Motherhood/Parenting

How much is too much

img_1235The title of today’s blog , how much is too much, is a question I’ve been wrestling with for years when it comes to my children.  How much intervention from me do they need, how many experiences should I be providing, and I providing too many opportunities and not enough struggles.  You get the idea.  To answer some of those questions, I recently read the book, How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims.

Not to give too much away, I wish I had found the book when my kids were about 6 and 8 instead of 13 and 15.  Most of it is common sense advice but it’s also things I/ we immediately cringe at because it goes against everything we hear these days.  Advice like let your child struggle, let your child help around the house even if it’s not to your standard, let your kid fail, let your kid wander around the neighbohood alone, and don’t have your kid scheduled within an inch of their life with an endless list af extra curriculars.

The one thing this book that sticks in my craw is all the college talk.  About 1/3 of the book talks about how we are stressing kids out and going over board about getting our kids into top tier and ivy league schools. Lythcott- Haims keeps reitterating that all kids need to go to college.  I reject that notion.  Not every child is destined to be in a four year college situation just like every job doesn’t require a college degree. Then she turns around and goes on to say a child has to make their own way but to her that means going to a lesser known college instead of going the trade school or military route. It seems a little ridiculous.

Because of all the top tier college talk I feel like the book is geared toward a specific demographic, the very upper middle class/lowest their wealthy – basically the country club set. I have no problem with that demographic. I’m not in it but I know people who are and yes they seem hell bent on getting their kid into a “good” college (i.e. top tier). I suppose for them that part of the book is something they need to hear.

But, she’s not wrong when she points out that the weather the family is the more sheltered and saved from struggle the child is. Between servants and parents wanting the child to do well in school and not be stressed about getting a job or not having the opportunity to play sports or volunteer work or whatever will look good on a transcript, these kids are spoiled rotten. We aren’t fabulously wealthy and more than once I have let my kids shirk household responsibilities so they could finish homework.  If we were a family where the adults were both working two jobs to make ends meet,I wouldn’t be able coddle my kids like that.

In the end, I have started making more of hands off parenting adjustments.  It seems easier to let the kids do whatever now that we are in the throes of the apocalypse. Every day there seems to be fewer and fewer rules and normals and with fewer cars on the road I don’t mind my kids biking three miles to the grocery for a soda.  Welcome back to 1985.

Photo Credit: Me, myself and I.  This is a screenshot of the book cover. I did book on audio free from my library but you do you.

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Musing

Changes

autumn autumn colours autumn leaves blurI’ve been thinking a lot about changes. In nearly the blink of an eye, our lives have completely changed. We are working and schooling at home.  We are cooking, cleaning and doing our own yard work instead of hiring it out.  We have resorted to cutting our own hair.  Frivolous spending has drastically dropped off.  We are faced with shortages at stores either due to demand or due to genuine shortages in the food delivery systems.  Up until March, the only people you saw taking a walk in the middle of the day were fitness nuts and old people. It all happened so quickly yet right now things aren’t too different from the life of our grandparents and great grandparents lived.

Less than 100 years ago no one used to work out. We got our workouts from walking places instead of driving. Our work consisted of more manual/physical labor and less sitting around.  Our food availability was not as streamlined and interconnect as it is now – much to our detriment in this pandemic.  People were skinnier.  If your garden or farm didn’t grow, you didn’t eat. If you were out of a job you didn’t eat. There was no government welfare system. There were soup kitchens and poor houses but no one was getting three square meals a day.  It was just enough to keep you from starving.  We didn’t see a therapist or talk about our feelings.  We didn’t have as many diagnoses.  People just died.  We didn’t have less cancer or less autism we just didn’t diagnose. Well, John just up and died yesterday he’d been looking bad for 3 months oh well.  Pets lived outside and ate scraps. Now there are people on the internet asking about daycare and enrichment programs for their pets. True story, I saw a lady asking about enrichment programs for her corgi on our neighborhood Facebook group right before this pandemic hit.  Are you freakin’ kidding me?  There are still children out there with crack head mommas that can’t bother to feed them and yet some bougie ass lady is worried about her dog.

