Category Archives: Parenting Teenagers

Did We Chop Off A Leg?!?

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The tadpole boy-man has grown since that post a few years ago. He graduated from high school, got accepted to college (out of state), was hired for a summer job, and has left home for the summer.

That is a lot of change for his Mama-Frog… tears well up and throat clogs just typing this post.

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As a Mom, we want our children to make their way in the world, to get out into the world, and to make a positive difference in the world. But wow, this is a rough one. For me. I have to work very hard to remind myself that “This is good. He is doing the right thing. This separation might actually be what I have been preparing him for all of these years”.

That takes a lot of self-talk, to remind (me), remind (me again), and provide him with encouragement, not cling…

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Day 14 Be Present: Habits, Trust, Surrender

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Day 14 Be Present: Habits, Trust, Surrender

A word on habits again- we are trying to find and keep inner peace amidst a very busy and often (usually?) unpeaceful world. It is hard work to stay peaceful inside with all of the outer world beeping and ringing and driving for attention. When we add our inner world (that voice that gives unsolicited commentary on unmet expectations and unmet goals) to the outer beeping world, the push and pull makes it difficult to finish a task.

“Should I answer the email flashing from my sister or feed the crying cat? The dryer is beeping at me, should I put more in, or unload the dishwasher? I need to pay that medical bill online, but there is a work report that hasn’t been read yet, and I could bill that time. Oh my God, the teenager is still out with my car on slippery roads and didn’t text that she arrived yet.”

Then add in the inner (voice? heart? or zombie monotony?) beeping of missing my aging parents this holiday, weird feeling that my out of town out of touch sister in law is upset with me, and how the Hell did it get to be 2015 already? I thought this graduation year for my teen was a loooooong ways away.

It makes it hard to walk a straight line. Sometimes, this monkey voice makes me loop around in my own house, or office (sometimes I even drive in circles, confused about what my errand priorities are). Anne Lamotte calls them drunken monkeys in our minds. I like that analogy- who needs to listen to a chimpanzee hopped up on vodka? Michael Singer says “If you watch carefully, it’s just trying to find a comfortable place to rest.” Ahhh, it is ok to rest, little voice.

We can only do one thing at a time.
We can only listen to one voice at a time.
We can only walk one direction at a time.
We can only focus on one habit at a time.

One.

We take one concept at a time. Eat this elephant one bite at a time.

This voyage to inner peace is a deep sea voyage- we just go down one step at a time: one step, one habit at a time. The rest has to be ok waiting.

So we take one big breath and choose one topic to deal with and find peace with. We surrender the others. Surrendering the unworked/handing it up to God/blessing it in place is equally as important as the work we do. As we take that one step deeper into the ocean, we let the other stuff wait.

Take it one wave at a time, sweet fishy.

Affirmation: Ahhhh, rest little voice. One wave at a time, sweet fishy.

Day 13 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Prisoner

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Day 13 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Prisoner

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
-Lewis B. Smedes

We can all be prisoners of our own anger, resentment, and stubborn resistance to forgiveness. Nobody knows how hard we have it. Nobody knows how difficult it is. Nobody is there in the middle of the night, when the fears, anger, resentment, and the anxiety are in bed with us. They wrap around us like strangling blankets, encasing us in the darkness. By morning, all we can do is get up and struggle to our day. “They did this to us. They made it awful. If only they hadn’t done_______, everything would be fine.”

Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.
-Lewis B. Swedes

What if we remember it differently? What if we forgive them, forgive ourselves, and what if we see ourselves (that prisoner), who really did a kick-ass job taking care of themselves and their loved ones in the face of difficulties. What if we change that memory into 1) letting the other person off the hook and 2) give ourselves some doses of awesome sauce?

What does that leave us with then?

Day 12 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Feast of Anger

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Day 12 Be Present: Forgiveness and The Feast of Anger

Forgiveness is a tough one. I have to work at it diligently. When I feel resentful, angry, slighted, invisible, disrespected, attacked, forgotten… I usually turn to anger, which feels good and energizing and powerful in the moment. I feel like I can stand up tall again; the world will see me and how important I am. They won’t do that awful thing, ever again!

I use anger to feel better about myself when I am hurt. And we all have lots of opportunities to hurt: snarky sarcastic teenagers, terrible drivers, forgetful parents, ex partners who forget their responsibilities (it turns out that even court-ordered child support can be blown off), demanding bosses who aren’t realistic, etc. When enough of these happen, and I am not taking care of myself (sleep, exercise, food, water)…

I sometimes stand up tall and get really angry, my blood really does get hotter, my head sometimes lifts off of my shoulders, my eyes actually bulge out sometimes, and my voice goes up an octave. I think I am the wolf. I am not present. I am not in my skin. I am not even in this stratosphere.

At first, I might mutter about 50 miles an hour and swirl around my house, cleaning, straightening, whatever helps me to feel more like a martyr. That really helps me get whipped up- housework. Then I let it rip- I rail, I (subconsciously) know the words to use that will sear the hottest deepest wounds. It all comes out. I am angry, disrespected, resentful, and nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen. But I am powerful, so powerful in this anger! For about 15 minutes.

Then I feel terrrrrrrrrible.

“Of the seven deadly sins, anger is possibly the most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue the prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to the last toothsome morsel both the pain you are given and the pain you are giving back- in many ways, it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you.
-Frederick Beuchner, Wishful Thinking

How can we be present when we are busy feasting on ourselves? Eating out own hearts? We have to take care of our anger if we are to have inner peace. Those wounds will drive us to eat ourselves unless we deal with it in a healthy way- friends, counseling, physical exercise, journaling, find your way to drop the face of anger. Leave the wolf outside.

