Life stages, colliding

Last night Mythankfulboy and I barely saw each other.  It’s true on Mondays, and most Fridays we don’t see each other at all.  Yesterday I picked him up from his dad’s a little before 8.  We went home and ate separate dinners because I didn’t want what his braces would allow him to have; I made his first and mine second.  He gathered his things for the next day of school and gamed a bit, and I cleaned up the dishes and started a load of laundry, until 9:00 rolled around.  At that point he started the bedtime grooming routine, lengthened of late because of his braces.  He then went to bed and did 20 minutes of biting on a plastic disc to reduce tooth pain from the braces.  Only THEN did I attempt to go into his room to light our evening chalice.  He was reading and didn’t want to stop.  I was tired, and didn’t want to have to leave and go back when he decided he was done reading.  I tried a playful approach to sitting on the edge of his bed which forced him to move his legs a bit, when I got the dreaded, whined, “Mom, come on!” (not an invitation, but a lament, as in “Cut it out!”).

I stood up and left the room without a word.  I was in no mood to deal with his mood.  I went to bed and he turned out his light.  In the morning he asked if I had finished the load of laundry he had put in just before bed (which would have meant my switching it in the middle of the night – uh, no!) and I said no, then I rolled over and went back to sleep.

This afternoon I picked him up from the Y, and he and I talked happily with his friends and their mom.  When we got in the car to go home, he immediately said, “Mom, I’m sorry about last night.”  I let a few seconds of silence fall and then answered, “I appreciate your saying you’re sorry.  It was a crappy evening, wasn’t it?”  We rode in silence before I added, “You know, we’re going to have to be gentle with one another.  You are emotional because you’re going through puberty, and I am emotional because I’m going through menopause.  And because I’m not sleeping (for other reasons).  This would be an easy time to let things get away from us.  So, can we agree to try to be especially kind to each other?”  He said, with a smile, “I just won’t say anything to you so I don’t get in trouble.”  I turned to look at him, about to lose my proverbial poop, when I realized he was sitting back grinning, knowing that was going to set me off.  He laughed and leaned forward and put his hand lovingly on my arm (conveniently also in the elbow-in position of “don’t hit me in the gut”), and I relaxed and laughed, too.  Then he said, “I mean, I wouldn’t want to make you cry!”, laughing before he could even finish his sentence and recoiling as far into the edge of his seat as he could to avoid getting smacked.

If this is what he considers to be gentle, I have more work to do!

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Posted by on October 6, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Gun violence, from October 1st, 2015

I did not manage to blog the night of the Roseburg, Oregon shooting, but this is important, so I do it now.  That night, as our chalice lighting, Mythankfulboy and I watched President Obama’s response to the violence.  Obama’s emotion was palpable, but controlled.  His words were simple, and from his heart.  I was so proud of his saying that it just wasn’t enough anymore to come together and grieve.  That something has to change.  That we, as a country, are such a dramatic outlier in the category of gun violence from other first world countries.  I cried listening to his appeal to the media, to law-abiding gun owners, and to the people of the US.

B watched quietly.  He was sitting to my right, and I could see peripherally that his eyes sometimes darted between the screen and my face, watching closely how I felt about this issue and our president’s words.  When the speech was finished, I turned to B without saying anything.  He looked intently back at me and we sat in silence for a few minutes.  I told him I thought it was the most direct and honest thing I had heard from a politician in a long time.  He said that he wished they’d all speak from the heart.

We switched rooms and lit the chalice with a somber feeling in the air.  I said I was thankful for President Obama.  He said that he was, too, and that he hoped his speech made a difference.

As a Unitarian Universalist, and as an educator of sorts, I sometimes have to work against my own tendency to put information out there and let B draw his own conclusions.  This is simply not a topic about which there is room for a boy growing daily towards manhood to feel ambivalence.  If we want to live out our UU principles and live in a loving, just, safe(r) world, our youth have to experience direct teaching, loving guidance, and clear parameters around guns. Meanwhile, we have to show them the power of saying loudly what we believe so that we might be heard and our laws come to reflect it.

Direct teaching and clear parameters were what I heard from our president this night.  From your lips to God’s ears, President Obama.

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Posted by on October 5, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Full circle

Mythankfulboy has new braces.  He’s had them for a few days, and we are already one bracket down, but it isn’t causing him pain, and he seems to be weathering it nicely.  He went to a friend’s house this weekend to hang out and, as it turns out, to learn how to shave his moustache.  I smile as I type “moustache”, half because it’s a funny word to apply to my boy, and half out of nerves.

