Happy Thanksgiving! All day today everyone will be sharing all of their thankful thoughts all over Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. I am glad on this day most people stop a moment in between turkey and pie to look around the table and count their blessings. Let's try and do this more often than just on the holidays.
This year my life has gotten busier than ever. This past year I became a teacher, for real now. I have a classroom full of children I feel responsible for and I take that job very seriously. I have been busting my butt planning and trying to accomplish as much as I can with these kids in the short amount of time I get them. I worry about them almost as if they were my own kids, as most teachers do. We aren't in it for the great pay and the recognition, trust me there is little of both. My friends at school know what I mean. But, we care for those kids and try our best to prepare them for the bumpy road ahead.
At home life has been crazy too. As kids get older it seems they like to do more stuff. More after school activities, more hanging out with their friends, sleepovers and definitely more school projects. Just when you think they are getting older and more independent they now need you to take them all over town for drop offs, pick ups, go get me more poster board and come watch my performance, get me to my competition and help at my fundraiser. The list goes on and on and there are days I am going straight from 5:30am to 9:00pm and by the end if the day I am lucky I make it to my bed before I fall asleep.
There has become no time for just me most days. Sometimes I try and squeeze in a run or a little time to do my nails. The house is not as clean as it used to be when I was a stay at home mom.
Now that the kids are older you'd think Jody and I could manage more date nights but I am so tired at night it is still rare we can enjoy an evening alone. We are too tired. Who feels like moving when you finally get a moment to sit.
And, Jody is still struggling with his damn trachea. There are times when he cannot see the end in sight and he is frustrated and he wonders if it is all worth it. I wish he could see how Jaden, Jaime and I don't care about this stupid trachea, that we are just glad he is still with us.
Between all of this chaos I call my life I am able to see how lucky I am. There is not a day that goes by that I don't appreciate the chaos and the hard times. I am watching my two kids grow up. I am around to see that happen and I am so grateful. The moments of Jaime and I driving across town going to cheer practice is not just a chauffering moment, but a memory of us singing her Aristocats audition song again for the millionth time, or her crabbing about someone at school that annoyed her that day. Jaden is still willing to talk to me about his friends at school on his car rides home from band practice. He loves to tell how his band broke into the John Cena theme song or how he is figuring out how to play a new Fallout Boy song on his clarinet (oh had he only stuck with guitar). I hope my little teenager never stops telling me these things, but he might so I enjoy it while he still WANTS to talk to me.
And, Jody almost wasn't here. He may be stuck right now in a place of frustration and he may feel like it can't get any worse than where he is right now, but I remember three years ago and it can be worse. These hard times are nothing compared to not having him around. The thought of not growing old with him around to complain about the crazy neighbor, or to ask me for the millionth time what's for dinner - I don't want to even imagine that. Even when he is driving me crazy, that's okay because at least he is here with me for the ride.
It's these everyday moments, good and bad, that make up our lives. The weddings and birthdays and vacations are some of the highlights, yes, but the everyday moments are what make life worth living. I know it is not always easy to appreciate them. Really, I do. I am exhausted a lot of the time and many days Jody can tell you, I am cranky as hell because I didn't get enough sleep or I have so much on my mind that I have to do.
But, these moments with my family are not always going to be here. Every year that goes by we lose people in our lives that were precious to us. You start to see life a lot differently when you realize your days are not infinite. You want to make the most out of every moment when you know that forever isn't that long after all.
And no, I don't obsess over dying, I just keep it in the back of my head that life is short. Life doesn't give you warning when your time is up. So, why not make the most of your time with the people you love while you still have them.
Today when you are around the Thankgiving table enjoy every single moment of it! I know I will!
Happy turkey day!
Hope when you take that jump, you don't fear the fall.
Hope when the water rises, you built a wall.
Hope when the crowd screams out, they're screaming your name.
Hope if everybody runs, you choose to stay.
Hope that you fall in love, and it hurts so bad.
The only way you can know is give it all you have.
And I hope that you don't suffer but take the pain.
Hope when the moment comes, you'll say...
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second that this world could give
I saw so many places, the things that I did
With every broken bone, I swear I lived.
Well, here we are. 43 has come up pretty quick. I guess this is becoming somewhat of a birthday tradition but it seems a good way to reflect on the past year and see how much has gone on and where I am headed for the next year… so here it goes.
