Crying “Uncle!”

According to Wikipedia: The Roman Empire theory says, Roman children, when beset by a bully, would be forced to say the Latin phrase, “Patrue, mi Patruissimo,” or, “Uncle, my best Uncle,” in order to surrender and be freed.

Common, Kid, just do what I do, and you’ll be fine.

I’ve learned over these single parenting years, especially, not to be ashamed when I hit a brick wall.  I mean, everyone hits them…that place where, left to our own devices, no clear path presents itself.  I usually have to hit the same wall a few times, no, maybe several times, befor I cry “Uncle!”

“Patrue, mi Patruissimo!”

As my daughter approaches her teen years, I find myself continually perplexed by my parenting inconsistencies.  One minute things are fabulous, and I’m sledding smoothly down the hills of Mt. Pinos, the next minute Mt. Everest shows up, and I lack any sort of mountain climbing skills.  Yesterday I was singing “Riser” by Derks Bentley, and today I’m a Yahoo News headline: Single mom drowns in a sea of tween drama.

I can be calm, cool, and collected, and in ten seconds switch to screaming, ranting Mommy Dearest.

All it takes is one trigger, one button push, one hot spot (and I don’t mean AT & T).

Whoa, Nelly, I didn’t ask for this!

I’ve also learned through various trials that, typically, it’s what I’m doing that is the biggest part of the problem. I whole-heartedly believe in looking in the mirror. No, I’m not taking full blame for every attitudinal tantrum or smart remark made by my pre-teen, but I am willingly admitting that when I step outside myself and take a deep breath, I usually mitigate the situation.

I’m the adult. I’m the one who’s lived the life, been a kid, been an adolescent, teenager, 20-something, etc, etc, etc.  I have the experiences of decades to remind me of the turmoil and trials that pervade these developing years.  Sure, I can tout, “Well, that’s just the way it is.  We’ll get through it.   We all survive and turn out okay.”  Fairly true, but as y’all probably know by now, that’s not my style.

Case in point…with horses in training, the more you force them to do something they don’t want to do, the more they plain and simple will not do it.  Sound familiar?  See any correlation?  On the contrary…as soon as a horse believes that what you’d like him to do is actually his idea in the first place, it happens.  Sure, it might take more than one try, one baby step at a time (usually it does), but it does indeed happen and in a much nicer fashion than, “I said do this!  Do it now, dag-gummit!”

Now you’re gettin’ it.  Good job!

Not that my daughter should be compared to a horse (although, I don’t think she’d mind, knowing how much she loves them), but I am at a place where I’m asking myself, “What on earth am I thinking?  Why am I acting like this?  What can I do to change myself and to help us both along?”

I’ve been so frustrated trying to make my kid do what I want her to do (basically, I want her to do things just like me, duh), with ZERO REWARD, instead of looking for a different path.  Brick walls abound, and I am humbled by the ever-present realization that my way is not the only way or the necessary way, and her way may be different but equally worthy and sufficient for success.

So, I am embarking on some parenting research to help me cope with my own insecurities and fear and to help guide me through these unchartered waters.

A friend of mine posted a quote on Facebook today by Ian Leighton, a renowned horse trainer, which says this:

I wonder what it is about some people that find unpleasantness rewarding.
I can’t think of an animal that thinks that way.

I do not find unpleasantness rewarding, and I know that my kiddo doesn’t either.  I will not settle for things “just being” because of her age and my inexperience as a pre-teen parent.

I ordered book on Amazon called Wise Minded Parenting: 7 Essentials for Raising Successful Tweens + Teens by Laura S. Kastner.  Her parenting techniques go along with the “Mindfulness” movement.  I reviewed the book and scanned the intro, and it completely hit home.  When I read the following statistic, As of 2010 more than nine million families with children under the age of eighteen were being maintained by single mothers, I knew this person had done her research and was going to address things from a real world perspective-not a glorified, shiny, “quick fix” perspective.  Not only will I have the book for reference, but there is an online community to reach out to for support through the author’s website, entitled the same.

We will see how it goes, but one thing is for sure, I already feel hopeful by taking this step.  And, I have faith that while there will be ups and downs, they will certainly be better than hitting brick walls.

Mom may not always get it right, but she’ll always love you.

Have any of you had to cry “Uncle!” with your kids?  If so, what measures did you take at that point to encourage positive change?  Please share!

Life is short…too short not to chuckle about the journey, so c’mon, give it a try. Oh, and thanks, Google, for the awesome photos!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

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9 Days

“What!?! I’m going to Dad’s for 9 days?!  9 WHOLE DAYS?!”

As winter break ensued two weeks ago for the school district, as always, I had to make plans for my daughter’s long three week vacation.  And, as always, I secured one week off for the holidays to spend with her, but the other two remained up for grabs.  Unlike always, this year her dad received a full two weeks off from work.  With visits few and far between for Maycee and him, we agreed that since he had her for Christmas this year, he would keep her through New Year’s Eve, and I would pick her up on New Year’s Day.

Maycee considered this carefully. “Mom, how many days is that?”

“I think it’s about 9 days.” (I knew it was exactly 9 days.)

“MOM, THAT’S NINE DAYS…NINE DAYS!!!!”  The caps do not emphasize excitement and jubilation, just sayin’.

That said, it was not intended as Christmas coal….it was intended to be a time for both Maycee and her dad to be together.  Never during the course of the past 8 years of separation and divorce has her dad spent more than 3 days with her.  In fact, a typical visit every 6 to 8 weeks consists of about 32 hours.  It was time….time for Maycee to grin and bear it, time for her dad to step up, and time for me to get a break.

