Tag Archives: family

Part of the Village

This week I went to my grandnephew’s kindergarten graduation. There’s just all kinds of weird in that sentence alone. Children. Family. Social Event. Inclusion.

The school is K-12, laid out in a campus of what reminded me of Morton buildings—low-slung, metal barns. Here’s the south side of my sister as we make our way to the auditorium building

While I’m not one to follow the endless flow of depressing national news, I am invested in Oklahoma’s educational woes.  A January report in Education Weekly ranked Oklahoma schools 47th in the nation with teachers’ salaries ranked 49th.  Teachers went on strike in April, and while the state passed a bill to raise salaries slightly, it neglected to fund the bill.  It never addressed other issues like the lack of program funding and huge class sizes

Teachers are leaving the state like psychiatrists left Iowa, fed up with a system that cares very little about the end-user or those who provide for them.

Oktah, my grandnephews’ school, is considered better than average and receives a federal grant due to its number of low-income students. The superintendent, who spoke at Zane’s graduation ceremony, asked parents and friends to stay involved. More than ever, it seems, it takes a village.

So, I was verklempt, watching my one out of forty-eight kindergarteners dance, sing and use sign language to proclaim his new status.  So was my sister, the retired teacher.

I don’t know if I can help him or his older brother.  Volunteering has always ended up a bipolar casualty.  But I’m staying open to ways I might be part of that Village, even if it’s just being another grown-up (in closer proximity now) who will listen and answer their questions.

You never know the effect of just showing up. That’s something I can do.

Tears Quietly Roll

Now that I’ve taken care of the business of death, I no longer need to numb myself from the pain of loss. Now I cry. Softly. Quietly. The tears roll down my cheeks. I miss my dad. I really miss…

Motherhood Isn’t Always What You Expect

One of my least favourite days is fast approaching – Mother’s Day. Even though I have come to terms with the relationship I had with my mother and the fact I never became one, it is still hard watching other women getting honoured by their families. I have so many “adopted” kids who give me …

Song Lyric Sunday – “Concrete Angel”

This week’s theme is angels and while there are hundreds of applicable songs, one stood out to me immediately – “Concrete Angel” by Martina McBride. Now, this is not your average angel song and it is by no means a happy one. It is about a girl who is beaten regularly by her mother and …

Reblog – How to Keep Moving Forward When Life Wants to Get You Down

Kat’s recounting of dreams quashed and others coming true with hard work is very humbling and inspiring. Chronic illness hits us all hard; however, it is what we make of our lives in spite of it that matters. Lydia!

A Really Good Day

Well, if there was ever a time to be reminded of the necessity of my continuing existence, yesterday was it. It was one of the BESTEST DAYS EVER! Not only was the weather perfection itself, I got to go to lunch and I heard from different people during the course of the day who made me feel that my life really matters.

First of all, I spent most of the day and evening texting back and forth with my oldest daughter, who is going through some tough stuff following the sudden, grisly death of her father-in-law. She never really knew him, but the circumstances of his death are so sad that it really got to her, and it made me feel good to have her reach out to me in her distress. She has so much compassion and she’s all about family, and I love the fact that this amazing woman is my daughter. We didn’t always get along so good when she was a teenager, but at 35 she has long since forgiven me my transgressions as a mother, and I think everyone should have someone like her in their life.

Then I got a Facebook Messenger message from a childhood friend I haven’t talked to in some time who, for some reason, was thinking of me. She lost her son 11 years ago, and we share the bond of mothers who have had to say good-bye to a child. She proceeded to tell me I was an inspiration to her, having lost my husband as well and surviving as best I can, and ended the conversation by thanking me for letting her vent and being a friend. We go back to the third grade, though we weren’t that close in junior high and high school, but we found each other on Facebook several years ago and she is one of the people I admire most. Needless to say, this made my day.

So did the post from a complete stranger in my online bipolar support group. The question in the original post asked if we felt ashamed of not being able to work, to which I answered honestly. I went on to note that I used to be a nurse, but the only thing I’m capable of now is writing, and even that is hard to commit to. This fellow responded by saying that as a nurse I’d already given the world plenty of my time and talents, and that I was helping people in another way by sharing my story. He also said even my simple post was well-written and hoped I would go on to write for publication in a larger market. This didn’t hurt my feelings either.

