Pamela Llano Zesty Mom
I no longer look down at them sleeping the way I did when they were smaller.
I don’t check just to make sure they’re breathing.
I don’t stroke their heads in my lap while giving thanks for the temporary respite from the noise of small children.
Contrary to the unsolicited advice from so many about having them sleep in my bed in their early years, my offspring grew into big kids who love the space and privacy of their own rooms.
I do sometimes still catch a glimpse of them sprawled out or curled up, breath heavy and mind off in some other world. I still appreciate the quiet and it is still one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.
Seeing sleeping children always elicits contemplative sighs and pondering thoughts.
My own kids are at that stage of being full sized physically, yet emotionally and mentally, they are still kids. Smart,competent kids and even mature sometimes, but still very much kids.
While they are under my wing, I’m grateful~ for their health, intelligence and character~ for who they are now and the people they are growing into.
But I’m also realizing how little of this I left. I feel like I'm running out of time.
My Boy Child who just turned 16, towers over me and wants to drive cars and start money making businesses that range from selling tomato seedlings to faux Rolex watches. Like so many teens, he tries hard for the fun perks of being older, but in so many ways, he wants to be a goofy child while he can.
His Sweet 16th birthday party~ a mini camping adventure at a nearby lake~ had entertainment ranging from horribly offensive rap music that I eventually had to censor before my head split open from the awfulness of it, to a homemade pinata, just for old times sake.
The pinata was made to look like a car with my son’s head sticking out the top as the driver and a couple of kids suggested it be filled not only with candy, but Ramen packets (which I normally will not buy, but they will actually eat raw.)
Since he and friends are no longer small sized, we decided they didn’t need a bat, but could instead pummel the swinging pinata with their fists, blindfolded and one at a time. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in awhile.
He will be getting his driving permit soon, and practicing behind the wheel of my well loved car~ on the real roads, with other cars. While he doesn’t think it’s necessary, as with my Oldest, I am making him have and keep the insurance deductible in savings…. just in case.
From my experience, people are a lot more careful when they know they actually have to cover any little “oops” incidents they cause. It’s one way I can help him practice responsible adulting, even if he doesn't like it. (Who does like adulting, anyway?)
Anyhoo, after a weekend of observing (and occasionally shouting at) him and his friends, I am still baffled as to why some normally intelligent people seem to lose mass quantities of brain cells when immersed in peer groups?
Seriously, there were times when their IQs appeared to have dropped by at least 50 points each and the infection spread among them by osmosis.
But, they are good kids and I know (or at least I hope like heck) that this will pass. While lamenting the dumbarsery that their culture promotes, I think hard about what I can offer and how I can package it to be of interest to them.
Thankfully, I realize I am not trapped into accepting things that make me feel bad, no matter if they are mainstream norms. I can choose what I foster and facilitate, what I pay for and provide access to.
As always, reality may not be as easy as philosophy, but I feel a lot better knowing I still don’t need to blindly submit or assimilate.
My Girl Child, who turned 18 a few months ago, will be flying the coop this fall~ heading out for 8 month adventure in Ecuador.
This is 4000 miles away.
Four. Thousand. Miles. Eight. Months.
When she was little, and we spent our days funschooling by the creek with goats, reading books for hours in bed and making food for fairy tea parties, I felt pretty sure she was getting all she needed.
She had opportunities for creativity and expression, to connect with animals and people of all ages, to delve deep into her interests, to travel and explore, to be immersed in nature and exposed to big cities, to make food and grow plants and care for creatures both very young and very old, to witness first hand the circle of life.
And I felt pretty sure that would continue~ that she would always get just what she needed. And so far, I think that she has.
But the way that she gets things has changed so much. I am no longer a primary source from which she seeks knowledge. In fact, I’m pretty sure she now prefers to get her new ideas elsewhere, and may sometimes feel she has had her lifetime max fill of “lessons” from me.
She does love to come home often to tell me new things she has learned in the world, although my input or feedback doesn't seem to be what she's looking for, and if I already knew of what she speaks, I’m pretty sure it annoys the heck out of her.
Perhaps she just would like me to listen? (poor thing has a mama who understands the concept of “active listening” but hasn’t exactly become zen with the reality of not speaking / solving / talking. But... I’m trying.)
I think these are signs that she is nearing ready to go. The time is coming and the world is waiting. As the time of her departure nears, we go back and forth with things she needs to do in order to leave her home country for nearly a year and head out into parts and situations relatively unknown to any of us.
Sometimes she wants my help, sometimes she just wants to verbalize frustrations. It’s all bringing her closer to her exit.
So I realize even more that I have this tiny window left.
There’s so much still to say, to show, to teach, to do, and so little time left.
They have already heard so much of my rambling, I fear they will be tuned out when we're dealing with something really important.
And what is the most important anyway?
Some things I felt were totally covered in younger years seem to have been completely forgotten post puberty.
Other things were never relevant when they actually wanted me to tell them stories all day. Now that these things actually matter, I worry they are tired of hearing me talk.
That leads me to repeat or reword things in 75 different ways with lots of examples and analogies and metaphors in hopes they will understand one of them.
Perhaps that just makes them block out more so all they hear is “whaawhaaa whaaahwhaa whawha.”
(Insert Big Sigh....)
So, do I just leave things unsaid? Undone? Not even try?
Not likely. That wouldn't be me.
So much has already changed and I know that soon, this season will be gone too.
Cheesy cliche or not, it's true~ Time waits for no one.
Ugggh. (I've moved on to groaning now...)
I sure hope I'm doing this right....
If you connected with this post, please connect in the comments below, and share it with a friend on Facebook! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!