Now that we’ve pretty much been stripped of everything non-essential and for God only knows how long, I wonder what we will keep and what we will let fade away when this pandemic is but a horrible memory.  Will more schools be held online? What about work? We’ve proven that so much can be done at home. What about the people everyone used to ignore – the grocery store and warehouse workers – the ones keeping the wheels turning right now. Will they get paid more and be shown a little more appreciation?  Now that folks see that life does exist outside of being busy all the time will they slow down? Or, will we be forced to slow down because of economic restrictions?  With so many people laid off will life change because no one can afford to do anything? It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Personally, I wish I had a crystal ball. All of the uncertainty is making me anxious. I’ve realized it’s not the change that bothers me. It’s the fear of the unknown. Will the change be a good change? A tolerable change? Or, will the change be something we have to grit our teeth and slug through to get to the good outcome?

Photo Credit: Free from Pixbay on Pixels. 

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Irony

So Much Information

imagesI keep hearing these folks talk about reading books and learning a new skill during this quarantine and all I can think of is who has the time for that. I don’t know about you but I’m drowning in information. I’m reading about how this is a thinly veiled attempt to screw up the election in November or a way to take away American’s rights in the name of the greater good.  I’ve read about the President and governors clashing over states’ rights, which feels an awful lot like the arguments states made for slavery right before the Civil War.  I’ve read about Dr. Fauci and Dr. Shiva and how both think we should be fighting this virus. I’ve read about how we need to take this opportunity to figure out what’s important to us and when the world gets back to normal we all need to work like hell to make it happen. I’ve read other things that say the political and media machine is going to do their best to get us to forget how broken everything is and try to get us back into our normal patterns of spending to get our economy back on track. And, this is just a small slice of what I’ve been reading and hearing.

There is so much information out there – some of which builds on another while others not so much. It’s hard to know what to believe or what to take to heart – to separate what has merit and what is just pissing in the wind. If you’re anything like me you vacillate between wondering if this is the apocalypse or a giant world event, sort of like World War II. You know, I always thought the thing that would bring us together and at the same time rip us apart would be a war, not a virus. For many years I thought there would another be an all about civil war of sorts here in America but never for one moment did I think a virus might kick it off.  Illegal immigration, inequality, race relations, politics – those are the things I thought would start a war from within.

All I know is most days I wake up with a nagging worry that things won’t ever go back to “normal”.

On a completely unrelated and happier note, Phyllis and George are back. I think she’s looking to nest again, that is if ducks nest more than once a season. If not, then they are just having a jolly old time in my backyard eating, pooping and screwing.

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Irony

No Duck

img_1207If you read last week’s blog you’ll know our yard has a couple of new residents – George and Phyllis, Phyllis’s eggs and Fred. Much like this virus quarantine, Mother Nature/the Universe/Life has thrown those ducks a real curveball.

I have not seen Phyllis since sometime last week. Nor have I visited her nest since last week, until today. Apparently, an animal has gotten to the nest. One egg is completely gone. It appears one egg is open either hatching or attack and the final one had egg remnants in it. Fred and George continue to visit our pool for a swim and to quack. I can only assume they are quacking for Phyllis or some other friends but no one else shows up. They usually fly off within 15 minutes of landing.  There are no more all day eat, swim, nap sessions.  I am so disappointed by the egg situation. It was so exciting to think we might see little ducklings either hanging around our yard or in our pool.  Yeah, their poop everywhere is not ideal but it’s also a cool window to nature

It feels like this whole egg thing is a look at life right now metaphorically speaking.  The unknown has completely upended life. We don’t know much about this unknown and yet it is a threat. We don’t know when things will get back to normal or what normal will look like.  And, much like Fred and George, all we can do is sit there and quack (talk) hoping something will happen to make life normal again.