Even in winter rain and cold, no rest for the weary!

For 9 days.

We celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas two days early.  It was a wonderful time spent with makeshift family (friends), and besides the dates being slightly off, one would never had known it wasn’t actually Christmas.  Santa came and everything (Yes, I still believe.)

Welcome, Finn, our newest furry family member.

On the “real” Christmas Eve I traveled to Southern Cali to drop off my bewildered child at her dad’s house….new bunny in tow, at least.  I kissed and hugged her good-bye, telling her to make the most of it all and to have fun and enjoy some much-needed down time. I ventured to my mom’s for the evening, Day 1, then home on Christmas Day-Day 2.

Over the years being without my daughter on Christmas has not gotten easier.  There is something melancholy that sinks down deep.  It was quiet.  The drive was quiet. My home was quiet.  I decided to keep my shift at the barn and work, which at least took up some of the afternoon and evening.  Settling in later under a warm blanket I felt really alone, although I knew that wasn’t the case.

One quick message from Maycee before bed…Christmas was fine, but long day and boring.  Love you, Mom.

Day 3

Text messages flooded the cell phone waves.

Mom, I am SO BORED.  I’m watching TV in my room and playing on my phone.  I already played with the bunny.  Dad isn’t feeling well.  This is terrible.

I felt a little bit of terrible, too, only because the loneliness was still heavy in my heart.  I reponded with a positive

Well, it’s good to do nothing sometimes.  It’s only been a couple of days, so cheer up.

I proceeded to take my own advice and stay in my jammies for half the day before working at the barn again.  I cannot remember the last time I stayed in bed watching movies until noon.  Many, many, MANY years ago-if EVER.  Then I got to ride a new horse at our barn, Traveler.  He was such a good boy!

What a cutie…Don’t worry, Chief, it’s only temporary.

After work I went on a dinner date with my neighbor, who’s been trying to kindle a relationship with me the past few months.  It was nice.  I began to feel my loneliness subsiding and my freedom reaching the surface.

Day 4

Mom, I wanna come home.  I am so bored. I miss my horse.  I’m WASTING MY VACATION here!

Maycee, you will have to deal with this. I’m sorry.  It’s either stay there or go to winter camp, which I know you don’t want to do.

Fine. It’s okay. I’m just mad.

REALLY? 

I cleaned up Christmas stuff, did laundry, took the dog for a much-deserved long walk, worked at the barn again, and went to dinner with my bff-another “me” thing I wanted to do.  Grown-up girl time.

As a single mom living away from family, it is rare that I am not with my kid.  Now that she is getting older she spends more time with friends, has sleepovers once in awhile, but typically those sleepovers are at our house. She rides her horse on her own when we are at the barn and likes to do her own thing there without my hovering.  In general, with child, I have more freedom now, certainly, than I did when she was younger.

But, true freedom to just be me, seperate from the mom-me, to do a few things I enjoy on my own, to be meditative, watch tv shows I enjoy, splurge on dinners out, or go to grown-up movies is a small gift.  A necessary one, in my opinion, for I believe we are better mothers the more we harness who we are individually.

2015-a wonderfully busy year!

Day 5

Back to work I went, and I was glad.  I love my work, love the people there, love my job, love my routine.  That evening I simply stayed home, bundled up, and watched my newly installed Netflix after chatting for a couple of hours with my roommate who returned after the holidays.

“I wondered how you were handling Maycee being gone, ” she said.  “It’s such a long time.”

“Yeah, takes me a couple of days to get used to it…and, this IS the longest she has ever gone for a visit.  I think it’s good, though….good for both of us.”

Maycee and I also talked on the phone,

“I am so tired of screens, Mom!  I am tired of looking at my phone and watching tv A LOT, so I  decided to get busy while dad slept this morning.  I washed and put away the dishes and cleaned the house, and then we went out to return some stuff.”

“Wow, way to go, kiddo!  How nice of you to do that and a great idea to occupy your time being helpful!”

I was beaming inside, proud of my girl for taking the reigns, so-to-speak.

Day 6

Movie night!  Freedom mode was in full swing. I invited my neighbor to join me for a movie after work, which just happened to be playing at the old theater in town, my favorite.

JOY

I related to Joy so much…minus becoming a superstar and financially wealthy.

Day 7

Tonight after work and the barn I will go shopping for a belated Christmas gift for my neighbor.  I asked him during our dinner on Day 3 what he got for Christmas, and he said, “Nothing.”  Oh, this made me so sad.  I decided right then I was getting him something.  Everyone deserves a gift at Christmastime!

Maycee is spending the day with my mom and step-dad, and taking a riding lesson with an instructor I know down south.  I am sure she is having a wonderful day, hallelujah.

Maycee gets to ride Tango for her first jumping lesson!  Woohoo!

Day 8

New Year’s Eve.

I have a date.  With my neighbor….again.  But, I HAVE A DATE.

Let Freedom ring!!!!!!!!

I haven’t gone out or done anything besides watch Time Square on tv for several years, celebrating with Martinelli’s and seeing if Maycee makes it to midnight (longest she has made it is 11:15).

This will be interesting and fun–dinner out and live music in a little seaside town.  Holy cow, I have no idea what to think, except, what should I wear?  Oh, ya, jeans and boots…that’s all I own! E.A.S.Y.

Day 9

New Year’s Day.

