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Category: Family Life

Back to school. (It’s obligatory. Work with me.)

Back to school. (It’s obligatory. Work with me.)

Many, many years ago when the boys would get ready for school, Gabby wanted to join them so badly. All she knew was they left in the morning and stayed gone all day. Obviously they were having fun. As she watched them getting ready, she would race for her Winnie the Pooh backpack and look up at me saying in her adorable little voice, “I go school. too?”  She knew I’d smile and say, “Not yet, but soon!”

Soon came sooner than we imagined. I blinked and sent her off to kindergarten. As my last baby, that first day of school was rough but at the same time, she was so happy and full of joy, it was hard to feel anything but excitement for her.

Today I sent her off to her first day of middle school (junior high to most of the county). I think this drop off was harder on me than the kindergarten drop off. In kindergarten, I walked her in. I met her new friends. I knew where she would sit. This time I dropped her off and barely had time to watch her walk away before the carpool line moved forward. I know middle school. I remember middle school. This is the age where your tween slowly starts to pull away a bit as she gains her independence. The true beginning of the teen years start here.

I watched her walk away and whispered a silent prayer that she would enjoy this new journey, that it would treat her kindly, and that she would thrive. My baby is no longer my little baby girl. Oh, don’t get me wrong. She will always be my baby. But I only have to look at her first day of school picture to see that she is no longer my little baby girl.

And I couldn’t be prouder of my girl.

ADHD is not a 4 letter word. Actually, it’s not really a “word” at all but just 4 letters. Like COOL!

ADHD is not a 4 letter word. Actually, it’s not really a “word” at all but just 4 letters. Like COOL!

So my good friend Liz made some smart comment the other day along the lines of bloggers actually blog and maybe, just maybe I could try it out and update my blog more often. You know, to be a “better blawger.”  Bless her heart for caring.  Well that and we all know the marketers want you to have content, content, content.  Gotta please da man. (If you’re new here, that is s-a-r-c-a-s-m.) Therefore, I am going to share with you a story about ADHD/ADD and how maybe, just maybe, we are the normal ones.

My middle son (the one whose name shall not be typed) was officially diagnosed with inattentive ADHD several years ago. While he was going through his intensive diagnostic tests, I was in there with him and suddenly realized most of my answers were very similar to his. I talked to the doctor and surprise of all surprises after more testing I was diagnosed with adult  ADHD.  It makes a lot of sense.  My son and I respond to things similarly and  have about the same attention span. (Shuddup. Just because they call me Dory at home doesn’t mean…ohhhh, lookie.. a blinking cursor.)

One evening my son and I were in the kitchen carrying on about 5 different conversations at the same time while I was cooking dinner. (*snort* I totally wasn’t cooking dinner. Are you new here? My husband was the one cooking.)  Somehow the conversation turned to all things ADHD and the topic of how our minds “work” came up. (What? You don’t discuss how your brain works at dinner time?) Suddenly my husband found himself on the hot seat.

Me:  So what do you think about during a conversation?

Clint: *blank stare* The conversation.

Z: (the son whose name shall not be typed)- No. No. We mean, like when we are talking about a particular topic like say something from the news. What do you think about?

Clint: Our. Conversation.

Me: Yeah, yeah, but what else do you think about?

Clint: The topic? Suddenly unsure why his answer was going to be wrong but knowing it would be.

Me & Z:  That’s IT?!! (We look at each other in both horror and amazement. But really more horror.)

Me:  Wait…wait…wait. Okay, so I start to talk about the horrible situation with our public schools and mention at least one teacher’s name, what do you think about? I mean, really.

Clint:  Well (starting to feel pressured– and maybe a little ganged up on) I think about the public schools and the teacher you mentioned.

Me & Z (in unison):  That is so WEIRD!!  As we dissolve into hysterical laughter.

Clint: How is THAT weird?

We volley questions back and forth at him.

Nothing? Not about buses?

Bus drivers?

Squirrels?

Bike riding poodles?

Dogs in clothes and the wrongness of that?

