Posts Tagged ‘family’
Last week the verdict for Jodi Arias came in, and I was waiting on pins and needles. Would she be guilty? Would she be acquitted? If guilty, what charge? I checked my phone. I was glued to the HLN website when I wasn’t at home glued to the HLN channel. At night I watched Nancy Grace and Dr. Drew.
Then I saw the verdict being read. I cried. I grew sad for us as a people.
There was something so primal and disturbing about the chanting outside the Maricopa County courthouse. Americans chanting for death. It was surreal. We see this from foreign countries, from faraway lands. It’s not supposed to happen in the middle of our own country. I grew afraid for the jury if they happened to make the “wrong” decision. Would the crowd outside attack them?
I felt the same way after the Casey Anthony verdict. People were so opinionated and full of vitriol. I knew the jury didn’t take their task lightly. No jury does. Sure you probably have a group of people who would rather be somewhere–anywhere–else. But they are told again and again–even before the trial begins–that they have a responsibility to be partial and fair. Without prejudice.
Something the frothing crowd of chanting Americans was not full of.
When the verdict was read, I felt no glee. I felt nothing but grief and horror for both families. Travis Alexander’s family and friends lost him years ago. Hopefully they have some relief and can start on the road to healing. I hope their positive loving memories eventually eclipse the ones of the Travis that was presented to the nation in a court of law.
It’s Jodi’s family that is left with the debris of this entire mess. Jodi’s personality disorder means she’s self-centered and self-serving. She has no concern for the grief she has rained down upon two families. Jodi’s parents are left with the image of people chanting for their daughter’s death. Inside, they must be blaming themselves. They are wondering what they did wrong. Going through every moment of Jodi’s childhood, they are trying to pinpoint the one mistake they made that can explain all of this.
Did they yell when they should have hugged? Were they fed up with her behavior and offered consequences? It doesn’t matter. Chances are they will suffer the guilt of Travis’ death more than their daughter. It will be a long time until they can walk through their town without feeling self-conscious.
I hope the Arias family finds peace. I hope that Jodi’s parents come to realize that they can’t be responsible for their grown daughter’s actions in this case. Nothing they did when Jodi was eight, 12, 15, or 25 made her commit murder. That responsibility is on her own shoulders. It was her choice. Her actions.
More than anything, I hope I never see Americans chanting for anyone’s death ever again.
Have you ever wondered what your breaking point is? Have you gotten to it more than once, but managed to pull yourself back? Are you teetering near it even now?
Because I think I’m getting pretty close to mine. See, since August it’s been one thing after another. Aaron trouble, Jermaine trouble, Jeremy mega-trouble. Now our big dog, Nikki, is very sick. And I think I’m close to the breaking point.
I don’t know what happens when I reach the breaking point. And I have no desire to find out. Because I don’t think it will be pretty. I see a lot of time in bed, a lot of Law & Order reruns, and not showering. Although, as I typed that, I was thinking it didn’t sound half bad.
I’m getting tired of being the chipper cheerleader. I’m tired of playing peacemaker. I’m tired of being karma’s punching bag.
Sunday afternoon I played cards with the ladies. These women are my family here. They make me laugh, make me snort, and I care about them. So spending the afternoon with them was heavenly. But then I had to come home…to attitude and bad moods. A dog who won’t eat his special food nor take his needed medicine.
Instead of screaming at the top of my lungs, I continue my Buddha Mom role and try to soothe all the grumpy beasts.
I know I’m not the only one stressed here. We are all.
Don’t picture me as June Cleaver smiling my way through the day, wearing my shirt dress, pearls, and pumps. I get grumpy. I get bitchy. But I never get to where I really could be.
Because I am the mom and I’m holding everything together here. I don’t think anyone appreciates my efforts. I don’t think anyone here recognizes how close I am to losing it completely.
If they did, they would cut out the sniping. And the attitudes. They’d stop doing the very things they know annoy the crap out of me (paper towels in the open trash cans that the dogs rip to shreds, crap all over the house, messy rooms, dirty bathrooms, dirty counter tops, arguing, bickering…) and give me a freaking break.
