- People with no degree in education or educational experience or child psychology have no place in our schools
- Why do people want what they want and are unwilling to compromise and then end up screwing everyone over
- How is it that people with zero knowledge of a subject sure do have a lot of opinions on that subject
- Most people didn’t pay attention in school and it shows
- Common sense and intelligence are a curse. Ignorance is bliss.
- I am thankful to have my kids almost be out of these schools seeing the way they are headed. Even more, I’m thankful I have highly intelligent children and Husband and I are educated enough to supplement their education
- Why is it that the people who claim to be devout Christians are the least Christ like
- Maybe we all need to go back to 1950s family values
- Did anyone ever notice that the Jetson’s takes place in the future, but their home life resembles that of the 1950s
- Maybe church isn’t what I”m looking for. Maybe I’m looking for more of a round table theological discussion.
- Maybe what I need is more time in nature
- My anxiety won’t allow me to spend more time in nature, especially alone
- I wish I could take more walks
- I wonder if there’s a way I could record all of my brilliant ideas and thoughts while in the shower since I forget most of them when I get out
- Why do I always think of great responses to arguments in the shower
- Why do I always feel like going for a run while I’m in the shower but when I get out, I’m too tired
- It’s so damned hot, how do people not understand climate change
- Why are people so opposed to doing their part for climate change
- Common sense and intelligence are not the only curses. Compassion and empathy are as well.
I went to very small Catholic schools growing up. By small, I mean my 8th grade graduating class had 14 kids and my high school graduating class had 87 kids. I understand that’s not the norm. The thing about small schools was that there was no stress (for this particular topic). Every year, you knew who was going to be in your class. Every year you knew who your teacher was going to be. Every year, you knew who you were going to eat with at lunch. High school was a little different only in that I knew no one where I went to high school. But, with it being so small, I made friends quickly. In high school, who is in your classes is less important than who is in your lunch period. At my high school, all freshmen ate together, so that was easy. Each year after that, I always had friends in my lunch block. I never really worried about it because I was sure I’d know someone.
With zero public school experience, I wasn’t naive enough to think it was exactly the same, but I thought it was probably close. Husband confirmed that. It wasn’t until high school that the different grades got mixed lunches there was a chance you weren’t with your friends.
Now, once you get out of elementary school, it’s the luck of the draw. As a person who was in education, I don’t understand this. As a mother, I don’t understand this. Middle school years are the toughest years for many reasons. There are so many changes taking place in kids’ bodies and brains. There are more social pressures and educational pressures added to those changes. Then, the school throws them to the wolves. Studies show that lunch is actually very stressful for students. “Who am I going to sit with?” For some, this list is long and it’s honestly tough to choose who to sit with. For others, the list is smaller, or even nonexistent.
My daughter and one of her best friends were so excited because they were on the same team this year (our school divides kids into teams, but it’s pretty much irrelevant to those in honors classes). They don’t have a single class together, including lunch. They were devastated. My daughter is in a better situation than her friend, though. My daughter knows a lot of people in her lunch block, including one of her other best friends. Her friend has no one she really knows well.
Up until 4 years ago, students had lunch with their grade levels. They changed this up so scheduling wouldn’t be so difficult. In middle school, there is a limited amount of “electives”. In fact, until this year, the “electives” were choir, orchestra, band, or general music. You had to pick one. This is the first year they have a “choice”... psychology or no psychology. So, I don’t buy the scheduling thing, especially now with teams. The truth is, mental health does not matter in this country.
The stress of lunch is a mental health issue. I know a child who is a year ahead of my son in school. Lunch was so stressful for him that he got a pass from his guidance counselor to go to the library instead of lunch. While I think it’s great that he had the option to do this, we took away this student’s time to eat because he was too worried to sit in a cafeteria with no friends. Administration states that there will always be kids they know in their lunch blocks. Kids they know aren’t always their friends. Sometimes, it’s the “kids they know” that are the problem. Yes, they need to learn to branch out. Yes, they will not always be with their best friends, yet, this is a problem that can be avoided for as long as possible. The counselor’s at Sunshine’s school are trying to do something about this by sending out emails to National Junior Honor Society members to have them look out for kids sitting alone and either ask them to join them at lunch or tell her and she will find a table for them. Still, that’s a lot of pressure to put on middle school kids.
Our society puts way too much pressure on kids and refuses to address their mental health. I don’t know the right answer. I don’t know how to fix the problem. I do know that something has to change, for the sake of our children and our future.
I don’t understand families whose kids aren’t involved in activities. I’ve said that before, but it still boggles my mind. All summer, I’ve been seeing pictures of people who are taking month long vacations, or even several short vacations and I just think, how do they have time? First, what kind of jobs do people have that they can take off that much time because, obviously, we forgot to sign up for that when choosing careers. Second, don’t their kids have things going on? Don’t get me wrong, we pull our kids out of stuff here and there to go to the lake, but, mostly if we miss something, it’s a scheduling conflict with other activities.
