Posts Tagged With: parenting

I don’t give a f**k who judges me

The post I wrote the other day about managing my expectations seemed to elicit a great deal of response.
And what I love most about that is each one of those thoughts or opinions had kindness at the root.

Most of you were sympathetic but not judgey. I thank you for that.
This blog is filled with my thoughts. My perceptions of my life. I’m never ever going to point a finger and decree that I’m a billion percent right and the other person is a billion percent wrong. That’s not how life works.
I know I’m difficult.
I can be a real dick when I get frustrated.
I have been known to make bad choices in how I behave or react, however the underlying stuff is real.

I want to thank you for your kindness in choosing your words when you shared your thoughts with me. Your words were sympathetic, they came from a place of knowledge of circumstance. For the most part they were not blaming, and some even shared great ideas about how to circumvent the food drama!
I appreciate the positive feedback.

That morning, I got a message from Thing 1 in our group chat saying she’d read the post and wanted to know how I was. It was right as I was getting to work. I thanked her and promised to talk later.
She texted me in the afternoon that the post concerned her and asking how I was.
I assured her I was fine then explained that I was frustrated and being a dick but didn’t feel like I was terribly wrong.
Her response:
“I’m sure you are. And I’m sure you were a dick, but I still feel like Thing G shouldn’t be running the freaking show.”

We talked a great deal about how much growth there’s been.

About how most of the way he behaves isn’t really his fault. He’s adapted to it. I don’t believe there is purpose or malice in his actions. I believe he’s been insulated from being engaged in his life since his diagnosis, and simply doesn’t have the tools.

This is not to say I blame his parents. They did what they had to do to function as a family. They did what they had to do to make sure he was safe to himself and other children. Every family functions differently. And they did what worked for them.
Only now it doesn’t work.
The kid flat refuses to engage in his own life. He simply puts forth the least amount of effort to get by. Sure, that’s teenage behavior, but this is different. Most teens desire to GTFO of their parent’s house. They desire to be in control of their own choices, etc. (As adults we see the ironic hilarity, but we’ve all been there.)
This kid literally wants to eat crackers or ramen, drink soda, and play video games all day every day. My interpretation of that behavior is this is someone who is not engaged in his own life.
That’s cool if that’s your choice. And if you can find a way to eat and drink trash and play video games all day and remain solvent I say, bravo!
But I refuse to sacrifice my own comfort so that he can continue to live the life of Riley.

This kid isn’t actually the problem. The kid is simply the lightning rod of focus for the problem.
As I see it, the problem is that his family sacrificed their own personal comfort for his.
And y’all I get that! What parent or older sibling hasn’t done it!?!?
Though in most families as children age and develop that behavior changes. We expect kids to learn that we all have feelings. Needs. Things that make us comfortable or uncomfortable.
We expect them to respect these things in others.
I know I’m guilty of behaving as though the world revolves around my girls, especially Thing 2.
I own it. I know I do it. I admit I do it.
There are two huge differences.
The first is I don’t expect anyone else to do it.
The second is they’re engaged, and however they struggle, they’re actively participating in their own lives.

Every parent makes sacrifices for their children. That’s part of being a parent.
Older siblings sometimes make sacrifices for their younger siblings, that makes sense, but still doesn’t seem all that acceptable. But I’m the big sister, so I know it just sometimes is.
This becomes a problem when everyone else is expected to behave in the same manner. It’s not other people’s job to put the comfort of someone else’s child, sibling, etc. above their own. And in all honesty, I don’t believe YBW and his family ever consciously expected that behavior from others, and they certainly never verbalized it. I feel like it was and remains very obvious by the way everyone functions.

I don’t think YBW is wrong for wanting to sacrifice for his kid.
I don’t think he’s an an idiot or stupid.
And I will own the fact that I’m judgey as fuck.
Judgey. As. Fuck.
But I don’t judge him for doing what he believes is best for his son. I’ve done what I believed best for my girls, sometimes it worked perfectly, sometimes I cocked it right up.
No one else has been in our hearts, in our families, it isn’t for another to tell anyone how to raise their children.
I’m guilty of pointing out what his kids don’t know. That doesn’t mean I think he failed. It means I don’t understand why they don’t know how to do X. And instead of examining that, YBW thinks I’m saying he failed as a parent.
Dude. We all fail as parents. I just want people to bring in the mail and trash can when they walk right past it every damn day.

What bothers me so much is that he continues to put the desires of that particular kid above everyone else’s. He doesn’t even know he’s doing it. And he sacrifices so much of himself for that kid.
The difference between YBW and me is that I refuse to do it. I will not choose Thing G’s comfort or happiness over my own.
Because I don’t want to. And because it’s not what’s best for any one.
I’m choosing to do what’s best for me.
Just because I don’t like it, or I won’t do it, doesn’t mean I’m judging him for doing it. It just means I won’t make the same behavior choices he makes. My emotional and physical comfort are important in their own right. No more no less than anyone else’s.
And when I see him sacrifice his, I don’t like it because I believe he deserves more. But I can’t make that decision for him. I can only make that decision for myself.