Re-reading the list there, I see that my annoyances are very petty. But they are annoying to me. Did you know that while big things can be stressful, it’s the every-day stresses that take the biggest toll in the long run? Actually, it’s how we handle the small stresses that matters.
I guess I’m not handling them very well. I need to re-center myself. I need to find a happy place.
I wish I had a clue where it was…
I have lost Buddha Mom and I don’t know where she is. In case you’re new, Buddha Mom is my almost-perfect mother persona. She’s the patient woman who coos and speaks politely to her children. She’s the one who lovingly greets her husband.
And she’s gone.
Frankly, she started fading when summer started. A houseful of surly boys fueled the fade. A messy house stoked the fade. Poof! She was gone!
Today I had to leave the house because I wanted to hurt Aaron. I know you’re thinking, “What could the angel child have done?!”
He managed to run up a $533 data bill on his cell phone. That’s merely two weeks of downloading and subscribing to games and ringtones. Of course, this was done with our new cell phone carrier, which was supposed to make sure that the boys’ phones would have no Internet access. Somehow, Aaron’s slipped throughout the cracks!
Now we’re waiting to see what the cell phone company is prepared to do about this. There seems to be some question about the ability of the company to block data access. Really? Are all other pre-teen and teenage children so self-controlled that they don’t access data when told not to?
Or am I the only one with kids who hear “don’t” but “do” instead? I know that’s not true, because it’s an actual psychological phenomenon. People (of all ages!) do think “do” when told “don’t.” Try it out. Tell someone in your house “don’t do x” and see what their reaction is. Good luck!
Honestly, I don’t know who I am angrier with: the cell phone carrier or Aaron himself. I had higher expectations for the carrier. I’m waiting to see what they do about this before reserving judgment. I’m assuming I’m not the first parent to request non data access. But I also had expectations of Aaron to not ignore the “no downloading” rider that came with the cell phone.
Maybe Buddha Mom’s not missing…maybe she’s just withered up with disappointment…
This is a warning to the mothers of young children. People talk openly and frankly about the terrible twos. But no one is honest about the Terrible Twelves. I believe this is because older and wiser mothers want you to think that hard part of parenting is over at a young age so you hang in there. The alternative of you running, screaming down your driveway, passport in hand, is something they don’t want to be responsible for.
I, however, am here to tell you the truth. The absolute truth.
The Terrible Twelves are a horrible phase for any mother to experience. Oh, and Terrible Twelves is a misnomer since this phase usually lasts until age 15. I’m just calling is the Terrible Twelves so you won’t give up. Trust me, you will want to.
Let me start by explaining, in motherly terms, what is happening in the twelve-year old adolescent body. Hormones are running rampant. The body is jacked up on a cocktail of these hormones combined with the junk food kids seem to favor at this age. Hormones+sugar+salt+caffeine=disaster. There is an internal battle between young child and young adult, and it changes from day to day who is in charge of the pubescent body.
Remember when your kid was two and learned to say “no” and use it effectively? Imagine that cranked up a million times in a 12 year old body. Also add in the ability to argue. Oh, sure, they don’t argue effectively. But they can argue and they will. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t matter if you remain completely calm. It doesn’t matter if you agree with them. They will argue about everything.
For example, I used to say that Jermaine would argue with me about anything. If I said the sky was blue, he would spend precious time arguing that it was green. I could whip out my Pantone color book and show him the color of the sky and he would still argue–and provide visual aids as well–why I was wrong.
While your child might not argue about the same things, they will adopt a few of the same 12 year old tactics: eye rolling, speaking slowly (because you are mentally challenged), yelling (because l0uder makes them sound smarter), and a host of other gestures designed to demoralize and confuse you. Sometimes you will doubt your own sanity. Sometimes you will question your intelligence.
