On parenting and the speed of time…

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I was just speaking with someone who has a six year old.

It brought back memories of those days—long and full of Legos and questions and battles over getting in the bath followed by battles over getting out of the bath. Nights were filled with cuddles and kisses and remembrances of the day, as if the day had been a fairytale set in a long ago time with vibrant characters and morals easily extracted. Having witnessed that innocence so intimately brings me to tears, even now, especially now.

Six years old. That was my younger son’s age when my ex and I split, when we attempted to penetrate his naive determination that things are like this or like that, with an alternate reality, that things are really about to be a whole other way. An inconceivable way.

It’s impossible for me to know if time would have sped up otherwise, but our world spun off its axis and sparked a sort of chaos and warped speed that never slowed. It’s felt like skipping and tripping and sprinting and juggling ever since. Even in my quietest moments I don’t feel I have caught up to the present. It’s better. I’m closer to being in my skin again, like the younger me but with more humility and willingness to cede control.

My kids now tower over me (both more than 6 feet tall) with deep voices and man gestures. I find myself daily saying out loud, “who are you and where did you come from?”

And I think maybe that’s just how parenting goes, no matter how present you are, no matter how conscious of the adage that “time flies so fast,” there is no way to avoid the inevitable moment where you wonder where the time went and how these adult looking people are lumbering through your house, with insatiable appetites and distinct, passionately espoused interests and world views.

I’ll never know how things would have evolved if my marriage hadn’t ended. Life knocks us all on our asses in multiple ways. Perhaps there’s just a limit for how long one can remain in what feels like an intact, manageable existence, to the extent that time doesn’t seem to be running ahead of us.

You tell me? Do you relate? Is this part and parcel to raising kids in general? Specific to divorcees? I can only assume any trauma or upheaval can have such an effect. I’m interested to know how other parents have experienced the passage of time…

Lighten Up And Laugh

Kid with the screwed-up eyes

Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow. – Oscar Wilde

Things have been pretty heavy around here (on earth) lately.

The planet is in peril. Politics is corrupt. The middle class is dwindling. Racism is rampant. Wars are ensuing. Hunger and disease abound. There’s a lot to be upset about.

I, and everyone I know is struggling to get by, to stay optimistic, to balance our ideals of what the world should be against the reality that there’s so much we can’t fix or control.

Confession:

The other night, in an effort to lure my children away from electronics and compel them to spend some family time, I agreed to play Cards Against Humanity with them. The game is patently inappropriate and not intended for those under 17. I perused the cards and decided that a) in light of all the violent shit they’re exposed to in movies, video games and even literature, this was pretty palatable. b) this is probably how they converse with their friends and I could get a glimpse into what they know and don’t know.

Well, hilarity ensued and within minutes I found myself laughing to the point of tears and  nausea. My kids were equally amused, having free rein to use profanities and observing my overt discomfort. As I struggled to catch my breath, it occurred to me, I don’t laugh enough.  

When my kids were little, there was so much play and laughter in our home. Everyday moments cracked me up and I found myself dressed up, hiding in forts or chasing someone through a sprinkler.

As the kids have aged, with their dad gone most of the time, me stressed out and dealing with “serious” grown up concerns, and their individual responsibilities mounting (homework, social pressures, puberty etc), there’s been a void where joy and enthusiasm used to be plentiful.

It’s not to say we never have fun. We do. It’s just, I’m charged with so much hustling and haranguing, I’ve kind of become a bit of a sour pill a lot of the time.

I’m upset about world events and passionate about so many issues. But, life is short and it’s definitely time to lighten up.

I absolutely CANNOT recommend playing Cards Against Humanity with kids under 17. I doubt we’ll do it again anytime soon. However, I do recommend—with the holidays approaching and amidst all the stress on us grown ups to make everything just “so” for those we love—don’t forget to have fun! Play! Laugh! Put on some music and dance your heart out. Find something to smile about.

Thanksgiving is the time of year to express our gratitude. For many of us, it is also riddled with challenges in the form of family dynamics. Of the many things I have to be grateful for, humor is moving up to the top of the list. I intend to laugh my way through Thanksgiving dinner and hopefully find some creative and age appropriate ways to have more fun both with my kids and without.

Here’s to a happy, hearty, humorous Thanksgiving (and beyond)! 

Do you know your child’s best friend is a bad influence?!