I spent a long time talking with a friend who also has a child diagnosed with autism. Here’s what I see, in their family, it’s just a thing. It means some tweaking here and there. It means she’s (the mom) working hard to meet everyone’s individual needs. But she’s not letting that diagnosis run their lives.
In this family it is everything. And because it is everything all the tweaking must be done around the diagnosed. It means everyone should work hard to meet the diagnosed’s needs. The diagnosis runs all our lives.
This is not the fault of the kid with the diagnosis. It’s not even the fault of his parents. It is simply the way it is.
I don’t choose to function that way.
I don’t choose for my children to be expected to function that way.
I don’t choose people who enter this house to be expected to function that way.

I don’t believe the desires of one should rule the many.
I mean come on! There were revolutions about shit like that.

I love my husband.
Like, in ways that sometimes have no words! I want to be with him in the life we build. And I want to get old with him.
I want him to feel loved. To feel understood. To feel like I’m in it with all I’ve got, not that he’s something I have to endure.
Right now, I think the best way to do that is to be quiet. Just be quiet and do my thing. Just be quiet and let him do his thing. Because clearly talking about it makes me a dick and him a failure.
I want to stop putting each of us through that.

Only this is a conversation worth having, and because we’re in it for the long haul, we have to figure it out how to have it successfully. Last night we talked a little and seemed to get to a place that’s better. So good for us!

I will be the first to admit I want what I want.
But not at the expense of others.
And that is the little nugget of truth I cling to.
Therefore, it seems just that I expect the same from others.

I choose not to live my life for anyone but me.
I believe YBW judges me for it.
I accept that.
I am not ashamed.
I feel no guilt.

I did the hard work of raising my children. I do the hard work of being the mother of adult women.
I did and continue to do the hard work of keeping myself safe and sane.
I do the hard work of marriage to a man I love all the way to Pluto and back.

I’m doing the best I can to live my intention.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians: Do everything in love.
I’m over here working to do everything in love and still have a sense of self.
I own my truth.
I don’t give a fuck who judges me.

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Categories: love, me, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

tenacity in her DNA

Been thinking about Thing 2.
Concerned she’s not really getting her life together. She’s employed, sometimes happily, sometimes miserably. (But, aren’t we all?) I’ve been concerned about her emotional well being. And the well being of Boyfriend J. I worry for them. I know what it’s like to feel trapped. To feel defeated and how easy it is to let that consume you.

And then the other day, she shared that her dear friend Jimmy is going through so much with his mom and her health, and then suddenly she suffered a stroke and is in a vegetative state with no real hope of improvement.
Thing 2 expressed how hard it is to feel helpless when all she wants to do in the world is help her friend and his sweet mom through this moment in their lives.

I began to consider everything my baby daughter has been through in the last year or so.
I’ve seen her hold the hand of her dearest friend after the sudden and surprising suicide of his father.
I’ve seen her rush to the home of her sister and brother in law because the latter specifically requested her presence after the loss of their baby.
I’ve seen her be there for Jimmy even though she’s not sure how to be other than to “throw hugs and beer at him”.

This young woman has demonstrated a level of strength and support that most seasoned adults don’t always successfully handle. She is handling her own complicated emotional feelings, as well as for the people she loves. She’s been tremendously responsible for the people she loves.
So I feel like I need to stop and breathe a little bit. I need to realize she’s doing things with her time and life that are important, even if they’re not actively furthering her “getting it together”.
The thought she’s using these things as avoidance for dealing with getting her life together crossed my mind, and it’s a very Thing 2 sort of way to function, but after talking with her today I feel like she’s working hard to get herself together as well as supporting and loving her people.

She’s learning how to ‘adult’ and I think she’s kind of digging it!

I told her not giving up is hard af but it’s more worth it than she even understood. And this superhero feeling is why!

Of course there will be days when she’s not feeling especially superheroish, but now that she has, she’ll remember it and be more inclined to keep going when the going gets tough. Not quitting when life gets hard is part of growing up. Feeling accomplished and empowered when you persevere is the reward. She’ll remember that now that she’s experienced it.
She doesn’t remember fighting for her life as a new baby. She doesn’t remember how hard she worked to stay healthy. My girl is a fighter! She’s got a strength and tenacity down deep in her. She’s seeing evidence of that now. This time, she’ll remember.
Everyone needs their ‘I did it!’ moments.

I told her I knew she had it in her, that she knew she had it in her and just needed to be reminded.
She wrote: “Really I didn’t want to “brag” to you about how everything is working out (albeit in its own silly Thing 2 way) and make you feel, well, I don’t know what I was afraid of, but it’s nice to hear that you’re rooting for me (and us)” (Us being her and Boyfriend J)
“And I know you always are and will be, but I feel like recognizing it.
You gave me my tenacity.
And I am eternally grateful (heart emoji)

I told her that her tenacity is in her very DNA and I’m just here to remind her.

