Why I started this blog…

into the fog

Anyone stopping here anytime soon may notice there are only a handful of posts.  That’s because this is a brand-spankin-new blog.  I’ve been wanting to write more and toyed with a variety of ideas, and settled on creating a blog.  A public place where I can open up and share my thoughts, feelings etc.

Since I have shared, and plan to share, some things that are very person I’ve decided to use alias.  The main reason comes down to fear.  I’m not afraid of internet trolls, stalkers, or hostile comments.  I’m afraid a family member, or two, will somehow come across my writings and feel hurt.  When I write here I want to be open and honest.  But I know some of the things I have shared, and plan to share, could hurt my family.  Specifically, my mother.  She has such low self-esteem and is extremely critical of herself.

For example, I’ve observed when one of my siblings was forthright with my mom (possibly over an offensive statement she made about a group of people), she became dismissive and then, shortly afterward, shut herself in her bedroom and did not interact with any of us for a great length of time…days.  Which I found offensive because I had spent a lot of money on a flight to visit her.  Then later (even years later) she will reference the event in negative tones and words toward herself and/or the accused.  This is an all too familiar cycle.

So, yes, my writing here, under alias’, is based out of a fear of hurting others.  Or, more appropriately, I don’t want my fear to stifle my writing right now.  Therefore I am choosing to hide in order to feel free.  A little backwards, but I am optimistic better writing will come of it.  I love and care so much for my family and I don’t want to hurt them in any way.

As I am writing this I realize there is a completely different perspective here.  I could see this decision to keep my anonymity is based on fear of hurting others.  Or the complete opposite.  My decision is based out of love and concern for how others will feel.  And, that’s okay.

I’m excited to share the feelings in my heart and the busyness that occupies my mind.  Hopefully, it will be coherent.  Hopefully, I will come to understand myself even more.  And my greatest joy would be to connect with other kindred spirits on this crazy journey of life.

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Grati-Tuesday

footprints

I strongly believe in the power of gratitude.  Exercising that power can change a person’s outlook on life and much of life and experience is really about perspective.

But just because I believe in the power of gratitude doesn’t mean I’m great at practicing it.  My husband laughs at me, and I can sometimes resort to laughing at myself, because I can be a Debbie Downer some days.  Seriously.  I’m pretty sure it is genetic and I got it from my mom, who always has something not so positive to say in any given conversation.

So, I’m hoping to share two things I’m grateful for (here on this little, new blog) every Tuesday.

1–I’m grateful that I can communicate so easily with my daughter’s school teacher.  Any minor or major question I have I can shoot him a quick e-mail.  We’ve chatted on the phone a handful of times, we e-mail probably once a week, and touch base when I pick Ivy up from school.  He lets me know if she’s been acting tired a lot one week, I let him know when tiffs break out between the girls, etc.  When i was growing up I think my mom only communicated with my teacher at parent-teacher conference or, on the very rare occasion, over the phone if there was a big issue.  But I love that I can know what is going on at school and work with Ivy’s teacher to make sure my daughter gets the best education possible.

2–I love that our newish apartment has HUGE windows that let in a lot of light.  After living in NYC for several years and the last two years in a very dark apartment I forgot how much I need the sunlight during the winter.  It has saved my sanity this winter.  On a good morning I will sit near the east window and read and called it my light therapy.  It feels good.

 

Too soon

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I knew the time would come when my daughter would be bringing home garbage from school.  But at 7 years old it all seems too soon.  We work hard, and are very fortunate, to be able to live in an area with an excellent school.  (The property taxes in this town are roughly $20,000/year and most of that goes to the schools.  Crazy, right?!  We rent!)  I guess the problem is I expect more out of these parents I associate with because they are educated and wealthy.  I wrongly make the assumption that wealth=morality or at the very least good manners.  The problem is I hold these parents (and the caregivers they hire) to a high standard, because I know what they do in their home, with their kids, will in many ways influence my children.  And that kinda scares me.

Yesterday I was working in the kitchen, the mixer kneading the bread dough.  Ivy, from across the living room asked, “What does shit mean?”

The mixer was loud, “What?”

“Shit.  What is it?”

“What?”   “Oh, wait…Did you say…?”   “Wait.  Come in here and talk to me.”

So we had a discussion about ‘shit’.  I, honestly, wasn’t prepared.  Which is how I feel with 95% of the issues that come up with my oldest child.  Poor child, she’s like an experiment in parenting techniques.  With a large dose of trial and error.

The kids at school had introduced her to the word when she said “friendship” and another kid laughed and thought she had said “friendshit”.  According to Ivy, all the kids in her group talked about for several minutes.  When Ivy asked the kids what it meant one kid told her it was a grownup word and only adults can use it.

We had a calm discussion; I thought I did a pretty decent job explaining why we don’t use that word.  And Ivy seemed to get it and respect that.  But inside, I was appalled.  Not because she was exposed to the word while in a safe setting.  (I’m sure she’s heard the word plenty of times–walking down the streets of NYC).  I knew she would be exposed to vulgar words by her peers sooner, rather than later (sadly), but 7 years old still seems too soon.  She’s one of the youngest kids in her class, so she’s getting exposed to things younger than some of her classmates.  And, I admit, and I am proud to say, I keep her sheltered.  Because 7 year olds should be sheltered.  But the thing that bothered me the most was that other kids consider the word a “grownup word”.  Which makes it even more appealing to them.  If it’s a grownup word, why do they know it?  Honestly, why do the little ones have to deal with such foul language?