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Random

Well Duck

img_1186How is everyone doing? Emotionally, financially, etc.? My friends and I have been doing check ins every few days just to make sure no one has gone off the deep end.  I, myself, am doing fine. Like one of my friends said, I’ve been training for this crap my entire life. My day isn’t much different from the summers of my childhood stuck at home while the parents went to work or when my kids were small and I was a stay at home mom.  I’m trapped at home (probably grounded) with limited supplies and a mountain of laundry and dishes. I have to be creative if I want to stay off the tv.  Yep, it’s just summer in 1988. But, that’s not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about the ducks that have taken up residence in my back yard.  I have named them Phyllis and George.

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Phyllis and George have been coming around since the first real week of our shut in – let’s say around Wednesday, March 18.  This is not the first time we’ve had ducks in our back yard. This has happened every Spring since we moved here three years ago. Usually, the ducks show up a couple of times and leave but not this year. Phyllis and George really like it here.  It is like their vacation destination.  Apparently, the weeds in my flower beds are primo eats and they love to swim in our pool that is in desperate need of a re-do.

Their routine goes like this. George will show up early (like 7) to swim then he starts quacking. We think he’s calling for Phyllis.  Then a little while later Phyllis shows up.  They eat, swim, bathe (like flick water on their backs and groom themselves) then take a nap.  If it’s rainy they stick around pretty much all day but on sunny days they are usually gone by noon.  Sometimes we see them in the evening repeating their eat, swim, bathe, nap routine; sometimes there is no night visit. The latest we’ve seen them is right before sunset.  They have absolutely no fear of us. We have stayed at least 10 feet away but they just look at us like we are just very large strange looking ducks. They aren’t even afraid of our dog as long as he’s on a leash. These ducks are almost as tame as the Disney ducks that hang around the Magic Kingdom in Florida.

Phyllis and George’s routine have been pretty solid until yesterday. Yesterday, George was not in our pool or our grass but up on our roof. You read that right, the roof.  Today, Phyllis arrived alone for breakfast and a swim when not one but two drakes showed up.  Apparently, Phyllis has two guys following her around. Since we can’t tell the drakes apart we’ve decided the second drake’s name is Fred after Fred and George Weasley. – And, as if all this wasn’t enough, I was weeding my front flower beds this morning and noticed the mulch was all messed up in one spot. As I started toward the area, Phyllis came out from behind a bush and took off.  Then I noticed her nest nearby.  Our yard is like a mullet – business in the front with a party in the back.  There hasn’t been any more duck activity since that little incident this morning so I’m a little bit worried I freaked her out and she won’t go back to her nest.  I hope not. That would make me extremely sad.  Hopefully, we will see her and one of the guys tomorrow. I will keep everyone posted.

I think I will start posting a daily picture of George/Fred and Phyllis on my Trying to Have it Y’all Facebook page. Until next time, I hope everyone reading this is healthy, not too bored and making the best of this sucky situation.

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Musing

Nothing but time

img_1126Well, folks, we got nothing but time these days, am I right? For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a home improvement project keeping me busy. Those projects are now finished.  This week I forgot my normal posting day was yesterday and didn’t write a thing. I’m feeling a little disjointed and not focused. I’m having trouble sleeping. I think its stress of sorts although my life isn’t too stressful at the moment. I think I’m stressed from watching the news and hearing about all of these closings, restrictions, loss of lives and jobs. I feel like I need to be informed but right now everything looks so bleak.  It doesn’t help that it has rained so much here we can practically swim in our grass.

I had to go to the grocery yesterday. I wore a homemade mask made from a bandana and two hair ties. Here’s the video from Youtube. A fellow shopper (not wearing any PPE) saw me in my homemade mask. She rolled her eyes, made a loud hmmp sound, and started to whisper something to her adult daughter who was shopping with her.  I responded with, “Keep talking bitch, I’m not getting the corona.”  I doubt she heard me from behind my mask but I felt better. Plus, I looked like a bandit with my red bandana so the joke is on her. Yes, in some ways I feel I am devolving. But, then again, I find I don’t really care.