She replied: “I love you. Thank you for being the best momma, and for being an incredible human aside from your fierce momma-ness”

I shared with her that YBW and I had been talking about how she’s doing, and I shared with him about where and how she is and what she’s doing for her friends. That he’s been loving and supportive in our conversations about her. That even though they’re relationship is a bit tricky, he’s on her side.

She replied:

(This is one of my new favorite Robynbird/YBW analogies. I’m totally the cereal and he’s absolutely the fruit and nut mix.)

That’s the second time this week one of those girls told me they appreciated me.
Thing 1 did it on Thursday in a text message that read: “You’re a great mom. So you know”
And that creates nice warm fuzzy feelings in me.
My own ‘I did it!’ moment!

I built the foundation.
They’re in charge of construction now.
I’m going to worry…I don’t know how to not…but I see what’s being built, and I’m feeling comfortable and confident for them.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What’s best for children?

Y’all my husband is hurting.
And mad. I’m talking about a ferocity written all over his face before he even finished a full sentence!
It takes a great deal to make him angry.
This deal came in the form of an email from the mother of his children.

Thing G starts college in less than two weeks.
Thing G plans to commute to NOVA for two years before transferring to another school. This was a decision he made on his own and shared with us the whys and wherefores. We supported his decision.
Thing G does not have his license and cannot drive without one of us with him in the car.
His mom began planning who could drive him to college which days without discussing it with anyone. She sent an email to YBW while we were in New Orleans outlining said plan. YBW scoffed and ignored it.
You see, YBW already told Thing G that neither he nor I would drive the boy to college and he needed a plan to get back and forth to school if he didn’t have his license by the time school started. Kid gets on the internet and finds there’s a local bus that will carry him from a stop 1.3 miles from this house to the mall where he will then switch to a bus that will take him to NOVA.
Done and done.
He comes to me with questions of how much time did I think it would take him to walk the distance and we decided he could practice and I’d come pick him up and bring him home. I told him we could do it as many times as he liked until he was comfortable with his timing.
Either Thing G has not volunteered this information to his mother, or his mother never asked, hence the email.

Well, the day we came home from New Orleans, YBW took him to meet with his adviser. (Thing G specifically requested YBW for this task.) Then they went back to his mom’s house to share the information.
Turns out Thing G also drops the bomb that he will no longer be going back and forth between his parents houses now that he’s eighteen and starting college. He has decided to live in this house with YBW and me full time.
And his reasons are as follows:
Mom’s house is 1.5 miles further away from the bus stop.
There is no sidewalk between Mom’s house and our house.

I was not present during this discussion but YBW relayed it in great detail when he got home.
The kid was clear. The kid looked his mother in the face and told her these were his plans. His ideas. The kid stood his ground when the tears came. He loves his mom and doesn’t want to hurt her, but God love him, he doesn’t want to walk that much further on a fairly rural road that isn’t really safe. He’s completely practical. If his mother lived in this house and we lived in the other one, it would be the same house, different parent. The kid is even leaving his dog.

So that’s the story.
Here’s where it gets interesting.

YBW got an email yesterday from Thing G’s mom in which she shares her dissatisfaction with this arrangement. In this email, she accuses YBW and me of going behind her back and making choices for her sons. She blames YBW for the changes in the way their family functions. She closes with something to the effect of she wanted him to know how she felt, but isn’t sure he cares.

I only read it once and I know I’m missing things, but this is the gist.
She’s mad that she’s no longer in control of what their family does.
She’s blaming him (and me) for changing that.
She’s being manipulative with questioning if he cares how she feels.

I ask if he wants to respond.
Emphatically no.

The more he talks about this email, the madder he becomes. Never raises his voice, but his face, and body language, and tightness in his throat express his anger.
He worries she’ll try to manipulate Thing G to stay with her or continue to go back and forth.
He’s mad she’s pissy about me.
(Honestly, I’ve been waiting for that to rear it’s head, and I’m surprised I’m not more of the ‘lightening rod of hate’.)
He’s hurt and angry that she questioned whether or not he cares about how she feels.
Y’all my husband was bent!

We continued to talk about it, and he cooled down a bit.
We discussed that the difference between the way she runs her house and the way we run this one is that we ask questions and she gives commands.
YBW asks his son, What do you think? How would you like it to be? How can you solve this problem?
YBW is actively working to treat his son like an adult. He’s willing to let him fall on his face and get bloodied up. Instead of rescuing him, or fixing things for him, he wants to show his son that it’s OK to fail once in a while. Failure is simply a learning process. One every human needs to experience.
He told their mother this and she went on about how Thing G is not neurotypical and he needs support. YBW reminded her that neurotypical or not, he had to learn to become a self-sufficient adult.
Everyone agrees he shouldn’t be a thirty year old man living in his parents basement. Yet only one of his parents is actively doing anything to prohibit that.

Listen, I understand how hard it is to be away from one’s children. But it is only natural that they eventually fly the nest. And all the blaming and passive aggression, and temper fit throwing has nothing to do with what’s best for the child and everything to do with the parent desperately clinging to the desire to control.