I will pick Maycee up, and while I’m already grateful for the time I’ve had alone, I am also grateful to be the mom of one special young lady who I miss tremendously.  Who year after year, traded holidays or not, makes every struggle or stumble worth it.

Once home the world will be right again.  Maycee will forget she had rough patches, I will forget I needed a break.  Life will return to normal as we embark on 2016.

Nine days have certainly been good reminders about the role I love and hold dearly: Single Working Mom.  Nine days have reminded me I wouldn’t trade places with anyone for anything.

Nine days have reminded me of the myriad of blessings I experience ad infinitum.

Maycee has stopped the mad texting about 9 days.  It has been hard to stay steadfast in the plan, hard not to rescue her from being unhappy in the moment, knowing that while she may be unhappy, she is not unsafe or uncared for-she is loved.

As much as I like to believe this break was a good lesson for my kid, it was most definitely a good lesson for me, and that, Readers, is a win-win!

So, plan for breaks, take some needed time for yourselves, and welcome in the New Year with NEW HOPES AND DREAMS.  And, don’t forget to give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

 

For me and for her

It is a fact that hurtful words and actions can have a lasting impact on a person just as much, if not more so, than empowering words and behavior.  If this weren’t the case, I don’t think the campaign against bullying would be at the forefront of media attention and such a focus across school campuses today.

Honestly, my gut (and not a 10-year study) tells me that very few of us grew up evading even small amounts of persecution in some form or another, sneaking through high school hallways without mean looks or derogatory comments.  A greater majority of us dealt with a lot of negativity, even abuse, when truths be told.

And, as women, we grew up under additional pressures, if I may be so bold as to say, that included fitting within certain molds for body, hair, and face type, style, behavior, career paths, and more.  We learned to scrutinize over fitting in and becoming what was expected from our families, our friends, society, and certainly, the opposite sex.

When I decided to divorce, I explained to my ex how un-attractive I felt, and I questioned him as to why he never seemed to want to be with me any more (physically).  His response I have never forgotten, and I think, moreover, I have never quite gotten past to a degree: “Maybe if you hadn’t cut your hair.”

Yep.  That simple (not).  Cutting my hair made me unattractive to my spouse. Cutting my hair because I had a baby in tow that awakened numerous times in the night day after day, and I was too tired to deal with fashion faux-paux’s, lessened his libido. His baby, too, mind you! Ya, well, I know that it wasn’t my hair that was the problem.  But, nonetheless, the comment has stuck with me for over seven years.

Until now.  No more sticking.  Little by little these negative pieces are being tossed and replaced by new positive pieces. With my daughter’s telescope in full view of my choices, I’ve made many changes in how I do things since that conversation.  And a couple of days ago, I added one more change…

I’m here to tell you today, that I WANT MY HAIR CUT OFF!

Hello, Happy Me!

With every step I take, or every haircut I get, I do so knowing that my own empowerment gives power to my daughter.

There are NO MOLDS to fill that aren’t meant to be broken.  Make the positive overshadow the negative, and a whole world of possibility stands ready.

Life is short, so lop of any unwanted locks, break the mold, and while you’re sweeping away the pieces, give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

“Don’t tell on her, Mom!”

This past Monday my kiddo turned eleven. ELEVEN.  We had one of the biggest turnouts for Maycee’s typical “at home” party (held on Sunday) we’ve ever had, including all five of her besties, Grandma and Grandpa, her dad, and a few of our closest barn friends.

The entire time I felt as if I was having an out-of-body experience.  The laughter was different, the girls were quiet and reserved (much more than we grown-ups!), the excitement of balloons and games and eating cake lower key.  In fact, this year Maycee wanted ICE CREAM CAKE-a totally new experience for both of us!  There were no big messes to clean up-each person being old enough now to throw away their trash and help out. I guess you could say it was “easy”.

I quietly observed my daughter during the hours we celebrated.  I saw my little girl, my baby, enjoying herself-being a pre-teen with her besties.  After the cake eating was done, wanting to take her posse to the park and have free time, I had to let her go.  This is what healthy kids do-they leave the nest, explore, figure things out; I know this even though in the moment I want to have my toddler back with her messy fingers and littler friends who only eat frosting and throw napkins on the floor.

She’s eleven.

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Last night after I picked Maycee up from The Club (where she goes during winter break while I’m at Job #1) we went out to the barn to do Job #2. I finished all the stall mucking and dumping and loaded the hay trailer for the morning when she told me that one of the staff members there was sharing about her experiences as a teen mom in an abusive relationship.  She apparently gave Maycee and a couple of other girls some pretty graphic details of what she endured, and Maycee was relaying this conversation now to me.

I felt the hairs rise on my back. I felt a lump form in my throat.  I felt anger well up within me as the protective Mother Bear came out of its cave. Why would this lady tell my kid these things?!  What on earth kind of discussion had been forming to lead to this?!  Who thinks it’s appropriate to talk to 5th graders about their own personal issues to this degree?!

I asked Maycee.  She said, “I don’t know.  I think we were talking about bullying.”  She could sense the irritation not-so-well hidden in my inquiry.  “She always talks to us about stuff, Mom.  She says things like, ‘See….this is why you do well in school and stick with the kids who are good.’  Don’t tell on her, Mom, please!”

She’s eleven.

I wanted to be mad.  I wanted to call up the Boys and Girls Club of America and yell at the director and tell her this is not okay with me.  Her staff needs to keep their tales of woe to themselves.  These are kids for goodness’ sake! They are supposed to be playing and having fun, not listening to tragedy.