But this is a strong trend in Ivy’s classroom this year.  Perhaps not all the girls, but the popular girls, the ones Ivy really looks up to.  Ivy wants to be their best friends, she wants to emulate them.  But these girls are already doing a lot of grownup stuff?!  These kids are barely 8 years old and some of them wear makeup to school every.single.day!  It’s just a little eyeshadow and lipgloss, but seriously?!  Seriously!  They are intensely into One Direction, wear their shirts off their shoulders, tall skinny boots, dressing up like skimpy rockstars on Halloween, et cetera.  They have been alive for 8 years, but have about 70 more years to go; why rush these things?

beach

I’m a huge advocate for letting kids just be kids.  Ivy frequently asks to wear makeup, get her ears pierced, wear high heel shoes, and the like.  She’s been asking since she could talk.  And she gets to do all those things (wear clip on earrings–not pierced yet) during her playtime.  I understand it is fun and exciting.  I want her to be a kid.  She’s only a kid for a few years and then she can be the grownup she wants to be the rest of her life.  But while she’s a kid I feel pretty lucky I get to guide and direct her.  And I feel that one of my most important responsibilities as a parent is to encourage my kids to be kids.  They grow up so fast no matter; let’s not make them deal with the grownup stuff just yet.   Just let them be kids.  Cause pretty soon they won’t be.

Growing up an Introvert

introvert

As a teenager I struggled to make friends.  We moved a few times, I was typically awkward and uncomfortable with myself.  So the act of connecting with others was terribly difficult, but I tried and tried.  Once I shared with my mom the struggles I was having in my social life.  I was distraught and confused.  Her response, “Well, honey.  You are socially retarded, just like your ole mother.”

That statement sums up a lot of my early years and my relationship with my mom.  1–I was raised by a mom who was full of self deprecation, and quite open about it.  2–My mother saw a lot of herself in me and often pointed out the negative qualities I possessed.  3–My own mother called me “socially retarded”?!

My mother’s statement, at a time when I felt vulnerable, has haunted me for the last 20 years.  It wasn’t until recently that I started to understand and slowly began to appreciate my unique self.  What my mother saw as a very negative personality trait, that I had inherited from her, was indeed introversion.

I have frequently fluctuated between feeling like I needed to change myself and needing to feel comfortable and confident in who I am.  I am grateful that there has been a recent surge of knowledge around what introversion really is.  Introversion doesn’t mean “socially awkward” or as my mother would say “socially retarded” but something completely different.  I am reading the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking and I find it very insightful and liberating.  I can be quiet and that’s okay.  I can prefer to only go hang out with one friend at a time, instead of a large group, and that’s okay.  I can carve out alone time for myself, and that’s okay.  There is nothing wrong with me or my preferences to interact in smaller social situations.  In fact there is a lot of strength in my introversion.  I’m very observant and in tune with the emotions and intricacies of those I interact with.  I am very introspective and can learn a lot about others just by watching them.  I have been given the gift of introversion.  And it is a beautiful gift.

Some other insightful reads on introversion, that have helped me on my journey:

6 Survival Strategies for the Introverted Mom

16 Outrageously Successful Introverts

Introverts Homeschooling Introverts

The Sound of Silence: Parenting as an Introvert

Introversion: Using Solitude to Shine in the Handmade World

The Anti-Yelling Challenge

Mississippi

About a month ago I was talking to Bradley, my husband, about my mommy-guilt. Bedtime at my house can be atrocious sometimes almost always. I’ve been at this for over 7 years, but most nights feel like an alien invasion: complete chaos and confusion. No matter how many times these kids go to bed. I digress. Bradley and I were talking about ways I could overcome my mommy-guilt. And, I really, REALLY wanted to stop yelling. Yelling didn’t do any good, it scared my kids, it made them cry, they often got ready slower, and I felt terribly guilty every.single.night. It felt like Groundhog Day. Why couldn’t I figure it out? How impossible is it to get it right?

So Bradley and I talked about what would motivate me to stop yelling. I knew I should stop, but I needed something big to help get me motivated. After brainstorming a few ideas I decided to reward myself with money toward a trip I wanted to take to visit some friends in Europe. The deal was every 5 days of not yelling I could put $100 toward the trip. But I had to make it 5 days straight to get the $100. That was the beginning of February. It has been a month.

I have had many ups and downs. But the ups are longer and the downs are getting shorter. It is slowly improving. My kids seem happier. I know I’m happier.

One day, early on, my kids were pushing my buttons and I felt myself starting to boil inside. I stopped what we were doing and I told them I was working really hard to not yell. We talked about how we all feel when I yell at them. I explained that I don’t like yelling and I am learning and working really hard to stop.

Now when I feel the anger brewing inside I stop and get their attention. I tell them I feel very frustrated and I feel like I am going to yell at them. We talk about what we can do to defuse the situation. Or sometimes I ask one child to take a break in another room (or all of them :)). It’s been amazing how much it helps to have their support. My 7 year old daughter will work really hard to help her younger brothers make good choices too. It’s not perfect, but I was surprised how much it helps having them on my team. They want me to succeed at this too!