What it comes down to is that she wants her current husband, her former husband, and her sons to be figures on a chess board that she can move around as she sees fit.
She did it that way for so long.
And in the last five years, there has been a shift in YBW. He’s no longer on her chess board. He’s living his life.
In my heart of hearts, I believe she’s more frustrated that she no longer controls what YBW does than what’s going on with her sons.

She was very clear that YBW and I are making decisions for her sons and she doesn’t like it.
And I’m over here like, your sons are making these decisions, they’re just not talking with you about it.
Is it because she doesn’t ask? Absolutely.
But another factor is that I truly believe they’re frightened by her. That if they share their plans with her she’ll be reactive instead of receptive.
YBW has remarked something to the effect that you can only play devil’s advocate for so long before you suck the passion from people.

Here’s the thing that kills me. She’s his mom. But I’m asking, What’s best for Thing G, and trying to make that happen.
While his own mother rails and spits and blames because she can no longer control them. I’m sacrificing my freedom for a child that isn’t technically mine.
Why?
Because I love him.
I treat him the same way I treated my girls.
I want him to be the best possible version of himself he can. But that won’t happen if we continue to baby him. To rescue him, and fix things for him. To treat him as though he is his diagnosis.
I trust that Thing G will become a self-sufficient adult because we’re going to help him learn how to be. We’re going to have his back but let him fall. We’re going to continue to ask him how, and what he wants to choose for his life.

I committed to YBW’s sons when I committed to him. Just as he did with my girls.
They’re all our kids. Doesn’t matter that DNA doesn’t match. We’re committed to each other and our collective children because we want to be. Because we made the choice to be. They’re not yours and mine, they’re ours.
He does things for the girls that their father doesn’t.
I do things for the boys that their mother won’t.

We want our kids to be the best possible versions of themselves!
We want to help them get there.
We know that means sometimes we’ll have to step back and watch them falter.
We know we can’t dictate how they should do it.

People’s lives cannot be lived out on a chess board controlled by someone that thinks they know best.
Children must be given the best possible foundation with which to build their own lives.
Chess boards aren’t a solid enough foundation.
YBW knows that.
Thing G knows that.
They’ve begun making their own moves.
Thing G is trying to bolster his own foundation even though he’s not sure how to go about it.

YBW worries that Thing G’s mom will attempt to manipulate him to change his mind.
I said, We have to trust Thing G.
YBW said, I do.

You gotta trust your kids.
You gotta trust that what you’ve given them will get them through.
You gotta expect those “Mommie I need you!” phone calls, or late night knocks on the door, “Dad, help!”
I know the girls are going to be successful. I know they’re going to fall, going to fail. But the fact they get back up and keep at it is what it’s all about.
I’m looking forward to experiencing that with the boys too.

As parents we have no choice but to trust our kids as they take flight.
It’s so f**king hard and scary!
But it’s what’s best for those kids.
Isn’t that what it’s all about? What’s best for children…

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

class of 2018

Congratulations to the class of 2018!

Thing G graduated last night!
Go Tigers!

We are proud.
We are joyful.
We are exhausted.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

studying Yoda-speak (sometimes known as Latin)

You never realize how stupid you actually are until you try to help one of your kids study a foreign language.

I took Latin in high school. (30 years ago)
I remember nothing.
Decline a noun. Conjugate a verb.
Nominative, genitive, ablative.
What the actual f**k!?!
This shit is difficult!

I remember us/a/um.
I remember root words.
I took that language because I wouldn’t have to speak it. I also took it because American English is based on Latin. I know what words mean because I understand the roots.
I also had a mad crush on a boy that took Latin.
In all honesty, what I came out of high school Latin with was a better understanding of my native American English. And the ability to read more.

Seriously though, Thing G had two years of high school Spanish and didn’t feel like he wanted to tackle year three so he switched to Latin. So two years of two languages or three years of one language to graduate.
Well, Latin kicked his ass up one side and back down the other and he’s struggling.
YBW asked if I’d help him study since I took the language.

My initial thought was, F******************K!
I would do anything to help this kid, but I don’t really remember anything from taking those classes all those years ago.
But helping him I am. We’re studying together for his final.
Nothing is coming back to me, but I’m keeping that to myself.

The teacher provided no study guide. (um, yay…?)
The practice tests and the actual tests are exactly the same, so here’s hoping the final will be similar in construct. This means, I’m pretty much having him retake all his tests again as practice for the final.
God help us both, I hope it works!

YBW apologized that I helped him study.
Whoa whoa whoa! He’s my kid too. I love him. I am willing to do what I can to help him be a successful human. No more apologies.
We’re all in this together, bud.
(Cue HSM circa 2006)

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

Thing G is a good kid.
He’s a smart kid.
He’s a math and science kind of kid. Humanities are simply outside his wheelhouse. Foreign language might not even be on his boat.
That’s OK. He just has to survive this exam week and he can graduate Thursday next.

I’m listening to and reading his translations.
Have you ever noticed how ridiculously complicated these Latin sentences are?
I mean really!?! What an inefficient way to communicate.
No wonder that shit is a “dead language”.