The capper to my awesome day was a private message from an administrator at my nursing website, where I’ve been for over 15 years and am a site guide. (I used to be a moderator there, but bipolar got in the way and ruined things for me.) She wanted to know if I would like a free shirt from the company. These are nice collared polo shirts that the admins wear to nursing seminars and expositions, and they don’t give them away. I was flattered that she had thought of me and said I’d love to have one. Now, this administrator and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye, and once she gave me an official warning for insulting another member. Which I indeed had done, and I deserved the warning, but I was angry about it for months. This was just prior to being diagnosed. Eventually I got over it, and she got to where she felt she could trust me again, but this gesture of friendship years later means a lot.

So, that was my day. I just hope I can remember it the next time I get down on myself and/or depressed. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Amazon Women Fight with Words

Intuitive book coaching session. Overcome writer's block. Fight with words.…

Don’t take things so personal……

Has anyone ever said “don’t take it so personal” to you?

They have to me. More times than I can count and for as long as I can remember. But it hasn’t been till recently I have really stopped to think about what that means. I understand that I shouldn’t let people I barely know have control over my emotions and my thoughts. It’s pretty easy to not let discussions with many, if not most, people get to me. Sometimes I have emotional reactions but in the long run it doesn’t linger.

But how do you make things with the people in your life that really matter less personal? It just seems like an oxymoron to me. Talk about my parents, my siblings, my kids, my husband, and a few other select people and not taking things so personally gets really hard!!

Why wouldn’t I be upset if I am watching someone I love walk a road they don’t have to if they would hear me out? Or if there’s something they KNOW they shouldn’t be doing, yet won’t hear your warning?

They say it’s about essentially being disconnected, even from the people you love, in order to not feel that a situation is personal. I used to not even hear that when it was said to me. I couldn’t even see a difference in what people close to me say to me and what people I barely know say.

I see that difference now. What I don’t understand is when someone is unwilling to hear what you have to say and I am supposed to pretend I don’t know what’s going to happen or that the issue doesn’t exist. Live and let live, and all that.

Well, I am finally starting to get a handle on this. At least I think so. First, I am an all in person. It might take me a while but once you reach my inner circle I am all in and it isn’t something that changes easily. It is also a fiercely protective loving experience. When you are someone I care about pushing me away isn’t really something you can do unless I allow you to do it. I see the good in people, and when I talk to people I can hear and see the pain of a painful past, or a hard situations. It’s almost like I can actually physically feel their pain and hurt. It costs a lot when this happens which is why I’m so careful. In many ways I can see that underneath everything else I am a person who wants to see the good in people, that at my core I am trusting, and many times it doesn’t occur to me that my words can have as much power as they often do.

I want people to see my pure heart so that they can trust it. Even when everyone else might act a certain way, I will act differently. I will be a safer place where pain can be left behind and beauty comes out. I like being that person.i like knowing that people feel they can trust me when what ends up being some pretty serious issues.

I’m trying to figure out how to “take things less personally” but to be honest I’m not sure that I should. People who know me well love me for my passion and stubborn refusal to give up, on anyone(well, almost). Is that really something I can give up? Or more to the point “should” I? I understand my intensity and passion can sometimes not be conducive to conversations. But I honestly don’t mean for it to come out that way all the time, or I see it has stubborn passion for someone that I love. Just because most people aren’t like me does that mean it’s automatically my illness, or that I choose to be this way? I don’t know. But I do know that I am always willing to stand behind what I say. I might change but if I choose to spend my energy trying to get someone else to see my side it’s because I love them. I love them with a passion and intensity that you likely won’t find again.

The other hard part is that when I seemingly go off these cliffs of emotional tragedy I do it with the full understanding that things could change forever, and that I could lose someone I love in the process. So when i bring a topic up it couldn’t be less spontaneous. I have usually spent a lot of time thinking about it and I have decided I am willing to risk loss. That doesn’t mean I think it will happen. It just means I AM prepared for that. So those words aren’t easy. While it seems like I have an answer for everything or ask too many question, I don’t. I just kind of view a lot of discussions as throwing stuff out there and seeing if anything sticks. Brain stormin, in a way, only much of it is in my head. So no, I don’t go off these cliffs easily, I go off them knowing they are going to be hard but praying that something I say will do some good.