But, I had to make Mama Bear go back in her cave.  It wasn’t the woman’s story that bothered me at all.  I have my own history I’ve had to share with Maycee along similar lines, so there is no judgement.  It was knowing that the older my daughter gets, the more she is going to be exposed without my claws there to protect her.

Kids, eleven or twelve…may not get lessons such as these from their own family.  Some moms and dads don’t sit down and talk with their children as frankly as I do with Maycee.  Perhaps a young adolescent girl might hear this woman’s story, and it will be the catalyst that sticks in her mind when faced with a similar situation.  She will decide against settling for worse and go for better.

As much as it bothered me that Maycee was hearing unpleasant details about a staff member’s journey, I had to respect her plea.  “Don’t tell on her, Mom, please!”  Because she wants to know. She wants to hear.  She wants to experience and feel beyond what I tell her, beyond what she learns in school, beyond what is nice, beyond what I allow her to view on the TV in our home.

I need to keep reminding myself and pay attention to my own fleeting sense of control. I didn’t tell on the woman; instead, in my heart, I thanked her for caring.

******************************************************************************************************

Maycee is eleven.

After the party ended and her friends went home, Maycee said she had “the best birthday”.  My heart warmed, but a part of me still was feeling contemplative.

I know we are in movement, a time of wide transition, and I guess this mom is starting to dig her nails in, trying to hold back the hands of time.  Partly because I miss the Elmo birthday decorations and partly because I know of the potential abuse within the big, big world.

Neither cause should stifle Maycee’s ability to blossom, and I will always be there to celebrate with pizza and [ice cream] cake.  Always.

Readers, if you have children, have you had trouble with letting go?

Remember, life is short, so eat ice cream cake, and give a chuckle.

XOXO,

SWM

Inspired by…

Inspire: to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

I recently read a post from a blogging friend of mine about what she finds inspirational.  Of course, this got me thinking about my own life and what inspires me….to put one foot in front of the other, to keep on keepin’ on, to try new things, to do whatever it takes for my daughter to be happy, to believe in dreams.

Central Coast Sunshine

I had to think, “Am I inspired by ideas such as hope, faith, peace, or love?”  “Am I inspired by the ability to accumulate things, aka, money and tangibles?”  “Am I inspired by beauty as in a gorgeous sky, the flowing manes of horses, ocean landscapes, or the changing colors of the leaves?”

DSC01951

As I pondered this question of inspiration over the last few weeks I realized that while all of these make me smile (yes, even a little cha-ching in my pocket), none of them INSPIRE me.  Nope, I came to the conclusion that I am inspired by…

Joy.

My daily inspiration. XOXO

My daughter fighting through anxiety disorder at age 10 and making honor roll, my friends who selflessly help me muck 14 stalls in the dark so I can finish early and go home, my pastor who has endured illness and strife in her life yet persevered to help others, my mom who took care of my grandma for over 20 years with little appreciation shown, my sister who was determined to get a master’s degree despite potential obstacles, bloggers who expose their triumphs so I may empathize and learn, my boss who does what it takes to keep her employees satisfied and fulfilled,  fathers posting pics of their family vacations on Facebook with joy in their eyes, my dad saying, “You are a wonderful mother.”

PEOPLE.

Kasey on Hi C

 

 

 

 

 

When I think of all the people who have come into my life over the years as well as the ones who’ve always been there, I find it’s them, it’s their stories, it’s their support, their ideas, their shared experiences, their encouragement, and their love that inspires me.

Pretty darn well! (And, she knows how  much I love her, especially!)

Above all else.

People have inspired me to…

Learn piano, make the drum line, return to school after a teenage pregnancy, graduate with honors,  get a degree, believe in marriage, become a mom, survive divorce, buy a house, learn to ride horses, forgive, move forward, be an example to my daughter, seek God, accept change, pursue new goals, love with all of my heart and soul, not be afraid.

To name a few.

me n Jess

Friends inspire me by saying, “You’re such a cowgirl!”

 

I’m grateful for these inspirations, as without them, without all of these people, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

 

 

 

Now it’s your turn to share.  After all, life is short, Readers.   Seek inspiration, watch the evolution within yourself, oh, and give a chuckle along the way.

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XOXO,

SWM

So Much, So Fast

Hmmmmmmm, how interesting! I clicked on the suspicious pencil-looking icon at the top of my WordPress Reader site and vwala!  There appeared the “new editor” allowing me to type a post that I had no idea I was going to write….until this very moment.  And, honestly, I have a lot on my mind.  A LOT. But, sometimes with so much brewing it is difficult to narrow the writing down to what is burning the most on my heart to get out, to purge or to share.

The thing is, that clicking on this new icon to which I had no idea what it was simply allowed me to narrow it down that much easier.  It’s about change.  It is super easy to write about CHANGE.  At least, I think it is because it is the ONE THING we can always count on-the ONE THING that is always taking place with or without us.

This year Maycee entered the 5th grade.  She is an upper-classman in elementary school now-more-so than as a 4th grader.  She is one step away from being top dog.  One step closer to ruling the entire roost.  She has embraced this role fully, and along with it, she has embraced so much change within herself.

Up until this year I have been the doer of almost all things for her.  I cleaned her room, washed and put away her clothes, made her meals, packed her lunches, woke her up with the sound of my voice and a light nudging or tickling of limbs, checked her homework for completion, helped with any challenges.  All of that typical parenting/mom stuff we do for our kids.