It’s funny that when I look back at all those blogs I did leading up to my 40th birthday I was really dreading the unknown of the big 4-0. Now, here I am only 3 years into my 40s and I feel as though I have lived a whole other 40 years in just those three. Just this past year alone we have lost a member of our family, friends have been through illnesses we never imagined would be hitting so close to home, families have been torn apart by breakups and divorce... the list just doesn’t end. Now, Jody is back to fighting his medical battles which means our whole family is being turned upside down again. The crap just never seems to end. It's these moments when I sometimes miss how things were before my 40th birthday.
But, I have also had the chance this last year to see amazing things. I have watched my children reach remarkable points in their lives where they are working hard and they are accomplishing amazing goals. Jaden has taken the scary step into middle school and he was challenged beyond his wildest dreams (and to those of you who know how hard his classes were this year, you may even call them nightmares). He was faced with humongous challenges and he rose to the occasion. He didn’t walk away unscathed but he did learn some valuable lessons about school and life and I know he will be better off for it. He also showed us really how musically talented he is and I can't wait to see what he accomplishes next.
Jaime has been a shining star in everything, and I mean everything she does. She took on an after school program that kept her in school until almost 6pm every day because she wanted to learn more that what she was getting in her regular curriculum. She made it into her first play. She was also on student counsel. Jaime also proved to her teachers how responsible she is and she was honored with a position on her elementary school safety patrol for next year. This was something she wanted so badly and it is a coveted position that is not given out to just anyone. It meant the world to her to have been selected. I am so lucky to be able to watch my kids grow up and become kind, smart, and accomplished. It is the best thing I have in my life and it gives me so much to look forward to because I do not want to miss a moment of it. These are the highest moments in my life.
I’ve also been witness to some other amazing reminders of how great life is. I have friends and family who have found themselves at their low points this past year have proven that they are resilient. They have overcome insurmountable tragedies and somehow they have come out stronger on the other side. Some who also had been brought to the brink of despair were able to reach deep down and pull themselves back up. There are too many of you to name and yours are not my stories to tell, but what I can say is that I am inspired by seeing your strength and courage. I am inspired by you all.
As most of you know Jody now faces another challenge, yet again. This brings us right here to my 43rd birthday and Jody’s new trachea reconstruction surgery. This is hard on him and it will be hard on all of us as a family. We have just come home from the hospital and we are already facing challenges in being able to communicate because Jody can’t talk above a whisper right now. The doctor says Jody might be able to talk, but we will have to wait and see. So what are our options here? We can wallow in the misery of what might be which is Jody not talking. Or we can make the best of what we have which is we have him here with us and he gets to be part of our lives and our family. Even if he has no voice at all the kids and I will take that option. We will find a way to make it work.
Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook lost her husband Dave earlier this year. She wrote the most beautiful reflection about the death of her husband and losing the father of her children. This saddest moment of her life brought me to tears and inspired me all at the same time.
She was talking to one of her friends about a father-child activity that her husband would no longer be there to do. Together her and her friend came up with a plan to fill in for her husband. But, she cried to her friend, “But I want Dave. I want option A.” Her friend put his arm around her and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”
This upcoming year Jody and I have a long road ahead of us. We both know this is going to be hell because we’ve been through it once before. I also find myself wishing for option A, the old life we had without all the medical issues and drama. But that option isn’t available to us anymore. But that doesn’t mean it has to suck. We just have to find the option B. The kids will still be growing up and experiencing all sorts of amazing things that we need to be there for. We still have friends and family that love us and who make our lives so much better. We have each other. All of those things are a reason not to give up and to keep looking for the great parts of our lives and not fall into the sad parts of it for too long.
My birthday this year is not about the number. It’s not about how old I’m getting or if I have wrinkles or what has or has not begun to sag. What matters is I have lived one more year. I have seen more and done more than I did a year ago. I got a job teaching, Jody and I celebrated our 17th anniversary, I was able to celebrate my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary. Also, I am watching my children grow a little more every day, something I would not miss for the world. Life is so full of all the bad stuff sometimes, but when I sit down and I write these birthday blogs I am able to remind myself that there are tons of great things that have happened. I was given a whole other year and it is what I do with the time I am given that matters.
I once heard an amazing quote at a wedding… “Forever isn’t that long, so make the most of it.” Until my next birthday – here is to making he most of it, and kicking the shit out of option B!