So ya, my conversations are personal. My family is personal and those few close friends I have, they are personal. I’m trying to find a way to make what I see as giving up, sitting down, or being quiet a good thing. Because everywhere I look when people give up, sit down, and get quiet bad things are about to happen. And I’m just not sure I could forgive myself for being part of that.

Parenting

I just want to start by saying my views on this topic and are very general, as there are so many different people, and kids, and families mixed together. I also want to say that I did not have any specific in mind as I thought about what I wanted to say.

People don’t know how to parent. And no one ever teaches you how to. It’s like you just have to guess and hope and pray that you get it right. Except too many kids are growing up in homes where parents aren’t parenting or are blaming any issues on their children. Our kids start learning the moment they are born. As they learn to walk and talk they are learning, from you, how they will react to the world and the people in it.

Too many people spend about zero time thinking about the way their kids feel and who they are as people. I don’t parent any of my kids the same way. They aren’t the same person why would I parent them all the same. I started teaching them things as early as I could. As soon as they could demonstrate they wanted candy or a toy I made them put it on the register to be paid for. When they were 2 or 3, maybe even younger they “helped” me by taking their clothes to the drawer or taking towels to the bathroom. They have never had hard chores. But they do have chores. While we help them if they have school stuff or are sick, they do their chores when they need done. Trash, unload dishwasher, clean microwave, etc. This year my 12 and 14 year olds will share the job of mowing the lawn. Not because my husband and I can’t but because we want them to know what work is and we want them to be good workers as adults.

I have always talked to my kids. About anything and everything(age appropriate when necessary). They have always asked me questions and shared things with me. As they have gotten older I have it only have but start conversations that were not by any means easy. I have talked to them about sex. I have talked to them about friends and not only being kind but standing up for someone if you see them being mistreated. In our house if we ever find out you DIDN’T stand up for someone you will be in much more trouble than if you DO stand up for them. I have talked about parties and drinking and drugs. Mostly telling them not to do it but also telling them that if they ever need someone I want the first call to be me. I said/say these things a lot. I tell their friends to. I have told Lily that if something happens and she doesn’t call me I will be upset with her. I have told them if they ever find themselves as a party NEVER to get in a car and drive or get in a friends car if there is drinking involved. I would rather you stay where you are than have to get that phone call.

But I talk to them about other things too. Anything and everything. I MAKE the time to go to their rooms where they are comfortable and sit down and chat with them. There’s nothing like having your 19 year old ask for advice. I talk to 5em about their friends. I want them to know that I WANT to know their friends. And I want them to know that even when things happen with their friends that I don’t agree with I still WANT them to be friends with them. I am trying to teach them how to live in the world but not be of the world. They don’t have to do all the things their friends do in order to function in life. My daughter has a couple “friends” that I severely limit her time with. These people were given more than one chance not to treat my daughter badly, and I don’t care if they are 12 my daughter will NOT be subjected to that. But I talked to my daughter through every step in the process. Through the 3 chances to get it right. I told her they got one more chance and then I could be the mean Mom I didn’t care I wasn’t gonna have her suffer because I wouldn’t put my foot down. I tell her not to listen to people on a regular basis and I do my best to explain why. I am teaching her to know people and read people. I saw it in my older son as well. I have seen him make choices his first year of college that next to no other college freshman would make. Because he wasn’t sheltered. He didn’t feel like he was getting out and he could do whatever he wanted, well maybe a little, but he was pretty much allowed to do whatever he wanted at home as long as he talked to us. Because like it or not it IS absolutely to be respectful and considerate of the people you live with. And I’m not talking about chores and food and such. I’m talking about letting people know what is going on. I’m talking about letting the people you live with know if you won’t be home. Our oldest daughter is 28 and has 2 kids and yet every time we leave each other the one driving home always sends a message when they get there. It’s not because we have to. It’s because I worry. My husband probably not so much but I do. And it can keep me from sleeping if I don’t know they are ok.