Gwyneth Paltrow said something recently about how with all this time on our hands we need to be learning a new language or writing a book.  Well, this old dog is learning new tricks. It’s call Zoom. I have had three Zoom meetings this week. One was me and my boss trying to figure out how to use it.  They’ve all been fun because they’ve also included wine or some other adult beverage. I also made the quarantini out of vodka and Emergen-C.  Yes, I know the Emergen-C company said don’t do this. I’m a rebel and I don’t care.  Furthermore, this blog is as close as a book as I can get right now. So, take that Paltrow.  I’ve also started bird watching. Which is really weird because I’m not a bird fan.  However, a mallard drake and his hen keep showing up in my back yard and I can’t help but watch them.  I have named them Phyllis and George. Above is a picture of them feeding my super soupy back yard.

Yes, friends, this is what our life looks like right now. It won’t be like this forever which is a blessing. I just wish I had a crystal ball so I could see what the other side of the curve looks like.

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Important Stuff

Grief

photo of woman covering her faceAre you familiar with the Kubler-Ross Grief Cycle?  It’s more commonly known as the five stages of grief. After the initial shock of a situation wears off one tends to have the following five emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Whether we want to admit it or not, I believe every single person in the United States if not the whole world is going through one of these phases right now. Hell, sometimes I think I go through all five phases in one day. 

For me, the grief cycle started Thursday night, March 12. I was in denial this whole Covid-19 was a real concern. After all, it’s just a little virus like the flu. My kids were at school finishing up a week of testing. I had been to work that day and was furiously packing for a long-planned and anticipated Spring Break trip to Florida. Then the text messages started pouring in. Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando had closed. We were due to go to one of those parks. In anger, I immediately got on the phone to find out about a refund. It took me more than three hours and two different calls but I got a full refund minus the trip insurance I bought. Fun fact they keep your trip insurance payment, which was annoying.  In an effort to bargain, I  decided all would not be lost. On Friday, after I got my refund and got home from work, I decided to start looking for alternate places to go for Spring Break. I tried Silver Dollar City in the Ozarks; it was closed. I tried Dollywood in Pigeon Forge; it was closed. I tried Big Bend National Park. While open, there wasn’t a hotel to be found for 50 miles surrounding the park.  Depressed, I realized we were stuck at home, where we have gotten rain nearly every day for 30 days straight.  The last time we had a Spring Break this shitty was about six years ago when everyone in the family had either flu or strep. Finally, I accepted this was our lot and there wasn’t anything any of us could do about it. 

This would be my first taste of this little cycle. In the past 11 days, the school has been canceled almost indefinitely and I’ve essentially lost my job as my workplace was deemed non-essential. It wasn’t much money but it was fun and it pays for little things like my daughter’s dance stuff, my son’s football, and our vacation.  Thank God my husband still has his job and is currently working from home. I know many aren’t so lucky.  School is evolving so we are home learning. Like everyone else, we can’t find a roll of toilet paper in the city. And, like a very large portion of the country, we are only allowed out of our house to go to the doctor or to get food. I’m an extroverted introvert by nature. I like to be alone but the same cannot be said for my kids. I mentioned to the hubs that I don’t know what will incite riots first, if the internet goes down or if grocery stores run out of food.  I think the only thing sustaining most of us is streaming services and social media. 

For each of the above issues, I’ve done a bit of the five stages. I am the Queen of the Work Around. I can figure out an alternate way to do just about anything. It may take longer than the preferred method, it may be super convoluted but I can make things happen. I rarely give up.  There have been times in the past few days when I’ve realized the work around isn’t really a work around; it’s more like a pivot. Most days I flip between denial and bargaining and then go straight to acceptance. I guess that means the issue wasn’t worth the anger or the depression and maybe that’s a good thing. 

How are you holding up? How have you had to go through these five stages of grief? Have you lost a job? Are the walls closing in? What are your coping mechanisms?

P.S. Don’t come at me with ‘people are dying and you’re worried about a vacation or your kid’s school’. I’m not an idiot. Yes, I know people are dying. Two in my household have underlying symptoms, one of those being poor lung function. I get the gravity of the whole situation, however, this is what I/we in my family are dealing with. And while it’s petty white people problems it still sucks.  It sucks for everyone right now.  If there is anything good about this virus it’s we are all united in our worry. Be safe.