And I know it’s hard when you’re falling down
And it’s a long way up when you hit the ground
Get up now, get up, get up now.
‘Cause I’m on top of the world.
Today I am 42. You might remember from my 40th birthday blog Halfway There that a psychic told me I would die at the ripe old age of 82. Since everything else she said was true I take it I have another 42 years to go. That means I am now officially heading over the hill. I’m on the downward slope. Some people get depressed over that fact but I don’t mind.
Last year I did my second Princess Half Marathon training with some great people at Fleet Feet. It has added a lot more fun to these long miles, and I have learned a lot from everyone I run with. One of my favorite things I have learned from the people I run with is how to “Big Girl” it. Big Girling it is just as you are getting to the end of you walk/run intervals… when the end is in sight you pull up your “Big Girl Panties” and give it your last and best effort and run it in to the finish. So, it just became a habit that now when I am at the end of a run, I always try and “Big Girl” it to the finish. It’s a great way to finish a run.
Well, this past February when I ran the Princess it was ridiculously hot and so humid we could see the fog laying out in front us as we ran. I will admit that my running partner and I took more walk breaks then we usually would, but it was completely called for with that thick humidity. Getting up some of the hills and bridges were a total bitch so we would take it slow and walk our way up. But, whenever we got to the top of a hill we would “Big Girl” it all the way to the bottom to make up a little time. It’s always easier running downhill of course. I can’t remember how many “Big Girls” we did during that race but it was a lot of them. I didn’t break any time records or even break my own personal record on that race, but I finished it with a smile on my face despite how hard it was. We had a great time and I cannot wait to run it again.
I, like most people have a lot in life I have not done yet. But, life gets busy. I am a wife to a man whose personality is larger than life; a mom of 2 happy, healthy and mostly well adjusted kids; mom to two dogs. I am a daughter, a sister and relative, and that is just off the top of my head. I have done a lot... But there is still so much I haven't. Life gets in the way but I am not worried because I know I will get everything done. I have plenty of time.
But, just recently my mom said to me in one of those “I’m not being judgy and it's your life” moments, about how I don't do my laundry fast, that I just take my time doing it. I do my laundry a load or two everyday versus knocking it all out in one day. If I miss a day it's okay because I will be doing some more tomorrow. Maybe once the kids have moved out and Jody and I are empty nesters I can do it once a week and get by, but kids make a lot of laundry... So why fight it.
I think the rest of my life should be the same. Getting a little done everyday and eventually it will all add up. The kids are growing up so fast. I am now the mom of a middle schooler. How did that happen? So, I am enjoying these long days of summer while my kids still want to hang out with me and go do silly things like stay in the pool until the sun goes down. Or like taking them to Bass Pro Shops so they can go try shooting a bow and arrow which they think is the coolest thing ever. And, the same with my husband... like spending a week lounging around on the beach and not feeling pressured or responsible for anything. It's been a few years and we really just needed to hang out together and be silly and irresponsible again.
Life is like training for a marathon (or in my case a half marathon) you don’t run the whole distance your first day out. It takes time to get there, to build up to it. A little every day. And, when it gets hard, just slow down and get yourself past the hard part. When it’s easier you can run and make up some time. And when you can you have to you just pull up your “big girl panties” see the finish ahead of you and run it in with a smile on your face. Time is short and 42 years goes fast. Here's to hoping I can make the most of it.
Time is so short and I'm sure
There must be something more.
So, I have been backing off American Idol these past few seasons. It is set to tape on my DVR but I only skim through to see if anything impresses me and lately it hasn’t. The young kids on there are not as good as the maturity and talent that is showcased on the Voice. That is just my humble opinion. But, tonight I happened to watch American Idol and catch one of the contestants singing Foster the People’s song Pumped Up Kicks and now I can pretty much tell you I am done with that American Idol for good.
If you have never heard the song before it is about a boy who finds his father’s gun and… well the chorus speaks for itself:
“All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
you better run, better run, outrun my gun.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
you better run, better run faster than my bullet.”
So you can see what the song is about. If you heard it on the radio you might find your head bobbing to its very catchy, pop beat. Actually, that is exactly how I originally came across the song, and after the second or third round of the chorus I realized what was being said and I felt a sense of shock and disbelief come over me.