So far this summer, Sunshine has taken 3 dance classes, played softball, and takes tennis lessons. Monster not only takes karate, but he teaches it. That means he has a job that he needs to be responsible for. Are there teens out there who don’t work? I had a summer job from the time I was 13 on. So did Husband. My son has called off a couple of days, but we try to make sure he’s there for the days he has the most students so they won’t have to try to find someone to cover for him. Besides that, Husband can’t take off tons of days. Heck, he had to work on an emergency trip we took to see his dad. I drove the 8 hours and he worked in the passenger seat.
Then let’s add in summer school work. Husband had to work on the trip to see his dad and so did Monster. He had to work on school work. I guess if your kid isn’t in Honors classes, there’s really no work to do, but Honors and AP classes had a lot. And, I won’t admit this to him, he actually got his stuff done super early compared to other kids in those classes waiting until the very last minute.
And what about chores? My kid mows the lawn. Not because he’s just super helpful like that, but because it’s his job. It’s crazy, but just because it’s summer doesn’t mean all the work that I normally do during the school year stops. In fact, it compiles with more people home and us being on the go more. I’ll tell you, I look around my neighborhood, and all those families with teenagers or young adults living at home, my teenager is the only one mowing the lawn. They have other chores, as well, not just lawn mowing.
I’m not saying that we don’t get to enjoy our summer, because we definitely are. We just enjoy it close to home. We take trips in which we can be back in time for dinner to get everyone they need to be in the evening. And we have to enjoy it without Husband. He’s never been to the zoo, even though we go every year. I guess he didn’t figure out what job he could sign up for that allowed all sorts of vacation time. We swim whenever we can because we have a pool in our backyard. Our days are packed as well as our nights. Until my kids move out, I’m resigned to the fact that our summers will be wild and crazy. After the kids move out, it’s going to be way too quiet since Husband will still have to work a job where he can’t just take off willy-nilly (seriously, how do we sign up for those jobs that would allow us to travel whenever we want? Sign us up, please!). I love that my kids are so active and learning to become strong members of society. As of written before, I do wish we had more time like last summer, but even then, it's not like we sat around doing nothing. Life still goes on, and ours happens to be a busy life. I embrace summer and all its craziness. I'm so very sad to see it coming to an end. I love being with my kids, even if that's chauffeuring them around!
My grandparents passed away years ago. By the time I was out of college, I had no grandparents left. So, I never got the opportunity to truly learn from them. There are all sorts of crazy hacks and ideas that my grandmas did, but, being as I was young, I don’t remember them. My mom has some good tips, but there is a lot she really doesn’t know. She’ll often say, “Your grandmother had a way to do that, but I don’t remember what it was.”, especially when it comes to baking. Both my grandmothers were bakers. My one actually worked at a bakery. Even though they were bakers, they never baked with me around. There would always just be baked goods when I showed up. My mom has never liked baking. Growing up, I thought homemade cookies were Pillsbury Slice N Bake. Sadly, this is not an exaggeration. I remember being 10 and asking my neighbor to help me make a cake for my mom’s birthday. I assumed we would open a box. She used FLOUR. I had literally never even realized people made cakes that didn’t come from a box! Fast forward to life after college. I learned I really like to bake. My dad’s mom made the absolute best peanut butter cookies. But, having two sons whose idea of cooking was making toast let alone any sort of baking, the recipe was lost when she passed away. My mom’s mom made Polish Easter bread to die for. I actually have that recipe, but the measurements don’t make sense. I’m sure they did to my grandma, but not to anyone else.
A couple of days ago, a friend posted a picture on Instagram of a pot of pasta sauce on the stove. It was her grandmother’s recipe. She mentioned that it smelled like home. With this memory, I can see a little [F] standing at the stove while her grandmother showed her all her secrets to her sauce. And more, I can see the love. I can see all the time they spent together with one generation teaching another. I never met [F]’s grandma, but I can see it through that one picture of pasta sauce. I could actually feel the warmth of the kitchen and smell the pasta sauce. That’s how powerful traditions are.
I wish I had memories like that. I wish my kids would have memories like that. We can’t change the past, we can just move forward and try to make the future what we want it to be. Therefore, I’m teaching my kids now. All sorts of tips and tricks, maybe like a grandma would give. I cook with my kids. I bake with my kids. I clean with my kids (because grandma’s had tons of cleaning tips, too!). I stand side by side and show them all the little things I’ve learned on my own. I not only share my recipes with them, but also the process involved in the recipes. I plan to do that as much as I can with my grandkids as well. I want my grandkids to grow up and make things “like grandma used to make”. Here’s a free tip that I just shared with Sunshine. Add a little sugar to the top of your pie crust. Coarse sugar is best, but plain granulated sugar works, too. Just a pinch. It makes all the difference. Life is easier, and a little sweeter, when you have people in it to show you the ropes.