Yoda’s pretty old, think he’s actually (ancient) Roman and that’s why he speaks that way?
Perhaps they should just call Latin class ‘Yoda-speak’?

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

bless his heart

Even after all these years, I’m still flabbergasted by the madness that is the father of my children.
I’m not talking shit right now, I’m seriously over here like:

(a quick bit of backstory)
Thing 1’s car gave up the ghost. She sold it for parts and moved on in her life. She and Husband N share a vehicle and they’re OK with that for the moment.

Out of the clear blue, the Things’ father purchases a (used) car for Thing 1. I get this information first from Thing 2 who drove the car home and was tasked with cleaning and detailing it. The next day I get the information from Thing 1 with photos of the car in her dad’s driveway. Later that same day (which happened to be yesterday) I get a call from their dad, telling me with great pride he bought Thing 1 a car. How and what he paid for it and asked me if I would finance the taxes, tags, title, etc. Then he told me he was going to take it his mechanic. I expressed my surprise that he made the purchase without having the mechanic look at it first. Blah blah blah…

This morning at 7:30 I received a facebook message from him.
My first thought (which I said aloud to an empty house) was “This is how we communicate now?”

(When there was still a baby, I was planning a baby shower for the week after Thing G’s graduation while the girls were still up here so we didn’t have to coordinate a second trip this summer. He and Husband N’s mother agreed to split the cost of a rental car so they could bring home their baby haul. Because that changed with the miscarriage, he felt it wasn’t appropriate for Husband N’s mother to pay for a car when there was no baby shower. That made sense to me, and he and I agreed to split the car rental instead.)


Having no idea what it will take to make the care safe, etc. is kind of why you have your mechanic look at a used car before you purchase it…just sayin’.

So apparently after we got off the phone yesterday, he rang up Thing 1 and tried to triangle her into this situation. She shut down his complaining with the logical idea that if he wanted me to give him money, he should have asked me.

To these facebook messages, (I’m sorry, but again I ask, Is this how we communicate now?) I responded as carefully as I could. Essentially I told him that purchasing that car was a decision he made without consulting anyone and since I had no say in the process I have no responsibility in off-setting the cost. I explained that quite honestly I don’t have that kind of money just lying around anyway. I reminded him that there is still a hole in our house and we’re still fighting with the home owners insurance company and we spent several thousand dollars out of pocket to have the tree removed. I closed with “I’m disappointed and disheartened you complained to Thing 1 about it. She doesn’t deserve that.”

I called YBW and he and I talked about it. We agreed that I did the right thing. We agreed that the money that I was contributing to the rental car would be better spent for gas and food on the road as the Things journey to and from for Thing G’s graduation. YBW used the word unilateral and I nearly kicked myself for not thinking that word!

I sent a warning text to each girl explaining that I’d been asked for and refused money and apologized to them if it gets taken out on them.
Thing 1 called me straight away. She apologized for not warning me she told him to just talk about it instead of complaining about it. She and I decided how to deal with getting the car legal and she agreed the money would be of better use for them on the road. She was gracious and thankful that I was willing to help them with that.

So I stopped and breathed deeply and composed and email to my ex-husband.

You caught me off guard this morning and after more time to think about it, I want to respond even more mindfully than I tried to earlier.
Our agreement was for me to pay half of a car rental fee.
When you bought that car, the rental agreement was negated.
Because there is no rental car, we no longer have an agreement.

My initial thought was that I would use the money no longer going to the car rental to pay for their gas and food on the road.

Purchasing the car was a decision you made on your own. Expecting me to offer to pay you after the fact is also a decision you made. Asking me to pay for a decision you unilaterally made is not OK.
I know that’s not what you want to hear. But that’s how it is.

I find myself wondering what is your motivation at this hasty purchase…especially when you’re frustrated I’m not offering to pay you for making it.

I spoke with Thing 1 and we discussed how to handle the taxes, tags, title, insurance, etc. and that’s all taken care of.

I feel good about that. I was clear. I was respectful.

His response email was filled with mad backpedaling and ended with, “Good luck on getting your house repaired and thank you for helping Thing 1 cover the tags title and insurance. I did not intend to create a misunderstanding between us I merely thought that you may want to contribute.”

Here’s the thing.
My daughter didn’t ask for help finding a car. My daughter didn’t ask her father to purchase a car. My daughter knows that she’s an adult and she and her husband are responsible for their decisions for their life.
Her father wants to be “Daddy the Hero”.
He wants credit because he is the one who found her a car. That he swooped in and made everything “all better” for her. If that’s how he stays relevant and special, good for him.
In my experience, the problem with the whole situation is he’ll hold it over her head until the end of time. She better be grateful af and he better know it or he’ll trot it out every chance he gets. That young woman didn’t ask for anything and now she’s being held hostage by it.
She can handle it though. She’s got mad “dealing with dad skills”.

I just want to be left out of the foolishness all together.

I’m curious what y’all think.
Did I do the right thing? Was I respectful to everyone involved?
How would you handle this situation?
Let me hear your thoughts!