Over the past few years I’m not sure if it is that I am getting older and more cynical or if being a mom has made me more sensitive. I just wonder if kids are just getting so desensitized to the point of indifference that soon nothing will affect them anymore.
Tonight this twenty something girl was singing this song with her pink streaked hair, cute outfit, perfect makeup and Crest White smile and it just seemed so very wrong. As I sat and watched the words coming out of her mouth I wondered if anyone else thought that she was just so completely disconnected to the song. J Lo and Keith Urban told her how great of a job she did my heart sank a little more. Finally, I felt a lot better when Harry Connick Jr. pointed out the solemness of the song and how as an artist she should consider the lyrics and maybe try and to understand what the song is actually about before she sings it. But, the other two judges continued to jump to her defense and I just couldn't watch anymore. Her disconnect to the song seemed so apparent but they defended her because she can sing and so what if the song was about kids killing kids.
It wasn’t just this song tonight that I have issues with but the show is getting the brunt of my frustration. It seems to be the road some youth are headed down and unfortunately I don’t see anything making it change. Last year I had to have a conversation with Jaden about why he cannot play games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. Jody and I try and raise our kids to know that violence isn’t a game. I feel strongly that violent behavior is not to be glamorized. I have always felt strongly about not allowing my kids to play that stuff, not because I don’t think they can handle it. A lot of kids can play it and do not become serial killers. Just as not all serial killers were exposed to violence at a young age but how do you know who your kids will be when they grow up? At age 9 and 11 my kids still have a lot of growing up to do. The people they are now will change when they are 16, 21 or even 30 and 40. Does mental illness always show up at a young age or can it creep up when they are in their 20’s or 30’s. I figure my kids have plenty of time to play those games when they are a little more mature and can really understand death and violence on a more mature level.
This is all coming from the same girl that back in college wrote a research paper on whether or not listening to heavy metal would make suicidal teens kill themselves. The question I posed was can you blame the music for something that was already in a person’s head? And, now as a parent I wonder if we are giving kids too much leeway and credit to understand what they are seeing and just expecting that they will turn out alright. I turned out okay listening my share of Guns N’ Roses, Ozzy Osborne and Motley Crue but I didn’t spend a couple hours a day blowing people away in a lifelike war zone while listening to that stuff. That’s probably good considering my serious bout of depression in my mid-twenties and a family history of schizophrenia. But do you see what I am saying?
I don’t hold the girl singing the song tonight responsible for her lack of empathy or emotional attachment to the song. It’s like when a sixteen year old on the show sings about all the heartbreak she has been through her whole life. It just doesn’t come across that these kids understand. They are looking to become a star, not change the world and I get that. It’s a show and I know what these kids are there to do. I do however know that sick feeling I get when I see another shooting has taken place at a movie theater, mall or school. And when the shooting is done by a kid I’m even more saddened because it really is such a grown up thing to hold them accountable for. I just hope parents are trying to teach their kids that all life is precious and killing is not a game or to be taken so lightly… Even for the sake of a game, art or a singing contest.
This is a big mommy moment for me. A few weeks ago Jaime asked if she could try out for a chorus production at school, but unfortunately it was on a day when neither Jody nor I could take her. I promised her the next time we saw a audition for something she could try it. So, tonight Jaime and I are out at our local high school because she trying out for the summer production of Cinderella. They are casting about 50 people in this from elementary school to high school. There are about 70 elementary school girls alone. Here in a freezing cold auditorium I sit watching as the little girls are learning some dance moves that it seems not one can really get down in the 1/2 hour time frame they have had.
As I watch Jaime all nervous on the stage I cannot help but want to help her. When I was a kid I really really wanted to be a singer/performer. I loved being on stage. I would make up musical numbers in my head that would go along to Muppets and Sesame Street music. I wanted to be in Star Search so badly.
But I didn't have much talent. I still wanted to be center stage but I can remember once when I entered a talent show in high school and sang "Pour Some Sugar On Me". I got off stage, my dad came up to me and kissed me and said "you had good stage presence". I knew at that moment I wasn't much of a singer and my fame bubble just popped.