Go ahead and question yourself, but get right back in the saddle, because the war isn’t over. Understand that you really aren’t the stupid, moronic, imbecile your child is insinuating that you are. You are the sane one. Your pre-teen monster child is the villain in this game!
This is also the lying stage. Twelve year olds will lie about anything and everything. Do you see your child standing there, covered in chocolate, denying that he stole the last of your chocolate stash? That’s what I’m talking about. Even when confronted with evidence and stellar witnesses, the 12 year old will argue to the death about his innocence. Sometimes they even slip up and lie about good things. It’s a reflex at this age.
So what’s a mother to do? Because of space and time constraints, I haven’t been able to reveal everything you will experience when your child enters this psychotic child stage. Also, it varies slightly with individual children. But there are things you can do to survive this.
It’s easier said than done, but you must remain calm. That way when you finally lose it (and you will) they know that you mean business. Plus, you need to reserve your strength. Don’t give in too soon or you’ll just wear yourself out. You must realize that your calmness fuels their crazy-ness so you have something to laugh about later.
When you do break and lose it, do so loudly and wildly. Swinging arms, poking fingers, and red-faced screams will make you feel so much better. It won’t affect your child, except to reinforce the idea that you are a moron. But you deserve this release. Embrace it.
Find a sympathetic friend. You need someone you can vent to and receive validation from. It’s normalizing to find that other mothers and children are experiencing similar behavior.
Have an escape plan in place. Sure, you probably won’t use it, but have one just in case. With the twins I had mine mapped out to San Diego where my brothers live. With Aaron I think I’ll flee to England to be with my cousin Cindy. Where will you get financing? What will you take? Will you let them know you’re going or let them flop about a few days until they realize it on their own? Once you realize how exhausting it is to plan your escape, you will give up and just take to your bed. That’s cheaper and easier. I always got hung up on who would pay the bills and care for the animals.
Tell yourself that this will pass. This is harder with the first one, because you will be convinced your child is demon spawn and you got a really really bad one. But there is an end. At that exit from demon-hood, your child will emerge as a raw version of their soon-to-be-adult self. You will have decent conversations again. You will laugh with each other. You will say a prayer of thanksgiving.
I know there is so much more to share, but I have to go see what Aaron’s up to. He’ll be terrorizing the twins soon and I hope there’s no blood today…
I’d love to hear your Terrible Twelves Survival Tips!
Recently in The Secret is in the Sauce (aka The SITS girls) community, there was a discussion about how moms need support. Stephanie from Dial M for Minky said she’d like to hear about things other moms do that compare to her forgetting to re-pack the diaper bag. Oh, do I have stories for you.
I call these my Mother of the Year Moments, and they deserve no rewards. I’m hoping that calling them by this term people will be so amused they forget the actual harming of the children. Yes, we all (you know you do it too!) go far beyond forgetting to re-stock the diapers. That’s nothing compare to what you have to look forward to Stephanie.
I must stress here that none of this is ever intentional. I don’t wake up in the morning and think, “today is the day I will zap Jeremy! Aaron! Jermaine!” I don’t playfully yell out, “Bazinga!” when I perform a Mother of the Year Moment. I do share so you know that you know that you are not alone.
Last Friday I drove Aaron to track club by himself. The twins are on a different schedule and had the day off. I had to take him extra early because I wanted to get to water aerobics. I dropped him off and went to dance and spin in the pool (I like to pretend I am a serious contender for the Olympic Synchronized Swimming team). I took a nice long shower and chatted with other gym members to delay leaving. I had no desire to sit outside the school waiting for Aaron to get done. Imagine my surprise (horror?!) when I saw him sitting all alone on the curb. His first words, “I didn’t have practice today, Mom.” Somehow I had gotten the schedule messed up and left him sitting on the curb for two whole hours. In the sun. No water. No company. So many seriously bad things could have happened.