Photo Credit: Free photo from Pexels.com by Eternal Happiness. How ironic that it comes up as a photo for grief. 
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Irony

Spring Break Irony

img_1123Last week, I wrote the following to be published today, Wednesday, March 18.
“Right now I’m up to my armpits in family time. When I get back home we will have driven over 2,500 miles, eaten way too many fast food meals and will be sick of all this togetherness.  But, we are making memories that will last a lifetime.”

Until last Thursday night around 8 p.m., we were scheduled to leave the following day for Florida to visit family and hit up House of Mouse. Obviously, that didn’t happen. We are now self quarantined. No, no one is sick (knock wood) but we are trying to flatten the curve and stay well.

And, we aren’t all totally sick of one another yet.  We have lots of projects we’ve been procrastinating about doing that we now suddenly have time to do. And, there’s always Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+.  I keep saying I’m going to start a journal just to document this unfolding situation.  We, my friends, are watching history unfold. Our children’s children will learn about this in school.  Books will be written, armchair quarterbacking how this virus should have been handled. It’s an interesting albeit stressful time to be alive.

I know I’m not alone when I say my mind is a jumble of random things.  From important things like job security and money but also things like the upcoming election and what’s next for the virus to what should I do for the next three hours that doesn’t involve mindless snacking or watching tv. I want to stay informed yet I don’t want to drown in information. I want to be productive but I can’t stop worrying about what will happen next. I’m trying to stay positive and not be an alarmist but it’s hard.  There’s so much unknown.

My creative flow tends to tank like when I’m stressed. That probably happens to most people. When I get overwhelmed I tend to retreat into myself and think – sometimes that’s not a good thing.  We’ll see how all this plays out. I may not post as much or I may post a lot. It just depends on how exciting it gets around here. Let’s just hope the excitement is good. Stay positive folks and enjoy this picture of a bluebonnet.

 

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Uncategorized

Uncle

apps blur button close upI have always possessed a very take me as I am or walk away attitude. For a hot minute in 7th grade, I wanted to be a popular kid but I quickly realized all those kids were only popular because their parents had enough money to outfit them in Benetton and Guess clothing.  Between being too broke for Benetton and not much of an ass kisser those dreams of popularity went up in smoke.  Other than that brief, ridiculous departure, I have never been intimidated, swayed or really cared what other people think of me.  And, while I value many people’s opinions and would hate to disappoint them it’s more a matter of personal reverence than it is me trying to impress them.  This general belief holds true for everyone but one person, my husband’s uncle.  You thought I was going to say a parent or hero or someone of note, didn’t you?  Nope, let me paint a picture.

My husband comes from a better background than I do and this particular uncle has gone above and beyond.  He has done VERY well for himself.  He is the very essence of the Preppy Handbook come to life. His level of propriety, diction, manners, dress – it’s all perfect.  And, since my husband’s father passed away when my husband was a young man, this uncle has taken on a sort of a father figure role. The first time I met this guy I was petrified.  Mind you, I’ve hosted dinners for heads of state and music industry royalty and this guy had me shaking in my shoes. I remember a party at this uncle’s house that was particularly painful. I had more in common with the family dog than the rest of the high falutin folks in attendance.  So, for the last 23 or so years, I’ve avoided the man like the plague. When I have had to interact with this uncle I  pretty much just try to smile, nod and not cuss. That is until recently.