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

let us treat self expression with respect

There will be those with differing opinions. And that’s fine with me.
Isn’t that what makes it interesting to be a human? To think and feel things that may be a bit different than the things thought and felt by the people you know?
I’ve learned so much about myself and the world by engaging in conversations of differing opinions.
Here’s the most important thing I learned.
It’s all about respect.
I respect your right to your differing opinions. I expect that same respect in return.
Easy peasy lemon squeezy right?
(Yeah, I know.)

I received a snapchat from my daughter two days ago. It amused me so. I was amused because I too have been where she was. I was also struck by the truth in it. Her truth. Where she was in that moment.
It was real. It was honest. And it was a true representation of her sense of humor.

I know the differing opinion folks might have something to say about her attitude or language. I know I would never have sent something like that to my own mother.
But my girl, she is different.
And I’m a different sort of mom.

Here’s the what.
Honest self expression is not always the simplest action. So if one can manage to speak their truth I say, Bravo! Sometimes that truth comes via opening credits of a television show and quippy language.
I was amused enough to take a screenshot.
At the time, I had no idea I’d be using it for a post, I just knew it was a perfect encapsulation of who my daughter is and why I love her.
It really does come down to respect. I respect her enough to encourage her self expression. She respects me enough to know that she can be herself with me.
And the respect from those of differing opinion to acknowledge that my daughter has an interesting way about her without judging it.

This is what I know.
Be respectful. (of yourself and others)
Speak your truth.
If you do the first, the second will be much simpler, no matter how you choose to express yourself.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Husband N

I’ve mentioned before my daughter Thing 1 is married to Husband N. Now, Husband N is a patient human being, God love him, he has to be to be married to my daughter. He’s rather adept at accepting her for who she is without ever really “letting her off the hook”. I like that about him. They’re giving each other a run for their money, that’s for sure. But they’re doing it with so much love!

I received this text from him this morning.

When Mo died, I was choked by my own grief. I was in mommy mode about my girls and their grief. I was grateful that Husband N was there with Thing 1, but I never stopped to consider his grief. That man welcomed into their home, with open arms, the dogs of his wife’s childhood (well, teen age anyway). He was working with Mo to develop a healthy relationship, switching over from the Things father being Mo’s “father” to Husband N being Mo’s “father”.
He cared for Mo. He moved his lifeless body to the grave he and my daughter created. He did this out of love for their dog.
Their dog.
Even though Mo started out being all of ours, in the last five or six months he truly became theirs. Husband N loves Thing 1. He loves Thing 2. He loves me. But he also loves Mo. His grief was just as real as ours.
He was strong and brave for us.
I don’t have the words to express how strongly I felt the love for him this morning when that text came. I just hope he can feel it.

Now, it took me longer than it should have to decide to like, and then love Husband N. That had almost nothing to do with him and mostly everything to do with me (and Thing 1).
Thing 1 met Husband N when she went away to school. They met in a math class, bonding over their sarcastic senses of humor.
Now this is a meet-cute I can get behind.
What I struggled to get behind was her dropping out of school and shacking up with this guy.
That was not my plan for her! That wasn’t the life she was meant to have.
All I could see what that he’s older than she is, by more than a decade. That she left school because of him. That we didn’t know him from Adam.
I was frightened she was making all the same mistakes I made… a guy so much older than she is…no education…no way to support herself. I wanted more for her than the life I’d lived. I wanted her to be healthy and content and able to take care of herself. I didn’t want her to suffer and struggle.

Of course, what the hell did I know?
A whole lotta nothing, I’ll tell you that.

Turns out, Husband N is a kind and loving man. An intelligent man. A helpful and sincere man. A man who loves my daughter and would do (and has done) whatever it takes to make sure she’s safe and sound.

Y’all know that when YBW and I got married, his Things and my Things were our best men and maids of honor. The girls even “gave me away” that day. Thing 1 remarked to my friend and mentor, Jessica, that she had no idea how (emotionally) hard it would be to give her mom away.
Well, (not yet) Husband N and Thing 2’s then boyfriend were here too. And even though it was busy and a bit chaotic, I got to spend some good time with Husband N. And when YBW were driving to the airport to go to Barbados for our honeymoon, I turned to him, and said, “I like Husband N!” YBW was so relieved! He was waiting for me to decide to like Husband N because he very much liked him.

Then they came back for Christmas that year. And I got to spend even more time with him. I love his childlike enthusiasm! I listened to him and my daughter talk about what kind of life they wanted. And I realized it wasn’t the life Husband N wanted that Thing 1 just accepted, neither was it the life Thing 1 wanted that Husband N accepted. They had really thought about this. They had talked about it. They were planning this life that they wanted together!

They are truly each other’s best friend. They are both great big nerds about books and movies and comics and D & D and video games. They’re learning from each other how to appreciate these things the other brings to the table. They are so loving. They are also quick to get after each other. Each one feisty in their own way. They fight. They laugh. They play. They love. They do these things with the entirety of themselves. They give everything to each other and their relationship.
How could I possibly want more for my daughter? Or her sweet husband?