My kids come when I call them, or they say “just a minute or something”. And I typically don’t call twice. If I yell for you you come to me. That’s just one of the perks of being a parent 😜. But again I started this when they were very little. You come or you yell. One or the other, not no5ing. If I call you and you yell back at me there likely will not be a response because that isn’t the way it works. It’s simply human nature. We learn what we are taught and when our parents don’t even attempt to teach us anything we don’t learn anything.

Our kids are basically just small people. Born with their own personalities and issues of their own. I have no idea how many times I have said, “you don’t have to like it or you can be mad, but your not going to be ugly to me or anyone else”. I always thought that was a pretty simple idea. But I have heard so many kids talk about how their parents never pay attention to their feelings and expect them to just basically be a soldier. What’s the point in that? What will you as a parent ever learn if that’s the way you view it. But we ALL have a right to our feelings and that includes our kids as well. They can also be very different from us. I am a complete extrovert. My 14 year old son is as introverted as they come. It took me literally YEARS to figure out that was ok and I didn’t have to be worried about him all the time. He has friends and he enjoys being with them from time to time, but he very much enjoys being by himself. And for the record, he’s not turning into a school shooter because he’s in his room playing the game all the time. Actually the opposite, for Valentines Day they sold little valentines at school. He took his money(like 40 bucks) and bought one for his whole 8th period class, without saying a word to anyone. Except his sister, that’s how I found out 🤷🏻‍♀️!!

So when I see people treating their kids as if they were just born for them to yell at or tell what to do I often wonder when those kids turn into teenagers “what did you think was going to happen?” I am by no means always right. But I have a good sense of people(especially kids) and I have been told I have the gift of discernment. Which is interesting because I always thought everyone could do what I do. Nope! No! Not at all!! I also can’t usually explain why I say what I say or think what I think, but where people are involved(especially people I know well), I am very rarely wrong. So I wonder why do people have kids if they have no thought of ever actually thinking about their kids. If they can’t take a step back and be a neutral observer long enough to figure out what their kids might think or feel how do they expect them to learn anything and be able to function in society.

Somewhere along the line someone decided our kids should be protected and kept from things that can or will harm them. Please believe that with all my heart I WANT to do that as well. But we can’t always protect them and keep them from harm. So the next best thing is to teach them and help them learn how to deal with life and the people in it. And I truly believe that the more we teach and prepare them for as kids(especially teenagers) the less likely that the world will chew them up and spit them out. My 12 year old daughter talks to me. She tells me things and she asks me questions. Much of which isn’t something that her friends do with their Moms. I see her hearing what I am saying and putting it into practice. I have heard her tell her friends things I have said to her because she wants to help them. All of this because I have always talked to her, asked questions, given explainations.

Our pre-teens have so many questions. They are starting to figure out that theirs friends and their families don’t operate the same way as what they have always known. Their friends are doing things that they may have never ever heard of before. If they can’t go to their parents where are they going to go? Most likely? Their friends, and that is the worst possible place them to get the i formation. We may not want to think about it and our first instinct IS to protect them. But WE are the adults. We are the ones that have our heads together and that they trust to take care of them. So WE have to bite the bullet and have the hard discussion(age appropriate of course) and do the best we can to help them understand. I do my best to explain things to my daughter. She knows why I don’t like to do late pick ups at skating rinks or movie theatres. She knows that I like having her home and that I will never allow her to spend whole weekends gone from our home(unless she’s with family) because I feel it’s very important for them to be here. Where I know what’s going on and what they are doing. So we have a lot of friends that come through our house. All of which to date, love me 😬. But it’s not because I’m fun or buy them things. It’s because I talk to them like the young people that they are. And I try to put myself on their level when we talk about friends and school. They aren’t adults yet, but they know when people are being dishonest or uncomfortable with a discussion. So I try to remember what it was like to be 12 and I try to remember they know NOTHING. All the things we have had years to learn they are just starting to even know exist. So when we say things to them they don’t have the frame of reference we do. They need you to explain it to them and tell them stories about your life so they can understand. And guess what!?!?! Just because you may have done something bad when you were younger doesn’t mean your kids will take your honesty as permission. I had a baby when I was 18 and still in high school. My daughter knows that and I am very clear she does NOT want a baby at 18. She has assured me that isn’t going to happen. I have never demanded greatness from my kids but I truly believe a side effect of good parenting IS greatness. My middle son wants to go to Harvard for goodness sakes!!