Well, here I am watching Jaime on the stage in the outfit I didn't exactly pick, because even at 9 years old she knows best. She is trying to learn some simple dance moves and keep up with the choreographer and I am so frustrated. This is that moment when I want to help her and tell her all those little things a crazy stage mom would say like stand up straight, turn right not left, keep practicing while you are waiting for your turn. And, don't forget to smile! But really all I can do is sit here in the audience and bite my tongue. I don't want to make her nervous. I can tell she is nervous already without me. But I want her to do well, I want her to get just a small part so she gets that feeling of accomplishment and that feeling of being picked because she sooo wants to do this. Mostly, I want to remind her not to be so nervous because most of these girls are not doing much better than her.
But all I can do is sit and watch because she has to do this on her own. I can't coach her. I can't even sit with her right now. So, when she finally does look over and makes eye contact with me I do what every stage mom really should be doing. I give her my biggest smile and a thumbs up and then I flash her our I love you sign. She nods back that she has seen it.
Boy, I really do love that little girl!
From your head down to your toes,
This time last year I was getting ready to run my very first half marathon. I looked back at my blog from a year ago and I remember how worried I was about making it to the finish line. A few days before the race I remember thinking… If only I had a few more weeks to train. Just a little more time to prepare. I didn’t know if I was going to make it to the finish line but I did know I wanted that medal so badly. That marathon was something I had committed to and I was determined to finished. Not finishing was my biggest worry but today as I write this that feels like it was a million years ago and it was someone completely different.
Little did I know that title of that blog and that song Carry On would mean so much more to me this year. Unfortunately, the day after last years marathon was when Jody had his heart attack. I didn’t even have time to feel the stiffness in my legs the next morning because when I woke up Jody was having chest pains and I had to rush him to the hospital. From that moment on I was hanging on for dear life. The marathon became a distant memory because we were dealing with issues of life and death.
In those next two weeks while Jody was in the hospital I would drive back and forth between there and home to see the kids. It was an 18 minute drive. In the car when I wasn’t calling relatives to fill them in on how Jody was doing I would crank up Carry On again and again. When I would hear this song the tears come because my whole world had been turned upside down and I didn’t know how the hell I was supposed to carry on. I’ve never been so overwhelmed and overcome with so much anger and sadness. At home I had to put on my brave face for Jaden and Jaime. In the hospital I had a slew of doctors, nurses and a million others streaming in and out of the room - who had time to think? My usual rock, the one person I had leaned on for over 20 years was lying there in a hospital bed with no clue what was happening to him. But there in that car what I was feeling was in that song... “When you’re lost and alone, or sinking like a stone…”
We all have those dark moments. I know I’m not the only one to have been there. But, when you are in it and you don’t know what is going to happen from one minute to the next it is hard to believe you can survive. When you are in it it feels like there is no way you can turn things around. It feels like things will never be the same again. The uncertainty kills you. Your reality has changed forever. How do you go on?
But somehow we make it through. People are resilient and can rebuild their lives all over again and become bigger and better than they were before. You learn from your mistakes and make the necessary changes. You vow to never let that happen again. I am on my way to that. Having to pick myself up and dust myself off after this was no easy task.
When I picked the song Carry On for my blog title last year I picked it because it was inspiring and I was hoping it would help bring me across the finish line, which it did. But, it no longer means just finishing the race. Today it means so much more than that. “May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground…” means don’t stop and give up because although it seems far away, one day you will look back on this moment and you will be able to see how far you have come. “In our darkest days, when we are miles away, sun will come and we’ll find our way home…” The sun does always come out – eventually. “Nothing’s ever gonna stop us now” speaks for itself. When I hear that song now I go right back to when I was driving back and forth to the hospital. It still brings tears to my eyes.
So now, here I am exactly one year later and I have the luxury of looking back and seeing how far Jody and I have come. I am looking back now and I am grateful to have my family back together and to be far from that awful time in our lives. Back then I never thought, much less imagined I would be running the Princess Half Marathon again. But, today I am ready to run it again. This time though I am more prepared. I am stronger than I was a year ago both physically and emotionally. My battle scars are healing nicely. This Sunday when I cross the finish line I will be able to look back and see I really am “invincible”. All I had to do to get here was simply carry on.
Well I woke up to the sound of silence
And cries were cutting like knives in a fist fight.
And I found you with a bottle of wine
Your head in the curtains
And heart like the Fourth of July.
You swore and said,
"We are not,
We are not shining stars."
This I know,
I never said we are.
Though I've never been through hell like that
I've closed enough windows to know you can never look back.
If you're lost and alone
Or you're sinking like a stone.
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground.
Carry on, carry on.