When they married, I was joyous for them! It wasn’t a big white wedding, but it was them. There was love and laughter and genuine joy surrounding them. This man is the husband of my very first girl. That was hard yet simple all in the same moment. I knew they could marry and build a life together and I wouldn’t have to worry about their ability to work together. I wouldn’t have to worry about their ability to love each other and embrace each other’s families.

Husband N just might love Thing 2 as much as her big sister does.
I know Thing 2 adores him.
They have such a special friendship.
I believe he’s been instrumental in helping my girls rebuild their relationship.
One more thing to love about him.

When his grandmother died and there was talk of them moving to her farm. Thing 1 was all for it. Husband N was a bit more hesitant. He called me and we talked for a long time. He shared his concerns. He asked my opinion. We talked about how he didn’t want to disappoint Thing 1, but felt so strongly that he didn’t want to raise (future) children where he grew up. He wanted more and better for them. (I can SO relate to that.)
I made some suggestions. I offered to speak with his wife. I promised to have their backs no matter what choices they made for their future.
I was touched he wanted to have that conversation with me. I was honored that he valued my opinion. I was pleased to be his (mostly) impartial sounding board for that important process.

I talk with my girls frequently. A phone call at least once a week, but there are texts and snapchats, emails and social media posts mixed in there too.
Husband N and I also text, snap and share things with each other’s social media. We sometimes even talk on the phone. It’s fun. He makes me laugh. He shares information he thinks I’ll be interested in. He expresses his concern for my health.
He expresses his love for my daughters and acknowledges how hard I worked to help them become the women they are.


Dude loves my girls.
Respects my hard work to help them become those ‘epic legends’.

I’m so grateful.
My girl chose well.
For herself.
For her sister.
For her Momma.
Husband N has his hands full with we three girls, but he takes it in stride.
Y’all we are so damn blessed!

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

why I’m “like this”

I’ve always questioned why I’m “like this”. Ever since I can remember, I’ve wondered why I associate love with fear and anxiety. Why, when (even as an adult) I thought, “I want my Mommy” I knew instinctively that I would not be comforted.

Turns out this is because I have what’s considered an anxious/avoidant attachment style. This comes from earliest childhood when attachments with primary care givers are formed. Inconsistency from the primary caregiver can impact brain development and foster an insecure attachment.
In insecure or anxious attachment, a child will often express need for the caregiver but then not be able to make eye contact. The child will be upset by the absence of the caregiver, yet not be soothed when the caregiver returns. The child learns that while her needs will most times be met, there is great inconsistency in the process. This creates an anxious and fearful child. One who learns that comfort and love are conditional.

Bartholomew’s Two Dimensional Model of Attachment

This entire thought process came about because I saw an article Tuesday about unloved daughters attracting narcissists.

This article was total click-bait, but I was waiting at an appointment that was already running late and left my book at home, so I clicked it.
I mean, I knew I spent the first seventeen years of my adult life being married to a narcissist, but was it because I was unloved?

I thought about my mother.
(Let’s face it, my father was absentee and would rather smoke weed, snort coke, and party in discos than be a dad. And his narcissistic shenanigans didn’t really noticeably impact me until I was an adult.)
My mom was my primary care giver. My mom is the one who stuck it out and raised us. My mom is the one who made sacrifices so we could have, and do, and be more.

I have never once doubted that my mother loved me.
(Even the year of my fifteenth birthday when she signed a card ‘Mommy’ instead of the standard, ‘I love you, Mommy’. It was the only time there was proof of her withholding love because she was angry with me.)
Obviously, her actions weren’t always indicative of that love.
She was cruel in the things she said. She placed a great deal of responsibility on me at a young age. She always shut me down when I expressed my thoughts or creativity. She was critical and quick to strike. She had such unrealistic expectations of me that I was always falling short. My brother was the golden child and I was the responsible one.

I grew up knowing that my mother’s love was conditional. That if I pleased her, or met her expectations, I would be loved. I learned to over-function so I’d be sure to get some love even if I didn’t do everything “right” or “well enough”.
I learned that I was not to be loved simply because I’m me. I was to be loved for what I could do, how I could function.

In doing research on this topic to create better understanding in myself, I came across Peg Streep’s blog, knotted.
Um…DAMN!
This chick knows my soul.
She writes that the unloved child longs for specific things even as an adult.
The things she lists are as follows:

to feel safe
to be understood
to be accepted
to simply be
to belong
to be loved for who she is

This.
This is me in six little lines.

Is this why I love so fiercely?
Is it because I don’t exactly know what it feels like to be safe in love?

So it seems that because these patterns are set in childhood, however self-aware one becomes, they are extremely difficult to break. This is because brains are pattern-seeking. And once brain patterns are developed, they can be altered, but those created in earliest childhood will always remain.
These patterns are in my brain. This insecure and anxious attachment. Actively (albeit unconsciously) committing self-sabotage because those deepest patterns are where I lived for so long.