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Childhood friends come and go. This is a good thing, as the fickle nature of children ensures that no particular friend will hold sway over our kids for too long. At least that used to be the case. Continue reading

Middle School, Oh how I Hate Thee…

Why am I, a 40 something year old, complaining about middle school? Because experiencing it as a parent of middle schoolers is ALMOST worse than having experienced it as a student myself.

Gee, I wonder why the following strategy is not working – Continue reading

Parenting in Ten Words

father and son walking rural footpath
1. Love

2. No Privacy (okay that’s two words but I couldn’t find one word that captures the sentiment)

3. Culpability

4. Fucking Homework (two again…so sue me)

5. Vomit

6. Vulnerability

7. Despair

8. Laughter

9. Worry

10. Growth

BONUS WORD- Exhaustion!!!

UPDATE- How could I have forgotten these whoppers?

Humbling

Expensive

Gross

Funny

Endearing

Food (they actually have to eat 3 meals a day!!! Always. And snacks. WTF?)

Feel free to add to my list. 😉

Mediation Interruptus

Since my ex and I met with the new mediator, a lot has happened. Well, a lot having to do with everything but getting divorced.

It seems there is not enough money nor time for us to do this.

With the arrival of some major unexpected expenses and the always relentless hustle and bustle of work and life, our foray into mediation has been suspended for now. So, I remain living in limbo. Not married, not divorced.

In the meantime, I’m still sifting through our things, organizing and preparing.

The ex and I are getting along. The kids are relatively okay and have acclimated to this odd new structure (or lack thereof). And I grapple with how the hell I will manage to get the divorce I never wanted.

The Ten Rules of Divorce Mediation

Depositphotos_55786679_sSo, after the first grueling hour of meeting with a mediator, I learned quite a lot. Now, the question is, will the ex and I follow these rules? Continue reading

Parent Gushing Facebook Translation

In light of the recent flurry of verbose parents’ ranting status updates about their fabulous children on Facebook, here is my translation of the subtext of said posts:

My child is so utterly fantastically superior to most any other child and it must be my uncanny parenting skills that have facilitated such an undeniable fact. Thank goodness, he/she has achieved x, y or z and has a trophy, certificate, report card, beautiful face, exceptional talent or remarkable astuteness (or all of them) to exhibit as indisputable evidence that he/she is a gift to humanity. Actually, thank me for being such an extraordinary parent and being able to produce and rear such high quality offspring. And especially, thank Facebook for enabling me to alert the public to the greatness in their midst so they can be sure to start ass kissing my 2, 5, 9, 12 year old right now before he/she hits the big time. To be more concise, the world would spin off its axis without he/she/us. 

I just wonder sometimes who people are directing their posts to when they gush and brag relentlessly. I know they’re proud. But that takes one sentence to convey, if it needs conveying at all.  Of course I have occasionally, though rarely, been guilty of posting about my terrific children myself – still, I try to at least keep it to one sentence. I don’t think I’m better than the gushers, just get a kick out of pondering how awesomely funny it would be if they just went all out and posted my interpretation of their status updates. I wonder how many “likes” they’d get . 😉

The Ex sure has a lot to say about my parenting skills!

My ex bought my kids iphones. Waaay before I ever would have. And that was a few years ago.

The ex complains that they use their phones too much (bills are too high).

I start enforcing rules and field a steady flow of complaints from my boys that I am too restrictive, too overprotective, none of their friends have these rules, etc.

Kids being kids, the bills are still too high.

The ex walks into my home this morning for an impromptu “meeting” about the most recent bill and proceeds to criticize my parenting skills and lack of responsibility in front of my kids. He also mentions that the woman he spoke to at AT&T couldn’t believe a 10 year old even has an iphone. I try to calmly point out that HE bought them their iphones!!! And, that when he did so, he opened up an entire world of issues and oversight that I, alone, have to manage and it’s actually too much for me.

He smirked and scoffed when I articulated how much I am handling. I bit my tongue. I held my breath. I tried to resist defending myself because my younger boy was crying and begging us not to fight.

It just sucked.

So, NEW RULES

1) Kids’ phones are set up with a mechanism that cuts them off after a certain amount of usage.

2) We will no longer attempt “family meetings”. That it is too damaging to the kids. From now on we can discuss privately and either one of us will relay the outcome, consequences, resolution etc, or we can just put it in writing for them.

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST CO-PARENTING IS HARD! WTF????