A few months ago, uncle joined Facebook. And, thanks to Facebook’s nosey ass algorithms, uncle discovered I was on Facebook too and sent me a friend request.  I couldn’t tell him no.  I mean, he’s not the Godfather but come on, he’s my husband’s most revered family member, how could I say no? So, I added him and for some weird reason, I didn’t give him my usual ‘hey I cuss and I rant on here so you may not want to be friends with me’ warning.  I just let it fly as usual. And then a funny thing happened, he began to interact. He started liking and commenting on almost every post. He has a particular affinity for pictures of the kids and anything slightly controversial or political.  I started noticing how funny he can be with his proper dry wit. A couple of days ago it hit me that I’m not nearly as intimidated by him as I used to be.  I see him more as an equal now. I’m not really sure what prompted the shift – maybe it’s because I’ve been married to his nephew for over 20 years or maybe it’s because I feel more confident or sure of myself, or maybe it’s because I’ve seen behind the curtain of the great and powerful Oz.  Or, maybe it’s a combination of all those things. I can’t say for sure.  While I don’t think I’ll be dropping the F word in his presence any time soon. I don’t think I’ll just be smiling and nodding anymore either.

Photo Credit: Pixabay on Pexels.com.  Since this post is about getting to know an Uncle through social media, I thought this was a good choice and I love royalty free pictures.

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Opinon

History Repeats

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“All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

The above Peter Pan quote keeps playing on a loop in my head here lately.  It’s sort of like a mantra to remind myself not to panic or worry because if you listen to anything resembling news or social media there is plenty to panic and worry about right now.  A month ago, it was the impending doom of WWIII, which didn’t come to fruition.  There’s the 2020 Presidential election.  That’s a bit more troubling and very real.  It looks like once again most of us are going to hold our nose and press the button to vote against someone rather than voting for someone.  I’ve been able to vote for President since 1992 and I have never been lit up by a candidate. And, while most of these jokers make it look like it would be the end of the world if they got elected, would it be? We still have two more branches of government to keep the Executive branch in check, right? We’ve seen other Presidents sign executive orders and bills into law that a goodly portion of the population though insane only to have the next President overturn those policies. Or, maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part to think it wouldn’t matter too much.

Now, let’s discuss the Coronavirus. People have absolutely lost their damn minds, at least they have in my town.  I haven’t seen shortages in stores like this since I lived in a hurricane zone. Every store is completely out of some specific products. And, I’m not talking bread and milk here people.  I went to Costco this weekend to pick up a few things we normally buy there and they were out of black beans and Charmin toilet paper not to mention things like Clorox wipes and Lysol.  Next, I went to Walmart to pick up the things Costco didn’t have. Guess what? Walmart’s cold medication and pain relief aisle looked like a war zone. Seriously the only thing left was some seasickness medication and the low dose aspirin. I still have a cough from the nasty flu but not the flu I’ve been nursing for over a month.  Well, I guess I’m shit out of luck for my Robitussin. I know my little town is not the only place dealing with shortages.  I read on Apple News where there isn’t a bit of toilet paper to be had at Seattle area Costco stores. And, would you believe the shelves are FULL and I mean chock full of soap but there isn’t a drop of hand sanitizing gel to be found in my town. Ridiculousness.  Don’t be gross. Wash your hands. Cover your cough and sneeze. If you have a fever, stay at home. There I fixed it. You’re welcome.  The news and social media have done nothing but incite this foolishness.  Everyone needs to calm down. Pretty much everyone has two weeks’ worth of some food in their house.  It may be rice three meals a day for two weeks but there is food in the house. Don’t pander to the panic.

Lastly, nearly 22 years ago, a tornado ripped through the city and suburbs of Nashville, TN, my hometown.  It was horrible.  I personally saw it up close about quarter-mile from the building where I worked.  I spent half the night in the loading docks of the then-new Bridgestone arena. It was surreal and devastating to the area. This past Monday night, another tornado ripped through Nashville, it’s suburbs and kept right on up I-40 to the college town of Cookeville. This tornado pretty much tracked the same path as the one in 1998.  Once again certain areas are devastated.  Many friends and family have been impacted – some directly and some indirectly.  If you are the praying type, please pray for Middle Tennessee.  Also, consider donating to relief efforts for the area.  It happened before and it definitely happened again.

Photo Credit:  Me, at my local Kroger Grocery Store. Not sponsored but I’d be happy to be sponsored, so Kroger hit me up. Don’t y’all love how the name brand wipes are still around but the cheaper store brand wipes are gone. This tells me people care but not enough to waste money on the high dollar stuff.

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