Where did  you last see your coat anyway?

Clint’s head now looks like he is watching a ping pong match as we volley these questions back and forth.

Me: Wait. Where did you leave your coat?

Clint: See?! Clearly, that is not a normal train of thought right there. It’s not my brain that is different.

My son and I dissolve into fits of laughter.

Clint is to the point of confusion and possibly a tad frustrated that he seems to be the butt of some joke and doesn’t understand it.

We stare at him blankly. I realize I am going to have to explain this in a way that is easier to understand.

So I begin to explain. “It’s like me  and adoption.”

Z (son whose name shall not be typed) nods in agreement. Clint looks like he stepped into some foreign country where he speaks the language but the words are not put together in any way that makes sense to him.

Seeing that I am getting no where in this explanation, I dig in further.

Remember how I told you that when I was growing up, the whole adoption thing made me feel different? That there were times I felt like I wasn’t special but was set apart and labeled as the kid in the family who wasn’t like the other two?

Clint: But you were not adopted!

Me:  Exactly! Now do you see?

Clint: No.

Me: *sigh*  I wasn’t adopted. My brother and sister were. I was different. I was the one who stood out. I wasn’t “chosen” or “special” or any of the words people use when talking to and about kids who were adopted. I was the one my parents got stuck with.

<blank stare>

I go on. “I have always had ADD brain. I thought everyone else thought the way I did but it didn’t take long to realize that was not the case. I was back to being the different one but this time it was kind of just me and I couldn’t imagine not having my brain go 800 different directions at one time. And now that Z (the son whose name shall not be typed) has it and understands it, we are the adopted ones. Now does it make sense?”

Clint looked from me to Z (the son whose name shall not be typed) and back.

“So to get from point A to point B, you visit every other letter of the alphabet first on your journey that could’ve been a straight shot? And that comforts you. And you feel sorry for people who don’t do that.” He goes on while we are nodding vigorously. “And you think my brain is broken because it can stay on one train of thought at a time?”

He watches us intently as we nod.

“And….squirrel!”

We both look and takes the opportunity to make his escape.

I think he finally got it!

 

 

 

 

 

I need more time.

I need more time.

It is a rare moment when I am able to see all three of my kids together in one place. Interacting. Laughing. Being siblings. Enjoying each other. I stood back and watched them as they teased, laughed and were just being who they are. My mind raced back to the early days when I never thought the day would come when all three of them would be able to not only get along but enjoy being with each other by their own choice. I used to worry that the age difference between the boys and my daughter would keep her from being a part of the sibling gang of fun. (She can certainly hold her own with her brothers!) I thought the boys who spent the first half of their lives fighting would never get along and now they are best friends.

I watched through eyes that were suddenly blurry with tears I refused to shed. I am not ready for my oldest to be preparing for college.

Please slow down time. Let it last longer. I’m not ready for them to grow up so fast.  Please slow down.

As  I sat waiting for Brandon’s x-rays to be finished after his car wreck, I was scrolling through old pictures on my phone. They dated back several years. It felt like just a few months. I laughed at a picture taken in an unguarded moment of my boys laughing together at what I can only assume is something better left unknown to me. My heart warmed to see a picture of all of us at the Texas State Fair with Gabby proudly perched on top of Brandon’s shoulders grinning from ear to ear. I choked up at a picture of  Z trying to teach Gabby the keyboard. I laughed at a picture of Gabby and Brandon lying on the couch playing video games. I smiled at this year’s first day of school pictures.

Please slow down time. Let it last longer. I’m not ready for them to grow up so fast. Please slow down.

I’ve come across so many toys, pictures, artwork and memories as I attempt the massive project of completely decluttering the house. (It’s a 10 year plan.) I’ve found massive amounts of Hot Wheels. I never thought the day would come when I wouldn’t be dodging Hot Wheels littering my floor trying not to slip and fall by stepping on one. Now they lie in a toy box or in a drawer unused, dusty, and forgotten. The boys have moved onward and upward to images and dreams of real sports cars and desires for their own car to drive. I clutched one to my chest and felt a longing for the days when I’d heard the boyish sounds of vrrooooom vrooooom CRASH! coming from the other room. Now the stakes are higher and when there is a wreck it is real and people can get hurt.