We worked hard today on moving a small shed, which required levelling an area and sinking some footers.  I feel awesome about it, despite what must be some arthritis in my hands.  Tonight, at the chalice lighting, I asked if he knew if it was a “momma weekend” (meaning he doesn’t go to his dad’s at all), and he said, smiling, “I don’t know, but it would hard for me to say I was glad if it was a momma’s weekend because you’re making me work so hard.”  To which I answered, “It IS so hard to work a few hours outside every day for a few weeks a year.”  (A few weeks because we do not do hot well, so we wait until it’s in the 50’s and 60’s, which means a few weeks a year).  “I think it cut your gaming down to only a few hours.”  This, as I expected, set off a playful argument about exactly how long he had gamed, and we finally agreeing on 1 hour and 38 minutes.  Hard times, little man, hard times.

At the chalice lighting, I sat on the end of his bed, and a few minutes in I laid on my side, and then he pushed me playfully with his feet (which were under the covers), so I allowed myself to fall over, at which point he said, loudly, “Don’t get too comfortable!!!!”   I ignored him, pulling up a stray pillow on which to lay my head, and asked him for what he was thankful.  He said, “My pillow.  I have the best pillow.  I flip it over during the night to get the cool side against my face.  Maybe I should start keeping it in the fridge so it would stay cool longer.”  I nodded in solidarity.  He asked for what I was thankful, and I answered that we got the shed in place.  Full circle.  He said, “Yeah. It is pretty cool.”

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Posted by on October 4, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Lab puppies at a football game

Oh my goodness.  My boy and I did not get a chance to do a chalice lighting last night, but I got a rare chance to hang with him (or at least around him) on a daddy night.

At 13, Mythankfulboy is currently a heavenly, gangly, big-footed, hair-sprouting creature who reminds me frequently of a lab puppy.  He is handsome and happy, curious and kind, fervent and friendly.  I could just burst with pride if I spend too much thinking about it.   Last night he and four friends went to a high school football game with four of us parents in tow.  The spectacle of the evening was that one of the friends was attending the game with his new girlfriend, which wowed and weirded out his friends and tickled and mortified the rents.  Around the margins one or another of the older boys (the group being a mix of 8th and 6th graders with a few 8th grade additions acquired at the game) made passing physical contact with one girl or another (was pushed or pulled along by the arm, had his hat taken and had to retrieve it, you get the picture).  There was an accidental brush with a boob, which became an enormous joke for the evening, culminating in the boys lining up and, in a mock salute, each holding his left hand across the chest and over the left boob of the boy standing next to him (yes, we have pictures).  Our boys seemed not only to take in stride that their parents were there, but enjoyed it, and brought us in on their hilarity.

I had had a very long day, following a night-time sleep study that turned into an unexpected whole-day-after sleep study followed by a seeing a few clients at the office.  The decision to follow that by a 45-minute drive to a high school football game that I did not have to attend (it was neither “my night”, nor did the parents who were there need me) was made based on the opportunity to see my boy in a new, emerging world, and to soak up the experience.  Turns out that he wanted me there.  We gave the boys some rules about physical boundaries and some advice regarding social boundaries (don’t follow a crowd to see a fight, make sure your buddy doesn’t want your help if he seems ambivalent about a situation), and showed them that our boundaries were growing with them by showing them how hip we were with the whole girl-thing (despite the fact that one mom practically had her head between her knees to avoid throwing up from her realization of the way things were changing)…

Society tells us our teens won’t want us around.  The message is not to hover or to crowd them, and to expect rejection.  So far, mythankfulboy is quietly craving boundaries, and looks to me (and the other parents of his crew) for them. I won’t miss the opportunity to rise to this occasion.

After the game I dropped B off at his dad’s, and drove home with a big grin on my face.  Thankful thankful.  This parenting thing just keeps getting better.

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Posted by on September 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


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A night like my childhood

Last evening, Mythankfulboy and I had the kind of school-day evening I remember having as a child.  He walked to the YMCA with friends after school, and I picked him up there in the late afternoon.  We headed home, where we each settled into a domestic chore, he bringing in the trash and recycling cans and me making dinner.  Before dinner he did homework, and after dinner he headed for the Xbox while I settled down at my desk to work (that would be a departure from my childhood, since my mom didn’t work).  Around 9:00 we entered into negotiations about his needing 10-20 more minutes on the Xbox to complete a challenge (I think is how he put it).  A kiss on my cheek bought him the extra time (departure number 2 from my childhood, when bedtime was bedtime and there were no technology distracters).  Then his bedtime routine, culminating in some time spent reading in bed, which led to more negotiations to give him enough time to finish his book (I wish I could remember what it was called!)  Being a reader myself, you don’t have to convince me to let you finish a book you love, and so his bedtime drug on and on.  I passed the time doing laundry, packing for my sleep study (overnight tonight), and working.   Finally, he was ready for the chalice lighting, another departure from my childhood.