I immediately called Jim to confess. I even cried a little. I genuinely felt horrible. Aaron’s pleasant attitude about the whole thing only made me feel worse. He didn’t get mad, he didn’t pout. He laughed about it and said the whole entire school was locked so he couldn’t get a drink. He didn’t even say it in a guilt-inducing way, either. Just matter of fact-ly. He even managed to tear up when I was crying just a little because he felt bad for me.
Aunt Darlene pointed out that I would quickly forget this incident when I felt like clobbering him in a few days. I have to admit after the trips to Wendy’s (guilt-induced fast food lunch) and Target (regular shopping) that the guilt was reduced by a small degree. Shopping with Aaron is never a pleasant task.
Well, I’m going to my aunt’s house which feels like home! My cousin, Cindy, is in the states from England and I haven’t seen her in 15 years! So she’s coming to Omaha and we are going to spend some time together with my aunts, uncles and cousins!
I’m going solo, leaving the fambly behind. It will be weird! But since I plan on being silly and loud, it’s probably for the best!
Please send me happy travelling thoughts. Flying freaks me out! And I’ll be back on Tuesday. In the meantime, enjoy some posts from the archives tomorrow and Monday! Hopefully, the weekend will give me material for several posts!
Prince William and Princess Kate are getting married and embarking on their life together. Unlike most of us, they will do their being married gig in front of the entire world.
While I can’t help them deal with the intrusive public, I can give them some advice to make their marriage work a little better. Well, I think I can…
Don’t stop saying “thank you” just because you’re married. Actually, “thank you” is a great motivator for anyone in your life. Kids, spouse, co-workers, friends…when they feel appreciated, they are more giving and loving. Please note, that often—especially with the children—your “thank you” will be growled between clenched lips. Still, you said it and it counts. For example, “Thank you, honey, for doing the dishes. You are wonderful!” Points: you. Another example: “Thank you, kids, for not breaking all the plates in the priceless China set. I’m glad we have one left.” This is said between clenched teeth, so you only get a half point. Still, you got something. Focus on the positive!
Don’t stop saying “I love you.” Yes, it might seem repetitive until you have done it for awhile. Then it becomes second nature. I think Aaron was 11 years old before he realized that you don’t hang up the phone saying, “good bye I love you” as a single word closing. Or with every phone call. Saying it reminds everyone that they are loved.
Don’t stop being silly. Sure, some might tell you that you’re Very Important People, but you still have to have fun. If you can’t laugh with each other, you’re going to get bored. Really. If you look hard enough, there is laughter to be had in any situation. Yes, in any situation. Don’t be cruel—we’re not talking marital bullying here—but reminding each other about a klutzy situation (e.g., me falling fully clothed into the pool upon arrival at the Puerto Vallarta resort) or a silly action (Jim’s recent robot-like dance to the Bee Gees) makes for great future laughs.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. Sure, I’m not famous like you, but I am a World Famous Blogger (hey, people in other countries have read my blog!). I still have to do laundry and cook meals for my family. I still have to do the dreaded homework patrol. It’s my job. Yes, sometimes I put on a tiara to vacuum, but that’s just to remind us all that I Am Special. Jim is corporate middle management. Still, he has to unclog the tub drain and touch the raw chicken because that’s his job. I hope he’s not putting on my tiaras to do his jobs.
Don’t give up your friends. Trust me, you will need them. Maybe you’ll feel disloyal talking about your spouse or your children to someone else. At first it feels a little wrong to bitch and moan about the people you love the most, but you need to do it to keep your sanity. You can’t complain to just anyone—especially you two!—but find someone you trust and air your dirty laundry. It helps. Especially when you have kids. Finding someone who has similar problems is normalizing and eases your terror that you are the only one raising ruffians.
Most of all, don’t stop loving each other. Don’t forget why you fell in love in the first place. Remember how it felt to see each other. Things are going to change, but that doesn’t mean your love goes away. Be each other’s biggest cheerleader and you’re set!
Prince William and Princess Kate, I wish you the best. Congratulations!
Did you hear or read about the Chicago school that has banned homemade lunches? “Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school,” Principal Elsa Carmona told the paper of the years-old policy. “It’s about … the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke.”