Please slow down time. Let it last longer. I’m not ready for them to grow up so fast. Please slow down.

I packed away dolls and Barbies and Dora and Blue’s Clues and wondered exactly when all of those stopped being the most popular toys in Gab’s collection and favorite shows to watch. I wanted to know exactly. Why didn’t it happen in a moment worthy of a memory stamp in my  mind so I could hold onto it? I’m sure it was gradual but it seems like it happened overnight. Those things have been replaced with shows for tweens, music that is mainstream and drama that is supposed to be a part of my past not her future. When did the baby dolls get replaced with electronics? When did rocking her to sleep get replaced with her curling up in her bed with a book even adults enjoy?

Please slow down time. Let it last longer. I’m not ready for them to grow up so fast. Please slow down.

Our house echos with laughter when we are together. If we are all home, you better believe it is loud. We laugh. We scream across the house at each other. We play. We chase. We tease. We support. We spent a lot of our time laughing- with each other and sometimes in fun at each other- but we are always having fun. When tensions are high for one reason or another, we hug it out or laugh it out. I can always, always count on my kids to make me laugh. Through the hard times. Through the scary times. Through the good times. Through the awkward times. I sometimes forget not every family laughs with and at each other as much as we do. And,  yes, there are times when the way we interact with each other may seem strange to others but it works for us. We thrive in it! Every single burst of laughter we share together fills our home with memories that will echo forever. I so want the laughter to stay just as it is. Not one voice left out or moved on.

Please slow down time. Let it last longer. I’m not ready for them to grow up so fast. Please slow down.

I always promised I wouldn’t be the mom who can’t let go. Well, I now amend that to mean I promise I won’t be the mom who won’t let her children grow and move on. I can promise you now I will never let go. I will just let them become the young people they are destined to become. The thing is? It is happening too quickly for this mom. I’m so proud of them. I know they are good people and will be amazing out on their own when the times comes. I just wish there was more time here at home with all 5 of us before things change.

Please slow down time. Let it last longer. I’m not ready for them to grow up so fast. Please slow down.

 

Moms of teens don’t blog. Oh wait! Yes, we do! So why are we so under represented everywhere?

Moms of teens don’t blog. Oh wait! Yes, we do! So why are we so under represented everywhere?

I have a ten year old. By definition now, she is considered a tween. In addition to her I also have two teenage boys. A senior in high school and a sophomore in high school. Teenagers. Teens. Those who are not babies and not yet adult people. They are those who still live at home.

So where are the websites, resources, and “expert blog sites” for me? Does parenting end at 8 or 9? I proposed this question to someone who was touting their new blog farm as “The Go To Site For Parents of babies, toddlers and beyond!”  But I am guessing “and beyond” means up to 8. (Surprisingly, I got no response when I asked about their huge missing demographic of teens.)

In 2005 I spoke on the first mommyblogger panel at BlogHer. My kids were 10, 8 and 3. Today’s dream demographic for blogs and marketers! There are websites, blogs, magazines etc all dedicated to those ages. But guess what happened. Go on. Guess.

Did you guess they grew up? Bingo. Those kids are now the teens and tween. You see, these adorable babies and toddlers and young grade school kids grow up. And you want want to know what there is out there for the parents of these now older kids.

Not a damn thing. Squat. Nada.

Busymom wrote about it.

Cursingmom wrote about it.

JoanneGlenniaBeth,  Deb, and I sat and talked for hours at BlogHer’11 about how under represented parents of teens are online. How much marketers, magazine blogs and the latest in “blog farms” are missing out by ignoring such a huge demographic. (Trust me when I say I spend a helluva lot more on my tweens and teens than I ever did on the kid toys. WAY more!)