I sought similar situations because they were familiar. Because I understood how to function in them. Of course, I was unaware of this at the time.
I married a man who lead me to believe he wanted nothing more than to take good care of me and give me babies. He was stable and reliable and consistent. All the things I’d been searching for without really understanding it.
Only it was a ruse. He manipulated me from the beginning.
He belittled me the same way my mother had.
His passive aggression was the stuff of legend. Gaslighting was a thing I experienced before I ever knew there was a word for it. Manipulations so subtle that I didn’t even realize what was happening.
I suspected it wasn’t meant to be this way, but because it felt familiar I didn’t question it. I drank the kool aid we made and I even served it to other people.
I learned the hard way not to question what was going on. His rage was epic. His ability to twist my words made me question my sanity. I was suffering from insomnia and chronic migraine pain. I was weak and helpless.
I turned my focus to my girls. To love them so fully they’d never have to question it. To keep them safe always. To protect them from the way their father treated me.
I remember the exact moment I realized that I was not the crazy one. Yet, I stupidly tried to talk with him about it.

I functioned from a place of fear and anxiety. It negatively impacted my health. It negatively impacted my daughters.

All these years later, I’m only beginning to understand that I made the choices I did because I felt unloved as a child.
The guilt inside me is overwhelming. The powerful urge to deny this treatment. My initial instinct is to quickly defend my mother. She loved me. She did everything she could on her own. Blah blah blah. Saying these things out loud, writing them here, it feels like a betrayal of epic proportions.
Only, that’s just how it goes for women (and men) who grew up like me. We spend our entire lives protecting the ones who abused us. That word made my stomach turn. Abuse is a big, scary, bad word. And to outsiders, my childhood, and marriage to the former husband, never looked like abuse. And for most of my life it didn’t look like abuse to me. Only it is abuse. And it’s horrific.
An unloved daughter is trained not to talk about what she thinks or feels. Everyone around her quick to tell her why she’s wrong. Quick to tell her how ungrateful she is. Quick to blame her and be sympathetic to her abuser.

If we don’t talk about it we can’t heal. And healing is of the utmost importance. I am actively attempting to learn self-compassion. Not pity. But honest, healing, compassionate love for myself.

This discovery has had me questioning everything the last few days.
Did I do this to my girls? Are they damaged by me? Did I abuse them? Did I protect them enough from their father? Do they see him for who he really is? Did they know this about me innately, before I ever even had a clue?

Did I specifically choose YBW because he’s not like this? Did I choose him because I question his desire and commitment to build a life with me? Am I simply sabotaging us to create my self-fulfilling prophesy that I’m not special or worthy of anyone’s love?

I’ve sat with these feelings since about eight o’clock Tuesday morning. I’ve struggled to research and understand. I’ve struggled to process and write. And that’s saying a great deal as I’ve damaged the tendons in my thumb and cannot hold a pencil. That means I cannot journal this.

I’ve talked with Jessica at length. Against my better judgment, I even talked with YBW about how I’m thinking and feeling. With one teeny exception of cracking an inappropriate joke, he surprised me and was a kind, loving, and wonderful listener.
Without doubt, I’ll be having this conversation with my therapist next week.
I feel as though I should have it with my girls too. Because if I am either abusive, or simply crazy, they have a right to know why.

I feel like I’m betraying my mother by saying I’m an unloved daughter.
That feels absolutely wretched.
But you know what feels amazing?
Finally beginning to understand why I’m “like this”.
As Albus Dumbledore said,

“Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.”

Dumbledore knew what was up.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

inner Momma voice

I’ve written before about inner speech. I even took the time to kind of explain it for those of you that don’t really know much about brain development.
Inner speech is pretty much the most important thing any of us have. But, the importance comes down to the type of inner speech one has.
If you read the linked posts, you know I have critical inner speech. I had a mother who loved me but that didn’t always come across in the way she spoke to me. And those moments when I hear her in my brain, I am immediately a little girl again. Only I’ve spent a good bit of time actively learning new ways to use my inner voice. It’s a minefield up in that brain of mine…which probably isn’t good considering the pinball thoughts that tend to roll and crash around in there…but, with concentrated effort, I’m learning to hear kinder, much less critical thoughts.

Thing 2 was in crisis mode on Saturday. We texted a great deal and had a long conversation.
She sent this text after we talked.

My joy knew no bounds! Here inner speech was positive. It was kind. It was self-loving. And she knew it came from me!
In that moment I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I had not ruined her!!
What a relief!

Now that’s not to say that when her inner speech is about chilling and breathing she doesn’t also hear things like, “Jesus Christ, Magdeline!” in a frustrated voice. I mean, I know I’m critical. I don’t honestly think I stood a chance not being…consider my own inner speech.
And while I’m sure my second daughter has some critical or even negative inner speech, it truly warms my heart that she has soothing and positive inner speech. That she can hear her Momma’s voice in her head and it’s kind and loving. That she can choose to use those words to take the best possible care of herself.

I’m going to call this a win for Thing 2.
You know, I also think I’m going to call this a parenting win!

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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