights on the slopes- Scorch heads off with his friends while the Bean and I stick together and she makes fun of how slow I go. We meet up randomly and then have a fun dinner out. #bonding

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Last week, just as the Bean and I got off the ski lift at the very top of the mountain, I heard my cell phone ring. I ignored it and we continued on with our group lesson, slowing inching our way down the hill with our instructor and 8 other kids. All was going well enough until I got a tap on my shoulder from another chaperone who some how tracked me down to tell me Scorch was hurt and that I needed to go check on him ASAP.

Which was doable – in theory. Except that I was stuck at the top of a trail I didn’t know with my 9 year old who promptly fell over, lost a ski and started to sob that she was never going to get up again. So I called the head chaperone who was with Scorch, determined that no bones were jutting out, EMTs were not called and he was calm – then I more more less told the Bean to calm down, pull herself together and get moving.

15 agonizing minutes later I rushed into the room where Scorch was to find him acting completely fine. Sure, he had ice on his wrist, but there were no tears, swelling or bruising. It was rather anti-climatic after our rush down the hill.

We headed home and had the Hubs (a former EMT) look at Scorch’s wrist where he deemed it fine. We asked Scorch to perform a bunch of mobility exercises, that he did successfully and then basically shrugged our shoulders and figured he was fine.

The next day, the wrist was still sore, and, given that Scorch had a basketball game and two football games the next day, we decided to get him x-rayed just in case. The doctor we saw agreed that it was probably nothing but ordered the x-ray just in case.

You know, just in case his wrist was broken in two places. Which it was.

Scorch handled this rather well all weekend long – until Monday when the cast was put on and reality set in. That night, my sweet, patient, loving child lost his ever loving mind as we drove to the gym (something we so every Monday, Wednesday and Friday so the Hubs and I can work out). There were tears, yelling, stomping of feet- and then finally, after getting the Bean all riled up – The List.

My kiddos spent the last 15 minutes of our drive to the gym outlining all the things that I don’t let them do that I should:

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For the record, I defending myself against the “lying” accusation by noting that telling my kids that they can do something, only to find out what they wanted to do wasn’t offered at the time they wanted to do it (something out of my control) was not lying (that happened the week before). I also told them I’d stopped yelling in the morning (why do I yell? So we get to school on time. I didn’t yell yesterday once, we were 20 minutes late). The rest? Well, they’d just have to suck that up- that’s called parenting.

Bottom line: Scorch is in a cast for the next 3 weeks, he’s a resentful mess over it and I’m wondering how much a kid with a broken wrist would get me if I sold him to the circus.