Each mom I have spoken to about this thinks it’s a horrible idea. Yes, moms appreciate the convenience of the hot lunch system. But we don’t want a school dictating that it’s the only system.
Aside from the fact that the meals are terrible (Aaron’s school’s menu for April is to the right) and sparce, Moms don’t want anyone dictating to us what is the right thing to do for our children. This might be where we draw the line.
As one mom suggested, the schools are trying to change roles. They want to parent and they want us to teach. If you’re a parent of a school-age child, you understand that statement. Suddenly the schools are full of advice on how to raise your child–full of suggestions of the “right” way from well-meaning staff members–while parents are being asked to teach their children at home. Remember the last homework assignment that came home that your child was clueless about? That’s what I’m talking about.
But this homemade lunch ban has baffled me. Yes, my kid goes to school every day with a sandwich and chips. He’s the world’s pickiest eater. He was getting hot lunch, but we had to put an end to that because he was using his allotted lunch money for the month in one week buying chips and cookies. Apparently he’s not ready for money management and budgeting.
I do know kids who bring spectacularly prepared meals from home. Thermoses of hot foods, plastic containers of freshly peeled and sliced fruit. Apparently, these are kids who understand the concept of returning everything home at the end of the day.
Still, my kid’s meal of ham, bread, and a single serving of chips has to be better than the processed crap being served to him as a hot lunch. For instance, the chicken nuggets: I saw a video of how the meat is extruded from the bone to make these. After the taffy-pink meat is bone free, they have to add coloring back to make it beige so it’s pleasant to the eye. Then they add chemicals to make it taste like chicken. I don’t even want to know what’s in a rib sandwich. I’m betting they’re not real ribs though.
I know that “childhood obesity” is the new buzz phrase in our society. Please, oh, please! Save the children! Chemicals are better than real food that might be fattening! But…we don’t have any money so we have to cut out physical activities like PE and after-school sports.
It makes me sad that feeding the children has become a battle ground. What do you think?
For another insightful post about this subject, please visit Ragen Chastain’s Dances with Fat.
Yes, I am declaring this a parent failure.
Surely you’ve heard about the high school student who pistol whipped her mom into buying her a new car. Initially the mother refused to buy the car and the girl responded by grabbing a gun, whacking her mother with it, and making her go to the dealership to buy the car.
By they way, the Nissan 350Z is a cute car. I’ve coveted it myself on these suburban streets. But I’ve never taken Jim hostage and demanded that he buy me one.
Why is this a parent failure? Because the mom sat at the dealership and said nothing. Sorry, young lady, but if you were my kid, I would have been screaming at the top of my lungs once we were inside the dealership. OK, thinking this through it might not have been a great idea. The teenager could have responded by shooting up the place.
Did no one inside the dealership notice the bruised mother? Didn’t they wonder what was going on at her surely-evident reluctance to buy the car for her daughter? When we’ve bought cars it has taken so long and we spent so much time with the salesman that they are now regulars at Thanksgiving dinner and the boys are named after them! OK, that’s not true. But we’ve spent a lot of time with car guys. It’s never been a quick and easy process for us. Are we the only ones?!
Even if the mother went into the dealership willing to pay sticker price, wasn’t that a red flag? Does anyone pay sticker price? Did she not haggle even a little bit? Instead of thinking it was his lucky day, the salesman should have called in professionals for a psychiatric evaluation.
Wasn’t there a time of test driving? Was there no time the girl was in a position of vulnerability?
The mother waited until the next day while the girl was at school to find the gun and some drug paraphernalia to call the police.
I cannot grasp how this happened, honestly. I guess the girl must have been under extreme pressure. She is or was Ivy League bound–a clue to her intelligence. Is this the proof we’ve needed to believe that young adults are not fully capable of logical thought until their early- to mid-twenties? Apparently she wasn’t an angel child if the drug paraphernalia and stolen weapon are what they appear to be.