If you have any encouraging tips, I'd love those too!
Last Friday evening started out like Ladies Art Night usually does~ good food, great people, acceptable wine, entertaining chit chat and some sort of creating.
A good deal of wine later, our latest gathering turned into a slumber party of cackling and therapy that went late into the wee hours when I made up beds around the house for my friends to crash in.
As always, it was good for my soul on so many levels.
I’m in the habit of telling the teens in my life to make good choices (I generally shout it from the car as I drop them off) and I can be proud that we mamas did just that. (like not driving home, and also drinking plenty of water along with our other beverages.)
I'm also in the habit of telling people that good hydration solves a myriad of woes, and it’s true~ especially when other beverages are involved!
Anyhoo, I suppose a few questionable choices were made as well (like trying to create another round of art pieces starting at 2:30 AM after a good deal of wine) but the only consequences at stake were baggy eyes and slightly embarrassing and amusing artwork.
The great thing about Ladies Art Night is...well...there are so many great things!
My top 3 are:
There’s a certain point after you start adulting, and definitely by the time you’re parenting, where you no longer get to stay up late chatting with your friends, eating and lamenting / solving the world’s problems.
Of course, the years of forced sleeplessness that comes with parenting can eliminate the desire for the late night part, but there’s still the need to connect with peers. Unfortunately, people are usually Really Friggen Busy. Most of us have work, family and life responsibilities that take up the majority of our time and energy. Friend time takes a back seat, even though we could really benefit from it.
There are stages when you can squeeze a little connection at park day while your children play or at work on a coffee break, but, having adult contact in a non-work and non kid related setting is HUGE. It’s a chance for real smack talk (the good and healthy kind where you analyze and think, not the damaging and mean kind) and conversations have the chance to be about whatever you want, not just family and work (even though those topics come up a lot anyway)
2. Creative Fuel~
There are something like 5.3 million sad American adults who think that colored pencils and markers are just for kids. Are you one of them? If so, I have news for you.
First, I totally made up that statistic.I have no idea the number of American adults that gave up art with childhood, but it seems like a lot. I do feel like adults in general are woefully deficient in creative endeavors though, and it’s a bummer.
The reasons adults don’t make fun things are plenty~ Life is busy and parents spend a lot of mental energy on other people, so sometimes they are just too brain dead and tired to create anything.
But also, for a lot of people, back when they were little, some well meaning adult squelched them for not coloring in the lines or making a cow purple or forgetting the legs on their bear drawing, and they took it to heart that they are not creative.
In her Birthing From Within book, Pam England talks about the connection between how we approach art and how we approach life~ or at least new things that we don’t already feel competent in. A lot of people are really critical of themselves and afraid to try. That brings me to the second thing.
If you haven’t picked up a paintbrush or colored markers in some time, then you are missing out on all kinds of fun, and possibly even some therapeutic benefits of art. Even my friends who don’t consider themselves creative, always have a great time and come away with some cool piece of individuality. It’s not a competition and no one is judging the outcome. It’s just a fun way of self expression, and you might make something pretty.
Easy projects like collage or coloring mandalas are non intimidating places to start. We’ve done vision boards, dream boxes and this last gathering, we made mosaics from broken old cds, which were shiny and fun.
I also appreciate bringing some balance of creating versus consuming in my life. Most of us consume, consume, consume~ all day every day~ not just food and physical products, but information and entertainment even. Balancing what I make with what I take is one really important thing I’m working on this year.
Of course, food and beverages are an important part of art night (and life) for me. But, amidst all the consumption that happens here and all around us, we are actually creating things too. Sometimes we make awesome things, and get new art to hang up in our homes and offices.
Other times we learn that projects are harder than they look on the Internet and wind up with candidates for a “nailed it” photo shoot. But, either way, we are making stuff, not just consuming it.
3) I get to play Hostess with the Mostest
And I even have a cute apron! Just kidding (although I actually do)... Really though, I enjoy having gatherings in general, and am almost always happy to host Art Night at my house. I Love, Love, Love my new home and I also love when I don’t have to drive!
There are some occasions when I want to get all dressed up, but if I want, I can wear yoga pants too. I can wear slippers even! And, I only invite people who aren’t lame and judgey, so I don’t even really have to clean ahead of time!
I like to keep it low key so all I have to do is pick a date and a project and put out some food. And before the evening is over I know I will get filled up, and not just my belly, but also my heart and mind.
There might be a few glitter explosions to clean up later, but I don't really mind. They're just sparkling reminders of people and things I like having around in my life, and I look forward to doing it again soon.
If you haven't tried a Ladies Art Night, give it a shot. You'll be glad you did, and you might even get something shiny out of the deal.
It was just past 1 AM, after much late night reading, writing and thinking, when I was finally about to doze off. I was jolted awake by the barking, or should I say shrieking, of my dogs. As much as I love these animals, they have what may quite possibly be two of the most annoying and ear splitting barks in the history of the canine species.
During the daylight hours, I would not have been entirely surprised by their barking, because there are things like unauthorized squirrels and mail delivery people to bark at. My Jack Russell has an especially strong need to yap her ferocious cease and desist orders at anyone who appears to be having fun, and my mixed mutt is prone to high pitched whines of excitement when his favorite house members come, go or get remotely near his leash.
But, it was 1 o clock in the morning, and by all accounts, these creatures should have been sleeping.
As I was the only human in the house who was awake, and I wanted to keep it that way, I went to check on situation. I found my larger dog outside with that "oh no, I'm busted" look about him. As I opened the back door, he slumped in shame and came inside, looking somewhere between a deer in headlights and someone who was about to be killed.