Up until this year I was still the “cool mom” who all of my daughter’s friends thought was “pretty and nice”.  I held my daughter’s hand while walking across campus after picking her up. I dried her tears if other kids were mean to her and had discussions with her teachers or counselors to make sure any issues were handled and quickly.  I was desired at all functions and for sitting down and watching Disney Channel together.

This 5th grade thing has brought into our lives something I wasn’t quite ready for: INDEPENDENCE.

Ha!  Just like that Maycee is saying comments like, “Mom, pleeeeeeeezzzz don’t do that.  You’re embarrassing me!”  So what if I’m dancing around like a crazy woman in delight over the taste of some delicious cafe mocha yogurt at Yogurt Creations in front of a whole bunch of folks, not to mention Maycee’s BFF?  Whaaaaat is so embarrassing about that?!

“I’m going to clean up my room after dinner tonight.  I need to start keeping it neat.  I’m done with Barbies.” OK, who are you, and where did you place my child?

“Mom, I’m going to start bringing my own purse with me everywhere I go.” AKA, I don’t need you to hold MY MONEY.

“Mom, can I ride my bike to school ALONE?” That’s what I’m talking about.  Say what?! No!

“Mom, can I get Lunchables to make my own lunch?  ALLLLL the kids are eating those now.” Why certainly-let me hand over my lunch-making torch from the last 7 years gladly.

Teacher to Mom during recent Parent/Teacher conference: “Ms. MacInnes, I’d let Maycee start making her own decisions about when she finishes her homework.  She knows the consequences if she doesn’t complete it. You don’t need to help her.  Give her more responsibility.  This is the year for it, and all of MY kids know that.  Maycee tells me, ‘After all, I’m in the 5TH GRADE NOW.'”

Morning wake up?  No more.  Alarm clock to the rescue, and what a happy child it produces!  No longer do I hear, “Uuuuugh, I’m soooooo tired!  Why did YOU wake ME up so early?!?”  Nope.  She hears the beep, beep, BEEEEEEEEP and saunters out of her room on time with a smile on her face (a lazy smile, but still a smile) and even says good morning!  Well, OK. GOOD MORNING THEN!  Yahoo!

And, I won’t even get into the health education and puberty talk.  But, I will say that if there’s attitude in the room, well, poor Miss Puberty is to blame according to Maycee.  “It’s puberty, Mom.  My teacher said.  It causes all kinds of behavior stuff.”  Well, indeed, it does, I guess. Did I go through that? No wonder my mom is laughing at me on the phone.

“I need to text Fabby now, Mom.  It is VERY important.  Oh, and I know I said I loved my texting phone, and I do, but I REALLY like Fabby’s I-Phone, and I totally know how to work it.  Oh, and I would REALLY like my OWN laptop.”  Huh.  Really?  And, I would like money to grow on trees, but that’s another blog post.

Texting went from nil to 90 within the last few weeks after Maycee discovered Fabby has a phone, too.  I am currently using the phrase, “I’m going to have to take it away if you don’t put it down-now.”  Help me. Prior to this Maycee said the likes of, “I don’t even use my phone.  I forget it’s even there.  I don’t want to be one of THOSE people who texts all the time anyways.”

Change can make us forgetful, I suppose.

Drying tears?  Over and done with (for now, except if there’s a texting crisis).  “Oh, my gosh, Mom. He was so rude (speaking of a bullying sort in her homework class)!  And, I told him so, and I thought he was going to come up and shove me because he looked so mad, but I just stormed off and told the teacher!  I’m not afraid!”  Wowzers.

Hand holding-Lord knows I try.  I have to sneak my hand underneath Maycee’s and touch the fingers, which creates an automatic reflex  that quickly disappears once she realizes it’s happening.  Darn.

Disney Channel?  Replaced by Nick at Night’s re-runs of Full House and Fresh Prince of Bel Air.  If I’m lucky there’s some room left on the couch for me to squeeze my mommy butt and sit with the girl.  If not, I return to my post located in the kitchen corner not to be heard.

Certainly these are all positive changes and quite exciting!  Well, a little frightening, too.  I mean, it’s just SO MUCH, SO FAST.  But, I know that one of the biggest parts of mothering is also learning to let go.  Each stage in a child’s life requires a bit of this. If we don’t do it, then independence is hindered and opportunities become more difficult to experience.  Not to mention our kids might end up never leaving the house-ever.

When Maycee turned 10 I wrote in her birthday card that I wanted her to soar, and this is what she is doing-in leaps and bounds as her 5th grade year takes shape.  I may need bigger wings to keep up, but I’ll find them, if nothing more than to watch and wonder and smile.

I’m glad I logged onto WP today and clicked on that funny little pencil that led me to this “new editor” prompting me to write about the one and only constant in life.  And, I’m glad I got to connect with you, Readers.  Remember: life is short, so if you’re feeling a little funky just blame puberty, start texting, and give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

Of friends and friendship

Friend: a person who you like and enjoy being with

Chief, you can be my BFFAAF!

Chief, you can be my BFFAA!

I have had many different friends over the years.

When I was a little girl, I had one true friend, my BEST friend.  Back then we didn’t use acronyms like “BFF” or call each other “besties”.  We were simply spelled out: best friends.  Our parents were married (no, not to each other), we didn’t have to keep up with numerous sports or after-school activities, and our summers were spent at home doing “kid stuff”, eventually getting bored , and that was fun!  She lived next door to me, and we were the same age-well, six months apart, but in the same grade. We did just about everything together, and no matter which house we were playing at or in it was home.  We spent every Friday night having sleep overs.  We liked the same things: Barbies, playing house, drawing or coloring (although I enjoyed getting a little dirtier playing outside sometimes), and eating my mom’s homemade pizza.