Was the mother so tired of fighting with her that it was just easier (and life-saving!) to finally give in? Is this the direction Aaron and I are heading because I no longer have the strength or commitment to argue into infinity about the things that are important to him (i.e., McDonald’s on Saturday, Pop Tarts are fruit, etc.) Am I one good smack away from buying him a flat-screen TV for his room?
This incident is so many different kinds of sad that I can’t wrap my mind around it. I know there’s a parenting lesson in here somewhere. I’m just not sure what it is. Don’t pressure your kids to succeed at Ivy-League standards? Be stricter? Be more lenient? Don’t so drugs and carry weapons?
What do you need to do as a parent so your child understands that there will be consequences for their actions? This young woman got up the next day and went to school. She did it sans gun and purse, which was a smart choice. Still, she went to school…
I hope everything works out for this family.
OK, Michelle, we need to have a chat here. Because I don’t think you’re listening to all the people who have an issue with your new crusade against childhood obesity. Yes, we all know your girls are chubby. I bet they’re awfully pleased that an entire nation knows this. I’m sure this hasn’t hurt their self-esteem in any way. You probably won’t be having issues in the future because of these declarations.
It’s been suggested by many different people that you change the tone of your crusade to one of positive-ness: let’s have healthy, active kids. You know, encourage kids to play, serve fresh fruits and vegetables, teach them that bodies come in all shapes and sizes. Instead, you want to target the fat kids. As if they aren’t targeted already. You want to make sure that they have the big old label of fat kid killing society with their unwellness and unhealthy habits.
Now I read an article that you are encouraging parents to use the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale to determine if their children are overweight. C’mon, Michelle, even the article I read about your sudden insight suggests that the BMI scale isn’t all that accurate.
Body Mass Index doesn’t directly measure body fat—it’s a screening tool, not a diagnostic tool, Woolford points out. And BMI isn’t always accurate; since muscle weighs more than fat, most athletes, even as children, may be considered overweight or even obese when looking at their BMI numbers alone. “But for the majority of Americans, that’s not what we find,” Woolford points out. “For the vast majority of Americans, when weight is too high for height it’s because we’re dealing with adiposity,” or an overabundance of fatty tissue.
I am not a researcher. But google BMI articles and you will find that their usage isn’t so cut and dry. They are flawed. As are weight charts and other body-measuring devices. The writers of these articles have a way of taking a small piece of a research report and twisting it to fit their message of the moment. We won’t even talk about drug companies manipulating the BMI scale and weight charts to ensure they sell more products!
I did the BMIs for my family and they are all over the place. According to the scale, my nationally ranked athletes are in really bad shape. I know the quote above points out that it might be off for athletes because the BMI scale doesn’t differentiate between fat and muscle. Then how good a tool is it? Because “average Americans” will differ in their ratios of fat to muscle.
Michelle, couldn’t you do something proactive on the issue of childhood obesity? Other than pointing out that your pediatrician uses the BMI scale to measure your children? Your girls are approaching puberty, a time for gathering fat necessary for the hormonal changes that will be taking place in their bodies over the next couple of years.
Could you not help the funding of schools to serve better hot lunches. Help schools provide outdoor recess and physical education classes. Keep after-school sports.
By the way, I loved the idea of the BMI being calculated at schools. Seriously? I still have nightmares from being weighed publicly. Of course, today’s children have evolved to the point that bullying is practically non-existent. That was sarcasm!
I don’t have the answers, but I would be happy to brainstorm with you. Or invite you to my house filled with the BMI-challenged. I’d love to share some of the research I’ve been coming across about yo-yo dieting, bullying, self-esteem. I’d love you to watch my obese athletes train. And hear the pediatrician say, “he’s the fittest 300 pound kid I’ve ever seen.”
Mostly, Michelle, I wish you would seriously think about the message you’re sending. Wouldn’t it be so much better to find some other way to help our children be healthy and happy without humiliation and random numbers? You’re a smart woman and a good mother, I’m sure you can come up with something.