Considering he had just woken me from the brink of slumber at this hour, I suppose murder may have been a possibility, but he tends to look like that every time he thinks he is in trouble, which is at least 47 times a day.
I didn’t see anything to bark about, although I really didn’t look all that hard. I was just glad he shut up. I naively assumed my problem was over.
Within minutes, I was back to bed, and almost back to sleep when my eardrums were again shattered by more barking. This time, it was right outside my bedroom door. I deliriously fumbled my way to opening it, but the dogs had run into to my office, again near the back door.
At that point, I noticed the little dog was outside, just looking up at the sky barking. It wasn’t even a full moon. I don’t know what could have been in the trees above her head and I really didn’t care. I just wanted her to shut her pie hole.
In contrast to her buddy, she didn't seem to look like she thought she was in any trouble at all. I called her in, which felt like it took 5 years, because she is old, possibly deaf, and definitely doesn’t care what anyone wants her to do. Just as I was about to chase her down, she finally came in, looking right past me with a snarky look of "I'm only doing this because I want to."
In my grogginess, I didn’t think to shut the doggy door and trap the loud mouthed little beasts inside. I once again just gave thanks that the barking had stopped before I completely flipped my friggen lid, and went back to the coziness of my bed.
Snuggled under the covers, I was again just on the verge of la la land when THEY STARTED BARKING AGAIN!!!!!!!
I sat up, my head spun in circles and flames shot out of my eyes and nostrils.
“Will you please go check on that before I hurt someone?” I growled to my partner through clenched teeth.
Smart and kind man that he is, he did.
I started to lie back down, my eyeballs rolling back into my skull. But, before I could get too cozy, I realized that I didn’t want to fall asleep before he got back because if I hadn’t gotten the reassurance that there was nothing in fact wrong, I would probably have nightmares that woke me shortly anyway. That’s just how my brain works.
So, I sat up, but not straight. I swayed back and forth, attempting to stay awake for what seemed like a really, really long time.
“What the heck is taking him so long?” I wondered.
My annoyance moved fairly quickly to fear as I thought that maybe what was taking so long was that he could be dealing with an intruder. In that case, he might be trying to calmly reason and listen actively, using his painfully patient non-violent communication skills to avoid being killed. Because he’s like that.
No, I thought, if there was an intruder, the dogs would be barking again, but they were quiet.
But……..What if that was because…. the intruder killed the dogs????? At this point, I wondered 2 things.
Why the heck I watched so many scary movies as a teenager, and where was that metal flashlight I had been using to read with a few hours before. I didn’t want it for the light to see by, I could have just turned on a lamp for that. I wanted it to use as a weapon to chuck at the head of the intruder if he (or she~ best be equal opportunity!) came into my room.
I reached over to my nightstand, bumbling around and grabbing the thing that seemed to be shaped most closely to the flashlight. It was a ¾ empty lotion bottle. Uggh. That wouldn’t even hurt if I hit someone with it. It wouldn’t even slow them down, let alone stop them. I suppose I could try to fling lotion in their eyes, but that seemed a long shot, even for me.
I reached around more, knocking things over and onto the floor. I knew I should have cleared all that clutter away, dang it. Just then, I heard footsteps. I recoiled under the covers, cursing under my breath. The door opened…
and there was the shadow of my sweet partner.
He had no news to report and we never found out what those dang dogs were barking about. When I lamented my tale to him, he pointed out that if I needed a weapon, I have a Himalayan salt lamp that weighs about 20 pounds right next to my bed. It's supposed to do something with the ions in the air and create positive energy, and it does it emit a lovely light. I suppose it would work as a weapon as well!
Why hadn’t I thought of that?
I’m not sure I would have been very accurate with throwing that weight at that hour in my exhausted state, and I’m glad I didn’t try as it was in fact my sweetheart and not an intruder, and if I did manage to hit him, it would have definitely hurt.
At least I know what to grab for next time.
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Until Next Time....
Scrolling through pictures on my phone, I'm realizing how many things I chose not to share in the last few months. Not drama or negativity or any sort of dirty laundry that I would prefer not to share in any case, but good and happy things. Things that were actually worth sharing.
It wasn't entirely intentional~ it was mostly just busyness and life, but aside from that, I sorta had this low level feeling of discomfort around the thought of sharing so many happy things~ like I just wanted to keep them privately to myself and my own little world.
This would be fine, except when I thought about one partial reason~ A part of me figured there would be a few people would see my happy stuff, curl their lip and flare their nostrils in disapproval and shoot unhappy downer vibes my way.
That's the thing about the wonderful world of the internet~ it's hard to filter out the rain clouds. If you share your sparkle, someone wants to dull it. I don't know why some people have such disapproval for an abundance of fun, or why they feel others should be doomed to a linear progression of blah.
Logically, the number of effs I should give about what those people think is zero. But, there must be some underlying subconscious parts that do care, or at least that wanted to protect my happy stuff and didn't want to put myself in the target range of unpleasantries.
I recall back in the earlier stages of my divorce, and prior to that, my ex husband's deployment, I had dealt with similar issues of some people thinking (and saying) I wasn't appropriately somber. That's right~ too happy~ too many smiles ~ too much laughter and fun. Whatever...
When I think about it, it actually makes me laugh more.
Then again, I started thinking that perhaps, a good deal of my reluctance is my own upper limit problem, which is entirely in my own head.
Denise Duffield-Thomas talks a lot about money blocks ~ how women will often subconsciously create a maximum cap of how successful they can be. There's a whole lotta psychological reasons, but it boils down to because they aren't comfortable getting too big for their britches.