What do you do? Where do you work? Occupation.
In this country, these types of questions are typical. When you fill out paperwork. When you meet someone new. In this country, what we do has become synonymous with who we are. And it needs to stop.
Who we are should not be defined by what we do. Yet, people are impressed when you’re a doctor, lawyer, professor, etc., and less impressed when you’re a plumber, garbage man, or stay at home mom. Why? Why are there professions we look at as being insignificant? The education factor? Maybe, but some people do not have the money to get the education they need. They may be smart enough to be rocket scientists, but didn’t have the opportunity to go to college. Whereas we may have CEO’s of companies whose parents basically bought them a degree and handed them a company without having to work for anything, but are complete idiots.
Husband is in the construction field. He is not a laborer, operator, forman, or superintendent. He does the tech work and he oversees the tech in operations. Yet, he knows that the ground workers are the backbone of the industry, not him or the other people sitting in the offices on 100 degree days. The CEO of a company is only as good as his/her lowest employee. Do you know why he knows this? He was a laborer/operator for years. He started out doing the grunt work. He has a college degree, but still went into construction. He was looked down upon by certain people for years. As he changed his career path and he started to work more with technology, those same people started to look at him differently. He was still the same person, but the job title was different. Now, people look at what he does and they think a lot more highly of him. Because he works in an office now? Because he only comes home greasy and dirty once a week instead of 5 days? People’s views of him changed based on how important they deemed his job.
I have a friend who just retired from teaching...20 years early. When I mention this, the most common response is, “What’s she going to do now?”. Seriously? She’s going to do whatever the fuck makes her happy, Judgy McJudgerpants. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She saw her job making her miserable. She saw the changes and decided she could not be part of those without losing herself and compromising her beliefs, so she walked away. That takes a hell of a lot of chutzpah. THAT is what defines a person, not what their job is. What’s she going to do now? The same thing she was doing before, but better because she’ll be less miserable.
How you live your life defines who you are. How you treat others defines who you are. What you do to earn a living is less important. Society needs to wake up and see that job status, wealth, belongings, or how we look don’t define us. The true measure of who we are is our interaction with the world and those around us. We all have roles to play and no one is more or less important just because of their job title. I am kind. I care. I help. I love. That’s what I do. And those certainly should be everyone’s jobs.
Occupation: Good human
There is a trend that I completely hate, yet, this morning, it popped into my head and I couldn’t shake it. So, I’m going to “embrace” it (I’m super punny, as you will see). The trend that I really can’t stand is choosing a word for the year that shows a goal or mindset. I just wrote a post about embracing my grey. This morning, I was texting someone I admire. I was going to add something to my text, but then I knew exactly what she would say and the word embrace came into the forefront of my mind again. Embrace what I have and let go of what I don’t. I can not change others’ actions.
I plan on using the word in the literal context as well as figurative. After this past year, I almost feel as though it’s a right of passage to hug, or embrace, others. To be clear, I’m not a hugger. Or toucher. Keeping it real, I’m a, “Please don’t come within 6 feet of me”, even pre-pandemic person. Sometimes, though, people just need a hug. My person is a hugger, so I’m going to hug the crap out of her! When someone I know is sad, I’m going to hug them, even if it’s awkward (so be prepared for weird hugs, people). I’m not going to be going around just randomly hugging people. People touching me still creeps me out, but I’m going to try the embracing thing for comfort. And, if it freaks me out too much, I’ll embrace that, too, and not do it!
This year, I started “reading” more. I use quotes because I’m actually listening to audiobooks. I used to think that was only for people who travelled a lot. I did it when I made my daily 45 minute commute to Cleveland for work when we first moved here. After I stopped making that drive, I stopped audiobooks. I almost felt like there was some sort of pressure to sit and physically read a book as opposed to listening to it. Like people would judge me for not holding a hold and reading it myself. Then, it got more intense. I should be reading intellectual books as opposed to the fluff that I actually enjoy. What all of this led to was me not reading. Period. So, at the beginning of this year, I decided to give audiobooks a try. I embraced the awesomeness of being able to clean my house, bake, do laundry, etc, while “reading” a book. I also stopped the nonsense of having to read a specific type of book. I’m reading what I like. I have embraced the fact that I just don’t have time to sit down with a physical book to read. I have embraced the fact that I’m not an intellectual book reader. I want my books to take me to a fantasy world instead of throwing me into the reality I’m trying to escape from.
I am trying to embrace all of the things I can not change. We are living in a world of hate right now. I can not change that. Nor do I want to embrace it, but I can embrace the fact that I’m surrounding myself with as much love as possible. I’m embracing the fact that some people just need to be cut from my life. I’m embracing the fact that I’m, hopefully, raising my kids to not be part of the hate in this world.
On the lines of things I can not change, weather is included. This summer has been heat and rain. Very little in between. I can not change it. I was getting frustrated with all of the softball we were missing, but then, decided to embrace the extra time we were given to just relax and do nothing. We have so little of that, that it’s refreshing. Do I want Sunshine to play softball? Of course, but I do not control the weather. I will embrace the extra time I am given.