So I met up with some friends at the edge of the night
At a bar off 75.
And we talked and talked about how our parents will die,
All our neighbors and wives.
But I like to think I can cheat it all
To make up for the times I've been cheated on.
And it's nice to know when I was left for dead
I was found and now I don't roam these streets,
I am not the ghost you are to me.
If you're lost and alone
Or you're sinking like a stone.
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground.
My head is on fire but my legs are fine.
After all they are mine.
Lay your clothes down on the floor,
Close the door, hold the phone,
Show me how no one’s ever gonna stop us tonight.
'Cause here we are
We are shining stars.
We are invincible.
We are who we are.
On our darkest day
When we’re miles away
Sun will come
We will find our way home.
If you're lost and alone
Or you're sinking like a stone.
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground.
I know it has been a long time since I've written here. To say this past year has been a bad one would be an understatement. Hellacious is more like it.
I can remember the week before Christmas last year very clearly. Jody and I were really in no mood to celebrate. Our family was dealing with a serious tragedy and neither Jody nor I had much holiday spirit. As a matter of fact, I felt more like just skipping the whole holiday season completely. But, when you have two little kids that is not an option. So we put on our happy faces, decked the halls and pulled together to make sure we kept up the holiday spirit for the kids sake. We reminded ourselves that our kids are little for such a short time so we put away our lack of jolliness and made it special for them.
We muddled through New Years and the kids went back to school and before we knew it February rolled around. I was busy preparing for my half marathon, Jody was on the road a lot for work when suddenly our lives stopped on a dime. The day after I ran the Princess race Jody had a heart attack. As he lay in the hospital and I didn't know if he would live or die I had my kids to deal with back at home. I would come home when I could for an hour or two and put on a happy face and convince them Daddy was fine and would be home when he could. All the while I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry because I didn't even know if that was the truth but I had to be brave for the kids but I was a crumpled mess inside.
Jody did come home from the hospital 12 days later but the chaos was not over yet. There were more doctors visits, hospital stays and more operations. Time and time again we had to leave the kids for a night or two or sometimes a week while the doctors fixed Jody up slowly bringing him back to some version of normal. Each time we had to leave the kids it did not get any easier but we would hug them and kiss them and tell them we would will be home soon. I'd leave to go sit in one hospital waiting room or another holding my breath until the doctor would come out to tell me that your Jody was okay. The kids never saw that part, just the smiles and see you soon hugs and kisses.
And now once again Christmas has rolled around and honestly all I have been waiting for is for 2013 to come to an end. I wasn't in the mood for that chaos to start. Other mom's can relate to what it takes to pull off Christmas for your kids. There is planning and organizing, shopping, cooking, and letters to Santa and then the responses from Santa that even on the best of years can be a challenge, but this year it was a hurdle so high I almost let it go by. But, I couldn't let them down. So now the shopping has been done and the wrapping is finished. The cookies are baked and the stockings are stuffed. Actually, now that it is almost here I am glad that I have Jaden and Jaime and that I am forced to continue on with life as though all is exactly the same as it was for the last 10 years. Maybe as Jody and I struggle to get back to our old lives or adjust to this new state of normal... maybe it is good that we are forced to keep up the same traditions and pull off the Christmas they deserve because for a moment Jody and I can sit back and watch them enjoy it and we can revel in their childhood innocence. But, I think this will be where my joy lies this Christmas... In that moment on Christmas morning when Jody and I hear the kids sneaking out of bed before the sun has even come up and seeing their excitement when they see what Santa has left for them, spending the day in our pajamas, eating the messy and overly decorated Christmas cookies the kids baked, watching the Christmas parade and just spending our day as a family, all four of us. And, as much as we do so much of this for them... it really is the best gift that we as their parents can get. Their biggest gift this year is having their dad here with them this Christmas. And I just hope that our family will continue to find better days in the year ahead.
Merry Christmas everyone and a happy new year!
And you ask me what I want this year
And I'll try to make this kind and clear
Just a chance that maybe we'll find better days.
Cause I don't need boxes wrapped in string
Or designer love or empty things
Just a chance that maybe we'll find
-Goo Goo Dolls
Well... It is almost time. Back in August I posted that I was going to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon. In my head I had big plans. I had read about how much fun this run is with fireworks at the start of the race, characters all along the route, getting to run down Disney's Main Street and getting to run through Cinderella's castle. And, most importantly look at that medal. I had those things pictured in my head way back in June and now here I am 3 days away from my run and I am really going to do it. I am not kidding! I am actually going to run 13.1 miles.
