Monthly Archives: April 2012

Our Children Are Our Best Medicine


I was asked to see Michael Vladeck speak about 2 days after writing my last blog entry regarding raising teenagers and pulling my hair out. Ha! Don’t you love how the Universe and God provide just what you need at the perfect time? Here is a 3-minute youtube video

“When the student is ready, the teacher appears”. I guess I was ready. Michael Vladeck explained that raising kids brings up all the issues that WE need to work on. So if our parenting is a hard phase for us right now, then something is coming up in our own brains and beings that we need to address, recover, learn, and grow from in order to meet our childrens’ parenting needs.

He also said we are on the front wave of BEING instead of just DOING the parenting to support our kids. Remember our parents’ style of parenting (“Stop arguing now, or I will pull over the car and you can WALK!”)? We really are making landmark changes in parenting and raising responsible healthy adults when we listen to them, ask what is bothering them, be present with them in their struggles, and cultivate consciousness by being centered ourselves. (Yes, the consequences still apply, but we need to seek first to understand before we can be understood).

I tried this the other day with my teenage boy I have watched grow from a sweet little guy who loved to hold my hand to a sometimes lying taller than me dude who leaves puddles of water and wet towels on my bathroom floor twice a day. He was complaining about his teachers (2 of whom had emailed me and told me he is still socializing too much to actually focus on his work in class…).

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I began interrupting immediately, with the news of his grades and grounding, and blah blah consequences. He walked out of the room in a huff, which was a subtle clue that I had missed an opportunity and was going to have diminishing impact on his decisions. So I restarted: I apologized for not listening, and we sat outside so I would not be tempted to load the dishwasher while we talked it over. I barely talked at all. I mainly listened, and listened, and listened some more to the rant. I felt myself softening towards him, the anger melted away every time I said “Wow, that sounds hard”. I saw him relax too, and he poured a lot out. A LOT. I needed to hear that stuff, he needed to say it, and we needed that reconnection.

Michael Vladeck said that “Anger is sometimes the only way to have control, or semblance of control in our lives. Rage masks unworthiness.” Ouch! Good one there, huh? My son is out of my control and it makes me feel unworthy for some reason… I can no longer control anything in his life except the volume of food available in my kitchen for him to eat. He will either wear the bike helmet or strap it to his backpack. He will either eat the food prepared, or gorge on sweet tarts 20 minutes beforehand. It is also his choice to follow his friends or make his own decisions. He is not a reflection of me (unlike the message our parents gave/give us). He is his own person, and his choices should not make me feel unworthy. When I am stuck in my own gunk and projecting that onto my kids, I fail to be present with them in theirs and miss the opportunity to teach them to be present with their stuff, to model how to work out their issues.

Our kids have real-life issues. I am the one paying the mortgage and going to work, but I am not the only one in the house with a stressful life. Our kids need to see us grapple and deal with our issues. We need to grapple and deal with our issues for at least 3 reasons: 1) to model to them how to do it; 2) to assure them that it is ok to have heartbreak over a lost boyfriend, angst over financial stress, sadness over lost friends, etc. because everyone has that stuff; and 3) so that we as parents can clean up our own side of the street and be present with our kids having their own experiences and issues.


Bonding Over Bacon


He is pretty handsome. I have been seeing him for a long time, because he knows just what to do, and he is quite a bit younger. When we actually talk though, it is usually pretty mundane and I get bored: “Did you see Hunger Games?” (no, not yet), “Do you like this color?” (yes, it is awesome!), “When do you want to see me again?” (Ohhh, how about next month) Yet I have been seeing him for over 3 years. He is kinda, ummm, boring. But yesterday, I brought up the word “bacon”, and he totally came alive! You need to try it…

I am talking about Jeremy, my Hair Guy. He went crazy: told me where to find the best bacon in town (the Albertson’s over near the foothills), which store in another town down the highway has even better bacon, and his ultimate dream –bacon of the month club! I actually considered signing up for a few minutes. He told me he decides where to buy groceries based on bacon selection.

Then we spoke about the horrible way that bacon prices are climbing, what is the deal?!? “OMG. It is awful!” And the packaging is getting smaller, just like cereal boxes. Now it comes in 12 ounce packages instead of a full pound. “Yes! Yes! Oh, yes!” He agreed. And I had to ask, what is up with smoked bacon? Why is the bacon in stores mostly smoked now, or has “added applewood smoke flavoring”, What in the Sam Hill is that? Isn’t that just code for more chemicals further debauching this decadent, totally unhealthy, irresponsible food?

As you can see, Jeremy came alive after I brought up bacon. Our relationship took on new life- we lamented together, breaking in, interrupting each other, we were so fired up and excited about bacon, and the fact that bacon prices have gone up so much over the past year. I have to actually ration the bacon consumption in our household.