I bet the concept works for other success as well. Like, it can feel weird to be really happy and blessed, especially when there's a lot of unhappy stuff in the world.
I realize however, that all of this is ridiculous.
If one of my offspring or a friend told me they were hesitant to share good news, whether because of Potentially Negative Nelly's or because they felt uncomfortable having something so awesome, I would surely suggest they let that nonsense go and share away.
Fun is a good thing. The world needs more things to smile about, right?
And since I would tell my kids or my friend to let their light shine and share their smiles with the world, I think I'm gonna do the same. (Plus I really wanted to get 4 blog posts in this month, and this will help me hit the mark! Ha!)
So, without any further psycho-analytical ramblings, here are a few random and wonderful blessings from the last few months I would love to share....and also, here are some happy thoughts cards to print and spread smiles if you are also inclined.
Life is Good Indeed, and I am so Very Happy to be able to share it.
If you're happy and you'd like to share, I'd love to see what's making you smile as well!
Post a picture on the Facebook post and share it with a friend.
Easter Sunday and my family rose with the sun. Not so much for the religious symbolism, but because we would be serving brunch at this annual fundraising event for my kids' youth group.
As a non-morning riser myself, I was not at all looking forward to he alarm, but somehow I woke up over an hour before it was set to go off.
One of the first things I thought (aside from why is no one making me coffee?) was how much I appreciate that Easter is a season of rebirth and renewal. That's because this year, I once again didn't exactly pull off my Lenten goals.
The thing I wanted to give up for Lent this year was trying to solve problems that weren't mine. I wanted to let go, to loosen the clenched grip, to release the emotional attachments to outcomes. Basically, to quit freaking out.
The problem was that more days than not, I completely forgot I was trying to do this.
Often I didn't remember until I had already stressed myself out, or in some cases completely flipped my shizzle sticks.
Then, in hindsight, I would lament my wayward ways. I didn't actually vow to do better, but I really did hope to improve. I'm not however all that convinced that I did.
This isn't the first year I have managed to NOT pull off my Lenten goals.
Perhaps I need a better plan because it's not easy trying to work with less tangible concepts instead of actual things.
One thing I am better at than I have been in years past is not being mean to myself about it. (Thanks in part to the lovely Christine Arylo who is always uber encouraging to be gentle with ourselves)
In years past, I would have had much more negative commentary on my failure. This year, I'm chalking it up to reality being harder than philosophy.
In any case, even though Lent is over, I still would like to work more on this Letting Go Idea.
Maybe a vow would have helped?
Maybe some sort of alarm upon waking or reminders on my phone throughout the day?
I could just go low tech in my efforts to rebirth my aspirations of being a less stressed and calmer person is to hang sticky notes all over the house.
"Keep Breathing and Let it Go, Lady."
"Everything is Going to Be OK"
"It's OK for people to make choices that appear to be bat poop crazy. You don't need to fix it."
"It's Not Your Problem."
Maybe at least a better definition of what I'm actually trying to do?
I suppose that would be: I want to learn to let go of caring to the point where it physically effects me and I don't sleep and feel like vomiting over other people's problems, but I want to still continue caring in a way that a nice person would?
I'm not sure that entirely makes sense, even to me, but I'm still going to shoot for it anyway.
I'd love any wisdom or thoughts on how to keep caring, but not caring at the same time, so please share in the comments below if you have any ideas.
Happy Easter to those who celebrated, and Happy Spring to the rest of you!
Why are there are so many things in life to get upset about?
Things that don’t go your way, things you want to fix and things you can’t control.
Injustice, unhappiness, pointless messes and all kinds of unpleasantries.
While some portion of these things may actually be problems to solve, I’ve been noticing lately how many things that people (myself included) get their panties in a twist about that aren’t even their responsibility.
Moms may just be the worst at this. (I know this is a sweeping and generalized statement that is not actually supported by any research, but it sure seems like a lot of us mamas get into this habit of wanting so badly for everything in our happy little homes to run smoothly and be not just ok, but friggen fantastic for everyone involved.)
I don't mean to sound bitter, but the unfortunate reality is that’s probably never going to happen.
And the more energy a person expends on trying to make it all wonderful and sunny for every person every time, the more wrinkles and misery we suffer from feeling like failures when we can’t.
Even if you do manage to get your own household all happy for five minutes, the outside world is still full of all kinds of things that don't jive with your vision of a good life. And sooner or later, they will invade your bubble.
As part of my own efforts at working towards a more “No BS” life, I’ve been taking baby steps in letting go of things that don’t serve me well.
I'm realizing that worrying about problems that aren’t mine definitely generates stomach aches and furrowed brow lines, both of which fall into the category of not serving me well.
So, the other day when I found myself getting my blood pressure up thinking about some misunderstanding that I wasn't able to communicate my way through, I started working on a handy list to help me remember things that I can't control and therefore am NOT responsible for.
Some are easier than others, but I thought I’d share here in case anyone else finds themselves getting all upset when they really don’t need to.
A List of Things That You Can't Control and Are Not Responsible For (Even if You’re Someone’s Mom)
Some people will love you and think you are fabulous. These are the right people for you. But, no matter how many of them there are, there will always be some others who think you suck.
Sure, self reflection is good, but no matter how much work you do on your own self, it’s good to be aware that someone out there won’t like the way you live, the things you say or do and basically, the fact that you are YOU.
Maybe you're too loud or too quiet, too opinionated or too easily swayed. You can't please everyone.
Dita Von Teese was right about this at least... "You can be the ripest, juciest peach in the world, and there's still going to be somebody who hates peaches."
I struggle with this because I dislike being disliked, but really, I can't do much about it. Yes, it's a bummer, but I'd probably be better off just focusing on enjoying the time I have with people who don't think I'm lame.