Embracing life is not easy. I am frustrated and sad and mad, a lot. So, I’m starting with the little things, like my books, my hair, the weather, etc. My anxiety is going to be a tougher one to tackle. I can not change others’ actions. I wrote about actions shaping my anxiety. My anxiety is both my kryptonite and my superpower. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to do with trying to embrace it, but heck, even if I can’t, I’ll embrace the fact that I tried!
We are 7 days into summer vacation and I’m already missing the peace of last year. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be happier in a world where COVID never existed, but there is no denying that last summer was amazing. True, we couldn’t do some of our usual stuff, but we did new things that were even better. We actually relaxed.
In these short 7 days, we’ve had tennis camp, dance recital, softball, soccer, karate, tennis lesson, and even a doctor appointment thrown in there for swimmer’s ear, which, ironically, we haven’t even been swimming though the pool has been ready for 4 days. Seven am on day 7 and I’m already exhausted, and my kids haven't even woken up yet. We have another full, and, for me, extremely stressful day today. Seven days into summer vacation last year, we had already hiked 5 different parks, had karate (but on Zoom) and maybe a tennis lesson. Instead of planning super fast meals and scrambling to get them on the table no later than 5pm, we were relaxing and swimming in the pool until I felt like making dinner.
I love that my kids are involved in things. I think it’s great for their development. I believe being involved in activities helps them to be more well rounded and responsible individuals. They learn how to make choices and sacrifices and prioritize because we can not do it all. Yet, there’s something to say about that calm that we all had last summer. My kids were not bored. I can’t tell you the amount of people who complained because there was nothing to do and their kids were bored. My kids are too active and imaginative to be bored. Of course they had their moments of boredom, we all do. Those moments were few and far between. Our calendar may not have been packed, but our days were full. At 11 and 14, my kids got to relax and be kids for the first time in a long time.
I don’t think I anticipated how hard it was going to be getting back to “normal”. The beginning of May, everything hit at once and it has not slowed down. We went from nothing to chaos in what seemed like moments. I love our crazy, busy life, but I do really miss the slow pace of last summer. I am thankful for the time my kids got to just be kids. We only have three short summers left with Monster. He has so many adult responsibilities already at 15 that I’m forever grateful he got one last summer to be a kid.
My hope is that we can get into a rhythm here and find time to embrace the lazy days of summer. I’m fighting so many of my own demons coming off of this pandemic and I’m hoping to find some peace again. I hope that my kids remember last summer with fondness and strive to find some of that peace and quiet again when they can. I hope that my kids realize that our greatest gift is time.
It has been about a year and a half since I have had my hair cut or colored. At first, it was the pandemic that prohibited me from getting it done, but then, it turned into more. As I was scrolling facebook this morning, I noticed two things. First, I noticed a lot of my friends’ hair was definitely longer. But more significantly, I noticed some of my friends embracing the grey. I probably wouldn’t have noticed it so much if I wasn’t doing the same thing myself. I am perfectly capable of buying a box of dye and doing my own hair. In fact, I have a box of purple sitting and waiting patiently for me to use it (I’m going to have to buy at least one more box for the amount of hair I have though). But purple is different. Purple is not trying to cover grey. Purple is, “Damn the man!”. Honestly, the grey bothered me a lot at the beginning. The longer I went without coloring my hair, though, the more I embraced it.
For those who don’t know me, my hair is down to my butt now and it’s thick and wavy. I have always been unable to tame it. It’s honestly like a lion’s mane. When it’s humid, my hair grows to one and half times it’s normal crazy with mounds of frizz. If you look, that frizz is completely grey. I have a layer of grey curls poking out that refuse to be hidden. It’s like they are shouting to be noticed. This year, I let them have their way.
Why is it we see women with grey hair and think they are old, but men with grey hair are distinguished? It’s a double standard. My person and I just had a conversation about our grey. She is one who is embracing her grey, as well. She’s never colored her hair, but this year, grey decided to come in full force. My person is gorgeous and no one would ever even notice the grey, but, as women, we have been conditioned to “stop signs for aging”. She may end up dying her hair at some point, but, for now, she’s embracing it. I think that’s when I started to notice more people I know embracing the grey. I came across a picture of another friend on FB. She, like me, always wears her hair up. In the picture, she had it down. Ponytails hide grey fairly well, so you can’t always tell how grey a person is. In the picture, I could tell. Know what? She still looked beautiful, too. As do every one of my other friends that I started paying more attention to who are embracing the grey. I have one friend who has a beautiful streak of grey. One that people pay to get professionally done. Without this pandemic, she would have had it covered up. Instead, she's embracing that streak.