It is hard to like bacon after you hear about the slaughterhouses, the way the pigs die so painfully, and the way it is really not good for us… But somehow, greasy bacon pulls through and we have a soft spot for it. (And I have a soft spot on my belly from it, no doubt).

Terra says “Bacon is the gateway food for vegetarians“, the food most likely to make them crumble down that slippery slope of vegetarianism. It happened for my daughter- first bacon, then pepperoni on her pizzas, then hot dogs, moving on down the slippery slope towards carnivorism. She was only in 6th grade, so her convictions were somewhat loose. But, the other day, she told me that she brought up bacon in the school cafeteria, and a boy fell out of his chair (which I am sure never happens in a middles school) talking about his own bacon-love.

Bacon, the bonding/relationship building food. When you bring it up, it automatically jumpstarts conversations. Try it at your next cocktail party (or, if you are like me and don’t get to cocktail parties nearly as much as you get to the beat-up tavern downtown, try it there). Their eyes will light up “Bacon! I love bacon! How can anyone not like bacon?”.

The Hardest Years


I have been saying this mantra over and over, every time my teenage boy/man exasperates me:

“These are the most difficult years of his life”. He is 15.75 years old, and it is the most selfish, most exasperating frustrating years. He is a freshman in high school, the bottom of the totem pole, the pimples are too many, the girls are too few, AND the teachers are “mean”.

“These are the most difficult years of his life”. Finally today, my friend Julie came up with the most awesome response to that: “Yeah, and they will make sure to make them the most difficult years of your life too!” Hahahahahahahaha. I fell out of my chair laughing. It is so true! I got sore nipples breastfeeding, it hurt sooo much. And potty training was the shits (pun intended)- I got so sick of cleaning up accidents, getting poop under my fingernails, and finding pee-smelly clothes hidden in clean clothes. Starting kindergarten, and well, every first day of school I cry and cry (still) over my babies growing up and my need to let them go. But this stage, this sarcastic, I-hate-you-and-you-never-do-anything-for-me-ever-can-I-have-some-money-I-love-you” stage is the most difficult so far. And I have awesome kids!!!

You might think I am complaining about my kids, I am actually complaining about me. This is a difficult stage, and these are hard years. I need a walrus coat, and courage and strength and fearlessness. I ask for it every morning, and usually it shows up.

My friend Liz suggests we shut the door to their rooms if they are too messy, because “that is not the hill we are going to die on”. That off-the-cuff remark is still re-playing, helping me to choose just which hill would I die on? Leaving dirty dishes on the living room floor? C’s in math and english? Eye rolling? Muttering as he walks away? Sneaking beers? Smoking pot? Sexting? Everyone chooses. Everyone chooses their own boundaries with teens, and sometimes the eye rolling is just as bad to me as sexting would be.

The point of this post is to let you know that you aren’t alone on this rollercoaster of raising teenagers as a single parent. It feels like a FunHouse, but it ain’t fun!! There will be hard days, and there may not be many easy days between them. Luckily there are endearing moments, such as when my son says “I love you Mom” before he walks out the door to ride his bike to school, and when she gives me a sweet smile and tilts her head sideways from across the track field (when she sees I brought food, water and her favorite warm sweatpants to the track meet). So I won’t strangle them tonight after all.

Love – The Terror of It


“True Love is one of the rarest jewels of life, treasure it with all your heart. When you find someone who loves you just as you are, is steadfast during moments of stress, willing to grow with you and allows you to feel however you choose to feel in any moment – there is nothing more you will ever find in a person. You’ve found True Love when you feel fear; fear of vulnerability, fear of abandonment and fear of letting go of your own stubborn egoic patterns that keep the real you separate and safe from the other. Trust in love and go towards your fear, taking this leap of faith in every moment is the journey Love requires for its sweet reward.”

– Jackson Kiddard, author & polymath.

pol·y·math   [pol-ee-math]
a person of great learning in several fields of study; polyhistor.

Ok, so the quote above was written by a man of great learning in several fields of study- a very smart cookie. I love this quote! Love is terrifying! So I would add that it requires courage added upon our relationships on a daily basis.

Truly loving ourselves requires courage to stand up for the person and her ideals, even when we really aren’t so sure about how she will be received by the world.

Loving our teenagers means we have to step up to the plate and stand up for what we believe in (our rules, our boundaries, our behavioral expectations), and who we believe in (the cute pimply kid in front of me who just got busted for breaking the rules, again). It takes guts to show up every day as a single parent, ready to step in when needed, to discern when we can butt out, and to have faith that we are enough and what we have done is enough. With no back-up, no cheering section, and no partner.

For me, loving my lover means I need to show up, let my ego take a break, and throw that oh-so-ugly-fear of abandonment out the window.

