Blog Archives

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Growing up

Last night, late, around 10 PM, I picked Trey up from his last track meet of the season.

In a radical departure for me as a parent, I did not attend a single track meet. 

Why? 

First, because they are LONG. Crazy long. Like, this one was seven hours long, 45 minutes away each way, for him to compete twice at five minutes each time.

Second, because after the second week of track practice, he asked if he could quit. He wasn't enjoying it bc his friends weren't on the team this year. I get that, for sports Trey is much more about the social aspect than the competition or sport itself. I told him no, but when the play practices kicked in he could back off of it. 

So, given that he didn't really care about his performance and didn't want to be there much himself, my motivation to go was pretty darn low!

That being said, I WILL give a nod to him that the last two track meets of the season, once the play practices had begun in earnest, he technically didn't have to go to. Kids do skip track meets frequently  it seems. I gave him my opinion and then left it up to him as to whether he would go or not. He chose to go, and he fulfilled the commitment he made when he joined the team. I was so pleased by this. Those meets are so long and so boring, and yet he made himself do the right thing. Good boy!

•••

Kate and Bobby successfully created their own cell phone account and have transferred their numbers over. I have one less phone line to pay for and they have completed another step of adulting! 

Bobby starts his new job soon. I am excited for him and hope it is what he wants it to be. They will be moving closer to me soon and I am super excited about that too!

•••

Chris has been preparing/studying for the LSAT over Christmas Break.  That kid has great motivation and drive. He got his highest score yet on a practice test- 169! VERY WELL DONE, Chris. I am proud of you!

•••

Midterms are over for Trey and a new quarter is starting. I am so glad. Fresh slate and hopefully better grades this quarter.

I had a nice conversation with him in the car last night, which is somewhat of a rarity in and of itself.

He said he was pleased with his ACT score. I agreed that it was great in English and with his score he will likely get into a couple of colleges on his list, but that he will need to retake it for the math/science part. He already knows this- we discussed it.

I then said that we would be having conversations this year- he, his dad and I. About what he wants to do next, what his ideas and visions are for himself. I told him we don't want to force him into anything.

He agreed that he absolutely knew this and commented that he didn't feel forced and that he wasn't the kind of kid who could be forced anyway.. that once he turned 18 he could ultimately make his own decisions. 

I agreed and said that we would be supportive of course, but that it could be hard to be an 18 year old out there on his own, if parents were not supportive.. having to pay rent, buy food etc.

"Yeah, but I know myself and I could do it," he replied. "I know who I am and I am a strong person. I like myself. I would eat a lot of eggs; they are cheap and the perfect nutritional food."

I agreed and smiled at him but inside my heart sang. Things aren't always easy for this kid but what he has said to me tonight is that he feels happy with himself, he feels settled in himself right now. He believes in himself. 

And I have really been unsure about that and worried about that. Above all else, that is most important. College or not, great grades or not, that will take him a long way in this life when things get hard. 

You go, Boy.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

17

He skulks into the kitchen on this, his second morning of midterms.

At newly turned 17, he has an XXX Tentacion black hoodie on, hood up. This, apparently, is a rapper who was shot dead in a car a while ago. He felt the loss acutely and this was one of his most wanted Christmas present. I bought it for him, even though from what I had read about this young man, he wasn't the greatest human being on the planet by a long shot, but it mattered to my son. 

I've made sausages for his breakfast and ask him if he'd also like a waffle. I have to be looking at him when I ask him this, as the chances of getting a verbal response are slim. He nods slightly and I put one in the oven to warm.

His hoodie is not uniform appropriate. His shoes are on the kitchen island, although he has been told time and time again to only put his shoes on the floor. I choose to ignore these things today. He has two midterms this morning and it is more important to me to get him off to school in a reasonably good state of mind. The conflict is not worth it.

I sat through a Parent Meeting at his school this week. There was much talk about students not being in uniform, technology overuse and misuse, and so forth. Over and over again, the blame came back to the parents. They shouldn't be letting them leave the house in leggings/ jeggings etc. They should care more. Do more. Say more. 

I sat quietly.

Here's what I didn't say: 

There are so many battles to fight. With an easier kid, you fight the small battles. In fact, it is often not a battle at all. You say no, the kid doesn't do it, end of story.

One of us could be fighting endless battles, all day long.

One of us is trying to get her kid to get through high school in one piece, when he doesn't like it and doesn't see the point. 

One of us is choosing to put her energy into trying to keep his GPA up to a reasonable level, so that he has options available to him, even if he chooses not to use them, because then she at least fulfilled her role of doing the best she could to provide them.

One of us is trying to keep what little communication she has with her kid to be as positive as possible, because if he shuts down completely, what is she to do then?

My frustration is acute, my anger simmers. 

I used to flow with milk, enough to feed a small village of children it seemed. 
Now I try hard to flow with grace, to bite my tongue, to realize that this is a stage, a long stage, that will eventually pass.

I am grateful for my husband and my other two children, who acknowledge in a variety of ways that I am a good parent, a good mother, that I am not failing.