After this past year and half, all the stress and backwards anxiety, I’m honestly just too emotionally drained to care about my grey. Instead of worrying about it, I began embracing it. I still joke about it to cashiers when they ask for an ID. I ask if they just want to see the grey. Sometimes I’m still shocked, if I ever have my butt-length hair down, and see just how much grey there is, but I’m not about to run out and get it done or do it myself. Then I think back on all the time I have spent coloring or getting my hair colored and I definitely don’t want to do that again any time soon. My time is way too precious. I’m still going to color my hair purple at some point. I’ll probably do blue, also. Maybe even together. Who knows? But I’m not doing it to cover up those stubborn grey. In fact, those grey hairs will be the brightest purples and blues on my whole head!
We all get older. Society has told women it’s a bad thing. You must look like you are 20 all the time. The older we get, the more society wants to tame our wild spirits and grey hairs. I call their bullshit. Getting older means, hopefully, getting wiser. Becoming more comfortable with yourself. By no means am I saying that all women shouldn’t color their hair. Some women love coloring their hair and that’s great. Like make-up though, it should be done for self and not others (I could go on and on about make-up, but I won’t, this time). The older we get, the more we should be doing what makes us happy, not society. My mom is 85. She refuses to wear short sleeve shirts, even when it’s 90 out. It’s not that she’s cold. In fact, she’d be more comfortable with short sleeves, but she has “ugly” arms. She told me she doesn’t want to “subject anyone to seeing her arms because I wouldn’t want to see someone’s arms that looked like this”. I repeat she is 85. I asked her who gives a shit what other people think and she should do what she wants. She never learned the lesson to embrace who she is and do what she’s happy with. I hope that when I’m 85, I have the same crazy mane I have now, whatever the hell color I choose it to be, wearing black nail polish, snarky t-shirts, and jeans (please don’t let me wear polyester, elastic waistband pants!). I hope that by 85, I’m fully embracing who I am, instead of trying to please others.
Stop worrying about what other people will think of you. Pay attention to what you think of you. If that means embracing the grey, then embrace the hell out of it!
Every so often, I feel like we’re winning at this parenting thing. The other day, I came across this article, 10 Summer Activities For Teens to Help Them Stay Healthy and Engaged. The article was written by someone who actually knows a thing or two about children and education. She is a senior lecturer at Stanford University Graduate School of Education. This is what she does and what she continues to study. Of course I decided I needed to read it because I want to keep my teens (holy cow, I have teens!) healthy and engaged this summer. I was both pleased and disappointed at the same time. I was disappointed because it gave me nothing new. The ten things it says for kids to do, we’ve been doing practically their whole lives. So, parenting win!
The first thing the article says is teens should read for pleasure. Anyone who knows my children knows that this is never an issue. Ever. The author states that reading for pleasure is beneficial in supporting students’ academic growth. To this I say, “Duh!”. I may have a background in education, but I’m fairly certain one just needs common sense to make this connection. The more you read, the more you know. The more you know, the better you are at understanding the world around you. The more you understand the world around you, the better you are at decision making. Seriously, common sense, people. I know that some people have a hard time getting their kids to read. That’s where the “pleasure” part comes into play. A lot of parents think that kids need to be reading highly intellectual novels. This isn’t the case. Now, this is where my education background comes into play. When I taught, my goal was to just get my students reading. I didn’t care if it was comic books, graphic novels (I do actually hate these, but they are great for reluctant readers), magazines, heck, even baseball cards or things of that sort. Reading is reading. My kids knock out the summer reading challenges at the library within the first two weeks of summer vacation every year. At this exact moment, we have 39 books checked out of the library. We have 9 more waiting to be picked up along with 66 others on hold. This might get us through June.
Some people will say that their kids just don’t have time to read. Here’s where #10 on the list can come into play, “form new screen time habits”. Studies show that avoiding screen time for one hour before going to bed promotes better quality of sleep (sleep happens to be on the list, too, and we’ll get to that). Summer rules are different from school year rules for screen time at our house. This year was different still with kids being online part of the time for school. While kids were online for school, screen time was drastically limited. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain and back and neck issues, as well as a slew of other things. Yet, we live in Ohio. Screen time in the winter can not be avoided here. That is part of why, during the summer, we limit the kids’ screen time drastically. There is so much more they can be doing during the summer instead of sitting on their electronics. The connection, though, for us, with limiting screen time and reading is that the last hour to 30 minutes before they go to bed is designated reading time. This is their down time. Time to unwind. My kids read all throughout the day, but this time right before bed is their set aside reading time. Not only is it setting screen time limits, but it’s also setting reading guidelines. We do not force them to read. Sometimes, Sunshine draws, sometimes the kids play games together, sometimes, they listen to music. Usually though, they choose to read. Phones are not allowed in their rooms after a certain time. Period. The excuse that your kid needs their phone for their alarm is moot because alarm clocks are still sold and my kids have them in their rooms. Teens’ brains are not fully developed yet, so allowing their phones to stay in their rooms while limiting screen time is just wishful thinking. You may be able to control the time they spend on apps, but texting their friends at midnight is still screen time. All electronics get plugged in downstairs until after eating breakfast each morning. In the fast paced world we live in, it’s good to force your kids, and yourself, to slow down and not have to constantly have sensory input. It will make for more well rounded teens as well as promoting healthier sleep.