Some days, the courage needed to truly love me, my teens, and my lover is elusive, I really want to back down, accept, and burrow in to the fear, let it take me over. I think that I am not worthy, that I just can’t do it…I don’t have the energy needed. Ha!

Guess what? I can do it! And you can too. So keep on stepping up to the plate, keep showing up, keep on setting aside your fears, and give the ego a shove-off. You are vulnerable, you may be abandoned, and the real you might not be compatible with your lover after all. But today, in this moment, you know what you know. So do this one step you know right now. Be present. Be vulnerable. Be Truthful. God and the Universe are on your side. Ask for their help!

What would it be like to live this day believing that we are truly blessed, protected, and guided? I have that written on my mirror with stars and underlines, because I tend to forget that, even though it really is kinda important…

Let’s get out there and love, truly love, you, your children, your lover, and your life. You are truly blessed, protected, and guided.

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I had some surgery last week, and it was serious enough that I stayed in the hospital one night. I am ok, it was planned, and no more surgery is expected. But I have been told it could take 6 weeks to recover… 6 weeks?!?! When my doctor initially told me that, I burst out crying. That was 2 months ago, and I am still struggling with the concept of being restful for weeks at a time. I told my boss I would be back at work after 2 weeks- probably not realistic, but it was the only way I could tell him I wouldn’t be there for 2 weeks…

I have been told to “rest as much as possible, and don’t do too much too soon”. Hmmmm- but what if “doing as much as possible as soon as possible” is the way I have survived as a single parent for the last 9 years? This space in my life is definitely a brain twister. How can I be my productive self if I am laying around on the couch?!? Is this me? Will I get swallowed up and lose myself in my pillows and blankets for these weeks?

I am hoping that at the least, I get a little perspective on my life during these 2-3 weeks of time off of work (probably the only 2-3 weeks I have spent off of work since I graduated from high school a hundred years ago). And of course, at the most, I would like to 1)get all of my pictures arranged and organized in my computer (my music too), 2) get the last 10 boxes unpacked from our move in November, 3) get my and my kids’ closets organized, 4) have devised the miracle budget combination that allows me to save and yet live abundantly, 5) blog meaningfully on a regular basis, 6) write some hand written notes that are overdue, and 7) do research on parenting teenagers and significantly improve my parenting. That is the first 7 items of my 21 item To Do List. (I figured I could complete one a day)

The problem is, I keep having to sit down because I get tired after being awake for 2 hours. But yet I really hate napping… I am having anxiety dreams every time I fall asleep, that is part of the lack of allure of naps… I am actually anxious and nervous about this time off. What if I become a couch slug and NEVER get back to my prior life of athletic health and productivity? What if I cannot convince myself after all of this that my job is meaningful? What if I really like working part time and cannot go back to full time? What if I cannot finish all 21 To Do items?

You know the answers to all of these questions: This time off IS going to change my outlook on life and my job, and the point is to come up with some changes in me, not necessarily my house and its organization or lack there of. And all I can do is turn over this time, ask for help from God and my friends, and do the best today, this hour, taking care of my body and mind and wait to see the miracles that occur.

Wearing the Walrus Coat


What have you done for me lately?” That was my sweet girl turned gargoyle’s response to me when I asked her to carry a very light bag through the airport the other day. “I don’t know, got you a plane ticket to Florida for spring break, clothed you, fed you, took care of you for 14 years?” I replied to my teenager who has recently found her sarcastic side. (I cannot imagine where she found it!)

My skin is not thick enough to raise teenagers. I need walrus skin. Where can I buy Walrus lotion? Does Mary Kay sell THAT?! Because I would pay more for that than anti-wrinkle cream these days. And I really hate my wrinkles… Elephant skin might work too, I don’t care about the baggy knees. I need to get through the day living and breathing with 2 teenagers for spring break.

We are on vacation this week, visiting their grandparents/my parents. These are the people who have loved her and driven her and given her many, many gifts. They buy us dinner at fancy restaurants and didn’t blink last night when she said her $19.95 jerk chicken penne had been too spicy and she didn’t want it. They even bought her key lime pie! So today when I said “Gramps and Grams have some raking and they have offered $5 an hour”, I was a little more than shocked and ready to strangle when her reply was “That is not as much as I was hoping for”. I felt my eyes widen to saucers, my heart immediately race and my shoulders tense up. The word “Backhand” came to mind, although I have never and will never physically harm either of my children (but we do fantasize for those short moments while our throat is too constricted to say anything but gurgle “I think you need to do that work for free, actually”)

And then there is the boy-man, who reminds me that I am slower and older than any other woman he has ever met in his life on the ski slope. He says really encouraging things like “Mom, why did you learn to snowboard? You are too slow at it. It is a waste of your time. And your coat looks stupid too”.

Maybe I could buy a thick walrus skin coat? Or just throw a walrus AT THEM…