Oh, the good ol’ days of stylish hats and glasses!

When my best friend’s dad got a job in another state we were in the 4th grade, and we were devastated.  Honestly, in grade school I was SUPER shy, and I had no idea how I was going to survive without her.  They moved, life changed, and that same year the grade school we attended, conveniently located at the end of our block, was closed, and I had to be driven several miles away to a new school.  No best friend to help ground me.  No friends, period.  Just a shy kid wishing she could disappear into the cracks and hide until it was all over.

Friends are the best!

My kid is NOT shy.  Friends are the best!

It took me many friendships to understand that they are sometimes fleeting, sometimes steadfast, but each one has a contribution to make in my life.  I used to get so upset when friends would stop being friends.  When they’d move onto someone new, or leave town, or turn into someone I didn’t know anymore.

As I grew older this ebb and flow of people into and out of my life got easier.  I was able to see the connection we all had in one way or another as the timeline moved along.  I could step outside of myself and watch the relationships as parts of a whole.  I think this began to happen about my mid-20’s when all of a sudden changing friends didn’t necessarily mean disappointment or hurt feelings.  It only meant “change”.

Grade school friends, long gone.  Junior high and high school friends, not far behind.  College comrades, co-workers, church friends saying, “We gotta get together!”, “Let’s keep in touch.”, “I’ll call you soon!”  I’m sure their intentions were real, or not–maybe it’s just what people say.  Even me.  But, either way, I knew that when one set of friends was heading to a new frontier, another set was on its way back into mine.  Certainly, I have maintained contact with some of my “old” friends–back in the day we used letter writing and phone calls, now we maintain with Facebook technology.  My best friend from childhood will always be my dearest BEST FRIEND.  We haven’t seen each other in several years now, but the bond is forever.

My best friend from childhood, my best friend for life. XO

Best friends all grown up and passing it on!  XO

Last year I opted to move away from one particular friendship that had become toxic.  Once ready, there was no fear, as I knew it was the right thing to do.  I’d say only a handful of times have I had to DECIDE to end a friendship for this reason.  Maybe not even a handful, maybe only a couple, one being when I got sober over 15 yeas ago.  It’s nice that situations typically have a way of handling themselves (providing I’m not the road block), but this one was lingering, and the longer I let it the worse it became.

It’s hard to consciously break away from someone you’ve grown to care about and love like family, but maturity and faith have given me the insight to take heed. It was even harder because this person was also our horse trainer-the only one we knew.

Not long after this decision I rescued Fancy, and I pride myself in this choice today.  Again, as I look back I see the connection.  I see a beautiful panorama of images showing me the transition from one part of my life to another.  One set of friends to another.  It’s so perfectly clear.

Tell me more...but can I have a treat first?

Chief says, “Tell me more…but can I have a treat first?

Recently we had a barbecue at the ranch along with a horsey play day for all to enjoy.  Everyone showed up, and we had 11 horses and riders in the arena together, cheering each other on as we each tried our hand at the obstacle courses laid out.  Fancy, I know, was up in heaven grazing on healthy green grass and looking down at us, celebrating the spirit of horses with our barn buddies and new horsey family of Chief and Star.

Fancy, we miss you but know you're happy!

Fancy, we miss you but know you’re happy!

The ebb and flow of friends and friendship brought us to this place.

As I rode Chief and observed the group my heart welled with gratitude for these wonderful women (and girls) who’ve become so important to us today.  Once new friends, some will pass, some will be forever like my best friend from childhood.  Either way, they are an important part of our journey-a piece of the puzzle what would be missing had not earlier lessons been learned and paths chosen.

I'm gonna win!

I’m gonna win!

Me n Denise 2

Almost ready to begin the games.

Good friends, great view!

Good friends, great view, while Maycee and the others practice their moves!

 

Chief & Star enjoying their goodies.

Chief & Star enjoying their goodies.

Enjoying pulled pork sandwich!

Pulled pork sandwiches-yum!

Chief, what do you think?

Until next time….now let’s ride!

 

Readers, blogging FRIENDS…do you have friendships that have lasted a lifetime as well as new friends who you cannot imagine having never known?  Please share!

And, as always, life is short, so grab a buddy and give a chuckle!

XOXO,

SWM

 

A Promise and the Next Phase-Preventing Anxiety Attacks

Yay for summer!

Yay for summer!

If y’all remember, over a year ago this past March my daughter was diagnosed with Childhood Anxiety Disorder.  It was a traumatic and downright scary time for us both, for my family, and for those close friends of mine with whom I was able to share EXACTLY what was happening in the Yellow Submarine.  One of many things I will never forget from last year’s experience was our therapist telling me, “I promise you this will get better!”

Nope.  I will never forget.

Very few people make promises they actually keep.  Most of the time when someone says, “I promise…” my mind immediately hears the mumbling of Charlie Brown’s teacher, wa-wa, wa-wa, wa-waaaaaaaa.

But, I needed this promise so desperately, and she knew it.  She knew it, and more than that, she knew I was the kind of parent who would do ANYTHING to help Maycee get better.  With her promise came the knowledge of my conviction as well as the belief that my daughter, even at age 9, was completely capable of learning how to handle her anxiety.