With one post on Busymom’s site commenters (parents of tweens and teens) agreed how sad it is to have such little representation out there.  I am talking about well known, long time bloggers like LizMelisa, Headless Mom, MelissaShannon, Cheryl,  Robyn, Babybloomr…those are just a few moms who piped up in agreement.

A big “argument” about why there are not many sites about teens is because our children no longer want us to write about them.(Your precious little one probably doesn’t you to be writing about them either, but that is a totally different topic.)  I am not talking about writing about their lives like we did when they were children without a voice to tell us to stop. I am talking about resources, advice, support.  When  newborn cries, there are usually only a handful of things that can be wrong. (I know there are exceptions.) With a teenager? Oh for the love of all things moody, hormonal and life changing there could be a million things. But even if it isn’t “What’s wrong?” there are things that we– as parents of teens– would love to have support with.

  • School.
  • Driving.
  • Health.
  • Dating.
  • Parties/gifts.
  • Changing relationships.
  • Jobs.
  • Cars.
  • College.
  • Etc, etc.

Unless you have a support system, you are on your own figuring it out.

I have also heard that marketers are trying to directly hit the teen market rather than go through parents. I call bullshit on that one. Where do they think these teens and tweens are going to get the money? It’s called the bank of Mom and Dad. To try to bypass us is ridiculous. And very, very short sighted. It doesn’t help when a company who is trying to reach out to parents of teens use parents whose children haven’t even hit the double digits as spokespeople. Isn’t that kind of like asking a man to tell  you what labor feels like?

I actually got an email from a PR rep that first mentioned that “even though your kids are still very young….” (tuned out right there) blah blah blah “and I have found there are so few bloggers with teens these days.” The hell? What Internet have you been on. I can give you a list of over 70 and still not have a complete list.

Those little kids on the adorable mommyblogs are going to become tweens and teens. Those adorable little Pampers wearing cherubs will become moody little strangers. Then what?  To quote cursingmama, “The Internet is no place for parents of teens.”

What do you think? Do you want your voice heard? Do you want more resources? Do we storm the gates trying to get the current market to listen or do we do it ourselves?  Just as we had to fight the whole “mommy bloggers aren’t worth our time” situation almost 8 years ago. (Now? They are are holy grail of bloggers. And yes, I am going to say that those who now have tweens and teens did help pave the way to that reality.) Is this our new stand? I’d love to hear from you! Share your blog. Share what you want to see. What do you think about the representation of tweens & teens– or under representation?

If they aren’t able to meet our needs,  do we do it ourselves and pave the way for the Pampers generation to come? Again?

Through the broken places…

Through the broken places…

So cradle your head in your hands,
And breathe… just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe…

2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song post
If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to
—Just Breathe lyrics–

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Mom lately. I wonder what she would say to me if I could lean on her for advice. I’ve been in a broken place. It built up over the past year. It’s a lonely place walking through the broken places. I was hoping I could find solace when I went to the beach. I always find peace there. But it was elusive. There was a lot of crying and some yelling and a few choice words shared. (Sidenote: If you find yourself in a parking lot with someone who has only known you a couple of years and has only been with you 3 or so  times in person and the two of you are yelling at each other so loud and with such profanity that a nearby mom covers her daughter’s ears, something is not right.)  We yelled with passion. We threw a few verbal punches that hurt worse than any physical punch ever could. “YOU are the one who invited yourself along.” We cried an ugly cry. I blurted out something no one should ever know about me and better stay that way. And then we hugged it out.

But something is not right when you are on vacation and that happens. Something is wrong when you feel like a stranger around people who should be your comfort and your extended home. Something is not clicking when you feel like an imposition (and are basically told that) when you go to visit family. And most definitely something is not right when you don’t or can’t stand up to your (*extended) family and tell them what you want and what you need.

In my eyes, I was doing all I could to be accommodating. It came off as not being decisive. In my heart I would try to please everyone and in the process pleased no one, hurt some and ended up being accused of creating drama. And when the one person who has never said a harsh word to me in my adult life looked at me and said I was creating drama, it broke my heart. We don’t speak often and he has never spoken to me that way.