Yeah, this is a loaded topic. I know my parenting decisions have baffled numerous friends and family members and vice versa.
But, you don’t have to totally understand what someone is doing in order to be respectful.
If you are truly listening to your own inner wisdom, and choosing love over fear as often as you can, then you are answering to your own higher consciousness~ and that means more than anyone else’s opinion.
If your friends disagree, that’s OK. If they make you feel bad for following your heart, you might need different friends.
This one is really hard if you want to raise independent thinkers because that means sometimes they will not think the same way as you. On some things it doesn’t matter, but on matters of health / safety / values etc, that’s when you have to be a parent and not a peer.
I struggle because I want my kids to actually understand, and not just comply. And often they do get it, but realistically, I can’t expect them to see the world with the eyes of a 40+ year old mom because they haven’t been alive that long, and they don’t have my life experience. Sometimes, I just have to be the bad guy. But we all thought Snape was a bad guy too, and look how he turned out in the end!
I was once very close with a person who I felt comfortable letting see my dirty dishes and other messes because they always seemed supportive and never judgmental in the least. Then, one day they were upset with me about something completely unrelated, and chose to tell me that I was one of the worst housekeepers they had ever seen.
Uh, OK. That’s not a very good insult. I know I’m not a good housekeeper. So what? That may not be my gift in life, but at least my kids are awesome.
Truthfully, I was more hurt that this person had been judging me all along than to think what they said was true.
I’ve had people misinterpret my writing a number of times, and while it never feels great to have your words twisted, it’s way harder when it comes from someone you care about than a stranger.
To be honest, this has stalled me more often than I care to admit. I wonder how David Sedaris manages to write all he does and still be on good terms with his family? All I can do is be conscious that I’m trying my best when creating and hope that it’s taken in the spirit intended.
Danielle LaPorte wisely said that life is too precious to spend with people who make you crazy. And trying to please people who can't be pleased can sure as heck make you crazy.
In pondering all of this, my inclination tends to lean more towards just saying Eff it to the Negative Nellie's than to wishing them blessings on their journeys. But, I'm hoping there's some happy middle ground where I still try to be a nice person, but also be OK with the fact that I'm never gonna make everyone else happy. In the mean time, I might as well at least make sure I'm happy, and hopefully, the people who matter to me will be happy too.
How do you deal with people you just can't please? I'd love to hear in the comments below, and if you liked this post, please "like" it on Facebook and share it with a friend.
This weekend, I got to play the role of Unpopular Mom.
There was a point where I thought I may have even been cast as:
“The Meanest and Worst, Most Unpopular Mom Ever in the History of the Whole World”
But I may have been slightly exaggerating.
So, why, you may wonder, was I so unpopular?
Well, because I wasn’t on board with a weekend long, co-ed sleepover for teens where sleeping in a giant cuddle puddle was an acceptable option.
Unreasonable, I know.
I personally don’t think co-ed sleepovers are a good idea, even if plenty of other really good parents are fine with the concept.
It’s never been my cup of tea.
We’ve been to lots of campouts and a few overnight events in homes where entire families, including teenagers crashed, but I was there and the vibe was different.
I did try to be open, and do diligent discussions, which kept being steered towards why I didn’t trust them and what I was afraid they would do. It was meant to dispel any fears, but it really just generated a whole lotta stress, and sort felt like an interrogation of my instincts.
I’ll tell you what a horrible exercise is~ coming up with bad things that “could happen” to people you like. I highly recommend NOT doing it ...for real….because it’s truly terrible and not in the least bit helpful.
My brain is quite adept at coming up with worst case scenarios, and even if I knew they weren’t going to happen, it certainly didn’t make me feel any better about the idea.
The stress and pressure of the forced discussions felt awful. I became angry and probably did most of the “What Not To Do” examples in a parental communication book.
Stay Calm (Nope)
Avoid yelling (Whoops)
Don’t lecture (Fail)
The list could go on...
The thing that was so hard to articulate was that it just didn’t friggen feel right.
I really don’t think every gut feeling needs to be dissected and analyzed to death in order to be valid.
Sometimes you just need to trust your instincts, even if you can’t explain them, and it would be nice if people would respect and honor that.
So, I went against the popular vote and went my own way. I stuck to my gut and vetoed my kid staying the night.
I tried to explain my reasoning, but it’s possible that they may have only heard “Blah, blah, blah..”
Unfortunately, lots of fast pace plans had been rapidly put in place for out of town friends to come and special dinners to be made, and all sorts of fun to be had. It was somehow assumed I would be on board, although I'd never said I would be and wasn't involved in any of it.
In fact I’d told my kid numerous times prior as well as mentioned it to the host that I was in fact not comfortable. Still, it was assumed I would or should be.
Because everyone else was.
It was a big deal for some of the young people involved, and while I don’t enjoy disappointing people, that didn’t somehow make it convincing for me.
I’m actually pretty sure that my own kid was more annoyed and embarrassed than devastated, because my kids have always been around me and my tendency to stand my ground. Poor things.
But the other kids...well they are used to way different rules, or a lack thereof. They know me mostly in fun ways and they generally seem to like me. For them, well, they couldn’t understand my problem.
And now, they might just think I’m the devil, or at least a completely lame and overprotective MOM. (I imagine this to be said with an accompanying uggh noise and facial expression, including full eye roll…”Ugggg, Pamelaaaaahhh….”)
This does make me a little sad, because I really like all the kids involved, and it’s no fun to be the bad guy.
But, the thing is, I would encourage every one of them to listen to and follow their own gut feelings always, no matter if they couldn’t explain them and other people wanted them to go against them.