How did I get here? I know if you ask Jody he can tell you about some of the ideas I have. Silly ideas like opening my own Hallmark store or maybe a 50's style ice cream shop. My problem with all my ideas is that I am either easily discouraged or I have to depend on others to make the idea work and that can be discouraging. I am not a fighter. I am a go with the flow kind of person. I am not expecting things to be handed to me, but I do tend to take the path of least resistance. But, as I am getting older I am reminded that good things do not ever come easy. As much as it is a lesson I try to teach my kids, I myself am an easy giver upper. I could find a million reasons and excuses as to why I am like that, but whatever the reason - this is who I am. I always have had trouble following through. But, every once in a while I have an idea and it is something I can see and know that I can get there. This has been one of those times.
At the first 5k I ran I had a friend running with me and that was part of my motivation. I ran knowing she was training as well and I wanted to be able to keep up. I didn't want to be the one not to cross the finish line. Trying something and failing hurts a lot more than giving up before you ever start.
But, this time, on this journey, I have no one but myself to get me to the end. I am solo on this run, but that is okay. This really has been a journey, not just the actual running, but mentally getting myself to the point where I know I can do this.
You see running is something that is all on you. There is no one to blame if you don't make to the end. And what about the training? There is no one or nothing to blame if you don't put in the work. There may be outside factors that kept you from running but it all comes down to YOU. When the weather stinks, or your not feeling 100%... When you where supposed to do a long run, did you stop halfway and turn back, or did you keep going? When your whole body was screaming to stop did you convince yourself to carry on? Did you let the excuses stop you or did you find a way to get it done anyway?
I will absolutely admit... I wasn't perfect with my training for this half marathon. I had a good month between Thanksgiving and New Years where I was in a funk and couldn't get myself out on a regular basis. I lost my motivation. I could feel the endurance I had built up slowly slipping away. But, finally I started to read about the Princess race again and I was able to start imagining myself actually doing it. I needed to keep those images in my mind of running down Main Street to keep me motivated. On my darkest days I knew that if I didn't get my butt out there and run, I wouldn't make it when race time came around. There was no one to count on and push me here but me.
With the race just a few days away and with only two training runs left I ran all out today. I did a 12 minute mile for the first time. I might have even run a little better than that but I had Buckwheat with me and there are just so many mailboxes and trees to sniff along the way. But, here I am. I am ready.
So, on Sunday morning when my alarm goes off at 3am and I put on my sneakers... although I will be out there with 26,000 other people, it will be all up to me to get through it. When I'm in pain, or I feel like I can't go on, I will listen to my music and remind myself to "Carry On". When those fireworks at the starting line go off and I head out on this journey I know I will get to the finish. And to all of those other princesses taking this journey on Sunday... we can do this. We are invincible!
This may not be my fastest run, but I'm ok with that. I plan on enjoying every minute of it. This will however, be my longest run. Most of all it will be all mine! And so will that medal!
'Cause we are
We are shining stars.
We are invincible.
We are who we are.
On our darkest day,
When we’re miles away
Sun will come and
We'll find our way home.
If you're lost and alone
Or you're sinking like a stone.
May your past be the sound
Of your feet upon the ground
Why is it that these days children rule the world, and most parents are just along for the ride? (I am not saying all parents, but look around and be honest about other people’s children and their behavior and tell me if I am wrong. Please tell me I am wrong!) There is nothing at all wrong with wanting to give your kids the world but are we going too far?
Let me start by saying I am no parenting guru. I am not anything of an expert. I was never formally educated in child development or child rearing or anything of the kind. I am simply a mother of two kids. My children are not angels but I have never had a complaint about their behavior. My husband and I try to instill manners, respect and following the rules in our children. But, I’ve noticed a theme going on lately with other children my kids deal with at school and in the playground. I wonder what on earth my kids will be dealing with when they start dating these kids, working with them and running the world with them. In 10-15 years will these kids be better behaved and controlled? I am scared to death!