I am actually very weak and susceptible to anger. I have to use forgiveness and prayer. Lots of both.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
-Mahatma Gandhi

Action Item: Journal this morning about the wolf. What does she feel? What does she do, and what makes her snarl the most? What can you do to take care of it?

Visualization: Tell that wolf that you love her, and will care for her. Listen to her, and then let her know it is ok for her to go lay down and rest. Then you go take care of her.

Day 11 Be Present: Keep Going No Matter What Fears Pop Up

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Day 11 Be Present: Keep Going No Matter What Fears Pop Up

When asked, “What disturbs him now about himself?” E.B. White answered, “I am bothered chiefly by my little fears that are the same as they were almost 70 years ago. I was born scared and am still scared. This has sometimes tested my courage almost beyond endurance.”

-E.B. White, quoted in “Notes and Comment by Author,” by Israel Shenker, New York Times, July 11, 1969

You are here for Day 11! YAY! Give yourself a big star today for sticking with this blog, for continuing to read and question, and do the work of being present and working towards more inner peace. Nobody said life was going to be easy. But I still want it to be. And when I get scared, overwhelmed, criticized, or feel otherwise unloved or unappreciated, I want to run away. Single parenting doesn’t let us do that, no matter how badly we want to. The work and the situation are still there. The kids with their bright, shining faces, their hungry bellies, and yes, their hugs and love and forgiveness for our past mistakes are there, every morning. Thank goodness!

If E.B. White had little fears that still plagued him, after so much literary success, then perhaps we aren’t the only ones with fears and trepidation about our lives? Perhaps the bus driver and the guy you sit next to at work have fears too. Maybe the check out lady at the grocery store does too, or the postal worker, the teacher, or the flight attendant. Maybe we all just have to persevere anyway, despite fears of not being good enough, or not getting it right (again), or offending someone, or looking stupid.

Running away from our fears, rather than facing them, and shutting off/shutting down doesn’t do anything but remove us from the present. No one benefits when we don’t stay present in our lives and keep on keeping on.

Action Item: Describe in your journal what fears you have about today (just today). Decide what you can do to help yourself with your scary task. What can you do to prepare? Who can you ask for help? What can you remind yourself?

Affirmation: “I am capable, strong, and have just enough on my plate. I can handle it, one day, one moment at a time.”

Visualization: Stand with your hands on your hips and smile as you look out at the world you are creating for yourself and your children. Do this 3-10 times today, and smile with gratitude and pride for what you are accomplishing. (see, you are doing it!!)

Day 10: Be Present Accept Present Parenting Situation

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… and find the gifts in the situation!?!? I do NOT relish getting up in the middle of the night ot take care of sick kids, or to go pick up kids at the movie theater at 11 pm, or calling and harassing the 17-year old who is blowing off his curfew. But I do it. And I try super duper hard to remember that this phase will not last forever. In a few years, they won’t be asking for rides, or even sharing breakfast with me on a daily basis. So the time we have together, even if it is after my bedtime, and inconvenient, and feels bothersome, is somewhere along the precious scale.

One horrible epidsode, which is a family joke now, my then-5-year old daughter wa projectile vomiting pink stuff. It got on the floor, the door, the sink, even in my eye! I then, 2- hours later, got the runs myself, which made it a challenge to take care of me and her. An hour later, after everyone was in bed and asleep, I heard my DOG HAVING DIARRHEA in his crate, of course… That was a hard one to beat, that bug! The only gift or blessing in that is the laughter we all have over it now, and actually, that is a really pretty good blessing, to laugh with our kids, to have old inside jokes with them, and to smile and know that they feel loved and taken care of, even when it is a pain in the neck.

And, there are gifts to parenting alone- our ex is a coparent usually, and that is extremeley important to put energy in to preserving that relationship for the kids’ benefit. But our ex isn’t there on a daily basis any more, helping with dinner or carpools or soccer cleat tantrums. BUT- we get to choose consequences without repercussions. No one can go behind my back and let him spend the night with Nick after I said no. We get to decide, alone, how much of our family budget goes towards winter boots vs. power tools, or family vacations vs. hunting trips. We get to choose our family rules about movies, drinking beer at 18 at family occasions, and how short the homecoming dress hemline can be. I especially like the rule I made 12 years ago that we all take very seriously: Every single Christmas morning, we MUST have cinnamon rolls and bacon while opening up presents. Nobody messes with me on that one.

Action Item: Write down 10 things you love about your lifestyle and find 5 more reasons you would NEVER DO IT DIFFERENTLY if you had the chance.

“This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.”
Gary Lew

Visualize: Imagine you are surrounded by that golden loving light, dripping all around from you, while repeating your affirmation 10 times. Pick your affirmation: “I love the life I have built for my kids and me”; “I am capable, strong, caring, and loving and all will be well in our world”; “I claim my own power, and I lovingly create my own reality.”

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Day 9 Be Present: Find the Gifts in Now

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Day 9 Be Present: Find the Gifts in Now

Stop. Take a breath. Smile. Be Present. Be the Present to each other.

Our Presence is our Presents.

Here it is, December 9th, and we are all freaked out about how to buy the material items- what if we commit to bringing spiritual wealth to our families rather than material wealth?

That is a lasting legacy we can provide- the way we live our lives today, and in this season has a much longer reward than the materials we buy them. It will last longer than just this lifetime.

Action Item: Ask yourself what is it that you can leave behind for them, aside from wealth and material items?

Affirmation: I love to be present and give others my golden love and energy.

Visualize: (this is very groovy, but try it anyway) Imagine you are surrounded by golden light. It is coming from the Divine, and it swirls around you. You have so much of it, it drips off of you as you walk though your day. This light feels amazing and is amazing. It is inside and outside of you, and you happily share it with others.