Trust Your Gut Kids!
The world is full of messages that encourage people not to think, but instead to follow the herd, as though someone else knows better. Forget that ridiculousness.
We all have some internal wisdom if we can slow down long enough to quiet the outside voices and our own chattering minds in order to actually hear what our instincts are telling us.
So, that’s what I did. Stopped and got quiet, listened to my instincts, and said no.
It made me feel like a very unpopular mama, and just about took every ounce of Zesty out of me. But, at least I was true to my mama instincts.
The kids still got to get together and have fun in the day, and most likely, the ones who stayed the night didn’t commit any atrocious acts of inappropriateness.
I saw some of the other kids upon the drop off of my own, and I got a hug and smiles, so at least they’re still polite, even if they don’t like my decisions. They’re good kids after all, and the world will be a better place with them in it.
Maybe someday they will look back and see my point, or maybe they will always think I was wrong. Either way, I hope they know they are loved.
And I still don’t think it’s a good idea. :-)
I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them in the comments below! (But please be gentle, whatever you may think~ this has beaten me up enough already)
And if you liked this post, please “like” it on Facebook and tell a friend!
In the tradition of most News Years Resolutions, my goal to publish something weekly flopped into the month of February somehow flying by without a single post. I tried figuring out how that happens, but the reality is, it was just life being busy. And intense.
While January seemed all get up and go in positive directions, February was more of an emotional arse kicking.
The month started with a semi solo retreat. This sounds lovely, although I never really gave much thought to what a solo retreat looks like. But if I had, the reality of my adventure was nothing like I would have imagined it to be.
When I bought my ticket, all I was thinking was that I’d never gone on a solo fun trip since having kids, if ever. I’d gone on a couple of solo work trips in the recent years, and those were fantastic~ but for personal trips, I always had my kids, partner or a friend along.
I might not have considered doing it at all except for a couple of things.
My Girl Child had just just bought herself a ticket to go to Italy with a friend, which made me think that if my kids are old enough to go on trips without me, then they’re old enough for me to do the same.
The big thing that sent me packing though was a surprise escrow refund check that showed up in my mailbox right after I had seen an awesome deal on airfare on Travelzoo. It was just enough to cover my single ticket.
So, I figured it would be fun and good for me, and that the universe wanted me to go all by my big girl self.
Now, I’ve done enough adventuring to realize that knowing and liking your traveling companions is one of the most important things a person can do to make sure you enjoy a trip.
But when your only traveling companion is yourself, well….that brings up all kinds of stuff.
Somehow that never crossed my mind when I decided to buy my cheap ticket and use up a bunch of vacation days that a solo trip meant spending a whole lotta time with myself. I suppose the introspection was good, and I certainly had plenty to think about.
The complexities actually started before I even got off the ground. I was a bit giddy when I bought the ticket, but as the days got closer to going, difficulties began to creep up.
Getting a ride to the airport, getting any sleep, getting through traffic and airport security~ they were all friggen hard~ a lot harder than I expected. My bags were rifled through, my glasses misplaced and I was excruciatingly tired. I’m pretty sure my mental faculties were only functioning marginally.
But I had an island to see and an old friend picking me up and warm beaches awaited, so I kept going through hoops and metal detectors and customer service people who were not authorized to be very helpful.
It wasn’t entirely easy when I landed either, but it was all very worth it.
I got to go to a lovely tropical paradise, and stay for free in the home of my dear friend, to love up some kids who needed it and to hopefully be somewhat helpful during some hard and uncomfortable situations.
I saw sea turtles and swam in warm salt waters, played with a puppy, hiked in a forest, watched sunsets, laughed with children, and cried with my friend.
I also did a lot of witnessing of people in painful transitions who were hurt and in some cases very angry. Witnessing is excruciatingly hard for me and I felt helpless and heartbroken and powerless to make anything better, no matter how much I wanted to.
So, did the only things I could think of~ I made food and I made jokes.
A friend once mentioned the dangers of teaching children to soothe emotions with food, and I do suppose that’s valid, but if the only comfort I can offer is to make nachos or buy an island style pizza cooked in a brick oven on wheels, then I’m going to do what I can and trust they will at least have happy and full bellies and be able to figure out the complexities later.
The same goes for jokes, of which mine are sometimes ill timed and sarcastic, but I’m a firm believer that if there’s a choice between laughter and tears, I’m going to choose the laughs, even if they are a bit on the inappropriate side.
My time on this retreat was a mixture of my own and the time shared, trying to be a helper and a friend, a tourist and a philosopher. Oh, and a yogi. I also got a chance to partake in a kundalini yoga retreat with people who are much more soft spoken, enlightened and capable of rapid deep breathing than me.
I wrote a lot in the 9 days I was away, and painted and drew as well. But I left my laptop at home to avoid carrying it, so all of this creativity was done in my journal, which is just as well because it was raw and personal processing.
So, that was the start of why I didn’t post anything, and when I got home, well life just kept coming and coming. My household grew, which is a story for another time. All of that introspection and thinking I’d been through had me feeling over analytical (even for me) and semi self critical, which isn’t exactly an inspiring way to go about putting your words into the world.
Plus, I was still tired. Happy, but tired.
All that retreating left me retreating more into myself and so I put posting anything on the back burner.
But the month is almost over, and I’m over it with the over thinking as well. I’m just going to be gentle with myself and hit publish, and hope this lands where it is supposed to. Maybe it will even resonate with someone.
I’m not sure what my next retreat will look like, but since I never would have imagined what this one looked like, that’s probably ok. I didn’t know it would take so much out of me, but it also gave me a lot in return.