At the end of last school year, when other kids were excited for summer and cheering as they left the campus, my daughter was nervous and fretting.  She had just gotten back to attending class in May.  She had just gotten to the point of being able to walk across the blacktop and stand in line with her friends before the bell rang in the morning.  And, with the ending of school came the beginning of camp.  Transition.  The unknown.  “Buttface” (this is the name we gave Maycee’s anxiety) material everywhere.

We had to practice going to the Boys and Girls Club the weekend before; not once, not twice, but multiple times.  We had to discuss exactly what the plan was for the first day–driving there, walking to the front door, entering, meeting J., the head counselor, me kissing her on the cheek and then saying good-bye.  Last year, this was what we had to do to survive the transition with minimal negative effects (i.e. tantrums and panic attacks).  Last year I didn’t breathe until I was driving away from the Club campus knowing my sweet girl was going to be okay.

This year, as the school bell rang on the last day, Maycee came out of her classroom smiling brightly, arm-in-arm with her best friend.  The hooting and hollering of happy kids surrounded us as we hugged her teacher and gathered her things.  This year we enjoyed the weekend before transitioning to camp to its fullest with lots of horsey time and relaxing.  We still discussed the transition, but the physical practice wasn’t necessary.  And, when last Monday morning arrived, only a slight amount of trepidation settled in my stomach.  Heading to the Club Maycee was also bit nervous, but mostly excited,  for what adventures lie ahead.  The unknown was alright.

We preceded week one of summer camp with a visit to our therapist–a check-in to see how everything was going.  Even with the success of this past school year and transitions becoming easier, Buttface still hangs around in familiar places.  The anxiety is always there to some extent.  I wondered and asked, “Will it ever go away?”

Her answer: MAYBE.  In her assessment of Maycee’s progress, she said we were now ready for the NEXT PHASE of therapy, which involves PREVENTING anxiety. We’ve spent the last year learning how to manage it and how to handle triggers, so now it’s time to work on prevention.  Bingo!

Here’s what’s on the agenda:

1. Mindfulness Meditation for 10-15 minutes per day.  Yes, kids can do it.  Maycee has been using our bench swing in the backyard, concentrating on the movement of her legs to push the swing and back again.  If her mind wanders, she comes back to her legs.  Push, swing, push, swing… I’ve been spending time in quiet, listening to my breathing.  Mindfulness Meditation helps keep us centered on what is happening right now.  Being in the moment helps prevent anxiety, which often feeds off a bad case of the “what-ifs”.

2. Talking about what kind of kid Maycee wants to be before we go out (i.e. to the ranch).  Does she want to be an obedient child who listens to Mom, is calm, cooperative and sets a good example (to name a few possibilities)?  Talking about how Maycee wants to see herself and be seen helps avoid behavioral pitfalls that occur when we are doing things together.  When behavior is under control, Buttface stays away.

3. Being grateful.  Yes!  Each night we now share one thing that made us grateful during the day.  The idea is to stay away from material inferences and avoid generalizations.  So, instead of saying, “I’m so grateful Mom bought me that horse halter I wanted!”  or “I’m grateful for you, Mom.” she might say, “I’m grateful we spent time together shopping for horse halters.”  The gratitude is about the togetherness not the purchase; it’s also specific.  When we express gratitude, we tend to feel more peaceful as well as happier, which makes it pretty darn hard to be anxious.

We were told to do these tasks daily, and the “prevention muscle” would get stronger.  With immediate action the promise made a year ago continues to be fulfilled.  I’ve already noticed a difference in both Maycee and myself, but I’m not surprised by this.

Not in the least.

I wanted to give an update on this part of my life because I know there are others who have children struggling with Childhood Anxiety Disorder.  I’ve linked my original post on the topic here.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works, but it takes time and diligence from both parent and child.  It’s not easy, however, nothing worth while ever is, right? 

Thanks for reading, and may promises and progress be with you as summer vacation begins!

XOXO,

SWM

 

 

 

 

Riding a bike and embarrassing my kid

Last week I went searching on Craig’s List to find a cheap used bike so that I could go riding with my daughter. Because she wants to go on a group ride with the kids from her school to a local ice cream parlor in May, she has recently been practicing with more fervor than ever before. SHE expressed to ME that she wanted me to get a bike so I could ride with her.  Thus, the Craig’s List search began.

I was totally freaked out when I saw what people were trying to get for their used bikes! Like HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS! I had an Oh-SH– moment and thought, “What the heck?! Whatever happened to getting rid of stuff out of the garage for a few bucks?” Nope. I guess like everything else in the world, the cost of bikes has risen, and therefore the cost of cheap used bikes has also risen. Risen above my checkbook’s desire.

Feeling forlorn and thinking I was going to have to liquidate my already meager savings account to settle for a beat-up used bike that was missing wheels, or brakes, or a chain, or handle bars, I emailed a work friend of mine for help who is very much into sports and has many friends who are also into sports: friends who might have bikes stored up a plenty in their garages that they no longer use. Maybe even friends who might take pity on a mom in my shoes and offer their bikes for much less than the Craig’s List penny thieves. Within a couple of hours we crossed in the hallway,  and she asked, “Did I tell you about your free bike?”

“FREE BIKE?!”

“Ya, I couldn’t remember if I told you or not I’ve been so busy outside, but my friend still has a bike of hers that she no longer uses and was going to dump. She said you can have it. It’s just been tuned up, and it’s yours!”

“FREE BIKE?” “FREE NICE BIKE?!”  “With wheels?  With working brakes??  With a chain???  With handle bars????”  “YAHOO!”

