We need a change. We are losing ourselves individually and collectively. As life happens, we need to do it on multiple fronts.
Daunting and absolutely necessary.
This is a process. Although miracles happen, realistically, lasting change takes awhile.
The school reaches out to me often, via email and telephone. Administrators and teachers, we are getting to know each other.
Parenting. WOW. UGH.
What works best? I have no idea. We are continuously exploring. What was successful three years ago is not so today. Drat! I remember when they would just wear the clothes I bought and eat the food I cooked. I am currently navigating a tsunami of opinions. My new favorite line (only because it is deeply ingrained): "Mom! Don't you know I HATE -----?" You can fill in the blank with anything : meat/eggs/bread/lasagna/vegetables/milk/songs/radio stations/movies...
My steps forward:
1. I gave the xbox away.
2. I took my kids into the garden with three iPads and a sledgehammer. I explained I would ask them questions about household/family rules and every WRONG answer would yield a WHACK at a device. All three iPads were destroyed.
3.I removed one child from a cell phone indefinitely.
4. I mentioned at a recent family meeting that I am very close to unplugging wifi in our home.
5. Recruited a friend (total angel) to assist kids in making a chore list that they will execute weekly. They came up with an "A" and "B" list of duties that will alternate through the month.
Kitchen- vac/mop kitchen floor. Wipe down counters, fridge, sink and stove.
Clean interior of car-remove trash, food, clothes and water bottles
Bathroom: scrub tub, sink, toilet. Vac/mop floor. Empty trash, clean mirror and replace TP
DOG POO every other day
Living Room: pick up all clothes and trash, vacuum and dust-include couches.
Garbage and Recycle: take out kitchen trash, recycle. Put bins on sidewalk and bring back in.
Dog: brush her once per week minimum.
PERSONAL CHORES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
ROOM: clothes and trash off floor and put away.
BED: make it daily
Vacuum and dust room, empty trash weekly
Strip bed and wash your sheets.
LAUNDRY: fold and put away your own laundry. Sort and match socks.
Weekend dishes: mom will help with this.
One of my kids LOVES this structure and opportunity to exercise purpose daily. The other, not so much.
We are learning together. Figuring out how to effectively participate as individuals in our family environment. It might seem natural and even basic to some. For me, I am challenged often. I believed, within the last four years, that if I listened to my kids and considered their point of view all would be well. Pft. Figuring out how to rein it back in, draw the line, maintain parent stability and create a sense of family harmony, that's my plan, yes, that is my goal. Do I sound crazy?
For the most part, we are getting better. And the transition to being more involved with each other is HARD. I can feel it in my body, my own resistance and desire to flee. As I was lovingly burning breakfast this morning (instead of being at work) I was aching for what I knew how to do. ( I can cook, btw, was just having a moment). I persisted, being here, at home. I am task oriented and I love lists, "doing" is my thing. It is also my biggest threat, because what I really need to "do" is relax and enjoy. LAUGH. So I am staying home, to work through the uncomfortable and be with my kids. And then I hear: "Mom, this food is disgusting". Yes, I knew it. And what did I really expect? That they wouldn't notice? (My fantasy life is quite active) In that moment I could cry, just out of sheer frustration. So I responded with: "If you do not want to eat the food I prepared, go clean your room". Perfect, right?
I walked in circles several times, trying to find my place. Again, overcome with the desire to leave-go to a yoga class, drive to work, go anywhere else...and I resisted temptation. This is my home, I have created comfort and beauty for myself to enjoy. DO IT! It is a gorgeous day, birds are chirping, sun is shining, just feel it. I grabbed a book and sat on the couch. Whoosh! And my whole body began to melt. I got this!
One of my kids has been suspended from school. Disobedience on multiple levels has delivered this reality. The Dean of Students actually apologized to me. I am still perplexed by this because in my world, from a short person's perspective: not having to go to school is awesome. Getting kicked out of a class I do not like is fantastic. My kid has yet to grasp that all of this is no bueno: talking back, insolence, disobeying teacher rules, blaming others and writing on school office walls "BORING A.F." is a PROBLEM. I am told often that this is a "good kid" and the behavior is normal (omg). I honestly do not remember being like this, ever! My mom doesn't either. I suspect we are both suffering a bout of amnesia.
I have the ability to choose different. I can tread a new path. It is at this point of 'shift' or crossroads that I recognize discomfort. It is here that I desire familiar, readily. Even when the new is exciting, I can feel the dread. And now, when it is necessary, I get overwhelmed with uncertainty. What is that? Cliff hanging? I am not inspired or even exhilarated, I am bummed. I am afraid I cannot do this and then I realize I am, and making mistakes is human. Trying is remedy in itself.
I am 52 years old. I am standing toe to toe with my ego and my sense of control. As I struggle with my kids I am constantly checking myself to reverse my focus. Me. Look at me. Manage me.
Losing to bouts of drama are such a waste of time. And both my kids can be incessantly persistent. (Did they learn that from me?) I say: "I am in a bad mood, please do not talk to me right now". In my mind this statement is clear, concise and quite informative. And then I am met with: "Mom, why are you in a bad mood? And don't just tell me because." I take the bait and reply: "Four people in my life told me today they were going to do something that never actually happened. So I am frustrated with my depending on what they said they were going to do." Apparently I missed the 'acceptance' boat. And I am pretty sure that if I was comfortable in my own skin instead of feeling wrenched, I would not care about what others were or were not doing. When I am upset I seem more prone to pick on the people around me.
Just last night I went to bed and said "Goodnight". One of my kids wanted to watch TV and I said "NO". This is followed with "C'mon mom, I don't have school tomorrow, let me stay up....I know you are not asleep...nobody falls asleep that fast...mom....mom!...can you hear me?...mom...are these your papers?...I think you have papers in my room..." There is a pause. Then I hear: "Mom, I can't sleep. Does that ever happen to you?" Again, I take the bait: "Yes. I count sheep." And the questioning persists: "Can you visualize the sheep in your head? Cuz' I cannot do that. What happens if I do not fall asleep?" It is here that I start to wonder if this is part of a withdrawal process, from screens. How many weeks can that take? The transition from constant stimulation to a completely different experience. I seem to witness a manic state born out of the 'Boring A.F.' realm. I witness a disconnect from body as the head is screaming for a fix.
Confidence. That's what I need. More of it. I am growing this through personal time. I swim in the dark, move my body and meditate every morning to deepen connection. I am deepening my spiritual practice. It is here that I begin to strengthen my trust in the Universe. I change my mind and I unburden myself from feeling responsible for everyone else. Necessary.
I went grocery shopping and bought new food, stuff I never cook. We are on day four and my kids are DONE. I explained and let them know I never have to buy this food again. Everyone is relieved.
Yesterday a fellow mom said: "I just lock myself in the bathroom. Ten minutes of focused breathing can really calm me down". Her mom used to exit the house and walk around the block, leaving her kids to wonder. (That sounds appealing) Why do we continue to engage? To feed the beast? Is this human nature? It gets us nowhere, we all suffer upset and confusion.
Identity comes to mind. I must be attached to an idea: MY WAY. And I will admit, when I am tired and hungry, I am not capable of calm and thoughtful. Some say 'don't let that happen, rest and nourish'. Honestly? I will admit I DO NOT always make the best decisions for myself.
I am a mom. I am a woman. I am an artist. I am a feeling dreaming being. I am learning. I am invested.
I am a work in process ;-)
Can I blame my parents?