Our kids are begging for our attention and input in their lives. And sometimes it’s really HARD work. But if we start from birth it is so much easier. Or I hit the genetic lottery and have 3 kids by 2 different dads that are all really good, kind, get good grades, and care for the people in their lives. Be diligent. Be prepared. Be honest. Ask questions and most importantly try to figure out what something feels like for THEM. Just because they are your kids doesn’t mean that you own all the power. More likely, the more power you try to have the less you will have. So decide today that you will make a change. Imagine for a moment what it might actually be like for your child and then adjust yourself to help them the best way you know how. And despite what some may say get help!! From family, from the school,from friends, or from a counselor if necessary. If someone loves your child and wants to be there for them, let go and allow them to have some impact on your kids.

Be blessed and have an awesome Easter!!

Kill The Drama Llama Already

To clarify for regular readers of this blog…Yes,I often call my kid the drama llama but NO I am not talking about her in this post so no killing of the spawn is indicated nor wanted.

This time I am talking about widespread long living Drama Llama Syndrome involving my toxic family.

Since the necessitated move to Armpit,USA,where Dad and stepmonster are local ‘heroes’ with the redneck elite…there has been effort from both paternal and maternal factions to create and perpetuate drama. In fact,with all the seeming knives in my back,I feel like my voodoo man knife rack’s chest.

Dad and his crew trash mom and her faction, buy us stuff then rub it in my sister’s face, and apparently trash me behind my back. Dad does it to my face so the big offender seems to be stepmonster being nice to my face and putting me down behind my back. Recently dad misquoted my sister,making it seem she was calling me their ass kisser and such.

The flaw with that plan,though,is, my sister and I have always been cool even if I am 6 years older than her. Their attempt to turn us against each other might have worked if I weren’t so aware of the family drama and backstabbing history.

Today mom and my sis (had to take sis a snarky card for her 39th bday) felt the need to tell me all about how dad’s faction trashes me to them.

It’d be so easy to go ballistic and be overcome with anger (especially with the pmdd and monthly curse kicking my ass) but…

I am not my family. I got a job and moved out at 17 to escape the drama and doublecrosses. For over 20 years I have tried to maintain my own home and involve myself with family as rarely as possible. Which lead to a lot of accusations of being anti social,rude,hateful,thinking I am too good for or better than them…After a counselor met my dysfunctional core family she told me they were toxic emotionally so avoidance seemed a good option.

I pointed this out to mom and sis today. Since mom and dad split up 20 years ago it’s been nothing but ‘pick a side or suffer drama and grudges’. Count me out.

Just hearing how stepmonster (supposedly,but likely) trashes me to mom and sis while being nice to my face made my stomach acids start churning painfully,on top of cramps.

NOPE.

I made it clear this drama and infighting between the factions is why I have always kept to myself. Now that my kid is witnessing all the treacherous dysfunction of my core family,I want to shield,d her from the negativity. We are all her family and her feelings should be her own. Not based on old grudges or criticisms.

I hope they took it to heart. Trying to talk to dad’s faction is pointless but the sentiment is the same. I will NOT have my kid dragged into it and let it taint her feelings for any of us.

I am in my final hours before I get 5 days of a bored hyper kid for spring break. With the hormonal havoc and cramps from hell,I don’t think Easter is gonna be bunnies and candy for me.

No sooner than I escape gabapentin haze,I get monthly curse hell to top off anxiety and depression. Yay.

I am gonna make the most of it and try to forget I saw a ‘friend’ in town who commented on my weight loss and how good I look then touched my belly and told me how to get rid of it.

Maybe I am so down on people because this is the sort of thing I have to deal with daily. ‘You look great,but this is still wrong and here’s how to fix it.’

Road to hell,pavement,good intentions. If only those types had a filter or s mute button. Rude!