With that, sleep is #8 on the list. It literally says what I said in the above paragraphs. We have no real set bedtime in the summer. We also sleep in later, but my kids do not get to sleep until whenever they would like. Days we have little to do, 10am is the latest they are allowed to sleep in. What this means is that they are in control of how rested they are. I let the kids know each night what we have going on the next day and what time they need to get up. They plan when they go to sleep accordingly. Maybe for some teens, this wouldn’t work as well, but we’ve been doing this for a while. Believe me, they get the hang of it. If they have to get up by 7, the kids have lights off by 10. We have taught guidelines for this over the years, which is why they are so good at it now. Of course there are nights they stay up way too late and are tired when they have to get up the next morning, but, more often than not, they make responsible sleep choices.
Making time to play is number two on the list. I find that this and number #6, hangout with friends, and # 7, exercise and get outside, go hand in hand. Play time is not sitting on your phone and watching TikTok videos. Hanging out with friends is not sitting in the same room while looking at your individual phones. My daughter is so fortunate that she has friends that like to do things. When the weather is nice, she and her friends ride bikes, swim, go to the park, play soccer and softball, meet up for a game of tennis, go hiking, dance (yes, they make videos, but they are making up the dances and spend more time being silly than actually taping anything). She is so fortunate to have friends who want to get out and do things rather than just sit around all day. Monster and his friends are a little more low key, but they manage to do things that don’t require them to be staring at a screen the entire time they are hanging out. My kids are also lucky because they have each other. They spend time together playing games like Uno, chess, Apples to Apples, etc. We also make it a point to spend time playing games and doing activities as a family. We take walks or go for hikes almost daily. We play baseball, spikeball, soccer, and basketball. We play card games and boardgames. Sure, we play video games, too, but more often, we are doing something more active than that. We only have so many months of the year in Ohio where the weather is nice enough to enjoy being outside, so we take full advantage of it.
Number 3 on the list is to serve your community. This one is a little tougher because, when you have kids who can’t drive, it requires parent involvement of some sort. There are so many ways you can do service. This is the first year that both of my kids are old enough to be camp counselors at Camp Invention. It is a volunteer program that not only are my kids involved in, but I am involved in as well. Aside from structured programs like that, kids can give back in so many ways. Monster helps out mowing lawns for the neighbors at times. Sunshine helps however she can with anything needed. I feel as though most of the time, people look at community service and think of big things, when, really, little things are just as important.
Going to camp also made the list of things to do. My kids have gone to various camps from the time they were old enough. From Vacation Bible school, to soccer camps, to Camp Invention, and a variety in between. I remember the first time I left Monster at soccer camp. I cried. He had a great time. Going to camp doesn’t have to mean sleep-away camp. There are so many camps that you and your kids can choose what you’re most comfortable with. This summer, both of my kids are camp counselors. One is going to tennis camp and the other, hopefully, is going to sailing camp (we’re waitlisted). It gets them out and active as well as giving them some independence.
An interesting item on the list is doing chores. My kids always have chores, but during the school year, we don’t enforce them as often as we should. School work comes first. Then sports. Chores fall to third on that list. Summer, we have more time. Since the kids were little, every morning, they have gotten a list of chores and school work to complete before they could do “fun” things. I’ve taken away the school work and the lists aren’t daily. They have chores that they need to complete before the weekend. They need to manage their own time to figure out how to accomplish them. They lose time for the things they want to do when chores aren’t completed. At 15 and 12, they should be able to manage their time efficiently.
Getting a job or starting a project is the last thing for teens to do on the summer list. When I read it, I thought how silly this one was. After all, my 15 year old has a job and my 12 year old has project after project. However, I guess there are really kids out there with little ambition to do these things. Back when they were little, we counted chores as their “job”. Starting a project though, well, it’s hard to imagine kids who don’t have a million projects going. Each of my kids always had projects to do. Whether it be an art project, science experiment, or even building things. Our house has always been filled with activities and hands-on learning.
As parents, there are so many times we feel as though we are failing our children. Every so often, like now, we realize we’ve been doing a lot of the right things. Hopefully by giving our kids these experiences and guidelines, they will be a little more well rounded. Hopefully, they will be a little more responsible. Hopefully, they will care a little more for the world and people around them. Hopefully, they will learn important life lessons. And, most importantly, hopefully, they have fun along the way.
Husband asked me what has made my anxiety get so bad. He pointed out that even 15 short years ago, it was not this bad. At first, I fought back with, “I’ve always had anxiety issues”. The more I tried explaining it to Husband, the more I realized he was right.