As a mother of two I have made some of the same mistakes I am about to ridicule others for. I have given my kids exactly what they wanted when they wanted it many times even though I know I shouldn’t have. I have had many occasions when both children were crying or needed my attention and just to get through the moment it was easier to just give in and give them both whatever they wanted just so I didn’t have to fight them anymore. I’ve been there when it is easier to give in to their demands rather than fight because it has been a long day or I am tired or I just have lost my last bit of patience. I am not perfect but overall the rules are the rules with me and my husband. Everyone has a bad day. But there is a problem when a parent cannot just say no. Ever!
As working parents we are all overtired, overworked, underpaid and this is just the ones of us who stay at home full time with our kids. Those of you who work and have children, I have tried it part time and know what it can be like. But, isn’t it our job to raise well mannered, well behaved, responsible children? If we never say no to them now and teach them that the world does not revolve around them when they are young I imagine that they are going to be in for a rude awakening when they get out into the real world. The world does not revolve around them. You cannot do something wrong and not pay the consequences. OK, sometimes you can, but eventually it catches up to you. It always does.
So, I was around a child today who simply is never told “no”. OK, I take that back, she may initially be told no, but eventually yes is negotiated. When she wants candy, mommy may say no at first but eventually with enough begging, pleading or the right amount of please, please, please (yes, even using her manners) eventually the candy is delivered and the child has won the battle. How about using mom’s cell phone? “No, go play with your friend.” But, soon the technology demand is met and the child wins again. And, bad behavior to other children is simply met with a “stop that” and no real consequence or follow through on a punishment is ever handed down.
Does it get easier to say no to your kids when they get older? I cannot say for sure because my children are only 8 and 10 but my guess is probably not. My daughter, the 8 year old can negotiate her way through any “no”. She will make a great lawyer one day. But, if they are already convincing you at a young age to give in to their demands, what makes you think you will be able to say no to them at 15? We tell ourselves they get great grades in school, their teachers say they are well behaved so we must be doing a great job.
I would love to think my case today was an exception rather than the rule, but it seems to be more of the norm than we all would like to admit. Look at how our kids are being handled in school, for example. Do you want to know why they behave in school? I know I never got as much candy as a kid as my children do but school is like a candy store. My kids have been bribed at school from pre-school up to 4th grade so far. If they behave or do what they are supposed to they may get an M&M for just sitting and listening properly. Sometimes they may get a cookie for cleaning up their classroom toys. And yes, this is true, my kid has even gotten a whole box of Nerds for walking in the hallways without talking. What happened to doing things because it is what you are supposed to do, or that it is the right thing to do? Do we as adults get rewarded every time we make our bed, wash our dishes, or cook our families’ dinner? Then why are our kids rewarded every time they sit quietly at circle time? What about if they play a sport? Everyone gets a trophy whether they have put in their best effort or just muddled their way to the end of the season because mom and dad paid the activity fee.
So, today’s mom who gave in to little girls every whim threatened to leave the park area if her little angel didn’t stop whining and go play. She threatened a few times. But, mom never followed through and left. Do you want to know why? Mom was having a grand old time talking and didn’t want her own fun to be spoiled. Because had she followed through with one of her many threats it would have meant she herself would have had to leave. Why punish herself for her child’s misbehavior?
I will no longer have any problem saying no to my children. And when they ask why and try and negotiate I can give the answer because I am your mother and I will not feel the need to explain myself any further. I do not owe them an explanation or a justification for my actions.
My mother told me this years ago and I now really do understand the moral here. This is my favorite example of why we should be okay saying no… (Thanks mom!)
You are drinking a coke and your child comes up to you and asks for some and you know you do not want your child to have the soda. You say no. But eventually you give in and anyway one sip won’t kill them. Again, I am guilty of this, but after begging or asking repeatedly you give in – it happens. So now your child comes up to you but that coke has some rum in it? Would you still eventually give in? Why not? You may understand the difference between why one time is ok to give in but the other isn’t, but your child doesn’t. Once you’ve set a precedent for giving in to demands, kids then think all “no” answers are negotiable. If no never really means no, or it only does when we feel like enforcing it, then there is always room to get around the rules and get what they want.
I am not trying to judge other parents or their parenting skills. But, I am concerned that these children will one day be adults and when they have to be functioning members of society they will lack the basic skills that make societies work for example how to follow a basic set of rules, or how to treat others with kindess and respect. I am always learning from those around me how to be a better parent. Today’s lesson was a reminder of there is nothing wrong with saying no to my kids and I do not need a reason or an explanation. No means no!