Wednesday Wonderings : Parenting- The good. The bad. And the step.

Lonnie and I did lots of driving and talking over our long weekend getaway. One of our topics was parenting. We started by musing about “good parents” and “bad parents” and how people who achieve the most success in life so often seem to come from bad childhoods. It almost seems like hands-off parents (for whatever reason…self-involved, substance use, emotional issues, hyper career-focused, etc.) build children with greater resiliency and ability to overcome adversity. So what does that mean!? We didn’t figure it out.

 

IMG_20180224_164812_451.jpg
LOL, He’s actually just focused on driving, but if the pic fits…….

 

We discuss parenting a lot. Probably because we have never, and will never, raise a baby of our own and therefore never worked through the trials and tribulations of co-parenting as equals. I think equality is the main difference between step-parenting and raising a child together as biological or adoptive parents. No matter what your “arrangement” is, or what you PRETEND it is, one of you is “the real parent” who holds the power. It’s a rare person who can come into that scenario and put their ego aside for the greater good of the family. Lonnie comes very, very close. And I work hard to make sure he knows I value his input and opinion when it comes to decisions about the kids. BUT, while it is never really said out loud, we both know at the end of the day, they are my and my ex’s kids and we have all the decision power. Because Lonnie and I are humans, that does cause us some “issues” (pronounced isss-YOUsssss) from time-to-time.

I am fairly certain I would suck as a step-parent and when I divorced, I vowed not to enter into a step-parenting situation. It would be so hard to have no true parenting power coupled with the awareness that everyone involved, including the kids, knows it. There is no built-in bond like there is between a parent and child; so that bond has to be painstakingly cultivated while at the same time establishing a sense of order in the home.  Not everyone is willing, or able, to create that tenuous balance. In fact, I would even bet MOST people aren’t able to make it happen because there are so many emotions and factors at play. There’s a reason “You’re not my dad!” has legendary meme status!

So, what is the answer to harmonious step-parenting? Well, we DID figure this one out!! There is no answer because there is NO SUCH THING! Humans are built to interact and have conflicts and “issues” and power struggles and trials and tribulations and “discussions” and ARGUMENTS! AND ALL of these seemingly negative interactions are actually positive because they are how we learn from each other to grow as people and enrich our relationships.

Have you mastered step-parenting? Failed epically? Kinda-sorta got the hang of it? Think I am way off base with anything here? I love a good discussion… argument… power struggle….

Parenting: We’re doing it wrong

20170703_141203I cannot recall my mother ever telling me or my brothers what to do with ourselves during our summer vacation; especially not at age 15. My mother never made me a daily list of things to do. She never required proof they had been done.  Hell… she never even knew where we WERE most of the time, And we all turned out JUST FINE!

Yet somehow, as I sit here watching my son clock in another hour of ps4, I feel guilty, like somehow it’s MY fault that he is wasting his summer.

Why has my generation of parents decided that it’s our job to make sure our children’s lives are a never-ending amusement park of memories? Why do we now label parents as bad or lazy if they are actually letting their kids figure shit out on their own?  Every time something negative happens that involves a kid, the world swiftly responds with, “WELL WHERE WERE THE PARENTS!?” We have completely absolved our children from any sense of responsibility, autonomy, or morality, and yet expect them to magically become responsible, autonomous, moral adults when they turn 18. When I was growing up, summertime was me out and about in the neighborhood learning life lessons until the street lights came on. If I did something wrong (and I certainly did!), blame wasn’t placed on my mother, it was placed on me; where it belonged!

orca-image-1498665270716.jpg_1498665270887
“My Summer Vacation” by Sean J

In truth, WE are the bad parents. We have created children that have no idea what to do with themselves when left to their own devices. We are creating kids that leave home at 18…19….29….. and are immediately reduced to puddles of anxiety because we haven’t let them figure anything out on their own!

The solution? Hell if I know!? If I knew the magic answers, I probably wouldn’t be getting angry side-eye right now because I told my kid to turn off his ps4 to do a french lesson and some laundry.

The half-empty nest

Today marks 1 month since Jessi flew the coop.  Not-gonna-lie, that first week was ROUGH!  There was a lot of crying, sulking, pouting, moping…..  you get the idea.  Since then, I have been ok, we text every day, and she is still including me in knowing stuff about her life.  Less stuff.  But stuff.  This is what she needed, to get away from my influence, Maine, and whatever else, and to have a chance to figure out what she wants and who she is with no distractions. 

So… during the day.  I am fine.  Yes, there are some songs that come on the radio or things I see that bring on that sting in the eyes…. but I recover quickly 😉  Being focused on house stuff, weekend adventures, and fitness, has been a huge help to avoid emotional eating or wallowing in my own self-pity.

The last goodbye tackle

During the day.

It’s the weirdo nighttime shit that is disconcerting. A few nights a week I have Jessi dreams where I am crying and sobbing hysterically. The other night I dreamt that she and I were driving her down to Richmond, so we stopped at the grocery store and I was buying ALL THE BAD FOOD for the road trip and sobbing as I wandered through the aisles filling my cart with Pirate’s Booty and Sour Patch Kids.  