It has been instilled in me from a young age that my actions are my own. Do not place blame on others. To this day, people are constantly telling you not to worry about the actions of others and just worry about yourself. Do not let others’ actions influence you. This is a hefty weight to bear. Of course other people’s actions affect us. It’s ridiculous to think they don’t. There are varying degrees of these effects based on where you are in your life and who the people are. The closer to you the people are, or should be, the harder it is to just shake it off. I have come a long, long way on my journey to who I am. People’s actions/words have definitely played a role. Yes, my response to them is completely my own. When you throw some good old fashioned anxiety in there, things...shift. Without putting the blame on others, it is definitely how others have responded and life situations that have shaped my anxiety into what it currently is.
To add to that, I was also raised to believe you help family- family comes first. I can’t tell you the number of times I heard, and saw demonstrated, you always do your best to help out family. I was taught that if you can’t depend on family, who can you depend on? I learned the answer to that early on. Me. I depend on myself because family helping family is a pretty little lie.
I have written before about how I am fiercely independent. The funny thing is, most people I know with anxiety are. With my weird love for psychology, I may need to delve further into that, but one story at a time. When I ask for help, I actually need it. I don’t ask for help lightly. Even the simplest of things, like getting my car picked up from an oil change, I try to figure out how I can do it on my own without having to rely on anyone else. The thing is, 15 years ago, this was not the case. Fifteen years ago, I would have had no problem calling my parents or my friends, for a ride across town to get my car. Today, I check out the weather and think maybe I could just walk the 3.5 miles there. I mean, it’s really not that far. Logically, I know people wouldn’t mind giving me a ride at all, but I mind having to inconvenience anyone for me. I start typing texts to ask someone for a ride and then delete it. I check the weather again. I think about my list of things I need to get done. I realize I definitely need a ride. I start texting again. Delete, again. Check the weather, because it may have changed in those 10 seconds. Then I wait. I think, “I will text them when I know for sure I definitely need a ride”, even though I already know for sure. I continue to check the weather every 15-20 minutes. I anxiously wait for my phone to ring, telling me the car is done. Hours pass. My weather app tells me it’s going to rain any moment. I start to text. Delete again. Maybe I should start walking now and hope that when I get there it will be done. Rain. I call to find out when my car will be done. I mean, maybe I can walk in between the bouts of rain. Car hasn’t even been started, but should be done right at the time I’m supposed to pick up kids from school. I have to do it now. I text my friend. Here’s the kicker, the day before, I actually asked her if she’d be around to give me a ride if I needed it, so I knew she’d be able to do it. Of course, she said she’d happily give me a ride after we both get both sets of our kids home. I breathe. Then, I overthink. OK, so how can I make this easier for her? It's raining, but I could walk up to her house so she doesn’t have to come pick me up (she lives 8 houses away). I’ll make sure I hurry so she is sure to get back in time to get her other kids from the other school. If we're running late at pick up, maybe I’ll just have her take me after she picks up her other kids. But maybe that’s more inconvenient. All of this just to come home from picking the kids up to find Husband at home. I then have relief and guilt, at the same time, that I bothered her and now that I don’t need her to take me. For the majority of people in this world, they would have just asked someone for a ride and that would have been it. For me, it was an all day trial. And this was just a little thing.
What on Earth has made me like this? Like I said, 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have had a problem asking for a ride. Slowly, though, there was a shift. I always had Husband to fall back on, like this last time. That all changed when he started traveling for work. I remember the first time that this particular situation became an issue. I called up my parents and asked them if, the next day, they’d be able to give me a ride to my car, since Husband was out of town. I got the response, “We can, but can’t you find someone else? Why can’t you ask [C]?” That was my first slap in the face with my needs inconveniencing people. I then asked [C], who I shouldn’t have to bother because family helps family and you shouldn’t have to rely on others, but she wasn’t going to be around. Cue panic. Back then, I didn’t have a group of friends who could help me. I called my parents back and begged them for help. They grudgingly came. Since that time, there has been only once that I ever asked them to help me get my car, and that was a dire emergency and they were the last resort. Since then, I have learned two lessons: 1. I need back up plans for my back up plans, and 2. Don’t rely on others. These lessons did not come from this one experience. These lessons came from years of having no one to turn to.