As a side note – earlier in the evening I had made a soup I thought my picky eater (also known as mythankfulboy) might like.  When he commented that it smelled good, I suggested he try it.  He asked if I would pay him a dollar to try it.  I told him I would continue to buy Bagelbites in the future if he tried it.  He said, “Wait – what?  You’re not going to buy Bagelbites unless I try it?  Why did I start this?!”  He tried the soup with a turned up nose, and said yeah, no thanks.  Heh heh.  I’m sure there will come a time when he works harder to outsmart me, but that time has not yet arrived…

Anyhoo – when finally we lit the chalice it was after 10:00.  We were punchy, in a sweet way.  He said that he was thankful for his book tonight, and for “all my friends”.  Wow.  That’s a good place to be as a middle schooler, huh?  I said I was thankful he loved to read, and that he was a good friend, which earned him good friends.  I also happen to be particularly blessed that his good friends have given me good friends in their parents.  So much abundance for which to give thanks.

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Posted by on September 24, 2015 in Uncategorized


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Moment of gratitude (from 9/17/15)

After returning from a grocery run, I asked mythankfulboy to set down the XboxOne controller and to grab some things out of the car for me, which required he make several trips.  When all the bags were in, he turned to go, and I thanked him heartily, which caused him to turn and stare at me for a moment.  I asked, “What?” and he replied with a huge grin, “I’m just glad to get to do something for you that makes you happy.”  I hugged him and told him that it had been just about the nicest thing anyone had ever said to me or done for me.  He hugged me in response, and I sent him back to his gaming, lingering in the moment of gratitude.

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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


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When being a good parent hurts your heart (from 9/14/15)

Being a young teen in a split family in which one-half has remarried and acquired additional kids stinks.  At least it does for my young teen in our split family in which the-other-half has remarried and has acquired additional kids.  Nothing untoward has happened, and nothing crazy, and I can actually say that I like his stepmother fine, but my 13-year old has a predictably small view of the world and is devastated by his dad’s choices on a daily basis.  Yesterday, post-baseball game, after sharing that he was annoyed that his step-brother (younger) wants to be a character from his (B’s) favorite Xbox game (Destiny), he was surprised to have both me and Mom2 (his friend’s mom and his mom’s friend) say that this annoyance was classic big brother/little brother stuff, and that he should reframe it, because this kid and he might do well to support one another in a situation for which neither asked. He argued briefly, then, clearly outnumbered and out-communicated, he dropped it and moved to something else, doing so with relative ease: resignation, perhaps.

Several hours later, though, I was sitting quietly in my armchair when he draped himself from one arm of the chair (on which he laid his head) to the other arm (on which his curled-up legs rested), snuggled the rest of himself in the fetal position down into my lap, and began to cry.  He said, “Dad promised me he wouldn’t marry her, then he did.”  Keep in mind, dear reader, that his father and stepmother will have been together now for several years, and married for at least a year.  I listened to what he had to say, and then I told him that I hadn’t been there to know exactly what was said or meant, but that, regardless, the whole situation was not his fault, nor was it particularly fair, nor was it going away.  I told him that I hoped that he could work on forgiving his dad, not because it was his job to do so, but because I thought that he might someday really want to have a relationship with his dad, even if he didn’t feel like it just now.  I stroked his hair back from his face and told him that I loved him.

Eventually, he untangled himself and got ready for bed. He then re-joined me (standing this time) and asked me for what I was thankful.  I glanced towards the kitchen with a grin, and he said, “Oh yeah – the dishwasher – of course!” (a new one, having been delivered the day before).  I returned the question to him, wondering what he’d say after this stressful day.  He paused, looking off into the middle distance for a moment, then he said “My game, and that you helped me get it”, referring to an apparently epic Destiny update he’s had for a few days.

This is heartbreaking stuff for a momma.  The job of setting your own emotional reactions aside and looking out to the future to what you hope your circumstances might evolve in order to inform your current responses can be daunting.  And while it’s daunting, it is the grown-up thing to do and is a hell-of-a teaching moment with your child about how to handle disappointment, disagreement, and a feeling of rejection.  And so I do it.  I’m really, really, thankful that he doesn’t dismiss his moms’ thoughts and advice, and I’m equally thankful for the Mom2 back-up.  This won’t be the last I’ll hear about this, but I think he will at least think about, and will trust, our words and our love in offering them.

Blessed be.

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Posted by on September 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


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