There are probably some metaphorical life lessons in how hard the whole thing was, but I'm still too mentally taxed to connect it all together and have any epiphanies.
A couple of things I do know for sure... If I had to deal with emotional intensities, I’m thankful it was at least in a beautiful place. And I’m oh so thankful for the people I have to share this journey with.
If you enjoyed this rambling, please give it a "like" on Facebook and share it with friends.
Here’s to hoping March will bring beautiful new beginnings along with spring.
Under a cozy blanket with the added warmth of my laptop, I’m typing away the last morning of January from the comfort of my bed. I’ll need to get up and go to my real job soon, but for now, I’m really grateful to have a few minutes to drink coffee and spill my thoughts. This is self care.
The first month of this new year (and yes, I can still call it new, it’s only 1/12 of the way through, so that’s still pretty fresh in my book) has been a lot about that~ simple comforts that add up to actually consciously taking care of my own self~ It's an idea that's still relatively new to me.
Everyone has heard the whole oxygen mask theory parents are always told about~ the one where you have to make sure you have enough air so that you don’t pass out ~ otherwise you can’t take care of the things and people you care about…blah, blah, blah…
Unfortunately, the accompanying suggestions never seemed very practical or realistic to me. As a new parent, I never cared about getting my nails done and the idea of paying for regular massages would have left my thrifty self more stressed than ever.
When my kids were little, our homeschool days usually started with stories in bed, big, late breakfasts and hours of playing and learning by the creek. That all filled my internal reservoirs and kept me full through all sorts of hard things.
Sometimes we would play spa and they would paint my nails or cover my feet in mud, and that was as close to those treatments as I needed to get. As long as I got a little time to myself now and again, I was good
What counts as self care for one person may be completely different for another, and it changes based on where you're at in life, maybe even by the day or your mood. The point is, you need things to refill you and take care of you, because you're the only you that you've got.
A few years ago life changed, and got busy. I became a single mama / primary breadwinner. My kids got bigger and started being involved in twelve million different classes and activities, all of which I had to drive them back and forth to. These are great enrichment for them, but a life of work / drive / work / drive is not so enriching for me. In fact, too much of it could quite possibly make me flip my friggen lid. Or at the very least, suck the joy from my soul.
But thank Goodness, the new year has brought with some great things. I have a kid who drives now!!!! This is another huge transition in and of itself, for sooooo many reasons, but it is also hugely liberating for both her AND me. (Even if I am stuck home in the rain some days when she has my car, the fact that I did not have to get up and dressed to drive people around for 2 hours is well worth it.)
This has given me the gift of some time, which I am quite certain is worth more than money, because unlike cash which comes and goes, you can never get back time.
And there are oh so many wonderful things to do with that time!
One thing I’ve been doing is yoga~ at least two times most weeks. There is a gym that is literally 6 minutes from my house (which is an incredible blessing after living remotely for so many years) AND my health insurance will actually reimburse most of my membership after I’ve gone 35 times. How amazing is that?
Since I sit on backside entirely too many hours of the day for my work, and my outside time has been limited due to weather, my body had been feeling a bit atrophied in the lower extremities, and I'm totally up for the challenge of stretching my way to a practically free gym membership.
Especially because these days, when I say things like “I’m not as spry as I once was…” I notice that the accompanying old person voice comes entirely too easily. And that's terrifying.
But, the regular yoga is helping me feel less achey and more stretchy. I’m even seeing what might possibly be the start of a muscle underneath my winter caloric stores!
I was actually feeling pretty spiffy about my improvements in strength and balance, until I took my mom to see these Absolutely Amazing Acrobats the other night. The performers inspired me, as they always do, but I was also completely humbled by actually flexible people. Still, I’m taking baby steps.
Another super self care splurge I’ve been treating myself to is sacred sauna time. The sauna is included with the gym, so it’s not actually costing money, just time, but it’s definitely time well spent. Life has taught me not to take books into the sauna because the heat melts the glue in the binding, making the pages fall out, and leading to large library fines.
But, I haven’t felt like I could just sit there and do nothing but sweat for 15 minutes. I’m not that zen with time yet, so I take in a notebook and scribble page after page of poorly spelled, grammatically incorrect ramblings. I’ve processed a lot in that writing and in addition to the snippets of clarity about some mental and emotional things which I have no desire to share, I also learned that
Other January awesomeness included going to a couple of art galleries, a painting class (with wine!) a ladies movie night, board games with family friends, and a few other niceties. I laughed with my partner, kids and friends, rode my bike on one of the few sunny days, winged it on a couple of entirely new (to me) kinds of soup recipes, which were all delicious, tried some new vitamins and started reading 4 different books. (Who knows if I will finish any of them, but the point is, I started!)
I got a long overdue haircut to keep my bangs from poking my SweetHeart's eye out, went to my favorite burrito place, even though there were perfectly good leftovers in the fridge at home. Somehow, doing both of those things in one day made me feel like I was out with Tom and Donna on Treat Yo Self Day.
I'm not sure if that means I'm just an easy going, low maintenance kind of gal, or that my standards are too low. Perhaps I've just gotten too adultish...speaking of which, I made a couple of healthcare appointments using my fancy new planner set up, and I feel like that's good self care too. And to offset the boring, I bought myself a pot of pretty flowers too.
None of these things was mammoth on its’ own, but collectively, it felt like self care supreme. That's what this month has been about for me, and it feels like a great way to kick off a year.
I can see that the generic parental advice is true. When I'm good to myself, I'm in a better place to roll with life. And that’s where I want to be.