So basically, on a vacation that I prayed would heal me, broke me. I hurt people I love. I fractured or maybe even broke relationships I have always striven  to make stronger my entire life. I lost a lot of confidence and faith in people I looked up to. I lost a lot of confidence and faith in myself. And I ended up realizing that the person they have always known does not exist anymore.  I am not a child anymore. I am no longer someone you can tell what to do and when and I will happily agree because I look up to you. I am an adult with a life so different from most of my (extended) family. And whereas I love my life, I am broken hearted over seeing things in a new way and losing what I have always wanted.  The truth is, I will never have the relationship I have wanted all my life with some people in my family. I will never be “one of them” no matter what I try to do or try to be. I will always be the “one who invited herself along” and not the one who is invited.

And I have to make peace with that. It will take time. But to quote a friend of the family, “Live the life you love and love the life you live.” That is my plan. With or without support.

That is what I want to talk to my Mom about. How would she help me walk through the broken places? What would she tell me to do? Why can’t I just curl up with her and let her tell me that it will all be okay and that I am perfectly me and that is good enough? Oh,what I would give to hear her tell me “This too shall pass” as she always did when things felt horribly wrong in my life. What would Mom tell me to do to pick myself up, dust myself off and move through the broken places? Where would she tell me I fit in? And can I ever?

I’ve been blessed that I can share this with my Dad. He and his wife have been so supportive. For that I am forever grateful. And I know they will always be there for me as I walk through this. As for the rest…

Well, I just don’t know. It’s hard to see clearly through the broken places.

Moving On

I know all the faces
Each one is different but they’re always the same
They mean me no harm but it’s time that I face it
They’ll never allow me to change
But I never dreamed home would end up where I don’t belong
I’m movin’ on

 

—-

*By “extended” family I am just differentiating between those who are not my immediate family like my husband and 3 kids.

Vacation- All I Ever Wanted. Vacation- Had to Get Away

Vacation- All I Ever Wanted. Vacation- Had to Get Away

Ahhh, the bliss of going to the beach. No matter what is going on, I can find peace when it is just me, the ocean and a quiet mind.

My morning started like this:

My morning coffee

But I couldn’t stay on the deck all day so I eventually wandered down to the ocean to bury my toes in the sand and enjoy the calm of the waves while the kids played in the waves- laughing and having the time of their lives.

Toes in the sand...

Every night at sunset all 22 of us would gather either on the beach or on the deck to enjoy the beauty of yet another glorious sunset. There is nothing more beautiful than a beach sunset! (Even the night the woo-hoo girls went out to party. Since I know some of you were following the “would she go or wouldn’t she”  conversation on Facebook. No, I didn’t go. No, I do not regret it. Peace at the beach was more my desire but I was happy they went and enjoyed themselves. They really deserved their fun night out partying. )

Sunset

And of course, there had to be a night peace time. Oh, the middle of the night when everyone was asleep and the beach was quiet and dark was my favorite time. Just me. No stress. Nothing pulling at me but the waves as they crashed ashore. And each night I would sit in silence or tears on that upper deck alone and let the pain I was carrying crash through me like the waves hitting the shore until I found the peace I needed to crawl into bed to sleep.

My peaceful moonlit nights

The time seemed too short to be able to have the conversations I wish I could have had with my family. There were things I wish I had done but nothing I regret. I do know the kids loved spending time with their papa, cousins, aunts, uncles etc. It was a great time at the beach for everyone. (There is so much more to say about the good times we all had, but that is for another post. If I get around to it.) I will always cherish my time spent at this beach house over the years as we wind down this family tradition. It was bittersweet. The not knowing when I will see my family again is hard. Of course we have plans. We make them every year, but I know as well as anyone if not better that nothing is ever a certainty. And that? Breaks my heart. My family has always been my support in my past. And for that I am thankful. Okay, so… enough about the sad.

How do you cheer yourself up when you need a BIG SMILE? Is there a way to be even happier than at the beach? I think there is!

What better way to end a week at the beach than with a trip here:

The Happiest Place on Earth

To be continued…