That evening I grabbed Maycee from school, we quickly ate dinner, and then promptly went over to my work friend’s house to see my new set of wheels. Of course, I had to test-drive it!

As I found my way upon the seat I also found that I had forgotten how to balance. I had forgotten after 26 years what it felt like to go down a hill, use hand brakes, and how to turn in a circle.  On. A. Bike.

The entire time I could hear Maycee muttering, “Oh, no, Mom. She (speaking to my friend) needs a helmet.  This isn’t going to be good.”  Then yelling, “Mom, don’t fall!”  Back to my friend, “This is EMBARRASSING.”

I didn’t care, though. I kept going, and I DIDN’T fall. I wobbled plenty, but I stayed on and made it safely back to my starting point. Only upon the dismount did I actually almost fall over. OK….a little embarrassing, sure.

But, you know what “they” say about something you haven’t done in awhile….”It’s like riding a bike!”

Well, it’s true for ACTUALLY doing that very thing.

Maycee asked for it!  And, like the obliging parent I am, I found a way with a little help from a friend and a friend of a friend’s generosity.  Embarrassing my kid?  That was just an added perk (wink).

My new set of wheels!

 

Have you had to do anything recently that was “just like riding a bike”?  If so, please share!

And, even through those embarrassing moments go ahead and give a chuckle.

XOXO,

SWM

“Then, Own It!”

Did the parents of my generation think about parenting?  Did they constantly critique what they were doing and how they were doing it?  Did their parents?

Did they go through stages of, “No, I shouldn’t serve corn dogs and fries just because I know my daughter will eat them.  That will affect her in some way sentencing her to therapy later in life.  I must be firm.  I must stand my ground and serve the exact proper portions of proteins and vegetables.”?

Political correctness?  Nah?

Emotional health?  Sometimes, although…notsomuchmaybe.

Monitoring screen time?  Huh?  What’s “screen time”?????????????

Of course, no matter what ANYONE says, I do not believe that yesteryear parents dealt with things on the same level we do today in modern America.  And, no matter what ANYONE says, I believe that the amount of technology running our lives, OVERRUNS our lives all too easily and pulls our kids in right along with it.

So, regardless of what was acceptable “back then” today is today.

I think about this a lot.  I am a worrier.  Self-admitted but also outwardly convicted. And, as a mom, as a single mom more importantly, I constantly assess how I’m doing in the field of child-rearing.  I get mad at myself when I lose my cool for unwarranted reasons.  I criticize my lack of energy to handle my daughter’s anxiety disorder when she wakes up in the middle of the night.  I constantly try to look from the outside in at what I’m saying and how I’m acting and if it’s “appropriate” or not based on what my daughter sees.

We know so much today about EVERYTHING, that we cannot easily blame our transgressions on, “Well, I had NO IDEA.”  Hmmmmm, if you are connected to the web in any fashion, you have AN IDEA…not about some stuff, but about a whole lotta stuff, because whether you like it or not, it shows up EVERYWHERE.

A few weeks ago I decided to check in with my daughter’s therapist.  I made the appointment for myself, alone, however, so that I could go over certain situations with her that had been coming up between us.

A big one I was concerned about is my own emotional stability.  I’m a crier.  I’m sensitive to sensitive subjects.  I emote.   A lot.  But, I also tell Maycee why I’m crying.  I explain to her when things are bothering me and why, in what I consider to be age-appropriate terms.  I don’t hide much from her, and some think that’s not such a good thing. That perhaps my “open door” policy is too open.

Life as a single mom has been a journey for the past 7 years, and not living near family with babysitting privileges it’s been difficult to mask the hurdles in front of my kiddo.  Rather than mask and “act strong”  I’ve chosen to actually BE brave be but be REAL.  Honestly, kids know when their parents are going through rough times whether it’s openly discussed or not.

The therapist asked me this: What do you think?

“Well, I think it’s important for her to understand emotions are okay to be expressed.  Not to hold things in.  Not to feel like she has to suppress herself when she’s upset or sad.  Because I don’t think it’s healthy, and I don’t think it sends a realistic message about life.  I want her to learn to cope, and I don’t want her to be confused.”

Of course, there’s balance.  I can’t just blubber my way in and out of every day.  I have to persevere through sadness and anger, hurt, and disappointment.  I have to continue putting one foot in front of the other and not dwell on negative experiences. And, I need to share my happy, silly self just as often as I explain when something brings me down.

“Then, OWN IT, ” she said. “Be the parent you want to be and OWN IT.”  And, then she agreed with my feelings on the subject.

It’s awesome how sometimes just one small phrase can change your perspective on life so dramatically.  It’s been awhile since I’ve had this happen, but this two-word phrase, “own it” has been on my mind ever since.  It’s my new mantra.

And, guess what?  By owning it, owning my parenting style and believing in  myself with a smidge of validation I’m not worrying as much.

Maybe this concept was innately part of yesteryear parenting–before the Internet connected us to every single scenario, reason, opinion and psychological study on the planet.  Second-guessing one’s parenting style wasn’t so prevalent.

People will always end up in the therapist’s chair.  Some parents will be more in tune than others no matter what decade we analyze.  And, I’m certainly glad I err on the side of worrying about if I’m doing things right rather than saying, “Pishaw!  My kid’s dandy!  No concerns here!”

But, I’m also glad two little words are helping to give me some respite.

Life is short, Readers, so give a chuckle or three, and then…

OWN IT!

XOXO,

SWM