I try to realize how it feels to be him: 

He wants to be creating music, he wants to leave this life of academics he doesn't care about, of tests he doesn't want to take, of having to be somewhere and pretend to be someone he is not. 

He just wants to be left alone to do what he wants to do, and the pressures he feels are tremendous.

This child may not go to college. I am realizing that slowly, and his Dad is not realizing it yet. He may need a gap year, he may not go at all, he may need time to try to make it on his own and then decide to go later.

Maybe he will go. But I am letting go of the expectation that OF COURSE HE WILL and opening my mind to what will possibly make him happy, even if that wasn't what I thought it would be.

We pull up to the school after a silent ride, in which I listened to the radio. 

He goes to open the door, and I say "Good luck on your midterms."
"Thanks" he responds.
Pushing my luck, I say "I love you" as he grabs his bag.
"Love you too" he mutters as the door closes.

I drive home, sustained by those words for another day. 


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Roller Coaster Life!

Well, apparently it is having three kids at this particular age and stage of their lives and mine that has really set the roller coaster in motion.

It's not that we haven't had rocky times parenting. There were periods for certain that were incredibly challenging. Fortunately, however, they seemed to really only affect one child at a time, with the others paddling along independently while we worried about and righted the child who had drifted off course.

Not this year.

I have not ever experienced the feelings of upheaval in parenting as I have this year. Plus, in some kind of freaking sick cosmic joke, my hormones are going kerflooey at the exact same time, turning me into either a emotional lunatic or a Bawling Betty-- neither of which I like AT ALL.

Teen hormones and Menopause hormones should not occur at the same time!

Prior to this year, I would say that the teen years have been amongst my favorite years of child rearing. And at times they still are. But now I get why people say that they are the most difficult years. That is true as well.

I know that things will get better; like the newborn stage, I will look back on this time and think that it wasn't so bad. My parents and others ahead of me assure me that this is true.

I'm choosing to believe it!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

KILLING ME

Dear Youngest Child of Mine,

Kid. You are killing me.

I get that I was not an easy teen myself and that perhaps I have been somewhat spoiled.

I get that you don't like to read, but somehow you must have read and memorized the chapter on how to be a challenging textbook teenager.

Dude, you are wearing me OUT right now.

I feel like I don't know what to do with you right now. Your potential and smarts are high but they aren't being reflected in your school work. Your behavior at school is earning you emails to your parents. Your sweet-sour attitude at home is wearing thin.

Are you bored at school? Are you having attention issues that need to be addressed? Do you think you know better than your teachers and so you only have to follow the rules that you think are relevant or important or fair?

I don't even know what the heck the issue is but I do know this: you have had three strikes, my friend.  Three emails in a month's time from your school and the SHIT IS ABOUT TO HIT THE FAN when you get home.

Remember Baby Boot Camp? Well, it's coming back and it isn't going to be pretty.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Memoir Prompt: Decisions

Memoir Prompt:
Day 12: Decisions. I've been reading The Things They Carried and I feel gutted. In one passage he talks about the decision of whether to fight in Vietnam or run to Canada. "Twenty yards. I could've jumped and started swimming for my life. Inside me, in my chest, I felt a terrible squeezing pressure. . . What would you do? Would you jump? Would you feel pity for yourself? Would you think of your family and your childhood and your dreams and all you're leaving behind? Would it hurt? Would it feel like dying? Would you cry, as I did?" Write about a decision. A wrenching decision. A decision that changed your course. How did you decide? What did it feel like? Who did it affect? 8 minutes. Don't hold back.

••••••••••••••••••••

I've always known I wanted to have children.

A love of children is the one thing in my life that I can trace back to my earliest days (well, that and crushes on boys...)

As a child, I would arrange my stuffed animals and dolls in a "classroom." I would make up lesson plans, take attendance, and even had a grade book in which I would carefully pass or fail them. 

I told my parents, with great confidence, that I was going to have 100 children.
I babysat from the very moment I was allowed to do so.
I worked in the church nursery.
When I left to go to college, I spent COUNTLESS hours volunteering in the lab classrooms on campus, working with special needs children under the age of three. And I do mean countless.. which then evolved into my first full time adult job.

Rob and I got married fairly young and started our family fairly young, by today's standards. I had just turned 26 when our first child was born.

I have never, ever regretted having children, although there were certainly moments when I could have easily gotten into the car like Marie Osmond did and driven far, far away.

There have been times, big fat blocks of time, in which I lost track of who I was, outside of being a mother. Times when I truly felt depressed and overwhelmed and completely drowned in the needs of children and a husband and raising a family.

Times of overwhelming joy, times of heartbreak, times of white hot rage and boundless pride.
Times when the little girl I was would be so proud of her Mommying and times when she would be beyond horrified at her own future actions or words.

Now that my kids are growing older and up and out of the house, I spend time trying to decide things about this next phase of life: What does it look like? What is my role? Who am I now and what do I want for MYSELF. Do I even remember how to answer these questions anymore?

Time will tell.

••••••••

If you want to play along, Go here: http://anndeeellis.com/2016/09/11/day-12/