Which do I miss more?  Jessi?  or Junk food!?  LOL

Being a mom is sadistic.  You spend almost 20 years bonding and getting attached just to RIP EM OFF YA ::::insert velcro sound here:::::

Attitude really is everything!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!  And I say this not to avoid saying MERRY CHRISTMAS, but because Thanksgiving AND Christmas have so far been HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!

We have our ghetto-fabulous-little-tacky-tree and we have our perfectly decorated silver and gold tree.

There are actually WRAPPED PRESENTS under the tree already!!  My kids can attest to how groundbreaking this is as last minute shopping/wrapping is usually how I roll!  I HATE wrapping presents!  Well, I THOUGHT I hated wrapping presents.  Turns out that I just hate wrapping presents alone with no help!  When Lonnie dove into the pile with me, it was actually FUN!!!


I have a pile of projects that I need to get to work on! (I may have bit off more than I can chew in the project department…lol)

On Sunday we are making gingerbread houses!  (OK…we are going to attempt to make gingerbread houses…lol)

Black Friday was A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!  Lonnie and I had a great time, got all the deals we wanted, and then when we were starting to crash… headed on home.  Everyone out there seemed more friendly this year and less frenzied.  Even standing in line at Target from 1030 til they opened at midnight was fun!  We had awesome ‘line buddies’ with whom we  laughed, joked, and watched football on my phone …in perfect warmish weather no-less!!!

So yeah… there are plenty of reasons that I could continue to view the holidays as a time to wallow about this or that.  But I am choosing FUN and JOY instead!!

Busy Busy Busy

Instead of blogging, I have been……………..

  • working working working!  Things are busy in crisis-land these days!  (and so much of my job is writing, the LAST thing I want to do on my downtime is write some more!)
  • hiking
  • a little –very little– running
  • getting a kitten (who is right now adorably distracting me by playing with a piece of fuzz)
  • celebrating a kid turning 20!
  • teaching the other kid to cook
  • learning new recipes
  • turning a coffee table into an ottoman— still a work in progress
  • playing with my camera and Lightroom
  • watching football on TV …and in real life, GO MAINE!
  • reading
  • dabbling in Scrapbooking 
  • planning our next vacation
  • researching places to live when we move in a few years!  (Right now Pittsburgh, Phoenix, Texas, South Carolina, and Richmond, VA are the top contenders)
  • sleeping til noon (Hey… it’s genetic!  I can remember staying with with my Nana and Grampy and waiting… and waiting… and waiting for Nana to get up and ‘put her face on’)

Happy Birthday, Jessi!!!

Not feelin’ it

I haven’t been feeling the whole “eat only when you are hungry and only at the table” thing this week.  …and honestly, even though I have “pretty much” forced myself to comply… I feel yucky and bloaty and fat.  And actually… as I thought about what “pretty much” meant, and thought about all the times I ate on the couch and ate when I was hungry.  I am kidding myself about the “pretty much” thing.  I am off the rails!!  I even bought a box of cheez its.  I have had literally NO DESIRE to eat cheez its since I started this ‘eat whatever you want and whatever you love the most’ journey, which acutally shocked me because I thought they were my FAVORITE!!  Turns out… they are just something that I turn to when I am feelingsy and want to zone out and mindlessly snack on the couch in front of the tv.  Other than that time, I don’t ever want them.

So now I have to figure out WHY.  I was blaming it all on “that time of the month,”  but that’s not really a reason.

  • I have had “that time of the month” several times since I started this and it was actually FREEING to have a craving and sit with it until I was hungry and then go for it with no guilt.
  • Could it be self sabotage?  My jeans have been looser, Jessi even commented on it the other day.
  • Another thought… I NEVER do well with schedule changes, and not only did we start going to the gym, which has changed our schedules, but I also had my hours cut down to 36 from 40.
  • Stress.  Sean and his school slacking is stressing me out lately… bigtime.  I am beyond frustrated with him and have had to take a good look at myself and my role (thanks Dr. Phil for last weeks episode about a 20 year old still living at home) in his behavior.  I have had to make changes in myself and crack down on him hardcore and stop worrying that he will be “sad” if I make him do the things he is supposed to.  It’s been REALLY, REALLY hard.  I HATE to see him sad and he is such a jerk when he is mad at me and it makes me feel crappy.  I have some serious divorce guilt.  I also have serious, I used to be a shitty, bitchy, angry person…. which means I was a shitty, bitchy, angry mom.  So I feel like I have to make up for all those years of shittiness. BUT… I realize now what I was doing and I am done.  Letting him slack at school and home and act like a jerk is not being a good mom… it’s not angry or bitchy…. but it’s still shitty.
Hmmm…. LOL I think we found the answer there…. See… THIS is why I blog.  And if you don’t blog… I implore you to even keep a private blog, or a journal.  I knew that I was having troubles and I knew the Sean thing was a part of it, but until I started writing, and the feelings started bubbling up as I typed… I didn’t realize how hard of a time I am having with this.
Blogging really IS cheaper than therapy.
P.S. I can feel you judging me for watching Dr. Phil.  Stop it.  LOL