Sickness is a trigger for my anxiety, but not like people think. This one little tidbit of information was extremely hard to admit to Husband. The reason sickness is a trigger sounds horrible and selfish. I have worked extremely hard to get past it and work around it, but it still lingers. When my kids actually get sick, I deal with it quite well. It’s the possibility of sickness that actually triggers me. When people around my kids are sick, there’s a chance they will get sick. Hello, anxiety. My kid has a scratchy throat. Anxiety pokes its head out. With the development of Sunshine getting migraines, the slightest headache she has puts me in a tailspin. Why? Why if I’m not worried about the actual sickness does this have such an impact on me? Because I’m the one left dealing with it. I am the one who has to figure out how to care for a sick kid and a well kid on my own. I’m the one who has to change plans. I’m the one who has to try to get people to the doctor. I’m the one cleaning up puke. I’m the one trying to figure out missed school. It is literally all on me. Or, at least it was. For the past 4 years, Husband hasn’t travelled for work, but he still gets up before the crack of dawn is normally out the door before 6am. He has work flexibility in his work schedule, but I still feel like I shouldn’t bother him (that’s society for making stay at home moms feel like they shouldn’t “bother” their hard working husband with trivial things like the kids). Shouldn’t this be where family comes to help? I know better, so I don’t even bother. I wrote before about how when Sunshine broke her arm, I called my person. I didn’t even bother trying to call family because I knew there would be excuses on why they couldn’t help. A broken arm is one thing, but an actual sick kid is different. I refuse to let my friends help me out because of the risk of getting their kids sick. When I was little, I had chicken pox. My mom needed help watching me since she worked. My grandma, who was always there to help, hadn’t had chicken pox, so she was unable to watch me. My aunt came. She spent days with me while my mom worked. Family helps family. If one of my kids got chicken pox, I wouldn’t even need that kind of help. I would need someone to drive the other kid places. I would be nervous about having friends do it because I wouldn’t want to risk their kids getting chicken pox (because you can carry it and spread it for 21 days prior to actually showing signs). It would be left to me having to leave my sick kid alone. Yes, I’ve left a puking kid home alone because I needed to get the other one somewhere, because I’m all I have. Let me be clear, Husband is now around, so he can definitely help out, but he still has to work, and, even after four years, I’m still not used to him being around and being able to count on him.
Imagine the mental toll it takes on a person when everything falls on them. Imagine the toll it takes on a person when they have had it ingrained in them that family helps family, yet family is who they can rely on the least. Imagine the toll it takes on someone to constantly try to tell themselves that it’s OK because they are responsible for their own choices, and to just be happy with having to do everything alone. Imagine the toll it takes on a person to have it instilled in them not to be a burden on others, so never feeling like they can ask for help. I know people, without anxiety, who feel like this and you can see the stress it is putting on them. I see how they are at their breaking point.
My anxiety has gotten bad because I am it. I am all I have. This hurts Husband the most. It’s not his fault. He had/has a job to do and can’t be babysitting his unstable wife. I definitely have people I can count on, but I will do everything in my power not to burden them if I don’t have to, and that includes Husband. I know that some people will feel hurt by this post. If you are, maybe ask yourself why. I’m too tired to pretend anymore. I’m trying to reign my anxiety in, and that takes a lot out of me. I’m not putting the blame on anyone, though it may feel to some like I am. My brain is just wired a little differently. Because of that, people’s actions have definitely played a role, but there is no blame. It’s hard for people to see that their actions have caused someone to hurt. That’s life though. At some point, everyone hurts someone else, whether it’s on purpose or not. I guess that’s why I try so hard to live a life where I help when I can and I try to be kind. Just because you can’t see what someone is dealing with doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling. Just because someone seems to have it all together and under control doesn’t mean they aren’t hanging on by a thread.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There are so many pushes to “break the stigma”. Hate and unwillingness to accept others’ differences is way too strong in this country to ever break the stigma. It’s not just this country, it’s across the globe. Yet, the US has one of the worst mental health programs and one of the most difficult to access. At the same time, this country (I can’t speak for the rest of the world on this one since on this particular statement I don’t have research outside of the US) loves labels. Do you worry sometimes? Oh, you have anxiety. Here’s some medication. Sad? You must have depression. Here’s your medication. Sad and happy? Oh, that means you have bipolar disorder. Take these pills. How are we to ever break the stigma when we throw labels and pills at people without getting to the root of the problem? Then there are the people who self-diagnose and they contribute to the problem. I can’t do this because I have anxiety. People with anxiety will never, ever use it as an excuse to not do anything. My anxiety is not why I’m scared of heights. I’m scared of heights because I’m scared of heights. Not everything you worry about is anxiety. Just like when you feel sad doesn’t mean you have depression. You can be depressed without having depression. You can do things a certain way and it’s not OCD. People need to stop using these words like they’re a bad thing or a “cool” thing. These things just add to the stigma. I don’t have the answers, but what we’re doing right now isn’t helping. I think it’s great that celebrities are coming out and discussing their mental health issues, but, at the same time, how they have gotten help isn’t realistic for most people. Most people can’t take time off of work to get back on track or have a break. Most people can’t get counseling because insurance either doesn’t cover it or the co-pays are too high to be able to go as often as needed, AND they can’t get time off of work to go. Did you know that for a lot of kids, they get pulled out of school to go to counseling? As a parent of a child with signs of anxiety, this would be the worst thing for her because one of her triggers is missing school. Yet, this is the system we have in place. Nothing will get better without complete reform, but people are too stuck in their ways for reform. So the cycle perpetuates.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Be the change you wish to see.