What counts as self care for you? Tell us in the comments below. If you don't know, I encourage you to play around and find what feeds your soul, and share the joy of a happier you.
I know I can’t be the only one who gets sweaty armpits and heart palpitations when people start asking them to commit to things. I’m not talking about relationships or even bank loans, but things like working a snack bar at your kids sporting event or making a dentist appointment or, God help me, trying to coordinate dates for a vacation with multiple people~there’s always something to plan for, and it can leave one mumbling to themselves with crazy eyes and furrowed brow.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Maybe it’s because planning seems so adult-ish that I have resisted it for so long.
To me, planning means committing and apparently, I seem to have slight commitment issues.
I know that in some ways, saying that sounds ridiculous because I’m a woman who has committed to some really big things over the years…. ideas, people, situations. And I stuck to them through all kinds of thick and thin. As a single mom, I just bought a friggen house on my own for goodness sake.
But, planning stuff, and then putting it on a calendar is a newish concept for me, and it’s definitely taking some getting used to.
For some reason, agreeing to be at a certain place at a certain time a month from now is really stressful, and at times, it physically causes me to wear a deer in headlights look with the addition of flared nostrils. I know I look like a madwoman, and I feel like one too, but I can't help it.
I think the subconscious logic is something like this~ saying yes to one thing will likely mean saying no to something else because you are no longer free at that time. And for me, the idea of the loss of freedom is more than a little scary.
It’s mildly terrifying when you think about the fact that there’s always one more thing being asked of you, and these everyday things can easily fill up the days of your calendar and eventually…. your life.
I've met parents who work outside of the home a full day and then spend all of every evening driving to kid activities and grabbing drive through food 5 nights a week. They have no time at home as a family to play with all of the things they worked to buy, let alone to develop any interests they have of their own. All of their waking hours are dictated by outside sources. I can't help but wonder what happened to their dreams and interests? And it makes me sad.
No wonder teenagers think adults are boring.
Of course I want to help other people and be involved in my community, but not like that...I want to be the captain of my ship.
If you don't consciously plan your time, what happens to the things you actually want to do with it?
Whether big dreams to travel the world or write a book, or little things you want, like to go to yoga, or color and play board games with your kids, or have tea with your friends... when the days get filled, they slip by and those things you wanted...they never happen.
Somewhat ironically, it seems the best hope of making the things I want to happen actually happen lies in the very thing I’ve been avoiding...planning.
, I ventured into the world of planning inspired by Jennifer Lee, a smart and creative lady who has the habit of covering entire walls with calendars and sticky notes. For the last couple of years, I’ve printed out colorful monthly calendars from Leonie Dawson and spread them out on a wall so you can see all 12 months at once.
It’s a big chunk of wall space, and kind of looks like a rainbow colored command central, but it’s really helpful to be able to visually see the grand scheme of things for the whole year in one gander, no page turning necessary.
Aside from the rainbow joy of this, the method of having the whole shebang visual at once has helped me figure out all sorts of things.
I can see when it makes sense to get away or to stay home. I love travel and adventures, but I also need to balance it with time with my pets and working on my home and my garden, not to mention my relationships and my mind.
When I’m feeling overwhelmed with the work of life, and/or being a whiner and forgetting how good things actually are, I can also see all the fun things I’ve done lately, and that helps me shut my piehole a little sooner, which my family probably appreciates.
Also, a HUGE bonus is the ability to backtrack easily. Say you have a big goal that’s going to take some work to get to~ maybe you want to finish a book or painting, to teach a new class or climb a mountain or to be able to order dinner in Spanish on your vacation to Mexico...whatever.
It’s great if that goal goes on the calendar with a date~ but it probably isn’t going to just get done by that time unless you backtrack and do all the little steps that need to happen ahead of time.
Seeing the whole year in one shot makes it easier to go backwards and figure out what you need to begin when, and to keep you on track (or help you catch up or readjust when you fall behind.)
Unfortunately, I’ve missed all kinds of things I wanted to do in life because I didn’t count back and start when I needed to. Just in the last couple of years, I wanted to lead a young writer’s workshop for National Novel Writing Month, enter a painting in a juried show, submit an essay to a national contest~ and I blew it on all of them because I didn’t start when I needed to.
I know I’m not alone in that.
So, I'm learning~ even though I’m more of a timey wimey kind of gal who is rather challenged when it comes to it punctuality and scheduling, planning really is what makes stuff happen.
It’s the only way I can show up for all the miscellaneous things that are a part of parenting and life, AND not lose out on the things my heart and soul really wants.
There were a few months last year, in the midst of moving and temporary tiny cottage life, when I had no wall space to have my command central, and I missed it indeed.
This year, in addition to more backtracking, I also added a new piece to my planning regime with an actual paper planner (also from Leonnie) I’m only a few weeks into the new year, but I’m liking the weekly view spread and the spaces for to-do lists and scheming of all kinds. Plus rainbow colors. Those help.
I added tabs for the months, and am working on a ribbon page marker to make it even easier to see where I’m at. It’s early in the year, but so far, so good. I’ve been carrying it with me a lot and getting compliments and questions galore when I pull it out.
I figure if I have to get adult-ish and plan, I might as well make it colorful and fun.
This year, I'm planning for family camping trips and adventures before my oldest takes her next flight from the nest, art nights with my Lady Friends and journeys with my partner... I have writing and creative goals, and lots of stuff to make and do... I have skills to learn and things I want to share... Gardens and fruit trees to plant, walls and canvasses to paint, a bathroom to remodel...a great big world to see... So much to do, and only so much time.
It's a good thing I'm learning to plan.
I'd love to hear how you've made planning work for you. Please share in the comments below!
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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